Friday, November 29, 2019

Dec. 4 webinar featuring Digitization of the New-York Historical Society Subway Construction Photograph Collection

This appeared in my email the day before Thanksgiving. Even though you may be on holiday, I want you to see this when you return!  This Dec. 4 webinar panel includes Henry Raine, from the New-York Historical Society, and two people from Backstage Library WorksRegister is open for this webinar, which will run from 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET.

The photographic collection documenting 50 years of subway construction in New York City is a trove of 20th century visual history. As one of the most frequently requested collections at the New-York Historical Society Museum and Library, these photos were a prime candidate for digitization and metadata enhancement.

Backstage Library Works presents:
Digitization of the New-York Historical Society
Subway Construction Photograph Collection

In this webinar, Henry Raine from the New-York Historical Society joins Annemarie Hartzell and Casey Cheney from Backstage to walk you through the collaborative process of creating digital images and adding geodata to facilitate improved search and access within the collection.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Becoming a copyright coach: an interview with editors Kevin L. Smith and Erin L. Ellis

ALA has a interview with the authors of Coaching Copyright, Kevin L. Smith and Erin L. Ellis. Smith and Ellis released this new book in September. The book's goal is to empower:
users to take a practical approach to specific situations. Complete with in-depth case studies, this collection provides valuable information rooted in pragmatic techniques, including:
  • in-depth discussion of the five questions that will help you clarify any copyright situation;
  • storytelling techniques to enliven copyright presentations, plus ways to use music or YouTube to hook students into copyright topics;
  • three coaching scenarios that tie into ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and bring real-world applications to your library instruction;
  • how-to guidance on leading mock negotiations over real journal publishing agreements;
  • a 90-minute lesson plan on author rights for writers in a student journal;
  • tips for teaching instructional designers how to apply copyright and fair use principles to course management systems; and
  • an LIS copyright course assessment model.

The interview provides some advice, with clearly much more in the book.  Yes, read the interview and consider purchasing the book.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

#NYLA2019 : ADHD, Neurodiversity, and the Benefits of -- WAITLOOK!

Speakers: Lauren Comito, Brooklyn Public Library and Halley Eacker, University at Albany

Description: Are you a library worker with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)? As a manager of neurodiverse employees, are you looking for strategies to support your employees' professional success? Join our own-voice presenters as they discuss techniques adapted from positive-behavior-interventions-and-supports (PBIS) and how these employees can be powerhouse workers in their libraries with the proper environmental support. Topics of discussion include: expert guidance on ADHD in the workplace, methods for staying on task with ADHD, using ADHD as an asset in a profession that's constantly changing, how ADHD can affect public service interactions with adults and children, and what strategies and environmental supports should be considered by organizations to promote success.

Notes:  Comito and Eacker acknowledged at the start that they are able to talk about this issue openly, without fear of repercussion, because of the privilege they enjoy. They also acknowledge that students of color are treated differently when it comes to neurodiversity.  They may not receive the same support, etc., as white students.  Comito and Eacker were open about their neurodiversity, as were others in audience. The safe space of this session allowed for very useful information to be shared.
  • What is neurodiversity? How our brains are structured and function are diverse.
  • No one needs to disclose that they are neurodiverse.
  • Let go of how the work is done, and focus rather that the work is done.  Give people different pathways to the same outcomes or products.
  • How people work towards deadlines may be quite different.  Nudge but don’t nag.
  • Do you need to modify your space to create a better environment for those with neurodiversity? Think about the lighting, sound, layout, etc.
  • Documented condition/diagnosis - If you need accommodation for the job interview. You can ask for an accommodation.
  • Ask your employees: How do you work best? What type of environment do you need?
  • How can you differentiate jobs tasks for each employee, rather than thinking in terms of accommodating a specific person?
  • Think about individual productivity tools.
  • Talking openly about your needs can help others think about theirs.
  • If you believe someone needs help, point the person towards available resources.
  • Can you create psychological safety in your work group?
  • The law has created a stigma rather than creating a ways for all of us to be productive.
  • Point out people’s strengths, rather than focusing  on their weaknesses.  Use their strengths.
  • Hiring is time consuming.  You want new employees to succeed.


Quick Thoughts 

At one point, Lauren Comito used the phrase "Temporal locality." This phrase was new to me, but it captures something many of us do, especially anyone with a messy desk.  With temporal locality, you place items where they can be accessed quickly.What seems messy for one person is efficient for someone else.

That above is a good example of understand how someone works and then giving that person the latitude to work in a way that is efficient for them.  Comito also noted that how someone works may mean that they naturally wait until the last minute to get something done.  That panic of being close to the deadline helps the person get the work completed.

This is a session that could have gone on much longer, with people contributing different resources, etc.  I hope NYLA does a session like this again!

#NYLA2019 : Programming for All Abilities

Speakers: Amy Smith, Red Hook Public Library, and Jason Thomas, Newburgh Free Library

Description: Libraries have a mission to serve everyone but, when it comes to programming, children, teens, and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities are often overlooked. Many libraries would like to begin programs, but don’t know where to start. At the same time, families and caregivers are looking for opportunities for their loved ones, clients, and students, to socialize, learn and have fun in a public setting.   Based on both the Red Hook Public Library and Newburgh Free Library’s “All Abilities” programs, this presentation shows how to add programs for all age groups with cognitive disabilities without breaking the budget.  Whether it’s adding a monthly social hour, or developing regular adaptive story time, there are options for libraries of any size.


Why do this?
  • Develop relationships with community organizations 
  • Support the needs of patrons 
  • Develop relationships between you patrons and staff
  • These programs will make you happy
  • Staff may be hesitant - they may have incorrect perceptions. You can model acceptance. 
  • You may not know where to begin. You do  not need to be an expert.  These programs are not a substitute for schooling.  They are focused on trying new things and meeting new people. Yes, you will make mistakes and that’s okay. 
  • You don’t want to ask absolutely it specific diagnosis and breach privacy. However, you may receive funds for programs for specific diagnosis.
  • Diagnostic language may not be clear and may sound out of touch.
  • Language can also be overly vague.
  • People will not come to a program if the language is unclear and they don’t know if it will be appropriate.
  • Don’t use words that could be condescending.
  • “All abilities” is an improv crazy risk. Include other specific language to help person.
  • Person first language vs identity first language. 
  • Disability culture
Who will come?
  • People who already come to your library. Those all abilities programs are for them, even if they attend other programs. 
  • People from specific organizations. 
  • Start small
  • Make the marketing clear.  Consistency can help.
Who will come?  Adults:
  • Where in the library do you do these?
  • To register or not?
  • Will you take photos?
  • What time of day?
  • Openly advertise programs
  • Do scheduled programs for specific individual groups
  • Program in a box
  • Off hour activities by request
Who will come?  Teens:
  • All abilities volunteer programs
  • Treat the program with respect and give rewards
  • Do the work with them.  That is a way to show respect.
Who will come?  Kids:
  • All abilities story time - people think this will be easy, but it isn't. Don’t start with this. 
  • Music and movement
  • Big family events.  Red Hook opens an hour early at some events for those with all abilities.  Registration required.  Add the information to the event email that already exists. 
  • When you do activities with those at the all abilities events, you are not othering them.

Quick Thoughts

Smith and Thomas are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about this topic, with great examples. What stood out to me is that developing activities and events for all abilities requires changing your perspective, but that once you have done it, it will become natural.  One thing to consider is to talk with those who are already doing these events. They can provide helpful tips, examples, and encouragement.

#NYLA2019 : Hopepunk Sustainability: Libraries in the Lead

Speakers: Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Mid-Hudson Library System, and David Biello, TED

Description: In a world of overwhelming pessimism regarding climate change and sustainable practices, libraries have all the tools necessary to lead our communities forward on these issues. Recent reports from the United Nations and the US Government indicate that our economy is not shifting fast enough to mitigate the dire consequences we are already seeing due to climate change like severe weather, food insecurity and civil unrest. How can we stay focused and maximize our assets in the community to solve these issues? What global trends should libraries consider when designing their localized plans? Library leaders need to be empowered to serve as catalysts and conveners that help local communities help themselves.

Notes: Libraries are ground zero for hope. Hope lives in taxpayers that believe libraries are integral to our future. Libraries are beacons of hope. Libraries provide a realistic optimism based in hope.

Libraries are working on being sustainable as institutions, as well as help the world be sustainable.   For this to occur, libraries need to create sustainable practices.

How does your library building work? Are you using the building in a sustainable way? What is the system in which your building is embedded? Can you affect that system so it is more sustainable?

Voting is the greenest thing you can do and it affects the policies that help us be sustainable.

The catalyst for Sustainability happens at the top and at the bottom of organizations. In China, the change is occurring through children, a bottom up approach. Can we impact the curriculum in our schools to teach sustainable living?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is training preparedness ambassadors and they want to work with libraries.

ALA has added sustainability as a core value of librarianship.  That means that new MSLIS students will be thinking about it as part of their learning.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

#NYLA2019 : Introduction to Civil Service (Civil Service 101)

Speakers: Claudia Depkin, Haverstraw King's Daughters Public Library, and Geoff Kirkpatrick, Bethlehem Public Library

Description: Join us as we engage with members of the Civil Service Task Force on navigating the finer points of the civil service system. Have questions about the hiring process? Do you want to know what to do after you've received your score? Stop in to find out. There will be an opportunity for discussion at the end of the presentation -- bring your questions!

Notes: Civil service is used to hire public library staff in many New York State libraries and in some other government-connected libraries across the state.  While civil service is not used in every U.S. state, where it is used, it is important to understand what it is, why it exists, and how to navigate the system.

NYLA maintains "A Librarians Guide to Civil Service" on its website, which people should refer to.

Why does civil service exist? It was created in the 1800s to breakup appointing who you know to positions. It is meant to help hire the best people for the job. It was also designed to protect people once they are in their positions.

What's the point?
  • Protect incumbents  from political pressure
  • Test for merit and fitness in an objective way
  • Encourage promotion from within the organization
  • Provide career ladders for employees
In NYS, all libraries uses civil services except for association libraries.  Information is available on the State Library website.

A few thoughts about vocabulary:
  • Vocabulary is important.
  • The words used, when describing civil service are nonstandard. You need to understand their language (civil service) and how they are using it.
  • It is a world into itself.
Home Rule - There are rules about civil service in NYS law, but there are local rules, connected with a specific civil service authority.  Those rules vary from location to location, and are important.

Local Control:
  • This makes the discussion of particulars challenging.
  • Commissioners and other civil service employees wield enormous power over specific practices.
  • Misunderstanding of NYS Civil Service law at the local level can be devastating.
  • Those things not specifically mentioned in state law are left to the local municipality to decide.
Some example:
  • Number of years of experience for minimum qualifications
  • Whether to use promotional exams
  • How often to offer exams
  • Part time staff having competitive or non-competitive status
Depkin and Kirkpatrick stressed that it is important to develop and maintain a relationship with your local civil service agency.

Classification of positions:
  • Two broad classes: classified, unclassified
  • Unclassified - elected officials, head of government agencies, teachers 
Four categories of classified service:
  • Competitive class - competitive exams, provides due process
  • Non-competitive class - some part-time positions are placed in the non-competitive class, see section 75 
  • Exempt class - library attorney, library treasurer, library executive/CEO (CC law 41)
  • Labor class - manual labor, part-time or full-time, See section 75
Depkin and Kirkpatrick frequently mentioned section 75  of Civil Service law, which emphasized the importance of understanding what is in the law itself.

  • Types of exams: open competitive, promotional 
  • May have residency requirements
  • Continuous recruitment versus non-continuous recruitment - when you can signup for the exam
Methods of examinations:
  • Typically multiple choice
  • Used  for most titles
  • May be on paper or computer
  • Training and experience exams
    • Used for librarian titles
    • Structured resume
    • Scored by a computer 
    • Questions about experiences, formal education, continuing education, professional development
  • Combination Exams
    • Frequently used for computer (IT) titles
  • Applicant must meet minimum standards.
  • Passing score and reachable on the civil service list for that position-type.
  • Applicant must respond to the canvas letter, which is sent by the hiring library.  This letter allows people on the civil service list to signal if they are interested in this specific position. It allows the hiring library to know who they should be considering for an interview.
  • The library then selects people to interview from available candidates
  • Once the final selection has been made, the staff member must be official appointed.
  • The new staff member must complete the probationary period.
Types of appointments:
  • Contingent permanent
  • Permanent
  • Provisional - no section 75 protections
  • Temporary - some specific rules based on length of the appointment
  • Non-competitive appointment
  • .....Others
Rule of one of three (rule of three)
  • Ensures that the appointing authority is never forced to choose from fewer than three eligible candidates.
  • Frequently misinterpreted.
  • Appointing authority may choose to appoint any of the three highest scoring candidates including ties, who are willing to accept the appointment.  This is why canvasing process is critical.
  • Within the rule of three, any legal method may be used.

Quick Thoughts

First, I wish that more people had been at this session, especially MSLIS students.  This is an important topic, especially in NYS, so having the chance to hear from people who are well-versed in it is useful.  Yes, there is "A Librarians Guide to Civil Service", but that is not a person is sitting in front of you, answering questions as Depkin and Kirkpatrick did.

Second, a number of people need to understand civil service including library staff, those seeking employment, and public library boards of trustees. While each group may not need to understand civil service at the same depth, each - if connected with or interested in a library whose hiring is government by civil service - needs to know enough so as to not make a mistake.  In NYS, there are a number of people who are well-versed in the law and who would be willing to talk about it.

Third, some states in the U.S. do not use civil service. Hiring in those states is done by people applying for open positions, then the library selecting the candidates they want to interview, etc. While this may make hiring easier, it offers fewer protections to the employees.

Fourth, civil service protects against nepotism and the hiring of friends. While we might rail against civil service, I think we should be supportive of a system that trying to make hiring more open and fair.

Finally, because civil service encourages promotion from within the organization, we need to provide the professional development and career opportunities to our staff, so they will meet the qualifications for the next level up the ladder.  Failing to do this is a problem and it harms the library and its staff.

#NYLA2019 : Random conference thoughts

Photo from Twitter of the tattoo artist at NYLA
Random thoughts:
  • The New York Library Association (NYLA) now has over 7000 members (a new record)!  NYLA has done a nice job in recent years in expanding membership, which gets more people active in the association and more people active in advocacy.
  • NYLA continues to put the fun in the conference!  Each year is advertised as the "Best Conference Ever" and it is amazing how that comes true.  
  • Besides a wide range of conference sessions, continuing education events, and companies/organizations in the trade show area (exhibit hall), this year there was a tattoo artist on-site!  Yes, people lined up for library, book and gaming themed tattoos from Gold Tiger Tattoo.
  • And if tattoos weren't enough excitement, there was sword fighting (with all of the protective gear) in the trade show area.
  • Photo by Jill Hurst-Wahl of theNYLA business meeting and breakfast
  • If you want to get a quorum at your association's business meeting, do what NYLA has done for years - serve breakfast! This year, it was standing room only!
  • While the content is always good, the networking that occurs is important.  Never discount the power of being at a conference and making connections. These are the connections that could get your ahead in your career.
  • The content, the location, and the people make this one of the largest state-level library conferences in the U.S., or so I've heard.  I mean...a 1000+ people! Wow!
  • The is indeed a great conference and I hope that others - even from outside NYS - will come to it. You will not be disappointed!
Warming up for sword fighting where library staff weild more than just information

#NYLA2019 : Philosophical Publics: Ruling Ourselves, Thinking Together

Astra Taylor at NYLA Annual Conference
In introducing Astra Taylor, Meg Backus said, we call libraries the last bastion of democracy, but what does that mean?

During her keynote, Taylor talked about democracy, read passages from her book, and showed us a clip from her documentary.  What follows are the thoughts and ideas I picked up from her talk.

Who rules in a democracy?  The people rule, but what is “the people”? How do we describe this abstraction? Democracy focuses us to ask “how are we going to live together”?  Can we all engage philosophically with that question ?

Socrates warned that democracy would devolve into tyranny with a demagogue. Aristotle said that democracy is rule of the poor. Democracy assumes economic equality.

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) has an impact on the U.S. democracy. As Taylor read passages about the Great Law of Peace, it was easy to hear how our U.S. democracy was founded upon it.  (You can read the Great Law of Peace on and   Yet we have moved away from it in ways that have harmed our democracy.

In a democracy, the people hold the power.  She noted that democracy is aspirational and a messy practice.  In a democracy, there should be mass opinion rather that expertise.  In other words, democracy should be based on a few people who have the "right" knowledge.  That is counter to the idea that the people hold the power.  Distrusting experts leads to looking for a strong leader.  A strong leader means that power is concentrated, rather than being held by the people.

Meritocracy is where experts rule. This idea was born over 50 years ago.  It was meant to be a joke, but has become true.  We live in a society where the experts know best. Who are the experts on democracy? People have always fought for their right to learn.  What would  like education look like in an inclusive, democratic system?

She noted that elections are aristocratic, while selection is democratic. 

Astra Taylor encourages people to recognize and use the power that they have. Organize with people who are in the same circumstance as you.

Quick Thoughts

This is a topic we - especially in the U.S. - need to be thinking about. It is not an easy topic to tackle, because democracy is an ideal that can be implemented in many ways.  What is important about it is that the people - not the philosopher king or the top expert or the richest people - rule.  Astra Taylor's work can indeed help us delve into this and I'm glad that she spoke at NYLA.

If this topic interests you, consider starting with the RN Future Tense podcast below (a transcript is available) as an introduction.  I also found Ezra Klein's interview to be informative and easy to listen to as I walk.

Astra Taylor's relevant works

Related podcasts 


Monday, November 18, 2019

#NYLA2019 : Q&A with the New State Librarian

NY State Librarian Lauren Moore
Lauren Moore became the State Librarian on August 1. As previous State Librarians have done, Lauren Moore came to NYLA and took questions from participants.

Moore cares about equity, digital inclusion, and policy.  She said that policy isn't exciting but it is how work gets done.

In talking about her vision (our vision), Moore said that she doesn't have all the answers after three months.  However, it is clear she has learned much about the library environment in NYS from her previous position and her short time in the New York Education Department, which the library is a part.  Moore wants to work with others to create a shared vision for libraries of all types across NYS.

In doing her work as State Librarian, Moore promised that she will be present, respectful, listen, continuously learn, and share power.

Questions State Librarian Moore was asked

Greatest challenge? Resources.  There is a complex source of funds and how those funds are used.  She needs to understand how the structure works and how to take advantage of opportunities.  How can she help the systems be flexible and agile.

How to increase the diversity of staff through civil service? Talk to civil services and make them your partner and ally. Work towards the long term.

Macmillan ebook embargo? The State Library cannot lobby or issue an opinion.  It can provide information and help gather information.  She suggested that libraries reer to existing information like the ebook study on the NYSED website.

Can the State Library use more social media? Yes.

Can she be the face of libraries in NYS? Yes, that is an aspiration.  However, she acknowledges that she is part of a large complex communications environment.

Question about schools without school librarians.  School libraries do not report to the State Library, but elsewhere in the NYS Education Department.  As she spoke about school libraries, Moore noted that the places to advocate may not be what you immediately consider.  Look around at who can provide input to a situation and advocate to them.

In answering another question about school libraries, she talked about endorsing work the work of school libraries and giving it more status.

Proposed trustee educational regulation? Proposed that each trustee receive two-hours of training each year.  When Commissioner Elia left, several top executives left at the same time.  That has delayed this regulation moving forward.  Can this regulation move forward in a different way?  She mentioned the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, as well as pursuing legislation, as ways of moving this forward.  She noted that adding a checkbox on the annual report each public library submits, regarding the training which individual trustees receive, could prompt more trustees to be trained annually. 

School library standards? The group that would create them has said "no." Is there another way to get that done?

2020 census? Not a lot of time left to prepare.  There is work happening across the state, outside of the State Library.  There is work for everyone to do, especially libraries. Do our staff know how to explain how we protect patron privacy on the internet?

What support does she want from us? Trust that she has our best interests at heart.  Continue to talk with her.  Help her understand what is happening.

She received a comment about civil service.  She recognizes that it has is pros and cons.  She noted that it is a human process and that we need to get to know the humans in the process.

Her range of travel? Yes she is getting out across the state.

Can she create more awareness of libraries in the eyes of the governor?  We need to build trust and makes services more visible to him.

Questions about prison libraries.  Prison libraries fall under the Department of Corrections.  She notes that county jails are locally run.  There are challenges and our libraries are working with prisons and jails in many ways.

#NYLA2019 : Take It or Leave It: What You Need to Know about Employee Leaves and Absences

Speakers: Ellen Bach and Robert Schofield from Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP

Description: Everything you need to know about the Family and Medical Leave Act, NY’s Paid Family Leave Act, and the other leave-related legal obligations affecting your library and its employees. Ensure that your policies, procedures, and practices are in compliance, before you face an issue.

Notes: My notes do not do this session justice and so I'm an not sharing them, because they could be misleading. Bach and Schofield provided many details and referred to the applicable laws and regulations. Clearly, they know this area well. What stood out to me are the number of leaves that are available to employees, with some being specific to New York State. The term "leave" was used broadly, with some leaves being measured in hours and others being measured in weeks. The leaves mentioned were:
  • Vacation, sick leave, paid holidays and bereavement leave - generally governed by employer policies
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Paid Family Leave (PFL) - NYS specific
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • NYS Human Rights Law (HRL)
  • Military Leave
  • Military Spouse Leave
  • Jury Duty
  • Voting
  • Blood Donation Leave
  • Bone marrow Leave
  • Cancer screening Leave
  • Breastfeeding Break Time 
  • Domestic Violence Protection
  • Crime Victims Leave

They noted that there are anti-retaliation provisions in these laws.

Clearly libraries and other employers need to understand these leaves and have appropriate policies. If an employer does not have resources in-house for this, they should consult a human resource professional (consultant) and legal counsel.

Addendum (11/19/2019): Bach and Schofield sent participants, who requested it, their slides.  In the slides are two things worth noting. First:
Employees are entitled to certain types of leave under federal, state and local law. Additional leaves may exist by policy or contract.
Employee Leaves can be a hyper technical area of HR management; even the most experienced managers should seek expert assistance when dealing with complex employee leave matters.

#NYLA2019 : How to say "no" and how to listen effectively

Session Title: Academic Librarians of Color Understanding the Game

Speakers: Simone Yearwood, CUNY, Queens College and Sandra Michele Echols, Consultant

Descriptions: Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships carefully and empathetically. Emotional Intelligence can be a difficult concept for librarians of color, especially in academia when they are typically the "minority" representative in the department. Learning how to say "no" and safeguarding their status can become a conflict while attempting to obtain tenure. Emotional intelligence can affect your performance at work, your physical and mental health, your relationships and social intelligence. Utilizing Emotional Intelligence skills can enhance your ability to listen, reflect and respond to constructive criticism; make better decisions (time-management), manage relationships and build networks; and stay calm when under pressure (all skills needed to successfully obtain tenure).

Notes: Two areas that interested me in this session where how to say "no" and how to listen effectively, because these are areas in which we all need advice.

How to say “NO” effectively

  1. Be assertive but courteous.
  2. Don’t beat around the bush.
  3. Set boundaries.
  4. Put the question back on the person who is asking.
  5. Don’t be pressured.
  6. Send a reply via email, which documents your decision.  The email "no" will be harder for someone to challenge.
  7. Be selfish.

Effective listening skills

  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Focus on the person and the conversation.  This also means not thinking about your reply, while you are listening.
  • Do not agree just to make the person feel better.
  • Resist the urge to provide  a solution.  In other words, don't jump to a solution. Rather take time to listen to the person and understand what the person needs.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Copyright and book theft

Typewriter typing the word steal This opinion piece in the New York Times caught my attention in September. In "Steal This Book? There’s a Price",  R
Since 2009, when eBooks and book piracy became a phenomenon, income for authors has declined 42 percent, according to a 2018 Authors Guild income survey, with the median income from writing now so low — just $6,080 a year — that poverty level looks like the mountaintop. By contrast, a 2017 Nielsen survey found that people who admitted to having read a pirated book in the previous six months tend to be middle class, educated, female as well as male, between the ages of 30 and 44 — and with an income of $60,000 to 90,000 a year.
First, I still contend that we aren't teaching children/students/people about ownership of their work at a young enough age, so that they understand what ownership means.  I think, then, children/students/people could learn better about what it means to respect the works of other creators who own their own works. It would also mean reinforcing ownership in other areas, such as recognizing that even taking one piece of candy from a store is wrong.  For this to really work, everyone would need to operate at a higher ethical standard.

Second, there needs to be a easy way of reporting to an author or publisher when an item do not appear to be a legal copy online.  I think what this really means is that authors need to put their contact information on their works, including their books.  That could simply be a specific email address for the purpose of contacting the author about the work, including reporting copyright violations.  (In other words, not the author's personal email account.)  

You may read my two points above and think they will never come to be, which is what I think too.  I'd be interested in hearing what solutions you might have, so leave a comment.  And yes, do read "Steal This Book? There’s a Price".  I think you'll find it interesting.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Random thoughts and examples: Creating accessible content

Not all disabilities are visible
As we all have, I am more aware of creating accessible content and also noticing when material I use is (or is not) accessible.  Accessibility assures that material is usable by all people.

While in Washington, DC, for the ALA Annual Conference, I went to the Starbucks near Gallaudet University.   Gallaudet describes itself as "the premier institution of learning, teaching and research for deaf and hard-of-hearing students."  Businesses near Gallaudet are more aware of the need to be accessible for all.  In the business district on H Street is the first signing Starbucks in the U.S.  "Signing" means that the preferred language in that Starbucks is American Sign Language (ASL).  The facility was built to be accessible for all, rather than being retrofitted.  It is a beautiful and peaceful (quiet) location, where all of the worker use ASL.  In this facility, accessible content is being created constantly as members of the deaf and hearing communities interact.

Question: When your create a new facility or remodel an existing facility, how committed are you to creating space that is truly accessible for all?

Fish from these waters may be harmful to ear
Accessibility is also something we need to consider, when we create signage. How many languages are spoken in your community? How many languages are your signs in?  While we acknowledge that many languages are spoken in our communities, we often only have signage in 1-2 languages.  (Can you guess which ones?)

I'm impressed with this sign in a park along Onondaga Lake, which is in English, Spanish, Burmese and Nepali.  Why? Because some people see the lake as a food source, but eating fish from this lake is not recommended. This sign to right is in four of the languages that are spoken in Syracuse.  I wish there was a visual representation of the message, which would be accessible to more people.

Question: Is your library's signage in language that your community members use?  Have you created frequently asked questions in multiple languages?  Is there a way for your website to be automatically translated into other languages?

Starbucks business card in English and Braille

Going back to Starbucks for a moment, here is the manager's business card in both English and Braille.  (Don't worry, there is no personal contact information on this card.)

Question: If you are interacting regularly with people who need your contact information in other languages or in a different format, have you create a business card for those situations?

Finally, I want to point out that Sabrina Unrein has written a white paper entitled “What Makes a Good Library Website?”   Sabrina is an MSLIS student at Syracuse University and is working working me as part of the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative.  Included in her white paper is information about web security and creating accessible content. 

Question: Have you reviewed your website and all of its content to assure that everyone can use it?  Is it accessible on mobile devices as well as screen readers?

Addendum (04/01/2021): If you are thinking about making your website more accessible, be sure to read this Overlay Fact Sheet.