The Unclassifiable Library Remix

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can't Find the Smoking Gun

We have had a serious problem lately with someone smoking in the library.  Whoever it is, we cannot catch them on our security cameras.  They are going up beyond the second floor to the third landing at the roof access door.  When we enter the stair well later, the smell of smoke is obvious.  Before people start thinking I am just over sensitive, several staff people have brought this to my attention (since I monitor the security cameras in the library) and I am a smoker myself, so it's not just that I am anit-smoking.  I really enjoy smoking, I will be honest.  However, I know to out outside to do so.  Is it hot as hell outside? Yes.  Is it inconvenient? You betcha.  Would I rather sit in my office and have a smoke? Sure.  But too bad.  I suck it up and go outside in the heat if I want to smoke.  And I don't stand by an entrance either, so that people have to walk through my cloud of smoke to get in the building.  I try to be a considerate smoker.  I don't litter my butts on the ground, I don't block entrances/exits, and I try to stay downwind if I am walking with a non-smoker.  It's called basic courtesy.  But not only is smoking in the library discourteous and a fire hazard, it is against Library, University, and State of NC rules and regulations.  There are legal repercussions to getting caught.  Smoking inside a state building where no smoking is allowed, is a stupid thing.  Why risk legal trouble for a cigarette you can enjoy just but going a little bit further out of the door?  We have a few suspects in mind that we are keeping an eye on, and we are increasing our in person monitoring of the stairwells with more frequent rounds.  I want to catch this person so badly.  And when I do, after I turn them over to campus police, I will go outside and enjoy a smoke in my car and relish my victory.

Twittergate Continues

Well, Twittergate continutes.  Received notification that my Twitter account was restored, but I tried to log in and still it's a no go.  Le sigh.  I'm giving them until lunch which will be many hours after my notification, and then I write them again.  I want my Twitter back.  I do have to say that they responded much faster this time.  Last time I dealt with Twitter support, it took a month to hear back, so a week is a vast improvement.  That is, IF my service is actually restored.  

Support, Jul 30 05:41 pm (PDT):
Twitter has automated systems that find and remove multiple automated spam accounts in bulk. Unfortunately, it looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake.
I've restored your account; sorry for the inconvenience.
Please note that it may take an hour or so for your follower and following numbers to return to normal.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Twitter Frustrations

So frustrated with Twitter.  My @unclassifiable_ account is suspended, and there is no reason for it.  I don't market any products (other than to share posts about books I like), follow aggressively, or spam people.  I share information about libraries, reading, literacy, writing, censorship, and technology.  I hope they get it back up and running soon.  This has happened to me twice before and the first time I had to make an entirely new account, as they never responded to my technical support request.  The second time it was resolved quickly.  I hope it will be so this time as well.  I like to maintain my professional and personal accounts separately, and without that venue to quickly share work-related tidbits, I am at a loss.  

I did receive a reply to my contesting of the suspension quickly - but I believe that these are sent out automatically.  It's the next email I am anticipating.

Hello unclassifiable_!

We understand that you're contesting an account suspension. Please be sure to read this entire email; you will need to take further action in order to reopen your ticket and trigger a review of your account.

Twitter suspends accounts for a variety of reasons:

• If your account was suspended for aggressive following behavior, you should have received an email notification to the address associated with your Twitter account. You'll need to confirm that you've removed all prohibited following automation from your account, and will stop any manual aggressive following behavior. To expedite your appeal process, please review our <a href="">Best Practices</a> page if you haven't already, and then reply to this ticket with a confirmation that you understand our policies and will not engage in any prohibited following behavior.

• Please take a minute to review the <a href="">Twitter Rules</a>.

• If you received an email from saying 'you're being suspended' or that we're going delete your account, you're safe; the email is fake. More information here

• While we strive to avoid mistakes, it's also possible that your account was suspended in error. If after reviewing the Rules, you have no idea why your account was suspended, just reply to this email indicating as much, and we'll take another look at your case. Our apologies if the error turns out to be ours.

Twitter Trust & Safety

Responding to this email will reopen this ticket and put your ticket in queue for support. If you do not reply, your case will be closed. Note that you need to reply from the address this mail was sent to. If you use an alias (such as to manage your account, ensure that your reply comes from the alias address or your ticket may not be seen by our support staff.

Please note, we cannot accept email attachments at this time; please include all information in the body of your request.

<b>Your request summary is:</b>

unclassifiable_, Jul 26 06:20 am (PDT):

Regarding: Suspended account

Subject: Suspended Educational Account

Description of problem: I have been using this established account for some time now. I have no aggressive following or marketing habits. I share educational information for academic purposes. I am a librarian at a state university in charge of our library's social media and this is my work account. I greatly need access to this account to perform my job. Please restore it quickly. It has not been hacked or otherwise associated with any malaware type practices. I appreciate your quick attention to this matter, as my work is on hold until my access is restored.

Full name: June Power

Twitter username: @unclassifiable_

Email address:

Phone number(optional): 9105216369

My reply (since I am sure they don't read the initial ticket, but only those that pursue beyond this point): 

Hi Twitter.

My @unclassifiable_ account is suspended, and I can see (based on the guidelines) that there is no reason for it.  I don't market any products (other than to share posts about books I like), follow aggressively, or spam people.  I share information about libraries, reading, literacy, writing, censorship, and technology. This is a professional work account, tied to my university email address.  I am a librarian at a state university and am in charge of our library’s social media.  I use this account for educational purposes.  Please restore my access, as this is vital to my work.  Thanks so very much.

June Power

In other news, I returned from vacation this week.  It always seem as if work multiplies in my absence like Gremlins.  Additionally, several of my staff people are out or working reduced hours this week, meaning stretching circulation desk coverage.  I also have more reference desk hours than usual due to librarians taking vacation.  None of this I mind, but it does make for busy days. But honestly, I'd rather be busy than bored.  Mainly this week I've been catching up, but I also listened to the recorded Ares User Group meeting from ALA.  I am reviewing policies and procedures from the library's manual, especially those that have legal repercussions and must be further reviewed by the University's attorney.  I missed our book club this week, but am glad we are using Goodreads to track what everyone is reading.  Instead of one book that we all read, we are meeting monthly and everyone is just sharing books that they have recently read with the rest of the group.  I've assisted with ILL a bit more than usual this week - and am loving ILLiad even more.  Unlike the old OCLC command prompt method, you can step away for a few weeks and not have trouble remembering how to process things when you return.  Thankfully, it's a quiet week though, so it's not overwhelming to come back as it is during the semester if you have to take a few days.  However, I didn't miss having to get up this early.  Thank God for coffee.  Now if only I could get my Twitter back.  Cross your fingers for me.

Friday, July 06, 2012


I just finished re-reading True Stories of Censorship Battles in America's Libraries - edited by Valerie Nye and Kathy Barco (ALA 2012.)  It is a great read and full of real life examples of censorship and intellectual freedom.  Every librarian should read this book, as intellectual freedom is the foundation upon which our entire profession is built.  I think it is also a great read for the non-professional as I think it makes what libraries do relevant.  Censorship is an emotional subject, and it makes people pay attention.

Below are my reading notes.

"Ideas don't die because a book is forbidden reading."

Part I - Sometimes We're Our Own Worst Enemy - When Library Employees are Censors

"For every reader, his or her book.  For every book, its reader." - S.R. Ranganathan

As the title to the second chapter states, "well intentioned censorship is still censorship."

"Public libraries exist to provide access to ideas, information, and cultural opportuniites essential to a literate and educated society.  Foundational to this mission are the concepts of ree access and user privacy."

"As a profession, we are fiercely and visibly protective of the freedom to read."

Part II - How Dare You Recommend This Book to a Child - Reading Levels and Sophisticated Topics

"All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values.  Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values and I say let's get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Consitution of the United States - and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!" - Kurt Vonnegut

"Every culture has its own way of expressing itself and we need to be respectful of that fact.  We do't have to agree, but we should try to understand."

People who feel the need to censor are often stubborn in their opinions and finding common ground is one way to diffuse these sometime emotional confrontations.

"What struc me during this situation was the idea that in the blink of an eye censorship can strike any library.  If one book is removed, then others could follow."

In loco parentis we are not.

Part III - Not Only Boy Scouts Should Be Prepared - Building Strong Policies

"Did you ever hear anyone say, 'That work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very damaging to me?'" - Joseph Henry Jackson

"Policies are time-consuming and sometimes painful documents to write, but, when librarians encounter challenges to material in their library's holdings or are accused of censorship, these documents may shine like the most beautiful pieces of gold ever discovered."

Collection development on the front end and reconsideration on the back end.

There's a fine line between materials selection and censorship.

"Allowing parents to make a decision regarding their own child's borrowing privileges does not erect an institutional barrier.  The choice belongs to the parent, along with the consequences."

Part IV - When the Tribe Has Spoken - Working with Native American Collections

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave." - Dakota

Cultural sensitivity or censorship? Legal as well as cultural issues.

ALA's "Librarianship and Traditional Cultural Expressions: Nurturing Understanding and Respect "suggests that librarians create separate policies for user access to documents containing cultural expressions."  "This seems to be at odds with the ALA's Freedom to Read Statement: 'Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the innoffensive.'"

"If we do this for one group, will we need to do this for others?"

With Native Americans, they have their own governements and laws regarding their cultural heritage.

Part V - Conversation + Confrontation + Controversy = Combustion - Vocal Organization and Publically Debated Challenges

"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosopies, and competitive values.  For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." - JFK

"Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books." - Board of Education, Island Tress Union Free School District v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853

"The fight for freedome in Cuba cannot be waged as a ware on the First Amendment in Miami." - ACLU Statement

Local politics have no place in controlling children's access to information.

"In time we hate that which we often fear." - Shakespeare

"Historically, the printed word has always had the potential to introduce new ideas, and images can increase their potency.  New ideas require change.  Change is scary.  Words and images combined are very scary.  For some, that fear is a call to action...[for] others, the possibility of change is the threat."

"If you only have things you like in your library, that's a private - not a public - library."

"No one group should be able to influence the censorship or banning of books for the entire community."

" support the freedom of speech completely, you must advocate even for those who would defend something that you would dedicate a lifetime to opposing."

"Small elections can have enormous impacts."

"Small-scale democratic institutions create the everyday forces that shape peoples' lives, give people opportunities, or cut such possibilities off.  Censorship is worrisome, but perhaps more worrisome are the consequences of unseen censorship in school districts dominated by small-mindedness or ideological bias: the crippled curricula, the books that never reach the shelves of libraries.  This form of censorship can go on in a hidden manner for years without anyone becoming aware of it."

Formal challenges can be vocal and get a lot of attention, but they are a small fraction of the erosion of intellectual freedom in this country.  The vast bulk of censorship is quietly unreported.

"'s much better to fight today against the possibility of censorship than to fight tomorrow against a censoring school board or an entrenched local extremist group."

"Unlike dogmatists who seek to silence the voices with which they disagree, defenders of free information seek to know, not censor, the views of those very dogmatists in order to keep pluralistic ideals strong and the ideas of those who would oppose them in the open, where they can be seen for what they are."

"There persists in our culture a general feeling that libraries are good things, but also that they belong in the background.  To my mind, it is hard to both promote literacy passionately and be invisible." - James LaRue

"Library collections don't imply endorsement; they imply access to the many different ideas of our culture, which is precisely our purpose in public life."

"We can't allow others to define us into irrelevance or silence, but the only way to withstand that trend is to engage with the larger culture.  We must add our voices to the intellectual environment in which we operate, advocating our vital role."

"It's great to see parents involved in what their kids are reading.  People are taking an interest in how their local government works and are being active in the process.  It is the truest form of democracy to watch people voice their opinions to their elected officials.  We have to protect that right just as closely as we protect the right to read and to have access to all forms of knowledge."

" important it is to fight against [censorship] in all of its forms: labeling, recataloging, permission slips, and hiding books."

"By suppressing materials containing ideas or themes with which tye do not agree, censors produce a sterile conformity and a lack of intellectual and emotional growh in students.  Freedom in the public schools is central to the quality of what and how students learn." - Henry Reichman

Reichman gives four main reasons for censorship:
  • Family values
  • Political views
  • Religion
  • Minority rights
Part VI - Crime and Punishment - When Library Patrons Have Committed a Crime

"Instead of asking - 'How much damage will the work in question bring about?' why not ask - 'How much good? How much joy?'" - D.H. Lawrence

When law enforcement shows up at the library and libraries in correctional facilities.

"My main concern was that I comply with the law, assist as needed, but no compromise anyone's confidentiality." - Dawn Pilcher

"Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thought crime.  It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality control." - George Orwell

Prisoners' Right to Read - "correctional librarians bear the responsibility of defending offenders' access to all information, except when legitimate penological interests mandate exclusion."  Problem is the broad definition of that latter phrase - can be very subjective.  Content vs. intent.

Part VII - Perhaps It Is Possible to Judge a Book by Its Cover

"I believe in censorship.  I made a fortune out of it." - Mae West

Good discussion questions at the end - this would make an excellent text for a course on intellectual freedom.

Like any other freedom, you have to be willing to fight for intellectual freedom.

What would you do?

In academic libraries, people expect to find a wide range of materials, so we don't often see the challenges common to public and school libraries.  I've never personally dealt with a book challenge, though a Robert Mapplethorpe book once had some of my past co-workers up-in-arms, but the book went out on the shelf despite their personal feelings.  My current library has a good collection development policy that is reviewed annually, as well as an anti-censorship statement.  We are a public university as well, and receive a great many patrons from our local community.  We have a published statement about our lack of filtering online and children under 12 must be accompanied in the building by a parent.  Otherwise, it is up to parents to monitor their children and what information they are consuming, not up to the library.  So we don't have those sorts of battles either.  Public and school libraries, which by their natures have a much closer relationship with younger readers, encounter these problems far more frequently. I would love for more librarians to share their stories about censorship and intellectual freedom in action in their libraries. It is through sharing such stories that we will strengthen ourselves for battles to come.


To you zealots and bigots and false
patriots who live in fear of discourse.
You screamers and banners and burners
who would force books
off shelves in your brand name
of greater good.
You say you're afraid for children,
innocents ripe for corruption
by perversion or sorcery on the page.
But sticks and stones do break
bones, and ignorance is no armor.
You do not speak for me,
and will not deny my kids magic
in favor of miracles.
You say you're afraid for America,
the red, white, and blue corroded
by terrorists, socialists, the sexually
confused. But we are a vast quilt
of patchwork cultures and multi-gendered
identities. You cannot speak for those
whose ancestors braved
different seas.
You say you're afraid for God,
the living word eroded by Muhammed
and Darwin and Magdalene.
But the omnipotent sculptor of heaven
and earth designed intelligence.
Surely you dare not speak
for the father, who opens
his arms to all.
A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.
~Ellen Hopkins

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fourth of July

Yes - we're open.  From 2 pm - 10 pm.  Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Easter - we cover them all.  There might be someone with a burning need for information.  Holiday? Open. Raging tempest? Open.  No power? Open. Beat that postal service.

Thankfully, I have the day off.  My poor staff person though is stuck at work tonight.  Eat an extra piece of apple pie for him.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors

OK, not really terrors.  Just a lot of movies.  Working my second night at the circulation desk for my vacationing staff person.  Working circulation reminds me how much I dislike movies with too many discs.  When you have a line, and someone is checking out 3 seasons of a TV show with 8 discs each, you just want to headdesk.  Mais, c'est la vie de la bibliotheque.  Our services are so varied, but it is the movie and laptop check outs that provide our mainstay of circulations.  Being in a small, rural area, we have the best movie selection around.

Other than jumping up and down for movie check outs - I've been working on retooling some of the paper forms used in the Library for electronic web forms.  My goal for this summer is to eliminate as much paper as I can from my office.  It just piles up and goes no where - but I'm determined to make my piles become scanned files that I can more easily organize.

Two such forms I've worked on this week with our systems librarian are incident reporting and the daily circulation checklist.  The former is used by anyone that needs to report any incident that happens in the library.  The form comes to the dean, the assistant deans, and myself. This is much more efficient than trying to keep up with a paper report, having to make multiple copies, hoping someone wrote the report, and also recorded it in the Excel log.

The latter is a checklist that is a shift report for the circulation desk.  The web form will eliminate feet of paper from my office, and enable me to follow up more easily as a supervisor. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

Happy New FY

It's that time of year again when our state leaders fight over a new budget and we see whether or not we get that mythical raise I've heard ancient stories about.  In academia, July brings the beginning of the new fiscal year, and the gearing up for the academic semesters to come.  While our patron use diminishes some, we stay busy with three summer semesters, and we are also having to do all the preparations for things that need to be in place for the fall semester.  Software updates, handouts, signage, class preparation, and more all need to be done in summer - while of course working with a vacation shortened staff.

Being able to work in a quieter setting is nice, however.  My student assistants were able to complete an automated inventory of our general, folio, and juvenile collections.  Our shifting was completed.  We shifted all the movies again, as they were outgrowing their space.  And in the wake of Meebo's purchase and now impending closure by Google, I've switched our circulation chat service from Meebo to Trillian.

The little day to day things always keep me busy.  Today, it was the rush to come in at 1 pm to work the evening shift, and to hurry and complete time sheet approval for student assistants and staff by 5 pm.  Always fun.  : / Tonight, I'm covering the circulation desk for a staff person on vacation.  As one of the areas I supervise, it's good to get out to the front lines whenever I can.  Sadly, during the year I find that I can't get out to work the desk as often as I'd like - I'm just pulled in so many directions.  Access Services is one of the most generalist jobs in the library - jack of all trades but master of none, simply because we're unable to devote ourselves to just one aspect and perfect it.