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April 30, 2004



The new LibraryLaw blog has moved from Blogspot to TypePad. It looks pretty spiffy keen ...

Article PDF

After looking over ALA's FAQ on copyright and the difference between copyright assignment and copyright licensing, I think what I'm doing is kosher.

Here is a PDF of the Internet Archive article.

I figure I'll leave it up until the article is available on ITAL's website.

As a minor note, I've taken the plunge and put a Creative Commons license on the site. The PDF doesn't have the notice on it, since it's a galley, but the intent covers it and other non-blog material posted as well.

The ALA Conference jungle

After one Midwinter conference under my belt, I felt righteously compelled to give advice to someone on how to prep for their first ALA Annual.

Honestly, I may be completely wrong. I may have to give an abject apology for leading them down the primrose path to horror, confusion and taking the wrong shuttle bus in Orlando.

What I said follows. What would you add/correct/etc.?

One newbie's guide to ALA conferences:

1) The ALA event planner is, to some extent, your friend. It is useful if you know exactly what you want to do at conference, and it's just a matter of laying it all out on a single grid.

2) ALA unit webpages listing conference programming are your friends. Picking programming based on the sponsoring unit (roundtable, office, division, whatever) is a good way of finding out whether being affiliated with that unit works for you.

3) Your friends, physical and virtual, within ALA are your friends. If there are people you know/respect/admire and you find out they are participating in certain programs ... follow them. If you don't like the program, you can always leave and tell them later, 'I'm sorry, I had a schedule conflict with such-and-such' or you can tell them it just didn't toast your Pop-Tarts.

4) The conference program book ... may not be your friend. Because ALA is huge and it's an alphabet soup, and taking the space to spell out every unit name every time it's used, and having descriptions of all of the programming would, in the words of Michael Gorman, make the conference book the size of the Manhattan phone directory. Selecting programming that interests you may be akin to finding the needle in the haystack if you base it solely on the con book.

However, the maps inside are really useful.

5) Unless you're a total pig, there is no shame in following the food (or following people who follow the food). There may be some private or ticketed receptions where this is a faux pas, but generally, it's okay and a way to meet people who are open and relaxed and enjoying themselves.

6) Prioritize. There's a lot to do, and there probably won't be enough time to do everything you ideally would want to do. In fact, you may run into a fair number of conflicts where 2 or 3 events you might be interested in are scheduled directly opposite each other (welcome to my world). Figure out who is most important for you to meet, what topics you must hear more about, and what activities you must participate in. This may end up being more important than having a firm schedule because you may end up hearing about events at the last minute that will wreck your pre-made schedule. However, if it fits in with your priorities, workarounds can be done on the fly.

7) Try to get all of your planned events on one big schedule. This is where the event planner loses its effectiveness. If there's an unofficial alumni lunch for your former library school chums, or your friends from work plan on playing hooky one afternoon and go to Le Tourist Trappe, or you get invited to a vendor function or 3 ... it will help to get everything on one grid. And once you have that grid, put it on your PDA, your laptop or print it out and stick it in the program book. And if you're not meeting at an ALA location, definitely include the name of the location on your schedule. Street addresses help, too.

April 29, 2004

Multimedia food for thought

Some streaming programs for your enjoyment:

Cindy Hill, current president of SLA, speaking at SJSU on librarianship, core competencies and visibility: 56K or DSL (a little over an hour ... there may be 3 or so minutes of a Chinese-language feed at the beginning.)


Tuesday's Talk of the Nation segment on Google, including a portion devoted to Google, research and librarians. (around 45 minutes)

April 28, 2004

At last ...

An idea for a core class in library school has, after two years, seen fruition:

Edwards, Eli. "Ephemeral to Enduring: The Internet Archive and Its Role in Preserving Digital Media." Information Technology and Libraries 23, no. 1 (March 2004): 3-8.

Unlike previous efforts, this is a sole authorship and in a refereed publication. Hot dang, this is cool.

Of course, this wasn't a sole effort ... quite a number of people helped in the refinement, feedback and general advice. Drs. Ziming Liu and William Fisher of SJSU ... and my dear friend, Vera. But this paper would have permanently fallen through the cracks if it wasn't for Walt Crawford. Thank you, Walt.

I signed the copyright licensing form so I may end up posting the paper online myself, although it should show up on the ITAL website at some point.

Did I say this is cool? Because this is so cool.

A new blogger

Woo Hoo! Mary Minow has a blog!. Or to be more correct, LibraryLaw.com now has a blog.

And she's looking for potential co-authors (see the second entry for Tuesday, April 27, 2004 -- there seems to be trouble with the trackback feature, and I don't know enough about Blogger to tell her how to fix it ... if you do, contact her or leave a comment on an appropriate meta-post).

Check it out ...

Can't read and hack up a lung at the same time ...

I've been sicker than the proverbial dog since late Thursday. Finally getting better, but I still haven't caught up with the library world. I do have a couple of posts that I've been waiting to unleash, so this is just the first in a series.

For a less meta-post ... I got my thesis back from the university. Really minor revisions. So minor, I wonder if the reader fell asleep after page 5 of the Introduction, blanched at the size of the appendices, and just wrote the whole thing off. In fact, I wonder if they read the bloody red-headed stepchild of a paper my precious opus.


April 25, 2004

Revolting ...

I've started reading Revolting Librarians Redux, and it's very thought-provoking thus far.

However, I don't think I should be reading it immediately after finishing my thesis. Because while I know that most potential employers and future colleagues won't care that I did a thesis, the thought that some of the same will consider it a waste of my time, since the MLS in itself is a worthless and artificial standard ... is dispiriting.


From the SRRT Action Council list-serv:

There is a new web site for the University of Maryland's Center for Information Policy (CIP). The CIP, now under the directorship of Prof. Lee Strickland, provides research, reports, news and other information related to privacy, intellectual property and information security. Prof. Strickland, formerly a CIA career official, provides in-depth details on issues that range from the Patriot Act to copyright infringement.

April 23, 2004

Figueroa's anti-Gmail bill

As noted in a previous entry, CA State Senator Liz Figueroa (D - 10th District) believes that Google's Gmail is crossing a line in terms of customer/citizen privacy. A draft of her proposed legislation is now available on her website. It looks as though SB 1822 orginally dealt with the public display of Social Security numbers and added liability against sellers of SSNs if damages (perhaps from ... identity theft?) result from the sale. Everything having to do with SSNs has been striken from the amended bill. Obviously, I didn't pay enough attention in "State Government" class lo so many years ago ... why didn't she just draft a new bill from scratch? Or if she didn't want to have too many irons in the fire, why not withdraw/table SB 1822 and put in the fresh bill?

Thanks to Chris Sprigman of Stanford Law's CIS for keeping up on this in his blog.

April 22, 2004

Snoopy dance

In a little over a month's time, I'm going to have change the subtitle of this blog. At the same time, the title will be just a little bit more true.

My thesis has been approved, with revisions. I pick it up next week.

Holiday ...

Now that it's nearly over: Happy National Library Workers Week!

And: Happy Belated National Library Workers Day!

And now, once more with feeling: Happy International Special Librarians Day!

What does any of this mean? I haven't the foggiest clue, but it was a great excuse to go to a French restaurant in Menlo Park with a bunch of special librarians, order a burger et pommes frites and then bliss out on fondant au chocolat. I'm not linking to the restaurant's online menu, because it would only make you, dear reader, bitter and jealous and full of longing.

And just to revel in many things librarian-related, two links:

The Library strip club in Vegas [work safe]

The Fashion Squad visits the library

I'm sure there's more out there ...

April 21, 2004

"Willful Infringement" film @ ALA Orlando

A couple of blogs have linked to J.D. Lasica's piece on Jed Horowitz and his documentary film, Willful Infringement, about his battle with Disney and how the current copyright regime is affecting culture.

Mr. Horowitz will be at ALA Orlando, as part of a panel on "Cultural Democracy and the Information Commons," Sunday, June 27 from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. There will also be a screening of the film later that evening from 8:00 - 10:00 p.m.

April 20, 2004

Mere Formalities?

The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School has hosted some very interesting lunchtime symposia about copyright this term, and I managed to get to the last one. The CIS Residential Fellow (and one of the attorneys litigating Kahle v. Ashcroft) , Chris Sprigman, gave a presentation on his work-in-progress, "Reform(aliz)ing Copyright" [PDF].

Sprigman pretty much agrees with Lessig, EFF and others on the deleterious effects the current copyright regime is having on access to and use/preservation of cultural material of various kinds. But rather than focusing on copyright terms or enforcement mechanisms that endanger fair use, Sprigman has turned his attention to the lost formalities of copyright. He argues that returning to some state of conditional copyright (where creators had to take action to register their claim of copyright, and file renewals), i.e. returning the formalities of copyright, would considerably ameliorate the harm we're experiencing today in regards to clearing rights/permissions to "orphan works" -- material that's definitely under copyright, but there is little to no paper trail indicating the rights owner(s).

It was a very interesting talk, and I learned quite a bit of new-to-me material ... such as how the Berne Convention affects what the U.S. can and cannot do in regards to copyright -- for instance, the minimum term for copyright protection in Berne is life + 50 years for personal creators. The Berne Convention also specifies that foreign rights holders cannot be held to copyright formalities. Sprigman advocates a) revising the Berne Convention to allow for the reinstatement of copyright fomalities for domestic and foreign creators or b) workarounds that will subject domestic creators to such formalities without requiring the same of foreign ones.

There's a lot more covered in his paper, so to get the real flavour of what he's proposing, you should go to the source. I think there's significant political obstacles (in five words: Disney will scream bloody murder) to his proposal, but that doesn't mean it's unworkable or unworthy of further discussion.

On a personal note: Mary Minow was there and she graciously allowed me to shanghai her into a brief talk about law, librarianship and copyright over tea. How many lawyers will make time to talk to library students who buttonhole them in the middle of their day?

Why do you think this blog has the word "mad" in the title?

The pins and needles of waiting for word on my thesis are mutating into hot coals. I'm sick of waiting. The temptation hit me this morning to channel Veruca Salt, call up my advisor and sing "I Want It Now" until he goes bug-eyed and wrangles the info out of the Graduate Division. He doesn't strike me as the type to have seen "Willie Wonka", so it would discomfort him on so many levels.

However, I think he's still out of town, so we are both spared. On the other hand, this gives me time to filk the lyrics for my own nefarious purpose.

April 18, 2004

April 2004 Information Outlook - Part II

SLA's Information Outlook is looking for articles for the coming months. General guidelines are here. The print ad for contributions includes a basic editorial calendar of topics, and September is devoted to "Copyright issues".

Well, my general feelings on the matter are, "Yippee-ki-yi-ya ..." What to do with this information beyond waiting impatiently for this issue is another thing. I'm tempted to attempt something, despite that facts that 1) I've never worked in a special library, so how would I know what copyright issues affect them on a practical basis and 2) what on earth could I say that Laura Gasaway couldn't say better?

And then it occurred to me that I hadn't heard anything about Tasini for a while, and I started wondering about how newsrooms were coping. I've been rather distracted lately, but it might be an avenue worth pursuing. No promises, though.

April 2004 Information Outlook - Part I

This will be my first time in three years that I won't be attending the SLA Annual conference. That's really a shame, because I'm going to miss the closing plenary speech by Bill Ivey. I didn't recognize his name when I first heard about his status as guest speaker. But Mr. Ivey is "Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts," according to the conference materials. And that's the short version.

As I learned from this month's Information Outlook, Mr. Ivey has many thoughts on the issues of cultural artifacts, access and control. (Note: full-text access at SLA's website is restricted to members). Some excerpts from "Artifacts from the 20th Century," an interview with Ivey by Charlene Cunniffee ...

BI: Those [audio and video] technologies, combined with performances and spoken word, have created a vast, vast set -- just a vast quantity of heritage material that for the most part is held by, owned by, controlled by the corporations that originally created these products as works for hire.

And these collaborative art forms -- movies, radio and television programs, sound recordings, which bring many kinds of talents into the process of creating a single final product -- this kind of art, this collaborative art, ends up being owned and controlled not by the individual creative players but by the corporation that in a sense brought them all together.

We do have a unique preservation challenge when it comes to these materials that were only made possible by the technologies that came along early in the 20th century ... it's my opinion that the 20th century presented us with a unique set of challenges, both in terms of the character of the material itself and the fact that it was simultaneously cultural heritage and some company's assets.


If we can find good public policy partnerships that link up the public interest with copyright owners, with those entities that actually control these historical collections... It wasn't that long ago, I mean, the early 1960s, RCA Records actually disposed to significant parts of its historical master disks simply because it was determined that they would never have any present or further commercial value.

And while I think it's great that the contemporary value of historical music and moving images makes some parts of our heritage a part of the marketplace today and gives a certain vitality to old material, it also is a kind of cruel triage mechanism that takes some parts of cultural heritage and kind of consigns them to perpetual obscurity.


CC: ... The current legal and copyright environment does not sound very friendly to this effort. As the copyright gets extended and the RIAA and others assert their rights in a very strong manner, how do you see this evolving -- since the trend seems to be tighter ownership rather than looser ownership?

BI: Copyright has been extended and ... ownership rights in historical cultural material have been aggressively protected and pursued by copyright owners. I think it's an indication of how little progress we've made in developing a serious conversation about citizens rights, needs of society, in relation to the rights of owners.

In other parts of society, like the natural environment and historical monuments, we've had that conversation. Absent any real public concern, it does seem that copyright owners in recent years have been able to expand the reach of copyright without any serious power center kind of standing up and saying, well, this is too much.

And I think it's going to take some time before our society gets to the point that we see the public interest modifying the interest of copyright owners. But the time to start the conversation is now, because with media consolidation, with offshore ownership of cultural assets, if we don't find a way to assert the public interest around some of these questions, we will see significant pieces of cultural heritage either lost entirely or locked away so that for practical purposes they are lost.


In the U.S., there is no U.S. cultural artifact that can't be purchased and taken away. And so I think there are terrific opportunities for a two-way conversation in which the U.S. can bring its very sophisticated thinking about attaching and protecting revenue streams that can be connected to cultural work -- but at the same time learn something from countries that understand that cultural heritage has to do with national identity, with national pride, with the integrity of your own society, and that those commercial interests and those commercial systems need to be modified and cannot simply dominate the entire cultural conversation.

April 14, 2004

Writing, again

Today's New York Times article on what humiliations writers have suffered is making the rounds of various library-related lists.

As it happens, I started reading A Canticle for Leibowitz, and its introduction has an introspective bit on what motivates writers. Even though it's specifically focused on fiction, I think it has strong parallels to non-fiction writing/writers. From Norman Spinrad:

Some men choose writing as a career because the life appeals to them, because they have the skill, because they enjoy the status, much in the way that one might choose to become a lawyer or an engineer or an accountant. These writers become, at the lowest level, commercial hacks, and at the higher levels, the accomplished literary craftsmen, the "master story tellers." Typically, they are prolific and have long careers. Such writers form the backbone of science fiction, indeed of fiction in general. Others come to writing through a burning urge to create, because the words, when they come at all, come bubbling up from the nether reaches, impelling them towards the typewriter. At the lower levels, these are the passionate amateurs, the part-time writers stealing time from their workday jobs to court the muse, and at the higher levels, these are the literary artists. Typically, whether prolific or not, they are dedicated to writing all of their lives, though they may suffer from years-long writing blocks. Such writers form the heart of fiction.

But a few men, like Walter M. Miller, Jr., are, perhaps, not really writers at all, but men with a book or two throbbing inside their souls aching to burst forth. Some event or events in their lives, some convergence of inputs, has created within them an insight, a system of imagery, a constellation of feelings, a single story, which moves to the center of their souls and, at least for a time, causes their lives to become structured around it, moves them towards setting it down as words on paper. In preparation for this task, they may write other things, honing their skills until the magic moment arrives; after the great work is done, they frequently are spent as writers or go on producing ghosts of their one mighty tale. On the lower levels, these are the patrons of vanity publishers. On the higher levels, they are the producers of lonely pinnacles of literature like A Canticle for Leibowitz. The singer is the song.

April 13, 2004

The cool parts of Lessig's book signing

1) Stanford Law School has a great caterer.

2) I was forewarned, but Lessig gives great, mind-blowing, eyes-rolling-in-the-back-of-the-head PowerPoint. I craved a cigarette afterwards (but refrained).

3) In Lessig's presentation, I finally saw a clip of the Peanuts/"Hey Ya!" video. I would hope that Charles Schultz would find it very amusing, but we'll never know. There are also a few other amusing media clips, including a skit from "The Daily Show."

4) There was a surprise guest: Eric Eldred. I saw him at the buffet table, went about my business for 2 seconds, blinked, wheeled around suddenly and introduced myself to him as a future librarian. I asked if he came out to California just for the signing/reception. Turns out that he's in charge of one of the Internet Archive's bookmobiles and he drove it out here from the East Coast.

5) There's going to be a WIPO conference in Palo Alto next month. Far too rich for my blood (and bank account), but maybe a local group (EFF?) might plan alternative activities around the same time. Prof. Lessig is one of the participants.

Oh, and a caveat: if you end up buying a copy of Free Culture with its original jacket, you may not want to just throw it on the front passenger seat and take off for a drive. The bar pattern with the subtle copyright symbol may be semi-hynoptic (at least it was for me, standing in line to get the book signed). Just a warning ...

Metadata, Lessig and hitchhiking

Dang, dang, dang:

There is a hastily thrown together conference on music metadata this afternoon at Stanford Law School this afternoon, followed by a book signing and reception for Lawrence Lessig and his new book, Free Culture.

Guess who took the bus into work today? Also ... the bus line going to the park 'n ride lot where my car is ... stops running around 8 pm. Finally ... I'm in poor-grad-student, living on canned goods and ramen mode until next paycheck -- there's not much room in my checking for a hardcover book purchase (especially after I dropped more than a few bucks on 'Classical Music for Dummies' CDs at Virgin this weekend). I suppose it is my fault for not being more diligent in checking Lessig's website for info on local events. Nonetheless ... dang.

For those of you who might be intrigued by the music metadata conference, it will be linked virtually to an IRC channel. See below for details.

Time and Location

Tuesday, April 13

Stanford Law School
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Room 271 (off breezeway in center of building)
Sanford, CA 94035
Parking info

Lost on the way? Call the CC office at +1.650.723.5205.

Can't be there? Participate via IRC -- "#musicmetadata on freenode".

There also happens to be a Lessig reception book signing/reception at 6PM, see http://www.seeuthere.com/rsvp/invitation/invitation.asp?id=/m2c523-472716604808

First Summit Agenda


This is very short notice, but what the heck. Rob Kaye of MusicBrainz told me he's driving up to Stanford next Tuesday for Lessig's book signing that evening, so I figured it might be a good time to hold something like what several people have suggested to me in various forms -- a music metadata gathering.

I figure we don't need many people to have a productive meeting. Some topics that I'd like to explore, learn about, get live feedback on:

* metadata-assisted music search
* next generation playlists
* license buyout metadata (with a CC license you reserve some rights, people want to facilitate buying those rights)
* tipjar metadata
* how music metadata can facilitate and be facilitated by web/p2p integration
* music metadata and foaf (the vocabulary)
* music metadata and social networking (general)
* music metadata and the semantic web
* music metadata and semantic xhtml
* how can various projects share/build upon each other's metadata
* how can we encourage applications and services to use music metadata standards and services coming form the community


I have a meeting room tentatively reserved in the Stanford law school building, from 3-6 PM.

If this sounds like fun and you can attend, please send me an email. If you have something (or more than one thing) you can give a demo of lightning talk on, let me know that too.

If this sounds like fun to you but is simply too short-notice, let me know. If most interested people are in this category perhaps I'll try to plan something for the future.

-- Mike Linksvayer (homepage)

April 12, 2004

9/11 Commission Hearings: 4/13-14

There will be another set of public hearings conducted by the 9/11 Commission on April 13-14. There hearings are set to begin at 9:00 am EDT (6:00 am PDT) and conclude approximately around 5:00 pm EDT (2:00 PDT).

Some media are reporting that Attorney General Ashcroft will be addressing the need for further USA PATRIOT Act-type anti-terrorism legislation as a part of his testimony tomorrow (which is indeed why I'm mentioning this in a library-related blog, although I admit it's pretty tangential).

For those of you interested in listening/watching the hearings live, Pacifica Radio and C-SPAN will be covering the hearings. NPR will also be covering the hearings, but some stations, (such as my local KQED) have scheduled a delayed broadcast for later in the day (11 am PDT).

Ay Carumba

From Yahoo!:

CA Lawmaker Wants to Block Google's GMail.

She's near my district, but I don't know if she's actually my rep to the State Senate. Time to find out.

1st thoughts: yay for supporting privacy, but legislation seems a bit precipitious, especially based on (as I read the gist of her reaction) that it's infiltration of, in essence, private property (which is how I'm reading the "putting a billboard in your living room" metaphor). I suppose there is some legal standing for e-mail as private and corporate property (I don't have case law at my fingertips and I'm too tired to search FindLaw), but if the privacy policies are clear, precise and easy to access and understand, I don't know whether any law can keep you from selling/bartering away your own privacy. Someone else's ... sure. Your own? NSM.

Of course, there are those who believe that Google's privacy policy towards GMail is not clear, precise or easy to understand. And some are arguing that it violates EU standards regarding data retention. I think those are extremely valid points. I'm just a bit skittish that if ad hoc legislation comes out of this without a strong understanding of the issues and rights involved, 1) the cure could be worse than the disease or 2) it'll get overturned in court so fast, Sen. Figueroa's head would spin.

April 11, 2004

Selected IFRT programming @ Orlando

With locations and everything ...

From IFRT via the NMRT-L list:

Saturday, June 26

Walking the High Wire: Exploring the Tension among Intellectual Freedom, Privacy, and Intellectual Property
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm, Orlando Convention Center, 209 B
Join a panel of experts as we discuss the push and pull between restrictions on speech and the importance of sharing ideas.
Speakers: Chris Hansen, Senior National Staff Counsel, ACLU; Jim Kuhn, Chair, IFC Privacy Subcommittee; Nancy Kranich, Chair, Intellectual Freedom Committee

Sunday, June 27

Ethics In Action
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm, ROSE Ballroom C
Ethical Dilemmas: Selling Books and Supporting Candidates in Your Library. These issues and their complex nuances will be brought to life in a series of vignettes, presented by the Committee, followed by a thought-provoking discussion with audience members.

Tiny Trackers: The Use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology by Libraries and Booksellers
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm, ROSE Salon 9/10
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an item-tagging technology capable of identifying every product on earth. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC), if used improperly, RFID "has the potential to jeopardize consumer privacy, reduce or eliminate purchasing anonymity, and threaten civil liberties." A panel of experts from a variety of areas related to or affected by this new technology will explain the benefits and drawbacks of RFID use.
Speakers: Douglas Karp, Sr. director and general manager, ID Products Group, Checkpoint Systems, Inc. (Thorofare, NJ); Donald S. Leslie, Library Industry Market Manager, 3M (St. Paul, MN); James Lichtenberg, president, Lightspeed, LLC (New York, NY); Karen L. Saunders, Assistant City Librarian, Santa Clara City Library (CA); Lee Tien, Senior First Amendment Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation (San Francisco, CA)

Monday, June 28

IFC Issues Briefing Session and Open Hearing: Media Diversity, Communities and FCC Deregulation
8:00 am - 10:00 am, Orlando Convention Center, 206 C
Please join us for a briefing session on the intellectual freedom hot topics at this conference and to participate in an open hearing on Media Diversity, Communities and FCC Deregulation.

From Many Voices to Few: Media Consolidation and Intellectual Freedom
10:30 am - 12:00 pm, , Orlando Convention Center, 311 A-C
As never before, freedom of expression and diversity of opinion - essential to democracy and intellectual freedom - are threatened by the rapid consolidation of media. Learn from a panel of experts what libraries can do to provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues to their communities now that big media are getting bigger and presumably less diverse.
Speakers: Dr. Mark Cooper, Director of Research, Consumer Federation of America (Washington, D.C.); Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (Arlington, VA)

Censorship of the Written Word: Still Alive and Kickin'
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm, Orlando Convention Center, 308 A/B
Robie Harris, author of It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing up, Sex, and Sexual Health and It's So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families, and Jerilynn Williams, director, Montgomery County Library System (Conroe, Texas) and recipient of the 2003 PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award for successfully defending Harris' books, will discuss the ever present attempts to censor the written word. Learn how librarians and local grassroots movements can deal effectively with challenges.
Speakers: Robie H. Harris, author, Cambridge, MA; Jerilyn Williams, director, Montgomery County Library System (Conroe, Texas)

April 07, 2004

Michael Gorman @ SJSU

That was a very interesting forum.

Turns out that the forum at SJSU was seeking input of LIS students, faculty and library workers on ALA's strategic direction for its next 5-year plan (the current plan expires next year).

Basic notes on the discussion can be found here.

Gorman was a generous facilitator who is very knowledgeable about ALA and librarianship ... but he's by no means a neutral facilitator. So in the midst of trying to catch all the ideas we threw at him (I was particularly guilty, I'm afraid), he threw some back:

On my introduction as someone interested in ALA, but currently more involved in SLA: "If things were properly organized, SLA would be a part of ALA." He elaborated that not having a unified organization that reflects all librarians weakens the voice of all librarians.

He referred to 21st century literacy as "a revolting term; we need more 19th century literacy". He later referred to a correlation between literacy and intellectual activity, and rejected the idea that 'visual literacy' can suitably supplant literacy.

His solution for Internet users accessing porn in libraries: get rid of the terminals and have everyone use laptops; functionally, it would be the equivalent of privately reading a book in a corner of the library

On the notion that ALA is coming around to support open access on one hand, while its Publishing unit continues to utilize traditional, strict protocols on copyright assignment and licensing: ALA Publishing is going to move toward open access licensing for its products (no timeline given).

Gorman has seen the results of 2 Congresses on Professional Education lead nowhere; he doesn't hold out a lot of hope for COPE3 (on library support staff issues -- even though the new LSS due structure that was approved at MidWinter came out of a COPE3 recommendation ... but I didn't get the chance to challenge him on that)

ALA and library schools:
The ALA council on accreditation is wrong-footed; perscriptive vs. descriptive standards; there's no objective standard of what core values and competencies below to librarianship within ALA, thus there's no independent standard to apply in the accreditation process. (my paraphrase) There was much more similarity in library school curricula 20 years ago than there is now.

ALA is not responding as vigorously as it should in regards to the closing of the library school at Clark-Atlanta University.

California has several million more denizens than Canada, but only 1/4 of the library schools. Also, having library schools in two of the most expensive areas of the state (Silicon Valley and West Los Angeles) has placed a major obstacle in drawing a more ethnically mixed, and often economically poorer, pool of students. There should definitely be a library school in Fresno, for example. Also, distance education without access to a quality library school library is a second-rate education.

All in all, an interesting afternoon.

Toothless advocacy

Forwarded by Victoria Johnson

ALA Chapter Councilor for CLA

ALA has signed on to a statement in a proposed rulemaking by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) which we believe threatens the activities of nonprofits like ALA and state chapters. Below is an explanation of the proposed new rule and how state chapters might get involved.

If you have questions please call Patrice McDermott or myself at the Office of Government Relations at 1- 800-941-8478.
Lynne Bradley, OGR Director lbradley@alawash.org

Please distribute as widely as possible:

On March 4, 2004, in a 5-1 vote, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) proposed new rules on the definition of "political committees" and "expenditures" that are regulated by the Commission. This is no ordinary rulemaking. If adopted as proposed, the proposed rules would transform overnight many nonprofit groups (including charities, civic organizations, religious groups, labor unions, and fraternal organizations) into federally regulated political committees. The potential chilling effect on free speech cannot be overstated: the proposed rules would have a devastating impact on the issue advocacy activities of nonprofit organizations. The current, tightly drawn FEC definition of regulated and restricted "political speech" would suddenly be expanded to include all speech about anyone who is a candidate for federal office at the relevant moment.

Nonprofits who engage in issue advocacy could be faced with draconian restrictions on how they raise and spend money - for merely expressing an opinion about a federal officeholder's policies or views.

Many nonprofits would be forced to choose between either ceasing normal operations or facing crippling restrictions on fund raising. The proposed rules would convert many nonprofit groups into federally-regulated political committees: the rules would

dramatically expand the definition of a "political committee" - a group would be forced to become a "political committee" if it spends or spent merely $50,000 (or, in the alternative, 50% of total disbursements) in the current year - or any one of the past four years - on voter mobilization work or on communications that "promote, support, attack, oppose" the positions of a federal officeholder running for reelection or on voter mobilization work;

expand the definition of a federally-regulated "expenditure" to include communications that "promote, support, attack, or oppose" a federal candidate or policy position of a candidate;

create a "look back" at a nonprofit group's activities over the past four years - before McCain-Feingold was ever passed and long before the FEC ever proposed these rules - to determine whether the group qualifies as a federal political committee. If so, the FEC would require the group to raise hard money to repay prior expenses that are now subject to the new rules. Any and all further work would be halted until debts to the "old" organization were repaid.

Examples of the kinds of speech that would be severely restricted or outright prohibited by the FEC's proposed regulations include:
The American Red Cross could not run newspaper ads soliciting contributions to a fund for victims of a major flood in Louisiana if the ads also presented in a favorable light a message from a U.S. senator from Louisiana who was running for re-election requesting assistance for his state.
The National Rifle Association could not send letters to a list of activists urging them to call their members of Congress to oppose a bill banning all guns if the letter could be read as criticizing those members of Congress and they were standing for reelection.
A "good government" organization like Common Cause would become a "political committee" by launching a campaign costing more than $50,000 to promote a report criticizing members of the House of Representatives for taking junkets to the Bahamas as guests of the hotel industry. The Club for Growth could not use corporate contributions to provide information to the public regarding federal candidates' voting records on budget issues.
The Concord Coalition could not communicate its message of fiscal discipline and opposition to federal spending increases to the public as part of a fundraising and recruitment campaign if it identified specific members of Congress as favoring such spending increases and those members of Congress were running for re-election.
For a Q&A fact sheet on this proposed rulemaking, see


For more information, go to http://www.nonprofitadvocacy.org/ or send a message to:advocacy@nonprofitadvocacy.org
Two Ways To Send Comments to the FEC
1. Send you own comments using a template you can edit on OMB Watch's online contact system.
2. Sign on to comments with the Coalition to Save Nonprofit Advocacy by sending an email by noon on Monday, April 5, 2004, to:
Click here for a copy of the comments.
Contact your Representative and Senators.
Ask them to submit or sign onto comments to the FEC opposing the rule.
Click here to email your legislators directly.

ALAction 2005

This afternoon, Michael Gorman is going to be at SJSU (specifically, the King Library) to hold a forum "to solicit input and suggestions from SLIS students, alumni, and faculty on what issues and activities we believe ALA should be focusing on to help librarians and communities in the future."

It's connected with a strategic initiative called ALAction 2005.

I had no idea such a thing existed. And I don't know how widespread these forums/fora are. It should be interested to hear what is said this afternoon, and whether or not it gets into the overall policy/vision/strategic goals of the association.

Copyright and ALA


Jason Griffey, who runs Pattern Recognition has completed his master's paper on copyright, open access and ALA.

The paper is already available on his site, under a Creative Commons license, and has been given a great review by Cory Doctorow in Boing Boing.

My own review: very thought-provoking, somewhat provocative (a major argument in Jason's paper is that ALA's publishing protocols for copyright assignment and licensing undermines its own support for copyright reform) and highly readable and interesting. Congratulations, Jason! And on a personal note, I'm very jealous. May I emphasize that it's highly readable, even at 80 pages?

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a new scholar to reckon with ... yay, Jason!

April 06, 2004

A comma here, an m-dash there

commons-blog has reported on the lifting of the ban on editing submissions to U.S. publishers from authors in countries under trade embargoes by the U.S., such as Cuba, Libya, Iran and North Korea.

Rick wonders if the powers that are got an attack of old-time civil religion, and that's why the Treasury Department redacted their interpretation of a 16-year old exemption. I have a much more cynical view of why the ban has been dropped, though unsupported by any evidence. Basically, I think it was a combination of pressure from:

* commerce -- The Chronicle referred to 2 or 3 different non-profit scholarly publishers, but didn't mention any of the commercial ones (such as Reed-Elsevier). I don't know how much lobbying power IEEE has in DC, but I would guess that the commercial publishers (who are very much into harmonization of markets, after all) have a few orders of magnitude more. Also, a long-term ban on American scholarly publishing could have led to a brain drain towards European scholarly publishers who would have no such restrictions;

* intelligence -- for decades, the U.S. intelligence establishment claimed that hostile (Soviet) interests kept track of our STM and Gov Doc publishing in order to reverse-engineering sensitive data from unclassified material (this was the FBI's defense of the Library Awareness Program). Surely it's not that much of a stretch to assume that "we" do the same. Shutting out material from hostile countries would discourage those governments from letting their scientists publish outside of the country and would simply lead to a small information pool from which to data-mine. Besides which, even if the top scientists are not the ones submitting articles, the people who are may turn out to be the most sympathetic/least ideological, and thus the softest targets for 'asset management'.

What can I say? I finally got around to reading Surveillance in the Stacks.

This is just a comment on Rick's comment, btw, that was simply way too big for his comments section. For actual information, he has some solid links up for your perusal.

RFID blog

Laura Smart of CSU Pomona has started a blog devoted to the use of RFID technology in libraries. It will focus on the technical aspects of RFID as well as the privacy concerns around its usage.

Laura is looking for contributions about RFID as applied to libraries and wants the blog to be a venue for 'reasoned debate'.

April 05, 2004

SLA and Open Access

Caveat lector: An earlier post on the DC Principles for Free Access to Science led to a small discussion of whether the Special Libraries Association had taken (or felt obligated to take) any official position on open access. So, I asked HQ, and I got the following response.

From Doug Newcomb, Director, Public Policy -- SLA (and with his express permission):

"The release that you refer to below came from a new "Open Access Working Group" that was formed in late 2003, of which SLA was unaware. SLA is now in contact with the group, and will be in-the-loop for possible inclusion in appropriate future projects.

SLA does not have an official position statement on open access, but does touch on its essence in our Public Policy Platform. I will work with SLA's Public Policy Committee to identify if an official statement is needed to address open access.

One area that SLA has traditionally stood slightly apart from other organizations is in access to information and pricing. Many groups call for free access to information, whereas SLA has traditionally supported accessible information, but not necessarily free. It has become apparent, however, that mergers and bundling practices have made a great deal of this crucial information financially unattainable for many organizations.

To address the issue of high pricing for journals and bundling practices, SLA has been participating with IAA (Information Access Alliance). IAA is looking into a standard of antitrust review by state and federal antitrust enforcement agencies in examining merger transactions in the serials publishing industry--the core of this being high journal pricing. "

April 02, 2004

Oh my ...

Put a stake in me, I think I'm done.

The thesis has been submitted. I'm pretty much at the "fire bad, tree pretty" stage of cognition, so this space may be silent (or for rent) for a while.

April 01, 2004

Call for Speakers: IL2004

Internet Librarian 2004:
Starring Info Pros in Content, Context, & Communities
Monterey, CA November 15-17, 2004

Call for Speakers
The Internet is our backbone and it continues to provide us with opportunities to streamline our operations, improve and enhance our customer relationships, develop new applications, and more. Keeping up with the new tools and techniques is always a challenge but Internet Librarian 2004 definitely meets that challenge. With the theme, Starring Info Pros in Content, Context & Communities, the conference provides attendees with many opportunities to meet and hear from leading edge information professionals in all types of environments -- stars of the information industry who are organizing and managing digital content in creative ways, setting the context for excellence in information utilization in their organizations, building strong collaborative
communities using new technologies, and more.

Information Today Inc., a key provider of technology conferences for over twenty years, is pleased to announce the 8th annual Internet Librarian -- the ONLY conference for information professionals who are using, developing, and embracing Internet, Intranet, Extranet and Web-based strategies in their roles as information architects and navigators, webmasters and web managers, content evaluators and developers, taxonomists, searchers, community builders, trainers, guides, and more. This comprehensive conference and exhibition offers a wide-ranging program designed to meet the needs of librarians, information managers, systems professionals, researchers, content managers and information specialists.

Internet Librarian 2004 caters to all interests and all levels of knowledge with four simultaneous tracks plus many workshop and networking opportunities. This year's tracks encompass such topics as: Managing Content & Knowledge Assets, Web Tools, Intranets & Portals, eLearning & Training, Case Studies of Internet and Intranet Librarians, Web Development & Management, Digitizing Resources, Distance Learning & Instruction, Streaming Multimedia, Digital Libraries, Content Management and more. Speakers are knowledgeable, authoritative and focus on
practical applications, new tools and techniques, case studies as well as technical and managerial issues. Please consider sending us a proposal. For more topics ideas, check out our web site, www.infotoday.com/il2004.

If you would like to participate in Internet Librarian 2004 as a speaker or workshop leader, please complete the submission form at:
www.infotoday.com/il2004/SpeakerSubmissions.shtml or contact the Program Chair at the email address listed below as soon as possible (April 26,2004 at the very latest). Include the following brief details of your proposed presentation: title, abstract, a few sentences of biographical information that relate to the topic, and full contact information (title, address, e-mail, phone & fax). All abstracts will be reviewed by the Organizing/Review Committee and notification regarding acceptance will be made in the summer.

Jane I. Dysart, Program Chair
Dysart & Jones Associates
phone: 416/484-6129
email: jane@dysartjones.com

Organizing/Review Committee
Scott Brandt, Purdue University Libraries
Darlene Fichter, University of Saskatchewan
Richard Geiger, San Francisco Chronicle
Richard Hulser, Amgen
Micki McIntrye, UMDNJ HealthyNJ Librarian
Marydee Ojala, Editor, Online Magazine
Barbara Quint, Editor-in-Chief, Searcher
Donna Scheeder, Congressional Research Service
Michael Stephens, St. Joseph County Public Library

To receive the registration and program brochure, or exhibit information please contact: Information Today Inc. 143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055
phone: 609/654-6266
fax: 609/654-4309
email: custserv@infotoday.com
Web site: www.infotoday.com

April 1

Leave it to special librarians (in this case, those in New York) to celebrate April Fools Day by fusing references to corporate malfeasance and 'wardrobe malfunctions' in a special edition of the SLA-New York Chapter newsletter (PDF).