Tag Archives: libraries

ebooks are from mars, libraries are from….

Whenever anyone thinks they know what they’re talking about regarding ebooks and the future of libraries they should be kindly directed to shut their hole and read this from Librarian in Black:

eBooks totally ignores everything you say. We in libraries have not been included at the table for negotiations on digital copyright, terms of service, licensing conditions, technology integration, none of it. And yes, that stinks. And yes, we’ve complained about it enough. We haven’t been heard largely because we’ve been too polite and too quiet for too long. It’s our fault. We removed ourselves from the equation by not being more proactive as a profession through the professional organizations and lobbyists we expect to speak for us. But even now that some of us are getting louder and angrier, we’re still being ignored by the entire eBooks industry, with very few exceptions (hi Gluejar, you guys rock). So my opinion is that we should walk away and take our fuck-me heels with us. That’s what our moms would tell us to do.

eBooks drew you in with wine and roses, but now makes you fetch him beer and Cheetos
Remember how tantalizing eBooks seemed several years ago? How sexy, how intoxicating? Everything seemed perfect because we were caught up in the glossy image of our desires…not the reality standing in front of us. eBooks…in…the…library! Holy ceiling cat!!!11one! We were like kids on our first trip to the candy store.

Now, eBooks’ idea of a date is ordering a cheese pizza from the cardboard pizza joint down the street. Maybe he’ll turn on some bromance comedy on Netflix, but more than likely he’ll play Skyrim by himself for hours, ask for a beer, and tell you to get lost. For your birthday eBooks might actually put toppings on the pizza (think Penguin’s misguided experiment at NYPL with embargoed popular titles) and buy a bottle of $5 wine. And he expects you to be grateful…after all, hey…toppings! For libraries, our crappy pizza is our crappy eBooks selection. We can’t buy from most of the major publishers, and even for those we can buy from we have extreme restrictions or highly inflated costs. And our attention negligent boyfriend’s actions, in eBooks’ case, are the lack of development of usable download processes, fair-use-friendly terms of use, and privacy options in keeping with libraries’ professional values and ethics. In short–dude…the dates are terrible and yet we keep going on them, hoping that maybe we’ll go somewhere nice eventually. Please, darling. We know better.

Too much good stuff (and more importantly accurate stuff) to quote. It’s the hard truth, or should I say the flaccid truth.

wikileakipedia

Fascinating expose about the rise and influence of Wikileaks. I find it interesting that companies are spending so much money to prevent the already preventable:

It’s a well-worn carpet. Since late 2007 every major security software vendor, from McAfee to Symantec to Trend Micro, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire companies in the so-called Data-Leak Prevention (DLP) industry—software designed to locate and tag sensitive information, and then guard against its escape at the edges of a firm’s network.

The problem: DLP doesn’t work. Data is simply created too quickly, and moved around too often, for a mere filter to catch it, says Richard Stiennon, an analyst for security consultancy IT-Harvest, in Birmingham, Mich. “For DLP to function, all the stars have to align,” he says. “This is a huge problem that can’t be stopped with a single layer of infrastructure.”

Dead horse, meet sledgehammer:

WikiLeaks’ founder, in fact, seems to have trouble accepting that Mudge is working for the other side. “He’s a clever guy, and he’s also highly ethical,” says Assange. “I suspect he would have concerns about creating a system to conceal genuine abuses.” He dismisses Cinder as just another system of digital censorship. And those systems, he says, will always fail, just as China’s Great Firewall can’t stop well-informed and determined dissident Internet users. “Censorship might work for the average person but not for highly motivated people,” Assange says. “And our people are highly motivated.”

Very similar to issue of file sharing and DRM in the movie, music, even the publishing industries: hackers, geeks and now even disgruntled employees will always be one transnational step ahead.  Who would have thought that forcing companies to be honest could be such a grassroots movement, albeit a highly dangerous and potentially lethal one.

But where it’s called transparency in the corporate world, it’s called open source for libraries, as they actually try to promote the sharing of information, whether it through the Web itself or their own repositories.  Specifically with the rise of Wikileaks, where is the library’s place in advocating information dissemination? Are we to promote access to leaked troop positions or emails detailing corrupt politicians and their corporate enablers that may potentially endanger the lives of these or peripherally connected people?

After hard thought it seems that Wikileaks is really no different than Wikipedia in principle: users, whatever their intentions, can post factual, sensitive and/or erroneous information at will. And not that either is an inherently bad/evil idea or virtual creation; it’s just that no one thought that either would be so significant in generating user interest and participation. I suppose a coming challenge for libraries and librarians is to start incorporating informational ethics into their instructional literacy sessions. Just think…we’d make a killing with the corruptible market out there…charging by the hour plus adding a fee for virtual downloads, etc. We could create our own unaccountable banking system.

strategic planning

If we could only get more weasels to do it.

“a lot of libraries are atrocious”

Let us see how many atrocities we can document below, shall we?

Can a municipal service like a library hold so central a place that it should be entrusted to a profit-driven contractor only as a last resort — and maybe not even then?

“There’s this American flag, apple pie thing about libraries,” said Frank A. Pezzanite, the outsourcing company’s chief executive. He has pledged to save $1 million a year in Santa Clarita, mainly by cutting overhead and replacing unionized employees. “Somehow they have been put in the category of a sacred organization.”

The company, known as L.S.S.I., runs 14 library systems operating 63 locations. Its basic pitch to cities is that it fixes broken libraries — more often than not by cleaning house.

“A lot of libraries are atrocious,” Mr. Pezzanite said. “Their policies are all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us, you’re going to have to work.”

The members of the Santa Clarita City Council who voted to hire L.S.S.I. acknowledge there was no immediate threat to the libraries. The council members say they want to ensure the libraries’ long-term survival in a state with increasingly shaky finances.

“A lot of libraries are atrocious.”  Hmmm, just like a lot of the fast food restaurants, thieving banks, military contractors and the corrupt governments that enable them all. Speaking from experience I see.  Secondly, where or when is it not about job security, especially in this economy? Thirdly, to imply there’s never anything to do at a public library not only tells me that Mr. Pezzanite has never bothered to step in a library much less inquire about its mission.

The fact is that public libraries are cost centers and will never play nicely with business interests.  And yes, libraries do have a sacred status; not really like the flag embossed lapel pins our glorious governmental leaders so love to wear, but more like the kind represented in the Constitution. A sacrament that’s a source of profit; you know, a commitment to that “greater good”  thing that’s completely antithetical to outsourcing companies and business in general.

libraries, stadiums, & high performance governance

Presser!

In order to bring its operating budget in line with reduced property tax revenues, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library has announced a 26 percent reduction in public service hours systemwide to take effect as of Sunday, October 3, 2010.

Based on recommendations of the bi-partisan High Performance Government Team, the reduction in hours will result in a savings of approximately $1.5 million and will allow IMCPL to achieve the goal of keeping all library branches open in 2011. The savings, however, represent only a portion of what is needed to reconcile a projected $4 million revenue shortfall as a result of property tax caps and lower-than-anticipated property tax collections. Other savings will come from various areas, including a $1 million reduction in the Library’s books and materials budget, along with reductions in such activities as printing, postage, utilities and data communications. In addition, modest revenue enhancements will result from higher fees for such items as failure to pick up holds and replacing library cards.

Now that’s High Performance governance in action! At least my restaurant money goes to building that high performance stadium that not everybody worships or uses. Prices which will increase due to higher food and beverage taxes yet again. But no sir, Indiana doesn’t have a brain drain.

consider kali

Often times it is somewhat embarrassing to encounter the mindless conception of ourselves and our profession among the uninitiated masses. Most people I encounter do not have an accurate representation of what libraries are or more importantly, what librarians do.

Part of that is our fault. Libraries serve as a refuge, and it has been out of our compassion to accept more social responsibility than to specifically limit our professional responsibilities that we do a great many things to a great many people. Typically, we are left picking up the pieces of our shattered reality before we can attempt to promote our significance.

Rather than outright say what we are for others, for that would be a really boring post, I’ve been concentrating on others’ misconceptions. Normally the first thing associated with us is some form of nostalgia commonly associated with a rural family farmhouse. A little outdated, we are represented by the elderly, matronly, meek and respected guardians of the nourishing, sacred tomes and the all-around country quiet; though not quite altogether upstairs, we however are quaint and eccentric all the same, deserving of some form of respect as well as a new coat of paint before we meet our abrupt and untimely foreclosure, mostly figuratively speaking. Sadly, our image, our stereotype is rapidly in flux and we must redefine it.

If people were to see our work more through our eyes, more would understand why we are a little off, why our conventions are typically booze filled and generally outrageous. But again, without spelling it out, I humbly present an analogy.

At the risk of sounding a bit too high and almighty or righteous I propose that in order to reclaim and expand upon our identity, we should think big and identify ourselves with the more recognizable figures, for example religious and philosophic deities. I nominate the Hindu deity Kali. The connections are simply too logical. Continuing the stately female-centric image, which as a male librarian I fully endorse, I can think of no more fitting stereotype…ahem, representation.

A symbol of death, destruction, even time, Kali first and foremost signifies the death of library patrons’ ignorance and the change that will slowly blossom from the ashes of our jarring instruction on the nature of information. We are an urgent force and need to get peoples’ attention. Kali demands attention: she’s naked, crispy, wears a necklace of bloody heads and carries swords, among other trophies.

Secondly, her image endures due mainly to her batshit rage emanating from her presence, inciting instantaneous fear in enemies. This is appropriate especially with those in the public service side of the profession, who incessantly deal with patrons trying to take our pens and staplers, deceive us out of their printing and late fees, as well as expect us to babysit their children while they’re off scoring their next fix. With a bit more of our tough instruction, people will learn to respect our professional boundaries and our wrathful knowledge.

Thirdly, she is a multitasker, as evidenced by her numerous limbs. I think nearly everyone in libraryland relates to this, though I couldn’t think of any deity possessing many emanations wearing an assortment of hats. In any case, we do a lot of different stuff, things not normally expected of us and often times without extra compensation or simple gratitude. I cite the wrath mentioned above, all things being feeding off each other and stuff.

So as a passing warning to library-goers, if you’re ever wondering why that circulation or reference librarian is looking especially pissed off, consider the Kalis among us. We are only invoking our disdain upon the complacency of the masses for their (your) benefit. We will happily destroy your ignorance with violent force by: simultaneously instructing you on OPAC searching techniques with one pointed, scarred hand, accepting your overdue fines with another clawed and outstretched palm, shushing you with a third as we hold a bloody finger to our charcoal lips before a dangling and frothy tongue, and grasping a mobile device in a final hand, tweeting your idiocy to the world as we dance upon your expired library card which we can make happen anytime we want.

So in our grand quest for identity, it may better for you dear patrons, as well as fellow librarians, to think of ourselves as such.

twitterbrarian

I’ve finally been sucked into the supermassive vortex of Twitter.  I suppose it was inevitable, but I’ve actually become intrigued by its potential, rather than simply skeptical and fearsome of the thing.  There’s a bit of a learning curve in terms of familiarizing oneself with what replies actually are, retweets, hash tags and the like, but it is an enchanting RSS type of device.

One reason I see for its popularity is how personal it can make the user feel.  Receiving updates to your device directly from types like Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself), Brent Spiner (@BrentSpiner) or Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) or whomever else you follow is beyond cool, almost as if the messages were sent with you in mind (which often can be).

Downsides can include the uberspam if you follow too many users and the certain time suck if you continually carry and monitor your device.  The main realization I’m getting is that it’s useful if you have specific people you’d like follow, but takes more effort to build a following with a consistent stream of updates.

better late than never

Apparently my country is exponentially factual:

The book returned to the New Bedford Public Library in Massachusetts this week wasn’t overdue by a week, a month or even a year. It was nearly a century overdue, and the fine came to $361.35.

“Facts I Ought to Know about the Government of My Country” was supposed to have been returned by May 10, 1910.

when you think of librarians…

Forwarded by a friend…Cat and Girl.