i am not an eloquent writer. i have friends who are, and it is something i genuinely admire. me? i write like i speak. (i was once told that beers with me was basically my twitter feed brought to life.)
this lack of eloquence means i have spent the past week debating how to write about the angry broken heart i have for the death of Aaron Swartz. “ME ANGRY. LIBRARYLAND DO SOMETHING.” is the best i had. (have?)
i have never met Aaron, but he was a huge part of my libraryland. he had a hand in many of the tools i use every damn day (RSS? Reddit? Creative Commons?). he fought against SOPA and PIPA. he helped build the Open Library. he fundamentally believed in access to information. he freed up tonnes of public legal info and gave it to public.resource.org.
and yes, he downloaded a chunk of JSTOR (for which he was charged as though he was some kind of terrorist) and he also wrote a Guerilla OA Manifesto. both of which i adore, because every revolution needs someone willing to push the boundaries when those boundaries are rooted in tradition and blind to the future. (watch Aaron talk about this. now.)
and though i fear this will sound trite, he was one of my heroes.
so i read Jonathan Rochkind’s post about Aaron’s life, and information, and libraries, and most importantly, libraryland’s silence and lack of support for Aaron during the JSTOR lawsuit and i got angry. angry because i feel this is a call to arms, a time to FIGHT (now, now now now) and i fear we will just move on doing as we do – talking and not doing. (and i know that a lot of you do things, but FFS, as a cohesive unit, we’ve not done what we ought to.)
i resolve to start doing. more. anything i can. and you should too. WE MUST.
thankfully the awesome BCLA came up with some ways for us to take action. my faves (as an academic librarylander) are:
TAKE A STAND on political issues affecting access to information, literacy, intellectual freedom, and education. Don’t rely on tried-and-true cop-outs like “this doesn’t affect my work” or “I can’t see how I can make a difference”. High level information policy decisions affect all of us – as citizens, scholars, and human beings. Aaron saw this, and he did what he could – whatever he could – to stand up for what he felt was right. Which takes us to:
Don’t be afraid to have feelings about what is right and wrong, and don’t be afraid to stand up for them. Attempts to disenfranchise and intimidate people should not be tolerated – silence is acquiescence at best and endorsement at worst. Get involved in conversations and advocacy around these issues on Twitter, on Facebook, on Reddit, on your blog, in the press…everywhere. Advocate to your users, to your colleagues, to your friends, to your Board, to your elected officials. Advocate to everyone who will listen – and especially to the people who won’t!
If you work at an academic institution, lobby enthusiastically on behalf of Open Access journals and in support of robust – and binding – requirements for making the products of faculty and student research freely available through institutional repositories. Don’t be afraid to stand up to bullying from copyright and publishing cabals. If somebody tries to sell your institution garbage while insisting it’s lemonade, tell them so – and tell everybody else who will listen.
all this to say… i don’t really know what to say. i am sad and angry and think the best way to deal with this is to fuel it into libraryland projects that expand access to information. i have talked a mean game for too long. Aaron just did it.
if not now, when?
[two posts in a row where i talk about the loss of a hero. grrrrrr.]
so much going on in the world these days affecting libraries, some of it so enraging that i just want to SMASH. SOPA/PIPA. RWA (not my high school, the Research Works Act). Golan v Holder. (and i know these are all American bills/decisions, but given the political climate in My Home and Native Land these days, there’s no reason why we couldn’t enact similar legislation.)
until i can calm down enough to be less Rambina, i’m going to quote from David Weinberger’s post about the blackout yesterday by a buncha organizations (Internet Archive, Wikipedia, lots more).
First, This is our Internet. We built it. We built it for us, not for you. We get to turn off the lights, not you.
Second, we are better custodians of culture than are culture’s merchants because we understand that culture is what we have in common. We feel pain every time something is held back from this Commons.
Third, just as we can make someone famous rather than having to passively accept the celebrities you foist upon us, we can make an idea politically potent. Going dark was the self-assertion with which political engagement begins.
Fourth, there’s a growing “we” on the Internet. It is not as inclusive as we think, it’s far more diverse than we imagine, and it’s far less egalitarian than we should demanand. But so was tbe “we” in “We the People.” The individual acts of darkness declared a start of the We we need to nurture.
the internet is ours and we must fight those who seek to impede our access to it. be outraged.
i had a really busy spring. it was both awesome, and exhausting. (errrr, i’m still trying to catch up. sorry if you’re still waiting to hear from me.)
i attended 10 conferences in 12 weeks. wait, WHUT? (plus, at some point in there, i want on a truly awesome west coast roadtrip with kendrak and megvmeg for 9 days. i think it was between CNI and CREPUQ, but i can’t really be sure.)
at some of these conferences i spoke at (one i did precon, gaming night, panel presentation, AND postcon), others i just got to learn about fun things, and one i was on the organizing committee.
here are the gory details:
computers in libraries – washington, dc – march 20-24 – presented
CNI spring meeting – san diego, ca – april 4-5 – learned
CREPUQ technologies mobiles – trois rivières, qc – may 6 – presented
IMLS workshop on library-based publishing – salt lake city, ut – may 11-13 – presented
canadian library association – halifax, ns – may 28-29 (lost the badge!) – presented
THATcamp prime – fairfax, va – june 3-5 – presented/learned (it’s a camp, you do both!)
curatecamp – austin, tx, june 6 – learned (HI DECLAN – remember how hot it was?)
open repositories – austin, tx – june 8-10 – learned (MORE HI DECLAN – remember bbq?)
special libraries association – philadelphia, pa – june 10-15 – organized/presented
tedXlibrarians – toronto, on – june 25 – presented
please note: before the haters come out… a number of these i covered on my own dime because i just wanted to go to them, and there’s no reason mpow has to send me to just anything i want to go to. also, dates may not be actual conference dates – for many i did precons, postcons, or had a metric tonne of meetings. and i had to say hi to declan because he got all cranky last week about not being in any of my #libday7 posts and yelled at me on the twittermachine.
i learned a lot about libraryland, awesome new services i want to try out at mpow, and how to bring the revolution. but what i want to share right now, is what i learned about conferencing.
things i now know
NEXUS PASSES ARE THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE. at YUL it means a quick security line as well as speedy customs line, both filled with people who are used to traveling so are hyper-efficient at getting through the line. (no, lady. you can’t bring a litre of moisturizer in your carry on.) if only YYZ had a NEXUS line for security if you’re connecting. seriously? grrrrr. the pass is well worth the 50$ (lasts 5 years).
having a sippy cup that seals completely, like this one, is one of the best things to travel with. coffee, water, bourbon… whatever ya got, you can take it with you. you can run out of your hotel room and rush to the first session (i am never late in the morning. nope, not never) with coffee in hand.
a sippy cup, and baby wipes. because everyone who travels is gross and covered in germs and half of them should probably be wearing hazmat suits. plus, when you forget to seal the package properly and they dry out, you can at least use’em as kleenexes.
how to pack for 3 back-to-back conferences and two weeks of travel in only a wee-bit-too-big-for-carry-on suitcase. lean towards underpacking (you can always run into an old navy and pick up a shirt after spilling tomato soup down the front of yourself – not that i ever had to do that) and two pairs of shoes max in your luggage. you can do it.
also, how to do laundry in a hotel. (many thanks to the awesome front desk staff in philly who not only gave me free soap, but gave me change when i didn’t have any, because “hon, we know you don’t want to be doing laundry while you’re staying in a hotel.”)
my passport number, by memory.
before arriving, map the nearest grocery store to the hotel. and the nearest liquor store.
if you’re in a hot place (HELLO AUSTIN) brew some coffee at night and put it in the frigo for the morning so you can still get a jolt of caffeine but not be drinking something hot in 104F weather.
that 104F = 40C. which is WAY TOO HOT to do anything other than be in a pool with a lone star in your hand. (i tried to have that be a session at curatecamp, but they didn’t go for it.) (cuz then giarlo woulda had to do a cannonball.)
mexican martinis are brutal. trust me on this one. there is no need for more than one. and after drinking them, you should never cap off the night with shots of cheap tequila.
always travel with acetaminophen and antacid. (possibly related to my previous point. you’ll never know.)
having a conference buddy is great. i didn’t have a partner-in-crime for a few this spring, and on occasion found myself thinking “stranger danger” at receptions and wanting to run back to my room to watch bad tv and eat ice cream. if there’s someone that you keep bumping into at conferences and you really gel with, do it.
whenever possible, try and do something non-conferencey to stay sane. visit friends in town, go to a museum, play hooky from a social event to just chillax.
eat fruits and veggies whenever they cross your path. when in the conferencezone it won’t happen often, so just do it. it also helps to have awesome vegan friends who take you to fantastic restos once you have eaten nothing but texas bbq for a week straight. (for the record, i was quite happy eating texas bbq for a week straight. salt lick and ruby’s. yes.)
in the “whenever you can” vein, if you’re doing back-to-back conferences, nap whenever the opportunity arises. it’s okay to skip the networking breakfast for a bit of a lie-in, and if there is really no session that floats your boat, and no colleagues you want to hang with during that time, go decompress in your room for a bit. you won’t learn anything if you’re zonked.
montréal, je t’aime. (i knew this already, but home is so good, it deserves a mention.)
“do something” was, interestingly enough, the title that was put on the article about me for the mover and shaker award.
at first i thought it was silly – oh come on now, what does that mean?
then i realized that i say it to folks all the time. (actually, i usually say “DO EEEEEET!”)
and i often mutter “do something about this buckland” under my breath.
so today, when someone on friendfeed mentioned the taiga forum and how we need to have a place to react to this stuff, and then jenica called me out, i did it.
check out the agiat forum.
above is a screengrab from a presentation given today by the Jeff Trzeciak, University Librarian at McMaster. i encourage you to watch his whole talk here.
i am all for bringing in people with new skills.
i am all for gutting and redesigning our spaces to meet user needs.
and i am all for radical transformation in libraryland.
but mostly, i am for LIBRARIANS running LIBRARIES.