December 23, 2009

Rodriguez on the Twilight of the Newspaper

Final edition: Twilight of the American newspaper,” By Richard Rodriguez, in the November issue of Harper’s Magazine. This article is a beautiful explanation of the role that newspapers have had in defining and uniting cities. In this case it’s mostly about San Francisco, but it’s also about newspapers in general, their fate, and what it means. I read it on the plane from Minneapolis to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I am vacationing in the house where I grew up. We subscribed to the Chronicle when I was a kid, so I know exactly what Rodriguez is talking about. (I even had a paper route.) Rodriguez quotes Gavin Newsome, the mayor of San Francisco, about newspapers, saying that if SF lost its daily newspapers, “No one under 30 would notice.” I think that’s true. Gavin was in my graduating class at Redwood High School. What Rodriguez shows is the connection that daily newspapers have, or have had, to everything else. I recommend this piece for some holiday reading (preferably in print).

December 19, 2009

Bibliographic and Web Tools for Alternative Media – December 2009 update

Byron Anderson’s Bibliographic and Web Tools for Alternative Media has just been updated.

This is a good collection development resource for librarians and others who want tools for going beyond the usual lists and collection development resources, especially for finding books on the political fringes or otherwise outside of the usual academic or corporate channels.

December 18, 2009

Shouts & Murmurs for ya’

For fun on a Friday, a couple of recent New Yorker “Shouts and Murmurs” columns related to our world:

Live Your Life


Subject: Our Marketing Plan

SRRT Newsletter – Issue 169, December 2009

Just released: SRRT Newsletter – Issue 169, December 2009.

This issue has messages from the editor and the SRRT AC Coordinator; articles about Banned Books Week and Operation Teen Book Drop; speeches from the 40th Anniversary Celebration; Task Force News, a proposed change to the Bylaws, and book reviews.

December 13, 2009

Chapter One of Juris Dilevko’s Politics of Professionalism

I have posted the first chapter of Juris Dilevko’s The Politics of Professionalism: A Retro-Progressive Proposal for Librarianship to the Library Juice Press website: Chapter One: Fateful Choices. It is the introductory chapter and provides a good feel for the book as a whole.

December 12, 2009

Google splits apart the search

Adorno and Horkheimer might have something to say about this, too.

I thought I had noticed this beginning to happen and was actually planning to post something about it soon, but Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has the full story: “Google’s Personalized Results: The “New Normal” That Deserves Extraordinary Attention.”

Read through this and then consider what an inconvenience it is for searchers like us librarians who are searching on many different things for many different reasons. The record of past searches interferes with the results of subsequent searches. I have noticed this happening for a little while and find it very annoying.

So there are two issues with it. From a librarian’s perspective, it makes it a little harder yet to control our results. From a social perspective, it further fragments the culture by making our exposure to media yet more isolated and individualized. I’m looking for the good in this decision but frankly it seems to me that they’re working on a problem that doesn’t exist. The more their AI tries to do our thinking for us the less power we have to do what we want with the search. It’s not good.

December 11, 2009

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer will not be in attendance

Something is happening in Minnesota that is worth noting if you’re interested in the public sphere. There is a mining project in the Iron Range that is awaiting state approval. It would be the first mining project in the Iron Range that would mine copper and precious metals instead of the usual iron that has been mined in the area for a long time. It would create a lot of jobs, which is obviously a priority to people right now. The non-ferrous mining that is planned is potentially highly polluting due to the sulfide makeup of the ore in which the metals are deposited. Now, PolyMet, the company that is ready to get going, claims that their particular mine setup will control the pollutants to acceptable levels. The state recently released its long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which was produced in cooperation with the company, and we are now in the “Public Comment Period.”

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled a number of public meetings to gather input regarding the EIS and the PolyMet project, and has recently announced some details about these meetings that are becoming a source of controversy. For the first time at such meetings in Minnesota, the public comments will not be taken in an open forum that would allow attendees of the meetings to hear one another. Instead, people wishing to comment will be taken into a private room with a stenographer, who will record their comments privately and deliver them to the DNR officials. The only talking in the auditorium will be an address by the DNR to the crowd.

Environmental groups have complained about this new process, pointing out correctly that it removes both the “public” and the “information” from “public information meeting.”

Now, I am someone who likes the way written communication facilitates rational thinking, so there’s something about transferring everybody’s comments into written form that appeals to me, as a buffer against chaos. However, there is something really wrong with what the DNR is doing here, and it is a problem that should be of concern to more than just environmental groups. Public meetings as a part of the process of setting public policy are an aspect of governance that shows that the public sphere still exists to some degree. By isolating individuals in such a way that they become media consumers who are allowed to give only private feedback, the public is disempowered and democracy is further hollowed out.

I’m all for public policy being dominated by technocrats and experts – I’m not a populist. But in public meetings such as the ones that this system may replace, the most significant comments are often from independent, critical experts. I am concerned that the process is being rigged.

…And it is a matter that I think falls into the category of information ethics…

Nominations for the 2009 Izzy Award are officially open

ITHACA, NY — Nominations for the 2009 Izzy Award are officially open. The annual award for special achievement in independent media — named after legendary muckraker I. F. “Izzy” Stone — is a project of the Park Center for Independent Media (PCIM) at Ithaca College. Last year’s inaugural award was shared by blogger Glenn Greenwald and “Democracy Now!” host/executive producer Amy Goodman.

“The award honors journalists who follow in the independent footsteps of Izzy Stone,” said Jeff Cohen, PCIM’s founding director. “Our 2008 Izzy winners, Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman, personify the growing clout of independent media today in exposing government and corporate misconduct, media bias and human rights violations.”

For more information on the award, visit

In 1953, during the depths of the anti-communist witch hunts, Stone launched “I. F. Stone’s Weekly,” through which he challenged official deception, McCarthyism and racial bigotry. In 1999, a poll of prominent journalists ranked the publication as number 16 among the “Top 100 Works of Journalism in the United States in the 20th Century.” Stone died in 1989.

I. F. Stone’s son, Jeremy, participated in last year’s award ceremony in Ithaca. Days later, Greenwald and Goodman discussed the award and the importance of independent media on the PBS television program “Bill Moyers Journal.”

Award winners are chosen by a panel of judges who have expertise in independent media. As with last year, joining Cohen on the panel are communications professor and author Robert W. McChesney, and Linda Jue, director and executive editor at the G. W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism. The winner will be announced and the award bestowed in February or March.

This year’s Izzy Award will be given for work published, broadcast or posted in 2009 by an independent media outlet, journalist or producer. The award may relate to a single piece or a body of work. Journalists, academics and the public at large — as well as the judges — may submit nominations by the January 12, 2010, deadline.

Nominations should be submitted via a brief e-mail that includes supporting Web links and/or attached materials to Brandy Hawley at Only if e-mail is not possible, nominations can be mailed to Brandy Hawley, Ithaca College, Park Center for Independent Media, 953 Danby Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.

Launched in 2008, the Park Center for Independent Media is a national center for the study of media outlets that create and distribute content outside traditional corporate systems and news organizations. Located within Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications, the PCIM examines the impact of independent media institutions on journalism, democracy and a participatory culture.

New issue of LIS Critique

LIS Critique is an international (primarily Latin American), independent open access journal founded in 2008. The full title is Library & Information Science Critique: Journal of the Sciences of Information Recorded in Documents. The second issue has just been released. Most of the articles are in Spanish, but they have translated the issue’s editorial into English and are interested in maintaining a presence in the U.S. I think it’s good to see what librarians are thinking about in Latin America. Like Progressive Librarian, it is an intellectually-oriented journal situated outside of academia.

December 10, 2009

New book: Humanism and libraries: An essay on the philosophy of librarianship

Humanism and Libraries: An Essay on the Philosophy of Librarianship

Author: André Cossette
Translator and Editor: Rory Litwin
Price: $15.00
Published: December 2009
ISBN: 978-1-936117-17-8
Printed on acid-free paper

André Cossette’s Humanism and Libraries is a concise but rigorous investigation into the foundations of librarianship—its definition and its aims. Philosophical and logical in its approach, it is intended to provide solid ground and unity for professional practice.

Though the work was originally published in French in 1976 in Quebec by ASTED, Library Juice Press has found it to have enduring relevance and value, and has therefore made this English translation. The book includes a preface that makes the case for reading a work from the 1970s on library philosophy, and a set of “questions for reflection” following the text.

December 8, 2009

Baker & Taylor Acquires Blackwell North America

Press Release

Baker & Taylor Acquires Blackwell North America
and James Bennett

– Blackwell U.K. Acquires B&T’s Lindsay and Croft in the U.K. As Part of Deal. Customers to Benefit from More than 300 Years of Bookselling Excellence –

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – December 7, 2009 – Baker & Taylor Inc. today announced it has acquired Blackwell Book Services North America (BNA) and Blackwell’s Australia-based James Bennett bookseller.

Also as part of the deal, Blackwell U.K. will acquire Baker & Taylor’s Lindsay and Croft business in the U.K.

“Our organizations share a passion for bookselling, a rich history and a reputation for superior customer service,” said Tom Morgan, CEO of Baker & Taylor. “With our collective knowledge and breadth of scholarly inventory and value-added services, academic libraries around the world will be extremely well served.”

The combination of Baker & Taylor’s YBP Library Services and Blackwell’s North American and Australian businesses brings together the world’s most respected and trusted academic and research library service providers. The shared commitment to service through partnerships with libraries, consortia and suppliers, coupled with outstanding reputations for professionalism, knowledge and integrity, will allow the expanded U.S.-based YBP Library Services to better meet the rapidly evolving information and workflow needs of academic libraries around the globe for years to come.

In addition to the acquisitions, Baker & Taylor’s YBP Library Services and Blackwell U.K. have entered into a strategic sourcing agreement under which YBP Library Services will source all U.K.-published academic material from Blackwell U.K., and Blackwell U.K. will source all U.S.-published academic material from YBP Library Services. This agreement will enable both businesses to offer their respective customers all over the globe the largest and most in-depth supply of scholarly materials.

Andrew Hutchings, Group CEO of Blackwell, said, “I am confident that this reciprocal agreement will enable Blackwell and YBP Library Services to build on their respective strengths and continue to deliver the high quality services that academic libraries around the world require.”

With this acquisition, Baker & Taylor’s YBP Library Services will continue to offer the collection development and workflow services – print and electronic approval plans, firm and rush orders, continuations and technical services – that customers have relied on for years.

Additional services that were previously unique to one provider, such as Blackwell’s Table of Contents Catalog Enrichment Service or YBP Library Services’ GOBI3 bibliographic service, will soon be offered to all customers. By combining mutual best practices, the companies can provide a superior level of customer service that was never before possible.


Amy Baldwin
Communications Manager
Baker & Taylor
p 704-998-3136
c 704-519-6232

December 2, 2009

New OIF Director Announced

ALA has announced that they have chosen Barbara M. Jones to be the new head of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, replacing the long-serving Judith Krug, who passed away in April.

The ALA Press Release quotes Jones describing the present day context of intellectual freedom in her letter of application:

Twenty-first century IF issues are evolving quickly from those of the twentieth, due to the following: globalization of intellectual freedom issues; technology and privacy concerns; and an increasingly contentious civic discourse as witnessed in the recent health care Town Meetings…New intellectual freedom issues will need to be articulated in terms of our unchanging IF ideals – to the ALA membership, the general public, and to the organizations with which ALA collaborates.

I am very happy to see the new head of the OIF taking a broader view of Intellectual Freedom. It looks to me like the search committee made a very good choice. It will be very interesting to see what role the new OIF plays in things.

December 1, 2009

New Book: Rebel Literacy: Cuba’s National Literacy Campaign and Critical Global Citizenship

Rebel Literacy: Cuba’s National Literacy Campaign and Critical Global Citizenship

Author: Mark Abendroth

Price: $25.00
Published: December 2009
ISBN: 978-1-936117-06-2
Printed on acid-free paper

Rebel Literacy is a look at Cuba’s National Literacy Campaign of 1961 in historical and global contexts. The Cuban Revolution cannot be understood without a careful study of Cuba’s prior struggles for national sovereignty. Similarly, an understanding of Cuba’s National Literacy Campaign demands an inquiry into the historical currents of popular movements in Cuba to make education a right for all. The scope of this book, though, does not end with 1961 and is not limited to Cuba and its historical relations with Spain, the United States, and the former Soviet Union. Nearly 50 years after the Year of Education in Cuba, the Literacy Campaign’s legacy is evident throughout Latin America and the ‘Third World’. A world-wide movement today continues against neoliberalism and for a more humane and democratic global political economy. It is spreading literacy for critical global citizenship, and Cuba’s National Literacy Campaign is a part of the foundation making this global movement possible.

The author collected about 100 testimonies of participants in the Campaign, and many of their stories and perspectives are highlighted in one of the chapters. Theirs are the stories of perhaps the world’s greatest educational accomplishment of the 20th Century, and critical educators of the 21st Century must not overlook the arduous and fruitful work that ordinary Cubans, many in their youth, contributed toward a nationalism and internationalism of emancipation.