Library Juice 2:12 - March 24, 1999

1. collection on library access issues 
2. Electronic Journal Collection at FIS, University of Toronto 
3. H-HistBibl: Study & Practice of History Librarianship 
4. Library Philosophy and Practice, vol. 1, no. 2 (Spring 1999) 
5. International Superunion of Information Workers (Australia) 
6. Nolo Press sues for the right to sell books in Texas 
7. Call for Papers - Special Topic Issue of JASIS 
8. LITA Scholarship deadlines April 1st 
9. Spectrum Initiative applications due April 1st 
10. Two Resources on Electronic Publishing and Copyright 
11. Timeline: A History of Copyright in the U.S. 
12. Excerpt from a debate about copyright on librarians[at] 
13. The Fourth Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair 
14. Article on homeless people who use the internet in libraries 
15. Civil War Women 
Quote for the week: 
"The right of freedom of speech and press includes not only the right to 
utter or to print, but the right to distribute, the right to receive, 
[and] the right to read ... " 
Supreme Court, Grisold v. Connecticut, 1965 
1. collection on library access issues 
The website (done by Tim Wojcik) is heavy 
with ads but otherwise done very well.  This page is a compendium 
of links to documents covering library access issues. 
The URL is: 
2. Electronic Journal Collection at FIS, University of Toronto 
As part of the Electronic Resources Project of the Faculty of Information 
Studies of the University of Toronto we have been building a 
collection of electronic journals in the area of library, archival and 
information sciences. As is fitting in this age, this is a virtual 
collection with some titles held at FIS and others at their home sites. 
Here is a list of the titles we have identified to date as being of 
interest to our faculty and students. 
(From the FIS website -ed.) 
3. H-HistBibl: Study & Practice of History Librarianship 
Affiliated with the Association for the Bibliography of History [ABH] and 
the History Section of the American Library Association, this new 
discussion list from H-Net is aimed at "librarians, archivists, curators, 
and scholars interested in the practice and study of bibliographic and 
library services in support of historical study and teaching." The 
H-HistBibl site offers subscription information and will include searchable 
discussion logs, discussion threads, and related links. [MD] 
>From the Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-1999. 
4. Library Philosophy and Practice, vol. 1, no. 2 (Spring 1999) 
is now available at 
    This issue contains articles by Ellen Gilbert on diversity in 
collection development, John J. Doherty and Kathryn Kaya on teaching 
critical thinking while teaching information skills, and Joanne Twining 
on the use of diagrammatic reasoning and its relationship to information 
    Still available at the same site is the Fall 1998 issue, which 
contains articles by  Eugene E. Engeldinger on technology infrastructure 
and information literacy, Paul Metz on philosophy and practice in 
collection development, and Karen Summerhill incorporatng 
the values of the legal profession in research instruction for law 
    Library Philosophy and Practice is a peer-reviewed electronic 
journal which will appear twice a year, once in the fall and once in the 
spring.  Library Philosophy and Practice publishes articles that 
demonstrate the connection between library practice and the philosophy 
and theory which are behind it. Library Philosophy and Practice 
publishes reports of successful, innovative, or experimental library 
procedures, methods, or projects in all areas of librarianship, 
including both public and technical services. These reports are set 
in the context of applied research, with reference to current, past, 
and emerging theories of library practice. Contributions are now 
being accepted for vol. 2, no. 1 (Fall 1999) and 
vol. 2, no. 2 (Spring 2000) 
Mary K.Bolin, Head, Technical Services, Associate Professor 
Gail Z. Eckwright, Humanities Librarian, Associate Professor, 
University of Idaho Library, Moscow, ID 83844-2350 
5. International Superunion of Information Workers (Australia) 
  An international superunion representing more than 15 million 
  information workers worldwide won support from delegates at 
  the FIET World Congress in Sydney this week. 
>From Workers Online, weekly Online Newspaper dedicated to giving a voice 
to working people, no matter what their collar - blue, white or gold. 
With news, features, columns and letters about union issues, politics, 
culture, humour and sport, Workers Online will be a vibrant, provocative 
and independent new voice in the media for those with a progressive bent. 
Latest issue: 
6. Nolo Press sues for the right to sell books in Texas 
March 17, 1999 
Contact: Jennifer Spoerri 
For Immediate Release 
Fax: 510-704-2251/jennifer[at] 
Nolo Seeks Justice in Texas State Court 
Berkeley, CA-After nearly 30 years of publishing high-quality 
self-help law books and software without incident, Nolo Press has 
found it necessary to go to court to establish Nolo's right to 
publish-and its customers' right to obtain-plain English self-help law 
On March 17th, Nolo Press filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment 
in the Travis County District Court (Austin) against the Texas 
Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. Nolo is jointly filing this 
suit with two major library associations-the Texas Library Association 
and the American Association of Law Libraries-and six concerned 
individual Texans. 
In its lawsuit, Nolo expects to establish that: 
 self-help books and software do not practice law because they do 
not have clients 
 a ban on plain-English self-help law resources violates the Texas 
Constitution, and 
 Texans are sufficiently competent to make the choice to use 
self-help law products without an undue risk of harm. 
In the words of Associate Publisher Steve Elias, "What is at stake 
here is the right of consumers to have access to information that they 
can understand when undertaking their own legal tasks or representing 
themselves in court. Take away the type of information that Nolo and 
other self-help law publishers provide, and self-help law itself will 
surely vanish from the State of Texas." 
And Pete Kennedy, of George & Donaldson, the Austin, Texas law firm 
representing Nolo Press, adds a particularly Texan viewpoint: "The 
UPLC's efforts to remove these useful publications from the stores and 
libraries in Texas runs contrary to this state's long and proud 
history of individuality, independence and self reliance." 
For more information on the lawsuit, the background leading up to it, 
and on Nolo Press and its products, visit our special Website at There you will find: 
 FAQs on Nolo's Texas struggle 
 Nolo's Petition for Declaratory Judgment 
 Cases, articles and discussions about the legal issues 
 A Chronology of Events with Links to Important Documents 
 Links to examples of Nolo's self-help law products 
 Information on who supports Nolo in this struggle, and why. 
Questions sent by e-mail to jennifer[at] will be promptly 
7. Call for Papers - Special Topic Issue of JASIS 
            Information Science at the Millennium 
The next Special Topics Issue of the _Journal of the  Ameri- 
can Society for Information Science_ (JASIS) is scheduled to 
appear at the end of 2000 on the topic of  Information  Sci- 
ence  at  the  Millennium.  The guest editor for this special 
issue will be Terrence A. Brooks, Associate Professor in the 
School  of Library and Information Science at The University 
of Washington. 
What are the forces shaping the science of information as we 
step  into the 21st century?  What information problems have 
information technology solved, and what problems  have  been 
introduced  by  information technology?  How has information 
technology redefined familiar information  objects  such  as 
documents,  books  and libraries?  How has information tech- 
nology modified familiar acts such as reading  and  writing? 
What  decisions  and standards are we creating now that will 
influence  information  structures,  sharing,  storage   and 
retrieval in the 21st century? 
There are numerous research issues facing  Information  Sci- 
ence at the Millennium.  Specific topics of interest include, 
but are not limited to the following: 
     *    How has information technology redefined the docu- 
          ment, the act of writing, the act of reading? 
     *    How does information technology make  the  private 
          public?  How does it defy corporate boundaries and 
          span national frontiers? 
     *    How does information technology change publishing? 
          The  role  of  the  scholarly journal?  The tenure 
          process?  Teaching? 
     *    What happens when the computer, the television and 
          the  telephone  meld  into  one machine?  When the 
          latest music can be downloaded?  When  the  latest 
          movie is on the Web? 
     *    What are the new economic models?  Pricing  struc- 
          tures of electronic information? 
     *    What are the impacts on human society when  infor- 
          mation machines mediate sociability? 
     *    What information science research  methods  retain 
          value  in  the  21st  century  and which should be 
          discarded?  What are our  new  objects  of  study? 
          How have they changed? 
The guest editor seeks papers that discuss Information  Sci- 
ence  at  the  Millennium.  Inquiries can be made to Terrence 
Brooks at  tabrooks[at]  or  by  calling  (206) 
543-2646, fax at (206) 616-3152. 
Manuscript submissions (four copies of full articles) should 
be addressed to: 
     Terrence A. Brooks 
     School of Library and Information Science 
     University of Washington 
     Box 352930 
     Seattle, WA 98195-2930 
The deadline for accepting manuscripts for consideration for 
publication  in  this  special  issue  is  March 1, 2000.  A 
select panel of referees will review  all  manuscripts,  and 
those  accepted  will  be published in this special issue of 
_JASIS_.  Original artwork and a signed copy  of  the  copy- 
right  transfer  agreement will be required for all accepted 
papers. An electronic version of the final draft can be sub- 
mitted, and is encouraged. 
A copy of the call for papers will be available on the World 
Wide   Web,   as  is  further  information  about  JASIS  at 
8. LITA Scholarship deadlines April 1st 
LITA/LSSI Minority Scholarship in Library and Information Science. 
        For work toward a MLS degree in an ALA-accredited program with 
        emphasis on library automation.  Limited to a qualified member 
        of a principal minority group. 
        Donor: Online Computer Library Center, Inc., $2,500. 
        LITA Deadline: April 1, 1999. 
LITA/OCLC Minority Scholarship in Library and Information Science 
        For work toward a MLS degree in an ALA-accredited program with 
        emphasis on library automation. Limited to a qualified member 
        of a principal minority group. 
        Donor: Online Computer Library Center, Inc., $2,500. 
        LITA Deadline: April 1, 1999. 
For information and procedures for applying, contact the ALA Awards 
Office Member Programs & Services, 1-800-545-2433,x3247, or email 
awards[at]  For more information, see 
9. Spectrum Initiative applications due April 1st 
Please remember that April 1 is the deadline for Spectrum 
applications for the class of 1999-2000. 
IF YOU KNOW IF ANYONE IS APPLYING, please check in with them to see 
how their application is coming along...AND IF IT IS COMPLETE. 
IF YOU ARE WRITING A REFERENCE LETTER - please get it in on time for 
the applicant. 
And please spread the word to your colleagues about how important it 
process. Can you spread the word on your discussion lists? 
IF YOU ARE APPLYING yourself, please be sure and get your application 
in on time. 
For more information on the Spectrum Initiative, check out the 
article: "Can Librarians Play Basketball?: Participantscin ALA's 
Spectrum Initiative Embody the Diversity of the Profession", 
p. the March 1999 issue of American Libraries. 
Highlighted are 
scholars: Tracie Hall, Barbara-Helen Hill 
mentors: Ramiro Salazar, Marlore Brown, and Mohammed Aman 
Spectrum steering committee member: Khafre Abif 
as well as 2 of the Spectrum posters.... 
Thank you Christine Watkins (author) for putting a PERSONAL and HUMAN 
touch on Spectrum. 
Thank you. 
For more information: 
Sandra Rios Balderrama 
Diversity Officer, Member Programs & Services 
American Library Association 
50 East Huron St. 
Chicago, IL 60611 
1-800-545-2433 x5020 
fax: 1-312-280-3256 
e-mail: sbalderr[at] 
10. Two Resources on Electronic Publishing and Copyright 
Who Owns What Intellectual Property, Copyright, and the Next Millenium -- 
Journal of Electronic Publishing 
"The New Age of the Book" -- <I>New York Review of Books </I> 
Anyone interested in scholarly electronic publishing will want to visit 
these sites. The first, the latest issue of the Journal of Electronic 
Publishing, examines the challenges and opportunities for intellectual 
property and copyright in the digital age. The featured articles examine 
topics such as the current state of electronic publishing, managing rights 
electronically, the future of scholarly publishing, libraries as 
publishers, and even open source software as a model for managing 
intellectual property. The second resource, a ten-page article by cultural 
historian Robert Darnton, explores the potential and pitfalls that arise 
from the electronic publication of scholarly monographs. Darnton discusses 
the prospects of electronic monographs in relation to issues such as recent 
changes in publishing in general and to university presses in particular, 
publishing and tenure, and the pricing of journals. [MD] 
>From the Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-1999. 
11. Timeline: A History of Copyright in the U.S. 
Timeline: A History of Copyright in the U.S. - from the Association 
of Research Libraries. 
Outlined here are copyright milestones, especially those of interest in 
particular to libraries and information service providers. Summaries are 
included for major court cases and revisions to the U.S. Copyright Act. 
Included also are recent activities undertaken by the U.S. Commerce 
Department in its efforts to develop the National Information 
Infrastructure. This timeline is considered a work in progress and 
suggestions for additions are welcome. Send comments to Patricia Brennan 
Association of Research Libraries, Washington, DC 
Web Design by Ann Doty 
Maintained by ARL Web Administrator 
Last Modified: April 30, 1998 
12. Excerpt from a debate about copyright on librarians[at] 
>>Howard Besser 
>Chaz Bufe 
Howard Besser 
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 22:10:59 -0800 (PST) 
From: Howard Besser <howard[at]SIMS.Berkeley.EDU> 
> From: Chaz Bufe <seesharp[at]> 
> Without copyright protection for authors, they haven't got a leg to 
> stand on if their works are misused or misappropriated. It ain't perfect, 
> but it's all we have. 
I may be naive, but I really can't think of anything that anyone I know 
might write that someone else would want to republish and make money off 
of.  I can think of situations where someone might take something that I 
or a friend might write and recontextualize in a way that I didn't like. 
But I certainly wouldn't want to use copyright law to try to prevent that 
because of the horrible precedent that would set.  (That precedent would 
be used against me when I took corporate advertisements and tried to 
satirize them, for example.)  Personally, I see using copyright laws to 
protect one's work from recontextualization as having a parallel with free 
speech issues; if we support laws limiting free speech for Nazis, those 
laws are eventually going to be used on us. 
> If you really want to see exploitation of writers and musicians, 
> get rid of copyright laws and let the corporations use their works 
> without fear of retribution. That situation pertained in the 18th and 
> 19th centuries, and authors got screwed royally. It's easy enough for 
> those writing materials of little commercial value to declaim against 
> copyrights, but those of us writing commercially viable works need some 
> form of protection from the corporate sharks. If not copyright 
> protection, what do you suggest? 
Actually, it was the 19th century British publishers that really got 
screwed (and a new large set of American publishers emerged from this). 
First of all, it's hard for me to imagine writers and musicians being more 
exploited than they are today.  A few rich big names are not exploited 
(and, incidently are the heaviest invokers of their copyrights), but most 
writers and musicians are highly exploited.  And for many of these (for 
example Negativland), copyright laws were the thing that really did them 
in.  (Negativland did an album parodying U-2 and were sued by copyright 
violation in a case that was incredibly expensive and they ended up 
losing.)  As I said before, copyright is a LEGAL remedy.  Copyright cases 
end up in court, where the one with the deepest pockets almost always 
wins (even if they don't win legally, they can end up bankrupting the 
other party). 
I have no idea of what you do.  What are you writing that you think has a 
high enough commercial value that someone will go to the trouble of 
republishing it and making money off of it?  And if they did, don't you 
have other legal remedies than copyright law to go after them (like false 
attribution, false advertising, etc.)? 
> > Few copyrights even belong to individual authors.  Most authors are 
> > to sign over their rights to a publisher in order to be published. 
> Source? I doubt this. All of the authors that I (dba See Sharp Press) 
> publish retain the copyright to their works. 
Look at APA (American Publishing Association) statistics.  Most APA book 
publishers as well as journal publishers require all but their 
best-selling authors (who can write their own ticket) to relinquish 
copyright to them.  Most newspaper publishers have the same requirements 
(see NY Times freelancer and Nat'l Writers Union president Jonathan 
Tasini's "They Get Cake, We Eat Crumbs").  Most academic publishers (of 
both journals and books) have the same requirements.  But the academic 
publishers tend to be a little nicer about it; they require authors to 
cede copyright to them but sometimes grant back to the author a one-time 
right to republish a journal article as a book chapter (accompanied by a 
statement thanking the journal publisher for granting that right). 
> > I've 
> > spent a good part of my adult life making a living off of my writings, 
> > I've had frequent run-ins with publishers over the rights to my own 
> > writings.  I've even had publishers threaten to sue me unless I paid 
> > for showing my students copies of articles I had written in their 
> > publication! 
> Yes, such abuses occur. The remedy for that is for authors to do a 
> better job of negotiating with commercial publishers, or to publish 
> their works 
> themselves. No one places a gun to authors' heads and forces them to 
> accept such odious provisions. 
I agree that authors need to be more aggressive in refusing to knuckle 
under.  But commercial publishers will almost never back down.  In my 
experience, a few academic publishers will, but only occasionally, and 
only with very forceful authors (usually ones that the publiser needs more 
than they need the publisher).  And for authors who want wide 
distribution, small publishers have a hard time making it into visible 
places in bookstores (particularly as big chains squeeze out the 
independent bookstores, but that's another sotry). 
> > I think it's contradictory and shameful for professed anarchists to 
> > champion copyright. 
> If you want to get personal, I'll comment that it's even more "shameful" 
> for "professed anarchists" to accept salaries from the state. The point 
> here is that we live in a capitalist economy, and if you want to make a 
> living from writing or being a librarian, you have little choice but to 
> operate within the limits imposed by that economy--which means, in 
> the case of librarians, taking salaries from those who operate the 
> libraries, and in the case of writers, protecting one's works. 
I wasn't trying to get personal.  I have no idea whether you consider 
yourself an anarchist.  You're not a part of the Anarchist Librarians 
list.  As to your point about accepting salaries from the state, I really 
can't see how that's any different than accepting salaries from a 
corporation or other commercial source.  Wage labor is wage labor, 
wherever it comes from. (I won't delve into self-managed wage labor 
because i think it'll take us way off-track.) 
But what I still don't understand here is the link that you keep making 
between earning wage labor and the need for copyright for authors.  A 
librarian is paid for the hours worked.  An author may be paid piece-work 
or on commissions (based on how many sold).  The only place I can see that 
copyright might kick in is if someone turns around and republishes what 
you wrote, and makes money on that that would have gone to your publisher. 
As I said before, this seems a highly unlikely scenario, and one for which 
other legal remedies (if one's into that) seem to exist.  And to support 
the brutal and oppressive copyright system that is used to inhibit free 
speech and social commentary -- just because someone might possibly 
republish your works and make a few bucks that should go to your publisher 
-- that seems like a really bad trade-off to me. 
> > The recent strengthening of intellectual property 
> > laws are a very conscious attempt to shift information from its 
> > traditional role as a public benefit, and solidify information as a 
> > marketable commodity.  This general societal trend is part of why 
> > social 
> > institutions that foster knowledge (but do not directly generate 
> > revenue 
> > streams) are in crisis.  The process of commodification of information 
> > is closely related to why our libraries are facing massive cut-backs 
> > in an era of supposed economic prosperity. 
> Fine, Howard. I propose that you back up your words with action and 
> return your salary to the institution you're getting it from. That would 
> be at least a symbolic act against the "commodification of information." 
Again, I really don't understand what you mean (aside from being snide). 
I earn wage labor.  How would returning it be an act against 
commodification of information? 
13. The Fourth Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair 
The Book Fair is happening again in 1999! 
The Fourth Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair will take place on Saturday, 
March 27, 1999, 10am - 6pm, at the San Francisco County Fair Building in 
Golden Gate Park by Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way. Admission is free. 
Artists and Speakers include: 
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (now poet laureate of SF) 
Harry Britt (gay ex-supervisor) 
Ed Mead (member George Jackson Brigade, just release after 20 years in 
Eli Rosenblatt (California Prison Focus) 
Stephen Dunnifer (Pirate Radio) 
Approximately 60 anarchist groups and alternative book, magazine, and 
publishing people will be represented at tables selling and distributing 
materials and examples of their work. the plans for this event also include 
a cafe and bar, spoken word, and gallery. 
For more info: 
Bound Together Books 
1369 Haight Street 
San Francisco, CA 94117 
14. Article on homeless people who use the internet in libraries 
FWD  St. Louis Post-Dispatch - February 24, 1999 
     Cyberspace and Technology Beat 
     By Margie Wylie 
     Newhouse News Service 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Okra P. Dingle checks his e-mail most everyday. Like 
hustling spare change, hopping freight trains or scoping out a dry sleeping 
spot, the Internet has become a regular part of his hobo lifestyle. 
Today, the 33 year-old Dingle -- he made up the name -- is hunched over a 
computer keyboard in the airy atrium of San Francisco's new 
multimillion-dollar main library. He wears roughly patched yellow overalls 
and sturdy work boots. His army green backpack, festooned with Boy Scout 
patches, beer logos, and duct tape, rests nearby. The sides of his head are 
shaved smooth, leaving a patch of orange-ish hair that tails off into a 
short braid that points up and down as he glances from keyboard to screen. 
Plumbing-supply bracelets ting on his heavily tattoed forearms as he pecks 
out e-mail messages. One is a poem for his 16-year-old stepdaughter. 
Another goes to friends inviting them to meet him in New Orleans. They're 
all homeless, too. 
``I do this in every city,'' Dingle smiles, the silver ball of a tongue 
piercing clicking lightly against his teeth, giving him a faint lisp. 
``It's really catching on. You go to a library, and I'd say about 30 
percent of people using the Net are homeless.'' 
'Dingle is one of a contingent of homeless people homesteading cyberspace, 
thanks mostly to free public libraries. For the most part, the homeless 
aren't looking to cyberspace to change their lives. Like other people, 
they're turning to the Net to make the lives they have a little easier to 
But their homesteading has created dilemmas for librarians, who are 
generally sympathetic and want to see their libraries open to all kinds of 
``Ideally, anybody should have access to the library, but realistically, 
I've heard of guys coming in with cockroaches crawling out of their bags,'' 
said Cathy Camper, a librarian with the Minneapolis Public Library. ``One 
guy passed out in foyer and lay there face down for half an hour while we 
waited for the police and paramedics to come. We're just not trained for 
this. We're librarians.'' 
About 2 million Americans were homeless for some period last year, 
according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty 
( in Washington. That includes everyone from 
politically committed anarchists, like Dingle, to runaway teens, families 
and, increasingly, the working poor. More than 20 percent of homeless 
people have jobs. A third are veterans, a quarter are drug or alcohol 
addicts, a quarter are mentally ill. 
Nobody knows exactly how many homeless people use the Net, but librarians 
say their ranks have grown noticeably in the last couple of years. 
``As an interurban library we've always had people coming in here smelling 
bad or looking tattered,'' said Camper, the Minneapolis librarian. ``Our 
library has always been used in that way and the Internet is just an 
extension of that. My sense is what really changed things was Hotmail. When 
free services started popping up, that's when I noticed more people 
regularly coming in.'' 
Five years ago, Dingle, who puts his poems and stories about life on the 
road into his photocopied 'zines, gave up a small gardening business in 
Berkeley, Calif., and hit the road full time. For transients like Dingle, 
the Net offers a treasure trove of pointers and information on ``catching 
out,'' or hopping freight trains. Hobos who once communicated with scrawled 
symbols on train trestles now trade e-mail. 
Catching out has always been dangerous and illegal. A rash of 
thrill-seeking yuppie jumpers armed with cell phones, laptops and radio 
scanners brought down the wrath of freight train operators on all riders 
when they published their adventures on the Web in the early '90s. As a 
result, the most detailed train-hopping information is passed on the Net as 
it is on the road: person to person. And hoppers are careful who gets it. 
One guide tells riders where to catch freight trains after they are out of 
the yard, usually when they slow down and take on fresh crews. It used to 
be updated once a year, photocopied and handed around. Now it and others 
are circulated in e-mail, but not posted where just anybody can see it. 
``The advice can be really specific,'' Dingle said. ``Like, `Find a welcome 
mat in the weeds on the north side of the yard; put your head on that mat 
and look at something hanging from a bush and from there, the bull 
(railroad policeman) can't see you.''' 
Dingle's circle also exchanges tips on which cities offer good welfare 
benefits, where to find friendly squats, hotspots to avoid, even where to 
find lightly guarded Internet terminals on college campuses. 
``Yesterday I e-mailed a group of friends traveling around Spain,'' said 
Dingle. ``They probably don't know how to use a calculator, but they can 
get e-mail.'' 
Dingle's life may sound romantic, but day-to-day living can be stressful 
and boring for the typical homeless person, said Chance Martin, a volunteer 
with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness ``The Net is an important release from that. 
It's something where the user is in total control. It might be the one 
place where the person has a lot of options.'' 
For many, the Net has become a touchstone of normality, a constant in 
unpredictable lives. 
Taylor, a 25 year-old homeless woman, trundles a two-wheeled basket 
overflowing with all she owns into the San Francisco Library everyday. 
(Like many homeless Net users interviewed, Taylor wouldn't give a last 
name.) A former office manager, she checks the weather back home in 
Washington. ``Just to know what sort of day my father is having,'' she 
said. ``Is it raining? Is he out in a snow storm? It just helps me keep 
up.'' The Internet is also her only source of news. 
``When you don't have a place of your own, it's hard to keep up with what's 
going on,'' she said. ``I try to come in here every day and check the news 
from, literally, around the world. It's great.'' 
Taylor was turned onto the Net by other homeless friends. Dingle got his 
first account when an old hobo he met on a freight train took him to the 
University of Albuquerque's library and set him up. Dingle returned the 
favor before he left Berkeley: ``I set up a HotMail account for these two 
tweaker (speed addict) kids and I filled a folder with information on train 
hopping,'' said Dingle. ``They'll do it for someone else, who'll turn on 
someone else. It's exponential.'' 
Homeless people take advantage of free services in ways their sponsors 
never considered. Jim, 60, a San Francisco man who has lived out of 
shelters for five years now, uses his free Yahoo e-mail account mostly as a 
virtual locker. He e-mails himself addresses, notes, anything he wants to 
keep but has no place to store. Likewise, Dingle keeps his address book in 
HotMail. And, when he recently lost a notebook with four months of poems 
and stories for his next 'zine, he was able to get most of it back because 
he had e-mailed his work to friends from the road. 
Jim is one of the 22 percent of homeless people who hold down jobs. He uses 
the Internet to find out more about the petitions he is paid to circulate. 
``The first thing people ask is, `Who's backing this?''' said the 
60-year-old former office equipment repairman. ``I try to find out at least 
that much before I go out.'' 
Many homeless people go online just to talk. Discussion groups and chat 
rooms let some escape, if only for a short time, the stares and wrinkled 
noses they face on the streets. Occasionally, the homeless will join in 
public discussions of homelessness, but for the most part, many go online 
to discuss politics, art, philosophy -- anything but homelessness. 
``It's like that famous cartoon that says, `On the Net, nobody knows you're 
a dog,''' said Katherine Venturella, editor of ``Poor People and Library 
Services.'' ``Well, on the Internet, nobody knows you're homeless.'' 
Yet, for a great many, the Net is merely one more way to fill the hours 
between shelter beds. 
``Some just chatter and chatter all day long. It's just a place to get out 
of the rain, something to do, like the movies and CD players downstairs,'' 
shrugs Thom, 47. The lanky laborer from Florida, said he uses e-mail mostly 
to keep in touch with his family back home. 
Shelters, food banks, and advocacy groups are all online, but the offerings 
are still slim, said Barbara Duffield, director of education for the 
National Coalition on Homelessness in Washington. She said she gets about 
six e-mails a week asking for help. 
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is developing a nationwide 
database on help for the homeless. Many communities have also started 
building databases. San Francisco's Public Library offers one such 
database, as do community networks, including one in Eugene, Ore. 
The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless ( has 
automated its shelter bed registry and hopes to put it online soon, said 
Josh Dean, state coalition coordinator. 
Nonetheless, said, Dingle, ``I don't know anyone who's gotten off the 
streets using the Internet.'' 
Yet, in their own way, many homeless people are reaping some rewards just 
from being online. 
Take Don Paschal. Homeless in Santa Monica in the early '90s, Paschal was 
something of a pioneer. He communicated with city leaders through the Santa 
Monica People's Electronic Network (PEN), an early experiment in free 
Internet access. His comments spurred the city to start a program called 
Swashlock, for showers, washers, and lockers where the homeless could clean 
up and store their stuff while they look for jobs. 
Today, the 43-year-old is working two marketing jobs, one for an Internet 
startup. He lives in an apartment in Sherman Oaks, Calif., thanks in part 
to the contacts he made on PEN. 
Ironically, it was computerization that helped nudge Jim, the office 
machine repairman, onto the streets. 
``I had no interest in computers,'' he said. ``If I'd known how much fun 
they were, I think might have stayed in my job.'' Now, at 60, he's 
contemplating finding part-time work with his recently acquired computer 
savvy. Not only does he log onto the Net at the library, but he's also 
taken several free (non-credit) computer courses at San Francisco City 
College. ``I'd like to work for a couple of years before I start drawing 
Social Security.'' 
Dingle is using online telephone directories to search for a mother he 
hasn't seen since she abandoned him some 25 years ago. 
And then there are less sublime uses. 
``One guy prints out grainy black and white porno pictures and sells them 
to the other guys on the street,'' said Camper. 
Other homeless and formerly homeless people have learned to build their own 
Web pages for free using services such as Tripod ( or 
Geocities http://( 
Theodore Latham, who has drifted in and out of homelessness himself built 
``Tedricos,'' a Web page that covers every aspect of living on the street 
from panhandling to where to find shelter. 
``Homeless People and the Internet'' offers homeless users an easy 
launching pad. ``That's the glorious thing about it, you don't have to be 
tech geek to build a Web site,'' said Paschal. ``It's a way to express 
yourself, of giving that person an opportunity to say, `Here I am.''' 
Some urban libraries have become virtual dumping grounds for homeless 
people who have nowhere to go during the day. They've struggled with the 
question of how to serve homeless patrons without short-changing others. 
``The library is the crack that people have fallen into,'' said Camper, 
``The upper echelon of society doesn't really have to use the library 
anymore so they just wash their hands of it.'' 
And that leaves Camper with situations like this: ``There was a runaway 
teen-age girl who was e-mailing people from the library and the police 
asked us to look for her. I don't remember what our answer was, but more 
and more we get stuck in the middle of the fight and you don't know who to 
side with.'' 
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is 
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4,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people 
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy 
  vegetarian, nonviolence, consensus 
-Food Not Bombs List     fnb-l[at] 
-distributing food in opposition to violence 
-active cities: 
-send '(un)subscribe fnb-l'  to majordomo[at] 
15. Civil War Women 
        This site provides an extensive, annotated collection of 
        "links to primary sources on the Internet that are directly 
        related to women and the Civil War." It is organized into 
        three categories: Diaries, Letters, Documents; 
        Photographs and Prints, and General Civil War Pages. - 
        Subjects: civil war | women - history 
Librarians' Index to the Internet 
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Date: Tuesday, March 23, 1999 10:37 PM