Access Schmaccess

I just finished watching most of a talk called Access Schmaccess: Libraries in the Age of Information Ubiquity. Now before you non-librarians stop reading, this was mostly not about libraries. For almost the first hour, Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor (MI) District Library’s Associate Director of IT and Production, talks about the internet, and how it has changed and is changing our culture.

He’s a very engaging speaker – I admit that I didn’t expect to make it through more than 5 or 10 minutes, and I wound up watching nearly the entire thing – 90 minutes – all but what I assume is the Q&A at the end. He talks about memes and torrenting and kickstarter all kinds of interesting and relevant stuff. Basically he’s pointing out all the ways that our culture has shifted, building a foundation so that you can see a way forward for libraries. It’s a reminder that the types of information people want is changing forms – people still want to learn things, but increasingly the information they want is not necessarily contained in a book, or easily learned from one. I’m not doing a good job of putting my finger on this, but I think what he did is take a giant step backward from where a lot of articles about makerspaces in libraries start and explaining the “why?” of this shift, rather than just saying “people want to make stuff! 21st century skills!” etc etc.

Anyway, he doesn’t really talk about libraries until about 0:50, and even so the next 20 minutes are still pretty general. It’s not until about 1:07 that he gets into really library-specific stuff, but he’s talking about very interesting things. His library’s summer reading game is now online and has quests and badges. They circulate synthesizers and other crazy instruments, in a semi-secret way. It was a great talk, and I encourage you to watch it. He gave a shortened version of this talk at the Maryland Library Association’s conference recently, and I really wish I’d been there to see it.


What's interesting today

The Devil’s Workshop: So My Students Can Eat
A community college professor writes about how his students have to choose between paying tuition and paying for groceries. I had never even thought about this in any kind of depth, and I’m not alone in that. So fundamental.

John Green’s tumblr: Why Libraries Are Different From Piracy
John Green is an author. In this post, he talks about the differences between getting a book from the library and pirating it, and why he thinks it’s better to do the former than the latter. An interesting take on this from the author’s perspective.

What's interesting today

Library Journal: Statistical Abstract Saved by ProQuest and Bernan Press
While it’s very, very good news that the Statistical Abstract won’t completely disappear now that the government has pulled the funding plug, as the author states at the end – it’s sad that was used to be a free online resource is now going to be tied up behind a paywall. And this will do no good for libraries who can’t afford the subscription.

New Media Consortium: NMC Horizon Connect Session > Howard Rheingold is Net Smart
I attended this free webinar today, and it was a great presentation (not just because I won Rheingold’s newest book, Net Smart, which will be released tomorrow). In the presentation, he outlined five literacies that aren’t being taught in school much, if at all, and that he thinks people need in order to survive and thrive online: Attention, Participation, Collaboration, Crap Detection, and Network Awareness. I’ve got some notes from this that I’ve posted under separate cover, but if you’d rather just watch it yourself the recording is here, it uses Adobe Connect. I believe they also said they will get it up on their iTunes U site.

NMC Horizon Connect Session: Howard Rheingold is Net Smart

Today I sat in on a really interesting webinar sponsored by the New Media Consortium. Howard Rheingold spoke about the five literacies he believes are key to using the web, and social media, well. Here are my notes, but you may want to check out the recording of the webinar as well. There was so much chatter going on in the chat box and on the Twitter stream that I’m sure I missed things, though I tried to stay focused on his presentation. Continue reading

What's Interesting Today

Library Journal: OverDrive to Distribute Harry Potter eBooks
Very cool news, starting later this spring libraries that subscribe to the OverDrive ebook platform will be able to offer the Harry Potter series! As is noted in the article, you’ll only be able to get them through OverDrive or on the Pottermore website – the ebooks aren’t available through booksellers.

Triple Canopy: Anonymity as Culture: Treatise
I’m not all the way through this, as it’s long and it being the workday, I got interrupted. But so far it’s a really interesting exploration of the history of anonymity online. Also the design is really cool, it’s very easy to read.

Library Journal: Elsevier Backs off RWA Support; Still Opposes Mandated Open Access
Elsevier has dropped their support of the Research Works Act (which, in true government style, would not actually make research work). They also opened up access to 14 mathematics journals. But don’t let this fool you.

Internet Blackout Day

Obviously I have not joined the Blackout today, but that doesn’t mean I don’t support the cause. In case you haven’t already heard, there are two bills in Congress (PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the house) right now that threaten free speech, and freedom of information, on the web. Watch this brief video to learn more about these two bills, which are being presented as anti-piracy bills. They aren’t actually going to stop piracy. Corporations who are concerned with this have plenty of tools already – which they stretch to the limit to go after individuals who they claim are infringing their copyrights.

Please contact your reps in congress about this if you haven’t already. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a quick and easy way to do this but you can also look them up and call or email directly.

What's interesting today

Oops, forgot to publish this apparently. This is what was interesting on Tuesday.

InfoDOCKET: OverDrive Posts Public Comment Apparently in Response to Friday’s Librarian in Black Post
OverDrive has published a post on their blog that touches on the issues surrounding ebook lending for libraries who have borrowers outside of their designated geographic area. It sounds like none of the people who contacted OverDrive heard back from the reps they tried to reach, this is thus far the only response. Kinda lame, especially since the post doesn’t even acknowledge that it exists because of this latest brouhaha. But, certainly better than ignoring the situation altogether. OverDrive is between a rock and a hard place, but it seems like doing a better job about communicating what’s going on would help enormously. (And perhaps instead of libarians putting pressure on them, we could work together to put pressure on the publishers.)

LifeHacker: Your Facebook Has Two Inboxes, and You’ve Probably Missed Messages From the Second
Just one more data point in the “Facebook thinks it knows what you care about, but really it doesn’t” column. Apparently you can’t change this setting so get used to checking two spots for Facebook messages, one of which doesn’t have an obvious update flag.

What's interesting today

The New York Times Opinion Pages: Stop the Great Firewall of America
This is why you should care about two bills in Congress right now, SOPA and PROTECT-IP. The third paragraph sums it up nicely. Once you’ve read this please visit the EFF and write to your reps in Congress.

American Libraries: On My Mind: An unplugged space
This is an interesting column that proposes that libraries create “Walden zones,” a communication-free area where people can disconnect from their gadgets.

Radical Reference: Alternative Guide to Dallas
The librarians of the North Texas Radical Reference Collective put together a cool map of cool places to go in Dallas during the Midwinter meeting, including vegan restaurants and other neat places to check out.


What's interesting today

Simmons GSLIS: Cloonan To Step Down as GSLIS Dean
The dean of my graduate school has decided after a decade that it’s time to take a break. Thank you for making GSLIS an awesome place to become a librarian, Michèle!

American Libraries Next Steps: Broadcast Collaboration
A quick look inside the library at NPR. Did you know their librarians are embedded throughout the journalistic and production staffs? And also that they are going all-digital in preparation for moving to a new building in 2013? Sounds like some very forward-thinking folks.

Avos: Last Call for Delicious Users: Transfer Your Bookmarks
If you haven’t already authorized this (or packed up and taken your bookmarks elsewhere) stop reading and click here to make sure your bookmarks are transferred when Delicious re-launches. It’s also probably not a bad idea to export them today or tomorrow so that you have them in hand if you don’t like the new look of the site. (The migration is apparently happening this weekend.)

Insatiable Booksluts: Banned Books Week: What Subversives Are You Reading?
Despite the brevity of this post, the author is able to succinctly make several interesting points about the overall makeup of the books that show up on our banned lists, and why they’re being challenged. It is also a nice reminder that librarians do a lot more than shelve books and help you find journal articles, as a profession we are also dedicated to protecting your right to read whatever the heck you want. In a librarian’s perfect world, people offended by books would simply choose not to read them, and to prevent their children from reading them, thus leaving the rest of us free to bask in whatever “filth” or “smut” we so desire. Anyway, Banned Books Week starts on Saturday, so go head and pick up something to read! Try Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a young adult book by Sherman Alexie (and certainly one of those that is also resonant for adults).

American Libraries: ACRL Invites Applicants for Immersion ’12 Program
If you’re an instruction librarian, please start figuring out how to get yourself to Immersion. I’ve never been (not for lack of trying) but from everything I’ve heard from GSLIS classmates who have attended, it is amazingly helpful in developing as a teacher.