TILT #91 — I go to libraries because they are the Ocean

Hello Springtime in America! That means finding the occasional small snowdrift in the woods when walking around in 70° weather. For me, it also meant getting my first vaccination shot, of two, and helping a lot of folks locally to get appointments. Every locality has their own strategies (here’s a blog post outlining strategies in Vermont) but it’s been gratifying to see tech people building tools — Vaccine Spotter and Vaccine Fairy are two that have worked for people I know — to help make this process less onerous.

sticker in the shape of a coronavirus with the words SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS on it

I’ve been working with ALA to help them put together a Code of Conduct for their online spaces. This is challenging in some ways, rewarding in others. It’s a great team, but I remain skeptical of ALA’s ability to be realistic about the limits of real-life people, and ALA’s real-life software. ALA mailing list discussions are moving to ALA Connect which, for example, has no actual “Flag this comment” feature as of now. Someone posted a racist comment, one that happened to occur at a time when relevant staff were on furlough, and… nothing happened for far too long. Coming at a time when online harassment is pervasive, particularly against marginalized groups, figuring out how to not just write, but enforce a Code of Conduct is some of the work here. And it’s equity work.

It drives home something we’ve always known in libraries — if words can help, they can also harm. Now that we’re seeing the last administration in the rear view mirror, it’s time for a frank evaluation of how much the media’s attempts to be “neutral” actually wound up supporting a wannabe-fascist. I liked this analysis about how neutrality is not always honest: Language that pushes the boundaries of traditional neutrality can be used in a responsible news report.

A few other approaches to misinformation analysis.

screenshot from twitter asking if if I would like to READ the article before I SHARE it

#ColorOurCollections happened just after my last newsletter. If you’ve got patrons that enjoy coloring, there are a LOT of new pages there. After reading one, I am now in a rabbit hole of learning about the Military Order of the Cootie.

clip from one of the coloring books showing what looks like a line of little humanoid insects sitting on a wire, headline: Military Order of the Cootie

Big news in accessibility is that Zoom added machine-generated automatic closed-captioning to all Zoom accounts. Bad news is that some places are still not enabling it. Turn on your captions! Turns out kids read more when you turn on captions or subtitles. A few more accessibility things I’ve been learning about:

Can we please talk about how joyous rainbow bookshelves can be? I’m not advocating replacing our existing organizational schema with them, just saying, I like that look.

three levels of books on bookshelves sorted into rainbow order

If you want to critique the furniture, let’s take a frank assessment of the library’s furniture (and especially the prison labor that may be building it).

While we’re on the subject of justice.

Projects I’ve liked and things I am reading:

four jars containing various undersea life. Two are fish, one is a fish skeleton and one I do not know WHAT it is, a scary eel?

A neat thing from library fan and author Robin Sloan:

This visualization takes the current New York Times Best Sellers list for combined print and e-book fiction and scales each title according to the demand for its e-book edition at a collection of U.S. public libraries, selected for their size and geographic diversity.

And a few things that didn’t fit anywhere else.

My current project is a slow-motion review of all of the historical African American librarians on Wikipedia, looking for ones without pictures, and using Wikipedia’s Fair Use loophole (you can use copyrighted images of deceased people to illustrate their articles if you include a convincing fair use rationale) so that we can see them. It’s important to be seen. I hope to be seeing more of you soon.

Books I’ve been reading. Ambergris (the mushroom cover) was a long tough read, but all the others were exceptional.

four book covers: Owls of the Eastern Ice, Barely Functioning Adult, Infinite Detail and Ambergris

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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