Friday, December 29, 2006

Too much privacy ?!?

Okay, as a librarian, I've gone to the mat for privacy. I've stalked the halls of Congress, trying to educate Representatives as to why the PATRIOT act was a bad thing. I've argued with an attorney in the library of the House Judiciary Committee. I've been in a shouting match with my State Senator, when our Wisconsin legislature took away minor's rights to private library records.

But now our Wisconsin Attorney General, probably in an effort to be helpful, has declared that even librarians can't get help in enforcing our rules without a judge getting involved each and every time. In an Attorney General's opinion -- not as strong as case law, but citable as legal precedent -- we have learned that public libraries cannot get help from collection agencies to retrieve overdue library materials. Even if I know the name of someone whom we caught trying to steal library books, I can't give it to my City Attorney.

The key here is what librarians need to do in the performance of their duties, as opposed to what anyone else needs or wants to know about how third parties are using the library. How is the right to use the library compromised by being held responsible for breaking the law?

Our previous system worked well, but now it's illegal. Have I just found out how cops feel about Miranda?

Slow Library Movement

Ryan Deschamps, in Other Library, reports on a talk by Mark Leggott, about the "Slow Library Movement." It seems like a healthy perspective on the Library 2.0 movement. Mark's Slow Library blog is slowly developing. In commentary, Ryan writes:

'Here are some “Let’s” thoughts that may or may not apply to the Slow Library Movement”:

  • Let’s focus on realistic, local solutions and build community first.
  • Let’s forget about Web 2.0 for a second, understand our customers needs and then apply or give access to resources that help them satisfy those needs.
  • Let’s play.
  • Let’s shun pressure to “keep up” with Ann Arbor (sorry John Blyberg), Hennepin County (sorry Glenn Peterson via Tame the Web) and etc. and apply our own strengths to come up with our own creative ideas.
  • Let’s focus on what we can do right now to make the community a better place.
  • Let’s notice the beauty of things right before our eyes, and let supporting that be our Return on Investment.
...“the slow library” movement is basically Library 2.0 with a different name. The difference is language. But we shouldn’t underestimate the power of language in the change process.

One of the problems with “Library 2.0″ is that it is a response to another meme in the technology field (Web 2.0). Even though many have argued that Library 2.0 is more than technology, there’s still that *.0 metaphor there implying that the heart is technology.

“Slow Library” is another translation of library 2.0, but the heart is health, sustainability and empowerment. From that start we aren’t evaluating, trying or adopting Web technologies, but transforming Web technologies into effective and sustainable information services for the people who need them.'

"Libraries thrive, despite Internet"

Pete, in the WLA Blog writes:

In case you were wondering...

The Appleton Post-Crescent, in a nice article about the latest Department of Public Instruction library statistics, also reports that "Technology is no substitute for tangible sources." They interviewed Appleton Public Library director (and WLA past-president), Terry Dawson.

Budget Politics: big & small favors

Okay, we got our staff cut -- second year in a row...

We have said for years that one of our public library’s great strengths is the support we receive from the community. This support is expressed in many ways: library use, donations, volunteer hours and -- most directly -- via our budget. The establishment of any public budget is a fairly intense political process, and rightly so. It’s the mechanism which expresses the will of the people for what will be done by public servants with public moneys. This is certainly true for annual municipal budgets; in Appleton, our City budget is the source of nearly all library spending. All the donations and other support, though critical, are a very small percentage of what gets approved in the budget our Mayor develops and is then debated and voted on by the Common Council.

This is neither easy nor taken lightly by any of the parties. [more...]