As many of you will know, I'm about to kick off the tour for a new YA science fiction novel, Pirate Cinema, which comes out next week. As with all my other novels, I'll be putting up Creative Commons-licensed editions of the book for your downloading pleasure.
Now, whenever I do this, many readers write to me and ask if they can send me a tip or a donation to thank me for sharing the book with them. This isn't a great way for me to earn money, as it cuts my (awesome, DRM-free, kick-ass) publisher out of the loop. I've come up with a much better solution: I publish the names of librarians, teachers, and other affiliated people who would like to receive hardcopies of my books, and then point generous donors to that list, so that they can send copies there. I pay an assistant, Ogla Nunes, who keeps track of who's received their donations, crossing their names off the list when their requests are fulfilled. We've collectively donated thousands of books to schools, libraries and similar institutions. As one reader said, this is like paying your debts forward, with instant gratification. What a fine thing indeed.
Here's where you come in. If you're a librarian, teacher, or similar person and you would like a free copy or free copies of Pirate Cinema sent to you by one of my readers, please send Olga an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your institutional details and your name so that we can populate the list and have it ready for release day, so that the generous impulses this generates in my readers can be converted to instantaneous action.
We just did this for Rapture of the Nerds, my novel for adults, co-written with Charles Stross, which was published earlier this month, and got an amazing response, both from would-be donation recipients and donors. But with your help, we can leave that signal success in the dust with Pirate Cinema.
Here's a plot-summary to whet your appetite. I hope I'll see you on the tour!
Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household’s access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal.
Trent’s too clever for that to happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a stroke.
Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds….
Readers will remember that Canada's national archives are in trouble: they've undergone a $9.6M cut, with more to come. The collections are being sold off to private collectors, many outside of the country. Now the Documentary Organization of Canada has weighed in: "Lisa Fitzgibbons, Executive Director of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC), succinctly states a case for continuance of sustainable funding of Library and Archives Canada."
Great news, West Torontonians! The free Oakville Public Library event I'm doing next Wednesday has been opened to all comers (it was previously teen-only). There's refreshments, too. You need to pick up a ticket at a local OPL branch, or you can call or email (email@example.com or 905-815-2042 ext. 5037) to book ahead. Hope to see you there!
Cory Doctorow (Little Brother, For the Win) will be at the Oakville Public Library to introduce high school students to his latest novel, Pirate Cinema! Pick up your free ticket at all Oakville Public Library branches starting September 10 for your chance to hear Cory read from his book due out October 5. He’ll then talk about creativity, copyright and bill C-11 followed by a Q&A.
Wednesday, September 26: 6-8pm
Central Branch Auditorium – 120 Navy Street
Refreshments will be served
The American Library Association has decried Hachette's decision to increase the cost of library ebooks by 220 percent. Hachette is the same publisher that has demanded that authors it publishes lean on Tor books to reinstate DRM on their books. Way to handle the 21st century, folks.
"After these tentative steps forward, we were stunned to learn that Hachette plans to more than
doubletriple its prices starting October 1. Now we must ask, “With friends like these …’
"We are weary of faltering half steps and even more so of publishers that refuse to sell ebook titles to libraries at all. Today I have asked the ALA’s Digital Content and Libraries Working Group to develop more aggressive strategies and approaches for the nation’s library community to meet these challenges.
"Libraries must have the ability to purchase a wide range of digital content at a fair price so that all readers have full access to our world’s creative and cultural resources, especially the many millions who depend on libraries as their only source of reading material.”
Charlie Stross and I have a new book out and I'm about to put up a website where readers can download free, CC-licensed copies of it in ebook form. As with other recent books, I'm going to collect and publish the names of librarians, teachers, and public institutions that would like to get free copies of the hardcover, and then ask people who want to thank me for the free ebook by buying copies for these institutions.
So! If you're a librarian, teacher, instructor, or similar, and you would like a free copy of Rapture of the Nerds for your institution, please send your name and the name and address of your institution to firstname.lastname@example.org. I think we'll launch the site early next week, and it'd be great to go live with a good, long list of potential donation recipients, so act quick! My assistant Olga Nunes (thanks, Olga!) is staffing that address and will get your listing up ASAP.
Note for teachers: this isn't a young adult novel, and it deals with some decidedly adult themes and contains a lot of cussin'. Here's the plot summary:
Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.
Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the sun.
The splintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander…and when that happens, it casually spams Earth's networks with plans for cataclysmically disruptive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems. A sane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there's always someone who'll take a bite from the forbidden apple.
So until the overminds bore of stirring Earth's anthill, there's Tech Jury Service: random humans, selected arbitrarily, charged with assessing dozens of new inventions and ruling on whether to let them loose. Young Huw, a technophobic, misanthropic Welshman, has been selected for the latest jury, a task he does his best to perform despite an itchy technovirus, the apathy of the proletariat, and a couple of truly awful moments on bathroom floors.
On Mental Floss, Jill Harness's collection of librarian tattoos. Above, Elizabeth Skene's card-catalog sleeve, by Frank William of the Chicago Tattoo Company. Right, Michelle's super-librarian tattoo, chosen to represent her career as a high-school librarian, based on Mary Marvel, and done by Chris Cockrill of Avalon II Tattoo.
At Neatorama, librarian John Farrier helpfully points out some places where fictional pony librarian Twilight Sparkle could stand to improve her professional practice. It is simultaneously a dedicated bit of pony fandom and an interesting overview of the many responsibilities of a real-world librarian.
Conducting a reference interview is the act of translating a patron’s request into terms that are congruent with the library’s resources. It may surprise non-librarians to learn this, but yes: reference interviewing is a skill. And it is one that Twilight should develop.
A good reference interview begins with the librarian conducting him/herself in a manner that is welcoming. Helping the patron is the first priority of a librarian working the reference desk. The patron is not a distraction or an annoyance. In the first reference interview in the series, Twilight interacts with her patron, Rainbow Dash. “Can I help you?” is a good beginning. But her tone and body language suggests that she would rather not.
... Twilight has some good reference interviewing sense. One pitfall that rookie librarians fall into is to give professional advice instead of information—especially medical and legal advice. In “Cutie Pox,” Applejack and Applebloom visit the library and asking for medical advice. Twilight, aware that doing so could expose the library and herself to liability, deftly avoids doing so and refers Applejack and Applebloom to Zecora, a qualified medical professional.
Meet SparkTruck, an “educational build-mobile” for the twenty-first century.
Dreamed up by a group of Stanford d.school students and funded through Kickstarter, SparkTruck is a mobile maker space currently traveling across the United States. At schools and summer camps and libraries around the country, the SparkTruck team offers workshops to help kids “find their inner maker” as they design and build projects like stamps, stop-motion animation clips, and “vibrobots.” Read the rest
Read the rest
The Internet Archive has partnered with BitTorrent to publish over 1,000,000 of its books, music and movies as legal torrents. It's a huge whack of legal content in the torrentverse, and a major blow to the schemes of entertainment execs to have the whole BitTorrent protocol filtered away to nothing on sight. From the Internet Archive's blog:
Over 1,000,000 Torrents of Downloadable Books, Music, and Movies
BitTorrent is the now fastest way to download items from the Archive, because the BitTorrent client downloads simultaneously from two different Archive servers located in two different datacenters, and from other Archive users who have downloaded these Torrents already. The distributed nature of BitTorrent swarms and their ability to retrieve Torrents from local peers may be of particular value to patrons with slower access to the Archive, for example those outside the United States or inside institutions with slow connections.
I'm very taken with James Charlick's photo, "The Grand Library," shot in an abandoned house during an urban exploration expedition.
Sue sez, "If the LibraryCamp Crowdfunder pitch reaches its target, library workers from across the UK be heading to Birmingham in October to attend LibraryCamp 2012 (think Barcamp). The volunteer organisers decided to set up their own DIY conference last year because traditional conferences were too expensive and often staff on the frontline weren't allowed to go. But Library camp is different - it's an unconference for a start, so anyone can lead a workshop or facilitate a session. It's also free to attend and you don't have to be a librarian or even work in a library, you just need to be passionate about the future of libraries."
Library Camp brings together people who are interested in modernising and transforming libraries for one day of intensive debate, knowledge sharing and ideas. It's an unconference so anyone can lead a workshop or facilitate a session and it's free to attend. You don't have to be a librarian or even work in a library, you just need to be passionate about the future of libraries. This year the unconference will be back in Birmingham in October and we want to invite 200 people so we need to raise £1000 to pay for a venue and feed the campers!
The Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide agency has won a gold prize in the Effie awards for their hoax "Book Burning Party" campaign, which is credited with saving the public library in Troy, MI. Michigan's extreme austerity measures and collapsing economy had put the library under threat, and the town proposed a 0.7% tax raise to keep it open. The local Tea Party spent a large sum of money opposing the measure on the grounds that all taxes are bad, so the Burnett campaign reframed the issue by creating a hoax campaign to celebrate the library's closure with a Book Burning Party a few days after the vote.
The outrage generated by this campaign was sufficient to win the day for the library, as Troy's residents made the connection between closing libraries and burning books, focusing their minds on literacy and shared community, rather than taxation.
Troy Public Library would close for good unless voters approved a tax increase. With little money, six weeks until the election, facing a well organized anti-tax group who'd managed to get two previous library-saving tax increases to fail, we had to be bold. We posed as a clandestine group who urged people to vote to close the library so they could have a book burning party. Public outcry over the idea drowned out the anti-tax opposition and created a ground-swell of support for the library, which won by a landslide.
Matt sez, "The School of Library and Inoformation Management at Emporia State University (Kansas, USA) unveiled a comic book aimed at generating newfound excitement for librarianship and increasing the awareness of the many opportunities that an MLS/MLIS degree can provide. From the same team that created Library of the Living Dead and Monster Clash, Supreme Librarians in Metaspace is a promotional comic that highlights the many facets of librarianship in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek manner. This resource encourages librarians around the world to take a look at the profession in a new light. And maybe have a laugh or two while doing it."
The editors of Welcome to Bordertown have just published a study guide for teachers and librarians. WtB is the latest installment in the Bordertown series, one of the oldest (and finest) examples of urban fantasy, a shared world in which the realms of Faerie and the mundane world clash in a border region where magic and technology both work intermittently and swirl together in a hybrid that is as exciting as it is erratic. This latest installment is a young adult book, and it includes my story Shannon's Law.
Set in a gritty, diverse city that straddles the divide between the human world and the magical realm, Welcome to Bordertown provides an ideal backdrop for exploring the issues and ideas most vital to young adults in a classroom or extracurricular setting. Through more than twenty interconnected songs, poems, and stories, educators can use Welcome to Bordertown to generate discussions and activities around a number of topics, including race, disability, technology, immigration, sexuality, and gender.
This guide provides a range of discussion questions that can be modified for use with a wide variety of groups, including reading clubs, middle and high school classes, Gay-Straight Alliances, and other diversity and discussion-focused groups. Divided into General Discussion Questions, Story-Specific Discussion Questions, and Post-Reading Activities, this guide works best when paired with the Bordertown series website, which provides supplementary material for many of the discussion questions and activities.
The Canadian federal government recently announced that they are cutting $9.6 million from the budget of Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Canada's national archives. This will seriously undermine the archives, which was already struggling due to chronic underfunding to live up to its mandate 'o preserve the documentary heritage of Canada.'
Hundreds of other archives across Canada will also be negatively affected by these cuts because LAC is terminating the National Archives Development Program (NADP), a long-running contribution program that helped fund projects by small archives to preserve documentary heritage locally and make it publicly available. The NADP cost only $1.7 million annually, but has done a world of good in helping to ensure that Canadian history survives and is accessible by all. If you want to help fight these devastating cuts to Canada's archival heritage, please sign the online petition to save the NADP and spread the word about these harmful cuts.
A reader writes, "Canadian heritage documents that used to be accessible through inter-library loan will be no longer accessible. If you want to access documents of Canada's history, be prepared to do some traveling, and even at that, those documents may no longer exist since standards of preservation may be compromised. This is of particular concern since the Harper government has revealed revisionist tendencies in the past."
From Laura Mueller in Nepean/Barrhaven Local Community News:
"Unless something is done soon, Canadians are at risk of losing key parts of their historical and cultural record," Harder wrote to Minister James Moore. "Preservation of our country's heritage is not something we can afford to sacrifice."
The Ottawa Public Library system relies on the national library for key Canadian heritage documents accessible through inter-library loans.
"It's going to have a huge impact on inter-library loans," said Jennifer Stirling, OPL's manager of service and innovation. "(The archives contains) Canadiana that just can't be replicated elsewhere ... it's very sad to see this happen."
Here's the national campaign to save Canada's archives.
The Canadian government is slowly doing away with Canada's ability to access its own history.
Library and Archives Canada's collection is being decentralized and scattered across the country, often to private institutions, which will limit access, making research difficult or next impossible. It should be noted that Daniel Caron, the new National Archivist hired in 2009, doesn't even have a background in library nor archives but, a background in economics.
"The changes and cuts are being justified by reference to digitization. A generous estimate is only 4% of the LAC collection has been digitized to date -- a poor record that will be made worse by the cuts announced on April 30, 2012, which reduced digitization staff by 50%."
Canadian Universities have one week to reject an insane copyright licensing deal that raises the cost of course materials by more than 600%
Michael Geist sez,
Car rental companies are infamous for encouraging customers to sign up for expensive liability insurance policies. Since many renters already have coverage from their own automotive insurance policies or can rely upon insurance coverage provided by their credit card issuer, the decision whether to sign up for a costly additional policy frequently depends upon who is paying the bill. If the individual is on the hook, they will often decline coverage and rely on their existing policies. If someone else is paying, it becomes easier to justify signing up for the additional coverage.
Last week, the Association of Universities and Colleges Canada, which represents dozens of Canada's leading universities, signed up for one of the most expensive copyright insurance policies in Canadian history. My weekly technology law column notes the policy comes in the form of a controversial model copyright licensing agreement with Access Copyright, a copyright collective that licenses copying and distribution of copyrighted works such as books, journals, and other texts. Should AUCC members sign the agreement - it falls to each individual university to decide whether to do so - they will pay $26 per full time student per year for the right to copy works from the Access Copyright repertoire.
The deal marks a significant increase from the previous agreement, which had cost students less than four dollars annually plus ten cents per page for materials included within printed coursepacks. The new fees are likely to be passed along to students, who will ultimately bear the burden of the copyright arrangement with higher tuitions.
Henry sez, "Harvard Library's Faculty Advisory Council is telling faculty that it's financially 'untenable' for the university to keep on paying extortionate access fees for academic journals. It's suggesting that faculty make their research publicly available, switch to publishing in open access journals and consider resigning from the boards of journals that don't allow open access."
Harvard’s annual cost for journals from these providers now approaches $3.75M. In 2010, the comparable amount accounted for more than 20% of all periodical subscription costs and just under 10% of all collection costs for everything the Library acquires. Some journals cost as much as $40,000 per year, others in the tens of thousands. Prices for online content from two providers have increased by about 145% over the past six years, which far exceeds not only the consumer price index, but also the higher education and the library price indices. These journals therefore claim an ever-increasing share of our overall collection budget. Even though scholarly output continues to grow and publishing can be expensive, profit margins of 35% and more suggest that the prices we must pay do not solely result from an increasing supply of new articles.
The Library has never received anything close to full reimbursement for these expenditures from overhead collected by the University on grant and research funds.
The Faculty Advisory Council to the Library, representing university faculty in all schools and in consultation with the Harvard Library leadership, reached this conclusion: major periodical subscriptions, especially to electronic journals published by historically key providers, cannot be sustained: continuing these subscriptions on their current footing is financially untenable. Doing so would seriously erode collection efforts in many other areas, already compromised.
Faculty Advisory Council Memorandum on Journal Pricing (Thanks, Henry!)
This bookmobile for the sick was wheeled around Los Angeles hospitals in 1928, a service of the LA public library.
TurboTax Federal Free Edition.
Libraries aren't just the mark of a civilized society -- assembling, curating and disseminating knowledge to all comers! -- they're also a cheapskate's best friend. Anyone who's interested in saving money probably already knows about the free Internet access, daily newspapers, DVD and audiobook borrowing, and book lending (duh). But local libraries go beyond that -- many host community meetings, book readings for kids, author signings, and workshops, as well as providing free or low-cost meeting spaces.
My favorite cheapskate pro-tip for libraries is asking reference librarians really hard, chewy questions. For example, any time I have a question about science fiction literature ("When did William Gibson first utter 'The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed'?" or "What was the time atomic weapons appeared in science fiction?") I ask the librarians at the Merril Collection, Toronto's incredible science fiction reference library, whose librarians are ninjas in such matters. But it's not just esoterica: many's the time I've walked into a good library and asked the reference librarians for help with something really chewy -- the sort of thing I might otherwise pay a researcher to find. Unlike a paid researcher, reference librarians usually don't just give you the answer, but rather take you by the hand and guide you through the use of library resources (including proprietary databases that aren't accessible over your home Internet connection), giving you an education in problem-solving as well as the solution to your problem.
Librarians, ultimately, are in the business of evaluating the authority of information sources, a problem that has never confronted more people than it does in the era of the Internet. I'm particularly looking forward to the day that hackspaces and libraries begin to realize that they're approaching the same problem from different directions, and a corner of the local branch into an e-waste recycling depot where librarians and tinkerers will help you build and outfit your own PC, giving you the technical and information literacy to understand what your computer is doing on your behalf.
(Image: Cutting Libraries in a Recession is like Cutting Hospitals in a Plague., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from daniel_solis's photostream)
Most libraries aren’t found in barns, but Jackson (N.H.) Public Library happily makes its new home in one. It’s not just any barn, either. Built in 1858 as part of the town’s first inn, the barn was dismantled and stored away in 2008. At about the same time, the library was looking to open a new facility. As the recession made following through on an architect’s design fiscally impossible, the library partnered with the Jackson Historical Society, itself looking for a way to re-erect the barn.
Jackson Public Library is one of several recent libraries to adapt existing non-library buildings (including a factory, a roller rink, and a department store) as new homes. In addition to generally costing less than a new building, and the potential historic value, the practice helps rejuvenate neighborhoods. See the library in a roller rink (and more) at Reused Libraries Rejuvenate Communities [atyourlibrary.org]
— posted by Greg Landgraf, American Libraries
Blackbeltlibrarian sez, "The Shutesbury Public Library in Shutesbury, Massachusetts is seeking funding in order to build a new building to replace their charming but woefully inadequate current one (which features no running water!). In order to get the word out staff and patrons created this cute little video in order to show the shortcomings of their current location, as well as what they could do with a new building."
In her first week working at the Pima County Public Library, Registered Nurse Emily Pogue helped a newly-homeless woman find safe shelter and access to the medications she needed. She listened to the stories of military veterans, helped them organize a buddy system, and she helped library staff deal sensitively with a child's case of head lice. In just a month, library staff noticed a drop in calls to 911 and experienced far fewer behavioral incidents.
Where people gather in large numbers, public health is always a consideration. But a trained health responder has been missing from the library—until recently. Read the rest
Read the rest