Friday, October 30, 2009

Self-Appointed Censor at Tennessee Library

Posted by birdie

According to the Daily Herald, someone has been crossing out dirty words in books, and employees at the Maury County (TN) Library aren’t happy about it.

“It bothers me because nobody is holding a gun to their head making them read these books,” said Elizabeth Potts, director of the county library. “If they don’t like them, they should just return them.”

Library Director Elizabeth Potts shows one of several books which have had “dirty” words marked through. Others have editorial comments added.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Librarians Won't Give Child 'Porn' Book

[These ladies are being defiant to the rules of the library, they should be fired, imo]

Two Nicholasville librarians are fired for not allowing a kid check out a book. The women say the book contains pornographic material inappropriate for children.

The two women say they were fired last month when they wouldn't let a young girl check out a book from The League of Extraordinary Gentleman series. Now, both women say they're less concerned with their jobs and more concerned with keeping material like this out of children's hands.

"Residents in Jessamine County do not realize that these books that are so graphic are available in the library let alone to their children," former Jessamine County librarian, Beth Bovaire, said.

Beth Bovaire worked at Jessamine County Public Library up until a month ago. She and Sharon Cook worked as librarians- the two were fired last month when they say they didn't allow a child check out a book from the league of extraordinary gentleman series.

"My friend Sharon had brought it to me on Wednesday, and she said 'look at this book it's filthy and it's on hold for an 11 year old girl,' and I said well okay, lets take it off hold."

The Jessamine County Library director says it's against their policy to speak about employee terminations but he did give me a copy of their policy and it clearly states the responsibilities of the child's reading must lye with the parents and not with the library.

The women say the books contain lewd pictures of men and women in sexual situations that are inappropriate for children.

"If you give children pornography, a child, a 12 year old, can not understand and process the same way a 30 year old can," Sharon Cook said.

The women say parents these days are swamped and it's far too easy for a child to check out a book without them ever knowing. The women hope the library will reconsider their policies to make sure children aren't checking out inappropriate materials.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Three Tweets for the Web, by Tyler Cowen

Welcome the new world with open arms—and browsers.

The printed word is not dead. We are not about to see the demise of the novel or the shuttering of all the bookstores, and we won’t all end up on Twitter. But we are clearly in the midst of a cultural transformation. For today’s younger people, Google is more likely to provide a formative cultural experience than The Catcher in the Rye or Catch-22 or even the Harry Potter novels. There is no question that books are becoming less central to our cultural life.

The relative decline of the book is part of a broader shift toward short and to the point. Small cultural bits—written words, music, video—have never been easier to record, store, organize, and search, and thus they are a growing part of our enjoyment and education. The classic 1960s rock album has given way to the iTunes single. On YouTube, the most popular videos are usually just a few minutes long, and even then viewers may not watch them through to the end. At the extreme, there are Web sites offering five-word movie and song reviews, six-word memoirs (“Not Quite What I Was Planning”), seven-word wine reviews, and 50-word minisagas.*

The new brevity has many virtues. One appeal of following blogs is the expectation of receiving a new reward (and finishing off that reward) every day. Blogs feature everything from expert commentary on politics or graphic design to reviews of new Cuban music CDs to casual ruminations on feeding one’s cat. Whatever the subject, the content is replenished on a periodic basis, much as 19th-century novels were often delivered in installments, but at a faster pace and with far more authors and topics to choose from. In the realm of culture, a lot of our enjoyment has always come from the opening and unwrapping of each gift. Thanks to today’s hypercurrent online environment, this is a pleasure we can experience nearly constantly.

It may seem as if we have entered a nightmarish attention-deficit culture, but the situation is not nearly as gloomy as you have been told. Our culture of the short bit is making human minds more rather than less powerful.

The arrival of virtually every new cultural medium has been greeted with the charge that it truncates attention spans and represents the beginning of cultural collapse—the novel (in the 18th century), the comic book, rock ‘n’ roll, television, and now the Web. In fact, there has never been a golden age of all-wise, all-attentive readers. But that’s not to say that nothing has changed. The mass migration of intellectual activity from print to the Web has brought one important development: We have begun paying more attention to information. Overall, that’s a big plus for the new world order.

It is easy to dismiss this cornucopia as information overload. We’ve all seen people scrolling with one hand through a BlackBerry while pecking out instant messages (IMs) on a laptop with the other and eyeing a television (I won’t say “watching”). But even though it is easy to see signs of overload in our busy lives, the reality is that most of us carefully regulate this massive inflow of information to create something uniquely suited to our particular interests and needs—a rich and highly personalized blend of cultural gleanings.

The word for this process is multitasking, but that makes it sound as if we’re all over the place. There is a deep coherence to how each of us pulls out a steady stream of information from disparate sources to feed our long-term interests. No matter how varied your topics of interest may appear to an outside observer, you’ll tailor an information stream related to the continuing “stories” you want in your life—say, Sichuan cooking, health care reform, Michael Jackson, and the stock market. With the help of the Web, you build broader intellectual narratives about the world. The apparent disorder of the information stream reflects not your incoherence but rather your depth and originality as an individual.

My own daily cultural harvest usually involves listening to music and reading—novels, nonfiction, and Web essays—with periodic glances at the New York Times Web site and an e-mail check every five minutes or so. Often I actively don’t want to pull apart these distinct activities and focus on them one at a time for extended periods. I like the blend I assemble for myself, and I like what I learn from it. To me (and probably no one else, but that is the point), the blend offers the ultimate in interest and suspense. Call me an addict, but if I am torn away from these stories for even a day, I am very keen to get back for the next “episode.”

Many critics charge that multitasking makes us less efficient. Researchers say that periodically checking your e-mail lowers your cognitive performance level to that of a drunk. If such claims were broadly correct, multitasking would pretty rapidly disappear simply because people would find that it didn’t make sense to do it. Multitasking is flourishing, and so are we. There are plenty of lab experiments that show that distracting people reduces the capacity of their working memory and thus impairs their decision making. It’s much harder to show that multitasking, when it results from the choices and control of an individual, does anyone cognitive harm. Multitasking is not a distraction from our main activity, it is our main activity.

Consider the fact that IQ scores have been rising for decades, a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect. I won’t argue that multitasking is driving this improvement, but the Flynn effect does belie the common impression that people are getting dumber or less attentive. A harried multitasking society seems perfectly compatible with lots of innovation, lots of high achievers, and lots of high IQ scores.

With the help of technology, we are honing our ability to do many more things at once and do them faster. We access and absorb information more quickly than before, and, as a result, we often seem more impatient. If you use Google to look something up in 10 seconds rather than spend five minutes searching through an encyclopedia, that doesn’t mean you are less patient. It means you are creating more time to focus on other matters. In fact, we’re devoting more effort than ever before to big-picture questions, from the nature of God to the best age for marrying and the future of the U.S. economy.

Our focus on cultural bits doesn’t mean we are neglecting the larger picture. Rather, those bits are building-blocks for seeing and understanding larger trends and narratives. The typical Web user doesn’t visit a gardening blog one day and a Manolo Blahnik shoes blog the next day, and never return to either. Most activity online, or at least the kind that persists, involves continuing investments in particular long-running narratives—about gardening, art, shoes, or whatever else engages us. There’s an alluring suspense to it. What’s next? That is why the Internet captures so much of our attention.

Indeed, far from shortening our attention spans, the Web lengthens them by allowing us to follow the same story over many years’ time. If I want to know what’s new with the NBA free-agent market, the debate surrounding global warming, or the publication plans of Thomas Pynchon, Google quickly gets me to the most current information. Formerly I needed personal contacts—people who were directly involved in the action—to follow a story for years, but now I can do it quite easily.

Sometimes it does appear I am impatient. I’ll discard a half-read book that 20 years ago I might have finished. But once I put down the book, I will likely turn my attention to one of the long-running stories I follow online. I’ve been listening to the music of Paul McCartney for more than 30 years, for example, and if there is some new piece of music or development in his career, I see it first on the Internet. If our Web surfing is sometimes frantic or pulled in many directions, that is because we care so much about so many long-running stories. It could be said, a bit paradoxically, that we are impatient to return to our chosen programs of patience.

Another way the Web has affected the human attention span is by allowing greater specialization of knowledge. It has never been easier to wrap yourself up in a long-term intellectual project without at the same time losing touch with the world around you. Some critics don’t see this possibility, charging that the Web is destroying a shared cultural experience by enabling us to follow only the specialized stories that pique our individual interests. But there are also those who argue that the Web is doing just the opposite—that we dabble in an endless variety of topics but never commit to a deeper pursuit of a specific interest. These two criticisms contradict each other. The reality is that the Internet both aids in knowledge specialization and helps specialists keep in touch with general trends.

The key to developing your personal blend of all the “stuff” that’s out there is to use the right tools. The quantity of information coming our way has exploded, but so has the quality of our filters, including Google, blogs, and Twitter. As Internet analyst Clay Shirky points out, there is no information overload, only filter failure. If you wish, you can keep all the information almost entirely at bay and use Google or text a friend only when you need to know something. That’s not usually how it works. Many of us are cramming ourselves with Web experiences—videos, online chats, magazines—and also fielding a steady stream of incoming e-mails, text messages, and IMs. The resulting sense of time pressure is not a pathology; it is a reflection of the appeal and intensity of what we are doing. The Web allows you to enhance the meaning and importance of the cultural bits at your disposal; thus you want to grab more of them, and organize more of them, and you are willing to work hard at that task, even if it means you sometimes feel harried.

It’s true that many people on the Web are not looking for a cerebral experience, and younger people especially may lack the intellectual framework needed to integrate all the incoming bits into a meaningful whole. A lot of people are on the Web just to have fun or to achieve some pretty straightforward personal goals—they may want to know what happened to their former high school classmates or the history of the dachshund. “It’s still better than watching TV” is certainly a sufficient defense of these practices, but there is a deeper point: The Internet is supplementing and intensifying real life. The Web’s heralded interactivity not only furthers that process but opens up new possibilities for more discussion and debate. Anyone can find space on the Internet to rate a product, criticize an idea, or review a new movie or book.

One way to understand the emotional and intellectual satisfactions of the new world is by way of contrast. Consider Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. The music and libretto express a gamut of human emotions, from terror to humor to love to the sublime. With its ability to combine so much in a single work of art, the opera represents a great achievement of the Western canon. But, for all Don Giovanni’s virtues, it takes well over three hours to hear it in its entirety, perhaps four with an intermission. Plus, the libretto is in Italian. And if you want to see the performance live, a good seat can cost hundreds of dollars.

Instead of experiencing the emotional range of Don Giovanni in one long, expensive sitting, on the Web we pick the moods we want from disparate sources and assemble them ourselves. We take a joke from YouTube, a terrifying scene from a Japanese slasher movie, a melody from iTunes, and some images—perhaps our own digital photos—capturing the sublime beauty of the Grand Canyon. Even if no single bit looks very impressive to an outsider, to the creator of this assemblage it is a rich and varied inner experience. The new wonders we create are simply harder for outsiders to see than, say, the fantastic cathedrals of Old Europe.

The measure of cultural literacy today is not whether you can “read” all the symbols in a Rubens painting but whether you can operate an iPhone and other Web-related technologies. One thing you can do with such devices is visit any number of Web sites where you can see Rubens’s pictures and learn plenty about them. It’s not so much about having information as it is about knowing how to get it. Viewed in this light, today’s young people are very culturally literate indeed—in fact, they are very often cultural leaders and creators.

To better understand contemporary culture, consider an analogy to romance. Although many long-distance relationships survive, they are difficult to sustain. When you have to travel far to meet your beloved, you want to make every trip a grand and glorious occasion. Usually you don’t fly from one coast to another just to hang out and share downtime and small talk. You go out to eat and to the theater, you make passionate love, and you have intense conversations. You have a lot of thrills, but it’s hard to make it work because in the long run it’s casually spending time together and the routines of daily life that bind two people to each other. And of course, in a long-distance relationship, a lot of the time you’re not together at all. If you really love the other person you’re not consistently happy, even though your peak experiences may be amazing.

A long-distance relationship is, in emotional terms, a bit like culture in the time of Cervantes or Mozart. The costs of travel and access were high, at least compared to modern times. When you did arrive, the performance was often very exciting and indeed monumental. Sadly, the rest of the time you didn’t have that much culture at all. Even books were expensive and hard to get. Compared to what is possible in modern life, you couldn’t be as happy overall but your peak experiences could be extremely memorable, just as in the long-distance relationship.

Now let’s consider how living together and marriage differ from a long-distance relationship. When you share a home, the costs of seeing each other are very low. Your partner is usually right there. Most days include no grand events, but you have lots of regular and predictable interactions, along with a kind of grittiness or even ugliness rarely seen in a long-distance relationship. There are dirty dishes in the sink, hedges to be trimmed, maybe diapers to be changed.

If you are happily married, or even somewhat happily married, your internal life will be very rich. You will take all those small events and, in your mind and in the mind of your spouse, weave them together in the form of a deeply satisfying narrative, dirty diapers and all. It won’t always look glorious on the outside, but the internal experience of such a marriage is better than what’s normally possible in a long-distance relationship.

The same logic applies to culture. The Internet and other technologies mean that our favorite creators, or at least their creations, are literally part of our daily lives. It is no longer a long-distance relationship. It is no longer hard to get books and other written material. Pictures, music, and video appear on command. Culture is there all the time, and you can receive more of it, pretty much whenever you want.

In short, our relationship to culture has become more like marriage in the sense that it now enters our lives in an established flow, creating a better and more regular daily state of mind. True, culture has in some ways become uglier, or at least it would appear so to the outside observer. But when it comes to how we actually live and feel, contemporary culture is more satisfying and contributes to the happiness of far more people. That is why the public devours new technologies that offer extreme and immediate access to information.

Many critics of contemporary life want our culture to remain like a long-distance relationship at a time when most of us are growing into something more mature. We assemble culture for ourselves, creating and committing ourselves to a fascinating brocade. Very often the paper-and-ink book is less central to this new endeavor; it’s just another cultural bit we consume along with many others. But we are better off for this change, a change that is filling our daily lives with beauty, suspense, and learning.

Or if you’d like the shorter version to post to your Twitter account (140 characters or less): “Smart people are doing wonderful things.”

*Not everything is shorter and more to the point. The same modern wealth that encourages a proliferation of choices also enables very long performances and spectacles. In the German town of Halberstadt, a specially built organ is playing the world’s longest concert ever, designed to clock in at 639 years. This is also the age of complete boxed sets, DVD collector’s editions, extended “director’s cut” versions of movies, and the eight- or sometimes even 10-year Ph.D. But while there is an increasing diversity of length, shorter is the trend. How many of us have an interest in hearing more than a brief excerpt from the world’s longest concert?

6 Ways We Gave Up Our Privacy

October 12, 2009

Privacy has long been seen as a basic, sacred right. But in the Web 2.0 world, where the average user is addicted to Google apps, GPS devices, their BlackBerry or iPhone, and such social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter, that right is slowly and willingly being chipped away. In fact, some security experts believe it's gone already.

Here's the story of how privacy went the way of the dinosaur, how we willingly let it happen and how we might be able to get some of it back.

Adding to this sobering reality is that public and private entities have a growing array of tools to track our movements, habits and choices. RFID tags are on more of the items we take for granted. Those discount cards you use at the grocery store offer companies an excellent snapshot of the choices you make. And in the post 9-11 world, the government has greatly expanded its power to spy on you with such laws as The Patriot Act.

"Your credit card company and your loyalty card program memberships track your purchases, travels, expenditure levels, and blend that into offers that meet your lifestyle profile," said John Zurawski, vice president of Authentify Inc. "Firms sell GPS devices specifically to be hidden in vehicles permitting anyone to track your movements. The RFID Tollway passes states offer to speed you through their toll roads know where you've been and how fast you drove." Based on an informal survey of privacy and security experts, here are six examples of how we've willingly allowed our privacy to be taken away, and how we might be able to get some of it back.

1. Google
Google apps such as Gmail and Google calendar allow individuals and organizations to bring order to the hectic process of scheduling and communicating. But when you input company agenda items into the applications along with other proprietary information and potentially embarrassing things like an upcoming doctor's appointment, you're giving up privacy to Google, said Chicago-based business consultant Mark Cummuta, who specializes in compliance, security and CIO challenges.

"When Google first started, it said it would only use that information internally, to get a sense of the things you like and talk about," he said. "All that information used to be gathered in a way where you explicitly gave permission, through things like surveys. But Google can easily poke around without seeking permission, and they don't explain to you how they know what they know."

2. Social networking
It's getting increasingly harder NOT to find someone on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or all of the above. Then there's Myspace and a lot of lesser-known social networking sites. If you use these programs -- and you probably do -- chances are pretty good that you give up a lot of your privacy every day, willingly and even happily. Security experts have spent a lot of time ringing the alarm bell over this lately, because bad people can easily take the personal tidbits you post and use it against you, for everything from marketing to blackmail.

"Privacy is evaporating because Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and blogs are raising a generation of kids and adults who have no concept of privacy or the ability to truly understand that nothing digital is ever forgotten or destroyed," said Raj Goel, owner of security compliance consultancy Brainlink International Inc. "Ten years from now, kids will be Googling their mommy's spring break pictures and their daddy's Facebook profile, if they don't do so already."

3. RFID tags and loyalty cards
In this fast-paced world, people use special transponders to blow through highway toll stations without stopping and pay for gas without having to swipe a credit card. Then there are those cards you present at the grocery store for discounts. All have technology that can be used to track your movements and habits, right down to the time of day you typically go through a toll plaza each morning on the drive to work.

"Let's add RFID chips, the Real ID Act and the PASS Act to the list as well. How about chips in passports? We're lulled into a false sense of security and people aren't realizing that they are simply giving those rights to privacy away," said Julie Davis Friend, president of Gemstone Partners, a firm that advises organizations on issues surrounding identity theft and new legal requirements."

4. The Patriot Act
Given all the debate about the evils of The Patriot Act and how it gave the government a ridiculous amount of power to spy on people, we often forget that citizens were perfectly comfortable giving away privacy in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, when people were consumed with the desire to stop the next terrorist attack from happening. [See also: Eight Years After 9-11: Better Security or Just Luck?] Many a security expert will argue that the law did indeed improve our safety and prevent more attacks. In other words, enacting it was the right thing to do. But it's also universally accepted that civil liberties were eroded under the law.
Notes Zurawski: "The Patriot Act granted broad powers to law enforcement to enter your home with 'probable cause' and no warrant."

5. GPS
GPS navigation used to be a luxury item. Now most of us use the technology. It's relatively inexpensive to buy a GPS device that's bolted to the dashboard. Higher-end cars come with built-in GPS. And there are plenty of free navigation apps available for the BlackBerry and iPhone. The flip side to fewer people getting lost is that the providers of those systems can track your whereabouts without breaking a sweat.

6. The Kindle
Here's one you may not have seen coming. The increasingly popular Kindle allows us to tear through books on the go. But the device also "keeps track of what you read, how quickly you read it, what you may have read over several times, and can delete content you've paid for without your knowledge should it become 'necessary,'" Zurawski said.

Getting back some privacy
The good news in all of this is that there are steps people can take to protect more of their privacy. Educating younger folks on what they are giving away is a good place to start, those polled said. Businesses should steer clear of something like Gmail if they have sensitive data to send someone. And consumers can demand that government agencies crack down on the privacy-stealing practices of private-sector companies.
"The FTC could take on Facebook, Myspace and other sites that target kids the same way they expanded HIPAA's scope and brought online health care databases under their purview," Goel said. "When my goverment grows up, I want them to be the FTC -- the only national agency that's done anything meaningful about consumer privacy and security in the past decade."

Q: What can a reference librarian do that I can't do on Google?

A: They know about more sophisticated strategies to find information and more efficient ways to find information than Google and teach you. They can teach you to evaluate those sources you find on Google and get better, more accurate results.
 ...'s BookServer: A Plan to Build an Open Web of Books

Posted by Blake

RWW Points Out The Internet Archive has just unveiled their ambitious project called BookServer, which will allow users to find, buy, or borrow digital books from sources all across the web. The system, built on an open architecture and using open book formats, promises that the books housed there will work on any device whether that's a laptop, PC, smartphone, game console, or one of the myriad of e-Readers like Amazon's Kindle.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Calif. Library Association Asks Congress to Do What Judiciary Did Not


SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Library Association (CLA) has just announced a resolution calling on Congress to dramatically revise the up-for-renewal USA PATRIOT Act, passed hurriedly in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks. Librarians have been front-line opponents of certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act since its passage. The Act has made it possible, under Section 215, for the FBI to request and obtain library records for large numbers of individuals without reason to believe they are involved in illegal activity. This jeopardizes the basic ethics of the library profession, expressed in the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association.
Expanding on the American Library Association’s PATRIOT Act resolution last July, the CLA resolution goes further to address imminent First and Fourth Amendment concerns with Section 505. This provision grants the FBI broad authority to sidestep constitutional safeguards though use of National Security Letters to obtain information.
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee chair, Mary Minow, a leading expert on library law, said, “It’s past time for the blatantly unconstitutional aspects of this legislation to be removed from the books, and now is the opportunity for Congress to act.”
Two sections of the PATRIOT Act are currently up for reauthorization, with sunsets at the end of December 2009, and librarians across the country see this as an opportunity to correct those provisions that attack basic civil liberties. CLA’s resolution calls for Congress to allow Section 215 to sunset, to amend Section 505 to “include a clear exemption for library records,” and in general to intensify Congressional oversight of the use of the Act.
* CLA Resolution on 2009 Reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act (PDF, 481k)
For more information, please contact:
Mary Minow, Chair,
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee
Amy Sonnie, Member,
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee,
or cla_ifc  [a t]  earthlink [dot]  net

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chomsky Book BANNED @ Guantanamo

Professor Noam Chomsky may be among America's most enduring anti-war activists. But the leftist intellectual's anthology of post 9/11 commentary is taboo at Guantanamo's prison camp library, which offers books and videos on Harry Potter, World Cup soccer and Islam.

U.S. military censors recently rejected a Pentagon lawyer's donation of an Arabic-language copy of the political activist and linguistic professor's 2007 anthology "Interventions" for the library, which has more than 16,000 items.

Chomsky, 80, who has been voicing disgust with U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War, reacted with irritation and derision. "This happens sometimes in totalitarian regimes,'' he saod by e-mail after learning of the decision.

"Of some incidental interest, perhaps, is the nature of the book they banned. It consists of op-eds written for The New York Times syndicate and distributed by them. The subversive rot must run very deep.''

Prison camp officials would not say specifically why the book was rejected but Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, a Guantánamo spokesman, said staff reviews "every proposed or recommended library item to assess force protection issues associated with camp dynamics -- such as impact on good order and discipline.''

The banned book showed the bespectacled professor-emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in button-down shirt and sweater staring out of a black cover of a 2007 edition printed by a Beirut publishing house.

A rejection slip accompanying the Chomsky book did not explain the reason but listed categories of restricted literature to include those espousing "Anti-American, Anti-Semitic, Anti-Western'' ideology, literature on "military topics,'' and works that portray "excessive graphic violence'' and "sexual dysfunctions.''

The list of approved material includes poetry, fiction, art, math, history, religion, politics and current events.

A Pentagon defense lawyer sent the book to Ali Hamza al Bahlul, a confessed al Qaida member who had worked as Osama bin Laden's media secretary in Afghanistan at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

A military jury convicted Bahlul, 40, of soliciting murder and conspiracy and sentenced him to life in prison in November for creating al Qaida propaganda. The key evidence was a two-hour video he made by splicing fiery bin Laden speeches with Muslim bloodshed and stock news footage of the aftermath of the October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole off Aden, Yemen.

Bahlul is currently the lone war crimes convict at Guantanamo, where the prison camps commander ordered him separated from the other 245 war-on-terror captives at the U.S. base in Cuba under an interpretation of the Geneva Conventions that forbids holding detainees with convicted prisoners. Two earlier convicts were sent back to their native countries, Australia and Yemen, and are now free after serving short sentences.

Prison camp staff would not say how many donated books have been refused.

But DeWalt said detainees are forbidden from receiving gifts of books as personal property. Instead, he said, books sent to the captives are evaluated for their suitability for the library -- a trailer where Defense Department staff have catalogued a collection that recently ballooned to more than 16,000 books, magazines and videos even as the Pentagon is downsizing the prison camp population.

President Barack Obama has ordered the prison camps closed by early next year, a deadline the White House now says it may miss.

Meantime, staff there say quality-of-life improvements will continue until the last detainee is gone.

The library is also a featured stop on weekly tours for reporters, members of Congress and other invited guests brought to the sprawling prison camp compound in a Pentagon bid to demonstrate that the much-maligned detention center is "safe, humane and transparent.''

Library staff have since 2005 described the Harry Potter series as a borrowing bestseller among the mostly devout Muslim population -- and shown off translated versions in the stacks that separate Arabic from Urdu, French from Farsi and cover more than a dozen languages.

Other reportedly popular items include old World Cup soccer playoff videos, a French cuisine cookbook published in Beirut and scholarship on the Koran, pre-screened to make sure they contain mainstream messages.

For a time, Richard Nixon's "Victory Without War" flew off the shelves, a librarian reported. So much so that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed referred to it during a war court hearing earlier this year.

But not Chomsky, who in recent years got high-profile plugs from two of America's most ardent adversaries.

In September 2006, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez held up Chomsky's 2003 "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance" in a speech at the United Nations that also likened President George W. Bush to Satan, and gave the book a bump in sales for several weeks.

A year later, bin Laden popped up in a keep-the-faith video address to his followers that proved he was alive and ridiculed the U.S. invasion of Iraq while praising the professor's "sober words of advice prior to the war.''

DeWalt said "force protection reasons'' barred him from explaining why any title or author was banned but said as of this week there were no Chomsky works of any type at the Guantanamo library in any language.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Librarians fight back against cuts with 'good library guidelines'

New guidelines say that a good library should be accessible, with opening hours which suit local needs, and with regularly refreshed print, audio-visual and online resources
Public library in north London
Good libraries should be accessible and well-stocked, according to new guidelines from CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

With the prospect of closure threatening up to a third of the UK's libraries, a group of librarians have put together a set of guidelines to help the sector address its problems.

The guidelines were launched at today's public library authorities conference in Bristol by CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, whose chief executive Bob McKee estimated that there were problems of "varying degrees of severity" at as many as 50 of the 150 public library authorities in the UK.

The CILIP guidelines include the provisions that a good library should be accessible, with opening hours which suit local needs, and with regularly refreshed print, audio-visual and online resources. Staff should be knowledgeable and well-trained, and involved in the local community – especially encouraging those unable or unwilling to visit the library to join.

McKee said that it would be increasingly important that libraries and local authorities understand what is expected of them with the prospect of cuts in the government settlement for the next financial year.
"We know it's going to be a tough spending round and the danger is that if libraries' statutory provision is defined in weak terms, and education and social care are defined in strong terms, then libraries will be squeezed. I've been involved in four government reviews of public library service. Two during the Thatcher/Major years and two during the Blair/Brown years and none of them have managed to produce a clear and comprehensive statement of what is expected of public library provision," said McKee.

He pointed to the situation in the Wirral, where the council's plans to close 11 libraries were dropped last week following local campaigns and a public enquiry. "That's a welcome move, but the financial problems faced by Wirral and other local councils won't go away," he said. "Clear guidance is needed on what local councils are expected to provide in their role as public library authorities ... We hope that the CILIP guidelines will help to provide that clarity and leadership."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Scanning the Horizon of Books and Libraries, by Amy Goodman

Posted on Sep 29, 2009

By Amy Goodman

A battle is raging over the future of books in the digital age and the role that libraries will play. One case now before a U.S. federal court may, some say, grant a practical monopoly on recorded human knowledge to global Internet search giant Google. The complex case has attracted opposition from hundreds of individuals and groups from around the planet.
Google announced in 2004 its plan to digitize millions of books and make them available online. Books in the public domain would be made freely available. Newer books, published since 1923 and for which copyright still exists, would still be online, but viewable only in what Google called “snippets.” Two groups, The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, sued, alleging copyright violations. In October 2008, the groups and Google announced a settlement to the lawsuits, dubbed the “Google Book Settlement” (GBS). Google would pay $125 million and create the Books Rights Registry, a new organization that would direct funds from the settlement, and future revenue from book sales, to the copyright holders. Google would be empowered to not only display works, but also to become a massive, online electronic bookstore.

The settlement grants Google, automatically, permission to scan, display and sell books that are still in copyright but are deemed “out of print,” and for which the copyright holder cannot be easily found. These are referred to as “orphan works.” The status of orphan works has been the subject of much debate, and legislation has been proposed to make orphan works more available to the public. The GBS gives Google, and only Google, the legal right to digitize and sell these works.

UC Berkeley Law professor Pamela Samuelson wrote recently, “The Google Book Search settlement will be, if approved, the most significant book industry development in the modern era ... [and] will transform the future of the book industry and of public access to the cultural heritage of mankind embodied in books.”

Brewster Kahle co-founded the Internet Archive, a digital library aspiring to provide “universal access to human knowledge.” It houses 150 billion Web pages, 200,000 movies, 400,000 audio recordings and more than 1.6 million texts. Kahle opposes the GBS. Google scans large library holdings and returns to each library digital versions viewable only on a limited number of computer terminals that Google provides.

I asked Kahle how he sees the future of libraries. “Libraries as a physical place to go, I think will continue,” he said. “But if this trend continues, if we let Google make a monopoly here, then what libraries are in terms of repositories of books, places that buy books, own them, be a guardian of them, will cease to exist. Libraries, going forward, may just be subscribers to a few monopoly corporations’ databases.” Kahle’s version of the digital library, which he and others are building collaboratively, is open and shareable, without strings attached as with Google’s deal. Kahle co-founded the Open Book Alliance, which filed an opposition to the GBS, equating the settlement with oil price-fixing schemes set up by railroad barons and John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil in the 1870s.

After Judge Denny Chin, who is presiding over the case, called for public comment, opposition began flooding in from around the globe, from sources ranging from the governments of France and Germany to scores of publishers and authors and artists including folk singer Arlo Guthrie and author Julia Wright, daughter of Richard Wright, who wrote the classics “Black Boy” and “Native Son.” Marybeth Peters, head of the U.S. Copyright Office, called it an “end run around legislative process and prerogatives.” Judge Chin proposed a “fairness hearing” for Oct. 7 to decide on the Google Book Settlement.

On Sept. 18, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an opposition brief. It read, in part, “the breadth of the Proposed Settlement—especially the forward-looking business arrangements it seeks to create—raises significant legal concerns. ... A global disposition of the rights to millions of copyrighted works is typically the kind of policy change implemented through legislation, not through a private judicial settlement.” Judge Chin announced a delay of the hearing. The Open Book Alliance, along with many others, applauded the delay and is calling for an open, transparent process going forward to deal with the future of book digitization and the issue of orphan works in a way that best benefits the public interest.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 800 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback.