Employees of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library system have announced their intention to unionize, citing better pay, benefits for all, and greater employee input into working conditions as their chief motivations. Seeking voluntary recognition from Pratt leadership, Pratt Workers United hopes to join AFSCME Council 67, where workers from Walters Art Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art are also seeking representation. TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez interviews Pratt Workers United organizers Marti Dirscheri and Antoinette Wilson on the unionization campaign.
With food costs at near-record prices, the idea of growing your own food has never been so attractive. But food production requires space, and space can be a precious commodity — even a rarity — for people who live in urban areas. For decades, communities in cities around the U.S. have created urban farms and gardens. These spaces make use of empty lots to grow low-cost produce or flowers for communities. These urban farms are not always in high-profile or easily accessible places, however. But, what if your urban farm was in a central location? Perhaps your local library? The Cicero Branch of the Northern Onondaga Public Library (NOPL) in Upstate New York has explored precisely this question. In 2011, they created the Library Farm — partly the brainchild of Meg Backus, then the adult programming director and public relations coordinator.
Public libraries in Canada now purport to be for the whole public, but for some provinces in Canada this wasn't always the case. Lorne Bruce, author of Free Books For All: The Public Library Movement in Ontario, 1850-1930 wrote that the term "public library" fell out of favour as libraries evolved to an educational tool for lay persons and a "professional cadre and as a modern service ethic," from "a grand Victorian vision of beneficial societal change." In 1901, James Bain then-president of the Ontario Library Association spoke to this shift in the library's image.
University of Alberta librarian Katie Cuyler says industry experts and academics have requested she begin ‘guerrilla archiving’ critical information they fear could disappear under a new United Conservative government. The election of the United Conservative Party government in Alberta has kept one Edmonton-based librarian very busy. In what has come to be known as “guerrilla archiving,” Katie Cuyler, a public services and government information librarian at the University of Alberta, has gone about saving all data and information hosted on the Government of Alberta web pages before it is turned over from the NDP to the UCP.
I grew up in Canyon, a small village in the redwoods not far from Oakland, California. Unlike most residential communities in the United States, we managed our own infrastructure, including roads, water, and an internet mesh network. I learned firsthand how communal infrastructure brings people together, creates a culture of reciprocity, and reduces waste. Much of my work before and since joining Shareable has been directly influenced by this experience.
By Eoin O'Carroll for The Christian Science Monitor - In August, New York University and the Library Freedom Project – an organization that trains librarians on using privacy tools to protect intellectual freedom – received a $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency. Its purpose: to train librarians to implement secure protocols on their own web services, and to teach members of the community to evade the prying eyes of governments, corporations, and criminal hackers. According to the Library Freedom Project’s website, the group aims to create what it calls “a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the communities they serve.” As society’s sole public space dedicated to collecting and sharing information, public libraries have long been a flashpoint for conflicts over censorship, surveillance, and secrecy. The digital age has accelerated these conflicts, placing librarians squarely between the government’s and corporations’ desire to pursue their interests and the public’s desire to learn how to seek information in private. “Libraries teaching this stuff can really have a big effect on getting them into wider adoption,” says Alison Macrina, the project’s founder and director. “There are a lot of libraries. They reach a lot of people. They are a place where a lot of people already get introduced to new technologies.”
Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. Partnering with the ACLU of Massachusetts, area librarians have been teaching and taking workshops on how freedom of speech and the right to privacy are compromised by the surveillance of online and digital communications -- and what new privacy-protecting services they can offer patrons to shield them from unwanted spying of their library activity. It's no secret that libraries are among our most democratic institutions. Libraries provide access to information and protect patrons' right to explore new ideas, no matter how controversial or subversive. Libraries are where all should be free to satisfy any information need, be it for tax and legal documents, health information, how-to guides, historical documents, children's books, or poetry.