Before I forget, I’ve actually started a Tiny Letter, also called TILT though it’s a bit more essay-ish than these posts. Subscribe if you like this sort of thing in your inbox. Infrequent messages, well-designed and lovingly delivered.
Been thinking about the workplace a little this week. Here’s my top five.
- This isn’t about libraries but it’s a thing many librarians should read. Why it’s better for a workplace to avoid a toxic employee over hiring a superstar. The Harvard Business Review lays it out. We in libraries all know it, but this is science to support our many feels.
- I really wish the DPLA would mix up their front page a little but I did learn about their new Source Sets from our local Vermont contact when I was at VLA. Curated primary source documents with teaching guides and links to more information. Here’s one on the food stamp program in the US.
- Stanford University Libraries puts out a useful annual Copyright Reminder document for faculty and staff. Their new one is out and outlines key copyright issues for 2016.
- Being dedicated to accessibility should also include knowing how to find useful things for our patrons that our libraries may not have. With this in mind, it’s worth making you aware of PornHub’s launch of described audio of their most popular videos. You can find it by searching for the “narrated” tag. An earlier web project called PornfortheBlind.org is still online as well.
- Very exited to see the results of the IMLS funding to help the Indigenous Digital Archive get up and running. You can follow their Twitter account to stay abreast of developments.
“The Department of Justice wants to broaden the authority of the Americans with Disabilities Act in regard to the Internet and specifically websites. Today is the final day for public comment on that proposal. Meanwhile, new data has emerged that shows far fewer people with disabilities using the Internet than people without. ”
Disabled folks have less internet access than non-disabled people. The access they do have is often more challenging because of poorly-understood or -implemented website accessibility features. I encourage you to comment, especially if you work in a publicly-funded library. Direct link to the proposed changes: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities and Public Accommodations
I don’t have a Kindle. That said, I accept the inevitability of the idea that more and more of our reading content is going to be delivered digitally. That’s why I think it’s important to understand these tools even if they offer limited utility for us or our patrons at the time. The Kindle has “accessibility” features built into it that allow a book to be read out loud via the Kindle. This is great news — and probably also legally necessary — for people with various reading disabilities ranging from visual disabilities to text-based learning disabilities. However, the Kindle also allows publishers to remotely disable text-to-speech (TTS) options in books that you may already have on your Kindle. And publishers are doing this, a little, at the urging of the Authors Guild.
The Authors Guild, for their part, has issued this statement about the situation which, on first reading, does make a certain amount of sense. As a librarian I’m more concerned about the overarching issues of digital rights management and the notion that even though you’ve nominally purchased a book (perhaps at a loss for Amazon) you still have an item that is, in part, controlled by its creator who can alter the item according to the license terms you agreed to. A little more about this on Slashdot.
Good news, the ALA Midwinter website now has ALT tags for all of their image-based navigation. Thanks to Stephanie Hoerner for making the changes necessary to make this page accessible. Apparently the two emails that I sent asking about this were never received but someone read about my comments on this site and dropped a note to someone who could fix the problem.
I have been reading a lot of books about accessible design lately. This started around the time that I got sent this story about the National Library for the Blind in Norway and some of the design flaws that make it very hard for the visually disabled to get into, much less use. The Vermont Technical College has a lot of these books on access. Sadly, I am one of the only people to have checked them out in the last decade. As an aside, I think at this point I would have a very hard time going back to a library where they didn’t have datestamps in the back of the book. I think libraries keeping circulation info “secret” — not on purpose, but by ILS system design — is a decline in information-sharing with patrons, and a shame. Here are the books I have read, with links to my reviews.
Beautiful Barrier Free
Access by Design
Design for Dignity: Studies in Accessibility
And, of course, let’s remember how to make our web sites accessible. Jacob Nielsen has come out with lists of top ten web design mistakes as well as top ten weblog design mistakes. Check to see if you make any of these mistakes. I recently wrote a note to ALA’s webmaster commenting on the lack of ALT or title tags on the ALA Midwinter Meeting page. It’s a nice looking page, but information is imparted through lots of graphics, with no alternate navigation. Usually there is a set of text links at the bottom of the page if they use images for navigation. This is what someone viewing the page with a text-only browser would see. I cannot stress enough: this is the conference information page for the largest library association in the world. If we can’t follow our own rules about accessibility, how can we expect others to?