Notes of a Binge Thinker

Thoughts from NTLP's Executive Director

Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

The Future of NTLP

Welcome to Notes of a Binge Thinker!

It is with mixed emotions that I write this column.  I have tendered my resignation to the organization effective October 21, 2011.  I have taken a position with the City of Fort Worth as their Assistant Library Director of Public Services.   This will be the last post to the Notes of a Binge Thinker blog.  I am hopeful that I will create a new one in my capacity at Fort Worth.  If I do, I hope my faithful readers will follow me. 

I am very proud of the work I have done with the North Texas Library Partners over the last ten years.  I started out as their Technology Consultant and was proud to work with many different libraries on their technological infrastructures and help them plan for a future where technology will take on a more important role within the library’s offerings.  When I took over as Executive Director, the organization was not well-regarded within the library community.  I worked on improving the organization strengths while eliminating its weaknesses.  As a result, I believe the organization is now considered a cutting-edge organization working for the betterment of its member libraries and the communities they serve.   I also began the long process of moving the organization away from total reliance on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for funding.  This process was completed this last summer when the membership voted to change the bylaws to make NTLP a true nonprofit library support organization.  It will work on behalf of its partner libraries to continue the good work started forty years ago. 

I am very confident in the future of the organization as my successor; Carolyn Davidson Brewer was my Assistant Director for six and half years.  Her decision to come back to the organization set a bright future for NTLP.  She is capable, confident and an individual well-recognized for her expertise in library science.  We still need a regional organization in North Texas to carry out the work that the Texas State Library abandoned.  Without NTLP, I can see libraries struggling even more in the near future. 

I want to thank the NTLP Board of Directors for the opportunity they gave me to do so much good in so many communities over my four year tenure as Executive Director.  I want to thank my staff for believing in my vision and working to make it a reality.  Finally, I want to thank the librarians I have served over the last ten years.  It has been a pleasure.   

Ebook Future Scenario 4:  Ebooks skip the library

Here is my fourth of four scenarios on the future of ebooks in libraries.  I couldn’t leave NTLP without finishing out my ebook series.  Please find my comments following the scenario. 

City Manager Ann Stuart read over the library director’s report again.  It was budget time in the annual cycle and each department head was required to give evaluation reports to the City Manager’s office.  The report was a description of the programs and services offered by the library during the previous year along with hard quantitative numbers.  The city had also starting using Outcome-Based Evaluation to measure effectiveness of its various departments.  Benchmarks were engaged to gauge how well the city was doing versus other cities of similar size and makeup. 

The library report was alarming although it was not totally unexpected.  Numbers were down in all programs and services you would expect from the library.  Circulation had fallen by 50% off its peak of five years ago while the number of citizens attending traditional programming had fallen off even more dramatically.  People were just not using the library in the same way any longer.  The numbers for new programs, like job hunting classes, computer usage and community-based programming aka civic meetings, and ESL classes, had skyrocketed from five years ago.  The library had also seen a slight increase in the number of individuals using the buildings.  It seems the community needed a place to study, network and socialize like never before. 

In looking over the OBE models the library had submitted, Ann saw very quickly that the library staff had anticipated all of this.  The objectives seemed to be centered on the new services to show their value to the community while the more traditional services were judged more heavily by their hard numbers than the qualitative information you glean from OBE.  The librarians foresaw that the community needed the library for different reasons.  It had changed from one of getting books and DVDs to one of community gathering place offering a wide variety of services helping community members with their daily lives. 

In thinking back to the times she had interacted with library staff, she recalled a conversation with the library director about the future of the printed book.  Federal laws had been upheld to allow publishers to restrict the circulation of ebooks.  Libraries were not allowed to offer this digital format to their patrons without paying a hefty fee, one that was cost prohibative for the library.  She also remembered a news report she read this year saying that more than 75% of the books produced today were in digital format.   Printed books were now the minority and libraries had suffered in their traditional offerings because of this development. 

The library staff had done an excellent job of preparing the city for this evolution.  As the librarians predicted, people were still using the library, but for different reasons.  The library had diversified its offerings to appeal to as many community sectors as possible.  From the very rich to the very poor, it seemed the library was reaching out to the entire community to offer real value. 

Ann liked what she saw.  I’ll have to make a point of convincing the Mayor and the council that the library is an essential part of our community.  This data will help me do that…, Ann thought to herself.  Let’s hope they agree.

Ann went on to the next set of reports.  

In this scenario, our society has realized a future where the library can no longer base its main value on serving as a book warehouse for the community.   Because of legal decisions,  it was not cost effective for circulation of materials to be the library’s main service.  Printed books were the exception and publishers/authors required a hefty licensing fee for libraries to circulate their digital material.  The library either had to evolve, or lose its relevance. 

Do I think this will happen to the public library?  Yes I do, but not for many years.   As a society, we are still facing tough decisions when it comes to how digital material should be handled and how authors should be compensated for their use.  I have been encouraged by the recent developments of Amazon allowing their books to be circulated by libraries.  Overdrive did a service for all of us by making this happen. We can now serve patrons who happen to have a Kindle.  However, Amazon is just one book vendor working with a section of the publishing industry.   Until Congress takes the time to review the copyright laws and change them to fit the 21st Century, libraries face an uphill battle in providing digital media to their communities. 

What can a public library do to prepare for this future scenario?  First of all, I think it is important not to overreact and move too fast to implement changes.   You can do certain things to get your community ready for the new paradigm without causing your current value proposition of offering circulating materials to decline too rapidly. In other words, gradually add new services while maintaining traditional services by putting the pieces in place to lay a foundation to move in whatever direction events take the library.   If you look at what the Fort Worth Library has put together in their latest strategic plan (can be found in draft form at, you can see a library that is preparing for many different scenarios.   Here are some of their ideas (page 3 of the report):

Public libraries in the 21st century:
• Use the latest tools to understand their customers’ interests, and meet those interests with a combination of targeted services and collections
• Offer a wide variety of traditional “hard copy” books and media, but also offer the latest in digital content
• Connect with people who prefer conducting library business online—be it reserving music CDs, using a database to trace a family tree, paying overdue fines, or borrowing an e-book
• Are popular with children who enjoy a story time, teens in search of a place to gather after school, and adults seeking a job, taking a computer class, or looking for something good to read
• Quickly adopt the latest time-saving technologies for the public and staff
• Have buildings that are up-to-date and sustainable, in convenient locations with sufficient parking for a quick trip while running errands or a long afternoon of study
• Provide comfortable and space-efficient facilities that are easily adapted to the ever-changing needs of the community

When it comes to digital media, I think public libraries need to stop isolating themselves and reach out to other libraries in the region, state or even nation.   Libraries need to come together to collaborate on the future of digital media offerings.  We need to build a platform ourselves that will allow libraries to offer digital media to their patrons.  Sure, we still need to work out the legal entanglements, but once these are worked out, would it not be better for the library community to have established their digital media offerings on their own terms versus relying on the whims of a particular vendor?  There are national movements, aka Internet Archive, Digital Public Library of America, ALA’s own initiative, that have already done most of the upfront work for your library.  You chore is to get involved in these movements and make sure the interests of your library and your community are well-represented.  If there is to be a national platform for delivering digital media, the time is now to get involved and not when everything has already been decided. 

This part of my column has been very enjoyable.  I have found scenario planning to be a very informative exercise when it comes to long term planning.  I hope that my readers have learned some things about how better to prepare for a future with ebooks.  I know I have. 

Download my final Column

Written by amwlkaw

October 14, 2011 at 9:03 am

Posted in Misc

What is the Future of the Library?

As books now flow onto the network, libraries no longer need to place them on their shelves nor do they need to buy copies of every book for each neighborhood served. From a purely technical perspective, there need only be one global digital library.

Publisher’s Weekly

Peter Brantley wrote these words above as a way to illustrate the chore that we as librarians face in the next five to ten years.  Peter is a much more elegant writer than I am so I won’t attempt to summarize his points.  Just read the article and you will understand what we are facing.  What value does our public  libraries bring to our communities?  Does a public  library without books deserve the public funding it receives today?  We are facing a reality where public funds will most likely become more scarce rather than more plentiful.   How do we continue to provide value to the community in order to justify the investment made through our public funds?  What do you think, BTC?

Written by amwlkaw

September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

Posted in Misc

Using Social Networks to Allow Patrons to Find Each Other

There’s a new concept for social networking services taking root, and it’s not about re-creating your offline social graph on the Web, like Facebook does today. It’s about discovering the people who are nearby you now – the ones you probably would like to meet.


This article is an interesting read and forced me into a binge thinking session about its implications for libraries.   The basic idea behind using location services in a social network framework is to discover individuals that are in close proximity to you that share common interests.  There are many different sites available for this purpose as illustrated in the article.  Foursquare seems to be the one everyone is most familiar.  I have to admit.  I often find myself wondering why people do not reach out more often from their virtual world of online social networks into the physical world.  It would be really neat to be able discover individuals who share common interests to met up.  The example the article gave is two individuals in a gym that are both looking for someone to play a quick game of basketball.  If the person is part of your online social network, why not see if they are in the gym with you to play that pick-up game. 

As libraries, we are facing a transition period where we need to extend our services to the online world while at the same time maintain what we have been traditionally doing in the physical world.  How do we mix the two together?  I think this might be one way to do it.  Why not have a social networking meetup at the library so people can network each other online while meeting face-to-face at the same time.  In this way, whenever the two people are in the library together, their social networking app will let them know.  It is a wonderful way for the library to show their ability to participate in the online world while embracing the advantages they bring to the community through the physical one. 

What do you think BTC?  Is there an opportunity here for libraries?

Written by amwlkaw

September 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Misc

Trusting the Library to Provide an Objective Voice

Welcome to Notes of a Binge Thinker, September Edition!   

It is that time again to look at the guidepost for the Library of the Future, ebooks and other news here at North Texas Library Partners.  Let’s start with the guideposts. 

The Library of the Future increases the overall value of its community by:

Guidepost 1: facilitating access to education as a service to the public.

Guidepost 2: staying aware of current interests within the community, finding information relevant to those interests, and making that information publicly available.

Guidepost 3: ensuring easy public access to information in all its forms.

Guidepost 4: encouraging civic participation through public information campaigns that explain matters of public policy, informing public decisions, and maintaining awareness of public services (including its own services).

Guidepost 5: maintaining its standing of public trust by operating as an independent “third voice” in its operations as well as its communications, and meeting on neutral ground.

Each month I will focus on one guidepost.  I will highlight a library (or libraries) that I feel is following that guidepost closely and doing something innovative to make the guidepost a reality.  I will then give some benchmarks (examples of what libraries can do to follow the guidepost) that the NTLP staff has developed.

This month I am focusing on guidepost number five which looks at how the library can retain its independence to give the community a neutral ground, and offer an objective “voice” to the many different opinions out there. 

My library of choice this column is Benbrook Library District.  Benbrook is funded through a library district and is led by Michael Baldwin, a strong supporter of this month’s guidepost.  He has emphasized the idea of the library being a place communities can rely on to provide objective information not slanted towards one side of the spectrum.  He is a co-creator of Libraries for Democracy (I am the other co-creator), which focuses on helping libraries to provide objective programming and services to their communities and serve the role of a democracy center for their communities. 

Mike makes a point of emphasizing the library as a neutral voice in the community.  He told me in an interview what he sees as the role of the library when it comes to being the objective voice. 

“I think the role of the library is to provide factual information.  You are not really neutral if one side is providing biased information and another side is providing factual information.  We provide factual information to people and that is the main thing we strive for…we provide exhibits that show statistics and other types of information about politics and about economics that probably some people of particular political persuasions would object to, but it is factual information.” 

One program Mike has just started is centered on Constitution Day, where the library will hold events focusing on the constitution and then discuss the document among community members.  He plans to show a film focused on the constitution as well.  Mike pointed out to me that he gears his programming towards being a neutral gathering place for individuals to come together to network and share.  For example, his library has programs on poetry, organic gardening, book discussions and even a game night for people to get together to play old-fashioned board games.  His hope is that by bringing the community together in such settings, individuals will understand others more readily and be able to think more critically about issues affecting the community and the impact the issue has on all sectors of it. 

What does a library need to do to bring value to the organization when approaching this benchmark?  Mike believes, as I do, that libraries need to diversify their offerings and begin to emphasize programs and services outside of circulating popular materials, and providing traditional programs.  Mike told me that libraries are already known for providing books, DVDs, computers, storytime, etc.  In order for a library to realize value as an objective voice, the library must begin to focus their public relations campaigns on the more substantive programs like computer instruction, finding jobs or helping patrons learn to read.  Mike also warned that libraries need to be creative in their program design and promotion to better compete with other events going on in the community. 

Here are some additional ideas that my staff had about this guidepost. 

The most practical way for most public libraries to do something today is to focus on local history collections.  Political issues are less hot when we focus on how things used to be, and most public libraries are not in a position to manage controversies that impact election cycles. To ensure an independent voice, they will have to reach out beyond newspaper articles.

They will need to find and interview people in the community who were around at the time. Many of the people may not be regular library users and will need to be contacted and asked to contribute.  It helps to focus on “What was it like?” and “How did you make your choices?” style questions while avoiding “What were they like?” and “Why did they do that?” questions. Keeping the interviews focused on personal experience and away from speculation about others will expand the range of perspectives while decreasing the partisanship of the stories.


Also, the stories do not need to focus on major national events.  They should also cover broad topics like life in the 1950s.  Events of local significance like county fairs are another good focus.

Read the rest of the column

Written by amwlkaw

September 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Misc

The Future of Regional Library Development and Collaboration in North Texas

I hope everyone is staying cool during the hot summer months.  I am going to take another month off from the Guideposts as well as take a month off from the ebook scenarios.  I am doing this because of recent developments here in Texas that affects the future of our regional library development and collaboration.  I feel it is important that I address this topic in some detail in this month’s column.

If you have not heard, North Texas Library Partner’s main funding body, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), has decided to end their regional library development program in September 2012.  They will fund the program for one additional year and invest $2.5M into the program.  After that, the government agency will go out for bid to fund some regional efforts but the Systems program as we have known it for the last 40 years will no longer exist.

At the July 29th System meeting, the current North Texas Library Partner libraries met to consider a recommendation from the bylaws committee to change the governance and structure of the organization from one of primarily serving as a regional system for TSLAC to one of a traditional membership driven organization.  The recommendation passed almost unanimously with only one no vote on any of the proposed changes.

What does this mean?  It means that NTLP officially becomes a membership driven nonprofit organization serving as a regional office for the Texas Library Systems program in FY2012.  In FY2013, which will start in October 2012, the organization will continue to exist, but its affiliation with TSLAC ends and funding the organization falls to the “partner” libraries to develop.

As you can imagine, this does mean that most likely there will be annual fees.  I am proud to say that the Board of Directors has been considering this possibility since early April and has formed a Development Committee to review possible fee schedules.  There has been much discussion and research done by this committee, including performing primary research by leading a discussion on membership fees at the July System meeting.  This committee will make a recommendation on a fee schedule to the board later this month.

In my conversations with library directors about this development, I came up with a parallel to the profit world that some might find useful.  In essence, NTLP, or NTRLS, has been owned by TSLAC for 40 years.  TSLAC came up with the funds to underwrite our operations and dictated to us how their funds would be utilized.  In FY2012 and beyond, NTLP will be owned by the partner libraries, who will advise the NTLP Board of Directors on how their funds will be utilized.  NTLP Partner libraries will take ownership of the organization and be able to move forward to begin programs and services that serve their needs and not the ones conceived of in Austin or Washington DC.  The organization will no longer be tied down by unreasonable or unrealistic rules and regulations on what NTLP can do for its libraries.

What will the libraries get in return for their investment in NTLP?  As hard as it is to imagine, libraries will get whatever they want in return from the organization.  NTLP staff will do a very intensive analysis of partner library needs each year and seek input from the partner libraries on what they want the organization to do for them and their communities.  NTLP staff will work closely with the advisory group of library directors in a focus group structure to better understand what libraries are currently facing in assisting their communities.  NTLP staff will continue to innovate and offer good ideas for the organization to research and explore as possible services, but now the NTLP staff will go directly to the partner libraries to get their “buy-in” versus looking at federal and state laws to see if the activity is “allowable.”   NTLP will create procedures and policies that will respond quickly to library’s needs versus waiting for the LSTA five-year plan to be rewritten.

One service that we will continue to provide is vendor discounts and consortia purchasing.  These are value added services because they bring relief to the partner libraries bottom line.  Janis Robinson, Director of the Grapevine Public Library, uses the phrase “cost containment,” when she talks about how she controls her expenses better through consortia because she gets the same service for less as a group than as an individual library.  She has told me she is willing to pay the annual fees to keep NTLP because consortia purchasing brings such large savings to her library that she will still save money even with the added cost of the annual fees.

We will also offer Continuing Education in some format.   At this time, we are not sure what form this will take, but we are working with a consultant who is assisting us with how to frame our CE program without the support of state funds.  Finally, we are seriously looking at how we can continue to provide consulting service as well as start to advocate more heavily for libraries in their communities, in Austin and in DC.

NTLP staff hopes that NTLP partners will be active members in the everyday life of the organization.  We realize that it is difficult to think of a regional organization when your daily lives at your libraries are so full and busy.  However, as “owners” of the organization, we feel that you will want to know how your investments are being used and want oversight on what we are doing.  With this in mind, we are forming a finance committee in September to meet regularly to review how NTLP is doing financially and provide reports back to the partners on its progress.

In the same vein, we hope libraries will work together and provide assistance where they can on raising funds in other ways like grant writing and fundraising.  The more funds we bring in the door outside of annual fees, the less strain it puts on the partner libraries.  With us working together, we can help the organization to pursue ways to help your library help your community.

I want to end this column by inviting all libraries in North Texas, both in our geographic region and those to the east and west of us to seriously consider looking into joining NTLP.  I believe you will be pleasantly surprised by the value it brings your library.  “Nothing in Isolation” is the unapproved motto of my tenure here at NTLP and I believe it holds as true today as it has in the past.  Let’s join together to make a difference in our libraries!

Read the rest of my colum

Written by amwlkaw

September 1, 2011 at 9:21 am

Posted in Misc

The Responsibility of the Library Vendor

My beautiful wife informed me last week that I have not posted to my blog since late May.  She is right.  I need to blog more often, so I will try to do better.  In the meantime, here is my latest Executive Director’s column.  Enjoy!

In this column, we will look at the Vendor’s role and responsibility in library advocacy, an ebook scenario where ebooks are just “another service” and the latest in happenings at our wonderful organization. 

Since it is summer and this is the time of the year to take a break from the routine, I am going to skip the Guideposts this month, and instead focus on hot topic that we all like to write about and discuss over coffee or drinks:  The demise of the library in American Society today. 

I am going to take a slightly different approach to this topic than most.  This month’s column is going to explore the role and responsibility of the library vendor in times where the public library has lost some of its luster and value to mainstream America. 

Are public libraries in trouble?  I would argue that there have been tough times for libraries before so we might be on the upswing of the pendulum at the moment and are posed for times when the pendulum will swing the other direction and times will get better.  However, during this downswing, I have noticed something that I never had during other difficult times.  The library vendor industry does not do much for libraries when times get bad.  I found this peculiar and interesting since they depend so much on the consistent funding of libraries to support their businesses. 

So, I did a little research.  I found a group within the Texas Library Association, TPals, where library vendors can come together to network and share, but I did not find anything about their efforts to assist libraries to promote themselves.  I never did find anything on the national level; although I am sure something like this must exist. 

What is my point?  My point is that libraries and vendors exist in a symbiotic relationship.  Libraries need vendors to provide the services to their communities and many of our vendors need us because we are one of their largest customers (with some vendors we are their only customers).  When times get bad for libraries, why do we not see vendors joining together to help the libraries in advocating the library to the community, to the elected officials, or to the voters?  What are they afraid of? 

I am not saying that library vendors should take on this chore single-handedly.  Instead, they should do what other industry groups have done and create a nonprofit (if one does not already exist, but I simply cannot find it, which is a statement in itself) to promote their best interests.  Here is the mission statement from the Outdoor Industry Association.

Outdoor Industry Association®
Ensuring the growth and success of the outdoor industry

Founded in 1989, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the premier trade association for companies in the active outdoor recreation business. OIA provides trade services for over 4000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sales representatives and retailers in the outdoor industry. Outdoor Industry Association seeks to ensure a healthy and diverse specialty retail and supply chain based on quality, innovation and service. To this end, OIA works diligently to raise the standards of the industry; increase participation in outdoor recreation to strengthen business markets; provide support services to improve member profitability; represent member interests in the legislative/regulatory process; promote professional training and education; support innovation; and offer cost-saving member benefits.

There are other examples of industries promoting themselves through unbiased nonprofit groups.  I am not sure why the library vendors have not done the same thing for themselves, or if they have, why it is so silent at this time. 

With all this in mind, I want to challenge our library vendor friends to come together and establish a nonprofit group that will promote the industry and at the same time assist libraries in building value in their communities.  It does not have to be much, but think about the impact that PR campaigns have had in the conscious minds of Americans today.  “What’s for dinner?”  Got Milk?  These are just two examples of how a well-placed PR campaign can build a brand for an industry and help to elevate that industry to a new level in the minds of our culture.  ALA has done something like this with their Read campaign, but I wonder if it is time to come up with something new to spark interest in our libraries. 

Next month, I will tackle the guideposts again.  It was fun to take a month off and have my little rant. 

Read the rest of my column here.

Written by amwlkaw

July 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

Posted in Misc

The Library as Civic Partner in the Community

Happy May!   

It is that time again to look at the guidepost for the Library of the Future, ebooks and other news here at North Texas Library Partners.  Let’s start with the guideposts. 

The Library of the Future increases the overall value of its community by:

Guidepost 1: facilitating access to education as a service to the public.

Guidepost 2: staying aware of current interests within the community, finding information relevant to those interests, and making that information publicly available.

Guidepost 3: ensuring easy public access to information in all its forms.

Guidepost 4: encouraging civic participation through public information campaigns that explain matters of public policy, informing public decisions, and maintaining awareness of public services (including its own services).

Guidepost 5: maintaining its standing of public trust by operating as an independent “third voice” in its operations as well as its communications, and meeting on neutral ground.

Each month I will focus on one guidepost.  I will highlight a library (or libraries) that I feel is following that guidepost closely and doing something innovative to make the guidepost a reality.  I will then give some benchmarks (examples of what libraries can do to follow the guidepost) that the NTLP staff has developed.

This month I am focusing on guidepost number four, which focuses on civic participation.  I am going to take a different track this month.  Instead of highlighting one library, I am going to present what I believe a library needs to be doing to make this guidepost a reality and why this guidepost is so important.  As always, I will add at the end of this section some tasks that your library can do to reach this guidepost. 

Here are some questions to ponder.  What is the role of the library when it comes to civic participation of its community?  Does a library take an active role, or a more passive one?  What have libraries done in the past in regards to civic participation? 

For me, a library has to take an active role in civic participation.  I do not think this has always been the case in the past.  One of the reasons I decided not to highlight a library this month is that I could not think of a library that was taking an active role in doing this.  Nothing stands out in my mind.  I am sure there are libraries working on promoting civic engagement, but there is not an aggressive one to my knowledge. 

There are several arguments for and against civic engagement.  One is that this role is not requested of the library.  In this case, we get back to the age-old argument of a library providing services the community wants versus what it needs.  In my opinion, a library has an inherent duty to be involved in its community from a civic standpoint, whether the community requests it or not.  In today’s world, when politicians seem to be even more polarized than in anytime in our history, each community needs an institution within the community to educate residents on the issues of the day through an aggressive public information campaign.  It used to be the local newspaper, but these are dying so many residents are left in a vacuum without any clear guidance on what is happening civically in their communities.  A library could serve this role. 

Would it be difficult?  Are their barriers to its implementation from a pragmatic standpoint?  Yes to both questions.  After all, most public libraries are funded by political bodies.  A library director would be taking a risk in taking on this role, but librarians have been known to stand up for their beliefs, and this inherent role is one I believe we need to embrace.  

The benefits are many.  In the guidepost itself, you see that we have emphasized that a library needs to make its community aware of the services available to the community from the different level of governments.  These services include the library’s own.  By being the herald of all things civic, a library is promoting its own value to the community.  From a long term planning perspective, this is invaluable, because it starts to frame the library as more than the “book place”, but one that a citizen can feel fully engaged in its community.  We begin to build real value in the library offerings. 

Now, here are some ideas my staff has regarding this benchmark.

Read the rest of my column here.

Written by amwlkaw

May 23, 2011 at 11:09 am

Posted in Misc