Posts Tagged ‘vancouver public library’

term one assignments

Maybe you’re interested in the kinds of things a first term MLIS student does. This is a follow up post to my first months of school recap.

Assignment 2 for my Information technology course was a website/research paper kind of weird hybrid amalgam thing. I did mine on Transhumanism, and managed not to mention my buddy who wants to be a robot some day. Until now. The last assignment for that course was the Twitterbrary project here on the blog.

In my reference services class (is that what it was called?) we collected a pile of reference resources for use by SIGGRAPH Vancouver (that was a group project so I’ll wait till the writeup is complete and I have group member permission before posting it here). Also did a presentation in class that stuck pretty close to the allotted 10 minutes. Information Organizations sent us off to compare a library and game store (again, group work so I won’t post it without the others’ permission).

And then there was the Subject Headings assignment (PDF) for the classification class. In our final session we spent 45 minutes talking about the assignment and what was required and what wasn’t. It was painful, but my Headings are done and not too far off line from what he wanted so whatever.

So yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing.

copyright session @ media democracy day vancouver

Tony Burman from Al Jazeera English was talking at Media Democracy Day down at the Vancouver Public Library this afternoon, but after his keynote address (see my very scrappy notes) I skipped out on listening to a panel discuss the spread of Fox News style media up north and went to a panel on Copyright. After the copyright session I also went to Engaging the Resistant: Achieving Change Through Documentary and Journalism put on by Pacific Cinematheque, but it wasn’t at all what I wanted out of a session so I won’t be talking any more about it (they seemed like a neat group, just ran a session I didn’t really enjoy).

But yes, the copyright session was really interesting, and library related. There was Geof Glass – a communications PhD from SFU who specializes in the online commons, Hart Snider – a video remix artist and Martha Rans – a copyright lawyer who works with artist collectives and Creative Commons Canada.

Glass spoke about the asymmetric access to culture we have when information is owned by monopolistic companies. He talked about StarCraft II player-designed maps which now get transferred to the ownership of Blizzard, which gets to benefit monetarily from what its users are making. He talked about selling the Hockey Night in Canada theme song for millions of dollars and how it wasn’t worth that much money until people had invested parts of themselves in it. His big thing was about participation in culture and how important it is to do and not just witness.

Snider talked about the path he’s taken as a video artist and how illegal his sampling work is. He talked about how bill C-32 says that you can’t damage the integrity of what you’re sampling, but “artists have the right to say what they want.” He sort of struck me as a bit out of touch, or selfish in his concern about only what he was allowed to do, instead of caring about the wider society (or just getting on with doing his own thing). The best story was how the CBC’s lawyers had to spend 8 months trying to figure out how to show one of his videos on Zed. They eventually did by changing the show from an Entertainment show to a News show for one night. Because News shows don’t have to worry about copyright in the same way, as they’re commenting on the things that are happening.

Martha Rans talked about how as a culture we need to value artists, and that our energy would best be spent fighting cuts to the arts from government. She talked about what a lousy law C-32 was in its vagueness and it just screaming for litigation to get things sorted. That gives a big hammer to corporations, yes, but it doesn’t really deal with artists getting enough money for food and rent. She called out the media for its fearmongering about the bill by talking piracy and not separating artists and publishing corporations. She also said that Copyright Criminals was a much better documentary on copyright and culture than Rip! A Remix Manifesto because it didn’t ignore the fact that it was only through the traditional system of copyright and royalty payments that african-american artists could legally fight their way to getting paid instead of being ripped off blind by white artists and corporations. Really interesting stuff.

The easiest way to be able to do what you want to do as an artist and not worry about the law, she said (after prefacing it with saying this was not legal advice), was to not own a home or have anything for anyone to sue you for. I like that as a strategy. She also talked about how librarians have to speak up and fight for arts groups as we’re the people in charge of preserving all this culture and our silence on these issues is terrible. She told us that since our institutions are risk averse, academics need to develop backbones and stand up to commercial interests themselves.

There were a few interesting questions from the audience and a lot of anecdotes about how artists really are at the bottom of the list of who gets paid by the big publishing corporations. One guy asking about why Glass was so down on the Apple iOS store, since didn’t the Android Market provide a competitive market for people who didn’t want to play in authorized Appleland didn’t really get his question answered, which was kind of crappy. The moderator wasn’t very good at handling the crowd, but whatever.

I’m realizing that copyright is something I’m interested in. That’s what this first semester of school has been good for, giving me an idea which of these topics I actually care about and which leave me cold. Copyright gets me fired up. Bizarrely enough, cataloguing does too. Who knew?

lwb carnegie tour

Librarians Without Borders’ SLAIS Student Chapter (LWB@UBC) was doing a book drive for the Carnegie library in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side this past month. We collected tubs and tubs of books and today went down to the library to give them away. The idea is that the library sets up a table outside on Fridays at 2:30 and gives books away. The library is on East Hastings street, with an alley that’s full of crazy drug happenings and such, so the idea of giving books to people is something I can get behind.

I got to chat with a couple of guys who picked up some books. One was there telling me about the books he’d bought at other places and how he was a great harmonica player who knows all the old Englebert Humperdinck songs “and not everyone can sing those! Spanish Eyes? It’s really hard!” He had a moderate Indian accent, and spoke with the same intensity my step-father does about politics or science, which was a neat bit of cognitive dissonance.

The other guy was complaining about the security cameras the police have up at that corner that can see all the way up to Cambie (which I’m not sure is possible because of the bend in Hastings; he might have meant Carrall) at such resolution that two blocks away they can read your watch. He was also worried about the chips they’re putting in babies now, and how Big Brother was coming to watch us all and lock us away if we’re crooks. “Good thing I’ll be dead before it all happens,” he said, and I managed not to talk about life-extension technologies.

There was also a guy who came up yelling “This is a stickup!” but he was just trying to be funny. I got told off for not buying a guy pizza. I said “Sorry dude” and he said “Yeah, well god bless ya anyway.” But as he walked away he got more angry and said “Maybe Satan should bless you instead.” He didn’t actually swear at me, which was pretty good.

Before hitting the street we got a tour of the community centre from the acting branch head. The Carnegie branch is a weird little branch serving a very specific community, which affects their policies in many ways. There’s a special Carnegie Library card you can get, which doesn’t require any ID. The fines are fairly flexible and while they only have three full-time staff, the part-timers who work there tend to work there a lot, because you need to develop rapport with the people, and not everyone is all over that.

Also, if I heard correctly, all of the books are non-catalogued (ie they don’t have specific representations in the VPL system and are listed basically as BOOK with a barcode). They do this because their loss-rate is so high, they’d constantly be recataloguing things as missing. This way it’s easier to reprocess books, but means they can’t search the computer to see if a book is actually there. It was interesting stuff.

Also in the building is an education centre, a very popular cafeteria, a gym, a theatre, a seniors’ centre and lots of space for people to hang out and play 象棋, Chinese chess. Because this library is also right in Chinatown. So it serves an interesting community. There are also certain barriers to access. At each of the doors there were signs saying that people must behave in a civil and proper manner inside. Randy also explained that meant they couldn’t be intoxicated or on other drugs. These are rules that come from the building being a community centre, and there’s a lot of interesting interplay between the community centre and the library aspects of the place.

I’m really glad I got the chance to go see this, and get the tour and stuff instead of just showing up one day to look around. Good job, library school.

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