My novel Little Brother is the "One City One Book" pick for the San Francisco Public Library this year; and in its honor, they've put together an amazing city-wide scavenger hunt called "Rogue Agent." It features fiendish puzzles and awesome clues, and kicks off on September 14. It's a team-sport, so start thinking about your teammates now; I'll be at the SFPL at the end of September to read from the book and talk about it.
Read the rest
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This morning dawned with two exciting announcements from the world of libraries and makerspaces: first, the Chicago Public Library has opened a popup makerlab in the main downtown branch (this is merely the latest in a series of amazing, interactive, maker-ish initiatives from the CPL system). They've got 3D printers, laser cutters and a milling machine.
The other awesome news is that the 11,000 sqft the DC Library Digital Commons opens today in the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library, with 3D printers, book-on-demand printers, and computers with 3D design software running on them.
This is a great day for libraries and makers -- as I've written, that's a match made in heaven.
Eric Robbins has been down to his local library to play with their Replicator 2 3D printer; he whipped up this gorgeous 3D model of our mascot, the magnificent Jackhammer Jill. He's provided a link to the STL file, and says, "Anyone is free to use or modify it." Bravo, Eric!
In a 2010 interview with The Book Page, Neil Gaiman neatly set out the case for libraries and librarians in the 21st century; the remarks are even more relevant today, as libraries fight for a fair deal from publisher for ebooks, and with austerity-maddened local governments for their very survival.
Over the last decade, which is less than a blink of an eye in the history of the human race, it’s all changed. And we’ve gone from a world in which there is too little information, in which information is scarce, to a world in which there is too much information, and most of it is untrue or irrelevant. You know, the world of the Internet is the world of information that is not actually so. It’s a world of information that just isn’t actually true, or if it is true, it’s not what you needed, or it doesn’t actually apply like that, or whatever. And you suddenly move into a world in which librarians fulfill this completely different function.
We’ve gone from looking at a desert, in which a librarian had to walk into the desert for you and come back with a lump of gold, to a forest, to this huge jungle in which what you want is one apple. And at that point, the librarian can walk into the jungle and come back with the apple. So I think from that point of view, the time of librarians, and the time of libraries—they definitely haven’t gone anywhere.
The awesome library ninjas at the Seattle Public Library kicked off its Summer Reading Program by smashing the world record for a book domino chain. The chain was laid out in the library's beautiful main branch, and was made up of 2,131 library discards and donations. I'm at the American Library Association in Chicago this weekend -- if you're one of the SPL aweseomsaucers who helped this, I'd love to shake your hand.
Book Domino Chain World Record (Thanks, silkox!)
In Washington today, US officials and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum representatives announced the seizure of a long-lost diary maintained by a close confidant of Adolf Hitler.
The recovery of this historical document was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The author of the so-called "Rosenberg Diary" was Alfred Rosenberg, a leading member of the Third Reich and of the Nazi Party during World War II.
Rosenberg was one of the intellectual authors behind key Nazi beliefs, including persecution of Jewish people, expansionist “lebensraum” (living space) ideology, the "master race" theory, and the rejection of modern art as "degenerate." He was tried at Nuremberg, sentenced to death, and hanged on October 16, 1946, after having been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The diary will eventually be displayed in the Holocaust Museum. More photos, video from the press conference where the seizure was announced, video of Rosenberg speaking, and more of the story behind this important historic artifact are below.
Charlie Savage writes in the New York Times of the books on offer to prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, which include a set of Indiana Jones novelizations, some Star Trek: TNG novels, Ender's Game, Arabic editions of Danielle Steele, and some Captain America graphic novels. Some of the prisoners arrived in Gitmo able to read English, other have learned during their 10-year incarceration. One lawyer brought in copies of Nineteen Eighty-Four for his client, Shaker Aamer, who said, "it perfectly captured the psychological reality of being at Gitmo."
The library has about 18,000 books — roughly 9,000 titles — the bulk of which are in Arabic, along with a smaller selection of periodicals, DVDs and video games. Religious books are the most popular, Milton said, but there is also a well-thumbed collection of Western fare — from Arabic translations of books like “News of a Kidnapping,” by Gabriel García Márquez, and “The Kiss,” by Danielle Steel, to a sizable English-language room, which boasts familiar titles like the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” series, “Watership Down” and the “Odyssey.” Some detainees arrived knowing English, while a few others have learned over time. Most have now been held without trial for over a decade.
You can see photos of the books at the Gitmo Books Tumblr, which was started by Charlie Savage
lawyers for some of the prisoners.
Libraries in New York City are facing a potential $106 million cut to their budgets. Should these cuts go through, more than 60 neighborhood libraries will close. More than a thousand librarians and library staff will be laid off.
Once again, for a fourth year, New Yorkers will be standing up for libraries at the 24 Hour Read In, which takes place from June 8th & 9th at the gorgeous Brooklyn Public Library Central Library. Poud library supporters will read around the clock: a literal full day of reading in support of libraries throughout the five boroughs. Read the rest
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Freelance archivists raising funds to preserve precious manuscripts rescued from fundamentalists in Timbuktu
Tony sez, "In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss. That's why we launched an Indie-go-go campaign."
Libraries in Exile is sponsored by T160K, an international initiative forged in the evacuation of these treasures from Timbuktu and dedicated to protecting and preserving them until they can be returned to their home. It is the center of a growing global family who have pledged to this urgent effort.
Funds contributed to this project will be used to purchase moisture traps, archival boxes, and the additional footlockers required to safely store these manuscripts, as well as to cover the significant labor effort required to unbox and re-pack the manuscripts for preservation.
The Little Free Library is a project from Stereotank: a freestanding, inverted plastic tank that you stick your head into in order to browse the books that are sheltered from the elements. It's been installed in New York's Nolita.
The Architectural League of New York partnered with Pen World Voices Festival to bring Little Free Library to New York City. Ten designers were chosen to create one Little Free Library each in Downtown Manhattan. Stereotank was selected to design a Little Free Library at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School in Nolita. The design consisted in creating an 'inhabitable' Little Free Library, where users could immerse themselves and take the time to browse through books and borrow or exchange them. The structure is built out of an upside down plastic tank and a wooden frame. Perforations around the tank allow visitors to peek inside and preview the interior, which invites them to duck under and discover the book collection while still having a connection with the exterior. The installation is planned to be active until September 2013.
Michael Geist sez,
Months after the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a stinging defeat to Canadian copyright collective Access Copyright by ruling for an expansive approach to fair dealing and the government passed copyright reforms that further expanded the scope of fair dealing, Access Copyright responded yesterday with what amounts to a desperate declaration of war against fair dealing. Access Copyright has decided to fight the law - along with governments, educational institutions, teachers, librarians, and taxpayers - on several fronts. Most notably, it has filed a lawsuit against York University over its fair dealing guidelines, which are similar to those adopted by educational institutions across the country. While the lawsuit has yet to be posted online, the Access Copyright release suggests that the suit is not alleging specific instances of infringement, but rather takes issue with guidelines it says are "arbitrary and unsupported" and that "authorize and encourage copying that is not supported by the law."
Most of Access Copyright's longstanding arguments were dismissed by the Supreme Court this past summer. To suggest that a modest fair dealing policy based on Supreme Court jurisprudence and legislative reforms is "arbitrary and unsupported" is more than just rhetoric masquerading as legal argument. It is a declaration of war against fair dealing.
Brian sez, "My library hosted Kevin Gardner, a New Hampshire native and builder/restorer of traditional New England stone walls. He talked about the history of stone walls in New England, and how they shaped - and were shaped by - the landscape and circumstances of the region and country. I thought BoingBoing readers would be interested in the talk alone, but the bonus is that the entire time he's talking, he's also building a miniature stone wall from rocks he brought in two five-gallon buckets."
The entire editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration resigned en masse. Board member Chris Bourg wrote publicly about the decision, and an open letter elaborates on it, stating that their difference of opinion with publisher Taylor & Francis Group about open access, galvanized by Aaron Swartz's suicide, moved them to quit.
“The Board believes that the licensing terms in the Taylor & Francis author agreement are too restrictive and out-of-step with the expectations of authors in the LIS community.”
“A large and growing number of current and potential authors to JLA have pushed back on the licensing terms included in the Taylor & Francis author agreement. Several authors have refused to publish with the journal under the current licensing terms.”
“Authors find the author agreement unclear and too restrictive and have repeatedly requested some form of Creative Commons license in its place.”
“After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor & Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $2995 per article fee to be paid by the author. As you know, this is not a viable licensing option for authors from the LIS community who are generally not conducting research under large grants.”
Pretty amazing that Taylor & Francis thought that they could convince authors -- who weren't paid in the first place -- to cough up $3000 for the right to use their own work in other contexts. Talk about being out of step with business realities of publishing!
Marijke Visser from the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy writes with this provocative question:
What could a library do with a gigabit broadband connection? What kinds of services could they do that they can’t without that big of a connection? Thinking way away from the typical services libraries offer now, what are some really big ideas that would need that much connectivity? These services could happen outside the library walls, in relationship to other community organizations and/or government agencies… How would a library hooked up to a gig benefit its community?
Canadian government muzzles librarians and archivists, creates snitch line to report those who speak online or in public without permission
Canada's Conservative government has issued new regulations to librarians and archvists governing their free speech in public forums and online media. According to the Harper government, public servants owe a "duty of loyalty" to the "duly elected government" and must get permission from their
political officers managers before making any public utterance -- or even a private utterance in an online forum that may eventually leak to the public, to prevent "conflicts" or "risks" their departments.
The Tories have also rolled out a snitch-line where those loyal to the party line can report on their co-workers for failing to maintain ideological purity.
“Once you start picking on librarians and archivists, it’s pretty sad,” says Toni Samek, a professor of library and information studies at the University of Alberta. She specializes in intellectual freedom and describes several clauses in the code as “severe” and “outrageous.”
The code is already having a “chilling” effect on federal archivists and librarians, who used to be encouraged to actively engage and interact with groups interested in everything from genealogy to preserving historical documents, says archivist Loryl MacDonald at the University of Toronto.
“It is very disturbing and disconcerting to have included speaking at conferences and teaching as so-called ‘high risk’ activities,” says MacDonald, who is president of the Association of Canadian Archivists, a non-profit group representing some 600 archivists across the country.
Regular readers will remember that Canada's librarians and archivists led a charge to save Canada's National Archives when the Harper Tories broke up the irreplaceable collections and flogged them off to private collectors at fire-sale prices.
Federal librarians fear being ‘muzzled’ under new code of conduct that stresses ‘duty of loyalty’ to the government [Margaret Munro/National Post]
Last fall, while on the Pirate Cinema tour, I stopped in at the Library of Congress to give a talk called "A Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond," which was an amazing treat. The LoC people were delightful and the building and its collections were outstanding. Now, they've put the video online!
John Mark Ockerbloom's "From Wikipedia to our libraries" is a fabulous proposal for creating research synergies between libraries and Wikipedia, by adding templates to Wikipedia articles that direct readers to unique, offline-only (or onsite-only) library resources at their favorite local libraries. Ockerbloom's approach acknowledges and respects the fact that patrons start their searches online, and seeks only to improve the outcomes of their research -- not to convince them not to start with the Internet.
So how do we get people from Wikipedia articles to the related offerings of our local libraries? Essentially we need three things: First, we need ways to embed links in Wikipedia to the libraries that readers use. (We can’t reasonably add individual links from an article to each library out there, because there are too many of them– there has to be a way that each Wikipedia reader can get to their own favored libraries via the same links.) Second, we need ways to derive appropriate library concepts and local searches from the subjects of Wikipedia articles, so the links go somewhere useful. Finally, we need good summaries of the resources a reader’s library makes available on those concepts, so the links end up showing something useful. With all of these in place, it should be possible for researchers to get from a Wikipedia article on a topic straight to a guide to their local library’s offerings on that topic in a single click.
I’ve developed some tools to enable these one-click Wikipedia -> library transitions. For the first thing we need, I’ve created a set of Wikipedia templates for adding library links. The documentation for the Library resources box template, for instance, describes how to use it to create a sidebar box with links to resources about (or by) the topic of a Wikipedia article in a reader’s library, or in another library a reader might want to consult. (There’s also an option for direct links to my Online Books Page, if there are relevant books online; it may be easier in some cases for readers to access those than to access their local library’s books.)
Basalt, CO's public library has added packets of seeds to its circulating collection: you grow 'em, pick out the best fruits, and harvest the seeds and give them back to the library for the next patron:
Here's how it works: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others.
Syson says tending a garden in Western Colorado can be frustrating. The dry climate, alkaline soils and short growing season keep many novices from starting. She'll take seeds from the plants that withstand pests and persevere through drought.
"If you save seed from those plants, already, in one generation, you will now be able to grow a plant that has those traits," Syson says.
How To Save A Public Library: Make It A Seed Bank [NPR/Luke Runyon]
I wrote a guest editorial for the Raincoast Books site, in honour of Freedom to Read Week. It's called "Libraries, Hackspaces and E-waste: how libraries can be the hub of a young maker revolution," and it's about the role of libraries in the 21st century:
Every discussion of libraries in the age of austerity always includes at least one blowhard who opines, "What do we need libraries for? We've got the Internet now!"
The problem is that Mr. Blowhard has confused a library with a book depository. Now, those are useful, too, but a library isn't just (or even necessarily) a place where you go to get books for free. Public libraries have always been places where skilled information professionals assisted the general public with the eternal quest to understand the world. Historically, librarians have sat at the coalface between the entire universe of published material and patrons, choosing books with at least a colorable claim to credibility, carefully cataloging and shelving them, and then assisting patrons in understanding how to synthesize the material contained therein.
Libraries have also served as community hubs, places where the curious, the scholarly, and the intellectually excitable could gather in the company of one another, surrounded by untold information-wealth, presided over by skilled information professionals who could lend technical assistance where needed. My own life has included many protracted stints in libraries — for example, I dropped out of high-school when I was 14 took myself to Toronto's Metro Reference Library and literally walked into the shelves at random, selected the first volume that aroused my curiosity, read it until it suggested another line of interest, then chased that one up. When I found the newspaper microfilm, I was blown away, and spent a week just pulling out reels at random and reading newspapers from the decades and centuries before, making notes and chasing them up with books. We have a name for this behavior today, of course: "browsing the Web." It was clunkier before the Web went digital, but it was every bit as exciting.
From Taylor-Ruth's Tumblr, a page from her fifth grade diary. She was unquestionably the most punk fifth grader she knew, and possibly the most punk fifth grader in history. If you're trying to place the chronology here, note that Taylor-Ruth identifies as an Indiana high-school senior (she's also a great cartoonist!).
An academic librarian at McMaster University wrote that "The Edwin Mellen Press was a poor publisher with a weak list of low-quality books, scarcely edited, cheaply produced, but at exorbitant prices," a point of view supported by survey data. The Edwin Mellen Press responded with a libel suit, naming both McMaster and the librarian, and seeking $3,000,000 in damages. McMaster has been publicly silent on the matter, but it deserves wider attention.
I've had my share of negative reviews, including some that I thought were materially unfair. Though I earn my living as a writer and a publisher, I can't imagine using the law to silence my critics. But Mellen has a history of suing and threatening people who criticize its products.
No one likes bad reviews; but Mellen’s approach is not to disprove the assessment, pledge to improve its quality, or reconsider its business-model. It is to slam McMaster University and its librarian with a three million dollar lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court, alleging libel and claiming massive aggravated and exemplary damages. The matter is pending.
The lawsuit is threadbare. With respect to the parts of Mellen’s list with which I am familiar, the librarian’s statements noted above are all true and the quality judgments are correct. (And this survey suggests that would be a common assessment.) Moreover, on the facts in this situation, it is obviously fair comment, and public policy considerations strongly suggest that university librarians enjoy a qualified privilege with respect to their assessments of the quality of the books they consider buying for their universities. It would be a disaster for universities, students, researchers and the taxpayer if aggrieved publishers were permitted to silence discussions of the quality of their publications by threats of lawsuit.
Stephen Weiner's seminal Rise of the Graphic Novel has had a second edition. Rise builds on Weiner's influential work in cataloging and charting a course through the field of graphic novels for librarians around America and the world, spinning out a compact, fascinating narrative of the history of graphic novels, from the Yellow Kid to the modern explosion of Pulitzer-winning, "respectable," multi-media, highly lucrative graphic novels of today. For such a short book -- 70 pages -- Rise covers a huge amount of ground, from The Spirit to R Crumb, from indie comix to Cavalier and Clay, from Death Note to Understanding Comics and Sandman. Even Boing Boing's own Elfquest gets a chapter.
This is a perfect book for anyone trying to wrap her or his head around the field of comics, a quick and smart overview of the field that spans both decades and genres. Whether you're developing a syllabus, improving your library's collection, or just trying to get a better sense of the field and the good stuff you might have missed, Rise is well worth a read, and worth keeping around afterwards for reference.
Plus: there's a dandy introduction by Will Eisner himself!
Dee sez, "Keneth Cerws' published studies take copyfight to libraries and museums where restrictive - often absurd - copyright claims and licensing terms are forced on those requesting images of art works and scans of books and documents where the original work long ago entered the public domain, often decades or centuries ago. This raises relevent questions about fair use, academic and research use and how we treat copyright for new images and renderings, often digital images, of old works that many consider vital pieces our common human history, heritage and cultural commons."
Museums face steady demand for images of artworks from their collections, and they typically provide a service of making and delivering high-resolution images of art. The images are often intellectually essential for scholarly study and teaching, and they are sometimes economically valuable for production of the coffee mugs and note cards sold in museum shops and elsewhere. Though the law is unclear regarding copyright protection afforded to such images, many museum policies and licenses encumber the use of art images with contractual terms and license restrictions often aimed at raising revenue or protecting the integrity of the art. This article explores the extent to which museums have strained the limits of copyright claims and indeed have restructured concepts of ownership and control in ways that curtail the availability and use of art images far beyond anything that may be grounded in the law. This article examines the relevant copyright law applicable to the making and use of reproductions of art images, and it identifies the challenging pressures that museums face as they strive to make policies in the context of law but that also serve the multiple competing interests coming to bear on officials and decision makers inside museums. The article analyzes selected policies from major museums and provides an original construct of forms of “overreaching” that often appear in written standards offered by museums for the use of images. The analysis of policies also demonstrates that museums have choices in the shaping of institutional policies, and that breaking away from familiar policy terms can sometimes better serve institutional and public interests.
Copyright, Museums, and Licensing of Art Images (Thanks, Dee!)
International Games Day @ your library is an annual initiative of the American Library Association to reconnect communities through their libraries around the educational, recreational and social value of all types of games. Now in its fifth year, this community event has brought more than 100,000 people together to play games over the last four years. Read the rest
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