TILT #49 — unpopular for all the right reasons

It’s snowing here. Classes, including drop-in time, are cancelled. Good day for staying inside and typing.

My library upgraded their Koha ILS. Library materials will automatically renew. I am excited about this. Our library doesn’t have fines, but I do get more than the average share of “Hey return your stuff!” emails. At the same time, I wonder about people whose interactions with library materials comes primarily from browsing the shelves. Is their user experience diminished because more materials are checked out more of the time and they’re not savvy enough to know they can put items on hold?

I also wonder if I am just concern trolling… but this was my morning library thought exercise.

My Community Engagement class at the University of Hawai’i begins in a few weeks. I will actually be traveling to Hawai’i in the Spring to see my students present their final projects (in response to many people’s questions about when I was going). The UH mailing lists are interesting. I received the alarming email in October telling everyone what to do in the event of a nuclear war. Yesterday I got this holiday greeting email which may be the most inclusivity-forward holiday message I’ve ever received.

Some of you may have also celebrated Dia de los Muertos, The Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, Eid Milad Un Nabi, Bodhi Day, and Lā Kū‘oko‘a. In the upcoming weeks many of you will also celebrate Hannukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. While this list is not exhaustive, it is a reminder that this time of year is indeed a time of celebration and thanksgiving.

Trailers have been circulating for the dramatic movie coming out about public libraries called The Public. It features actors you have heard of and library set design and backgrounders by librarians you have heard of, including yours truly. We’re all pretty excited.

I also heartily enjoyed the Saga of Max the Cat.

I particularly enjoyed the coda in which the woman who made the original Max image (available on the Noun Project, a great source for CC icons) is teaming up with the librarian who made the original sign to work on a children’s book together. For now, they just have a website and an adorable shop.

It’s an interesting thought exercise (tis the season I guess) about how libraries and librarians optimize access for people — as seen in The Public, sometimes unpopularly — and sometimes at the expense of doing the wacky internet-popular thing, sorry Max.

The Max story was instructive in explaining to people “Hey the library is for everyone and in a big academic library with a lot of people with allergies, you can’t have a cat roaming the stacks.” a good way of promoting that we are all about access.

Further along these lines I suggest reading Accessibility for Justice: Accessibility as a Tool for Promoting Justice in Librarianship using the concept of accessibility as a framework to look at issues of justice in librarianship that go beyond just whether we are being diverse enough. Read the article, read the bibliography.

One of the most enriching parts of the Max Saga to me personally was getting to know the work of Alexis Logsdon, potential librarian to Max. We got tied together via early Twitter discussion and once I checked her profile I saw that she had co-authored Claiming expertise from betwixt and between: Digital humanities librarians, emotional labor, and genre theory a great analysis of how librarians can use their power via their liaison work to surface the work of others as we do our librarianship and help others achieve competence.

The article specifically mentions “working as a mediator in negotiations between faculty and technologists, providing a bridge between different spheres of knowledge and expertise.” as a skill, which is one of the first times I’ve been like “Hey it’s me!” in a discussion about librarian work.

If I have a favorite professional development librarian series, it’s these Fair Use Best Practice Guides. The Authors Alliance has come out with their own “inspired by” guide, intended to help non-fiction authors navigate the difficult waters of fair usage for things like song lyrics, photography, charts, and unpublished manuscripts. It’s free, go get it.

Remember, often just showing that you used a best practice code can be a legally effective affirmative defense of Fair Use as well as helping you do prosaic stuff like get insurance for your creative work. If this sort of thing is your jam, read a little bit more about the people behind these codes of best practices.

A few smaller notes:

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



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Jessamyn West

Jessamyn West


Rural tech geek. Librarian resistance member. Collector of mosses. Enjoyer of postcards. ✉️ box 345 05060 ✉️ jessamyn.com & librarian.net