Bulk Buying of Books From Friends of the Library

Unlike other online business opportunities, starting an online book selling business can be done with only a couple hundred dollars. If you have bulk used books as part of your own personal collection, you can start selling them online. You will not only make a profit out of it; you can also declutter your very own shelf space. If you want to widen your inventory and meet other people who like books in the process, you may want to invest on buying and reselling used books.

Before you start to sell used books online, you must know where to find salable books at low cost. An excellent way to begin is buying books from Friends of the Library, an organization which raises money for public libraries by selling used books. These books are often well priced and in very good quality.

Libraries make new shelf space by liquidating older copies of books or duplicating copies to sell them to the public. Friends of the Library is a nonprofit charitable group which aims to support libraries in their communities. These are volunteers working collectively and independently to preserve, promote and strengthen library services in cooperation with library management and policies.

Volunteers contribute their time and effort in the lifelong education of the public by the promotion, support, assistance and improvement of libraries through various activities conducted by friends and user groups. One of the organization’s fundraising project is an annual book sale. Here you can find a wide array of collections of used books which you can use to grow your list of titles. This in turn can give you free access to the biggest marketplace for selling books–book lovers and library-goers themselves.

You can buy high-quality books at a low cost from the Friends of the Library. You do not want to end up with a pile of used books that nobody wants to purchase. By buying books from the Friends of the Library, you can rest assured that there is a market for the books you are about to sell. Be it literature, textbooks, reference books and other non-fiction rarities, the fact that they are lifted from the very shelves of public libraries guarantees that you are selling some classic stuff. Who knows, some of them might even turn out as first edition collectibles you can sell for a much higher price.

In some counties, Friends of the Library book sales have grown into a year-round operation. You just have to inquire at your local library about the organization and their book sale activities. Keep in mind that not only will you find well-priced books here; you are also helping the organization to fund several community projects.

So the next time you pass by a library selling bulk used books, it is noteworthy to check them out and when you go shopping for books, buy with selling in mind. There are people who become relatively successful in online book selling and even put up their own online bookstore. In this kind of business, the important thing is to always update your inventory and listing.

Building the Professional Library Infrastructure in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Developing countries are characterised in one way by shrinking economies. Sierra Leone is one such country that despite government and donor support, education has been a major challenge. The situation has been worsened, due to the fact that libraries have been neglected. According to the African Development Bank (ADB) Sierra Leone Country Office (2011), the total funds provided for education by the ADB/ADF finances up to 2010, was about US$ 22 million. The project supported the construction of Ninety Eight (98) primary schools, Fifty Four (54) Junior Secondary Schools (JSS), Eight (8) Vocational Skills Training Centres and Twelve (12) duplex housing blocks for teachers. The project also provided training for Four Thousand and Fifty (4,050) teachers. Teacher manuals were also made available. However, nothing was ever made available for library development. This neglect of libraries, means that libraries in Sierra Leone with limited resources, have to work together in order to meet the information needs of their users. One library may not be able to effectively and suitably meet the information needs of all its users. Library cooperation is therefore, urgently needed.

Library Scene in Sierra Leone

The country has all the different types of libraries; they range from public, academic, special to school libraries. In addition to these are information and resource or documentation centres that provide library and information services. Furthermore, there are museums, such as the National and the Peace Museums, and the National Archive which also provide information services.

However, the Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) which was established by an Act of Parliament in 1959 serves as the domain of the provision of library and information services in the country. It functions as both the National and a Public library. To date it has a Central library and headquarters located in Freetown, Regional branches in Provincial headquarter towns, and branches in all District towns, totaling twenty one (21) libraries [One (1) central and headquarter library, three (3) regional libraries, sixteen (16) branch libraries, and two (2) sub-branches].

Libraries in Sierra Leone are therefore, institutions for the storage and dissemination of information; are for users; they provide users with guides and other finding lists; they provide adequate access to the documents or records users may wish to consult; they have subject arrangement; and they are cost-effective.

Library Cooperation

The term cooperation describes the joint action of two or more parties for mutual benefit. Library cooperation means exchanging cataloguing records, building complementary collections, exchanging library materials by inter-library loan and document delivery service, joint purchasing of library materials or automated system, providing services to each others’ users. Library cooperation is also described as an agreement, combination, or group of libraries formed to undertake an enterprise beyond the resources of any one member.

There are different types of cooperative activities and some of the most popular activities are reciprocal borrowing, union catalogues or lists, photocopying services, cooperative reference service, delivery services, cooperative acquisition arrangements, subject specialisation in collection development, centralised cataloguing and card production, as well as central storage of materials.

Burgett, Harr and Phillips (2004) asserted that there is evidence that cooperation among libraries to share resources goes back to a long way, at least to the first half of the 13th century, when monasteries developed what we would today recognise as union catalogs of manuscripts to aid in their scholarly activities. Musana (1991) indicated that information resource sharing has been in existence as long as libraries and other types of information services. The existence of a library is itself a form of cooperation. Many libraries came into existence because a group of individuals with a common desire and aspiration wanted to put a collection of materials together for use by the group members. Historically, the driving force behind the evolution of resource sharing concept was the desire to satisfy the felt needs of the user population. Earlier, each library was an entity, serving or trying to serve the needs of its own users and purchasing materials to meet their primary needs.

Beenham and Harrison (1990) however noted that a combination of circumstances made it increasingly difficult for an individual library to be self-sufficient. These circumstances include:

a tremendous increase in knowledge and a corresponding growth in publishing;

the spread of education from primary to university level which lead to greater and more diverse demands on the public library services by a much more literate public;

the advance of technology with its effect on industry and commerce and the necessity for employers and employees to develop new skills and techniques; and

increased opportunities for travel and international economic cooperation, which demand up-to-date information about foreign countries.

Existing Library Cooperation in Sierra Leone

There has been increased pressure for libraries in Sierra Leone to cooperate, including plans to create networks thereby making way for resources to be available to users. As such what has obtained is as follows:

Lending of materials – libraries lend materials to each other officially and unofficially to help their users;

Donations – large libraries donate to smaller libraries materials mostly books for their users;

Photocopying – these are available in most libraries. The lending library will copy the needed material and send a copy to the requesting library without having to send the original;

Exchange of cataloguing data – cataloguing data is given to other libraries. The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) provides its data to school libraries that cannot do this technical work properly.

There have been some benefits with these kinds of cooperation existing in the country:

Availability and access to information – there has been significant reach to information by users, since other libraries’ resources can be tapped from;

Lower cost – funds are saved due mainly to the fact that some expensive materials are not purchased as long as they are accessed in another library;

Experience sharing – the exchanging of staff and information provides a platform for learning from each other, especially with cataloguing data; and

Collection development – each library tends to build its collection to the maximum point, narrowing the focus, and at the end building a strong collection.

Notwithstanding, the real benefits that such cooperation should bring about have not been fully realised. Thus, there are certain steps that libraries should take to make this workable.

Building the Infrastructure of Cooperation

The following are essential steps to be taken into account for an efficient cooperation between libraries in Sierra Leone if significant achievements are to be made.

Ensure common understanding and trust. There must be an established better working relationship among and between libraries where common understanding and trust are built up. A continued interaction and exposure of one another’s resources must be maintained. This can be done by sharing of expertise and experience, signing of Memoranda of Understanding, dialogue to allay fears, and to respect what each party can offer. Exchange of staff if necessary must be done.

Learn from advanced libraries. Furthermore, lessons can be learnt from how other national and international cooperation is being conducted. Cooperation is not a day event but something that must be encouraged and built upon. There must be room for trial and error as well as correction of past mistakes.

Management must provide the leadership. Each library management must take upon itself to lead the process successfully. There must be the political will and the willingness to share resources, as well as prioritising the move towards cooperation. Management must be willing to make positive compromises to reach the desired goal.

Networking and collaboration. The move towards cooperation should not be a one man show. Cooperation can consist of voluntary agreement among libraries, or it can be imposed on libraries by Library Laws or by responsible ministries that fund libraries. It is essential that the participant libraries be willing to work together towards common goals.

Provision of funds. One of the benefits of cooperation is to save cost. However, every library must provide funds for the processes involved. This is particularly so for processing and technical services functions. These must be taken care by individual libraries. As such funding should be provided.

State intervention. In the context of the developing countries state intervention would be called for to enable coordination of a nation’s total library and information resources and ensure adequate funding. This is particularly important given that on the whole libraries in Sierra Leone do not have large enough capital base of their own to invest in such equipment as computer hardware and software, and telecommunications. However, state control must not be allowed to exceed co-ordination as this may to some extent have an effect on the zeal, initiative and the goodwill of participating libraries, institutions and the individual professionals.

The Challenges in Building the Infrastructure of Cooperation

In spite of the benefits accrued in cooperation, there are real and perceived challenges, which, unless properly dealt with, could minimise the chances of even the best conceived scheme taking off. In Sierra Leone, these are:

Overcoming the culture of hoarding – the culture of greed and selfishness that has eaten up the very fabric of society. This has affected even library practice. Libraries are to amass information for the general good of the society.

Limited collections – where participating libraries have not built up their collection to a minimum standard to allow for exchange, they are to grow their collections to some measurable status to ensure fair participation.

ICTs infrastructure – the marked lack of sufficient Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is a worrisome issue for cooperation in this 21st century.
Purchasing and installation of ICTs is very crucial, as well as the education and training of staffs for use.

Staffing – some of the participating libraries have untrained and unqualified staff as a major obstacle. Also, most staff are concerned about their status, efficiency, job security, salaries, and autonomy or independence, and this has affected the synergy. If the fears of staff are to be dispelled through proper sensitisation and education, capacity building also must be undertaken.

Management – management must take decisive steps towards cooperation.

In conclusion, information to libraries is as money to banks; it is an indispensable input in the development process of the nation. However, to be effective it has to be optimally available and accessible from every corner if possible. Library cooperation if properly planned and executed offers a solution to a lot of problems faced by libraries, librarians and other information professionals in developing countries as Sierra Leone. Valls (1983) has provided the last words, “cooperation between information centres and the co-ordination of efforts needed to efficiently share resources implies the existence of an infrastructure linking the centres to one another.” This library infrastructure must be built up as it would assist in fostering self-help, exchange information, change society, improve productivity and work life, and share resources.

Helping Educators Protect Children – Why Internet Monitoring is Needed

The number of children who use the Internet is soaring. Currently more than 30 million kids under the age of 18 use the Internet. That represents nearly half of the children living in the United States. 14 million children access the information highway from school, a figure that is expected to increase to 44 million by 2003. Also by that year, we believe more students will access the Internet from the classroom than from home according to the Consortium of School Networking.

Over the last decade, while the numbers of people who use the Internet grew, the Internet, and what it is used for, has changed as well. It is no longer a community of scientists and academics. Now, anyone can publish whatever he or she wants on a web site and have an instant worldwide audience. While the World Wide Web opens up a world of information, entertainment, and social interaction to kids, it also gives them access to some very unfriendly information. Today there are nearly 7 million pornography sites on the web and that number increases by the day. Children unwittingly plug an innocuous word into a search engine and not only does the information they seek pop up, but often, so do porn sites, and sites with topics devoted to bomb-making, weaponry, gambling, and drugs. Just like the World Wide Web, if we consider it an entity, does not know the ages of the people who surf it, inappropriate email does not know the age of its addressee, and it shows up in everyone’s email box. Worst of all, the Internet makes it possible for the worst sort of predator, the pedophile, to creep into our schools and homes.

Organizations ranging from schools and hospitals to churches and businesses now rely on the Internet for access to information. It also provides instantaneous access to vendors, suppliers, sales, customer service and more. But with the good, comes some bad. Along with all the vital information that flows across the web, there is also content that is at best inappropriate and at worst illegal. Educators who fail to protect their students from some of this easily obtainable material face a host of problems, including legal liability (last year employees at a public library in Minneapolis filed suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) saying that exposure to porn due to patron surfing constituted a hostile work environment) negative publicity, wasted money due to nonproductive use of equipment (excess lines, routers, disk storage and printers, unreliable or slow connections, etc.), and, of course, the human costs, which are incalculable.

Our children are our most precious and vulnerable citizens and they are at risk. But the risk is nott necessarily where we as parents and educators think it is. Law enforcement officers who deal with the growing problem of cyber crime report that web content is one problem, but major criminal activity is taking place in chat rooms, instant messaging applications, and in email. These modes of communication have given predators or pedophiles access to online playgrounds where they find children to virtually, and potentially literally, molest. The Internet has provided these criminals with a means of communicating with millions of children. The fact that they have anonymity means that they are free to pose as anyone they want to.

The problem is larger than we think. Consider that one Midwestern city with a population of 190,000 has 270 registered sex offenders. This is one small city. When a cyber crime enforcement agent in that city recently logged into a chat room posing as a 13-year-old girl, he had ten men wanting to talk sexually with her within 5 minutes!

I. An Overview of the Children’s Internet Protection Act

The Children’s Internet Protection Act was signed into law in December of 2000. The law became effective in April of last year. CIPA mandates the use of blocking, filtering or monitoring technology on computers in public libraries and schools receiving E-rate telecomm discounts or Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) or Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funds to filter harmful to minors material. The law has not been universally praised. Organizations ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Library Association (ALA) have filed suits with the goal of overturning the law.

The ALA believes the legislation is unconstitutional because it limits access to constitutionally protected information that is available on the Internet at public libraries. The bill, introduced by Senator John McCain, the republican from Arizona, requires libraries to adopt acceptable use policies accompanied by technology that would block access to material harmful to minors.

This is obviously a very controversial issue. At one recent hearing about the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), a hearing that took place in California, one ALA representative testified that ALA members routinely review books and other material, including videos, music and magazines in order to determine which material is appropriate for their readers. They essentially filter material before it is placed on library shelves. And if it is deemed inappropriate, they block it. At this hearing, a COPA commissioner asked why the ALA does not want to do the same thing for information on the Internet. The only reply from the ALA representative: the information is different. Different is certainly one way to see it!

My question for you is: why should information that is available on the Internet be subject to less strict control than books or magazines or music or video? The material that is published on paper, whether in books or magazines or appears in video form, is scrutinized very carefully, and federal and state laws mandate that minors be prevented from obtaining some of this material. Why should information on the Internet be treated any differently? Why should we allow our children access to such material because it is different? We are not talking about book burning; we are simply questioning the controls in place for this new and easily accessible information source.

I believe that CIPA, COPA and COPPA, along with all the other acts proposed, or those that are already law, have not gone far enough. Our children are not adequately protected. And it is our job to address the issues that affect our children. We have a moral obligation to our future generations to protect them. In our society children mature sooner because of the myriad of instant communications available, unmonitored communication has contributed to the loss of innocence. We must protect our children, and not give the only voice on this subject to those who believe the right to free speech is more important than safety.

II. A Look at the History of Content Controls

In the mid-1990s, reports of the negative experiences that children were having on the Internet began to make headlines. At the 1994 Fall Comdex meeting, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Interactive Services Association issued Child Safety on the Information Highway, the first statement suggesting that parents should monitor their childrren internet activities. As any parent knows, Do’s and Don’ts lists simply do not work. Kids are curious, and whether intentionally or accidentally, will find their way to inappropriate material. If we also consider that an estimated 5 million new or renamed websites are put up every week, it’s easy to understand why it seems impossible to protect ourselves and our children from potentially destructive material. Another approach, limiting access by rating internet content thereby preventing children from accessing harmful content the way that movie theaters prevent children under age 17 from buying tickets to R rated movies has been ineffectual. Only about 150,000 websites, out of the hundreds of millions of web sites, have registered to rate themselves.

Several years ago, in response to concerns from the public, from parents, from educators, and from law-enforcement officers, congress and advocacy groups began to look for ways that the government could control children access to harmful material, a movement that culminated in the Communications Decency Act, an amendment to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

At the same time that the ratings debate waged, companies began to develop filtering and monitoring software products. In 1996 there were just a few; by 1997 there were about 3 dozen and last year, there were more than 100 on the market. There are a variety of products available. Most rely on lists of URLs and then block access to sites that appear to contain pornographic material. If a user attempts to go to such a site, the user receives a message stating that access to this specific site is prohibited. Other applications filter the information on the Internet and look for keywords that indicate the site may contain material that is inappropriate for children. Essentially, the URL blocker blocks the entire site while the filter allows access to the site, but filters out the information that is inappropriate. Opponents say that these approaches overblock content, filtering out references to breast cancer, and to researchers who hold magna cum laude honors, and so on.

Most recently, several products that monitor user activities have been offered to the public. These applications do not block or filter, but rather promote the organization Acceptable Use Policy and monitor the computer user activities. If the user violates the organization Acceptable Use Policy by accessing pornographic or other inappropriate material, the systems administrator or other assigned person is notified. This approach is becoming increasingly popular because when an organization posts its Acceptable Use Policy, and its users know their computer use is being monitored, it puts the responsibility back in the user hands. In other words, if a user knows the Acceptable Use Policy, and he or she chooses to violate the policy, then presumably he or she is willing to suffer the consequences.

III. The Consortium for School Networking

In order to help schools understand the far-reaching on-line safety issues and comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act, the Consortium for School Networking is providing updated resources related to Internet safety. At http://www.safewiredschools.org, school leaders and parents can find a downloadable PowerPoint presentation on factors they must consider for Internet protection. There is also a detailed compliance guide covering all of the requirements of CIPA legislation.

According to the CoSN, when a school decides to manage or monitor the content that their students can access via the Internet, they will need to consider a variety of issues. Among them: Local community and international standards, for the www is an international entity that knows no boundaries, the culture of the school district, the degrees of control that teachers and administrators want to retain, the extent to which teachers and other officials wish to be involved on an ongoing basis, and cost. School administrators will also have to decide whether rules will vary according to children’s ages.

Among the approaches that the CoSN outlines in its briefing:

1. Acceptable Use Policies. Whether or not a school ultimately decides to use a filtering, monitoring or blocking application, it should still have an Acceptable Use Policy which children are aware of before they go online. The National Center for Educational Statistics reported in May of 2001 that 98 percent of schools with Internet access had an Acceptable Use Policy in place. Typically a student and his or her parents will be asked to sign off on the policy at the beginning of the school year. The policy should spell out the consequences a student (or staff member) will face if the policy is violated.

2. Monitoring. School districts may opt to take the approach in which they gives students unlimited access, but monitor the sites that individual students (and staff) have accessed. This gives an administrator the opportunity to respond to a student/staff member who is spending too much time on sites that are obviously not school-related.

3. Blocking/Filtering. Filtering means allowing access to a restricted number of web sites. Access is either limited to a specific list of approved sites, or access is blocks to sites that are considered off limits. Someone ultimately has to decide which sites will be included on the list. Some teachers and school officials may want to retain complete control over that, but others will opt to have a third party manage the process for them.

4. Proxy Servers. Some school districts decide to install filtering software on the district proxy server. It can also be used as a firewall, providing protection from viruses as well as access by hackers and other outsiders.

5. Application Service Providers. This is a relatively new option, whereby a school district hires a company to manage the school’s computer applications from the company’s own servers.

6. Filtered Internet Access. Many Internet service providers that market to schools and families have adopted content controls of their own. Users can then decide whether or not to use the controls.

7. Portals and Search Engines. There are a growing number of search engines and portals aimed at the education market. In some cases the school can configure their system to go straight to that portal or search engine. Administrators will need to carefully consider how restrictive these portals actually are, and whether they allow children to access inappropriate sites though back door methods.

8. Green spaces. Proprietary networks or Intranets designed for children are sometimes referred to as green spaces. They are designed to create closed spaces where children can roam freely among content that has been deemed appropriate for them. Generally speaking, they provide access to a relatively small number of sites.

IV. The Problems Posed by the Internet Today

As is the Internet itself, the tools and solutions we have at our disposal for managing and monitoring content are constantly evolving. Sadly, so are the methods of Internet users and the abusers who prey on children. Blocking and filtering have historically offered adequate protection for our children, but that is no longer reality.

Access to inappropriate information on the Internet is now roughly 25% of the problem. The other 75% of the problem is the material that arrives via chat rooms, instant messaging, email and attachments. Adults whose objective is to do harm to unsuspecting children know that they can find them by way of these seemingly innocuous methods. Predators use email and attachments, instant messaging, and chats to obtain personal information, to send sexually harassing and hate documents; they even use applications such as Word or Notepad to write and send such material. Children unwittingly transport this information via floppy disks and CDs that can be viewed in the classroom. Or they develop personal web sites at home, sites that contain explicit or disallowed material that can be accessed from school. These new problems demand new solutions that can address the full spectrum of problems.

V. What the Future Holds: Filtering, Blocking and Monitoring Tools Available to Educators and Parents Today

As technology changes so must our concepts of the problems created by such changes. The World Wide Web is growing exponentially and is a resource that gives any user access to ANY information, and provides the opportunity for any user to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Regardless of who is checking or how they are checking content, the main problem still exists. The Internet is an instant visual communication tool that has a dark underbelly. Teachers and parents must be made aware of all the dangers, not just those which exist with web content but that which is present in the chat rooms, instant messaging, e-mail, attachments and applications. We need the tools that will allow us to prevent people with evil intent from gaining access to our children and doing them harm.