Last year, I analyzed voter turnout for the ALA election and speculated on why certain divisions did better than others (if turnout is a measure of member engagement). Now that data for this year is available, I thought I’d do the same and make some comparisons.
First, comparative turnout between divisions (with all of these graphs, click through for bigger versions):
(In this chart and throughout this post, what’s labeled as ALA voter turnout isn’t the overall turnout for all members; it’s how many members voted for Council and President of ALA — “Big ALA,” if you will.)
It’s been nearly eight months since I last posted here! A lot has happened in that time, and believe me, I’ve missed blogging. I’m not sure I can even pretend this post is the harbinger of a comeback; I’m still doing all of the things that took me away from here last winter, and until that’s over, I’m not sure I’ll be blogging regularly.
What are those things? Well, I’m getting more involved locally. And like I mentioned ages and ages ago, I’ve been on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee, and as of February, I’ve been chairing it. I also took over as member manager of The Hub last summer and I’ve been spending a lot of time on that as well. I started reviewing for School Library Journal. I think those are probably where most of my time is going — and as of the beginning of this month, I also have more hours at work! I’m still not quite full time, but I’m getting there, and there are so many things that have happened at work that I’ve wanted to tell you about but just haven’t made the time to write up. The things I do with YALSA seem to feed back into my work, and the things I do at work inspire new connections and conversations on Twitter, and then I see those people involved with YALSA and think to make new connections. I’ve definitely been busy, and it feels good! And while I miss blogging, I’m kind of enjoying just putting my head down and working. That feels really good.
So the more involved I get with YALSA — beyond committee work, I’ve also been on a taskforce, organized the speed networking session at Annual this year, and helped write up a proposal [pdf] that the YALSA Board form a task force to monitor what’s going on with ebooks and help YALSA create resources about ebooks for its members — the more involved I want to get and the more I want to learn about the organization and help make it better.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is member involvement in divisions and in ALA as a whole. (more…)
Did you vote in the ALA elections this year? I did, but it was the first time I’d done so since becoming a YALSA member in 2009. In previous years, I didn’t feel familiar enough with the organization–what would these candidates be doing if they were elected?–and I was overwhelmed by the long lists of names and the sheer number of positions I needed to choose people for. The elections seemed big and huge and unknown and unknowable. (I think this is, in part, responsible for the 17% voter turnout we saw this year.)
In the years since then, I’ve gotten to know YALSA and its structure a little better and as I’ve gotten more involved and met other members, I’m starting to recognize names on those lists of candidates, so the elections seem a lot less scary. I’ve also grown more invested in seeing YALSA (and ALA, too, I suppose, though I feel less connected to ALA than to YALSA) move in smart directions and in seeing good work be done by the organization, so voting seemed a lot more important to me this year.
And I know that ALA and YALSA can seem faceless and huge, but your vote does matter. If you look at the huge PDF with election results for ALA’s divisions and roundtables, you’ll find candidates who won by twenty votes, or ten votes, or even one vote in a few instances. If you have any preference at all for who runs ALA and your divisions and roundtables, you really, really need to vote. It matters.
Anyway, the elections came in about a month and a half ago, and I was excited to see that Jack Martin had been elected president for the 2012-2013 term. I recently had the opportunity to interview him for the YALSA blog, and in the course of responding to one of my questions, he used the phrase “more cool everything!” which I think is my new mantra at work and at home.
Click through for Jack’s thoughts on teens’ involvement in YALSA, raising YALSA’s profile nationally, creating opportunities for new members, and whether pirates or ninjas would emerge victorious in a fight.
As part of its Privacy Revolution efforts, ALA declared last week Choose Privacy Week, with this year’s efforts focusing on youth and privacy. If you dig into the websites and publicity around the event, you’ll find that this initiative is about creating dialogue about privacy in our society today, but I didn’t see a lot of talk on blogs or Twitter this week about privacy–at least, not more than I usually do. That’s especially disappointing because I think that in a lot of cases, you can’t choose privacy, as ALA exhorts us to do. (more…)
Banned Books Week begins today, and this year it comes at a particularly appropriate time: on Sunday Laurie Halse Anderson wrote on her blog that Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University, had decried Speak as pornographic. While the book contains sexual content, it’s in the form of a rape scene that the protagonist chooses to remain silent about. For once I’m actually angrier about the reason someone wants a book banned rather than the actual move to get a book removed from school. What kind of sicko thinks a rape scene is soft pornography? Scroggins’s original opinion piece is available via the Springfield News-Leader.
Maybe SPEAK isn’t Dr. Scroggins’ cup of tea. Maybe the idea of having his children read about a highly dysfunctional family is upsetting. Maybe the thought of having rape be a terrible reality in the life of the book’s main character offends him. That’s his right. But for every child who is blessed with a non-dysfunctional home and who hasn’t been broken by something as awful as rape, there’s another girl like me. A girl who can’t find the words to describe how shattered she feels. Who doesn’t even know if she has the right to feel shattered. Who’s learned that bringing her secrets to the light results in more pain. That girl needs books like SPEAK to be on the shelves. She needs to know there are others out there like her. She needs to see someone else’s path so she can have the language to start thinking about her own outcome.
As a Christian and a rape survivor, I want SPEAK to stay on the shelves. And I want others to write books about rape. Incest. Child abuse. Eating disorders. Multiple personality disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder. Because those are just as real, just as present, for some kids as worrying about grades and peer pressure are for others. Books can give children the language they need to be able to describe themselves and the things they’re facing. To silence the book could be to silence the child.
I'm not a huge fan of this year's BBW promotional materials, but I really liked last year's
In preparing for Banned Books Week, what struck me about the list of most-frequently challenged books was that most of them are titles for teens, and that most of the challenges are due to the sexual nature of the book, and that what is and isn’t on the list is sometimes surprising. Even this year, To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye made the top ten. And while Lauren Myracle’s TTYL, TTFN, and L8R G8R have sexual content, it seems pretty tame and a lot of the conflict comes from the girls dealing with the consequences of making ill-advised decisions (like dancing topless at a party and then having cell phone pictures of her doing so circulated through the school). But is what happens in these books any worse than the sexual content in a John Green novel? In Jellicoe Road? Or even more intense books like Living Dead Girl? None of these titles have made it to the top ten list despite having equally “edgy” or even more disturbing content. I suspect this is because most would-be challengers don’t actually read the book to which they’re objecting, but rather rely on the opinion of friends or newspaper articles about challenges elsewhere to find books to challenge.
And as interesting as the data collected by the Office of Intellectual Freedom is, they estimate that for every challenge that’s reported to them, four or five others aren’t. I saw first hand a book be challenged and silently removed from the library without any media attention or the OIF being notified. So in addition to speaking out against censorship and book banning, I want to speak up for reporting challenges to the OIF. It’s part of raising awareness and helping to fight the good fight.
This collection of links is going to be a real mix of things, but there’s so much interesting stuff I’ve seen lately!
YA lit and library news and trends
One of the things I’d like to see more of in librarianship in general and youth services especially is more rigor and research. YALSA is launching the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal, in November. They’ve put out a call for papers for the Winter 2011 and Spring 2011 issues.
Through 20 September you can also nominate librarians for the I Love My Librarian Award. The winners get a $5000 cash award, a plaque, and a $500 travel stipend to attend an awards reception in New York hosted by The New York Times, so this is a great opportunity for all of you library users to nominate a librarian who’s made a difference in your life or your community.
Alexie’s book has won a number of awards, but that did not sway the board.
“We can take the book and wrap it in those 20 awards everyone else said it won and it still is wrong,” said board member Ken Spurgeon.
Supporters of the book said it was chosen to get high school boys, particularly, interested in reading. Spurgeon said that was a mistake because the book’s reading level is low for high school readers.
Over at Closed Stacks, The Librarienne rails against the ALA for continuing to promote the idea that librarianship is a greying profession and that there will soon be a mass exodus of retirees leaving positions for new librarians to fill, citing the unemployment and underemployment she and her fellow graduates are suffering.
But in non-sucky news, Bitch Magazine recently interviewed Lia Friedman, he head of public services at the UCSD Arts Library, the staff librarian for make/shift magazine, and an active member of Radical Reference. Lia talks about the values of librarianship, stereotypes of librarians, and what Radical Reference does.
The team at Orbit had their summer intern do “a survey of cover art elements for the top fantasy novels published in the previous year,” and a few weeks ago they published their results. The summary in chart form:
So once we started nearing graduation, I took the general structure of the Hippocratic Oath and filled in that framework with content from the ALA Code of Ethics and did a little tweaking and came up with a Librarian’s Oath:
The Librarian’s Oath
I swear by Seshat the scribe, Athena, Sophia, and Nidaba, and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witness, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and covenant:
I will not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or my employing institution.
But I will provide the highest level of service to all library users and ensure equitable, unbiased access to materials and services, recognizing that a person’s right to use the library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
I will respect intellectual property rights and support balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
I will uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.
In all aspects of my work I will strive for excellence and will maintain and enhance my knowledge and skills. I will support the professional development of my colleagues. I will encourage the aspirations of potential members of the profession.
Both at work and in the community, I will be an advocate for the library and I will champion libraries and my fellow librarians.
If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all people and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.
Professor Japzon (Andrea, that is) administered the Oath to a group of us after graduation today; we raised our right hands and recited it in unison (Shellie and I also held a copy of the Intellectual Freedom Manual). It turned out to be a little long for a public recitation, but I really enjoyed being sworn in and made an official librarian by someone in the field. Along with all of the academic regalia and ceremony and tradition of the day, it made for a very official-feeling way to officially join the ranks of the profession.
So now I’m a real, MLS-holding, Oath-swearing librarian!
ALA sent out an email today announcing the addition to the ALA Store of posters and bookmarks for Preservation Week, which is 9-15 May this year. I was disappointed to see that except for the short acknowledgment that “Digital copies allow treasures to be easily shared, but remember digital items need preservation, too,” Preservation Week seems to be mostly focused on preserving physical artifacts like books, maps, family heirlooms, and clothing.
To be sure, saving these physical objects is important and libraries can take this opportunity to teach library users about preserving items they care about. And ALA does provide links to digital preservation resources. But so much information created today only ever exists in digital formats, so it’s critical that libraries also heavily promote digital preservation.
I’d love to see a bookmark and poster that address digital preservation specifically. It might include the following tips:
Choose open file formats. Digital items such as emails, photographs, and documents require software to read and display them. If the company that makes a particular piece of software stops supporting that software, you may lose the ability to read your data.
Make backups across multiple storage devices. If your hard drive crashes or you misplace your flash drive, will you lose your family photographs? You can also create hard copies of certain kinds of content as a means of backing up that data.
Create good metadata. Metadata tells you about the digital objects you have. Who is in the photo? When was the photo taken?
Be selective. While digital photography allows you to keep every photograph you take with no concern for filling up your home with physical photo albums, will you really still want all of those pictures a year from now? Five years from now? Fifty years from now? How long will you keep that online boarding pass confirmation? Not all digital content is equally important and our cognitive associations fade over time and file formats change, so it’s important to be able to identify what’s important so it can be documented, organized, and preserved.
The “how” of digital preservation can be tricky: new file formats and the sheer overwhelming amount of data can be daunting. But librarians continue in their quest to organize and preserve the world’s information. Earlier this month, Andrew K. Pace, the Executive Director for Networked Library Services at OCLC and the President of LITA, wrote an entry at Hectic Pace called “Librarians Give Permanence to Twitter.” He outlined how Twitter posts could be cataloged using MARC records. And today, the Library of Congress announced (via Twitter!) that they’re acquiring all public tweets since March 2006. (There’s a privacy/content ownership side of things here, too, but that’s another post for another time.) Also, from the Library of Congress’s Facebook announcement, check out their stance on digital information:
So if you think the Library of Congress is “just books,” think of this: The Library has been collecting materials from the web since it began harvesting congressional and presidential campaign websites in 2000. Today we hold more than 167 terabytes of web-based information, including legal blogs, websites of candidates for national office, and websites of Members of Congress.
The organization and preservation of digital content is still a developing field with interesting new projects, and it’s not some inaccessible academic issue or for tech nerds only. It’s something that librarians need to learn about themselves and then educate library users about.