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It's old news, but ...

It's certainly not well-publicized, but there is a growing collection of old newspapers online thanks, in part, to the University of North Texas.

I got curious about the availability of way-back issues of Texas newspapers after reading about the online-archiving project undertaken by the state of Indiana. With assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, Indiana's state library is putting fully readable copies of very old newspapers online.

I wondered whether the Texas state library and archives commission was doing anything like that. Turns out, they aren't. Instead, UNT is the lead organization in the state to digitize old papers with NEH and LoC aid. UNT's website says it has other partners.

Seems to me (and, yes, I have a vested interested as an old newspaper guy) this would be worthy of state funding.

By the way, right now only a relative handful of Texas newspapers have way-back issues online as part of the UNT program.

Pay attention

When my kids were small, there was no such thing as an iPad or smart phone. So, I couldn't be faulted for ignoring them in favor of these gadgets.

Today, there seems to be plenty of fault to go around. NPR had a story this morning about research that shows that too many parents of younger children are dithering with devices when they should be interacting, playing, listening. The kids, naturally, feel unwanted, and they act up.

Ok, but here's the thing: I worked too many hours and I read too many books and I took too many classes when  my children were small. They turned out all right, but I still feel guilty about it.

We're secure

Nobody's asked the question, but the answer is that, yes, our online catalog system is more secure than ever.

You've probably heard of the Heartbleed Open SSL bug, the glitch in "secure" Internet sites that meant they were eminently hackable.

Biblionix, the company that built and maintains our computer system, let us know today that as soon as they heard about the Heartbleed problem, they jumped on a fix. That fix means that you can set your own password when you log into our catalog system. Or you can continue to use your card number and phone numer. It's up to you.

Not that anyone would want to hack a library's system. I mean, what would they want to find out?

Faster access is here

In the last decade the number of public-access computers in U.S. libraries has doubled.

That's significant because library computers are generally used by people who don't have one at home and/or can't use one at work. Without library computers, they would have no options, and they would be the equivalent of readers who had no access to books.

But, news reports surfaced today saying that while libraries have increased the number of computers, they have not gotten the band width needed to really work on the Internet.

That surprises me. I guess the issue is money, but no library can afford to shortchange patrons on band width these days.

Here at the Wimberley Village Library, Time Warner Cable just upgraded our Internet service speed, so our access is pretty darn fast.

ILL-gotten gain

Since it's National Library Week, we're asking visiting patrons to write down on a huge sheet of butcher paper what they love about our library.

One woman just came in and said, in response, "Oh, there are so many things!"

And that's true.

At the top of my list as a patron, and not as a staff member, would have to be inter-library loan or ILL.

I think it's wonderful that I have free access to books and periodicals that are on the shelves and racks at this library, and it's doubly wonderful that I have access to the collections of hundreds of other libraries.

For example, I am doing some genealogical research on my family in Hopkins County, Texas, during Reconstruction. We don't have anything about Hopkins County. But, I've been able to use ILL to find out all kinds of interesting things.

And that's not because I did anything special or complicated. I just filled out a form at the circulation desk, and a volunteer by the name of Gerin Hood spent a whole lot of time finding the books and pamphlets for me.

She'll do the same thing for you.