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Justin M. White Posts

Supporting your library (or other charity) with Amazon Smile

I’ve been aware of the Amazon Smile program for a while now, but I always forget to go into to make my purchases count towards my chosen charity (the Friends of the Fort Myers Library). I just got a reminder to make sure to go to the right version of Amazon, and thought “there has to be an addon to remind me of this”. Amazon itself advises you to use Amazon Assistant, which is an incredibly annoying addon. Instead, there’s SmileAlways, which is just an addon for Chrome that redirects you every time you type in Amazon. Simple!

Humanities Open Access Resources

This page was inspired by the Information Resources in the Humanities textbook I used during my MLIS. Although the book was so new that we were a week behind just waiting for the hardcover edition to come out, the paltry Open Access resources were already out of date. This website is a proof-of-concept that OA resources can be robust with a minimum of curation, as long as they are not held down in print formats where URLs decay quickly. Lists like this can be particularly useful with the wide support of librarians, educators, and archivists submitting the resources they turn to on a regular basis.

You can add to this list by using this Google Form:

Also check out the General Open Access Resources page.

A Little Précis of Librarianship, 5-7-2017

This is going to be my inaugural post in what I’m tentatively calling A Little Précis of Librarianship (taking the risk of putting a pun in a title, and in a written format). I have to thank Audrey Watters of Hack Education for the inspiration, with her weekly wrap up of education technology news. I wanted something like that for librarianship, and, finding nothing, thought maybe I should make one. Expect the format to change, but I’ve tried to give some semblance of order.

Jump to:

Politics (the one that there’s nothing funny about)
Scholarly (Mis)Communication
Copyright Corner
Datafication Station
Emerging Technobabble
Research Reports
Get your professional development on!
New Sources
Ending on a Good Note

Politics (the one that there’s nothing funny about)

Hold on to your hats, nerds, because I’ve been fuming about HR 1695, the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017” for weeks now. This act will remove the Office from the Library of Congress (and thus away from Dr. Hayden’s pick to replace the previous Register of Copyright and newly-minted head of the Association of American Publishers, Maria Pallante). Pallante being forced out caused a certain amount of outcry from the usual suspects, until it was revealed the Copyright Office mismanaged several million dollars and lied to Congress about it.

As expected, the bill sailed through the House of Representatives. What was surprising was the total lack of coverage I saw about it, despite setting up an array of Google Alerts to catch any news. The ALA finally managed to squeeze out a single bullet-point on the bill’s passage in American Libraries on May 3rd.

Of course, copyright monopolists  cheered and urged Congress to act even faster (presumably because it’s so very pressing an issue, which is always why legislation should be passed as quickly as possible, right?).

Scholarly (Mis)Communication

This doesn’t really count as a scholarly communication issue, but it sure seems like it should: turns out there’s no cheap-and-cheerful replacement for a college degree yet (now just tell our administrators that and we’ll be set).

Copyright Corner

Due to HR 1695, I had to move a lot of articles into the Politics section, but there were still plenty of other stories over the past week.

For example, Australia’s copyright agency kept $11 million in funds that were intended for authors of “orphaned works”, collected from schools and universities, to lobby against adopting an American-style of fair use (by those very schools and universities). This was apparently after the office had previously been criticized for simply distributing the money to its member groups, rather than returning it to the schools and universities.

World Intellectual Property Day was April 26th. There was some excellent recommended reading, which I suspect will be my new tradition each year I remember that the holiday exists.  

A response to WIPD was given by a group of civil societies in the Americas urging copyright reform. In the public’s favor!

A subreddit story with lots of good discussion: a homeowner whose house burned down is now in a copyright fight with the builder, because the builder cannot handle the rebuild. When the homeowner contracted someone else to do the rebuild, they received a cease-and-desist letter. Whether or not any resolution will get posted, it’s certainly interesting to read the comments from lawyers chiming in.

Hackers who acquired some episodes of the upcoming season of Orange is the New Black tried to extort Netflix into paying them to not leak the material. Netflix decided not to, and one episode was leaked (much like the trope of mailing a kidnapping victims finger or something). After much hemming and hawing on the part of the hackers to get some payment, they released the ten episodes of the new season they had. And… nothing happened. Turns out people pay for Netflix for more than just one show’s season.

Bots do a lot of copyright takedown requests these days. It’s fun having to explain that to people who know copyright well enough that they are aware of Fair Use, and then watch their reaction to the fact that website owners don’t care what your rights are, they just don’t wanna be sued. Anyway, looks like Facebook will have to close forever now. Won’t it be nice once the Copyright Office is ready to fight for the regular folks and has a small claims court set up? You can get all kinds of threatening letters then!

Datafication Station

Forbes, my favorite satirical magazine, has a hilarious advice piece directed at CEOs who are worried that automation and data-driven decision making will take their jobs: be charismatic!

Emerging Technobabble

Jimmy Wales announced the upcoming launch of Wikitribune, a mixture of professional journalists and socially-generated peer review, with a crowd-funded revenue model.

Unpaywall, the addon that attempts to let a reader know when an open access version of a paywalled article exists, hinted on Twitter about an upcoming partnership with the OA Button’s author request system. One super-addon in the works?

Audrey Watters of the aforementioned Hack Education blog blocked annotation tools like and Genius on her site. Doug Belshaw had a thoughtful piece about his own process in coming to agree with Watters, expanding on why it can be important to prevent what we might call “digital graffiti” from piggybacking on an author’s hard work. It also made me rethink my earlier position on the Internet Archive deciding it would ignore robots.txt files and archive pages anyway.

Why AI is not like biological intelligence.

Research Reports

I’m looking into discovery systems and open access, so I started a YouTube playlist on the topic to listen to while I mindlessly play games. Maybe I’ll try building my own one day, once the whole OA indexing thing gets a little more settled (apparently indexes are trade secrets of Google’s now).

I made a Quizlet set of Spanish terms for librarians.

On other people’s research: the Carnegie Trust in the UK was criticized for an “over-optimistic” report on the outlook for libraries.

Get your professional development on!

Write for LibUX! They’re specifically looking for entry level writings.

But don’t become too well developed: you’ll be distrusted.

New Sources

Some of the FBI’s “Sex Deviates” program files have been attained by a professor of history at Penn State via FOIA requests, digitized and published online for researchers to use.

Slightly dated now, but the open government project pursued by Steve Ballmer, USAFacts, is worth reading up on. I’m looking forward to using it with students and professors.

Ending on a Good Note

I’ve never had much reason to think about the Authors’ Alliance, but they hosted one of the few full-article, critical examinations of HR 1695. It was so good (or perhaps the only glimmer in the darkness), that I wanted to excerpt one bit here:

H.R. 1695 finds support among industry insiders who are nervous that Hayden, who has made a career as a public librarian, would appoint as Pallante’s successor someone whose positions on copyright issues might be more closely aligned with the interests of libraries and the public than with interests of those who commercially exploit copyrights and who have long had considerable influence on the Office’s policy prescriptions.

Free Preservation 101 Textbook


Just in time for Preservation Week 2015, NEDCC is pleased to announce the online textbook for Preservation 101: Preservation Basics for Paper and Media Collections. This free resource provides a basic introduction to the concepts and standards used to build an effective preservation program and includes discussion of preservation policies, building and environment, care and handling of collection materials, reformatting, emergency preparedness, and conservation practices.

This newly revised edition includes expanded information on caring for audiovisual collections, digital preservation and copyright, and emergency management. The textbook includes activities and readings designed to aid institutions and private individuals performing their own preservation planning. Preservation 101 has a long history as an authoritative and succinct reference for professionals, students, and individuals.
The freely available Preservation 101 textbook is the foundation for NEDCC’s interactive online course on general preservation topics. A series of 10 live webinars builds on self-paced study, using assigned readings and other resources to supplement classroom discussion.

 Learn More.

Preservation 101: Preservation Basics for Paper and Media Collections was developed with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Designed as an introductory course, it grounds participants in the theory and practice of preserving library and archival collections.