In Defense of Naïve Reading

Opinion piece in the NYT titled: In Defense of Naïve Reading

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Paul Collier on the "bottom billion"

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The Perils of Automatic Copyright Protection

A cautionary tale about copyright, and the <a href="http://blogs.sos.wa.gov/library/index.php/2010/04/the-perils-of-automatic-copyright-protection/">automated systems that enforce it</a>. If you post a video on YouTube, using one of their very own video creation tools, don't you expect it to go up and be viewable without any problems? Because of YouTube's Content ID system, it might not be so easy ... Read the full story <a href="http://blogs.sos.wa.gov/library/index.php/2010/04/the-perils-of-automatic-copyright-protection/">here</a>.

HuffPo: "Our Public Library Lifeline Is Fraying..."

At The Huffington Post, Art Brodsky kicks off National Library Week with an editorial called, "Our Public Library Lifeline Is Fraying. We'll Be Sorry When it Snaps."


Announcing the LISNews Bulletin

The LISNews Bulletin has just been transmitted to the location of our printing partner closest to the venue of Computers in Libraries 2010. Blake will have 125 copies available to him to distribute at the conference for free. I want to thank our patrons for their generous financial support in allowing the Bulletin to be distributed at no charge. There will be artwork. We've got an excerpt from a Cleveland-area artist's memoirs about life in India in the 1990s. The owner of Erie Looking Productions offered up a "quick hit" piece from Tech for Techies never heard before on the podcast streams. This issue may be small but it is intended to be a tasty appetizer for a larger serial that might perhaps follow. If you are not going to be attending the conference, you can still get a copy of the publication. Please contact the publisher, Producer Gloria Kellat, at [email protected] with your physical address so we can determine if our printing partner has an office near you. If there is, it will cost about USD$2.00 to have a special "RetCon" copy printed for you to pick up. If there isn't, we'll discuss options with you.

It's Not 'Doomsday for Books' But A Bright Note for the English Language

From the embattled frontline of the Anglo-American books world there seems to be nothing but bad news. Borders has fallen. Waterstone's, once a mighty citadel, is beseiged. Well-known literary agents are scurrying round town in search of life-saving mergers. Advances have hit rock bottom. The celebrity memoir is going the way of the dodo. The ebook is the future. Libraries, comprehensively digitised by Google, have become mausoleums of an ossifying tradition.

But in his column in Guardian UK, columnist Robert McCrum finds the upside of publishing in 2010. He tells us that all is not lost; that the magic of the English language has gone beyond all those locations where the sun never sets and has completely encircled and embraced the globe. The emergence of English as a global communications phenomenon with a supra-national momentum that gives it an independence from its Anglo-American roots is at once thrilling and decisive.

Rolling Back The Clock

Rolling Back The Clock
By Stephen Michael Kellat, Erie Looking Productions
1 December 2009

As a podcast presenter, I do listen to other programs out there. While the astute observer would note that LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast leans right, my own listening does not lean always that way. One program originating from public service television TVO in the Canadian province of Ontario is called Search Engine.

This program is unique as it started out as a radio program with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, became a podcast hosted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and now is a podcast hosted by TVO. In many respects Search Engine is a program fairly similar to LISTen but originates from Canada and lacks the focus on library and information science applied issues LISTen has. The program's most recent episode is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike 2.5 Canada license which would make it appropriate to be burnt to audio compact disc for distribution to library patrons as previously discussed on LISTen in a sort of variation on slot radio.

It being Tuesday, Search Engine host Jesse Brown released another episode. This episode discussed the recent remarks by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Although Murdoch was incorrectly identified as a citizen of Australia, which has not been the case for decades. Murdoch was bound by law to hold United States citizenship alone if he wanted to own television stations there. The Adelaide native recently presented what seemed like startling ideas. Murdoch is against cost-free content online and wants to challenge the validity of the fair use doctrine in court. Murdoch also indicated he felt that his lawyers would persevere.

Throughout the course of the episode, Brown puzzled through the matter with a guest as to what it might mean for the Internet. To a student of librarianship, this is not as troubling as it might have seemed to Brown and his guest. Indeed, Rupert Murdoch was not proposing anything new for the knowledge ecology. What Murdoch instead proposed was essentially the turning back of the clock to a time when search engines like Google and Yahoo did not exist and you had to search first with Lexis-Nexis and/or the venerable DIALOG where your access times were metered and next to nothing was free in the databases there.

Lexis-Nexis is not gone as a search tool for news stories let alone legal information. DIALOG still exists and still has quite active databases like World News Connection, produced by the CIA's Open Source Center that derives intelligence from openly published rather than covert sources, that are the public releases of data that already inform leaders like President Obama. The paradigm that Murdoch seeks is to impose the ways of DIALOG and Lexis-Nexis on the rest of the Internet. Even there, this more harkens back to the early days of information services like Prodigy and America Online/AOL than to today's Internet.

What does this mean for the future of the knowledge ecology? Unfortunately it means little until actual action is taken. Until then the order of the day is speculation.

Creative Commons License
Rolling Back The Clock by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at erielookingproductions.info.

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Phasing Out Pennies In A Bid For Change

This month the U.S. Mint releases the last of four special Abraham Lincoln pennies, which coincide with the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

Not everyone is celebrating.

The future of America's one-cent coin has been the subject of much debate, and one store owner in Berkeley, Calif., has decided to take a personal stand.

Not Even One Red Cent

Alko Office Supply in downtown Berkeley is an average-looking store, with one exception. Hanging above the cash register, a sign reads: "We are a penny free store."

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Announcing The LISNews Summer Series

A few weeks ago Blake Carver commissioned me to come up with a summer guest author series. Unexpected twists and turns helped delay the launch of the series until now. With this post I can now kick off the series. Guests will be joining us for the next couple of weeks to contribute essays. A particular author has been set for each week and that author will be posting two or more essays. These are intended to spark new lines of thought as well as to perhaps amuse you. I will be kicking off the series with essays this week. The guests to come will be surprises. Our very own Blake Carver will wrap up the series in its last week. There are a variety of ways to follow the series. The first option would be to come to the site. The branch of the taxonomy tree to watch is "Summer Series". Another option would be to utilize RSS. The feed to plug into your feed reader is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/SummerSeries. If you wish to receive an e-mail containing whole essays when they are posted, you can sign up using the form below. E-mails post between 1100 GMT and 1500 GMT. This is a two step process. After going through the first step below as well as the consequential pop-up, you will need to look for an e-mail in your inbox bearing the subject line Activate your Email Subscription to: LISNews Summer Series and click on the verification link. If you forget to do that, you will not receive anything in your inbox.

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Essays will be posted under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. In the end, the collected essays will be posted to Internet Archive. For those not favorably disposed to online archives, the collection will also be made available at cost in print form through Lulu. Creative Commons License
Announcing The LISNews Summer Series by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

"Is It Broken?"

I wind up asking that question when it comes to the American Library Association. The ALA is an organization with a long history. In looking at its current actions today, I just wind up with feelings of dread foreboding when I wonder if something may be wrong structurally.

The big worry that rises now is promotion. There are plenty of campaigns one can seen in print, hear on the radio, and watch on TV promoting green initiatives as well as public safety. In Nevada the Department of Public Safety does have ads distributed that help promote safety messages. Markedly absent from that marketplace of ideas, though, is libraries.

The current mess that Ohio libraries find themselves in helps illustrate this problem. It is hard to establish your credibility with voters if they don't think you exist or otherwise would not notice you. Mass protests in places like Iran quickly gain attention. What tools do libraries and librarians have to raise such hordes to make a point a heard? This whole line of thinking, though, reflects a reactive mindset. When you have to react and play defense, somebody else is able to define the situation in ways that may end up being adverse to you.

The odds are not always in your favor when you have to play defense. When it comes to matters of funding via tax dollars, a key danger is that the other side could smear you as being devoted solely to your own paycheck instead of the public good. In a situation in which libraries are being cut in addition to other sectors of governmental activity such as community-based mental health services, the possibility also exists of those playing defense being turned against each other. An unfortunate turn of events that thankfully has yet to occur would be library advocates, mental health services advocates, and food bank operators turning on each other over how deep each was getting cut.

Is it the lot of libraries and librarians in life to always play defense? Should libraries always be thankful for what they get and be silent about any need for more funding? That's not a healthy way to live whether it is a person or an institution. Only ever playing defense can perhaps lead to always accepting defeat.

Although it may surprise some librarians out there, some of the stronger and more vocal supporters of Ohio libraries are Republicans. Yes, that's right. A Democrat Governor submitted to a legislature in which Democrats dominate a budget that would hurt libraries. Through the actions of Republican members of the legislature's conference committee, the cuts are presently being stalled on the road to enactment.

One lesson that can be learned from this incident underway is that it is necessary at times to think in the long term. How do people regard libraries in our communities? Do citizens even remember that they are patrons of libraries through their tax dollars and have available to them a valuable resource? What is the image of the profession in communities?

While there are ALA outreach efforts in existence like ilovelibraries.org, a major problem with it is that if I only learn of the site's existence through reading ALA committee documents how would the average citizen find it? Serendipitous searching resulting in a patron stumbling upon advocacy materials is not a proactive strategy. Blanketing airwaves with public service announcements in addition to print advertising would be far more of an active strategy.

A common complaint about blogging and blog posts is that there rarely are constructive steps forward suggested. At this point it would seem prudent to mention a few strategies. These are initial thoughts others should feel free to build upon.

For those academic institutions home to ALA accredited graduate programs in library science, there are likely journalism and mass communication programs also contained therein. How difficult would it be to get a couple top seniors in public relations to develop a series of public service announcements libraries could seed with local radio and television stations? This does not necessarily have to be a national thing as regional flavor would help emphasize more the local nature of libraries.

The LISNews Netcast Network can also serve as a proving ground for talking to media. If you've never done a telephone interview before, you could see about arranging a bit of a live-fire practice round with the network. LISTen always seeks new stories and if you want to talk about something cool at your library you just have to ask. Talking to the Network is going to be in many cases the easiest practice possible before you have to face more mainstream journalists.

The last possible strategy is to continually assess who you serve. Demographic shifts do happen. Economic downturns can accelerate them.

In the end, though, a question must be raised: Where is the ALA in all of this?

Creative Commons License
"Is It Broken?" by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at erielookingproductions.info.

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