leaving des moines

Des Moines Public Library

note: new update from Des Moines PL and the architect’s office below the fold. Short form: “it would be appropriate to change the policy”

I had a great time at the Iowa Library Association conference. I gave two talks and actually scheduled my time such that I could actually attend a few presentations as well as give some. My notes for two talks — Tiny Tech and On-the-Fly Tech Support — are online here. I saw a presentation by the new ALA OIF director about privacy in the age of social software as well as a gadgets talk where I learned more about ebooks.

I also had some time to go to the local public library. I’m often surprised that the local libraries don’t do much to acknowledge that there is a huge library conference in town. Most of the time when I go to the local public library when I’m visiting a new city, there isn’t even a “welcome librarians!” sign out. Karen Schneider [who gave a great keynote in the morning and a talk about open source later in the day] and I actually had a sort of weird experience there. We went in to the library, snapping photos as we do, and were met as we walked in by a library worker who basically asked “Are you taking pictures?” When we said that we were, she said that we weren’t allowed to take photos in the library and if we wanted to get permission to take photos we’d have to go talk to the marketing people up on the third floor.

We were just on a fly-by so we (mostly) put our cameras away. However, I was curious about the policy. I had an email exchange with the marketing director that I am reprinting here with permission. I’m not sure what to think about the whole situation. You’ll note I took a photograph or two anyhow, and I appreciated the very nice email, but it was in stark contrast to both a weird-seeming policy and a weird-seeming policy enforcement mechanism. (more…)

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.

give OCLC some feedback?

I’ve been following the OCLC policy change stuff from the position of a vaguely interested observer. My local public libraries aren’t members and aren’t affected terribly much, but of course I think the policy changes are a step in the wrong direction, a big and bold one. From a friend’s twitter stream [which I read via LiveJournal] comes this comment which I agree with.

Wow. A research company hired by OCLC seems to be unclear on the difference between a survey and a push poll.

If you haven’t given your feedback yet, even if you’re not an OCLC member, please do.

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.

Where is my jetpack and/or fast internet?

People in Nova Scotia were familiar with the issues I raised about the left-behindness of those still using dial-up. If you were on dial-up five years ago, or even two years ago, you could hope that some websites were still designed for low-bandwidth users. Now with the advent of AJAX as a way to increase responsiveness of websites, there is more code loading each time we visit a “responsive” page. Awesome for me in broadband-land, bad for my patrons up the road in dial-up town. So, what happened? How did we get here? How come we ALL can get dial-up and can’t get broadband?

Well, the reaons vary but they come down to a few key points, one of the major ones being regulations. This editorial from the New York Times — The French Connections (reg. required, sorry) — contains some heavy-handed language, but also some key truths about what is different about getting everyone on dial-up versus getting everyone on broadband.

[W]e’re lagging in new applications of the Internet that depend on high speed. France leads the world in the number of subscribers to Internet TV; the United States isn’t even in the top 10.

What happened to America’s Internet lead? Bad policy. Specifically, the United States made the same mistake in Internet policy that California made in energy policy: it forgot — or was persuaded by special interests to ignore — the reality that sometimes you can’t have effective market competition without effective regulation.

You see, the world may look flat once you’re in cyberspace — but to get there you need to go through a narrow passageway, down your phone line or down your TV cable. And if the companies controlling these passageways can behave like the robber barons of yore, levying whatever tolls they like on those who pass by, commerce suffers.

America’s Internet flourished in the dial-up era because federal regulators didn’t let that happen — they forced local phone companies to act as common carriers, allowing competing service providers to use their lines. Clinton administration officials, including Al Gore and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tried to ensure that this open competition would continue — but the telecommunications giants sabotaged their efforts, while The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page ridiculed them as people with the minds of French bureaucrats.

I’ve mentioned it before but the ONLY reason that the schools and libraries of Vermont are mostly connected is because Howard Dean (with help from the Dept, of Libraries? I’m unclear on this part) made deals with the telephone companies and cable companies eager to move in to Vermont in a favorable regulatory environment and said “you want access, you wire our schools and libraries.” The question is, how to get this sort of attention for our rural populations now that the easy money and access has been taken? [thanks susan]

librarian.net book and product review policy

More and more lately, I get books in the mail. I thought it was about time I had some sort of stated policy about this. My FAQ nonwithstanding, if you have a book you think I would like to read, feel free to drop me a line if you actually know who I am and can explain why you think I would like it. I’ve read many books I’ve gotten from colleagues and strangers alike (Tara’s Web Search Garage is the one outstanding because I keep using it) and have put reviews up on my book review page. If I discuss anything in this blog that could possibly be seen to have a “go out and buy this” implication attached to it, I will clearly state that I got a free review copy or was contacted by the author or publisher about the book, either here or in the review. Exceptions to this are “current awareness” links to things I read about on other blogs — Library Elf comes to mind — if I also hear from the publisher/company, I might neglect to mention that fact if it’s not germane to why I’m linking to it. That said, here’s my policy, such as it is, which I’ll link to the FAQ.

librarian.net review and promotions policy

  • If you would like to send me a review copy, please email me and tell me why you think I would like it. I prefer short succinct messages to copied and pasted press releases. I delete 9 out of 10 copied and pasted press releases.
  • I cannot guarantee I will read every book I get. I have read about half of the books I have gotten so far. If you do not want to send me a book unless I read/review it, please do not send it to me.
  • I have no review mechanism on any of my sites for reference works, magazines, movies, or software. Unless there is some very specific library angle — better than “librarians should buy this for their libraries” — do not send me these.
  • You can keep the promo materials that get sent with review copies, I tend not to read them. Do not put me on an announcement list. Do not add me to any mailing list without my explicit permission.
  • Reviews, if I read the book, good or bad, will be posted to my book review page, not on librarian.net. I will mention, as I usually do, where I got the book. Reviews will rarely contain links to other web sites.
  • Unless I have contributed to a book or the author is a good friend of mine, I practically never make new book announcements on these pages and I don’t intend to. I do not otherwise publicize books here except in rare cases.
  • There are “buy this book” links on my reviews pages that go to Powell’s. I receive a small associate fee if you purchase items using these links which I think is 7% of the purchase price. In the lifetime of this program, the links have brought in about a hundred bucks total. Powell’s is not the cheapest online bookstore, but they are worth supporting, in my opinion. However, please consider the library as your first option.
  • I accept no payment of any kind for anything on this site with the exception of rare specific promotions that are clearly marked, such as the “buy this bumpersticker” auction. The site is hosted for free on ibiblio’s servers and updated during non-work time using free software. If you feel the need to contribute, send me links, or a postcard and/or unused [preferably interesting] postage that I can use to send out my postcards.
  • If my rules are too rigid, or this is not what you were looking for, you may want to consider bookslut, bookzen or biblioblog.

Here are some examples of reviews of books that have been sent to me:
The Anarchist in the Library by Siva Vaidhyanathan,
The Flame Tree by Richard Lewis,
Codex by Lev Grossman.

updated 30dec07