Archive for January 3rd, 2014

Codes and levels

Posted in ALA, Stuff on January 3rd, 2014

I haven’t written anything about the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct so far. In some ways, “Freedom of speech” relates to some of the issues, but it was mostly inspired by a separate, wholly ludicrous “controversy.”

I don’t anticipate that I will write much of anything about the Statement, and I am not tagging posts and articles toward a future essay about it.

Which does not mean either that (a) I think the statement is addressing nonexistent problems or (b) I’m in fundamental disagreement with the statement. Neither of those is true.

Of course there’s a problem

ALA conferences don’t have any instances of attempted silencing, sexual and other forms of harassment (verbal and otherwise), that sort of thing? Bull. I can’t think of a medium-to-large conference I’ve been to where I didn’t see at least one or two situations that were at least borderline harassment, silencing or unwanted attention. With 12,000 to 25,000 people and a huge variety of formal and informal social events as well as sessions, it’s essentially not possible that ALA conferences would be paragons in this regard, and they’re not. (Of course they’re not as bad as a lot of tech and entertainment and other conferences. That’s a different issue.)

More to the point, perhaps, many of the more insidious and dangerous instances won’t be visible, because they’ll be one-on-one.

Hey, I’ve even been the subject of attempted silencing and unwanted attention. But I’m also…well, we’ll get to that in the next section. Let’s say the odds of my being the subject of such stuff are maybe 1% of those of, say, a 25-30 year old woman.

The Statement strikes me as a reasonable start

I wrote about a proposed Code of Conduct in June 2007 (C&I 7:6). I didn’t believe the particular code made sense. If I revisited that issue now, I still probably wouldn’t believe the code made sense. (As far as I can tell, it disappeared without a trace.)

ALA’s Statement does make sense. It isn’t a solution for which there is no problem–there is a problem, and even shining light on the problem may reduce it.

Could it be improved? I’m not the one to say, but I’m certain that there will be efforts to do so. I’m certain the people involved in crafting it put informed and intelligent effort into it.

It’s not censorship. It doesn’t attack freedom of speech. (ALA isn’t the government, and the meeting spaces, exhibit halls and social events of ALA aren’t inherently public fora. In any case, I don’t see anything forbidding specific language. Telling people it’s not OK to intimidate or harass other people is quite a different thing…and I find the argument that this somehow impinges upon free speech unconvincing, to put it mildly.)

A number of people have written about this eloquently and reasonably. I won’t give you a list, but Andromeda Yelton has at least a couple of relevant, worthwhile posts. On the more general issue of appropriate conduct and the need for codes to deal with harassers, John Scalzi has done a fair amount of writing, as have others.

Why I’m not the one to write about this

  •  I’m a middle-aged (OK, aging) straight white male of mostly Anglo-Saxon/Northern European extraction who grew up in a healthy family, never went hungry and have no obvious disabilities*. I operate at the lowest level of difficulty (or did until I turned 60 or so and ageism became a factor), so maybe I’m not the one to be arguing these things.
  • I’m no longer an active ALA participant. It’s unclear how often I’ll be attending any ALA conferences in the future (or whether, for that matter), for fiscal and other reasons, so this doesn’t affect me directly.
  • There are plenty of library folk who (a) are more directly affected, (b) operate at different levels of difficulty, (c) write and think as well as or better than I do.
  • I have no reason to believe that what I say would carry much weight.

So that’s it: Probably all I’ll say about this. Not because I don’t feel strongly about it, not because I’m not reading about it.


*Introversion may be a slight disadvantage in some work and professional areas, and may make me a bit more likely to be shouted down, but it’s far from being a disability or a real level-changer.

Making Book S9: Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader

Posted in Books and publishing, C&I Books on January 3rd, 2014

Here’s what I said about this book on the back cover:

This book is the first in a series of Cites & Insights Readers, combining major essays on a single topic from Cites & Insights for easier reading and permanence.

Well, I said more than that, but that’s the key.

This was the first—and so far only—book branded as “A Cites & Insights Reader,” although Open Access and Libraries was really the first such compilation.

The genesis of this idea was severalfold:

  • Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0,” the essay that made up the Midwinter 2006 issue of Cites & Insights (I was going to call it “the massive essay,” but it was only a 32-page issue; one recent single-essay issue was nearly twice that long), was by far the most downloaded and read essay in the history of Cites & Insights. Through 2012, the HTML version had been viewed more than 21,000 times and the PDF downloaded nearly 34,000 times. (The next-highest essay is about half that number; the next-highest issue, not the same thing, about 16,600 downloads.)
  • According to Google Scholar, it’s my second most cited piece of writing—a long way behind Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality but considerably ahead of MARC for Library Use. (104 citations as of this writing.)
  • I’d done five followup essays—one later in 2006, one each in 2008 and 2009, and a two-parter in 2011—that I thought made valuable additions to the story.
  • I thought the Reader concept might be a nice way to add value to the publication—and a tiny amount of revenue as well (I said at the time that all Readers would be priced to return $4 to me).

I also replaced the Midwinter 2006 issue with a placeholder PDF that noted the book’s existence—but also gave the URL for the saved copy of the issue.

That proved to be interesting as a measure of how important “Library 2.0″ was in 2011 and beyond.

To wit:

  • In 2012, there were 667 attempts to view the HTML version of the article and 1,844 downloads of the PDF version (both stubs).
  • But the saved PDF was only downloaded 36 times in 2012.
  • In the last three months of 2013 (all that I have), the issue stub was downloaded 371 times; the saved PDF, 39 times.

This tells me that most of the time, people didn’t care enough to even key in (or copy-and-paste) a brief new URL. When I hear how many thousands and tens of thousands of times ejournal articles are downloaded, I do sometimes wonder what percentage of those are idle curiosity. For this issue, apparently, the answer is at least 98% of the time in 2012 and around 90% of the time in 2013.

How’s it done? So far, five paperback and 14 ebook versions.

Crawford, Walt. Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader. 2011.


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