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What are you doing for Banned Books Week?

I dropped by my local branch on Tuesday to pick up some holds and they had the most fantastic Banned Books Week display. The sign on the usual display pedestal read “Book Challenges in 2009,” and as well as the usual display slots being filled, there were piles of books all around the bottom of the pedestal on the floor. It was the most striking display I’ve ever seen (although the clerks sounded less than thrilled at the prospect of cleaning it up at the end of the week).

I grabbed a copy of ttyl by Lauren Myracle off the display. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while — I love experimental literature, so this should be just my cup of tea. Besides, this is the book that’s been making people angry all over the country, it’s got to be good.

Oh, Banned Books Week. It almost seems ridiculous that this needs to be said any more, but apparently it does. It is not the library’s job to monitor what your (or anyone else’s) kids are reading. It’s the library’s job to provide people with the information and reading material that they need and want. It is your job to monitor what your kids are reading, and everyone else’s job to monitor what their kids are reading. If we divide up the work and everybody does their part, we can all be happy. Really. I promise.

Choose Privacy

It’s Choose Privacy Week, and I had to haul myself out of the midst of finals and job hunting to post about it. As someone who’s spent a huge chunk of her social life online, starting in middle school, this is a big deal to me.

I deleted my Facebook account earlier this year because their privacy standards were just disgraceful. (Actually, I disabled my Facebook — it took Dan Yoder’s Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook for me to figure out how to delete it, and if that doesn’t bother you a little, it should.) Of course, that was an easy decision for me; I’ve never used Facebook very much. The other online service I can imagine having to quite for privacy reasons would be Google, and that would be a huge production. I’m not worried about Google yet, but I might be some time in the future.

By the time I was in college, I was constantly getting advice about what I should and shouldn’t allow to exist about me online. Your future employers can find you, I was told. Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want your employer to know about. This is, to someone who’s grown up online, ridiculous. It was ridiculous to me, and it’s even more ridiculous to kids who are in high school and college now, when half of their lives or more are online and they can’t imagine their lives without it. And yet, somehow, the solution is to control your own information rather than to expect the people who promised your information would be secure to keep it that way. (Obligatory xkcd reference: 137. Warning, foul but justified language.)

I have more than one online identity; I’ve always used a pseudonym and it’s only in grad school that I’ve started putting my real name out there. The two are as disconnected as I can make them, and while I’m sure someone could connect the two if they really, really wanted, I’m reasonably comfortable with the way things are right now. I would not be comfortable if my multiple online identities came crashing in to one another. I have posted nothing online that I’m ashamed of, and nothing that should jeopardize my professional reputation or job chances — but there’s still a gap between should and could, and I have posted things that fall into that gap.

My favorite piece on this topic I’ve seen recently is this paper by dana boyd from this year’s SXSW conference. “No matter how many times a privileged straight white male technology executive pronounces the death of privacy,” she says, “Privacy Is Not Dead.” I can’t help but think that the “privileged straight white male” part of that sentence might be the most important part. Some people have something to lose through no fault of their own. They, too, should be able to use the Internet and social media to connect with their friends and family, to form communities, to explore identities without sacrificing their jobs, reputations, and sometimes their safety. It’s important to hold companies like Facebook responsible for their privacy policies — and privacy violations — and make sure that they understand that we won’t stand for it forever.

It’s National Library Week in Madison!

It’s National Library Week (as you surely know by now) — what’s going on with you? Some of the local Madison events include —

Today I went to a talk on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s “Odd Wisconsin” program, which started out as a little blog feature on their website and has turned into a newspaper feature, a book, and an extremely popular museum exhibit. It’s a lot of fun, check out the archives.

The Madison Public Library is still advocating for a new building, although it looks at this point like it’s going to be a renovation instead. I have to say, it needs it. The architecture and decor is very “1970s Institutional,” and it’s one of the least welcoming libraries I’ve ever been to. Of course, with the economy the way it is… Oh, you know the way this paragraph is going to end.

The UW libraries are hosting an Edible Book Festival, which I only wish I had had time to put something together for. I look forward to checking out all the other entries.

The UW-SLIS library is having their annual silent auction, which I’m expecting to drop…more money than I’d expected on.

And of course, since this looks to be turning mostly into a book review blog, I feel I should add a plug for this year’s honorary chair, the First Neil of the Internet, Neil Gaiman. He’s so ridiculously popular at this point that it’s almost cliche to talk about him as one of my absolute favorite fantasy authors, but it’s true. I was introduced to Gaiman’s work through his absolutely phenomenal Sandman, which is more than twenty years old now and still one of the best comic book series I’ve ever read. If you have any affection for mythology, philosophy, or storytelling, I can recommend it without reservation. If you can get ahold of it (and WorldCat says that a surprising number of libraries have purchased it), I recommend the Absolute Sandman edition, at least for the first volume. The recoloring they did for that edition improves the first few stories to no end. (Ah curses, now I’ve reminded myself how much I love Sandman, and I’ll have to take the time to reread it again…Life as a book-lover is hard, I tell you.)

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