Library Juice 2:19 - May 12, 1999

Congratulations to ALA President-Elect Nancy Kranich!


1. Sex in the stacks poll
2. The Laughing Librarian - Brian Smith's site
3. The Toolbox - Librarians' Resource Centre
4. Search Tool - Beta Test
5. Information Subway Media Guide
6. Music in the Public Domain
7. Eve Diel's Core Music - Email Compilation
8. Biography sites
9. 1999 Annual Best LIBRI Student Paper competition
10. Letter from Wizard Marks to Minneapolis Commissioner Peter McLaughlin
11. Chuck0's commentary on the Dr. Laura flap and other attacks
12. Vanity Fair Article about Dr. Laura
13. "Stop the Madness" - Satire
14. Housemans and Bookmarks fight back against threats of libel action
15. FYI France -- BNF Strike, the results

Quote for the week:

"Happiness is a warm librarian."
   -Steve Howie


1. Sex in the stacks poll

Jessamyn is taking a poll over on that asks if you've done
the nasty in the oversize ranges.

Hmmm, what would be the effect on compact shelving....



2. The Laughing Librarian - Brian Smith's site

From: Brian Smith <bsmith[at]>
To: publib <publib[at]sunsite.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: Re: The Lipstick Librarian

<shameless self-promotion>

Links to The Lipstick Librarian, The Modified Librarian, and a few dozen
more sites for library-related fun (although the definitions of
"library-related" and "fun" get stretched a bit) -- along with my original
material -- are available at my fairly new website, The Laughing Librarian.

Disclaimer: The Laughing Librarian is not my employer's fault and may be
blocked by some filters.

</shameless self-promotion>


3. The Toolbox - Librarians' Resource Centre

The Toronto Chapter of SLA has what I consider the best all-around
collection of resources for librarians.  It's called The Toolbox -
Librarians' Resource Centre.  It's updated monthly, and May edition
is online.  Take a look.



4. Search Tool - Beta Test

  I'd like to invite readers to take the Search Tool
  out for a spin.  It's a compilation of useful search
  interfaces from around the internet, similar to the
  well-known search compilations and  The search has smaller
  selection of resources than AllOneSearch, but higher
  functionality in the forms that it uses.  It also has a
  unique feature: when you do a search the results come up in a
  new browser window, leaving the search platform in place in
  the original window for more searches, without having to
  reload it using the "back" button.  This feature might not
  work in all browsers.  I would appreciate your feedback as
  testers so that I can figure out how to make this feature
  work for everyone. 
  The Search Tool defaults to a frames version to toggle
  between collections of resources, but a non-frames version is
  available, using the same frame content as separate pages.
  The Search Tool is made up of forms interfaces to the
  following resources:
  - Inference Find
  - Northern Light
  - Hotbot SuperSearch
  - The Mining Co.
  - Librarians Index to the Internet
  - Search Engine Watch
  - Encarta (Abridged)
  - 482 Dictionaries
  - Multilingual Dictionary
  - CIA World Fact Book
  - Currency Converter
  - Hoover's MasterList Plus
  - MediConsult Medical Reference
  - Progressive Possibilities Index
  - Quotations databases
  - National Gallery of Art
  - Yahoo E-mail search
  - Residential White Pages
  - Business White Pages
  - Reverse Phone Lookup
  - Reverse Address Lookup
  - Zip codes + 4
  - Yahoo Maps
  - How Far Is It?
  - FindLaw LawCrawler
  - CIIR Govbot
  - GPO Access Pathway Indexer
  - GPO Access - Agencies
  - The Zipper
  - Government Official Search
  - Searches
  - Internet Library for Librarians
  - Index Morganagus
  - Acses booksearch
  - LC Simple Search
  Test it out and send me your feedback, and tell me if you
  think I'm flirting too heavily with copyright infringement.
  Rory Litwin


5. Information Subway Media Guide

A guide to non-corporate media sources put out by Seattle Independent
Media Coalition.

  "Independent media outlets
   bring you the stories that
   don't make it past corporate
   filters. Find a TV show, radio
   program or newssheet that
   suits your information needs."

Regional hubs are listed first, followed by links into the directory
according to media (television, internet, print, film/video, radio).


6. Music in the Public Domain

Founded in 1986, PD Info (taken over in early 1999 by Haven Sound, Inc.)
provides information and resources for identifying public domain materials.
As part of that project, this site has been developed to help users
understand what music they can freely use and how they may use it. As the
site explains, the rules for public domain use are not as clear-cut as they
seem, and users will find a concise and helpful overview of the differences
between copyright and public domain, and how to identify and prove publicve publicdomain. The heart of the site is a 3,000 song alphabetical list of
royalty-free music anyone may use in any way. Additional resources at the
site include annotated links to other public domain sites and a brief list
of examples of projects using public domain music. [MD]

>From the Internet Scout Report:

7. Eve Diel's Core Music - Email Compilation

Thanks to everyone who responded to my question about a Core Music
Bibliography (or discography).  I received some really great
responses that have helped me out a lot.  Since many people have
expressed interest in the information I received, I have compiled the
responses below.  Thanks again for all your help!

- Eve
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
I would suggest the Rough Guide series for Classical, Opera, Jazz,
and World Music. They each list several hundred recordings, but
they're rated so you can choose (what they feel) are the best and
still have room to expand from there. They also serve as nice
introductions to music appreciation in each of these areas. If you're
collecting popular music as well, I think any of the popular music
top-40-type guides would work well - Billboard publications, for
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
I would suggest using the All-Music Guides (there are separate
editions for jazz, classical, rock, etc.) -- see for
info about the books. There is a music librarians association -- if
they have a website, it would be linked from Good luck
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

I am the head of the music collections here at UGA.  Your request for
a source of basic music materials was forwarded to me.  I am also the
chair of the Music Library Assoc. Resource Sharing/Collection
Development Committee and we recently (2 years ago) published through
ALA the Basic Music Library (3rd ed.).  The last half of this
publication lists a core collection of recordings.  I must warn you
that a number of the specific recordings may no longer be in print.  I
would recommend that you use this BML in conjunction with Schwann OPUS
and match the repertoire to available recordings.  You might also be
able to get a vendor to supply recordings "based" on this list.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
TITLE:  A basic music library : essential scores and sound recordings
/ compiled by the Music Library Association ; Elizabeth Davis,
coordinating editor ; Pamela Bristah and Jane Gottlieb, scores editors
; Kent Underwood and William E. Anderson, sound recordings editors.
EDITION:  3rd ed. PUBLISHED:  Chicago : American Library Association,
1997. DESCRIPTION:  xvi, 665 p. ; 29 cm. NAMES:  Davis, Elizabeth A.,
1947- .  |  Music Library Association. SUBJECTS:  Music--Bibliography.
|  Music libraries--Collection development. NOTES:  Includes
bibliographical references and indexes. ISBN:  0838934617 LC CARD
NUMBER:     96-047351 /MN

I hope this information will help you out.  If you need anything else
just drop me a line.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
I couldn't locate a list of core titles, but this page should help

Try Compact Disc World  P.O. Box 927, South Plainfield, NJ 07080
Telephone 1-800-836-8742 or Fax 1-800-450-3472
This is the telephone/mail order side of the business. They have many
stores in the part of the country.  They do custom reports on any kind
of music you want.  I just got a Core'99 list but you can get
whatever.  They also have very good prices on CD's-better than many
others such as Baker & Taylor or Ingram.  Ask for Ira or Rocky but
anyone can help you.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Eve Diel
Reference Librarian
St. Charles County Community College
St. Peters, MO  63376

8. Biography sites

From ResPool -

>Can anyone recommend a good site devoted to biographies, or the date of
>birth and date of death of well known people.
>Janon Fisher

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

Here are some sites I find useful:
(Bios for all members of Congress since 1774)
(This is limited just to women's bios)
(This is a German site in English; very comprehensive)

Hope that's helpful.

Frank Boyett

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

From: "Melody" <huldah[at]>
This is a searchable database from A&E related to the Biography program. It
contains over 20,000 people.
Distinguished Women of Past and Present, "contains biographies of women who
contributed to our culture in many different ways.

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

"The Dead People Server"  The name says it all:

Hensley Roberts

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

Here is a site for historical individuals, which also has multiple links and searching capable databases. (whole plant earth!)

Here is an unsual site that some should find interesting. This site shows the gravesite when available for famous people. Check it out. Just, Danice J

just, danice J
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

Try the list selected by the Information Center of Utrecht University.


Huib Verhoeff
Information Officer
Information Center
Utrecht University

9. 1999 Annual Best LIBRI Student Paper competition

From: Nancy John <nrj[at]UIC.EDU>
Subject:      Libri Student Award: Deadline, May 31, 1999

K. G. Saur Verlag
Munich, Germany

announces the 1999 annual award for

Best LIBRI Student Paper

Since 1950, through 49 volumes, LIBRI International Journal of Libraries
and Information Services has been a leader among scholarly journals in the
international library world. As part of its strategy to remain one of the
premier library journals, LIBRI is issuing a call for "Best Student Paper
of 1999." This competition supports LIBRI's goal of publishing the best
articles from the next generation of library and information science
professionals. We are proud once again to recognize the very best article
with this special award.

Students at all levels are invited to submit articles with clarity and
authority. For 1999, there is no stated theme. Research papers should
address one of the significant issues facing today's librarians and
information professionals.  Case studies, best practices, and pure
research papers are all welcome.

Length: approx. 5000 words
Language: English
Deadline: May 31, 1999

The best paper will be selected by a panel consisting of the members of
the Editorial Board, the Advisory Board, and other international experts.
The paper will be judged on the basis of

originality of thought and observation
depth of research and scholarship
topicality of problems addressed
the international readership of the journal

The article will be published in the 1999:3 issue. The author of the
winning article will be honoured with an award of 500.00 USD and with a
complementary subscription to LIBRI for 2000.

Manuscripts should be sent to the

LIBRI Editorial Office
DK 8000 Aarhus C

Nancy John
Library Systems
University of Illinois at Chicago
Editor, Libri

*   IFLA-L is provided by the International Federation of Library     *
* Associations and Institutions (IFLA). For further information about *
*    IFLA activities, including organization or personal affiliate    *
*               information, contact:  IFLA[at]                  *
*                                                                     *
*                      URL:                              *

10. Letter from Wizard Marks to Minneapolis Commissioner Peter McLaughlin

  April 28, 1999

  Commissioner Peter McLaughlin
  A-2400 Government Center
  300 South Sixth Street
  Minneapolis, MN  55487

  Dear Peter:

  Over the past winter, I have been receiving information from
  friends who work at Hennepin County Library about a move on
  the part of Charles Brown, Director of HCL, to remove head
  cataloger Sanford Berman.  In 26 years at HCL, Berman,
  attempting to make the library system user friendly, has put
  HCL on the map.  He has debated the Library of Congress in
  service to that vision -- and won.  This is no small feat. As
  a result of his work, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
  folks no longer have all books which pertain to their lives
  cataloged without cross reference in sociology under the
  medical and insulting term "homosexual."  Likewise, Romany
  people are accessible to themselves through their own choice
  of name, Rom or Romany, rather than "gypsy," the previous
  subject heading and an insult.  The same can be said for
  Ojibway and Dakota, and other people of color.

  Imagine yourself a child looking for your history at the
  *public* library and finding books about yourself under an
  insulting term.  Given the mission of the public library, to
  level the playing field for the economically disadvantaged,
  it should hardly be revolutionary to catalog the books
  without insult, but it has been.  Sanford Berman, from out
  here in the far hinterlands, has moved the static Library of
  Congress to be inclusive.

  I have received phone calls, notes, and copies of memos from
  friends at HCL documenting how Charles Brown has been working
  to push Berman into retirement.  The last maneuver was to move
  Berman out of his office and take away all of his work as
  supervising cataloger.  Berman would then be given no work
  for however many years he might choose to stay (probably only
  2 or 3, he's 67), but would be paid his salary since he has an
  exemplary record.  Since Berman was making in the range of
  $60,000 plus per year, Brown was willing to continue paying
  out that kind of money without any work resulting, in an
  attempt to get rid of a man who has been a hard-working,
  tremendous asset to HCL.  It was clear in these memos that
  Brown does not respect employees of HCL and is willing to
  humiliate them publicly for disagreeing with his opinions in
  the privacy of staff meetings where, as senior staff, they
  should be candidly discussing the best ways to run the

  [This is the same Charles Brown I called you about last year
  when he was planning to raise the fines for late returns on
  children's books.  I asked you to stop it from happening
  (which you did, thank you so much) because children often get
  slapped around for costing their families money by forgetting
  to return their books on time.  The kids, to save themselves
  a beating, don't return the books and the library loses

  The memos noted above went to employees throughout the HCL
  system, signaling that it is dangerous for library
  professionals to discuss *among themselves* the issues which
  determine how effective the library will be in serving the
  public.  Already good librarians are looking for work
  elsewhere and anundertone of rage has invaded HCL staff.
  This will cost the county more money it can ill afford to
  waste since angry, discouraged employees' work will be
  affected in subtle but telling ways.

  Peter, Sanford Berman is a courtly gentleman of the old
  school.  He reminds me of Sam Kaplan in that respect --
  gorgeous manner, never condescending, never insulting.  In
  the middle of this year-long assault, he has never resorted
  to calling Brown a dirty so-and-so, even though, from those
  memos, Brown richly deserves the moniker.

  I'm just sick about this, Peter, and while I do not know that
  there is anything you can do to reverse the decision, I hope
  that you can, at the very least, exact a public apology.
  Further, something needs to happen which will stem the
  bleeding out of good librarians from the system -- even
  though it means that other libraries will get some great
  librarians as a result.  That something should include asking
  for resignations from Brown and some few others who are
  creating this hideous situation.  HCL is a tremendously
  important resource and I do not want it to suffer from the
  stupidities of blind ambition.


  Wizard Marks


11. Chuck0's commentary on the Dr. Laura flap and other attacks

Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 18:29:49 -0400
From: Chuck0 <chuck[at]>
X-Accept-Language: en
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: librarians[at]
Subject: Fwd: Playing chess with the right wing
Sender: owner-librarians[at]
Precedence: bulk

I'm forwarding a message I sent to the anarchy-list about Filtering
Facts. It explains many things that may of you are already familiar
with. This is my attempt to bring library issues to folks who aren't
librarians, but who are sympathetic to our goals.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Playing chess with the right wing
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 17:30:24 -0400
From: Chuck0 <chuck[at]>
Reply-To: Chuck0 <chuck[at]>
To: AnarchyAreWe <anarchy-list[at]>

If you thought that politics were dull, events of the past month are
proving otherwise.

Some of you know about my ongoing battle in the library profession with
the right wingers who want to mandate filtering software in every public
library and school. Their side has suffered some bad court setbacks in
the last 6 months, so they are getting increasingly desperate. On this
issue I find myself in the eccentric wing of the establishment. This is
kind of an oddity for me because I always find myself FIGHTING the
establishment. In this case, the establishment is the American Library
Association and they are being attacked now by the religious right
because they are sticking by their basic principles, although they are
quaking in their boots.

The point of contention is of course children accessing the Internet in
public libraries. The religious right simply thinks they need to "save"
children from being damaged by seeing the wrong things on library
computers. These "inappropriate" things are naked women, bestiality, and
more recently, bomb-making information. Thankfully, support for their
cause is rather thin, but they are pulling out all the stops to whip up
hysteria in their favor. They are and will continue to exploit the
Littleton shootings for political gain. Recently they've enlisted Dr.
Laura, a crappy radio talk show therapist, to convince her 20 million
listeners that ALA has an active campaign to expose kids to sex with

ALA has been the target of the religious right for several years. The
most vocal voice has been Karen Jo Gonauld, who is president of "Family
Friendly Libraries." She made a name for herself in the D.C. area
several years ago when she tried to stop the FREE distribution of the
Washington Blade, a gay weekly, in the lobbies of suburban Virginia
public libraries. She failed, but then she allied herself with the
religious right and was influential on the Loudon County filtering case.

One of her tactics has been to demonize the ALA and specifically, the
Library Bill of Rights. And now Dr. Laura and the rest of her ilk have
joined this attack on the Library Bill of Rights, which most public
libraries have adopted.

Why the attack on the Library Bill of Rights? The Library Bill of Rights
( has a clause which states that
"A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged
because of origin, age, background, or views." ALA and the library
profession had the wisdom years ago to stand up for the rights of
children to free speech. This statement against age discrimination has
become controversial now that the Internet allows access to all kinds of
things. The religious right, which has no concept of the rights of
children, is in a rage about this "abridgment of parental rights." They
are convinced that any teenager who sees some pornography is going to be
traumatized beyond all hope.

One of the most outspoken proponents of library filtering is librarian
David Burt, who runs the Filtering "Facts" website
( I suspect he has been involved in Dr. Laura's
recent campaign against the ALA. Oddly enough, her monologues leading up
to the attack on ALA focused on pedophilia, so you gotta wonder if she
was setting up ALA as a big pedophile supporting straw man.

Last week, ToysRUs canceled a $1,000,000 program with ALA, citing Dr.
Laura's criticisms of ALA. I wrote a long response, explaining how
ToysRUs bailing out was a good thing, because libraries have been making
too many cozy arrangements with the corporate world. I also criticized
the cozy relationship that libraries and ALA has had with Bill Gates and
his library foundation. I explained how his views on intellectual
property are hostile to the principles of fair use which librarians
believe in.

I should also mention that several of us radical and anarchist
librarians have been speaking out about ALA's choice of Colin Powell as
the keynote speaker for this summer's conference. We've objected to the
$20,000 that ALA is going to give this war criminal (a library
corporation is chipping in another $50,000).

So now David of Filtering Facts has responded by calling for Colin
Powell to cancel his speaking appearance, saying that it is
"inappropriate for the General to lend his presence to an organization
that promotes free access to pornography for children." He is also
calling on Bill Gates to stop funding libraries because he claims that
they are promoting pornography:

"While this is a laudable mission, many
of these libraries are providing young children with unfiltered,
unmonitored Internet access, including hard-core triple-x
pornography. We demand that the Gates Library Foundation provide funds
only to libraries that agree to take
responsibility for protecting children from Internet pornography."

While it may be tempting to laugh about these recent salvos in the
culture wars, it is important to pay attention and to be involved.
Public support for filtering is low, but we can see how the Littleton
incident can quickly escalate the hysteria to the point where many
children's lives are made more miserable.

Chuck0 "I feel like I've been transported back to Ronnie Reagan's


12. Vanity Fair Article about Dr. Laura

Some of you may already know of the Vanity Fair article about
the odious Dr. Laura.  For those who don't, check out:


Bill T.

13. "Stop the Madness" - Satire

At 11:24 AM 5/7/1999 -0400, you wrote:
>This rant against libraries is undoubtedly meant to be a satirical
>approach to defending the internet against censorship.  However, the
>author seems unaware how close his absurd hyperbole comes to the
>arguments of librarians' real adversaries.

I and the author are completely aware of "how close his absurd hyperbole comes to the arguments of librarians' real adversaries" -- that is the essence of satire.

Suzanne M. Stauffer, M.L.S.
Doctoral Student, Information Studies
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
University of California, Los Angeles
254 GSE&IS Building, Box 951520
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1520

Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity there will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions: for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making. -- John Milton, Areopagitica

14. Housemans and Bookmarks fight back against threats of libel action

Two small bookshops - Housmans and Bookmarks, which are
almost the only radical bookshops remaining in central
London - are facing a renewed threats of libel action
because they have stocked the anti-fascist magazine

Under the notoriously draconian libel laws in Britain,
anyone claiming to have been defamed by a publication
can sue not only that publication, but also any shops
claimed to have sold the item concerned. Several years
ago, some people criticised in Searchlight used this
provision to attack a number of political bookshops
around the country. Only one of those cases remains
unsettled, and because it had been dormant for over two
years it was assumed, effectively, to be dropped.

However, this last case has recently been revived by the
person criticised in Searchlight, and the two shops face
a very serious legal and financial threat. So the shops
are in turn reviving their defence campaign to raise
both political and financial support for their stand.

To support the continued existence of outlets for
alternative and progressive literature, contact (and
send donations to):
Bookshop Libel Fund, c/o Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian
Rd, London N1
(tel + 44 171-837 4473);
c/o Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury St, London WC1
(tel + 44 171-637 1848).


Albert Beale, Housmans Peace Resource Project
5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1, UK
Tel +44-171-278 4474 Fax +44-171-278 0444
E-mail worldpeace[at] 


15. FYI France -- BNF Strike, the results

Date:    Fri, 16 Apr 1999 14:13:39 -0600
From:    Jack Kessler <kessler[at]>
Subject: FYI France -- BNF Strike, the results

FYI France: ! New books on the Front National, and more, at,


FYI France: BNF Strike results -- the Minister's letter

Many of you have asked about the results of the Bibliothe`que
Nationale de France strike, arguably one of the earliest "digital
information labor actions" to have taken place anywhere, so far.

The strike occurred last Fall, in October. One of the original
and always central issues was the inability of the new digital
information systems to live up to expectations -- defenders
crying "unreasonable" expectations, and detractors contending
"minimal" -- digital information thus finally reaching the bar of
labor action and history: see FYI France, Oct 23 & Nov 15, 1998.

So here is what the French did: a committee was established -- I
can hear the groans already, many of them French -- a report was
issued, recommendations were made...

But this _is_ how these things are done. Even the "corporate"
types who read this will admit that private firms look a lot less
efficient from the inside than out, and not just in France. And
the BNF after all _is_ a giant, public, and ancient institution:
Yale University's Bart Giamatti used to complain of having to
"run a 20th century enterprise using 16th century methods".
Public institution governance does require patience.

After patient waiting by all concerned, then, the national
Ministre de la Culture et de la Communication, Catherine
Trautmann, issued the following instructions for resolving the
BNF strike and crisis, on March 16: (tr. JK)


Monsieur Jean-Pierre ANGREMY
Pre'sident de la Bibliothe`que nationale de France
11 Quai Franc,ois Mauriac
75706 Paris Cedex 13

Monsieur le Pre'sident,

As you know, the difficulties encountered by the Bibliothe`que
Nationale de France in opening its "lower - garden" level to
researchers hold a significant place in my current concerns.

These difficulties should not obscure the considerable work which
has been accomplished by your organization, and all of its
successes: the computerization of your printed works catalogs,
the opening of your "upper garden" level to the general public,
the open access to much of the collection, the launch of your
"Gallica" Internet site, the move of the Richelieu collections,
the improvement of the De'po^t Le'gal outside of Paris as part of
the "Po^les Associe's" project... The list of all of the actions
and achievements already accomplished by the BNF is long, and has
produced a first - rate cultural and scientific resource of great
value to the nation.

Nevertheless, certain steps remain to be taken to improve the
functioning of your institution, and the extensive study which
just has been undertaken on this subject to me appears to have
been particularly positive.

In conformity with the agreement established as a result of the
strike of October - November 1998, between representatives of the
staff and the management of the institution, nine working groups
completed their analyses at the end of January, and based on
these M. Albert Poirot, Inspecteur Ge'ne'ral des Bibliothe`ques,
recently submitted his summary report to me.

I would like to tell you how much I was struck by the enormity of
the task which has been accomplished in so short a time by all of
the members of the working groups, and by M. Poirot, as well as
by the quality of M. Poirot's report.

On reading the report, important recommendations emerge clearly,
and it appears to me imperative -- considering the long period of
waiting by both the staff of the BNF and its readers -- that they
be applied quickly to the principal problems which the report
describes, taking into account the financial implications of the
solutions which have been proposed.

I know that you already work constantly to optimise the
information systems and the communications network in order to
enable the direct delivery of documents to users, a task which I
consider as you do to be a primary objective, and I can assure
you that you yourself as well as your services have my entire
confidence in this undertaking.

In addition, so that the establishment which you direct will
function in the most coherent and efficacious manner possible,
using to their very best advantage all of the skills of your
personnel, I wish you to undertake a series of measures
immediately. Some of them will come from your organization
directly, others require cooperation with the central
administration of my Ministry: specifically the Direction du
Livre et de la Lecture and the Direction de l'Administration

These measures are the following:

* You will propose to me, before May 15, a program of projects
for the building at Tolbiac as well as a policy of improvements,
for the years 1999 and 2000. These projects are to lead to an
improvement in the document delivery network, and in the working
conditions of personnel, particularly in the book stacks.

* You will strive to give a renewed dynamism to personnel
policies, by assigning a more important position and more
ambitious objectives to the management in charge of this area,
and by ensuring that the highest management of the BNF will be
available and open to those who work in the personnel area.

* It is my wish that all possible measures be taken to train
personnel regarding the development of the information systems,
particularly those involved with the release of the Version 2
scheduled for the end of this year.

* I am to receive an account of the study of your institution's
opening hours, undertaken by yourselves in cooperation with the
Direction du Livre et de la Lecture and other interested parties.
It is my wish that proposals in this area be submitted to me by
the beginning of June.

* The organization will find a way to improve, perceptibly, the
procedures for reception of the public, and to develop policies
for distance access.

* A program of evaluations of the BNF will be proposed by the
Direction du Livre et de la Lecture, working with the management
of your organization and the Inspection Ge'ne'rale des

* You will prepare a projet d'e'tablissement to be confirmed by a
contrat d'objectifs between the Ministry and the BNF, cooperating
with the Direction du Livre et de la Lecture and the Direction de
l'Administration Ge'ne'rale.

* A new evaluation of the adequacy of both the number of
personnel and of their qualifications, for the good functioning
of the organization and full use of its capacities, will be
submitted to me by the end of this year.

* As to personnel policies, to me it appears essential that the
work of the personnel be appreciated at all levels. You are to
establish, in particular, the Comite' Technique Paritaire and the
Comite' d'hygie`ne et de Se'curite' as lines of communication
between management and representatives of the personnel.

* Moreover, you will take steps to reinforce the coherence of the
operation of all services. Internal organization will be changed
to permit better informing of personnel, as well as their greater
participation in the operation of the organization, notably by
their participation on inter - departmental committees. An
internal organization chart defining these responsabilities will
be developed.

* It is my wish, as well, that job training and continuing
education policies be reinforced. The creation of a center for
job training and professional documentation at Tolbiac will be
studied. At the same time, the mobility of personnel, inside the
organization as well as outside, will be facilitated, taking into
account individual situations. Finally, the extension of social
benefits will be pursued through a multi - year program.

Thank you for seeing that all of these measures are put into
place with the least delay, and that personnel regularly are
informed of their development.

I wish to be informed myself by the Direction du Livre et de la
Lecture of the progress of this work.

I am convinced that at the end of this current initial period the
"lower - garden" level will reach all of its objectives and will
be able fully to satisfy its users. Nor do I doubt that the BNF
will be able to provide the distance services which it offers
using its internal network and the Internet. Thus the entire
nation will be able to obtain the greatest part of the
exceptional achievement which your institution represents.

Je vous prie d'agre'er, Monsieur le Pre'sident, l'expression de
ma conside'ration distingue'e.


[The original French as of today may be read online at,

listed as, "Rapport de synthe`se sur les re'flexions conduites
par les neufs groupes de travail de la Bibliothe`que Nationale de
France Paris, le 16 mars 1999". JK]


Editor's note:

Others will be more adept than I am at interpreting the languages
of diplomacy and bureaucracy which are involved here.

It seems obvious that the personnel problems have impressed the
Minister. And she continues to feel that the information systems,
and specifically the Internet access, must have the highest
priority at the BNF -- if, that is, "primary placement" in her
letter gives these matters the same priority which they would
enjoy so - placed in a similar letter in a US context -- but then
things are not always obvious in France.

To the very American question, "show me the money?", there seems
to be no answer offered here. But then this was not the occasion,
perhaps. Still, budget is an ongoing problem, particularly with
information systems: the Minister acknowledges this in her polite
but chilling reference to "implications financie`res des
solutions", at one point -- the "no - free - lunch clause", they
call this in corporate America -- one hopes that personnel, and
information systems, will not get starved and certainly not see
one robbed to benefit the other at the BNF, as happens so often
in corporate "reorganizations". But then money thrown at
problems does not resolve the, either. The new BNF formula for
this balance will be watched carefully by many others.

Recent visitors to the BNF assure me that conditions still are as
difficult as they have been but that the attitude of the staff is
much, much better. Now comes the critical period, when concrete
progress must be shown in all areas -- not too much, lest
mistakes be made, nor too little, lest the cynics nod their heads
in resignation and unfurl their banners once again or, worse,
simply give up and go home. Mme. Trautmann knows this, as do M.
Angre'my and any of the BNF staff with experience in management
and administration. The enthusiasts and cynics do not -- those
inevitable folks -- but then they are not running the place.

The BNF now has, at least, gone through its labor movement
"baptism of fire" -- hopefully learning from its experience and
even perhaps providing valuable lessons to the rest of us on how
human institutions are going to cope, or not, with digital
information. It ain't easy. One question for the rest of us is
whether / when / how "labor movements" elsewhere are going to
begin taking on the questions of the digital information age?


FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal                   ISSN 1071 - 5916

      |           FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic
      |           journal published since 1992 as a small-scale,
      |           personal experiment, in the creation of large-
      |           scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler.
     / \          Any material written by me which appears in
    -----         FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for
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  ---------       credit and show my email address, and, b) it
//       \\      isn't going to make them money: if it is going
                  to make them money, they must get my permission
in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me.
Use of material written by others requires their permission.
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(BIBLIO-FR econference archive), or at ,
or at . Suggestions,
reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all will be
gratefully received at kessler[at]

                Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler,
        all rights reserved except as stated above.


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