Friday, February 4, 2011

Daily Thoughts 2/4/2011 (government information, power)

Andrea del Sarto, Dama col "Petrarchino", Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi, 16th Century

Daily Thoughts 2/4/2011

Today we spent some time working on the library survey.  As a group we went in and updated the contents so they were better.  There is now a library web committee.  I also started working with my colleagues on setting up a Twitter account for the library.  I also did some checking on the displays.

I find this kind of thing enjoyable.  It is a chance to try out some skills in a professional setting.

I also had a chance to read some more Jeffrey Pfeffer, Power.  I think the title should have been authority because it is more about how to become recognized than anything else.  I like his descriptions on how to speak up for yourself, act powerful, and create a reputation.  Part of blogging is creating a reputation for what you are doing. 

I finished reading Power tonight.  It made me think a little bit about my current job.

Web Bits

Hundreds of Thousands Join In Library Protests planned for February 5, 2011 in the United Kingdom

From the BBC, Are Libraries Finished? Five Arguments For and Against

Something which bothers me about this debate is that there is an underlying current of greed and control in this debate.  By eliminating libraries as a source of information, you turn over the two main sources of information to corporations and governments.   Libraries have traditionally supposed to maintain a certain amount of neutrality and be unbiased. 

Recently in New York, the state library started limiting the government documents it sent out.  The message was that most state documents would become centrally available through the internet.  There is a government documents collection online available through the state, but it is quite hard to use.  If you read this page, you learn that they eliminated the core New York State government documents which were the ones which were considered the most important ones which people used.  They then added links to the state websites with the documents.  The state library of government documents essentially became a giant set of cataloged links.  They are fairly easy for me to understand, but I am not so sure that they would be that understandable to the average library user.

I can see this starting to happen at the federal level as well.  They are still publishing many of the documents online as large collections of information.   Many of them are in adobe PDFs, but there does not seem to be any kind of standard formatting for the web.  The whole process of making all government information available on the internet seems very haphazard to me.  Nearly every government website in the United States now has a section on the Freedom of Information Law.  I am not even sure that the problem is the law itself, but the ability to turn massive amounts of data into easily accessible web based information.

It seems to mirror the changes in the publishing world, where there are dozens of different formats of ebooks and competing ereading devices. Uniformity, set standards, and order seem to be in the near future...

I think eliminating libraries in the current electronic environment is not a good idea.  We have a while to go with ebooks and online information before they start matching up with physical books.

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