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Title:barbara fister – librarian, writer, friendly curmudgeon
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barbara fister #8211; librarian, writer, friendly curmudgeon
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barbara fister
librarian, writer, friendly curmudgeon
how libraries became public II
Reposted from Inside Higher Ed; photo courtesy of Toshiyuki IMAI
Here鈥檚 another interesting thing about the origins of American public libraries. We have women to thank for most of them.
Oh, sure, Andrew Carnegie had something to do with it. Unlike his fellow mega-rich philanthropists who built libraries, he didn鈥檛 want to build palaces. He wanted to produce relatively humble public libraries on an industrial scale, promoting the establishment of libraries in neighborhoods and small town throughout the country using a common set of standards, processes, and even architectural plans. He thought access to libraries could improve those among the working classes who wanted to improve themselves. They could be better workers, and some of them might even rise above their circumstances and become rich.
Continue reading #8220;how libraries became public II #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on May 8, 2017Categories libraries, tech amp; societyLeave a comment on how libraries became public II
how libraries became public
Reposted from Inside Higher Ed; photo courtesy of ktbuffy.
Of all of our cultural institutions, the public library is remarkable. There are few tax-supported services that are used by people of all ages, classes, races, and religions. I can鈥檛 think of any public institutions (except perhaps parks) that are as well-loved and widely used as libraries. Nobody has suggested that tax dollars be used for vouchers to support the development of private libraries or that we shouldn #8217;t trust those #8220;government #8221; libraries. Even though the recession following the 2008 crash has led to reduced staff and hours in American libraries, threats of closure are聽generally met with vigorous community resistance. Visits and check-outs are up significantly over the past ten years,聽though it has decreased a bit in recent years. Reduced funding seems to be a factor, though the high point was 2009; library use聽parallels聽unemployment figures 鈥 low unemployment often means fewer people use public libraries. A for-profit company that claims to run libraries more cheaply than local governments聽currently has contracts to manage only sixteen of over 9,000 public library systems in the U.S. Few public institutions have been so impervious to privatization.
I find it intriguing that the American public library grew out of an era that has many similarities to this one 鈥 the last quarter of the 19th century,when large corporations owned by the super-rich had gained the power to shape society and fundamentally change the lives of ordinary people. Continue reading #8220;how libraries became public #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on April 29, 2017Categories libraries, societyTags library historyLeave a comment on how libraries became public
what kind of free is speech online?
Reposted from Inside Higher Ed. Image courtesy of JwvanEck.
A Pew Research has just published a fascinating in-depth report titled 鈥淭he Future of Free Speech Online.鈥 (The PDF version of the study is 75 pages 鈥 there鈥檚 a lot to it.) Lee Rainie, Janna Anderson, and Jonathan Albright surveyed a number of tech experts to get their predictions about where online discourse is headed. And while nearly 20 percent of the experts are optimistic, most of them think the climate for online discourse will either stay the same or get worse.
The framing of study seems . . . odd, though. The implication is that we can either design online platforms that control behavior (by doing things like prohibiting anonymity, developing reputation systems, or using artificial intelligence to moderate contributions) or we can have freedom. This is where some of internet culture seems to intersect with libertarianism: any attempt to shape the overall tenor of a group conversation is a restriction on individuals鈥 right of free expression. Or to put it differently, the power to shape the tone of a social interaction is liable to be misused by the powerful. Continue reading #8220;what kind of free is speech online? #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on April 10, 2017Categories tech amp; societyTags free speech, internet, surveillanceLeave a comment on what kind of free is speech online?
commonplace newsletter #2
Image courtesy of Ken Douglas.
I think I #8217;m getting the hang of this Newsletter plugin for WordPress. It sent out a nicely-formatted email yesterday #8211; April Fool #8217;s Day, appropriately enough, given that the common thread of the links I selected was what we talk about when we talk about #8220;fake news. #8221; (One think I #8217;ve learned #8211; I need to check my spelling, because it wasn #8217;t automatically checked for me. Sorry about that, newletterers.) Here are the links I shared:
The Fake News Course (A Sillybus) This satirical project is subtitled How to Write and Read Fake News: Journullism in the Age of Trump. While it #8217;s the Onion of syllabi, it actually goes a long way toward showing how false narratives are created. The course is the work of Talan Memmott and Mark C. Marino and is part of UnderAcademy College, an artistic adventure in tongue-in-cheek critique.
Continue reading #8220;commonplace newsletter #2 #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on April 2, 2017April 13, 2017Categories newsletter, tech amp; societyTags fake news, journalism, polarizationLeave a comment on commonplace newsletter #2
How Information Is Organized
I like to point out, whenever possible, how library systems encode bias just as newer algorithmic search systems literally encode it while seeming blissfully, mechanically, inhumanly incapable of being anything but neutral. I #8217;m reminded of something one of our faculty members said when discussing what critical concepts about information our students should grasp.
Information has to be organized and how it is organized matters.
That #8217;s profoundly true, and so easy to forget when helping students find information in systems that are complicated enough without explaining how they got that way. The exoskeleton of the library stacks is hidden from view unless you step back and wonder about why this subject is next to that, or why there #8217;s loads of room for one subject but not for another.
But the embedding of named categories inside a call number . . . this post from a metadata blog with a terrific name (I Never Metadata I Didn #8217;t Like) shows just how ubiquitous and problematic our ghostly past of categorization is. It #8217;s a piece of call numbers used in academic libraries all over the country and once you see it you can #8217;t unsee it. Continue reading #8220;How Information Is Organized #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on March 20, 2017Categories librariesLeave a comment on How Information Is Organized
Practicing Freedom for the Post-Truth Era
This is the text of a talk I gave at the University of New Mexico last week sponsored by the Marjorie Whetstone Ashton endowment and the university library instruction team. Thanks, team!
A PDF version can be downloaded from my library #8217;s institutional repository or from Humanities Commons.
Abstract: Why do we encourage students to read widely, think critically, and conduct their own research? We are preparing them for lives in a world filled with ambiguity and complexity, where we don鈥檛 actually know the answers to what鈥檚 on the test. The surprising outcome of the recent election has prompted us to examine our assumptions about how knowledge is arrived at and shared 鈥 and why it matters. Librarians and faculty in the disciplines have long helped students learn how to find and assess scholarly information, but we haven鈥檛 always been explicit about why it matters. What we鈥檝e come to call 鈥渋nformation literacy鈥 must be more than learning how to evaluate websites and recognize 鈥渇ake news鈥 as an information consumer. It鈥檚 gaining an understanding of the ways information systems shape our world while gaining the confidence and conviction that we ourselves can shape the world for the better. Paulo Freire urged us to think of education as the practice of freedom. We will explore ways to prepare students to enter a world saturated with personalized propaganda and 鈥渁lternative facts鈥 as free human beings and motivated citizens.
Continue reading #8220;Practicing Freedom for the Post-Truth Era #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on March 13, 2017March 23, 2017Categories libraries, political, society, talksLeave a comment on Practicing Freedom for the Post-Truth Era
This full-page ad was in today #8217;s New York Times. I #8217;m rarely thrilled by ads, but this one got to me. Good show, gray lady!
Author barbarafPosted on February 26, 2017Categories publishingTags truthLeave a comment on Cosign
a reminder . . .
Milo lost his gig at CPAC. He was forced to resign from Breitbart. He lost his book deal and probably a lot of the speaking gigs that would have come with it.
This is not censorship.
To put it in classic XKCD terms:
Continue reading #8220;a reminder . . . #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on February 21, 2017Categories books, politicalLeave a comment on a reminder . . .
matter of facts
Reposted from Inside Higher Ed; image courtesy of Martin Sommer
Remember 鈥渢ruthiness鈥? Stephen Cobert, in his parodic role of a brash conservative talk show personality, coined it in 2005 and it seemed to nail a fact of political life: politicians often said things that seemed true, that felt true, that appealed to an audience as true while sliding off to one side of demonstrable facts. He was giving a name to the political polarization that made Americans line up behind different sets of known 鈥渇acts鈥 along with a tendency to prefer assertions that carried an emotional charge.
鈥淭ruthiness,鈥 named the 2005 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society, has given way to the Oxford Dictionaries 2016 Word of the Year, 鈥淧ost-Truth,鈥 which was a bit depressing until it was eclipsed by the furor over 鈥渇ake news.鈥 That last shape-shifting phrase means all kinds of things, including any news you don鈥檛 like. Entire news organizations have been labeled 鈥渇ake news鈥 by our president. Continue reading #8220;matter of facts #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on February 20, 2017Categories libraries, politicalLeave a comment on matter of facts
commonplace newsletter #1
This has been one hell of a week. I suspect there will be many more like it. The bad news is that we #8217;re this close to a coup led by nihilistic Nazi, Steve Bannon. The good news is that a lot of people are taking to the streets. We are not alone. We are not accepting this. We are paying attention.
So what a weird time to start up a newsletter, eh? I don #8217;t know about you, but I #8217;m feeling as if I #8217;m dog-paddling as fast as I can in a fast-running current of massive amounts of information. I probably shouldn #8217;t add to it. Continue reading #8220;commonplace newsletter #1 #8221;
Author barbarafPosted on January 30, 2017January 30, 2017Categories newsletterLeave a comment on commonplace newsletter #1
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library babel fish | Inside Higher EdInfo WarsWhen the Internet is AngryHow Libraries Became Public IIHow Libraries Became PublicTwo New Books About Digital ScholarsPost-Post TruthThree Easy Steps For Online PrivacyWhat Kind of Free Is Speech Online?Putting the Person Back in PersonalizationWhy I Can #039;t Get Behind the Middlebury Statement stories from around the web[priv] National Digital Inclusion AllianceHow Denver Public Library Balances Books and Being A Homeless Shelter | CPRMedia Manipulation and Disinformation Online || Data amp; SocietyLunch at the library: examination of a community-based approach to addressing summer food insecurityAnxiety and surveillance: pillars of the new economy | ROUGH TYPEMessages of Inclusion | American Libraries MagazineGoogle and Facebook aren #039;t fighting fake news with the right weapons - LA TimesLibrarians in the 21st Century: It Is Becoming Impossible to Remain Neutral | Literary HubWhy media companies insist they #039;re not media companies, why they #039;re wrong, and why it matters | Napoli | First MondayTrump drops the mother of all bombs on libraries | TheHill This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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