With the current popularity of hackerspaces and makerspaces in libraries, library hack-a-thons, and hacking projects for librarians; it is clear that library culture is warming to the hacker ethic. This is a highly positive trend and one that I encourage more librarians to participate in. The reason I am so excited to see libraries encourage adoption of the hacker ethic is that hackers share several core values with libraries. Working together we can serve our communities more effectively. This may appear to be counter-intuitive, especially due to a very common public misconception that hacker is just another word for computer-criminal. In this post I want to correct this error, explain the values behind the hacker movement, and show how librarians and hackers share core values. It is my hope that this opens the door for more librarians to get started in productive and positive library hackery.
…the NY Times published an article “Nonpartisan Tax Report Withdrawn After G.O.P. Protest” which points to the increasing politicization of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the non-partisan think tank of the US Congress.
To the NY Times’ credit, they posted a copy of the report in their story. We’re hosting a copy on FGI servers for your convenience.
A couple of comments:
1. I’m not qualified to conclude whether or not the methodology of the report is sound (I’m sure others will do/have done that), but that there have been attempts to suppress/take it down bothers me. Slap a disclaimer on it if you must, update it to correct anything that’s wrong, but don’t just remove it from circulation.
2. What goes on the internet stays on the internet. As CRS is no doubt now aware, removing something that had been publicly available only draws more attention to the document. (They should have asked USDA about that…)
When you engage in an activity that is intrinsically motivated, you’re not looking for some outside reward. Those of us who are very lucky are able to find paying jobs that sometimes involve flow activities for us. When I’m really in the zone, writing software can be a flow activity for me, but other days, when I’m slogging through something, it’s that paycheck that keeps me going. And I believe that most library users are the same way. Of course we’ll always need to serve folks who are slogging through a paper they don’t really want to write, but I’d like to spend some time thinking about how we might enable as much flow in the library as possible. I want to figure out how to make our collections genuinely pleasurable to use.
When describing physical browsing, people used emotional words. They felt joy when they encountered that serendipitous find in the stacks. They felt tranquility when they browsed the new books shelf in the reading room. One sociology PhD student described to me in loving detail her favorite place to study in the library. She described the lighting, the smell, the quiet, the beauty of her surroundings, the pleasure she felt at running her fingers over shelves of books on her favorite subject. Another student told me, with clear distress and frustration, that he used to spend every lunch hour in the new journals room, happily browsing, but now felt at a loss because the library had cancelled their print subscriptions and he had to rely on online access. If he knew what he was looking for already, he said, online access was very fast and efficient for getting it, and there were times he really appreciated that. But he also felt he had been robbed of a great pleasure, and one of the ways he felt most comfortable staying current with research in his field.
This is a long one, but full of interesting points to consider.
As libraries struggle to meet the challenges of providing digital content in an environment characterized by significant uncertainty and changing on a daily basis, there is a need for an Association-wide group of experts, broadly representative of the many constituencies within the library community, that can proactively address these digital content opportunities and issues at the highest level and from both a policy and practical perspective.
To help meet this need, the ALA’s Digital Content & Libraries Working Group was formed in Fall 2011 to implement the recommendations and to continue the work of ALA’s Task Force on Equitable Access to Digital Content. Working Group members were selected by the ALA President based on their high level of expertise and range of experience regarding libraries and digital content, and are broadly representative of the various constituencies within the Association and library community.
This website is meant to be a resource to support libraries in their transformation from print to digital content.
The University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine, in partnership with the U-M Library’s MPublishing division, announces the release of The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: A Digital Encyclopedia, an original, open access digital collection of archival, primary, and interpretive materials related to the history of the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic in the United States.
The collection, located at www.influenzaarchive.org, contains more than 16,000 digitized documents—correspondence, minutes of organization and group meetings, reports from agencies and charities, newspaper accounts, military records, diaries, photographs, and more—along with interpretive materials contributed by scholars of history and public health.
I will confess a definite weakness for this sort of thing… and this site looks awesome. :)
What is the CyberCemetery?The CyberCemetery is an archive of government websites that have ceased operation (usually websites of defunct government agencies and commissions that have issued a final report). This collection features a variety of topics indicative of the broad nature of government information. In particular, this collection features websites that cover topics supporting the university’s curriculum and particular program strengths.
Who created and maintains the CyberCemetery?The University of North Texas Libraries and the U.S. Government Printing Office, as part of the Federal Depository Library Program, created a partnership to provide permanent public access to the Web sites and publications of defunct U.S. government agencies and commissions. This collection was named the “CyberCemetery” by early users of the site.This collection supports the mission of the UNT Libraries by acquiring, preserving, and providing access to recorded knowledge in the form of government websites.
I haven’t poked around in this too much yet, but it looks interesting!
One of the characteristics of the modern media age — at least for anyone who uses the web and social media a lot — is that we are surrounded by vast clouds of rapidly changing information, whether it’s blog posts or news stories or Twitter and Facebook updates. That’s great if you like real-time content, but there is a not-so-hidden flaw — namely, that you can’t step into the same stream twice, as Heraclitus put it. In other words, much of that information may (and probably will) disappear as new information replaces it, and small pieces of history wind up getting lost. According to a recent study, which looked at links shared through Twitter about news events like the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East, this could be turning into a substantial problem.
Digital goods have costs.
I’m not talking here about just things like the cost of electricity, which should be enough on its own to disabuse idealists of their vacuous notions of what makes the world go around. I analyzed this at length in another post earlier this year. Even beyond just their power requirements, digital goods have particular traits that make them difficult to store effectively, challenging to distribute well, and much more effective when handled by paid professionals.
The digital branch allows patrons to view and explore digital content using their hands and eyes the same way they might explore a traditional collection, with added functionality like immediate access to staff recommendations, most popular titles, and new content. Digital branch technology and features will change and improve as Douglas County Libraries’ eContent collection grows and patron use of digital content evolves.
I like the sound of this, especially that the library owns the ebooks outright (my library does that with the electronic reference works we get from Gale, for instance).
I’ve been reading and listening to the discussions about Transliteracy, and last week went to a one-day conference on the topic. And I’ve come to a conclusion. “Transliteracy” is what people who’ve been doing Bibliographic Instruction and calling it Information Literacy have started calling Information Literacy now that they’re finally on board with Information Literacy’s goals.
Generalization? Admittedly. But try as I might, I can’t see how aiming for transferable skills is any different from what we’ve been doing for years.
There’s some good discussion in the comments to this post.
Raises some interesting points about the proliferation of digital information (files, photos, you name it) and its effect on access to that information (and totally separate from the issue of older files not being compatible with newer software).
Yes, all my files are on a computer or online, somewhere. But without permission, a password, most of them remain hidden. I try to store some of my stuff under “effinglibrarian” accounts, but I have lots of accounts under various usernames. If I were to bump my head and develop amnesia or die, would anyone ever learn who I was? I don’t have scrapbooks with photos of my trips to … see? I can’t even rememeber without finding the folders with the files.
Without account names and passwords, there is nothing to find. I will disappear.