TILT-y Mail #26 — Libraries are not neutral spaces, nor should they be

Using the tools we have, leadership in times of crisis


go get some nice pencils

People are bad at waiting. If we are honest with ourselves, this is one of the reasons some people have a problem with libraries. “Wait for a book? But I can get it on Amazon tomorrow!” Waiting for (and worrying about) the inauguration and aftermath is making people tense this week.
 
 ALA, the American Library Association, is having trouble finding the right way to talk about the incoming administration. If librarians are truly committed to intellectual freedom, diversity and inclusion, and anti-censorship, we should be alarmed about this administration on its face, not just worried about what it might do later. We should be preparing to stick up for libraries and their patrons, not just making business as usual noises. This essay by April Hathcock sums up the issue.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to fund libraries. We all do. But nothing exists in a vacuum and context is everything. The truth is ALA will gladly sell out its members and their communities for this bottom line.

You can read more essays and discussion via the #NotMyALA tag. ALA leaders (the President who is elected by membership, and the Executive Director, who is not) have not been getting ahead of any of this. Individuals on the Executive Board have been trying. I haven’t been an ALA member since I was the only ALA Councilor to vote against a dues increase in 2006. ALA does a lot of good for a lot of people but it is a slow-moving organization that has been showing its age as it speaks in the language of press releases and politics and shuts down for the weekend. My best wishes to those trying to wake them up.

In light of the House Judiciary Committee’s proposal on the Copyright Office (which includes moving it out of the Library of Congress), the LoC has requested public input on what expertise the Register of Copyrights should have. Take a few minutes to take the survey?
 
 Speaking of copyright, Public Domain Review publishes an annual “Class of…” list letting people know whose works will be in the public domain in the new year. Class of 2017 includes Gertrude Stein, Buster Keaton, Alfred Stieglitz, Mina Loy and Lenny Bruce, who I miss at times like these.

Wikipedia has a similar page to find incoming public domain material.

If you’ve always been sort of Wikipedia-curious but maybe didn’t have a reason to get involved, the #1lib1ref event is happening again, January 15–29. Simple goal: every librarian adds one citation to a [citation needed] fact. There’s an easy tool to help you do it. Use the hashtag so they can track the project’s progress. Or, go all out and do some Wikipedia-themed programming at your library. I made a handout for people who would like more information, links, ideas.

downloadable handout

Some trailing links.

Here’s to a solid half year of keeping this mailing list going! Now I should really decide what to do with my blog…

Today in Librarian Tabs is written irregularly by Jessamyn West who also maintains librarian.net. It’s also available in your inbox via TinyLetter. Thanks for reading.