Monday, December 26, 2011

New President Interview -- Part 10 Management Style

Q> Student-centered education is frequently mentioned as a way to center the process of learning on the student rather than on those teaching or administering the schools. What place does this theory fit in the way the College operates? *
A> Student-centered learning needs to be focused on making the students active participants in their education. There is a difference between student-centered education at the post-secondary and the education at the elementary and secondary levels. College students need to take more responsibility for their learning than younger students. As students play an active role in the learning process, they should become students who gain critical thinking skills and participate in life-long learning.

Another aspect of student-centered education is administrative. As an administrator I have to balance the needed of all academic and business departments. I want to train the business and administrators to think of the students in their plans and programs. For example if a noisy building project is needed, students and staff should be informed far in advance so that they can make alternative plans if needed. If possible, the project should be done during vacation times or when students will not be affected. If the city decided to repave the street in front of the school with a lot of noisy operations, staff, the students and faculty should be informed. The information would help them cope with the noise and make people feel better and less helpless.

We need to listen to the students’ needs and offer reasonable alternatives. Teachers need to recognize multiple learning styles. However, that does not mean the students are always right. Sometimes the voices of wisdom, reason and experience trump student desires. In the formulation of any administrative decision or rule we must think of the impact on the students and those who teach and administer to the students. The job of a good manager is to pick the best people for the job and then clear the way for them to do a good job. When they are doing a good job, push them to do an excellent job.
Q> I hear some people want higher education to be more on a business model. They point to proprietary schools that make money. How does the profit motive fit into the College’s education goals?
A> The business model is fine for the financial and business operations. We should be managing our money as well as the best businesses. We should pay our bills on time and not waste time with getting budgeted items through the system. I have always been bothered by the amount of time a bill takes to be paid and the wasted staff time to check on the progress of an invoice.

The College is not in the business of making a profit. We will not cut a department just because they have too few students. College students should be able to pursue their academic interests. We need to teach philosophy and anthropology because they are worthwhile academic disciplines not because they will directly lead to a job placement. On one hand businesses complain when graduates are not prepared and on the other they demand that students be able to think critically and creatively. Critical thinking, reading and writing can be learned in any major. We don’t want all of our students to be business and education majors. The world needs technically savvy graduates, but also those who can adapt to new challenges. The liberal arts degree prepares students to be well rounded and able to think. The sciences and technology disciplines are also important. They teach students a way of thinking about how the world works. The potential scientist should know how to think critically in many areas because so many aspects of knowledge are intertwined.

For example archeologists need knowledge of the human body to understand human remains and tools. Historians need to understand all aspects of the human endeavor from psychology and sociology to technology. Engineers need to know how tools will be used from a psychological and sociological point of view. When I was a computer programmer I needed knowledge of mathematics, business, politics, and human relations. The most innovative firms are those who have experts who are fluent in multiple disciplines.
Q> The skills of a good teacher or professor are difference from those of an administrator. What are some of the skills you had to modify or adapt from your teaching days?
A> Visibility -- As a professor and a member of a larger group of professionals I did my best to be visible. I wrote papers, talked to people, and attended meetings within the College and within the profession. Professors who want to advance in rank and prestige need to be visible. The president needs to balance visibility and working quietly behind the scenes. There are conflicting opinions as to how to balance visibility. The president is the symbol and official representative of the College to campus groups, the board of trustees, and the community. I have to deliver words of greeting and welcome to many groups. The president sets the tone for all of the College’s work. The members of the College community need to see and know me so that we can work together. Some administrators create a well-oiled machine and stay in the background. The College has administrators with a very public face who walk around and greet and meet people and some work behind closed doors most the day.

Administrators should not stick out like “sore-thumbs.” They should be there when guidance and encouragement are needed. They should never miss an opportunity to say something nice or encouraging. Giving thanks and recognition are always remembered and help when the president needs support.

Collaboration -- The way people collaborate as professors and administrators is different. Professors need to collaborate on research and in administering their departments. They don’t need to collaborate with many people outside of their department unless they are on committees. Librarians are the only faculty who work with all of the academic disciplines. Much of the class preparation and class work is done by themselves. Administrators must work as a team in almost all their projects. One of their skills is assembling a team that will be effective and get the job done. Another skill is keeping the team focused, motivated and on task.

Glory -- Many successful academics seek the individual glory of authored papers and conference participation. People need to be appreciated and recognized. This is an important part of being an administrator. A president does not need to take individual credit for successful projects. A good leader will find ways to share the glory or even make everyone think the project was done without the leader’s help. When I was a camp counselor I mastered the technique of guided decisions. I told the youngsters they cold decide among several options. I already decided what options were available. This worked a lot better that telling them what to do even when the result was exacting the same.

Administrators need to help those involved come up with ideas and make decisions. If two departments have conflicting space needs it is better to give them the parameters and options rather than issuing a rule by fiat from the top. Change is part of the process of making an institution better. The people who have to live with the decisions, should be part of the decision process and the glory of success.

Compromise -- Administrators have to compromise in ways that will serve the best interests of the College. Academics are often rewarded for strong arguments and debate in professional discourses. Students and faculty can argue the minutiae of an academic problem. If they sit on the fence their academic view can be perceived as lacking a spine. In administration extreme positions are viewed as a negative. The extreme positions do not take into account significant minority positions. The College has diverse stakeholders including students, faculty, staff, and community. The administration must sometimes take a middle ground decision to accommodate diverse interests.

On matters of safely, security and ethical behavior there can be no compromise. One must balance interests so that the course of action is principled and ethical with diverse opinions taken into account. Sometime different ethical systems are in conflict. In Jewish law the principle of “saving a life” could push aside other laws. In the ethics of lawyers, “saving a life” is not a defense for violating the rules.

Personal Privacy -- The personal life of professors at some institutions is private. Many professors separate their home and professional lives. I believe that teachers are leaders and mentors for their students. They have to model behavior they want to the students to learn. Some aspects of personal life are none of the students’ or College’s business, but if they behave toward their students, colleagues or the College in ways that are harmful to the persons or institution, they need to be disciplined or terminated. If the outside behavior brings unwelcome attention to the College, the activity must be stopped. The administrators have higher standards because they are not only employees at will of the College; they are also supposed to be setting the example for the faculty. What may be a mild indiscretion for a professor may be grounds for termination of an administrator. If the board decides one’s actions are not appropriate for the good of the College, the administrator may be terminated faster than any tenured professor.

Setting schedules -- Many people outsiders think academic work allows a flexible schedule. Professors can decide when they teach, do preparation, and perform research. Professors typically do not have a 9 -5 schedule. Administrators have schedules that are more connected to normal business hours. Since the College has courses that meet as early as 8 am and end as late as 9:30 PM, someone has to be on duty all of those hours. We need administrative and other staff on duty at all times. One can work 9 – 5 and then have an evening meeting or event. Administrators have more scheduled meetings than professors, but professors have scheduled classes. I just had to learn how to keep track of my schedule in a different way than when I was a professor. I have to schedule thinking and planning time.

Reporting hierarchy -- The reporting structure for faculty and administrators is different. Professors in some aspects do not view themselves as having an immediate supervisor. They report to a departmental head who reports to the provost. They are required to submit syllabi and some reports, but in many aspects of their day-to-day activities they report to no one. Some may think they are intellectual entrepreneurs. They try to stay out of the way of the deans and chair-people except when they need more resources. The administration has a clearly defined reporting structure. Since they are not tenured, they try to please their supervisors. If they fail the board may send them walking.

Dress code -- I always wear a tie when I’m “on duty.” I learned a long time ago to dress the part or dress the part you want to be. When I was a professor I always wore a tie and depending on the weather a jacket. Administrators are expected to wear business attire and act in ways that show they are beyond the “hippy days.” Professors dress more casually, even though I wish they wouldn’t. Since we have a large student age range, I would never want a professor’s clothing to label him/her as a student or non-professional. I saw one teacher wearing a plain T-shirt and torn pants and told him privately that was not acceptable. He grumbled, but I view this as a matter of public image. We don’t have a formal dress code, but I have appointed committee for investigating the best way to approach this subject. Even student workers should not dress in a manner inappropriate to the kinds of tasks they perform. Professors may be individualistic or idiosyncratic in their dress or actions, but administrators must act at a more formal level.

Work of teaching -- Academics may focus on their teaching, work or research. Even in a business setting business people talk about their jobs or work. It is a common way for people to get to know one another. Professors after telling some about their work may solicit a comment such as, “What do you think of this project or idea?” Professors and teachers in general may talk about their students. They may compare notes about the best, the worst, and those with the best stories. This is the way they learn to cope with difficult situations. They learn that problems or excellence are not unique. I even wrote articles based on some of the more interesting questions or people I encountered.

The faculty goals are more personal than the goals of the administration. Faculty like to be the center of attention in and out of the classroom. Administrators are expected to support the educational process. Their goal is to help the faculty be better faculty, not promote themselves. If they focus too much on their accomplishments they are not viewed as successful administrators.

The reward system for faculty and administrators is different. Faculty are rewarded by the recognition of their peers and success of their students. Their rewards are individual. Administrators are rewarded by communal and board recognition. Their reward is based on how well the College as a whole is succeeding. Their rewards are communal.

Q> Thank you very much.

*Part ten of an imaginary interview with the recently appointed president of the College. Note this is just for your information and edification. Any connection to a real college president is strictly coincidental.

Part of this article was inspired by, “!0 Bad Habits” by Robert J. Sternberg that was posted December 21, 2011 on the web site ( Other parts were inspired from conversations with Professor Harvey Abramovitz of Purdue University.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Stuhlman and the iPad – Follow up

Many people wrote comments to concerns that I wrote in my Dec. 18th review of the iPad. I was not trying to make a comprehensive scientific study of the iPad. I was just delivering my opinion based on how I would use the device in my computing environment. I changed part of the text of the blog to reflect these comments. Today I received from Jacquie Henry these comments. (It is reprinted here with permission and edited for clarity)

I found this [guide book] after our recent conversation on your blog about iPads. An iPad certainly is a different animal than a desktop or a laptop -- PC OR Mac. This [guide] helped me find some of the annoying "missing" elements. It is not free, and it should be since the user has already paid plenty for the iPad. The tips I got from it were worth the price.

I am most puzzled by the problems you have experienced with the touch screen. Mine never has a blip. I wonder if an Apple technician should have a look to see if there is a flaw.

Check out this application on the App Store: Tips &  Tricks - iPad Secrets (iOS 5 Edition)

I acknowledge that the iPad is a different class than desktop of laptop computers. The iPad is a limited function machine compared to the general function machines. As a limited function machine, it cuts corners for size and function. It is an addicting machine, but not a replacement for a full service computer. The screen image is breath taking compared to the much bigger LCD and CRT screens attached to my desktop computers. The touch screen has its strengths and limitations. The instant on feature is a great time and aggravation saver.

Apple claims the battery life is 10 hours, but I did not test this.
The iPad price starts at $499, which is more than similar machines from other companies with other operating systems. Apple wants you to spend another $30 or $70 for a protective cover. Even with the cover carrying positions of the iPad are limited. One may also purchase a blue-tooth keyboard.

Unless one has a grip larger than 7.5 inches you can not hold the iPad without the support of your write or arm. I can grip the iPad because I have a larger than normal (9 inch) grip. This feature makes the device hard to carry from room to room with one hand. I wonder how resistant to dropping, falling or heavy use Apple has designed the iPad.

This is illustrated by the following two pictures. In the picture on the left my fingers are at the top and bottom. My son who has a smaller grip can not hold the iPad in one hand. He owns a larger netbook and if he walks around the house with it while in use he uses two hands.

Jacquie probably has smaller and more delicate fingers than I do. This probably explains why she has never had problems with the tactile response of the iPad screen. Also the correct touch zones for web pages or programs vary. My email web client has a very small area for a touch to open a message.

Every machine has a learning curve. I help people with software all the time. I have more than 35 years experience using computers. I should not have to use trial and error to find all the answers concerning everyday use of a new device. Part of learning is figuring out not only the right question, but knowing that a question should be asked. I was trying to attend a class via WebEx. The tech people for the class had no idea that the iPad wouldn’t connect. WebEx did not give any helpful error messages. I knew that Apple does not allow Adobe Flash 10 to work on the iPad. I knew that WebEx required Adobe Flash. What no one told me until a week later was that WebEx has an app that allows the iPad to work with WebEx sessions. While this is not entirely an Apple problem, I do find a problem with a system that does not even tell you an error message so that you can ask the right questions to solve the problem.

Playing with the iPad taught me what I really wanted in a small portable computer. It should be a device that I can carry when traveling or commuting, allow me to check e-mail, let me check the library catalog or databases, do research on the Web, and act a portable entertainment device. It should easily connect to my other devices and share files. I ordered an Android based computer that includes Wi-Fi connectivity, a keyboard, USB ports, memory card port, an ethernet port, and other connection options. The cost including shipping, a detachable camera and extra memory cost less than $100. I will review it in about a month.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Judging a Science Fair – Lincoln Park

On December 20 I was a judge at the science fair for Lincoln Park High School. I was recruited by my daughter who attends this school. There was no conflict of interest because she was not participating. Since I was a judge for the Central Region Chicago Public Schools Science Fair in January 2011, I wanted to compare the two experiences. This is an article about my impressions, not a comprehensive review. My college senior son also came with me and was a judge. Since I see many graduates of Chicago Public Schools in the City Colleges, I wanted to meet some of these high school students.

The exhibits were set up in the gym of the freshman building with an over flow in the hallway. There were two sessions of about 200-250 students each. The areas were very crowded with lots of people narrow aisles. The atmosphere was noisy because of all the conversations.

The whole judging process was very organized. Each project/exhibit was judged by four judges. Each project had judging sheets of four different colors assigned to each judging cycle. The sheets had a rubric containing four areas (written report, oral presentation, quality of display, and review of literature) to judge the project. The points totaled 100. The scale was: 80-100 Outstanding; 50-79 Excellent; 0-50 Honorable Mention. There was no option for “not acceptable.” Only five projects could go on to the next level.

Last January I was not impressed by the level of science experiments and reporting by the student scientists. This time the reports were much better written and some of the projects showed some creativity. However, one of the teacher sponsors, she said too many students did experiments with lima beans. I only judged one project that used lima beans, but there were about 60 others.

I asked every student about what library resources the used in their literature study and when they were finished with their prepared description of their project what would be the next step or what would someone learn from your project, Most of the students used the data base Questia for articles and electronic books. All the students are supposed to have access to Questia. Other sources included books and web sites. My son reported many papers included information totally unrelated to the experiment or methodology. I found students who said they were doing one measurement in the paper, but then did not test for that parameter in the experiment.

Many of the projects presented information that I suspected was inaccurate, but I was unable to check facts while at the school. One project was supposed to be measuring the amount of saturated fat in several kinds of oils. The student used a reactive test agent and I found no evidence in the paper that this agent would really measure what she claimed it would. Another used iodine as an indicator. The review of literature did not really show the reader how the experimenter knows this is a valid test.

One experiment that showed creativity wanted to measure the effect of temperature on musical pitch of glasses. The student wanted to make tuned glasses. She filled glasses with water at three temperatures and measured the pitch. She was careful to control the amount of water and used the same kinds of glasses. One of her pictures was a glass harp instrument. There were two problems with her methodology. Temperature would be hard to maintain during a practice or performance. She could tune the glasses before the concert, but the temperature would stabilize to room temperature. The second methodological problem is how she measured the pitch. She is a trained musician. She played a pitch pipe and used her ear to assign notes from the scale. I asked her why she didn’t use a digital tuner. She said that she didn’t have one. I went online and found tuners that would do her job for about $7-15. That does not sound like much to pay for precision measuring devices.

While a skilled musician can tell when a pitch is correct, the brain has a threshold of perception of differences. That threshold, called just-noticeable difference (JND), depends on the tone’s frequency. The A above middle C is 440 hz and is the reference for the other notes. The problem with labeling results with just the notes of a scale is that the C on a piano is not the same pitch as the C on a transposing instrument such as a Bb clarinet.

Another student wanted to measure amount of saturated fat in three oils – canola, olive, and peanut. The student added an indicator to 20 ml of oil and counted the number of drops. The more drops, he reasoned, the more saturated fat. I have no idea if this is a valid test. The review of literature did not convince me either way.

Lactose intolerance is common enough to encourage the food industry to produce lactose free products. Lactose is the sugar found in cow’s milk. People avoiding dairy products for health of kosher reasons (separating meat and milk) will not want a product that contains lactose. Even products labeled as “non-dairy” according to the Department of Agriculture’s rule can contain lactose and be according to Jewish law considered “dairy.” One student wanted to measure the amount of lactose in fluid milk, reconstituted dry milk and soy milk. I can’t give the entire methodology because I didn’t take notes, but the hypothesis is flawed. The experiment was performed to remove the lactose and it was measured. The results showed that soy milk “contained” lactose. I questioned the student and he stood by the results. At home I looked on the soy milk label. It said, “Lactose free” and it was kosher and parve (no dairy or meat ingredients). Since I believe the label over a high school experiment, the experiment should have been redesigned. The student should have read the labels on products to determine better candidates for testing.

Most of the experiments suffered from too few samples. Three or five samples are not enough for a statistically significant result. Some were closer to an observational report than experimental results. It is hard for a high school student to choose and design a project that will show originality and creativity. Most questions will take more time than students have allotted to the project. Students should spend a significant amount of time reading and exploring ides before they even choose an experiment. They should read published experiments to learn how scientists report their results. Many of the experiments and papers could have been improved with a consultation with a teacher or other knowledgeable adult. Science fair is an opportunity for students to explore the world, develop research skills and hone their critical thinking skills. We need to encourage creative minds.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stuhlman and the iPad

Apple Computers has sold close to 4 million iPads. I was very curious as to why so many people think this is a worthwhile device to purchase. When the library purchased four Apple iPads, I wanted to evaluate how they could be used in the library. I have been a computer owner since 1979 and this is the first time that I have written a hardware review.

I have never liked Apple products -- from the moment I used the Apple II to the latest machines, Apple products have one trait in common – they are proprietary and don’t follow industry standards. My first computer was a NorthStar Horizon. One major reason to purchase it was the S-100 bus. (The bus is the hardware connection to the peripheral devices such as I/O cards and memory.) I was convinced that multiple manufactures would supply parts. If NorthStar didn’t sell a card, another company would. Apple peripherals only fit Apple computers. Apple squashed any compatible machines or alternatives to their operating systems. The same is true for the iPad. The operating system is only for the Apple. They don’t allow any software (known as app[lication]s) to be loaded without first getting Apple approval and sold through their Istore.

First, I should say some nice things about the machine. It is a really “cool” and addicting device. I find myself looking at it constantly. I stayed up very late many nights using the machine to watch videos and play games. The screen colors and picture quality are great. It takes pictures and can be used for visual presentations. To the left is a picture taken in the library.

Several days in my patrols around the library I carried the iPad to see if I could be used to help people. The iPad could connect to the Internet and library catalog. It is a great mobile device that keeps a connection with a Wi-Fi signal. No one needed the help I could provide with the device. In one library the Wi-Fi signal stopped at the office door, but this is not an Apple problem.

For taking the library to a student or faculty member the iPad has potential. Some libraries are using the device for on the spot instruction. Gretchen Maxeiner in an Autocat (a listserv for catalogers) posting (Dec 16, 2011 1:28 PM) said that The Health Sciences Library System at the University of Pittsburgh provides iPads to faculty librarians. Their librarians have found a lot of uses such as demonstrating library resources and one-on-one instruction outside of the library. They can use it for personal productivity such as checking for messages, consulting and reading documents, and supporting the activities of a meeting. At professional meetings the agenda and schedule can be saved on the iPad.

I used the iPad at a meeting to take notes and to look up information on the Internet. While taking to someone I was able to research a quick answer at a meal without waiting until I got back to my office computer. Many people at the meeting had iPads and claimed to like them.

The touch screen is great for some programs and annoying for others. When checking e-mail, the screen did not always respond to checking the mail that wanted to open. Very often a mail before or after the one I wanted would open. Sometimes I needed to tap many times before the window would open. Typing a message is tedious and editing is next to impossible. Sometimes entering passwords would take a much longer time that with regular keyboard because I can’t type as fast and the Apple iPad is more prone to mistakes. I can’t touch type or use two hand techniques with the onscreen keyboard. When the web site requests checking a box or similar choice, the iPad does not always read my gesture as the one I want. Some of these limitations are solved by an external keyboard that connects via Bluetooth.

The Apple Safari web browser on Apple’s website ( claims it is fast, elegant, and innovative. It is not fast, elegant, or innovative. Apple claims one can navigate with touch and gesture. The iPad version of Safari is a limited version of the browser. Frequently I had to repeat the gesture to make it understood. Tapping twice is supposed to make the screen zoom, it does, but many times I wanted the tap to move me to another page. The double tap gesture both zooms and opens a live link. However, one can not control which action the browser will take. A cached page loads very quickly; new pages load much slower than with my desktop computers running Firefox. Firefox has many more options and control features than Safari, but is not available for the iPad. (Mac version are available.) In Firefox and Internet Explorer I can control the colors, fonts, and start page. Not in Safrari. Safari will not remember login information and not display the address information on a potential link. There is an option for Safari to autofill login names and passwords. Most of the time Safari will not close a window on the first try.

Safari does not allow the setting of a home page. I heavily use the home page button. In the library I want to return to the library home page after helping a reader. At home my home page has news and stock feeds. It is a window to other web sites that I may want to visit. The version for the PC or Mac has many more features that are comparable to Firefox and Internet Explorer. Printing is available only from compatible wireless printers.

Some of the apps are down right awesome. The AccuWeather app gives the local conditions and forecast. However, some of the links are accessed with hidden gestures. The Huffingpost app is a great way to read and retrieve their news feed. However the speed to load is not consistent. This app makes reading the articles a lot better than using Safari.

I wanted to attend a class that used WebEx for the presentation and Safari would not allow it. Since Apple refuses to allow Adobe Flash video many sites with video will not work. Some sites have workarounds for video content. ABC and NBC Television have apps that allows one to view content for their TV shows. CBS does not have an app and their program material will not display on the iPad; but the commercials are able to be seen. The viewing experience is mixed. Hulu requires one to be a premium member to use their app. The screen presentation has vivid color and a picture superior to many dedicated televisions. The built in speaker is mediocre. To get stereo one needs ear or head phones.

The headphone jack is not easily visible. I did not know one was present until someone showed it to me. It does not look like a place for jack. The other buttons are also not labeled.

Reading books on the iPad is inconsistent. When I first searched, I didn't find a Kindle app, but two commenters pointed me to the app. Reading with the Google Books apps is easy. The letters are very legible and page turning is intuitive. However, Google does not allow the user to alphabetize or organize my book collection. This is not an Apple specific comment.

For accessing the library databases, Ebsco has an app for mobile devices, but the screen display is more appropriate for the smaller screen of an iPod. The results are hard to read because of the size. The size can be doubled but the clarity is diminished. Reading the article on the regular search page is easier and more legible, but not as clear as Google books. Proquest does not have an app.

In summary, the iPad has limited usefulness in library or other business environment. It has limited flexibility and features. The gestures on the touch screen are inconsistent and sometime the response is not what I intended. It lacks standard ports and many features are not intuitive. It is not a replacement for a full computer. However, if one finds useful applications its use can be addicting. It is a convenient device to check email, search the Web, watch movies, play games, read and do short demos.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Golden Haggadah (Formerly Golden Frame)

It does seem like the wrong season to write about haggadot shel Pesah, but I write about what crosses my desk. This is a follow-up to the last article about finding a page from the Golden Haggadah. I ordered a copy of the 1997 reproduction edition of the Haggadah published by the British Library. A dealer was selling this edition for $1.74. My copy came last week.

We compared this edition with the picture the professor had in his frame. The measurements were close, but not exactly the same. The colors were not an exact match. The blue in the printed edition was more brilliant and the gold was more golden. The measurements were very close to the original manuscript as text mentioned their size. The book was printed with the continuous tone process, which allows the dots to be printed an almost unlimited range of colors. This is how the gold color can be so brilliant.

Since we couldn’t remove the picture from the frame, we can not be certain of the origin. It does not look as if it came from the 1997 printed edition. The date of the frame was 1997 and this would make it less likely, though not impossible that someone bought the book and cut it for the picture. This will remain a mystery.

The library is always getting book donations from estates. Much of the time few of the books are added to the collection. Sometimes there are books that the library is happy to receive because they fill in gaps to the collection. Books that aren’t added are sold or given away. Recently as part of a large gift were some old prayers books, Bibles and a haggadah. The prayer books and Bible were sold for about $20 each, but we were only offered $60 for the haggadah. I wanted to investigate before I approved the sale.

I looked at the title page. It said Amsterdam, 1780. This is a significant edition that is on plate #75 on Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi’s Haggadah and history : a panorama in facsimile of 5 centuries of the printed Haggadah from the collections of Harvard University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Yaari #199) It is illustrated with engravings and has both the Askenazi and Sephardi texts. It has two title pages. One has Ma’aleh Bet ḥorin : ṿe-hu seder Hagadah shel Pesaḥ ‘im perushe Maharam Alshikh and the other has Hagadah shel Pesaḥ ki-minhag ashkenaz u-ki-minhag sephardim.  

I wanted to find the value and search for auction records of previous sales. I found a record of a sale in 2007 for $6000. I wish the library could keep the volume, but we have no safe place to store and preserve this treasure. We will have to be satisfied with a photocopy of the title pages and the knowledge that we once had a piece of haggadah history.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Golden Picture Frame

The chairman of the humanities department stopped by my desk in the library and asked for help with a picture that he bought at a garage sale for $5.

The gold frame contained a page with four pictures that looked medieval. Because the picture was under glass we could not determine the material.[fn 1] It could have been velum or paper. It was hand drawn, without brush marks. The professor told me that when he bought it he didn’t notice the hand written Hebrew lettering.

The pictures in French gothic style lacked depth and perspective. The people seem to be dressed in medieval clothes. Only the bottom left panel made any sense. It seemed to be fish in a red body of water.

The first part of the search was to look for books on medieval Jewish art. I checked the catalog and found three books. I was able to confirm that the period was medieval. I read up on Jewish art in the Middle Ages. The bottom left picture reminded me of the ten plagues. After several searches that didn’t work, I constructed a Google image search with the words Jewish art medieval ten plagues. After examining 100s’ of hits I found some pictures that looked similar in a book known as the “Golden Haggadah.” I found the full book of 86 leaves was digitized by the British library (identified as: Add. MS 27210)
( I examined the pages until I found the match. This is a page from an illuminated manuscript created in approximately 1320 near Barcelona, Spain. The binding was done in Italy in the 17th century. Since the British Library owned the complete copy, the professor’s copy must be a facsimile.[fn 2] The smudged letters in the picture and in the British Library copy are exactly the same.

Next I searched for a facsimile edition using WorldCat. There were 15 hits for a 1970 facsimile edition. Most of the records were not helpful. Below is the best record. It lists the libraries of Spertus Institute, Hebrew Union College and Columbia University as owners of copies.
סדר הגדה של פסח :‏ ‏עם שירים מיוחדים על כל הנפלאות והניסים, שנעשו ביציאתם ממצרים בני חורין
Seder Hagadah shel Pesaḥ : ‘im shirim meyuḥadim ‘al kol ha-nifla’ot ṿeha-nisim she-na’asu be-yetsi’atam mi-Mitsrayim bene ḥorin.
Author: ‏Bezalel Narkiss; British Museum.; Zaehnsdorf (Firm)
Publisher: [London : Eugrammia Press, 1970] [fn 3]

The edition was limited to 520 copies of which 20 unnumbered copies are not for sale.

I then searched for some sort of value for this edition. I found one copy for sale at $2700. WorldCat had another edition of this book published in 1997. I searched on Amazon and found used and new copies for sale, costing $1.75 to $999.00. I went to Northwestern University Library and found the 1997 edition. It contained the reproductions of the pages, but it was mostly commentary by Bezalel Narkiss. He described each panel in the picture and give the Biblical text that was the basis for the picture.

Upper right -- Pharaoh commanded the task masters to not give straw to make bricks. Ex. 5:6-13
Upper left -- They built for Pharaoh the store-cities of Pithom and Raamses. Ex. 1:11;
Bottom right – Aaron, your brothers hall speak to Pharaoh. Ex. 7:2
Bottom Left – The words are unreadable, The is based on the verse: The Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink, because they couldn’t drink from the river. Ex. 7:24.

These pictures are interesting from a costume point of view. The artist gave the people contemporary (i.e. 14th century) costume, not costume from the Biblical era. Pharaohs did not have beards did not have crowns as pictured. The illustrations found in museums of Egyptian pharaohs have false beards and nothing on their heads like a crown.

While this search took a lot of specialized knowledge of books and searching, I was lucky. If the British Library had not posted a digitized version, I would have never been able to figure out the source or meaning of the pictures.

1. When I was discussing this search with some fellow librarians, one said opening up a frame is a "no,no," One should not take apart an object to determine it's worth. She said that she learned this from the TV show, Antiques Road Show.

2. On Nov. 25, 2011 I received an e-mail from Dr. Barry Dov Walfish, Judaica and Theology Specialist of the University of Toronto Library, who suggested that the picture in the frame may be from an art calendar produced in the 1990's or 1980's. This is possible. However,the facsimile edition is 26 centimeters and so is the picture. If this was from a calender, I would expect the dimensions would not be the same are the original. I examined many art calendars and found none of the pictures match the original size of the objects. The facsimile was printed on specially manufactured paper made by Tullis Russell and Co Ltd. If I were to open the frame and examine the paper, I would immediately know if this was a framed picture from a calendar or the 1970 facsimile. As mentioned above, since opening the frame would diminish the value I will not be able to examine the paper by holding it. I ordered a copy of the 1995 reprint edition for my collection.

3. I was not able to find out anything about Eugrammia Press. Searches of the Web and business databases did not yield any information except for a directory listing stating that the company no longer exists.


March10, 2013

I attended a lecture this morning given by Mark Epstein, Professor of Religion at Vassar College on the topic of the medieval Haggadah.  Most of his remarks concerned the Golden Haggadah.  He described the pictures and showed us that many if not most of the pictures had women displayed proximately in the frame.  One of the pictures depicts Miriam beaming the drum during the Song of Miriam.  This is the cover illustration of the 1997 edition that I bought.   Since I don’t have much interest or knowledge in art history or analysis I never paid attention to the women in the pictures.

Professor Epstein said that the name of the person(s) who commissioned this manuscript is not known.  It is also not known if the artist was illustrating women based on contemporary events or if the pictures are based on a hopeful or fantasy view of women.   While he could describe the pictures the name of the original owner and the story of how and why these pictures were created remains a mystery.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Improving Student Services -- New President Interview -- Part 9 *

Q> In the November 2001 issue of Campus Technology, Michelle Fredette [fn 1] writes about customer service improvements that would help the technically literate student have a better customer service oriented experience. I am talking about the interactions the students have outside of the classroom such as registration, housekeeping, and transportation. What is the college doing to improve these services?
A> Students when registering are customers; in the classroom they are not. Let me address my remarks strictly to the non-classroom experience. In today’s information rich and connected society customers expect to know the store’s inventory. The College has an obligation to supply students with the information they need to enhance their student experience. That information is our inventory.

1. Transportation is always a challenge. The campus is served by three bus routes. One connects to the rapid transit system. Students can get downtown in about 45 minutes via public transportation. The College participates in the regional program that offers a student transit pass for use the entire semester. For $200 the student can ride without further payment. Our College makes the purchase process easy at registration time.

For students driving to campus, we have adequate parking. We collect no parking fees and there is no problem with enforcement. Last summer the parking lots were sealed, remarked, and routine maintenance was performed. The only problem times are in the late morning when the highest number of students are on campus.

2. Textbooks are a big expense. I read an article about American Public University’s policy of not charging for textbooks. [fn 2] Their professors are writing e-books for class use. This policy is controversial as stated in Paul Fain’s article from Inside Higher Ed.[fn 3] We recognize that for some of our students the textbook costs more than they pay in tuition. Some universities rent textbooks to students. Eastern Illinois University has been renting textbooks for students since 1899. Their system required IT work to modify scripts to match inventory and student’s needs. Since student may choose to purchase books, inventory needs to be sufficient for everyone taking the class. See for their policy. They collect a set fee each semester for textbooks. Once the student knows what course s/he is taking they go to the textbook building to select their books. The books have an RFID (radio frequency identification tag) to enable a modified library circulation system to check out and track every book. At the end of the semester they return the books. The list of textbooks needed by each student is prepared by matching their schedules from Banner. Students spend an average of 10 minutes from the time they enter the textbook building to the time they leave with their books.

There are several challenges with textbook rental programs. The textbook publishers frequently include CDs or web based materials that can only be used for one semester. Publishers create frequent new editions that both update the text and discourage the used book market. I have set up a task force to investigate whether we can set up a rental program. The challenges include logistical, technological, and intellectual property. The task force includes people from the building and physical plant, IT staff, library faculty, and faculty from several disciplines. They will need to investigate student needs and wants as well as the faculty needs. With a rental program faculty will have less freedom to choose texts for their classes.

3. ID cards are not obtained by all of our students. For some strange reason many skip the final step in their registration. Since students don’t need IDs to enter the buildings or most campus events they just don’t get one. This causes problems for the security of our campus because we don’t know who is authorized to be here. The ID is also their library card. This is not a new concept. Colleges have been issuing IDs that are used for library cards for more than 80 years. The librarians at the College report that students think their state issued ID is their “regular ID.”
Q> Are there any changes in the housekeeping activities at the College?
A> Housekeeping staff was complaining that food left in the library and classrooms were problems with odors and vermin. We are now limiting food to approved areas.
Q> Thank you very much.

*Part nine of an imaginary interview with the recently appointed president of the College. Note this is just for your information and amusement. Any connection to a real college president is strictly coincidental.


1. “7 ways to streamline student services,” by Michelle Fredette in Campus Technology, Nov. 2011 p. 33-40. (On line version:

2. See for their undergraduate book grant policy.

3. “E-Book, In-House,” November 7, 2011 Inside Higher Ed,

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Electric Eraser

Last March I wrote about the card sorter as a piece of older library technology that many younger libraries don’t know how to use. Card sorters are used for catalog cards that need to be ordered before filing. Cards could be typed locally or purchased from a vendor. One reader suggested that I write about using the electric eraser as a lost art in preparing catalog cards. I never actually used an electric eraser. When I was a library page as an undergraduate I saw the technical services staff using electric erasers when correcting catalog cards.

I liked gadgets and wanted to try it since it seemed a lot easier than using a manually powered eraser.

[fn 1]

Electric erasers are still sold by library and art suppliers. They are used mostly by artists, architects and others who draw or write manually a lot. One would think that correction fluid and the computer delete key would make the eraser obsolete, but it is not. People still use their hands to write, draw and create and have a need to change and correct their work.

A digital agency in Germany, Jung von Matt/Next, created the “Museum of Obsolete Objects“ ( They claim that as our world becomes more and more digital some old technology devices fall by the way side as they are replaced by newer, “better” devices. Their “Museum” is a YouTube series of videos. Each video tells the device’s date of creation and the date they claim it became obsolete. Many of the devices in their display are not obsolete. Fax machines and quill pens are not obsolete. Their choice of objects shows a lack of understanding of the meaning of “obsolete.”

Sometimes a newer device or technology replaces an older one and sometimes it adds to our options. For a device to be obsolete it must be replaced by something that is functionally better. Better usually means that the new device can perform the function faster, less expensively, or has more capacity. For example the 8” and 5.25 “ floppy disks were replaced by 3.5” floppy disks in a hard plastic shells. The 3.5” disks stored more data in a smaller space and could be put in a shirt pocket. At first the 3.5” disks costs $14 each. When the price matched the older 5.25” disks on a cents per byte basis the older disks became obsolete. Except for historical purposes the 5.25” disks had no use. No one had a use for the older technology because the newer technology did more for less money and was easier to use. In turn the 3.5” diskettes were replaced by thumb drives and other compact memory devices, collectively called USB mass storage devices.) These newer memory devices are less expensive per byte to store data and easier to use. Most pictures files could not even fit on a 3.5” disk. One could have several gigabytes of files in a device about 2.5 inches long. My first device (64K capacity) was part of a working pen. When I went through airport security in June 2005 with it the guards had no idea what it was.

Some newer technologies have added to our choices. CDs replaced vinyl LP records, but there are still some being made and bought. CDs can store files inexpensively, but the sound is not the same as an LP. For most people the digital sound is superior, but some music fans like the analog sound that only LPs produce. Just because a device has passed from popular usage does not make it obsolete. Both the newer and older device can exist.

The electric eraser was never a must have device for every home or school child. Most had rubber erasers on the end of pencils and several kinds of rubber erasers. At the right is an example of a pink eraser.

They are still sold by office suppliers. Several videos on YouTube show how to make the pink eraser into a holder for a thumb drive. (For example:

To use an electric eraser take the card that needs changing and place it on a flat surface. With your non dominant hand hold the card firmly. If needed use an eraser guard to make sure you erase only what you intend. Turn on the eraser and carefully touch it to the words on the card you want to obliterate. Do not use too much pressure or the card will be ruined. When the words are gone, blow, brush, or wipe the dust away from the surface. Inspect, if you are satisfied that the card is ready for retyping, you are done. If not, repeat. Retyping can be problematic since the erasing process removes the surface finish of the card stock. You may need to type the new text multiple times before it is legible. If a name, subject, or heading was changed you will have to repeat this process for every card that needs changing.

Aren’t you now glad that you have a library management system that can make global changes with a few keystrokes?

Received from Kevin Roe on Nov. 1, 2011

Great article. We still have several electric erasers in our "archive" cabinet here at work. My favorite artifact is the glue machine, a very heavy behemoth that applied paste to the back of book pockets long before anyone thought of self-adhesive pockets. It did a great job, but wow, it was a pain to clean, and had to be done at the end of every day of use. For that reason, we only used it once or twice a week.

Another great piece of equipment we still have is the Gaylord Minigraph machine that reproduced catalog cards. We typed a shelflist card on a stencil that we then put on the minigraph drum that was filled with ink. The drum would rotate and ink would permeate the holes in the stencil made by the typewriter, allowing us to print cards. We would then roll the printed cards through the typewriter and add subject headings (in red of course) and added entries to the tops of the cards and voila! A full set of cards.

It's unbelievable how labor-intensive everything was. We still used all these artifacts back in 1986 when I started, and one of the first things I convinced our district to do was to let us join OCLC and get printed cards from them. The big worry was what would our students and staff do without red subject headings and (worst of all), no more salmon-colored cards for the nonprint items in our libraries!

Times have certainly made things easier. Thanks for the memories!

Kevin Roe
Fort Wayne Community Schools
Fort Wayne IN 46802

Received from Kay C. Schlueter on Nov. 2, 2011

I used to use a Polaroid camera mounted on a camera stand with a special lens to shoot pictures of NUC (National Union Catalog) entries for items that did not have any LC card availability. The camera would be mounted lens-down and the NUC would be placed under the lens. You would then adjust the distance and focus, snap the picture, pull out the film, and wait for it to develop. After that, the photo would be cut and mounted on library card stock, photocopied with enough cards for all the headings (on large card stock sheets, which then had to be cut), then sent to student workers to type headings. Early days, subject headings in red, then later in black but in ALL CAPS. This was in the early 1970’s at Southern Illinois U.-Carbondale, Morris Library.

Lots of people would be at the NUC area searching for catalog copy, and sometimes lots of pics waiting to develop would by lying around on tables. Sometimes you had to wait your turn to snap a photo. We had one cataloger who was fluent in Vietnamese (he was not of that culture), and if he were searching the NUC for copy and found some transliterated entries, he would put all the accent marks in their proper places in the NUC itself! Very thorough. Even if it wasn’t the copy he wanted!

By knowing this “early days” stuff, it makes me feel somewhat empowered. I’m sure many people who have risen up through technology and recollect the “old ways” feel a bit empowered over new people just entering the field, no matter what it is.

Kay C. Schlueter
Vermont State Colleges
Waterbury, VT 05676

1. Photograph from Cheryl Youse. Other photographs are from the author.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Dean for the School of Education 2

Q> It’s been four months since you were appointed dean and now that your first semester is close to half over, what can you tell us about the registration process and getting started?

A> All beginnings are hard because one does not have the experience of the past school year cycle. No matter how much one knows about the process, living through it has no substitute. This semester from what I am told was much easier and faster than previous years. The vast majority of returning students were able to register online or on the computers in the registration areas. We worked with faculty, IT staff and administration to remove as many barriers to the whole registration process. As a result we had no fires to put out.

Q> Now that you are in to the day-to-day operations how has the preparation as a librarian helped you in your work? How have the skills transferred?


1) The reference interview experience taught me how to listen. Much of the time people do not know what they exactly want. I learned to use probing questions and friendly conversation to help people formulate better questions. With better questions I can help them find satisfactory answers.

2) I have learned to be exact. When someone wants a card, I make sure that I am giving them the correct card. When someone wants help I try to figure out the best way to help.

3) I learned to be flexible. The first answer may be technically correct, but not what they needed. The first answer or plan may not work and so a second or third plan is needed. I learned to think both inside and outside the box.

4) Nothing beats having access to the best and most up-to-date knowledge. I have helped people get the right knowledge so that they can appear to be experts. One of the frustrations when I was a librarian was that I couldn’t always find information about the college. I learned from being a librarian our task is to get readers to the right information. I have improved the way information comes and goes to the dean’s office. Previously we had a hard time keeping track of the offices for adjunct faculty. Now the list of all faculty and staff is now available online for everyone—faculty, staff, and students. This list has done much to show the administration cares and values students and all faculty. Any teacher or staff person can help a students find a professor or office. The security desk has a list of all activities so that they can direct people to the correct place.

5) We are a learning based institution. My background in teaching and scholarship directly translates to how I can help teachers improve their classrooms and students improve their quest for knowledge.

6) No one is an expert on everything. I seek help and advice from anyone who could help. When I was a librarian I sought advice from my colleagues in my library and through my professional contacts. As a dean I consult and build consensus. I know from experience where to go for answers. I learned that I before making a decision I need the correction information, knowledge and facts.
Q> What is the hardest type of decision to make?

When the information needed for the decision is limited, ambiguous, or involves conflicting interests, the decision is hard. When there is a choice between difficult outcomes, the decision process is hard. When the mayor needed to balance the budget, jobs were cut. So far I have not needed to make decisions to cut jobs. So far I have only needed to tell people “no” when it was a question of time or limited resources.

When the questions are well defined, the decision process is easy. Sometimes I won’t tell people what I think is best answer; I’ll help them clarify the situation and let them decide.

The second interview with the newly appointed dean of the University’s School of Education. Part 1 appeared in this blog on June 1, 2011. Note: this interview is just for your information and amusement. Any connection to a real university, college, school, or dean is strictly coincidental.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Positive News I

We all seem to complain too much. It is just more fun to complain than to tell a story of someone who is happy when we just do our normal everyday job. Two weeks ago a librarian on the LM_net listserv suggested that every Friday we share some good news. The next Monday the college vice-president’s office asked us to share any good news. I had an “aha” moment. I should stop kvetching and show something from the library in a positive light.

On Tuesday September 27 a reader wanted the book, The Warmth of the Other Suns. I helped her find the book in the catalog and sent her to the stacks to find the book. The book was not on the shelf and so she asked for help. I couldn’t find the book either. Since it was a recent book I checked the new book shelf and it wasn’t there. I told her that when we found if I would put it aside. She went away before I could get her name. Five minutes after she left I found the book. I told the other staff to give her the book if she returned. She didn’t return for a week. When I gave her the book she was so happy. She told us the reason she felt connected to the story because her family had a similar story. I took her picture but she was too modest to show her face.

On the same day while walking through the stacks I found another woman sitting and reading a book on the floor in what I thought was an uncomfortable position. I told her that we have lots of comfortable chairs to sit in. She asked, “Can I check out these books?” I said. "Of course, just take them to the circulation desk and present your school ID. She was so happy that I took her picture, too. She was too modest to show her face.

I prepared a display of the pictures of these happy readers.

On another day a reader asked for some books on mental illness. After trying to find out more about his quest all I could do was a keyword search on “mental illness.” One of the first books on the list that I thought would help him was, Nursing diagnoses in psychiatric nursing. He asked honestly without any sarcasm, “What’s nursing?” I explained “nursing.” I tried another approach when he said that he wanted to know why and how people become mentally ill. I gave him a couple of medical books including, The Harvard guide to psychiatry. When he asked “What’s a Harvard?” I almost lost it. I pointed him to the area where the books were shelved and he didn’t return. I think he was trying for a self diagnosis. Can any college student be that clueless?

Next week I’ll look for some more satisfied readers.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I rarely hear administrators talk about infrastructure. Infrastructure includes all of the administrative, logistics, and back-office support that allows faculty to do their jobs. Last week a vendor supplied database was turned off because the bill was not paid. The librarians knew the bill was overdue yet the approval process is so slow the check was never cut. This is an example of how the bean counters are out of touch with how administrative tasks intersect with instruction. An organization can not be excellent without a management philosophy that sets the table so that teachers can teach and other staff can get their jobs done. Good management clears the way for staff to do their jobs with excellence.

Another example occurred between a teacher and her students. The teacher announced to her class that a document was behind a tab in Blackboard. The teacher did not enable the tab. This is a class management issue that was under total instructor control. Perhaps the teacher never learned enough about Blackboard to do the task? While we may complain about district office, management starts at the lowest levels.

Excellence can only occur when we ask ourselves, "How is this task demonstrating excellence?" If the task is not completed with excellence how can the next one be improved? How do we get to "yes?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Preparing Labels for Library Books

The spine label is not a lost library skill, but some earlier methods are no longer used. The challenge is that no one label fits all the needs. [fn 1] Libraries need labels that are inexpensive to create and apply, stick to books, easily removable, never damage the book, and never fades, dries out or deteriorates. Such a label doesn't exist. One must choose which of these qualities is most important.

Let’s examine the situation.

Naysayers are telling us that electronic books are so easy to buy that people will no longer need libraries. In her September 14th blog, [fn 2] “The Annoyed Librarian” wrote that the public libraries are doomed. She claims that electronic books will replace the need for anything from a library..

Amazon may drive libraries out of business the way it did a lot of bookstores, and the only ones likely to be disappointed are the librarians. Everyone else will be too busy reading whatever book they want, watching whatever movie or TV show they want, and listening to any music they want.

How does this relate to labels? Cataloging a collection building are what separates a bunch of books from a library. In the first picture below is a shelf of books. They are ordered alphabetically by title, but they have not been cataloged, systematically acquired or labeled. Note there are two copies of one of the titles.

I am sure that the average person will have no trouble buying a few books in electronic format for recreational reading. Libraries spend a lot of time building collections. This is a daunting task. According to R.R. Bowker publisher of Book in Print, the record of all commercial book publishing in the United States , [fn 3] 316,480 titles were projected in traditional formats, and 2,7776,260 titles were non-traditional (according to Bowker reprints, public domain, and print on demand) This does not include titles published by organizations and governmental bodies that are not in the commercial book trade. In 1993 there were 104,124 titles published. [fn 4] The biggest academic libraries purchase 50,000 or more titles per year from world-wide sources. Someone has to select and approve those purchases. Depending on how you use the numbers, they are purchasing less than 2% of the titles that Bowker lists. This does not even include titles from other countries.

Once the books are in the library and cataloged they need labels. A long time ago, even before I was in college, librarians were taught a type of writing called “library hand.” The two pictures below have spines written by hand. In the blue label, I can not even read the whole label. The first line looks as if letters were written on top of each other to correct a mistake. The second line could be a class number. The book is in Hebrew and the last line corresponds to the author’s last name. This was written on blue tape that is now old and no longer sticks to the book.

This label is written on a spine that was repaired. The tape is still viable.

Label making gradually became more systematic to ensure uniformity. In the picture of a shelf below there are four kinds of paper labels, 1) Vendor supplied as part of a catalog kit, 2) Typewritten on paper using an electric typewriter, 3) Typewritten with a computer word processing program; and 4) Prepared automatically with the library management system. The later two are indistinguishable on the spine. Paper labels are easy to prepare and have good durability for my home collection. They are covered with permanent tape. Some labels applied in the late 1960’s are still in excellent condition. They have not faded, dried out, yellowed, or fallen off. The computer prepared labels are bigger and more readable and use the same paper base with tape for protection. They last better than labels printed on label stock.

Durability is a big concern in libraries. They need labels that won’t fade or fall off. Sellin labels were typed from a roll of tape and later dot matrix printed. The labels had a white surface for the text and an adhesive back. The adhesive was heat activated. Below is a picture of the iron and the process of heating the label. The label was applied to the book and then the iron was applied to heat adhesive. The labels were durable and were hard to remove. Over time the letters faded.

There is no perfect label. For ease of preparation and economy I choose paper labels for my home collection. For ease of production of labels in the library I choose to print the labels on label stock. I know those labels will age and fall off, but I hope by that time we will have found another solution.

1. This article is supposed to be tongue in cheek. For a more serious discussion of labels see “The Quest for the Perfect Spine Label” by Cheryl D. Walters.

2. “Public Libraries are Doomed” in The Annoyed Librarian blog found in Library Journal Sept. 14, 2011.

3. See” New Book totals and editions, 2002-2010”.

4. U.S. Book Production.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Attribution and Fair Use – Copyright part 9

Attribution to sources goes back at least to the time of the Talmud, if not earlier. Frequently one rabbi will say something in the name of one of his teachers or quote a Biblical verse. While this is not the same as an academic citation, it does acknowledge that we are students of our teachers and we draw our ideas from reliable sources. In rabbinic law as well as contemporary jurisprudence decisions and rulings are based on the precedence of previous decisions. In academic writing, sources add support and credibility to what you say. Sometimes what is “new” is based on an interpretation of sources. We teach students to take from many sources and synthesize them into something new.

Attribution is not just a matter of derekh eretz (good manners) but also indicates intellectual honesty and respect for our teachers, who can be anyone we have encountered in person or from their writings. Attribution is a way to say we are “dwarfs on the shoulders of giants.” [fn 1]

Many times the insider is at a disadvantage for creating and expressing new ideas. The local insider is not considered to be an expert. The management or co-workers see this person every day and do not respect his/her opinion and advice as much as the expert from the outside. If the insider brings outside support in the form of attribution his voice is no longer alone.

Early copyright protection was afforded to rabbinic books by local rabbis and local municipal authorities before a national copyright law existed. Copyright protection has at least two aspects—protection of intellectual property and commercial protection so that creators, printers and publishers could make money from their labors. Early protection favored the printers and publishers rather than the creators. Without the limited monopoly of copyright, writers and publishers would have no incentive to create new works. People are entitled to compensation for creating artistic and literary works.

Intellectual property rights and commercial rights to created works are two aspects of the creative process. Sometimes the rights are intertwined and sometimes the rights are separate. The intellectual property right to own recorded ideas lasts with the creator forever. Commercial rights have a time or place limit. While you may copy freely something with an expired copyright, you can not claim that you wrote it. For the purpose of encouraging commerce copyright protection is a limited monopoly. The written law (i.e. statues) and common law (court cases and administrative rules) govern how we use the intellectual property of others and how we protect our intellectual property. Creators have the right to earn money, control how their work is used, control quotes from their works, and control the creation of derivative works such as paperback reprint, electronic versions, videos, and audio books.

Many aspects of copyright are unfair to scholars, students, teachers, libraries and librarians. That does not grant license to ignore or break the law. Even if I could get everyone in Congress to agree with me the problems would not be solved because the Europeans have a different way of looking at copyright protection.

Attribution of ideas is a way of showing the author is honest and trust worthy. Academic excellence is based on trust. Even outside the academy one needs to build a reputation of trust. In business one needs internal and external customers to believe what you say is correct and trustworthy. One can not steal the intellectual property of others and be taken seriously. I use the word “steal” in contrast to learning from the best practices of others. A discussion of how we learn from others is a topic discussed other articles. [fn 2]

Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else’s creative work and claiming it as your own. Presenting a work as your own that is not is a matter of profession or artistic ethics. Plagiarism is not always illegal but if caught you may lose your reputation, your grade in a class, or your job. Intellectual honesty is just as important and monetary honesty. In teaching this to children we say that stealing something from a store is just as dishonest as stealing the work of authors.

Fair Use

Copyright is tradeoff between the public who want to consume creative efforts and the creators who want to earn reward from their efforts and control use of the material. The statute gives guidelines for the use of copyrighted materials. The law says nothing about attribution. Attributing sources with a correct citation does not absolve one of following the laws concerning fair use. The law is a guide that leaves room for interpretation. Fair use is a way to allow the public use of copyrighted materials. Some cases have even gone to the courts in order to decide if fair use was followed. [fn 3]

Here are the full text of the Israeli and American laws, a summary of the U.K. laws concerning fair use and a license to deal with how one can use materials.

Israeli Copyright Act of 2007

19. Fair Use
(a) Fair use of a work is permitted for purposes such as: private study, research, criticism, review, journalistic reporting, quotation, or instruction and examination by an educational institution.
(b) In determining whether a use made of a work is fair within the meaning of this section the factors to be considered shall include, inter alia, all of the following:
(1) The purpose and character of the use;
(2) The character of the work used;
(3) The scope of the use, quantitatively and qualitatively, in relation to the work as a whole;
(4) The impact of the use on the value of the work and its potential market.

American Law Title 17 Chapter 1

§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include
(1) The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) The nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

U.K. Copyright

The text of the British copyright law called Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is more extensive in what is permitted under fair use than the American and Israeli law. Chapter III [fn 4] deals with what is permitted to do with copyrighted works without infringements. To summarize the law had provisions for use of works under the following topics: 1) for research or private study; 2) criticism, review and news reporting; 3) incidental inclusion of copyright material; 3) educational use; 4) recording of a performance; 5) photocopying in schools, archives, and libraries; 5) public documents such as parliamentary and judicial proceedings and public records; 6) designs, models and other artwork; 7) electronic copies; 8) sound recordings; 9) computer programs; 10) radio and TV broadcasts;

To summarize what is permitted – Making copies for private study or research, instruction is allowed. Copying sections for review, criticism or news reporting is allowed with acknowledgment and limited to no more than necessary for the purpose. Incidental use such as news broadcast or video capturing a copyrighted work in the background is allowed.

Creative Common License

The Creative Common License (full text: is a way of dealing with use of copyrighted materials. The creator gives anyone the right to use the work with certain limitations. One limitation is attribution. The user must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work.) The right to use, adapt or translate the work is world-wide, royalty free, non-exclusive and for the duration of the copyright.

2. Fair Dealing Rights

Under Creative Common here is the paragraph for fair use

Nothing in this License is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any uses free from copyright or rights arising from limitations or exceptions that are provided for in connection with the copyright protection under copyright law or other applicable laws.

The law concerning fair use is purposely vague leaving room for interpretation and adaptation to individual circumstances. Most people including teachers have not kept up with the latest changes in the copyright law. People who graduated before 1988 think that registration is required for copyright protection; it does not. They don’t understand that neither publication nor a copyright notice is required for protection. Any work in a tangible form is protected automatically under American law and all countries that are part of the Berne Convention. Tangible form means the work is written, recorded, or saved in a computer file. An email, web site, and blog, are as equally protected as a printed or recorded work. Ideas not put in tangible are not protected. I’ve explained this many times to faculty and students. Because they don’t understand the protection aspect, they don’t understand what they can or can not use in their papers.

The nature of law suits for copyright infringement is different than other damage suits. The court may award up to $150,000 damages for each separate act of knowing infringement. Unlike other cases the court can order the losing party to pay the legal fees of the wining party. If you don’t know that you were infringing, this will only affect the amount of damages and not responsibility or liability. Since good faith compliance to fair use is a defense, it makes sense to understand how to comply. Institutions make policies to guide their people in compliance. Following the policy makes one less likely to be sued. Ignoring the policy makes one a good target for a law suit.

Writers frequently base their writings on the work of others. In the Renaissance playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlow borrowed material from history and literary works. [fn 5] Today lots of works are based on folklore or common themes. In 2012 and 2013 rival film companies, Disney, Universal, and Relativity, will be releasing new films based on Snow White. One will be a retelling of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale and the other two will be far removed from the original story. [fn 6] This is not plagiarism and not even part of a fair use question. One is allowed to use a well known theme. One is allowed to base a current work on common knowledge or a folk story. Since lists and government documents are not protected with copyright, if you wanted to make a video or Broadway musical based on the reading of document you would not need permission, but you would need attribution.

To facilitate following the laws concerning fair use many libraries have written policies and guides for users. Here is a sampling: From Stanford University Library: “Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors” The four factors are taken directly from the law as I quoted above. From the University of Texas Libraries: “Fair use of copyrighted materials” . I don’t intend to repeat what they have written.

Purpose. If the copy is for educational purposes rather than making a profit you have a stronger case for fair use that if you charge for copies. Remember the U.S. Constitution is the authority for all copyright law. The copyright clause is: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. “ The clause permits Congress to make laws; it does not state the limit or nature of the promotion. One test is whether or not the purpose is for the promotion of “science” (i.e. educational purposes.)

Nature of the work. Quality of the work, merit, and artistic quality or any other measures of judgment have no bearing on the copyright or the fair use of a work. Whether the work is fictional, non-fiction, or a parody will have some merit on how you can use the work under fair use. I am freer to make up ideas for a work of imagination than a work of non-fiction. But even the line between fiction and non-fiction is gray. For example in my interviews with a college president, all the facts were from my imagination, but the philosophy and content of the ideas had an underlying truth. An essay, editorial, or op-ed may be the opinion and work of the author’s imagination, but that does not mean it is not true.

See my blog article of Monday, November 15, 2010, “What is Copyright? Part 2” for a longer discussion of what is protected.

Amount of copied materials. The law does not state the amount of material that may be copied from the original. Generally libraries say that a reader may copy an article or chapter for personal use. The copying of an entire book is not allowed. However, if someone copied one chapter today, a second chapter next week and a third chapter another time we don’t tell the person no. We say that the person copying is responsible for copyright compliance, not the librarians. If you copy a couple of paragraphs of a larger work into your article, there is generally no problem. If your article consists of copied paragraphs and very little analysis, you have a problem. Permitted copying is independent of the need to attribute your source. Copying one paragraph then making comments is allowed.

Systematic copying and distribution is not allowed without permission even if the work is out of print. This is a big problem. If the publisher is still in business they could control the reprint rights. If the publisher or owner of the work is impossible to find, it is hard to advise the potential reprinter what to do. Libraries are allowed to make archival copies. This kind of problem is faced by Google and other systematic digitization projects. Since the law is gray in this area, the copyright law should be amended to make the copying of orphan works easier.

Marketability. This is the protection of the commercial rights of the creators and publishers. If what you are copying interferes with the ability to sell copies, this is not a fair use. If what you do does not interfere, the creator would have only the argument of protecting intellectual property. That is control over how the work is used. For example when reviewing a book you copy the cover. This is a free advertisement for the publisher. They shouldn’t mind. If you copy a published picture from a book or magazine without permission, this is possible infringement. If those pictures are licensed from the owner, the right to copy must be secured from them. This is not an area we are careful about when teaching students. While it may help a student’s paper to have an illustration, it should not come at a cost of stealing.

Common misconceptions

1) The lack of a copyright notice means the work is not protected. Before 1976 this was the law. Many works passed into the public domain because the little © was missing. While I think it is important to notify your readers that you claim copyright, the law does not require it. With or without a copyright symbol or formal registration, your work has protection. Registration for works has some advantages such a proving a claim, but it is not required. Copyright deposit copies are one way national libraries obtain copies of every work produced. This is important for cultural history and documentation of a time or place. Research libraries depend on lists of copyright deposits to assemble systematic collections.

2) Publication is the key to protection. This was the old law again. The current law provides for protection from the moment the work is put into tangible form. A memo, a scribble or class paper has the same protection as a book printed with 10,000’s of copies.

3) If it’s on the Internet, it’s free to copy. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Material on the Internet is in a tangible form and is published. It is protected by every law that applies to printed and recorded works. Easy of finding and copying material has no bearing on fair use or copyright. This is one area that creators and providers should be more careful about providing notification. If someone already believes that lack of notification of copyright notice means public domain, providers should make sure to make a claim of copyright in clear language. They should help educate the public to know that creators of content have the protection of copyright. Some creators give notice of Creative Common license. That means you can copy the work without fee, but still need to give proper attribution. The work is still protected with copyright.

4) One paragraph of less than 300 words is OK to copy. What is permitted depends on the nature of the work. If the paragraph is one from a long novel, 300 words is minimal and should be no problem. If the original work is only 350 words, then copying 300 words is a substantial part of the original and this is not fair use. If you copy a 4” x 6” section of a 500 square inch mural this is not the same as copying a 4” x 6” complete photograph.

5) A disclaimer can absolve you of fair use violations. No, copyright of a work is not set aside by a disclaimer on the part of the end user. A license agreement from the copyright owner may over ride some provisions of fair use. The license or contract will take precedence over the statutory rights.


We must help students, scholars, faculty, and other library users understand what is permitted and what is not under copyright so that they can be better users and creators of knowledge.


1. This aphorism is discussed at length in several articles including. Leiman, Shnayer Z, “Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Giants,” Tradition Spring 1993. Leiman claims that the earliest mention of this aphorism was recorded by the Italian halakhic writer, Isaiah di Trani ben Mali (the Elder) (c. 1180 – c. 1250). The aphorism could be based on a synthesis of several Biblical sentences – Psalms 119:46 “I will no be ashamed of your decrees, and not shamed in the presence of kings” and Kohelet 2:9 “I gained more wealth than anyone before me in Jerusalem.” Leiman lists in footnote #10 an exhaustive list of sources for who cite this aphorism. I leave a full discussion of the topic to Leiman. The aphorism also is used in Latin and English literature.

2. See my web pages: “Knowledge Management Terms “ and read the sections on knowledge and learning and the page, “Knowledge Management Experts” see the section of sharing knowledge.

3. Stanford University Libraries has a web page with a list of fair use court cases. These examples include the points of law that were deciding factors such as marketability and control of intellectual property. An author who paraphrased from unpublished letters of J.D. Salinger was denied under fair use because of control of the intellectual property rights of the material. The Nation magazine was denied use of unpublished letters from Gerald Ford because of marketability concerns.

American Library Association lists more cases on their web site:

4. Full text of Chapter III

5. The first copyright law was the Statue of Queen Anne (1710). Before then works were protected by common law or local stature not by a national law. In my blog of Tuesday, November 2, 2010, “What is Copyright? Part 1” I discuss some of the history of copyright and give sources for more information. In a comment to that posting, Barbara Braxton, a librarian in Australia, explains the difference between how Australian schools and teachers are able to use materials in classroom based on an agreement between the schools and publishers. This compares to the lack of such agreements in other countries.

6. See “'Snow White' Movies: Here's What We Know About Them” by Peter Hall for more information.