What about the UCLA taser incident? Morgan wonders why we didn’t hear more about it on the blogosphere. I know that I was waiting for not just the inevitable ass-covering by the University Police, but also some sort of response from someone within the UCLA library system. I figured it would be decent to give them a chance to say something — perhaps along the lines of the Salon article that Morgan links to “I don’t like to see patrons tazed but in this case I think the campus police handled this correctly.” or perhaps something more sympathetic to the man who was tasered by campus police. But they said nothing, nothing that I could find. I was still waiting by the time I read Leslie’s letter, and Morgan’s post.
I was proud of Leslie Burger’s open letter to the UCLA Chancellor. In general I have been happy with some of the gutsy letters she’s written on behalf of libraries. There is a certain disconnect that happens when libraries have an opportunity to go on record about something that includes the larger institution that they are a part of. UCLA decides that the case is closed. What is the library’s role, or the role of library staffers, to comment on the events that occurred, events that were by all accounts the results of non-compliance with a library policy?
This seems like a nice way for librarians and Google to work together. Leslie Burger, ALA President, blogs on the Google blog about Banned Books Week.
Now blah blah blah whatever about Banned Books Week. I’ve made my opinion clear on this topic before. I think it should be called Buy Banned Books Week like any good shopping holiday, and there should be another whole week to talk about the nefarious spate of book challenges and what the real problems are that are causing this sort of thing in our public libraries and schools. Just because the books aren’t banned doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. On the other hand, having Google have a special Banned Books portal to highlight banned or challenged books through the ages is sort of cool and a nice ALA/Google partnership.
Of course searching for some of the books does a “library catalog search” which uses the terribly-imperfect still-beta Worldcatlibraries search which still shows me a “ready to buy?” link to Amazon.com before showing me if the book is in a library near me. Looks like there is a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird at Dartmouth… in the next state… where I don’t have a card. Remember folks, there are all sorts of ways to inhibit access to materials. Challenging and banning is one of them. Complicated and confusing software is another.
Jenny has reprinted parts of Leslie Burger’s inauguration speech on her site. It’s pretty “go go change!” but if you’ve ever spent any time with Leslie you’ll know that her enthusiasm is infectious.
Build a culture that encourages and rewards change. Encourage your staff to take some risks. Offer rewards for new/different ways of doing things. If they turn out be better, great! If not, recognize, appreciate and learn from the effort. Be relentless about promoting the changes you want to see. Good example: The library that encourages staff to keep track of how many times they say no and figures out how to turn no into yes.
I’m in New Orleans and arrived safe and sound depsite the same travel problems that everyone else seemed to have. I’m in the Council information session listening to Leslie Burger talk about (I might say “defend”) her Library Corps idea which I have mentioned before in these pages. It was interesting to see some people’s responses to it, and her responses to them. I should be blogging for the PLA Blog on and off over the next few days.
Two notable posts for people even a little involved in ALA.
- Leslie Burger reports on the situation in New Orleans, now just a few months before the annual conference scheduled to be there. As someone who went to Toronto during the SARS scare and enjoyed the lack of super-crowding (great for me, not so great for exhibitors) it will be interesting to see what this conference brings. And, on a related note, how nice is it to read a first hand report of what things look like down there that isn’t all press-releasey and absent any real information? This is the sort of things blogs are good at. This puts a compassionate and approachable face on ALA.
You can’t stay away from New Orleans. You must witness first hand the destruction of nature and the failure of government to take care of its people. It is an American tragedy and who better to bear witness and tell the story than librarians. These people need our help, they need our money, they need our support. Now more than ever before you have a reason to attend an ALA conference.
- Speaking of, my friend Michael Golrick is floating the idea of a Bloggers Roundtable at ALA. All we’d need is a hundred people and I don’t think this is much of a stretch. I’ve been a member of the Social Responsibilities Round Table on and off since I first started being involved in professional associations and it was a great way for me to learn about ALA and professional involvement generally from a position where I felt like I was among friends, or at least colleagues with similar interests. The New Members Round Table serves this purpose for a lot of library students, but I bet a Bloggers Roundtable would serve a similar function. One of the things that has always surprised me is how much I feel like I have in common with other bloggers in the library world — even ones that have different jobs, different outlooks and different approaches than I do — and how collegial I feel with many of them. The blogger get-togethers that happen at conferences are often the high point of these conferences for me.