May 16, 2013
We are announcing that Litwin Books, Library Juice Press, and Auslander & Fox will no longer sell books directly off our website or at conferences. Direct retail sales have always been a small part of our business. Most people buy our books from Amazon, other online retailers, or through vendors to libraries such as YBP. We are getting out of retail sales because it is kind of an administrative headache, especially with regard to the requirement to collect sales tax on sales in California (and soon possibly the 50 states). We have a lot of projects, and stopping retail sales is a way to streamline things so that we have enough time to do the things that matter: signing authors, editing and publishing their books, offering and supporting classes through Library Juice Academy, and other ventures, some experimental.
You should have no trouble finding our books on Amazon or other places. We will only be bringing enough copies of our books to conferences to show them to people, and we’ll be giving those copies away. (We’re not supposed to do any selling out of the inexpensive “independent press” booths anyway.)
One complication: If you own a gift certificate, you won’t be able to redeem it the way you’re supposed to at this point, because we’ve taken our book selling interface offline. If you want to redeem a gift certificate, write to me at rory at litwinbooks dot com and I can work with you.
May 13, 2013
May 11, 2013
Just a note to say that Library Juice is on Pinterest. Please feel free to enjoy our content!
May 9, 2013
The 2013 Green Book Festival awarded its top honor in the category of Best Business Book to Greening Libraries, edited by Monika Antonelli and Mark McCullough and published by Library Juice Press.
Greening Libraries provides library professionals with a collection of articles and papers that serve as a portal to understanding a wide range of green and sustainable practices within libraries and the library profession. The book’s articles come from a variety of perspectives on a range of topics related to green practices, sustainability and the library profession. Aspects of the growing “green library movement” covered include green buildings, alternative energy resources, conservation, green library services and practices, operations, programming, and outreach.
The Green Book Festival gives awards in a number of categories, as well as overall best and honorable mention awards, which makes it a useful collection development tool for librarians.
May 4, 2013
If you’ve started your planning for ALA Annual, here’s something to consider for Monday night, July 1st. Library Juice Press is having a reception/party kind of thing at 7pm. There will be drinks and some things to nosh. We created a Facebook event with details. This will also be for Litwin Books, Library Juice Academy, and Auslander & Fox. Hope to see you there…
May 3, 2013
Emily Drabinski is the editor of a book series with Litwin Books and Library Juice Press, titled, “Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies.” Originally it was “Gender and Sexuality in Librarianship,” but pretty quickly it was clear from the titles that she was lining up that the emphasis was going to be on theoretical topics that would be of interest to scholars outside the library profession, so we updated the title. It occurred to me that this would be a good time to do an interview with Emily about the series and the books that are coming up in it, and Emily agrees. So, Emily, thanks for doing this interview.
I think the way I’d like to do this is really just to get you to talk about the series and describe the upcoming books. I don’t think I have an accurate memory of how it got started, so do you want to start by telling that story? Did it derive from a particular book project?
I’m also not sure how this book series got started! It’s funny how short my memory has gotten. Thank god for google–searching back through my gmail I see that we started talking about the series in 2009, just as I was finishing up the editing work on Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods (with Maria Accardi and Alana Kumbier). At the time I was also circling around questions of intersections of critical work on gender and sexuality and library organization systems in my own work. We first met at the UW-Milwaukee Thinking Critically conference in 2008, where I presented a paper about queer geography and library shelf space, and I’m guessing that’s what put me in your head as someone with some content interest.
I also had editorial and clerical interest in the series. It turns out that I like working with other people on their work more than I like working on my own work, at least some of the time. I love talking to people about their ideas, shaping editorial calls, looking through raw copy for the heart of the story. It’s like an intimate friendship with ideas, and I love it. It also turns out that I’m pretty good at the clerical parts of the job, managing timelines and deadlines, versioning manuscripts, keeping track of contracts, the nuts and bolts of producing books. This is a part of the job I am getting better at. When I was working with Lyz Bly and Kelly Wooten on Make Your Own History, I was new to Dropbox and downloaded all the chapters without realizing that I’d disappeared them from the shared folder. Kelly freaked out a little, and I learned a solid lesson. Now I don’t know what I’d do without that particular cloud.
The first book was Tracy Nectoux’s Out Behind the Desk, a collection of personal stories and critical reflections on being and coming out in libraries. She pitched me the book based on the call for the series, and it felt like a great fit. While other library presses publish work on gender and sexuality studies, I felt like her book would benefit from the context of the series, being part of a set of titles addressing similar questions in a variety of ways.
I think that was a good way to start the series, although the ones you have been working on since are quite different. We published Make Your Own History last year. Do you want to describe that project and how it came about?
Kelly Wooten and Lyz Bly edited the second book in the series. It’s a collection of chapters about the the theory and practice–my favorite mix, and what makes our field so interesting to think and work in–of feminist and queer archives. Their authors are really from all over the place–the academy and activist circles, feminist presses and queer zine collections. It’s a rich set of texts that I think is the first of its kind, and belongs in the hands of theorists, practitioners, and activists. It was also a book that taught me about the importance of contracts and copyright. All of the authors were really aware of copyright issues and made their concerns very known to me–that was helpful! After working together for more than a year on this project, Kelly and I finally got to meet at a reading in Brooklyn at the Feminist Zine Fest, organized by Kate Angell and Elvis Bakaitis. The book gave us a reason to have a public conversation about feminist and queer history. That’s the real power of this series, I think. The titles enable conversations that I think we’re already having, but in a less organized way.
That book has definitely attracted interest and has been a part of conversations, which is very gratifying. That is what I hope to achieve. So we have a number of titles coming up in your series. Would you describe what’s coming up?
It is a busy, busy time for the series, with three books just about to be hot off the presses. First up is the Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader, a collection edited by Patrick Keilty and Becca Dean. I’m thrilled about this project–it does the kind of work that I always wanted to see in the field. They’ve pulled together critical essays from feminist and queer studies and put them against similar work in information studies. So, you’ll have a chapter about the invention of transgender as a legal category next to a chapter about library classifications of identity. The book puts LIS into critical conversation with fields that work as much on classification theory as we do. It’s just fantastic. Then come two monographs. Alana Kumbier is finishing a book about queer archives theory and practice that draws on theoretical work about “the archive” to describe a number of material archives projects as well as their representations. It’s cross-disciplinary in the best way, and will find readers in fields outside of the library. Maria Accardi is completing a primer on feminist pedagogy for teaching librarians. I’m a little in love with this little book. What started as a relatively dry, academic text about feminist theory has morphed into a hybrid memoir/feminist teaching manual. I think it will be the kind of book librarians will turn to again and again–I anticipate many a coffee-stained, dog-eared copy, ripped out lesson plans, . And Rachel Wexelbaum is editing a collection about LGBTQ libraries and archives in the digital world. It’s an exciting and busy time to be involved with this series.
And while all that is going on, you are accepting book proposals and submissions for future projects in the series. How would you define the scope of the series for people who may want to submit something to it? What issues do you hope to address with future titles?
Yes, I am absolutely seeking new projects. The series has both practical and theoretical scopes, and proposals are welcome for either. In terms of practical projects, I’m particularly interested in books that provide a how-to for people in our field, like handbooks to feminist or queer cataloging, or a manual for setting up print or digital community archives for feminist collections. I also think we have room in our field for more abstract explorations of feminist and queer perspectives on knowledge production, organization, and access, as well as the politics of all three of those. I’d like the series to address a broad group of readers, those who want to open a book at 9am and then make something happen by noon, and those interested in reading and thinking through more complex arguments about the foundations and futures of our field. I am also really open to just talking with people who have only the germ of an idea. Dialogue has a way of turning a glimmer into a book for sale, so I hope people will get in touch.
That is wonderful. Readers, you can contact Emily at emily.drabinski at gmail dot com. Regarding communications with readers, I wonder if you could share some of the things that have come about as a result of these books – discussions, projects, etc. What have these books generated? I mean books in this series specifically, not your book on critical library instruction, which has had its own life post-publication.
Well, there are the concrete outcomes that are public and that I can articulate: Maria Accardi’s session about feminist pedagogy at ACRL was a direct outgrowth of her book project, and was quite well received this spring. She also just got tenure at the University of Illinois Southeast, an accomplishment I like to think this book played a hand in. Alana Kumbier presented on a chapter of her upcoming book at Barnard College’s Activism and the Academy conference in 2011 along with Jenna Freedman, who wrote an essay for Kelly Wooten and Lyz Bly’s collection. Out Behind the Desk was nominated for a 2011 Over the Rainbow award, and has been well reviewed in print and online. Kelly Wooten and Jenna Freedman spoke with me at the Feminist Zine Fest in Brooklyn. And then there are the outcomes that we’ll only see later, both in traditional ways (I’m following citations like a hawk!) and in ways less amenable to measurement. One of the reviewers of Tracy Nectoux’s book notes that the collection was “comforting.” I think he meant that he could see from reading the stories of these LGBT librarians that he wasn’t alone. I hope the series can be comforting to many readers in many ways, letting us know that we are not alone in our professional and theoretical conversations, and that they have a home on this series and on this press.
That’s right. Thanks for those links, too. I’m very pleased at the way these books have sent out waves. I hope that with future projects we can expand the range of people who will be comforted and feel included. I think that the way a book can help someone at a personal level is an extremely important aspect of publishing that we don’t normally think about when we think about scholarly communication. Which is not to diminish what could be said about your series from other perspectives.
I am wondering about your own intellectual interests, and when there might be a book in this series written by you. Any thoughts on that?
My own intellectual interests are a little bit all over the map right now–my hands are in a lot of pots as I come to the end of my tenure clock. I’ve been working with the journal Radical Teacher to go open access, and that is taking up a lot of my time. I think we’re just a week or so out from going live at http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu. I’m hoping to find venues to share what I learned, particularly about the kinds of worries that people who aren’t librarians have about the open access decision. I recently published the culmination of several years of puzzling through my thinking on what to do about the paradox of queer subject headings: how do we fix in place ideas and identities that change so rapidly and depend so entirely on context? That’s out in the April issue of Library Quarterly. You probably can’t tell by reading it, but it took me a very very long time to figure out how to say the pretty small something I said in that piece. We’ll see what I end up focusing on this summer: ideas of time in information literacy instruction, a curriculum analysis project I’m working on with a colleague, queer theory and retrieval systems, I’m in a bit of a reboot moment. I can’t imagine writing a book at all, let alone a book in this series. I have come to appreciate–and hope some of the authors I’ve worked with appreciate–the real pleasures of the author-editor relationship, especially at the small press scale. If I ever write a book, I think I’ll want to do it with an editor who isn’t me.
Congratulations on your article in Library Quarterly. Sounds like an exciting period, wherever things go from here in your own intellectual work. I think you are a very good editor, but I also hope that it doesn’t pull you away from your own writing too much.
To finish up the interview, I would like to ask if you have advice for writers and thinkers in our field who may have an ambition of publishing in your series or elsewhere. What do you think people should understand at various stages of working toward completion of book projects like the ones you have been editing?
Write every day. That is just the only way to write a book. Nobody sits down and writes a book; lots of people spend a little bit of time writing every day and end up with a book at the end. They aren’t exceptional people; they’re just people who decided to write more often than they didn’t. Make deadlines and meet them. When you feel like you want to stop, call your editor on the phone and let her talk you away from the shredder. And every single part of this process will take more time than you think it will, and it will be worth it. We all want to hear what you have to say.
Thanks very much for this interview, Emily. If I may say so, I think it’s a little bit inspiring!
Thanks, Rory. My work on this series feels like pretty invisible labor most of the time, so I’m glad to get a chance to talk about the project.
May 2, 2013
I want to make people aware of an important new book:
The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré, the Legendary Storyteller, Children’s Author, and New York Public Librarian. Selected, Edited, and Biographical Introduction by Lisa Sánchez González.
This is not a Library Juice Press or Litwin Books publication, but I wish that it were. It’s a landmark book that is too long in coming. Please share this info with anyone interested in Pura Belpré.
April 28, 2013
I’m working on a “Publisher’s Pledge to the Library Community” that we will release soon. I’ve put out some feelers regarding what people want to see in this pledge, and one concern came up that I feel is too complex in its implications to respond to in a bullet point on the pledge, and that is “timeliness of publication.” It turned out that this question was coming from an author’s perspective, which is fairly valid for the purposes of a pledge to the library community, since most book authors in the professional literature are librarians and many librarians have publishing expectations as a part of their job responsibilities. The question of timeliness is also relevant to collection development and acquisitions librarians, both in terms of the timeliness of the content of a book in the context of its use and in terms of organizing the process of buying books based on publishers’ advertised publication dates. In terms of advertised publication dates, I will readily admit that Litwin Books and Library Juice Press have not always published our books by the advertised publication dates, and can say in our defense only that it is difficult to work on that kind of a schedule when much of the work is subject to factors we can’t control. Among these factors may be other responsibilities of contractors to whom we send production work, permissions issues, and the ability of editors of collections to submit their manuscripts on time (given that they too have issues beyond their control that can affect their schedules, especially for work that is not their primary responsibility in life). So there are factors that are difficult or impossible to control that can affect how long it takes to bring a work to publication once we have announced it and set an expected publication date. As a result I have begun to build in a longer period of time for the expected publication date, for the sake of truth in advertising.
There is always the possibility of cutting corners to make the work go faster, and we avoid doing this, because quality has a different balance point with timeliness in book publishing than it does with faster forms of publishing in the information ecology. Often, I feel that an expectation of “timeliness” of topics is a little misplaced with regard to books. The long form and permanent nature of the book format gives room for the long view as an intellectual approach. I think the perspective of time is one of the contributions that book publishing has made culturally, and not only because we have a lot of old books around. The format encourages work that takes a long time to write, work that is the product of reflection over greater spans of time. Not all forms of book publishing are like this or should be like this. Software manuals, for example, become useless quickly. In academic subjects, the intellectual duration of long-form works can vary by discipline and sub-discipline. My feeling as a book publisher, though, is that if people are less interested in books than they used to be and read fewer of them (which may or may not be true, if you want to be inclusive of e-books, and we are), then the importance of long-form publishing for creating a space for intellectual culture has only increased. Compromises with faster forms of publishing represent compromises with the long view. Timeleness isn’t exactly irrelevant, but I want it to be in balance with quality, and with something that with some exaggeration I will call “timelessness,” by which I mean that I want to publish books that will be of interest to people in ten or twenty years and not just next year, and a few books that will be of interest for much longer than that.
So that is what I bring with me to conversations with impatient authors or contributors to edited volumes. Often, their impatience is based in part on a lack of understanding of all that is involved in the publication process. We had a problem with a book recently that was held up for a long period because the editors had personal issues to deal with, but because they didn’t communicate about this with contributors, we as a publishing house took the heat (and it had to do with people’s tenure portfolios, among other things). So I have experience with authors who have had serious issues regarding timeliness of publication. But because it is not always possible to make people happy regarding their expectations of timeliness, I don’t feel it’s possible to make “timeliness of publication” a promise in our pledge to the library community.
What about the option of saying that we will “make every effort to ensure timeliness of publication,” as was suggested to me by the person who brought this up? That would allow us to avoid promising what ends up being impossible. The problem I have with that option, though, is that it places too much stress on the value of timeliness in a form of publishing that is less about timeliness than other forms. So I have arrived at this:
“We pledge to balance timeliness, quality, and ‘timelessness’ in our choice of book projects and our processes for bringing them to publication.”
I’m interested in readers’ feedback on this.
April 24, 2013
Letter from the CILIP International Library and Information Group:
In the interest of international cooperation and experience-sharing, I would like to invite you to join the Hosts Directory and help make it a global resource.
So what is it?
The Hosts Directory is exactly that – a list of international librarians who are willing to host, for a day or two, a fellow library and information worker who is visiting their city or region. Hosts are located across the world – please see the Map of hosts at www.tinyurl.com/CILIPHostsMaps . All information is anonymous and you will not be put in contact with a guest without agreeing beforehand – the idea is that you will be able to stay with a professional colleague when attending a conference, event or just travelling abroad rather than in a hotel.
All you need is a spare bed or room and the desire to meet colleagues from other countries, to share experiences and to contribute, in a small way, to building bridges to international understanding and co-operation within the library and information profession. Guidance for potential Hosts is also available online at www.tinyurl.com/CILIPHostsGuide.
Please help us expand the directory by registering online at www.tinyurl.com/CILIPHostsRegistration.
For the visitor – the guest – it is a chance to get to know, at first hand, something of the life of a fellow professional in a foreign country as well as the opportunity to stay with a colleague for free or at limited cost.
If you would like to use the Hosts Directory as a guest, please first check the Map of hosts at www.tinyurl.com/CILIPHostsMaps to see there are Hosts in the area you are visiting and email the Hosts Directory Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org with details of who you are, where you want to and how long they want to stay.
Please feel free to pass this information onto colleagues who may also be interested.
Facebook: International Library and Information Group
ILIG YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/CILIPILIG
April 13, 2013
LISdocstudents is an unmoderated email discussion list for doctoral students in Library and Information Studies, working at any institution. The purpose is to communicate with other doctoral students about shared issues, be they intellectual questions in the field, problems facing emerging academics on the path through graduate school and into academic careers, issues having to do with trends in higher ed and LIS as a discipline, or other topics that seem appropriate. Announcements are good too. Doctoral students in LIS are the main constituency of the list, but masters students, graduate students in other fields, and professors are invited to participate.
April 11, 2013
In this 6-course certificate program, you will gain competency as a coder in XML and RDF-based systems that create, transform, manage, and disseminate content and metadata. Typically, these are the structures at the heart of content management systems, repositories, and digital libraries. Topics covered include XML fundamentals, XPath, DTDs and Schemas, standard markup languages, XSLT and Xquery, the semantic web, RDFa and RDFa Lite, RSS, ontologies and linked data, and the SPARQL semantic query language and protocol.
Courses in the series:
1. Introduction to XML
2. Transforming and Querying XML: An introduction to the XSLT and Xquery
3. Introduction to the Semantic Web
4. RDFa1.1 (RDFa and RDFa Lite) and RSS
5. Ontologies and Linked Data
6. The SPARQL semantic query language and protocol – the Semantic Web in action
These courses are four-weeks in duration and taught asynchronously.
These courses work best if taken in sequence, as the sequence builds on knowledge gained, but we have no formal prerequisites in place. If you need to take them out of sequence, feel free to contact us about your situation.
The cost for each course is $175, but you can register for all six courses in the program at once and receive a 10% discount.
April 10, 2013
The constitutional rights of people who are caught up in the criminal justice system are always an issue, but this is a little bit different, because the activities that got Daniel McGowan in trouble with the law were political activities in the first place. I recommend this article in the Village Voice to the ALA IF community: Daniel McGowan Forbidden From Publishing Articles Without Permission. In short, McGowan was serving the end of a prison term in a sort of halfway house (on an eco-terrorism charge), when he was detained and imprisoned again in an experimental new facility called a “Communications Management Unit,” after publishing an article critical of the authorities he has been dealing with. A Freedom of Information Act request uncovered memos that show he was indeed incarcerated to silence him, and he is pursuing a lawsuit that questions the constitutionality of these CMUs. I think this is worthy of attention from the Freedom to Read Foundation, don’t you?
April 3, 2013
In the Library with the Lead Pipe published an interesting editorial this morning titled, “DIY Library Culture and the Academy,” though editorial may not be exactly the right word for it, because mostly it is a call for discussion of the ideas it presents. Library Juice Press is mentioned as an example of a DIY project, and so as you might guess I have some comments.
Lead Pipe editors Emily Ford and Micah Vandergrift both refer to the history of DIY, Emily stating that it is (in a way) what academic librarians have been doing all along, and Micah calling on the specific meaning of DIY in punk culture as a standard we should be keeping in mind. I would like to talk about it in terms of something that happened in the 60s and 70s that was called the “new careers movement,” and what sociologists of the professions at the time were calling “the revolt of the client,” because it was an important DIY moment that relates to this one. I am drawing these comments largely from a couple of papers written by sociologist Marie Haug: her 1969 paper with Marvin Sussman titled, “Professional Autonomy and the Revolt of the Client,” in Social Problems 17.2, and her 1975 paper titled, “The Deprofessionalization of Everyone?,” in Sociological Focus 8.3, which was a response to an influential paper by Harold Wilensky in 1964 titled, “The Professionalization of Everyone?”
Marie Haug developed a concept of deprofessionalization in response to the idea first proposed by Daniel Bell (famous for the term “the information society”), that the rapid proliferation of knowledge and technology would give more power to professionals and would also increase the share of knowledge-work as part of the economy, as machines would gradually take over all of the less-skilled work. Haug thought about this idea in terms of something that had begun happening in the late sixties, which sociologists termed “the revolt of the client.” What this referred to was the way “the person on the street” had started to feel alienated by the authority of professionals of whom they were clients, started to see them as “The Man” and started demanding the right to take care of needs that the professions had a monopoly over fulfilling, at the street level. Simultaneous to this revolt against the authority of the professions were some other social changes that had begun to enable non-professionals to perform some of these roles. Haug focuses on the medical profession, but we can see how the same changes gave power to people working in paraprofessional or non-professional roles in various institutions or outside of institutions completely. Haug observed that the professions’ monopoly on knowledge was being eroded by the general increased level of schooling, and also by the rise of computers, since data-driven software allowed for professional knowledge to be codified for access by non-professionals (essentially what happened later with desktop publishing software). So Haug argued that contrary to the main stream of the sociology of the professions at the time, these factors would lead to a loss of autonomy for professionals, who had previously enjoyed a strong monopoly on the knowledge on which their practice was based. In medicine specifically, the “new careers movement” was the beginning of the trend of giving nurses and nurse practitioners more of the privileges of MD’s in terms of basic medical practice. There was a gender element to the new careers movement and the revolt of the client in addition to a class element. So, I think that moment is important to think about in the context of DIY, because it links what are now a couple of separate meanings that DIY may have – the punk idea that Micah Vandergrift evokes in order to talk about the political reasons behind DIY, and on the other hand the power that desktop software gives people to do a lot of things pretty well that formerly required a professional (like desktop publishing). At the time of the “new careers movement,” the social trend toward deprofessionalization that Haug saw just beginning was motivated at one level by the desire for a sort of revolution in a political sense, and was enabled at another level by mass education and computerization.
While the rise of the new careers movement and the erosion of the professions’ monopoly on knowledge might seem simply like something to celebrate, Haug was concerned that it would lead to an increase of power for the bureaucrats who worked in professional institutions, resulting in less autonomy for professionals. This does seem to have happened and seems still to be happening (and in an ironic way may be part of the impetus for DIY practice among professionals now). At the same time, she acknowledged that people did become empowered outside of the professions in meeting needs formerly in the total purview of the professions. There is a certain way, however, I think, in which changes that enable DIY and sub-institutional work can redistribute and veil professional control as much as they can undo it. The reason for this is way software that makes use of professional knowledge in a codified form has decisions embedded into it, so that what for the professional may be questions of judgment to apply in various different contexts become software limitations of which users may not be aware, not having the background of a professional who can articulate the questions that the software has already answered for the user. Software that empowers us also makes decisions for us, decisions that are by nature outside of our focus as we are using it. (This is part of the argument for open source software.)
As librarians, we occupy an ambiguous position in the space defined by these changes. We claim an area of professional expertise but do not claim a monopoly over it; in fact, our professional ideology goes against the monopoly of knowledge on which professions are traditionally based. Our self-defined role is to empower people with knowledge, yet we try to protect our status as a profession as having a unique ability to do it. We also occupy an ambiguous position as designers of systems at the same time we are users of systems in which professional knowledge is embedded that we don’t necessarily have access to (think about the opacity of function of next-generation discovery tools). This may mean, in Haug’s terms, that we function both as professionals, with authority over a knowledge domain and a need to protect our autonomy from encroachment by the bureaucracies of our institutions, and as allies of clients who want solutions outside of the professions, in pursuit of an opening-up of professional privileges (though copyright battles, through access to medical and legal knowledge that we can share, etc.). In light of this, I think DIY work can accomplish a number of goals. First, it can enable us to do things that our bureaucracies have made difficult for us to do, despite the fact that we are ostensibly the professionals in our organizations. Second, it can demonstrate for our users that we are their allies who work in the same “DIY consumer space,” meaning that we understand the limitations they confront or feel that they confront. Third, DIY tools that are sold to consumers can afford us the benefits of professional knowledge outside our own fields without the cost of high-level business-to-business deployment, which we can’t control as individuals anyway.
I think there is also a dark side to observe, as well as a danger in attempting to understand DIY entirely through a historical lens, and that is that the kind of DIY affordances we are talking about are a part of a major economic shift that has taken place over the last half-century, away from Fordist production toward more software-driven, small-scale, customizable production and the different economic relations (and subjectivities) that Post-Fordism entails. There is a lot written about these changes in the field of political economy, but I would like to mention one article that relates to DIY specifically: Yiannis Mylonas’ article in Triple C, titled, “Amateur Creation and Entrepreneurialism: A Critical Study of Artistic Production in Post-Fordist Structures.” (Full disclosure: Mylonas has a chapter in the upcoming Litwin Books title, Piracy: Leakages from Modernity, edited by Martin Fredriksson and James Arvanitakis.) Mylonas suggests that the DIY orientation is a part of the transformation of everybody into an entrepreneur, i.e. the spread of neoliberal subjectivity. So, I am careful about getting behind it as a “cause,” though I like to take part. Furthermore, I can admit to having the ambition to bridge the gap between DIY voice and institutional voice, and to cross that bridge, as entrepreneurs generally do.
- Rory Litwin was an academic librarian prior to working full time as a small press academic publisher and continuing education provider with Litwin Books, Library Juice Press and Library Juice Academy.
March 27, 2013
In this 6-course certificate program, you will learn the fundamentals of user experience (UX) and how to apply user-centered strategies to library websites and beyond. The program begins by teaching you the key concepts of UX design and how to employ them in your website projects. Next, you will learn the ins and outs of information architecture: how to structure and organize your content so that it is both discoverable and navigable in the easiest way possible. The next two courses will give you the tools to continually get feedback on your website through usability testing and other research methods. You will then learn how to better write for the web so that once your users discover your content, they can both understand it and act on it. Finally, you will learn how you can create a website content strategy, so that from that point forward all your content will be useful, usable, and findable. All together, these courses cover a breadth of topics that will equip you with the skills necessary to create, manage, and sustain library websites that provide an excellent user experience.
Courses in the series:
Designing a Usable Website (Concepts of User-Centered Design)
Instructor: Carolyn Ellis
Information Architecture: Designing Navigation for Library Websites
Instructor: Susan Teague-Rector
Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing
Instructor: Rebecca Blakiston
Beyond Usability Testing: Other Research Methods
Instructor: Sonali Mishra
Writing for the Web
Instructor: Nicole Capdarest and Rebecca Blakiston
Developing a Website Content Strategy
Instructor: Rebecca Blakiston
These courses need not be taken in sequence for the purposes of earning the Certificate in User Experience, and none have prerequisites. Contact us for more information.
March 20, 2013
On February 28, 2013, Bradley Manning read a 35-page statement at a courthouse in Fort Meade, in which he detailed how and why he released certain information to the public. The redacted transcript reveals several intellectual freedom issues that have been central to some recent discussions at American Library Association meetings. Among these issues are recurring concerns about the national security vs. the public’s right to know debate and the over-classification of government information, both of which reinforce government secrecy.
When Manning discussed the release of diplomatic cables, he stated “the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other. I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for more open diplomacy.” Even the Obama Administration agrees that a more open government would be beneficial and joined the Open Government Partnership with several other countries devoted to making governments more transparent and accountable. In theUnited States’ Open Government Partnership action plan whistleblower protection and declassification of government records are listed as working goals, among many others. In addition, the action plan supports “accountability, which can improve performance” and refers to the famous quote from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Yet, Bradley Manning’s court case, along with several other instances of whistleblower persecution, point toward an opposite reality. In fact, the Obama Administration is taking the unprecedented path of charging Manning with “aiding the enemy”, a crime punishable by death and a charge for which Manning has pleaded not guilty.
In Yochai Benkler’s post in New Republic titled “The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case,” he explains that “If Bradley Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy, the introduction of a capital offense into the mix would dramatically elevate the threat to whistleblowers. The consequences for the ability of the press to perform its critical watchdog function in the national security arena will be dire. “Perhaps Manning’s leaks of diplomatic cables along with other information on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been too much “sunlight”, or rather, not the kind of sunlight the Open Government program envisioned. This is where we see a great clash between the Public’s right to know and concerns for national security.
Unfortunately, invoking “national security” has often been used to limit intellectual freedom, including press freedom as outlined under the First Amendment, resulting in fleeting protections for whistleblowers who reveal injustices and abuses within organizations. A prime example is the decision by The New York Times not to publish a story in 2003 on the sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program by the C.I.A. after government officials informed the paper it would endanger “national security.” In addition, President Obama’s 2012 directive titled “Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information” does not extend protection to whistleblowers that disclose information outside of institutional channels for example, to the press or the public. Benkler asserts that “freedom of the press is anchored in our constitution because it reflects our fundamental belief that no institution can be its own watchdog,” for even though internal accountability systems are in place, secrecy “can be-and often is-used to cover up failure, avarice, or actions that simply will not survive that best of disinfectants, sunlight.” To ensure effective accountability that eliminates injustices and corruption within our government, we need better transparency and a media devoted to its critical watchdog role.
The International Federation of Library Associations, of which the American Library Association is a member, published the “IFLA Manifesto on Transparency, Good Governance and Freedom from Corruption” which offers some inspiration for librarians who are concerned with issues of national security, press freedom and the over classification of government information. It states that: “Corruption succeeds most under conditions of secrecy and general ignorance” and that since libraries in essence contribute to “good governance by enlarging the knowledge of citizens and enriching their discussion and debates” they should extend their work to be active in the “struggle against corruption.”
Moreover, several of the core values of our profession, as expressed by the American Library Association directly relate to the importance of whistleblowers. First, the core value in support of democracy: “A democracy presupposes an informed citizenry.” Likewise, the value of social responsibility, which includes “ameliorating or solving the critical problems of society; support for efforts to help inform and educate the people of the United States on these problems and to encourage them to examine the many views on and the facts regarding each problem.” Without a doubt, government transparency is a critical problem in our society, and has been a continuous balancing act since the inception of our constitutional republic. As Sunshine Week comes to a close, we are reminded to reflect on these issues and the progress we have yet to make.
As of now, the Obama Administration has denied FOIA requests more than any time in the Administration’s history due to national security and internal deliberations. The Espionage Act, enacted in 1917, has resurfaced in the persecution of whistleblowers who inform the public of government crime. National Security Letters continue to be used as a way to infringe on individual privacies, although a federal judge just recently ruled the letters unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment. This varied landscape of political control over information should be explored by information professionals in order to be better informed of the various perspectives and events that have brought it about. As librarians, professionals dedicated to equitable access to information, we should be acutely aware of and decidedly outspoken about the current threat to the vital role that whistleblowers play in times of heightened government secrecy, that of alerting us to troubling, unethical, immoral, and/or criminal acts in our name.