December 18, 2014
The American Library Association has increasingly received feedback from members saying that it’s unclear how to get involved. Over the past couple of years the association has made an effort to deal with this problem by setting up what are called Virtual Town Halls and Kitchen Table Conversations, which are opportunities for members to share their ideas. ALA is now expanding on this with a new feature on the website at ala.org/engage/. This webpage is helpful, because it does indeed provide pathways for engagement with ALA. However, there is a larger problem at the root of people’s sense that the association doesn’t offer well-defined pathways in, and that is in the fact that over the years it has become less of an association of librarians and more a business serving librarians.
Membership dues presently make up 15 to 20 percent of ALA revenues, as compared to 100% in the first days of the association. (Net profits from publishing activities are greater than revenues from membership dues today.) Years ago, ALA published the ALA Bulletin, which was a monthly report on ALA’s activities that all members received. Today the publication that goes to all members is American Libraries, which is a general magazine similar to Library Journal that reports on the library scene. Speaking only for myself, my copy of American Libraries goes straight into the trash each month, because it is basically a dumbed-down version of what I can already find on the web concerning libraries. The ALA publication I do read on a monthly basis is ALA Executive Director Keith Fiels’ “Monthly Report to Council and the Executive Board,” which, thankfully, ends up getting distributed to a discussion list that I subscribe to. December’s report is 26 pages long, and tells me a few details about what different parts of the association have been up to.
Aside from the impossible, which would be to completely reorient ALA as a professional association as opposed to a business serving the profession, I have one recommendation for ALA to help engage members. That is first to completely drop American Libraries, because it serves no useful purpose any longer, and to replace it with a new ALA Bulletin, whose function would be to take the same information that is in the Executive Director’s “Monthly Report” and share it with all ALA members. Come to think of it, this information deserves to be fleshed out for a wider readership, so that the items in the latest 26-page report, for example, could be expanded to fill out a 90-page bulletin. This would go a very long way to making members feel included in what is rightfully their own association, that is, an association that is constituted by members rather than a separate entity serving members. Some of what is in the “Monthly Report” are summaries of the activities of ALA’s offices, but most of it involves the work of various committees that are made up of active members. Most members have no awareness of these committees, or even much awareness of what ALA does.
Although the new “engage” page is useful, it still has an “ALA and you” feel to it, where it should really tell members, “ALA is you,” and should provide its pathways to engagement based on that assumption. But the first step to engaging members is to include members by informing them better. There is no reason the information in the “Monthly Report” should be for Council and the Executive Board only, and not for the membership.
December 12, 2014
I don’t often post news about programs happening at ALA conferences, since most people reading this won’t be attending, but this one is kind of flying under the radar, especially from the point of view of people in SRRT, so it deserves highlighting. It is called The Social Justice Collaboratorium: Illuminating Pathways between Social Justice Issues and LIS. It’s being put together by the ALA Spectrum Doctoral Fellows in conjunction with ALISE. It is primarily about an online project for sharing information about social justice work being done by academics and practitioners. Here is more info:
The Social Justice Collaboratorium: Illuminating Pathways between Social Justice Issues and LIS
December 8, 2014
More “right-sizing” bullshit.
Barnard faculty frustrated by plans to remove 40,000 books from library
Barnard’s faculty and staff claim they were shut out of the decision-making process for the new library, which faculty say also led to the resignation of the Dean of Barnard Library and Information Services Lisa Norberg.
Administrators outlined the plan for the new Teaching and Learning Center, which includes removing 40,000 books from Barnard’s on-site collections and moving research librarians to cubicles rather than offices, at a Dec. 2 faculty meeting, according to faculty and library staff present at the meeting.
December 6, 2014
Inland Editions is a new publisher out of London that is particularly interested in libraries. They are preparing to publish their first book, which appears to be a beautifully designed art book primarily about library architecture. It’s called Bookspace, and they are running a Kickstarter campaign to fund its production. That seems a little bit hinky to me if they are a commercial publisher, but okay, they need capital because it appears to be a book that will be expensive to produce. The expected publication date is February 2015, coming right up. Inland Editions also has a blog that focuses on libraries and is quite different from the usual library-related fare, as they are not librarians but artists and intellectuals of various stripes.
December 5, 2014
As former editors and writers for The New Republic, we write to express our dismay and sorrow at its destruction in all but name.
From its founding in 1914, The New Republic has been the flagship and forum of American liberalism. Its reporting and commentary on politics, society, and arts and letters have nurtured a broad liberal spirit in our national life.
The magazine’s present owner and managers claim they are giving it new relevance while remaining true to its century-old mission. Instead, they seem determined to strip it of the intellectual, literary, and political commitments that have been its essence and meaning. Their pronouncements suggest that they hold those commitments in contempt.
The New Republic cannot be merely a “brand.” It has never been and cannot be a “media company” that markets “content.” Its essays, criticism, reportage, and poetry are not “product.” It is not, or not primarily, a business. It is a voice, even a cause. It has lasted through numerous transformations of the “media landscape”—transformations that, far from rendering its work obsolete, have made that work ever more valuable.
The New Republic is a kind of public trust. That is something all its previous owners and publishers understood and respected. The legacy has now been trashed, the trust violated.
It is a sad irony that at this perilous moment, with a reactionary variant of conservatism in the ascendancy, liberalism’s central journal should be scuttled with flagrant and frivolous abandon. The promise of American life has been dealt a lamentable blow.
Peter Beinart (Editor)
Sidney Blumenthal (Senior editor)
Jonathan Chait (Senior editor)
David Grann (Senior editor)
David Greenberg (Acting editor)
Hendrik Hertzberg (Editor)
Ann Hulbert (Senior editor)
Robert Kuttner (Economics editor)
Robert B. Reich (Contributing editor)
Jeffrey Rosen (Legal editor)
Peter Scoblic (Executive editor)
Evan Smith (Deputy editor)
Joan Stapleton Tooley (Publisher)
Paul Starr (Contributing editor)
Ronald Steel (Contributing editor)
Andrew Sullivan (Editor)
Margaret Talbot (Deputy editor)
Dorothy Wickenden (Executive editor)
Sean Wilentz (Contributing editor)
December 3, 2014
Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award: Call for Papers
The Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award is presented by the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association annually to recognize the best essay written in English on library history. The award is named in honor of the distinguished nineteenth-century librarian, historian, and bibliographer who was also ALA’s first president. It consists of a certificate and a $500 cash award, as well as an invitation to have the winner’s essay considered for publication in Information & Culture: A Journal of History. If the winning essay is accepted for publication, additional revisions may be required.
Manuscripts submitted should not be previously published, previously submitted for publication, or under consideration for publication or another award. To be considered, essays should embody original historical research on a significant topic in library history, be based on primary sources whenever possible, and use good English composition and superior style. The Library History Round Table is particularly interested in works that place the subject within its broader historical, social, cultural, and political context and make interdisciplinary connections with print culture and information studies. Essays should be organized in a form similar to that of articles published in Information & Culture: A Journal of History, with footnotes, spelling and punctuation conforming to the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. Papers should not exceed thirty-five typewritten, double-spaced pages (plus footnotes and bibliography).
Submissions and Selection
Applicants must send five copies of the manuscript or submit electronically. The name and other information identifying the author should appear only on a separate cover letter. Applications must be received by January 31, 2015. Receipt will be confirmed with four business days.
Submit manuscripts to:
LHRT: Justin Winsor Award Committee
Office for Research and Statistics
American Library Association
50 East Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
or send files electronically to:
with Subject line: LHRT: Justin Winsor Award Committee
December 2, 2014
Special issue: Radical Archives
Deadline: April 15, 2015
“Radical archives” and “radical archiving” are concepts that continue to gain currency among archivists, artists and cultural theorists alike, but to date, discussions of “radical archives” and “radical archiving” often appear to rest on an assumed rather than articulated understanding of what these concepts mean. For this special issue of Archive Journal (scheduled for Fall 2015), we seek essays (3000 to 5000 words), reviews, and/or interviews (text, image, audio and video formats welcome) that address one or more of the following questions with the aim of bringing greater clarity to the “radical” in discussions of archives and archiving:
– What do we mean when we talk about “radical archives” and “radical archiving”? Does the “radical” point to a specific politic, to types of content, or to a set of practices that challenge archival standards?
– How might we define “radical content” and “radical practice” in relation to archives?
– Are radical practices necessarily opposed to archival standards?
– To what extent are archival standards responsive to change? Why do cultural theorists’ accounts of archives so often rest on the assumption that archives are by definition resistant to change? Is there an investment in understanding archives as sites of inflexibility and stagnation?
– Is radical content (e.g., the archives of activist collectives, social movements, or avant-garde artists) best served by practices that eschew archival standards? What are the short and long-term consequences of such decisions?
– How might community-based archives support the work of institutional collections and vice-versa? Furthermore, what questions, anxieties and/or possibilities are opened up when we begin to think about preservation across these spaces?
– What, in fact, do we mean by “archives”? For many outside of libraries and institutional archives, the term has come simply to mean a collection of “curated” materials. How do we talk about “radical archives” without a shared understanding of what an archive is, or of what it signifies for different types of practitioners and theorists?
– How might the work of cultural theorists with investments in radical, activist and queer archives benefit from a deeper engagement with the practices, discourses and perspectives of working archivists, and vice versa?
Please send submissions to guest editors Lisa Darms (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kate Eichorn (email@example.com) by April 15, 2015. Proposals should include a brief (200-word) professional biography. An open access, peer-reviewed journal, Archive Journal seeks content that speaks to its diverse audience that includes librarians, scholars, archivists, technologists, and students.
Emily Drabinski, co-organizer of the recent Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies Colloquium at the University of Toronto, has done a nice writeup about the event for the Metropolitan New York Library Council:
DECIDING WHAT GOES WHERE AND WHY: GENDER STUDIES AND LIBRARIANSHIP
By Emily Drabinski, Coordinator of Library Instruction, Long Island University, Brooklyn
At its heart, our work in libraries is about finding a place for everything, and putting everything in its place. We usually think of this as work for the greater good, and it is: without ordering mechanisms like the Dewey Decimal System, cutter numbers, Library of Congress call numbers, and linked data, users would have to chance upon relevant materials and build archives anew every time, all by themselves. We need librarians! But the responsibility for organizing collections also reflects the power to determine how materials fit into these schemas. Someone—and that someone is us—gets to decide what goes where, and why.
Around 100 librarians, archivists, and information studies scholars gathered at the University of Toronto this past October to explore these issues. Organized by Library Juice Press/Litwin Books, the Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies Colloquium (#gsisc14) addressed a number of broad themes: queer theory and information organization, affect theory and archives, gender and sexuality in the library classroom and at the reference desk, pornography in library and archival collections, and intersections of gender, race, and class in the profession.
December 1, 2014
Call for Papers
IFLA Reference and Information Services Section
Theme: Reference as Service and Place
11-13 August 2015
University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
Reference and Information Services Section
IFLA’s theme for the 2015 congress in Cape Town is “Dynamic Libraries: Access, Development and Transformation” and the Reference and Information Services Section is pleased to announce our satellite meeting building on this theme. Our chosen theme, “Reference as Service and Place,” recognizes the dynamic changes in library and information services, including reference services, while also acknowledging the still-relevant role of traditional and low-tech reference services and interactions.
IFLA notes that this congress theme aims to “strengthen democracy on a continent where libraries need to connect with civil society to demonstrate the value they add in eradicating poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and ignorance with special emphasis on early childhood development, youth services, women’s health and local economic development.” Our satellite meeting, to be held at the University of Botswana in Gaborone from August 11-13, invites paper proposals that address the ways in which reference and information services can help connect libraries to civil societies, promote local and indigenous knowledge, culture, and development, and address the education, training, and practice of librarians and library staff. We especially seek papers on the following sub-themes.
November 26, 2014
Our users may be pleased to know that we’ve just done a server upgrade. We’ve been challenged recently to accommodate increased traffic at Library Juice Academy and on this blog, but now we should be good. In case you’re curious, here is what we are now running:
Intel Xeon processors, two of them
Both running at 3.1 GHz
300GB disk space
Running linux and apache
This should hold us over for a while…
November 25, 2014
by Nathaniel Enright
“People always clap for the wrong things.”
— J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Award ceremonies have hit the headlines in recent days. Whilst Ursula Le Guin was honoured with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (Arons 2014) and widely celebrated for her acceptance speech which took aim at an increasingly avaricious publishing industry, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was honoured with the Global Legacy Award from Save the Children, prompting a torrent of criticism which highlighted Blair’s central role in Britain’s invasion of Iraq and his controversial business dealings in the Middle East (Sherwood 2014).
There’s just no pleasing some.
Of course, awards and accolades, distinctions and decorations are capricious things conforming at times to a whimsical logic all of their very own. Kissinger, Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin all won Nobel prizes for peace; Ghandi did not. Jean Paul Sartre and Lê Ðúc Tho both refused their Nobel citations. Stalin and Hitler both adorned the covers of Time magazine. The awarding of such honours—and more— has always generated their own controversies. Yet, the 2013 and 2014 W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction awarded by the American Library Association has been characterised by extreme silence. Sure, the W.Y. Boyd award might be the literary equivalent to retirement— an “award consisting of $5,000 and a 24k gold-framed citation of achievement”, says the ALA (2014) — but surely, somebody — anybody — out there in library-land noticed that the back to back winner was none other than former Lieutenant Colonel and Fox News Strategic Analyst Ralph Peters.
Well, somewhere down toward the end of the earth, I noticed. And I was angry. Admittedly, I’ve never read either of Peters’ (2012; 2013) prize-winning civil war novels; they may very well be the literary equals to The Killer Angels or Gone with the Wind though neither of Peters’ books made the Pulitzer short-list. To be clear, my anger was not simply a response to the literary merit of Peters’ books. No. The principle cause of my distemper was the jarring realisation that an organisation, which in 2011 unanimously passed a “WikiLeaks–Related Resolution”1 defending “public access to information by and about the government” and which vowed “to support whistleblowers in reporting abuse, fraud, and waste” (Office for Intellectual Freedom, 2011) was, in effect, endorsing — if only tacitly — the views of the outspoken Lieutenant Colonel. These views famously include placing WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, on a “kill or capture list” and suggesting that Assange was “guilty of sabotage, espionage, crimes against humanity” and therefore “should be killed” (Peters, 2010). Peters’ has also been a vociferous proponent of the death penalty for Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and all other “leakers”.2 Peters’ public profile is one marked by increasingly ludicrous claims; he has become infamous for his contemptible and bizarre attacks on everyone from Barack Obama (“a fool and a weakling”) to Eric Holder (“weenie of weenies”) and even suggested whistleblowers were simply trying to “make treason cool”. I know I’m a long, long way away in Australia, but didn’t the ALA invite Daniel Ellsberg to speak at its Annual Conference? Am I the only one that can spot the tension?
And yet the inflammatory remarks made on Fox should be the least of our concerns. In a series of articles published in Parameters (1997; 1999; 2001)—a quarterly academic journal published by the United States Army War College—Peters outlines his reasons why an information society should be promoted. Gone are the humanist concerns with intellectual freedom and equality of access so enshrined within ALA doctrine. In their place, information becomes central to securing “Western cultural and economic dominance” (2001) serving as a “boot in the backside of those who move too slowly” (2001). For Peters, “what matters is the power of information to terrify men of decayed belief” resulting in the continued expansion of the American “empire at the expense of failing cultures”. Peters (1997) imagines a world where the global struggle to retain economic, cultural and military supremacy revolves fundamentally around the ability to “sort, digest, synthesize, and apply information”. “Information”, says Peters, “is at once our core commodity and the most destabilizing factor of our time” and as “more and more human beings are overwhelmed by information, or dispossessed by the effects of information-based technologies, there will be more violence”. In fact, says Peters, we should be “building an information-based military to do that killing”. Awesome.
I am certain that some folks will accuse me of unnecessarily politicizing the W.Y. Boyd Prize, and that Peters’ political opinions have nothing to do with the quality of his fiction. They are right. There are, to be certain, countless examples of exemplary art produced by maniacs with dubious political positions—Salvador Dali and Jorge Luis Borges spring readily to mind. But what is at stake here is not so much Peters awards as the credibility of the ALA itself. How is it that a prominent political commentator who routinely espouses views not simply contrary but hostile to some of the core principles of the ALA is awarded not one but two prizes for excellence? Is the WY Boyd Award so marginal that it does not matter? Have ALA members been too busy downloading Democracy Now! podcasts and watching The Daily Show to notice the poisonous yet commonplace vitriol of Peters? I am not sure and I’ve got a feeling an answer will not be immediately forthcoming.
We might yet console ourselves with Peters’ (2001) words: “I believe, firmly, that societies that embrace informational freedom will triumph”. Unsurprisingly, Peters follows with: “But the victory will not come without cost.” It is difficult now not to think that that cost was “informational freedom” itself. When Ursula Le Guin received her medal just few days ago she argued that in the future “we will need writers who remember freedom.” As the December 1 closing date for the 2015 Boyd Award draws near I would suggest that we need an ALA that remembers what defending intellectual freedom looks like.
But then again, there’s just no pleasing some.
1. To be fair, the adopted “Resolution on Access to and Classification of Government Information,” is a substantially weakened, less-politicized version of two explicit WikiLeaks resolutions put forward by ALA’s Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT). For a clear elucidation of the process, see Al Kagan’s “Midwinter’s WikiLeaks Letdown.”
2. On a segment on Fox, Peters declared: “I do not believe in leaks, I would execute leakers, they are betraying our country”.
American Library Association 2013, ‘Cain at Gettysburg‘, viewed 25 November 2014
American Library Association 2014, ‘W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction‘, viewed 25 November 2014
American Library Association 2014, ‘Hell or Richmond’ by Ralph Peters wins the 2014 W.Y. Boyd Award‘, ALA News, viewed 7 June 2014
Arons, R 2014, ‘We will need writers who can remember freedom: Ursula Le Guin and last night’s N.B.A.’s‘, The New Yorker, November 20, 2014, viewed November 24
Office for Intellectual Freedom 2011, ALA Council Unanimously Passes WikiLeaks-Related Resolution, American Library Association, viewed 25 November 2014
Peters, R 1997, ‘Constant Conflict‘, Parameters, vol. XXVII, pp.4-14, viewed 25 November 2014
Peters, R 1999, ‘Our New Old Enemies‘, Parameters, pp.22-37, viewed 25 November 2014
Peters, R 2001, ‘The Plague of Ideas‘, Parameters, pp.4-20, viewed 25 November 2014
Peters, R 2010 (a), Lt. Col. Ralph Peters Goes Off On Holder, Assange & Obama Over WikiLeaks & The Response, online video, viewed 25 November 2014
Peters, R 2010 (b), Newest Wikileaks “I would execute leakers” LT. COL. Ralph Peters- Newest Wikileaks Release, online video, viewed 25 November 2014
Peters, R 2012, Cain at Gettysburg, Forge, New York
Peters, R 2013, Hell or Richmond: A Novel, Forge, New York
Sherwood, H 2014, ‘Save the Children staff furious over ‘global legacy’ award for Tony Blair‘, The Guardian, 26 November, viewed November 25 2014
IFLA approved its first Internet Manifesto in 2002. This provided an early recognition of the vital role that the Internet plays in the work of library and information services, and ensuring that individuals and groups have free access to information and can freely express themselves.
The world has changed significantly since 2002 both physically and digitally, and we now have a greater experience and understanding of the role of the Internet and digital resources in our services, and in developing connected societies where individuals have the skills that they need to exploit the opportunities that technologies can bring. We also have a greater understanding of the threats that can be posed through the Internet including the impact on human rights of inappropriate monitoring and surveillance, and from criminal activity.
See: Internet Manifesto 2014
This update to the Internet Manifesto reflects this experience and reinforces the vital role of library and information services in ensuring equitable access to the Internet and its services in support of freedom of access to information and freedom of expression.
The Internet Manifesto 2014 was endorsed by the IFLA Governing Board in August 2014.
The FAIFE Committee will review the IFLA/UNESCO Internet Manifesto Guidelines in the coming months, in light of the Internet Manifesto 2014.
November 24, 2014
The Sustainability Round Table is collecting information on books, articles, websites, blogs, social groups, and projects that fall under the umbrella of Sustainable Libraries. Please use this form to suggest resources or projects that will become part of our SustainRT Sustainability Database.
Please contact Eileen Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
1. Nature of the Award
1.1 The award shall consist of $1,000, given annually to a graduate student who is working on a dissertation on the philosophy of information (broadly construed). As we see it, the range of philosophical questions relating to information is broad, and approachable through a variety of philosophical traditions (philosophy of mind, logic, philosophy of information so-called, philosophy of science, etc.).
2. Purpose of the Award
2.1 The purpose of this award is to encourage and support scholarship in the philosophy of information.
3.1 The scholarship recipient must meet the following qualifications:
(a) Be an active doctoral student whose primary area of research is directly philosophical, whether the institutional setting is philosophy or another discipline; that is to say, the mode of dissertation research must be philosophical as opposed to empirical or literary study;
(b) Have completed all course work; and
(c) Have had a dissertation proposal accepted by the institution.
3.2 Recipients may receive the award not more than once.
4.1 The Litwin Books Award for Ongoing Doctoral Dissertation Research in the Philosophy of Information is sponsored and administered by Litwin Books, LLC, an independent scholarly publisher.
5.1 Nominations should be submitted via email by June 1, 2015, to email@example.com.
5.2 The submission package should include the following:
(a) The accepted dissertation proposal;
(b) A description of the work done to date;
(c) A letter of recommendation from a dissertation committee member;
(d) An up-to-date curriculum vitae with current contact information.
6. Selection of the Awardee
6.1 Submissions will be judged on merit with emphasis on the following:
(a) Clarity of thought;
(c) Relevance to our time;
(d) Evidence of good progress toward completion.
7.1 The winner and any honorable mentions will be notified via letter by July 1, 2015.
Jonathan Furner, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, UCLA
Ron Day, School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University
John Budd, School of Information & Learning Technologies, University of Missouri
2014: Patrick Gavin, of the University of Western Ontario FIMS, for his dissertation propsoal, titled, “On Informationalized Borderzones: A Study in the Politics and Ethics of Emerging Border Architectures.”
2013: Steve McKinlay, of Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, Australia, for his dissertation proposal, titled, “Information Ethics and the Problem of Reference.”
November 21, 2014
“To the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks, from the heart. My family, my agents, my editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as my own, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice in accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who’ve been excluded from literature for so long – my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination, who for 50 years have watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.
Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.
Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.
Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. I see my own publishers, in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an e-book six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa. And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.
Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.
I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.”