A member of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe from Montana, a rural community college librarian from North Carolina, and a Pennsylvania advocate for immigrants and refugees are among the 10 winners of the ALA’s 2018 I Love My Librarian Awards. The awards, along with $5,000 checks, were given on Tuesday at a reception in New York hosted by award co-sponsors Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Public Library, and The New York Times. The winners were chosen from more than 1,000 nominations from library users nationwide.
“Our nation’s librarians work tirelessly and selflessly to better lives in their communities,” said American Library Association President Loida Garcia-Febo. “I stand in awe of their contributions to transforming lives through courage, empathy and compassion. Thank you for your noble work and civic mindedness.”
This year’s award recipients include four academic librarians, three public librarians and three school librarians: Ginny Blackson (James E. Brooks Library, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA); Joy Bridwell (Stone Child College Library, Box Elder, MT); Tamara Cox (Wren High School, Piedmont, SC); Nancy Daniel (Western Piedmont Community College Library, Morganton, NC); Jennifer Berg Gaither (Baltimore City College, Baltimore, MD); Terri Gallagher (Community College of Beaver County Library, Monaca, PA); Paula Kelly (Whitehall Public Library, Pittsburgh, PA); Stephanie Hartwell-Mandella (Katonah Village Library, Bedford, NY); Linda Robinson (Mansfield Middle School, Mansfield, CT); and Lindsey Tomsu (Algonquin Area Public Library District, Algonquin, IL).
From the PBS Newshour, a nice clip celebrating the awards, and librarians. “We’re your living, breathing Google,” says librarian Kristen Arnett. “And unlike a certain search engine, we will be patient and work with you when all you can remember is that the book’s cover is blue.”
American Libraries has also has a nice piece. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!
‘Laughable and Dangerous’: Researchers Fire Back at Critics of European Open Access Initiative, Plan S
The journal Nature reports that researchers are coming to the defense of Plan S, Europe’s ambitious open access initiative, via a petition effort. As of this writing, more than 1,700 researchers have signed an online letter backing Plan S, which is now supported by 16 national science funders and charities, and counting.
“For too long we have tolerated a pay-for-access business model for scholarly journals that is inequitable, impedes progress in our fields, and denies the public the full benefit of our work,” The letter states. “We therefore welcome efforts on the part of public and private research funders to require that publications based on work they fund be made immediately freely and openly available without restrictions on access or use.”
The letter in support of Plan S comes after some 1500 researchers last month signed their own “open letter” questioning whether Plan S is too risky. In addition, AAP president Maria Pallante last month issued a strongly-worded statement against Plan S, calling it “a violation of academic freedom to publish” and arguing that it “disrespects the publishing industry.”
In the Nature report, Michael Eisen, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley and a long-time open access advocate, said it was “laughable and dangerous” to suggest that “funder mandates impinge on academic freedom” when the current publication system “effectively forces researchers to publish in high impact-factor journals and the community to spend billions of dollars on subscriptions.”
Final Push: As 115th Congress Winds Down, ALA Urges Members to Stay Engaged
Potential good news for libraries: On December 4, the Senate passed the Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA, S. 3530), which would reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through 2025. The bill now moves to the House, where Kromer reports it has only a week to make it to the floor before the 115th Congress gavels out on December 14.
Passage of the MLSA doesn’t ensure that Congress will fund federal library programs, nor is reauthorization necessary for IMLS to receive funding, Kromer explains. “But an agency with current authorization stands a much better chance of receiving funding than one that does not.” That’s especially important, she adds, as the Trump Administration has twice proposed the elimination of all federal library funding and the permanent elimination of the IMLS, threats ALA anticipates will continue.
In addition, Kromer reports on the ALA’s efforts to stop S. 1010, The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which critics (including the library community) say would politicize the Register of Copyrights by making the position a presidential appointee. The bill passed in the House back in April of 2017 (HR 1695), but had languished in the Senate until recently.
As we reported last week, S. 1010 was due to be voted out of a Senate committee on Tuesday, but that vote was abruptly canceled. As of this writing, the vote has not been rescheduled, but library leaders say it could be at any moment, and are urging librarians to stay engaged with their representatives. “ALA members’ response to advocacy alerts has been strong, but the lobbying efforts of influential rightsholders are gaining traction,” Kromer said.
Meanwhile, the EFF this week joined the ALA in urging the bill’s rejection. “When the Copyright Office wades into policy, we get things like its support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its allowance of MPAA lobbying to undermine the FCC’s plan to bring competition to the cable box market,” writes EFF’s Katharine Trendacosta. “The Copyright Office has gotten more political over time, but the solution is not to help it along.”
The bill is strongly supported by the entertainment industry, including the Association of American Publishers, whose president, former Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante, has long advocated for the Copyright Office to be removed from purview of the Library of Congress, where it currently resides, and established as an independent agency.
The Los Angeles Times has a remarkable article about the University of California’s negotiations with Elsevier. The university wants a “publish-and-read deal” the article reports, while Elsevier is reportedly insisting on a traditional subscription deal. “What’s irksome about the publishers’ stance is that much of their overhead is shouldered by the same people they charge for subscriptions. The publishers don’t pay authors for papers or peer reviewers for their reviews. The research undergirding the published papers often is wholly or partially funded via public grants—that is, by taxpayers, who must pay again to read the results.”
The Duke University Libraries has released a report on Expansive Digital Publishing, a project supported by the Mellon Foundation. “This report offers a framework for how libraries can begin to embrace their role in the maturing space of digital humanities publishing…”
The New York Times has a look at Oodi, Helsinki, Finland’s massive new high-tech library. Librarian Anna-Maria Soininvaar told the Times she didn’t even know what all the machines in the library do. “‘Books are important, but it’s not the whole library,’ Soininvaara said. She pointed to Oodi’s recording studios, kitchen, gaming room with PlayStation consoles, and an immersive 3-D space, a room whose walls can be illuminated with digital projections, available to artists or for corporate presentations.” Very cool.
The Denver Public Library has done it: no more fines. “Eliminating overdue fines is paramount to providing equitable access for all customers,” says City Librarian Michelle Jeske. “Too often, fines penalize the most vulnerable families and individuals who can least afford them; we want to reverse this trend and get community members back into our buildings to use materials and enhance their quality of life and education.”
Interesting story in Mother Jones about a library that straddles the U.S./Canadian border and has become a haven for families to meet without fear of being detained by ICE agents. “For Iranian student Shirin Estahbanati, the six-hour drive north from New York City was the first opportunity she had to see her parents in almost three years.”
From The New Yorker, Sue Halpern (who gave a great talk to librarians at the 2018 Carnegie Medals reception at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans) has an eye-opening piece on Facebook’s mounting troubles, including “incriminating internal e-mails, an ugly P.R. campaign, explosive exposés, denials, and denunciations.”
From Curbed, a look at San Francisco’s most beautiful libraries.
Library Journal has a report on its most recent Design Institute
The New York Public Library this week released its latest Insta-Novel, it’s popular rendering of classic works as Instagram stories. This one is Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.
From Wired, a look at how Tumblr’s recent decision to police its platform for porn reveals who really controls what we see online. “In March, Congress passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Online Sex Trafficking Act (or FOSTA-SESTA for short). Lawmakers hailed the law as a means to give prosecutors more tools to combat combat sex trafficking. But the statute also tinkered with a bedrock provision of internet law, opening the door for platforms to be held criminally and civilly liable for the actions of their users.”
And the EFF’s Katharine Trendacosta and Jillian C. York offer their take on Tumblr’s move as well. “The end result,” they write, “is that companies and governments are changing how users get to express themselves on the Internet.”