Ebola: Information & Resources from usa.gov

I wanted to share some resource information I got in an e-mail from usa.gov:

Ebola is all over the news right now. And with so much conflicting information and varying reports out there, it’s hard to know where to go to get the facts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a lot of resources available so you can be properly informed, and keep yourself and your family safe.

Remember, Ebola is NOT airborne, nor is it spread by casual contact. A person with Ebola must have symptoms and get their body fluids on you to infect you.

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How My Local Library Enabled an Audiobook Purchase

Recently the person behind the xkcd comic came out with a book:

Munroe, Randall. 2014. What if?: serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions. Find in a library.


I fell into choice paralysis with this book. It came out in paper and an audiobook edition. The paper version had the cartoons, which I loved. The audiobook version was read by Wil Wheaton who has become my absolute favorite narrator for anything geek-themed.

Paper or audio? I didn’t feel justified in buying both formats. I hemed and hawed for a couple of weeks. Then I tried a search in library catalog and found that the paper version of What If? was in our system. I placed a hold on it so I could check out the cartoon and then immediately went online and bought the audio book (available from Downpour, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.).

As much as I like xkcd, Mr. Munroe was only going to get one purchase from me. I might have kept going about paper vs. audio till I forgot about buying the book. But because my local public library bought one format, I bought the others.

One more tiny data point testifying to the idea that libraries encourage book sales and doesn’t cannibalize them.

Posted in libraries, me

Beyond ALA’s Code of Conduct: What can we do to combat harassment at ALA Conferences?

Daniel Cornwall:

I think the Magpie Librarian makes good suggestions here on how to make reporting harassment easier. We’ve got a Code of Conduct. Now we need ways to implement it.

At some point, I’d like to see a button for reporting harassment and offering the information promised under the Code of Conduct put into the ALA app. I think it’s probably too late for Midwinter 2015, but maybe it can be thought of for Annual 2015?

Originally posted on The Magpie Librarian: A Librarian's Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette:

This post has been a long time coming. I apologize for its tardiness, but the ideas percolating in my head regarding theresults of my ALA Code of Conduct survey have been numerous and various and hard to pin down. And clearly, a couple of issues have come to light since I’ve started compiling numbers and stories. Several librarians whom I respectand admire have voiced their support (monetarily and otherwise) for the Ada Initiative, which, among other things, promotes anti-harassment policies for conferences. In addition, the circumstances surrounding #teamharpy cannot be ignored. I imagine that however Joe Murphy’s legal proceedings play out, it will shape how the library world, which claims to be in favor of free speech and freedom of information, deals with people who speak out against harassment. For whatever it is worth, I would like to state that I fully support the Ada Initiative and #teamharpy (speaking…

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Harassment at ALA and Canadian Libel Law Resources #teamharpy

In my post on the Joe Murphy Lawsuit and Team Harpy, I provided links in the sentence:

We need to make it easier to report harassment, not harder —  given incidents at tech conferences, the US Congress, and ALA itself.

Almost as soon as I posted that entry, I realized that the material listed under “ALA itself” deserved a fuller mention. I also thought it would be helpful to provide a few links to resources about Canadian libel law, since that is where the suit is taking place. Rather than update my original post, I thought I’d do a new one.

Harassment at ALA

All through the development of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Code of Conference Conduct and beyond, some people have argued that a Code of Conduct was unneeded because “that sort of thing” didn’t happen at ALA conferences.

In July 2014, after the Las Vegas ALA Annual Conference, Ingrid Henny Abrams aka Magpie Librarian decided to run an online survey asking people if they faced harassment at an ALA conference. The survey link was broadcast through a number of outlets and eventually 321 people responded. While a self-selected sample can’t specify an accurate rate of harassment, I feel that Ms. Abrams’ survey clearly shows it exists at ALA conferences. Her survey lead to three blog posts:

Code of Conduct Survey Results: Just the Numbers

This post indicated that 48 people reported that they had been harassed or intimated at an ALA Conference and other 34 people witnessed such incidents.

Code of Conduct Survey Results: Your Stories

This post provided textual responses from the people completing the survey. Here are some excerpts from Ms. Abrams’ post (She has more stories in each section below, I just picked one or two from each):

Though harassment can manifest itself in many forms, it is unsurprising that many of the stories about harassment were specifically about sexual harassment:

  •  Being hit on by a male (obviously married) vendor who was drunk but kept trying to get me to kiss him
  • One person suggested that we start going to the same conferences so we could start an affair. A second person told me, in a very awkward way, that I was very attractive and just sort of hung around to see what I’d say.

Other harassment came in the form of misgendering, microaggressions, and ageism:

  • I’ve been told that I don’t “look old enough to be a librarian” at a conference before. As with most ageism I’ve encountered in this profession, I suspect the comment was rooted in sexism too. Who goes around telling dudes they don’t look “old enough” to be a professional whatever? I can’t say for certain, I’d venture to guess that not many people do that.
  • A microaggression… someone in a line of white women asking the Latina librarian for assistance in the restroom a black librarian being asked ” Do you work here?” after exiting a stall in the ladies room

Many people whom we meet at conferences are not librarians or traditional conference attendees. Several survey-users mentioned incidences with exhibit floor vendors, authors, hotel workers, and others. Here are some of those stories:

  • I was asked repeated questions about my physical appearance by somebody from the **redacted** Institute (an exhibitor). He asked me to come up to his hotel suite. I refused, but he continued to press the issue. Finally, he got the hint and went away.


“You angry feminist types are always looking for crap to stir”: Code of Conduct Survey Trolls and Others

This posts addresses some of the responses that offered reactions to the idea of the survey.

I think Ms. Abrams has done good work here. She saw a need for information and created a survey that began the process of filling this information gap. By her own admission this isn’t a scientific survey but it does document problems at ALA conferences. The true extent of the problem could probably be determined by a formal, randomized survey of attendees to ALA conferences over the past 10 years. That would be something I’d encourage ALA to do.

Of course, fewer people would be willing to respond to such a survey if Joe Murphy wins his $1.25 million lawsuit against Team Harpy. Why take the risk that your answers might become public and have your harasser(s) sue you? That’s part of the reason Mr. Murphy needs to drop his lawsuit, even if his conduct has always been beyond question. To raise the comfort level to frankly discuss harassment issues within ALA.

Canadian Libel Law Resources

If you’re looking to understand the basics of Canadian libel law and why it is easier to prove than in the United States, I think you’ll find these two resources helpful:

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Librarians Shouldn’t Sue Librarians Over Speech

As many of you probably know, Joe H Murphy of Library Future is suing nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey (aka Team Harpy) over statements made about sexual harassment, including a May 2014 blog post. He is suing Ms. de jesus and Ms. Rabey for $1.25 million.

I do not have the information I need to evaluate the claims made about Mr. Murphy. I don’t know him personally and no one has confided in me one way or another. So I will not address those claims here. I will say that Team Harpy is seeking witnesses to document their allegations against Mr. Murphy.

What I can evaluate is the appropriateness of a librarian choosing to fight words with a lawsuit, particularly one making a $1.25 million lawsuit. I don’t find that appropriate at all. I find it so inappropriate that I’ve donated to the Team Harpy Legal Defense Fund and signed the petition for Mr. Murphy to stand down. I hope that some of you reading this will take one or both actions.

Why do I find Mr. Murphy’s legal actions so inappropriate?

  • It has a chilling effect on other reports of sexual harassment. Even if Team Harpy were making things up out of whole cloth, women who experience sexual harassment but haven’t recorded the whole thing on tape are going to be terrified of being sued into the streets because few harrassers are going to admit to their behavior. We need to make it easier to report harassment, not harder —  given incidents at tech conferences, the US Congress, and ALA itself.
  • As librarians, we’re supposed to believe that for the most part, the antidote to bad speech is more speech. I’ve looked up the Twitter and blog feeds for Mr. Joe Murphy and Library Future and to me it looks like he went dark in July and hasn’t made any statements about this issue except through his attorney. If you know of comments that Mr. Murphy has made on his behalf, point me to them and I’ll link them to this blog post. Before taking any fellow librarian to law court, you should go to the court of public opinion. Or stay quiet and let your behavior speak for itself.
  • People get called evil things all the time and manage not to sue. Have you seen President Obama sue a birther? How about all the celebrity rags talking about Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, George W. Bush and the Kardashians? Yet have thy sued? Heck, even Sarah Palin hasn’t been suing bloggers (as of this writing) despite the supposed faked birth stories, corruption allegations, and family brawls.

North America is over litigious as it is. And librarians are supposed to support free speech. We supposed to provide safe spaces to be and to have discussions, even passionate ones. We’re supposed to know better. We shouldn’t sue one another. We don’t have to join hands and sing — but we should be talking, blogging or tweeting without court involvement.

Now, my opinion would be different if Mr. Murphy were suing an organization that had fired him over what he felt to be unsubstantiated allegations. If he has been fired from a company or library as a result of Team Harpy’s blog posting and twittering, then he should totally sue — his former employer, not the bloggers. I don’t know if that would actually be possible in all states, but the employer would be doing him and themselves a disservice by not vetting the allegations.

But Team Harpy has no direct hold over Mr. Murphy’s livelihood. All they can do is appeal to the court of public opinion. They can’t fire him from his employers and by themselves they can’t bounce him from conferences.

While I think Mr. Murphy should stand down for the good of the profession and in the name of providing a safer environment for people to report harassment, I think that it would be in Mr. Murphy’s own best interest to stand down.

First, every day this case drags on means another day of libraryland discussion of what Mr. Murphy may or may not have done. Because he is the one seeking $1.25 million from two librarians of modest means, he will be seen as the Goliath in this matter regardless of the facts in this case. At best, he will be seen as someone using the courts to silence his critics, a luxury most of us can’t afford, even if we were inclined to do so. At worst, people will start believing the allegations regardless of whether witnesses begin to appear.

Additionally, I agree with the Annoyed Librarian that there are only four ways that this case can end and only two of these outcomes looks good for Mr. Murphy:

  1. Mr. Murphy loses in court – publicly confirmed as a sexual harasser – LOSS
  2. Mr. Murphy wins in court but loses in court of public opinion and is shunned – LOSS
  3. Mr. Murphy wins in court and people move on – WIN
  4. Mr. Murphy drops the case and apologizes for suing – WIN (In my view)

It seems like Mr. Murphy may be spending a lot of legal fees for what will essentially a coin toss. If he stays in the court route, it’s actually 2-1 against a positive outcome. He needs to not only win the case, but win it decisively enough that a majority of power brokers in libraryland believe he was the true victim in this case. Neither losing the case outright or “winning” under a dark cloud of social opinion will ensure a clear path for his career.

He should go for dropping the suit for the win. For himself and his profession. And to start building a comfort zone so we won’t have to judge anonymous allegations because people will feel free to come into the light and tell their stories.

Update 10/4/2014 – As of this writing, Mr. Murphy’s last tweet was 9/24 and not July as I originally implied. I stand by my remarks that an examination of his twitter feed and blog as of the writing of my original post show that he has not address the Team Harpy accusations through his social media channels. If you know otherwise, leave a URL in comments.

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Not Registered to Vote? October 5th is your Alaskan Deadline!

If you live in Alaska, want to vote in the November 4, 2014 election, but are not registered to vote, you need to get registered before OCTOBER 5, 2014. You can get registration information and forms from the Division of Elections voter registration page. You may mail, fax or e-mail your signed registration form to a regional election office. You can also try registering with your cell phone through a student developed site called vote-ak.us, which will also allow you request an absentee ballot.

Why would you want to vote this November? Aside from the state offices being voted on, the US Senate race may determine which party takes control of Congress. Also, there are three initiatives being voted on:

For more election information, including candidate statements and the full text of the initiatives being voted on, see the Official Election Pamphlet.

If you want to have a voice in any of this, you need to register to vote if you haven’t already. If you don’t live in Alaska, you can learn more about when to register and what’s at stake in your state by visiting usa.gov’s Register to Vote and Elections page.

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From the Desk of ALA: 9/12/2014 Executive Director Report Highlights

On 9/12/2014, American Library Association (ALA) Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels sent out his 19 page “Report to [ALA] Council and Executive Board.” The full report will eventually be posted to the 2013-2014 Executive Board Documents page on the ALA website. Below are three pages of highlights provided by Director Fiels.  Please let me know if you have questions or comments about any of this material or would like a copy of the full report.


Report to Council and Executive Board

 September 12, 2014

 Keith Michael Fiels Executive Director


Membership Count

The ALA membership count as of July 31, 2014 was 56,280.  Four divisions and four Round Tables had membership increases compared to July 2013.


Celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month

September is Library Card Sign-up Month and new downloadable tools along with print and digital public service announcements (PSAs) are now available.  Tools include a sample press release, op-ed, proclamation, PSA scripts and radio quality PSAs.  Legendary comic creator Stan Lee is serving as the Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-up Month in September.  Stan Lee taped a brief interview with PIO/Campaign staff and shared these comments: “Having a library card, it’s like having a key to all the information in the world.  When you have a library card you can read anything about anything, and I have found that whatever you read, it doesn’t matter – it increases your fund of knowledge.  So a library card is the ‘Open Sesame’ to all the knowledge in the world.”  Lee has also agreed to promote Library Card Sign-Up Month through his social media channels.


Nearly 100 Percent of Public Libraries Offer Tech Training and Workforce Programs, Study Finds

According to a new ALA study, nearly 100 percent of America’s public libraries offer workforce development training programs, online job resources, and technology skills training. Overall, libraries report technology improvements—including nearly ubiquitous public Wi-Fi, growing mobile resources and a leap in e-book access—but the ALA’s 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey also documents digital differences among states and an urban/rural divide. Unique to this study are the Interactive mapping tools that combine digital inclusion survey and community-level data.  The map enables libraries to better understand their community demographics, education and learning, economic/workforce, and health contexts along with the digital inclusion services that they provide.  The study is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and conducted by the ALA Office for Research & Statistics and the Information Policy & Access Center at the University of Maryland College Park.  Grant partners include ALA OITP and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).  Read the press release.


Workforce Bill Passes, Includes Libraries

In July, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a law that will open access to federal funding support to public libraries for effective job training and job search programs.  ALA President Courtney Young applauded the presidential signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in a statement.  ALA thanks Senator Jack Reed (DRI) and Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) for their efforts to include libraries in the legislation.


ALA Active on Surveillance and Privacy Issues

ALA continues to work closely and aggressively in tandem with partners in several coalitions to reform the multiple statutes that provide the government with various forms of surveillance and investigatory authority.  In June, ALA joined more than 30 other civil liberties and privacy organizations in writing to key members of the Senate to support the modification of the USA FREEDOM Act so that it truly ends the “bulk collection” of telephone business records, and builds transparency and additional oversight into court-approved surveillance activities.


Simon & Schuster Expands ebook Lending Program

In June, Simon & Schuster revealed that it will expand its pilot library ebook lending program to serve all U.S. libraries.  Immediate Past President Barbara Stripling responded to the ebook expansion by releasing a press statement indicating ALA encouragement of the continued progress on the library ebook front, though noting much work remains to be done.


2014 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

Booklist and RUSA hosted the 2014 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence award ceremony at the ALA Annual Conference.  Both medal winners, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Donna Tartt, were present to accept their awards in person.  Nancy Pearl served as emcee, and celebrated crime fiction author and library champion Karin Slaughter delighted audiences with her keynote speech.  Kearns Goodwin received the nonfiction medal for The Bully Pulpit and Tartt received the fiction medal for The Goldfinch.  A dessert and cocktail reception followed, where guests mingled with all three authors.  In addition to coverage of the announcements in many national media outlets, more than 451,000 Web pickups were noted.  (see also RUSA coverage in this  Report)


AASL Transforms Learning with New Mission Statement and Strategic Plan

AASL challenges leaders in all fields to bring about an evolution in student learning with its adoption of a new mission statement and strategic plan.  During the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, the AASL Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve the mission statement: The American Association of School Librarians empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


PLA Board Approves Updated Strategic Plan

At the 2014 ALA Annual Conference, the PLA Board of Directors approved an updated strategic plan that builds on PLA’s success to date, regarding two strategic goal areas in particular — Advocacy & Awareness and Leadership & Transformation—and focuses the association for the next three years.  The desired outcome of the planning process is to guide and create clarity on how PLA should invest its valuable and limited resources to meet the future needs of its members and other stakeholders.  Read the background and revised strategic plan.


ALSC National Institute

The ALSC National Institute with the theme of “Expanding Our Worlds, Creating Community,” will be held September 18 – 20, 2014 in Oakland, California.  Featuring quality educational programming and inspirational speakers, event registration has reached maximum capacity and is now waiting-list only.  A number of award-winning authors and illustrators will be present at the Institute and a special reception, held at Children’s Fairyland, is a highlight event.


LITA Forum in Albuquerque

LITA is organizing the 2014 Forum with two workshops, three keynotes, 30 plus concurrent sessions, poster sessions, and multiple networking opportunities.  The Forum is scheduled for Wednesday, November 5 through Saturday, November 8 and promises to deliver strong programming and networking opportunities.  The two workshops begin on Wednesday, November 5, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and run through Thursday, November 6, 8:00 a.m. to noon.  Learn Python by Playing with Library Data with Francis Kayiwa will provide the basics on how to set up your Python environment, install useful packages, and, write programs. Linked Data for Libraries: How libraries can make use of Linked Open Data to share information about library resources and to improve discovery, access, and understanding for library users will feature Dean Krafft and Jon Corson-Rikert from Cornell University Library.  For more information, also see the LITA section of this report.


Stay Up to Date on Young Adult Literature

The 2014 YA Literature Symposium will be held on November 14-16 in Austin, Texas.   Check out the preliminary program, register at www.ala.org/yalitsymposium.  Early registration closes September 15.  Join the conversation on Twitter with #yalit14


American Libraries Live Free Streaming Video Broadcasts

A recent American Libraries Live episode (free streaming video broadcasts) included a discussion on “The Kid and Teen-Friendly Library,” moderated by Jennifer Velasquez with expert panelists Amy J. Alessio, Lana Adlawan, Heather Booth, and Amanda Foulk.  This episode is available in the archive on www.americanlibrarieslive.org.  The next episode will be September 18 on “Libraries Self-Service Software and Devices.”  Advertising sponsorship continues to grow, and most of the programs average more than 1,200 viewers.  AL Live is a shared project between American Libraries and ALA TechSource.


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