Wake up, librarians! No-fee public access to government information is in danger, because on July 22 the U.S. House of Representatives voted 252–159 to drastically cut the Government Printing Office (GPO) appropriations for FY2012 and eliminate funding for the GPO Federal Digital System (FDsys). FDsys was created by GPO in 1994 to fulfill the requirement … Continue reading Government Information in Peril
In the summer of 1973, I attended my first conference of the International Federation of Library Associations (held in Grenoble, France) after becoming executive director of the American Library Association. The conference buzz was speculation about me (“Who is this Bob Wedgeworth?”), since I had just succeeded David Clift. Leo M. Weins, president of the … Continue reading A Tribute to H. W. Wilson
Surely, readers old enough to remember Andrew Carnegie may stare in wonderment at this title: Revive the spirit of Andrew Carnegie? Isn’t that like saluting Gordon Gekko? I am neither prepared nor qualified to untangle the robber-baron fact and fiction regarding Mr. Carnegie, but that isn’t why I am invoking his name. Rather, I hope … Continue reading Reviving the Spirit of Andrew Carnegie
More and more, publishers, database providers, and other corporate content proprietors are taking steps to replace the traditional benefits of ownership with the rigorously controlled provisions of licensing. Known as terms of sale (TOS) or end-user license agreements (EULAs), these licenses uniformly stipulate who can (and can’t) use a certain product and how that product … Continue reading Must We Abide?
I’ll admit it: I’ve always thought unions were a little passé. I just couldn’t shake the image of a typical union dude as a hard-bitten, grimy-fingered steelworker swigging black coffee spiked with gin. So despite the fact that as a public librarian I’m a dues-paying member myself, I’ve never mustered the enthusiasm to attend a … Continue reading I’m Not Your Scapegoat
One of the key problems of our time is lack of government transparency, and therefore restricted public access to U.S. government information. The ongoing WikiLeaks disclosures highlight the need to protest these policies and get them changed. Several of the American Library Association’s core values are directly relevant to this discussion; “access,” “democracy,” “the public … Continue reading Midwinter’s WikiLeaks Letdown
The library world, in general, has done a poor job of keeping up with new technologies over the past decade, and that has hurt us in many ways. Many libraries and librarians are working hard to catch up, but the broader library culture is still sluggish. The world of information exchange is in constant flux, … Continue reading Why Must a Card Be a Card?
Hardly a month goes by without a story in the newspapers or elsewhere in the media about a scholar who has “discovered” a lost or hitherto unknown manuscript of a text or musical work by a famous author or composer. Typically, following a headline such as “Twain’s Lost Story Discovered by Professor” or “Scholar Asks: … Continue reading The Unknown Cataloger
“So what do you do for a living?” she asked, pushing her comb through my dampened hair. It was an innocent question from a hair stylist, who by all outward appearances, seemed to be innocent herself. I know it’s one of the first questions we all ask when we meet people, but I absolutely hate … Continue reading A Bookworm By Any Other Name
A quick search of the photo website Flickr for the keywords “library signage” can produce interesting results. You will find everything from café-style chalkboard advertisements to sheets of white paper with a few pieces of clip art thrown in. Poor visual communication can create a frustrating environment for users, but it's a practice that librarians … Continue reading Signage: Better None Than Bad
There are two things that Congress and Libraryland need to eliminate from their thinking before government information can truly move into the digital age. The first is the word “printing,” as in Government Printing Office (GPO). The second is the word “documents,” as in Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc), the branch of GPO that actually runs … Continue reading GPO Must Go
Copyright is a subject with which I believe most librarians have a love-hate relationship. I am mostly in the love-it camp, but not necessarily in the love-all-the-regulations-and-guidelines one. I enjoy immensely the detective-work aspect of finding the copyright owner and then requesting permission for use of a copyrighted work. Nothing makes my day more than … Continue reading A Passion for Copyright