Politics

The Desk Setup: A Look At Librarian Computers

The Desk Setup

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

Get Ready for the G.W. Bush Institute

DALLAS — A new exhibit will give the public its first glimpse of some of the artifacts in the archives of former President George W. Bush.

Artifacts on display in Dallas will include the bullhorn Bush used when he visited ground zero days after Sept. 11 and the pistol taken from Saddam Hussein when he was captured.

The free exhibit, "Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center," opens Saturday and runs through Feb. 6 at the Meadows Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University, where the center will be built.

Ground will be broken next month on the center, which will include the presidential library and the George W. Bush Institute. The center is expected to be open by early 2013.

On the subject of the book and public appearances from GWB:

"I have zero desire, just so you know, to be in the limelight," he said. "I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor. You're not going to see me giving my opinions in the public arena, until I start selling my book. I'm going to emerge then submerge."

Don't Cut Seattle Libraries!

...says Jason Sundberg in an op-ed in the Seattle Times.

"MY family lives in New Holly, a mixed-income Seattle Housing Authority Neighborhood in Southeast Seattle. Despite lower income levels than many affluent parts of the city, in one important way, it is the richest neighborhood in Seattle because of its diversity.

Mayor Mike McGinn, however, has proposed budget cuts that would slash all on-site librarian services at the New Holly library and seven other library locations, carving the very heart out of southeast Seattle and other parts of the city. Seattle's status as most educated city in the United States is intrinsic to our identity, but we cannot hope to retain that badge of honor if we remove from our midst the most democratic and foundational resource for adults and children to educate themselves.

The Seattle City Council must reject cutting librarian services at these vital libraries and preserve this invaluable resource as ongoing equity for neighborhoods in dire need of support.

My family carpools with a Somali family to a local preschool. Faduma, the mom, works at home and her husband drives a taxi 70 hours each week. They moved to New Holly because the city designed our neighborhood for success — and Faduma's family is succeeding! One of their school-aged children transferred to a Seattle Public Spectrum school with programming for gifted children.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #123

Movement of the Moment Looks to Long-Ago Texts

Tea Party supporters, many of whom gathered in August in Washington, have made best sellers out of books by long-dead authors like Frédéric Bastiat and Friedrich Hayek.

Full article in the New York Times

Seattle's Top Librarian Might Be Heading to Washington DC

After just a year and a half as the city librarian, Susan Hildreth may be leaving Seattle — at President Obama's request.

Hildreth has been nominated to be the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, she confirmed on Wednesday.

"It's a great honor," Hildreth said, adding that the opportunity to serve in Obama's administration is "very compelling."

The Senate must confirm her nomination, so it would likely be months before Hildreth took the position. The institute is responsible for distributing all federal funds allocated to the country's libraries and museums, she said.

Hildreth estimated that her annual salary is about $165,000. She would not comment on whether she pursued the position or if the White House contacted her.

Hildreth was named Seattle's librarian in November 2008. Since assuming the post in early-2009, she has led the library system through a challenging period of deep budget cuts.

Seattle Times reports.

Chinese Author Released After Being Arrested by Authorities

Story from Global Times: A popular political author who was arrested after he published a book that claimed officials in Weinan, Shaanxi Province, embezzled funds intended for residents who were forced to relocate has been released.

Xie Chaoping was accused of "illegal trading" after his book came out.
The procuratorate in Linwei district, Weinan, announced Friday that the arrest was not approved because of insufficient evidence, according to News Cnxianzai, a website operated by the Hubei Changjiang Publishing Group.

The report said Xie and his wife, Li Qiong, returned to Beijing Friday night. Xie was arrested August 19. His book accused the local migrant bureau officials of embezzling funds intended for residents who had to relocate because of the decades-old Sanmenxia reservoir project.

The book, which was ruled an illegal publication by the provincial press and publication bureau, described how the residents were forced to leave their land in Weinan for the reservoir.

Xie paid 50,000 yuan ($7,340) to Flash Magazine to publish the book in May. Some 10,000 copies of the book were inserted into the magazine as a supplement.

The writer was quoted in the report saying that he did not regret writing the book. "I am fighting against some corrupt officials in the capacity as a journalist," he said.

City of Airheads: Villaraigosa Dismantles L.A.'s Vaunted Library System

Above is the headline, unedited, in today's LA Weekly in which Patrick Range McDonald cites the devastating choices of LA's mayor and city council in carrying out "an unprecedented, and punishing, raid on the libraries."

The article goes on: Last spring he convinced the City Council to close the city's central and eight regional libraries on Sundays, then slashed $22 million from the 2010-11 budget and closed all 73 libraries on Mondays beginning July 19. Library officials say as many as 15,000 youths — plus an untold number of adults — have been turned away every closed day this summer.

Unlike the angry City Council in New York, which successfully fought a large library budget cut proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti and 4th District City Councilman Tom LaBonge, chairman of the council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee, quickly caved on Villaraigosa's proposed 2010 budget, of which the library cuts were a part.

LA Weekly article. Some interesting commentary from readers too...

If They're Burning Qur'ans, ALA Says 'We'll Read Qur'ans'

From American Libraries: Book burning is the most insidious form of book banning, and just as the American Library Association is preparing to celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, along comes one Rev. Terry Jones of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. The reverend’s idea of world outreach is to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 with a public burning of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book. Gen. David Petraeus had personally pleaded with the reverend to restrain himself because of the potential for retaliatory violence.

Meanwhile, the American Library Association and librarians across the country will move the Qur’an to the top of the Banned Books Week agenda. (Leading the way by modeling tolerance, an Oklahoma public library has been hosting an exhibit of artwork inspired by Muslim tradition.)

“Free people read freely,” says Barbara Jones, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “That is a fundamental principle of the American Constitution and a basic mission of public libraries. We don’t burn books, we read them.”

Thanks to Jenny Levine for the lead.

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