TILT #89 — A hopeful end to 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
- Rural Public Libraries as Telehealth Providers During Covid-19
- What Does My Site Cost? a look at how much it costs to view your website for someone using a data plan that costs money
- Two useful tools for basic tech: Northstar Digital Literacy and free downloadable iPad Setup and Orientation tutorials. iPads can be really useful accessibility tools if set up correctly.
- Melanin in YA — Your resource for all things Black in YA
- On the “specialness” of librarianship — a reflection on how we think about ourselves when things are crumbling around us.
- JMLA badly mishandled an editorial they had solicited about anti-Blackness. Read their apology and see if you can see the ways in which it doesn’t entirely do the work that needs to happen.
- Read in Color — an initiative to bring diverse books to Little Free Library book-sharing boxes around the world
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:
- John N. Berry III has died. He was a mentor to me and I will miss him.
- Barnes and Noble got hacked which resulted in people being unable to access their Nook content
- A reviewer resigned when he found Publisher’s Weekly had edited his negative review into a positive one.
- Virtual events can sometimes fall prey to built-in filtering devices which, as librarians know, tend to be bad. Banning the word ‘bone’ at a paleontology conference? Come on.
My reading has been stellar lately. All of these books were quite good. Longer booklist with reviews (lagging slightly) is here.
Stay warm in your hearts.