Ask A Librarian: setting up a WP site accessibly?

image which is itself showing a stock image with the HTML code for alt text and then arrows from it point to three different "use cases" underneath: screen readers, search engines and broken images.
Image by: Seobility – License: CC BY-SA 4.0

I was talking to a woman on Twitter about this but it was worth re-stating st length. Building in website accessibility from the get-go is much better–both in terms of hassle factor and in terms of outcomes–than bolting it on after the fact. If you’re building a small library website using WordPress, here are some resources for you. Here’s a nice starter page that talks about some considerations. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: setting up a WP site accessibly?”

Rest in Power John Lewis

When John Lewis was sixteen, in 1956, he couldn’t get a library card because the public library in Troy, Alabama was for white people only under racist segregation laws. He died yesterday, just to put a point on what “in living memory” means for people of color in the US who were denied access to library services. And in some ways, library services in the US are still unequal, whether it’s because of underfunded libraries in poorer areas, the menacing specter of police and cameras in libraries making some patrons feel unwelcome, or flat out racist behavior by library staff, boards, and other patrons. It’s on us to do the work, getting into what John Lewis called “good trouble,” to undo the harm that this legacy of racism has done to our communities.

For people who would like a little outside-the-usual reading on this topic, I’d suggest learning about the Faith Cabin Library system, set up in South Carolina and Georgia so that Black children could have access to libraries that was otherwise denied to them. I wrote that article. Someone had to.

Ask A Librarian: What is the deal with “free” ebook sites?

screenshot of a page from the bookshowing two girls looking at a computer screen which says WIN PRIZES

It’s been an odd set of months. I got busy with Drop-In Time and then very un-busy. I’ve been keeping up with my newsletter a little, and doing email Drop-in Time, public awareness stuff on various mailing lists, keeping my ear to the ground. Still acting as a Qualifying Authority for the Internet Archive’s print-disabled program which got a LOT more visible thanks to the National Emergency Library. And so it was natural that someone would ask me about this. Got any questions, feel free to drop me a note. This question was a little longer, but a brief summary is a librarian question: “patrons who were asking about “free” ebook sites, ranging from OpenLibrary to ZLibrary. Are they safe? Legal? Should we even mention them to our patrons?” My response, which comes from my very particular place…

Hey there — thanks for asking. I do know a lot of these sites and I used to work for Open Library. My feelings on this topic are kind of complex, so I’ll just outline what I know. Sorry this is long!

So there are outright “We pirate stuff’ sites like Mobilism and ZLibrary. These are places that are basically set up to pirate things and have no veneer of legality to them. I have personally used them on rare occasions but I don’t think I’d point a patron to them. They often point people to sketchy download sites where it it incredibly easy to pick up viruses and etc. Though I must note the sites themselves do not have viruses or malware to the best of my knowledge. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: What is the deal with “free” ebook sites?”

Our Library Associations

a bunch of women in victorian era dresses standing around some travelling libraries

I’ve been spending some of the wintertime outlasting the blues and making sure that Wikipedia’s got entries for every state library association. It mostly didn’t, now it mostly does. I really should have been writing this post as I went, but blogging is different from making little stubs from templates. My process was straightforward:

  • Start with a bare-bones template
  • Check library association website for an “Our History” section
  • Check old Library Journals on the Internet Archive (keyword searchable)
  • Check Hathi Trust for publications BY the association
  • Check Guidestar for incorporation information
  • Read a few newsletters
  • Upload a small version of the logo
  • Add some fun details if there are any
  • PUBLISH

I am lucky that at some point I got “auto-patrolled” status, so my Wikipedia articles don’t have to get cleared by someone before they go live. If I can use this to help you, do let me know. A few things I’ve learned along the way… Continue reading “Our Library Associations”

2019 reading list and commentary

double pile of books on my kitchen table, some of which were there this time last year.

I started 132 books this year and finished 127. New this year: a twitter thread of everything I read in 2019. I read a lot this year but that was partly because I wasn’t feeling great, so it’s a new high number, but not necessarily a cause for celebration. I try not to become too competitive with myself and my reading. However, I did really work on reading more female authors this year and I think, even though I read a lot of S. A. Corey’s Expanse series, it paid off. That said, my non-Western/POC reading is down and that needs work, I’ll be referring to this list to get some good ideas for 2020.

A few books hit my best list this year: The Library Book (of course), The Ten Thousand Doors of January, a surprise fave, and Underland, a look at the things that take place under the ground, told in a great rich style. Haven’t yet gotten to the point where I can easily track pages read, but I’d sort of like to. The booklist tweeting was a fun addition and I’ll keep that up for 2020.

Here are stats for the books that I finished.

average read per month: 10.6
average read per week: 2.4
number read in worst month: 7 (June)
number read in best month: 17 (March)
number unfinished: 5
percentage by male authors: 32%
percentage by female authors: 68%
percentage of authors of color/non-Western: 19%
fiction as percentage of total:  72%
non-fiction as percentage of total: 28%
percentage of total liked: 94%
percentage of total ambivalent: 4%
percentage of total disliked: 1%

Previous librarian.net summaries: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. The always-updated booklist, going back to 1997, lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed.