On Tuesday May 13, 2008, the Maine delegation (left to right, Sylvia Norton, Linda Lord, Senator Collins, Gary Nichols, Joyce Rumery, Rich Boulet) to ALA Legislative Day met with first with Senator Collins and key staffers and then with Senator Snowe and her staff who work on library, education and telecommunications issues. Concerns discussed included: simplification of the federal e-rate application process; the need for more funding for LSTA (Maine’s LSTA funding took a $60,000 cut this year in addition to the $200,000 cut required from the State of Maine because of the state budget situation); the necessity to include libraries in any federal laws, rules and/or regulations regarding broadband connectivity; support of Network neutrality; the importance of including the Skills Act (requiring school districts to ensure that every school within the district employs at least one state-certified library media specialist in each school library) as part of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind; and the impact of Orphan Works legislation on libraries. Orphan Works copyright holders can not be identified or found. It is essential that libraries be able to make these works, many of whom are historically or culturally significant, available to the public.
On a more personal note, Senator Snowe, who was in the Maine State legislature in Gary’s early years as State Library, commiserated with him about how fast the years pass; Senator Collins was very aware of a small business near Blue Hill that uses the Blue Hill Public Library as an office because of its two t-1 connections; both Senators are huge library supporters and gave us undue credit for training them well. Many of you know that Senator Collins worked in the Caribou Public Library as a student. Both Senators been recognized by the National Friends of Libraries Association as key Congressional library supporters. Their offices are fun to visit as the walls are covered with Maine prints, posters and art work and are beautifully decorated with strong colors. One staff member had a decidedly non-Maine accent but claimed to be from southern Maine, commonly known as Georgia. Our meetings were warm, friendly but focused on urgent issues in the library world – issues that were listened to attentively. Today we look forward with great anticipation to meetings with Congressmen Allen and Michaud. More later, Linda
The Sunday New York Times of July 7 ran a Styles section article on young, tatooed, hip librarians getting together at a bar in Brooklyn (ok, ok, I hate to admit that I even read that section). It was not only refreshing to read about a new generation of librarians but that they actually have a social life to boot! What a concept…… This article has created quite a buzz on the PubLibs listserv in combination with comments about the sloppy attire of those who attended the ALA conference in Washington. Whenever I saw someone in business attire or stylishly outfitted, he/she was usually representing a vendor. Why don’t librarians do a better job of representing their libraries or themselves, for that matter?
I think that it has been common for librarians to become invisible after 5pm – for the most part. How many of us are members of community organization boards or are active participants in recreational events or leagues in the community? How many are active members of PTA’s, Chambers of Commerce, clubs, associations, fraternal organizations, churches, etc? How many volunteer their services?
Is it usual for people in our communities to see us and say “hey, it’s the librarian?” When it is often difficult to tell the difference between library staff and patrons, it’s time to ask ourselves is it any wonder that the librarian stereotypes are credible?
Andrew Keen, in his new book The cult of the amateur, ruminates on the blizzard of blogs and other user-generated free content on the Internet. Everything from Wikipedia, YouTube, and MySpace fall under Keen’s scathing polemic.
The author is no Luddite. He is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has written for paper and online resources. He is the founder & CEO of Audiocafe.com. However, he urges us to “consider the consequences of blindly supporting a culture that endorses plagiarism and piracy and that fundamentally weakens traditional media and creative institutions.”
He is right on the mark when he questions how bloggers, who sit on their duffs in some anonymous room, can bloviate so authoritatively on current events of which they have no knowledge. Every second hundreds of blog pages are transmitted burying the uninitiated under misinformation, forgeries, plagiarisms, libels and lies. Amateurs with no professional standards or editorial filters are altering what’s left of public debate. Public opinion, which wasn’t much to talk about beforehand, is now so replete with fundamental errors of fact that most Americans still think that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Truth is something to be discarded in the greater good of giving anyone with a computer a voice.
Print and television media have not done their jobs either. Our political discourse revolves around $400 haircuts and Lindsey Lohan. However, our democracy will not be able to withstand the Web 2.0 assault on the deliberative gathering of news and information by traditional media. Any changes that newspapers and TV make in response to the Internet (and they’ve already occurred) will only serve to diminish their ability to inform.
As the Bush administration has so ably demonstrated, once something is announced it is remembered as being true no matter how often that statement has been proven or shown to be false. The Web 2.0 resources spew out so much of these kinds of half- truths or lies that our political culture will no longer have to do it.
Read Keen’s book and see how your Internet browsing fits in with his findings. Does empowering everyone to be a musician, critic, essayist, filmmaker, journalist or information specialist truly add to our achievements as a nation or culture?
The American Library Association launched an impressive web tool called The Librarian’s E-Library. Using Google Co-Op, ALA created a customized search engine that searches more than 125 websites. I searched “building campaign” and found many terrific sites that supply information about how to run a campaign and enlist support. I also searched “meeting room policy” and the first hit was a link to a WebJunction discussion list.
I highly recommend this resource that, along with conversations with your district consultant, will make it easier to think about all those decisions for your libraries.