Monday, August 31, 2009

Tiny librarian is hell on wheels

By Jim Kavanagh

(CNN) -- She's petite, she's middle-aged, she's bookish, and if she gets a chance, she'll knock you on your keister.

Librarian Beth Hollis gets ready to rumble in her Rubber City Rollergirls gear.

Librarian Beth Hollis gets ready to rumble in her Rubber City Rollergirls gear.

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By day, she's Beth Hollis, a 53-year-old reference librarian in Akron, Ohio. By night, she's MegaBeth, an ageless dynamo on the roller derby rink.

"All my life, when I tell people I'm a librarian, they say, 'You don't look like a librarian,' " Hollis said. "And now that I'm a roller derby girl, they say, 'You don't look like a roller derby girl, either.' So I don't know where I fit in."

Hollis has been fitting in at the Akron-Summit County Library for 27 years.

"She's my hero," said Diane Barton, 48, who has worked with Hollis at the library for 18 years. "I just think it's so cool she's doing something so different and so active and so aggressive. You know how we are. We're librarians, so we tend to have that meek and mild stereotype." Video Watch her in action as Beth and MegaBeth »

Before discovering roller derby, Hollis had been casting about for a hobby.

"I tried knitting and literally got kicked out of the knitting class for just not being able to get the hang of it," she chortled. "I guess it was just too soon for me to try knitting. I needed something that maybe was a little bit more physical for a hobby."

Boy howdy.

She visited a Rubber City Rollergirls practice last winter after telling her husband, Warren, a retired high school math teacher, that she was going to an audition.

"At that point, I just said, 'I don't care that I have an AARP card in my wallet; I'm going to go for this,' " she said.

Roller derby is a real sport, having ditched the campy, WWE-like spectacle seen on TV in the early 1970s. The Rubber City squad practices six hours a week and competes against teams in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Roller derby explained

Roller derby isn't as confusing as it first appears. Two teams of five players each line up on the oval track. Four are blockers, whose job is to knock down or otherwise impede the opposing players and to open the way for the fifth teammate, called the jammer, to make her way around the rink. The jammer scores a point for every opposing player she passes. If she laps everyone, she earns an extra point for her team. Each round, or jam, lasts two to three minutes or until the lead jammer calls it off. The teams play two 30-minute halves, and the team with the most points wins. Quirky uniforms and tough-chick nicknames add to the fun.

A roller derby match, called a bout, consists of two 30-minute halves. Each team has four blockers and one player called a jammer, whose job is to get past the other team's blockers on a 235-foot oval flat track and lap them to score points. Both teams are on offense and defense simultaneously, and the action is fast and rough.

"I think she's awesome," coach Brian "Coachise" Phillips said. "She is 53, so she is our oldest girl on the team, but she works every bit as hard as every other girl on the team, and she is in as good a shape if not better than every other girl on the team."

And she's an inspiration to the other players.

"It makes me actually excited to think that I could play ... for another 30 years, and that's awesome for me, because this is like my favorite thing to do," said Barb "Barbonic Plague" Brown, who at 21 is the youngest player on the team.

Hollis has earned the respect of her team captain, too.

"She's so tiny -- she's probably like 5 feet 4 and maybe 110 pounds or so -- but when she's out there, she's MegaBeth," said Tracy "Eighty-SixHer" Soulsby, 40. "I wouldn't say she's a very hard hitter, but she's a good blocker. Her strength is getting in people's way and then keeping them behind her, not letting them get around her."

The MegaBeth legend grew during a June bout with the Glass City Roller Girls, a team from Toledo, Ohio. Hollis found herself contending with a 6-foot-1, 220-pound foe who goes by the name Pamazon.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her just take out this one girl, and I remember, the crowd just went wild. It was fantastic!" Brown recalled.

"I think that might be the highlight of her season," Phillips said.

For her part, Pamazon -- aka Pamela Keppler -- said she's never been knocked down in a bout.

"To be completely honest, I don't remember MegaBeth that well from the bout," she said. "I do remember talking with her at the after-party. We were all pretty surprised by her age, and I remember her saying that I knocked the snot out of her."

The team draws capacity crowds of 500 to 600 at its bouts, where admission costs $8.50 to $12.50 and concessions are sold.

"It really makes it exciting when you've got all those people cheering," Hollis said. "And as we progress through the season, it's obvious that we've gotten better ... and the fan support has just gotten louder."

But the glory comes at a cost. Two Rubber City Rollergirls have suffered broken legs -- in practice! -- and one is about to return after breaking her shoulder and nose in a bout.

"It's inevitable that you're going to get scrapes; you get rink rash and bruises," said Hollis, who wears number 796.21 -- the Dewey Decimal library index number for skating.

"I took a pretty tough fall to my hip that had me a little concerned. As I said to my teammates, at my age when you break a hip, it's the beginning of the end."

Asked whether she has hurt anyone else, the mother of two college graduates replied furtively: "I hope so."

Librarian Hollis isn't the only player smashing stereotypes. Among her teammates are teachers, a Starbucks manager, an accountant, a nurse practitioner, a barmaid and a couple of waitresses, most of whom are on the small side, Soulsby said.

"It's not just rough-and-tough, big, burly gals out on parole," Hollis said.

Perhaps just to keep it real, the team does include one former repo driver (Valcano) and a heavy-equipment operator (BulldozeHer Bo).

Barton, her fellow librarian, says there's something different about Hollis since she laced up her skates.

"It may just be my imagination, but she seems more confident in a way," Barton said. "It has to empower you somehow."


Hollis says it's good for people to test themselves with change.

"I encourage people to pursue things -- something like this -- that they think might be fun, and not to let stereotypes get in the way of whether or not they think they're going to fit in," she said. "Because you never know."

Friday, August 28, 2009

As Layoffs Loom, Broward Librarians Turn on One Another

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One Broward County Library worker told Juice of a recent conversation she had with a coworker claiming immunity from the scourge. "I'm not worried about getting laid off," the librarian allegedly boasted. "I have seniority." And in a disclosure she may have regretted, the librarian said that she had retired last year after some three decades of service, triggering her pension, only to be rehired so that she still collects a wage.

"This pissed me off," said her fellow worker, who asked to remain anonymous. "She's getting her retirement and still working while other people who have been here seven or ten years are worried for their job."

Full story here.

50 Exercises You can do at the Library (Without Looking Foolish)


With library shifts easily running eight hours and over, does that time have to be wasted sitting or stacking books? The short answer is “no.” The long answer is: “check out these top 50 exercises you can do at the library, office, or just about anywhere.”

Best Desk Workouts You Can do at the Library

Get the most out of your desk time by trying out these highly recommended, expert exercises.

1. 15- Minute Desk Workout: Coach Nicole is a top expert at SparkPeople, a popular dieting and fitness site. In this short video, she shows you how to workout using items found around any office. A series of ten exercises work all your major muscle groups and end with seated stretches for the deskbound exerciser.

2. Best Exercises to do at Your Desk: “Forbes” magazine shows you how to work out at your desk. There are even tips on simple things you can do to have a healthier day. There is also a picture gallery of the best desk exercises.

. Top to Bottom: Expert trainer Jillian Michaels has appeared on “The Biggest Loser.” In this three minute video, she shows you how to get a complete body workout with a few spare moments and free weights. Worth a look for its ability to workout multiple parts at the same time.

4. Dynamic Sculpt & Stretch: Natalie Yco shows you her professional 10 minute workout to work the entire body. It hits all five major muscle groups and follows up with stretching. Free weights are the only thing you need.

. How to Work Out at Your Desk: MSNBC offers this simple guide to doing just that. Get instruction on the forearm stretch, finger pulls, neck stretch, tendon glides, and the chest stretch. There are also other related links.

6. Desk Workout: Gay Gasper shows you this mini desk workout. In just three minutes, learn a few exercises you can do at any work place. These simple kicks can even be done under a desk without anyone ever knowing.

Best Cardio Workouts You Can do at the Library

If you have a closed space or some free time, check out these workouts to get your heart going and those calories burning.

7. Jump Start Cardio Workout: Coach Nicole guides you through this ten minute workout. Simple cardio exercises are done without the need for equipment. It contains a warm up, workout, and cool down.

8. Cardio Sculpting: This ten minute cardio class will challenge you to work cardio intervals, alternating high intensity drills with short recovery breaks. You’ll sweat, jump, lunge, and even increase your flexibility in minutes. Watch for free or download for $1.99.

9. Bootcamp Calorie Burn: Why pay tons of money for a bootcamp workout when you can train as they do in 30 minutes for free? Kendall’s dynamic moves will get your body pumping in this calorie blasting workout. You just need a small space and a will to work.

Best Pilates Workouts You Can do at the Library

Because they require a small space and little to no equipment, Pilates can be done from any small space, such as an office.

10. Intro to Pilates: In this short video, Coach Nicole explains seven principles that will prevent you from making some common mistakes. Watch so that you can get the most out of your Pilates workouts. Posture, breath, and more are discussed.

11. 10-Minute Pilates Hips & Thighs Workout: This workout will help you strengthen your hips, glutes and thighs. Coach Nicole takes you through one short set of six Pilates exercises. Stretches are also included.

12. 20 Minute Power Pilates: Jessica’s routine will spark up every muscle in your abs, back, legs, hips and arms, while lengthening these muscles and joints. Her clear cues will ensure you get the most out of some classic Pilates moves. Ease back pain and achieve perfect posture to help you look pounds lighter. The preview is free.

13. Less is More Pilates: This video teaches you the fundamentals of controlled movement so you can get the benefits of your practice in the quickest way possible. Lizbeth shows you the routine, needing only a fitness mat. It is also optional if you have a carpeted floor.

14. Desk Pilates: Complete Workout: Pilates instructor Eleanor Gomez demonstrates a simple workout that will help prevent repetitive strain injury, strengthen your spine, and make working easier. Available at Bnet. There are also other related videos in the article.

. Pilates Power: Take your Pilates up a notch with this twenty minute video. Jessica’s powerful routine will spark up every muscle in your abs, back, legs, hips and arms. She also shows you how to lengthen these muscles and joints to give you a long, sleek dancer’s body.

Best Stretches You Can do at the Library

Because injuring yourself is one of the best ways to look foolish, try out these stretches to minimize risk and get the blood flowing.

16. Seated Stretching Routine: This short articles shows you seven stretches that reduce stiffness and tension. They include the neck stretch, triceps, shoulders, and more. There is also a reference guide to stretching.

17. Football Flexibility: Rich Tuten works with the Denver Broncos and shows you how to stretch. Simple moves can be done anywhere with no equipment. Avoid injuries and adapt to any workout with this routine.

18. Running Flexibility: If you’re going for a run during your lunch break, check out this video to make sure you warm up properly. A few simple stretches are shown. Use for before and after a run.

19. Lower Body Stretching: This routine can be done completely standing up with no equipment. Six stretches target thighs, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Proper breathing is also shown.

20. Rhythmic Stretch: Get a groove going while you stretch in this video. Desiree shows you easy and fun ways to stretch. This simple routine will make you feel rejuvenated and radiant afterwards.

21. Upper Body Stretches: This short video begins with a shoulder roll. Another six stretches are shown in the three and a half minute video. Areas stretched include arms, chest, back, and neck.

Best Ab Workouts You Can do at the Library

Be the only one in the library wearing a cut off after taking on these challenging, yet rewarding, exercises.

22. Abs and Chest Combo Exercise: “Men’s Health” shows you this exercise in a short video. Simply choose MH Minute and Fitness to select. It involves an exercise ball and a few reps.

23. 12-Minute Pilates Abs Workout: This workout will help you strengthen your abdominals, obliques, and lower back. Coach Nicole takes you through one short set of eleven Pilates exercises for a complete core challenge. No equipment is needed.

24. Sculpt Abs on the Field: If you have a small grassy area outside of your library, give this workout a try. It is the same one professional baseball players use. A sprint and cardio drill help sculpt abs.

. 10-Minute Crunchless Core Workout: No need for crunches or an exercise ball to do this workout. It strengthens abdominals, obliques, and lower back.

26. Rock Solid Abs: This plan hits your entire core–not just your abs but the muscles that support the spine. Moves can be done freestyle, with a weight, or exercise ball. You can even download the entire thing to your iPod.

27. Get A Flatter Belly: The experts at “Women’s Health” magazine show you four essential workouts for your core. Complete three circuits, resting for 45 seconds between each. Do the workout two or three nonconsecutive days a week.

Best Butt Workouts You Can do at the Library

Face bikini season head on or look great in those jeans with the help of these workouts

28. Butt Blasting Workout: If you’re tired of performing endless squats, then this short, focused workout is for you. These exercises target the gluteus maximus to retain strength and muscle tone. After six minutes of these targeted exercises, you will feel the burn and notice tighter and firmer muscles over time.

29. Butt Workout: Do these moves twice a week to complete this glute camp. There are videos of each move. You can also get a printable version of the workout.

30. 5-Minute Booty Workout with Ball: If you have an office, an exercise ball, and five minutes, this workout is for you. Use this short video to tone your butt and thighs without lunges or squats. The exercises target the gluteus maximus to retain strength and muscle tone.

31. Sculpt Your Butt: Stop by here to get a workout for both your butt and your legs. Five moves are done freestyle or with a stepper. Not only does it build muscle, but it burns calories as well.

32. Booty Burn: In just ten minutes, you’ll zap calories while lifting and tightening your glutes. Cindy increases your strength, power, and heart rate all in one. You’ll maximize your leg strength and boost your glutes and hamstrings.

Best Arm Workouts You Can do at the Library

Whether looking to lose the waddle or tone up, these short, free workouts will have your arms sculpted in no time.

33. 7-Minute Seated Band Resistance Workout: In this workout, Coach Nicole will lead you through a series of upper body exercises that you can do anywhere. Only a resistance band and a small space are needed.

34. Upper Body Towel Workout: Grab a towel and a few minutes to do these challenging arm workouts. Three moves are shown. They include two varying pushups and a towel crunch.

. Arms Workout: These three moves can help you sculpt sexy arms. Three simple moves use only free weights. Complete two or three sets two days a week to get results.

36. Super Shoulders: In one and half minutes, Jillian Michaels’ shows you how to sculpt your shoulders. You only need free weights. Three advanced exercises are shown.

37. Armed and Dangerous: This Jillian Michaels mini workout is targeted for the arms, but works other areas, too. Free weights and jump rope mime are shown. She also gives recommendations on reps.

Best Leg Workouts You Can do at the Library

Don’t ignore your lower body. Try these workouts to get legs to match your arms.

38. Calf Raise With Hop: This exercise is a twist on an old classic. Do with or without a weight depending on your level. A hop is added for better results.

39. Single Leg Squat: For advanced exercisers, this can be the ultimate leg and lower body workout. Muscles, hips, and even posture are challenged. If you can do ten, try adding a pillow underneath your foot.

40. 10 Minute Buns & Thighs: Cindy shows you how to shape the lower body in just ten minutes using no equipment. Several simple exercises will have you feeling the burn in no time.

41. Lean Men Leg Workout: In a little over two minutes Jillian Michaels shows you how to get ripped legs. She shows you the plie, courtesy, and more.

42. Gold Medal Glutes and Legs: Wonder how Olympians work their lower body? Then try these creative and challenging body toning exercises. They will shape your glutes, hamstrings and the smaller muscles surrounding the glutes you need to get the smooth lines of an athlete.

Best Specialty Workouts You Can do at the Library

If you’re looking for something specific, or just a fun workout, try one or all of these mini workouts.

43. Kickbox Workout: Someone making fun of you for working out at the library? Then challenge them to this routine by trainer Amy Dixon. She’ll show you how to perfect your technique for maximum calorie burn.

44. Jump Rope Workout: Coach Nicole again shows you how to do a simple, ten minute workout using only a jump rope. This high intensity workout blasts calories. It can also be done without a jump rope.

45. Agility Workout: Afraid of looking foolish during these workout routines? Then try this 20 minute workout to make you both graceful and toned. Seven different moves use free weights, a basketball, and stepper.

46. Pylo Power: Jillian Michaels’ shows you how the power of jumping can workout your entire body. 180 jumping, the speed skater, and more are shown. She also tells you how many reps to do of each.

47. Kettlebell Workout: It’s basically a medicine ball with a handle attached, but it can tone your entire body. Missy Beaver, a Los Angeles trainer, created a twice-weekly routine that you can do at home. Four steps are shown in diagrams.

48. The Shim Sham Workout: If your library will let you take a ten minute hula hoop break, check this video out. Kelee shows you how to use one to get a fun workout. Hula hooping knowledge is required.

49. Fighting the Freshman 15: Not just for college students, librarians can get it too. Teri shows you body sculpting exercises that are meant to be performed in a small space. This fitness program was specifically designed for coeds by an instructor who has been there and done it herself.

50. Exercise Office Ball Chair: Lifehacker tells you how to use an exercise ball at your desk. It lists the pros and cons. If you are still on the fence, read the 50 comments left by various readers.

Libraries are often seen as dull, droll places with out of shape workers. It doesn’t have to be with the help of these 50 exercises you can do at or around the library. Make sure to consult a physician before beginning a workout plan.

Nominate Your Favorite Librarian of 2009!!!

Librarians in our nation’s 123,000 libraries make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans every day. Now is your chance to tell us why we should shine the spotlight on a librarian at your public, school, college, community college or university library. Nominate your librarian for the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award!

Up to ten librarians will be honored. Each will receive $5,000 and be recognized at an awards ceremony hosted by The New York Times at TheTimesCenter in December 2009.

Nominate a librarian in one of three categories: public librarians; school library media specialists; or college, community college, or university librarians.

Nominations close Oct. 9, 2009.

All winners will be announced in early November.


It's hip to be a librarian


August 27, 2009, 8:56am

Librarians are old-fashioned boring nerds, unapproachable old maids or widowers -- not!

Today’s new breed of librarians have broken free from those dank and dusty school libraries, the century-old stereotypes, and have evolved into dynamic, progressive and most-sought after career people employed by large corporations, IT comp anies, hospitals and law firms.

Yes, a librarian can now be anyone -- from your cute neighbor or cool classmate, to that sophisticated babe or handsome hunk. Or better yet, he can be a multi-talented computer expert who is into flip spin, poi, fire breathing and photography such as Johann Frederick Cabbab, a professor of Library and Information Science (LISIS), at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

A licensed librarian, the 36-year-old Cabbab admits he first settled for the LIS course after shifting from Accounting. A constant member of the library club in elementary and high school, Cabbab took interest in developing databases, one of the tasks of a librarian.

“When you talk of a librarian in this time and age, malawak na yung meaning. Many still land in the library but today, you can be a librarian in a virtual environment. You can be working in a publishing company and use your librarian skills such as journal indexing, abstracting and classifying.

I think that’s our advantage. We know how to classify. There’s a lot of difference from a librarian and non-librarian working in a database company,” explains Atty. Vyva Victoria Aguirre, dean of the UP School of Library and Information Studies and legal consultant of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor
for Research and Development.

Atty. Aguirre says in fact, librarians are among the most in demand professionals today. Many of them land in big corporations, schools, universities, big law firms, IT companies and hospitals.

“Everyday, I get a call or email from big corporations and schools asking for LISIS graduates that I can recommend. In the US, the trend now is clinical librarians accompany doctors in hospital rounds and sit with them in medical conferences to find out their needs. The same with law librarians who help lawyers gather evidence,” reveals Aguirre.


When it comes to searching, managing and giving out information, librarians are also the most credible, says Aguirre.

Yes, in this age of information explosion, it may be easy to look for, download and cut and paste information using search engines. But the veracity of the information still has to be confirmed as the Web is not exactly an untainted source of information.

“Librarians have certain criteria for evaluating authoritativeness. We try to find out who is making this definition or where did it come from? Who is the author, the publisher? We are trained for this and we really go out of our way to decipher any information we get,” she points out.

Cabbab adds that librarians take the pains of searching, mostly thru scholarly journals, to look for specific subjects that cannot be answered by just Googling.


As LIS students continue to equip themselves with the necessary skills to become competent and competitive, they have also begun to adjust to a new paradigm shift that responds to the needs of the times.

“The information infrastructure has pushed Library Science to shift its paradigm from a librarian’s role of preserving, to that of servicing. You don’t care too much anymore if the books are lost as long as they are being used. You would rather lose them than keep them gathering dust on the shelves. From a warehouse mentality, a library has now become more like a supermarket for everyone to see, touch and get what they need. Hindi na tinatago ang mga books,” reveals Atty. Aguirre.

She says librarians are also gearing towards a hybrid library. Aside from the printed material, they also build on their electronic collection either through CDs, tapes or whatever storage accessible through the web. Libraries now subscribe to online journals. An Online Public Access (OPAC) system is now slowly replacing the old catalogs.

Librarians, adds Aguirre, have also started marketing the library as well as themselves.

“Before people will come to the library whether they want to or not because they need to. But now they can go elsewhere for their information needs even if the library has the most authoritative facts. But people don’t know that. So we have started marketing the library by improving its appearance,
and making it more attractive and conducive to learning,” she says.

Librarians are also taught to be more friendly and approachable. They should mingle with faculty members and students and let them know what they can offer.

“Sinasabi ko parati sa estudyante ko na if you get to work in company libraries, you have to exercise leadership and show your bosses that you are not just an additional expense. That you can actually
contribute to profit-making by giving them the info they need to improve their products. You have to be proactive and aggressive,” she stresses.

Libraries in UP, for example, have computers with internet connection and free WIFI for students with laptops. It also has discussion rooms that allow students to have group studies.


When UP first offered LIS as a course in the 1940s, only 50 to 60 students enrolled. In the 70s, the degree became a requirement for those who wanted to work in libraries. At present, LIS averages around 400-500 students every year.

In LIS, students may choose electives which cater to their interest such as law librarianship for those who want to pursue Law, IT or medical and health courses. The next step for LIS graduates is to take the Professional Regulated Commission-organized board exam for librarians.

Graduating student Bianca Baylas shifted from Computer Science to LIS because she sees the career opportunities that it offers.

Senior student Kelvin Samson appreciates the course for its being service-oriented. “It elevates the image of the librarian from a mere keeper of books, to a guardian of information. As a student assistant, ang sarap ng pakiramdam pag nakikita mong nakakatulong ka sa mga kapwa estudyante mo. What more kung licensed librarian na ko, mas marami pa kong matutulungan,” he enthuses.

Graduating student John Eli Casino was attracted by the tracks that the LISIS course offers. He decided to combine law and IT electives to prepare for a new trend – law librarians who are also IT specialists. “It took years for my parents to understand my career move. Sa kanila, pag naging librarian ka walang room for growth. Tatanda ka nang ganun lang din, tiga-ayos ng libro. Biyudo. Tagapagpahiram. Eventually sila rin nakadiscover ng mga opportunities in this profession, and learned to accept my decision,” Casino shares.

LIS graduate Iya Agbon, on the other hand, didn’t expect she would end up having the same profession as the librarian that she was afraid of when she was in high school. “May bad experience ako sa libraries.

Yung librarian namin nakakatakot, naninigaw pag maingay ka. Kahit yung photocopying machine yung maingay akala niya kami pa rin. I also couldn’t imagine myself sitting in the library and immersing in such seemingly boring tasks like cataloging and indexing,” she says.

But later on when she shifted to LIS, Agbon realized that a librarian’s life is actually not confined in the four corners of a library.

“May buhay sa Lib Sci. Hindi totoo na librarian ka lang pag naggraduate ka. Hindi ka limited sa choices mo. You can be a researcher or enter in any other profession that is related to your field. You have an edge compared to other people with your eye for information. You can influence people with your credibility. But you should also be responsible and extra cautious in giving out information which is really sensitive,” she concludes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wikipedia's Parent Org Gets $2 Million Grant From eBay Founder

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The Omidyar Network, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar's philanthropic and investment organization, announced today that it will give the Wikimedia Foundation, parent organization of Wikipedia, a $2 million grant over the next two years.

Full story here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Library of Congress Staff Target of Threats

Former Army reservist Lynndie England, a symbol of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, was set to discuss her biography Friday at the Library of Congress as part of a veterans forum on Capitol Hill, but her lecture was canceled after several staff workers received threats, according to the Associated Press.

More here.

She Wanted To be a Librarian, But She'll Have to Settle for Being a Star

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Jennifer Garner tells Oprah Magazine, that when she was a young’n growing up in West Virginia she always wanted to be a librarian.

“I had a very rich imaginary world,” said Garner, who is 37. “And my dream was to grow up to be a librarian, because I had a librarian named Mrs. McCann who I thought was the most magical woman on the planet. She used to publish little versions of my stories, typing them on manila folders and illustrating them with pictures of me and my teddy bear.”

Monday, August 03, 2009

Libraries and reader privacy - critical juncture / take action


Libraries have always respected reader privacy as essential to one's freedom to read. If someone is looking over your shoulder, you might not pick up that book on gay stories, witchcraft, communism or whatever the taboo topic du jour happens to be. Libraries require either patron consent or actual legal process before disclosing patron records.

Fast forward to reading books online via Google Book Search. Fabulous new life for old books, but where in the complex proposed settlement agreement between Google and the publishers are reader privacy guarantees? I'll save you the pain of looking. Nowhere.

Every time you go online, you leave digital tracks, and with the settlement, you will generally need to authenticate yourself before viewing the out-of-print but in-copyright books at issue.

The final contours are not yet set. The settlement is not yet in effect. It's time now to take action to make sure we build some privacy safeguards in. The ACLU of Northern California, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Berkeley's Samuelson Clinic have joined in a letter to Google, requesting:

1- Protection against disclosure
2- Limited tracking
3- User control
4- User transparency

Our library users will be reading google books inside the library as well as at home/work. If a reader borrows a book from the library, we protect her privacy. If she reads the same book on our computer terminals, she needs the same protection.