TILT #98 — Guardrails and solidarity
Hello, and welcome to June. I had a few busy months. I did two talks, one about Fair Use and the other about the Digital Divide. The first one was in person and it was both fun and scary. I crossed an international border (to Montréal). I did a lot of COVID testing before and after. I stayed in a hotel for the first time since 2019. I have to say I don’t think I was really ready, but it worked out okay. The second talk was going to be in person but rising COVID numbers made us pivot to doing it online. OK by me.
ALA is having their first in person conference since January 2020 this month. They are grudgingly offering a hybrid option but I am getting a bad vibe about it. Since I am an ALA Chapter Councilor from a small all volunteer state association, it seems prudent to maybe not attend in person. This saves my chapter a lot of money (it’s our single biggest expense outside of our conference, but that is also a fundraiser) and saves me a lot of time. In some states being the Chapter Councilor is a competitive role, less so in Vermont. I talked about this in March so I won’t rehash except to say that I have tried to engage Council and ALA with the concerns I have about this move and have received a little good feedback from other Councilors and nothing from ALA staff or the Executive Board.
Somewhat related: I will be teaching a Community Engagement class at the University of Hawai’i (distance, from here) in the Fall. I think some of our library orgs have a lot to learn here. You can see the two classes I created for past versions of this class on my website.
A fun use for old rocks. As seen on Facebook. And speaking of fun, if you’ve gotten wrapped up in Wordle, here are 76 similar games you might like. I’ve settled into Semantle, while my partner prefers Redactle.
It’s rainy today which I am glad for. This WPA poster by Arlington Gregg seems apropos. More at the Library of Congress’s WPA print collection. Want a little more LOC love? Smithsonian Magazine’s got you covered.
Digital Inclusion segment! In addition to the talk I gave (above) talking about new and different digital divide issues we have been facing during COVID, there are a few more things that I think might be of interest.
- Digital Inclusion Summit, put on by the Idaho Commission for Libraries. Happened already but their landing page has slides and recordings for all the talks.
- NDIA who I frequently talk about, has a jobs board now for people doing digital inclusion work. Not a ton there but worth knowing about as another place to post jobs.
Along other equity lines (isn’t having a governance meeting at 3 a.m. an equity and inclusion issue?! Rrrr I’ll stop now) here are a few other things I’ve been reading.
- Unequal Access: The Desegregation of Public Libraries in Northern Virginia. For me, it’s really hard to imagine how my feelings about public libraries would have changed if me or my recent relatives had been denied access to them for stupid racist reasons. This article is a short summary of the work that the Fairfax County Public Library did to surface the history of unequal treatment of patrons of color in the not-too-distant past of their library’s history. It’s an example, in my opinion, about how to do this sort of thing right. Below is a picture of the first Black employee of that library system who started working there around 1957.
- Photo album sparks discovery of ASU’s (Arizona State University) first female African American graduate. How a family genealogy project became an archival project and how it’s still hard to track down information about people of color even as institutions celebrate their milestones.
I don’t have much to say about the unbearable awfulness that has been the censorship assault on libraries except to point people towards some good things to read, on this and other “The librarians are not okay” topics.
- No Actions Offered to Librarians to Help With Book Bans From National Org. I know it’s like a national sport to say that ALA should be doing things differently but this felt like a missed opportunity.
- Follett Reverses Course on Parental Controls for Customers Facing Censorship Legislation. Maybe some good news? But kind of chilling that someone at Follett thought this was a good idea.
- Being a Public Librarian Can Be Dangerous Work, Why Don’t We Acknowledge That? About the hazards of the job.
- Ebook Services Are Bringing Unhinged Conspiracy Books into Public Libraries. In case you missed this when it went around. Some serious concerns about “automated collection development” bringing books too edgy for Amazon into public libraries.
- Authors Guild Launches Free Monthly Banned Books Club to Help Address Wave of Censorship in U.S. A nice option if these are not something you can do in your own library
Good news and solutions corner.
- The Gospel of Organizing. A longform essay from The Baffler about library workers organizing.
- Eli Neiburger Named Director of the Ann Arbor District Library. Been a fan of Eli since forever and am so happy for him.
- How academic institutions can help to close Wikipedia’s gender gap. Do edit-a-thons, public domain some images of women in your collections, have Wikipedia assignments in your classes.
- Seven centuries of Irish archives painstakingly recreated after being destroyed in civil war. A great tale of teamwork and restoration of a huge trove of records which will go live at the end of June.
- Weighing Fields in Library Catalog Search, or, The Hillbilly Elegy Problem. What do you do when books about a book in your catalog are appearing higher-ranked in search results than the book itself? An exploration and explanation from Ruth Kitchin Tillman.
- The Library Ends Late Fees, and the Treasures Roll In. No surprise to any of us, sensible talk from NYPL’s president
“We are not in the fine-collection business. We’re in the encouraging-to-read-and-learn business, and we were getting in our own way.”
Finished the epic Mars Trilogy and got some other pleasure reading in besides. Booklist is a little out of date because of webhost reasons but you can see what else I’ve been reading there or on Twitter.
And a last little fun thing. If you are in the Bay Area, you may want to track down this beer. I can not really explain how this came to be but I am happy it did.