ALA’s press release about ALA Connect and their blog announcement. ALA Connect itself. You don’t have to be a member. I signed up just to check out the user experience. They required me to have a username that includes my first and last name (i.e. different from every other username I have on the entire Internet, and that’s saying something) so you can find me there as: jess amyn.
As a non-member I’m limited to what I can do. I can tell you something I can do: figure out the first and last name of every ALA member, their work affiliation and what their level of ALA involvement is. It’s a little complicated, but I’m somewhat surprised that this is even possible. I can see a lot of people’s photos. People who might be surprised that their names and photos are up on a site that anyone can belong to. You know me, I’m a big social networker and my name address and phone number are all over everywhere, so I may be worrying for no good reason. Do people care if everyone knows that they’re a member of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (hey, I made that graphic, back in 1997!), perhaps not. It’s certainly useful to me as a non-member to find people I might want to ask about certain things and a ton easier than searching the website. Go see what you think.
ACRL is in Seattle next week and the Radical Reference people are planning a preconference unconference on March 12th? Interested? Look for more information on the facebook group and the wiki. [related grouchy tweet about ACRL web page]
Librarians at my town library — Kimball Library in Randolph Vermont — win the Paul Howard award for Courage. I wish I could say I had anything to do with any of this, but I was away at ALA while all of this was going down. This award is good news. Just yesterday at town meeting the head of our our library trustees had to defend the decisions that the library made during that difficult time whch included the fact that the library received an apology from the police for their illegal request of the library’s public computers. Meanwhile, the library has to reduce hours due to decreased funding.
I’m aware that accessing someone’s conference planner is not the same level of hackery as stealing their credit cards or breaking into their email account. However, I would just like to say that having an event planner where the password is not only the same for every user (until it’s changed) but also printed right there on the web page, turns the whole idea of having a password or any sort of security into a big joke. How do we teach librarians what good technology looks like if this is how we make them interact with us? For the record, using just the ALA Staff list, I was able to log in to someone else’s event planner in under a minute. The vendors get their password in an email, not much better.
I went to this page from Nicole’s post (I’m not going to the conference) just to see if it was really true that the page claims it is “best viewed in IE” which is yet another “tech don’t” in the world of 2008 browsers so much so that it calls into question all the rest of the site.
I don’t belong to ALA anymore. I did my time, paid my dues, donated a lot of service time to the organization and tried to be gentle and patient as they steered a big organization through the minefield of technological change. The Event Planner has been an outsourced, broken and insecure tool since they started using it. I’d like to see ALA do better, but my optimism that this will happen is flagging.
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.