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International

Saving the New Library of Alexandria

From the New York Review of Books:

Located near the site of its ancient predecessor, in the heart of historical Alexandria, the remarkable Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the new Library of Alexandria, which opened in 2002, has been uncomfortably close to the turmoil that now wracks Egypt, and especially Egypt’s cities. First a suicide bomber attacked one of Alexandria’s Coptic churches on New Year’s Eve, killing 21 Egyptian Christians and injuring a hundred (including several Muslims worshipping at the mosque across the street). Now, for the past week, tens of thousands of young Egyptians have taken to the city’s streets, calling for more freedom, more jobs, lower prices, and democracy, unfazed by a harsh government crackdown and episodes of violence in which some three dozen Alexandrians have been killed. So it was a great relief to read the message “To our friends around the world” from Ismail Serageldin, the director of the Library, who reports that when unrest broke out on Friday, a cordon of young people rushed to surround the Library complex (which includes conference halls and a planetarium) and protect it from vandalism.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #140

This week's episode is a cross-cutting, interdisciplinary look at the violation of the knowledge ecology perpetrated in Egypt. Practical discussion is presented as to circumventing the disruption of Internet access as well as SMS/MMS messaging as seen there. Implications for information architecture are also discussed. Related links: Xubuntu Project Lead Approved Mashable: Egypt Protests Deutsche Welle: Egypt Protests Media Network: Egypt Protests Renesys: Egypt Leaves The Internet The Other McCain: Egypt Protests The Register: Egyptian Media Crackdown Al Jazeera English: Egypt Leaves The Internet Al Jazeera English: Online Activism Fueling Protests Caroline McCarthy: No such thing as a "social media revolution" Committee to Protect Journalists: Egypt Leaves The Internet The Register: Vodafone acknowledges shut down order Librarian Phoebe Ayers: Egypt Protests Infodisiac: Egypt access to Wikipedia disappears The Associated Press: Egypt Leaves The Internet...and fails to quell protests! Media Network: Radio Netherlands Worldwide to target increased broadcasting at Egypt The Associate Press: The Day Part of the Internet Died RFC 1930: "Guidelines for creation, selection, and registration of an Autonomous System (AS)" Ars Technica: How Egypt Fractured The Internet RIPE Network Coordinate Centre stats on Egypt traffic Project Gutenberg's CD & DVD Project for offline access LOCKSS MirrorBrain FLDIGI QSSTV TOR Project: Egyptians Switch En Mass To The Onion Router TOR Project: Downloading for Ubuntu

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LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #140 / Burning Circle 17 by The Air Staff of Erie Looking Productions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Egyptians Remain Vigilant Guarding Libraries & Museums

From Discovery News: Egyptians are bravely defending their cultural heritage, according to a statement from Ismail Serageldin, librarian of Alexandria and director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

“The young people organized themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighborhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria,” he said.

“The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters,” Serageldin said.

However, the risk for cultural and archaeological sites remains high.

The West Bank, where the mortuary temples and the Valley of the Kings are located, is without any security, with only villagers trying to protect the sites.

“All the antiquities in the area have been protected by the locals all night, and nothing has been touched,” Mostafa Wazery, director of the Valley of Kings at Luxor, said.

UPDATE: Sun Jan 30, 14:40pm EST: In a faxed statement, Dr. Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, confirmed that a total of 13 cases were smashed at the Egyptian museum, adding that other sites are at risk at the moment.

A Ray of Hope in Tunisia...Previously Banned Books for Sale

From The Irish Times:

LOOKING OUT the window of her bookshop on Avenue Bouguiba, where two dozen curious faces are pressed against the pane to catch a glimpse at her latest display, Selma Jabbes is a picture of quiet satisfaction.

The crowds outside the Al Kitab bookshop are staring at a selection of newly arrived titles under the heading Livres interdits , a selection of books banned under the regime of deposed president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and now freely available for the first time.

Most concern Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi, political repression, Islamism and corruption in the regime.

Al Kitab is still awaiting delivery of its first order of banned books from Europe; those in the window were donated by readers and put on display “to give an idea of how we suffered here”, says Jabbes, a softly-spoken woman greeted by name by many of her customers.

Under Ben Ali’s rule, booksellers required a visa from the interior ministry for every work they wanted to import, and the process could take several months. The list of sensitive subject matter was long and ever-changing, but virtually every foreign title that touched on the president or his entourage, or which denigrated his policies, was strictly prohibited.

The Lights Are Going Out

Things are apparently developing in Egypt. There is an unconfirmed report that Egypt is totally offline. The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted to Identica about a separate report about the Internet being cut off in Egypt. Caroline McCarthy at CNET notes that Twitter is presently being blocked in Egypt. Later reporting by Elinor Mills at CNET notes that blocking is on the rise in Egypt and Associated Press reporters are unable to communicate. Nina Shea at National Review Online's group blog The Corner notes that these reports of disruption are not anomalies which is echoed by Matthew Shaffer there as well. Agence France-Presse notes that cellular telephone service is disrupted in addition to the reports of Internet disruption.

The situation in Egypt, much like the recent case in Tunisia, illustrates fundamental flaws in the nature of Internet access. Even though the system is purportedly designed to route around outages like this, failure seems to be easily caused. In conjunction with the proliferation of computer sound cards and software like fldigi, the deployment of radiofax service by outside powers to distribute information may be advisable. Examples of what this might look like are available online. Though such would have required specialist equipment twenty years ago that method for information distribution can take advantage of consumer-grade computer and radio hardware.

This situation continues to develop...

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The Lights Are Going Out by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at erielookingproductions.info.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #137

This week's episode contains a replay of the most recent episode of TVO's program Search Engine about the censorship situation in Tunisia. We follow up last Tuesday's release of Search Engine by bringing the story up to date with events that happened since. Another episode of LISTen will be released late Tuesday night/early Wednesday overnight with content that is more traditional. Related links: The episode of Search Engine being replayed Ars Technica on Twitter vs. Tunisia Committee to Protect Journalists on Tunisian Censorship BBC News reporting on Tunisian censorship...in 2005... The Voice of America on the Tunisia situation Story by Aidan Lewis on BBC News about the situation in Tunisia Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news on the ex-President of Tunisia fleeing to Saudi Arabia France24 on the possibility of more incidents like this Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at www.tvo.org.

In Brisbane, Serving the Public in a Crisis

This is an artist's illustration of the recently completed Kenmore Library in Brisbane, Australia, which residents are encouraged to utilize to check the internet and recharge their cellphones and laptops during the current flooding crisis. From the ABC Local station: "Residents that can get to Kenmore Library are able to access the internet and charge up mobile phones and laptops at this location." Here is the same library on Library Thing for Libraries.

Brisbane's Libraries Prepare

Art galleries and libraries in Brisbane, Australia, are shifting their collections to upper levels as floodwaters that struck rural areas move toward the city as reported by CBC News.

Waters are rising close to the city's major cultural institutions, including the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Museum and the State Library.

The library, Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery are close to the Brisbane River, which is expected to reach a flood peak at 5.2 metres sometime in the early morning hours of Thursday.

The art galleries and library have closed and the performing arts centre has cancelled performances. A car park for the cultural institutions is already flooded.

GoMA is currently hosting a summer exhibition, Art In The 21st Century, featuring contemporary art from 40 countries. Doyle said the art in the blockbuster show is not at risk because it is displayed on an upper level.

State librarian Rory McLeod said staff at the library have been quietly preparing for the flood for weeks and have moved collections out of the basement and ground floor.

However, he said, he is concerned that days of prolonged power cuts amid Queensland's summer humidity could result in damage to books and other collections.

"All of us have got climate controlled repositories where they are stored which will retain their ambient temperatures for a while, but after a few days there may be some humidity," McLeod said.

Cycling for Libraries

Librarians on bikes, unite! From the website:

We (Finnish librarian Kai Halttunen, Tampere University) – me with a team of keen library lovers – will arrange this tour supported by library associations and collaborators in different countries and I am sure it will be an unforgettable experience for all you who like cycling, get-together and passionate and visionary conversations about a variety of library topics.

Our aim is also to bring libraries, their highly proactive staff and the work all librarians do more to publicity and media. We mean to make this public by using internet and social media and making a documentary about how we handle this challenge of cycling 650 km --from Copenhagen to Berlin in spring-summer 2011 (We leave Copenhagen 28.05.2011 and arrive in Berlin 05.06.2011; 6th and 7th of June we have programme in Berlin).

We all know that good ideas are generated in cafes and hallways and not so much on lecture halls’ benches or somewhere we expect them to generate. That is why we go to this courageous venture of cycling about 10 days together – to see what kind of spectacular performances the library staff can reach if they just wish to. This is a challenge for you, and I hope that you accept it. Let’s go cycling for libraries! The participation is open to all librarians and everybody interested in the field of libraries.

Stay tuned by following this site or our Facebook page.

Kenilworth (UK) Police to Move into Library

Kenilworth is a small and historic town in the "green heart of Warwickshire". But they can't afford to keep the front desk of their police station open, so the police are moving into the library.

On Monday February 28, the force is teaming up with Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council to provide the services currently available from the front desk enquiry office at Kenilworth police station, from the Warwickshire Direct facility next door. There you will be able to report crime, anti-social behaviour incidents and place lost and found property enquiries.

And borrow books...

New Zealand Librarians Meet...and Eat

With 6500 meals to prepare this week for the largest conference to be held in Dunedin for about three years, University of Otago (NZ) catering staff are busy. Otago U website reports on culinary preparations for the Conference.

They are catering for about 630 at the Library and Information Association of New Zealand's centennial conference - more than 500 delegates and about 90 exhibitors - producing breakfasts, morning and afternoon teas, lunches and cocktail event food.

That included catering to more than 80 vegan, lactose-intolerant and gluten-intolerant people with specialised dietary requirements, University Union general manager Stephen Baughan said yesterday.

The conference, spread over several university lecture theatres, began on Sunday and finishes today.

Another article on the conference profiles a former New Zealand national librarian, Mary Ronnie, now in her eighties, and still doing her Scottish dancing. Ms Ronnie emphasised she was optimistic that public libraries - and books - would still be going strong in New Zealand in another 100 years.

A recent visit to a city public library had confirmed that it was filled with members of the public, and this was a good sign for the future.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #131

This week's episode brings some quick hits and references WikiLeaks.

Related links:

Library Cuts Are An International Issue

News from the mother country, the UK: Writers Philip Pullman, Kate Mosse and Will Self have criticised government cuts that could see up to a quarter of librarians lose their jobs over the next year. Widespread library closures are expected as councils cut their services and look to volunteers in an attempt to balance budgets hit by the coalition's spending review.

Mosse said "frontline support for literacy" was being cut, while Pullman declared that the librarian "is not simply a checkout clerk", and Self condemned the "crude calculus of cost-benefit analysis" involved.

North Yorkshire is considering reducing its 42 libraries to 18 over four years, while Leeds is proposing to axe 20 smaller libraries. Cornwall, Brent, Lewisham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Barnsley and Warrington are also planning closures. In Buckinghamshire, 14 libraries could become volunteer-run; in Gloucestershire, 12 will be closed if volunteers do not step forward. Camden, Westminster, Oldham, Southampton and Cambridgeshire are among the councils whose plans include greater use of volunteer staff.

Guardian UK reports.

A Prize-Winning New Library

Portsmouth's UK university library has won a top award for being the best-designed new building.
The eco-friendly building, in Cambridge Road, beat stiff competition to win the first Solent Design Awards.

The inaugural awards scheme tracked down buildings or spaces which have been well-designed and also add value to the community.

One of the city's most eye-catching buildings, Admiralty Quarter, in Queen Street, Portsea, was highly-commended at the award ceremony in Winchester.

University staff received their accolade from famous designer Wayne Hemingway

Katie Price is BIG in Certain Parts...of Britain

Katie Price dresses up as a 'sexy librarian' at a book launch at Selfridge's in London (video & pics).

At the launch for her 547th autobiography (really?) the glamour model really toned things down, opting for a sort of sexy librarian look (sorry if we’ve offended any real librarians out there with this comparison) with a demure blouse, pinstripe pencil skirt, large belt and a funny little fascinator thing on her head. She even wore natural looking make up. And the finishing touch to convince us that she’s proper smart and everything, and that she totally wrote the book all by herself.... she donned a pair thick rimmed glasses. How very faux intellectual.

The poor woman is having a hard time having her fourth baby and finds she needs to tell all in her book. Fans gloat adoringly.

Is this the UK version of Angelina Jolie?

A Library Designed for the Post-Print Era

From Fast Company Design:

The defining decorative element of a library has always been the books themselves. But now that institutions ranging from the University of Texas at Austin to ultra-traditional Cushing Academy are tossing their stacks in favor of digital collections, the question arises: How do you design a library when print books are no longer its core business?

At the University of Amsterdam, Dutch designers Studio Roelof Mulder and Bureau Ira Koers converted an existing 27,000-square-foot library into a massive study hall -- without any visible books -- to accommodate the 1,500 to 2,000 students who visit daily.

It’s a clever way to adapt to the post-print era. Libraries are expensive to operate. As books increasingly go digital, it makes sense for libraries to either downsize or, in the case of the University of Amsterdam, shift the focus of operations from books to people.

Check out the link for photos.

Funding Cutbacks & More on Australia's TV Show 'The Librarians'

Any LISNews readers down under? On this season's premiere of Australia's TV show The Librarians there's a gay wedding and of course talk of slashing budgets.

The motley bunch of characters working in Middleton Library — sorry, ‘Interactive Learning Centre’ — will experience some big changes.

Head librarian Frances O’Brien is faced with the threat of funding cutbacks unless she turns the library into a ‘profitable exercise’. Her husband Terry continues denying the existence of middle age by reforming his tragic Midnight Oils cover band, Oils Ain’t Oils.

And librarian Ky Lee, played by Keith Brockett, marries his partner Darren in a wedding ceremony that veers from the hilarious to the disastrous — mirrorballs and Cyndi Lauper tunes make an appearance before it all goes tits up.

Australians, please let us know what you think of the show...

Sierra Leone Deputy Librarian in Corruption Scam

There are so few corrupt librarians, but every so often, you do hear about one...or two. Here's a story from Sierra Leone:

Leaked information connecting the Deputy Chief of Sierra Leone Library said 46,650 books donated to Sierra Leone by Children International was diverted and sold to Guinea.

Investigation by this press exposed Sallieu Turay (in middle of photo above) and people unknown’s sad over-indulgences in the misappropriation of containers of books presented to school going children by ‘Children International’ in the United States. Sources say four containers of books were shipped into Sierra Leone for distributions to 300 schools in Sierra Leone.

The Deputy Chief Librarian, Sallieu Turay, was in charge of the distribution of the books, but unreasonably converted 70% of total number of books to his use or benefit. It could be recalled that Sallieu has a post graduate diploma in library studies and a master’s degree in education and administration. Findings say he was refused pursuing his master’s in library studies because of poor performance after completion of the forenamed diploma.

Two versions of the story from Sierra Express Media, here and here.

Was it the librarian? Was it the education minister?? The plot thickens.

UK Petition to Save the Library

An idea that just might work...the citizens of the London Borough of Barnet in the UK want their library to stay open.

Save our Libraries in the London Borough of Barnet
Published by Roger Tichborne on Sep 25, 2010
Category: Culture
Region: United Kingdom
Target: London Borough of Barnets Conservative Party
Web site: http://barneteye.blogspot.com
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Petition text:

We the Undersigned, are totally opposed to the closure, sell off or downgrading of the Library service in the London Borough of Barnet.

We believe that Libraries are a vital part of the Borough and recognise the importance of having trained Libraries run by trained librarians. We believe that it is vital to have "quiet space" for students to study.

We believe that closure of the service would cause untold damage to the citizens of Barnet and is totally opposed by the vast majority of the population.

Want to start your own petition? Here's how.

If you do nothing else, at least join us on Facebook at "Oprah, Libraries Need You!". Over 1,000 have signed up in the first week alone!! C'mon over for the birdie's sake.

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