The Week in Libraries: June 22, 2018

In what The New York Times is calling “a major statement on privacy in the digital age” the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that “the government generally needs a warrant to collect troves of location data about the customers of cellphone companies.” The Times adds that the decision “has implications for all kinds of personal information held by third parties, including email and text messages, internet searches, and bank and credit card records.”

The 2018 ALA Annual Conference opens in New Orleans today, and once again librarians gather against the backdrop of political strife, this time, President Trump’s policy of separating families at the Mexican border.

But in some good political news, the ALA Washington Office reports that a House Appropriations Committee has voted to provide level federal funding for libraries in the FY 2019 budget. In a post on the ALA’s District Dispatch site, ALA’s Kevin Maher wrote that the House vote “is evidence that ALA members continue to have a significant impact on federal funding priorities.” A Senate LHHS subcommittee, is scheduled to take up the budget issue next week.

The Future of ALA will be a hot topic at this year’s annual conference, and beyond. This week, ALA President Jim Neal announced the formation of the ALA Organizational Effectiveness/Governance Review: Steering Committee, a committee that will work to retool ALA into in accordance with ‘the association’s 21st century values.”

In his ALA panel picks last week, PW Contributor Brian Kenney noted that comics and graphic novels will be everywhere at this year’s ALA in New Orleans. Our friends at The Beat have rounded up the comics and the graphic novel programming.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore is the latest library to eliminate fines on overdue books. In an op-ed this week, the Washington Post editorial board lauded the decision, encouraging other libraries to consider eliminating a subset of fines, like children’s books, if not all. “Fine-free policies can actually work to improve library circulation — and even the library’s bottom line,” the article said.

Yesterday the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) launched Open Bookshelf, a hub for free, downloadable books selected by librarians across the U.S. Readers can access the collection on the SimplyE app or through the DPLA Exchange. The collection currently consists of over 1,000 books with new ones added daily.

We reported last week that the EU’s 2016 Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market was headed for a key committee vote this week, with critics warning against one article in particular, Article 13, which could compel online platforms to check user-uploaded content against a database of copyrighted works and block items a filter deems infringing. Well, the measure passed this week. It now moves to a vote by the full European Parliament. Wired has a piece on how the measure could “screw up the whole Internet.”

Gizmodo reports that Microsoft employees are “up in arms” over the company’s contract to provide services to ICE.

Curbed reports that the New York Public Library will begin its main branch revamp on July 16, with construction on a new scholar center on the second floor.

From The Guardian, comes a passionate defense of libraries, and librarians, in the U.K. “Libraries are made by librarians, not by the contents of their catalogues, and the people who make them are not just public goods but public treasures.”

The University of California has released a new call to action regarding journal licensing and the need for open access. “Our goal, simply put,” the document states,” is to responsibly transition funding for journal subscriptions toward funding for open dissemination.”

Meanwhile, Roger Schonfeld has a great post at The Scholarly Kitchen examining whether the “contagion” of Big Deal cancellations in Europe will spread to the U.S. “My view,” he writes, “is that, while the germs are circulating, at least in the near term, publishers are unlikely to face a global pandemic.”

Also from The Scholarly Kitchen, Dr. Geraldine Cochran looks at “The Problem with Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.”

Amid recent developments in the U.S. and Europe comes this plea via the Wikimedia blog: “As policymakers increasingly suggest technological solutions to fight illegal and controversial content online, we ask them to consider the rights of internet users and to leave room for the human side of content moderation.”

In another Supreme Court decision this week, states can now collect sales tax on online sales. As PW reported, The American Booksellers Association is pleased…

But, over at NBC News, an editorial explains why the Supreme Court online tax decision could be a boon for Amazon, and is sending smaller businesses reeling: “Now I have to keep track of the tax laws and collect and report tax in 50 states and over 3,000 counties,” said one online merchant.

For anyone curious about what former President Barack Obama is up to these days, he posted his current reading list on Facebook. Among the titles he highlighted was Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging, by Alex Wagner: “I once wrote a book on my own search for identity, so I was curious to see what Alex, daughter of a Burmese mother and Iowan Irish-Catholic father – and a friend of mine – discovered during her own,” he wrote.

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