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Resolutions

December 27, 2002

The root of “resolution,” as in New Year’s Resolution, is resolve … as if you’re re-solving what you should have solved last year.

So goes the typical New Year’s Resolution, which revisits a familiar topic reluctantly and irresolutely.

New Year’s Resolutions are often doomed to failure merely for being immeasurable: “I will become a better person.” OK.

“We will make the library a better place.” How nice.

With such cautions in mind, I shall share a selection of personal Library Resolutions for 2003.

I resolve to have staff meetings. You may wonder how we’ve done without them. As the library hours of operation evolved from 40 to 70 hours per week, we couldn’t get everyone in one place at one time when the library wasn’t open.

We noticed after a while that we were playing the “telephone game,” in which someone tells someone, who tells someone else, and by the end of the line the message is different.

My idea is to find volunteers to monitor the circulation desk and telephones a few hours per month while the staff meets. I resolve to work on it after the holidays.

What about new technology? I resolve to get the library hooked up to the Colorado MNT (Multi-Use Network) in 2003. Of course, most of this is out of my hands, but we have the paperwork started. The MNT is a high-speed, fiber-optic network laid to every county seat in Colorado. The public sector (governments, schools, etc.) gets to connect first.

We have been pleased with our wireless Internet service from Vanion, Inc., but for technical reasons our library system will work better over a fixed land line.

I also resolve to give Linux a try. We will load an old computer with the free, open-source operating system called Linux, in place of Windows, and take it for a spin.

Linux is not for the faint-hearted, but it has advantages beyond its price — primarily, that it runs well on older computers. Upgrading Windows software would cost a lot, but in order to use it, we would also have to upgrade computer hardware at yet more cost.

Linux may help us prolong the useful life of our hardware. Would that there were a Linux for Humans.

I resolve to finish the “laptop node” to let people with laptop computers hook up to the Internet through the library’s connection.

I resolve to add new technology to our collection, too — DVDs. We have a few now. When we replaced some “Baby Einstein” videos, we also bought DVD versions. We plan to add films, as well — for example, foreign films that are not carried by local video stores.

I resolve to continue work on collection development, which is a trade phrase for buying books for the library. We take two basic approaches: buying books people want, and buying books people need.

Bestsellers are easy. People want them, we buy them. Often, people need a book, but they don’t know which one they want. We try to keep good books on useful and interesting subjects on the shelves and ready. When we lack something, we try to find the best books we can for our crowded shelves.

We installed compact shelving in the basement for more space. I resolve to use it wisely. It will hold books we value (cataloged now as “Staff Retrieval”) but that very few people want to read nowadays.

Oh … and I also resolve to organize my desk.

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