ALA Code of Ethics 1: What’s in a code? | Podcast

Libraries | Ethics | Professional conduct

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Here’s BLL Season 2, Episode 2, In which I introduce my 3-part (though actually it’ll probably be 4 parts) series on the ALA Code of Ethics. What is the code? What are its implications in our daily lives as leaders? Just how blatant of a smart aleck will I be during my dramatic reading of the code?

Link to episode transcript

Links:

American Library Association Code of Ethics

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The Dying Art of Disagreement | Op-Ed

Freedom of Speech | Democracy | Public dialog

by Bret Stephens | September 24, 2017

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This is the text of a lecture delivered at the Lowy Institute Media Award dinner in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday, Sept. 23. The award recognizes excellence in Australian foreign affairs journalism.

Let me begin with thanks to the Lowy Institute for bringing me all the way to Sydney and doing me the honor of hosting me here this evening.

I’m aware of the controversy that has gone with my selection as your speaker. I respect the wishes of the Colvin family and join in honoring Mark Colvin’s memory as a courageous foreign correspondent and an extraordinary writer and broadcaster. And I’d particularly like to thank Michael Fullilove for not rescinding the invitation.

This has become the depressing trend on American university campuses, where the roster of disinvited speakers and forced cancellations includes former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice, former Harvard University President Larry Summers, actor Alec Baldwin, human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, DNA co-discoverer James Watson, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, filmmaker Michael Moore, conservative Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will and liberal Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen, to name just a few. Read more…

Using our words: Getting it right on neutrality and libraries

Intellectual Freedom | Neutrality in libraries

by Joseph Janes | American Libraries | 09-01-17

I’ve always been a wordy sort of person. Yes, that too, but I mean word-y. I was the sort of kid who spent time with a thesaurus and dictionary as well as Tinkertoys and Matchbox cars. I was fascinated by words, their uses, and shades of meaning.

Even my amateur lexicographic interest ill prepared me for a world in which one of the more trenchant voices of political observation belongs to the Merriam-Webster Twitter feed (@MerriamWebster). If you don’t follow it yet, do so immediately, for its largely straightforward Word of the Day feature as well as its often wry and acerbic commentary on trending lookups based on “conversations” of the moment, not to mention words that aren’t really words (“covfefe”).

So the Webster’s dictionary has taken a side, or at least a perspective. Based on what I know of Noah Webster’s own colorful history and antipopulist views, I think he might approve. All of which puts an intriguing gloss on an emerging discussion within our own profession on what some may think a bedrock principle of librarianship: neutrality. This discussion includes my fellow AL columnist Meredith Farkas’s excellent piece on the critical librarianship movement (Jan./Feb., p. 70).

In one important sense, we aren’t neutral and never can be—nor should we be. Naturally, each of us has his or her own biases, prejudices, and preferences; we represent a sample of the breadth of society, so this is inevitable and necessary to avoid homogeneity of thought and action. Together, though, we advocate strongly on matters critical to our success. We fight in public for the rights of our patrons to read and think freely without fear of exposure, surveillance, or censure, as well as for open and equal access to a range of materials. We stand for the principle that government and public information shouldn’t depend on the whims of the moment. We are engaged with, represent, and fight for our communities and strive to improve them through our institutions and our work. Read more…

I want to be sure that we’re fighting the right fights on the right terms and, yes, using the right words.

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Personal archiving : preserving our digital heritage Ed. Donald T. Hawkins | review

Personal archives | Digital preservation | Electronic records managment

Reviewer: Stephanie L. Gross, MSLIS


Personal archiving : preserving our digital heritagePersonal archiving : preserving our digital heritage by Donald T. Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviewer bio:

I am an academic librarian whose primary responsibility is to oversee the electronic reserves component of Springshare LibGuides. Recently I was appointed to serve on the task group to explore, report and advice the establishment of an institutional repository at my university. Having already read much literature concerning IR, I have begun widening my reading to include material that examines IR and its various components from a variety of viewpoints, academic, technical and personal.

Review:

This book is an anthology created by specialists in libraries, archives and technology. It is a rich, yet succinct, volume compiled as a primer for lay individuals who are involved in archiving personal material. Much of the focus is on preserving, organizing and sharing memorabilia. However, true to expectation, an equal emphasis is given to the preservation of digital files from various formats. Some attention is devoted to records management, although that is from a more introductory, philosophical perspective. What I believe to be the strength of this work is its practical advice to both lay and professionals alike. It is specific and technical enough to satisfy academic librarians who are not trained as archivists. Often we are tasked with aiding and guiding library users (students and faculty) in the preservation of their personal data. Those who are interested in understanding specific aspects of establishing and maintaining an institutional repository, including the compilation and promotion of best practices will certainly need to research further. However, this handbook does indeed list and annotate various resources (e.g. Library of Congress, Internet Archives) which is extremely helpful. There are two chapters dedicated to the preservation of email from faculty, scholars and researchers. Much is made of the chronic conundrum of “store and ignore”, benign negligence, concerning the backing up of files and precious data. The mandate to keep up with current technology, upgrading equipment and the appropriate hardware and software is underscored. (A pitch for able institutions to take on this responsibility is made, especially regarding work by scholars and communities.) Budgeting is given sufficient space to gain an appreciation of the magnitude of the demands on resources, both monetary and human. The final chapters look into the future, including intelligent discussions and projections relating to issues of ownership, copyright and social media. Although various software firms and websites are mentioned by name and have already disappeared by the time of this writing, their absence does not diminish the usefulness of their mention. The principles and philosophy of the services remain valid into the present.

Recommended audience:

Public libraries, academic libraries, special libraries, archives, museums

Recommended added subject heading:

Institutional repositories.
Digital libraries.

View all my reviews

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey [review]

Libraries | Advocacy | Digitization | Data preservation | Book review

Reviewed by Stephanie L. Gross, MSLIS

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of GoogleBiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviewer bio:
I am an academic librarian whose main responsibility has been to establish and maintain a large database for electronic reserves. I have a solid background in public service, and have mentored library school students and recent graduates for over 10 years. I am conversant in issues relating to access and technology relating to digitization of materials as well as those born-digitally. Since I follow library news on a daily basis, I read this book more as a review of the known, while noting sources for future use. Most of those concerned digitization of material and aspects relating to institutional repositories. A second focus was based on a new work responsibility, that of personal librarian to undergraduate honors students.

Review:
This volume was written by a “feral” librarian with a law degree. It included the major areas where and how libraries are ever-relevant today: users, spaces, platforms, hacking, networks, preservation, education and copyright. Noteworthy highlights for me were the discussions of how some librarians and advocates are reinventing libraries while acknowledging their tradition roles in democratic society. Public, academic, school and special libraries were included. The ‘hybrid-ness’ of libraries is emphasized, along with the innovative factor of digitization of a variety of materials. Risks are involved when print is not saved to backup data. “Data rot” happens when technology fails, but also when newer forms outpace older, obsolete ones. Budgets are stretched to accommodate both digital and analog materials. The author calls for the ‘collaboration’ among librarians, the establishment of library networks, consortia, and private as well as public funding. The conundrum of copyright, data rights and collection policies was briefly examined.

Additional Subject headings might include:

Digital libraries
Web archiving
Digital preservation
Archival materials – Digitization
Library materials — Digitization
View all my reviews

Eulogy for the Information Age: The Future is Impact Not Access

Advocacy | Access | Impact | New Librarianship

 

THE RAZOR’S EDGE: Libraries in a Time of Crisis: Remaking the Social Compact

Public libraries | Democracy | Activism | Library services

by Brendan Howley

Fifty-six years ago, on Jan. 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy put millions of Americans to a very particular test: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Kennedy’s call to action has the feel of a different time—of a different America—when libraries were reverential places where books came and went in silence, except for the soft thump of the librarian’s rubber stamp on the due date card.

Welcome to the battered U.S. social compact of 2017, the centenary of Kennedy’s birth. Perhaps never since the chaos of the civil rights movement slamming into the nascent resistance of the Vietnam War has America been so darkly, damagingly split. Culturally, politically, emotionally, and even spiritually, the country has precious little common ground.

Libraries are that common ground. Moreover, they at once stand apart from their communities—as trusted repositories of a community’s past and intellectually honest resources for the community’s future—and couldn’t be closer to the day-to-day pulse of community life. They aren’t alone as essential services: Museums and hospitals, each in their own ways, serve vital needs of identity and care. But libraries are custodians of the very fabric of society, because they nurture discovery, self-worth, and belief in possibility, and they share the tools to make social goods manifest.

And libraries share something else, something intangible that needs to be made tangible: inclusivity. Libraries serve everyone without distinction. Standing up to the Department of Homeland Security, which Edward Snowden cheered in a now-famous tweet, a New Hampshire public library and its community—with the help of the Library Freedom Project—protected their patrons’ privacy by installing an anonymous internet browsing network. This is no small thing—and I write this as someone who, in his past life, was an investigative journalist specializing in intelligence and counterintelligence matters. Read more…