Light in the Dark: Facing the Challenges Ahead | Editorial

We spend a lot of time as the year turns reflecting and anticipating what’s to come. This year, such reflection is intensified by a seemingly relentless assault on basic rights in a polarized political climate. This calls on us to fight for what our communities need as never before.

We spend a lot of time as the year turns reflecting and anticipating what’s to come. This year, such reflection is intensified by a seemingly relentless assault on basic rights in a polarized political climate. This calls on us to fight for what our communities need as never before.

On one front we face the fierce encroachment on access to information presented by the repeal of net neutrality (see “FCC Kills Net Neutrality, Fight Likely To Move to Courts"). In 2015, advocates in the field and beyond celebrated when the Internet was reclassified as a public utility with the establishment of the Open Internet Order (see LJ’s coverage, and my opinion). On December 14 last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reversed that decision, prescribing an Internet future that is anything but a level playing field.

The widely expected and highly controversial decision puts this critical commons at risk. American Library Association president Jim Neal is a thoughtful anchor in this moment. Last October, he kicked off our virtual TechKnowledge event by bringing together a panel of open-Internet advocates to to discuss “Building Equity and Access in a Challenged Net Neutrality Landscape.” (You can tune into the archived program here.) Far from handwringing, the impassioned voices shared thoughts on what’s at risk and what the work ahead may look like in the face of this ruling. There is no giving up.

The FCC decision will face challenges, and librarians, no doubt, will be there for the long haul with other advocates of an open web. The intensity of that advocacy will need to be avid. In the meantime, as always, the work will evolve to meet the library mission by continuing to provide, and increase, access via our institutions in this new environment.

On another front, we stare down the still unknown impact of the federal tax overhaul that was pushed through Congress as 2017 waned. The bill was not final as this piece went to press (on December 15), but librarians may have dodged two bullets: graduate student tuition waivers will likely remain tax exempt, and student loan payments remain tax deductible (though at press time, a separate bill still targeted public service loan forgiveness).

However, the tax bill is expected to put significant strain on local and state governments via the removal or significant reduction of the longstanding deduction for state and local income, sales, and property taxes (SALT). Without it—or even with the $10,000 cap that at press time looked likely to be the final compromise—passing the local tax measures that libraries depend on to keep the doors open will get that much harder. Though legal challenges have been proposed here too, even if ultimately successful, they will likely be slow. We are already in a long fight to retain federal funding for libraries, and now the state and local outlook will be under pressure and destabilized as well. It looks like the Wild West when it comes to basic funding mechanisms.

As we move into the New Year, and the challenges it likely brings, I will be anchored and inspired by leaders who bring fresh approaches to entrenched and complex problems. One is LJ’s 2018 Librarian of the Year, Lance Werner. Werner is the epitome of a deep advocate. Among his accomplishments is work in tandem with the Michigan Library Association and others statewide to get Michigan libraries excluded from tax capture legislation—meaning that millions of dollars voters approve for libraries each year can’t get sidetracked by competing municipal priorities. His approach is friendly, like much of the effective advocacy work library leaders engage in all the time, but he takes the deeper step of digging into policy and gaining insight into the rules that govern the flow of dollars. The result? Wins for libraries and communities. Werner is a light in the darkness, and we need all the light we can get.

The ingenuity library leaders bring to bear every day will continue to be tested, but the transformation they can bring—even when business is anything but usual—is essential for our communities to thrive in 2018 and beyond.

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SAID SHAFIK

Shakedown the LC – Gnip – twitter triangle and follow the money: What’s behind Library of Congress decision to stop archiving Twitter As an active Library of Congress citizen archivist, I was surprised when we got the LC Twitter about the elimination of the Twitter archive project in the Library of Congress. As a shaker, I researched and traced the path the project took since its starting until reading that twitter. It started with two-page agreement signed April 2010 between Twitter General Council, and Librarian of Congress. In December 2017, LC issued an update on the Twitter Project, stating “As the twelfth year of Twitter draws to a close, the Library has decided to change its collection strategy for receipt of tweets on December 31, 2017.” I encourage you to read this document from bottom up, until you arrive to the following statement: “manage taxpayer-provided resources wisely” because if shakedown these words, lots of money will show up: First: In the initial Agreement, last close, it mentioned that Twitter has the right to terminate and deal and TAKE BACK all physical properties. Second: After the Agreement, Gnip “partnered” with both Twitter and the Library of Congress to “manage” the transactions of twits from the first to the second. In return, Gnip had the right to “reserve” some of the twit into its database and “sell” it to customers. Gnip is first Twitter authorized data reseller to developers. Third: Twitter then bought Gnip for unknown amount in 2014, then cut its relation with Datasift to establish its own big data business. Library of Congress announcement of ending Twitter Archive Project was full of unsolved mysteries: Never mentioned details of the agreements, parts involved, money transactions, and most important: Data detention. The Library of Congress did not explain how it will “select” and “keep” Twitter data in the coming days, did not also explain how it will handle its own 1.6 Million Twitter’s followers and their Twits. Shakedown more.

Posted : Jan 17, 2018 03:50


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