WV State paid $22K each for Internet routers in small libraries

State paid $22K each for Internet routers
The state of West Virginia is using $24 million in federal economic stimulus money to put high-powered Internet computer routers in small libraries, elementary schools and health clinics, even though the pricey equipment is designed to serve major research universities, medical centers and large corporations, a Gazette-Mail investigation has found.

The state purchased 1,064 routers two years ago, after receiving a $126 million federal stimulus grant to expand high-speed Internet across West Virginia.

Disastrous Plan for Philadelphia's Library for the Blind

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The Philadelphia Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the nation's oldest book collection serving the visually impaired and one of only two in the commonwealth, is slated to be dramatically diminished this week, as services and the collection are slashed.

The plan calls for moving most reading materials to the smaller, less-used Pittsburgh branch; foolishly dumping half a million recorded cassettes; and halving the caring, veteran staff that helps disabled patrons in 29 counties. [ed: I heard about this plan while at PLA in Philadelphia in March; word has it that its the plan of Governor Tom Corbett, a native of Pittsburgh].

The merger makes absolutely no sense and will not save the commonwealth a cent, while providing slower, less efficient service to an already underserved population. Indeed, critics believe the merger will cost more money in unanticipated operating costs.

Conservatives defend cuts to Archives Canada

Conservatives defend cuts to Archives Canada
Responding to criticism that budget cuts are undermining the ability of Library and Archives Canada to preserve Canada's documentary heritage, a spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore said Thursday that efforts to digitize the collection will give Canadian taxpayers greater access while saving them money.

Inside Washington's high risk mission to beat web censors

Inside Washington's high risk mission to beat web censors
For more than a year, the intelligence services of various authoritarian regimes have shown an intense desire to know more about what goes on in an office building on L Street in Washington DC, six blocks away from the White House.

The office is the HQ of a US government-funded technology project aimed at undermining internet censorship in countries such as Iran and Syria. And so every week – sometimes every day – email inquiries arrive there that purport to be from pro-democracy activists in those places, but which, the recipients are confident, actually come from spies.

Complaint: Library of Congress biased

Complaint: Library of Congress biased

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could issue an opinion soon on an ex-Library of Congress worker's discrimination allegation because he's gay.

Mayor asks library board why it allowed Occupy Bangor to break citys after-hours park rule

Mayor asks library board why it allowed Occupy Bangor to break city’s after-hours park rule
Five months after the Occupy Bangor movement occupied Peirce Park and the Bangor Public Library grounds for almost a month, the library’s administration and board faced some tough questions during a City Council budget session.

The next cyber security bill is even worse than SOPA

The next cyber security bill is even worse than SOPA
Just when you thought it was safe to go out on the InterWebs comes a new effort by Congress to put a snoop on every cellphone and two spies in every cable modem. Contrary to what you may have read, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is not SOPA II. But in many ways, it's worse.

The US Should Not Be Burning Books

Commentary from Allison Stanger, the Chair of the Political Science Department at Middlebury College on the situation in Afghanistan that arose after American servicemen were found to have burned Qurans.

Book burning is not something typically associated with freedom-of-speech-loving America. When books are burned in a country desperately in need of more books, where only 43% of men and 12% of women are literate, it should prompt questions.

I want to believe that the burning of Qurans was an unintended mistake. But surely any soldier based in Afghanistan after a decade-long American intervention knows that the desecration of the Koran is an inflammatory and offensive act in a Muslim country.

President Obama’s apology has done little to contain the mounting rage in Afghanistan that led to a march on the presidential palace after Friday prayers, the Saturday killings of two U.S. officers on the job in Afghan ministries and the subsequent withdrawal of NATO advisors from Afghanistan. But this latest incident provides further evidence that our armed forces have begun to lose touch with why we are fighting in the first place.

Their frustration is understandable, but we should never implicitly condone American soldiers burning books as a means to defending freedom. We should not attack those who apologize for such an act. The cost of losing what we are fighting to uphold is far too high. Thankfully, President Obama understands that.


A Tree Grows (Through the Roof of the Library) in Camden

From Philly.com a report on South Korean journalists visit to the city of Camden NJ, where the abandoned library "has a tree growing through its roof". Camden is the second most dangerous city in the US, and the foreign journalists were shocked by the poverty and crime.

Maybe if Governor Christie put some effort into helping that city restore its library and its community the situation would improve for the youth of Camden NJ.

Envisioning Dreams

With a Republican debate happening yet again and "Super Tuesday" coming up, there are political things to ponder in Library Land. Ohio is a state that takes part in Super Tuesday voting and a variety of property tax levies can appear on the ballot. At Erie Looking Productions, The Air Staff gets to pass upon a renewal request by the Ashtabula County Children Services Board to preserve funding. The issue runs for five years if approved.

Library funding issues have popped up from time to time. On the last two issues that have come up locally, I have voted against them. As I look ahead to voting on Super Tuesday, I can explain why.

When it comes to backing candidates or issues, I do not look for those engaging in "managed decline". In that instance, you're not winning. You're just stretching a miserable failure out for an unconscionable period. I do try to avoid those who plan to be steady hands on the tiller who do not want to make waves. Life is dynamic and is not something static that merely requires care and attention of the best technocrat available.

As cultural institutions, libraries need visions. Libraries need dreams. Without visions or dreams, especially ones that can be articulated clearly, libraries are not living cultural institutions but instead mausoleums. Mausoleums can easily be forgotten and left to decay. Institutions with life in them do not go down that path.

What frontier do you want to conquer at your library? Where do you want the cultural institution you operate to be in one year? What about in four years?

Grand strategic visions are not what is needed right now. Discrete milestones over a short enough period help stakeholders grasp what your dreams and vision entail. It is far harder to sell a vague intangible like "change" compared to something concrete like "creating a new science fiction collection of five hundred to one thousand items prior to broadening the romance collection to include more durable copies of works by Christine Feehan".

Out of the Republican field of potential nominees, Newt Gingrich perhaps offers one of the broadest visions and comprehensive dreams. He speaks of conquering space and shifting away from the current effective outsourcing to the Russian Federation of getting Americans to space. There's plenty to not like about his policy ideas. Unlike contenders on either side of the political divide, he does express a concrete vision of a dreamed about future. Whether or not you agree with him, dreaming of a Moon Base is more concrete than the vague intangibles offered by the rest of the pack.

I have no clue how I will vote on Super Tuesday. Plenty can change between now and then. A big concern is to find candidates with dreams of tomorrow that they can articulate and that have tangible end points.

Do you have such a dream at your library? Even more importantly, have you told anybody what it is?

Creative Commons License
Envisioning Dreams by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.


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