Category Archives: TTW Guest Posts

Information is Not Sacred

Hello. Jeff Nowak here. I am a first-year library school nube who got into this whole library thing because I was a literature freak and a book fiend. I am currently the editor of something called Any Four Words.

What amazes me about our Web, Library, or Catchphrase 2.0 era is the game it plays with information. The 19th and 20th century public library phenomenon helped take the book off its pedestal by opening up its shelves to the proles. When large amounts of people really started putting books to use, it suddenly dawned on these people that books were to be used. Not stored, not cherished. Used. John Cotton Dana (one of my favorite people) could dare to say, “A book is not a sacred thing.” And today the same thing is happening to information. When a person can find out how to get where he’s going without having to open up a road map, and when he can then add notes and pictures to his itinerary for everyone to see, cartographic information is no longer a far-off Mystery but something he can cut up, manipulate, and distribute to his heart’s content. Information is no longer sacred material to be stored, cherished, and hoarded by a professional elite. It is to be used.

So what does this mean? If audio information can be freely shared from person to person (DRM be damned), what does it mean when people buy music because they want to support the band and not because they have no choice but to pony up the dough to the professionals of the music industry? What does it mean when people can manipulate their own personal information to create entire pseudo-selves who exist only so that those people can say and do what they want without professional or familial repercussion? What happens when false information (which can be honestly defended so long as you call it fiction) holds just as much sway as information the experts know to be true? What will be the result when people use information?
Damned if I know. I’m barely into my first year of this stuff. I’ll have to let the professionals figure that out.

Open post to the unappreciated Library

The Indomitable Michael Stephens is giving me a shot at guest-blogging. I wanted some guidelines from Mike, so I typed this response up to his offer. Michael seems real cool; I wanted to confirm that before I started blogging.
Me:
Give me the particulars of what not to say. It’s cool; be frank. Say things like, “Feel free to cover anything as long as you speak ethically, honestly, and true (cite your sources) -above all else relate it to libraries or the world of information. Be fair. Treat this information space as you would an honored guest in your home: don’t insult, don’t pontificate, and remember above all else treat others better than they want to be treated. Enlighten & engage yes; exacerbate & enrage no.”

Michael Stephens:
“this rules
M.”


This offer came about because of this. I started talking to Michael about some pretty serious (serious to me that is) ideas I have about libraries, information, college students, and leadership. Maybe he saw this too and thought I might like the challenge of a serious blog entry. I live in Ft Myers, Fl. I do work in a library. I’m a hybrid: I work reference and I work on the technology side of the Library house. It’s a very sweet gig. With very cool bosses.

More info about me:
last.fm/user/iblee
Bibliodox
iblee.smugmug.com
iblee’s on flicker too
and I’m an online student who works a solid 40hrs a week (whew), does Aikido, and I’m racing here next year in 2008 on my trike.

Open post to the unappreciated Library

You are a great and powerful friend my Library. I am concerned you have forgotten how great you are. Many times I have thought to myself: how you would go about answering my most serious questions: what knowledge did you add to the world today -because you do every day; what thing that you do so well to enrich others lives, can I do; “why not” is what you say -so how I can find that answer and many more; how do I become as creative as you -do I write more, read more, play more, dance more, find more, explain more; how am I going to be peacefully inspiring today -giving people the room they need to learn about their self? Over our several years together with me walking-rumbling-stumbling through you, the better ways of living you have taught me to weave into my being go not a day unused. In my darkest, surliest hour, I came to find peace and it was there. I am fortunate for you Library.

Life is big and simple. At times life can be very hard for people though. You, my Library, can be a special place invoking unimaginable wonder. The engines of creation become ignited through your presence. Even when we get dragged down into the smallest, suffocating space there is always room to turn around, down, inside-out or whatever it takes; you’ve shown me that through books and chats and questions and time and coffee. Maybe just sitting too -shikantaza.

Another opportunity awaits for you to teach me. I see this as a great time in your life where gigantic opportunities flood in. You become rebuilt from spaces not yet known. Instead of being consumed and cannibalized, you ride that wave for the long throw. Standing on the the peak of that wave you then will look back on this time laughing and laughing and laughing at the insignificance of those who could not see how your great intelligence and heart changed the world. Yet Library, you will be humble about it too; you will just shake your head as you help another person see clearly into their own nature. I look forward to the day when I attend some remote place and see you standing there still doing your mission: a great welcoming edifice who holds the keys for how to effectively change the world.

Lee Leblanc