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Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. Partnering with the ACLU of Massachusetts, area librarians have been teaching and taking workshops on how freedom of speech and the right to privacy are compromised by the surveillance of online and digital communications -- and what new privacy-protecting services they can offer patrons to shield them from unwanted spying of their library activity.
Library Patrons Are At Risk
One of the authors of this Boing Boing article, Alison Macrina, is an IT librarian at the Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts, a member of Boston's Radical Reference Collective, and an organizer working to bring privacy rights workshops to libraries throughout the northeast. Librarians know that patrons visit libraries for all kinds of online research needs, and therefore have a unique responsibility in helping keep that information safe. It's not just researchers who suffer; our collective memory, culture, and future are harmed when writers and researchers stop short of pursuing intellectual inquiry.
In addition to installing a number of privacy-protecting tools on public PCs at the Watertown library, Alison has been teaching patron computer classes about online privacy and organized a series of workshops for Massachusetts librarians to get up to speed on the ins and outs of digital surveillance.
Patricia A. Tully, a 10-year veteran with the university, served as the Caleb T. Winchester university librarian from March 2010 until her firing last month. The news was first reported by the campus blog Wesleying.
In a Sept. 2 email to the faculty listserv, Tully said she was fired because of her ongoing disagreements with Ruth S. Weissman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, “about how to lead people effectively in an organization.” The letter was later posted online.
“Both of us tried, at various times, to resolve these differences, but our efforts seemed always to be at cross-purposes,” Tully wrote.
Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, Tully said it was an “accumulation” of problems, and not a particular incident, that led to her firing. She declined to elaborate, saying she would be happy to have that conversation with Weissman.
From From the New York Times: As federal and city officials continue their investigation into spending at the Queens Public Library, the library’s board of trustees has placed its embattled leader, Thomas W. Galante, on paid administrative leave.
At a special meeting on Thursday, the board, besides voting to place Mr. Galante on leave, also moved to give Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, full access to the library’s financial records, including its entire $127 million annual budget.
Mr. Stringer has been pressing to allow his auditors to review not just the 85 percent of the library’s budget that comes from city coffers, but also the balance of the money that is provided by federal grants and private donations.
“There was no excuse for the library’s earlier decision not to cooperate with the audit,” Melinda R. Katz, the Queens borough president who has been pushing for months to overhaul the library’s operations, said in a statement issued on Friday.
In more than 30 years with Chicago's Newberry Library, James W. Wells gained a wide reputation as an authority on the history of printing, typography and calligraphy.
"He was one of the most important rare book specialists in the U.S. from the late 1950s through the 1970s," said Paul Gehl, the George Amos Poole III Curator of Rare Books with the Newberry. Gehl said Mr. Wells was known as a real bookman — the term for such a specialist used by those in the field.
"He was in so many ways the epitome of the old-fashioned bookman," said Alice Schreyer, interim director of the University of Chicago Library. "He had an inexhaustible knowledge and a remarkable memory for every book that ever passed through his hands."
A bookman looks at the physical characteristics of books, which Schreyer said can include "former ownership, bindings, typefaces — things that distinguish them as physical artifacts as well as conveyors of information. He was just a fount of knowledge."
Stand-up Librarian Meredith Myers shares influences from the late, great Joan Rivers that aren't so obvious.
Librarianship: A Philosophical Investigation
"One of the first things you learn as a professional librarian is that very few people have any idea what you do. In fact, enough people who actually want to become librarians are sufficiently in the dark about the nature of the profession that many Information and Library Science graduate programs explicitly require their prospective applicants to state in their applications what interests them about the field other than loving books."
Headline of a piece on NPR - Librarians Are A Luxury Chicago Public Schools Can't Afford
Excerpt: Two years ago, the Chicago Public Schools budgeted for 454 librarians. Last year, the budget called for 313 librarians, and now that number is down to 254.
With educators facing tough financial choices, having a full-time librarian is becoming something of a luxury in Chicago's more than 600 public schools.
It's not that there's a shortage of librarians in Chicago, and it's not mass layoffs — it's that the librarians are being reassigned.
"The people are there, they're just not staffing the library, they're staffing another classroom," says Megan Cusick, a librarian at Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School. She says all across the district, certified librarians are being reassigned to English classrooms, world languages or to particular grade levels in elementary schools.
From Nooga.com, a chat with chief teen librarian Justin Hoenke about changes made at the library to benefit teens and tweens. Earlier this week, Hoenke announced that he had accepted a promotion as coordinator of teen services at the library.
We spoke to him about the new position, living in Chattanooga and his plans for the future of teen services at the library and beyond.
Coordinator of teen services, eh? Using video game jargon, explain what this means in terms of "leveling up."
If my old title as teen librarian was level one, this would be level two, and I'd have increased abilities! Think of level one as me just being able to use basic magical abilities in a video game, like the ability to jump super-high. Now that I'm at level two, I can do awesome things with my magical abilities in this video game, like use magic to heal myself and maybe even use magic to cast fire and ice spells. You know, librarians are actually magicians.
What changes with the new position in terms of daily responsibility for you?
Now I'm more focused on teen services throughout the entire Chattanooga Public Library system at all of our locations (downtown, Northgate, Eastgate, South Chattanooga). In my old role, I was just working on all things on The 2nd Floor of the downtown library. This new position allows me to stretch out and help the other branches in our library system achieve greater things for teens in the community. Is it more work? Of course! But it's awesome work, and I'm so happy to be the person selected to do it.
Via Huff Post:
In his 60 years Michael Weah, like most Liberians, has had to contend with realities most of us in the United States can not even comprehend. Thirty-four years ago, when he was 26, came the bloody military coup staged by Samuel Doe, that upended what had been the social and political order in Liberia since its colonization by American freemen and former slaves in 1820. Then in 1989 Charles Taylor overthrew Doe, and Liberia slid into a period of on-again-off-again civil wars.
During the period of the civil wars, when life in Monrovia was restricted by a curfew that began in the late afternoon, Michael Weah established a small lending library, supplying anyone who asked with reading material - books, magazines, newspapers, donated from overseas. All he asked was that when a person was through with the reading material they pass it on to someone else who would use it to sustain them through the interminable periods of daily isolation.
During the decade-plus of civil wars, the initial operation grew into the We-Care Library, the only real library in Monrovia, Liberia's capital city. Every day the library is literally jammed with school children of all ages, who come to study, do their home work, and expand their horizons.
The library recently had to close due to the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. As Mike wrote the other day to friends in the U.S. and Canada, "family wise, I have lost three persons: my doctor, the man who clears our books from the port, and a young nephew. Everybody fled from the house when the young boy started to show the symptoms. He died alone and his body is still lying on the porch where he passed. The health workers were called about six hours ago. They may come or may not."