prison library confidentiality

I read this short essay in the NYTimes magazine section. A little slice of life of a prison librarian, soon to be part of an upcoming book called “Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian” Enjoyed the anecdote and yet, oddly, felt weird about seeing the titles of the books listed. Old habits die hard.

Libraries are full of hints to life’s great puzzles. For the mystery of which recently released, 5-foot-10 or so Latino man still owed two books, the prison library offered a name, and the two books he owed: “Introduction to Astrology” and “The Astrology of Human Relationships.” But regarding the mystery of what he discovered in his study of the cosmos, the prison library was completely silent.

Why is my Dad talking to me about the public library?

My Dad never goes to the public library. He buys his own books and is a little… fussy about public spaces. That said, when I go to visit him we talk about library issues because they’re interesting to me and he’s a techie and always curious how libraries seem to have gotten so much so wrong. He did talk to me about two library news items that I found interesting. One was the I Love My Librarian award winners which my Dad read about in the New York Times. The other was the Chelmsford High School Library’s Learning Commons project — which he read about in the Boston Globe — which provided an (incorrect) opening to say “Hey, my friend Brian is a librarian there! He has a blog!” I then got to prattle on about their town-wide history project which I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while. So, there it is, get your library in the paper get the retiree crowd curious about you.

Baghdad Day to Day: Librarian’s Journal

The New York Times discusses the day to day activities of Saad Eskander, the director of Iraq’s National Library and Archive in Baghdad, as detailed on his blog at the British Library.

In mid-January, he published a chart on the impact of sectarian violence on his staff for just the month of December. It included 4 assassinations of employees and 2 kidnappings, 66 murders of staff members’ relatives, 58 death threats and 51 displacements.

The newest entries, posted on Thursday, take readers through Wednesday, Jan. 31. Dr. Eskander writes that the week started off quietly: Most of the staff couldn’t get to work because of blockades and military checkpoints.

TimesSelect and institutional access

The NYTimes new Times Select service requires a fee for online access to op-eds, editorials and other online content. Home delivery subscribers get access to this content for free. Of course, I live far enough away that home delivery is not an option for me. So I inquired to see if I were a librarian, at a small library, [which I sort of am] if my patrons could use Times Select via my subscription. Answer: no. The same is true if you are a student at a university and get it delivered to your dorm. Of course librarians know that you can get access to the “select” content via Lexis Nexis anyhow, right? Princeton is at least one library lobbying the New York Times to allow some sort of access to content for Institutional subscribers. Perhaps your library should be another?

[Princeton's] Firestone Library has already contacted the newspaper to determine if institutional access rates might be established for the Princeton campus, said Kevin Barry, head of the Social Science Reference Center.

“It is our intention to lobby hard for an educational institution arrangement,” he said. “I expect that our concern over how TimesSelect restrictions have upset daily patterns of reading key features and opinion pieces is shared by most academic libraries. I hope that those of us who represent the library and its community can prevail successfully upon The New York Times to find a way of opening up the website fully to institutional subscribers.”

Great, read in the park!

If you’re in New York City this weekend you might want to check out the Great Read In The Park on Sunday all day. It’s apparently a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the NYTimes best-seller list and the proceeds benefit libraries and schools in New York. Clearly they’ve got some big marketing bucks behind them. I like the idea of a Gently Used, Greatly Loved Book Sale.