Bibs & Blather
Incidents and Sideshows
Some issues of C&I have deliberate themes, usually because they consist of one or two massive related essays (e.g. the all-time blockbuster, Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0” [C&I 6:2]).
Once in a while, a theme sneaks up on me—for example, the August 2007 issue with its four “On” Perspectives. That appears to be the case this time around, with the unexpected theme being incidents and sideshows (setting aside the first essay).
Incident: The Copyright essay. It’s a prime example of two wrongs not making a right, of a professional association stomping on some people’s rights in its attempt to protect other people’s rights. It’s also an interesting example of how different people see the same set of facts (or “facts,” since there’s some disagreement on the reality of the situation).
Sideshow: One of the thoughtful advocates for open access suggested that I simply ignore the whole PRISM situation as little more than a sideshow. I couldn’t do that, and the story definitely has legs—but in some ways it is a sideshow, another clumsy attempt by publishers to keep pounding on the same old discredited arguments against open access in full knowledge that too many people will believe those arguments, having not paid attention in the past.
Sideshows: The term and bandwagon “Library 2.0” becoming a hot item once again—and another case of ALA’s proclivity for Summits involving invited Important People that are supposed to yield Consensus Agendas—and fall flat. The first is, I believe and hope, incidental to the work of the great middle (even if some advocates assert that no middle ground exists): Those of us who believe that libraries are generally not at risk but should nonetheless continue to grow and improve, using new tools and doing new things whenever those make sense within a local context. The second is…well, I’ll just note the Information Commons movement and the National Library Agenda itself as two examples of a repeated pattern that sometimes makes me wonder about my loyalty to the organization (not enough to leave…yet).
Sideshow: Another installment in the high-def optical disc follies. Naybe the whole HD DVD vs. Blu-ray thing really is a sideshow, of no particular import.
The main tents? Maybe next issue.
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