Norm Horrocks died last week and I’ve been thinking about him all week. When I told my boyfriend about Norm’s passing, he asked “Is that the guy you introduced me to who yelled ‘Yoo hoo’ at us from the golf cart at PLA?” and I said it was. Norm, always eager to make people feel happy and welcome, had spotted me and wanted to make sure I spotted him. He made quite an impression.
I first met Norm when I was serving on ALA Council where he took me aside and assured me that it wasn’t as confusing as it looked and that I could make valuable contributions there. I was lucky to get to spend time with him at the Nova Scotia Library Association conference in Antigonish a few years ago, where he gave me a Dalhousie pin to wear and we reflected on how much we both loved Nova Scotia. Norm could always make you feel like you were integral to the profession and that he was the profession’s smooth and dashing liason to you personally.
Every time I’d run into Norm at library functions, he was a delight and brightened my day. He was charming and cultured which made a great backdrop for his goofy jokes and wry asides. He deeply cared about libraries, library associations and especially librarians. He seemed to make it his personal mission to be an emmisary for librarianship, to make sure newer librarians had a good “user experience” within the profession.
At the same time as he was charming us all, he was doing the work. His background includes a stint in British Army intelligence the director of Dalhousie University’s library school and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006. Reading through people’s blog posts about him (1, 2, 3, 4), you can’t help but be struck by the warmth, generosity and kindness that Norm passed to to every single person he interacted with.
People are leaving rememberances of Norm at ALA Connect, CLA Toolbox, and this wikispaces page. ALISE has set up a slideshow. Donations can be made to the Dalhousie-Horrocks National Leadership Fund in Norm’s memory if you are so inclined. As one of the blog commenters said on one of the many memorial posts “He was the best of us” and he will be deeply missed.
One of my favorite conferences is the October Conference put on by Dartmouth’s Biomedical Libraries. I went once as an attendee several years ago and this time I went as the opening speaker [I said “Please don’t call it the keynote, that’s pressure!”]. The conference idea is simple: share things that are working for you at your library. It’s a one day affair with ample coffee, snacks and lunch, reasonably priced and wraps up early enough so that you can be home by dinner, no matter where in New England you’re from. Talks are all 30 or 15 minutes and go quickly. None of the topics are “biomedical libraries” in nature, at all. Most of the librarians in attendance are academic, I’m pretty sure.
I did a talk on location awareness which was 100% new [I didn’t even repurpose any old crowd-pleaser images] and talked about what’s coming down the pike in terms of mobile stuff — how HTML5 is going to change the idea of “apps” for a lot of people, what some companies and libraries are doing, why people find this fun. It was called The Mayor of Everywhere Using Social Tools to Be More Places at Once and uses my now-old-timey-seeming HTML slides. Scroll to the end and click “printable” to read the talk as I gave it. It was well-received.
You can benefit from this conference even if you weren’t there because everyone’s slides are online in PDF form. Here’s the website for the conference. If you didn’t go this year, you should try to go next year.
Fair Use poster image by Timothy Vollmer
The Library of Congress just released its 181 page report “The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age” talking about the challenges of digitally archiving sound recording. BoingBoing gives a nice summary “[T]he copyright laws that the recording industry demanded are so onerous that libraries inevitably have to choose whether to be law-breakers or whether to abandon their duty to preserve and archive audio.” More analysis from OSNews.
And if anyone’s wondering where I’ve been this week, the answer is “Mired in getting copyright permissions for the intellectual property in my book. Thanks for asking.” I have a pretty firm grasp of Fair Use and have been trying to follow the guidelines for Fair Use in Media Literacy Education. I signed a book contract that specifically says that I am responsible for assuring that my materials are being used with permission. Despite this, my publisher (who I am quite fond of otherwise) is risk-averse and wants to make sure I have permission anyhow. Permission that I assert that I don’t need for small screenshots of, say, Google search results or an ALA nested menu.
This gets even more confusing when some of the organizations involved claim that I need permission when I don’t. Since Fair Use, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, is mostly something that gets hammered out through litigation there is no strict set of guidelines as to what Fair Use is. So, big companies with a lot to lose err on the side of compliance with other big companies’ requests, requests that may be extralegal. So Google can’t legally tell you to only use the public domain offerings from Google Books (which they admit) but they make a polite request, a polite request that sounds a lot like a terms of service.
So right now I’m waiting to hear back from Facebook after filling out a form on their website asking for permission to use a screenshot. They say it will take 1-2 weeks. I am confident that my screenshot is fair use. My editor also thinks it is fair use. However they’re not willing to risk it. And so we wait.
I read this short essay in the NYTimes magazine section. A little slice of life of a prison librarian, soon to be part of an upcoming book called “Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian” Enjoyed the anecdote and yet, oddly, felt weird about seeing the titles of the books listed. Old habits die hard.
Libraries are full of hints to lifeâ€™s great puzzles. For the mystery of which recently released, 5-foot-10 or so Latino man still owed two books, the prison library offered a name, and the two books he owed: â€œIntroduction to Astrologyâ€ and â€œThe Astrology of Human Relationships.â€ But regarding the mystery of what he discovered in his study of the cosmos, the prison library was completely silent.
Library student Joshua Kitlas interviewed LoC reference librarian Thomas Mann for one of his classes at Syracuse. I am a Mann Fan, so it was fun to get to read this.
“The profession is radically getting dumbed down. There is so much more to search than Google or OCLC. You need to see relationships between subjects and their headings. Tags by users are simply no substitute. Theyâ€™re okay as supplements to controlled vocabularies–but not substitutes. Thereâ€™s a need to go beyond the internet and look at the systems librarians and publishers have developed that are not accessible by Google or the other engines.”