Library Juice 4:18 - May 16, 2001
- Copyrighted LAWS!!
- ISEC Bibliography
- MPAA vs. 2600 Transcript
- Nicholson Baker and the Chronicle of Higher Ed.
- Double-Fold review in Searcher
- Academic librarians a tough sell
- Questia downsizes
- Berlin monument to book burning to become parking lot
- Information and its Counterfeits
- Coalition of Library Consortia worried about Mergers
- Sandy Berman vs. HCL's periodicals purge
- Baffler offices destroyed by fire
- Cataloging Missteps at the French National Library
- Study on Women-Centered Literacy Materials
- FYI France: a "City of Books" in France
- The Modern Humorist and ALA
Quote for the week:
"If you don't read much, you really don't know much. You're dangerous."
Jim Trelease, quoted in "The No-Book Report: Skim It and Weep,"
The Washington Post, Monday, May 14, 2001; Page C01
Homepage of the week: Geoffrey Harder
1. Copyrighted LAWS!!
This one leaves me speechless...
Public laws owned by the public? Think again, copyright rulings show
By Kathryn Balint
San Diego Union Tribune
May 13, 2001
Who owns the law?
Not the public, at least in the latest court battle over copyright
infringement on the Internet.
Turns out, the text of the public laws in question belongs to a
private, but influential, organization. That's what a federal judge
and an appeals court say.
This is one online copyright infringement lawsuit that promises to
affect more lives than the record industry's high-profile dispute with
Napster's music-sharing service.
Government at the local, state and federal levels increasingly is
enacting laws that have been written and copyrighted by private
Try finding California's building code on the state's Web site.
"The first thing people do is go online to look for Title 24," said
state code analyst Michael Nearman, referring to the state's building
code by its official number.
"They find Title 21, 22, 23 and 25 and go 'Hmmm.' Title 24 is just not
One of the most common questions he gets is "Why isn't it on the Web?"
The answer, of course, is that California doesn't own the copyright to
that particular law...
Story in the San Diego Union Tribune:
Discussion on Slashdot:
2. ISEC Bibliography
Annotated Bibliography from the International Society for Ecology
and Culture. Sections in this bibliography include:
I. TRADITIONAL SOCIETIES, TRADITIONAL WISDOM
II. DEBUNKING DEVELOPMENT
III. RETHINKING THE ECONOMIC PARADIGM
IV. RETHINKING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
V. ALTERNATIVE DEVELOPMENT PATHS
VI. COMMUNITY, DIVERSITY AND DECENTRALISATION
VII. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR THE INDUSTRIALISED WORLD
VIII. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR AGRICULTURE
IX. TOWARDS A NEW WORLD VIEW
X. SPIRITUAL ROOTS
XI. VALUING WOMEN'S VISION
XII. DESIGN AND HANDS-ON SOLUTIONS
XIII. OBSTACLES AND RESISTANCE STRATEGIES
XIV. HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
XV. RELATED FICTION
International Society for Ecology and Culture
TJ Sondermann writes:
"libray_geek is a site put together by TJ Sondermann, a Graduate Student at
the University of Rhode Island's School of Library and Information Science
(say that three times fast. no really. do it). It is my intention to
collect and comment on a wide variety of subjects having to do with library
and information science. From the quirky to the mundane I'll log it all."
4. MPAA vs. 2600 Transcript
A discussion on Slashdot with links
Cryptome has a full transcript of the recent 2600 appeal hearing. Good
reading - you can see the arguments each side made in their own words, and
see the judges' reactions to them as well. Update: 05/10 12:34 PM by
michael: The court has also put out a list of further questions for both
sides to answer in written briefs, and given them additional time in which
to answer. Court order online.
Slashdot story & thread on the appeal hearing happening:
Full transcript of appeal hearing:
Also of interest: Harvard OpenLaw story on the appeal hearing:
5. Nicholson Baker and the Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Transcript of Chronicle of Higher Ed chat on Double Fold
This announcement is from last week. The "live chat" took place
yesterday, but participants' statements are on the web at the address
LIVE DISCUSSION TUESDAY WITH NICHOLSON BAKER
Nicholson Baker is the author of "Double Fold: Libraries and the
Assault on Paper," which argues that librarians have been far
too quick to throw out books and newspapers once they have
obtained microfilmed or digitized copies. You can submit
questions now for a live discussion of this issue on Tuesday
with Mr. Baker, who is best known for his novels "The Fermata,"
"Vox," and "The Mezzanine."
--> SEE http://chronicle.com/colloquylive/2001/05/library/
Interview with Nicholson Baker in the Chronicle of Higher Ed.
"Mr. Baker is not opposed to digital libraries or e-books -- in fact,
he says he uses online materials in his own research. But he cautions
against moving forward too quickly with technologies that could
destroy original library materials."
6. Double-Fold review in Searcher
7. Academic librarians a tough sell
* ACADEMIC LIBRARIES ARE A PRIME MARKET for companies that sell
digitized books, but those companies are discovering that
librarians are a tough sell.
--> SEE http://chronicle.com/free/v47/i36/36a03701.htm
8. Questia downsizes
Digital-Library Company Lays Off Half Its Staff and Slows Conversion
By SARAH CARR
Chronicle of Higher Education
Officials at the digital-library company Questia this week sliced
their staff in half, laying off 139 of 283 employees.
"We can't see spending money at the rate that we were when it is so
difficult to raise money," said Troy Williams, Questia's founder and
chief executive officer. "Once it becomes easier to raise money, we
will start spending money at the same rate again."
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Questia reduces staff almost by half
Questia Media laid off half of its work force Tuesday in an effort to
Founder Troy Williams said the company is finding it too hard to raise
enough additional cash from investors to justify the pace at which it was
At one time, Questia employed more than 300 workers but cut back to about
280 in recent weeks. The layoffs will leave the staff at about 140....
9. Berlin monument to book burning to become parking lot
Berlin plans to replace the city's memorial to the Nazi-organised
book-burning in 1933 with a car-park.
The Silent Library commemorates the night in Berlin exactly 68 years ago
when university students ransacked city libraries and burned over 20,000
books by authors deemed decadent and "un-German" by the Nazis...
10. Information and its Counterfeits
Date: Tue, 08 May 2001 18:04:24 -0600
From: Martin Raish <martin_raish[at]byu.edu>
Subject: Information and Its Counterfeits
To: BI-L <bi-l[at]listserv.byu.edu>
From: Andrea Bartelstein <andreab[at]milton.mse.jhu.edu>
My colleague here at Johns Hopkins, Elizabeth Kirk, has written a new web
page entitled "Information and Its Counterfeits: Propaganda, Misinformation
and Disinformation." It can be found at
It's also linked from the following pages on our website:
Evaluating Information Found on the Internet
Practical Steps in Evaluating Internet Resources
Please feel free to send Eliz comments via the mail form link at the bottom
of her page. Thanks.
Instructional Services Coordinator
Resource Services Librarian for Education and Women's Studies
Milton S. Eisenhower Library
The Johns Hopkins University (410) 516-0330 (Voice)
3400 N. Charles St. (410) 516-8399 (Fax)
Baltimore, MD 21218 USA andi[at]jhu.edu
11. Coalition of Library Consortia worried about Mergers
INTERNATIONAL COALITION OF LIBRARY CONSORTIA EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT
INFORMATION INDUSTRY MERGER
At a recent meeting, representatives of consortia of libraries from around
the world expressed concern at the news of yet another information
industry merger which is further concentrating control of access to
publicly-used information into a few commercial hands. The acquisition
discussed at the meeting of the International Coalition of Library
Consortia (ICOLC) was the purchase of SilverPlatter Information by Wolters
Kluwer, a multi-national publishing company. Wolters Kluwer already own
Ovid Technologies, which provides an alternative to SilverPlatter for
library users to move from bibliographic information to the full-text of
scientific and medical literature. SilverPlatter is widely-used as a
"front-end" to numerous databases. The ownership of two major
access-routes by the same company presents a potential threat to users of
information, particularly as the new owner may consider consolidating
software platforms and also owns substantial numbers of the full-text
journals accessed. Monopolistic control can lead to unjustified price
increases and limited service options for users.
The acquisition of SilverPlatter by Wolters Kluwer is part of a wider
concentration of access to information into the hands of a few giant
multi-national companies. The acquisition of Harcourt General Inc. by
Reed Elsevier Inc. is currently being examined by regulatory authorities
in several countries. Library organizations across the world have been
vociferous in pointing to the danger for society in such mergers. Open
and unrestricted access to information is one of the corner-stones of
democracy, and control of access to the world's information by a few
powerful commercial interests is developing rapidly.
About the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC)
The ICOLC first met in 1996 as the Consortium of Consortia (COC). The
Coalition is an informal, international group that currently comprises
over 100 library consortia in North America, Europe, Australia, Israel,
China, and South Africa. The coalition membership primarily serves higher
education institutions by facilitating discussion among consortia on
issues of common interest. The ICOLC conducts meetings throughout the
year dedicated to keeping its members informed about new electronic
information resources, pricing practices of electronic providers and
vendors, and other issues of importance to consortia directors and
governing boards. The Coalition also meets with the information provider
community, creating a forum for discussion about product offerings and
issues of mutual concern. Further information about the ICOLC and its
participating consortia can be found at:
For further information about this statement, contact:
Frederick J.Friend, Director Scholarly Communication, University College
Phone/fax: 020 7679 4529
e-mail: ucylfjf[at]ucl.ac.uk, OR f.friend[at]ucl.ac.uk
Ann Okerson, Yale Associate University Librarian & Coordinator of the NERL
Consortium of Libraries,
For further information about ICOLC, contact:
Tom Sanville, Executive Director, OhioLINK. Columbus, OH.
Phone: 614-728-3600, ext. 322.
12. Sandy Berman vs. HCL's periodicals purge
Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 08:55:47 -0700
From: "Bruce Jensen" <flaco[at]ucla.edu>
To: "PLGNET-L" <PLGNet-L[at]listproc.sjsu.edu>
Reply to: "Bruce Jensen" <flaco[at]ucla.edu>
SAVE OUR LIBRARIES
Contact: S. Berman
4400 Morningside Road
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 1, 2001
HENNEPIN COUNTY LIBRARY "DUMBS DOWN"/ABANDONS COMMITMENT TO SUPPORT
"LIFELONG LEARNING," DIVERSITY, AND THE LIBRARY BILL OF RIGHTS
Although Hennepin County Library (HCL) has often touted itself as the
"people's university" and a partner in "lifelong learning" for
its.relatively affluent and well-educated users, it now appears that the
most intellectually and spiritually challenging materials available to
suburban readers may soon be artificially-hyped "blockbusters" and the
collected works of Martha Stewart.
Without first consulting frontline staff or library users, HCLâs top
management has decided to cancel some 1,120 current periodical
subscriptions, the "savings" presumably to be expended on DVDs, "popular"
materials, and ever-more electronic resources. About 500 titles are to be
dropped from the hitherto-flagship Southdale collection alone. And overall,
about 340 of the axed magazines are not available online, while
approximately 170 are not even received by the neighboring Minneapolis
Public Library system.
Among the journals and newspapers -to be wrenched from HCL shelves are
dozens of business., labor, technical, medical, cultural, consumer, and
political titles whose absence will markedly shrink the breadth, depth, and
vitality of the librarvâs resources, seriously eroding its adherence to the
Library Bill of Rights' strictures to provide materials "for the interest,
information, and enlightenment of all the people of the community" and
present "all points of view on current and historical issues."
Unfortunately, HCL's impending mag-extermination coincides with a nationwide
trend to dumb-down library collections, a development spawned partly by the
profession's mindless embrace of purely digital resources on the one hand,
and a desire to impress funders with big circulation numbers on the other.
What gets lost, of course, is the public library's traditional commitment to
unfettered access to a wide variety of ideas, activities, and
information--to being a genuine, noncommercial alternative to profit-driven
bookstore chains, dot-com vendors, and conglomerate-owned mass media. Also
increasingly lost is the importance of the library as a place, a physical
space for browsing, reading, and socializing. Current managers don't seem to
grasp that turning the pages of Advertising Age in comfortable, mouseless
surroundings, is not the same as "accessing" the full-text version online.
Citizens irate about HCLâs coming magazine massacre and its growing emphasis
on fluff should contact Charles Brown, Library Director (12601 Ridgedale
Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55305-1909; 952-847-8580) and Mike Opat, Chair of the
Hennepin County Board of Commissioners (A-2400 Government Center, 300 S.
Sixth Street,Minneapolis, MN 55487; 612-348-7881).
[ For a partial list of periodicals slated for removal by Hennepin County
Library, see http://skipper.gseis.ucla.edu/students/bjensen/html/mags.htm ]
13. Baffler offices destroyed by fire
On the morning of April 25th, our office and the unique building in which it
was housed were destroyed in a fire. In addition to the Baffler office, the
building was home to a close community of artists, writers, nonprofit
organizations, and small businesses. No one was injured in the fire, but the
physical damage was extensive. Worse, however, was the devastation of a
vital center of cultural activity.
We're struggling to cope with our losses and those of our friends. We have
set up a temporary office and will do our best to publish Baffler #14 (which
was sent to the printer a week before the fire) as scheduled. It now appears
that our subscriber list is recoverable, so we are hopeful that everyone
will get their copy of the magazine. For now, though, we have no computers,
no contact lists, no rolodexes, no desks, and no desk lamps.
We and our friends are determined to rebuild and recover, but we need help.
For those who can, please send donations made out to The Baffler Recovery
The Baffler Magazine
P. O. Box 378293
Chicago, IL 60637
In-kind help would also be greatly appreciated. We're hoping we can score a
few iMacs mothballed in the warehouses of northern California after the
dot-com bankruptcies of recent months. Or, on the humbler, more second-wave
side, just some file cabinets, or desks, or carpets, or one of those huge
unabridged dictionaries. Let us know if you can help with any of these.
Watch this space for further reports on the aftermath of the fire and
instructions for donations to the other operations housed in the building.
14. Cataloging Missteps at the French National Library
"More than any other new monument in Paris, the new National Library is a
symbol of Francois Mitterrand's desire to prove that he was the
'thinker-president.' Today, the building is less associated with thinking
than with calamity: stupendously impractical architecture, despite the
early protests of people with experience in the field; a user-unfriendly
location and a clumsy attempt to mix a scholarly library with a public
15. Study on Women-Centered Literacy Materials
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mev Miller, 651-646-0097, mev[at]litwomen.org
WE LEARN Launches Research Study on Women-Centered / Women-Positive Basic
St. Paul, MN --- WE LEARN (Women Expanding Literacy Education Action
Resource Network) values and promotes literacy and literature for all
women especially those with lower-level English reading and writing
skills. In an effort to cultivate meaningful literacy resources and
curriculum, WE LEARN has launched a participatory research project
involving adult women learners, as well as educators and librarians who
have connections to literacy efforts. In addition to learning what
materials are currently being used to meet the needs of adult women
learners, this study will also explore what resources could be developed
that don't already exist (including what topics, genres, formats, etc.).
The primary goal of this project will be to initiate collaborative
strategies to develop and create women-centered basic English literacy
Though this research project will work closely with adult women learners
and literacy educators, librarians who work in collections development or
who maintain a selection of literacy materials in their libraries are
invited to participate. Libraries that support literacy programs in their
building are also encouraged to respond. Initial participation involves
responding to a questionnaire seeking information about what
women-centered literacy materials exist in library collections; how they
were found and what was the selection criterion; if adult learner patrons
request or use women-centered literacy materials; and what literacy
resources and materials are still needed in this area. The questionnaire
for librarians can be found at www.litwomen.org/libq.html. Hard copies
will be mailed upon request. The deadline for participation is July 1,
A final report will be provided in print format to the respondents, to the
Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS), and posted on
www.litwomen.org/WLindex.html, the WE LEARN website. Possibilities also
exist for librarians to participate in the long-term efforts and projects
of WE LEARN.
Women and girls need and deserve access to a variety of creative
educational opportunities, programs, resources, and materials at all
levels of readability. WE LEARN has been established to maintain a
resource list of women-centered / women-positive adult basic English
literacy materials that help women understand their situations as women;
to create a resource center / clearinghouse dedicated to the publishing,
review, networking, and distribution of women-centered literacy resources
and materials; and to develop a network of learners, literacy workers,
librarians, educators, and writers committed to and involved in the
process of creating and distributing women-centered or feminist adult
basic literacy materials.
To obtain more information about this project, to get a copy of the
questionnaire, or to be added to the mailing list, please contact Mev
Miller at 1483 Laurel Ave., St. Paul, MN 55104-6737, (phone) 651-646-0097,
(fax) 651-646-1153, (email) mev[at]litwomen.org. Additional information can
be found on the WE LEARN website at www.litwomen.org/WLindex.html.
Women Expanding Literacy Education Action Resource Network
1483 Laurel Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104
16. FYI France: a "City of Books" in France
an issue of Jack Kessler's ejournal, FYI France
I hear tales of a "City of Books", in France -- "Montolieu,
Village du Livre et des Arts Graphiques" -- organized along lines
similar to those of Hay - on - Wye in England.
The idea appears to be to create a "safe haven" for books and for
the lovers of books. In this tiny French village (current
permanent population 786), located in a picturesque spot, people
who really like to read and who enjoy printed books for doing
their reading can go for a weekend, a week, or a more extended
visit, and eat some good food, stay in quaint inns, browse
bookstores, take walks in the country, enjoy picnics, read...
Montolieu has a museum of the history of the book:
The Muse'e Michel Braibant
"The Museum of the Arts and Crafts of the book was
created at the initiative of Michel Braibant, bookbinder
and fervent bibliophile, who in the realisation of his
project gave generously from his notable personal
collection of graphic arts. Per the wishes of the donor
the Museum aims to be a living place, in which the
history of writing and of its different media, and of the
printing press, may be retraced, and where the teaching
activity so dear to Michel Braibant may be pursued.
The museum is composed of several parts:
* The Earliest Writings and Their Media
(clay, papyrus, parchment or paper)
* Typography, and Different Modes of Composition
* The Various Printing Machines
(monotype, linotype, handpress, pedalpress,
automatic and cylinder presses)
* The Tools of Bookbinders and Engravers"
a welcome addition to Lyon's excellent Muse'e de l'Imprimerie --
http://www.bm-lyon.fr/musee/imprimerie.htm -- France needs more.
And there are places to stay in Montolieu --
Le Bousquet - Jacqueline et Rene' AGASSE
Le Bousquet - Emma et Gilles BOYER
La Manufacture Royale - Marc Guillet
Le Cafe' du livre - Lucia Stuart
La Grange - Mme Burtet
Les Marronniers - Mme Bernou
La Manufacture Royale - Marc Guillet
Peyremale - Annie et Jean Pierre Pautou"
and to camp --
"Camping des oliviers - M. Lons"
plus more in surrounding villages -- and Carcassonne and
Castelnaudary and even Toulouse are not all that far away,
depending on whether you figure driving speeds in Languedoc -
Roussillon or California styles (Toulouse is 90km, or not much
over 1/2 hour on the autoroute if your driver is French).
And you can eat --
Le flore'al : Place de l'e'glise
Cafe' du livre : Rue de la Mairie
Cafe' du Commerce : Place des Tilleuls
Le Re'verbe`re : Route de Toulouse
A Saint Denis
Le Vieux Panier
A Brousses et Villaret
Aux Deux Acacias : RN113..."
and eating should be no problem anyway, in this part of the world
-- as a Guide Michelin Rouge tour for the Toulouse - Carcassonne
stretch will take many visits to work through -- see,
(Now you can get your Guide Michelin on your Palm Pilot, or maybe
somehow on your bright new car computer if you are navigating
with one of those -- see URL above.)
There even is a hand paper mill near Montolieu -- any "art of the
book" purist will insist that you _must_ know about the paper...
Moulin a` Papier de Brousses
11390 Brousses et Villaret
"Un peu d'histoire.
En 1674, le versant sud de la montagne noire figurait
parmi les centres papetiers les plus fameux de la
province du Languedoc. En 1845, Brousses comptait encore
une dizaine de moulins en activite'.
Le moulin a` papier de Brousses perpe'tue l'activite'
papetie`re en un lieu qu'elle occupe depuis 4 sie`cles.
C'est un muse'e vivant qui met en valeur les techniques
anciennes et les moteurs hydrauliques.
Visites tous les jours (dure'e 1 heure)
Visite commente'e :
* Histoire du papier et de sa fabrication.
* De'couverte de machines anciennes (meuleton,
pile hollandaises identiques a` celles des
planches des encyclope'distes) et de syste`mes
hydrauliques (turbine et roue a` aubes).
* De'monstration de fabrication de papier a` la
forme a` main."
And Montolieu has _bookshops_ ! -- this is a town with a total
population only a little larger than a famille nombreuse --
* Aline'a: Rue du 8 mai 1945
* Galerie des bouquinistes: Impasse de la Manufacture
* Des Livres et Vous: Rue Saint Andre'
* Booth Books: Place Jean Gue'henno
* Le Bateau Ivre: Place des Tilleuls
* Le Tournefeuille: Rue des Remparts
* Le Dilettante: Impasse du Ferradou
* L'Ile Lettre'e: Rue Saint Andre'
* Ode au livres: Rue de la Mairie
* Aathon-l'Oiseau Livre: Rue du 8 Mai 1945
* The English Bookshop: Rue de la Mairie
* Clio: Rue de la Mairie
* Voyelles: Rue Nationale
And Montolieu has Websites --
http://www.atelierdulivre.net/ (for kids!)
I haven't been to Montolieu myself -- I would like very much to
hear more from those who have -- but I do know the area:
Montolieu (see also Montoulieu?) appears to be a tiny town /
hamlet in the hills of the Aude, in the valley of the Garonne,
sort of midway between Carcassone and Castelnaudary and on the
route up to Toulouse -- the Languedoc - Roussillon. According to
the "City of Books" main Website,
"Montolieu s'accroche sur un e'peron rocheux entre deux
rivie`res, l'Alzeau et la Dure, au pied de la montagne
noire, versant sud, dans un petit terroir appelle' le
Cabarde`s. Le village se situe a` 17 km au Nord Ouest de
Carcassonne, a` 90 km de Toulouse, a` 70 km de la mer
Me'diterrane'e, et a` 100 km des Pyre'ne'es."
This is the land of the Cathars -- Le Roy Ladurie's
"Montaillou" is over on the other side of the valley. Yahoo.fr
(URL above) says that Montolieu offers,
"Fondation de l'abbaye be'ne'dictine de Saint-Jean de
Valsiger en l'an 800, ba^tie a` proximite' du cha^teau de
Mallast. S'appelait a` l'origine "Villa Siguarii", devenu
par la suite Valsiger (la valle'e su^re); prit le nom
actuel en 1146 parce qu'il marquait la limite de la
culture de l'olivier. Bourg fortifie'. Important centre
industriel au 17e`me; comptait pre`s de 4,000 habitants. "
So Montolieu has been a "safe haven" before: the Cathars, the
Benedictines, and the Visigoths as well I imagine, a "bourg
fortifie'", a population reduction at some point of nearly 4000
people -- "la valle'e su^re" indeed.
Travel in France is filled with this sort of history of
insecurity, for a comfortable Californian: how these warm people
stay so friendly, in hard little villages perched on hilltops and
surrounded by strong doors and thick walls -- is endlessly
fascinating, particularly for someone raised in sprawling cities
laid out on suburban grids which have no horizon. Even if the
supply of electric power _is_ more "secure", at the moment, in
Montolieu than it is in San Francisco...
You get a sense of why this human warmth continues in the
springtime, in the south of France. Few places are colder than a
small, stone, European town in the winter: visit Pe'rouges, a
little fortified place in the Ain near Lyon, and you'll see how
forbidding a French village can be in a cold winter rain -- but
when the little allotment gardens near the town wall began to
bloom in the Pe'rouges spring, and roses start to creep around
corners and blossom by surprise in front of windows, and
wildflowers come up through the cobblestones -- and crocuses --
you begin to get the idea. The same "warming" effect simply can't
be had in a land of perpetual springtime like California.
The atmosphere in which one shops for a book used to be
important. "Telegraph Avenue", "The Village", "Whalley Avenue and
Broadway", "Blackwell's", "Charing Cross Road" and "Foyles", "the
Boulevard St. Michel"... each of us has a place where we teethed
on printed books -- places all somehow inevitably equipped with
nearby cafes, stationery stores for pens and pencils and
notebooks for that irrepressible thought, little parks, long
walking routes, and happy memories.
The recollection of the later shock which most of us confronted,
shortly after this earliest blissful period, trying to read a
book in an uncongenial milieu, still grates with some -- no way
you can browse through poetry or read a short story in a traffic
jam, or changing a diaper, or grocery shopping, or waiting for a
tense business meeting -- no way you can read a book in a bank.
Digital information is learning this lesson slowly. Even for the
bits and the bytes the presentation is important, the Internet is
finding: whether this is called "interface design" or
"ergonomics" -- or "architecture", or Steve Jobs' latest flavor
in IMac colors -- the "place" where human - machine interaction
occurs, in the new digital world, is becoming as critical as the
digits in it.
The computer world's and the Internet's earliest "command line" /
"any color so long as it's black" approach has yielded -- at best
reluctantly, and for the most part kicking and screaming -- to a
preoccupation with "user - friendliness", reminiscent less of
technology and engineering departments than it is, now, more of
techniques used to sell cars and perfume, and the movies.
This trend is better seen in Europe than it is in the US, where
omnipresent "computers" can inhabit any cluttered and unsanitary
"office" or "den" or "bedroom" or "briefcase" or "workplace": in
Europe, where they still have far fewer "pcs", a good Internet
Cafe' in London or Paris or Lyon does its utmost to present the
very latest in shocking / exciting architecture and interior
design, with all the creature comforts of elegant lounge chairs,
coffee and drinks and even food service, "ambient" music and
lighting -- "the Internet experience", versus "just pounding on
the computer" as in the US.
And yes there may be more of this, rather than less as has been
predicted. Computer "penetration" numbers for the European market
still are increasing. But, as rapidly, the paradigm for what
constitutes "a computer" in digital information is changing,
everywhere. The Europeans and the Asians have fallen in love with
handheld telephones, for example, far more than Americans have.
Its current "market downturn" troubles notwithstanding, the
handheld -- an extremely fashion - oriented, faddish, fungible -
commodity - phenomenon very unlike the utilitarian "computer" in
the US -- may become the medium of choice for much of digital
information, at least in Europe and Asia.
And then there is the "Infotainment" industry, which currently
seems to be swallowing the Internet whole, in the US as well as
elsewhere: the new AOL Time Warner already is flooding the
world's DSL hookups with "content" presented very differently
from anything which the old "command line ASCII" ever could have
accommodated or even imagined -- try fitting today's Lara Croft /
Tomb Raider / Angelina Jolie movie trailer, or a Christina
Aguilera "bump 'n grind" video, into the old "acceptable use
Or, simply for book - buying, consider the loving care and
attention to detail lavished upon the leading Websites in the
retail book industry alone -- La FNAC online, and Amazon - dot -
whatever, and the rest -- these people pay a great amount of
attention, now, within the limits of their medium, to
"atmosphere" and "milieu". The minutely exact positioning of more
than just banner ads, plus the extreme details of fonts and
colors and layout and general graphic design, are as much the
interest of Web designers nowadays as they ever were of the early
printers -- more, perhaps -- Yahoo!'s confraternity with Aldus
Manutius extends to more than simply the attempt to organize all
the world's knowledge, now, as the presentation of that knowledge
has become an overriding concern.
So the atmosphere in which one reads is important -- reading
requires a receptive mind. Think of the times when you have had
to read a thing again, then still again over and over, never
understanding or even seeing the text which you have read --
words, words, words... -- and all that time you instead were
thinking about your date for that evening, or your basketball
game, or whether global warming really will melt the planet, or
you just weren't thinking...
Some of us (I am one) fall asleep in libraries, others can read
nothing in a crowded cafe', still others (me again) need the
background "white noise" of a cafe' in order to focus clearly on
a difficult text -- whole generations of New Yorkers absorbed
chemistry, and Proust, riding in to class on the very noisy "el"
subways -- and still others need to lie beneath an apple tree to
read a book, while some of us just snooze there. The ambiance
makes a difference.
Whether the ambiance of a picturesque little village in southern
France is the best for appreciating, browsing, selecting,
savoring the printed book seems to me a highly - personal
decision -- I myself favor noisy boulevards and cafes in big
cities, others may prefer quiet libraries, still others that
legendary "sunny day beneath an apple tree".
For digital information, well, "computer" screens -- even the
"non - glare" kind -- tend to reflect glare when you try to use
them beneath sunny day apple trees, and so I imagine do the
screens on ebook readers and handheld telephones; and just try
bringing your handheld into a library sometime, where "shh" isn't
the only reaction you'll get if one of its melodies goes off in
the "reading" room; and while noisy cafe's are pretty good, and
certainly are used, for most "laptops" and "handhelds" -- cafe'
noise being greatly the result of the latter, nowadays -- there
must be better places.
The point here being, generally, that "place" matters -- for
digital information as much as for the printed book. These people
in Montolieu are working hard to create a "place" for printed
books, as people in the Internet cafe's are working hard to
create a "place" for digital information: and the newest and
latest libraries, for example the one residing in the BnF's new
structure at Tolbiac, arguably are "places" for both -- an
atmosphere / milieu in which the minds of users will be most
receptive to both the information presented on a screen and / or
that presented on a printed page.
It is questionable, I think myself, whether this "sense of place"
problem really has been well thought out, in any of these areas
-- especially considering the great variety of information users,
and the vast range of "place" alternatives which they find most
But at least Montolieu appears to present one finely - worked
alternative for "reading", as perhaps the BnF with its cavernous
reading rooms at Tolbiac presents another. When they also
integrate into reading's "sense of place" that noisy cafe' at the
corner of the Boul' Mich, on the quai looking out over the Seine,
they will have made everybody happy.
FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071 - 5916
| FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic
| journal published since 1992 as a small-scale,
| personal experiment, in the creation of large-
| scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler.
/ \ Any material written by me which appears in
----- FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for
// \\ any good purpose, so long as, a) they give me
--------- credit and show my email address, and, b) it
// \\ isn't going to make them money: if it is going
to make them money, they must get my permission
in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me.
Use of material written by others requires their permission.
FYI France archives may be found at http://infolib.berkeley.edu
(search fyifrance), or http://www.cru.fr/listes/biblio-fr[at]cru.fr/
(BIBLIO-FR archive), or http://listserv.uh.edu/archives/pacs-l.html
(PACS-L archive) or http://www.fyifrance.com . Suggestions,
reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all will be
gratefully received at kessler[at]well.sf.ca.us .
Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler,
all rights reserved except as indicated above.
17. The Modern Humorist and ALA
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 18:28:54 -0500
From: "Monika Antonelli" <MANTONEL[at]library.unt.edu>
Reply to: MANTONEL[at]library.unt.edu
I thought some of you might find this web page of interest. The website
Modern Humorist creates a propaganda poster for ALA.
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