One thing you’ll probably never see in a Canadian library

Users in my library could use a machine like this.

But the copyright police would probably have machines like this destroyed at the border.

Thanks Jim Prentice!

You say library technician, I say librarian…

It is an ongoing issue in the world of librarians about how touchy MLIS holders should get when non-MLIS holders get called “Librarian”.

When it comes to the public, the people that come in and use libraries, I believe the vast majority don’t care about the particular educational achievements of the person they are getting help from, they just want them to provide the service they need.

In this article from the North Country Times in California:

ESCONDIDO: Bernardo parents, students fight to keep librarian

the writer and the people quoted in the article use the terms library technician and librarian interchangebly. All the parents care about is that they may have to share with other schools the library technician they admire and beleive helps their children. To them, a person who provides all these services at such a high level is a “librarian” in their eyes.

While I certainly beleive in the general concepts behind the occupational divisons between library technicians and librarians, I think anyone who gets hung-up on how the public uses the title “librarian” needs to find other things to worry about.

Firefox 3 says the OLITA blog is dangerous

I’ve just downloaded Firefox 3 and when I went to read the latest post from the OLITA blog I got this scary looking warning:


May be a false-postive type of situation but the OLA web gang may want to look in to this.

Here’s what you see when you click ‘Why was this site blocked?”.


Images In Vogue

One of my main duties at work is helping ensure that faculty and staff are following proper procedures when it comes to the use of copyrighted materials.

Given the ease with which people are sharing/re-mixing/stealing all manner of content these days, I believe faculty and staff are surprised when we tell them that some of the activities they are taking part in are in violation of the school’s copyright policy.

One of the most common sources of surprise involves the Google Image Search. Faculty are constantly looking for the quickest source of images for PowerPoint, to upload to Blackboard, etc. Needless to say they are often able to find the perfect image through a service that indexes over a billion web pages.

If a teacher was looking for crayfish images they tend to turn to Google and I’m sure the majority simply use the images they find in a number of ways. But for those poor souls who ask for our guidance we have to tell them that all those images are in no way owned by Google. They are simply providing thumbnail size versions of images that they scrape from all the sites they index. Without trying to explain them to them the intricacies of Perfect 10 vs. Google we tell them they need to go to the actual site the image comes from and check their Terms of Use document to see if they can use it for educational purposes.

As an aside, I’m aware I might be sounding hypocritical given that I’ve just uploaded this screen shot of a Google page (with a number of copyrighted images within it, yikes!) without any formal permission but my work duties mean I have to help ensure that the college is never accused of copyright infringement (sorry Georgia State). As an individual I am more than happy to push back against restrictive interpretations of copyright law.

We are doing are best to instruct college employees about the wealth of material that can be found with Creative Commons licenses. Pushing them in this direction helps ensure respect for copyright and saves me time from having to send out a bunch of permission requests.

While I find the flickr search tool adequate most of the time, I think the less tech savvy find it lacking (few results per page, interpreting the various licenses, etc.)

ReadWriteWeb mentioned a new flickr search tool called compfight that I’m very impressed with. The most obvious feature is the large number of image previews it brings up when you do a search.

There are number of other features that make it so useful. By clicking the text with blue font on the main screen you can:

  • Choose to search for pictures with Creative Commons licenses and for ones with specific types of licenses (commercial use, etc.)
  • By clicking the black button by the search box you can search the text supplied alongside the image or just search the specific tags applied to it.

Of course searches on a user-generated site has its limitations. If a teacher is looking for an image that shows the nervous system of a crayfish (do they even have one?) chances are it won’t be found in flickr. But many times they want fairly generic images and the more tools like compfight make searching for copyright flexible material the easier it will be to get school employees to buy-in when it comes to respect for copyright.

And I can have more time to read my RSS feeds.