Banned Books Week 2011, a web content rundown

It’s time for my semi-regular round up of Banned Books Week websites. You can look at past posts on this topic by checking out the bannedbooksweek tag here or here is a list of the annual posts More on the Chicago Defender.
Here are my old Banned Books Weeks posts: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. I skipped 2005.

As usual, you get a neat real-time look at what’s going on by following the Twitter hashtag. As usual there are two “main” sites the ALA site at ala.org/bbooks and the bannedbooksweek.org site. ALA has their usual site, links to shopping, links to the main site (which is a 404, oops), links to advocacy materials. They decided to do a virtual read-out instead of an in-person event and I’ve been clicking through some of the YouTube videos on the BBW channel. All the stuff I’ve seen so far seems like it would be what we call SFW [safe for work] and I’m vaguely curious if there could be something so racy that you’d get one of those “You have to be 14 to see this video” warnings up because, hey, that’s its own form of limiting speech. But I think that stuff is only for photos of people in their underwear, or maybe self-reported. The Banned Books Week main site has been up and down today and seems to mostly be pointing to the same stuff. They have a Twitter account but have never used it. The design gets better every year.

Here is the list of organizations who are co-sponsors. Let’s look at their websites.

There is also the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress who endorses Banned Books Week (though no link on their site?) as well as a few organizations who have signed on as sponsors

So I’d cautiously call this an improvement over last year. More coordinated programming, better talking between sites. I’m still looking for a good Banned Books Week Twitter list [i.e. with the sponsors] and if I don’t see one I guess I’ll make one. I’ve been enjoying the YouTube videos. My own tastes this year go to ebooks and thinking about, with the additional layer of middlemen in the ebook world of buying, licensing and lending, what it really means to be banned or censored an an ebook universe. Look for a post about pirates later in the week.

Happy Valentine’s Day to librarians everywhere

I like Valentine’s Day. I always have, whether I’m in a relationship or not. It’s one of those holidays that I try to temper my enthusiasm for because it seems so… dopey or something. My local library just started a “why I love the library” campaign with the paper hearts, just in time for town meeting day which is in a few weeks. Here are a few more library/valentine cross-over links.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

world usability day is tomorrow

If you’re into the whole usability idea — and more and more our interfaces to technology are all we have when interacting wiht the goods, services and government in our lives — then you might like to know that World Usability Day is tomorrow. I’ll noodle around a bit looking at my own websites and I suggest that you and your libraries do the same.

Technology should enhance our lives, not add to our stress or cause danger through poor design or poor quality. It is our duty to ensure that this technology is effective, efficient, satisfying and reliable, and that it is usable by all people. This is particularly important for people with disabilities, because technology can enhance their lives, letting them fully participate in work, social and civic experiences. Human error is a misnomer. Technology should be developed knowing that human beings have certain limitations. Human error will occur if technology is not both easy-to-use and easy-to-understand. We need to reduce human error that results from bad design.

do you make stuff? library stuff?

Since my bank receipt today came with holly berries on it, I figure it’s time to start the holiday sidebar.

I’m not much of a shopper, but I’m aware that I am not particularly normal in this regard. So, similar to last year I’ll have a sidebar on librarian.net illustrating particularly excellent things that mike make good gifts for librarians. Feel free to add your own in the comments. Last year I got both of my parents woodblock prints from David Bull — a guy I know from MetaFilter — and am particpating in his affiliate program this year. I also have a pair of miniature book earrings from ShoeString press that are pretty nifty. Every year at MetaFilter we do a listing of shops run by MeFites, if there are librarian.net readers that have wares to hock, please feel free to drop me a note or put a comment below.

work like a patron day – october 15

I’m at work today, not at the library but at the pool. The pool always goes through a lot of soul searching deciding whether to be open on minor holidays like US Columbus Day. The big rift is this: it’s a holiday so lifeguards and building managers would like a holiday. It’s also a holiday so the people who would be swimming have the day off and might want to use the pool. It’s pretty hard to make the right choice. If you’re closed, people will say they wanted to be there. If you’re open and no one shows up, your staff gets bored and annoyed.

The same thing happens with libraries, in a big way. Here in Vermont pretty much every library is closed on Sundays. This is nice for the librarian who wants to work mostly M-F but bad for the patron with regular work hours who would like to get to the library. I do admit that I applied for a library job in Vermont at one point and balked at the mandatory Sunday evening hours.

This is all my way of leading up to Brian Herzog’s Work Like a Patron Day which you may recognize seems similar to a few of Ryan Deschamps’ zero-tech 2.0 no brainers. The basic idea is to try to take your librarian hat off and see how your library feels to someone who uses all the public services and utilities — bathroom, computers, web interface, etc — and see if you get the same vibe off of it as you do as a staff member. Brian has demarcated October 15 — six months after National Library Week — as WLAP day and has some more information on the Library Success wiki. Try it out and see what you think.

Thanks to…

December is the wrap-up month around here. I’m still holding out hope that my booklist will gain another item or two, but I know I’m not doing any more public speaking in 2007 so I thought I’d do a wrap up and talk a little bit about behind the scenes stuff at librarian.net inc.

First of all, thanks to all the organizations that hosted me in 2007. This includes state and regional library associations like NELA, VLA, NSLA, NEASIS&T, ACURIL, ILN, LocLib and LARC. It also includes library systems that I came to do talks and workshops for, such as the University of Michigan, Halifax public libraries, Dodge City and Manhattan KS public libraries, a small group of New Hampshire libraries, and the State Library of South Australia. Lastly, I went to a few tech conferences like Computers in Libraries and Access 2007. Please forgive me for not linking to all of them, you can find more details as always on my Past Talks page. Some of these talks were paid gigs, some were gratis and allowed me to travel, some were supporting my local organizations, and some were all about spreading my ideas far and wide. Thanks to all these groups of librarians, technologists, administrators, and students for helping spread the word, whatever the word happens to be. Thanks to my day job for giving me the flexibility to do this much travelling.

One of the things that is challenging about my job teaching technology classes and working with local libraries is that the job pays terribly and it’s very very local. This means that I work with people who rely on me to use my big network to bring new ideas in and also to spread their stories and challenges to the larger world. I’m happy to get a chance to do that, and joyful that I’ve found a niche where I can be both local and global. Doing public speaking helps pay the bills a little but also allows me to do travelling that I could never do on my little local budget.

I also feel incredibly fortunate that for someone as technologically interested as I am I’ve been able to find an additional job really making a lot of my 2.0 interests live and breathe on the web. Being a community moderator at MetaFilter has been a full-time real paying job for me this year. Not only have I gotten to see Ask MetaFilter, our Q and A part of the site, become even more popular than the original linkblog part of the site, but I’ve also seen many librarians join and help people with their questions. I maintain a “last five questions on AskMe” sidebar to the web version of librarian.net, check it out if you’re interested.

With the site owner and two other employees, we’ve been able to use a lot of social tools to help people connect and share interests and get to know each other. This year alone we’ve added twitter, flickr and last.fm feeds to user profile pages, created an “also on” feature so that users can find MeFites on other social sites, and made our tagging system much more robust with the addition of a concerted backtagging effort. We’ve created resources that I’ve mentioned here such as the ReadMe wiki page for reading suggestions, the EatMe wiki page for food and cooking suggestions and a ShopMe section where users buying holiday gifts are encouraged to patronize the online shops of other MeFites.

I’m aware that a lot of this may just seem like frippery. However, I’ve spent a lot of time this year in between trips, in my Vermont fortress of solitude, thinking about what people want out of life and what I want out of life and how libraries do or do not meet those needs. Out here, I go to libraries for work and to get books and movies, but also to see people and have people see me. There’s a sense in which we don’t entirely exist, to me, unless our presence in the world has an impact, however small or however fleeting. Thursday I went to staff my usual drop-in time at the computer lab. My only student that day was a regular attendee who hadn’t been around in a while. She had been in my email class and I had helped her get her first email account. Her son, about my age, committed suicide in November. She had been home with her husband receiving a steady flow of well-wishers and co-grievers and casseroles. She was tired and she was sad but she wanted to leave the house and do something “normal” where people wouldn’t be clutching her arm saying “I’m SO sorry!” I had heard the news but hadn’t known what to say and as a result said nothing.

I’ve been dealing with my own melancholy thoughts lately and I haven’t had a lot of free cycles for other people, to my regret. So she came by, and we turned on the computer, and then just sat and talked in the lab for a few hours while the screen saver blinked at us. I think we both walked out the door feeling marginally better about our lives and the impending Wall of Holidays that I find difficult even in the very best of years.

So, thanks to you for reading this and for doing what you do, whatever you do, as well. Peace to you in the new year.