Consumer/librarian reviews

My favorite thing about blogs beyond the personal interactions that they afford is reading what people think about more products than I can usefully evaluate on my own. Two reviews that came through my reader lately have been true gems:

1. Mary “LibraryLaw” Minow discusses LibraryElf: My library elf – the joy and the horror
2. Sarah “Librarian in Black” Houghton tries a beta of QuestionPoint’s Flash interface: New QuestionPoint Flash Interface: LiB’s Review

Meredith “Information Wants to be Free” Farkas also does a lot of good no-nonsense reviews.

fighting poverty @ your library, or outside it

You may have seen the letter to the editor that Eli and I wrote talking about the restaurant review section of the conference issue of American Libraries. We said something to the effect that calling a place with entrees $20 and under “low priced” [with no lower option] seemed to miss the boat in terms of the budget that many librarians are working with. One of the reasons that another run for Council does not appeal to me is not only because of the cash involved in six trips in three years, but the fact that discussion of the high prices of Council participation on Council lists can be met with the response that maybe you shouldn’t be on Council until you can afford to be. Maybe they’re right and maybe they’re not, but the presumption itself raises my hackles.

That said, I’m not poor. I’ve got a job that pays, health insurance and rent that I can afford, almost no debt, and income potential from several sources. I own a house and I have a good education that, barring disaster, cements my ability to maintain these things. I have a support network in place that can help even if there is a disaster. Many other people are not so fortunate, and I work with them every day, most librarians do too. I talk about the ways that librarians can address social issues in fairly simple ways in many of my talks when I talk about the social implications of software choices. It’s a topic I bring up a lot.

A few resources that I’ve seen lately include Mary Minow’s webcast Library Services and the Homeless: A Legal Perspective with this supporting documentation from the Hunger Homelessness and Poverty Task force of SRRT Just a Little Understanding: A Social-Service Provider’s Perspective on Homeless Library Users. John from HHPTF pointed me towards this story today about the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library’s program putting computers directly into Horizon House a daytime homeless center in Indiannapolis. HHPTF blog has a bit more info.

tie-dyed librarian interviewed by mary minow

Mary Minow has a fun interview with the librarian responsible for editing and annotating the upcoming book The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics and discusses how the Dead’s policy of allowing free taping of all their shows helped the band, and also how that aesthetic does or does not translate into the world of print.

The marketing model of allowing free distribution of the music just flew in the face of all the common wisdom. In a way, the file-sharing programs that are the target of such vilification from the mainstream music business world today are the direct descendants of the Dead’s approach. That said, they have been (rightfully) quite cautious in allowing this project to go forward as a print-on-paper book.