Sunday, December 5, 2010

Come on, Librarians!

I am continually frustrated by the lack of librarian involvement in policy issues. It's our own fault. Even our cataloging tools are only designed for the physical. MARC can't be used effectively for organizing the giant abyss of information online. Yet, shouldn't we be taking steps to get involved in the online world of information? Seriously, why aren't we?

After reading Andrejevic's article I was even more frustrated. Alcibiades mentions that advertising is no big deal. I don't agree. :) I really think Andrejevic's telling us it's more than that. That's just the beginning. As the article mentions, we are using forms of communication willingly, yet we are unaware of what they are doing with our data. Now that we can be tracked with network access points, they can really start to use layers of information to find trends and analyze our next move. I don't want to be monitored, nor do I think it's okay that I am neither aware or have the option to become involved in this data collection. It's a violation of my basic right to privacy, and it really bothers me. Andrejevic mentions how this will work in the very near future (if not already): "We can access the data we have turned over to them (Google, Microsoft, you name it), but only in exchange for willing submission to, among other conditions, the forms of monitoring and control facilitated by the interactive infrastructure." (311). This really bothers me. Just because I use a particular technology out of convenience, doesn't mean I should lose my right to privacy. Plus, could you imagine telling someone fifty years ago that when they accessed information in the library there would be someone outside waiting to sell them something in relation to their inquiry? Because, that's what is happening on the web and we are just so inured to this behavior it doesn't seem like a violation anymore. (Sorry for the hyperbole, but it's not too far off.)

All that being said, it's our job as librarians to get involved, be on the front lines of information policy decisions and stand up for our patrons and ourselves. The right to privacy is important. We take a threat to privacy seriously when it is threatened at the brick and mortar library by federal agents, yet when marketers watch your every click on a library computer we just shrug it off? 

Something's not right here and we have to be willing to step in and provide guidance to policy makers on several fronts. Or we are not going to be able to stay afloat and work with policy that was decided for us -- and again, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves (because we weren't involved).  I am extremely thankful I took this course so I can get involved with these issues in the future because I am no longer ignorant to their impact on libraries and their patrons.

My favorite blog post was the post I had the most fun writing:
I'm glad I took the time to review my own policy at the library I work at, while at the same time I was able to provide a valuable resource to the rest of the class.

Thanks for a great semester everyone!

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