Since politics is in the news today (hello Super Tuesday!), I wanted to balance the generally negative political news with two announcements that came out last week from the White House.
Ebooks and open access
President Obama and the First Lady have both been outspoken supporters of the power of books in the hands of children. So it’s no surprise – but still awesome – that they recently announced the launch of Open eBooks. Open eBooks was put together by a coalition of nonprofits and publishers. It is an app that offers free access to a number of educational resources, including National Geographic’s suite of resources for youth. Open access is huge to both educators and librarians. Hopefully the resource can be widely used by students who can benefit most from them. Learn more about Open eBooks and get the app by visiting the group’s website.
Librarian of Congress
The Librarian of Congress retired last fall and there has been much debate circling around this individual’s role in the future of libraries. From whether this nomination should continue to be a life term to whether a librarian should be in this role to what the exact duties of this individual are, many people have weighed in.
First, I wanted to share some links about the Library of Congress and why the next Librarian of Congress is such an important issue for libraries:
- Jessamyn West discussed the next LOC during her appearance on the Circulating Ideas podcast. As she said:
“So I really want someone who understands what libraries are about…And talks about why the things that matter to us as librarians should matter to everybody, why sharing and fair use and copyright and accessibility matter, why authority control and metadata and sharing data sets matter. Why open access, why being very skeptical of people who want to sell you a thing in order to have you do a thing matters, why proprietary software and file types are a problem, why open source is useful and friendly.”
- American Libraries discussed the history of the Librarians of Congress way back in 2008.
- When the American Libraries article proved prophetic, i.e. when James Billington retired in 2015, the American Library Association put a wishlist together for the next Librarian of Congress. It seems like President Obama listened.
Dr. Hayden has a lot of what ALA wished for, and a lot of what the position desperately needs. It only bodes well for the profession to have a librarian with her experience in this role. Now we wait to see if the nomination goes through.
While you wait, check out a recent blog post on the topic from Kevin Smith, the Director of the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communication at Duke University. In it he discusses the challenges Hayden may face as her nomination goes before Congress. Here’s hoping common sense and not political machinations win the day.