“Who are your guys?” some radical librarian resources

books are weapons in the war of ideas

cc image from Wyoming_Jackrabbit

I listen a lot to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast about comedy. He interviews pretty much everyone you’ve ever heard of in the comedy world (and some people you may not have heard of) and one of the things he always asks people are “Who are your guys?” like who did you come up with in the comedy world and who did you identify with or look up to when you got started? I recently got an email from a library school student who is an anarchist librarian wondering a similar thing basically who my guys were and what resources were out there for radical librarians. The people who were my guys when I got started are all doing different things right now, interesting things. I wanted to share an amended version of the resource list and email I sent her. These are just people in the radical librarian niche, there are a lot of other people who have influenced me in many other ways. Who are your guys?

Sandy Berman was one of my original guys. I was lucky enough to get to know him when I was a library student and was active in my local SRRT chapter.
http://www.sanfordberman.org/zine/zine1.htm

I think the work that Radical Reference is doing is important. It’s sort of distributed often crisis or demonstration-based reference services and they also do some email and other support.

http://radicalreference.info/

It’s a neat project and the takeaway for me is the idea of “just in time” reference or event-based reference especially at large events like marches and demonstrations but this could be anything really.

There used to be a much more active anarchist librarian community on a mailing list and forum

http://forums.infoshop.org/viewforum.php?f=6

I’m not sure where that bunch of people gets together, but Chuck Munson who runs that site is worthwhile to talk to.

The big takeaway is that there are a LOT of people doing this sort of work, the profession attracts folks like us.

Rory Litwin and the Library Juice Press put out a lot of worthwhile information about the more radical aspects of the profession as well as professional development opportunities.

Library Juice Press
http://libraryjuicepress.com/blog/
Library Juice Academy
http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/

The FreeGovInfo people spend a lot of time making sure that government information is available to ALL the people. It’s interesting since, well, it’s very involved with government, but making the current government we have accountable and responsible is a worthwhile goal

http://freegovinfo.info/

Other people who are doing “free the information” activities include

The Internet Archive & Open Library & Archive Team
http://archive.org
http://openlibrary.org
http://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

The Prelinger Library
http://www.prelingerlibrary.org/home/

Carl Malamud and Public Resource
https://public.resource.org/

Open CRS
https://opencrs.com/

The Social Responsibilities Round Table and the Progressive Librarians Guild
http://libr.org/srrt/
http://www.progressivelibrariansguild.org/

are both groups that take a fairly radical approach to what is a library issue and work within big organizations like the ALA to be on the record about things that matter. There’s some pushback to this, but overall I think they are worthwhile. Not everyone is an anarchist, there are varieties of left-wing thinkers (and some libertarians? I don’t know) but worthwhile to get to know and worth seeing if there are people in your area.

More recently the Occupy Libraries put an organized face on the idea of a protest library. Many places to read more, here is a current blog and wiki about the Occupy Wall Street library.

http://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/
http://olan.wikidot.com/
(not to be confused with “occupy your library“)

There are also mutual aid type societies of groups of librarians working towards a common cause without the more formalized structure of a state or national organization.

Urban Libraries Unite
http://urbanlibrariansunite.org/

Rural Libraries Unite
http://www.rurallibrariansunite.org/

Some individual librarians are people I met early on and are still continuing to do great stuff. I’m also most hesitant to mention anyone for fear I’ll leave someone out, but here are two folks

Julie Herrada
, curator of the Labadie collection
http://www.lib.umich.edu/users/jherrada
Lincoln Cushing, archival consultant, All Of Us Or None collection (among other things)
http://www.docspopuli.org/Personal.html

But at some level I think the best way to start mutual aid projects from within the library context (in my personal opinion) is to try to work FOR

- fewer limitations on content (against DRM even if you may not be able to eradicate it)
- fewer copyright restrictions and be careful about self-censoring
- access to library materials to more people including historically disadvantaged groups such as language minorities, people in prison/jail, homeless people, people with disabilities
- sharing the community resources that you hold in the widest way possible

And while I think it’s important to be upbeat, it’s also important to understand what the threats are in the community and trying to work AGAINST

- more restrictions on copyright and/or internet freedom
- people meddling in childrens’ rights to read or intellectual freedom generally
- internet filtering
- publisher’s harassment of librarians and others for telling the truth about their practices or business models
- increasing push towards rental/lease of content and away from purchasing it and the rights that first sale gives us

On government and libraries – two important things

1. Supreme Court KIRTSAENG v WILEY decision came down, supporting first sale doctrine even for copyrighted works made abroad. This is good news for Team Library. Here’s more analysis from ACRL that declares it “a total victory for libraries”

2. Now that we’ve gotten a nice little bump from the We the People petition to increase the public’s access to the results of publicly funded science research, let’s keep pushing for more access to (and funding for) government information.

Petition: Require free online permanent public access to ALL federal government information and publications.

More explanation over at FreeGovInfo.

Access to Congressional Research Service reports is important but not guaranteed

I’ve talked here before about CRS reports and how even though they’re created on the public’s dime, there’s no easy and simple way to search for and actually access them without requesting them one by one via your congresspeople. This is frustrating. Apparently, it’s not even widely known that this is not the case. Secrecy News Blog, from the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, reports that the Librarian of Congress isn’t even quite clear on this.

Members of the public enjoy unrestricted access to all reports of the Congressional Research Service, according to the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billington.

Though CRS has no direct public mission, at present the public has unfettered access to the full inventory of CRS Reports for the Congress at no cost through the office of any Member or committee,” he wrote in an April 4 letter (pdf) to Amy Bennett of Openthegovernment.org.

Unfortunately, that assertion is quite wrong. The public does not have access to the full inventory of CRS Reports. There is not even a public index of CRS reports that would enable people to request specific reports by title.

If you find this sort of thing totally fascinating, please familiarize yourself with the work that OpenCRS is doing and see if there is a way you can help them. Just look at all this good stuff. [freegovinfo]

a few things I would have emailed you about…

Hi there, I spent a chunk of my weekend selecting images from the NYPL digital valentine gallery and sending them around. Hope you had a decent weekend. I’m heading to San Francisco this week for the MaintainIT steering committee meeting. Should be an interesting time, the MaintainIT project has been an interesting one and they’ve produced some great information, but the funding cycle is ending and the big question is “What now?”

With that in mind, here are a few things I’ve been reading online over the past few days that didn’t hit escape velocity enough to merit their own post but that I thought you’d like.

  • The Future of Reading – a NYTimes article about a school librarian that doesn’t resort to the usual cliches and drives home the point that I like to make – in the age of information overload, being able to separate good information from bad is more important than ever and librarians can help you do that.
  • YANAL stands for You are Not a Lawyer – one of my favorite blogs, Freedom to Tinker talks about the difference between technology being able to introduce doubt into a legal proceeding (hey you have no idea if *I* was the one who downloaded that movie illegally) and what would happen to you if you’re even suspected (i.e. a world of hurt) so why you should understand the laws.
  • CRS Reports to the People – part 1, part 2. The Congressional Research Service writes white paper style reports for Congresspeople. These are generally not made available to the public despite being paid for with tax dollars and being incredibly useful and well-researched documents. FreeGovInfo has been agitating for them to be made publicly available as a general principle, not just continually leaked via Wikileaks or Open CRS
  • A portrait of Spencer Shaw, the first black librarian in Connecticut, who received a lifetime achievement award from the Black Caucus of ALA in 2005.
  • Freedom to Read week is next week in Canada. I like this idea of a readers’ holiday better than Banned Books Week.
  • TicTOCs a table of contents service. I was reading about this in Computers in Libraries and it’s great. RSS feeds of Tables of contents for many many journals. A great project.
  • Library phobia – my goal in my professional life is never to be the sort of librarian people are afraid of.

I’ll try to write some actual longer posts this week but I wanted you to know what I’d been reading

A few things that didn’t make it to the carnival…

There was so much good stuff in the Carnival yesterday, that I didn’t append some of my favorite links from the week, but here they are.

- Two links about Google Books. One is Scott Boren’s long piece on LISNews about full txt serching in books. What you can search and how you can search it. Great well-researched piece. The second is Julia Tryon’s contribution to FreeGovInfo concerning the amount of government information available via Google Books. Google provides no statistics. This will be part of an ongoing project she’ll be working on there, stay tuned.

When looking at the search results in Google for publisher field has GPO, I found 141,600 items, only 82,487 of which were available in the full view. And although it is nice to think that we have the full text for 82,487 documents, not all of them can be used. I randomly picked a title to see how it looked and chose the Statistical Abstract for 1954. The pages were clear enough to read easily but on every even numbered page part of the right hand column was chopped off.

- Also from FreeGovInfo comes this analysis of Google Video’s closing and what happened to all those DRMed video files that people supposedly “purchased” Please read Part I: DRM Killed the Files and also Part II: Why the Google Video story should scare you.

- Karen Schneider has been writing some great stuff lately. It’s been fun to see her getting into what I see as the more technical side of librarianing because her explanations of techie stuff are clear and free of nonsense while still being readable and engaging. Her article in Library Journal Lots of Librarians Can Keep Stuff Safe about LOCKSS and Portico really helped me understand the fairly complicated world of e-journal archiving.

- Bryan Herzog’s always-excellent blog has pulled some Reader’s Advisory suggestions off of ME-LIBS the Maine Librarie dicussion list and added his own commentary. Brian also made a custom book review search using Google’s custom search function. Very very nice. I’d love to see someone toss together a page of Google Custom Searches that were useful to librarians. Has anyone done this? I’ve already made a Custom Ego Search but that’s not the same thing.

Despite my Very Large Skepticism of Google in general, the tool itself is very easy to set up and is potentially extremely useful (especially for librarians). Basically, it lets you limit searching to a select group of websites – in this case, book review websites

e-government shunting extra work to libraries?

FreeGovInfo has this post by Chris Zamarelli about how the perception of libraries as being good places to get access to e-goverment resources is a mixed blessing for libraries who lack staffing and other resources to actually act as public information officers. The huge bummer is that this would be a great role for libaries to fill, IF library staff had better training and suitable funding to actually carry out these positions effectively.

don’t forget about the government!

My pal Chris Zamarelli from Libraryola is guest blogger over at FreeGovInfo this month! Sorry I’ve been a bit scarce, I was off talking to the Internet Archive folks about some stuff, but I’m back now.

freegovinfo second month wrap up

I wrapped up my second month blogging over at FreeGovInfo.info. It’s very challenging to blog outside of your normal area of interest, thanks for letting me help out. They’ve got a fun little project going on that combines their site and Flickr. It’s called Best. Titles. Ever! Here is the page with the titles. And here is the Flickr pool with images of the actual documents.