Libraries: Liberty and justice for all

Separate and unequal access to knowledge is the antithesis of library ideals. The American Library Association actively commits its programs and resources “to those efforts that combat prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination against individuals and groups in the library profession and in library user populations on the basis of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, creed, color, religious background, national origin, language of origin or disability.”

From Libraries: Liberty and justice for all


NH bill would explicitly allow libraries to run Tor exit nodes

Inspired by the Library Freedom Project's uncompromising bravery in the face of a DHS threat against a town library in Kilton, NH, that was running a Tor exit node to facilitate private, anonymous communication, the New Hampshire legislature is now considering a bill that would explicitly permit public libraries to "allow the installation and use of cryptographic privacy platforms on public library computers for library patrons use."

From NH bill would explicitly allow libraries to run Tor exit nodes / Boing Boing

The Library Card

As we traveled around the U.S. reporting on the revival of towns and cities, we always made the local library an early stop. We’d hit the newspaper offices, the chamber of commerce, city hall, and Main Street for an introduction to the economics, politics, and stresses of a town. The visit to the public library revealed its heart and soul.

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, dies aged 89

Author whose 1961 novel became a defining text of 20th century literature and of racial troubles in the American south has died in Monroeville, Alabama

From Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, dies aged 89 | Books | The Guardian


Everything you need to know about the Apple versus FBI case

This issue is much bigger than just Apple providing access to a single device, it’s much bigger than the encryption debate and it’s much bigger than just the US. There are angles to this we haven’t thought about yet and it’ll continue to be sensationalised by the press, misrepresented by the government and rebuked by Apple.

The ramifications of them actually complying with this court order would likely spread well beyond just compromising a device that’s in the physical possession of law enforcement. A precedent the likes of Apple being forced to weaken consumer protections will very likely then be applied to other channels; what would it mean for iMessage when the authorities identify targets actively communicating where they’re unable to gain physical access to the device? It sets an alarming precedent and all the same arguments mounted here by the FBI could just as easily be applied to end to end encryption.

But let me finish on a lighter note: this also has the potential to result in greater consumer privacy for everyone. In part because if Apple successfully defends their stance then they’ll have the precedent the next time the issue is raised. In part also because this incident may well prompt them to tie their own hands even further and indeed this appears to be the case with the newer generation of device. And finally, because the world is watching how this plays out and it will influence the position of other governments and tech companies outside the US. If sanity prevails, we may well all be better off for having gone through this.

From Troy Hunt: Everything you need to know about the Apple versus FBI case

Why the Banning of 'A Birthday Cake for George Washington' Really Matters

On Sunday, January 17, 2016 Scholastic Inc., withdrew my book A Birthday Cake for George Washington from publication stating it provided a "false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves." The company claims otherwise, but certainly public outcry determined its decision.


The rescue of Cashel’s magical but mouldering library

The rescue of Cashel’s magical but mouldering library
The Bolton Library, which contains rare books from the 13th to 18th centuries, is being transferred to safer environs. Many treasures are being discovered along the way

From The rescue of Cashel’s magical but mouldering library


What it looks like to process 3.5 million books in Google’s cloud

What did it look like to process 3.5 million books? Data-mining and creating a public archive of 3.5 million books is an example of an application perfectly suited to the cloud, in which a large amount of specialized processing power is needed for only a brief period of time. Here are the five main steps that I took to make the invaluable learnings of millions of books more easily and speedily accessible in the cloud:

From Google Cloud Platform Blog: What it looks like to process 3.5 million books in Google’s cloud

When does peer review make no damn sense?

The part of the above quote I want focus on, though, is the phrase “non-peer-reviewed.” Peer reviewed papers have errors, of course (does the name “Daryl Bem” ring a bell?). Two of my own published peer-reviewed articles had errors so severe as to destroy their conclusions! But that’s ok, nobody’s claiming perfection. The claim, I think, is that peer-reviewed articles are much less likely to contain errors, as compared to non-peer-reviewed articles (or non-peer-reviewed blog posts). And the claim behind that, I think, is that peer review is likely to catch errors.

And this brings up the question I want to address today: What sort of errors can we expect peer review to catch?

From When does peer review make no damn sense? - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

A behind the scenes tour of the Guantánamo Bay library

Guardian US correspondent David Smith was granted a tour of Guantánamo Bay prison, and a peek inside the library shows about 35,000 items available for inmates, from Harry Potter novels (very popular) to men’s health and fitness magazines, to a scratched-out copy of Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope

From A behind the scenes tour of the Guantánamo Bay library – video | US news | The Guardian


A Short History of the Index Card

Index cards are mostly obsolete nowadays. We use them to create flash cards, write recipes, and occasionally fold them up into cool paper airplanes. But their original purpose was nothing less than organizing and classifying every known animal, plant, and mineral in the world. Later, they formed the backbone of the library system, allowing us to index vast sums of information and inadvertently creating many of the underlying ideas that allowed the Internet to flourish.

From A Short History of the Index Card


U.S. Presidential Libraries Photos | Architectural Digest

U.S. Presidential Libraries
In honor of the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, AD visits the libraries of each of the other former commanders in chief

From U.S. Presidential Libraries Photos | Architectural Digest

The dark side of big data

For now, assume that all your digital data is accessible by a single instance, say your government. In this case you provide your government with incredible control over yourself and also your relatives. A mere measurement of how defiant you are could be dangerous for you, depending on where you live. Furthermore, someone gazing at your data is not required to remain inactive. One might try to manipulate your opinion by placing solely the content on (social) media platforms that you are supposed to see.

From The dark side of big data


Justice Scalia’s copyright legacy-and what his loss means for e-book cases

It’s perhaps a little surprising, but it seems that Scalia was often on the same side as copyright reformers—helping to define fair use, insisting trademark not be permitted to trump the public domain, and feeling Aereo should have been permitted to continue. Of course, the cases where he wasn’t were some of the more important ones—most notably Eldred v. Ashcroft and Golan v. Holder.

From Justice Scalia’s copyright legacy—and what his loss means for e-book cases - TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond


The Footpath libraries of Mumbai

On October 21, 2013, in a post titled Of old books and dying telegrams, I wrote about the famed secondhand bookstalls of south Mumbai, located about 2 km (1.25 miles) from my office and 20 km (12.40 miles) from where I live. The following pictures are of more of these bookstalls situated outside American Express Bank at Flora Fountain, or Hutatma Chowk (Martyrs' Square). So far the municipal corporation has left them alone. Dozens of others on opposite footpaths were not so lucky; they were evicted a few years ago. 

From Chess, Comics, Crosswords, Books, Music, Cinema: Footpath libraries


Let the Librarians Lead

Library boards need independence

The ability of a library board to act free of political influence is imperative in maintaining the local public library as a trusted community institution, one that provides information without discrimination. Libraries and their independent boards work diligently to protect the rights of confidentiality, privacy and the freedom to read.

From Midlands Voices: Library boards need independence - Opinion

Check out seeds @ Your Library

Take a seed, give a seed.

In a twist on penny cups at cash registers, folks at the Little Turtle branch of the Allen County Public Library are hoping to encourage urban gardening with a new feature – a seed library.

From Check out seeds at library | Home and Garden |


Simplifying Legalese For The Internet Age

The current User Agreement is too complicated, which allows large companies to take advantage of user ignorance. What can be done to change it?

Three Ways Publishers and Libraries Can Work Better Together

Librarians: Stop the Book Shaming

Today, librarians who are passionate about books are increasingly like the smokers you see outside office buildings: apart, a little embarrassed, and slightly defensive. It’s hardly a surprise. Book collections? A vestige of our past, like the appendix. At conference after conference, keynote speakers argue that public libraries should be community centers, agents of innovation, knowledge creators, and makerspaces. It’s a trend made worse when LIS faculty (who really should know better) lead the charge.

From Three Ways Publishers and Libraries Can Work Better Together


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