HackLibSchool on Occupy Wall Street: Part II

15/12/2011 § 13 Comments

A few weeks ago we wrote about how libraries fit into the Occupy Wall Street movement.  In the comments there was a discussion of emergency plans so I wanted to write a bit of an update on what has happened with the Audre Lorde to Howard Zinn (A-Z) Library at Occupy Boston.  

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HackLibSchool on Occupy Wall Street: How Do Libraries Fit In?

16/11/2011 § 68 Comments

“I learned that the most important thing about teaching is not what you do in the classroom but what you do outside the classroom. You go outside the classroom yourself, bring your students outside, or have them bring you outside the classroom, because very often they do it first and you say, ‘I can’t hang back. I’m their teacher. I have to be there with them.’ And you learn that the best kind of teaching makes this connection between social action and book learning.”  Howard Zinn

The goal of this post is to start a conversation about LIS students and Occupy Wall Street. Several OWS libraries have popped up in different cities, and LIS students and librarians have heeded the call for reference workers, book donations, and more. In a lot of ways, libraries as a part of activism are related to our discussions of advocacy as professionals. A few HLS folk and others, are going to share our thoughts here, but what we really want is to open up a discussion with readers about how we fit into OWS as students and future info pros. There are info pros who agree and disagree with OWS itself, but all of us have important perspectives to add to the conversation. One caveat: no disrespectful/unkind/abusive/etc. comments. Our readers are generally pretty agreeable folks so this is pretty unlikely to become a problem, but we want to make sure the conversation is productive. With that, here are some thoughts from HLSers–please add your own!

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iPads, and Kindles, and nooks! Oh, My!

19/10/2011 § 9 Comments

There has always been a hesitation to fully embrace the new. This existed when the codex,or books, with pages that you turn, took the place of scrolls that you roll, as illustrated by this hilarious video. Next, came the invention of movable type, in particular Gutenberg’s printing press. That was met by disdain from the elite due to the fact that the mechanization of the written word further widened the circle of readers, knowledge, and power structure.  Now over 500 years later, electronic communication is making its impression by way of the electronic book (e-book). Whether they are reading using an e-reader such as Kindle, Nook, iPad, or a phone or computer, the dissemination of e-books is not stopping and it’s in our interests as library students to learn as much as we can about e-books, their distribution, and a new term for me, Digital Rights Management (DRM).

DRM, as said in Wikipedia, refers to “technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals to limit the use of digital content and devices.” When applied to e-books, this can lead to publishers making drastic decisions on how their authors’ works are read. An example, and current polemic amongst public libraries, is with publisher Harper Collins and their 26 check out limit. An e-book can be borrowed a maximum of 26 times, after which a new e-book must be purchased and again limited to only 26 checkouts. Such a limit has its problems, as this video by Pioneer Library System of Oklahoma explains. Each publisher’s DRM is unique and Harper Collins decision has certainly caused quite a commotion among the public libraries.

Yet, there are other publishers, the small independent ones, whose alternatives demand further contemplation. If e-books are to be embraced, why not comingle written and electronic content together. At least that’s what one publisher, Melville House Publishing, is doing.  They sell what is called a Hybrid Book, where the print version of a book comes with additional material, called Melville House Illuminations, that “consist of highly curated text, maps, photographs, and illustrations related to the original book”. What I equate it to, is what music distributors have done to sell their recording artist’s records. They load them with additional features, such as the music video for their single, bonus tracks, or special cover art. This is just a one example of what publishers are doing to incorporate print material with electronic content but what are we as library school students learning about e-books? Being rather green to these terms, I’d like to take a class next semester that introduces me to electronic collections and services, but I’d like to hear from our readers:

What you have experienced when learning about e-content?  If the future of books is looking increasingly digital do you feel your library school education is preparing you to handle electronic content?

Banned Books Week: A Discussion on Intellectual Freedom for Kids

28/09/2011 § 9 Comments

Can of Worms. 'No Matter' Project Photo Stream on Flickr.

In honor of Banned and Challenged Books Week, Britt and Rebecca want to discuss the assumptions, implications, and consequences of challenging and banning books in public and school libraries, particularly for youth.  We think that library school is the best time to explore these topics so you can develop intellectual and ethical positions before you start your career; even as they shift and change in practice, having a theoretical foundation and a chance to exchange ideas with peers is a way to build your own position.  Please add your voice to the discussion!
Rebecca: Off the bat, I am totally pro-intellectual freedom, even for youth.  I think it’s necessary to expose children to all sorts of ideas and to encourage them to critically reflect on their reading to help them become better learners and citizens.  Similarly, it is the job of the parent to determine what is or isn’t appropriate for an individual child, and not the job of a library or school.  When a school removes a book, they aren’t just saying the book is inappropriate for some, or even most, children; they’re saying the book is inappropriate for all children.  That doesn’t seem right.

Britt: Of course, public and school librarians operate in different spheres of responsibility for a child’s access.  Many teacher librarians may act in loco parentis (in place of a parent) depending on their state or district; public librarians have no such mandate.  It is the common practice of public librarians (and the suggestion of ALA), particularly when processing a challenge, to place the responsibility for access on the parent, which relieves the librarian of that role.  This leaves us free to collect for a broader audience, but also, I feel, limits our ability to be advocates for intellectual freedom for youth.  Should youth librarians take a more active role when promoting access for children?  Should we advocate for the right of the child over that of the parent?

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The Elevator Speech

22/09/2011 § 11 Comments

Church Station Street Elevator

From Flickr user brunoboris - used under Creative Commons license.

As soon as you start library school (or maybe before) people will ask you— “Why?” Besides asking why you specifically are going to grad school to get your MLS they will ask questions like: “Why does a librarian need a master’s degree to check out books to people?” or “Why do we even need libraries?”

If you are a first year student or a veteran librarian you better have a good answer at the ready—you are representing libraries and the profession to the “outside” world with your answer. We can echo reasons to employ librarians on this blog all day long— but the people who need to understand the worth of libraries and librarianship don’t read this blog or any library blog and they may not even go to the library.

Step one in changing their mind is to have impactful, well thought out talking points for these situations. Because an “Um….I like books and um….it’s not just the Dewey Decimal System” kind of answer isn’t going to cut it. A great way to be prepared for impromptu conversations about libraries is to develop an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a quick pitch (about as long as an elevator ride) that sums up why a product, service, idea, or institution is worth the listeners time, money or patronage. On The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries blog Kathy Dempsey shared a success story in which a library t-shirt and an elevator speech made a guy rethink his stance on libraries. Dempsey’s experience is a perfect example of why we all need to be prepared to talk up libraries whether it’s at the reference desk, on Twitter, or at the grocery store. « Read the rest of this entry »

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