April 11, 2015

Islamophobic ALA Banned Books Week Poster

BBW_2015_Poster_200x300

Thus far I’ve seen little in the way of active controversy over this ill-advised ALA poster celebrating 2015’s Banned Books Week. There were a couple of messages recently on the SRRT email discussion list, which brought this to my attention. Clearly, the image links suppression of information with the religion of Islam, depicting a woman whose eyes are showing through her niqab. No one denies that there is suppression of information in a number of countries where Islam is the national religion, but this image implies an identity between the religion and the practice of censorship. I think most of us can think of some American muslims who would take offense at that. Perhaps they are even members of the American Library Association.

I’m surprised that ALA actually put this poster up for sale.

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April 8, 2015

Interview with Mandy Henk, author of Ecology, Economy, Equity: The Path to a Carbon-Neutral Library

Mandy Henk is the author of what I think is the most important LIS book of 2014 (at least the most important one not published by Library Juice Press). The book is Ecology, Economy, Equity: The Path to a Carbon-Neutral Library, published by ALA Editions. Quoting the publisher’s description:

In the first book to seriously examine the future of libraries in a climate reality-based context, Henk convincingly argues that building a carbon-neutral future for libraries is not only essential but eminently practical. Using the ‘three E’s’ of sustainability (ecology, economy, equity) as a foundation, she traces the development of sustainability from its origins in the 1970s to the present, laying out a path librarians can take at their own institutions to begin the process of building a carbon-neutral library.

I’m not sure that our earlier Greening Libraries and Focus on Educating for Sustainability did not “seriously examine the future of libraries in a climate reality-based context,” but I admire her book and wish that we had published it. Mandy agreed to do an interview here, to talk about her book and the topic it addresses.

Mandy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

Hi Rory, it’s nice to chat with you and thank you for interviewing me.

I’d like to start by asking you about your own background and interest in this topic. What drew you to write this book?

You know that’s a hard question to answer. I was drawn to it for lots of reasons. Part of it was because I was spending a lot of time in meetings and at conferences angry and I couldn’t quite articulate why. I needed to really explore in depth what it was about the general tone of the profession that frustrated me. I started the book at a time in my life when I was turning back towards an earlier political radicalism that I had sort of left behind to focus on making on a living and raising my children. Then I turned 30 and I had an employee get cancer and I had this epiphany that life was short and I should do more with mine than just be really good at managing an Access Services department. I realized I was hiding in my work and not being true to myself in some really important ways.

So, I got involved with Keystone XL protesting and once that happened I realized that living my values at work too was really important to me. But I had no clue how to do that. So, the book is really a long conversation with myself about how to live my values at work and how to bring a DIY/anarchist ethos into my professional life. The book was a way for me to break down the dissonance between what I felt and did in my personal life and what went on at work. To live an authentic life I needed to tie those things together. It was either that, or I was going to quit and go live off the land. Since I like health insurance and hate farming and really love libraries, the book seemed a better choice. It also gave me great cover to say and do things at work that I think would otherwise just be considered a bit nutty. It gave me a real legitimacy so that I could say things like, “I think software-as-a-service is dangerous to our patron’s long-term interests.” Or, “Discovery layers are hollowing out libraries.” The work on the book demonstrated that I wasn’t just being testy, I had done real research and work to come to those positions.

Most people reading this have not read your book yet an therefore don’t know how that relates to what you’ve written. At one level, the book is about how to guide libraries in the context of global warming and other threats to the environment, but it also addresses other ways in which our current structures are at odds with sustainability, identifying problems with the current “library industry” as it is sometimes called. For the convenience of people reading this, would you mind outlining the book? The problems it addresses and how it addresses them.

Of course, I am happy to do that. One thing I’d push back on is the idea that it is possible to pull apart the various sustainability challenges that we face. Climate is the most urgent manifestation of an entire system gone absolutely off the rails and so I gave it center place. But my understanding is that climate and other problems, like mining or labor issues, are really just different aspects of the same basic failure of our society to create the conditions needed for a biophilic planet. Our libraries exist in the midst of a morass of environmental, political, and economic challenges and this gives us moral obligations that go beyond fulfilling our stated missions. Clocking in at work doesn’t give us the right to clock our values out, that’s my basic premise. And that’s where the book starts. It’s divided into three parts. In the first part, I try to connect the various dots of sustainability issues to the library world and to our professional values, while also outlining a picture of the world as it is. So, I look at the science behind climate change,the philosophical construct that is “sustainability,” as well as how libraries have been impacted by these issues.

In the second part, I provide a framework for conducting what I call a sustainability assessment. It’s not really a formal assessment, it’s more about giving people an excuse to look at their own libraries and choose their own starting points. There are an awful lot of librarians who are very concerned about these issues, but who don’t have either the political capital in their own libraries or the ability to spend a whole lot of time figuring out what to do. But once you lay it all out in a book, it empowers them to have something to work from and offers a sense of legitimacy that can be very important to getting something like this done in an actual library. That’s the point of the second part. I used the structure of the three basic areas of sustainability, ecology, economy, and equity, to structure this section so that librarians could have sense that, even if their sustainability work had to be in collections, they could still feel confident that that work was tied into the larger concept of sustainability.

The last part is about the larger information system. This is really where I tried to talk about the “library industry” and what we need to do, what we can do, to transform it. I see technology and corporate control of the collection and our software as twinned problems. To solve them, I think that we need an alliance between our advocacy groups, like ALA and SLA, and activist groups. I highlighted some really successful examples of those kinds of alliances in this part, groups like SaveNYC Libraries. I also used this part to talk about why climate change is hard to talk about. There are structures and social expectations in place that shape our discourse. Talking about climate and libraries seems really “unserious” and I devoted a chapter to breaking that down in the hopes that if we can learn to see these structures working to suppress our voices, we can resist that suppression and say, insist that a vendor tell us the carbon footprint of their server operation before we agree to purchase a new database. That’s a pretty uncomfortable position to take and if we understand what makes it uncomfortable, I think it is easier to work through the uncomfortableness.

Thanks for that outline of the book. That’s very helpful. I am interested in what you say is the impossibility of pulling apart the various sustainability challenges that we face. You cite the “three E’s” of sustainability: ecology, economy, and equity. I think when most people think about sustainability, they are thinking about ecology – resource extraction, pollution, climate change. The three E’s are not an idea that you’ve made up, but I think to a lot of readers the ideas that equity and economic structures are an essential part of sustainability will be new, and perhaps in need of justification. Equity in particular, and the democratic library values that it implies, are an essential part of sustainability in your view. I wonder if you could say a bit about equity, and what makes it part of sustainability?

Absolutely. The concept of sustainability is not easy to intuit, nor is it without some basic flaws in its premises. The basic argument is that poverty and inequality lead to ecological destruction through a failure to manage the global commons. So, in the United States, you can look at California right now and examine the politics of the drought. I suspect most average citizens of that state would strongly support limiting water use by farming corporations. But because the corporations are such a powerful group, because they control a wealthy industry, they have been successful over a long period of time in preventing the kinds of restrictions that the natural world and people who make their living in other ways would benefit from. Sustainability advocates would argue that a more genuinely democratic process would have a better outcome since economic power would not translate to political power. At the same time, part of sustainability is building resilient economic systems that would, in theory, prevent the concentrations of economic power that we see today.

With that said, I do have some concerns about the interrelationship between ecology, economy, and equity. The biggest one is that I am not convinced that citizens are always able to make good choices, especially at the national level. The use of media and the educational system to control the paradigm through which people understand the world is an extremely powerful tool that has been well honed by the wealthy in this country. Environmental resistance has been degraded and minimized as “NINBYism.” So I am not at all convinced that it is possible for us to create a more democratic society, nor do I think that those with power are going to step down and allow a more just form of organization for our society.

I agree with you, and I share the pessimism implicit in your response there. But your book is not a pessimistic book, or at any rate, you could say it’s guided by the idea of “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” It’s consistent with the idea that as dark as things may be, you have to try. You take the position of a “solutionist” as you explain in Chapter 1, as opposed to being in a state of resignation or paralysis. I struggle with that myself. It seems that an obstacle to a sustainability initiative in libraries is getting everybody on board as a solutionist, when there are good arguments to justify other positions. What do you think about that? How do you find the strength to maintain the position of a solutionist?

I have children. As a mother, I feel an obligation to do what I can to try and fix the world. There’s also the question of what else I would do with my life. If I didn’t work on what I see as the most pressing problems that are within my power to influence, what would I do? The answer to that, as far as I can tell, is be a really diligent Access Services Librarian. Which is a fine thing to be, but it is similar to being a great steward on the Titanic. Laudable sure, but also beside the point. I think that there is value in looking hard and with as much clarity as you can muster at the actual state of the world and then insisting that you live your life in a way that is informed by reality. Even if it leads to sorrow and frustration.

Do you think the book gives enough attention to obstacles to sustainability measures in libraries? It seems that a lot of the work is going to be overcoming obstacles.

Yes, I could have talked more about obstacles. There are a few reasons I shied away. One is that I think there are many libraries right now where this kind of initiative would not meet resistance. Sustainability is a pretty hot idea and library administrators love getting on board with trends. So, I didn’t really think it was absolutely necessary. Instead, I focused on broadening the sustainability umbrella so that it included changes that could be implemented at almost every level of a library’s staff hierarchy. Taken individually maybe they won’t make a huge difference, but I think that building momentum is really important Having lots of library workers making changes in their libraries under the banner of sustainability is a valuable form of organizing. It creates space for deeper organizing activities.

At the same time, I think it’s worth being upfront that I think largest obstacle is hierarchy. Because of that, I am the last person who should be giving mainstream library staff advice about how to manage up. There are others who do have that skill set and I respect them and their ability to engage in organizational politics. I am not one of them. That kind of persuading requires respecting the authority of those currently holding power, and I mean that across all levels–in libraries and out in the larger world. And I don’t. My advice would be to just do what you see that needs to be done. Don’t let someone more powerful insist that you engage in actions that you think are destructive. Stop following orders. So, yeah, that’s why I stepped back from that. It isn’t particularly useful advice and it doesn’t respect the risk tolerance levels of those who may need their paychecks and health insurance. I know my limits.

I can imagine ALA Publishing might have balked at that as well. I wonder, do you have any thoughts on what you might have done differently in writing this book if you could?

I suspect they would have. This was really intended to be a mainstream book for a fairly mainstream audience. I wanted to write a book that someone could share with their director or with their board and not feel like they were being outlandish.

It’s hard to say what I might have done differently. This was the first book I have ever written and writing it was a learning process. In terms of the final product, I think I wrote the best book I could have written. So, the things I would do differently are all process based. For example, I really struggled with falling into never ending research. I would read and read and read and never really feel like I knew enough to actually write something down. So, in retrospect I would have a bit more confidence in myself. Also, I would probably have let the book be longer. I think people prefer short books, but I might have too harsh in my own editing.

I think a longer book would have been great, but a shorter book is easier to use in a practical setting. I think the book benefits from the research that you put into it, definitely. It is very strong bibliographically.

At this point, would you be willing to say a few words about your next project?

Absolutely, I am really excited about my next project, which is under contract with Library Juice Press. The working title is OCLC: A Biography. This book really evolved from the dissonance I felt, and still feel, when working with OCLC products. One of my first jobs when I was a student assistant was in an ILL Department, and it was there, working with WorldCat, that I really grew enchanted with the world of libraries. The idea that there was this cooperative system in place between libraries, complete with a complex infrastructure and rules and customs was just such a revelation to me. Which is why, after 17 years of working with WorldCat and with OCLC, I think it is so important to critically examine it as an institution. Both in the United States and globally, OCLC is such a central and powerful member of the library world. This next book will explore both the history of OCLC, but also how it works as an organization and what really drives it. I’m going to frame it around the question of who owns WorldCat and use that to explore what it means to own something as vital and also as valuable as WorldCat. I also think it’s going to fill an important void in the current literature. As a profession, we don’t always take the time to examine how we got to where we are. It’s my hope that this book will remedy that, at least for this particular case.

Thanks for the teaser! I am very excited that we will be publishing this book. I agree that it will fill a major gap in the literature. And thanks for the interview. I admire your book and appreciate your taking the time to talk about it.

Thank you for talking to me. It was a good chat and I appreciate your taking the time from your schedule to do it.

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April 6, 2015

Vincent Mosco on C-SPAN


Vincent Mosco, author of To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World, talked by remote video from Boston about the history of the development of the “cloud” and “big data,” and the economic, social, and cultural implications of massive data collection.

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April 2, 2015

Announcing “The Political Librarian”, a New Journal from EveryLibrary

Post on April 2, 2015 by John Chrastka

The Political Librarian

For too long, there has been a dearth of research, discussion, and published content related to locally focused advocacy, policy, and funding issues for libraries. Today, EveryLibrary is proud to announce the launch of “The Political Librarian”, a new journal which will address these very issues. As the only national organization dedicated exclusively to local funding and policy outcomes for libraries, whether at the ballot box or through town/city/county government negotiations, EveryLibrary is uniquely positioned to fill this gap. Today, we are making a call for contributions for Issue 1, Volume 1 to be published on September 5th, 2015.

We seek contributions that:

Further a discussion of tax policy and public policy at the local level

Explore and review ordinances, regulations and legislation, or propose new model language that actuate policy or revenue at a local level

Specifically engage disparities in community outcomes based on current funding and authority models for libraries

Provide and encourage experiential input about the way that current policy models impact library service delivery and community outcomes

Provide and encourage explorations of new, underutilized, or experimental models to address local library funding or authority

Provide resources and tactics that libraries can use to educate stakeholders on the essential role of libraries and librarians in their local community.

Why a journal?

While discussions in the library sector tend to focus on federal and state-level issues, it is at the local level that the majority of funding and policy decisions for libraries are made and expressed. Our work places us at the nexus of library tax and public policy discussion at the hyper-local level. Many of the campaigns we support aim to secure taxes for operations or building initiatives. Through our work we have seen first-hand that there is limited civic awareness and understanding of tax codes and funding structures on the part of librarians, boards, voters, and policy makers. This low level of awareness stems from lack of engagement in a public debate about local library taxes and authority.

With the launch of “The Political Librarian”, EveryLibrary is expanding the discussion, promoting research, and helping to reenvision tax policy and public policy on the extremely local level. We will provide a venue for listening and learning across a wide range of experiences, and a platform for sharing insights from librarians at the forefront of services by the librarians who need funding, authority, and policy to align with, and support, the actual practices of modern librarianship.

We believe that these policy discussions need to begin in the context of the unique challenges faced by towns, cities, townships, and counties as expressed in municipal or district library contexts. We also understand that the borders between library taxing jurisdictions are often crossed by inter-institutional agreements for services like interlibrary loan, cooperative cataloging, and shared resources. With this understanding, we want to encourage a discussion about how libraries may be the only true supra-jurisdictional public institution in this country. In publishing this journal, we are not limiting the discussion to policies that impact only public libraries. The edges will be pushed.

From its inception, “The Political Librarian” will be open access and submissions will be published under a non-commercial attribution Creative Commons license. We will apply for an ISSN immediately following the first issue in order to provide discoverability in the broader library and public policy discussion across the United States and internationally.

We seek submissions from both researchers and practitioners, and anticipate accepting and publishing three styles of submissions:

Polemics – Editorial in nature; the first draft of an idea or argument
White Papers – Longer form discussions that may include research
Peer Reviewed – Long form articles that include original research and arguments, and are submitted for review by our Editorial Board

Timeline for publication
EveryLibrary looks forward to publishing Volume 1, Issue 1 on September 5, 2015. This will mark our third anniversary as the first and only national political action committee for libraries. Your collaboration on this and subsequent semi-annual issues is welcome. EveryLibrary seeks to encourage non-traditional journal submissions and can support the publication and dissemination of blog to book-length contributions, along with video, audio, and other file types. Anonymous contributions in the Polemics category are welcome. Submission and content formatting instructions are forthcoming.

Over the next several weeks, EveryLibrary will present questions and discussion topics that will help form the basis of this exploration and inform the content of our first issue. We believe that we can serve as a platform, a venue, a contributor, and a convener of these discussions, and we encourage others to bring their own original lines of inquiry.

Please contact editor Lindsay Sarin for more information or to discuss contributing to “The Political Librarian”: lindsay.sarin@everylibrary.org

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March 31, 2015

Call for Papers: Why is the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies needed today?

Call for Papers: Why is the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies needed today?

The Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies is a peer-reviewed open access journal which addresses the need for critical discourse in library and information science and associated domains such as communication and media studies. It critically engages the cultural forms, social practices, the political economy, and the history of information and information institutions. It also seeks to broaden the methodological commitments of the field and to broaden the scope of library and information studies by applying diverse critical, trans-disciplinary, and global perspectives. The journal engages issues of social and cognitive justice and the historical and contemporary roles of documentary, information, and computational technologies in creating, mediating, surveilling, and challenging personal and social identities in cultural and political economies of power and expression.

For its inaugural issue, the JCLIS will focus on why such a journal is needed, as a platform for critical discourse in LIS. JCLIS seeks to publish research articles, literature reviews, and possibly other essay forms (up to 7000 words) that use or examine critical perspectives on library and information studies. Some of the issues that might be addressed are: What are the current gaps in disciplines and discourses that make the JCLIS necessary? How can scholars speak to past silences in research and thinking in information studies? What is “critical perspective” in library and information studies research? What ethical or political commitments might a critical perspective entail? What do critical perspectives look like in practice?

The theme for the inaugural issue is broad by design in order to encourage diverse perspectives in describing, analyzing, and providing insight into how and where library and information studies might intersect with ethical, philosophical, and/or political concerns, interpretative or speculative approaches to analysis, or experimentation with novel, unique, or exploratory research designs that might be marginalized or excluded from mainstream library and information studies research. JCLIS aims to be a an inclusive platform for library and information studies research,including locally specific research designs and investigations as well as research that adopts a more global or international frame of inquiry. To that end, the journal also welcomes unpublished works in translation. Deadline for receipt of manuscripts is Monday, August 31st, 2015, for Winter 2015 publication.

Possible topic areas may include (but are not limited to):

– What is/are critical library and information studies? What might distinguish critical approaches?
– The use of a particular critical perspective for research into topics relevant to library and information studies
– Different notions of critical approaches and perspectives, and their relations to information and knowledge studies and research
– When and why are critical approaches timely? How does its timeliness or not apply to today’s problems of information and knowledge?
– Applications of critical approaches in information institution, organization, or community contexts of practice.
– How critical approaches or methods might relate to other contemporary topics within library and information studies: open access, patron privacy, evolutions in scholarly communication, digital humanities, etc.
– How are critical perspectives included or excluded from empirical or engineering methods in the information and library sciences?
– Descriptions and reflections on methods for conducting library and information studies research with a critical approach. What is the relationship of method to critical activity?
– Critical perspectives on race and ethnicity in LIS, and/or the need for critical perspectives in LIS research.
– How might postcolonial theory expand the scope and methods of LIS research?
– Critical approaches for investigating militarism and the politics of information.
– Development/Implementation of information services for diasporic populations.
– What has been the relation of critical theory to the LIS tradition and its modes of historical, qualitative, and quantitative research?
– What is the relationship of critical theory to LIS education and to LIS research?
– Failures and shortcomings: how can critical perspectives inform and improve library and information studies?
– Gender and identity within LIS: how might critical perspectives or approaches be used to explore or investigate them?
– #critlib and alternative platforms for critical professional conversation
– Library and information studies vs library and information science: What are the differences?

Guest Editors for Volume 1, Issue 1
Ronald Day, Indiana University – Bloomington
Alycia Sellie, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Journal Editors
Associate Editor: Emily Drabinski
Associate Editor: Rory Litwin
Managing Editor: Andrew J Lau, UCLA Extension

Editorial Board
Amelia Acker
Melissa Adler
Howard Besser
Michelle Caswell
Jonathan Cope
Ronald Day
Jonathan Furner
Patrick Keilty
Joyce Latham
Lai Ma
Jens-Erik Mai
Marlene Manoff
Melissa Morrone
Lilly Nguyen
Safiya Noble
Ricardo Punzalan
Toni Samek
Alycia Sellie
Rebecka Sheffield

Description of the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies
The mission of the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies is to serve as a peer-reviewed platform for critical discourse in and around library and information studies from across the disciplines. This includes but is not limited to research on the political economy of information, information institutions such as libraries, archives, and museums, reflections on professional contexts and practices, questioning current paradigms and academic trends, questioning the terms of information science, exploring methodological issues in the context of the field, and otherwise enriching and broadening the scope of library and information studies by applying diverse critical and trans-disciplinary perspectives. Recognizing library and information studies as a diverse, cross-disciplinary field reflective of the scholarly community’s diverse range of interests, theories, and methods, JCLIS aims to showcase innovative research that queries and critiques current paradigms in theory and practice through perspectives that originate from across the humanities and social sciences.

Each issue is themed around a particular topic or set of topics, and features a guest editor (or guest editors) who will work with the managing editor to shape the issue’s theme and develop an associated call for papers. Issue editors will assist in the shepherding of manuscripts through the review and preparation processes, are encouraged to widely solicit potential contributions, and work with authors in scoping their respective works appropriately.

JCLIS is open access in publication, politics, and philosophy. In a world where paywalls are the norm for access to scholarly research, the Journal recognizes that removal of barriers to accessing information is key to the production and sharing of knowledge. Authors retain copyright of manuscripts published in JCLIS, generally with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. If an article is republished after initially publication in JCLIS, the republished article should indicate that it was first published by JCLIS.

Submission Guidelines for Authors:
The Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies welcomes submissions from senior and junior faculty, students, activists, and practitioners working in areas of research and practice at the intersection of critical theory and library and information studies.

Authors retain the copyright to material they publish in the JCLIS, but the Journal cannot re-publish material that has previously been published elsewhere. The journal also cannot accept manuscripts that have been simultaneously submitted to another outlet for possible publication.

We welcome:

Research Articles (no more than 7000 words)
Literature Reviews (no more than 7000 words)
Interviews (no more than 5000 words)
Book or Exhibition Reviews (no more than 1200 words)

Citation Style
JCLIS uses the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition as the official citation style for manuscripts published by the journal. Footnotes and reference lists should conform to the guidelines as described in the Manual.

Submission Process
Manuscripts are to be submitted through JCLIS’ online submission system. This online submission process requires that manuscripts be submitted in separate stages in order to ensure the anonymity of the review process and to enable appropriate formatting.

The main text must be submitted as a stand-alone file (in Microsoft Word or RTF)) without a title page, abstract, page numbers, or other headers or footers. The title, abstract, and author information should be submitted through the submission platform.

Abstracts (500 words or less) should be submitted in plain text and should not include information identifying the author(s) or their institutional affiliations. With the exception of book reviews, an abstract must accompany all manuscript submissions before they are reviewed for publication.

For questions about the submission process and guidelines, please contact the JCLIS managing editor: andrewjlau@ucla.edu

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March 24, 2015

Library Juice Academy “Challenge” Successful

March 24, 2015
John Chrastka, EveryLibrary

EveryLibrary thanks Library Juice Press today on the successful completion of a $1,000 “Challenge” last week. Library Juice Academy pledged a $1,000 donation and issued a challenge to individuals to become regular monthly contributors to EveryLibrary. We are happy to report that 15 people joined EveryLibrary as recurring donors, effectively tripling the Library Juice Academy donation over the rest of 2015.

“I was very happy when Rory Litwin approached us with the idea for this fundraising challenge”, said John Chrastka, EveryLibrary Executive Director. “It lines up with the leadership that he brings to Library Juice Academy, Library Juice Press, and Litwin Books. We would have put a donation to work, but his interest in doing this as a challenge brought out new personal donors and helps us grow as a sustainable organization.”

“EveryLibrary is providing an important service in supporting library campaigns across the country”, said Rory Litwin, Founder of Library Juice Academy. “We need to work together to support libraries everywhere, and we’re happy that EveryLibrary provides a way to do that. It is very satisfying to see that this campaign was successful.” Library Juice Academy is a leader in providing high quality professional training to library staff at all levels. This donation is in support of EveryLibrary’s work as a national political action committee for libraries.

About Library Juice Academy:

Library Juice Academy offers a range of online professional development workshops for librarians and other library staff, focusing on practical topics to build the skills that librarians need as their jobs evolve. http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/

About EveryLibrary:

EveryLibrary is a politically active organization that is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations, and unions nationwide who believe that libraries matter in our society. You can learn more about EveryLibrary and its work building voter support for libraries at www.everylibrary.org.

Contact:John Chrastka
Executive Director
312-574-0316
john.chrastka@everylibrary.org

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March 23, 2015

In Defense of Libraries and Culture in the Middle East

In Defense of Libraries and Culture in the Middle East

Statement from the Progressive Librarians Guild:

Media coverage of the destruction of libraries and antiquities in northern Iraq during March 2015 has aroused the indignation of people around the world. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has initiated this destruction and used it in a propaganda campaign to promote its interests throughout the region. This destruction is based on its crude fundamentalist version of Islam, but that is not the whole story. There are also reports that ISIS is selling invaluable artifacts for profit.

Libraries with unique collections, with some items going back to 5000 BC, have reportedly been ransacked in Mosul, including the Mosul Central Library, the Mosul Museum Library, the Sunni Muslim Library, and the library of the Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers. There are reports that many of the books were burned.

Archeological sites at the ancient cities of Hatra, Nimrud, and Dur-Sharrukin have reportedly been devastated. The Mosul Museum was looted during the U.S. led military invasion in 2003, but nearby residents saved many of the artifacts at that time by hiding them in their homes. According to Bagdad Museum Director Fawzye al-Mahdi, it appears that most of the recently destroyed artifacts in the Mosul Museum were actually plaster cast replicas of originals, which were moved to Bagdad in 2003. However, according to exiled Mosul Governor Atheel Nuafi, at least two were priceless originals, including the Winged Bull, which used to stand at the gates of Nineveh in the 7th century.

Progressive librarians unconditionally condemn the destruction of libraries and culture in the Middle East.

In order to understand the current situation, we need to examine recent history. In a candid March 17th interview with Shane Smith of Vice News, President Obama stated that “ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and that it is an “example of unintended consequences” (https://news.vice.com/topic/isil).

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, Iraq was a brutal dictatorship that tortured its opponents. But it was also a stable and secular middle-income country fueled by an oil-based economy. Although women were certainly not treated as equal to men, they had considerable freedom and rights not available in many other countries in the region. But of course Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, opposition to the government was not tolerated, and freedom of speech was very limited. One consequence of the authoritarian state was that radical Islamist groups had no presence in the country.

Although the U.S. generally supported Saddam Hussein from 1979 to 1990, the situation reversed after the 1990 Gulf War when Iraq attacked and annexed Kuwait. Strict U.N. economic and other sanctions led to the death of perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children by 1996, when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that “we think the price was worth it” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbIX1CP9qr4).

Al-Qaeda established a presence in the country only after the chaos caused by the U.S.-led invasion. The destruction and systematic dismantling of Iraq’s government and army along with the bombing of crucial infrastructure led to the recruitment of competing ethnic militias, and massive “ethnic cleansing” of both Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods and regions.

Whether boots on the ground or through drone attacks, the U.S. military is continuously making the situation worse. New extremists are created when the U.S. military kills or maims civilians or destroys their homes and livelihoods. The example of Iraq is instructive. A stable secular country without any Islamist extremists has been turned into a haven for ISIS. The destruction of libraries and culture is a direct result.

We condemn the ISIS attacks on libraries and culture, and we equally condemn U.S. wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is the people of the Middle East who can solve the problems of the Middle East. In the current situation, the most productive things the U.S. can do are to end all military operations in the region and to provide non-military aid and development assistance, including assistance in the rebuilding of libraries and other cultural resources.

Al Kagan for the PLG Coordinating Committee

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March 19, 2015

CFP – Interactions, Special Issue on Gender in Education and Information Studies: Interrogating Knowledge Production, Social Structures and Equitable Access

Interactions Journal

Call For Papers 2015-2016
Special Issue on Gender in Education and Information Studies: Interrogating Knowledge Production, Social Structures and Equitable Access

Submission must be received by September 1, 2015

Please feel free to email the editors with abstracts or questions about your project: interactions@gseis.ucla.edu

This special issue is a direct outgrowth of a partnership between InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies and Thinking Gender 2015, a Graduate Student Research Conference sponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women. This year’s conference foregrounds feminist approaches to knowledge production, addressing historical and contemporary marginalization, access to technology and resources, educational opportunity and structural oppression. InterActions situates this forthcoming special issue in conversation with activists, scholars and artists whose work engages critically with feminist epistemology and knowledge production. This issue seeks to complicate and deconstruct hegemonic ideas of what counts as knowledge, the effects of which challenge traditional approaches to pedagogy, information literacy and information access. InterActions is committed to an intersectional approach, recognizing that markers and categories of gender, biological difference and sexuality co-constitute political and embodied subjectivities alongside and through race, class and ability. Both Education and Information Studies contend with both the pragmatic and the theoretical and are intimately tied to technologies and techniques of social control. We must commit to developing and nurturing critical language and research agendas contending with gender, sexuality and identities. We hope to continue to challenge and expand existing conversations as well as break new ground through crucial, interdisciplinary work. Additionally, Education and Information Studies can offer entryways into all parts of the knowledge production lifecyle and each provide their unique points of critical interrogation. We welcome a range of submissions, including (but not limited to) research articles, literature reviews, book reviews, exhibition reviews, featured commentaries, position pieces, literary or artistic pieces. All submissions will be subject to double-blind peer review and the authors are expected to adhere to the deadlines to ensure the timely publication of the special issue.

Thematic Priorities

InterActions seeks to enhance the visibility of marginalized communities and amplify scholarship committed to challenging modes of oppression. We invite scholars and impacted community members to participate, a few possible research topics include:

– Experiences of and responses to oppression through an intersectional framework

– Engagements with Chicana Feminism, Black Feminism, Trans feminisms, Queer Theory

– Colonial and Postcolonial legacies embedded in information and education institutions and practices

– Theoretical challenges to traditional education and information studies literature

– Community movements, archives, library activism

– The politics of self and community representation

– Fostering political work in information and educational institutions

– Censorship and institutional discrimination

– Wage and management gaps in the information and education professions

– Complicity in or resistance to state and/or administrative power

– Gender disparities in STEM

– The “digital divide”

– Transnational and global movements

– Womanist and feminist perspectives on pedagogy, epistemology and methodology

– Activist responses, mobilizations and coalition building around issues of knowledge production

At this time, InterActions is also currently accepting applications for guest editors in the field of education and information studies for this special issue. Please submit a CV and a letter of interest to: interactions@gseis.ucla.edu

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March 8, 2015

Library Juice Academy Makes $1,000 EveryLibrary Fundraising Challenge

Post on March 5, 2015 by John Chrastka

EveryLibrary today announces a new “Monthly Donor Challenge” from Library Juice Academy, a noted provider of professional development workshops and training for librarians. Library Juice Academy is pledging a $1,000 donation to EveryLibrary when 25 personal donors contribute at least $10 each month as reoccurring donors before March 16th. Donations can be made at http://rally.org/everylibrary to support our work with library Vote YES committees across the country in 2015.

Library Juice Academy is donating to help EveryLibrary expand its voter support for libraries. “Libraries exist today because of progressive tax policies that fund the common good”, says Rory Litwin, founder of Library Juice Academy. “We are donating to EveryLibrary because it is uniquely focused on supporting libraries when their basic tax revenue is on the line. We’re challenging personal donors to make a commitment and help fund this work.”

Since early 2013, EveryLibrary has worked with 25 libraries on the ballot, winning 19 campaigns and securing over $46 million in bond, levy, parcel tax, and other referendum campaigns. John Chrastka, EveryLibrary executive director, says, “This Challenge is a great way to work cooperatively to reach our funding goals. For every donor dollar we have invested in campaigns, we’ve returned $1600 to local communities in stable library funding. We appreciate Mr. Litwin’s this call-to-action about our pro-bono work across the country.”

The Library Juice Academy Challenge runs March 9 – 16, 2015. Personal donors are asked to make reoccurring contributions of at least $10/month through http://rally.org/everylibrary to help EveryLibrary meet this Challenge.

About Library Juice Academy:

Library Juice Academy offers a range of online professional development workshops for librarians and other library staff, focusing on practical topics to build the skills that librarians need as their jobs evolve. http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/

About EveryLibrary:

EveryLibrary is a politically active organization that is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations, and unions nationwide who believe that libraries matter in our society. You can learn more about EveryLibrary and its work building voter support for libraries at www.everylibrary.org.

Library Juice Academy Makes $1,000 EveryLibrary Fundraising Challenge

Contact:John Chrastka
Executive Director
312-574-0316
john.chrastka@everylibrary.org

4 March 2015

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March 6, 2015

New book: Queers Online: LGBT Digital Practices in Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Queers Online: LGBT Digital Practices in Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Editor: Rachel Wexelbaum
Price: $35.00
Published: March 2015
ISBN: 978-1-936117-79-6
Printed on acid-free paper

Number six in the Litwin Books Series on Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies, Emily Drabinski, Series Editor

In the 21st century, there are more LGBT information resources than ever before. The challenges that arise both from the explosion of born-digital materials and the transformation of materials from physical to electronic formats has implications for access to these resources for future generations. Along with preservation concerns, making these numerous digital LGBT resources available to users becomes more difficult when they swim in an ocean of websites, EBooks, digitized objects, and other digital resources. Librarians, archivists, and museum curators must engage in a range of new digital practices to preserve and promote these numerous LGBT resources.

A “digital practice” in libraries, archives, and museums includes, but is not limited to, the digitization of physical objects; the creation of online resources and services that improve access to these objects; the use of online catalogs, databases, and metadata to categorize such objects; and the online social media and Web 2.0 tools used to connect users to these resources. Information professionals engaged in digital practices must also understand the information needs, online searching behaviors, and online communication styles of their patrons in order to make them aware of the digital resources that may be of use to them.

This is the first book to specifically address the digital practices of LGBT librarians, archivists, and museum curators, as well as the digital practices of seekers and users of LGBT resources and services. More broadly, this collection aims to address these issues in the context of the technical, social, economic, legal, and political challenges of creating LGBT-specific digital collections, electronic resources and services.

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March 5, 2015

Drabinski receives 2015 ACRL Instruction Section Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award

For Immediate Release
Thu, 03/05/2015

Contact:

Chase Ollis
Program Coordinator
ACRL
collis@ala.org
CHICAGO — Emily Drabinski, coordinator of instruction at Long Island University-Brooklyn, has been chosen as the winner of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section (IS) Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award for her article “Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction,” published in 2014 by The Journal of Academic Librarianship. The award recognizes an outstanding publication related to library instruction published in the past two years.

The award, donated by Emerald Group Publishing Ltd., consists of a plaque and a cash prize of $3,000. Drabinski will receive the award during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

“Given the recent discussion and examination of the ACRL IL standards within the profession, Drabinski’s article couldn’t be more timely,” said award committee chair Susanna Eng-Ziskin of California State University-Northridge. “She offers a new approach to information literacy, one that will withstand the test of time by constantly adapting to new realities. The use of Classical Greek theory is an interesting way to reconsider the way librarians interact with students and develop teaching strategies that engage students and promote critical thinking. This exceptionally written thought piece is a must read.”

Information literacy instruction in libraries has traditionally been organized by the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. These standards define a set of external, abstract learning objectives that have been productive of a teaching role for librarians. Simultaneously, the standards have generated a substantial critical literature that contests the objectives as a “Procrustean bed” that distracts from the particular teaching and learning contexts. Drabinski’s paper offers an alternative organizing heuristic for instruction in libraries.

Kairos is an ancient Greek theory of time married to measure. Used by both Plato and the Sophists to understand the emergence of truth from context, kairos has been deployed by composition studies to gain a critical perspective on teaching student writing. Used to understand the context that generated both the first set of standards and the newly approved Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, kairos can usefully direct the energy of teaching librarians toward their particular students and classrooms.

Drabinski received her B.A. from Columbia University, her M.S.L.I.S. from Syracuse University, and her M.A. in Composition and Rhetoric from Long Island University-Brooklyn.

For more information regarding the ACRL IS Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award, or a complete list of past recipients, please visit the awards section of the ACRL website.

##

About ACRL

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. ACRL is on the Web at www.acrl.org/, Facebook at www.facebook.com/ala.acrl and Twitter at @ala_acrl.

About Emerald

Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes. It also provides an extensive range of value-added products, resources and services to support its customers’ needs.

Emerald is a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. It also works in close collaboration with a number of organizations and associations worldwide.

ALA Units:
Association of College and Research Libraries
PR Category:
Awards (Professional Recognition)
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March 4, 2015

Interview with Andrea Baer

Andrea Baer is the Undergraduate Education Librarian at Indiana University-Bloomington. She holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Washington and a Masters in Information Sciences from the University of Tennessee. Andrea’s work in libraries and education is deeply informed by her teaching background in writing and literature and by her interests in critical pedagogy and critical inquiry.

Andrea has designed and taught three different courses for Library Juice Academy thus far. They are: Information Literacy, Composition Studies and Higher Order Thinking; New Directions in Information Literacy: Growing Our Teaching Practices; and Backward Design for Information Literacy Instruction. We interviewed her about her background and about a couple of these classes last summer.

Right now Andrea is getting ready to teach a new class, Threshold Concepts in the Information Literacy Classroom: Translating the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy into Our Teaching Practices. If you’re an instruction librarian in the U.S., you know that this class is very timely. Andrea agreed to be interviewed about this class to give you an idea of what it covers and what you could expect to get out of it.

Read the interview….

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March 3, 2015

Hedgehog Review – Spring issue focuses on information overload…

Focusing on the theme of “Too Much Information,” the spring issue of The Hedgehog Review devotes five essays to a close examination of the unprecedented and ever-increasing availability, use, and abuse of information relating to our public and private lives. Some of this information we disclose intentionally, some we do not, but all of it can be used, in the words of THR editor Jay Tolson, to “shape ourselves and our culture in ways that are less than benign.”

Read about this in the …

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CFP: Sustainability and the Library

Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy
Special Issue on Sustainability and the Library

Call for Abstracts Deadline: May 1, 2015
submit via email to Dr. Maurie Cohen mcohen@njit.edu
Review decisions by: October 31, 2015
Publication: Spring 2016

This special issue aims both to review how the LIS community has to date sought to advance sustainability and to chart a course for the next generation of effort. We are looking to identify contributions that bring forth new and innovative solutions and/or challenges focusing on issues such as:

– Assessing the strategic role of library and information science in environmental protection, social equity, and economic development
– Identifying the ways in which information research and information practices link to sustainability through, for example, access to information, intellectual freedom, literacy
– Designing sustainable information
– Greening the library
– Measuring the environmental impact of different resources that libraries provide
– Making sustainable decisions that help to positively address climate change and respect natural resources
– Creating healthy indoor and outdoor environments through sustainable building practices
– Motivating libraries/librarians to be change leaders
– Evaluating the role of libraries in pursuing local sustainability through programs and services for public education and local policy/government

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Interview with Melissa Robinson

Melissa S. Robinson is the Senior Branch Librarian at the Peabody Institute Library’s West Branch in Peabody, Massachusetts. She is teaching a class for Library Juice Academy in April, titled Library Makerspaces: From Dream to Reality. Melissa agreed to do an interview for the LJA blog to tell us about her course on this hot topic.

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