Cory Doctorow on the term “intellectual property”

For the few of you unfamiliar with the name, Cory Doctorow is a Toronto-born writer perhaps best known as co-editor of Boing Boing. His recent article about “intellectual property” (which I came across via LISNews) should be a great read for anyone interested in copyright and freedom of information. He argues that the term is a euphemism designed to sway the public’s sympathies in favour of big business, and he goes on to explain exactly why ideas should not be treated as property in the same way that physical objects should be.

I also learned from this article that Doctorow has a new baby girl (who was born earlier this month on the day before my birthday). Congrats, Cory!

IFLA conference in August

Especially for anyone interested in research, a great way to experience the exciting side of the LIS field is to attend a conference. If you’ve already done some interesting research, then submitting a paper is the way to go, but even those of us (the majority in non-thesis based programs) with nothing to present should attend when the opportunity arises.

One of the biggest and most respected library conferences is put on annually by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), and this year it will be held in Quebec City, which is good news for anyone who will be in the area in August. The theme of the conference is Libraries without borders: Navigating towards global understanding, and although the registration fee is rather expensive (even at the student rate), anyone who volunteers will be entitled to attend some portion of the event for free (from what I’ve heard, volunteers will be able to attend one day of the conference for each day they volunteer).

If you’ll be able to travel to Quebec City in August, I highly recommend that you register as a volunteer. The conference runs from August 10th-14th, but volunteers are needed each day from the 6th-16th. The ILSS will be there (the blogger, not the blog), so drop me a line if you’ll be attending. And don’t delay – the deadline for volunteering is March 1st.

Note: The volunteer registration form indicates that you must be able to speak French to volunteer, but even if you don’t know any French, you might as well fill out the form anyway, and they can decide whether or not they want to take you. Just be honest when they ask about your level of language proficiency.

Freedom to Read – read a challenged book next week

Next week is Freedom to Read Week, which is a lot like the ALA’s Banned Books Week, except that it focuses on content challenged in Canada and doesn’t have an initialism as likely to cause potentially amusing misunderstandings. You can celebrate by learning about censorship in Canada, reading some challenged books (try a classic like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Timothy Findley’s The Wars), and spreading the word. Take a few minutes to decide how you feel about censorship and limits to freedom of expression – should people be allowed to publish absolutely anything? If not, where do we draw the line?

Annoyed by the Annoyed Librarian

Today’s tip: whatever you do, don’t read the Annoyed Librarian. When cornered, I’ll admit that I subscribe to the AL, but in the spirit of this blog, I must warn my readers to stay away! Unless you have a high tolerance for sarcasm and pessimism, the AL will affect you in a manner directly opposite to the premise of the ILSS. Today she posted to make fun of people who start library blogs, and I can’t help but feel personally attacked (despite the extreme unlikelihood of her being aware of the ILSS).

She makes four accusations of the top library bloggers: they have no original ideas, they endlessly repeat any original ideas they do have, their word count is low, and they don’t stick to their topic.

In response to the first two, I would argue that librarianship is largely about transmitting the ideas of others; given that, I believe that bloggers provide a valuable service by posting new ideas and encouraging dialogue, even if the ideas aren’t their own. As for the third complaint, I sympathize with the AL: I love writing, and, though I despise unnecessary wordiness, I enjoy blogs that involve a lot of writing. However, I also appreciate the multimedia nature of the Web, and if some bloggers can make their point without using words at all, I completely respect that choice. In fact, I often find text-only blogs to be terribly dull – if I wanted a novel, I’d go to the stacks! Finally, though having a direction is essential to any Web-based endeavour, blogs tend to take on lives of their own, and I, for one, am happy to follow the tangents of any blogger who has captured my interest.

The moral of the story is: don’t let the AL get you down! Don’t be afraid to start a blog because you worry you won’t have enough original content, or enough content that’s on topic. Find out about the latest ideas, and pass those ideas on to others. And if you want to call me, or any other gentleman librarian, a guybrarian, just go for it.


Wow, the responses I’ve received so far have been great – thanks everyone! I really feel like I’m joining a community. Amy is compiling a list of blogs written by students in our program, which I think is a great idea. I’ll post the list on here when it’s complete.

Today’s anti-apathy tip: take any opportunity to meet professionals in the field. Web 2.You was one example of this, but it’s even better if you can attend a session where a dialogue between professionals and students is encouraged. My school’s Special Libraries Association Student Group is holding a networking event on Thursday, and I hope all my classmates attend. It will be a chance to ask questions to the people who do the jobs we’re hoping to do one day, and the networking possibilities could even lead to future careers! So come out, and make your name known. Still not convinced? Fine, I’ll resort to using the magic words for grad students: free food.

What if your school hasn’t organized such an event? Then tell them to hop to it! Email the leaders of your school’s student groups and express your interest. Do it right now – you’re already online, and presumably you’re looking for more ways to put off doing your assignments. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll likely have more success if you offer to help organize the event. But think about it: not only will it make you potentially more employable after graduation, it’ll be interesting. If you don’t want to talk about the AACR2, I’m sure the professionals will be more than happy to pretend it doesn’t even exist. See? Fun.