Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by my bulk
mail provider,


#309, April 18, 2008

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

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Neat New Stuff I Found This Week

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My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops. To see outlines for previous presentations I've done, click on Handouts

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My Writings
A bibliography of my published articles and columns, with links to those available online.

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Order My Books

The Thriving Library: Successful Strategies for Challenging Times; Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet, and The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint.

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What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine

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E-Mail Subscription?

For a combined subscription to Neat New Stuff and ExLibris, please click HERE, complete the form, and click on "subscribe." To unsubscribe, or change addresses for an existing subscription, please send me an e-mail headed either "change subscription" or "unsubscribe."

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Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. Corollary: Who Cares?
  3. The answer depends on the question
  4. Research is a multi-stage process
  5. Ask a Librarian
  6. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  7. Information can be true and still wrong
  8. Pay attention to the jokes

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Guru Interviews

  1. Tara Calishain
  2. Jenny Levine, part I
  3. Jenny Levine, Part II
  4. Reva Basch
  5. Sue Feldman
  6. Jessamyn West
  7. Debbie Abilock
  8. Kathy Schrock
  9. Greg Notess
  10. William Hann
  11. Chris Sherman
  12. Gary Price
  13. Barbara Quint
  14. Rory Litwin
  15. John Guscott
  16. Brian Smith
  17. Darlene Fichter
  18. Brenda Bailey-Hainer
  19. Walt Crawford
  20. Molly Williams
  21. Genie Tyburski
  22. Patrice McDermott
  23. Carrie Bickner
  24. Karen G. Schneider
  25. Roddy MacLeod, Part I
  26. Roddy MacLeod, Part II
  27. John Hubbard
  28. Micki McIntyre
  29. Péter Jacsó
  30. the "It's All Good" bloggers
  31. the "It's All Good" bloggers, part 2

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Cool Quotes

The collected quotes from all previous issues are at

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When and How To Search the Net

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Wanna See Your Name in Lights?

Or at least on this page, anyway? I'd like to print here your contributions as well as mine. As you've noticed, articles are brief, somewhere between 750 and 1000 words -- something to jog people's minds and get their own good ideas flowing. I'd also be happy to run other people's contributions to the regular features like Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

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Drop me a Line

Want to comment, ask questions, submit articles, or invite me to speak or do some training? Write me at: marylaine at

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related.

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How To Find Out of Print Books
Suggested strategies, resources, and finding tools.

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Best Information on the Net
The directory I built for O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University, still my favorite pit stop on the information highway.

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My Word's Worth
an occasional column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me.

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Book Proposal

Land of Why Not: an Appreciation of America. Proposal for an anthology of some of my best writing. An outline and sample columns are available here.

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My personal page


by Marylaine Block

As many of you know, I've been writing at a pretty steady clip since 1995: 285 My Word's Worth columns (, 106 "Observing US" columns for Fox News Online, 270 articles for ExLibris, 250+ book reviews and nearly 300 profiles of the library world's "movers and shakers" for Library Journal (, 65 magazine articles (, numerous annotated reading lists ( and tutorials (, and 3 books (the most recent being The Thriving Library: Successful Strategies for Challenging Times,

And you know what? I'm tired.

Fortunately, I believe I managed to say pretty much everything I really wanted to, including some ideas that I believe may help libraries adapt and flourish - and may even have already done so.

This final column is my chance to point you to some of my favorite ExLibris pieces that I believe have continuing value for librarians:

On Management

  • The Defect in Realism - our focus on doable, incremental annual improvements can stand in the way of fantastic, inspiring changes in our services.

    On Marketing

    We need to get so much better at telling and showing residents and community leaders all the things we do and how they make our communities work better:
    1. ROI: The Economic Impact of Libraries - we need to analyze and publicize the ways we contribute to our community's economic success.

    2. A Predictable Funding Disaster - it would help if we demonstrated exactly how many services community residents got each year for their tax dollars.

    3. In Need of a Better Business Model - Why don't we brand ourselves with the other functions we perform, not just the Information Place, but the Community Place, the Kids' Place, etc.

    4. Ideas Talking To Each Other, - one of those functions is a place where we add context and understanding to turn information into knowledge

    5. Unclear on the Concept - perhaps the reason so many people (many of them reporters) totally unaware of what we do is because we don't TELL them. Here are some things we could be doing.

    6. Cultivating Reporters - one reason reporters don't understand our work is that we have no idea how they think and what they need. As a former Fox News Online columnist, I do understand that, and fill in some of those blanks.

    7. Community Outreach as a Survival Strategy, - It's not enough to do well; we have to be SEEN as doing well, and that means aggressively courting all our constituencies, telling them what we do for them, and enlisting their ideas and assistance.

    8. Scratching Each Other's Backs - I argue that the most important people to market to are the people who fund us. Here's a way libraries can make themselves active allies of our city and county government.

    9. Party People, - one of the most important things libraries can do is help build community. See how libraries do that by putting on really good, community-wide parties.

    10. A Human Voice, - it helps to tell our story in a friendly, human voice, not officialese.

    On Information

    1. My Rules of Information:
      Go Where It Is, parts I and II (, and );
      Ask "Who Cares?" (;
      The Answer You Get Depends on the Question You Ask (;
      Research Is a Multi-Stage Process (;
      Ask Your Librarian (;
      Information Is Meaningless Until Approached by Human Intelligence (;
      Information Can Be True and Nonetheless Wrong (;
      Pay Attention to the Jokes (

    2. What's Not on the Net - a lot has been added to the web since I wrote this, so I'd raise that percentage now, but it's still true that only a small percentage of humanity's recorded knowledge is on the net.

    3. Catalog Your Experts, - Like most people, we rely on our local experts when we're stumped. So why don't we catalog those experts so all our staff knows about them?

    4. The Library's Place in Place-Blogging - if we are to be the ultimate resource for knowledge about our local community, we should share that knowledge by blogging about it.

    5. The Devil Is in the Details - and the Details Are in the 6th Paragraph ( - we may need to go beyond helping people find information to helping them analyze and understand it.

    6. The Importance of Visualization, - and one of the tools for helping our patrons understand information is visualization.

    So, I'll be signing off now. My thanks to all my readers over the years, whose thoughtful comments have helped me think through these and many other issues. It's been fun.

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    When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
    When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable.
    When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.
    Well, what can't be copied?
    There are a number of qualities that can't be copied. Consider "trust." Trust cannot be copied. You can't purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you'll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world.

    Kevin Kelly. "Better Than Free." The Technium, January 31, 2008,

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    NOTE: ExLibris is a free service that promotes my business as a writer and speaker. I'd certainly appreciate it if next time you need a conference speaker you'd keep me in mind -- you can see outlines of various presentations I've given at And if you'd like to help defray my server costs, you can click on the Amazon button below and use your Amazon account to contribute whatever amount you choose.

    Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

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    You are welcome to copy and forward any of my own articles (but not those by my guest writers) for noncommercial purposes as long as you credit ExLibris and cite the permanent URL for the article. Please do NOT copy and post my articles to your own web sites, however. Instead, please copy a brief excerpt and link to the URL for the remainder of the article.

    Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
    Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2007.

    [Publishers may license the content for a reasonable fee.]