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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday October 06 2015, @03:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the finally-joining-the-digital-revolution dept.

Separately, a wide-ranging group of librarians, technology companies, and policymakers have also raised questions about the library's stewardship of the US Copyright Office – which currently stores most of its valuable records in rows of paper volumes.
...
The debate over the Library's relationship with technology has long been viewed as fraught. In the 1990s, the Library was seen as an early adopter of the Internet, bringing troves of Congressional records online in 1995 with the service Thomas.gov.

But since then, questions about the library's own technological struggles – including reports that it did not know how many computers it owned, lacked a dedicated person in charge of technology and did not have full control over the Copyright Office it was tasked with overseeing – have fueled questions about Billington's leadership. Unlike almost every high-level government position except the Supreme Court, the Librarian of Congress is a lifetime appointment, leading some critics to suggest that Billington, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, has possibly overstayed his welcome.

"It used to be the king of all libraries," Suzanne Thorin, dean emerita of Syracuse University and Billington's former chief of staff, told The Washington Post in March, following the release of two scathing reports by the Government Accountability Office pointing to the library's lack of management over its own IT infrastructure. "Maybe it's benign neglect, but I don't see it at the center anymore."

Previously: What Do We Want From the Next Librarian of Congress?


Original Submission

Related Stories

What Do We Want From the Next Librarian of Congress? 25 comments

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is agitating for a new Librarian of Congress that will loosen restrictions on fair use and appreciate how content use has evolved in the digital age. The current Librarian, Dr. James Billington, has been criticized by EFF and others for failure to modernize the institution, being slow to grant exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and reportedly communicating with staff by fax. Now that Billington is retiring, the EFF hopes that a fresh face will speed up digitization of LoC public domain works, do a better job of overseeing the Copyright Office, and improve access to the Congressional Research Service.

Jessamyn West, the librarian whose Librarian of PROgress campaign has become a focal point for this discussion, has been a leading voice on what we can hope for in, to use her term, the #nextLoC. In a post last week, she laid out a wishlist of what she and other members of the library community would like to see.

As she notes, these priorities could certainly match those of somebody who already works in a library—perhaps unsurprisingly, the American Library Association too has advocated that President Obama nominate a professional librarian for the position. But they could also come from somebody who is simply passionate about users rights. Free speech, privacy, and intellectual freedom are core values of both EFF and librarians everywhere, and we can always use another well-placed advocate. We urge the president to choose one.

The Atlantic also has a discussion about the next Librarian of Congress:

"A lot of people are very happy that Billington finally stepped down, so we can get some better technology infrastructure for both the Copyright Office and the Library," said Samuelson. The previous Librarian of Congress did not hire a permanent chief information officer—despite being exhorted to do so by the Government Accountability Office—and has instead churned through five IT chiefs in the last three years alone.

A new Librarian could also shape copyright policy, Band said, just by communicating to libraries that they should take advantage of recent changes to fair use. The 2012 HathiTrust decision, for instance, found that searching ebooks and making them accessible to the disabled is covered by fair use. The Copyright Office "is very troubled by the evolution of fair use," Band told me. "A different Librarian who is more involved with these issues should say, 'No, libraries can take more advantage of fair use than the Copyright Office feels.'"


Original Submission

President Obama Nominates Carla Hayden to Lead Library of Congress 23 comments

President Obama has nominated a new Librarian of Congress:

President Obama has nominated Carla D. Hayden as the next librarian of Congress. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and first African-American ever to lead the world's largest library. Hayden is currently CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.

In a White House statement, Obama says he and the first lady have known Hayden since she was at the Chicago Public Library, where she was deputy commissioner and chief librarian from 1991-1993. "Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today's digital culture," Obama says. "She has the proven experience, dedication, and deep knowledge of our nation's libraries to serve our country well and that's why I look forward to working with her in the months ahead. If confirmed, Dr. Hayden would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position — both of which are long overdue."

In a video on the White House website, Hayden talks about keeping the Enoch Pratt Library open during the recent unrest in Baltimore. "It was very evident that people needed, not only information, but a safe place and a trusted place to go," Hayden says. "We became a site for people to actually get food, to get supplies. We opened up our meeting room. It became that community meeting place. People were so relieved to have a safe place to be."

Hayden would replace James H. Billington, who served as the nation's librarian for 28 years. During his tenure, the Government Accountability Office issued a report criticizing library leadership for numerous IT infrastructure problems.

Previously:
What Do We Want From the Next Librarian of Congress?
Why Silicon Valley Cares So Much About Who Will Lead the Library of Congress


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @03:21PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @03:21PM (#246097)

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/06/could-a-new-librarian-of-congress-fix-us-copyright-law-dmca/396080/ [theatlantic.com]

    This battle has been going on for a while.
    This guy needed to go.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by number11 on Wednesday October 07 2015, @08:19AM

      by number11 (1170) on Wednesday October 07 2015, @08:19AM (#246377)

      Brewster Kahle (founder of the Internet Archive) for LoC. He's clearly got the administrative skills, He seems to be an information maximalist. Push his name to the prez and youd congresscritters.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Thexalon on Tuesday October 06 2015, @04:00PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday October 06 2015, @04:00PM (#246108)

    I would be shocked, shocked! to learn that Congress had chronically underfunded an agency that nobody really even thinks about until they need it. So regardless of whether Mr Billington planned on doing mass digitizing of paper records or providing more thorough oversight of the copyright office, he might not be able to actually do it with the resources he has.

    And I note that the person quoted in the story saying Mr Billington was behind the times would probably be on the short list to get the job, which perhaps motivates her comments.

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @04:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @04:26PM (#246125)

      And they are ass-deep in digital content pouring in from Hollywood
      who wants the g'vment to do their archiving for them though the
      copyright office. They can barely keep up with the shit pouring in from
      all the C-SPAN channels.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday October 06 2015, @04:33PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday October 06 2015, @04:33PM (#246128)

        Why does archive.org apparently do a much better job than the LoC?

        • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday October 06 2015, @05:43PM

          by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday October 06 2015, @05:43PM (#246142) Journal

          The LoC does one hell of a lot more that just store books/media.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @06:12PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @06:12PM (#246148)

            IA also sucks off LoC's teat as a contractor

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @06:41PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @06:41PM (#246162)

    The wrong head librarian could change the amount of data stored, then we'd all have to update our "x libraries of congress" metrics.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @06:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06 2015, @06:48PM (#246164)

    Added previous article:

    https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=15/07/27/0239200 [soylentnews.org]

  • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Wednesday October 07 2015, @01:14PM

    by Magic Oddball (3847) on Wednesday October 07 2015, @01:14PM (#246429) Journal

    From TFS:

    The debate over the Library's relationship with technology has long been viewed as fraught.

    Fraught with what? Dread, difficulty, frustration, stress, or perhaps dandelions? ;-) Even though many web-based writers aren't literate or educated enough to realize it, "fraught" refers to something carrying or containing a burden of some kind. That's why it resembles the word freight.

    (I apologize for how roughly-written the above paragraph is; it's past my bedtime, and I keep dozing off.)