Next week, May 7-8, is the ALA Washington Office's annual National Library Legislative Day, in which hundreds of librarians from across the country will descend on Washington, D.C. for a day of training and education with ALA staff, followed by a day of meetings with their representatives on the hill. And once again, this year’s meeting is perfectly timed, coming just as appropriations bills continue to move forward—and as the Trump administration is expected to unveil a proposal to cut spending from the budget the president signed just weeks ago.
“Not only is Congress starting the work of passing 12 appropriations bills, soon the White House is expected to submit to Congress a rescission package of programs targeted for elimination,” reports ALA’s Kevin Maher. “The list of programs the administration is recommending for defunding may be announced soon, but it would not surprise the ALA Washington office if LSTA and IAL were targeted.”
The rescission process allows the president to submit a list of budget cuts to Congress, which Congress can approve with a simple majority in the House and Senate. As Maher explains, just being included in a rescission package could hurt library funding, as any program included in a rescission request is frozen for up to 45 days while Congress considers the request.
“If library programs such as the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) or Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) are included, grants could be delayed,” Maher notes.
Ultimately, it is not likely a rescission package will be approved—but politically, proposing such cuts (which could include library programs) would be a hunk of red meat for the GOP’s fiscally conservative base.
If you’re one of the many librarians heading to Washington next week, email us, we’d love to hear your impressions and share your pictures. And, if you can’t make it to Washington, D.C., you can still participate virtually and make your voice heard.
Turns Out the Cambridge Library Tower is Not Filled with ‘Victorian Pornography’
A free exhibition of the Cambridge University library tower opened this week dispelling long-held beliefs that the 157-foot tower was filled with “Victorian pornography.”
Instead visitors are privy to a remarkable collection of two centuries of popular publishing in the United Kingdom. The tower, it turns out, is a copyright library. And in an article for the Independent, library director Jessica Gardner highlights the exhibition and the importance of copyright libraries.
“Victorian toys and games jostle for a place with colorful children’s books, Edwardian fiction in pristine dust jackets and popular periodicals. Once considered of ‘secondary’ value to the main academic collections, the tower collection is a treasure trove for today’s readers and researchers,” Gardner writes, “You can literally stand in front of a given year and see exactly what was published. This must be the academic equivalent of being a child in a sweet shop.”
Here’s another cool fact: the library tower was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed London’s famous red telephone boxes.
OK, sure, exploring a tower full of Victorian pornography sounds exciting, but this exhibition sounds pretty great, too.
Will Congressional Bid to Block FCC's Net Neutrality Repeal Advance?
In the six months since FCC chairman Ajit Pai signed the order to repeal net neutrality protections, we’ve reported on a number of state bills and legal actions seeking to preserve it. But next week, on May 9th, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) will introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution in the Senate that would roll back Pai’s order. And a successful CRA vote would not only block the order, crucially, it would preclude any future consideration of Pai's repeal.
Can it succeed? It’s a long shot—but not impossible. Already 50 senators have announced their support for the measure, although it is unclear what would happen in the House. And, of course, then there is President Trump, who would likely veto the measure, despite the fact net neutrality remains broadly popular, and could be an issue for the GOP in the midterm elections.
Next week, Fight for the Future will roll out its Red Alert campaign to support the CRA measure. And even if the CRA bid fails, observers note, it’s important.
“Even if Trump ultimately blocks the CRA effort, simply getting it to his desk would be a significant show of force for net neutrality advocates,” reports the Verge. “The last 20 years of FCC action on the issue have been about warring interpretations the Communications Act, but both sides are increasingly looking to settle the issue with new legislation. If Congress votes to uphold the Wheeler rules, that’s a strong indication that whatever new law gets passed should look like the Title II rules Wheeler put in place, even if we have to wait for a new president and a new Congress to actually pass it into law.”
OCLC’s Merrilee Proffitt Talks Wikipedia
One of my favorite articles of last year was a Q&A I did with Wikipedia’s Jake Orlowitz, who really opened my eyes to the outstanding work and mission of Wikipedia. So next on my list of people I want to interview is Merrilee Proffitt, Senior Program Officer in OCLC Research, and a member of the Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project team, editor of a newly published book Leveraging Wikipedia: Connecting Communities of Knowledge (ALA Editions).
Proffitt was recently elected to the steering committee of the Wikimedia and Libraries User Group, billed as “a new organizational affiliate to the Wikimedia movement.” And Webjunction recently posted its Q&A with Proffitt on her Wikipedia experience.
"Wikipedia has brought me so much joy," Proffitt says. "This has really come in the form of people. I have met inspiring, motivating, curious people through the Wikimedia movement. People involved believe that they can change the world. So they try! And we’ve seen the world change as a result."
Facing a recent sexual assault scandal, the Swedish Academy said it would postpone the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature until next year.
Junot Diaz is accused of sexual misconduct.
There are lots of books on libraries by photographers, but here’s a photographer who is also a librarian.
Over 2,000 AI researchers vow not to submit, edit, or review articles to closed-access journal Nature.
Don’t miss Buzzfeed writer Bim Adewunmi’s terrific piece on the three black women who are upending the romance novel industry.
A chat with Wellcome Collection’s Robert Bidder, the visitor experience assistant who moonlights as staff comic artist.
The self-described “poet laureate of Twitter” has written an ode to the EU's data protection act.
Professor Roy Gold (1918–2008) often spent his evenings doodling on the covers of the books he read; the Public Domain Review surveys the impressive collection he left behind.
NPR looks into the controversy unfolding at the University of Texas over the Fine Arts library's decision to move some books into storage.
17 years later, freelance writers finally collect, and one of the lead objectors in the landmark copyright class action offers a detailed timeline.
Via Gary Price at InfoDocket: New Report: Media Freedom in US Under Threat.