Archives for posts with tag: optimism

This came to me via @indie_librarian via (@wawoodworth)

More details on this event here. (Note: fans of the #Partyhard library agenda are probably in love with this idea.) Also, check out this design contest.  It’s a pretty hip and locally driven aesthetic they’re breeding. As a design minded fellow, I can’t understate how much I like this kind of stuff. Good on you, CPL.

I saw all this and suddenly wanted a job at the Chicago Public Library. But really, what I want is a job where I can work with some community to build something similar. Data management is OK, but, man, I miss working with clients/users/information-seekers/people-about-town/etc.

For now, here’s to better living through design.

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!!!

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Apathy is Boring

Stephen Harper & cat, Cheddar

I’ll state up front: the Conservative Party is not my favourite, not by a long shot. But in the interest of fairness, I’ll put up their platform points on the internet and copyright:

In spring 2011, the Conservatives will announce and begin implementing a Digital Economy Strategy, focused on the following five priorities:
* Building world-class digital infrastructure;
* Encouraging businesses to adopt digital technologies;
* Supporting digital skills development;
* Fostering the growth of Canadian companies supplying digital technologies to global markets; and
* Creating made-in-Canada content across all platforms, to bring Canada to the world.[source: CLA platform analysis]

This reads pretty much like the other parties. But, given the CPC’s six years in power, you can bet the primary beneficiaries will be large corporations. And, there will be a wanton lack of transparency, accessibility, and probably unrestrained rising costs that tax payers will have to pay (cf. the F-35 fiasco or the pork barrel spending around the G8/G20).

But wait, there’s more: “A Stephen Harper-led majority Government will also reintroduce and
pass the Copyright Modernization Act, a key pillar in our commitment to make Canada a leader in the global digital economy.”[source] That sounds nice. If this is anything like Bill C-32, it will not be a great boon for librarians already pinched by tight DRM rules and licence agreements.

In my opinion,  I can’t imagine a party whose attitude and behaviour are so far removed from those at the core of Librarianship: fairness, access, transparency, generally being nice and helpful, etc. etc.

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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.

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Apathy is Boring

Dapper Jack Wants to Broaden the Bands

A week ago or so,  the Canadian Library Association put out a press release detailing the Liberal party’s platform as it relates to Libraryland in Canada.

In the interest of equal time, I have for you what the NDP has to say about the key issues affecting libraries this election.  (I’ll be posting the Greens and the CPC later this week – if I can find an English translation of the BQ platform, I’ll post it too).

5.14 Ensuring all Canadians Have Access to Broadband and a Robust Digital Economy

* We will apply the proceeds from the advanced wireless spectrum auction to ensure all Canadians, no matter where they live, will have quality high-speed broadband internet access;
* We will expect the major internet carriers to contribute financially to this goal;
* We will rescind the 2006 Conservative industry-oriented directive to the CRTC and direct the regulator to stand up for the public interest, not just the major telecommunications companies;
* We will enshrine “net neutrality” in law, end price gouging and “net throttling,” with clear rules for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), enforced by the CRTC;
* We will prohibit all forms of usage-based billing (UBB) by Internet Service Providers (ISPs);
* We will introduce a bill on copyright reform to ensure that Canada complies with its international treaty obligations, while balancing consumers’ and creators’ rights.[source]

Not bad, though a little vague on copyright.

Aside from the overall “hard on corporations” tone the NDP likes, I don’t see how this platform is substantially different than the Liberals.

Maybe the tone is the difference. Some issues the Libs touch on in their platform, like Open Government, aren’t in the NDP’s because I’m pretty sure they are part of the general way the NDP would run the show if they won.

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Apathy is Boring

Wintersleep looks like nice enough fellows.

Once again, it’s the day when I lay out some of the songs that I’ve been rocking in my library cubicle.

Ok, I have to put up two clips by this band, mostly because I think Wintersleep are worth the time.

I’m attached to their album Welcome to the Night’s Sky in a way that chokes me up a little. (Personal exegesis: in the history of my life, I can’t imagine identifying so perfectly with an album. It really fit at the time, and that was hella helpful.)

This next one’s from their new album New Inheritors, which is just as good, but not, you know, so embued with personal experience.

Trace Decay may be my second favourite bed-sheet ghost video. I believe Department of Eagles takes that prize.

Lykke Li‘s new album Wounded Rhymes came out a few weeks ago. I’m not a fan of the title as it sounds like a Bones Thugs and Harmony lp. But, the music’s good, so I don’t really care. Rich Kid Blues has to be my favorite track off it. It has a great Wall of Sound bombast to it.

Have a great weekend!

The London Book Fair is happening this week. In the publishing world, it’s a pretty big deal.  Besides book deals, there’s a lot of talk that takes place. Bobbie Johnson from wrote an interesting post in response to a panel on the future of publishers:

At the event, there is plenty of evidence suggesting publishers are getting their heads around how digital content is changing their business. But in some ways, it still feels like a clash of civilizations. Publishers talking with each about what the next big thing might be, while Amazon and Google and the rest simply go and make the next big thing.This was no more obvious than when I stepped into a discussion over the future of publishing that really seemed to highlight the differences. It was framed as a traditional debate, with an appropriately argumentative motion at stake: “Authors and readers are all that matter. Publishers will become irrelevant.”…

Some publishers see that the market is getting bigger, and that profits are rising, and they think that means they’re doing a good job. But in fact, the growth in profits comes because they’re cutting back on what’s unique about them — the relationship with authors, the expertise in editing, design, typography, the quality of output, the nurturing side of the business. They’re being slashed in favor of streamlined processes that are guaranteed to produce a handful of blockbusters.[read the full post]

Johnson is leveling a fairly heavy indictment on the publishing industry. It’s not unwarranted.

The truth is that eBooks are opening doors for innovative and entrepreneurial  folk. Johnson points out that the role of self-publishing in the eBook market is burgeoning, yet large publishers are more or less circling their wagons.

Self-published eBooks offer opportunities for libraries frustrated by publishers’ DRM-heavy policies. Still, Johnson rightfully hints that this alternative is complicated by issues of quality and consistency. There are a lot of unknowns in how this sector will develop.

Right now, the growing pains of the self-published eBook industry aren’t necessarily cause for pessimism. Unless, of course, you’re committed to the failing status quo.

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.

It’s Friday, and if you’re wondering what as a good librarian you should be doing, @pcsweeney has a suggestion: party.  Here’s why:

One of the first things that JP said to me about the profession of librarianship and the whole party hard theory was to the effect of needing to celebrate our profession more instead of mourning it. This really hit home for me at the time it was said because I was just reading about layoffs, libraries closing, hours lost, budgets cut, etc… I really feel like there are quite a few people who are quietly mourning the loss of this profession. But there’s no reason that we need to go out quietly. If we do really wind up going out, we should go out loud, kicking, screaming, and celebrating everything that libraries have done for the people of this country for the last 236 years. Really, our fellow librarians have accomplished a whole lot when you sit back and think about it! So now let’s celebrate it![full post]

I get where this is coming from, but should we all stamp around with pints shouting the Anthem for the Already Defeated? Not just yet, though it is a good song.  I really believe the librarian profession has and always will be a process of evolution. There are new job titles, new technologies, but the spirit is always there.

Sweeney gets this and wants to use partying as a tool. Partying facilitates social collaboration; it builds networks and creates roads for innovation. (Depending on consumption levels, some can be more innovative than others. Yet, as Hemmingway says, “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” Or why you shouldn’t!)

Informal outreach like Sweeney suggests (maybe not always with beers involved) can create a different sort of outcome than you get from more formal approaches like surveys and or interacting with patrons in library.

This is especially important for public libraries (but not just public libraries), where community and social integration can mean as much for improving services as for survival.

The Librarian Party Agenda: honour the past, live the present, celebrate the future. Something to consider.


This was my second choice for a post pic... amazing, right? Fun times!

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.