TILT #89 — A hopeful end to 2020

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Folks! Hello and welcome to I guess it’s December. Our snow here in Vermont has come and gone and now it’s back again. But what isn’t weird about our current times? I feel like I’m in a holding pattern inside a holding pattern, waiting for January 20th. Our local libraries have been closing to browsing again; I know libraries nationwide have been having similar discussions.

I was proud at how many libraries stepped up to help people be part of civic engagement this election cycle. Just look at these snazzy ballot boxes outside of all 73 LAPL’s branches. They have a great voting page as well.

Very colorful ballot box in bright primary colors with the word VITE prominently featured

I will breathe easier after January 20th, though each day gets a bit easier. I have a health care worker friend getting vaccinated today, it’s a step in a hopeful direction. I’ve never been much of a doomscroller, but I am even less of one now.

Speaking of care, the Pirate Care Syllabus has been on my mind. The general idea is that in order to confront institutionalized and cruelly-reinforced inequality in our society, we may need to operate in the grey areas of legality in order to level the playing field. Along with some shouldn’t-be-radical notions, this document also contains an exceptional round-up of other social justice syllabi, documents that are very meaningful and important in their own right. Likewise Green Book for Libraries may be a thing that is useful or interesting for you.

telegram: “Sys riot white ruffians in sections of the country have resolved to this since the Emancipation Proclamation”

University of Oklahoma librarians petitioned the Library of Congress to change the Tulsa Race Riot subject heading into the much more accurate Tulsa Race Massacre, but the story no longer exists on their own website. If you want a backgrounder on this tragic event, this article is a good place to start, with a lot more useful information at the Tulsa Library.

I’ve been working on Wikipedia’s coverage of State Libraries recently. Many didn’t have pages at all. Now they all have at least something. If you’re Wikipedia-curious, look at your State Library’s page and see if it can be improved.

screenshot from video, woman in an orange jumpsuit and 80s style glasses “Everything in this library is complete…”

I learned a lot about many states’ library systems. I learned that Mississippi Public Broadcasting created a television series about a post-apocalyptic Earth scenario where librarians are valiantly trying to save all human knowledge as people evacuate the planet. Each episode teaches library skills! It’s called Tomes & Talismans and the first episode is on YouTube. There’s some hope the later episodes will somehow make it back online.

Another wintertime hobby here is finding images from the National Library of Medicine’s public domain images in their History of Medicine collection and getting them out to a larger audience. Speaking of Wikipedia here’s a short interesting article about Wikipedia from OCLC, discussing how students think about it: useful knowledge for library instruction. Lastly, a very cool tool for tracking down an accessible version of a public domain work: Book Aligner, found as a result of this Twitter thread where I was trying to track down a 1902 book about the Delaware State Library.

Lots of video content in my life lately. You too? This PBS documentary called The Book Makers, about people who design and make books in many different ways and formats, is worth a watch. Neat art books, interesting book discussions, a little hipster-y, and of course there’s an Internet Archive cameo in there.

screenshot from the movie which features illustrator Chris Robinson talking about books

You may also enjoy browsing some of the world’s strangest books.

Interaction time! I absolutely loved this University of Colorado Boulder quiz where you have to try and guess how much they pay for their library subscriptions. It’s a very effective, and amusing way of helping people understand just how much these resources cost to maintain (the answer to the question posted below is SAGE).

screenshot of a page from the quiz asking which costs more, their yearly subscription to SAGE journals or a trip into space?

This book is round.

a book that is round, looks very old, cover splits along the diameter and you can see half of the pages through it.

I continue to learn more about accessibility as part of my role on the Vermont Humanities’ Technology and Accessibility Committee. This article on “assisted digital” — the idea that people creating digital services needed to include a pathway for people who can’t use digital services — helped me think about designing digital tools, and how to talk with others about how they design theirs. Other inclusion-and-access reads:



These attributes do make libraries special, but they also make them a terrible symptom of this country’s truths. We have virtually no safety nets; homeless shelters and social workers are overwhelmed; childcare is grotesquely expensive; addiction is rampant. These needs have been neglected, consolidated, and displaced largely onto libraries.

In the bad/sad news category:

My reading has been stellar lately. All of these books were quite good. Longer booklist with reviews (lagging slightly) is here.

[Collage image with the covers of four books: Floating Gold, Bull’s Eye, The Once and Future Witches, and The Bridge of Years]

Stay warm in your hearts.

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



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