Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Embracing the hard work ahead

Change is not easy for most of us. The majority of public librarians I know prefer 'organization with flexibility,' so when a new direction is thrown our way it is both exciting and scary.

Fundamental elements of libraries - the foundations of classifications, cataloging, circulation policies - seem to be the fall-back for new adaptations. For example, librarians must weed out old, extraneous, and out-dated materials from their shelves (called "weeding") and have developed standards for their systems. This makes way for new books and materials and keeps their collections current and relevant. When the fairly recent introduction of electronic books came into libraries' collections, the development of weeding policies came out of the existing one. User services have adapted in many ways; from programs (such as taking digital photos and putting them on library websites) to library computer use and wifi access.

Change is essential for growth. The climate of our nation has also moved in this direction; last night's incredibly positive election results are indicative of the majority's voice. We have made a choice for change on many levels, and it has renewed hope in this librarian's heart.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Falling back to a time when...things were better?

It's finally here. Autumn is in full swing,

Halloween is over, swing states are leaning towards Senator Obama, and we've gone back an hour.

As we move into the deepening dark, Tuesday is a bright ray of hope for many Americans. Many have worked hard to endorse and support Barack Obama as the Presidential candidate of choice in ways that are certainly unprecedented. This election has found us united online to have a piece of the process, from small donations to blogging, telephone calls from our kitchen tables, to joining with others whom we had never met before to knock on doors and attend rallies. It has been an incredible experience and already has made history.

I know I will be holding my breath as the counts come in on Tuesday. I'm almost tempted to turn off the news and close my laptop since the tension will run high, but I am too hopeful of the outcome. Like the recent Phillies game, I will take the time to root for my home team. And I am even more charged up, fired up, and ready to go! since I believe it will be victorious. One never knows, though, and the precarious "voting machine" situation has me a bit worried.

For example, many electronic voting machines do not offer a paper receipt to ensure you are voting for who or what you intended when you pressed the button. Poll representatives do their best to assure us that what we press is recorded as exactly what it was labelled, but without something to take with us, some kind of read-out similar to what we receive when we make purchases, our vote is based upon trust. Then we hear stories of hackability...and wonder about those close races (Florida, Ohio 2004).

Obama's site offers a brief video about "How to Vote in Philadelphia." This is a great idea and will help those who access the video a way to prepare and to spread the word (the catch phrase is,

"Solid red light
'You're all right'."

In Philly, the voting machines are set up so that if a voter selects all Democratic candidates, and then selects Obama/Biden, the light (selection) will go out for the Presidential candidate. This could create some confusion; having an instructional walk-through can help!

To cover those who do not have access to this video, printable instructions are also available on the link above.

Voting machines differ from state to state, even precinct to precinct. Taking the time to somehow ensure, in whatever way you can, that your vote is tallied correctly is important. There will be volunteers at the polling places to help with this, and early voting this election has made a big difference. Not feeling rushed when entering the booth is also important. The least busy times are around 10 am and 2 pm.

Finally, here is a link to the music video called "Dear Mr. President," by Pink. It is reflective of what the last few years have been like for so many. It's a good reminder. If you are still undecided this may help.

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Good luck to each of us; experience the hope and, I believe, the glory of the moment with your loved ones and in good places. This is an important event that has already touched most Americans in beneficial ways. Hopefully it will get better from here on out!