Monthly Archives: January 2012

Motivation To Learn Javascript

There are classes in coding in the MLIS program at SJSU, but I decided that this is the sort of skill obtainable elsewhere.

I recently started an online course in javascript for catalogers offered through Code Academy.  As I worked through the exercises I wondered how I would be using this skill as a cataloger.

Today on Goodreads, I noticed a post from a member who said he had attempted to create a tool for importing records from Worldcat using  javascript.  I now feel much more motivated in pursuing proficiency with javascript.  Although my semester begins today, I will make time for the Code Academy javascript class.

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Second Life and Missed Opportunities

Last week I read on SJSU MLIS, the Yahoogroup for San Jose State University MLIS students, that Second Life was no longer covered in the introductory class, LIBR 203, and therefore isn’t considered an essential aspect of the SLIS program.  Even though I had never taken advantage of opportunities to participate in Second Life, I feel a certain ambivalence about this.

I might have been more inclined to become involved in  Second Life activities in a SLIS context,  if I felt that they made good use of this platform’s potential.  Imagine a reference class where students role played reference scenarios in Second Life.  Imagine an archive class where students had to demonstrate how they would organize virtual archival materials in a Second Life archive.

Why wasn’t  Second Life integrated into my LIS education more fully?  It’s likely that most faculty members felt that acquiring the basic skills for maneuvering an avatar involved too steep a learning curve. That was my opinion when I was first introduced to Second Life in LIBR 203.  Later I wondered why I should invest my time  for the sake of virtual parties.  It seemed to me that online synchronous  interaction between students is more easily accomplished through Elluminate/Collaborate, the web conferencing platform that we use for real time lectures, presentations and meetings.

My perspective on Second Life changed when I saw how  Jeremy Kemp had developed virtual diagnostic scenarios for nursing education while he was my Web Usability instructor.  I realized then that Second Life could be a powerful educational tool. It’s a shame that  the opportunity to utilize this tool is slipping away from LIS students at SJSU.

Library Kindle Loans Redux

Since I’m a new blogger, I’m surfing the blogosphere  and uncovering posts that aren’t the most current, but I feel that I have a perspective to contribute to this issue.

I just viewed Sarah Houghton-Ian’s video posted October 18, 2011 to her blog Librarian in Black and here is my reaction:

I do agree with Sarah Houghton-Ian that librarians must stand up to protect the public from  potential misuse of  any records dealing with their reading.  Libraries have historically been a bulwark against censorship.  They have had annual Banned Books Week events.  Intellectual freedom has been an important value of  the library profession.  It’s such a  core belief for me as a future librarian that I feel that Sarah Houghton-Ian’s call to action doesn’t go far enough.

As I pointed out in my previous post, Amazon has records of all Kindle e-book transactions, not just library Kindle e-book transactions.  If librarians really care about  reading privacy rights and intellectual freedom, then they shouldn’t  confine themselves to pushing for the confidentiality of  library downloads through Amazon.  Neither Amazon nor the public will understand why library e-book downloads should have special status.  I think it’s important to put it out there that the personal data associated with any book transaction should be kept confidential.  This should apply to all book vendors, not just Amazon.  It’s terrific that California has a reading privacy law.  Yet when we’re dealing with internet records, like those of online book vendors, the solution needs to be federal.    Libraries should advocate for Congressional legislation that protects reading privacy in all contexts.

Library Kindle Loans and Patron Privacy

Stephen Abram of  Gale Cengage Learning  spoke to the California Library Association on November 12, 2011.  I’ve only just viewed his speech. I’m catching up on San Jose State University SLIS videos during winter break after my busy semester.

During his speech, Stephen Abram mentioned that 11,000 libraries were now loaning Kindle books to their patrons. This troubled him since Amazon would then have every library patron’s Kindle book downloads on record.  The ALA has fought to protect the privacy of patron records in the wake of the Patriot Act.  Are libraries viewing Amazon as exempt from their confidentiality rules?

Patrons who have been Kindle users prior to library Kindle loans, are aware that Amazon keeps records of all their downloads.  They rely on those records in order to keep track of their purchases. Does it make a difference that Amazon would also maintain records of  their library Kindle downloads?

Although I am no lawyer, it seems to me that any of Amazon’s records could be subject to a court’s subpoena or to search by Homeland Security.  Should library patrons worry about this possibility, or could Amazon legally argue that their library records are confidential?

I have no answers to these questions.  I am merely posing them because they are matters for concern.  Any library that is trusting their patrons’ records to Amazon should be thinking about the impact of this choice on patron privacy.

Note:  For more information about Stephen Abram’s speech see http://stephenslighthouse.com/2011/11/12/california-library-association/