May 30, 2008

One Laptop Per Child Bullcakes

Via Kevin Arthur’s Questioning Technology blog, a tidbit on the fiasco known as One Laptop Per Child

May 25, 2008

The future of paper

I’m slow to catch this one, so I’ll just mention it (as an important scholarly paper that argues for the future of paper): William Powers’ “Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why Paper is Eternal,” a discussion paper for the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy.

May 23, 2008

EPA libraries restored in miniature form

CLOSED EPA LIBRARIES TO RETURN IN LAVATORY-SIZED SPACES; Political Appointee Asserts Control over All Libraries, Repeals 30-Year-Old Manual

“Ordered by Congress to re-open its shuttered libraries, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is grudgingly allocating only minimal space and resources, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).”…

Thanks to Jonathan Betz-Zall for sending this info to the ALA Council list.

May 22, 2008

An example of a blog

I don’t read a lot of blogs. I won’t say why, as other people have said enough about what is wrong with blogs, but I want to give you a fun a propos link.

One type of blog that I kind of enjoy seeing, which I won’t link to here, is the class assignment blog, where the first entry says something like, “This is my blog for our library’s 21 Things project. A blog is a web page that is easily updated with new entries going at the top of the page, often used in a personal way.” Actually the definition given is usually a lot worse than that. Then, as assigned, they link to several examples of blogs. (I only know about the proliferation of these of these because I track back to those links.) Maybe I shouldn’t find these things so funny.

Okay, the promised a propos link, an “example of a blog:” Emily Drabinski’s What I ate for lunch and why. She has the official style down pat, really nails that sandwich.

I will note that I learned about this blog in person, over lunch.

May 19, 2008

Freedom of Speech in the Library Workplace

I don’t often blog conference programs, but this is one I want to highlight, in part because I’m hoping that it will generate some papers and activities that will be helpful to people outside the conference and I want to let people know about that possibility.

This is a program that will be being convened by Toni Samek at the Canadian Library Association in Vancouver later this month, called Inside Talk: Freedom of Speech in the Library Workplace. The speakers will be Mitch Freedman, Kathleen de la Peña McCook, Sam Trosow, and Paul Whitney.

ALA affirmed the right of librarians to intellectual freedom on the job, which is great, but despite that affirmation it is something that needs more discussion and advocacy in order to advance. I hope that this program will be helpful outside of Canada and I look forward to hearing about how it went.

May 9, 2008

Israel-Palestine conflict comes to the Turin Book Fair

The L.A. Times reports that… the organizers of the this year’s Turin Book Fair made it an occasion to honor Israeli authors on the 60th anniversary of the nation’s founding, which understandably has made a lot of people angryfurniture Bulgaria. So, lots of boycotts of the book fair and heightened security. Yeah, it’s unfortunate that this is happening around an event that is about culture and that peaceful form of communication known as literature, but I think if I were organizing the event I would probably have ignored Israel’s anniversary. Making the book fair an occasion to specially honor Israel given their policies and what is going on there now could only provoke the kind of reaction that it did.

Thanks to Kathleen McCook for sending the LA Times story to email lists.

May 6, 2008

BI on the War, anyone?

Stephen Mitchell of UC Riverside wrote me the other day to ask,

Do you know of academic libraries who have done BI on the War? We’re starting to talk about it and it occurred to me that someone has probably done a nice powerpoint somewhere that we could build on.

I asked him if I could share his question here, because I think it’s a good idea, and I wonder if anyone is pursuing it. I don’t know of anything along those lines myself. I think it’s a perfect topic for teaching all aspects of information literacy and making the ideas (and the library) as relevant as can be.

So please comment if you have done BI’s concerning the War or know of anyone who has.

Stephen followed up with this list of links that he is finding useful in preparing this BI, and I thought I might as well share it here:

May 5, 2008

Instructor fired for refusing to sign a loyalty oath

The Los Angeles Times reports that Wendy Gonaver, an American Studies instructor at Cal State Fullerton and a Quaker, was fired from her job for refusing to sign a loyalty oath. She was willing to sign it with an attached statement qualifying her willingness to “defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic” through non-violent means only, but her request was denied. As a pacifist, she felt she couldn’t sign, and she was fired. This is a problem that Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses often face, apparently. Definitely seems that something ought to be changed here. In Gonaver’s case, her dismissal is ironic, because she has a passion for teaching about our constitutional rights…

May 1, 2008


On this May Day I want to link you to a book (online) that I’m putting out there as a symbol of Library Juice’s opposition within librarianship and the blogosphere: Gustave Le Bon’s The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. This book, originally published in 1896, was an important early work in social psychology, and established in a fairly scientific way that people become irrational in a crowd.

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed (and other important journalistic books and essays about how workers get the shaft in American society), came out with a book last year about crowds, about her love of crowds as a site of joy and protest: Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. I have to admit to feeling a bit chilled when I read about it, and a bit alienated from certain Left traditions of public protest (I prefer the traditions of literature, voting, protest songs, and organized, nonviolent civil disobedience). To me, the word “crowd” brings to mind an angry mob in front of the house of the lone liberal in the village, with torches, ready to kill him because they don’t understand him. (He could be a liberal, a Jew, an unbeliever, a scientist, or left-handed.) And to me, the psychology of crowds is what has led to history’s unspeakable genocides (including the present one). And let’s not forget lynchings. I do not trust crowds.

I don’t trust crowds, because I think crowd psychology leads to irrationality and violence, and turns otherwise suppressed fears and superstitions into mass action. I think that in order to protect society from the madness of crowds (the phrase is part of the title of another early book on mass psychology: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay) we need to cultivate and encourage individual critical thought and the development of the individual mind, and as a part of that, to encourage opposition. So, based on that foundation I am suspicious and wary of certain popular trends: cooperative user-generated content or the collaborative side of Web 2.0, and the emphasis on group work in higher education, both of which (in my view) de-emphasize and undervalue critical individual thought. It is the same reason that I think the transition from print culture to television culture, as described by Marshall McLuhan, has a lot about it that should make us all worried.

That’s my very contrary May Day declaration, which I offer to clarify a bit about where I am coming from.

I’d like to tag Kathleen de la Peña McCook for comments…