Library Accessibility – What You Need to Know

The Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies has created a series of tipsheets to assist librarians in different sorts of libraries in dealing with and understanding accessibility issues. They’re short, easy to understand, come with references and cover a wide range of topics.

missing ALA this year

I sort of have a “How can I miss you if you won’t go away” feeling about ALA most years. I went when I was a councilor. I went when it was near me. I went when I was speaking at it. This time, none of these things were true and I was still a little exhausted from ALA Anaheim last year where my credit card number was skimmed and I had to drive an hour to get a decent restaurant. This year ALA is sounding fun, from the reports. ALA is always a better time when it’s in Chicago. More of the staffers can go and more people are used to the location and can get decent hotel rooms and the weather isn’t horrible. At least that’s been my experience. My work travel this month is going to consist of a trip to New Orleans next week [another popular ALA summer venue] for MetaFilter’s Tenth Anniversary where I will be paid to drink beer and eat alligator and wear a catchy t-shirt. Here are a few links I’ve been seeing about what I feel I’ve been missing at ALA.

It’s just like being there, only I’m still in my pajamas, and I slept til 11.

I feel that I should mention ALA Connect

ALA’s press release about ALA Connect and their blog announcement. ALA Connect itself. You don’t have to be a member. I signed up just to check out the user experience. They required me to have a username that includes my first and last name (i.e. different from every other username I have on the entire Internet, and that’s saying something) so you can find me there as: jess amyn.

As a non-member I’m limited to what I can do. I can tell you something I can do: figure out the first and last name of every ALA member, their work affiliation and what their level of ALA involvement is. It’s a little complicated, but I’m somewhat surprised that this is even possible. I can see a lot of people’s photos. People who might be surprised that their names and photos are up on a site that anyone can belong to. You know me, I’m a big social networker and my name address and phone number are all over everywhere, so I may be worrying for no good reason. Do people care if everyone knows that they’re a member of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (hey, I made that graphic, back in 1997!), perhaps not. It’s certainly useful to me as a non-member to find people I might want to ask about certain things and a ton easier than searching the website. Go see what you think.

what does a google policy fellow do?

I thought the Google Policy Fellowship was going to be for people studying Google policy, not people studying policy and funded by Google. In any case, many congrats Sarah Roberts, hope you enjoy your summer at ALA’s Washington Office.

going to ACRL? Got time for a preconference unconference?

ACRL is in Seattle next week and the Radical Reference people are planning a preconference unconference on March 12th? Interested? Look for more information on the facebook group and the wiki. [related grouchy tweet about ACRL web page]

My local library gets an award!

Librarians at my town library — Kimball Library in Randolph Vermont — win the Paul Howard award for Courage. I wish I could say I had anything to do with any of this, but I was away at ALA while all of this was going down. This award is good news. Just yesterday at town meeting the head of our our library trustees had to defend the decisions that the library made during that difficult time whch included the fact that the library received an apology from the police for their illegal request of the library’s public computers. Meanwhile, the library has to reduce hours due to decreased funding.

Google’s book people talk to librarians at Midwinter

Library Journal has a thorough article reporting on the panel on the Google Books settlement that happened at Midwinter.

Mitch Freedman, past president of ALA, wondered about changes to the “free to all” ideology of libraries, asking whether Google would permit, as do other databases, site licenses for public libraries. [Google's Dan] Clancy said that, given the consumer market, there was no agreement on remote access, but that could change down the road. “Authors and publishers were not comfortable with remote access.” While Freedman said that issue was resolved with database publishers, Clancy responded that those publishers don’t have a model aimed at consumers. He noted that “the challenge of selling into this market is not Google’s core competence,” so consortial discounts are authorized in the agreement.

How long do you forgive bad tech? What do you do next?

I’m aware that accessing someone’s conference planner is not the same level of hackery as stealing their credit cards or breaking into their email account. However, I would just like to say that having an event planner where the password is not only the same for every user (until it’s changed) but also printed right there on the web page, turns the whole idea of having a password or any sort of security into a big joke. How do we teach librarians what good technology looks like if this is how we make them interact with us? For the record, using just the ALA Staff list, I was able to log in to someone else’s event planner in under a minute. The vendors get their password in an email, not much better.

I went to this page from Nicole’s post (I’m not going to the conference) just to see if it was really true that the page claims it is “best viewed in IE” which is yet another “tech don’t” in the world of 2008 browsers so much so that it calls into question all the rest of the site.

I don’t belong to ALA anymore. I did my time, paid my dues, donated a lot of service time to the organization and tried to be gentle and patient as they steered a big organization through the minefield of technological change. The Event Planner has been an outsourced, broken and insecure tool since they started using it. I’d like to see ALA do better, but my optimism that this will happen is flagging.

ALA’s Emily Sheketoff talks about library issues for the new administration

Emily Sheketoff is one of my favorite ALA employees to listen to. She always comes across as intelligent, sane and someone who has a deep and broad grasp of library issues in this new millenium including library technology issues. Here is a thirty minute interview with her on C-Span that aired a few weeks ago in which she talks abotu what some of the upcoming challenges will be for both libraries and the incoming administration in the coming years. I suggest you watch the entire thing.

Library stimulus request is not a bailout

Dear Tom Jackson, when economic times get hard, people use libraries more, not less. ALA’s request for stimulus money from Congress at a time when “73 percent of all libraries nationwide provide the only free Internet access in their communities” is not at all the same as bailing out the big three US auto manufacturers. It would be great if we could unite as a country and set priorities so that, yes, urgent medical care for children was possibly higher on Congress’s “what to fund” list than library’s electric bills but our economy doesn’t work that way. Access to good information is as important, if not more important, than it was six months ago and libraries provide critical services for these tough times. Sincerely, a rural librarian [thanks nicolette]