Tag Archives: censorship

The Power of a Link

One reason I haven’t fully blacked out my blog today is that I want to use it to write about the power of connecting, which is what SOPA and PIPA are threatening. The strength of the internet is that it is a web of links and it’s possible to trace a link back to its original source. Sometimes this is harder than others but if links in these chains began to disappear then conversations and sources would be lost. It is important to protect the property of creators, but creativity also requires connections to shift and grow. None of these are new ideas, but they’re important to recall when the discussion becomes one of right and wrong.

My professional life and my personal life are enhanced and grown by links to people, organizations, authors and patrons. I want to look into how some of these links have added to my profession as a librarian and my growth as a person, because mine is just one of many stories of linkages across the internet.

As a reference librarian who works primarily for students along with researchers at the University of Michigan, my job is to help along the path of searching out sources. In this moment in time that is mainly done by tracing a citation to a full text article or learning to navigate a database or catalog to find what’s needed. Each step of the process is made up of links beginning with the researcher explaining what they’re looking for, I need to understand them and we create a human connection. From that point, we have to translate questions into language that will be understood by our search tools such as Proquest and there the links become incredibly powerful. Once the right phrase is found, it’s possible to go ever deeper and seen multiple pathways to explore a question and follow the chains of thoughts. The reverse of this is using a citation to trace back to a source and here the power of links is staggering. I’ve had people grading papers ask for my help to track back a citation and when the right one is found, there’s a moment of oh, I see how they got there.

The other side of this story for me is the links of the world of fandom where thanks to the internet creators and fans find new ways to connect and fans are constantly connecting with each other. It’s possible for me to let an author know that I loved their newest book through a tweet and know they received the compliment. I can also find new shows and books thanks to the web of connections of my friends who all have different networks and we touch at many points. We encourage each other to keep looking and searching and make the world smaller. As I’ve learned, you never know what image or music will inspire you or change your day, but I know that on the internet if I find something that touches me, I can find where it began. From that source I can found out how to follow the creator or purchase from them just as a citation shows a teacher how you began. We can’t lose any links in these chains.

A difficult part of this is figuring out which links to present for extra information as there are some incredibly good ones out there. I’m going to link a lot of them.

From Wikipedia, definitions: SOPA, PIPA

From Pajiba.com, one of the best write ups I’ve read: The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act explained with profanity

From Google: Take Action

From WordPress.com: SOPA Strike

Please think on how you connect and trace links and take action.

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Filed under goals and career, links

Our Duties and Responsibilities as Librarians

Reading through the Library Bill of Rights, I’m struck by how vague and righteous the language it is, I think its the use of all the shoulds that gives the impression of moral rightness. Also its interesting that the language focus is on things that should not be denied and not be proscribed. The implication is that this will insure that things will be provided, but the use of should so much is kind of worrying, it comes off with a sense of we know what’s right for you even as we’re saying that we’ll provide things for everyone.

Minors and Internet Interactivity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I found this particular interpretation quite powerful as it balanced the times when its important to listen to an individual child, their parents and when to trust your own judgment. The line especially about how inappropriate use shouldn’t be a reason to completely stop using online references but instead be looked as as behavior issues, this sounds as if a teacher pointed it out. Also I find the focus on parents teaching their children to use social tools slightly odd since that seems like something that can be combined with online learning and needs a balance between the school and the home education. My worry would be that many parents don’t know enough to teach their children about social skills yet it could also work as a chance to teach both parents and children if a workshop could be put together. This entire interpretation seems based around the AASL standards for making sure that online tools and technology are used to enhance education and inquiry.

Importance of Education to Intellectual Freedom: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I found this interpretation greatly reflects that the idea that libraries are powerful bastions of intellectual freedom and should be a safe place to create. Combining this with the idea that education is also a right puts libraries in a important part of society and what I find interesting about this interpretation is how it doesn’t speak to the complications of the US public education system. It seems like school libraries especially have an important part of this discussion and yet aren’t mentioned instead the focus is on education and libraries in more general terms. It would be nice to have some more detail in there since that seems like it would make the interpretation more effective.

Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I think the thing I find most interesting about this interpretation is the line about how challenged materials must stay in the library, that seems like very clearly a librarians’ way of thinking. It allows people who haven’t read the book that’s being challenged to seek it out and understand things better and keeps the process fairly open. I wonder though how often this happens during the reality of a challenge. The two key parts of there needing to be a hearing and that if the book has been put through a selection process, it has a measure of protection, this moves again to the idea of just how much responsibility a librarian holds to make sure that the materials they choose and appropriate for their community. That seems to be the theme that runs through the Bills of Rights and the interpretations.

Empowering Learners does a good job of interpreting the Library Bill of Rights into powerful methods of putting them into use and moves them out of the language of ethics into reality. I like how much of the focus is on paying attention to your colleagues and community to make sure that what’s in the library is appropriate for them. I think this is the trickiest and most important part because while it can be easy to say, I think this is right, what counts more and is harder is going, this isn’t the right thing to do for this community. The hard part is figuring out when this becomes I’m doing to protect as opposed to I don’t think you’re ready for this yet.

In the Woolls’ reading, I quite liked her balance for filters of creating an agreement between parent and child for use of internet access. Since this is something that can be adjusted and discussed as the child grows older so there isn’t one person in control and parents are aware of what their children are doing and can continue the conversation of what’s safe to do online and what isn’t at home. The section on ILS makes me think about Chris Harris and how he created his own system because the ones that were out there didn’t do what he felt was important. I was curious just how many types of ILSes are out there and how much choice does a librarian have in terms of what they have since putting in a new one must be as great an undertaking as redesigning the library. A selection policy seems to be a powerful document to have, because it creates a form of defense against challenges for a librarian along with a clear understanding of their thinking. The rest of the chapter seems like a reflection of what we talked about in 624 in terms of thinking about what’s truly appropriate in terms of materials and technology, that so much of what counts is what’s appropriate for the community.

In the article, one of the first things that strikes me is the phrase “religion of practice”, that captures so much of what ethics can do, because they’re not always followed to the letter but they define how a profession presents itself. I think the idea of competing ethics must be something that school librarians are constantly dealing with because they work within so many spheres and are required to be part of many professions. I was wondering how this plays out in the reality of the library and what are the common sorts of questions that school librarians come across.

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Filed under school library management reflection