Monday, February 25, 2008


This February marks our fourth anniversary of our grand opening of our new facility. It seems hard to believe, but it is for real.

This February we are on track to have more "virtual visitors" (people who visit our website), than actual visitors who walk through our doors. It may seem hard to believe since the number of actual visitors who walked through our doors has gone up by 195% since our first year here, but it is for real.

This February we added not one, but two T-1 lines to increase our bandwidth for Internet access. It may seem hard to believe that we maxed out a T-1 line, but it is for real.

This February we broke our all time high record for program attendance - we had approximately 350 people to hear Elizabeth Eckford speak at our Library. Ms. Eckford was one of the "Little Rock Nine" that helped to desegregate Little Rock High School in 1957. It seems hard to believe that after four years we are breaking records, but it is for real.

This February our City Council approved a plan to expand our Library. We are in a private-public office building where the first three (soon to be four) floors are the Library, and the top four (soon to be three) floors are private office space. The fourth floor, which will add over 12,000 square feet to our Library, will primarily be an auditorium. We also have plans to have an art gallery, computer lab, and conference rooms. It passed by a unanimous vote, and the only comments by the aldermen were praise for what the Library is doing. No one could have imagined the success and support that we continue to receive for our community, but it is for real.

Happy Reading,
Cindy Fuerst
Library Director

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Brother's Keeper

A few years ago a man came up to the reference desk and said to me, "What water is under the table?" For a moment I thought I'd misheard him. I said, "Excuse me?" He replied, with an annoyed expression like I'd missed a rather obvious point, "If the after affects of radio news on one's clothes is forgotten, how are we to carpet the bear's house?" Later, a friend who knows about these things said this affectation is called "word salad" and is a common symptom of schizophrenia. I couldn't help but wonder at the time, and now, how this man could be walking about unassisted. How does he survive? The answer lies in the Supreme Court case O'Connor v. Donaldson that secured freedom to everyone not a "danger" to themselves or others, thus largely emptying the mental institutions across the United States. I have personally witnessed individuals in my library eating french-fries out of the garbage, wearing clothes soiled in their own waste, and with grossly untreated wounds. Are these people "enjoying" liberty as the rest of us are doing? Are they able? We can easily dismiss the mentally ill as a bother in our library, or after Virginia Tech and NIU, as evil. But they don't make me angry; they make me sad. When their allies force them to live on the streets uncared for, I wonder if their enemies could do worse.

Steve Bertrand
Assistant Director

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Rose With Any Other Nomenclature

I received my shiny new copy of the annual University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science alumni newsletter this weekend. Paging through it, I happened up on a word I'd not heard before. Informatics. It appeared in the professional histories of several new faculty members. I hurried to the best resource for identifying unfamiliar concepts, Wikipedia! Turns out informatics is the study of, you guessed it, information. That seems to be a better description of what my colleagues and I do than the word "librarian," what with its root word libre, referring to books. Like it or not, books are becoming less and less the central focus of the 21st century library. Now if it were just possible to teach a four-year-old to pronounce informatician...

Stephen Bertrand
Assistant Director