Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by my bulk
mail provider,


#296, February 2, 2007

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

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Neat New Stuff I Found This Week

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My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops. To see outlines for previous presentations I've done, click on Handouts

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My Writings
A bibliography of my published articles and columns, with links to those available online.

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Order My Books

Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet, and The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint.

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What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine

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E-Mail Subscription?

For a combined subscription to Neat New Stuff and ExLibris, please click HERE, complete the form, and click on "subscribe." To unsubscribe, use the same form but click on "unsubscribe." To change addresses for an existing subscription, unsubscribe from that form and return to the page to enter the new address.

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Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. Corollary: Who Cares?
  3. The answer depends on the question
  4. Research is a multi-stage process
  5. Ask a Librarian
  6. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  7. Information can be true and still wrong
  8. Pay attention to the jokes

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Guru Interviews

  1. Tara Calishain
  2. Jenny Levine, part I
  3. Jenny Levine, Part II
  4. Reva Basch
  5. Sue Feldman
  6. Jessamyn West
  7. Debbie Abilock
  8. Kathy Schrock
  9. Greg Notess
  10. William Hann
  11. Chris Sherman
  12. Gary Price
  13. Barbara Quint
  14. Rory Litwin
  15. John Guscott
  16. Brian Smith
  17. Darlene Fichter
  18. Brenda Bailey-Hainer
  19. Walt Crawford
  20. Molly Williams
  21. Genie Tyburski
  22. Patrice McDermott
  23. Carrie Bickner
  24. Karen G. Schneider
  25. Roddy MacLeod, Part I
  26. Roddy MacLeod, Part II
  27. John Hubbard
  28. Micki McIntyre
  29. Péter Jacsó
  30. the "It's All Good" bloggers
  31. the "It's All Good" bloggers, part 2

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Cool Quotes

The collected quotes from all previous issues are at

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When and How To Search the Net

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Wanna See Your Name in Lights?

Or at least on this page, anyway? I'd like to print here your contributions as well as mine. As you've noticed, articles are brief, somewhere between 750 and 1000 words -- something to jog people's minds and get their own good ideas flowing. I'd also be happy to run other people's contributions to the regular features like Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

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Drop me a Line

Want to comment, ask questions, submit articles, or invite me to speak or do some training? Write me at: marylaine at

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related.

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How To Find Out of Print Books
Suggested strategies, resources, and finding tools.

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Best Information on the Net
The directory I built for O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University, still my favorite pit stop on the information highway.

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My Word's Worth
an occasional column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me.

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Book Proposal

Land of Why Not: an Appreciation of America. Proposal for an anthology of some of my best writing. An outline and sample columns are available here.

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My personal page


by Marylaine Block

I was interviewed recently for an article about board games in my local newspaper. I'm not an expert on the topic. I'm something better: I'm Googlable on it. I wrote something online on the topic, and, since my site has a pretty high Google ranking, that piece came out near the top of Google's results.

Would the same happen for your library's web site? Shouldn't you find out?

Start with a simple test: do a Google search on the name of your town and some subject you specialize in, like GENEALOGY, or LOCAL HISTORY, or STORY TIME or READING CLUBS or CHILDREN'S BOOKS.

If your library is not in the top 10 results, it is effectively invisible to community residents who do not already know you offer these services.

Take it a step further: go through your web site page by page and input the name of your community and the title of the web page into Google. Which individual pages are not retrieved within the top 25-30 results?

Now that you know the scope of your library's problem, you need to think about why. I'm told that Google gives a higher weight to libraries in its ranking algorithm, so the problem is most likely to be either the way your site is tagged, or the frequency with which it's linked by other sites.

Most search engines place higher value on words when they appear in the title of the page, the subjects listed in the page's HTML code, and major headings on the page. Have you used, in those key spots, words most people are likely to use to look for that page? If not, you have a relatively easy fix.

Now you need to find out who's linking to your web site. The search term you use is LINK:WWW.YOURLIBRARYURL. (No http:// needed.) Repeat the search in Google's blog search and news search.

Now think about who SHOULD be linking to your library. All your local government's web pages should point to it. The Chamber of Commerce and Rotary and other business organizations should be linking to your business pages. Local hospitals should be pointing to your medical information page. Schools and child care centers and the YMCA and other family-centered organizations should be linking your children's and teen's services pages. Local universities, community colleges, and nearby libraries should have links to your site.

Local museums and historical societies should point to your genealogy and local history pages. If you offer a directory of community service agencies, each one of those should link back to your directory. Every cultural organization in your area, and every organization the library has ever partnered with, should be linking to the library's web site. If your library has a blog, it should be linked on any list of place-based weblogs.

If those organizations' web sites are not pointing to the library, you need to reach out to them. Maybe a call to the head of the organization suggesting the link would do the trick. But you could take it one step further and point out some special services on your library web site they may not know about that the organization could benefit from.

Business organizations and local charities might want to link to your virtual reference desk and your grant information page as well as to your business pages. Women's organizations might like to point to your health page, your women's issues page, and your readers' services page. Local news organizations should have at least an internal link to your library weblog, your chatty, personality-ridden public face that is in all probability far more interesting than your news releases.

It's easy to be visible to the people who already use your services (though even those might be aware of only a few of them). But if you want to turn non-users into users, you have to be Googlable under the terms they're searching with. If you didn't fare well in this test, it's time to give yourself a Google makeover.

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Everyone speaks of an information overload, but what there was in fact was a non-information overload.

Saul Wurman. What-If, Could Be. 1976.

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You are welcome to copy and forward any of my own articles (but not those by my guest writers) for noncommercial purposes as long as you credit ExLibris and cite the permanent URL for the article. Please do NOT copy and post my articles to your own web sites, however. Instead, please copy a brief excerpt and link to the URL for the remainder of the article.

Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2006.

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