An Open Letter to TUBDFTL Patrons # 8

Here we go again! It's difficult to fathom that better than five months have passed, and over 650 New Patrons (at the time of this writing we boast 3,663 Patrons) have joined us, since the Librarian's last "Open Letter." I suppose it's, once again, past time I ruminate on where we've been and where we're off to next.

The Library's old Internet provider (Cyberg8t) has now officially been relegated to mothballs and, though still utilized as a mirror site (http://key.cyberg8t.com/simon/dylan/freelib.html), all other facilities thereon (FTP and E-mail) have been abandoned. If you still have simon@cyberg8t.com in your address book, delete it! It is no longer checked with any frequency and serves solely as a repository for spam. All E-mail should be directed to the appropriate freelib.org address (see http://freelib.org/dylan/fl_add.php for details). Whilst on the subject of E-Mail, please be sure to include your Patron ID in the Subject or body of the message. Without it, I am forced to look it up in the Library's database in order to reply. If the database is being backed up or otherwise inaccessible, the E-mail will have to be filed for handling later and is very likely to slip through the cracks!
The Library's primary web site is (http://freelib.org/dylan/freelib.html) and is always the first to be updated. Whilst both the East Coast (http://newtekinc.com/dylan/freelib.html) and West Coast (http://key.cyberg8t.com/simon/dylan/freelib.html) mirror sites continue to be maintained they are quite likely to be a few hours behind.

All of the gremlins seem to to have been driven from the Library's List Server and "The Unofficial Bob Dylan Free Tape Library Patron's Discussion Group" has been operating smoothly for several months now. Though Patron participation has been rather sporadic, I expect, in time, the pace will pick up. In the meanwhile, new listings and updates are posted fairly regularly and the occasional misrouted E-mail pops up. Those Patrons looking for a flame free, trolless forum that wish to participate are invited subscribe to "The Unofficial Bob Dylan Free Tape Library Patron's Discussion Group" by sending an E-mail to dylan-request@freelib.org. The first line of the message (leave the Subject blank) should consist of the word SUBSCRIBE.

The CGI scripts intended to facilitate online request submission, alluded to in the previous "Open Letter," have been abandoned in favor of a more sophisticated, platform independent, database management system. In that regard, I'd very much like to hear from anyone with expertise in MIVA. Though I've experimented with it a bit, time has been quite scarce and I fear my concentration is not what it used to be. As a consequence, I've precious little progress to report on the implementation of online request submission.
Whilst on request submissions, please use the "Request Number" (example: 9907261) when it exists in the Listing. As I've previously written, this has been implemented to mitigate possible confusion when more than one recording exists and will, in time, serve as a link through which you will be able to automatically submit requests. When no request number is given, use the date of the venue (in MM/DD/YY format - not M/DD/YY, MM/D/YY, nor MM-DD-YY - the system will bounce your request right back to you) and any arguments as described in "Library Dubbing Services Procedures" ( http://freelib.org/dylan/fl_proc.html). Do NOT make up a "Request Number" if it doesn't exist in the listing. The system will not recognize it and the request will not be processed.

The Library's Listening Room has now officially seen use and we've thoroughly enjoyed the company of those Patrons that have dropped in for a visit. As I wrote in the last "Open Letter," a CD-R, cassette dubbing decks, a Reel to Reel, and a turntable are available for Patron's use whilst visiting. Internet access is also available if the CD-R is not in use. If you find yourself in the neighborhood consider stopping in for a visit. All you need to bring are blank tapes and/or CD-Rs. If you want to copy video tapes, plan on bringing your own VCRs. Hours are by appointment only, but the facilities are generally available from 5 AM until 3 PM.

The fourth raffle was closed on schedule and the winners awarded their prizes. This time around, a tad under 5% (167 Patrons) of the then active Patronage participated. Without their generous support, I don't know how we would have scraped through. We are all in their debt. The next raffle is now officially launched - see the link below!

Though the archiving of the Library's tapes to CD-R is now well underway, the implementation of the CD Lending Library is on indefinite hold. I was on the verge of adding another hundred Patrons to the roles of the Library's "testers" when the Library's Development System suffered a security breach. A review of the system logs led me to believe that in the preceding months there had actually been several breaches. Accordingly, I had little choice but to take the entire Development System offline until I am in a position to resolve the security issues. My best guess is that the earliest I can expect to find time to tackle the problem will be in November, when Regular Library Services are normally suspended. In the meanwhile, I can only beg patience and offer my gratitude to the one hundred or so Patrons that put so much of their time and effort into the project. Thanks for being "Guinea Pigs!"

Though the weedlike growth of the "Uncatalogued Material and New Arrivals" page has finally been stanched, the backlog of uncatalogued material remains staggering. Accordingly, the Library must continue to limit the time and resources normally reserved for engaging in swaps. Until the backlog is cleared, please, only propose a swap if you are the taper or are in a position to provide an unedited dub directly from the Master recording and so state in your proposal.

The following paragraph is a rerun from previous "Open Letters." If you've read it before, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. As always, the expeditious servicing of Patron requests comes first. If properly submitted, it is reasonable to expect your dubbed tape on the way back to you within a couple of days of receipt if a single tape is involved. The dubbing of two or more tapes will likely take a day or two longer. I make absoltely no promises on turn around time for tapes that are not properly submitted. If you want to inquire about the status of your request, telephone. Do not E-mail! Your Librarian's arthritic fingers are limited in the number of keys they can strike in a day. In fact, consider using the telephone, instead of E-mail, for anything that requires a personal response, particularly if an immediate response is sought. The bottom line is that there are well over 3,600 of you and only one of me. Let's use my time and energy doing what's most important to you - spinning tapes!

If today was not an endless highway.
Alas, most of the goals set forth in the last "Open Letter" remain to be met. Though there's been some respite with the onset of summer and the attendant decline in the number of requests submitted, at times it's been a real challenge just to maintain the status quo. Consequently, I've reluctantly put the Development System and the CD Lending Library on the back burner.
Clearing the backlog of the "Uncatalogued Material and New Arrivals" page and incorporating the material from the Glynn D. Lee estate continue to enjoy the highest of priorities.
Though a many of the issues surrounding the Library's computer system have now been addressed, a few remain. It is my intention continue to tackle system related issues over the weekends after Friday afternoon backups have completed. Accordingly, it is conceivable, though it has not thus far been necessary, that the system could be down from half past two on Friday afternoons until sometime early the following Monday morning. During that period, as they are are processed locally, requests for Patron IDs and Library Dubbing Services will be queued until the system is back on line. I'll make it a point to announce such scheduled down time by posting to "The Unofficial Bob Dylan Free Tape Library Patron's Discussion Group."

On a personal note, Lynne and I would like to express our deepest appreciation to those of you that took the time to congratulate and wish us well on the occasion of our Silver Wedding Anniversary. We've decided to try and make a go of it!

I'd also like to take a moment to comment on the stellar quality of so many of the recordings from this years tour and to personally thank the tapers that made their Masters or direct copies of their Masters available to the Library. Kudos are also due Joy Munsey, the new EDLIS Agent Liaison Agent. Her proactive efforts have considerably lightened your Librarian's work load. If you're not acquainted with EDLIS, you should be. Just point your browser to http://edlis.org/. You'll not regret it!

As always, your comments, criticisms, or suggestions are always welcome.
Until the next time, Take Care!
Simon
08/13/99

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