Dear ALA, how is that new website going?

A colleague of mine works for one of the companies invited to go to Chicago to present their proposal to ALA for the content management system for new ALA website. Since travelling to Chicago on their own dime in June, they haven’t head a word from ALA. I’ve heard, informally, that the field has been narrowed to two, possibly one candidate. It’s too bad that formally the other candidates haven’t heard anything. Especially bad, since they have blogs and can express their displeasure online. From the school of “I don’t know what Library 2.0 is exactly, but I know it when I see it” this sort of quick widely-distributable feedback is part of it, and that’s the good news and the bad news for some libraries. Please read An Open Letter to ALA. update: apparently Openflows has now heard from ALA. This post had nothing to do with that.

while you were midwintering….

Hi. I’m back and very tired. Midwinter went fairly well from my perspective. Council meetings seemed effective. I got to see most of the people i tried to see and had some nice serendipitous meetings with others. My company was part usual suspects and part people I’d never met before including a healthy dose of library students. I learned things. I took a lot of public transportation in an unfamiliar city. I stayed within my budget and I got home feeling smarter than when I left. I have a stack of paperwork that I’d like to share parts of with you but it will need to wait until the weekend.

In the meantime, while we were all at the meeting, this happened “City stalls FBI access in library” referring to the librarian at the Newton Free Library in Massachusetts who wouldn’t let FBI agents in to search library computers without a warrant after there had been emailed threats directed towards Brandeis University sent from one of the library computers. According to an article in the Boston Herald, this was done with the mayor’s knowledge and backing but everyone seems set to blame the librarian anyhow. This was a big enough news items to be the butt of a lot of jokes on talk radio by the time I was driving home from the airport. I’m just starting to read about this story, but correct me if I’m wrong, couldn’t the agents have just asked for the data on the computers, using the USA PATRIOT Act as their legal justification? This seems like a case where they were reluctant to for some reason. The Boston Globe article on the subject says this

[B]y the time a warrant became an issue, law enforcement officials had determined there was no imminent danger and decided to cooperate with Newton officials, Marcinkiewicz said. She said no arrests had been made as of yesterday afternoon. [emphasis mine]

National PATRIOT Act call-in Day

It’s a bit of a stunt, but ALA Council is doing a National [USA] PATRIOT Act call-in day at 10 am CST today. All Councilors are going to turn on their cell phones and call their legislators to ask them to

  1. Include language in Section 215 to require a statement of fact linking the person whose records are sought to a terrorism investigation.
  2. Include language to allow a Section 215 recipient to post a meaningful challenge to the FISA court order.
  3. Include language allowing a section 505 recipieint to post a meaningful challenge to a National Security Letter.

Of course, when I’ve been calling my representative, I’ve been going beyond this and expressing grave reservations about Section 215 specifically and other parts of the USA APTRIOT Act generally (specifically concerning wiretaps and electronic communication generally), but this language appears designed to be something that everyone on Council can get behind. So, if you’re free in a few hours, go find your representative and pick up the phone.