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September 29, 2004

More on USA PATRIOT Act decision

The case that was decided in federal court today has bearing on Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act.

A lay explanation of Section 505 is here.

The ACLU press release about the decision is here.

SF Chronicle story is here.

NY Times article on the decision is here. [reg req'd]

Part of USA PATRIOT ACT found unconstitutional

(Caveat Lector: to readers of Info-Commons, please forgive the nearly duplicate entry ...)

From Reuters:

Part of the Patriot Act, a central plank of the Bush Administration's war on terror, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero [corrected from article] ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the power the FBI has to demand confidential financial records from companies as part of terrorism investigations.


The ACLU sued the Department of Justice, arguing that part of the Patriot legislation violated the constitution because it authorizes the FBI to force disclosure of sensitive information without adequate safeguards.

The judge agreed, stating that the provision "effectively bars or substantially deters any judicial challenge."

Under the provision, the FBI did not have to show a judge a compelling need for the records and it did not have to specify any process that would allow a recipient to fight the demand for confidential information.

No idea how much of the act this affects, or how far this goes in challenging Sect. 215. When the opinion is available, I'll link it here, as well as commentary on the decision.

September 26, 2004

More cuts

The bad times aren't over yet:

Salinas Votes to Close Its Three Libraries

Faced with a projected $9.2-million deficit, the Salinas, California, council voted 6�1 September 21 to close all three of the city�s public library branches in the first half of 2005. Officials also plan to close six recreation centers and reduce the city payroll by 71 full-time positions�nearly half of them library staff.

Salinas is hoping that the voters will approve 3 tax measures in November that will keep the libraries and rec centers open. The closures are currently slated for early 2005.

More here.

September 19, 2004

Sticker shock

I'm signing up for conferences at regular rates now.

Oh ... my.

Also ... had no idea that attending CLA was so ... well, uncheap. At least I don't have to worry about a hotel room.

SLA and copyright

SLA has announced a Call for Papers to be presented at its 2005 Conference in Toronto. Among the requirements:

The author (and any co-authors) also must be willing to sign a copyright assignment that will permit SLA to use the paper in various formats.

Authors must sign the same form for articles to appear in Information Outlook.

SLA's copyright assignment form is here. And the first sentence says it all: "I hereby transfer and assign the copyright in the above article to Special Libraries Association."

Unfortunately, there's no provision for copyright licensing akin to ALA's licensing for its journals and other pubs. T'is a pity, that.

September 16, 2004

Jill of many trades, Mistress of ...

Like a lot of kids, I had a litany of occupations that I rattled off whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Between the ages of 5-7, it was "firefighter or ballerina or stunt woman or truck driver". I blame PBS for the ballerina nonsense. From 8-13, I looked at medicine: "nurse or general practitioner or OB/GYN". Then around age 13, I realized that I might not make it through basic anatomy because the thought of being near a dead body terrified me (I went to my first funeral when I was 14).

Briefly (14-15) I considered becoming a historian (specializing in Mideval and Renaissance Europe), but realized that historians write for a living and I didn't believe I had the chops to write for my bread and butter. I entered college majoring in psychology, planning to specialize in forensic psych/criminal justice. I graduated with a B.A. in polisci and figured on becoming either a lawyer or a prof or a pundit or the press secretary to the President of United States. That didn't quite work out.

But now, I have an advanced degree and a solid foundation in a profession ... maybe. I was over at LISNews and happened upon my account page where I read my self-desc: "Currently a library paraprofessional. And LIS grad student in the Bay Area. A future librarian ... or analyst ... or lawyer ... or something. I have a LiveJournal (same username) that I use to talk about school and personal stuff. I'd like to use this one to talk about things from the perspective of a library user, and a non-degreed library worker. Don't know if it'll be interesting, but I'll try."

I've had that desc for a year and it needs changing, but that sentence in bold probably won't change anytime soon. Which is a bit sad, really. I went on a tour of Stanford's Archive of Recorded Sound and while I have no interest in being a music librarian (although I'm sure it's a cool field), the discussion of preservation techniques made me think of my interest in digital preservation. And film preservation. But going into film preservation would most likely require going back to school for another 2 years for a post-MLS MIAS program, but if I'm going to go back to school, I should probably get a second master's or maybe a J.D. but what if a news research job opens up, those don't come along every day even when the economy is good, and what's wrong with working in the trenches (i.e. info desk) at a public library?

I'm a touch undecided about what I'd like to pursue professionally. I'm not sure that trying to do it all (or even 60% of it all) is feasible, given the educational and training requirements. And a number of personal and professional factors make it inadvisable -- I don't even know if I have the personality to change careers every 3-5 years ... or less (I did that during my 20s, but that was due to a lingering recession).

This requires further dithering, I mean, thought ... in the meantime, please excuse me if I seem to draw a blank if asked what I want to do now ...

September 15, 2004


An elegy for Beslan by Michael McGrorty.


I forgot to mention: I'm guest-blogging at Info-Commons along with librarian.net's Jessamyn West.

This blog will continue to see posts, but general things having to do with copyright, the public domain, access to information, etc., will end up on IC for the near future.

September 13, 2004

It's not cheating cuz I'm not faculty ...

For those of you poor souls who've decided to work on topic #5 of the CE at SJSU and you don't read Library Juice, here's something juicy to throw into your paper.

How Far Should the Library Aid the Peace Movement and Similar Propaganda?

By George F. Bowerman, Librarian, The Public Library of the District of

An address at the American Library Association National Conference
in Berkeley, California, 1915

From part of the speech:

The librarian is constantly confronted with demands for the purchase of books and magazines, the offer of free copies of books, magazines and pamphlets issued on one side or the other of controverted questions, cults and isms. The main guiding principle should be that of interested neutrality. The library seeks complete enlightenment on the part of the constituency and to that end affords the fullest possible representation to both sides, to all sides of every controverted question. The library should encourage a broad and liberal spirit of free inquiry; its purpose is not to restrain but foster comprehensive curiosity. The offers of literature or the requests for its purchase may have propaganda in mind; the proponents very probably intend to use the machinery of the library, expensive to the public but cheap for their use for the dissemination of their own views. The library in lending itself to such use is not playing into the hands of the propagandist, but is rather availing itself of offers and requests to afford the inquiring and curious public, interested in subjects of current discussion, with material for the study of the questions at issue. Care should of course be taken when material representing one side only is offered, to procure the best material on the other side, together with the writings of capable neutral critics, if such exist. Even though the subjects of discussion may sometimes seem relatively unimportant or even at times rather foolish to the matter-of-fact librarian, the library cannot best meet the needs of the public unless it furnishes such material. The library wishes to be fair and escape the criticism of being narrow-minded or biased. Some subjects which provoke only a smile or faint interest among sophisticated persons like librarians, may be of surpassing interest to certain readers of character and standing in the community.

If you quote the speech and you pass, don't forget to send a thank-you to Rory Litwin for making the text more accessible.

September 04, 2004

An aside

I've run across something strange:

My thesis has been turned into a topic for the Fall '04 Culminating Experience at SJSU.

I'm not sure whether to take it as a grudging compliment or a sly dig ... to assume it's simply a coincidence seems to be a bit a stretch.

A recurring theme in the history of U.S. information policy is the link between open access to information in America's libraries and national security. Particularly in times of political or international crisis, authorities have enlisted librarians' cooperation, asking them to either restrict access to contested information or monitor their patrons' use of it.

This paper should provide a history of libraries and national security to serve as a lens through which to examine current controversies over the USA Patriot Act. The paper should cover the following areas:

a) Discuss at least 4 historical examples of how librarians have dealt with government pressure on them to help protect national security. Be sure to define national security to justify your examples.

b) Describe the profession's current response to the USA Patriot Act.

c) Compare and contrast librarians' earlier attitudes and actions with current debates over the USA Patriot Act. Based on this analysis, suggest how the past informs the present.

d) Conclude with your own assessment of how information professionals should respond when confronting issues of national security, being sure to explain the governing rationale for your assessment.

I don't know if my thesis will hit the shelves of the library before the papers are due, but the timing of the question may be purposeful in that regard.

How very odd ...