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July 27, 2004

ALA Environmental Scan

Below is a request from ALA Executive Director, Keith Michael Fiels for input in the ALA Environmental Scan to inform the Strategic Plan "Ahead to 2010". Keith is asking for your input on identifying issues and trends in the external environment that in our judgment will impact libraries, the profession, and the association over the next five to ten years. These trends may be societal, economic demographic or technological.

Please submit your suggestions to Pat Earnest, our Planning Consultant at Pearnest1@aol.com by August 16th, 2004. Thanks in advance for your participation. Also, please note that you are an IFRT member when you submit your suggestions.

TO: ALA Unit Managers
FROM: Keith Michael Fiels
SUBJECT: Environmental Scan Information Needed
DATE: July 21, 2004

Several months ago, we began discussing the gathering of material as part of the environmental scanning component of the ALA Ahead to 2010 planning process environmental scan.

For purposes of our process, environmental scanning is the process by which we identify issues and trends in the external environment that in our judgment will impact libraries, the profession and the association over the next five to ten years. These trends may be societal, economic demographic or technological.

In order to identify these trends, we need your assistance in identifying articles, studies, reports and electronic resources that you believe might be appropriate for inclusion in the association's environmental scan. Information identified as part of this process will be included on the Ahead to 2010 web site, either in full text or as links to full text available elsewhere. Since we may need to secure
rights and permissions for using this material, it is important that we begin the process now.

We recognize that ALA members and staff are our best resource for identifying this material. Items that you might suggest should come from your own reading and be reflective of issues and trends that would be illuminating, thought-provoking, and helpful to the delegates to the Planning Workshop in providing a relevant backdrop against which to plan our goals and objectives as an organization for the next five years.

In order to include material in the web site and also possibly in the participant packet, we would appreciate your suggestions prior to August 16th. We are also inviting you to share this request with your Divisional and Round Table Boards, Committee Chairs and any member forums.

Please submit your suggestions to Pat Earnest, our Planning Consultant at Pearnest1 (at) aol.com by August 16th, 2004. If a web address is not available for the material you suggest, please send her a hard copy of any articles that you recommend we include in the environmental scan material.

Thank you in advance for your most helpful assistance.

July 23, 2004

My muse went on vacation ...

And I don't even think I'm going to get a sodden t-shirt out of it.

I know this blog has been content light and thought-free for quite a while now. In part because I'm learning and putting to use entirely new skillsets only to go "home" to a strange and slightly stressful environment (not that the people I'm living with aren't great, but dorm-like living has lost its nouveau charm).

And part of it is that LibraryLand is harshing my mellow. I'm on a list for new librarians (because that's what I am! Woohoo!) that has been subsumed for over a month with angsty (and angry) postings about the employment picture for new librarians. It's nothing new, really -- things aren't rosy. Things aren't likely to get any rosier. So, people are discussing whether the MLS is worth anything, how fair is it that freshly minted librarians without years of experience are competing with those who have years of experience, are employers willing to train, internal vs. external candidates, etc.

Nothing new, really. But people's perspectives and experiences and even their rants and whines are important and useful, so I keep reading. Oh, but it's tiring and draining and it makes me want to hide in a little hole. I was supposed to be assessing my career prospects this summer, but I can't even bring myself to take a gander at LISJobs or LISCareer. It's not like I'm in dire circumstances, but I feel like I'm in limbo ... which I absolutely abhor, but I really should get used to by now.

In lighter, brighter, more interesting news ... here are two relatively new blogs that give me hope for the profession in general:

Journey of a Wannabe, by Angelica Cortez -- she's looking to join the elite cadre of news librarians after interning at both the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; and

Library Dust, by the practical, witty and growing-in-power-and-prestige Michael McGrorty.

Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award

DATE DUE: Deadline for completed nominations is August 15.

The Intellectual Freedom Committee of the California Library Association is pleased to accept nominations for the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award. The California Library Association's Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award honors Californian people, groups, and organizations that have made significant contributions to intellectual freedom in California. The contributions to intellectual freedom do not need to be limited in impact to California.

The Awards Subcommittee of the CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee selects nominees based on recent or important lifetime contributions to intellectual freedom. The Executive Committee of CLA is the final approving authority for the nomination.

The Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award honors California librarian Zoia Horn, who in 1973 chose to serve time in jail rather than betray confidential patron information. Ms. Horn's experience sets an example of integrity over personal comfort, and has been a model discussed in library literature and shared with generations of library students everywhere. A key goal of the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award is to celebrate and honor other selfless examples of commitment to intellectual freedom that help preserve free speech in an open society.


This award may be awarded annually, but there is no requirement to make this award in years when no outstanding candidate is available. The Intellectual Freedom Committee makes its nomination by September 1, and the award is announced at the CLA annual conference.

Award Amount

This award has no monetary component. Award winners will receive a certificate and be honored at the annual conference.

Visit http://www.cla-net.org/awards/zoia.php, or download the nomination form directly via http://www.cla-net.org/included/docs/Zoia.pdf

July 18, 2004

SLA and Open Access, Part Deux

I'm a day late and a dollar short on this, but I think it's good news. A while back, I inquired whether SLA would take an official position on open access, and got a very nice comment from Doug Newcomb regarding SLA's take on this.

He was nice enough to send me a follow-up note on the following:

SLA's Board Calls for Collaboration among Creators, Publishers, and End Users


SLA's Board of Directors calls for collaboration among creators, publishers, and end users of scientific research materials to work toward a mutually beneficial information infrastructure, formulating pricing and distribution strategies that will provide equity for publishers and users alike.

It is SLA's practice to ensure the flow of information in the corporate, government, research and scholarly communities, and when appropriate to collaborate with other professional associations, agencies and interested parties to facilitate the change required to increase the flow of information to the information user communities. It is for this purpose that SLA participates with such groups as Information Access Alliance, a coalition promoting a new standard of antitrust review which should be adopted by state and federal antitrust enforcement agencies in examining merger transactions in the serials publishing industry http://www.informationaccess.org, and maintains communications and possible collaboration on projects with groups such as the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition's ( SPARC) Open Access Working Group (OAWG).

SLA will continue to monitor Open Access and journal pricing, and welcomes comments from its members and others.

Very carefully worded (of course), but a good start.

July 15, 2004

Database notices

I signed into EBSCO EJS earlier today and was greeted with this message:

Users of EBSCOhost EJS expressly acknowledge and agree that all information accessible via EBSCOhost EJS is subject to terms, conditions, and license agreements specified by each publisher whose copyrighted content is accessible via EBSCOhost EJS.

EBSCOhost EJS does not own the copyright in the materials available through this service, nor can it grant you any rights in these materials. All rights in these materials are controlled by the individual publishers and by your agreements with those publishers. By using this service you represent and warrant that you have an agreement with the publisher of any material you attempt to access, and that you will abide by that agreement. You understand that violation of any of the terms of any of your agreements with publishers may be a violation of U.S. federal copyright law, as well as international treaties, foreign laws and state laws.

You expressly agree to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless EBSCOhost EJS and any of its affiliates for any consequences arising out of, or incidental to, the violation of (1) your contract with any publisher, and (2) any rights in any of the materials accessible through this service, including copyright, rights of attribution, rights of publicity, moral rights, and any other proprietary rights.

By clicking the "I Agree" button below, you expressly agree to these terms.

It is, of course, followed by "I Agree" and "I Disagree" buttons.

It's obviously new to me, but is this new? Any ideas as to why this acknowledgment is so prominent (i.e. it's the very first screen everytime I log into EBSCO)?

Just curious ...

RFID Hearing coverage

Here's a news story on the Congressional hearing held yesterday on RFID technology. No mention of library usage of RFID tags, but there was definitely talk of the privacy concerns.

If you follow debate on RFID, there wasn't much new said on Capitol Hill, but it appears that 'privacy advocates' aren't quite all on the same page:

Witnesses at the hearing disagreed about what kind of legislation is needed, however, with the Electronic Privacy Information Center calling for RFID-specific legislation, and the Center for Democracy and Technology repeating its call for general privacy legislation that would cover all kinds of technologies.

July 13, 2004

The conversation continues ...

Over at LibraryLawBlog, Peter Hirtle discusses Siva Vaidhyanathan's observation about fair use and librarians, arguing that even figuring out how to put fair use to use is not a straightforward proposition.

RFID Hearing on July 14

For those of you who hold an interest in RFID technology, there's going to be a hearing tomorrow (July 14), conducted by the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, entitled "Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology: What the Future Holds for Commerce, Security, and the Consumer." Due to start at 11:30 a.m. EDT. Neither the committee nor the subcommittee webpages have info or submitted testimony on yet, but you might want to check in the coming days and weeks for coverage about the hearing, as well as official hearing transcripts, reports, etc.

According to the reporter I heard this from, testimony will include some major retailers (Wal-Mart, perhaps), as well as EPIC and the ACLU. Mind you, this will be going on at around the same time that the Senate will be conducting a procedural vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment, so there probably won't be much coverage of the RFID hearing. Nevertheless, as they used to say, watch the skies ...

July 12, 2004

The coolest thing since challah french toast ...

Check out The Living Room Candidate, an online repository of presidential TV campaign ads hosted by the American Museum of the Moving Image. This has been on a number of political and tech blogs, but in addition to being a wonderful timesuck/source of trivia (Harry Belafonte did TV ads with JFK??? How many markets did that play in?), it could/would/can be a wonderful resource for reporters on the campaign beat, political commentators/columnists and others in the newsroom. Not to mention political science/communications/journalism faculty and students, history teachers and others.

There's also election results mapped out (red/blue state paradigm) along with numbers. Transcripts accompany each video. The only disappointing part is that the repository only includes the ads of the two major presidential candidates (with the exception of Ross Perot ads from 1992) in the post-primary season -- so you won't find the range of commercials aired during contested primaries. Still, this is a wonderful tool that will be the basis for more electronic archiving/preservation/access to past, present and hopefully future campaign material.

July 11, 2004

What's so fair about fair use?

There's lots of talk about fair use ...

Jessamyn recently posted an interesting comment on fair use and librarians. To whit:

Librarians need to make sure that they are not being cowed by nebulous copyright boogeymen and instead advocating for fair use rights for their collections and for their patrons. That's what access is all about. So says the MLA, the other MLA, AALL and many more.

As it happens, this is also a theme in Jed Horowitz's film Willful Infringements, and a theme in the presentation he made at ALA Orlando (which I will blog about, soon ...). According to Horowitz, Section 504 of the Copyright Act limits statutory damages for nonwillful copyright infringement by exempt institutions to $200 (I don't remember offhand if that's per work or per use).

Of course, as Lawrence Lessig likes to point out, legally, fair use is just an affirmative defense ... it may keep you from being found guilty if brought to court, but it won't automatically keep you out of court in the first place. As as Donna Wentworth of Copyfight recently said: "Larry, meanwhile, argued that 'fair use is the right to hire a lawyer.'"

Most librarians, I think it's safe to say, would really prefer not to hire a lawyer. Does this natural reticence/caution cause too much deference towards copyright holders? Are librarians indirectly eroding one of the basic working principles of information access?

Siva Vaidhyanathan recently made an observation regarding fair use:

This is the problem with fair use: It is a gamble. If you were confident that the copyright holder would not care or would not bother for fear of bad publicity, then you could go ahead and use the material as the law intended you to do. But we have all been taught that copyright holders are vultures out for a quick and easy meal. This is not always true.

If we don't make a stand against copyright vultures we might as well be waiting around to become carrion.

The important thing to remember here is that if you follow your librarian's advice and ask permission, you are making this entire fair use calculus irrelevant. Why do we need section 107 at all if educators are just going to cower upon the advice of copyright experts on campus?

It is our duty to push the envelope of fair use. And it is our duty to demand that our institutions back us up when threatened by bullying copyright holders who do not respect values of openness and freedom.

In keeping with the theme, Lessig comments on a new film about the Fox News channel that apparently uses a number of Fox News clips without permission, based upon fair use for criticism/commentary.

The discussion on fair use is far from settled, and there's definitely room at the table for librarians to articulate our needs, perspectives and values, regardless of what positions we take.

Kahle interview

ACM Queue's current issue includes "A Conversation with Brewster Kahle" by IBM VP Stu Feldman.

I'm still making my way through it, but the interview starts off with a bang:

STUART FELDMAN: How is it that you ended up in this most amazing role as the digital librarian of the Internet Archive? You had a string of obvious successes, making a major mark on a number of companies. Then you made this interesting apparent left turn into running a unique nonprofit specialized service.

BREWSTER KAHLE: This is all part of one theme that was floating in the air when I was in college: to build a digital library. The thing that gets me springing out of bed in the morning and has for the last 20 years is the idea that we could have universal access to all knowledge.

and from further down into the article:

BK: A 100-page black-and-white book with current toner and paper costs in the United States is $1, not figuring labor costs, rights costs, or depreciation of capital. That's an interesting number, because at a buck a book, it turns out that for a library, it could be less expensive to give books away than to loan them. In his book, Practical Digital Libraries, Michael Lesk reported that it cost Harvard incrementally $2 to loan a book out and bring it back and put it on the shelf. This is not figuring in the warehousing costs and all the building costs. This is just the incremental cost of loaning a book out.

Even if you put some fee in for the author, it looks cost effective to print and bind many books locally.

There are a lot more interesting tidbits ... some provocative, some mildly interesting. And I'm sure there's something for everyone to disagree with and maybe something for everyone to agree with.

And as a last quote:

We have found that preserving older packaged software is more difficult because they used copy protection for a time, but that had largely disappeared in the late 1980s. This may serve as an interesting historical note, given all the current work on copy protection, or DRM [digital rights management], for movies and music. The software industry could not get DRM to work for itself; why does the movie and music industry think the software industry can make it work for them?

July 10, 2004

Happiness is a warm puppy ...

... but getting back my laptop from the airport is pretty good, too.

July 09, 2004

Washington Office Update

ALA-Washington Office
Breakout Session

[In progress]

NCLIS representative --
* NCLIS plans a Report Card on American Libraries -- meant to establish benchmarks for promoting libraries, funding, new initiatives, etc.; will be based around a public library model at the outset
* Emphasis on making libraries visible
* Mentions that Michele Ridge, wife of Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security, is a librarian ... interest in libraries as an access/dissemination point for civil defense/homeland security info
* All federal agencies have been charged by an Executive Directive to make the War on Terrorism a major/fundamental priority

Josh Farrelman(?) -- new WO staffer, specialist in budget matters; former Congressional staffer
Appropriations and the budget process:
* Congress has not yet passed the 2005 Budget -- hung up in the Senate over budget cuts
* ALA requests (PDF file):
-- $232 million for LSTA, fully authorized
-- $100 million for the school library program (currently funded at $19.8 million)
-- Support for Library of Congress, National Agricultural Library
Many questions about school library funding and federal/state obligations/expectations were asked/discussed

Miriam Nesbit -- ALA WO
* New copyright bill ("INDUCE Act") introduced by Orrin Hatch earlier in the week -- details will be added to the ALA website soon
Some major issues:
* Copyright is in the news:
-- Good news: makes people more aware about copyright
-- ALA is on the other side side of the table from the entertainment industry; why? We not pro-piracy, but we want to promote information access
* H.R. 107 (DMCRA) amends DMCA (Section 215); there was a hearing on May 12th; bill may be marked up this summer, but is unlikely to be voted on until next year
-- Since 1998, the legal/technological locks (anti-circumvention) seems to stop more fair use/legitimate uses than actually stopping piracy
-- The exemptions rulemaking by the Copyright Office/Librarian of Congress have not worked: the standard of proof (of harm?) is too high, the rulemaking is too infrequent; LoC has admitted that the rulemaking process has failed
-- DMCRA legalizes circumvention for fair use/non-infringing purposes
* Database copyright protection: library community is fighting against this; 2 very different bills have been introduced
-- HR 3261 (DMICA
-- HR 3872: The Consumer Access to Information Act of 2004
(more information about both bills and the ALA-WO's take on them can be found here)
-- Database protection in Europe: what has been its effects? Anecdotally, not good; there are plans afoot for some org./body to do a formal survey of how the European Database Directive has affected European institutions.
* UCITA: ALA is still worried about UCITA legislation at the state and federal level.

Lynne Bradley -- Telecom
Not much going on in telecom; no new legislation introduced this year
Questions asked about telecom issues, e-rate, etc.

[End of notes]

Mickey Mouse Service

Service, Disney Style
Saturday, June 26, 2004 -- ALA Orlando

(Caveat Lector: I know conference news about ALA Orlando has cooled off quite a bit and just about everyone in the libraryiana section of the Blogosphere has had their say. So, I'm going to try to focus on events/issues that, as far as I know, haven't been blogged about. This is one of them.)

Disclaimer: Like a fair number of panels, I arranged late and left before the end. Also, these are hand-written notes made when I was somewhat sleep-deped. The notes are not as comprehensive as I'd like, but I think I got the gist of what was said.

Service, Disney Style featured 2 Disney senior managers (obviously local), one male and the other female (I did not catch their names), who traded off talking points during the presentation and used a multimedia show (video and standard slides).

[Entered in progress]

Know and understand your guests
Recognition of the stereotypes guests bring --
* Disney example: Differing castles at various Disney properties; the castles at Disneyland fit a 1950s American cultural understanding of what a fairy castle should look like -- an understanding that wasn't necessarily shared in the 1970s (when Disney World was built) or by Europeans who were exposed to real-life castles (at Euro Disney). However, Japanese visitors to Disney Tokyo want that 'quintessential' American experience, so the castles there closely resembled the Disneyland ones.
* Library example: the Librarian Action Figure
Promote the positive stereotypes and confront/minimize the negative ones

Understand the emotional connections your guests bring
Disney examples --
* Characters -- guests want, no, NEED to see the characters. Hence they are out front on Main Street just as you enter the park
* How to find your car at Disney World -- working to diffuse a potentially tense situation that would mar the good experience, even if your guests don't expect that of you

Have a service theme (not the same as a mission/vision statement)
Disney's service theme: "We create happiness by providing entertainment to people of all ages everywhere."

Service standards: system of measurement of the theme
Developing service standards requires identification (what are the most important qualities/aspects of our service), definition/questioning (what do we mean when we say "_____"), prioritization (what is the order of important of these qualities), communication (making sure that every member of the organization knows the service theme and the standards).

Delivery systems: how service standards are delivered (i.e. the intersection of assets and access points with the guests)
* Human resources -- the front line = the bottom line; seek 'the right fit' - not simply the best available, but the best for the job, period; "Disney traditions" instead of filling out paperwork at orientation; performance training
* Setting -- send the right message; consider the guests' experience; visual & non-visual (aural, olfactory, tactile) details; separate "onstage" from "backstage" (i.e. you don't want your kids running into Snow White on her cigarette break); maintain the setting

[Left in progress]

July 06, 2004

More potential tools

Thanks to the Librarian in Black and one of her readers, I found out about two interesting tools for reference/research librarians:


... a massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations. NationMaster is a vast compilation of data from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank, World Resources Institute, UNESCO, UNICEF and OECD. Using the form above, you can generate maps and graphs on all kinds of statistics with ease.

Not all of the data on the site is free. There are single user and multi-user licenses for companies and half price discounts available for educational institutions and non-profit organizations. But there appears to be enough free stats that will allow for enough trial/playing around to decide if the site is worth the license.

Statistical Resources on the Web:
There are probably a ton of pathfinders for websites that have government, corporate and industry statistics, but even with the cheesy, bitmapped icons ... this is so cool. Broken down by subject, with annotations ...

I'm sure that experienced librarians have their own little lists of "go-to" sites for this sort of information and not everything will be useful to everyone. But as a newbie librarian, this may be a very nice fallback site.