Archive for the 'ala' Category

ALA moves towards more open library content.

Via AL Direct comes this good news press release from ALA.

“Opening up American Libraries’ searchable PDFs at is just the first step toward making all future features and columns available on the site in HTML format in 2009,” said Leonard Kniffel, editor in chief. The current issue of the print magazine will be open to all, as will back issues through 2003; they were all formerly accessible only with a member log-in. The revamped AL website will link content to the AL online forum [hot link] where readers are encouraged to express their opinions about professional issues, news and controversies.

I wonder if this means that AL Direct will be archived and linkable online? American Libraries also has their own blog where they talk more about the decision to open up more of their content.


I have to say I had no idea when I wrote my post the other day that the redesigned was going live this week. It looks pretty good, with my minor nitpick being the main page title says “ALA | ALA | Home” in my browser bookmarks which seems a little weird (titles seem borked sitewide actually). Was sort of hoping to see a “Hey it’s live!” page link with info about the transition but honestly, it’s so darned nice looking and normal looking, that seems like a minor quibble. What do you think?

Also: if you see something that is not just not to your tastes but actually broken, please be part of the solution and take the time to email the web team and let them know what happened. Every new site launch comes with a bunch of unexpected little glitches, let’s help ALA fix theirs.

where we get our information

I’m moving house this week, so I’m living out of my inbox more than usual.

I’ve been getting emails about a Library Hotline article I was quoted in, from my talk at ALA. I gave a presentation with Louise Alcorn as part of the PLA track at ALA. My talk was called “Six Things You Maybe Didn’t Know About Rural Technology” You can see the pdf as well as links to Louise’s presentations on this page, there’s some great stuff about technology for small libraries. It went well and was well-attended.

LH covered it well but they did use this one line “How many of you know that tax forms must be filed online next year? she queried the audience. Many didn’t” What I actually said was that for many libraries they must help patrons GET their tax forms online. Small misquote, no big deal. It’s even possible I misspoke. In any case, I only knew about this when I started getting emails. Often if I post something in error to I’ll get a comment about it, maybe two. In this case, I got ten emails within maybe a week or two from librarians asking me about this, and looking for more information about what they thought was a policy they hadn’t heard of. I replied that it was an error and finally wrote to Library Hotline who graciously agreed to print a correction.

This sort of thing always reminds me that in many ways large parts of our profession still rely on print-only sources for at least some of their keeping current. I know that every time I get a copy of Computers in Libraries or School Library Journal I always think “Oh hey I should write about that on” and am always sad to not find the content online and linkable.

Prvicay Revolution – Privacy Initiative

ALA has finally got a blog post up about the privacy initiative that is part of the driving force behind the panel discussion today.

Blogging the ALA Privacy Panel

I was invited to be a blogger for the Privacy: Is it Time for a Revolution? panel happening this Sunday from 1:30-3:00 in room 201D at the convention center. Speakers will be Cory Doctorow, Dan Roth from Wired, and Beth Givens, the director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. This is supposed to be a “debate” but I really sort of think it’s mostly going to be a discussion of the erosion of the idea of privacy and what librarians are or should be doing about it. I’m looking forward to hearing it all three of these speakers have years (decades?) of experience and sharp minds. Cory I know is an engaging and at times provocative speaker.

I’m assuming they got some grant money for this, because I got a very slick looking concept paper about the idea with a lot of good backgrounder information (email me if you’d like me to send you a copy) and they ponied up money for a domain: Unfortunately, the domain has been parked at GoDaddy until pretty much today, so my blogging about it is going to be minimal since I’m getting on a plane in 12 hours and will have minimal net access until sometime Friday. There is a survey there that I encourage you to take.

You can also follow their twitter stream and they will be following the Librarian Society of the World Meebo chatroom. I’ve offered to pose some questions to the panelists from people who can’t be there [i.e. you, dear readers] though I’m a little worried this is late in the game for anyone heading to ALA. In any case, if there is a privacy-and-librarians topic that you are dying to ask a question about to these panelists, please put it in the comments here and I’ll be happy to do my best. Jenny Levine is the other guest blogger so stay tuned here and there for more information about this as it comes in.

My ALA – Anaheim version

Walt says what I’d be saying if I were even at the “Hey I’m going to ALA” post yet.

See you in Anaheim? Say Hi. I’m terrible with names and still an introvert, but I’m almost always approachable and ready to chat. And if I seem to be in a hurry…that’s just the way I walk, and shouldn’t carry any deeper meaning.

I’ll be at ALA starting from Friday sometime to Sunday late or Monday sometime. I am pretty much not available for one-on-one hangout mealtime but I really like running into people and finding ways to sort of co-conference.

After cycling off of Council I swore I wouldn’t work at another ALA conference unless someone paid my way. So, I’m presenting on a panel with Louise Alcorn on Saturday and MaintainIT is footing the bill. I’m getting day passes for Saturday and Sunday (blogging a panel then) and not registering for the conference which I can get away with because I’m not technically a librarian and not an ALA member anymore. I anticipate trouble.

Anyhow, here is my schedule. Please say hi if you see me. I’ll have my cell phone on me, ping me if you’d like the number, or it’s on facebook.

- arrive LA, dinner/stay with high school pal

- get to Anaheim somehow [anyone want to give me a ride? late morning?]
- Mover & Shaker lunch maybe (unlikely actually)
- dinner with Macee from MeFi

- my panel, 10:30-12
- MetaFilter meetup
- late night facebook meetup maybe

- ALA Privacy Panel 1-3 Room 201D (I’m blogging, not participating)
- OCLC Blogger thing @ Hilton, Palisades room

- get to LAX (share a shuttle, anyone?) fly home at noon

I’m staying with Louise Alcorn at the Disneyland Hotel, lord help us. Anyone else staying there?

quickie plug for an ALA event

Hi there. I’m heading down to RILA this rainy morning but I wanted to mention for those of you who are ALA-bound and looking for activities, my pal Kim Cooper [from SaveLAPL fame] will be leading a full-day Raymond Chandler bus tour heading through Los Angeles on Tuesday July 1st. More details on the website. I’m leaving the day before otherwise this is a bus I would be on.

This tour will dig deep into Chandler’s life and his fiction in downtown Los Angeles, featuring stops at the Oviatt Building, Lady in The Lake’s Treloar Building, the Barclay Hotel (aka The Van Nuys, site of the icepick murder in The Little Sister), Bunker Hill and Union Station.

bring your favorite mug or water bottle to ALA

I’m not going to ALA. As I mentioned before, I’m not a member and Philadelphia in January is not my idea of a good time. However, I do stay in touch with many ALA-ers and Monika Antonelli brought this Task Force of the Environment Campaign “Cup by Cup for a Greener ALA” It’s very very simple

  1. Bring a reusable cup to Midwinter
  2. Fill it with a favorite beverage
  3. Raise your cup and tell colleagues how you are helping the planet
  4. Drink, repeat & support TFOE-SRRT efforts toward a sustainable ALA.

One of the things that is distressing about having these big destination events is the huge amounts of waste that are generated. Council alone prints up tons of paper documents that were already distributed electronically, many of which are recycled (hopefully) or thrown out (likely) right after the meeting.

Even conscientious librarians who might bring their meals if they were just going to work wind up buying bottled water and packaged snacks because they’re trapped in the wasteland that is vast convention centers. Spend a little bit of time beforehand this year and try to pack a travel mug, a few powerbars or some fruit, your own pen and notebook, and maybe some teabags or Emergen-C that can keep you from spending time, money and resources just keeping yourself fed, hydrated and in prime note taking shape. Enjoy yourselves.

why exactly the digital divide matters

As someone who speaks often on the digital divide and related issues, I’ve developed a pretty standard answer to the question of why the digital divide matters. It goes like this “We are a democracy. People who vote need to have access to as much reputable information as possible so they can make these and other choices. The internet is becoming an important ‘place’ to find this information. Unequal access to the internet creates unequal access to government.” The real reasoning is much deeper with examples — FEMA forms online, job applications, required email addresses for access to certain products and services — but that’s it in a nutshell. So, I’ve been dismayed at the lack of hot and botheredness about this issue that I seem to see within our profession. And it was weird to try to adjust the talking points when discussing the digital divide in a country without a democracy.

However, once in a while I see librarianship’s higher-ups really going to bat for the underdog. Recently the ALA and others submitted statements to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing, “E-Government 2.0: Improving Innovation, Collaboration, and Access” lamenting the fact that as we move towards “E-Goverment” (ugh, it’s just government, don’t call it something else because you access it via a browser, do we call it telegovernment when you call someone?) libraries are often THE access point to government information and services and yet have neither a place at the table or a hand in the creation of the tools. This amounts to an unfunded mandate at a time when libraries are already grappling with budget cuts, CIPA and the shifting profession generally.

Public libraries serve over 97 percent of the total population. There are over 9,000 library systems and over 17,000 libraries including branches. Increasingly government agencies refer individuals specifically to their local public libraries for assistance and access to the Internet for citizen-government interactions. Yet public libraries are not considered members of the E-Government team. Libraries struggle with increasingly smaller budgets and expensive ever- changing technology in order to assist thousands of Americans on a daily basis because the public relies on them.

ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom is 40 years old today

Happy Birthday OIF! I will be teaching a half-day continuing education seminar at Simmons on Intellectual Freedom and I have been digging through their extensive website for primary documentation and remembering just how extensive and excellent it is. Intellectual freedom principles were one of the major things that brought me to librarianship and THE thing responsible for my sticking with it. I am proud of the work the ALA does to support intellectual freedom, though the challenges are still coming far too quickly for my tastes and I worry about ALA’s ability to keep up with IF topics in a digital world that they still don’t seem to quite understand. One of the things I do on Wikipedia is keep the Library Bill of Rights free from soapboxing and point-of-view hectoring. It’s a tougher job than you might think.