Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ungagged

Four librarians who were served with National Security Letters and placed under a gag order are finally free to speak up - once the "danger" of discussing the PATRIOT Act before its reauthorization had passed the government decided not to fight against their challenge of the gag order. (Hey, they might lose, and then where would we be? Able to talk first-hand about a controversial law? Horrors.)

See articles in the Boston Globe and The New York Times.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Book Expo America

I just got back from attending my first BookExpo America, the big trade show put on by the American Booksellers Association. It was remarkably different than attending an ALA conference in both format and intent. While the librarians tend to focus on continuing education, favorite authors and upcoming product lines and new books, the booksellers were out there making deals, parading their latest writers and giving aways TONS of free books and other merchandise. It was clear that money was the name of the game in every aspect. Individual librarians like myself were completely ignored by vendors as we wandered up and down the massive convention center. That was sort of refreshing, as it made for carefree browsing, and sort of sad, as it was clear that our role in getting books to readers was considered unimportant in the publishing world. Not even lip service was paid during the enormous banquet hall meals (terrible and virtually non-existant food, by the way....the librarian crowd would never put up with that) during which prominent authors spoke about their upcoming books. Prominent at BEA means, best-selling, by the way, and not award winning or literary. It was pretty freaky to see Barack Obama share the podium with Amy Sedaris and John Updike. HUH? That too, was vastly different than ALA where speakers are given an hour or so to share themselves rather than just 15 minutes to tell you to buy their next book. In all it was a fascinating experience, but ultimately unrewarding, as getting a free book from an author is not nearly as satifying as hearing him/her speak from the heart.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Peer review patents

Copyright, trademarks, and patents are ways that the government regulates information. In order to tackle the huge backlog of patent applications, the US Patent and Trademark Office will be launching a pilot of a public "peer review" patent system. The goal of the project is "to ensure that patent examiners will have improved access to all available prior art during the patent examination process." There's more here and here. [Via BoingBoing.] If I understand the concept correctly, it's ingenious. I can't wait to see how it works out.

"Traditional" media appear to be struggling...

One of librarianship's research concerns is information-seeking behaviors. It appears that two popular ways of seeking news information (newspapers and cable news) are becoming less so, as some speculate that more people turn to the Internet for news information.

Newspaper circulation declines 2.6%...

Median age of Fox News and CNN viewers is over 60...