Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Open Letter to Male Librarians

Sorrynotsorry for the profanity.**
Dear fellow men who work in libraries,

Cut that shit out. You know what I'm talking about*. Stop making women feel less human, less valued, than their male counterparts in the profession. In any profession. In any interaction. It's bad enough there's a hegemonic discourse out there that tells women to "be nice" or to apologize in situations in which they shouldn't. It's bad enough that women make up over eighty percent of librarians, but a lower percentage of directors (note: data is woefully out of date and disputed); just like how mom makes everything better when you're sick, but more doctors are men. Or how women cook more at home, but  there are more male chefs.

Lest you think this is just some blog post designed to capitalize on an issue that's in the news in librarianship, here's an email I sent to a male librarian in June of 2012. I will call you out on this. Trust.
You send out things like this  
[redacted tweet] 
And then you wonder why you're blocked. As I'm typing this [redacted twitter user] is sending out a few more examples. I can't speak to a conversation you did or did not butt in on between two women, but I assume your audience, like mine, is made up of many librarians. More librarians are women than men. And so here we are. Tweets like the examples given above, and I'm sure others, come off as creepy, and I'm using this word in particular because it's the one that, based on your blog post, bothers you the most. The tweets that are or contain sexual overtures, even if you think those are just witty banter: please don't send them, don't retweet them. Or, go ahead, but don't be surprised if you get blocked and/or labeled a creep.  
The blog post overall features an apology, but the tone of the post also sounds like you feel victimized. No doubt you are frustrated by getting unfollowed without some sort of tweeted explanation, but twitter isn't real life where we're owed that. People come and go, some of them come back, and I've accepted that. I urge you to as well. The "lol" and whatnot responses to some of the tweets may not really be people laughing out loud, they could just be humoring you, trying to deflect/redirect/absorb the awkwardness. There's a tendency to not confront people when offended, whether it's face to face or online.   
You say that you're "here to joke," but your joke becomes harassment to someone as soon as that someone feels harassed. It's not about your intent. You seem to understand this towards the end of your blog post, which I think is a good thing.   
So, that's my two cents on the issue. If there's something I could make clearer, please let me know.  
Jake (@jacobsberg)
Here are (other?) interesting, non-troglodyte, takes on this from men.

* It shouldn't have to take me three minutes of googling to get all those links.
** I know why people are treating other people this way. Power imbalances, the hegemony of sexism, people being assholes...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

January - February Beer Roundup

There's been much 'brarian-ing in this space, but not much beer-ing. In large part, this is because much of the latter is taking place over at Here's what I've been up to.

The most exciting news is that DC is getting yet another brewery. Hellbender Brewing Company has a location, and, like other DC breweries, they're taking advantage of DC's surfeit of industrial-zoned space on the east side of the city, not too far from where I live. In fact, this may be the closest brewery to my house, no small feat given the locations of the other three. You can read more about Hellbender here, and stay tuned for more updates on this brewery.

View Washington, DC Breweries in a larger map

The second bit of news is that we all got together to make a Kolsch-style ale. It's lagering as I type this.
Temperature control! Pic via DCBeer.
In addition, it's Girl Scout cookie season. They're delicious, beer is delicious, so why not pair them? Here's a sample:
Trefoils: Deus. Bubbles cut the buttery fat of the cookies basically treating this like sparkling wine and brie. Saisons tend to have higher carbonation than most kinds of beer, and would also work here Sierra Nevada's Ovilia saison and Ommegang Hennepin. Another option is to go with a more mild, flavor-wise, beer, like kolsch (Reissdorf, Gaffel, Schlafly or a pilsner on the lower end of the bitterness units scale for that style, like Eggenberg.
It's also hoppy beer season. Hopslam has come and gone, but the next round of Stone's "Enjoy By" IPA will hit shelves soon (April, 1st, 2013 edition) in Maryland, and Troeg's Nugget Nectar is plentiful. I wrote about these beers here.

Next month the Craft Brewers Conference comes to DC, which I'll be covering for DCBeer. Watch this space as well. Cheers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vine and Web-based Library Instruction

Imagine webpages that contain brief recursive videos, each one serving a different purpose for library instruction. Interested?

The versatility of Vines is perhaps its most important feature. Vines, by virtue of being six seconds long and looped, may be a middle ground between more effective image capture (Mestre, 2012) and more popular video-based instruction that too often taxes short-term memory (Oud, 2009). A series of Vines allows more advanced users to skip over the redundant, and enable non-linear instruction as each Vine can be a piece of a whole.

Quick, simple, elegant, Vine offers something more than a snapshot, but less than a three-minute tutorial in which one's eyes glaze over, or constantly pause and rewind to keep up. However, what Vine doesn't have is a a way to capture a website, instead relying on using a mobile device's camera pointed at a screen. Observe:

Crude. Not entirely effective, but perhaps it shows promise, keeping in mind I held a smart phone in one hand with a laptop on my lap. Consider this a plea to Vine: please allow for six second, web-based screen captures. Please. Also, making Vines easier to embed would be nice, as the current way has you go through Twitter.
Over on Matt Anderson's blog there's a post about using Vine to promote library services and build a brand. Are you using Vine in your library, and if so, how? Let me know.

UPDATE, 2/25/13: Shelf Check also has a Vine post on tutorials.

Mestre, L. S. (2012). Student preference for tutorial design: A usability study. Reference Services Review, 40(2), 258-276. doi:

Oud, J. (2009). Guidelines for effective online instruction using multimedia screencasts. Reference Services Review, 37(2), 164-177. doi:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Copyright for Educators

Earlier this month a faculty member asked me to present to her class on technology for educators on copyright and fair use. Evidently, word got around campus that I was the person to see on such matters. It was a last minute request, but much of the time I spend in classrooms is teaching library instruction and information literacy "one shot" sessions, and this looked like a nice change of pace, beyond the importance of these issues.

I started with Kanye West's "Gold Digger," which I thought, correctly, would immediately command the students' attention. The song samples Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman," which, in turn, borrows heavily from spiritual songs called "I Got a Savior" and "Jesus Is All the World to Me." The purpose of this is to introduce complex issues of creation and ownership from the start. In light of all these samples, who owns "Gold Digger?" Who created it? I got the idea for this from chapter six of James Boyle's "The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind."

I then discuss the copyright clause of the Constitution of the United States of America, emphasizing the "limited Times" to be granted to copyright holders.
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. 
- Article I, Section 8, Clause 8
The reason for the restrictions on copyrights are so that not only can authors, inventors, and other creators benefit from their work, but also society, writ large, after a given period of time. Others will have an opportunity to build off of the initial creations.

However, in practice, this limited amount of time is becoming less so, as copyrights are extended long beyond the historic norm. All of the following works would have entered the public domain, that is, the rights of ownership would have expired, on January 1st, 2013 under the pre-1976 copyright regime. However, now they will enter the public domain in 2052. One can only assume that in 2051, these rights will be further extended.
Educators can use copyrighted works, with some limitations, under the doctrine of fair use, enumerated by 17 USC § 107:
the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. 
More here.
I expand on the classroom, being not just a physical space, but also a digital, virtual one. Course management software, like Moodle or Blackboard, are classrooms. Fair use is in effect there, too. Just ask Georgia State University and the University of California at Los Angeles. In sum, an intranet is a classroom.

To help determine what can be used fairly, I point students towards the excellent resources at the University of Minnesota. There, copyright librarian (!) Nancy Sims has created and curated an impressive selection of tools for librarians, educators, and copyright holders. Like Ms. Sims, I take a liberal view of what can be used for educational purposes, and emphasize this to students.

Both Creative Commons and the open access movement provide important counters to copyright regimes, in that copyright holders themselves can help liberate their works. I show students both the Directory of Open Access Journals and the Directory of Open Access Books, as well as discuss Creative Commons licensing.

I conclude with letting students, future teachers in particular, that they should not only know their rights, but flex them, which means distributing, time-shifting, and remixing in the classroom, be it a physical or virtual location. And as always, I end with a mic drop.


Copyright in Edu by