News Library News Online
Vol. 21, No.2/Winter 1999

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Aside Bar

By Jennifer Small

Shortly before Christmas, we at the Express-News lost one of our own. That loss became more painful when we learned that our colleague was the victim of not an accident but rather a brutal murder. Philip True, Mexico City Bureau Chief, was killed while hiking alone through a remote region of the Sierra Madre Occidental in western Mexico, where he was pursuing a story on the Huichol Indians.

In News Research, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of talented journalists. But Philip was special. Imbued with an infectious curiosity, Philip was a reporter who cared deeply for both the people and the country that he covered. From the first time that I talked with him, I was impressed with his unfaltering quest to understand the history of the people who found their way into his stories. Philip’s enthusiasm made me want to take that extra effort time and time again.

Philip was also a wonderful person to work with. When he called in, his editor would often pass him along to News Research saying, "Agent True is on the phone for you." A storyteller at heart, Philip would talk for twenty or thirty minutes catching me up on some story or giving me background information before ever asking a question. His calls will be missed.

I am grateful that my job brought me into contact with a man who was so dedicated to telling the stories of everyday people. The sadness at the paper reflects the fact that, in losing Philip, we have lost not only a talented journalist but also a cherished friend. Rest in peace Agent True.


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Holocaust Library and Archives are Open to the Public

By Peggy Earle

Last year, an opportunity arose for a small group of news librarians to visit the Holocaust museum's archives. My boss and I signed up for the trip. Our professional reason to go -- research and resources. Since we would be in Washington anyway, we also agreed to go a day early and tour the permanent exhibit.

After we signed in with security and deposited our belongings in lockers, a reference librarian led us to a wall of glassed-in bookcases. The cases contained ``Yizkor'' or memorial books in many languages, mostly Yiddish and Hebrew. The books, compiled and written by Holocaust survivors, contain records of European villages destroyed by the Nazis. They include photos, documents and testimonials. In many cases they are the only evidence remaining of these communities' existence, so completely did the Nazis destroy them. They are available to researchers, but are often used by survivors and their families for genealogical purposes.

The librarian also passed around the death books. The massive ``death books'' list names, birth dates and places, death dates (if known) and concentration camp names. They are organized in volumes by camp or prisoner's town of origin.


In addition to the book collection, the archive houses more than 60,000 photos, dating from the end of World War I to the mid-1950s. The photos are catalogued and accessible to visiting researchers and the public. Some portions of the collection are available on the museum's Web site  (

The photos are used by many groups including journalists, artists, dramatists, educators, government agencies (including those involved in war crimes investigations) and curators at other museums. The photos are also used for many purposes: publications within the museum, genealogical research, documentary films and publications such as textbooks and memoirs.

The most moving and exciting stories we heard were about visitors to the museum or library who recognized faces in the photos -- of old friends, lost family members -- sometimes even themselves. Such moments are gratifying, but more important, they provide the curators with invaluable information that helps identify and place a photo at a specific moment in time.

The photo archive staff's work is never done. They are continually collecting, and, like amateur detectives, searching. They will even attend Holocaust survivors' conferences to locate family photos to borrow and copy as part of the ``community reclamation project.''


Here's what they're looking for: original photos of pre-war, wartime and immediate postwar Jewish life in Europe, Palestine, the Far East and the Americas (1920-1953). Ideally, the archivists would like to be able to keep the original photos, which would be stored under the best conditions and preserved for future generations. If you think you have photos that conform to the above specifications, call the library - (202) 479-9717 - and ask to speak to the photo department.


The next speakers were from the film and video departments. Their domain consists of about 300 hours of archival footage. The motion pictures are separated into three time periods:

Before the war. Starting in the 1920s, there are newsreels, propaganda movies and some feature films promoting the Nazi view of Jews and other minorities as ``inferior.''

During the war. Again, these include newsreels, but also footage showing deportation of Jews and others from Holland, Germany and Hungary. There are also films from the ghettos and some showing mass executions. No moving pictures are available from the concentration camps during the war years.

After the war. These include hours of film from the liberation of the camps, particularly the George Stevens Collection. Much of this belongs to the Library of Congress and the National Archives and is available for viewing there. This is also true of films of the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials and films showing the execution of war criminals.

The films may be viewed in the museum library for free.


The text archive contains only "primary source" material, including memoirs, letters and official documents pertaining to the Holocaust, its origins and its aftermath. Included in these are KGB records, war crime trial documents and concentration camp construction plans. There is even correspondence between GIs involved in the liberation and their loved ones back home, as well as letters between Americans and their relatives trapped in Nazi Germany or occupied countries.

The library's staff is bolstered by the many volunteers who come daily to assist researchers in the translation of documents. But only one person answers reference questions, so patience is required.

There is a searchable Web site of the text archive, consisting of annotated card catalog entries. The Web address is: An automated database system is in the library, as well as printed inventories and a catalog. It is also possible to search collections in other institutions in North America, Israel and Europe.

Unfortunately, inter-library loan of material is not possible, but copies of microfilm can be purchased by the public.


While the library's primary mission is to serve the more than 250 staff members of the museum, the staff also provides the public with phone reference, bibliographies and answers to e-mailed reference requests. They do some inter-library loan of books, but on a very limited basis.

In the library's main rooms are tables, study carrels and audio and video equipment. The public can use cassettes there. The Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance and the Meed Registry of Jewish Holocaust Survivors are housed within the museum.

One of the librarians' most difficult tasks is to inform genealogical researchers that the family information contained in their collection comprises data on only about 10 percent of those who were imprisoned in the camps. Attempts to find family members' information is, unfortunately, most often met with disappointment.


An archivist with the oral history department and archive spoke to us about their collection of more than 6,000 video and audio interviews. Their ongoing mission is to tape histories of Holocaust survivors, rescuers, liberators, resistance fighters, prosecutors, perpetrators and bystanders. The material in this collection is limited to educational or non-profit use only.

As an example of the stories available on video, we were shown parts of an interview with Benjamin Ferencz. He was a 27-year-old U.S. Army Infantry sergeant at the end of the war and took part in the liberation of the German camps.

Almost by accident, the newly trained lawyer became chief prosecutor at the Einsatzgruppen Trials at Nuremberg in 1947. The satzgruppen were the special forces whose two-year task was devoted to exterminating the greatest possible number of Jews. Those charged in the trials were held accountable for a reported million deaths, although the true number is said to be much more.

The numbers kept astounding us. There were 3,000 known members of the Einsatzgruppen. Only 22 were tried. Though they were all found guilty, only 13 were sentenced to death. Just a few of those were executed. Some of the others, said Ferencz, are now living in Germany, practicing law.

Following this testimony, we saw a clip of Ferencz speaking at the 1947 trial, as confident and professional as a prosecutor with decades of experience. Some first case.

Peggy Earle is a Virginian-Pilot staff librarian. Her email is


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Carol Campbell

Notes from the Chair                     By Carol Campbell

If you haven't already made plans to attend our organization's annual conference, scheduled for June 5-10, 1999, in Minneapolis, now is the time!

The SLA 90th Annual Conference theme describes News Division members perfectly:

Knowledge Leaders for the New Millennium:
Creators of the Information Future

The term "knowledge leaders" nicely encompasses all the names we call ourselves - librarians, researchers, information specialists. And just think about "creators of the information future." What a wondrous and exciting thing to participate in - molding the future of one's profession!

The conference's four main tracks are:

Leadership - Who we are
Evolving Roles - Where we are going
Knowledge Management - What we do
Practitioner's Toolkit - The nuts and bolts

Ginny Everett, chair-elect and program planner for Minneapolis, has put together seminars and sessions of interest to us all.

If you are having difficulty convincing your management how worthwhile conference attendance is, perhaps a copy of the preliminary schedule, with the most appropriate seminars highlighted, would help make an impression. It has worked for me in the past.

And if further persuasion is needed, put a plea on the listserv for testimonials. You will get plenty.

My first conference was in Boston in 1986. There were seminars on archives with free-text searching, choosing keywords, and doing backups. There were debates on whether it would be smart to allow reporters to do research in fee-based services. There were discussions on flat rates versus contracts.

I felt as though a miracle had occurred, putting me in a place where all these other people were experiencing the same problems and looking for solutions. And sharing! (The term networking had barely surfaced at that time.)

I discovered there were (and are!) news researchers tucked away all over the world, whose expertise could be mined with a phone call. All were eager to share their ideas, their knowledge, their tips and their compassion.

Believe me, nothing basic has changed in 13 years. Some of the faces are different and some of the topics are new and we use e-mail more than the phone, but the camaraderie, empathy and sharing are the same. At conference, you will make priceless contacts.

Oh, sure, we could do our jobs without the News Division and its terrific members. But we darned sure could not do them as well.


And fun? You want to talk about fun? All News Division banquets, tours and other special entertainment have always been wonderful, but this year we have the consummate party expert, Lany McDonald, staging the Division's 75th anniversary bash.

Lany and her helpers are working to make this the glitteringest gala of News Division history.

We’re gonna dine, and dance, and in general celebrate our history, our present and our future. As Kathy Foley said in the last issue of NLN, it will be "something like a huge class reunion."

Ginny Everett is coordinating plans with Lany, and Bob Jansen is handling Minneapolis arrangements. Justin Scroggs is in charge of the 75th anniversary program, which will include much of our Division's history.

You don't want to miss this one!


And speaking of the Division's future, it is time to choose officers for 1999-2000.

Jim Hunter, Nominations Committee Chair, and committee members Charlie Campo, Bangor Daily News; Michelle Quigley, Palm Beach Post; Sharon Reeves, San Diego Union Tribune; and Marilyn Bromley, Bureau of National Affairs Inc., Washington, DC, have done a bang-up job with nominees.

You will find the slate in this issue of NLN. Ellie Briscoe, Elections Committee Chair, has mailed or will be mailing ballots soon. When I told Ellie I wanted to mention this in my column, she said, "Please tell people to carefully follow the instructions!" Ellie said many ballots must be discarded because they do not meet criteria.

Remember that this is your organization. Vote!

Carol Campbell is the Information Center Manager at The Daily Oklahoman. You can contact her at

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News Division Preliminary Program Schedule

Minneapolis, June 5, 1999-June 10, 1999

Join us in celebrating the News Division's 75th Anniversary in Minneapolis at the last annual conference of the 20th century! Note: As of this writing, division suites in the co-sponsoring hotels have not been assigned by SLA. Watch for details on NewsLib and in SLA's preliminary conference schedule to be mailed in the spring.

Here’s how programs are shaping up as of December 1998:

Saturday, June 5:

* 4:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. Open House and tour of the St. Paul Pioneer Press library and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune library. Bus will leave at 3:45 to take division members to their first stop at the Pioneer Press. Hosts: Bob Jansen, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Deb Nygren, St. Paul Pioneer Press.

* 8:00 - midnight: Open House in the division suite, sponsored by Infonautics Corporation. Catch up with your colleagues on the first night of the conference.

Sunday, June 6:

* 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. News Division CE: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Public Records. Moderated by Sperry Krueger, Raleigh News & Observer. Speakers: John Ullman, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; Bill Krueger, Raleigh News & Observer; Dorothy Shea, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; John Martin, St. Petersburg Times. Cost: $205 members and non-members; $95 students.

* 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. News Division Board meeting.

* 6:00 p.m. to midnight. Open House/Newcomers Reception in the division suite, sponsored by NewsBank, Inc. Host: John Cronin, Boston Herald. THE place to be - where newcomers and the experienced set can meet and greet.

Monday, June 7:

* 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. NewsLib Live! A breakfast discussion on a variety of topics from dealing with stress to archiving bracket creep to cooperating with other departments to get things done. Moderated by Barbara Semonche. Panelists: Marcia MacVane, Portland Press Herald; Jim Hunter, Columbus Dispatch. Plus an open mike for topics from the audience.

* 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. New Directions and Changing Roles for News Librarians. Where is the cutting-edge now? What is the next cutting-edge? What does it take to get there? What courses do we chart for the future? Moderated by M. J. Crowley, Newark Star-Ledger. Panelists: Kathy Foley, San Antonio Express-News; Lany McDonald, Time, Inc.; Nora Paul, The Poynter Institute.

* Noon to 1:15 p.m. Congressional Quarterly Annual News Division Luncheon.

* 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. The News Industry in the New Millennium. Moderated by Lany McDonald. Speaker to be announced.

* 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. News Division Annual Business Meeting.

* 6:30 p.m. until? News Division Anniversary Gala, sponsored by UMI. To be held at Minneapolis’s historic International Market Square in the Atrium. Dinner, dancing, and special guests including former award winners and officers. Don’t miss the reunion of the century! Cost: $60.

Tuesday, June 8:

* 9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. What Information Professionals Need to Know about Interface Design. A discussion of what interface design is; why it matters to users, trainers and intranet developers, and which design principles are essential to consider. Moderated by Nora Paul, The Poynter Institute. Speaker: Alison Head, author of Design-Wise.

* Noon to 1:15 p.m. Freedom Forum Luncheon.

* 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. News Library Toolbox: Your Reference Collection. Reference sources abound! We’ll cover six beat-specific topics and tell you the best print and online reference resources in those areas. Moderated by Sperry Krueger, Raleigh News & Observer. Panelists: Anne LeVeque, Catholic News Service; Kee Malesky, National Public Radio; Pam Brooks, Time, Inc.

* 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Licensing Your Content: What You Should Know in Negotiating Contracts as an Information Provider. Contract writing is an art. What should you consider in the ever-changing world of online contracts? The view from both the vendor and provider prospective. Moderated by Justin Scroggs, Time, Inc.

* 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Diversity in the Research Center. Cultural diversity has been defined as "the equal participation of men and women in organizations, regardless of their race, ethnicity or gender." Does such diversity currently exist in news libraries? How can your library benefit from diversity? Moderated by Jacci Cenacveira, Los Angeles Times.

* 6:00 p.m. to midnight. Open House/Silent Auction, sponsored by UMI. Annual silent auction for News Division members. Place a silent bid for your news colleagues’ memorabilia and collectors’ items.

Wednesday, June 9:

* 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Digitized Audio and Video Collections, Convergence and Library Services. In this breakfast session, three panelists discuss how their broadcasting organizations are digitizing processes of content creation, storage and retrieval and project how their services will be delivered in a converged media environment. Moderated by John Bartholomaeus, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Panelists include Graham Higley, BBC; Debra Bade, CNN; Rob Robinson NPR.

* 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. News Division Board Meeting.

* 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. The Evolution of a Career: Life Before and After the News Library. What are the paths to the news library? What skills do you need for a career path beyond the news library? At this luncheon meeting, a panel of current and former news librarians discuss their career choices. Moderated by Kathleen Hansen, University of Minnesota, School of Journalism.

* 1:00 p.m to 2:15 p.m. Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues in a Wired World. What are the guidelines for your newsroom in avoiding copyright infringement from print, broadcast, online and Internet sources? Learn how to keep your organization legal. Also learn how other media organizations handle reprint permission requests as well as unauthorized online and print use of their own content. Moderated by Kathleen Flynn, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Speaker, David Wittenstein, Dow, Lohnes & Albertson.

* 2:30 p.m to 4:00 p.m. Sources for Digital Images. How do we find the images we need from print and digital sources including CD-ROM, commercial databases and the Web? A targeted look at resources for animal images by Smithsonian Institution librarian Courtney Shaw and an overview of general resources and copyright considerations when using them by Paula Berinstein, author of Finding Images Online. Moderated by Chris Orr of Landor Associates.

*4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Newcomers Wrap-Up. Conference wrap-up for first-time attendees from the News Division. Moderated by John Cronin, Boston Herald.

* 6:00 p.m. to midnight. Open House, sponsored by MediaStream, Inc. Join your colleagues for the second round of sales of fun, unusual and news-related items.

Thursday, June 10:

News Division Field Trip. 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Backstage at the Guthrie Theater - a morning tour, plus catered lunch and afternoon tour of the Walker Art Museum and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Host: Bob Jansen, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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Chair-Elect Debra Bade

NAME:  Debra Bade

Currently Director of News Research for CNN, Debra Bade has worked at CNN’s Atlanta, GA headquarters for ten years, starting at CNN as a research librarian, moving into a management role in 1995 and becoming Director of Research Services for the company in 1998. In this role Debra has been actively involved in improving research services and developing end-user research tools for newsroom staff. Prior to CNN, Debra got her first taste of news research as a researcher with the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis, MN from 1981-1988. She earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Experiences in a health education program while serving in Peace Corps in Gambia, West Africa continue to influence Debra’s interests in the world and desire to work in an environment with an international scope. The global nature of CNN addresses many of these international interests.

Debra participated in the Snowbird Leadership Institute in 1992 and has been a member of the American Library Association, Special Libraries Association, and the Association for Moving Image Archivists. Her activities in SLA’s News Division have included helping to create a special interest group for broadcast librarians, serving as a member of the Education Committee and chair of the Nominations Committee. Debra served as Director of Education during the 1994 and 1995 conferences, organizing Continuing Education courses "The Electronic Landscape" with Roger Fidler and "Leaders in an Electronic Era" with Howard Rheingold as speaker. Debra has been a contributor to News Library News and is currently at work on a chapter on news research to be published in 1999 in "Information Sources for the Press and Broadcast Media."

TreasurerChris Hardesty

NAME: Chris Hardesty
TITLE: News Research Manager
YEARS ON JOB: Uh, well, I just started here a month ago, but I've been in the business for 11 years.
COMPANY: San Jose Mercury News
PREVIOUS POSITIONS:   The (Raleigh) News & Observer, training manager, 1998; The (Raleigh) News & Observer, news research manager, 1996-1997; The Chattanooga Times, head librarian, 1988-1996; The Chattanooga Times, assistant librarian, 1987-1988.
PROFESSIONAL OFFICES HELD: President, Board of Directors, Times Printing Company Credit Union, 1994-1996; Secretary, Board of Directors, Times Printing Company Credit Union, 1992-1994; Treasurer, The Newspaper Guild, Local 164, 1989-1991;Publicity/Public Relations chair, News Division, 1995-present.
ACTIVITIES AND HONORS:  News Division member, 1994-present; Vormelker-Thomas Student Stipend Award Committee, 1997, chair, 1998-present; Visiting faculty for The Poynter Institute's News Libraries for the Year 2000 seminar, February 1998; Mentor in News Division's program for first-time annual conference attendees, 1997-present; Recipient of The Freedom Forum/SLA International Libraries Program fellowship to Russia, November 1997; Speaker on topic of training at annual conferences, 1997, 1998; Coordinator for fund raising News Division auction, 1996-present; Presented video, "A Morgue Transformed," at annual conference, 1995; Participant in Poynter Institute's News Research for the Year 2000 seminar, February 1995.
PUBLICATIONS:  Information Outlook, August 1998, "Travels in Russia.;" InnerView (McClatchy corporate magazine), Summer 1998, "N&O Solves Mystery."
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I've gained some insight into the News Division's finances by helping raise $7,000 through the silent auctions at annual conferences. Current and past leadership should be commended for keeping the division in its fiscal state. It is an honor to be considered for this position, which would allow me to work for an organization that has given me so much growth.

NAME: Michael Jesse
TITLE: Library Director
COMPANY: Dayton Daily News
YEARS ON JOB: In this post since 1993, in news libraries since 1986.
EDUCATION/PREVIOUS POSITIONS: B.A. in Journalism, 1979, from Kent State Univesity. Worked as a reporter at the Sandusky (0hio) Register for several years before moving to Indianapolis in the mid-1980s to begin work on my MLS at Indiana University. Worked two years at the Herron Art Library at the Indianapolis Museum of Art before joining the staff of the Indianapolis Star and News Library, initially as an abstractor and later as chief reference librarian. Completed MLS in 1991 and named to the Dayton post in late 1992.
ACTIVITIES AND HONORS: Twice served as instructor/mediator for archiving seminars at the Electronic Journalism Workshop; taught continuing education course on intranets at SLA; presenter/panelist at various SLA forums; received news research credit on a Dayton Daily News series which won the Pulitzer Prize.
PUBLICATIONS:  "Nuts & Bolts" column, News Library News; "Newsroom Intranets: Building an Encyclopedia,"


Director of EducationRob Robinson

NAME: Rob Robinson
TITLE: Senior Librarian
COMPANY: National Public Radio
PREVIOUS POSITIONS: News Librarian and News Library Manager at NPR.
PROFESSIONAL OFFICES HELD:  Broadcast Chair, News Division, SLA, 1995-1997. Chair, DC News Group, 1995-1997.
ACTIVITIES AND HONORS: Speaker, SLA conferences, 1993, 1995. Moderator, SLA conference. 1997 Member, Society of American Archivists.  Member, Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors. Member, Special Libraries Association.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I sat in the hot seat on the reference desk in the news library for eighteen years. In my current position, I supervise the news library, the program library (which catalogs NPR programming), the music library and the transcript proofreader.

NAME: Stephanie Willen Brown
TITLE: Library Director
COMPANY: Springfield Union-News and Sunday Republican, Springfield Mass.
PREVIOUS POSITIONS:  Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions, Western New England College School of Law, Springfield, Mass. 1989-1996. Employment Manager, MassMutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass. 1987-1989.
PROFESSIONAL OFFICES HELD: Served two terms on the Law School Admission Council Services and Programs committee, 1993-1996 (?) Co-coordinated First Annual Northeastern People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference, April 1996.
ACTIVITIES AND HONORS: Panelist, Visual Edge photojournalism conference, September 1998. Topic: photograph indexing. Member, News Libraries: Leadership for the 21st Century conference at the Poynter Institute, February 1998. Maintain "News Archives on the Web" web site. Beta Phi Mu, Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Graduation: January, 1999.
LIST PUBLICATIONS: Contributed article to News Library News on the Visual Edge Photojournalism workshop, Fall 98.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:  I have been greatly helped by the readers of the NewsLib mailing list and other members of the News Division over the past two years, and I would like to pass on what I have learned. In my career as an admissions professional, I coordinated over 50 educational events, both at my own institution and for the Law School Admission Council, and I am confident that I could provide quality sessions for my News Division colleagues as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this year's business reference education session at SLA, and I hope to maintain that level of quality in future sessions. Some of my ideas for education sessions include: staff management (hiring, training, motivating, evaluating); converting to a new archive system (identifying, purchasing, and evaluating a new system; training staff and reporters); intranet development (developing content, writing html; building consensus in the newsroom); and government research (individual records and publications; effect of FOIA on these; where to find online and print resources).


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By Jeff Graveline

There are a few new faces at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jennifer Ryan, formerly a news librarian at the Greensboro News & Record, joined the News Research Department in November as a reference librarian. It has not been all new additions, however. Alice Wertheim moved from part-time to full-time status in July. After receiving her MLS from LSU in 1974, Alice worked in a variety of library settings before coming to the Atlanta. The Journal-Constitution lost Kathryn Pease, a 3 1/2 year veteran of their News Research Department. Kathryn has taken a position as Deputy Director of Research at Globe Communications in Boca Raton, Florida.

You may remember Susan Ebbs from this year's conference in Indianapolis. She was one of the 1998 Vormelker-Thomas Student Award recipients. Well, she completed her MLS from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and is now a researcher in the News Research Department of The News and Observer in Raleigh, NC.

Donna Scheeder, from the Library of Congress, will be spending one week visiting the Japanese Diet Library. She was invited to meet with officials at the Library to discuss electronic delivery of information products for legislatures. While there, Scheeder is planning to meet with SLA members in Tokyo.

After 16 years as a reporter and editor at The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Tom Pellegrene Jr. has been named Manager of News Technologies. This is the chief librarian position. He replaces Jody Habayeb who moved to The Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida. Tom's most recent position at The Journal Gazette was as Regional Editor. He can be reached at

There were more accolades for librarians recently. Julia McCue, a library assistant at The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram since 1995, was a Beacon Award finalist for her contributions to the award winning series "The Deadliest Drug: Maine's Addiction to Alcohol." Established in 1996, Beacon Awards were created to recognize exceptional achievements of company employees. Julie was part of a 10 person team that produced a seven part series investigating alcohol addiction in Maine.

Does it ever seem like librarians have all the answers? Sometimes they do. In December, National Public Radio librarian Giselle Foss won $14,700 dollars on the Jeopardy game show. NPR reference librarian Kee Malesky was also a winner recently. As a guest on NPR's new quiz show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me in October, Kee answered all her questions correctly and won a Wait, Wait tee-shirt.

Congratulations to Jacci Cenacveira, a research librarian at The Los Angeles Times, was selected as a Newspaper Association of America Minority Fellow to attend the New Libraries: Leadership for the 21st Century seminar at The Poynter Institute in February 1999.

Barbara Semonche, Library Director at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has been busy travelling around the country this fall. Her travels took her to the Internet Librarians' conference in Monterey, CA. Barbara and Jim Hunter posted their "Dispatches from the Beachhead" and several conference photos at (Read about the conference in this issue.)   Barbara made it to SLA Chapter meetings in Houston, TX and Columbia, SC. She also checked out special libraries in New York City and Newark and Princeton, NJ.

Contact Jeff at

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Charting the Work in the Small Library

By Marcia MacVane

Small library managers often are forced to make difficult decisions regarding the distribution of the work force. Since the work force often equals only one or two people, providing adequate library coverage can be a real challenge. When reductions are made in the work force, upper management must be made to realize the availability of librarians will change.

To determine the coverage needs, you need to take some basic steps. Set up a tower chart for each day of the week covering the hours you are currently open. If you can involve the rest of your department in this exercise, enlist them to do their own charts as well.

1. First and foremost, determine your "busy" times... that is, when is the news staff most reliant upon having researchers available? When I do this, I always eliminate extraneous requests from both the public and other internal departments, because our main responsibility remains with the newsroom. With a specific color, fill in those hours.

2. Do you have equipment that can be accessed only during certain times? For instance, in the not-too-distant past, we archived photographs on a Mac in the newsroom. Because of the demand for that particular piece of equipment, we had to be finished with our process no later than 3 p.m. Because that equipment was in another area of the building, we would also need to have a physical presence in the library while someone was in the newsroom archiving. Use another color (or colors if multiple people are needed) to fill in that period of time.

3. How are you processing your paper: do you mark, clip and file or electronically enhance? Do you have contract demands to provide information by a certain time every day? When must this work be complete and how long does it take? How many staff members are involved? Again, using another color(s), fill in the time frame.

4. Do you have periods of time when you might need to do research on an irregular basis? Or are there times when it would be beneficial to have a librarian present? Perhaps you need an early morning staffer who would be help to get all the "busy work" out of the way before the heavy-duty research starts up. Fill in this time frame...but do it with a pale shade!

5. And finally, make a list of EXTRAS ...those things that can be done at any time of day or night. Guesstimate how much time each day you need to spend accomplishing these tasks and set this aside for later. When you are all done, you should have a chart that is fairly self-explanatory. If you have created your chart indicating one color per person per job, it should be obvious where you have the heaviest demands for staffing.

Now comes the difficult part...

1. Bring your chart to management. If you find that you cannot be "open" for the same number of hours, it will be apparent to them that you have done the research necessary to back up your reasoning. Discuss with them what you think the new hours will be and what the impact might be upon the newsroom. Set the new hours.

2. Build a day. Using the list of EXTRAS, construct one shift that covers the projected number of hours at the correct times of day. Continue doing this until you run out of people! (Hopefully, you'll run out of tasks at about the same time!)

3. Assign the shifts to people. Take into account your staff's personal lives. Try not to disrupt their established routines if at all possible. Sit down and discuss the chart with them; you have smart people on staff and they will see the needs and some may volunteer to try some new shifts! They probably will have some suggestions for making the schedule even better. If no one volunteers, use a combination of life-style and seniority. I firmly believe in letting those people who have worked the longest have first choice on hours. Sometimes you must negotiate, but the nicest thing about small library staffs is how well they work together! If someone has to "give up" preferred hours, maybe you can give them preferred days off, for instance. If there is no way you can handle the number of hours with the number of staff you have, think of alternatives. Are there clerks on staff who could be trained to do basic library tasks during the "light duty" hours? If you have public access, would closing to the public ease your staff shortage? Can you eliminate some tasks and not visibly effect your end product? Could you purchase some technology that would lighten the load? Can you eliminate any meetings? Unfortunately, almost every library will experience some aspect of downsizing, if they haven't already. However, I have found this charting routine valuable, even when I am only reallocating hours. When everyone is involved, everyone owns the solutions.

Marcia MacVane is the Reader Services Manager at the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. Her email is

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Technology Tips

By Laura Mann

Following the Baby Boom (which brought many fine news librarians into the world), we lived through a "Technology Boom," which brought PCs to our desktops and homes and changed the way librarians collect and disseminate information and news. Electronic storage and retrieval systems have become necessary, integral parts of our work lives. Many organizations have now reached the point where the original systems they had grown to rely on are showing signs of age. As newsroom and library needs have grown more sophisticated, many organizations are not only shopping for new text and/or photo archiving systems but also installing or considering new pagination systems. While library personnel are not always involved in the final decision, the library itself will be impacted by the organization's new system. Nora Paul of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies has stated, "As the production line of the newsroom changes from an assembly line to pagination systems...the output from any new production system will have to make its way into the text archive."

Unisys Publishing Solutions, a Milan-based unit of the Unisys Corporation, has recently entered the American market with what it heralded as "one of the most comprehensive newspaper publishing solutions available." Unisys offers a complete editorial, electronic pagination and archiving system. The main components of the system are Hermes, WireCenter and DocCenter. All three components can be implemented together or as stand-alone systems. With many European customers, Unisys Publishing Solutions serves more than 75 newspapers in 10 countries. Several U.S. newspapers have already signed on, including the New York Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.

Judy Canter of the San Francisco Examiner reports that her library had amassed about 60,000 photos by July 1995 and the FETCH system they were using needed to be replaced. After much consideration, the Examiner signed a contract in 1997 for Unisys DocCenter. According to Canter, "The DocCenter people...worked closely with our Systems department at first, (and later) the librarians were drawn in…. This was definitely a user developed system." She reports that Unisys "was very receptive to more intensive development, working from our recommendations." The Examiner went "live" with Unisys DocCenter for its photo archiving in July 1998, with text archiving to come later. After having used DocCenter for several months, Canter sees more pros than cons. "We are current. This never happened before working with FETCH and various other servers. (The system) is very easy to learn, all the photos are in one database, and we now have many more fields to search from thereby narrowing the search effortlessly." On the minus side, Canter says the system requires too much mousework, but, she says, "we are working on that." She also feels that "we are held back by our newsroom not having the Unisys editorial system. The newsroom uses a Netscape interface for searching and there are some weaknesses with that interface." Despite these drawbacks, Canter states, "Overall, we are pretty darn happy with DocCenter."

Newsday's Mary Ann Skinner reports that during 1999, her paper will complete the process of replacing its Atex editing and pagination systems with the Unisys system. Skinner explains, "The Hermes text editing and layout will run on Pentium computers with Windows NT. The new PCs will have sufficient memory to allow all applications, including Internet searching, to run faster than our current system." Newsday currently archives its stories through the BASIS system and, since Unisys utilizes BASISPlus, a smooth transition is anticipated. Skinner feels that "the automatic tagging of stories for the archives will speed up the process of making archived stories available on Newsday's web site."

Skinner explains that Newsday's decision to purchase the system was based on many of the system’s special features. The Hermes text editing and layout component diplays WYSIWYG style and enables editors to see what a page looks like as it is produced. Hermes also allows for an unlimited number of undos and redos. Skinner points out that the DocCenter archive will have stories, photos and graphics linked to a page. This will be a significant improvement over the text-only BASIS system.

For more information, the Unisys website it

As libraries switch from one system to another, bugs are bound to appear. Jeanne Hauser's Omaha World-Herald library converted from BASIS to the DataTimes PLS system in June 1997. Hauser has been frustrated by the technical support provided by DataTimes since the World-Herald purchased the system. Hauser states, "I can't recall how many times I have been promised that someone will call me back or that something would be fixed…. If (the DataTimes) staff do not have the time to support the systems already installed and continue to install more and more, where does that leave us?" Hauser has been contacted by other news librarians who have experienced the same frustrations with DataTimes. She is forming a DataTimes "user's group" and plans to draw up a list of customer issues and grievances to present to the company's management in hopes of improving technical support. The "user's group" may meet at the next SLA conference if there is enough interest. Hauser can be contacted at (402)444-1012. Her email address is

Laura Mann is a librarian at Newsday. Her email is

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Nuts & Bolts

Make your own "integrated" archive

By Michael Jesse

For those of us in the archiving business, one of the serendipitous side-effects of the Internet phenomenon has been the advent of the browser as a universal interface. If your text archive system supports a browser interface, you may be able to do more with it than you realize.

Here at Dayton we have a MediaStream (formerly Vutext) SAVE system which lives on a Sun SparcStation with a RAID. The same machine also hosts an in-house web server which contains our encyclopedia-style newsroom intranet. (A demo of that project is at

When MediaStream came out with its web gateway software a few years ago, we bought it ostensibly for use on the web, but all along I also wanted it for a reporter interface. We were not able to actually install the gateway until about a year ago because of delays getting off our old 3B2 platform and onto the Sun. Since the installation, however, we have been experimenting with ways to take advantage of the hyptertext nature of the new interface.

One immediate opportunity was the ability to blend archive searching with our existing intranet. For example, we have bio pages on various prominent local folks. Now each of those bios includes a "Search" button which is set to launch a pre-written query against the archive for stories on that person. So even if the fact file itself has not been updated in a year, the search is always current.

With our new system, we can also link to a specific document. So, for example, we can put a citation to a specific story on a fact file and link it to the story in the archive.

So far we cannot link from one story in the archive to another because of a feature conflict in the current version. The feature is a bit of code that automatically converts any occurrence of "http://" into a link to that URL. MediaStream promises the next version of the software will fix this problem and we will be able to make a specific link from, say, a main story to its sidebars.

Perhaps the most promising aspect of this software is the ability to reunite images and text when the story is retrieved from the database and converted to HTML. MediaStream's gateway works like other web-conversion packages - it maintains the fundamental database structure, but adds a browser search page which sends the search request to the SAVE database which, in turn, displays results. Stories are not stored as HTML, but are converted "on the fly" when requested. Your text archive system may offer a similar add-on package.

After the gateway was running, I was immediately curious to see whether I could imbed standard HTML code for an inline image into a SAVE document and have that code retained in the conversion of the document to HTML. Since a retrieved story has a visible path (expressed as a URL in the location window), it was possible to interpret where to locate a "graphics" directory so that a relative link would find it.

The next problem was trickier. Although the image link worked, the required code cluttered up the document that we still had to copy to vendors such as Nexis, Dialog, etc. Although we might have asked individual vendors to strip it out, the preferred solution would be to take it out ourselves. MediaStream could not simply filter it, because by the time we inserted the code the filter had already run. MediaStream told us the only thing we could do was put the code in a field and then leave the field out at upload. That was somewhat style-crimping because it limited where in the document I could place a graphic -- only between fields. This restriction was somewhat mitigated by the fact that with an HTML gateway you also have more control over how the document is displayed. Any field can be placed in any order. Want your headline at font size=7? Done. Want the byline in bold italic? Done. It's all in the template.

In our template, we gave every document our logo, minimized the space used for edition-page-section, slightly increased the font size for the lead paragraph, and put a light grey background behind the " box" field we use for "how-to-go" info, chronologies, etc. We also created four new fields for images. One is at the very top of the page, mostly for logos; a second right before the lead; third, between the lead and rest; and the fourth at the end of the main body of the story, but before any chronologies or how-to-go boxes. We do not often use all four image fields in the same document, but each provides a placement possibility.

Of the four, the most commonly used field is the one that places the image after the lead paragraphs and before the rest of the document.  Text enhancers now routinely use a macro which inserts the HTML code for a single graphic in our "IMG2" field which the template places between the lead paragraph and the rest of the document. The enhancers do not need to know anything about HTML. They just run the global and then insert the specific filename identifying that graphic. We use a simple naming convention based on the date and page number. So "0903_1A_1.jpg" is the graphic slug you would pick if the graphic appears on page 1A of the Sept. 3 paper. The "1" just before the ".jpg" extension identifies it as the first graphic on that page. For the text enhancer this is actually a time-saver because running the global and naming the file takes less time than typing in a description of the contents of the graphic.

Another staffer is assigned to locate the actual graphic, converting it to a JPEG and uploading it to the "graphics" directory in our in-house webserver. That staffer does need to understand a little HTML in order to troubleshoot. Of course, sometimes things get more complicated. Sometimes a graphic is too wide to let text wrap around it or there is more than one graphic with the story.  These stories have to be handled by someone who can write a more customized bit of HTML code. We can do the same with photos, but do not yet do that in a big way.

One easy thing to start with is columnists mugshots. You put the photo in once and write a macro for the code and the enhancers thereafter automatically insert the link to the photo every time they run the macro. Until we can make this more streamlined we are focusing more on graphics than photos.

About ten years ago, when we began moving to electronic text archives, it was not a big deal to just put "see microfilm for graphic" in a memo. But that was when graphics were still somewhat redundant to the detail in the article. Nowadays, infographics include a great deal of information which is NOT in the story. Granted, the above project is not as good as having a truly integrated archiving system in which graphics, images and text are all interconnected and can be automatically reassembled for display when the story is retrieved. I am sure one bright sunshiny day we'll all have that -- or so I am told by vendors -- but while we are waiting for that we can take command of the tools we have at hand and do some integrating of our own.

Michael Jesseis the Library Director at the Dayton Daily News. His email is

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A View from Internet Librarian 1998

By Stacy Gilbert

From ‘Pay or play’ to ‘Triage training,’ Internet Librarian 1998 offered a variety of interesting seminars, most of which had a few useful nuggets of wisdom that are applicable to news libraries. Here are some of the highlights.

Pay or play: decisions on web expenditures

Mary Ellen Bates discussed her strategies of using the web versus online fee-based services. Web-based tools can be invaluable to libraries with little or no online budgets.

The web is a great starting point for testing search strategy and identifying key words for your particular topic. It can be used as a ready reference tool, with tons of encyclopedias, dictionaries and calculators available at your fingertips. The web is also a great place to find experts, organizations and associations. It can also be used for more in-depth research with the increasing availability of government databases which provide timely and accurate information on any number of issues.

Despite the many wonders offered by the web, there are instances when one should use an online fee-based service. Online fee-based services offer value-added search engines and the ability to search multiple sources simultaneously. They offer validated sources and can provide high value information that is difficult to obtain without going directly to the source.

Some questions to ask when deciding to ‘pay or play’: what sources does the patron need or expect? What are the copyright issues? Are you an information retriever or analyst? What is your tolerance for ‘fuzz’?

New Age of Collection Development

Gail Stahl discussed the strategies involved in balancing electronic and print resources in today’s ever-changing environment. There are several factors that go into the decision-making process. The first few are more traditional. What is your mission? What is the budget? What kind of space issues do you have? What kind of subject depth and coverage do you need? What kind of support will you have for technology? Do you have internal support (an IT department)? Do you have external support (from your vendors)? Have you budgeted for upgrades and new tools and equipment?

In selecting resources, you are responsible to your users and management. As in traditional collection development, sources should meet criteria of accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency and coverage. However, with new formats emerging, such as electronic resources, other issues will also need to be addressed. Electronic transferability and delivery methods are a few. In addition, the cost may be structured differently than traditional print sources. Cost effectiveness will be a key consideration in determining which course to take, print or electronic.

Internal funding models for Intranet purchases and negotiation strategies with vendors

Peter Coddington discussed five models for funding intranets, with the focus on centralized purchasing of information for your organization. He also mentioned methods of evaluating content on the Intranet, marketing the Intranet and improving its content. For evaluation purposes, he suggested periodic email surveys of users or feedback buttons. Intranet marketing can be achieved through internal emails, demonstrations and maintaining contact with those who frequently use the intranet with a database of users (these people can also comprise focus groups). Your vendors may also lend some support with marketing by providing magnets, rolodex cards, brochures, etc.

By marketing information via the intranet we can get our organizations to budget for the information age. Create an information budget (instead of a library budget) with the intranet as a platform.

Triage Training

Marya Place and Amy Fang Lannon shared their experiences and methods with training patrons on deadline. Often patrons have no formal training and appear with little warning wanting a crash course in using the web. They introduced a core curriculum that serves as an excellent training tool.

Marya and Amy divided their curriculum into three areas: Knowledge, Skill and Attitude. With this approach, they were able to conduct Triage Training effectively in about a half hour to forty five minutes. ‘Knowledge’ covers web site structure and core sites. It is important for the user to know the structure of a web site so that they can effectively navigate to find the information they need. They also recommend you show the user three to four core sites that contain information that is most pertinent to their needs. These sites can serve as a foundation to the user’s training. ‘Skills’ include reading search results, URL interpretation, web vocabulary and navigating sites. ‘Attitude’ is the last component to training. The trainer must convey to the user that there are limits to this medium and encourage self-directed learning at the same time being careful not to overwhelm the user.

For more information, and to learn more about what was covered at Internet Librarian 1998 go to

Stacy Gilbert is a news researcher at the San Antonio Express-News. Her email is

 COMING NEXT ISSUE: Nisa Asokan reviews the Poynter seminar on News Research in the Newsroom.

Baltimore Sun

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Library Profile – The Baltimore Sun
By Sandy Levy

The Baltimore Sun began as one of the first "penny press" newspapers in 1837. Our current daily circulation is 320,000. The treasures of the Sun Library are many, from black and white print photos, to ancient books, to the ticker tape that H.L. Mencken used to send back his stories from the Scopes monkey trial. The most valuable treasures in the library are its librarians, a diverse mix of 13 veterans and recent graduates that look forward and look backward to give reporters, photographers, and corporate staff the most accurate, complete and timely information possible.

The library maintains both the electronic and microfilm (through UMI) archive of the paper. We are in the process of migrating our electronic text archive from SII to Mediastream. We archive all photos and graphics on the AP Preserver and we are currently evaluating an image archive that will allow us to link images with text.

Our collection consists of approximately 5,000 monograph titles, 120 serials and magazines, a million or more print photos, maps, two cabinets of vertical files and several million newspaper clips on paper and microfiche. Five years ago, the book collection had a card catalog that was not arranged according to any standard cataloging method. Today, over 3,500 books are catalogued in LC format and, along with our magazine collection, are searchable company-wide via our intranet. We now use the same cataloguing software, InMagic, to organize our general print photo collection and a specialized collection of Aubrey Bodine photographs. In the summer of 1997, the library began a project to digitize our paper clippings, some of which go back to the 1920s. Most of our byline clips have now been scanned and are searchable full-text. This project has not beena smooth one, but we are hoping to make more progress with it in 1999.

Librarians staff our News Research Desk from 10am to 9pm daily and from noon to 8pm on the weekends and holidays. Requests can be submitted by telephone, fax or electronically. We answer over 800 questions per month and receive published credit on many stories, including award- winning series on Shipbreaking and Reading by 9. We have access to a flat rate on NEXIS, and access to LEXIS, Dialog, the Internet and Dow Jones. Interest in public records research has thrust us into the role of experts in Autotrack, local courts databases, Superior Information, NEXIS public records, PACER and Maryland motor vehicle records. Reporters who need this information on a daily basis also have accounts to these services.

For the past four years, researchers have used a library liaison system, where each researcher is assigned one or more desks or beats, to integrate as much as possible into the newsroom. Liaisons attend desk meetings, offer library orientations and training, work on enterprise stories from start to finish and scan the literature in their subject for story ideas. We support end user research and provide the training and tools, such as NEXIS Universe and Wall St. Journal on CD-ROM, to that end. Last year, reporters performed 15,428 of their own searches.

The library designed and maintains our company-wide Intranet, called "the loop". It is getting wide use and has given us a great place to showcase all that we can do. We have provided links to as many research tools as possible through the Web, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Associations Unlimited, Reader’s Guide, and Current Biography.

Over eight percent of our research is done for departments outside the newsroom and we continue to look for ways to serve them better. We see the library as a neutral area where "the wall" between the news and business sides of the paper can meet to share some of the same information to benefit the paper overall. We provide training and orientations for business staff and have experimented with LEXIS-NEXIS Tracker as a dissemination method for the latest industry trends. We are creating our own alert service that we will distribute through e-mail.

The library is not open to the public, but we do help fellow newspaper librarians. The Sun offers service to the public through SunSource, a venture that began in the library but is now part of the New Business Department. SunSource receives all the royalties generated from the library database and handles all reprints of text and images as well as republication rights. It also functions as our company store, selling everything from calendars, to books, to T-shirts.

As we continue to look forward into the next millenium, we anticipate the Sun’s building renovation because it will give us more space and better conditions for storage of our print, photo and book collections. Our goal is to become a primary part of the news gathering and creative process as well as the first place everyone in the company looks to for what’s hot, what’s accurate, and what’s important to our readers.

Sandy Levy is Library Director at The Baltimore Sun. Her email is

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Footprints and Road Signs

By Kathy Foley

Here's an update on the plans for the party in Minneapolis in June…

Lany McDonald reports that the Sevilles, a 7-piece dance band, have been booked, so everyone should plan on bringing their "boogiing" shoes. UMI has agreed to pick up the tab for the dance as well as their usual fabulous cocktail party. Justin Scroggs has had a logo produced and is talking with the folks at NewsBank who have agreed to publish the program. Justin is working with the Divison archivist, M.J. Crowley, on content for the program.

Just a reminder to send me a note or e-mail describing your defining Division moment - the event, statement, article, person, or episode that made you realize the value of the News Division to you professionally or even personally.

I offer the following tidbits from past issues of News Library News (and its predecessor newsletters):

  • The Newspaper Division was awarded $2000 by the SLA Board of Directors to develop an audio-visual project for educational and public relations efforts. (February, 1978)

Many news librarians submitted color slide images to illustrate audio scripts on topics such as subject heading control or micrographics. Spearheaded by Kathleen Trimble of the Toledo Blade, and later of U.S. News & World Report, the AV Committee developed slide shows that were circulated to library schools or Division members. What an obvious precursor of the News Division’s Web site!

  • "Ever notice how much your job is like riding a surfboard? If you don’t stay on the leading edge of the wave . . . oops, you’re in over your head." -- Joy Hill (Winter 1981)

No, Joy was not talking about researching on the Web, but was alerting News Division members to the rising influence of graphic designers in their newsrooms. Joy was the News Division’s photo library expert for many years.

  • "Being a professional and having a healthy sense of respect for yourself and your job is vital. If you are doing a good job, make it known. Be assertive, making suggestions on policies that affect your operation. Your were hired because you are the professional and knowledgeable in your field. Acquire an attitude of service. After all, there is no such thing as a "stupid question" in a library. If you can’t find the necessary materials or make a mistake, admit it. No on is 110 percent perfect." -- Barbara Apple, News Sun, Waukegan, Illinois (November, 1985)

This cover article offered advice that is just as valuable today. It also included a quiz about sensible shoes and librarianship.

  • "Do any News Division libraries have policies concerning the use of non-library staff to do research? Ironically, over the years, more ‘free’ interns have assumed the research function on individual shows because the library staff has been successful in guiding and training them. However, simultaneously, this practice has reinforced the mistaken idea that research can be relegated to interns, production assistants, and non-library staff." -- Vicky Dawson, WNET/Thirteen (Winter, 1990)

Was Vicky predicting the current trend to train reporters and editors to do their own research over nine years ago?

  • "It’s a long time between seminars. Some of us don’t even get to attend. We spend a lot of time playing phone tag with the people we need to talk to and sometimes, we don’t know who we need to talk to …. These situations are every day occurrences in the life of the harried news librarian. One way to get around some of these problems is to talk to your colleagues in news libraries and newsrooms around the world on CompuServe’s Journalism Forum." – Nora Paul , Miami Herald Library Director, later moved to the Poynter Institute (Fall, 1991)

Nora was one of the early adopters of electronic bulletin board communications and spurred the News Division to recognize the utility that would become NEWSLIB!

Kathy Foley is the Editor of Information Services at the San Antonio Express-News. Contact Kathy at

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Indispensable News Librarians

By Catherine Kitchell

Melinda Carlson, Research Supervisor for ABC News in Washington, DC, was given screen credit for the Research Center's role in the documentary 1968: The Whole World Was Watching, which aired December 10, 1998. The show featured pivotal events from 1968, including the beginning of the Tet Offensive and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Connie Chung and Diane Sawyer conducted interviews with luminaries such as Coretta Scott King and Lady Bird Johnson as well as lesser-known people, such as Lloyd Bucher, Captain of the captured USS Pueblo.

Melinda worked primarily with the show's producers, Holly and Paul Fine. She got many background books on the 60's, including the ever-helpful Time-Life decade series. This helped the Fines narrow down which events to highlight. Later, Melinda tracked down many individuals - finding Bernardine Dohrn and her husband, Bill Ayers. Dohrn and Ayers were part of the Weathermen and spent many years underground after bombings in Chicago. Now the former revolutionary is described as a "baseball mom" living in Chicago, not far from the convention center where Mayor Daley tried to "maintain order" and public security by sending out police officers who brutally beat many protestors.

Pete Basofin, Chief Librarian at the Sacramento Bee, worked extensively with reporter Nancy Weaver Teichert to deliver a series to Sacramento residents on crime trends from 1991 through 1997. The initial idea for the project came from a local police web site that tracks current crime statistics for citizens. The police provided the annual data that Pete imported into Microsoft Access. Substantial work was done with the data to ensure its accuracy.

Reporters used many of the statistics as the basis for much of their own first-hand reporting. The stories were not about the statistics, though, as much as they were about the people affected by crime - shopkeepers, homeowners, commuters and others. Interestingly, one inner-city neighborhood was commonly believed to be a high-crime area, but the statistics dispelled that belief. Profiles of many neighborhoods identified many "problem" areas, including malls and convenience stores.

Chris Hardesty, while still at the News and Observer in Raleigh, NC, worked with reporter Amanda Garret on a very different kind of story. Children playing on the outskirts of Durham, NC found a skeleton in an abandoned, debris-strewn house. The police determined the body to be that of Lucille Rebecca Alexander. According to police, Lucille had died of natural causes 10 years earlier. That meant the job of the police was done, but the mystery of who she was and why no one had missed her still remained. Enter Chris and Amanda. Putting the pieces of Lucille's life together consumed Chris for almost a month and was one of the most compelling projects he has worked on. At least three social security numbers and aliases for Lucille were found in the house, along with voluminous correspondence with pen-pals all over the globe. Normally, this much information would make identifying a person easy, but not with Lucille. Only a very few people were alive who remembered her as a domestic in the late 1960's. The story makes for fascinating reading and reminds us that everyone's life is a story waiting to be told. To read more, go to

Self-nominated as the "Queen of Timelines," Julia Muller, news researcher at the Savannah Morning News, has compiled more of them than she cares to count. She always receives a byline for them too! Her most infamous timeline chronicles "The Book." For those of you not in-the-know, in Savannah "The Book" is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

It's too late to enter, but The Washington Post ran the second annual Extreme World Wide Web Research Hunt on December 21, 1998. Margot Williams, the Post's new research editor, compiled 15 questions, all of which were asked of the Extreme Research'spanel of experts the previous year. The panel of experts consists of Richard Drezen, Bobbye Pratt, Bridget Roeber and Mary Lou White from the Post, Chris Roy of the Hartford Courant, Debbie Wolfe of the St. Petersburg Times and Arthur Smith of WGBH-TV in Boston. Questions include naming the five wealthiest people in Virginia and what's the vig and how do you calculate it? Might be a good idea for a column in many papers, though the Post doesn't offer a prize to the winner - c'mon not even a t-shirt?

If you have worked on a great story lately, send me a note and I will write it up. Remember, all these librarians are not necessarily better researchers than you, but they are doing a better job of PR!

Catherine Kitchell works at the Bureau of National Affairs. Her email is

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A Researcher's Job is Often Messy

For this column, Catherine Kitchell decided to ask an expert how to attack specific kinds of reference questions. She asked Jim Oberman, Manager, Research Operations for PEOPLE Magazine, how to track down celebrity birth dates. The request elicited the following response from Jim.

Forever Young

By Jim Oberman

Whoopi Goldberg celebrated her 43rd birthday at the Derby swing nitery where she had once taken swing lessons: guests were treated to these lessons at the party.

-The Palm Beach Post, November 22, 1998

Did he lie under oath and therefore abuse his powers of the Presidency? Don't ask me, it doesn't phase me. The lies that really set me off are the ones like those above that appear daily in papers across the country. Whoopi Goldberg celebrating her 43rd birthday is a whopper. At PEOPLE Magazine, we believe she has been celebrating that particular birthday for 6 years. The Research Center is asked to provide all kinds of details for stories including the subject's height, place of birth, parent's names and occupations, marital history, and the all-important-but-sometimes-not-so-easy-to-come-by date of birth. In all of this, the keyword is accuracy and guess what? Celebrities lie about their ages.

So where do we go to check for a celebrity's age? The first and cheapest method is through checking reliable reference books like Current Biography (Goldberg born 1950,) Almanac of Famous People (Goldberg born 1949), Contemporary Film,Theater, and Television (Goldberg born 1955). When such inconsistencies exist, we often go to the public record databases. Often we come up with voter registration or driver's license records, but you have to be careful even with these because there are ways to lie on them. The one absolute verification comes from a birth certificate, but they can only be obtained with permission of the subject. With Whoopi, the public record information was inconclusive. We did, however, get a "copy" of her birth certificate from her fan club indicating she was born in 1955. Subsequently, we sent a letter to her publicist asking if we could get Whoopi's permission to obtain a copy of her birth certificate directly from the New York State Department of Health. We are still waiting for a reply.

So how old is Whoopi? The final answer is a judgement call. We checked articles published before she first hit it big - celebrities tend to get younger the longer they are in the limelight. The Washington Post had Whoopi as 35 in 1984, PEOPLE pegged her as 36 in 1986 and Time thought she was 38 in 1988. From this sleuthing, we are sticking with Whoopi's birth date as November 1949.

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