end of the week links

There was a while during which I’d pretty much only blog on Fridays. MetaFilter was a little more relaxed, I was catching up on things, I usually wasn’t working. The downside was that a lot of people weren’t reading many blogs on Fridays, so anything timely sort of seemed to fll between the cracks. Of course if I know it’s timely I want, Twitter and facebook have me covered. And yet, I really like having a blog. I like longer form explanations. I like telling you why I think something is intersting or special, more than just saying WANT. Anyhow, here are some links that didn’t fit in over the week. Certainly more than odds and ends, all of them worth a longer read.

  • Sarah Houghton-Jan talks about what it’s like to live with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Not just an interesting outline of what it’s like to have a misdiagnosed disease for a long time, but also what it’s like to live with chronic pain and a busy life. Many interesting notes in the comments as well.
  • Kevin Kelly writes about The Triumph of the Default. I’ve mentioned similar things before. It’s surprising to me how many novice computer users have no understanding that all software comes with a bunch of pre-set configuration options, all of which have a default setting, a setting that was chosen by someone who makes software. In many cases, these defaults affect our impression of how usable a piece of software is. Remember when the talking paperclip was the default help option for MS Word? Defaults are cultural choices, and most people don’t change them. we should learn more about them, as librarians, and think about our own presets (browser home pages, anyone?)
  • Seattle Public Library is implementing some new charges including overdue fines for ESL materials and a whopping $5 fee for ILLs. Some interesting data in the article including “7 percent of library cardholders are responsible for roughly 45 percent of the hold requests” No official mention on SPLs website yet. You can read the complete policy changes in this PDF document.
  • In another cost-cutting move, the state of Vermont is no longer going to be paying for our “branded” access to Webjunction. As near as I can tell, we still have access to all the same content, with the exception of continuing education classes, prompting me to wonder what exactly we were paying so much money for. The Continuing Ed discussion forums haven’t had a post made since November 2008.

update: Jenny synthesizes some discussion about conferences & registration fees

Jenny posts a follow-up to her earlier post about organization membership and guest speakers and conference registration fees and the weird relationship between them. A few of us were trying to do some damage control on the Council list where it became clear that people were misunderstanding the issues, either accidentally or because of a radically different worldview than some of the rest of us. I’ve been asking friends of mine in other professional organizations and it’s become clear to me that some organizations have similar policies, many do not, and most people who don’t have just a flat-out “it’s an honor to be invited to speak and you should expect nothing in return.” seem to be surprised that exceptions weren’t made for Michael and Jenny not because of who they are but just because of their extentuating circumstances [not attenting the conference, paying all expenses in Michael's case, etc.] and peoples’ ability to be flexible about things like this. update: Meridith makes a very compelling “librarians should not be martyrs” point with plenty of stats to back up her vision of a more just professional association.

The Case for Privatizing Public Libraries

This is not my perspective at all, however I don’t think it’s tough to see where these people are coming from. I’m not sure if the linking to fee-based database articles locked behind a password entry page is intentional [see links under the words "been scandalous"] but it has an inadvertent side effect of driving home the opposing viewpoint: we learn and understand through free exchange of information. What that exchange is limited through fees, accessibility, or censorship, we all learn a little less. [thanks steven]