Saying the Internet makes librarians obsolete is like saying the plague makes doctors obsolete

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Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
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The plague of Athens. Line engraving by J. Fittler after M. Sweerts.
1811 By: Michael Sweertsafter: James FittlerPublished: 1811

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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Watch: nomination hearings for the next Librarian of Congress, 11:15AM PT

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Carla Hayden is President Obama's pick for the next Librarian of Congress, and she's an extraordinarily good choice: an open-access advocate who opposes mass surveillance and comes out of the library world, Hayden is ideally poised to lead the Library, which, in turn, supervises the Copyright Office and sets the nation's de facto IT policy, for example through things like the Triennial DMCA 1201 hearings). Read the rest

Supreme Court sends Authors Guild packing, won't hear Google Books case

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The Authors Guild has been trying to get a court to shut down Google's book-scanning/book-search program for more than a decade. Read the rest

How libraries can save the Internet of Things from the Web's centralized fate

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Everyone thinks libraries have a positive role to play in the world, but that role differs greatly based on whether you’re talking to a librarian or a patron. Ask a patron what libraries have in common and they’d probably answer: they share books with people. Librarians give a different answer: they share a set of values. It’s time for libraries to step up to those values by supporting access to the Internet and taking the lead in fighting to keep the Internet open, free, and unowned.

First-ever Tor node in a Canadian library

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Library workers at Western University's Graduate Resource Centre in London, Ontario, had a workshop from Alison Macrina, the library organiser whose Library Freedom Project won a battle with the US DHS over a library in New Hampshire that was offering a Tor exit node as part of a global network that delivers privacy, censorship resistance, and anonymity to all comers. Read the rest

The post-Snowden digital divide: the ability to understand and use privacy tools

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Ian Clark's long academic paper in the Journal of Radical Librarianship takes a while to get to the point, but when it arrives, it's a very, very good one: in the post-Snowden era, we can no longer address the "digital divide" just by providing access -- we also have to teach people how their online usage is spied on, how that will harm them, and what to do about it. Read the rest

Gorgeous new covers for 100 great public domain books

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The New York Public Library's spectacular Digital Public Library challenged designers to create new covers for some of the public domain's greatest books, which had been previously doomed to an undeserved dullness thanks to the auto-generated covers that book-scanning projects stuck them with. Read the rest

World Book Week RPG: let's play Frankfurt Book Fair!

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The Book Fair Game is a new open/free title from Matt Finch, a game designer with a residency at the State Library of Queensland, Australia. Read the rest

Obama's new Librarian of Congress nominee is a rip-snortin', copyfightin', surveillance-hatin' no-foolin' LIBRARIAN

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The outgoing Librarian of Congress was a technophobe who refused all gadgets more advanced than a fax machine; he was in charge of the nation's copyright, and hence its IT policy. Read the rest

NH bill would explicitly allow libraries to run Tor exit nodes

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Inspired by the Library Freedom Project's uncompromising bravery in the face of a DHS threat against a town library in Kilton, NH, that was running a Tor exit node to facilitate private, anonymous communication, the New Hampshire legislature is now considering a bill that would explicitly permit public libraries to "allow the installation and use of cryptographic privacy platforms on public library computers for library patrons use." Read the rest

New York Public Library does the public domain right

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The New York Public Library is aggressively digitizing the public domain works in its collections, adding high-quality machine-readable metadata to each of the hundreds of thousands of assets, providing an API, offering residencies to remixers who do interesting things with the collection, and offering all those assets in high-rez with "No permission required. No restrictions on use." Read the rest

Live streaming NOW! Internet Archive telethon

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Here's your chance to give back to the Internet's library of everything, home of the Wayback Machine, and friend to all Internet people, everywhere. They're livestreaming until 12h Pacific today. If you're in San Francisco, you can also drop by 300 Funston and join the audience. Read the rest

Library where you can check out dead animals

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At the Alaska Resources Library and Information Services, anyone can check out skulls, taxidermy mounts, pelts, and other bits and pieces of dead animals for free. Librarian Celia Rozen says that the most popular items are bear and wolf furs used in Boy Scout rituals and also snowy owl mounts requested by Harry Potter party planners. As you might expect, educators appreciate the opportunity to make their lessons more, er, tangible.

“It gets them excited about being in biology class,” South Anchorage High School science teacher Chris Backstrum told the Alaska Dispatch News. “It starts the year off on a good foot."

"Need a wolf fur? A puffin pelt? All you need is a library card and a visit to the ARLIS library" (ADN)

"Something Preserved" (Great Big Story)

(photos by Marc Lester/ADN) Read the rest

An ARG to celebrate open access week, courtesy of the University of Toronto library

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Bobby Glushko writes, "Something's going on at the University of Toronto's Robarts Library. A concerned group of citizens is investigating a conspiracy hiding facts about the mysterious and controversial past of this masterpiece of brutalist architecture. At the same time a noble, if shadowy, society is working to keep its secrets hidden." Read the rest

READ: The story of a girl raised by feral librarians

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When the wonderful science fiction writer Ellen Klages (previously) tells a fantastic tale about a shuttered library where seven eternal librarians tend the shelves, it doesn't come out reminiscent of Borges's library, nor Pratchett's -- rather, like all of Klages's work, it becomes a story about human affection and destiny. Read the rest

Think we don't need Banned Books Week anymore? Think again.

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Peter from the National Coalition Against Censorship writes, "Some say book banning isn't even a problem anymore, so we should ditch Banned Books Week altogether. That's a terrible idea." Read the rest

Fun Palaces: locally made art, science and play, for participants, not audiences

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The idea of Fun Palaces has been incubating among radical librarians for more than half a century, and now it's bursting open as a full-fledged movement. Every library in the Lambeth Borough of London will be a Fun Palace this Saturday, with a wide range of participatory activities ranging from zine and science workshops to participatory theater to kids' games from the amazing Code Club. Read the rest

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