Archives for posts with tag: news

The world should learn not to mess with librarians!

Last month, I wrote about the Toronto Public Library’s hard stance against proposed cuts. Well, after some gaffs from the Mayor’s brother, city councillor Doug Ford , and lots of discussion,  Torontonians are starting to see a shift.

From the Toronto Star:

Another councillor in Mayor Rob Ford’s inner circle is backing away from a proposal to close libraries.

When asked Wednesday if she would support library closures to save money, Councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston) said “no, of course not” and that if anything, branches should be better utilized to host more city programs.

“I don’t think there’s a will on council to close libraries,” said Nunziata. “I think we have to make better use of what we have… these are great facilities for programming.”

First it was right-winger James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre). Then TTC chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence). Now Nunziata, who is the council speaker and one of Ford’s longest and most loyal supporters.

Nunziata’s split is the clearest sign yet that libraries will likely be safe come fall when council is left to consider the service cut recommendations proposed by KPMG during the core service review.[source]

Not a sure thing, though. It’s great to see the city rallying and staying on the city council’s back. Keep it up, Toronto. Here’s some fight music to help!

Torontonians can take action by contacting their city councillors and/or by signing the online petition.

Canada’s 41st election started out sort of dull and predictable (c.f. the lack-lustre debates). But, the recent news about the NDP’s surge has made things pretty darn interesting. I’ve been glued to the polls and news reports.  (This is my way of saying:  I’m too distracted to keep up the pace I set on this site, right now. Regular posts will resume next week.)

I’ve been looking around for ways Canadian libraries have supported voter engagement and turnout. Libraries across the country have put up information tables, dug out history and contemporary politics books for displays,  and posted information and links online.

Is there more the library community can do than displays and links? What about cultivating the next generation of young voters? Are there election themed story-times out there? Are we engaging new Canadians in their new home’s politics?

The LIS community should be thinking of ways to help create and nurture engaged political communities. They’ll come in handy when libraries need protection from book banners and budget hawks. This will take more than just blog posts and Bristol board displays during election season. But, the results could be huge!

Libraries are political (but not necessarily partisan). History has shown how access to books and information (not to mention community space and communication tools) are powerful political tools. To ignore this is to ignore the important role libraries have had and can have in the direction of our nation and our world.

We have to play a role in shaping the future, if we want to have a role to play in the future.

Canada Votes May 2nd!!!

***Find out More***

Party websites:

CBC’s Reality Check on Platform Promises

Register to Vote:

Apathy is Boring

May at a whistle stop.

May and her Green Party have pluck, you have to give them that.  As a new party, there are a lot of issues about which they need to get the word out. Still, their platform has a few planks that relate to libraries and library related things:

*Ensure that copyright policy allows students to properly conduct and create research in a manner that is consistent with a thriving information commons, fair dealing principles, and moral rights.
* Ensure network neutrality by supporting the principles of fair use, consumer information privacy, communications market competition, and rationalization of the statutory damages provision.
* Recognize that access to high-speed internet connections is now a critical aspect of infrastructure and work to expand access to address the digital divide.[source: CLA platform analysis]

The Green Party is also a vocal supporter of Vote for the Internet and Open Media, an organization that strives to “make media and telecommunications more transparent, with broader and more representative public participation. Our job is to shine a spotlight on key media policy developments, and provide essential tools and information for citizen engagement.”[source]

May’s comment on the subject: “The internet is critical for modern day citizen engagement and an integral part of our economic competitiveness. The Greens pledge to adhere to OpenMedia’s Stop the Meter campaign on Internet access. We are committed to enhancing broadband access, competition, transparency and choice.”[source]

In this area, I think the Greens, bless their hearts, have more optimism than specifics. This comes with being a new voice on the national stage. But, they are a rising alternative.

***Find out More***

Party websites:

Register to Vote:

Apathy is Boring

Bloomberg Businessweek published an article last week on a rarely talked about bubble in the tech industry – and social media giants are to blame.

As I understand it, it boils down to this: the current high tech focus is on using data to improve ad revenue via social media.  Or as Jeff Hammerbacher (a former Facebook research scientist) says, “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”

It sucks because the innovation process of massive social media companies focuses on ads, and so there has been only minimal transferable benefit for other industries that don’t make their money off of marketing. This is bad because transferable innovation  makes for good economic growth and stability.

Here’s where Jeff Hammerbacher comes in. He’s developing software that will allow scientific researchers and other business sectors to apply the marco-level data management tools Google, Facebook and Amazon use to target ads. Read the rest of this entry »

(a little graphic I made)

With the “Leaders” debates over, all the parties are gearing up for the march to the finish line.

Over these last few weeks of campaigning, among the many issues at hand, it’s important to consider what this election means for libraries and librarians. Helpfully, the CLA has released a tool-kit for librarians that focuses on some of the key issues:

1. Copyright
CLA appreciates the government’s intent to provide copyright legislation which is both balanced and technologically neutral.

Over 21 million library users are seriously concerned about the shape Canadian copyright legislation continues to take.

Library users are the Canadian public: they are not members of a “special interest group” when it comes to copyright.

Copyright laws must reflect the public interest…

2. Library Book Rate
The Library Book Rate is a Canada Post service that provides a reduced rate for mailing library books between libraries and from libraries to their users.

Members of the library community were disappointed to see Private Member’s Bill C-509 get as far as it did in the legislative process, only to have to start over from scratch due to the 2011 federal election call…

3. Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA)
CLA’s landmark report (2005), Opening the Book: A Strategy for a National Network for Equitable Library Service for Canadians with Print Disabilities, outlined how the current inadequate and fragmented resources serving Canadians with print disabilities could be organized into an efficient and equitable nationwide library network.

Leadership is needed at the federal government level to coordinate the various elements of the network, known as the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA)…

4. Digital Economy
Canada’s libraries can and should play an important role in the development of a national digital economy…

Also, I’d add as a government librarian that issues of transparency, accountability, and open access to information are hugely important to the sustainability of a democratic government.

Funding information management projects that modernize information sharing and access are essential to keeping up with the speed of government and the needs of Canadians.

Issues of openness and fairness in government is a theme latched onto by all the opposition parties. Yet, only the Liberals’ platform seems to have identified some of the other issues, particularly the digital divide.Correction – Apr 19: The CLA has chosen to put out a release specifically on the Liberal’s platform as it relates to libraries and the digital divide. I will be posting more the other platforms this week. Update – Apr 19: CLA’s rundown on each platform is here.

But, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be on the case of all the parties. Email. Call. Write. Show-up. Ask questions of you local candidates. Demand answers. Most importantly, vote. Remember, the sidelines are for suckers.

Party websites:

Register to Vote:

Apathy is Boring

Who will help these Dangerous Minds?

From the School Library Journal:

Middle and high school libraries in high poverty areas of the U.S. suffered the most budget cuts in 2010, according to “State of America’s Libraries,” a report from the American Library Association.
While most school libraries managed to escape the economic trials of 2010 largely unscathed, those in high-poverty areas saw average spending on information resources and collection size decrease by 25.5 percent, or to $10,378 in 2010 from $13,935 in 2009.
The results were initially revealed in the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) 2010 School Libraries Count! survey, which showed that overall school expenditures on information resources were approximately $12,260 in 2010, compared to $13,525 the previous year, a decrease of 9.4-percent.
The survey also found that while schools in low-poverty areas saw slight increases in most areas of collection size, those in low-income areas reported a four percent decrease in books, an 11 percent decrease in video materials, and a whopping 22 percent decrease in periodical subscriptions.[read full post]

The report also points to the unpreparedness of these school libraries to meet future demands for digital media. There has only been a marginal shift towards digital materials. Moreover, there are genuine worries about their ability to provide on-site and remote access to electronic resources right now and down the road.

Hamstringing poorer school libraries now will make it incapacitatingly expensive to catch up. But, it’s not too late. President Obama’s education agenda involves a move away from an addiction to standardized tests and new plans to add more technology into the classroom. School libraries should be an important part of this plan.

Glistening, iPad filled libraries in poorer schools may be a dream. Still, considering the front-line role libraries played in bringing the internet to schools, letting them desiccate is a significant step in the wrong direction.

Happily, every Nancy Drew title is an innuendo.

A librarian is in the news. Not because of budget cuts, literacy or eBooks, but for something much more fun – some good ol’fashioned mystery:

A former Brown University museum librarian who once examined a Tiffany-silver sword now at the center of an ownership duel between the Ivy league school and a Virginia collector says in an affidavit “there is no doubt” university drawings match photos of the sword located last year in a Virginia museum.
The affidavit by John H. Stanley is among supporting documents in Brown’s filing. Brown has asked a judge to reject a motion by the lawyer for Donald R. and Toni M. Tharpe, of Williamsburg, Va., to dismiss the university’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Brown wants what it says is its long-missing sword returned. A Sept. 7 trial is scheduled.
At issue is a sword presented in 1863 to Col. Rush C. Hawkins, of a New York Civil War regiment. It was later part of the Annmary Brown Memorial at Brown in memory of Hawkins’ wife, who was a granddaughter of a founder of the university.[read full article]

This story also requires: an abandoned library building, some people who seem creepily yet appear innocent (at first), and a shaky flashlight chase down a dark secret tunnel. The heart races, no?

The anti-DRM site Defective by Design has declared Wednesday  May 4, 2011 as the third annual International Day Against DRM.

The Day Against DRM is an opportunity to unite a wide range of projects, public interest organizations, web sites and individuals in an effort to raise public awareness to the danger of technology that requires users to give-up control of their computers or that restricts access to digital data and media. This year, we’ll be helping individuals and groups work together to create local actions in their communities — actions will range from protesting an unfriendly hardware vendor to handing out informative fliers at local public libraries! wants to help you plan or get involved in local actions and then broadcast your stories globally. If you are interested in taking part in this year’s Day Against DRM:

It’s definitely something worth participating in, or at least looking into.

Defective by Design’s crew and libraries have shared the struggle before. As DbD says in that post,

Readers, librarians, and authors need to make their voices heard. DRM leaves readers and librarians helpless and divided. If we do not ban DRM from our libraries and our lives then we can and should expect publishers such as Harper Collins to strangle libraries so as to gain as much of a profit as possible.

We need to watch out for each other and make sure that people are not getting suckered into notions of “fair” DRM.

There’s no better way to do this than through collective action:  sign up, read up, and/or act up.

Have you heard the news?

Recently, Wired magazine declared the death of the web:

You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service.

You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.

This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.[full article]

Or in Clue-speak:  it was the User in the Internet with the App.

Declaring things dead doesn’t have the same bombast it used to, and it’s not entirely new news. Web 2.0 has been pushing it’s way into the Internet-user’s life for a few years now, and Wired is talking about the logical extension of that trend.

But, the article makes an important distinction between “browsing” and “getting.” This has to do with the rise apps-based user expectations and an achieved critical mass of online-content. I think browsing was useful in the past because there was no guarantee anything you wanted was out there. Now, Internet-savvy users are  surprised when something is NOT online. So, it’s not about finding, it’s about retrieving.

Libraries should play close attention to this, not because we’re not in the information/content retrieving business. This is what a good library does well, after all.

The issue at stake is competition.

The barriers to entry in the library’s field of online content delivery (eBooks, reference information, audio books, etc.) have been knocked down or scaled by competition that doesn’t share the same value system, operations cost, or even expectations of open access.

Again, this is not new news, just more pressure on libraries to innovate.

Looking for a counter-point? Try What’s Wrong With ‘X Is Dead’, from the Atlantic

From the Independent UK:

Education Secretary Michael Gove says that children aged 11 should be reading 50 books a year to improve literacy standards.

We asked three of Britain’s leading children’s authors and two of our in-house book experts to each pick 10 books, suitable for Year 7 students.

The authors chose books that have brought them huge joy, while expressing their outrage at the “great big contradiction” of Mr Gove’s claim to wish to improve literacy while closing libraries across the country.[check out the list and the full article]

The Independent’s list is heavily weighted towards older books. Is it nostalgia? Likely it’s a nod towards those worn, well loved youth novels that are probably sitting in any (presently threatened) UK  public library.

I can’t say it’s a bad list. I also can’t say, having read constantly my whole childhood, that I’ve read half of what’s on there.

Actually, child of the 80s I am, I think I’ve seen more of them as movies (i.e. the Phantom Tollbooth, which i felt was fairly inscrutable).  I don’t see Watership Down there (another amazing movie and book, by the way). I’m sure there’s a lot that could be added. How would a list like this look in Canada?

That said, spring’s almost here. It’s time to start thinking about  summer reading lists.  I think I’ll slip a few of these classics on mine.