It's hard to learn when you can't go to a library, use the internet, and rely on volunteer teachers. But motivated people can do it, even when incarcerated.
Librarians are the most proactive professionals I have ever witnessed when it comes to identifying an opportunity for positive change and aggressively seeking a solution. That is just one reason out of many why I am proud to be a part of this community. Bibliographic authority, and the opportunities for the language to evolve and better reflect contemporary thinking, is continuously under such scrutiny. To point to a current example, there is an active discussion by a group within the library community about the opportunity to change the category term “Illegal Aliens” in OCLC’s Faceted Access to Subject Terminology (FAST).
OCLC fully supports changing the “Illegal Aliens” terminology in FAST, and wherever else it may appear. The phrase “Illegal Aliens” is pejorative at worst, and confusing and misleading at best. However, we are committed to the work and processes of our colleagues at the Library of Congress (LC) and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), as well as to the technical processing that facets Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) into the simpler FAST headings. FAST has no history of sweeping editorial changes in headings based on pervasive cultural change without first seeing those changes in the LCSH headings from which FAST is derived.
FAST is a simplified indexing schema that facilitates assignment and management of subject headings, and is derived from the LCSH. It was developed as a collaboration between OCLC Research and the Library of Congress in 1998, designed to support library workers with a lighter knowledge of extensive cataloging rules. OCLC provides the technical infrastructure to create, manage, and discover FAST headings; LC provides support for the LCSH vocabulary.
FAST has always been downstream of LCSH changes and the governance of headings that occurs through the PCC Subject Authority Cooperative Program (SACO). OCLC is transitioning the internal management of FAST headings from OCLC Research to the Metadata Operations Team in Global Product Management, and will continue to support the service. We have no plans to establish a FAST governance model similar to SACO, nor an independent editorial group similar to that at the Library of Congress. FAST will follow LC’s lead.
We will continue to work closely with members of the OCLC Research Library Partnership’s (RLP) Metadata Managers group, who are interested in how FAST becomes a production service. They have provided invaluable feedback and are also working to understand RLP libraries’ usage of and expectations for a FAST service.Looking forward
The library community discussion around the phrase “Illegal Aliens” isn’t new, and it exemplifies the tenacity and values of the library community. The opportunity to evolve this language was initially raised by Dartmouth College student Melissa Padilla, who in 2013 led an effort to petition the Library of Congress to change the term. The Library of Congress initially rejected the proposal to change the heading in 2014, but reviewed and reversed its decision in March 2016 following the urging and resolution of the American Library Association (ALA) Council earlier in the year. The US Congress attempted to restrict the Library of Congress from this proposed language change in June 2016. That restriction, however, did not appear in the final funding bill passed by the Senate. As of September 2017, the heading remains unchanged. But, the discussion and drive for change continue. *
OCLC agrees with the voices requesting that the LCSH term be changed. And, we also believe that subject-term governance should follow the guidance of the PCC, SACO, and the Library of Congress. OCLC looks forward to working closely with the Library of Congress and supporting their efforts as they make a final determination regarding the ‘Illegal Aliens’ subject term. We have been in contact on this opportunity, and they are appropriately reviewing this matter according their procedures. When the review is finalized, they will let the community and OCLC know their decision on the use of this term. At that time, OCLC will ensure that the FAST heading reflects the decision of the Library of Congress Subject Heading.
In the meantime, we hope—and expect—that the library community will continue to advocate for these types of changes that will better serve and reflect library users around the globe.
* The post was updated on 14 September 2017 at 4:40 pm US EST to more accurately reflect that the US Congress attempted to restrict the Library of Congress from this proposed language change in June 2016. That restriction, however, did not appear in the final funding bill passed by the Senate. Our editorial team regrets the initial error.
This past week, news broke of yet another huge data breach, this time involving the financial data of 143 million people that was stolen from Equifax. Obviously, the reason hackers break into systems and steal data is because they want to sell it for nefarious reasons. But many legitimate businesses also sell data, or monetize it in other ways. In fact, monetizing data has become a significant revenue stream for certain types of businesses, so much so that pundits predict it will become the primary revenue stream in some cases.
Articles from Ohio Web Library:
In my career, I’ve been through several leadership training programs and have read many articles on career development. Some were great … some not so much. What I’ve noticed, though, is that the successful ones always seemed to feature the following:
With so many training options to choose from, it’s satisfying when you participate in a program that has the right combination of factors and qualities to give you a rewarding experience and an arsenal of skills—the leadership training sweet spot.
Like other learning, leadership development happens in the 70/20/10 framework: 70% experiential—learning by doing; 20% social—learning from others; 10% classroom—formal learning. OCLC’s leadership programs follow this model and include management development, emerging and new leader programs, online learning, stretch assignments, and learning in place.
Exposure to these programs—as well as our CEO, Skip Prichard’s interest in cultivating more servant leaders—helped me identify what I really appreciated about the American Library Association’s Emerging Leaders Program. And how it managed to avoid the pitfalls of so many similar offerings.Make it real
It’s essential to tie leadership development to real projects that improve learning and create change. Adults typically remember just 10% of what they hear in the classroom versus nearly two-thirds when they learn by doing. Virtual engagement is what I do for OCLC as a Community Product Manager in the Online Community Center. My Emerging Leaders assignment—develop a toolkit to help leaders improve engagement for LITA’s growing base of virtual teams—is a natural fit for me. In developing our best practices, we tested tools and tactics that I can apply in my day job, like project management software, virtual meeting tools, and scheduling applications. I now know which tools and tactics I can use to engage with OCLC members in the Community Center (and which I can safely avoid or use elsewhere) and we’re sharing what we’ve learned with our colleagues.
Tie leadership development to real projects that improve learning and create change.
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Make it personal
Th Emerging Leaders Program placed me in a group of professionals with differing values and interests and skills, but we’re all librarians and we’ll all probably be seeing more of each other and working together for years to come. Within this context, our differences are a plus rather than a minus. My Emerging Leaders group, Project Team D—”Tenacious D”—is distinct and talented. One of my teammates has expertise in accessibility standards, another in project management with a PMP certification. Team members represent large and small academic libraries, a government library, and a graduate school library. They come from Canada, New York City, the Southwest, and the Midwest. This diversity provides outlooks and approaches that are very different from mine but also very insightful and refreshing.Make it stick
My team’s work followed up on a project that had been completed by an Emerging Leaders team from 2013. They had done an excellent job and created some great materials, and one of their team members served in an advisory role for our team. We leaned on them for advice and counsel and our work is building on the foundation they laid. Part of becoming a leader is working with those who went before you and giving them a chance to practice what they learned. This kind of continuity produces not only a steadier flow of potential leaders, but ongoing benefits to the community.Planning for your personal and professional future
One of my favorite posts from Skip Prichard is about “the leadership gap.” In it, he reminds us that “understanding yourself is the beginning of influence.” I agree, and I also think that understanding why you want to get into a leadership role is hugely important. In my case, it was because I want to help move my chosen profession forward.
I think that’s why the ALA’s Emerging Leaders was a good fit for me and hit my sweet spot. By using real-world challenges and personal connections, and building on past success, it goes way beyond training. We’re actually given a chance to start acting like the leaders we want to become.
I have no idea what a publication should do when it comes to comments, but it’s a fascinating problem.
Is a thermostat programmed to change based on time of day and weather conditions “smarter”? How about a chat-bot that answers your customer service questions? What about an email feature that automatically sorts messages based on your past activities?
In many cases when we hear “smart [thing],” it’s a synonym for some kind of software automation based on sensors, data collection, or connected devices. Nearly half of Forbes “17 Top Enterprise Tech Trends for 2017” relate to ideas of “smarter” services, apps, products, infrastructure, and lifestyles. The assumption is that by automating as many aspects of a process as possible, we’ll get better results.
I’m not convinced that’s the case.Is “smart” more than a metaphor?
I understand—as I’m sure you do—that to say that an appliance or car or work process is “smart” is a metaphor. We know it’s simply an object built with some additional level of computer processing and/or connectivity. A “smart thermostat” can’t tell that you’ve put on a blanket because you were cold. It’s just reacting to preprogrammed instructions. It’s no “smarter” than a DVR that you’ve set up to record Game of Thrones.
But the metaphors we use—especially as they relate to the work of libraries—are important. Our users look to us to help them actually become smarter people. That’s a core function of librarianship. So when we say something is “smarter,” we need to be sure we don’t just mean “automated” or “computerized.” If we think we’re being smarter just by adding some technology and automating a task or two, we’re selling our users short.
The question of “what is a smarter library?” is an important and exciting one, and that’s why I’m delighted “The Smarter Library” is the theme we’ve adopted for all three upcoming OCLC Regional Council Meetings.What makes a library “smarter”?
As we prepared to plan for these events, we wanted to really dig down into what we think we need to do to make libraries truly smarter…not just “more automated.” This isn’t about technology for technology’s sake. It’s about focusing on the unique value propositions that libraries provide and working to be even better at those things that motivate us as librarians and set our institutions apart.
What makes a library 'smarter'?
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We narrowed down a wide field of possible themes to the following:
You’ll notice two things right off the bat, I hope.
First, each of the themes has both a “what” and a “why.” It’s important that any changes we make are goal-oriented, or we won’t be doing smarter things, we’ll just be doing different things.
Second, only one of the four topics—“leverage data”—is explicitly about technology. And even then…not really. We’ve had data in libraries for centuries. We used the term “metadata” before it became a popular buzzword. The point is that while technology will certainly be important to the “how” of these efforts, it’s not at the heart of what we do as librarians and in our libraries.Audacity and humility
I really like what Margaret Stewart, Vice President of Design at Facebook, has to say about designing user experiences for groups of people:
[It] requires a bizarre combination of two things, audacity and humility. Audacity to believe that what you’re doing is important, and humility because it’s not about the designer’s portfolio, but about the people they are designing for.
It feels to me as though Stewart is talking directly to those of us who work in libraries as well as those working on user interface design for software.
I want us to be audacious. That’s why I became a librarian—to help people improve their lives. How audacious is that? But it’s also a humble calling when we “confirm our professional values.” Because no matter how good we get at creating great new services (or automating old ones), it doesn’t count as “smarter” if it doesn’t help move the ball forward for the communities we serve.
I’m excited to hear what my colleagues have to share on this subject. It reaches right into the heart of OCLC’s mission as well as that of libraries.
I hope you can join us in Baltimore, Tokyo, or Edinburgh for the beginning of this important conversation.
Drones aren’t new, but they are definitely evolving. This past weekend, at the Cleveland Air Show, more than a dozen drone groups and companies were represented (Cleveland is believed to be the first air show to admit drones, in 2014). One spokesperson said that the drone tent was so packed, that a larger tent will likely be required next year. Public awareness of drones has dramatically increased, especially as they continue to make headlines and to help with–and even hinder–public endeavors. This past week has been no exception, as our news roundup will demonstrate.
From the Ohio Web Library:
Over the past several days, a lot of librarians have contacted me regarding the post I wrote on white supremacists in libraries. While the overwhelming majority of the feedback has been positive, there has also been a distinct contingent of librarians who all agree that I am a BAD LIBRARIAN. Libraries are supposed to be neutral and we’re supposed to provide access to ALL sides of controversial issues. Well, let me tell you, I was hesitant at first, but thanks to the dogged persistence of some of my interlocutors and their impeccable logic, I hereby renounce everything I previously wrote. From here on out, I am going to be the most neutral librarian you’ve ever met. I now completely agree that the ALA Code of Ethics and the Library Bill of Rights are perfect documents and that the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech is unassailable. I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who pointed out how wrong I was in believing that libraries shouldn’t facilitate white supremacy.
Now, since I’m new to this whole “both-sidesism,” I’m obviously going to have some questions.
First, I notice that The Turner Diaries by William Pierce is only held by one library, according to Worldcat. Since it’s been hailed as “the Bible of the racist right” I’m deeply troubled that no libraries carry this obviously important text. Obviously, I’m going to buy it now that I’m committed to representing “both sides.” Should I spring for the print or the ebook?
Also, I’ve heard we’re in a “war with Islam.” Sadly, I haven’t added any ISIS propaganda to our library collection (like I said, I’ve been a bad librarian for not representing both sides). So, should my library link out to ISIS beheading videos or host them on our own servers? Again, just trying to be neutral.
Oh, and does it have to be a 1:1 ratio? For example, one holocaust denial book for every history of the holocaust? I’m thinking we may have to weed about 99% of our collection in the D800s to get a fair ratio. But, happy to do it to stay neutral.
And, could you please recommend some publishers in the following areas: alchemy, phrenology, flat earth theory, hollow earth theory, homeopathy, chemtrails, astrology, psychic surgery, and perpetual motion. I’ve noticed that our collections in the sciences are incredibly biased and fail to present both sides of understanding our natural world. (I can’t believe I used to think that truth should be a criterion for collection development.)
And, as an academic librarian, I’m curious how to handle faculty complaints. I’ve already sent out an email letting them know that from here on out we’re committed to presenting both sides of everything. How silly it was for me in the past to select materials based on the needs of my community, rather than the far more noble commitment to neutrality. So, now that faculty are angrily emailing me about spending their department allocations on “stupid shit” (LOL), how do I respond to their obvious biases? The Women’s Studies faculty are especially upset that I devoted half of their allocation to Mens Rights Activist books. I sent a copy of the Library Bill of Rights to them, but they don’t seem to get it. Any pointers?
Also, I have a research consultation Tuesday morning. The student is writing a paper about how “black people were better off during slavery.”* What resources would you recommend to help this student out?
Oh, and I forgot to tell you, a Mexican-American student emailed me earlier today with a question about her paper on DACA. Of course, I sent her both pro-Dreamer articles as well as articles from Breitbart and Infowars that show how illegal immigrants are mostly rapists and drug-addicts. For some reason, she got mad at me. Any suggestions on how to make her see the importance of considering multiple perspectives? (Scholarship is a Conversation, right?!)
And, the university film club has expressed an interest in screening Whose Streets?, the documentary about the Ferguson protests, in the library. Do I need to put together an anti-Black Lives Matter documentary screening in response?
As I pointed out in my previous post, we’ve never actually had a neo-Nazi or alt-right group ask to use our library for anything. Should I be doing outreach to these groups or should I just wait for them to initiate a request?
Thanks in advance for all your help!
Oh, and if you think that these questions are straw-men or pure hyperbole, then, please, let me know which white supremacist books and videos you’ve been buying.** Let me know which alt-right event you’ve sanctioned. Let me know on which issues you’ve nobly affirmed your neutrality. Thanks. Just trying to be the best librarian I can be.
* This was an actual consultation I had a few years ago.
** A quick note: I understand that massive research libraries with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars can collect almost everything and that they do probably collect some racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. materials. Likewise, if the library at, for example, a Holocaust memorial collects Holocaust-denial literature, there is a certain logic to that decision that I won’t deny. But, put yourself in the shoes of a small or mid-sized university library like mine; a small or mid-sized public. When you’re strapped for cash, how do you justify providing “both sides?”
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