Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More stories about New Orleans in general

I was not aware that New Orleans is also suffering drought. How ironic. They’ve had 30 inches less rain than usual since Hurricane Rita, according to my cousin. This produces various effects, besides the burned out yards, that were previously so lushly green. There are visible holes in the ground in places. The roads are buckling, as the underlying earth dries out, the road surfaces drop unevenly creating some amazing pot holes.

Lots of little things just haven’t been a priority. Many road sign are missing, so I was often unsure what street I was on or was crossing. Along St. Charles Street I was pleasantly surprised that many of the stately live oaks have survived – lost some branches, but still standing, but driving home at night I noticed a lot of the street lights were missing. I can't imagine what it was like when there was no power and the roads were full of debris.

My cousin took me around his property one day. What was once a jungle is quite bare, but with plenty of piles of brush and debris. Many trees were lost, including one they were hoping would come down. Only a couple of big trees are left: two cypresses and a pine – all of them leaning the way the wind pushed them.

One spot was especially bare, where the tornado had touched down. I didn’t realize the hurricane was full of tornadoes too. A shed was destroyed, and the garage, which was partially falling in, had the roof totally cave in, though the walls were kept up by vines.

The four foot swimming pool has totally evaporated in this drought. My cousin showed me where the roof of the house next door had blown into the yard and onto the fence. Surprisingly the maze of gardenia bushes seems to have survived.

The amount of clearing they have had to do is amazing. He has gone through four chain-saws and has had numerous relatives and friends help. The downed trees were a factor in not getting robbed, as no one could get to their house.

The house itself sustained roof damage, so it leaked through and damaged many things. The small back porch that was crushed by a fallen tree has been replaced by a more substantial back porch, which is now full of plants, but also an area for the cats. One of the rooms upstairs has been redone – in lilac with a sky blue ceiling. The ceiling has been raised to the roof – giving a more spacious feel.

One morning I helped my cousin and his lady inventory her Barbie and other collectible doll boxes. With the damage to the original boxes, the dolls will have lost their value. So I was describing Barbie doll boxes – year, edition, item #, value, like cataloging books. I actually got a bit intrigued, but not enough to try a hand at collecting something like this myself.

The other thing that I am sure has suffered in this post Katrina period is relationships. I saw that with my cousin. The stresses of loss, instability of jobs and life, lack of services, finances, dealing with insurance, FEMA, and tons of paperwork can be overwhelming and put a strain on the best of relationships.

Just a quick example about finances: they have bee allotted $15,000 for clean-up of their yard and that has long since been spent. My cousin has put in all his savings, small inheritance, bonus, and paychecks. She has spent all of her insurance money, savings, and cashed in CD’s. And there is a lot more to be done. I wish them well.

Lance was lucky - some roof damage, but no water got into the house, though the refrigerator had to be hauled out to the side of the road, and I'm sure there was damage outside. So I saw the range from a little damage, to major damage, to total loss.

Monday, July 03, 2006

ALA - Exhibits

I spent quite a few hours in the exhibits, including time getting a few signed books and picking up quite a few free galley proofs (the pile is in the Reference office for anyone to read, but please return them.) Below are notes on some things that were related to my work and may impact our library as a whole.

Russian/International/Multicultural materials
I’ll have to talk to Bettina on how we are developing our international and multi-cultural collection that supports various programs and could support internationalization across the curriculum.
East View – we can have a minimal selection plan with them. I will have to talk to Dasha Nisula, and maybe some of the local Russian community, what we should order.
Russia Online is another one of the major vendors for Russian materials. They had an interesting encyclopedia of Russian military equipment and tour books for Ukraine.
SpeakEasy http://www.speakeasyspanish.com/ provides a series of books called Survival Spanish. We have been talking in the International Ed. Council about the need for courses that teach a professional enough of a language, to be able deal with clients, without learning all about the grammar, etc. Speak Easy has been teaching courses to health care workers, bankers, construction folk, and many others. The course materials have evolved into books and CD’s. I’ve talked to Maria about this.
Multicultural Books and Videos (in Michigan!) – I picked up the main catalogs from this company, that covers Arabic, Chinese, Farsi/Persian, French, German, Haitian-Creole, Hmong, Italian, Korean, Languages of India, Polish, Portugese, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Turkish, and Vietnamese, with dictionaries available in more languages, and contacts to get to materials in even more languages.

Other things to possibly order
PREP Publishing has a series of Real-Resumes for X (various different fields) http://www.prep-pub.com/
was an interesting American art database.
College Prowler
publishes guides and grades for 200 top colleges and some regional guides based on student evaluations. I think we should get a few, at least the ones for UofM, MSU, Chicago schools, Ivy League, Big 10. http://www.collegeprowler.com/

Chat Reference
has an Ask a Librarian service http://tutor.com/products/aal.aspx that can work in tandem with our own – they would cover hours we were not available.
is still out there from OCLC to help provide 24/7 reference.

Audio Books
is a new system of listening. It works like an I-pod and all the controls are right on the book.
carries a lot of classics.

There were many vendors offering RFID services. I stopped to talk to just one of them. They showed me how a chip that looks like a regular paper sticker is inserted into each book – like our current bar codes, and is used for inventory purposes as well as much quicker check-out, allowing self-checkout. I saw the check-out stations and they reminded me of the self-ticketing machines in airports. I did not ask about price, because I knew it would be high, but this vendor said he had a library that found that their RFID system paid for itself in two years. (Must have been a small library.)
Koha, an open source ILS system? We have other experts here at ALA, and we probably have too much invested with Endeavor, but it was interesting to see an open source system available for library use. Plus, LibLime, the vendor helping people adapt Koha, is based in Athens, OH, an old stomping ground of mine.

Random items
Drop boxes – I asked a drop box vendor about students using it as a garbage bin, and was told that doesn’t occur very much. Some boxes even have slots for liquids or small objects to fall through in a separate space from the books. Prices from this one company ranged from $1700 - $6000 per drop box.
I asked MLA vendors to pass on my request for abstracts in their indexing. They seemed surprised and thought the esoteric subject headings they add were adequate.
Google had a much more substantial booth than last year – showing services to librarians that they could use. I learned more about their services like Book Search, Google Earth, Google News, etc. and I picked up a couple of CD’s with downloads of some of their services. I liked the way they had us fill out a quiz – to see if we knew the details of their services, and only after we had verified our answers with someone, we could get a prize.
I briefly talked to a representative from Family Search, one of the three large genealogy search services from Utah, but the only one that is free. http://www.familysearch.org/
I stopped by at the Endeavor booth, but got an inexperienced rep. I just wanted to see where they have gone with their federated searching (now called Discovery: Finder). I know others are researching federated searching and ERM for us, so I didn’t dwell on it.
Rebuild New Orleans Public Library
– the most heart wrenching experience at a booth was talking to the people from the New Orleans Public Library. They do not expect to see NOPL back to “normal” during their work careers. There is no longer a tax base for them to get funding, and a small percentage of the staff (I think it was something like 40) are trying to run all current open branches. I bought a T-shirt and buttons to support them.