March 13, 2013
I have just interviewed Beth Knazook, an image archivist who has worked for the Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections and as the Photo Archivist for the Stratford Festival of Canada. Her expertise is in photographic preservation and photographic collection management, and that is the subject of her introductory course for Library Juice Academy next month, “What Do I Do With All These Pictures? Getting Started With Digital Image Collections.” Beth agreed to be interviewed to give people a better sense of what they will learn from the class and about her background as an instructor.
April 10, 2012
(I’m usually pretty lackluster when it comes to generating blog post titles, but at least for this one I ignored my brain when it repeatedly suggested “A Radical Archive Grows in Brooklyn.”)
A few weeks ago, a group of librarians was invited to an evening at the new Interference Archive in Brooklyn, NY, not far from the Gowanus Canal. The Interference Archive “explores the relationship between cultural production and social movements,” according to its mission statement. The space opened in mid-December 2011 and represents 20-25 years of the collecting of countercultural and political memorabilia in the areas of feminism, punk rock, criminal justice, and more.
Two of the three collective members, Josh MacPhee and Molly Fair, met with us librarians and archivists and talked about the present and future of the Archive. (The third collective member is Kevin Caplicki, and the late Dara Greenwald is also an integral element.) The Archive began, inadvertently, around a quarter century ago when Josh and Dara independently started saving print and other materials related to the movements they were active in. When they decided to open a public space, the guiding question was how to translate longstanding personal collections into something accessible and relevant to other activists.
Josh and Dara felt that the collection they had amassed should be controlled by the community and not risk falling through the cracks if it were given to an institution. It should be accessible — literally and emotionally — to activists, non-students, and others who may not feel comfortable trying to use a university archive. The Archive’s philosophy is to privilege use over preservation (and, in the process, to get the stuff out of the living room).
Just how much stuff are we talking about? Josh and Molly estimated that the Archive includes 3000-5000 books, roughly the same number of pamphlets, 20 drawers of posters and prints, and hundreds of newspapers, plus t-shirts, buttons, and other items that social movements produce. At a guesstimate, they said that 40% of the materials are from outside the U.S.
The shelving and drawers that hold the items are in the middle third of the space. At the front is an open area for displays. Right now, they have a Squatting Europe Kollective Library exhibit up, and they’re organizing future exhibitions, to change on a quarterly basis or so. There’s even a small public coworking space in the rear. The collective’s vision for the Archive, besides the obviously archival function, is for it to serve as a space to socialize and engage with history.
The Archive’s inspirations include Brooklyn’s own Lesbian Herstory Archives and the Freedom Archives in terms of their autonomy, commitment to community, and representations of living history. Another model is “Signs of Change,” an incredible, wide-ranging exhibit that Josh and Dara themselves organized at Manhattan’s Exit Art gallery in 2008.
One key difference between the Archive and more traditional institutions is that while materials may be well-preserved in a museum, the staff there doesn’t necessarily know what they have, and they cherry-pick the highest-profile artists. Josh talked about visiting the archives at the Museum of Modern Art, which displays the Keith Haring and Claus Oldenberg work but leaves the American Indian Movement posters and other items “not cool enough to catalog” (a real staff notation, Josh swore) in drawers. As Josh and Molly put it, they don’t follow the “hero” model.
During our visit, there was a lot of discussion about how to build an Interference Archive catalog. Molly is looking into Collective Access for the database. They want whatever platform they choose to be able to store data that’s meaningful to activists — such as whether a poster was printed in a movement print shop. An archivist from a labor library pointed out, to several heads nodding in agreement, that archivists these days know a lot about metadata and the technology of archival access, but they don’t necessarily know — or care — about finding the context of the material. Projects are grant-driven, and the people who get hired are the ones with the data skills.
At any rate, digitization is not the answer here — it doesn’t automatically lead to permanence anyway, and the Archive collective is very sensitive to the fact that the experience of viewing a PDF is simply not as rich as handling the actual poster. They also recognize that images shouldn’t just be available online, floating around without context. Otherwise, they’re just “empty signifiers,” as Josh said.
The subject of copyright came up. Josh and Molly framed the issue as the question of whether they’re in the service of the movement and its inheritors, or of the producers of the materials. Essentially, the collective is still working out how to deal with creators’ rights regarding reproduction of their images — complicated terrain, to be sure. They also noted that their and others’ research on the context of production will help keep people from claiming ownership of collectively-produced pieces, which has happened in the past.
So, what’s next for the Archive? A major policy question they’re grappling with now is what to do about intake. Josh and Molly talked about needing a collection development policy as well as a referral list for people who are offering items that ultimately don’t fit in the archive. They’re also figuring out how to shelve materials. In the absence of a database that can assign multiple descriptors to an item, where it’s physically located is a key determination for the time being. More conceptually, they need to confront their own bias. The collective members come from anti-authoritarian, horizontal traditions and tend to privilege materials in that vein, but they don’t want to be just an anarchist archive.
If you’re in the NYC area and are now totally amped to help out at the Interference Archive, here are some things you can be a part of:
- The Archive is open only Sundays for now, and the collective is looking for reliable people to get involved and ideally allow the space to be open more hours.
- Right now all the funding is out of pocket, and they’re looking for funding models as well as a fiscal sponsor.
- They’re also looking for people to facilitate events that are connected to the collection — for example, themed critique and analysis sessions, art-making workshops, and cataloging parties.
- And they wouldn’t turn down DIY preservation tips. They need to balance preservation with a low budget, and buffer paper is expensive!
October 13, 2011
I spent the better part of Wednesday at VuStuff II, a small regional gathering hosted by Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library, which focused on the intersection of technology and scholarly communication in libraries. The attendees were an interesting mix of people from academic and special libraries, and included library directors, archivists, systems librarians, special collections librarians, reference librarians, technical services librarians, and more. In the group discussion session, some of us regretted the lack of representation from public libraries. It sounded like it is now on the agenda to do outreach to that sector next year.
I’ve been impressed with what’s going on at Villanova for awhile now. Not only are they doing some of the most interesting, cutting-edge work that I’ve seen in terms of presenting digital content from their special collections, but the culture of their library work environment is very different (and I might judge it as “better”) than what I know of in other libraries and work settings. This is an outsider’s view, based on perceptions gleaned from what people who work there have told me and things that I’ve read. The following are some of the things I find particularly intriguing and feel might serve as a good model for other places to consider: 1) Falvey library staff are given time to explore special projects based on their own interests. By doing this, the library is taking a risk – some work hours may indeed be “wasted,” but new products and new services may be born. A lot of workplaces harp on the need for employees to be “creative,” “collaborative,” and “innovative,” but very few actually provide the time and space to support their staff in doing this. 2) Falvey funds technology. Money for digital projects and technology-based services is written into the budget. Many workplaces expect staff to “make do” with no financial support or else fund projects on an ad hoc basis. Falvey models the fact that superior technology-based projects require dedicated, on-going funding. 3) Falvey diversifies the responsibility for technology. There is no one staff position that is responsible for technology initiatives; rather, various aspects of technology are integrated into the job descriptions of numerous library staff members. This means that if a library staff position is cut or a staff member leaves, technology initiatives don’t evaporate along with that change. 4) Falvey supports open access. The VuFind product they’ve developed for use as a flexible library resource portal is available for free through a GPL open source license. The digital library content they present is available freely to anyone (with a few exceptions for some materials with outside restrictions). Instead of partnering with commercial interests to market a product, Falvey keeps to the ideal of libraries providing information and resources free-of-charge.
I think that Joe Lucia, Villanova’s university librarian and the director of Falvey Memorial Library, deserves a lot of credit for his leadership in these areas. I missed his opening remarks at the conference, but found his questions and comments throughout the sessions to be interesting and thought-provoking. He seems to be looking further forward than many library directors, asking questions like “What does it mean for libraries if the ILS as we know it is dead in the next five to eight years?” “What does it mean if 80% of the content of our book collections is available electronically?” A word to the wise is that the two books he specifically mentioned were Siva Vaidhyanathan’s The Googlization of Everything and R. David Lankes’ The Atlas of New Librarianship.
The presentations at the conference were informative and sometimes inspiring. Amy Baker of the University of Pittsburgh described the preservation of archival mining maps project that her institution has been involved in, spurred by a mining accident in western Pennsylvania. Working in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection, this project is a good example of a university/government partnership that provides publicly available information in order to help protect people and property. It reminded me that while librarians and archivists rarely see our work as possibly having life-or-death consequences – sometimes it does.
Eric Lease Morgan of the University of Notre Dame demonstrated the Catholic Research Resources Alliance website (the “Catholic Portal”) and explained how it uses the VuFind product to draw together metadata from various formats and sources into one seamless product. I was particularly interested in its ability to perform full text searches and construct KWIC word concordances. I’m not sure how well known or well utilized this site is, but I think it holds a great deal of potential for researchers in literature, history, religious studies, and other fields to mine text data for a variety of purposes.
Eric Zino of the LYRASIS library network explained the Mass Digitization Collaborative, undertaken to help libraries digitize selected resources in a cost effective way. Unique items of historical value have been the major focus, although participating libraries are free to choose any materials they wish to include (provided copyright restrictions are met). Digitized materials are made publicly available via the Internet Archive, and can also be hosted locally. This project underscored the benefits of libraries working together to cut costs, minimize staff time spent on projects, produce consistent products, and share content more broadly.
I missed the final presentation of the conference, which was Rob Behary of Duquesne University speaking on his library’s project to digitize the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper. His presentation highlighted some of the benefits of moving from microfilm to digital content. Most librarians will agree that efforts like this, to preserve smaller regional publications with a unique focus or viewpoint, are an important service that libraries should be involved in.
All in all, this was an interesting day with plenty of time for networking built in. I enjoyed reconnecting with former colleagues and students, and meeting some new people as well. It was particularly rewarding to be with a group of people who were interested in moving library services forward into the 21st century, while still retaining the traditional library value of open access to information. I suspect that organizers may be seeking larger quarters for future VuStuff gatherings as its reputation continues to grow.
May 16, 2011
MiT7 was a great conference – intimate, warm, stimulating, interdisciplinary, and cutting-edge. There were some brilliant minds at work. I plan to post a few comments on the conference later. For now, here are links to podcasts from the three topical plenary sessions:
Media in Transition 7: Unstable Platforms
Archives and Cultural Memory
Power and Empowerment
May 11, 2011
Media in Transition 7 (MiT 7), a small conference at MIT, is starting Friday and running ’till Sunday. I will be there; if you will be there too please say hello.
Anyone wanting to follow the Twitter hash tag can look for #mit7.
March 25, 2011
I am not personally diving into the discussion of Judge Chin’s decision on the Google Settlement, because I am too war-weary of fighting it out with other librarians on issues where I feel like a lone dissenter, but I will go as far as to say that I like this post on the topic by David Crotty: The Google Books Settlement: Where Things Stand, and Some Suggestions for What’s Next….
September 22, 2010
An item in the New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town” section in the last issue is about the difficulty of keeping track of a valuable information object over time: a concert ticket. How do people remember where they put it? This one has to do with a long awaited reunion show by Pavement, in Central Park. It’s what I would call a Gen X information experience.
June 21, 2009
A cultural theme in America for the past few decades has been a certain conservative populist “anti-elitism.” Barack Obama’s victory despite his vulnerability to the charge of elitism – owing to his statements about small town America “clinging to guns and religion,” his educational background, and his personal choice to assume an intelligent audience when he speaks – may mark the beginning of the end of this trend, for now. But the theme of cultural anti-elitism is still evident in the culture in a wide variety of forms – in popular culture, marketing, religion, and backlash against social ideas that have a strong foothold in the academy.
Oddly, as Thomas Frank has observed, America’s present anti-elitism is not directed at the power elites whose existence is what keeps America from its ideal of democracy but always at cultural elites – you know, people who think they know more than the average Joe or talk in ways that the average Joe doesn’t understand. In Frank’s diagnosis this problem was initially the fault of upper-middle class liberals who, because of their social class, could afford to protest the Vietnam war while the same generation’s working class lacked the leisure of college students and lacked the resources to escape the draft when called up. As a result, over the decades the education/class gap manifests as resentment against a class of liberals who, to “mainstream America” “just don’t get it.”
Thomas Frank’s recommended strategy for the Democrats in his 2005 book, What’s the Matter With Kansas, was to emphasize economic issues that the party’s traditional base cares about and to de-emphasize social issues for which the working class and a growing population of Hispanic voters supposedly have less sympathy – gay rights, abortion rights, funding for the arts, funding for higher education, etc. Frank’s recommendations were heard within Washington’s corridors (he moved there from Chicago after the book was published) and seem to have had some effect on Democratic policy directions.
Cultural anti-elitism is not always tied to anti-liberal backlash, however, at least not directly. I have encountered it in institutions of higher education over the years, coming from administrators who are more in touch with the pulse of funding than they are with the pulse of academic life, or from students who clearly aren’t in college because they are interested in intellectual pursuits but because they want that ticket to a middle class job. Administrators and tuition-payers want the curriculum to be “more relevant” to the needs of today’s college students, who, after all, have a louder voice than in the past because of the increased role of tuition and fees and the declining role of state subsidies in higher education. “Relevant,” unfortunately, means (on balance) less demanding and less theoretical, because today’s students are not inclined to spend much time reading for class, are less intellectually prepared for college-level work, are over-scheduled due to full time jobs and social activities, and relatively uninterested in academic subjects. To administrators, faculty who insist on high intellectual standards 1) have their heads in the sand and 2) don’t know which side their bread is buttered on. Faculty who get this message understand what is going on, but wonder who, if not they, are going to preserve, pass on, and encourage cultural achievements and the life of the mind.
After all, people whose lives are lived in the midst of poetry, science, art, and philosophy seldom choose to refer to themselves as “cultural elitists;” the term implies a populist perspective. From their own perspective, their ability to engage in these cultural pursuits, and the existence of an educational system that opens doors to this world to people of all backgrounds, is a primary measure of a society’s attainment of civilization.
It is one thing to make the populist argument that academics are out of touch with real world problems (sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not) but it’s another thing to devalue their cultural contributions or show hostility toward their values in favor of “real world, practical concerns.” Unfortunately, hostility toward what E. M. Forster called the aristocracy of the sensitive is present in academic institutions, which one would expect to be a refuge.
So there is the story; here is what it means in the context of debates in academic libraries.
A number of related trends that are influencing decisions in academic libraries are supported by cultural anti-elitism (though other factors of change may be more fundamental to them). The first is that of “adapting to the Millenials.” Among other things, this means retooling our services to suit students who we take it as a given will study by spending 20 minutes watching YouTube videos rather than six hours reading (selling them short in the process). The second trend is that of “making the collection more relevant.” Among other things, this means catering to popular tastes and duplicating the offerings of local public libraries, with circulation statistics to back up the shift of resources. The third trend that finds anti-elitist support is the continuing rationalization of work processes in libraries through automation, outsourcing, and bureaucratic efficiency measures, and the deprofessionalization into which it factors.
There is an enforcement dynamic that accompanies these trends. If you question the wisdom of moving in these directions, you are “against change.” The expectation is to demonstrate that you are a forward thinking librarian (countering the stereotypes) by de-prioritizing precisely what is offered by academic libraries alone in society – a rich collection of scholarly and literary texts and a high level of knowledge of what they contain in order to provide meaningful access to them. Instead, there is pressure to put emphasis on what people in other enterprises are already doing better and for which they are looked to first – social media, new media, and web technology. In jumping on the bandwagon we are jumping out of the boat. Anti-elitist pressure pushes in this direction because of what it values and de-values.
I think it is worth shifting the discussion away from the meaningless frame of “change, for it or against it” (as though “change” can only mean one thing) and toward the more relevant, underlying issue of anti-elitism versus the cultural pursuits that the academy is here to protect and cultivate. There is a thread of anti-intellectualism running through much of the talk about relevance and change that must be pointed out and identified on the spot – on blogs, at meetings, at conference presentations – so that it can be tied to its specific roots and manifestations, and separated out from a rational discussion of where to go from here. We should ask, who is being served and what is being undercut by specific changes? What is behind them? And, we should reject references to “change” in general as though its specifics are a given and not subject to intelligent planning, with consideration of the ends we want to achieve.
It’s funny how a lack of perspective can make cultural decay look like progress….
May 4, 2009
MIT has posted podcasts from the five plenary sessions at Media in Transition 6, at the Comparative Media Studies program’s podcast page. The plenary sessions were on “Archives and History,” “New Media, Civic Media,” “Institutional Perspectives on Storage,” “The Future of Publishing,” and “Summary Perspectives.” I think these plenary sessions were the best part of the conference. Glad they’re posted.
April 27, 2009
I attended Media in Transition 6: Stone and Papyrus, Storage and Transmission in Cambridge, MA, April 24-26. (Follow that link for a summary of what the conference was about.) Here are my thoughts about the conference after returning home.
Of primary interest to me, coming from Duluth, MN, where it was below freezing yesterday, was the beautiful weather and quaint, New Englandy setting of Cambridge. It was warm, approaching the 70s. Second after the weather and the architecture the most noticeable thing about Cambridge, coming from the Midwest and California before that, are the sharply drawn, heavily defining class lines. You can feel that it matters what your background is to people in that part of the country. While it is refreshing to be in a place where intellectualism is generally respected, it is annoying how that appreciation always seems to come with a measurement of rank (what university you’re associated with, etc.).
Walking into the Sloane building at the kickoff of the conference, what was most noticeable was the way that people looked. Black clothing, trendy eyewear, and hip messenger bags created an impression of with-it-ness and sexiness that matched the paper abstracts on the website. Beginning to speak with people personally, though, I quickly realized that, more than hip and sexy, this was a crowd of extremely interesting and dynamic individuals.
Listening to papers over a couple of days, I did notice a certain degree of academic vanity and ego that is an underlying issue in academia, perhaps more at MIT6 than in some other places, because of the sexiness of the subject matter. You could hear the effort that many of the young scholars put into stringing together impressive and artful sentences, and I felt a little embarrassed to recognize my own writing priorities in theirs (since those artful sentences could have been written just as clearly without the showiness). I think it is a rare person who pursues a profession as an intellectual who can remain uncorrupted by the issues of ego and vanity that run through academia.
The conference, since it was so much about what is new and changing, had the feel of young intellectuals staking their claims, but not everyone there was young. The inter-generational dynamic was important. There were a number of well established senior faculty who held forth and got respect, but sometimes seemed to be struggling to keep up with the pace of change that younger academics at the conference were aggressively pushing forward with papers on Youtube and how it has reshaped things, etc. To get a sense of the energy of the young scholars at the conference, take a look at the action on Twitter over the past few days.
While there were a lot of women at the conference, there were few minorities, and some women noted how male-dominated the large-scale discussions tended to be. This is despite gender and multiculturalism frequently appearing as aspects of presented papers.
As a librarian, and not a professor or a grad student, and not immersed in media studies, I felt somewhat outside of the intellectual currents that flowed through the conference. Thankfully, it was an interdisciplinary-enough event that most people were less than totally familiar with the discourse that underlay most others’ papers, which put everyone in more or less the same boat, at least part of the time. That said, I definitely felt aware of my own non-specialist, perhaps dilettante-ish approach to scholarly discourse. I like having the freedom to engage in an idea briefly, communicate an original thought to someone who might make use of it, and move on. My interests are too wide-ranging to focus on a topic for years on end the way a professor is required to do. I can only admire the work that many of the academics at this conference put into developing their ideas about new media into solid works that might have an influence on the way society solves problems or navigates the way forward, but I am also glad that that is not a part of my job description. I don’t have quite the attention span or temperament for it.
One of the MIT Communications Forum members who kicked off the conference on Friday said that there were over 300 papers being presented. The abstracts and many of the actual papers are online on the MIT6 site – I encourage you to peruse them. Over the course of the weekend I found the energy and sheer volume of discussion and ideas to be overwhelming, so that Sunday morning my head was spinning, and I sat out that day’s sessions. The conference was larger than expected, and attracted so many bright, original young thinkers who want to push ahead with social research about new media and the web that I am left with the impression that this may have been a landmark conference – if not delineating then at least marking a point of fruition and maturity in studies of new, social media, Web 2.0 and the like. The conference was at MIT, and the book table showing MIT Press’ new publications in the area of new media and related topics was a further indication of the what a state of fruition this area of study is in. Take a look at the MIT Press website to see what I mean.
I mentioned that I felt somewhat an outsider at the conference because of my reading interests and work role. Making me feel further outside, or against, the current, was the fact that this conference was very much about the future – speculating about what it will be as well as creating it – while I am often more interested in what we can learn from the past. The sheer volume and energy of the ideas about the future and the rapidly transforming present made me feel my age, and I’m not that old yet.
When I go to conferences, I like to think about what questions are set to emerge but are only suggested in the papers and discussions. One set of questions that I think we will begin to face in librarianship concerns the death of the public sphere and the emergence of disparate publics, and how these relate to social media and digital archives. Many presenters worked from the assumption of a public sphere (whether their ideas concerned journalism, archives, youtube, or communities that would form around electronic books). The question of “publics” versus “the public” did come up explicitly in the question/ answer period following a session about the “new civic journalism,” where Patricia Aufdferheide and Mary Bryson debated Afderheide’s deliberate use of the term “publics” in a way that referred to an ultimate appeal to a broader public sphere were social problems can be communicated and refereed. The sheer volume of communication, and the sharp differences between potential audiences, made me wonder if such a public sphere is possible any longer (I’m very late in doubting it), and how access to discussion about texts will end up being negotiated – how social media groups will form or be formed and access to their discussions regulated.
The ideas that circulated at this conference will, I believe, eventually find their way into our smaller pond of library studies, and I believe we will have many uses for them. I recommend the MIT6 archive of presented papers as a store of ideas.
I did find myself wishing, on a number of occasions, that more LIS people were present. For example, there was a lot of interest and discussion of digital archives and the role of the archive in society, but no academics who could speak to the issues in archival theory and archival appraisal that were glossed over by speakers, who seemed almost unaware that such a discipline exists. In the first plenary discussion, for example, there was an unquestioned assumption that archivists want to keep everything, with no reference made to archival appraisal, which was very much at issue.
This conference really wore me out. I think I will pass on the next one, but I hope it is attended by more librarians and archivists than this one was.
April 22, 2009
From today’s Inside Higher Ed, “Digital Archives That Disappear,” a brief article about Google’s shutdown of the historical newspaper archive Paper of Record, which it secretly purchased in 2006.
This is a good example of what many people have feared about Google’s success – that turning over information resources from shared, public control in library-related settings to the private, for-profit sector we would begin to see public access constrained.
Google has restored access to Paper of Record temporarily, but, being who they are it would be foolish not to assume that they will be spending the time figuring out how to effectively monetize the resource to make back their investment. Historians will have to pay for access to the resources that they need, in a case where the resources in question had already been paid for and were publicly accessible.
April 9, 2009
If you’re like me, you work in a library that is facing tough decisions (no irony intended by that cliché phrase) as a result of budget cuts during the economic crisis. The choice between cutting staff and cutting the budget for materials is the easy one – protect the people who work in the library and do with less than an adequate budget for books and videos until things turn around.
Beyond that the decisions begin to get more difficult, because acquisitions budgets were already tight before the economy entered into a recession.
I would like to emphasize what I believe is an important consideration as we think this problem through, one based on the long view and the preservation function of libraries. I can see us looking back on this period 20 years from now, and being saddened by a tragic hole that exists in the written record because of a lack of funds for collecting certain materials for some number of years. What kinds of materials might we end up wishing we had collected but now find it tempting to cut out of the budget? In terms of preservation, it is most likely going to be materials that aren’t collected and preserved by a major research library, which probably means materials published in your own region or locality, or in a specialty that is unique to your institution. For example, if you are paying to have a local or regional newspaper microfilmed or digitized, there may be no one else doing it if you discontinue that activity now. If you’re considering discontinuing a print subscription to something obscure that has an important role in the activities of your own faculty because it’s been picked up by an aggregator, you should consider that the written record may ultimately depend on your maintaining that print subscription. And to make matters more difficult, institutions aren’t sharing much information with each other at present about what they are considering cutting.
What I want to point out is that our preservation role is at its most important during those times when it’s hardest to maintain, because others, under the same pressures, may not be doing the job.
March 13, 2009
Issue 166, March 2009, of the SRRT Newsletter is just published. This issue contains the minutes from Midwinter’s meetings in Denver, where Action Council decided to publish the newsletter on the web only, and to move to a quarterly publication schedule. For some time, the newsletter was SRRT’s largest single expense, even at a twice-yearly publication schedule. The weight of this financial cost was unsustainable and had begun to put a damper on SRRT’s other activities. I am glad that Action Council has made this decision.
This issue of the newsletter is Myka Kennedy Stephens’ second issue as editor, and is up to the high standards she set for herself with the previous one.
Now that the SRRT Newsletter is primarily a web-based publication in html format (rather than pdf) it has a new degree of accessibility in the current professional environment.
Other news related to the newsletter: Thanks to Alison Lewis’ and ALA’s efforts, Wilson’s Library Literature database now indexes it. According to reports, they are in the process of digitizing all back issues. That is rather exciting.
Kudos to SRRT and Myka for a good issue 166.
December 24, 2008
Monika Antonelli has an important article in the new Electronic Green Journal called The Green Library Movement: An Overview and Beyond. Here is the abstract:
The creation of green libraries is approaching a tipping point, generating a Green Library Movement, which is comprised of librarians, libraries, cities, towns, college and university campuses committed to greening libraries and reducing their environmental impact. Constructing a green library building using a performance standard like LEED is a way some libraries are choosing to become green and sustainable. Environmental challenges like energy depletion and climate change will influence the type of information resources and programs libraries will provide to their communities.
Monika is an important pioneer who is leading the way to make libraries a core part of a more sustainable society, dovetailing the idea of libraries with emerging ideas from the permaculture movement. I’m glad to see this article and look forward to more. (Can you tell I’m hoping she’ll do a book with LJP?).
November 29, 2008
ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy had its annual retreat this month. Barbara Fister, frequent poster to the ACRL blog and a librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, presented a talk there called “Open Access and Books in a Digital World – What Role Should Libraries Play?” Her talk is an interesting exploration of the Google settlement in economic and ethical terms and its meaning for libraries.
I was tickled to see two paragraphs of my Dec. 2004 article on the Google Print project quoted in the conclusion. (I made some predictions and turned out to be right.)
A quotation I especially liked, however, was one I hadn’t seen before. Barbara began her talk with this statement from Thomas Jefferson:
“If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.”
It seems that Jefferson would be in agreement with those who say that the founders wanted only limited property rights to inhere in intellectual property. This statement supports their reading of Article I of the Constitution.