I went to ALA for the first time in several years last week. I don’t think I’ve been to ALA since the Think Tank has been in existence. It was a great setup. Conference was in Boston. I was giving a pre-conference. Part of my deal was that I’d get registration for the conference, and one night in a fancy hotel (and some $). It worked out great. Usually, I admit, I dislike workshops. I don’t like to be in them and I barely know how to give them. However, my feelings on this are not normative, so I tried to bring my education and my experience to an afternoon workshop for about twenty people and have some useful exercises and activities as well as some good discussion. I think it went well. My main self-critique was that I had made sure I had three hours of “stuff” for a three hour workshop and maybe didn’t leave enough time for people to just talk to each other. More blank spaces next time. You can read through my slides as well as see the handouts and exercises (and the image credits) at this URL: https://www.librarian.net/talks/llama16/.
It could have been the Avengers of librarianing. All these powerhouses working together to help increase low-income childrens’ access to good reading material. But I don’t think that’s how it worked out. Here are my thoughts on last week’s press releases about this new set of programs. Written for The Message.
Arenâ€™t libraries already doing that?
This has been a heady National Library Week for many librarians I know and me in particular. There’s been a lot of online agita and, unlike the way these things usually go, some things wound up changing for the better. Here’s a list. Apologies if I link too much to facebooky stuff.
- Someone mentioned that they found Demco’s “Spanish” spine label a bit troublesome since it had a sombrero and a set of maracas (Mexican, not Spanish, and still stereotypical at that) and misspelled espaÃ±ol (without the tilde). A few people complained to Demco. Demco listened, agreed, removed the items from their online store. Not all of their multicultural labels are perfect, but it was nice to be heard.
- ALA’s Banned Books Week poster which was put in the ALA Store this week got a lot of pushback. Does the woman look like she is wearing a niqab? What’s the poster trying to communicate? Andromeda spells out well what some of the issues with the poster are. People wrote to ALA. ALA listened. Took a while to respond. Came back with a few posts from the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom
- Statement on the 2015 Banned Books Week Poster
- How Do We Design a Banned Books Campaign
- Response Concerning the 2015 Banned Books Week
I particularly found some of the crosstalk interesting about whether objecting to a marketing poster was in the same family as objecting to something being in the library collection. I know we can be a mouthy contentious bunch, but given that, some of this discussion seemed to take place on new ground and it was curious to me how much my years in the MetaFilter trenches has helped me manage these sorts of discussions.
- Daredevil is a great show on Netflix about a blind superhero which did not have any descriptive audio which many found ironic. People complained. The Accessible Netflix Project started a petition. Netflix fixed it.
- After my last post about SpaceX, I decided to expand it into an article for Medium which I did with some nice photos and a lot of linking. A few days later, Flickr actually added an option for users to have public domain and CC0 licenses on their photos. This is, to me, a HUGELY great outcome. I wrote another short article about this.
- On a more personal note, Jason Goldman wrote a post on Medium to talk about how he was going to become the new White House Chief Digital Officer. I left a comment on that article talking about how part of getting people involved in civic engagement is helping them to trust the online world (i.e. doing the opposite of everything Healthcare.gov has done). This comment got a nod in Goldman’s next article now that he’s taken office. I am very very pleased about this.
Bonus link the #journalofneutrallibrarianship hashtag is a pretty good time if you like Twitter. And I wrote a nerdy article about research and Wikipedia that I think you might enjoy if you haven’t seen me blabbing about it all over the place for the past few days.
How to lie with Wikipedia
It’s been fun being able to follow along with the ALA Midwinter conference on a bunch of different social media fronts. I was just reading the Stonewall Book Awards press release (congrats everyone) and noticed the GLBT Round Table page where I read the press release about the blood drive that happened during ALA. And it made me happy. Both because there was a blood drive but also because there was the recognition of the discriminatory nature of the decisions regarding the eligible donor pool–nearly all gay and bisexual men can’t donate blood at all–and they not only mention this in the press release but there is a panel discussing this and related issues. Nice work.
ALA and LBC (Librarians Build Communities) recognize there are many restrictions regarding blood donations. Among those is the ban on accepting blood donations from men who have had sex with another man since 1977. This effectively removes all gay and bisexual men from being eligible blood donors. However, the FDA has recently announced plans to relax the ban to allow donations by gay and bisexual men if they have not had sex with another man in the past year.
From the onset, this ban has been controversial. While the government has imposed exclusions that limit or restrict the donor pool, the ban on accepting blood donations from gay and bisexual men is deemed by many as unjustified and discriminatory, unfairly prohibiting healthy men from donating much needed, life-saving blood.
In an effort to educate the library community about the issues regarding blood donations, the ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) is sponsoring the discussion panel â€œBlood Donation: Facts, Fear, and Discrimination,â€ on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. LBC supports the GLBTRTâ€™s panel discussion and encourages ALA members to both donate blood and attend the panel discussion to be informed and have their voices heard.
Two things to mention here
1. I finally saw Desk Set. I have no idea how I not only managed not to see it before but also how I even missed the theme which is whether computers will ever really effectively (and cost-effectively) be able to do our jobs.
2. ALA is going on right now and I’m not there. Each year there is usually some sort of “Librarians, they are really great!” press release around this time which often winds up in my various mailboxes by various sources. This year it’s this one: APNewsBreak: Librarians to help with health law. Which, hey great, librarians they’re still there doing their jobs. Good for them. The thing that is so weird about this, to me, is it’s basically implying though not outright stating that librarians will be doing this work 1. officially and 2. as part of some nationwide project. Neither is true as near as I can tell. I asked over at ALA Think Tank for people to give me an update on what was happening at ALA (at this program) which further confused me.
The only real fact we got from that article is that OCLC got an IMLS grant to create training materials to help librarians do this. Today I got this press release from Meredith (thank you!) that seems to say that OCLC got $286,000 from IMLS to create training content on WebJunction to help libraries help patrons with the new heath care law. And then, amusingly as I was driving from Massachusetts to Vermont trying to find a radio station, I heard some right wing talk show radio host who was MAD that librarians were going to have a part in the “indoctrination” by the “regime” that was doing the health care stuff. Sheesh.
In summary: librarians are still doing their jobs. OCLC/WebJunction are getting money to (maybe) help us to do them, lots of people get the wrong idea about libraries’ role in helping the people who have been digitally divided.