Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Upcoming marketing summit for Library Directors

You might be interested in this upcoming marketing summit for Library Directors, held at San Francisco Public Library.  

Check out the schedule, and register here:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Member Savings Report for FY 2009-2010

We have finished the Member Savings Report for Fiscal Year 2009-2010, and we are thrilled to have been able to help member libraries save over $4.6 million last year!

View the report, and see what your library saved on our website at If your library hasn't been able to save as much as you'd like, email us to find out how we might be able to work with your plans, and save your library more this year.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

OUP trials and special pricing this fall

Oxford University Press is offering special pricing on several of their databases for Califa members through the end of November. Trials are available to all members on our Trials page online ( --> members --> internal documents) of the following databases (full descriptions are below):

African American Studies Center
Oxford Biblical Studies Center
Oxford Dictionaries online
Berg Fashion Library
Social Explorer

Please let us know whether you would like a quote, or need your califa website login information.

NEW! Oxford Dictionaries Online 30% off first-year subscription
Do you have patrons looking for guidance on job applications, resumes, and cover letters? Oxford Language Dictionary's Practical Writing section can help. Are there puzzle enthusiasts among your patrons? Fans of crosswords and similar word games should check out the Puzzles section to help solve some of those trickier clues.

Do we need Oxford Dictionaries Online?
70% of people need and use English language resources (for students, the figure is 90%)*
70% of users surveyed found free online dictionaries difficult to use, slow, or out of date**
* Source: Book Marketing Limited research for Oxford University Press 2007
** Source: Oxford University Press consumer research July 2009
Although there are many free dictionary sites, they are not meeting user needs.

Oxford Dictionaries Online is sure to become the go-to resource for definition-seekers, professionals, writers, students, teachers, non-native speakers, puzzle enthusiasts, and anyone wanting to "look it up." Includes audio pronunciation and practical writing advice to make the right impression in everyday situations, including apply for a job and email guidelines.

NEW! Berg Fashion Library 20% off first-year subscription
For all of those budding Project Runway contestants among your teen patrons, and for your community theatre folks or doll-making enthusiasts, here is the new go-to resource!

Anchored by the 10-volume Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion (July 2010), the Berg Fashion Library incorporates a full range of resources essential for anyone working on dress or fashion. Contains 4,000+ images (including 1,600 from the Victoria and Albert Museum's internationally renowned fashion collection). Beginning in 2011, over 2,000 images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute collection will be uploaded.

Social Explorer 20% off first-year subscription
Understanding your community is the key to success. Make sure that you and your patrons have that key by offering Social Explorer.

Social Explorer is an online research tool designed to provide quick and easy access to historical census data and demographic information. It creates fast, intuitive, and appealing maps and reports to help users visually analyze and understand demography and social change throughout history, 1790 – present.
"...they've done a fantastically thorough job. You can zoom all the way from the national level to ... the street you live on, and see all sorts of different data, from income to industry to gender to ethnicity to means of commuting to family structure. Want a map showing percent of foreign-born nationals who immigrated in the last five years? It's there. Want a map showing percentage of self-employed males? It's there. Percentage of housing where rent is between $600 - $800 per month, or where heat is provided by solar power? It’s there." The Changing World - Jeremy Faludi, 2005
Oxford Biblical Studies Online 30% off first year subscription
Are your patrons interested in biblical studies, commentary, or almost anything in the 200's? And…would they enjoy the flexibility of comparing various Bible verse translations and commentaries side-by-side? Oxford Biblical Studies Online might be the resource just for them!

"HOW GOOD IS IT? I have truly just scratched the surface of this mammoth work of scholarship . . . Oxford breaks the one-to-ten rating scale once again: this file is an astonishing 11. Most highly recommended for academic, public, school, and special libraries serving serious Bible researchers." —Cheryl LaGuardia Library Journal, May 1, 2009

Oxford African American Studies Center 30% off first-year subscription
Be prepared to meet all of your student patron's needs for Black History Month! Along with authoritative reference content, the rich image gallery and multi-media video clips bring history to life - watch Hank Aaron break the major league home run record or Maya Angelou recite “And Still I Rise”. Take a look at Oxford's African American Studies Center and explore the riches available on an unlimited access basis.

“The folks at Oxford have once again thought of everything…There’s not enough space to extol OAASC’s virtues sufficiently…Because it is so extraordinary, the resource makes it necessary this once to raise the usual rating scale of 1 to 10 to an unprecedented 11! The Bottom Line: A remarkable achievement in accessible scholarship, Oxford African American Studies Center is strongly recommended for all libraries.” — Cheryl LaGuardia, Library Journal

Science in rural libraries

Check out this NPR blog post (pasted below) about science programs in rural libraries. Califa is happy to be managing the project.

Myth: The American populace is science-ignorant, lagging well behind other “developed” nations in scientific literacy.

Fact: It turns out that the U.S. curve is U-shaped: Elementary-school children perform as well in science-understanding metrics as their peers elsewhere, even though formal science teaching at these grade levels is at best sporadic, whereas middle- and high-school students perform abysmally even though they take required science courses. But American adults demonstrate scientific knowledge on a par or above adults in other “developed” countries, even though only 30 percent of adult Americans have ever taken even one college-level science course.

So how to explain these data?

Much of my information derives from an excellent article in the American Scientist by John Falk and Lynn Dierking. They present studies showing that school is not where most Americans learn most of their science. Instead, knowledge is acquired via what is called informal science education or free-choice science learning. And while Falk and Dierking stress that current efforts to improve formal science education should be pursued with vigor, they lift up the imperative to also maximize opportunities for adults to pursue inherent levels of curiosity relating to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

So how do Americans engage in free-choice science learning?
Studies indicate a variety of sources. Adults may be pursuing a hobby, like gardening or tropical fish or star gazing, and devour relevant information. They may take their children to science museums and zoos and pick up information and curiosity in the process. They may be afficionados of NOVA or Discovery Channel. They may consult the internet when they — or family members — incur a disease or when a disaster like the Gulf oil spill occurs, seeking to better understand what’s going on. They may bookmark 13.7 or Chet Raymo or Carl Zimmer or Kahn or Seed and avail themselves of scientists’ attempts to make their passions accessible. They may frequent a science café.

All this is good, but the fact remains that major segments of the U.S. populace do not meet the STEM-literate bar no matter where it is set. Many would self-describe as science-disinterested, or as science-phobic, believing that they lack the wherewithal to understand “that stuff,” or as science-averse, believing that science is a sinister force.

These observations take me to describing how I’ve spent my past few days. I went to Chicago to serve as a scientific advisor to a fascinating project, funded by the National Science Foundation and spearheaded by a group that includes our own Marcelo Gleiser, to develop free-choice STEM accessibility and interest in rural U.S. communities.

Persons in small towns and rural communities lack direct access to science museums or zoos or public lectures or science cafés, and home internet access, if available at all, it is via agonizingly slow dial-up connections. Happily, thanks to the largess of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, more than 98 percent of U.S. librarians now have enhanced broadband access, meaning that the local public library has rapidly become a primary destination for those seeking on-line information as well as books and videos. Indeed, in rural areas, the local library may be the “only show in town” for adult community life. The sign outside the Gilpin County Public Library in Colorado, for example, reads: “FREE COFFEE. INTERNET. NOTARY. PHONE. SMILES. RESTROOMS & IDEAS.”

Many of these libraries sponsor public book clubs, but their focus is almost solely humanities-related. Moreover, the librarians that valiantly serve these libraries, often single-handedly, are rarely formally STEM-educated and, when interviewed, are forthright in acknowledging their sense that their ability to encourage STEM literacy is limited.

So the NSF project being developed is basically a hybrid of a book club and a science café. Here’s the concept.

Choose 4 STEM-related topics.
Create three classy professionally-generated 10-minute videos on each topic.
Identify interested rural librarians and help them locate local persons with some STEM background, where this might be a community college teacher, a forest ranger, a health professional.
Make the videos and supporting on-line materials available to these librarians and STEM professionals, as well as selected fiction books related to each topic, so they can plan their events.
Advertise the events to the community, encouraging but not requiring that the books be read in advance.

Hold four 90-minute sessions wherein the videos are shown and the books and videos discussed by participants, with the STEM professionals and librarians facilitating the conversations.
How cool is that?

The Chicago meeting included high-end script-writers and videographers with PBS-style backgrounds, leaders in the library world (about which I was abysmally ignorant), and scientists. A central goal was to discuss the kind of content that would be good for each module and how it would take compelling video form.

The central theme of the series is called Pushing the Limits. From the proposal summary: “Since the beginning of human time, we have imagined and achieved ways to push the boundaries of the physical world. We want to be stronger, smarter, and more aware, and we create stories to bring those dreams to life. But are there physical limits to what we can do? Are there unbreakable rules of the universe? How far can science and math go to help us push our limits?”

The module I helped develop is called Immortality, and the three units we came up with are provisionally called:

Why Are We Mortal? (a topic I’ve developed here)
What Can Be Done To Postpone Aging and Mortality? (e.g. research on lifespan extension, stem cells, dietary restriction etc.).
Can Mortality Be Eliminated? (e.g. cloning, cryogenics, and making computerized versions of our minds, as explored here.) Those of you who have followed my interests in understanding what’s entailed in being a self will be unsurprised to learn that I encouraged the script writers to stimulate discussion as to what “self” is visualized as being immortalized.

So, for any of you still reading, here’s a question: What good fiction, including but not limited to science fiction, might come to your mind that addresses this Immortality topic in an engaging fashion? Your suggestions might, in the near future, become the grists of inquiry for thousands of your fellow free-choice science learners!

Friday, October 8, 2010

still time on the Tuition Funding Sources deadline...

For those who were interested in the Tuition Funding Sources but weren't able to make a decision by September 30, please note that the deadline has been extended for a few more weeks. Please contact Tom Bagley at TFS directly - details below - and he will get you set up and invoiced.

Tom Bagley
(801) 943-7676