Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How You'll Know Net Neutrality Is Really Gone

Net Neutrality | Access

The FCC has repealed the rules governing internet providers. Here are five changes consumers should watch for.

Monday, December 18, 2017

What public libraries will lose without net neutrality

Net neutrality | Public Libraries | Access 

A Q&A with NYPL president Tony Marx and associate director of information policy Greg Cram 


The FCC will vote on a measure today that would repeal net neutrality and pave the way for the end of the free, open internet as we’ve always known it. Librarians aren't happy about it.
Yesterday, The Verge published an op-ed written by the heads of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Library, and the Queens Library systems, which called the measure “appalling,” and argued that the end of an open internet would contribute to inequality of education and opportunity, widening “the already yawning digital divide.” Later, in a phone call, the New York Public Library’s CEO and president Anthony Marx and associate director of information policy Greg Cram broke the issue down further, explaining exactly which library resources an open internet protects, who would be hurt the most by net neutrality’s rollback, and why handing the internet to ISPs could threaten the basic foundation of American democracy. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What stake do public libraries have in this issue? 

Greg Cram: So, for fiscal year 2017 [the New York Public Library] provided 3.1 million computer sessions — and that’s sessions across all of the branches — using 4,700 computers. And in addition to that, we provided 3 million wireless sessions. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 we had 16.2 million pageviews on our digital collections.

Anthony Marx: That gives us a little bit of the sense of the scale of how much of the library goes across wires, and the simple fact is that the poorest of New York rely on the library as the only place they can go and get free use of computers and free Wi-Fi. It’s one of the reasons why the library is the most visited civic institution in New York. We have also, in recent years, been lending people what we call hot spots, which are Wi-Fi boxes they can take home, typically for a year. That gives them digital access at home — broadband access — which something like 2 million New Yorkers can’t afford and don’t have. We’re still doing thousands of those. We’d like to do more and we’re exploring how to do more, because in this day and age, if you don’t have internet access that works and goes fast enough, you can’t do your homework, you can’t do research, you can’t apply for jobs, you can’t find jobs. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Media Literacy E-Resources | Reference 2018

Reference | Media| Information literacy

By Gary Price & Mahnaz Dar on November 1, 2017

The fight against “fake news” isn’t new to librarians, but with patrons anxious about identifying misinformation, these resources are more crucial than ever. Moving beyond the basics, these free tools provide creative avenues for honing media literacy skills, from uncovering politicians’ suppressed tweets to accessing the latest in facial recognition software.

Court Listener


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic

Happy Potter |British Library | Exhibits

Journey to where magic and myth began
Have you ever wanted to delve into Divination, ponder the peculiarities of Potions and discover enchanting creatures? Now you can.

We unveil rare books, manuscripts and magical objects from the British Library’s collection, capturing the traditions of folklore and magic which are at the heart of the Harry Potter stories. Marvel at original drafts and drawings by J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay, both on display for the first time.

See the gargantuan 16th-century Ripley Scroll that explains how to create a Philosopher’s Stone. Gaze at Sirius in the night sky as imagined by medieval astronomers. Encounter hand-coloured pictures of dragons, unicorns and a phoenix rising from the flames.

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with this extraordinary new addition to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Link to exhibit:

Istanbul’s Libraries: A Refuge in Uncertain Times

Public Libraries | Turkey | Advocacy | Libraries abroad

By Kaya Genç

Last month, the Turkish Statistical Institute announced that the number of public library memberships in Turkey increased by 24.1 percent in 2016, compared to the previous year. In a time of terror, political uncertainty, and a coup attempt, Turks took refuge in libraries.

Some Istanbul libraries owe their existence to taxes; others to banks; one to an English monarch. SALT is located in the previous headquarters of the Ottoman Bank, which was founded in 1856 on the orders of Queen Victoria, a friend of the westernizing Sultan Abdulmecid. The building opened at a time when Turkish-British commercial ties were at their peak. Today, its library houses 110,000 books. Last year, it served more than 47,000  readers.

On a recent weekday the library was bustling with bright-eyed readers, and every seat were occupied. A hush fell over after I entered the reading room. On a desk by the entrance, a young man pored over a book; he checked a page number, and he typed a footnote to his thesis; in the little garden outside, two young girls smoked rollies. SALT is paid for by Garanti, a private Turkish bank. This is part of a trend. Read more...

Say goodbye to Google: 14 alternative search engines

Search engines | Internet | Research


Well it’s been a big week for search, I think we can all agree. 

If you’re a regular Google user (65% of you globally) then you’ll have noticed some changes, both good and bad.

I won’t debate the merits of these improvements, we’ve done that already here: Google kills Right Hand Side Ads and here: Google launches Accelerated Mobile Pages, but there’s a definite feeling of vexation that appears to be coming to a head.

Deep breath…

As the paid search space increases in ‘top-heaviness’, as organic results get pushed further off the first SERP, as the Knowledge Graph scrapes more and more publisher content and continues to make it pointless to click through to a website, and as our longstanding feelings of unfairness over Google’s monopoly and tax balance become more acute, now more than ever we feel there should be another, viable search engine alternative. Read more...

First Drafts, Conversations, Stories in Progress Ta-Nehisi Coates 10:39 AM Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War

Racism | US History | Civil War

29th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, U.S. Colored Troops in formation near Beaufort, South Carolina, 1864 Library of Congress
On Monday, the retired four-star general and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly asserted that “the lack of an ability to compromise lead to the Civil War.” This was an incredibly stupid thing to say. Worse, it built on a long tradition of endorsing stupidity in hopes of making Americans stupid about their own history. Stupid enjoys an unfortunate place in the highest ranks of American government these days. And while one cannot immediately affect this fact, one can choose to not hear stupid things and quietly nod along.

For the past 50 years, some of this country’s most celebrated historians have taken up the task of making Americans less stupid about the Civil War. These historians have been more effective than generally realized. It’s worth remembering that General Kelly’s remarks, which were greeted with mass howls of protests, reflected the way much of this country’s stupid-ass intellectual class once understood the Civil War. I do not contend that this improved history has solved everything. But it is a ray of light cutting through the gloom of stupid. You should run to that light. Embrace it. Bathe in it. Become it.

Okay, maybe that’s too far. Let’s start with just being less stupid. Read more...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Expert Picks — Books and Films You Should Check Out Before Traveling Abroad

Travel books | International | Reader's advisory

Foreign ambassadors to the U.S. share their book and movie recommendations for visitors to their countries. Be sure to read and watch them before you go!

Illustration by Jana Walczyk

Cultural immersion is a large part of what makes traveling to a foreign country so rewarding, but you can take in the culture before you even set foot on a plane. We asked international ambassadors in Washington, D.C. to pick the book and film they believe first-time visitors to their country should consume before they arrive. Their choices range from the very popular to the relatively obscure, but they all offer a good starting point for travelers who long for a truly rewarding experience.

We have created a digital guide to these ambassador’s cultural picks, which we will continue to expand upon as more ambassadors contribute. This list can serve as both a resource for readers to learn about other countries and a cultural guidebook for travelers.
Without further ado, here are the picks for each country (in alphabetical order). Some choices include commentary from the ambassadors themselves.

Note: "H.E." stands for His or Her Excellency, the official title for ambassadors to the U.S.
Happy reading and viewing!


H.E. Wolfgang A. Waldner recommends:
The Tobacconist (translated into English by Charlotte Collins) is set in 1937 just before the German occupation. It follows 17-year-old Franz, who moves to Vienna to become the apprentice in a tobacco shop. Its quiet wisdom and sincerity resonated with me very deeply."
The Third Man, the British noir from 1949, feels as fresh as ever. Shot entirely on location, you see the city [of Vienna] in ruins and split up into French, American, British and Russian sectors with spies and suspicious officials everywhere. The catchy film score, performed by Anton Karas on a zither, sets the perfect tone."


H.E. Elin Suleymanov recommends:
Ali and Nino recounts the love story of a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku from 1918 to 1920.


Ambassador and Permanent Representative H.E. Kunzang C. Namgyel recommends:
Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan is a blend of personal memoir, history, folklore, and travelogue, creating a portrait of the Himalayan kingdom.
Travelers and Magicians is about Dondup (Tsewang Dandup), a Bhutanese official infatuated with American culture, who is bored with life in his tiny village and dreams of visiting the United States.


Monday, October 23, 2017

The UK no longer has a national public library system

Public libraries | UK | Funding

The UK no longer has a national public library system. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA   
Since 2010, hundreds of local libraries have been handed over from councils to be run by the local community. One estimate is that 500 of the UK’s 3,850 libraries are now being run by local volunteers. Despite talk about empowerment and community involvement, the reality is that local people face a stark choice: take over a local library or it faces closure. Read more...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

New York City’s Libraries Will Forgive All Children’s Fines

Public libraries | Fines | Borrowing privileges

The Hamilton Grange branch of the New York Public Library, where about half of children have their borrowing privileges suspended because of unpaid fines. An amnesty at the city’s libraries will allow all children to check out books again. Credit David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

Library books are free, until they aren’t: Patrons who rack up $15 in late fees at the city’s public libraries are blocked from taking out more books until the fine is paid.

Among those with suspended privileges are 160,000 children, most of them from the city’s poorest neighborhoods, who cannot afford to pay.

“Learning is a right. Reading brings you to new worlds,” said Octavia Loving, a 17-year-old student at Special Music High School, as she stood amid the stacks at Countee Cullen Library in Harlem, one of the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of children with blocked cards, according to library officials. “They shouldn’t block us from reading because of money.”

On Thursday, the city’s three library systems — the New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island; the Queens Library; and the Brooklyn Public Library — will forgive all fines for children 17 and under and unblock their cards. The one-time amnesty is being underwritten by the JPB Foundation, a philanthropy that supports civic causes, which will make up $2.25 million of the shortfall in revenue from the forgiven fines.

The amnesty “is a dramatic way to message to kids and young adults that we want you back, and we want you reading,” said Anthony W. Marx, the president of the New York Public Library. The forgiveness is not conditional on returning any overdue books or DVDs. “We want you to be responsible, but we don’t want to penalize you just because you are too poor to pay the fines.” Read more...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News

Europe | Fake news | Social media | Italy

Laura Boldrini, president of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, spearheaded a project to educate high-school students on how to recognize fake news and conspiracy theories online.
Andreas Solaro / Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
ROME — After reading the horrors in Dante’s “Inferno,” Italian students will soon turn to the dangers of the digital age. While juggling math assignments, they’ll also tackle worksheets prepared by reporters from the national broadcaster RAI. And separate from the weekly hour of religion, they will receive a list of what amounts to a new set of Ten Commandments for the digital age.

Among them: Thou shalt not share unverified news; thou shall ask for sources and evidence; thou shall remember that the internet and social networks can be manipulated.
The lessons are part of an extraordinary experiment by the Italian government, in cooperation with leading digital companies including Facebook, to train a generation of students steeped in social media how to recognize fake news and conspiracy theories online.

“Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it,” said Laura Boldrini, the president of the Italian lower house of Parliament, who has spearheaded the project with the Italian Ministry of Education. Read more...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Now rescue N.Y.'s library branches

Advocacy | Public libraries | Budget

By Scott Sherman | New York Daily News | October 9, 2017

Necessary investment (James Keivom/New York Daily News)


Last month, the New York Public Library announced a remarkable $55 million gift that will enable it to finish a large-scale renovation of the Mid-Manhattan Library, at 5th Avenue and 40th Street. The Mid-Manhattan is a tarnished jewel in the NYPL system, and the gift will allow the facility, which has been decrepit for decades, to reach its full potential.

Library officials say that when it reopens in 2020, the new library will contain — in addition to books, periodicals, and computers — meeting rooms, a café, and a rooftop terrace.

From the headlines, one might have assumed that the money came from a well-heeled donor in the five boroughs. But in fact the money was bequeathed by a foundation in Athens, Greece. In 2020, NYPL officials will give the Mid-Manhattan Library a new name: the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library.

The Greek connection highlights the problematic way in which public libraries are repaired and upgraded in New York City. Read more...

Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated!

Copyright | Open Access | Internet Archives

[press: boingboing]

The Internet Archive is now leveraging a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold. Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a copyright scholar at Tulane University calls this “Library Public Domain.”  She and her students helped bring the first scanned books of this era available online in a collection named for the author of the bill making this necessary: The Sonny Bono Memorial Collection. Thousands more books will be added in the near future as we automate. We hope this will encourage libraries that have been reticent to scan beyond 1923 to start mass scanning their books and other works, at least up to 1942.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Classic Books That Teens Will Actually Like | YA Literature

Classics | Teens | Book lists

by Jaime Herndon | 10 October 2017

Sponsored by Wednesday Books
I Capture the Castle“One of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met.” (J. K. Rowling)
I Capture the Castle has “one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met.” raves J. K. Rowling of the beloved reissue with a foreword by New York Times bestselling author, Jenny Han.
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain and her family live in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. Her journals chronicle the changes that take place within the castle’s walls, and her own descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has “captured the castle”—and the heart of the reader—in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments.

Classics get a bad rap. When many people think of classics, most often, they think back to the books they were forced to read in high school—great works of literature, but maybe not always books that teens would choose to read on their own. That’s about to change, because here’s a list of classic books that teens will actually like. Read more...

Seven Books on the History and Impact of Natural Disasters

Disasters | Book recommendations | Non-fiction

A glance at recent news—or even a brief check of the weather outside—has led many people to an ominous conclusion: something has gone very wrong with the natural world around us. In recent months, hurricanes have devastated the Caribbean and the southern United States. Island nations in the Pacific face the prospect of being entirely flooded within a few years. Increased droughts have prompted political upheaval throughout the world. The sort of scenarios that have cropped up in ominous speculative novels of the near future—Claire Vaye Watkins's Gold Fame Citrus and Paolo Bacigalupi's The Water Knife both come to mind—are increasingly turning into contemporary newspaper headlines. Here's a look at seven books that explore natural disasters, some on a macro level, others zeroing in on the impact of one catastrophe. Both options leave us with plenty to ponder, and hopefully provide lessons with which we can avoid repeating the errors of the past.

Curated by Tobias Carroll
Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Cynthia Barnett
Rain is a ubiquitous occurrence for many of us: sometimes it can herald a change in climate; at others, it can cause crops to grow and refill reservoirs. It can frustrate as well, when it turns outdoor activities into canceled activities. Cynthia Barnett's acclaimed book takes a grand view of its subject, beginning with the Earth in its infancy and bringing the reader up to present-day concerns about climate change. Barnett has written several books looking at the relationship between humans and water, and this comprehensive work makes an urgent case for the importance of this bond.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks
Books A Million | IndieBound

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Radical Reference Librarians Who Use Info to Challenge Authority

Activism | Advocacy | Librarians

An unshushable social movement is afoot.

by Natalie Zarrelli | October 03, 2017

An adaptation of Banksy’s “Flower Bomber,” this depicts a librarian in protest, throwing Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. Hafuboti/ CC BY-SA 4.0  

From August 29 through September 2, 2004, a series of protests erupted in New York in response to the 2004 Republican National Convention and the nomination of George W. Bush for the impending election. Nearly 1,800 protesters were arrested during the convention, and later filed a civil rights suit, citing violation of their constitutional rights.

During the protests, a steady team provided support to anyone who needed information amid the confusion: a modest group of socially conscious librarians from around the United States, armed with folders of facts ranging from legal rights in dealing with police to the locations of open bathrooms.

“We wanted to operate as if we were bringing a reference desk to the streets,” explains Lia Friedman, Director of Learning Services at University of California San Diego, who was at one of the protest marches in 2004. At the time, fewer people had smartphones, making this service both new and important. When someone asked a question that wasn’t included in their traveling reference desk folders, other librarians waiting at their home computers were poised to research and deliver information by phone. Read more...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Future Is Female: 7 Books on Female Leaders to Read Now

Books | Women | Book lists | Leadership

by Lisa Rosman | September 25, 2017 

Elizabeth Warren at testimony by U.S. Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, July 2017/Photo: CC/Flickr

 It’s safe to say that 2017 has been one of the most politically tumultuous years in U.S. history. But if there’s one silver lining, it’s that female leaders have really stepped to the forefront – from former Attorney General Sally Yates, who refused to endorse the proposed travel ban on people from majority-Muslim countries, to Senator Kamala Harris, the only sane voice in the Session hearings, to U.S. representative Maxine Waters, one of President Trump’s most vocal critics. Thank goddess, for we need as many strong women voices as possible to defeat the misogynist tenor of this current administration. These female political leaders should inspire us all to fight the good fight.



What Happened

She may not have (officially) won the 2016 election, but the future is still female to Hillary. In this much-anticipated, admirably candid memoir, she explores why the first female U.S. presidential nominee of a major political party was defeated by a man whom even the GOP admits has a “woman problem.” From the anti-lady sentiment still holding sway – “I wish so badly we were a country where a candidate who said, ‘My story is the story of a life shaped by and devoted to the movement for women’s liberation’ would be cheered, not jeered. But that’s not who we are” – to her lambasting of press coverage – “[Trump’s actions] sucked up all the oxygen in the media” and Trump’s “dark energy” – Hillary never holds back, even when acknowledging her own blunders. (Yep, she regrets the “deplorables” comment as much as we do.) Brave, commanding, and painfully honest, it’s hard to read this memoir of loss and not wish she’d won.





Facing poverty, academics turn to sex work and sleeping in cars

Academia | Adjuncts | Homelessness | Advocacy

Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures

by Alastair Gee | The Guardian

There is nothing she would rather do than teach. But after supplementing her career with tutoring and proofreading, the university lecturer decided to go to remarkable lengths to make her career financially viable.

She first opted for her side gig during a particularly rough patch, several years ago, when her course load was suddenly cut in half and her income plunged, putting her on the brink of eviction. “In my mind I was like, I’ve had one-night stands, how bad can it be?” she said. “And it wasn’t that bad.”
The wry but weary-sounding middle-aged woman, who lives in a large US city and asked to remain anonymous to protect her reputation, is an adjunct instructor, meaning she is not a full-time faculty member at any one institution and strings together a living by teaching individual courses, in her case at multiple colleges.
“I feel committed to being the person who’s there to help millennials, the next generation, go on to become critical thinkers,” she said. “And I’m really good at it, and I really like it. And it’s heartbreaking to me it doesn’t pay what I feel it should.” Read article...

How Citizen Action Saved the New York Public Library

Libraries | NYPL | Advocacy

Grassroots activists thwarted a costly and destructive renovation scheme—but the NYPL still lacks effective governance.

by Scott Sherman  | The Nation

(CC BY-SA 2.0)
One morning in the spring of 2010, while standing in line in the New York Public Library’s majestic Rose Reading Room, I was approached by a middle-aged librarian, a man I had known for years; we had common interests and would frequently chat while he was on duty. He read The Nation and knew I wrote for it. On this particular morning, he leaned over and whispered into my ear: “Our trustees are planning to sell the library across the street”—by which he meant the Mid-Manhattan Library, a decrepit facility on 40th Street and Fifth Avenue. “It stinks,” he continued. “You should look into it.”

I was busy with other projects and let his tip go. But a year later, I received an assignment from this magazine to profile Anthony Marx, the New York Public Library’s incoming president. Early in my research, I quickly grasped what the librarian had tried to tell me a year earlier: The NYPL’s leadership—aided by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton—had conceived a wildly ambitious transformation plan. The grand library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue would undergo a massive renovation in which 3 million books would be removed from the historic stacks in the center of the building and sent to an off-site storage facility; the stacks would then be demolished, and a new, modern library (designed by the celebrated British architect Norman Foster) would be built in the space that, for a century, had held the books. Foster would create a library within a library, one that carried a heavy price tag: $300 million. To pay for this Central Library Plan (CLP), two nearby libraries that occupied prime real estate—the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry, and Business Library on 34th Street and Madison Avenue—would be sold. In a soaring Manhattan real-estate market, the NYPL (which is the subject of Frederick Wiseman’s latest film, Ex Libris) would not be excluded from its share of the spoils. Read more...


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

ALA Code of Ethics 1: What's in a code? |

ALA Code of ethics | Professionalism | Librarianship

Here’s BLL Season 2, Episode 2, In which I introduce my 3-part (though actually it’ll probably be 4 parts) series on the ALA Code of Ethics. What is the code? What are its implications in our daily lives as leaders? Just how blatant of a smart aleck will I be during my dramatic reading of the code?



American Library Association Code of Ethics

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BLL 13: Career advice from Ellen Mehling of Library Career People, and the joys of leadership burnout | Podcast

Career advice | Library leadership | Librarianship

by Sara Clark, Ph.D. | Feb. 14, 2017

Welcome back to Better Library Leaders! It’s been a long gap, partially because of the holidays, but also because I have been working hard on a course I’m teaching this month on Collaborative leadership for Library Juice academy. We had a large class sign up to work together to design collaborative project plans that they can take back to their own workplaces. Don’t tell, but I’m learning as much from them as they are from me. Our interview this episode, after fighting through a few technical hiccups, is with Ellen Mehling of Library Career People, my absolute favorite resource for folks considering a career in libraries, searching for that elusive first job, or preparing to make the jump to a leadership position. And in our spotlight segment, we’re going to talk about burnout as a leader. Because that’s been part of the reason for this gap too. But first, here’s my conversation with Ellen Mehling! Read more...

Chris Selley: Libraries feel the heat on freedom of speech

Freedom of Speech | Intellectual Freedom | Public libraries

Nobody wants Nazis in public libraries. But it's tough to find a coherent case to ban them without undermining libraries' most important function

Three masked people stand outside a memorial for Toronto lawyer Barbara Kulaszka at the Richview branch of the Toronto Public Library on July 12, 2017.Cole Burston for National Post 
by Chris Selley | September 26, 2017
The Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ position paper on intellectual freedom clearly lays out libraries’ “core responsibilities” in that regard. One is “to safeguard and facilitate access to constitutionally protected expressions of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, including those which some individuals and groups consider unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable.” Another is to “make available their public spaces and services to individuals and groups without discrimination.”

In an era when free speech scrambles for purchase on university campuses, one wonders how long it will last in libraries. In June, Toronto’s excellent public library system came under heavy fire for a paid room-booking that turned out to be a memorial event for Barbara Kulaszka, a lawyer best known for representing alleged Nazi war criminals in Canada and their supporters, notably Ernst Zundel.

An awful gang of bigots showed up, notably Marc Lemire and Paul Fromm. And while a library employee monitored the proceedings and apparently detected nothing untoward, the outrage came thick and fast. “It is truly shocking that individuals who spread hatred, deny the Holocaust and have ties to neo-Nazi groups are being provided a permit by the Toronto Public Library,” said Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak. “If (Fromm’s and Lemire’s histories are) not good enough for the Toronto Public Library to say ‘No thanks’ then what could be?” asked Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman. Mayor John Tory asked the library to consider cancelling the event and, when it said it couldn’t, to reexamine its policies for future bookings. Read more...

NYC donation drop-off locations for Puerto Rico disaster relief | UFT

Puerto Rico | Disaster preparedness | Hurricane Relief

September 25, 2017

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 24 announced statewide drop off locations for emergency supplies to help Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Requested items include batteries, flashlights, portable lanterns, diapers, baby wipes, cases of water and feminine hygiene products. All items must be completely unopened and packaged.
In coordination with this effort, the New York Mets are asking each fan attending games at Citi Field on Sept. 25, 26 and 27 to bring donations for the relief effort to the ball game between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
New Yorkers are encouraged to drop off goods for donation at selected locations between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The local drop-off sites are:


  • Jacob K. Javits Center
  • Engine 91: 242 E. 111th Street, New York, NY 11220 (East Harlem)
  • Engine 95/ Ladder 36: 29 Vermilyea Avenue, New York, NY 10033 (Inwood)
  • Engine 28/ Ladder 11: 222 E. 2nd Street, New York, NY 10009 (Lower East Side)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Public libraries can (literally) serve as a shelter from the storm

Public libraries | Advocacy | Disaster preparedness

by Grace Morris | August 30, 2017

After windstorms in the summer of 2012 left thousands in Arlington, Virginia without power, the local public library system urged people who needed a cool place to spend the day at its branches. AP Photo/Cliff Owen  
U.S. public libraries often transform into shelters during emergencies.

After Superstorm Sandy, for example, the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey and Connecticut’s New Canaan Library gave the public somewhere to charge devices, contact loved ones or even just watch movies. Other New Jersey libraries went further: The Roxbury Public Library opened early and closed late. South Orange’s library became its primary evacuation center.

Libraries don’t just pitch in following natural disasters. In August 2014, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library  became a safe space amid the unrest that followed the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb. After local schools started the school year two weeks behind schedule, leaving students in the lurch, the library even hosted informal classes for hundreds of students.

As millions of people in cities, suburbs and towns are reeling from Hurricane Harvey, nearby public libraries will soon play a critical role in creating a sense of normalcy for all ages – but especially for kids and teens. To help more public libraries emulate these examples with their young patrons, I teamed up with three graduate students to create a youth services toolkit to help librarians pitch in during emergencies. It will soon be available in a digital format at the Library of Michigan’s Youth Library Services website.

Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016

Banned Books Week kicked off yesterday! You can raise awareness of banned books in your community and learn more about how to respond to challenges to library materials through the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. Here are the top challenged books from 2016:

Banned Books Week: Why are illustrated books being challenged more than ever?

Banned books | Graphic novels | Censorship | YA Literature | Book awards

by Michael Cavna | September 25, 2017

A panel from “This One Summer,” by Mariko Tamaki and artist Jillian Tamaki. (First Second) 
AS BANNED BOOKS WEEK begins, it bears asking: Why are graphic novels being challenged more than ever?

 Last year, for the first time, the top two most challenged works were graphic novels for young adults, and half of the top 10 most challenged books were illustrated narratives. It also bears noting that of the 323 challenges filed against stocked books in 2016, many of them, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, were for reasons related to sex or gender.

Landing at the ALA’s top spot was “This One Summer,” written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. A year earlier, the YA graphic novel received a Printz Honor, and became the first graphic novel to receive a Caldecott Honor. But last spring, the ALA reported that “This One Summer” was “restricted, relocated and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity,” and that it was “considered sexually explicit with mature themes.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

13 Timely Books to Read During Banned Books Week | Off theShelf

Banned Books | Censorship | Access

by Sara Jane Abbott | September 25, 2017

Growing up, I discovered some of the most formative and thought-provoking books I’ve ever read on the Banned Books Week displays at my local library, from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE to THE HANDMAID’S TALE. The freedom to read books that challenge us, that open windows into the experiences of others, and that reflect the issues of our times, is crucially important. Every Banned Books Week is an opportunity to celebrate these books and to reaffirm our commitment to keeping them on the shelves.  If you’ve read the incredible banned books on our 2015 and 2016 Banned Books Week lists, here are some more banned and challenged books to read this year to mark the occasion.

The House on Mango Street

Told in a series of vignettes—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous—THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago and inventing for herself who and what she will become. Read more...

Libraries from Puerto Rico to Florida Respond to Hurricane Irma | ALA

Disaster planning | Hurricanes | Libraries

by Lisa Peet | September 18, 2017

Downed trees outside the Miami-Dade Public Library System’s Coconut Grove Branch after the storm
Photo courtesy of Miami Dade Public Library System

Arriving hard on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, Irma cut a destructive swath through the northeastern Caribbean and Florida Keys. More than $50 billion worth of damage was reported in the United States, as well as 39 fatalities.

Despite Irma’s size and power, Florida libraries had fewer tales of destruction to relate than their counterparts in Texas did after Harvey. While most larger systems reported some leakage and damage to property, delays in opening were mainly due to lack of electricity or running water or exterior obstructions such as fallen trees and debris.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on September 4, and ordered that all public schools and colleges across the state close from Friday, September 8 through Monday, September 11. Thousands of Floridians evacuated their homes on both coasts and headed north—the largest evacuation in the state’s history. Read more...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Responding to Charlottesville: Episode 17 | ALA Podcast

Podcasts | Library activism | Community relations |Emergency preparedness

American Libraries Dewey Decibel Podcast

     Dewey Decibel is a new podcast series from American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library 
     Association. Each month, your host and American Libraries Associate Editor Phil Morehart will be 
     your beyond.

Host Phil Morehart

In Episode 17 of the Dewey Decibel podcast, American Libraries looks at the protests that took place on August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, through the eyes of the library world.

First, American Libraries Associate Editor and Dewey Decibel host Phil Morehart talks to John Halliday, director of Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Charlottesville, and Krista Farrell, assistant director and branch manager of Jefferson-Madison Regional Library’s Central Library. The Central Library sits on what was the frontlines of the protests. John and Krista shared with Phil the events of that day and how their library handled it.

Next, Phil sits down with Jody Gray, director of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services, and Kristin Pekoll, assistant director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, to discuss ALA’s tracking of hate crimes at and in libraries and what you can do if your library falls victim to hate.

Finally, Phil talks to Peter Berg, associate director for special collections and preservation at Michigan State University Libraries. Michigan State University Libraries holds a massive collection of extremist literature, paraphernalia, and other materials. Phil and Peter examine the collection and why it’s important for libraries and archives to save these materials, despite the repugnant nature of some of them.  

Listen to the podcast:

Using Our Words : Getting it right on neutrality and libraries | American Libraries

Intellectual freedom |Libraries and neutrality

by Joseph Hanes | 09-01-17

I’ve always been a wordy sort of person. Yes, that too, but I mean word-y. I was the sort of kid who spent time with a thesaurus and dictionary as well as Tinkertoys and Matchbox cars. I was fascinated by words, their uses, and shades of meaning.

Even my amateur lexicographic interest ill prepared me for a world in which one of the more trenchant voices of political observation belongs to the Merriam-Webster Twitter feed (@MerriamWebster). If you don’t follow it yet, do so immediately, for its largely straightforward Word of the Day feature as well as its often wry and acerbic commentary on trending lookups based on “conversations” of the moment, not to mention words that aren’t really words (“covfefe”).

So the Webster’s dictionary has taken a side, or at least a perspective. Based on what I know of Noah Webster’s own colorful history and antipopulist views, I think he might approve. All of which puts an intriguing gloss on an emerging discussion within our own profession on what some may think a bedrock principle of librarianship: neutrality. This discussion includes my fellow AL columnist Meredith Farkas’s excellent piece on the critical librarianship movement (Jan./Feb., p. 70).

In one important sense, we aren’t neutral and never can be—nor should we be. Naturally, each of us has his or her own biases, prejudices, and preferences; we represent a sample of the breadth of society, so this is inevitable and necessary to avoid homogeneity of thought and action. Together, though, we advocate strongly on matters critical to our success. We fight in public for the rights of our patrons to read and think freely without fear of exposure, surveillance, or censure, as well as for open and equal access to a range of materials. We stand for the principle that government and public information shouldn’t depend on the whims of the moment. We are engaged with, represent, and fight for our communities and strive to improve them through our institutions and our work. Read more...
I want to be sure that we’re fighting the right fights on the right terms and, yes, using the right words.

Radical restructuring: Library renovations lead to personnel and process reorganization | American Libraries

Library design | Human resources | Academic libraries

by Catherine Murray-Rust | September 1, 2017

As librarians, we’ve all felt, at some point or another, like one of the great loves of our lives has been judged hopelessly irrelevant. In an era when information is digital and abundant, demonstrating the value of libraries and librarians is more urgent—and can be more difficult—than ever.

At Georgia Tech, we knew that using words to explain and defend would not accurately demonstrate the impact we have on inspiring and accelerating the intellectual achievements of faculty and students. So we set out on a library renewal project.

When we started four years ago, the project largely centered on building renovations. Over time we realized that renovations are the easy part of a transformation. We are fortunate to have creative architects, designers, engineers, and construction experts. We have the financial and political support of the administration and the University System of Georgia. And we benefit every day from the advice of consultants and subject-matter experts.

The biggest challenge to our transformation was organizational. We soon saw that we had to change the culture of the library from passive to active, and we had to retire models that focused narrowly on the library rather than those that supported the larger institution. We had to commit to organizing in a way that envisions a future that is digital.

How? We are adapting techniques used in disciplines such as supply chain thinking and portfolio management to radically restructure the way we operate. Our goal is to make the transactional parts of the library’s work as efficient as possible in order to free up resources to sustain new services such as intelligent agents, visualization, and data science.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

91-year-old former congressman shows millennials how to tweet about Trump | Mashable

Social media | Politics | Public activism

 by Sasha Lekach | 09-16-27

John Dingell has been owning Twitter for years. 

91-year-old former congressman John Dingell has been quick, witty, and on fire with his 140 characters for years.

Despite his age, he knows how to use the tweet machine the way it was intended: biting commentary, playful retweets, and insightful and smart reactions. Time and again he's shown he's mastered Twitter.
After tweeter-in-chief Donald Trump was elected, Dingell's Twitter game has become even more relevant and fiery.

After the violence in Charlottesville and Trump's bumbling mess of a response to the anti-Semitism and white supremacy on display, Dingell took to Twitter in the days following. One particular tweet resonated, with thousands praising the longtime Michigan lawmaker for posting what the president struggled to say.

Just look at those likes.