16 ways librarians can protect patron privacy [...]

1.       Default search engine (on public access terminals set the default search engine to one which respects privacy such as Startpage, Duckduckgo, or Oscobo)

2.       Default browser (use a browser such as Firefox)

3.       HTTPS (see https://letsencrypt.org/ for example)

4.       Vendor management: when negotiating licence agreements, make sure that there are robust provisions covering privacy & confidentiality

5.       Ad blocking software

6.       Organise a cryptoparty Read more at libraryprivacyblog

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Perspectives on historic, corrosive iron gall ink changed over time [...]

More than a decade ago a group of primarily Dutch people took the initiative to build a website on iron gall ink and ink corrosion. The Iron Gall Ink Website was born. Iron gall ink is intriguing in many respects. It’s traces are abundantly present within the collections of our worlds museums, libraries and archives.
Like the appearance of historic documents gradually changes with time, ideas about iron gall ink and ink corrosion have developed as well. irongallink.org

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Students take DNA tests in class project on racial bias [...]

At West Chester University:

Asking people to take DNA tests — an idea that has spread to a campuswide effort at this public university — grew out of consulting work [lecturer Anita] Foeman does in race mediation. Instead of a confrontational approach, trying to provoke people into recognizing their own biases, she wanted something that would pull people together, or at least give them a neutral place from which to start to talk. And with racial divides so stark, she wanted to add some nuance and depth.She wondered: What if people started finding out things they didn’t know about themselves? source: Washington Post, 24 Dec 2016

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Dad and son visit all of Toronto’s 100 libraries [...]

> Jack Bennett may only be five, but he probably knows the city of Toronto better than you do.  This past year, Jack and his dad, Lanrick, visited all of the city’s 100 library branches in the span of six months. “To me it was really surprising that there were 100. We went to libraries as small as my office right now, [and] to libraries that were behemoth,” says Lanrick Bennett Jr. They discovered that each branch is unique to its community, he says, and feels like a local outpost. source: TVO

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Kansas library offers therapy lights to help with seasonal depression [...]

When librarians discuss how to reach and serve underserved groups, we often think of time-intensive outreach programs to persuade them of the library’s relevance. But the Lawrence Public Library is piloting a simple, low-cost new program for people struggling with depression that isn’t about trying to sell the library to this population, but offering multiple resources to them — many of which are already part of the library or could be borrowed from staff:

[Readers’ services assistant] Gramlich, who has suffered from seasonal depression in the past, recognized a need for a welcoming, nonintimidating outlet for others who may be struggling with the feelings of hopelessness and decreased motivation that often accompany the shorter, darker days of winter. “People can come in, and maybe just being around people would be helpful,” Gramlich says of the lamp area, which library staffers are also stocking with literature on preventing and treating seasonal depression[…]
The message of the library, Gramlich says, is a simple one: You’re not alone. Acquiring and installing the lamps has been a “community effort” in itself, she says, with several library staffers lending their personal lamps to the cause.[…] “It’s not something that anybody talks about. So maybe if a patron comes in and sits down and realizes they’re by a few other people, they might think, ‘I’m not the only one feeling this way.’” (Source)

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As 2016 crashed in flames, libraries were the last good place [...]

Unfortunately, the secret is out. My local branches are packed all the time. One Sunday, I showed up a few minutes before the library opened to find 50 or 60 people milling about outside, and when the doors opened we raced for seats like a Black Friday horde intent on the last microwave.[…] “The library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else,” the late Maya Angelou once told an interviewer from the New York Public Library. source: The Globe and Mail

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Knitting for black liberation: familiar activity opens dialogue [...]

“As a black woman, you’re invisible,” says Taylor Payne, a member of the [The Yarn Mission]. “But knitting makes people stop and have a conversation with you. If someone asks me what I’m doing, I say, ‘I’m knitting for black liberation.’ Sometimes they respond and sometimes I just get ‘Oh, my grandma knits,’ like the person didn’t hear me. But at least it opens the door to talking about my experiences.” source: The Guardian

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Behind censorship, the need to control and make decisions for others [...]

Interview with Professor Emily J.M. Knox, who studies and advocates for intellectual freedom.

I have an article on how in fact our ideas about intellectual freedom are based in reader response theory, which is that everybody brings their own baggage to reading. You can never know what that baggage is, and it’s not your job as a librarian to infer what someone’s baggage is, to say that “I know what’s best for you.” And also this only happens to certain people. I think this is another way to think about it. There is a lot of material out there for men that is very damaging, but very rarely do we see people get upset about that. It’s generally women and children who seem to have what Cathy Davidson calls an “undisciplined imagination.” They “aren’t able to process what they read as well as men do.” I have never seen a thriller on the banned books list. Ever. No one talks about how violent some of those thrillers can be, and what sort of toxic images they have. It’s only books for certain people that have this designation. source: Hack Library Science

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CardBox:: Language [...]

Artificial intelligence sheds new light on classic texts
Precision of language: climate change dissenter vs. climate change denier
Ad of Polish man teaching himself English to visit émigré family goes viral

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Pushing for open access deal, about 60 German institutions cancel Elsevier contracts [...]

> Despite its current profit margin of 40 percent, [Elsevier] is still intent on pursuing even higher price increases[…]The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany rejects Elsevier’s offer (PDF 25 KB). As a consequence, no access to full texts of Elsevier journals is expected to be available from 1 January 2017 on. All participants in this process are aware of the imminent effects this has on research and teaching. However, they share the firm conviction that, for the present, the pressure built up by the joint action of many research institutions is the only way to  to reach an outcome advantageous for the German scientific community. source: SUB Göttingen, published Dec 13, 2016

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Mentoring program for new Wikipedia authors [...]

The Mentoring Program is designed to support new and inexperienced users, who are willing to contribute to this encyclopedia, by connecting them with experienced users assisting them during their first steps. If you need some guidance to get along, your personal contact, the mentor, will answer your questions, help to solve problems, and give advise on technical matters. (Source)

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Google is not ‘just’ a platform. It frames, shapes and distorts how we see the world [...]

> Google’s business model is built around the idea that it’s a neutral platform. That its magic algorithm waves its magic wand and delivers magic results without the sullying intervention of any human. It desperately does not want to be seen as a media company, as a content provider, as a news and information medium that should be governed by the same rules that apply to other media. But this is exactly what it is.[…] And our failure – the failure of our politicians and the mainstream press – to reckon with it makes us an accessory to the crime. We are colluding with it in broadcasting hate speech and lies. Carole Cadwalladr, The Guardian

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Artificial intelligence sheds new light on classic texts [...]

> Such ‘computational folkloristics’ raise a big question: what can algorithms tell us about the stories we love to read? Any proposed answer seems to point to as many uncertainties as it resolves, especially as AI technologies grow in power. Can literature really be sliced up into computable bits of ‘information’, or is there something about the experience of reading that is irreducible? Could AI enhance literary interpretation, or will it alter the field of literary criticism beyond recognition? And could algorithms ever derive meaning from books in the way humans do, or even produce literature themselves?

Aeon: When robots read books

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Pope warns media over ‘sin’ of spreading fake news [...]

> Francis told the Belgian Catholic weekly “Tertio” that spreading disinformation was “probably the greatest damage that the media can do” and using communications for this rather than to educate the public amounted to a sin. source: Reuters

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Precision of language: climate change dissenter vs. climate change denier [...]

On 8 Dec. 2016, the bot “Editing New York Times” documented how the online editors changed the wording of a headline about climate change from “dissenter” to “denier.”

The Berlin Translators’ Stammtisch, an association of German-to-English translations, recently debated this wording, coming to the conclusion that “dissenter” is inappropriate because one dissents from an opinion. Someone who argues against widely accepted facts should be designated as a denier, as in “Holocaust denier.”
Documentation on Twitter

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International Librarians Network facilitates peer mentorships between librarians from around the world. [...]

> The International Librarians Network (ILN) peer mentoring program is a facilitated program aimed at helping librarians develop international networks. We believe that innovation and inspiration can cross borders, and that spreading our networks beyond our home countries can make us better at what we do. (Source)

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Tumblr for librarians: it got one LIS student her first job [...]

Being intimidated by the prospect of a “full-size” blog, I joined Tumblr in February 2011. Since then I’ve shamelessly promoted my “name” and stalked down as many libraries/librarians on the site as I could find. I’ve connected with libraries, librarians, library students, publishers, writers, readers, Doctor Who fanatics, and cat lovers. I even linked up with LJ and got to write my first “Backtalk” piece.
Days later, my now current employer reached out after reading the piece, complimented my writing, and told me about an opening at their company. I was in immediately for an interview, and a week or so after that, received an offer. Just like that, I’m a working librarian. source: Library Journal

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Meme librarian is a real job — and it’s the best one on the Internet – The Washington Post [...]

Brennan’s career in meme librarianism began in graduate school at Rutgers, where she received a master’s in library science […]. But instead of heading to a brick-and-mortar library, Brennan continued documenting online phenomena at Know Your Meme and then at Tumblr, where she solidified her profession as information desk for doge, mmm whatcha say and the other viral Internet sensations in need of classification, categorization and preservation.
I think of the Internet as its own community, and if you want to compare it to a local library, they’re going to catalog all the small things that happened. If you want to know what happened in a part of New York City in the 1700s, I know a library would have cool letters, or maps or something like that. Something like Star Wars Kid, you had to download the video and had to be involved in some weird Internet pocket to see it. But now a viral video gets posted six times and it becomes a vine, it becomes a gif set, and you kind of can’t escape it. I think it’s important to catalog these things because you know the history of the Internet.
I love metadata. I took so many metadata classes. I just love the idea of using tags to add more context. Yes, there’s the traditional metadata of saying, “Yes, this book is about Alexander Hamilton, and history, and World War II.” But when people start adding personal metadata to it, this extra level of — we see that more online than in a traditional library setting. (Source)

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The year “elite” changed its meaning: linguistic developments in 2016 [...]

> Thus, the billionaire New Yorker Donald Trump portrayed himself as an outsider battling against the elite. Similarly in the UK, the pro-Brexit Nigel Farage (who was educated at an expensive private school), condemned the elite, as he attended a party in his honour at the Ritz Hotel organized by his millionaire friends. None of these people, apparently, belonged to an elite. Conversely, those who voted against Brexit – almost half the population – are characterized by their opponents as an elite who are out-of-touch with “real people”. So if I had to nominate a WOTY, it would be elite – not only because its frequency reached new heights during the year, but because it now seems to mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. source: MacMillan Dictionary Blog

emphasis added

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Central Library Creates Online Platform for Berlin’s City Stories [...]

> Im Projekt [Berliner Grossstadtgeschichten] erzählen Berlinerinnen und Berliner an „Collection Days“ ihre ganz eigenen Großstadtgeschichten und digitalisieren ihre Erinnerungsstücke. Verknüpft mit Geoinformationen und schon digitalisierten Beständen der beteiligten Einrichtungen – u.a. den Einträgen der Berliner Telefon- und Adressbücher, historischen Stadtplänen und Fotografien sowie den, noch nicht digitalisierten, „Großstadtgeschichten“ vom Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts – werden diese in Virtuellen Ausstellungen im Internet veröffentlicht. (Source)

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Ad of Polish man teaching himself English to visit émigré family goes viral [...]

NPR article with video of ad

How many families today are divided by not just borders and distance, but also language? How has this increased over the past decades? Centuries? I have always had close relatives who do not speak the same language as each other, or as me. My mother and her mother in law shared no common languages, my parents and my in-laws barely do.

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New scanner allows nearly 2m-wide scans of Library of Congress’s Panoramic Photo Collection [...]

> The Library first began reproducing the panoramas in the 1990s by taking photographs of overlapping segments and then “stitching” the sections together to show the whole image on laser videodiscs in the Prints and Photographs Division Reading Room. Later, these copy photographs were converted to digital files and re-stitched to make them accessible on the Library’s website. The process was labor-intensive and the panoramas fit nicely on a screen, but it was difficult to see small features. Now, with a recently acquired oversized flatbed scanner, the Library is capturing entire panoramas (up to 6-½ feet long) in a single pass exposure and at higher levels of resolution, so every little detail can be seen clearly.

source at loc.gov

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Magazine asks 8 Tech Companies: Would you help build Muslim registry? [...]

> Facebook: No answer.

Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Microsoft: “We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point,” and a link to a company blog post that states that “we’re committed to promoting not just diversity among all the men and women who work here, but … inclusive culture” and that “it will remain important for those in government and the tech sector to continue to work together to strike a balance that protects privacy and public safety in what remains a dangerous time.”

Google: No answer.

Apple: No answer.

IBM: No answer.

Booz Allen Hamilton: Declined to comment.

SRA International: No answer.

CGI: No answer.

This isn’t to say that the companies that didn’t reply to a request for comment or declined that request are tacitly endorsing the Trump agenda in general or a Muslim registry in particular. Still, it’s asking very little of today’s tech companies to prompt them to go on record as unwilling to help create a federal list of Muslims — or so one would very much hope. source: The Intercept

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Lemont High School class reading list questioned by parents [...]

Pretty detailed report by a local paper in Illinois on a current effort to ban books by Arundhati Roy and Maya Angelou from English class, quoting residents, administrators, previous statements from the authors, and ALA Intellectual Freedom office.

Resident Rick Ligthart came with a prepared statement of changes he wanted in the district’s policy.
“Regardless of the books, I’m recommending to the board that no literature whatsoever be inclusive of literal metaphorical, figurative or allegorical words for male or female genitals,” he said. Identifying himself as a former tenured school teacher he said, other than exceptions for state-mandated sex ed, “English classes should not be involved in sexuality in literature for our kids. It shouldn’t be in any books. No books.”

Reader comment following article:

“So it’s not acceptable that the kids of pearl-clutchers be excluded by not having to read the novel, but it’s OK for the same pearl-clutchers to prevent ALL the kids from reading it. Suck my literal, metaphorical, figurative, or allegorial word for male or female genitals.” – Matthew Pullman

source: Cook County Chronicle

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Trump staffers from opaque corporate misinformation network [...]

> Over this time, I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of thinktanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government.

The fake news we should be worried about is not stories invented by Macedonian teenagers about Hillary Clinton selling arms to Islamic State, but the constant feed of confected scares about unions, tax and regulation drummed up by groups that won’t reveal their interests.

As usual, the left and centre (myself included) are beating ourselves up about where we went wrong. There are plenty of answers, but one of them is that we have simply been outspent. Not by a little, but by orders of magnitude. A few billion dollars spent on persuasion buys you all the politics you want. Genuine campaigners, working in their free time, simply cannot match a professional network staffed by thousands of well-paid, unscrupulous people.
George Monbiot, Opinion, The Guardian

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Fears of Trump prompt Internet Archive to make mirror site in Canada [...]

> “We all hark back to the [ancient] Library of Alexandria as the great library, but it’s best known for not being here anymore,” [Internet Archive founder Brewster] Kahle said. “If they had made another copy and put it in India or China, we would have the other works of Aristotle and the other works of Euripides, so let’s not make the same mistakes of the ancient Egyptians / Greeks.”

Trump’s “statements about privacy and surveillance, net neutrality, freedom of the press, closing up part of the internet — at least we should take him at his word at this point.”
CBC News

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New director brings public library approach to Library of Congress [...]

> Hayden, 64, has a tall order: to bring a library with 3,100 employees, an annual budget of $642 million, and a collection of more than 162 million items, most of which have not yet been digitized, into the digital age.

Unlike her immediate predecessor, James Billington—and all but three of his predecessors—Hayden is an actual librarian by background. After rising through the Chicago Public Library, she spent the last 23 years leading Baltimore’s library system.
Is there one big lesson you’ve learned in your librarian career that’s going to shape the way you do your job?
There’s one thing that has been helpful to be comfortable with: that change is inevitable. Once you become comfortable with the fact that things change, it helps you deal with evolutions in organizations. Libraries have changed over time. Sometimes change is not comfortable, even if it’s good change. Humans are creatures of habit. source: Washingtonian

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Library tech developments free up common space for interaction, coworking, participation [...]

>So formt sich, Schritt für Schritt und analog wie digital, die Bibliothek zur Community of Practice: zu einer Gemeinschaft, in der – so die Definition dieses Begriffs – Wissen konstruiert wird (siehe auch Wikipedia). In der, um es mit anderen Worten zu sagen, miteinander über Rolle und Funktion von Bildung, Wissen und Kultur gesprochen und entschieden wird. [D]ass nun auch deren Nutzerinnen und Nutzer daran verstärkt und uneingeschränkt teilhaben wollen, darf im 21. Jahrhundert wohl als bestes aller Zeichen für die Zukunft von Bibliotheken verstanden werden.

Freie Räume, neue Gemeinschaften
Die Bibliothek als real-digitale Schnittstelle

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Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election [...]

> Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet[…]

“They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests,” said Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who along with two other researchers has tracked Russian propaganda since 2014. “This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.” (Source)

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Misleading since 1719: the historic opossum mom tail meme [...]

The commonly accepted image of baby opposums riding on their mother’s back, with their tails hanging from hers which is pointed towards her head, actually has little scientific basis. It seems to be an early example of a meme – a contagious, self-contained idea. This meme was both started and debunked long ago and yet persists in popular perception to this day.
(http://leslie.wikity.cc/files/2016/11/msmn72_1.jpg “”)
In the original image, made in a 1719 by renowned scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian, the animals’ tails are behind them. The images later evolved to show the babies hanging on to the tail like a railing. Since the 20th century, scientists have established that, while baby opossums do often ride on their mothers’ backs, the entwining of their tails is not characteristic behavior. However, the meme with its memorable image remains so persistent that one biologist recorded his surprise at finding out that they contain little truth. [Source: Grzimek’s Tierleben, print encyclopedia on animals in my personal library].

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CardBox:: Fake News and Media Literacy [...]

Trump staffers from opaque corporate misinformation network
Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election
Misleading since 1719: the historic opossum mom tail meme
Fudged image: historic illustration shows cocoa pod on stem
Teens lack media literacy to detect fake & biased news

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Fudged image: historic illustration shows cocoa pod on stem [...]

Call it the fake news of the colonial era. Today, it is commonly known that the fruit of the cocoa tree is unusual: it does not grow on the branches, but hangs directly from the trunk on a short stem. But in the time after Europeans learned of such tropical plants, but before photography and before they were successfully grown in Europe, botanical illustrators tried to depict them only on the basis of pieces brought back from the New World by scientists. Any gaps in knowledge were filled in by the artists imagination.

Thus, in one grand volume of botanical illustrations, the cocoa pod itself is accurately rendered, but is depicted growing upwards from a branch in defiance of gravity.

This interesting example of inaccuracy through artistic invention was shown to me by Matze, the gardener of Berlin’s Prinzessinnengärten, who has this print in his private collection precisely because he he is intrigued by the careful visual construction of a falsehood.

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Exhibiting your art is like working a peep show [...]

> Monique Atherton will convert the project room into a live peep show booth, inviting viewers to communicate with her through the window of a soundproof booth by picking up a telephone and paying a small fee.  The conversation will begin once the money is placed into the slot at the rate of $1 per minute and end abruptly when time runs out.  The conversation can last as long as a viewer is willing and able to pay.

The performance positions the visual arts within the context of a working class service industry. (Source)

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Did Berliners choose green space over library space? [...]

Or was it a false choice?

The city of Berlin planned to build on the open space at Tempelhofer Feld, until recently an airport, and part of the development plans was a new building to unite the central library, currently split between two sites. For the sake of preserving the green space as a park, the unprecedented size of which makes it one of a kind in the city, a majority voted for a proposition to ban new development, which also meant nixing the library building…

(more thoughts and sources to come)

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