The SOPA and PROTECT IP bills scare the heck out of me. They have the potential to allow entertainment companies to decide what information is okay to share and what information is not, which sites are okay and which are not, and popular sites like Facebook and Twitter could get completely shut down for a single infringing link (or, what a single judge decides is an infringing link). Scare you? Want to know more? Watch this short video and get a brief education in the scary workings of SOPA and PROTECT IP.
Hi! Welcome to episode 7 of What Sarah Said. This question comes to us from Aaron and he writes:
I have a two-part question: I have a large number of heavy history books that I have owned for more than twenty years. Moving them to a new location, I noticed that the top edges have black spots that cannot be removed. Fortunately they don’t as of yet penetrate into the face of the pages. The books were not in a wet location, but humid summers may have had an effect. I assume that these spots are some sort of living organism eating the books. Do I need worry about the “spots” continuing to damaged my books? The books have been moved to a much nicer location.
Second question: Do you have recommendations for affordable shelves to hold heavy books that perhaps have the strength found in a library? All my old shelves have warped. My current solution is to use metal utility shelving, which doesn’t look proper for my beloved library.
All right! So the first part of your question: the spots. I had to hearken back to my training in library school. I started out wanting to be a rare books librarian so I took lots of classes in preservation and book restoration. And my first thought was: Oh god, it’s black mold. And I think that’s right. Without seeing a picture of what you’re describing, this sounds like black mold to me. Depending on where they were they could be insect droppings of some sort. I looked on some preservation websites and found a few that pointed to, you know, spots of that nature, if they really are just on the top of the books, that could be coming from cockroaches, from silverfish, even from deathwatch beetles although it’s unlikely, carpet beetles…it could be a lot of things. I guess I have more questions. Were you finding insect casings or larvae or droppings of any kind around these books? Or is it truly just little spots? And what do the spots look like? Are they big? Are they tiny? I’m going to assume that they’re tiny, and while not uniformly distributed, somewhat–you know if you look at the whole. And in that case I think you’ve got a case of mold. It could be mildew, but if they’re spots it’s usually mold. So that’s bad.
Yes, that’s going to continue to eat away at those books. Don’t put them near other books…anywhere near any other books, because it will pass instantaneously to whatever’s next to it. You’re in pretty big trouble. The only way to treat mold that I’m aware of, and that my research showed me with paper, is to actually use bleach. And the bleach does have damaging effects on the paper long term. So while you could bleach it to stop the progression, there’s no guarantee that it’s not going to create more or equal damage as the pages start to get brittle and fall apart from the damage of the bleach itself.
If it was mine, I would probably do a bleach and water solution, 50/50, and then using probably a cotton swab or a ball, depending on how thick and large the books are, and I would just dab a light solution of the bleach along the top of the pages where you do see the spotting and dry them out and see if that makes a difference. I don’t know if you’ve seen the spots progress…there’s a lot of questions. But that’s my answer at first blush and if you have more information feel free to follow up via email and I’ll try to do better.
And in terms of shelving. This is hard. There’s a lot of library shelving out there from companies like Highsmith and Demco, Gaylord, and some other vendors. And library shelving is expensive. So I don’t know much shelving you need, linear feet wise. If it’s not very much and you want to get a really attractive, nice bookcase that is really sturdy and can hold those heavy books, that’s what I would look at, one of those vendors, and I’ll link to those in the show notes.
But if you’re just looking at something larger like maybe you need a ton of book shelving that all matches together, I wouldn’t look to formal library shelving for that because it is super, super expensive.
So thank you so much for your question! And tune in next time for the next episode of What Sarah Said!
Welcome to episode 6 of What Sarah Said. Today’s question comes to us from Linda and she asks:
If I have bought a Kindle book and want to lend it to a friend, can I send it to her Kindle to read with the assumption that she will send it back to me when she’s finished or delete the book from her Kindle?
Well Linda, no you can’t do that. There’s digital rights management in place, as long as it wasn’t a free eBook that you got through another source. If it’s a Kindle eBook that you purchased, no, you can’t do that. The digital rights management won’t let you. The same thing though, the digital rights management, will actually let you lend it, maybe, under certain specific circumstances.
So instead of trying to paraphrase, I’m going to read to you what the Amazon page for Lending Kindle Books says. And I’ll link to this in the show notes. There’s a lot more detailed information as well. So they say:
Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable — it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period.
And if you actually look on the product page for the Kindle book that you’ve purchased and you want to lend to someone, under Product Details there is a field for “Lending” and it will either say enabled or disabled. If it’s enabled then you can do this one time 14-day thing. If it says disabled, then no you’re out of luck. This page also details how to go through the lending process.
So you might be able to. It depends on the title, the author, the publisher, the other rights holder involved…may decide that you can’t lend it at all. And quite a few of the books on my Kindle are not lendable (technically).
But if it is lendable, you can, but the digital rights management will enforce that 14-day limit. So on day 1 it disappears from your device and shows up on your friend’s device. On day 14 it disappears from your friend’s device and shows up on your device. There’s no overlap there. There’s no ability for yo uto say “Sure, you can keep it an extra week–that’s fine with me.” Because the rights holders and publishers have decided it’s not okay with them.
And so it’s very limited. And a lot of people got really excited when this was announced, that you could finally share something with a friend or family member. But most people take longer than 2 weeks to read a book, and the publishers and Amazon know that, which is why they made it 2 weeks. Most people would want to be able to lend it out, and be able to, you know, lend it for whatever period of time they choose…which we can’t do.
So there is a limited capability to lend, sort of, depending on whether or not the title is lendable at all. The best thing to do is just check. Check on your title, see whether or not you can. Otherwise, no, you can’t lend Kindle books to anyone.
And I hope that that answers your question Linda. And thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you for the next episode.
Welcome to episode 5 of What Sarah Said, I’m Sarah Houghton. And today’s question comes from Amanda. She writes:
OK, I know this may be forcing you to speculate a bit, but honestly, where do you see the line being drawn for most libraries when it comes to this ridiculous drama over eBooks and publishers, concerning limited copies and accessibility in particular. We really aren’t good at standing up for ourselves but this is getting insane. I looked at our OverDrive account the other day and it was very common to see 100-200 holds on 10-20 eBook copies of a particular title. Unbelievable. And off of that, okay, it’s a two part question–is that acceptable? [of course it is] If we don’t draw a line, how badly are libraries going to suffer from being eBook/publisher roadkill? Are we really just going to let our customers and organizations become victims of greed and lack of forethought?
Wooooow! OK. You guys know, you get me started on eBooks and I can go on for an hour, but I will make this as brief as possible.
Where do I see the line being drawn over access to eCopies in terms of them being limited numbers of copies and accessibility. I agree with Amanda that we’re not very good at standing up for ourselves, but I do think that we’ve gotten a little better in recent months about standing up for accessibility of titles based on ADA standards, based on cross-device compatibility.
In terms of the limited copies, you know the one copy/one user model. I don’t know that that’s necessarily that that’s the wrong model. It’s one that harkens back to the print, but there are things we’re asking them to adhere to as well, so I don’t know. This is the wild west time for eBooks so I’m not going to rule out the one copy/one user model as not working yet. I think that remains to be seen.
However, what you mention about it being very common to see 10 holds on every single copy of something. Well, that’s a question of allocation. So, I know in our consortium we have automatic holds fulfillment at 5 holds per copy. And that means we’re spending a lot of money on holds fulfillment. But that also means that we’re buying lots of copies of things that people want a lot of. In our old consortium that we belonged to it was common to see titles with 1-2 year waiting lists for a popular title. And that’s not meeting user demand. It’s not meeting user needs for these titles.
So I think you have to ask: How much are you allocating to purchasing digital content vs. physical, and what’s the return on investment? And if your holds lists really are that long, that means there’s more demand than you’re able to meet with your current budget allocation. So it does warrant another look.
And your second part, in terms of how badly are libraries going to suffer from being eBook and publisher roadkill… I don’t think we are. I think that just as we saw with the PATRIOT Act, we’re just starting to see libraries and librarians stand up, do a little fist pump, get angry, get excited, say “This is what we think the future looks like, and we want you guys to be a part of it with us–publishers, and authors, and vendors. Let’s come together and find a solution that works for everyone.”
And so I don’t think we’re going to be roadkill. I think if we continue to accept products that are locked down from companies that are not transparent or outright lie to us. Or we continue to accept content that doesn’t work across platforms, that has tons of digital rights management laden inside of it, I think that’s where we veer off into roadkill territory.
So as long as we continue to stand up for the ethics and principles that librarians hold dear: open access to information for all, long term preservation of information, accessibility to information. As long as we listen to those core values that were created, you know, a hundred years ago or more, I think we’re in good shape to be able to move forward in a positive way with digital content.
It’s not all doom and gloom. There are positive models being created. And one I often point to is the Internet Archive’s Open Library project, and I encourage you all to go take a look at that as one possible model of a successful future for digital content for both libraries and consumers. One that is transparent, one that is open, and one that is user driven instead of corporate greed driven.
So with that, thank you so much for your questions Amanda. And I hope you all will tune in for our next episode of What Sarah Said. Thanks for tuning in to this one!
Welcome to episode 4 of What Sarah Said, a podcast where I, Sarah Houghton, will answer your questions.
Today’s question, uhh rather questions, come from Johan, and he writes:
Ten questions for you from a fan. Quick. Rapid fire. Don’t think.
So to honor that I will ask each question and give my answers as rapidly as I can.
#1: What is your favorite band? The Cure. You know, a little competition from The Smiths or Siouxsie and the Banshees or bands like, you know, Crystal Castles or other bands I’ve discovered recently. But man, heart of hearts, Disintegration–best album ever.
#2: Who is your favorite living author? Neil Gaiman, hands down.
#3: Who is your favorite not-living author? I just love the way that was phrased. Easy answer there too as well–Philip K. Dick, who is actually local here to San Rafael and I moved here without even knowing that and that was pretty neat.
#4: What is your favorite movie? The Piano. Watched it in high school, fell in love with it, still love it, think it’s the best film ever made ever. Go Jane Campion. Yay!
#5: What did you eat for dinner last night? I ate a homemade vegan pot pie. It was frozen. I had made a big batch about a month ago, but it was homemade to begin with so I think that still counts. And as I recall, 1 1/2 glasses of a very thick merlot.
#6: What did you do for prom? I did not go to prom. So what I did for “not prom” was that I bought about $40 worth of dessert items, so this would be like ice cream, and cookies, and cake, and I remember there was some kind of big container of chocolate mousse. I’m really not sure how that came to be. And then I also bought about $40 of illicit alcohol and locked myself down in my parents’ basement and watched Clockwork Orange over and over and over again while drinking alcohol and eating mass quantities of sugar. So that was my prom. Not something I wished to repeat. However, at the time it seemed like a good idea.
#7: Who is your biggest inspiration? My maternal grandmother who passed away last year continues to be my biggest inspiration. She faced a lot of obstacles in life, and a lot of difficulties in her private life, but always made sure in her interactions with other people–either her family, her friends, people through organizations that she was a member of–that she was always making their lives better, happier. That she was helping them feel more empowered, stronger. And making them feel special, making them feel loved. That’s something that I aspire to do but I can never do it as well as she did. But that selflessness and the kindness that she showed other people continues to be an inspiration to me.
#8: What is your favorite store? There is a store called Stop Staring online. They’re based out of Southern California as well with a physical shop. And that is where I buy most of my dresses. And I love them. I love them. I love them. Everything fits perfectly. The dresses are beautiful. Some cross between like ‘20s to ‘40s couture and gothy punky goodness. So I love their stuff.
#9: What’s your favorite restaurant? That would be Millennium, in San Francisco, which is a gourmet vegan place with great cocktails and even better food.
And then lastly Johan’s question #10: Why do you like libraries so much? To me, libraries are the cornerstone of any civilization. And I don’t say that lightly. I actually believe that. We level the intellectual playing field. We democratize information and expertise, so that anyone can learn anything anytime and we will help them. And as I often say when I speak to groups of library professionals, that is the most noble goal I can think of. And that tells me I’m in the right profession. I’m very happy with what I do every day.
So thank you, Johan, for your ten questions. I hope you guys learned something about me.
We’ll see you next time for episode 5 of What Sarah Said. Thanks for tuning into episode 4.
Welcome to episode 3 of What Sarah Said. Today’s question comes from J.R., and J.R. is an author. I get a lot of questions from authors so this is a good one. He writes:
I am in the process of publishing my first novel, a YA fantasy. Anyway, my larger vision for myself is playing a role in improving
teen literacy in my region…and beyond. With my soon to be published novel, I believe I will be able to have more credibility with respect
to this endeavor. I know you are not in the Pennsylvania area but would love any suggestions you may have on where I can look to begin this process. As exciting as the publishing process can be, I’m even more excited about the potential of using it as a vehicle for helping others. My book
has a male protagonist, which, I believe given the trend of YA novels leaning more and more toward the female reader could be both an
advantage and disadvantage. When it comes to teen literacy, I believe this is an advantage because of what the statistics say about boys
versus girls and reading/literacy. Do I begin with the library system or would you recommend looking elsewhere? On a more self-serving note, in your opinion (being an expert), what is the most effective way to reach 12-22 year-old males? Online? Somewhere else? I’d love to connect with this elusive age group but struggle to find a good place to start. They simply don’t seem to congregate like females of the same age online.
All right. So…congratulations on being an author! I don’t know if you already have a publishing venue, if you’ve got a publisher lined up. If not, consider self-publishing. More and more people are doing that and finding it is a very valid way to get your information and your stuff out there. The main thing you want is people to read your stuff, right? That’s the main thing you want. You’re not doing this because you expect to make a million dollars off of your first book. And if you do you’re delusional. I love you J.R., but I don’t think you’re going to make your first million here. Having not read the book…I could be wrong, I could be wrong. You could be the next J.K. Rowling. I could be totally wrong. But I do think the key to your question is that your focus isn’t on your book, your focus is on your desire to improve teen literacy. And the book is second to that.
So whether you’re in Pennsylvania or any other part of the world, really, I think libraries are a great place to start to ask them if they would welcome an event where you’re promoting literacy, you’re inviting teen boys. Have some kind of a pre-canned program ready to go where you say “Oh yeah, I’ll bring them in and I’ll have them write, and I’ll have them talk about the book, or read a chapter at a time…” or however you want to set it up. I would also recommend contacting literacy programs in your area. Many of these have become underfunded due to state and national budget issues, but I do think there are still enough of those around that it’s worth looking to see. Now is there a literacy agency that would appeal to or attract this particular age group? And then also the schools. Talk to the schools. Again, come to them with your pre-planned canned event of what you would like to bring to the table, what you can do for them. That’s what they want to hear. And show them how you can help boys in their school become excited about reading or writing again.
And then finally, you talk about what the effective way is to reach 12-22 year old males. I gotta be honest. I’m not an expert on that. When I was 12-22 as a female, I didn’t know where to find these boys. So definitely not an expert now as a 30-something. Look everywhere you can–online, offline, places in the community where they tend to congregate. I know that in the past the library has left marketing materials for middle schoolers of both genders all over the place–in pizza shops, at skateboard parks, at coffee shops, wherever you see people of this age group. And this is a very wide group. 12-22 is huge. I mean, that’s very different from one end of the spectrum to the other. So think about…are you really trying to target one particular part of that segment? Are you really trying to get 12-15? To me that’s a little bit too broad to give you one answer. But look in as many places, be in as many places as you can and you will have the most success. And as a library person who has tried to market to this age group for years, I’ll say that there’s no magic bullet that I’ve found so far. But again, really diversifying that reach and hitting as many points as possible is probably your best approach.
And I just want to say good for you J.R. for being interested in improving literacy, particularly among teenage boys. I applaud you for that and I wish you luck with your writing.
Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you at the next episode.
Welcome to episode 2 of What Sarah Said, the podcast where I, Sarah Houghton, will answer your questions. Today’s question comes from Steve, and he writes:
Sarah my dear… [that’s a little overly familiar Steve…I don’t know you, so I’m not your dear, but I’ll forgive you that slight transgression.] I am often asked by patrons whether or not they should buy a tablet or an eReader. What is your take on this?
OK, so this is a question I get asked a lot by pretty much everybody–family, friends, librarians, everybody…patrons. It depends on what you want. So it’s extremely situational. One big question to ask people is whether or not they care if the device just does books, or has books and internet access and apps and other stuff. Another question to ask is whether or not they prefer a back-lit display like a traditional smartphone or laptop vs. the eInk technology that you find on many of the dedicated eReaders.
So for me, you know…I’ve got a computer. I’ve got a smartphone. And I just really wanted to have something that wasn’t back-lit, that was a nice eReading display. And so for me an eInk device made the most sense.
Now for a friend that I just talked to over the holidays–she doesn’t really have a computer at home. She has a smart phone; she has an iPhone. And she wanted to have something that was both an eReader and gave her access to email–that’s pretty much what she wanted it for. And because she was already familiar with the iOS system it made more sense to me for her to get an iPad. Because in that case she’s got both email and internet access but she’s also got that capability to use it as an eBook reader as she wants.
So it really depends on what people are looking for. The best advice I can give you is that there’s no one answer. It really just depends on how that conversation goes with the person. Ask questions, see what they want to do with it, see what their preferences are, see what technology they’re already familiar with and that will most likely guide you to the right answer for them. But as with all things, we don’t tell people to buy stuff. All we can do is give them the information and let them decide for themselves.
Thanks for tuning in to episode 2 of What Sarah Said, and we’ll hope to see you on episode 3!
It’s the year in review! Below are my favorites from 2011, just because:
• Book – Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis
• Movie – Melancholia
• Band – Austra
• Song – “Need You Now” by Cut Copy
• Serious Technology – Google+
• Fun Technology – Sonos system at my place
• Conference (for conference reasons) – Internet Librarian in Monterey
• Conference (for non-conference reasons) – American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans – (holy mother of ceiling cat, holding a conference here invites all kinds of vice)
• Fan Girl Squee Moment – appearing on TWIT’s Tech News Today
• New Service for Libraries – Open Library from the Internet Archive
• Library Innovation – Hackerspaces
• Indoor Event – An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer
• Outdoor Event – Folsom Street Fair
• Play – Steampunk/Tesla themed “Tempest” from the Marin Shakespeare Company
• Concert – Ladytron with Polaris and Sonoio
• Movement – Occupy (that one was obvious)
• Support for a DRM-free Future – Louis CK’s DRM-free $5 “Live at the Beacon Theater” download
• Club – Cat Club (San Francisco)
• Bar – Bourbon and Branch (San Francisco)
• Treat – gourmet vegan cinnamon rolls from Cinnaholic (Berkeley)
• Meme – honey badger don’t care
Introducing the first episode of What Sarah Said, my new videocast/podcast/video-thingie where I answer your questions about libraries, technology, privacy, intellectual freedom, etc. One episode, one question (or multi-part related questions).
Text Transcription (courtesy of Ms. Andromeda)
Hi, welcome to Episode 1 of What Sarah Said, a brand-new podcast with me, Sarah Houghton, author of Librarian in Black, and a librarian in…black. This is a podcast where I will answer questions from my readers and viewers and do my best to help out.
And today’s first question comes from Suzanne, and she says: OK. So what exactly do the copyright laws say about making one coy of a magazine article for personal use, burning a CD for personal use — I know you’re not supposed to but every laptop does this — so is it really truly illegal, and finally, showing a DVD at a school as a fundraiser.
Alright, so three possible parts, three separate questions, and the answer to all three is, yes, that is a violation of copyright. So let’s take these one by one.
So, first off. Making a copy of a magazine article for personal use. If you’re not making a copy of a subscription that you already paid for yourself — for instance, if you’re making a copy of a subscription that your local library paid for, or a friend paid for, that’s a violation of copyright, because you’re making an unauthorized copy of an entire work, and in this case the work is the article.
The second question, burning a CD for personal use. You’re entitled to make a backup copy of CDs that you’ve already purchased. So, in case they get damaged or something, you can make a backup copy. Kind of an archival copy, if you will. Can’t share that copy, but you can make that copy, and keep it in case the first one gets damaged. But if you’re making a burned CD, let’s say, again, from a library copy, or a friend’s copy, that is a violation of copyright.
And then lastly, showing a DVD at a school as a fundraiser. The movie companies require that you pay them a screening fee, a broadcast fee, a display fee, they call it different things, in order to make some money back on that movie. So even if you’re not showing it at the movie theater, if you’re just showing it to a room of 25-year-olds, doesn’t matter. They still require you to pay that fee in order to, to screen that film that they paid to make. And so showing it at the school as a fundraiser — or even not — even if there’s no money involved at all and you’re just showing it for free, that is still a violation of copyright, because you haven’t paid the rightsholders what they legally require you to pay in order to use their product.
So the short answer is, basically, none of those things is OK, and the lesson is that just because it’s easy to do, technically, doesn’t mean that it’s not a violation of the law. Doesn’t mean that it’s not a violation of copyright. So we all have to be very careful in both what we do as library professionals but also what we tell other people they can and can’t do. We need to be comfortable with the law, we need to understand what’s admissible and what isn’t. Otherwise we’re going to give people bad advice, and as information professionals, we don’t like that. So thanks for your question Suzanne, and congratulations on being our inaugural question for the first podcast, and I hope I’ll see everyone else for episode 2.
I’m getting ready to record some “What Sarah Said” videos, but if you just crave your daily dose of Sarah’s voice and face* before then, try these two on for size:
- Interview on NCompass Live: Tech Talk with Michael Sauers (video, but I’m just audio)
- Interview on Social Jumpstart with Mike Wolpert (video of a local cable TV show on social media and technology)
* In no way do I wish to compare myself to a drug, although if you were to compare me to a drug, feel free to comment below with which drug I’d be. Because I’d love to get a t-shirt that says something like “My readers say I’m like Acetaminophen!”