Now that I’ve gotten back from ALA and gotten some sleep, I’ve been ruminating over privacy topics some more. The panel went well. I also read Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother on the way home — they were giving away copies at the panel — and enjoyed it quite a lot. It’s a YA just-barely-dystopian book about a terrorist-seeming event and the Bay Area lockdown that follows and how a group of tech savvy teens respond, and how others respond. It’s a good book.
During the panel, we were talking about things you’d want to keep private that you don’t necessarily need to keep secret. Sex and bathroom activities were two obvious examples. This then led to a discussion, more like hitting on a few points, about library records and how there is a difference between trashing them — so you can legitimately say “we don’t have any records to show you” — and obscuring them, say through encryption, so that the records are available to, say, patrons and yet not to librarians or, it follows, to law enforcement. I found this idea intriguing. Now that we’ve done a decent job making the point that patron library data is data that we protect, maybe we can make that protection more sophisticated so we don’t have to protect it by completely eradicating it. Maybe.
Anyhow, I got grabbed outside of the panel by Library Journal and I talked a little bit about this.
Also can I just say that Library Journal’s coverage of ALA was really engaging and worth reading this year? I haven’t been following ALA conferences in a while but I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading about this one in addition to attending it.
I read Library Journal pretty regularly. I enjoy it, the writing is often great and John Berry and I see eye to eye on a lot of things. There have been a few lousy headlines about library topics that we’ve seen in the popular media, where the library was on what I would consdier the “right” side of an issue and the headline made them look like they were not. I read the whole article on salaries called What’s an MLIS Worth (for the record, I have an MLib.) and I have to say I could not get over the fact that women in librarianship, in all parts of librarianship earn less than men.
This fact is buried about four pages into the article in a section entitles “Gender Inequity Remains” and states “While women have seen positive improvements in salaries, finally topping $40,000, their salaries continue to lag approximately 6.5% behind salaries for men.” LJ then goes on to explain that they think this is because more men work in academic and vendor-type jobs where salaries are generaly higher. It also states that women have higher starting salaries generally and do better in special libraries where their salaries are 17.6% higher than men, but this section was one of the smaller ones in terms of total population; there were only 14 men’s salaries examined (and 86 women’s). Men in public libraries, on average, earn more than women, except in Canada. Men in academic libraries, on average, earn more than women. I’m sure there are many good reasons why this “effect” exists, but I’m a little curious whether there are really just a few totally plausible explanations for this, or if librarianship despite its intelligent, introspective, feminized nature is just as bad as everyplace else with its remaining gender inequity?