(note: this idea is not mine, I am merely running with it after it was mentioned on a mailing list I am on)
In these weird times where people are very unsure who to trust and even less sure how to feel about the government, the Library Freedom Playbook should exist and doesn’t. We have a few directions where we should be highlighting the important role of libraries.
1. The library is authoritative
2. The library is safe
3. The library is also the government
The last message is tricky. Many if not most public libraries are municipal organizations. The library is for everyone in the good ways that government is supposed to be but increasingly is not. Blind hatred/fear of government can keep people from getting services they deserve. We need a nuanced message here. I am aware this is not simple.
Things like Tor are a huge deal for libraries because the libraries can do the work one time but ALL the patrons benefit. Raising awareness for libraries why this is useful is part of it (like Library Freedom Project). Giving talks that outline practical approachable solutions that aren’t overwhelming. Building plug-ins for common software like Chrome, WordPress, Firefox and common ILSes.
I remember when there was some weird post-9/11 concerns about certain publications from govdocs organizations being possibly “dangerous” and tried to recall them and then-head of Boston Public Library Bernie Margolis basically “letter of the law” complied (took them out of govdocs) but “spirit of the law” did not (put them in circulating collections). That highlights what high profile librarian actions can also
do for morale in addition to access, both of which are important parts of this.
I know people are probably pretty up on the general level of change, upheaval and consternation that are happening surrounding NYPLs big changes, most notably the changes at the Central Library but also the closure and sale of the Mid-Manhattan branch. You may not know about the closure and sale of some of the Brooklyn Public Library’s branches in which buildings are being sold and new spaces are being leased/rented to fit the library collections, programs and staff into. I know we’ve been fighting against some of the major downsides involved in leasing versus owning content, I think it’s important to think about the major downsides involved in renting rather than owning real estate. Here is some further reading about the Brooklyn plans.
I was looking for something completely different and wound up finding the Traveling Wheelchair’s four star review of the Boston Public Library and noticed they’ve reviewed a few other libraries in the Massachusetts area. Reading Kenny’s experiences in and around Boston Public Library gives you a really good idea of not just what accessibility means from a legal perspective, but how it’s perceived from a wheelchair user perspective.
EBSCO made a bold move recently claiming that libraries that offer e-cards [for accessing electronic library resources from home] are violating their licensing agreement. San Francisco Public Library has a statement on their databases page.
Special Notice Regarding E-Card Users: Due to electronic vendor licensing agreements, San Francisco Public Library must suspend issuing e-cards, effective immediately. Existing e-cardholders must validate their current address no later than April 10, 2009 in order to continue using SFPL databases and other electronic resources remotely. This validation must take place in person with appropriate identification and proof of address at any San Francisco Public Library Branch or the Main Library. The Library will continue to investigate ways of offering a revised e-card in the future. We recommend that non-San Francisco Bay Area residents check for similar electronic resources at their local public library. We apologize for the inconvenience
Boston Public Library is taking a different tack and keeping the e-card program and dropping remote access to EBSCO. Both libraries have to curtail services — and SFPL is changing their e-card policies fairly dramatically — because of this. Does anyone else see this as a shot across the bow? While I’m aware that things are tough all over, this move surprises me. Not because it may not be EBSCO legally enforcing their agreement, but because libraries with e-card options have always been offering patrons an amazing service in a way that seemed almost too good to be true. I have access to Heritage Quest with my totally free library card at the library I work at. Lucky me, but really anyone can get a card at my library — no matter where you live, no matter where you pay taxes — and get access to the same resources. I think this move, and libraries’ decisions about their responses to it, is going to be the start of a long (or depending how you look at it, continuing) struggle.
Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of the 67,000-member American Library Association, said Margolis has earned “a great deal of respect throughout the profession” and called him one of ALA’s most active members in standing up to censorship. Margolis, who grew up in Queens and New Rochelle, credits his activism to his dad, who was a fundraiser for the Anti-Defamation League. He calls reading the New Yorker magazine “part of my religious practice.”