Archive for the 'libraries' Category

Reimagining the public library – a makerspace option

I missed the original article when it came out on Make: Is It Time to Rebuild & Retool Public Libraries and Make “TechShops” but have to say, this idea has me complately jazzed. I’ve often wondered how we could take our spaces and go from a place where people get access to information to getting access to tools so that they can become makers, people who can build things from scratch and not just have to take vendors and dealers’ words for what is possible. And of course this concept comes up against the same old issue “Freedom of the press is for those who own one” These tools, the tools to build tools, are often expensive, especially for one person to own. Maybe there’s a way we could share our tools and spaces…?

Fayetteville Free Library [NY] is taking steps to make that sort of thing happen in their space, an old building that used to be an old furniture factory. They have space, and some grant money, and a few people who really want to make it happen. I’m excited to see where this goes. I’ve always thought that the digital divide wasn’t just where everyone had access to broadband, or a computer, but where everyone had a social community space that was for learning about and using technology. The library is sort of that–it’s totally that in some places–but now the technology is changing. Free printers? How about a 3D printer?

Open Library – Making inroads and headway in all 50 states

I regularly trot out Open Library as an example of both a project that is nice and library like while also being attractive and usable and, at the same time, pushing the envelope of “how to be a library” in ways that are dignifying to both patrons and librarians alike. I was delighted to read this article about the results of a recent meeting where ALL state librarians voted unanimously to form an alliance with the Internt Archive’s Open Library project.

[Oregon state librarian] Scheppke said this allows libraries the chance to envision digitizing everything in their collection, from books about local history to works by local authors.

“If that doesn’t happen who knows when those books will become ebooks, maybe never,” Scheppke said. “That’s what really appeals to the state libarians; it’s a solution we haven’t had up until now to have a much more complete ebook collection,” he said.

The People’s Library is the collective, public, open library of the Occupy Wall Street leaderless resistance movement.

There’s a lot going on in the news lately. It’s a busy time of year. Several people have sent me this image over facebook and elsewhere. What people may not know is that there is a library at Occupy Wall Street and one at Occupy San Francisco. And possibly more. Like many other temporary autonomous libraries, details are distributed and not always accurate. I suggest, for interested folks, keep an eye on the People’s Library blog (specifically this call for librarians if you want to get involved and these library ground practices) and get in touch with the folks from Radical Reference tonight if you’re in NYC. If anyone knows of either Occupy Ann Arbor or Occupy Milwaukee have libraries, please drop me a note. I’ll be on the road for a little bit.

Librarians: have Robert Dawson over for tea

Thanks to Library Bazaar, I now know about the Kickstarter project of Robert Dawson who is traveling the country taking photos of libraries. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a way to crowdsource fundraising for creative-type projects. I’ve supported a few things including the GET LAMP text adventure documentary and a recent MC Frontalot video. If Dawson is coming to your town, or even near it, I’d suggest giving him a call.

“And it’s free,” San Francisco Public Library in its own words, and pictures


Terrific long illustration of a day in the life of SFPL, by Wendy McNaughton.

Public libraries: the most ubiquitous of all American institutions

Still getting back to my routine after having a great time at both MLA and CLA. Will post lsides and comments later, but for a morning pick-me-up, read this article in praise of public libraries. You will enjoy it.

In 1872, the right to know led the Worcester Massachusetts Public Library to open its doors on Sunday. Many viewed that as sacrilege. Head librarian Samuel Green calmly responded that a library intended to serve the public could do so only if it were accessible when the public could use it. Six day, 60-hour workweeks meant that if libraries were to serve the majority of the community they must be open on Sundays. Referring to those who might not spend their Sundays at worship Green impishly added, “If they are not going to save their souls in the church they should improve their minds in the library.”

privacy and library data: email, IPs and &c.

I’ve been reading with interest the news stories lately about Epsilon. For those of you who don’t know Epsilon is a company that does marketing. Many companies give Epsilon customer lists and Epsilon uses that information to, say, email you about the latest Hilton Honors promotions. Except that there was a data breach and Epsilon lost up to 250 million email addresses along with information such as who those people were customers of. So, for example, they’d have my email address and the knowledge that I was a Hilton Honors member. So, a lot of people got emails in the last mont from companies saying “Um, be especially on the lookout for phishing attacks” and a lot of people were asking “Why did Epsilon have my email address in the first place, didn’t I sign a privacy policy with Company X?” And the answer is complicated. When you let Hilton Honors use your information to send you marketing information you are, in a way, letting them give the email address to marketing companies.

The reason I care about this at all is two reasons. One, there is a useful analog with libraries and how they handle their email lists of patrons. Obviously patron data is private and comes under whatever privacy laws a state has and whatever policies the library has. But is a library allowed to market to patrons? Or give these lists to peopl to market on the library’s behalf? This was the concern when the public library in Dixon California emailed patrons to let them know about ongoing library renovation plans and asked them to consider making donations. People who are not pleased with the library renovations, the Dixon Carnegie Library Preservation Society, is arguing that the librarian acted improperly when they gave patron email addresses to a consulting company without patron consent. Now let me just state I pretty well side with the library on this one, but it’s sure to be an increasingly contentious topic as libraries have more and more diffrent kinds of patron data to keep private.

And the second reson is just a cautionary tale. Many people with iphones are aware by now that the phone tracks where you go. I mean it has to in order to be a phone, but it stores this data in unencrypted form on both the phone and the synced compueter, forever. This means that anyone with access to a simple open source tool such as this one can make lovely maps like the one above. Good to know, and good to understand. As libraries move more towards mobile applications and mobile awareness generally, understanding how this sort of data works will be an important part of making sure we know how, when and why to keep it private.

National Library Week, from Texas

I was in Texas this past week, again. I was attending possibly my favorite library conference, TXLA. Part of the deal I worked out as a speaker was that I would be registered for the entire conference so that I could go to other panels and talks and events. I did. I also took in a lot of Austin sights, saw a bunch of people, participated in a rally and gave a pretty good talk. My inbox filled up with links for National Library Week while I was away and only paying partial attention to my email. I’ll make another post about the conference specifically, but these are the links that I wanted to pass around, late though they may be.

What is my hot librarian fantasy? THIS is my hot librarian fantasy.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain why augmented reality apps might be useful in a library setting. Until now. QR codes, and an app that tells you when your books are out of order. Rowr.

Library Journal: Libraries who are altering their relationship with HarperCollins

Interesting to look at the various ways libraries are reacting in policy fashion to the HarperCollins “You can have 26 checkouts at this price” decision. Library Journal has a recent round-up.