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I’ve been refining my library talks lately. The one I’ve given a few times over the past year has to do with the 15% of Americans who still don’t use the internet (no phone, no home internet, no work internet, nothing). How do we work on this issue? Part of the good news is that the new Lifeline Program guidelines from the FCC do include “digital inclusion” (that is, making sure people can use the tools not just have access to them) as part of what the program is supposed to accomplish. This is good. And people have access via their libraries. This is also good. But some of what needs doing is creating a safe place where people can learn technology without being harassed by messages of hazards and pitfalls and social gaffes, often perpetuated by people trying to sell you something. And this messaging starts with us, librarians and educators and people who see these 15% as part of our daily lives. Positive messaging is more important than we give it credit for. This talk goes into detail about ways to do that and important things to think about in our own speech.
By: Jessamyn West,
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I have a bunch of little jobs and I think a lot of people don’t really know what it is that I do. My main jobs are doing Drop-In Time in my small town in Central Vermont, helping people borrow ebooks via Open Library and writing for Computers in Libraries magazine. I also fill in at my local library, do some public speaking once or twice a month usually locally, and I do a lot of volunteer work for the Vermont Library Association, for my town and for Ask MetaFilter. I thought it would be fun if I outlined what a week in my life looks (looked) like and #NLW16 seems like a good time to do that. This is the stuff I did this week which is library/technology/work related, for me.
Sunday – the start of NLW! I did some pre-gaming with some fun Twitter posts (Ghostbusters pinball! Ancient maps!) I helped a friend prepare to transition her website from plain old HTML to something WordPress-y. I sent out an update to the VLA news about the Passport Program and updated some of the web pages that went along with that project on the VLA website. I posted this essay, a speech written in 1909 about the economic value of libraries. Answered about 60 emails for Open Library.
Monday – I had an interview with someone writing an article about the Internet Archive. I made arrangements to give a talk at the Vermont Library Conference. I answered a library school student’s 14 question email about my chosen profession. I helped get a poster online and did some social media promotion for the Intellectual Freedom Committee of VLA’s annual lecture. I helped make up a form for reporting materials challenges in Vermont libraries and sent it around to people for proofreading. I set up this week’s mailing for our local music hall (via MailChimp) and sent it back for proofreading. I worked at the public library to fill in for a librarian who had an emergency meeting. I got to work in the children’s room for a few hours which was delightful. I checked out The World’s Strongest Librarian to read later. I helped my landlady post something to my neighborhood mailing list and she gave me a cookie. Answered about 20 emails for Open Library.
Tuesday – I sent out the music hall mailing to 3000 people and I posted the Challenge Reporting form online. I spoke to someone from another tech center about doing a Drop-In Time program there. The problem, as always, is money. The program costs $2500/year which I know isn’t a ton, but it is with local budgets. I solicited the local school to donate some photocopying to the Passport Program on my way in to Drop-In Time. At Drop-In time I taught a woman to use YouTube (she’d never seen it before, fun!), helped someone else partially recover her email password and helped a guy decide whether to keep or return the laptop he’d just bought from Amazon (not sure what he decided but I think I gave him some good information). Came home to email around to the Passport Committee to try to find a time we can meet to assemble 1000+ passports in the next few weeks. Encouraged everyone to work on getting donations for prizes for the program. Started writing my article for Computers in Libraries and started working on my talk for URI next week. Offered to help someone in a small town with educating people in her town about AirBnB (there’s a political issue but few folks even understand what AirBnB is much less how it operates)
Wednesday – I did a lot of finalizing of the Passport to Vermont’s Libraries program including getting the website and sign-up form finalized and starting the publicity angle. I inquired about teaching HTML/Web Dev again at VTC in the Fall (I don’t really know if this is a job I HAVE or if this is a job I have to ask about every year). I passed around links to an article that I wrote on moss (you heard me) for a friend’s blog. I gave feedback to the Digital Inclusion Fellow who is spearheading Digital Inclusion Day for the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and gave some feedback on their website for this one-day event. I tweeted a thing and retweeted a thing about the Library of Congress. I helped a friend email advice about copyright for an article she’d written that someone wanted to reprint. I emailed with the VLA Webmaster about some changes I made to the VLA website. I learned to use WordPress’s pagebuilder tools to make a button. I am very pleased about my button.
Thursday – This was going to be the day I worked more on my article but instead I wound up writing an email to the libraries who were involved in the Passport Program last year (which involved committee sign-off, etc) and did some planning to table at the Vermont Library Conference and hand out passports. We talked about maybe trying to hand one out to each Vermont Congressperson. I also answered 20-ish emails for Open Library, made some plans to maybe go to a Library Leaders Forum in San Francisco in October. While I was out for a walk I stopped in at a friend’s who was fixing computer issues and I helped him get signed up for a gmail account. He received his first ever text message while I was there (verifying his phone number) and we talked about some other tech issues. His wife is doing a solo sailing trip in the summertime and they want to stay in touch via Skype but they both have to make sure they know how to use it first. Then I went out to pub trivia where my team beat the other teams by HALF A POINT. I like to think it’s because I knew about Kurt Wallander that made the difference. Read some more of The World’s Strongest Librarian. Started trying to find a WordPress plugin that can do a sidebar calendar for this site. Posted a book I’d finished reading to my booklist.
Friday – Today I finished writing my article on cybersecurity which cribs heavily on the last post I made. Submitted it over email after emailing it around to get some feedback. We got word that we found a print shop which will print the Passport to VT Libraries for free which is great news. Lots of emails about that. Also decided to create a Facebook Event for the livestreamed nomination hearings of Dr. Carla Hayden (on 4/20) so I did that via the VLA facebook account and posted it to the Facebook pages of every state library association in the country. Phew. Also checked the VLA email inbox since our usual social media person is at DPLAFest. Posted a job to the website. Did some back and forth with the University of Hawai’i (where I am teaching an online class next month) because I had written something wrong on my I-9 form which means I have to go back to the notary and get it fixed. Went to the post office and mailed a copy of my book to my alma mater’s library which, inexplicably, does not have a copy. Talked to folks at the Internet Archive about sending a letter of support in for Dr. Hayden (you can too!). Read and tweeted out an article on Daily Kos by a cataloger explaining why the push by one Tennessee Congressperson to get the Library of Congress to change the subject heading back to “illegal immigrant” is totally wrongheaded. Sent my boss some fundraising ideas so we can maybe pay for drop-in time next year. Emailed a friend visiting Georgia about some librarians he might like to meet there. Worked on my slides for my URI talk. Read an article in the Atlantic about library visit numbers going down which raised more questions than answers and discussed it on Facebook with Heather Braum. Finished writing this.
I’m taking the day “off” tomorrow to celebrate a neighbor’s second birthday, have lasagna with friends, and then drive down to MA before my URI talk on Monday. So for all intents and purposes this concludes my National Library Week. How was yours?
By: Jessamyn West,
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[this is a transcript of an email I sent to someone doing cybersecurity+libraries research]
There are two ways in which libraries could be doing a lot better in the realm of cybersecurity. And I should note, I work for rural libraries and digitally divided patrons for the most part so a lot of my ideas are on human scale but there are a lot of good ideas in the larger scale about just encrypting and anonymizing data but they’re sort of the same as they would be for any big business.
1. Being better at patron privacy re: cybersecurity. So if we offer patron privacy in terms of what they’re reading (and we do, in the US this is a big deal) why don’t we go to more trouble to help their patrons’ browsing experiences be more secure (https, Tor, encrypted wifi, who knows….)? The answer is boring: money. But it’s a useful concern and one that library leadership (professional organizations etc.) could be doing a HELL of a lot better at. Also pushing vendors (since we buy a lot of b2b software) to offer safer tools. We still have vendors who will email you a password in plaintext. Those vendors should not be getting money by anyone and it’s just a highlight of how little we understand. Like, you’d never buy a car without seatbelts (and, well, can’t) so why are these people still in business?
2. Being better at raising awareness of cybersecurity issues and communicating that to our patrons. So “talking the walk” if you will. This line is trickier because at some level if a patron says “I don’t really care about privacy…” it becomes a challenge to figure out what to do. Do you try to “incent” them to get more serious about it, or do you just realize there are a lot of different ways to be human? I think there are a lot of smart people in the Open Source world who sort of shot themselves in the foot being OS purists and people couldn’t get on board if the only way you could support free software was go ALL IN with OS tools. The same with cybersecurity and privacy, we have to find ways to allow people to twiddle the knobs for themselves. They want to use facebook, but do it safely. Do we have something to offer them?
THAT said I think we need, as a profession, to become a lot more aware of what threats really look like and who we’re really in danger from (imo, it’s more government and advertisers and not what we’ve traditionally thought of as “bad guys”) and having our own way to frame the narrative so that the library is part of that conversation and can help people understand the issues. You read “old media” and you get the feeling that a lot of them don’t really understand the problem (and TV news, my god) so it’s no wonder people who are of average computer intelligence can’t figure it out better. We need to provide options and sensible information to those people not just more FUD.
I made a thing. It started out with me just reading Twitter. A friend built a thing and tweeted about it.
The thing was a super-simple search box which returned content on Flickr that was public domain or Creative Commons licensed. Very cool. However, when I use stuff on my talks, tools or otherwise, I like to make sure it’s free content. Creative Commons is great, I just was looking for something a little different. I noticed the code was on Github and thought “Hmmm, I might be able to do this…”
I’ve used Github a bit for smaller things, making little typo fixes to other people’s stuff. If you don’t know about it, it’s basically a free online front end to software called Git. At this site, people can share a single code base and do “version control” with it. This is a super short and handwavey explanation but basically if someone says “I made a thing, the code is on Github” you can go get that code and either suggest modifications to the original owner OR get a copy for yourself and turn it into something else.
In the past we’ve always said that Open Source was great because if you didn’t like something you could change it. However it’s only been recently that the tools to do this sort of thing have become graspable by the average non-coder. I am not a coder. I can write HTML and CSS and maybe peek inside some code and see what it’s doing, maybe, but I can’t build a thing from scratch. Not complaining, just setting the scene.
So, I “forked” this code (i.e. got my own copy) and opened it up to see if I could see where it was doing its thing and if I could change it to make it do something slightly different. Turns out that Flickr’s API (Advanced Programming Interface) basically sends a lot of variables back and forth using pretty simple number codes and it was mostly a case of figuring out the numbers and changing them. In this image, green is current code, red is older code.
The fact that the code was well-commented really helped. So then I changed the name, moved it over to space that I was hosting (and applied for my own API code) and I mess around with it every few days. And here’s the cool thing. You can also have this code, either Dan’s which searches free and CC images, or mine which only searches for free images. And you don’t have to mess with it if you don’t want. But if maybe you want to use the thing but make a few of your own modifications, it’s easier than ever to do it with something like Github. Please feel free to share.
If you’re always looking for more ways to get public domain and free images, you may like this older post I wrote.
By: Jessamyn West,
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So in the past month I’ve done something I swear I would never do. And I did it twice. I’m taking about webinars. I swore them off in 2008-ish when I did one that was an end-to-end hassle of software, hardware and personal communication. I felt underutilized and underpaid and definitely didn’t feel like I got my message across effectively. A lot has changed since then. Software has gotten better and I’ve gotten a bit better at working with whatever I’m given. Here’s a little rundown on the two events.
First talk was for NJLA, a little virtual keynote talk about Open Library. We used Adobe Connect software which was pretty straightforward to use even though it meant transferring my Keynote slides into PowerPoint. I got to give a talk, keep up with a chat window and answered questions afterwards. I thought it went well and I got to talk about Open Library to a lot of people without leaving my house. The talk is archived for NJLA members but otherwise not available online. Since I’ve been talking about Open Library a lot lately I’ve made a landing page for the various talks I gave.
The second talk was more complex as it was part of a multi-hour event called Library 2.016 with a subtopic called Privacy in the Digital Age. This one used Blackboard’s collaborate software which was a bit more of a hassle (could not use my presenter notes at all, had to read my talk from my laptop at home) but did allow for recording of the entire event so it could be played back, chatroom at all. My talk was short, twenty minutes, and then we had a brief Q&A session. The sponsor of the event, San Jose State University’s library school, made the odd choice of not making links to the recordings or the schedule of the event available to people who didn’t register. However, the link to the recording is a public link, so if you want to hear my talk, you can do that here. I’ve also put my notes and slides online in the usual place.
In both cases, the webinar format worked decently even if the software was a little clunky to get to know. Unsurprisingly, the trickiest issues were the human decisions that went into how to run the webinars, not the actual software or hardware. IU had a decent enough time and am going to consider maybe doing another webinar before another eight years pass. Big thanks to Allen McGinley and Steve Hargadon who made both events happen.
By: Jessamyn West,
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OK many of us know that online comments suck, but why do they suck and how can we make them not suck? I went to a conference to explore that topic.
One of the better pieces of advice I’ve heard from people within a single industry is that there’s a lot to be learned from cross-pollination… going where people are who don’t necessarily share your preconceptions and learning about what is important to you. I’ve been out of the community management game from a job perspective for a few years now but I remain interested in how to achieve great user experiences and community engagement from a library perspective, and interacting with the tech world with that same mentality. The Coral Project is a group trying to do just that. Their seed funding comes from journalism originally, but their lessons apply all over the place. If you’re curious I suggest signing up for their low-volume newsletter or reading along on their blog.
This weekend they had a conference. I usually look forward to all day weekend conferences the same way you’d look forward to a complicated dental appointment but this was a GREAT event: well managed; well-attended, well documented. I don’t want to go over anything you could read elsewhere but I’ll point you to the important bits.
And then, doing my librarian thing, I extracted URLs and Twitter handles from the notes and organized them. You can follow links to things you might be interested in here. Corrections welcome.
Coral & Conference Ppl
Andrew Losowsy https://twitter.com/losowsky
Matt Carroll https://twitter.com/mattatmit (local organizer)
Sydette Harry: https://twitter.com/blackamazon
Greg Barber https://twitter.com/gjbarb
(more staff at this URL)
Second Lightning Talks
I did a similar post about this on my personal blog in 2010. For someone who says “I am a librarian” I think it’s useful sometimes to discuss how and when I get paid and by whom. I know people are curious, they often ask. The work news in my life is that I’m upping my hours at the Internet Archive so that I’m now officially half-time. I am pleased about this and I hope it lasts. Since my father died I’ve had a buffer of cash available to me (and my sister) as a back-up which means I’ve been able to do a few “riskier” things that weren’t necessarily lucrative but were otherwise fulfilling. Working at the Archive and Open Library was one of these. Doing some consulting was another. My income covers my bills which, through sheer luck, doesn’t include student loans and, through some attention on my end, doesn’t include any consumer debt. Here’s a chart.
The interesting thing to me is how many governments I got paid by. The W-2 money is basically three governments (two different checks from my town, for working at the school and the library, one from my state for teaching at the tech college) plus the Internet Archive. The 1099 money is mostly consulting and talks. I got paid by two state library associations, one state library (twice) and one city library system. The consulting was for two town libraries, a high school and one private company. My writing gigs included royalties for both of my books ($128 total), one lucrative article for the Mozilla Foundation, my column for Computers in Libraries and a lot of crazy start-up money from Medium who laid off nearly their entire slate of writers for The Message and replaced us with younger cheaper writers. It was good while it lasted. I made some random money AirBnBing out my house and doing one Justice of the Peace gig.
All in all it was a mid five-figures year that did slightly better than paying for itself which is my nominal goal.
By: Jessamyn West,
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There was an interesting thread on ALA Think Tank where people talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. I never wanted to be a librarian, though I liked the librarians that I knew. I wanted to be a writer though I wasn’t sure how you did that. I liked writing and I had the same name as a writer so I figured that would help. I was just digging through some old paperwork and I found my statement of professional concerns from when I ran for ALA Council. This is from 2002, so nearly 15 years ago
With the exception of the slightly over-the-top “family farms” aside, I still stand by this 100%, possibly even more now than I did then. And since then I’ve felt a lot more able to actually implement my ideas about the way the world of libraries and technology should work. I am very grateful that I work within a profession where I can be relevant and useful and effective in my late 40s and work with both older and younger members of my profession to create meaningful change. I even get to write a little as well. I’ve been updating my resume lately, not because I’m looking for work but just because it is a good thing to do, and will try to find a way to work this in there somewhere.
I am excited about the #1lib1ref project on Wikipedia. The goal is to get every librarian in the world (or a reasonable subsection) to add a citation to a Wikipedia article, just one. This helps make Wikipedia better in the process. I added my cite today to the Free Your Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow article. I’m not even trying to be sassy, that is just the page that was handed to me by this great tool that lets you know which articles need citations. I did some Googling, found a Google Book that had some supporting detail for the fact in question, used a book citation tool to turn it into Wikistyle and there you go. I might do two, just in case someone doesn’t have time to add a citation to Wikipedia this week. We have a facebook page and a lot of people using the #1lib1ref hashtag on Twitter. Join us!
I started 91 books this year and finished 89. I’m now fully in the swing of reading at least 30 minutes before bed which has been great. Last year I had a lot of random low-level health issues which complicated matters a bit but I’m still pretty happy with how the Year in Reading turned out.
average read per month: 7.47
average read per week: 1.7
number read in worst month: 5 (Apr)
number read in best month: 11 (Aug)
number unfinished: 2
percentage by male authors: 59
percentage by female authors: 41
percentage of authors of color: 3
fiction as percentage of total: 73
non-fiction as percentage of total: 27
percentage of total liked: 90
percentage of total ambivalent: 7
percentage of total disliked: 3
The biggest issue this year was that I didn’t actively prioritize reading authors of color and so I just didn’t. No good. Must do better. Did okay with non-US authors but that’s not the same. I did a lot of social justice online reading and kept a bookshelf of worthwhile articles over at This.cm but I needed to translate more of this into book length reading and I did not. Digging into the Louise Penny series upped my percentage of female authors but I still need to work on that. I read a lot of books that I really enjoyed this past year including a history of spam and a photography book about large trees. I got a lot more suggestions from reading Library Journal than usual which was good and bad. I added a few books to my Best in Show shortlist. If you’ve made a reading list for last year, I’d love to read it. Happy New Year.
Previous librarian.net summaries: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. My always-updated booklist lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed which is mostly not broken.
Again with the library tracking! This is now six years in a row. Previous years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and some reviews from 2003
I went to twenty-two different libraries in seven states and one non-US country for eighty-two visits total. Did not intend this but it’s the same number of visits (though many fewer individual libraries) as last year. A few things influenced this: I did a lot less distance traveling this year but did a lot of work in local libraries, I also taught at a college where the library was a major hangout for me (thanks VTC Librarians, you are the best) and I worked a lot at my local public library. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year.
- Kimball Library – my local public library, I work here and I am a patron here
- Hartness at VTC – the best academic library anywhere near here and I worked at VTC this year
- Carney Library UMass Dartmouth – probably my favorite library building of all time (still!)
- Chelsea VT – helping with tech planning and visiting my friend Virgil
- Westport MA – the library where I summer, trying to warm up to this library
- Fletcher/Burlington VT – did consulting here this year and spent more time here
- Canada Water UK – the closest public library to where my sister and I stayed in the UK, nice busy library
- Cranston RI – visiting my friend ed, great renovations!
- Springfield MA – did some work on the way to CT, neat building with a weird vibe
- Cary Library, Lexington MA – did a talk earlier in the year, really nice place and great people
- Tiverton RI Main Branch – lovely new building across from the Sip n Dip, great to see it!
- RUHS Library – high school library in my town
- Bangor ME – a neat classic library which is getting renovated
- Greensboro VT – the quintessential Vermont library
- Roxbury VT – taught an ipad class and saw how it’s been growing and changing
- East Granby CT – killing time bfore a CT talk, this was a great place to get some R&R
- Pasadena CA – there was a fancy event here for CLA and we had a nice time hanging out and talking to people in the theater.
- Bethel VT – another place I taught an iPad class
- Springfield NH – did some consulting for a library having growing pain challenges as they make decisions on whether to automate or not
- Kellogg-Hubbard VT – went to a slide show given by a friend of mine, great to be here again.
- Norwich University, Northfield VT – sropped by and saw their renovations and excellent art exhibits.
- Orono ME – a pretty and small library
The bigger deal was really the Passport to Vermont Libraries project, a summer program put on by VLA which got hundreds of Vermonters visiting their local libraries and getting passport stamps and other fun adventures. I worked on this with a team of a few other people and it was a very successful program and I think a chunk of that was all of our enthusiasm for our library visits. So I didn’t get my further in my personal project, but professionally I helped get this idea to take off. If you just like library photos, I have more on Flickr.
This has been an odd year. Not only am I teaching college as my major job now (HTML and CSS, but I’m an adjunct so I swear I won’t be making a thing about it) but I’ve been doing a lot less of the usual talk circuit talk stuff. I just got back from CLA (California Library Association) which was a totally great time. I gave two talks (a major talk and an Ignite session which is pictured here) and won at Battledecks which was a dream come true. I enjoy the Ignite format and I’ve give three Ignite or Pecha Kucha Style talks this year.
– One about Open Library that I gave at VLA
– One at NELA about the Vermont Passport Program (and I swear I will write an article about it real soon now)
– The last one about porn driving technology adoption which is not only true it’s an amusing talk topic. That was for the CLA After Dark part of the program at a specific Ignite session called the Haters Ball including suck topics as I Hate Library Tours And You Should Too.
I also spoke to my local Rotary club about the Digital Divide and got a good conversation started in my community about what we can be doing to help the people who need help. This is all coming on the tail of some aggravated shoulder stuff that’s been keeping me away from the keyboard for the past few months except when necessary (read: for work) which is finally getting resolved. So hey how are things?
I spoke to Vermonter Erica Heilman about what I like so much about libraries and technology and why they’re so important. Forty minutes of rural library banter that I think you might like.
A little background: when I was younger and my dad was a technologist, every so often he’d go to Washington DC to go talk to some people about technology stuff. He was always super cryptic about it and we’d joke that he was a CIA informant. To this day I don’t know what he was doing, advising someone about something. Which is just my roundabout way of starting this post about talking to the White House last week.
By “White House” in this case I mean Valerie Green, the Director of Presidential Personnel at the White House. I’m not 100% sure how I wound up talking to her and Amanda Moose, her special assistant, about the incoming Librarian of Congress but I think it went something like this…
I have, as you know, been agitating about the incoming Librarian of Congress, making sure librarians get their voices heard about this appointment. The job is a lifetime position and is often given to late-career historians. James Billington was such a person. While he did some good things for LoC in his tenure, he probably should have retired earlier and there have been legitimate criticisms of some of the things he did and did not do. I made the Librarian of Progress website and wrote an article about this for Medium. The #nextloc hashtag? That one is mine. Medium is one of those online writing platforms. They employ me to do some writing. Other people also write for them who are not employed there, for example Jason Goldman, the White House’s Chief Digital Officer.
Jason wrote an article talking about what he was doing there and I responded. We tweeted back and forth a few times. I sent him a copy of my article when I wrote it. He emailed in early July that I should chat with Valerie Green. I said “Sure, happy to continue the conversation” and then didn’t hear anything until I got an email this past Tuesday asking if I was free for a phone call with Valerie the next day at noon. Noon wasn’t super convenient but when the White House says “Free for a phone call?” the right answer is yes. I have this to say about the White House: of all the people who I have had phone meetings with in the last year or so, they were the most on time and the most prepared. The forty-five minutes I spent talking to Valerie and Amanda were a delight and not just because I felt like I was advancing my cause, both of them were pleasant and smart people who asked great questions and seemed to value my time and their own.
We talked for about 45 minutes about what the job of Librarian of Congress entailed, where Billington didn’t help, what a new person could really do to change things, and why it matters. I felt listened to and they laughed at my jokes. One of the most interesting questions they asked, besides “Has your opinion changed about what the job entails after talking to people about it for a month?” (it has) was about whether I thought people would be really hostile towards basically any appointee in today’s political climate or if there were people who might please everyone (not who were they but just did such people exist). I got to tell them how much I thought certain high profile possible choices were going to be lightning rods (in a mannerly and polite way) and how I was very concerned that media industry people would be trying to stack the deck in favor of their people. I also told them that some people–loud internet people–would probably hate whoever got picked but if they at least felt listened to it would matter a lot. That is, I think a lot of people would be disappointed if the incoming LoC was another older white man, but that could be mitigated somewhat if that person had a serious plan in place for working on LoC’s diversity issues that was front and center of their early communications.
I gave them a long list of people to talk to, primarily people at smaller libraries or representing underrepresented groups in librarianship. They seemed to appreciate that I’d thought about this a lot but also wasn’t a zealot about it. We had a nice and reasonable conversation and I felt upbeat about it afterwards particularly about my biggest fear which was that the job would go to some industry hack who was determined to wrest the Copyright Office from the clutches of the library. All in all, a very good discussion.
I’ve been talking about this topic now in a few different places. Here is an article I wrote for Medium spelling out some of the things I only noted briefly on the Librarian of Progress site.
The Next Librarian of Congress
Librarian of PROgress. Let’s start the conversation.
People have been asking me, and they may be asking you, about the job opening for Librarian of Congress. I put together this little one-page website to give people a run down of the important issues as I see them. #nextloc
Reference question of the day was about finding public domain images. Everyone’s got their go-tos. If I am looking for illustrations or old photos specifically I’ll often use other people’s searches on top of the Internet Archive’s content. Here’s a little how to.
1. Check the Internet Archive Book Images feed on Flickr. What I often do is search (which finds the words that surround the images) and then click straight through to the book (which is always linked in the metadata) and then fish around. For example…
“Oh this photo is interesting”
“Here are all the photos from that book”
Book is readable here
Internet Archive page is here
I’m more used to the Open Library interface which is a different front end on the same content for the most part, it’s here.
More by Internet Archive on cricket or Open Library on cricket
The trick, I’ve found, is to try to get as close to 1927 as possible because you’re likely to have the best illustrations and still be out of copyright. Older books don’t have good illustrations because the technology was not there yet. Enjoy!
By: Jessamyn West,
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The principals of all the local schools got together and did a parent safety evening at the school. I was one of the presenters. I think they were expecting a big turnout, but it was a small (but interested) crowd. I did two very short presentations
1. Ten apps in ten minutes. For parents who are not using mobile devices for social purposes outside of facebook, knowing what the various apps are and what they do can be useful. I just had a very basic slide deck and talked over some images of the apps. I had to learn to use Snapchat which was sort of hilarious.
2. “How the heck does this work” a short talk about things parents can control in their home internet environment and what they can’t. Obviously the standard line is that the best thing you can do is talk to your kids and this is more useful than just using technological tools on what is, ultimately, more of a social problem. That said, it’s good to understand what you can and can’t do with the technology.
Most importantly was, I think, people seeing and getting to know each other and getting to have conversations about what their systems were at home. One parent charged all the devices in his room at night, for example, so the kids couldn’t sleep with their phones. Another had a “no phones/devices before homework is done” policy. Another had a “two hours of screen time a night” rule. I was glad to be a “local expert” of a sort who could give people some perspective on what technology can look like form another direction. The newspaper wrote up a short article about the event. Feel free to use my slides for your own safety talks.
So since I left MetaFilter almost a year ago, my goal was to spend more time “librarianing” I have a part time job with the Internet Archive running Open Library. I write for The Message a Medium publication, sometimes about librarianship and sometimes not. I write monthly for Computers in Libraries. I do my local technology instruction through the Adult Education program at the local vocational high school. In the past I’ve also done a lot of “How I do it” talks on the road at library conferences. I have not been doing that this month. Instead, I’ve been picking up more local tech instruction work, some paid and some unpaid. It’s been a fun busy week here and I thought I’d outline a few things I’ve done that people might be interested in.
I taught the last class of my college credit class on integrating technology for teachers at the vocational high school. Through a collaboration with a state university, teachers could take a one-credit continuing education class with me learning how to use the Google Suite of tools for education. We wrapped up with class presentations (ten minute slide presentations demonstrating some of the things we’d learned, Ian discusses pollinators above) and it was a joy to see how much people had learned and seeing them applying it to their own classrooms. I learned a lot and this gig also paid via grant money given to RTCC for teacher continuing education, coordinated through the adult education department.
Drop-in time had a bunch of new computer users who were at the “How do I turn it on?” phase of technology learning. There were a lot of people at drop-in time last week, so I grouped them together and got a few of them started with Google and a few basic commands: back, reload, scroll, click. Every so often when I was helping someone else, I’d hear peals of laughter from that part of the room as they took delight in things I’ve become jaded to such as custom 404 pages.
- I taught an iPad class in a “pop up” university in the local town. Some local folks started Bethel University a local skillshare program. I offered an iPad class. People could read the list of classes via a home made WordPress setup and RSVP via EventBrite. I had ten students, most new-ish to the world of iPads and we talked about a lot of iPad features, did some exercises together and I answered a lot of questions. Fun. Free for everyone. I donated my time. I got photocopies for free. The class was held in the library which donated the space. Win. Win. Win.
I also finished a Computers in Libraries article today about data collection and was pleased to see one of my local colleague, Amber Billey a metadata librarian at UVM, get listed as one of Seven Days’ Seven Vermont Women to Watch. If there’s a meta-story to this post it’s that staying local and working on the digital divide in your own backyard has been, for me, as satisfying as being on the road. And a little more calm.
Sometimes people who license their digital content aren’t really thinking it through. They may have something else on their minds or copyright nuance may not be their thing. I think it behooves us copyright advocates and activists to (at least) politely try to push the envelope towards more open content licensing. Here’s the example I enjoyed from today.
This is interesting especially because Flickr uses Creative Commons licensing, but does not use CC-0 which is an intentional choice. Photos from cultural heritage organizations which are in the Flickr Commons have an additional “no known copyright restriction” option that is only available to specific accounts, not any Flickr user. There are many ways this specific issue can be resolved but just the fact that it’s generally a hurdle that has to be overcome indicates that there is still a good role for copyright reform advocates to play. More supporting links: Original article & SpaceX photos on Flickr.
By: Jessamyn West,
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This has been a heady National Library Week for many librarians I know and me in particular. There’s been a lot of online agita and, unlike the way these things usually go, some things wound up changing for the better. Here’s a list. Apologies if I link too much to facebooky stuff.
- Someone mentioned that they found Demco’s “Spanish” spine label a bit troublesome since it had a sombrero and a set of maracas (Mexican, not Spanish, and still stereotypical at that) and misspelled español (without the tilde). A few people complained to Demco. Demco listened, agreed, removed the items from their online store. Not all of their multicultural labels are perfect, but it was nice to be heard.
- ALA’s Banned Books Week poster which was put in the ALA Store this week got a lot of pushback. Does the woman look like she is wearing a niqab? What’s the poster trying to communicate? Andromeda spells out well what some of the issues with the poster are. People wrote to ALA. ALA listened. Took a while to respond. Came back with a few posts from the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom
- Statement on the 2015 Banned Books Week Poster
- How Do We Design a Banned Books Campaign
- Response Concerning the 2015 Banned Books Week
I particularly found some of the crosstalk interesting about whether objecting to a marketing poster was in the same family as objecting to something being in the library collection. I know we can be a mouthy contentious bunch, but given that, some of this discussion seemed to take place on new ground and it was curious to me how much my years in the MetaFilter trenches has helped me manage these sorts of discussions.
- Daredevil is a great show on Netflix about a blind superhero which did not have any descriptive audio which many found ironic. People complained. The Accessible Netflix Project started a petition. Netflix fixed it.
- After my last post about SpaceX, I decided to expand it into an article for Medium which I did with some nice photos and a lot of linking. A few days later, Flickr actually added an option for users to have public domain and CC0 licenses on their photos. This is, to me, a HUGELY great outcome. I wrote another short article about this.
- On a more personal note, Jason Goldman wrote a post on Medium to talk about how he was going to become the new White House Chief Digital Officer. I left a comment on that article talking about how part of getting people involved in civic engagement is helping them to trust the online world (i.e. doing the opposite of everything Healthcare.gov has done). This comment got a nod in Goldman’s next article now that he’s taken office. I am very very pleased about this.
Bonus link the #journalofneutrallibrarianship hashtag is a pretty good time if you like Twitter. And I wrote a nerdy article about research and Wikipedia that I think you might enjoy if you haven’t seen me blabbing about it all over the place for the past few days.
How to lie with Wikipedia
It could have been the Avengers of librarianing. All these powerhouses working together to help increase low-income childrens’ access to good reading material. But I don’t think that’s how it worked out. Here are my thoughts on last week’s press releases about this new set of programs. Written for The Message.
Aren’t libraries already doing that?
I somehow managed to screw up the hashtag for my Connecticut Library Association slides so they’re at librarian.net/talks/cla15 instead of findable collocated with the CTLibs15 tag. I’ve rectified that here. I took some time off from public speaking in the last six months. Wanted to get some new ideas percolating. Was doing more writing and less speaking andtrying to do more listening. It was useful. I’m now back around. I filled in for a speaker who cancelled lateish at CLA last month in Groton CT and I’ve got a few more speaking gigs coming up including another CLA in California later in November. I’ve never spoken at that conference before and I am excited.
So here are my slides for my talk that I gave in Connecticut. Unlike past talks, I didn’t make a list of links to go along with it because I felt like most of them are Googleable if you need them (and I was pressed for time). Title, which I love, is Attitude: How to bring the empowerment divide by being more like Vanilla Ice. Enjoy. Feedback welcome.
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I went to the Vermont Library Conference last week and mostly handed out Vermont Libraries Passports but I also gave a short talk about Open Library in pecha kucha format. I’d never done one of these before. Twenty slides, twenty seconds each. Total talk is under seven minutes. You have to be brief and you have to practice. This was a session with six or seven presenters and we got to learn a little bit about a lot of topics. You can probably see what mine was about by watching my abbreviated slide show. I also learned how to make an animated GIF from a slideshow which is not as tough as you might think and quite useful.