Below are some top stories from the library and information science fields from the month of April. Many were originally curated by the ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries’ blog. In light of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, it seems that data and user privacy is the hot topic, although it’s something librarians have been thinking about and concerned with for a long time and the following stories reflect this trend. Plus, the first story is a write up on the “Know News: Engaging with Mis- and Dis- Information” symposium that took place at Simmons College, April 21-22, 2018.
Orem Public Library takes patrons to spacevia Daily Herald “As part of the library’s NASA @ My Library grant, Chelsea Conklin, associate librarian in Orem’s outreach department, flew out to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and took library patrons with her — albeit through social media. Conklin streamed parts of her trip Feb. 12, and took tons of pictures at the space center, so patrons could be a part of the experience.”
Libraries continue to evolve in a technological agevia Capital News Service
“There’s a divide between families that have technology available and those who don’t,” said Gail Madziar, director of Michigan Association of Libraries. “If you’re a student that needs to do their homework, sometimes a library is the only place that you have to access information in a safe place.”
Data & Privacy
Facebook Users Are Suddenly Realizing How Far Data Collection Goesvia Newsy
“Over the years, Facebook has been pretty open about the fact it collects people’s data. But since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, it’s clear many users had no idea how deep those practices went — and that shock has put Facebook under the microscope. One realization came after a news story detailed how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents use Facebook data to track and locate suspects.”
Being Open and Connected on Your Own Terms with our New Facebook Container Add-Onvia The Mozilla Blog “As a user of the internet, you deserve a voice and should be able to use the internet on your own terms. In light of recent news on how the aggregation of user data can be used in surprising ways, we’ve created an add-on for Firefox called Facebook Container, based on technology we’ve been working on for the last couple of years and accelerated in response to what we see in terms of growing demand for tools that help manage privacy and security.”
New and Online for the First Time from the Library of Congress: Archival Materials of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stantonvia LibraryJournal infoDocket “The close friendship, collaboration and activism of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton changed history and led to fuller equality for women,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Their papers are part of an unparalleled collection of resources in the Library of Congress documenting the American woman suffrage campaign. As the centennial of the 19th Amendment extending voting rights to women nationally approaches, these collections will be a great resource for researchers and students around the world.”
A Celebration of DC Comics at the Library of Congressvia LibraryJournal infoDocket “The Library of Congress will celebrate the 1000th issue of seminal DC comic book series Action Comics, a commemoration of 80 years of Superman, with a live interview featuring DC legends. Former publisher and president of DC, Paul Levitz, will join famed DC writer and artist Dan Jurgens, known for his work on the Superman series and the pop culture phenomenon “The Death of Superman,” for a conversation about the history of superhero comics, the writers and artists who create comics and the legacy of DC’s iconic Superman character.”
NARA Shares Hall-of-Famers’ Baseball-Related Patents & NARA’s Baseball History Ebookvia LibraryJournal infoDocket
“Six Hall of Fame members—five players/managers and one umpire—have patents in the National Archives collection, ranging from bases to sliding pads, sunglasses to cleats. Hall-of-Famers Fred Clarke, Tommy McCarthy, Bill Klem, Kid Nichols, Elmer Flick, and Max Carey were all issued patents related to the game of baseball. Clarke and Carey are the only two to have more than one patent—Clarke has four and Carey has two, according to Beebe.”
February 13, 2018: “Children will be able to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what a librarian’s work is really like during an upcoming program at the Petoskey District Library.
The Mini Masters of Library Science program will allow children to work with a librarian to process books, plan events and advise readers on new books that fit their interests.
“They’ll get to put a barcode on a book and catalog it into the computer and do check-in and check-out of books,” said Megan Goedge, children’s and youth services librarian at the Petoskey District Library. “There’s going to be a lot of stuff, so we’ll meet twice. At the end of the (second session) kids will get a Mini Masters degree of library science.”
February 26, 2018: “Students have an excuse to be loud at Virginia Tech’s Newman Library thanks to the work of a DJ librarian. The third Thursday of every month, a group of Tech students, faculty and staff gather together to explore hip hop, education and expression through an event known as “Digging in the Crates,” which started last year.”
February 5, 2018: Barbara Fister reflects on the “Libraries in the Context of Capitalism” symposium and the themes of hidden and undervalued nature of library/archives labor that emerged as a result of the meeting.
February 26, 2018: “Just over 8,000 registrants came to the Mile High City for five days of presentations, conversations, and innovations, many of which centered on the importance of making sure that people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and walks of life have a voice in our national dialogue.
Artist, activist, and author Patrisse Cullors began the Opening Session by telling the story of her 4th-grade teacher—Mrs. Goldberg at Erwin Street Elementary School in Van Nuys, California—who gave the young Cullors books about the civil rights movement. “This part of education—the part where I get to be curious, get to be engaged—is the part I loved the most,” Cullors told attendees. “This is the foundation for my activism.”
February 13, 2018: “Digital preservationists at Yale University Library are building a shareable “emulation as a service” infrastructure to resurrect thousands of obsolete software programs and ensure that the information produced on them will be kept intact and made easily available for future access, study, and use.”
February 22, 2018: “Simply put, our mission is to build and preserve comprehensive collections of the world’s most important television programming and make them as accessible as possible to researchers and the general public. We will need your help.”
“Preserving TV news is critical, and at the Internet Archive we’ve decided to rededicate ourselves to growing our collection,” explained Roger MacDonald, Director of Television at the Internet Archive. “We plan to go wide, expanding our archives of global TV news from every continent. We also plan to go deep, gathering content from local markets around the country. And we plan to do so in a sustainable way that ensures that this TV will be available to generations to come.”
Bringing Broadband to Tribal Lands via American Libraries Magazine
“Access to high-speed broadband is vital to our nation’s economic well-being, and libraries are taking a leading role in providing it. For many underserved communities—particularly in rural areas—libraries provide the only access to broadband. Tribal lands in many states are both rural and underserved. The lack of high-speed broadband means for many tribal residents that their ability to participate in today’s economy is a steep climb and becoming steeper.”
BiblioTech, VIA enhancing customer experience with easier access to digital library via VIA Info
“SAN ANTONIO (Dec. 15, 2017) —Through a joint partnership, BiblioTech is promoting a new way to enhance VIA Metropolitan Transit rider’s commutes by providing immediate access to its digital library. By typing www.bibliotechread.com into their browser, users have instantaneous access without having to log in or sign up for membership.”
On Wednesday, September 10th, the internet experienced a collective moment of action. As part of a protest called “Internet Slowdown Day,” websites as popular as Tumblr, Vimeo, The Onion, Metafilter, and Netflix raised alarm bells about a phenomenon that could erode free and open access to the internet: the death of net neutrality.
Net Neutrality, as the blog TechDirt succinctly explains, refers to “the concept of the end-to-end principle of the internet, in that anyone online could request a webpage or information from any online service, and the internet access provider (usually called internet service providers or ISPs) in the middle would deliver that information.” The idea is, no matter what website you visit, large or small, legal or illegal, tasteful or tasteless, your ISP will deliver it with the same speed and priority as any other site.
In recent years, this principle has become controversial. Several major cable providers have expressed their desire to restrict top-speed connections to websites that pay them a premium. Effectively, this would mean that large companies like Netflix and Google would be able to pay for their sites to be included in a “fast lane”, while websites owned by individuals, small businesses, and public institutions would be relegated to a “slow lane,” and would take much longer to load. According to John Oliver (in the video featured below), if this new policy were implemented, the fast lane wouldn’t get faster. It would stay the same speed while all other sites became slower.
Indeed, some say that dealings of this nature have already happened. In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix signed a deal with Comcast. The deal stated that Netflix would pay Comcast to improve the speed with which Comcast’s users would be able to access their streaming service. Two months later, Netflix signed a similar deal with Verizon. Afterwards, Netflix spoke out against the deals, claiming they were made under duress and calling for the FCC to impose stronger net neutrality regulations. According to Netflix, Comcast and Verizon were intentionally throttling users’ access to Netflix Streaming and would only allow full access if Netflix paid a toll.
Meanwhile, the FCC has been having a difficult time reigning in the cable companies. Multiple times, the FCC’s rules on net neutrality have been challenged and overturned in court. In 2010, the FCC challenged Comcast in court for selectively restricting Bittorrent traffic. The D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Comcast, limiting the FCC’s ability to enforce net neutrality. Shortly after, the FCC rewrote their rules on Net Neutrality and issued the Open Internet Order to reassert their authority. However, in 2013 Verizon challenged these new rules in court and in 2014 they succeeded. The FCC is currently drafting up a new proposal to enforce net neutrality. Now, all eyes are on them, as the cable companies, the media, and members of the public speak out in favor of one side or the other.
Librarians should take note: even the American Library Association has taken a public stance on this issue. They’ve come out solidly in favor of net neutrality and against efforts by ISPs to circumvent it:
A world in which librarians and other noncommercial enterprises are of necessity limited to the Internet’s “slow lanes” while high-definition movies can obtain preferential treatment seems to us to be overlooking a central priority for a democratic society – the necessity of enabling educators, librarians, and, in fact, all citizens to inform themselves and each other just as much as the major commercial and media interests can inform them.
The entire statement is worth reading, as it strongly and succinctly details the issues at hand. They point out that higher education institutions and libraries being relegated to “slow lanes” would drastically impede distance learning. They also state that the diminishing of net neutrality would lead to market-distorting effects on the internet, reducing competition and innovation in internet services and content.
On July 18th of this year, the ALA and the ACRL filed joint comments with the FCC to advocate for stronger enforcement of net neutrality. In their comments they stated that the FCC should:
explicitly apply open Internet rules to public broadband Internet access service provided to libraries, institutions of higher education and other public interest organizations;
prohibit “paid prioritization;”
adopt rules that are technology-neutral and apply equally to fixed and mobile services;
adopt a re-defined “no-blocking” rule that bars public broadband Internet access providers from interfering with the consumer’s choice of content, applications, or services;
further strengthen disclosure rules;
charge the proposed ombudsman with protecting the interests of libraries and higher education institutions and other public interest organizations, in addition to consumers and small businesses;
continue to recognize that libraries and institutions of higher education operate private networks or engage in end user activities not subject to open Internet rules; and
preserve the unique capacities of the Internet as an open platform by exercising its well-established sources of authority to implement open Internet rules, based on Title II reclassification or an “Internet reasonable” standard under Section 706.
“Email to the ALA Washington Office (lclark[at]alawash[dot]org) examples of Internet Service Provider (ISP) slowdowns, lost quality of service relative to your subscribed ISP speeds, and any other harm related to serving your community needs. Alternately, please share examples of potential harm if we do not preserve the open internet (e.g., impact on cloud-based services and/or ability to disseminate digitized or streaming content on an equal footing with commercial content providers that otherwise might pay for faster “lanes” for their content over library content).”
“Ask your board to support and/or adopt the network neutrality principles.”
Submit a formal comment to the FCC’s website. The ALA has partnered with EDUCAUSE to prepare a template letter of support for net neutrality, available here. Today (the 15th) is the last day for formal comments, but the FCC will continue to accept “ex parte” comments until further notice. It is still useful to send your comments in, even after the formal window closes.
The FCC intends to create a new Order on net neutrality by the end of this year, and the efforts of librarians and information professionals could make a significant impact on their eventual decision. If net neutrality is important to you, now is the best time to speak out!
P.S. A large part of the recent public furor over net neutrality was sparked by this segment on the popular comedy news show “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.” It’s surprisingly funny for such complex material. Be warned, there is a good deal of cursing.