Friday, March 30, 2007
Anonymous Patron writes "Slashgeo links to a tool to map worldwide library statistics. From the about page: "WorldMap allows users to select a data set, then represents the data geographically by country on a world map. (For many data sets, data also may be displayed for U.S. states and Canadian provinces.) The collection data for the map were generated from WorldCat, and gathered from more than thirty other sources.""
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The Worldmapper Project is a collaborative effort between geographers at the University of Sheffield and the University of Michigan. There are 366 maps, also available as PDF posters.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Seth Finkelstein writes "Free Expression Policy Project has a press release on censorware and the "COPA" decision: "Ironically, in view of the ACLU's educational materials pointing out the massive censorship potential of filters, the ACLU and its fellow plaintiffs now presented experts touting filters' virtues, while the government, which had praised filters a few years earlier when it successfully defended a federal law that mandated their use in schools and libraries now pointed out their flaws. The ACLU explained its apparent inconsistency by saying that filters are fine as long as nobody is compelled to use them.""
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The humble suburban library takes on a whole new meaning in the ABC TV's new comedy-drama The Librarians, which starts production in Melbourne on March 5.
A co-production between ABC TV and Gristmill Pty Ltd, The Librarians is the brainchild of actors/writers Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope. Married in real life, Butler and Hope will also star in the production.
The six-part series centres on the trials and tribulations of Frances O'Brien, a devout Catholic and head librarian. Her life unravels when she is forced to employ her ex-best friend, Christine Grimwood - now a drug dealer - as the children's librarian. Frances must do all she can to contain her menacing past and concentrate on the biggest event of the library calendar - Book Week.
The Librarians will also star Roz Hammond (The Micallef Programme, Welcher & Welcher), Bob Franklin (BoyTown, The Extra, The Craic), Kim Gyngell (The Comedy Company, Love and Other Catastrophes), Kate Kendall (Stingers), Heidi Arena (Thank God You're Here, Blue Heelers), Stephen Ballantyne (Corpse Bride) and newcomers Josh Lawson (BoyTown, Blue Heelers) and Keith Brockett.
Butler and Hope joined forces in 2004 to write and produce 13 short films called Stories from the Golf for SBS. Butler, who will play the lead character Frances, has starred in feature films including BoyTown and Crackerjack, as well as numerous television series. Most recently she teamed with Mick Molloy on the Triple M's successful ToughLove program.
"We are thrilled to be making The Librarians. With 25,000 books on set we have fabricated the perfect excuse to extend our summer reading, added to which, the children's library is very handy for cheap childcare, " said Robyn.
Hope, who will direct all six episodes, is a seasoned performer with feature films such as BoyTown and many television roles including Stupid Stupid Man, Crashburn and TheMicallef rogramme to his credit.
ABC TV's Executive Producer for Drama Miranda Dear added: "It's great to be working with such a dynamic comic team. With this series they bring their acute eye for social satire to bear on the world of the library in the most surprising ways. Borrowing a book may never seem as safe again."
For further information contact:
ABC TV PUBLICITY
Ph: 03 9524 2629
Parents rail at graphic sex in books -- but how about online, rap lyrics?. Is mostly about a book that was erroneously recommended to a kid by a librarian at an Elementary School. "It's not like anyone disagreed with parents in this. As soon as it was brought to the school's attention, the book was pulled." They blamed a "technical problem with the Web site" that is supposed to filter out inappropriate titles or the "mischaracterization of the book by the publisher."
Friday, March 23, 2007
U.S. Judge Blocks 1998 Online Porn Law: In the ruling, the judge said parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit the rights of others to free speech. "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr., who presided over a four-week trial last fall.
Filipino Librarian writes "From the International Herald Tribune:
When Irma Boom suggested designing a book in an unusually squat size and shape, it didn't go down well with the publisher. Nor did her insistence that it should have a white cover, raggedy page edges and an introductory essay printed in type that starts off big and becomes smaller on successive pages. Don't forget to look for the heading 'Multimedia' and click on the book or 'View' to see photos of 'the world's most beautiful books.'"
Criticas has announced that WebJunction is offering scholarships to its Spanish Language Outreach workshops to be held during ALA's Washington, D.C. meeting June 21-27, 2007. Former workshop participants are eligible; the winner will present a poster on a program that he/she has implemented successfully after attending a previous workshop. Says workshop coordinator Laura Staley, "Our goals for the scholarship are to both recognize the outreach efforts of our workshop participants and to inspire other libraries to reach out to their Spanish-speaking communities." Applications are due April 9
Monday, March 19, 2007
Putting on my asbestos gloves, I write a mildly cautionary post.
If you love Second Life, more power to you. I tried it–had to, for a contest, at some length–and didn’t care for it. I’m one of perhaps four million ghost avatars, always to be counted by Linden but never to return (I have no idea what my password is, for that matter.)
That’s me. I probably wouldn’t care for most virtual worlds (except those in fiction). That’s me.
If you want to spend your spare time building library facilities in Second Life, that may be a great thing. I can see possible good learning outcomes. You may get to chat with lots of other SLibrarians and maybe even some who aren’t.
Just don’t tell me that libraries need to be involved in Second Life, in 2007, because it’s “where our users are.” That’s simply not true, at least not for most real-world communities.
How many people actually use Second Life? It’s definitely not the 4.47 million “Residents” number you’ll see from Linden–that’s everybody who’s ever gotten far enough into the signup to register an avatar, even if they’ve never come back.
Even some pro-Second Life enthusiasts who’ve studied the numbers seem to agree that no more than 10% to 15% of these people stick around–one highly pro-SL source uses “10% at 90 days” as an estimate. That would yield no more than about 440K ongoing users.
You can’t use any of SL’s “visited within X days” as particularly meaningful, because “visited” includes all of those who sign up (or start signing up) and never return–and if you look at the growth rate of total Residents, you see that most of those “visits” are actually initial signups.
I’ve seen estimates of as low as tens of thousands of ongoing users (probably far too low, depending on how you define “ongoing”). A 15% retention rate yields about 670,000 avatars, which probably represent considerably fewer people–and that may be too high. If you think about how long SL aficionados tend to spend in SL, and the average concurrent users, somewhere in the low six figures seems most likely. (There are something like 50,000 paid accounts, which may be a baseline. If you assume ten “real users” for every premium account, that’s half a million overall.).
But heck, let’s say 670,000–or, being very optimistic, let’s say a million active users, where I define “active” as “spends some time in SL at least once a month, and has returned at least a month after first signing up.” (If you use “at least once a week”–which seems reasonable for anybody who really cares about SL–then Linden’s own figures give you less than 500,000, and that includes a week’s worth of churn, new signups who will never return.)
Best estimates are that slightly less than half of SL avatars are from within the U.S. So that’s half a million, using the most optimistic numbers, or more likely around 250,000.
Out of a population of over 300 million.
In other words, one-sixth of one percent of your users, using optimistic numbers.
By any reasonable standard, your users are not in Second Life. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be. Just means that “that’s where our patrons are” is a poor excuse to prioritize SL activity over much of anything else. “That’s where our patrons might be eventually, and we’d like to understand it”–that’s a decent reason if you have spare time and no competing priorities.
Postscript: Is it fair to assume that SL will grow to be a true mass phenomenon, where as many as five or ten percent of your patrons might show up there once a month or more? I have no idea. Clay Shirky doesn’t think so; he thinks it will always be a niche. I think he’s wrong on a lot of other things, so I’m not suddenly going to hold him up as The Expert here.
Personally, I doubt it, but that doubt is not based on solid knowledge.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
In a bid to protect the privacy of its users, Google Inc. yesterday said it is taking steps to makes searches by its users anonymous after 18 to 24 months.
"When you search on Google, we collect information about your search, such as the query itself, IP addresses and cookie details," according to a blog post from Peter Fleischer, privacy counsel-Europe, and Nicole Wong, deputy general counsel. "Previously, we kept this data for as long as it was useful. Unless we're legally required to retain log data for longer, we will anonymize our server logs after a limited period of time."
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said that when it implements the policy change within the next year, it will continue to keep server log data to improve Google's services and prevent security threats and other abuses.
Google said it would also build privacy protections into its products, including Google Talk's "off the record" feature, as well as Google Desktop's "pause" and "lock search" controls.
The company said it will also provide easy-to-understand privacy policies on its Web site for its users.
By making the decision to bolster its privacy policies, Google is responding to the concerns of privacy advocates and some government regulators in the U.S. and Europe that releasing the data could pose privacy risks for users.
"After talking with leading privacy stakeholders in Europe and the U.S., we're pleased to be taking this important step toward protecting your privacy," according to the statement. "By anonymizing our server logs after 18-24 months, we think we're striking the right balance between two goals: continuing to improve Google's services for you, while providing more transparency and certainty about our retention practices."
Two high-tech civil rights groups called the move a good first step but said more work needs to be done.
"This is a big step in the right direction," said Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, in a statement.
"Keeping the data around forever significantly compromises [Google's] users' privacy," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. The U.S. government probably has subpoenaed search log data on individuals in criminal investigations, a move it wouldn't necessarily have to reveal, he said. Another danger is that an angry spouse or business partner could obtain the information in the course of a lawsuit, Bankston said.
"We'd love to see a shorter retention period and more complete anonymization," Bankston said. Google should also extend the policy to its other products, which include Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps and other Web-based tools.
Other major search providers, such as Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, haven't revealed as much as Google has about what they do with server logs, Bankston said.
Stephen Lawson of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.
"Check Out Harry Eyres' take on the value of libraries. The idea that the library could be a great place of discovery, of serendipitous connection, is unfortunately not promoted by academic orthodoxy. It might reek of the days of aristocratic privilege, of the Sieur de Montaigne in his Gascon tower, reading for pleasure while war raged around below. War still rages, but one of the great advantages of our age over the 16th century is that so many people can, potentially, enjoy the privileges of mind-opening study once reserved for aristocrats. "
Important update from The Columbus Dispatch on one of the most important issues facing libraries today: Sports Illustrated's bikini-filled swimsuit issue soon might show up on central Ohio library shelves after magazine executives reversed a decision to withhold it from such institutions.
"It was a bad decision made within our organization to withhold the issue," said Rick McCabe, spokesman for the magazine. "We won't be withholding the swimsuit issue in the future."
The Harvard Crimson wins the "best headline" prize with "Sports Illustrated Stripped From Rack".
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
JET writes "Yesterday marked the death of Ernest Gallo, who along with his brother Julio started the first major California winery, based on what they had learned as descendants of the Piedmont region of Italy. According to this report, their first batch was formulated on a recipe in a book borrowed from the Modesto CA library. " Here's a tribute to the founder on the Gallo website.
In testimony on Capitol Hill, the director of the Center for Responsive Politics urges Congress to shine light on the financing of public-private complexes that honor presidents.
"The potential (for corruption) may be far greater than in the campaign finance system," Krumholz told the committee, chaired by California Democrat Henry Waxman. Libraries can accept multi-million-dollar donations and gifts from corporations and foreign governments. Political campaigns cannot accept those types of contributions.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
A letter to the LibraryLaw Blog:
I’m only a recent, and now sure to be regular, reader of the LibraryLaw Blog (what an excellent resource) and am also a big fan of your article “Lawfully Surfing the Net…,” which I cited in many papers during library school.
I’m emailing because I would like to know your thoughts about a recent event. On February 26, 2007, ContentWatch purchased the popular filtering program Net Nanny (http://www.netnanny.com/netnanny). I know of several public libraries that use Net Nanny to comply with CIPA. Since I’ve been looking at Nancy Willard’s research on Internet filtering companies and religious affiliations (http://www.csriu.org/onlinedocs/documents/religious2.html), this change of hands is especially concerning.
On the ContentWatch page http://www.netnanny.com/learn_center/safe_sites_family, there is a link to “Keep Your Children Safe Online,” which links to http://www.child-internet-safety.com/. This page includes one quote from Tommera Press, co-publisher with Fires of Darkness of the book “Riding a Dead Horse: Carousel to Hell,” by Tom Buford. Buford’s web site, firesofdarkness.com, is devoted to overcoming porn addiction and features a link to an interview with Buford on the 700 Club. Another quote featured on child-internet-safety.com is attributed to the Christian Broadcasting Network.
ContentWatch also maintains a list of articles about pornography and child safety under the heading “LearningCenter.” Their list on pornography includes articles such as “Internet Porn Is a Drug and Pornographers Are Drug Dealers” and “It’s Not About the First Amendment,” both by Mark Kastleman (who has published a book called “The Drug of the New Millennium: The Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body,” published by Granite Publishers, which is affiliated with the Latter Day Saints). Also archived is the article “DOJ busts Website for Obscenity,” by Jan LaRue, who is chief counsel for Concerned Women for America.
In the spirit of Willard’s research, it seems that public libraries should perhaps rethink their use of Net Nanny, especially if it infringes upon the First Amendment’s establishment of religion clause. It will be interesting to see if Net Nanny users notice a difference in blocking activity or access in the coming weeks. Any thoughts about ContentWatch in public libraries?
Thank you for sharing so many thought-provoking ideas via the blog and your articles.
Readers, any thoughts?
Friday, March 02, 2007
CHENNAI : Imagine sitting in a roomy, well-lit reading room, browsing both print and e-journals while sipping coffee. The future of libraries, according to Rafael Ball from Central Library Research Centre in Germany, is in providing more value-added services to customers.
Convergence of media is the key, Mr. Ball told a group of academics and students of information science at Madras University on Monday.
A library should be able to provide a mix of both print and electronic media information. The processing should be flexible and access decentralised, he said in his presentation, `Innovative Services of a Special Library.'
Need for convergence arose from the fact that while the quantity of scientific journals went up, library budgets stagnated. In order to arrest the loss of quality of library holdings, there is need to subscribe to the increasingly available e-media, he said.
Mr. Ball presented the Central Library Research Centre in Julich as a case study.
A majority of the centre's holdings consist of information in the electronic format. The transition to `E-only' was a slow process, said Mr. Ball. It involved convincing the staff of advantages, and informing heads of educational institutions about lists of titles and the transition road map.
The impact of having more electronic content means a bigger infrastructure budget, higher subscription charges, holding extensive training programmes for employees and setting in place pucca license agreements.
According to Mr. Ball, funding by universities was necessary to have a modern, innovative library, which takes into account the needs of customers.
Up in Michigan The Livingston Organization for Values in Education (Guess what their acronym is!) are living by Blake's Golden Rules. The group wanted the books out of the school curriculum, The Board of Education disagreed, so they did what any sane person who knows what's best for everyone would do, they told state prosecutors teachers were, in effect, providing pornography for their students. Oddly enough, the U.S. Attorlney for the Eastern District of Michigan decided to get the FBI involved, who are now "reviewing it."
I'm not so sure this title is exactly accurate, since in the story they say the FBI has only "received the complaint" and is only reviewing it, not actually investigating. But hey, let's go with it, if they're not concerned with facts then I won't be either, this is, after all, for the children!
"We're talking about material that's not appropriate for minor children," Vicki Fyke said.
So Fyke and the Livingston Organization for Values in Education want some books like Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" out of the classrooms at Howell High School.
The book about an 11-year-old girl's search for identity contains a scene in which she is raped by her father.
"It describes in great detail how he does it," Fyke said.
The group is also looking to keep Richard Wright's "Black Boy," Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "The Freedom Writers Diary" out of the curriculum. Fyke says the group has no problem keeping the books in the school library.
But after the Howell Board of Education sided against the group in its push to remove the books from the classroom, Fyke forwarded her complaints to prosecutors, alleging the teachers were, in effect, providing pornography for their students.
"If anybody else gave them this material, it's against the law," she said.
Now Fyke has received a letter from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit saying he's forwarded the case to the FBI for investigation.
"I received it Tuesday," she said.
A spokeswoman for the FBI in Detroit told us the office has received the complaint.
"We are reviewing it," the spokeswoman said.
But the whole process surrounding the book is perplexing to at least one educational expert.
"I still can't believe this is happening," Fred Barton said.
Barton heads the Michigan Council of Teachers of English.
"For one thing, the book was written in 1970. It's been taught in schools for many, many years. So I would assume that, if it was a problem, we would have known it about it by now," he said.
Barton taught high school English for 10 years. He says the classroom is the appropriate place to discuss the difficult topics books like "The Bluest Eye" discuss. It can put them in context, he says.
And Barton says the book is appropriate for 10th graders. For example, he says, violence in the book isn't rewarded.
"One of the characters who is most often singled out in these types of situations is actually destroyed by the violence and the kind of things he does."
If parents don't like it, Barton says they can pull their students from the classroom during discussion of the book under the "opt out" program in Howell Public Schools.
Fyke says those kids risk being singled out -- so she want the books out entirely.
"I'm not about to give up. I'm not," Fyke said.