Joseph Janes

Gathering in the Clouds

November 1, 2017

But I found myself wondering the other day: The cloud is a new kind of information territory, so where is the open, public space within it? Where are the libraries? What if libraries offered truly free, no-strings-attached cloud storage to  their communities? That would provide security, privacy, permanence, and  continuity—just the kind of foundation that … Continue reading Gathering in the Clouds


Joseph Janes

Using Our Words

September 1, 2017

Even my amateur lexicographic interest ill prepared me for a world in which one of the more trenchant voices of political observation belongs to the Merriam-Webster Twitter feed (@MerriamWebster). If you don’t follow it yet, do so immediately, for its largely straightforward Word of the Day feature as well as its often wry and acerbic … Continue reading Using Our Words


Joseph Janes

Facts through Fresh Eyes

June 1, 2017

The course also covers things you’re less likely to find in Libraryland on a regular basis: design thinking, user experience, interface design, accessibility, data science, visualization techniques, information assurance, and cybersecurity. As an exercise, I gave students several excerpts from the World Almanac, ranging from birthstones to home-run leaders to statistics on homeschooled students and … Continue reading Facts through Fresh Eyes


Joseph Janes

Boolean Logic

March 1, 2017

I’ve always preferred the AND operator to NOT when trying to refine search results. NOT is too blunt an instrument for my tastes, and it’s too easy to lose good information with it; using AND provides focus and often does a more effective job of narrowing down a big retrieval set. AND has been on my mind lately. As I … Continue reading Boolean Logic


Joseph Janes

Revisiting an Old Friend

January 3, 2017

Anyway, in the chapter on the library and society from Shera’s 1976 textbook Introduction to Library Science, he writes in the first paragraph: “It is axiomatic … that the library as a social instrumentality, is, as it has always been, conditioned and shaped by the social milieu within which it functions” (emphasis mine). Well. We’ve … Continue reading Revisiting an Old Friend


Joseph Janes

In the Trenches

November 1, 2016

That’s a great story, true or not, with an even better punch line. It likely produced a few knowing nods and wry smiles just now, and it’s also quite effective with people unfamiliar with what actually goes on libraries. They think we sit around all day shushing people and reading Good Books, as opposed to, … Continue reading In the Trenches


Joseph Janes

Knowledge for the Win

September 1, 2016

The implication is clear: Those books are his pathway to a better life after the grime and gore and folly of the war. At the bottom we are reminded “Public library books are free,” and emblazoned across the top, in a strong but inviting serif font, all in gold capital letters: KNOWLEDGE WINS. It’s an … Continue reading Knowledge for the Win


Joseph Janes

Forget Me Not

May 31, 2016

A few days ago brought a minor news item describing refinements Google has made to the process to request the removal of links in search results that are “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant,” popularly known as the “right to be forgotten,” in response to a 2014 ruling by the European Court of Justice. Ever … Continue reading Forget Me Not


Joseph Janes

One of Us

May 2, 2016

Indeed he did. A lot of names were circulating, of people who would be great and a few that made my hair stand on end. Mercifully, we don’t have to contemplate a future with a Librarian of Congress with just a background in business or technology—though as director of a major urban public library, Hayden … Continue reading One of Us


Joseph Janes

Safe and Sound

March 1, 2016

I had the opportunity to indulge a while ago. My former doctoral student Elisabeth Jones invited me to come and be part of a session she was doing with her first-quarter graduate students on the future of libraries. They had done some initial readings, and naturally had their own ideas, many of which brought them … Continue reading Safe and Sound


Joseph Janes

The Last Card

January 4, 2016

Ah, the memories that flooded back when we all heard the recent news that OCLC had printed the last run of catalog cards. If asked, I would’ve confidently assumed that had finished up long ago. An OCLC press release told us that since 1971, the company had produced 1.9 billion cards. My rough calculations give … Continue reading The Last Card


Joseph Janes

The Fee Library

October 30, 2015

You can imagine my reaction when our local public radio station introduced a story about the plans for a new library, opening January 2016. Not the sort of thing one hears every day, and my interest deepened when the details emerged: This isn’t a new branch of Seattle Public Library (SPL); it’s a new subscription … Continue reading The Fee Library