Keeping it going: Another update on library social networking et al

A few months back, one of the many Library Society of the World FriendFeedFolk made an idle comment about setting me up as an institution.

I trust the person didn’t actually mean that I need to be institutionalized. Let’s assume that’s the case. I hope I’m still a few decades away from being institutionalized…

While I’d certainly accept an ongoing “consultancy” or, say, Jack-of-some-trades Emeritus position, with adequate funding (let’s call it $15,000/year plus inflation, for at least four years), somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’d still like to hope that there’s a way to make a more project-oriented version of this happen–namely, the future outlined in “Prospectus: An Ongoing Public Library Social Network Scan” [which I've updated slightly since it was first posted, and which appears in differently-modified form in Bibs & Blather within the current Cites & Insights] and expanded in “A library is…

Over the last few days, as I’ve reviewed the full second draft of Successful Social Networking in Public Libraries and started determining how to modify it for the third (submission) draft, I’ve realized and found out some additional items that may add meat to all of this.

The IMLS Oops

I knew all along that the best source of key data for libraries in all 50 states (plus DC and some American territories) was IMLS–but last August, when I tried to download and open the latest public library statistics, I found that it wouldn’t work: The Access file wouldn’t open in Excel and the flat file was not something I could handle. (The Access file is actually three linked .mdb databases.)

Either I did something wrong back then (quite possible), something’s changed on my computer (also possible–I do have Windows Update auto-enabled), or something’s changed elsewhere in the universe, because when I tried the same thing today, it worked.

This would have been nice last August–or, better, last June before I started any of the library scans–if only because the IMLS database includes the actual names that public libraries use, which either aren’t always used in the state spreadsheets (available from most but not all states) or aren’t in columns that I found obvious. As a result, some library searches were clumsier than they needed to be, and it’s even possible that I missed a few.

So: If I did have funding to do a complete sweep for 2012 and later years, I could apparently work with the national files even without buying new software. That’s a good thing. And having the actual library names in one neat column does make life easier…

The potential side-effects

If I could get ongoing funding for this project, I could be persuaded quite easily to treat it as a form of personal sponsorship (and yes, $15,000/year plus inflation would be about right), which would mean:

  • PDFs and other electronic output directly from the studies themselves would be freely available and would carry a Creative Commons BY (attribution) license. (If there are spreadsheets, they’d carry a CC0 license, although that’s silly since data is fundamentally not copyrightable anyway.)
  • I would retroactively change the Creative Commons license for Cites & Insights and Walt at Random from CC BY-NC to CC BY–that is, “use it as you will, as long as you give me credit.”
  • I would treat all of my books for which I have full control as carrying a Founder’s License: That is, I’d dedicate them to the public domain after 14 years. That would include all my books before Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality–which is more than 14 years old, but I’m not in a position to make it public domain. (When Being Analog turns 14, in another year, I’d ask ALA Editions whether it’s out of print and thus has control return to me. If so, I’d make it public domain.)

So there’s an amplification. Any takers?

 

 

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