on the authority of source material

One of the purposes of librarians is to help refer people to authoritative sources. When the bulk of “sources” were printed books, we could usually be assured that the editors and publishers performed a large amount of the vetting for us, and often reviewers and the opinions of other librarians or professionals would fill in the blanks in the cases of problems or questions. Online and/or open source versions of reference sources — which can change on the fly, and lack many of the markings we traditionally associate with authority — have become a new question mark in the world of librarianship, addressing the question “what is an authoritative source?” Jessica has been going over this on her scratchpad lately, most recently discussing this experiment in which deliberate misinformation was put into Wikipedia to see if it stayed. Upshot? The changes were replaced within hours. Does this prove that the Wikipedia is authoritative? Not necessarily, but it’s one more data point explaining how the system works to people that aren’t familiar with it, and one more data point to use with naysayers who think that having a resource be freely editable means that by definition it can’t also be authoritative.

maybe ALA just needs a minister of public blogs?

Karen shares her opinions about what ALA could be doing better with their web site, and with technology cluefulness in general. Her idea sounds like it might even be able to be implemented before the end of the year.

ALA just needs to be aware of and post to the existing meta-blogs. They need a Minister of Public Blogs to post, read, and interact with the blogging community (and maybe, just maybe maintain a blog). Then again, if we want to get big-picture about it, ALA needs to get clueful and a little lighter on their feet about new technologies. Not everything needs an Action Plan and a Vision Statement and a Matrix, plus a spring conference with the usual suited suspects jostling for eminence on something they barely understand.
Posted in ala

wifi in practice

As far as my unofficial survey of libraries using WiFi, I only got a few responses. Most libraries said they disable their WiFi when the building itself isn’t open, citing security and bandwidth concerns. A few just leave their access point open and said they don’t care who is using it. A few have patron-only authentication. Some are part of campus-wide systems where the library is one of many nodes and they do nothing particular as “the library” as opposed to part of the WiFi network. It’s a whole new paradigm. Along those same lines, here’s a column about things to consider when securing WiFI in a public library