RIP Allen Smith, librarian and farrier

A very nice obit about Allen Smith, Simmons library school professor.

Allen was a fan of Webster’s Second (the second edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary, published in 1934), bow ties, motorcycles, and sailing. He abhorred exclamation points (one quote I have written in my notes from his class reads “If you were born before 1960, you have three exclamation points to use in your life; if born after 1960, you have six, because of inflation”).

a few quick talks from this weekend

I went down to Massachusetts to do a few short talks. They were all very different and most were somewhat reworked versions of talks I’ve done before. I also went to a MetaFilter meetup and had BLTs with Casey. Thanks to everyone who hosted me while I was down in MA. Here are links to the presentations I did.

Now I’m back to a week of teaching adult education classes and ripping plastic off the windows which I am sure will bring about a new ice age.

Digital Divide event at Simmons, Monday April 7th

If you’re in the Boston area on Monday you might be interested in the Digital Divide panel and discussion happening at Simmons College at 3 pm. I’ll be there talking about the rural digital divide along with two other panelists — Susan O’Connor and Pat Oyler — who will be discussing urban and international digital divide issues. It’s open to the public and if you haven’t been to the Simmons campus lately it’s worth a look.

Plug: Intellectual freedom: Fundamentals and Current Events

Just a quick note, I am teaching a one-day continuing education class at Simmons’ Mount Holyoke campus on Sunday afternoon, March 30th. The topic is Intellectual Freedom, basically providing the foundations of the idea and then going over current topic type issues that we’ve seen in libraryland lately. Here’s the official description. If you’re in need of CE credits or just want a refresher, feel free to sign up.

The importance of intellectual freedom is a cornerstone of modern librarianship in the US, and yet for many people is only understood as an abstract idea. This workshop will cover the foundations of intellectual freedom in American librarianship and provide concrete examples of how the concept applies to today’s library environment.

We will look at the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and state library privacy laws as well as legislation which abridges the freedoms of library workers and library users. We will discuss the thorny issues that arise when intellectual freedom principles conflict with local practices and cultures and ways to unpack and address those issues. Social software and its implications for intellectual freedom in libraries will be another facet we will address. Participants will gain an understanding of ALA’s work laying down the foundation for intellectual freedom and leave with concrete examples of IF in action in today’s libraries.

Simmons Skillshare report – nice work team!

Yesterday I went to the Simmons College GSLIS Skillshare. I was down in Boston anyhow, so scooting to this event was not difficult and was a lot of fun. Here is the wiki they did for the event. I can show you the two skillshares I went to — with my friend Jessica The Cool LibrarianLiteracy and Services to Underserved Populations (reading list, syllabus and links list online), and Digital Information Services and Providers. Both presentations were done by students who really knew what they were talking about, and were interesting and well-received. I think Jessica and I were the only non-students at the skillshares. The keynote was a joint talk by Jenna Freedman and Eric Goldhagen. Jenna talked about the Radical Reference project (ppt) and Eric gave a talk on Open Source software for librarians (ppt). Then there was a nice vegan lunch by the folks at Veggie Planet.

This sort of event is a great way to get students some presentation experience before they have to sink or swim in front of a room of people at a conference or students in a classroom. The fact that everyone was in a classroom setting with (mostly) their peers made it more of a teaching situation and less of a presenting-type deal. I was particularly happy to learn that people in library school are still giving their attention to underserved populations as well as they were, and Jessica and I had some real-world examples that seemed like good complements to the outlines the presenters were giving. For a first event, this skillshare seemed wildly successful and my only personal regret — besides the lack of free ambient wifi — was that more librarians from the area didn’t attend; it was a really good time. Congrats to ASIS&T and PLG for a well-orchestrated event.

Boston Event: Simmons GSLIS Skill Share 16sep06

The first Simmons College GSLIS skill share will be held on Saturday September 16th from 10 am to 4 pm. Co-sponsored by local chapters of the unlikely bedfellows the American Society for Information Science & Technology and the Progressive Librarians Guild, the event is free and will feature workshops taught by Simmmons students as well as a keynote by my friends Jenna and Eric from Radical Reference. It looks sort of great. See you there?

hi – 22apr

Hi and happy Earth Day. I’ll be heading down to Boston to speak at Simmons this Monday evening and then I think I’ll extend my stay to see Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikepedia, speak at Harvard Tuesday evening. I’ve been delving more and more into the Wikipedia world lately, lending a hand updating some of the Vermont town pages and uploading some public domain images to illustrate some of those pages.

The debate we’ve seen happening over the authority, or lack thereof, of collaborative information systems such as Wikipedia is just scratching the surface of the debates we’ll be seeing in the years to come. Librarians ignore Wikipedia, and by extension the new face of information, at their peril. Keep in mind I’m not saying that we all have to run to the Internet to answer our questions, just that if we fail to see the impact these systems are having, and the openness and transparency they bring with them, then we fail to learn something crucial about the downsides to the inflexible authority of print. Downsides that people have been living with and taking as a given all these years, and now may no longer have to.