Editorial

Mobile phones in libraries: Bad idea; Choke-slams in libraries: Good idea

Opinion piece at DailyRecord.com from a library user that wants quiet at the library. The author reserves nothing as they discuss using choke-slams to solve the problem. Full piece here.

Rant: Full Moon = Lunacy

Yesterday was the day from hell....It was a FOOL MOON

I work in a public library and not only was it freaking cold after 2 days of rain & snow (which I am Not complaining about) but we had the Cranks come in.

Now, I know this is a RICH community and the people here are born "entitled"...however...

1st: We had a VIP come in who had lost a children's paperback... she claims that the policy of giving her 90 days to locate it and if not found pay for it was "Unfair", because she left the book on the counter (not the slot) and "someone must have taken the book off the counter, not knowing they had to check it out, and took it home with them....I'm going to write the (Board of) supervisors about this" So in order to shut her up and make her go away, I just removed the item from her record.

2nd: After this "VIP" left, we were going through the returns and...lo & behold we came across one of our magazines that was totally water damaged. Guess who was responsible for that? Ayup, you guessed it, the VIP!

3rd: Mr. Pink Hair came in and gave me hell for not carrying academic materials and having to either pay $3 per title to order them from one of the UC's, or having to drive 5-10 miles to use one of the UC's libraries...and then he complained to me about the UC's keeping two different books by the same author in two different libraries. As if I would know that...and to think he had the nerve to ask me "Did you go to library school...well what did they teach you there?" -- Read More

Snuggling Up With a Good Download

On Nov.29 there was an op-ed piece in the NYT titled: How to Publish Without Perishing

Several people responded to the op-ed piece with letters to the editor. The letters have been grouped together and can be seen on a page titled: Snuggling Up With a Good Download

THE HAND THAT SHELVES THE BOOKS

THE HAND THAT SHELVES THE BOOKS
Florida Justice Forum by a librarian in South Florida--posts essays dealing with a variety of social justice issues that affect the Florida community and the rest of the world. These essays can be argumentative, rhetorical, educative, poetic or related to current events.

Pondering Maple Leaf Circumstances

Let's talk about the editorial process in creating the podcast. This often may seem mysterious. Sometimes it may seem quite simple to where even a five year-old could manage it. In this brief note I turn my attention to a strange case.

The podcast is released on a weekly schedule. Occasionally we interrupt that schedule for special releases but those are fairly infrequent. When the podcast goes up at 0500 UTC Monday, I am already having to plan out the next episode. Trying to stick to "current awareness" means we cannot normally stack up interviews weeks in advance. The podcast resembles an indy weekly newspaper in terms of operating method.

There are times when stories blow up. We end up watching those. Sometimes those matters are like firecrackers where they shine brightly initially but burn out fairly quickly. Sometimes those matters endure. For the first case, we try to look for a librarianship angle that was not explored in mainstream reporting. For the second, we try to arrange an interview.

This week started with my preparing to work the phones. Depending upon the situation, this can be quite normal. Interviews do not get arranged by themselves. With the crisis in the Parliament of Canada and the agitation for a coalition uniting the left to take power, there would conceivably be some sort of impact on Canadian libraries through a change at the Ministry of Canadian Heritage. As the Queen's viceroy in Canada, Governor General Michaëlle Jean, was out of the country it seemed as if escalation would just continue.

One of the bones of contention in the crisis was the lack of an immediate economic stimulus package by the Harper ministry. Considering the integration of the economies of the United States and Canada, it is understandable that the Harper ministry did not put such forward. Since the first rebate checks were issued early in 2008, the economic stimulus measures put forward in the dying days of the Bush administration have had little effect. With the Canadian budget originally proposed to be put before Parliament after the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, a conscious decision seems to have been made to wait and see.

With the return of Governor General Michaëlle Jean to Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had an audience. A prorogation was secured which concluded the current parliamentary session and otherwise stopped the transaction of parliamentary business. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the second session of this current Parliament will kick off on January 24, 2009. Until at least then, James Moore will remain Minister of Canadian Heritage. The need to immediately seek comment from all the political parties concerned is lessened.

Daily program releases rarely give time to assess what is happening. Weekly program releases require care to ensure that programs are still current and responsive. With some of the strange occurrences at this most stressful time of the year, being able to commission stringers abroad can make these sorts of cases easier to handle and have reports on even as events change rapidly. Until such commissioning is possible, things remain tricky.

Creative Commons License
Pondering Maple Leaf Circumstances by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at lisnews.org.

Long Time Director Returns As Trustee

Richard Ostrander served as the Director of the Yakima Valley Regional Library for 24 years. He now returns to the library as a Yakima County appointed member of the library's board of trustees.

It's an interesting move, especially since YVRL went through an administrative shakedown earlier this year culminating with the firing of the director. It seeme there were questions about how she handled her authority and how the board of trustees approved anything she requested without any discussion. It was a sordid affair that played out on the pages of the local paper and in the court of public opinion.

Ostrander, who has an operating library in the YVRL system named after him, replaces a board member who served ten years, the maximum term length for a YVRL board member.

Digital Librarian Criticizes Google's Settlement with Booksellers

Chris O'Brien of the San Jose Mercury News writes:

"When I heard Google had settled its feud with book publishers, I knew exactly whom I wanted to call first: Brewster Kahle, the digital librarian who is the founder of the Internet Archive.

I first talked to Kahle back in 2004, around the time Google launched its Book Search. The program riled publishers, who felt it amounted to a massive copyright violation, triggering the class-action suit. Kahle, who was also critical of the plan, helped put together the Open Content Alliance, a competing venture of libraries and tech companies such as Yahoo that sought to scan millions of books and make them available for free.

Google's plan was to build a new kind of bookstore. Kahle and the alliance want to build a new kind of library. By coincidence, the 135 members of the Open Content Alliance were gathered in San Francisco on Tuesday for a two-day conference when news of the Google settlement came down. I wondered whether the news had changed Kahle's view of Google's program."

Continued here.

A Curmudgeonly Law Librarian Suggestion

To Congress: read a publically distributed bailout bill before you vote and after we get an opportunity to comment on it. It's the Web, stupid. On Law Librarian Blog at http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/2008/10/a-curmudgeonly.html

Resiliency And Redundancy Underscored

CNN, among others, reports that an earthquake ranging 5.6-5.8 hit in Chino Hills outside Los Angeles. It will be days before a final magnitude score for the earthquake is settled upon. The report by MSNBC notes that location is key to whether damage occurs.

Much of this brings up a point we don't think about in librarianship too much. If we rely on a remote server that gets hit by a natural disaster, what do we do? Do we have local backups? Is there something we can fail over to?

A prime example of a problem is Twitter. The majority of Twitter's servers are located in one of the most geologically active areas of North America. If an earthquake hit, Twitter would be probably toast without a backup outside San Francisco.

Great centralization may be great for cognitive processing but it is so vulnerable. During the Cold War it was found that a way to disrupt the Soviet side was to blow up a factory. Typically all production was centered in a single factory. If you hit the shoe factory, there might not be shoes for a while. If you hit the radio factory, folks might have to turn to smugglers from Western Europe to bring in Telefunken devices and other such things.

While there are Web 2.0 sites with great promise, the biggest worry is excessive centralization. If a site goes down, what do you do? If you had important documents saved only to GoogleDocs, what do you do when it goes away? The recent Amazon S3 outage showed just how fragile cloud computing is as it requires a near-perfect world without disruption in which to operate effectively.

There are some moves afoot for decentralization. The PGP web of trust is one great example of decentralizing a backbone to a public-key encryption system. identi.ca is based off a program licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License. The underlying software, known as Laconica, allows for decentralized microblogging across multiple servers. A major step forward in creating resilience is decentralization.

When the one big server blows up, where will you go for your data? -- Read More

Piercing the fog of production

Rarely is it good to talk about the inner-workings of editorial decision-making. Such ranks up there with the making of sausage and the creation of laws as things best not known. Sometimes it is necessary to do so, though.

This week's episode of LISTen features five separate Public Service Announcements. We received absolutely no compensation for running such. The five discrete ads are all available as free downloads from a federal agency, namely the Federal Communications Commission. While it may sound fairly odd to some and perhaps quite condescending, there is a purpose to such.

The role of the librarian in today's Amazoogle world is to meet information needs. When you start from that philosophical standpoint you have to consider some things. When there is a lack of a clutch in a coming paradigm shift, what responsibility do you have to those you serve? How does such impact serving their information needs?

For the audience that LISTen serves, the whole discussion of the digital television transition in the United States probably seemed meaningless. Such misses the forest for the trees. While we acknowledge that librarians are striving today to be technological elites, the people who are served by librarians more often than not are not such elites at all. The whole Tech for Techies discussion was an attempt to discuss the transition in terms of how to approach patron questions. Rather than tell a patron you don't know, why not take a look at some of the common questions patrons might pose let alone some uncommon ones?

I made a conscious choice to use all five of the ads I used. Those are the US government's best effort to reach out to the public. Have you ever heard such outside LISTen, though? With reports of somewhere around eighty percent of the population not even knowing this is coming, can we take steps to at least prevent catastrophic information seeking sessions that barely help anyone involved?

I will not order anyone to "be creative". That's not the way such works! Considering that ALA is entering into a public education partnership with an electronics retailer to try to get word out to folks, it is not like this is an issue that the profession's organization in the United States is ignoring. I would much rather you heard the government's best effort at outreach and be stirred to action on your own to try to do better. As information professionals who deal with the information-seeking needs of rather diverse populations, this should be an easy one to plan a program on! The ALA is already trying to make it easier for you to get speakers in as it is. If a listener can come up with something creative on their own, the result is probably going to be far better than my sounding like a drill sergeant barking orders.

Part of the infrastructure to our Amazoogle world is changing fundamentally. What is the role of libraries in trying to be relevant to their served populations? I do not argree that being hip and trendy is the way to go. Establishing a firm foundation and reputation as being the source for good information is what you build relevance on top of. In an unorthodox way I tried to show something that would be an easy thing to start with.

This wouldn't require an investment in new servers or software. This would not require necessarily an infrastructure investment. If anything this is something that libraries do well but have gotten away from over time. Being the "People's University" doesn't always require a new social network and sometimes requires merely a meeting room as well as speakers and potentially refreshments.

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