April 23rd, 2015 by Michael Sauers

Thanks to everyone who attended today’s Education Institute presentation. Here are the slides for your reference.

Library Policies: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Michael Sauers


Posted in Libraries, Presentations Tagged with: ,

November 23rd, 2014 by Michael Sauers

This is a recent policy I had to “accept” in order to use a location’s public WiFi. My question is this: If I use CHI’s WiFi to connect to CHI’s Web site, are they no longer responsible for the content of their own site?

CHI WiFi Policy


Posted in Tech Tagged with: ,

April 14th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Wikipedia logoA recent dust-up between Wikipedia and Canada’s largest university raises questions about how collaborative the popular website that bills itself as “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” truly is.

The online information portal recently took a professor from the University of Toronto to task for one of his classroom assignments.

Steve Joordens urged the 1,900 students in his introductory psychology class to start adding content to relevant Wikipedia pages. The assignment was voluntary, and Joordens hoped the process would both enhance Wikipedia’s body of work on psychology while teaching students about the scientist’s responsibility to share knowledge.

But Joordens’s plan backfired when the relatively small contingent of volunteer editors that curate the website’s content began sounding alarm bells. They raised concerns about the sheer number of contributions pouring in from people who were not necessarily well-versed in the topic or adept at citing their research.

Read the full article @ CTVNews.ca.

Posted in Internet Tagged with: , ,

March 3rd, 2012 by Michael Sauers

One of our librarians here in Nebraska sent me the following e-mail asking for my assistance. With her permission I’m posting it here looking for input from anyone else who may have an opinion.

I find myself needing to write a Technology Assistance Policy and am interested to hear your suggestions. Over the past year, we have found that people are bringing in their personal laptops for troubleshooting. Usually they are looking for help with settings, firewalls, or programs and devices that were not installed properly, and I find myself in the uncomfortable position of being asked to uninstall or reinstall programs or to modify their computers in some way. While I am thrilled that they are thinking of us as a technology resource, it is awkward and potentially legally dangerous should something go wrong with their devices. Do you know of any other libraries that have such a policy or where I can find some examples? I have done some searching and only seem to find public access computer policies.

The patrons I see seem to come to me after looking through their manuals or contacting the company. They find the problem unresolved and come to me as a last resort before having to pay the local computer guy for help. Do you have any suggestions on some reliable online resources where I can refer patrons who are looking for this kind of information for free? That way if I decline and explain our policy I can still be able to offer them something, even if it is do-it-yourself.

So here are the questions: Should a public library have such a policy and if so, what should that policy actually say?

Posted in Libraries Tagged with: , ,

August 27th, 2010 by Michael Sauers

On one of the flights I took last weekend GoGo in-flight WiFi was available. I didn’t pay for it as I’d already promised myself that I wouldn’t check my e-mail on vacation, but I did want to see if it worked on my Droid. I was able to connect but since I wasn’t a paying customer all I could do was read about the service. Here’s a few of the items from the Terms of Service that I found interesting: (emphasis added)

Acceptable Use Policy.
You hereby agree to comply with Aircell’s acceptable use policy (“Acceptable Use Policy”), as described below. You will not use the Service to (or assist another person to):

  1. Harm or threaten harm to persons or property;
  2. Harass other persons;
  3. Violate any applicable law, including those related to export control, spam, gambling, obscenity, or computer access;
  4. Engage in any fraud or misrepresentation;
  5. Provide instructional information about illegal activities;
  6. Interfere with, disrupt, or create undue burden on the Service (or the networks or computers that provide same);
  7. Infringe or violate another person’s rights, including privacy and intellectual property rights;
  8. Allow another person who has not paid for the Service to access or use the Service on his computer or device through your computer or device;
  9. Access or display offensive content on your computer or device, in view of another person;
  10. Knowingly distribute any virus or other malware;
  11. Access any network or computer (including those providing the Service) in excess of the permission expressly granted to you;
  12. Monitor (through, for example, sniffers) any network traffic without express authorization of the owner of the network and the parties’ to the communications;
  13. Attempt to decrypt any encrypted or scrambled communications;
  14. Introduce software or automated agents into the Service; or
  15. Attempt to impersonate any other person, including any Aircell employees.

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August 1st, 2008 by Michael Sauers

A reposted e-mail:

SavetheInternet.com banner

Dear Michael, 

The FCC just voted to punish Comcast for violating Net Neutrality

Join the Open Internet Movement

Your hard work is paying off! Just one hour ago, the Federal Communications Commission voted to punish Comcast for violating Net Neutrality and blocking your right to do what you want on the Internet.

This win is yours. Defying every ounce of conventional wisdom in Washington, activists, bloggers, consumer advocates and everyday people have taken on a major corporation and won. 

Today’s vote at the FCC is also a precedent-setting victory that sends a powerful message to phone and cable companies that blocking access to the Internet will not be tolerated from this time forward.

News of this win is now being covered by every major news outlet as a turning point for Net Neutrality. Many more people are discovering our people-powered movement for a free and open Internet. 

We need to capitalize on this momentum to grow the movement and ensure that Net Neutrality is protected on all 21st-century networks. Help us send a message to this Congress — and the next one: 

Join the Internet Freedom Movement: Stand Up and Be Counted

In the past two years, more than 1.6 million of you have already contacted Congress and the FCC. But that’s not all. You have sacrificed time and energy speaking out at town meetings, collecting signatures on street corners and on campuses, and spreading the word via blogs, Facebook and house parties. 

With your help today, signing this letter and forwarding it to friends, we can increase our ranks to more than 2 million.

Today’s FCC victory is a milestone, but our work is far from done. Companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are continuing to fight Net Neutrality using lobbyists, lawyers and campaign contributions. These special interests should not be allowed to set Internet policy for the nation. 

Tell Congress: Keep the Internet Open for Everyone

The Internet’s true greatness lies in those of us who use its level playing field to challenge the status quo, create and share new ideas, take part in our democracy and connect with others around the world — without permission from any gatekeepers. 

With your help and commitment, today’s win will be just the first of many to protect innovation, free speech and democracy on the Internet.

Thank you!

Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press

P.S. Help us spread the word about this important victory for Net Neutrality. Tell your friends and join SavetheInternet on Facebook and MySpace

P.P.S. Want to learn more about this historic ruling by the FCC? Check out these great articles: 

1. Historic Victory for Net Neutrality, at SavetheInternet.com

2. Comcast Unleashes the Lap Dogs, at Huffington Post

3. Kevin Martin’s Open Network Manifesto, at the New York Times

4. Adelstein and Copps: Voices at the FCC for a Free and Open Internet, at the Huffington Post

Take action on this important campaign at: http://free.convio.net/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&id=277

Tell your friends about this campaign at: http://free.convio.net/site/Ecard?ecard_id=1161


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May 23rd, 2008 by Michael Sauers

Last week I was at the offices of Lincoln Public Schools to present on LibraryThing. During some free time in the lab I wanted to catch up with some online articles I’d been meaning to read. I fired up del.icio.us and started clicking on some recently bookmarked sites. One was titled 60 Photography Links You Can’t Live Without. Here’s what I was presented with:

No cameraporn.com for me

Turns out any site, in this case the blog "Camera Porn" is blocked as being porn. Check the link, it’s not porn in the traditional vein. Good to know that these sites are vetted by real live people… Not! I’m guessing science students won’t be allowed to look at Space Porn or Astronomy Porn either.

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March 27th, 2008 by Michael Sauers

I do believe that this is the first blog post I’ve ever written on request. However David Rothman and I participated in last night’s episode of Uncontrolled Vocabulary and during the after show he asked that I funneled some of my "righteous indignation" into a blog post. David is the one who came up with "media equity" and "library reciprocity" which I totally love. So, in exchange for those terms, I write this post. Honestly, I’ve blogged some of this stuff before (but it’s been a few years) and I think it comes across better vocally (listen to the episode, it’s story #2 which is about 15 minutes in) than in print but here goes…

Media Equity

Why do so many libraries insist on treating their public-access computers differently from every other type of media in the building. Think about it, anyone can come in off the street, whether they live in your town or not, pay taxes to your library or not, pull any book of the shelf sit down and read it. For audio if they’ve got a portable player with them they can do the same with CDs and/or tapes. But when it comes to the computers so many libraries require some sort of ID. Maybe a library card, maybe a driver’s license.

Why do we have to show ID to get a library card? Well, it’s not to track the patron, it’s to track the materials that they patron will be removing from the library. If they don’t return the item, we want to be able to track it down. Using materials in the library however required no ID, nor should it, ever! But when it comes to those darn computers, we require ID left and right.

Granted, some time management systems require a unique user ID and the library card is a convenient, pre-existing ID that we can reuse. But what about visitors to your town that don’t have a local library card? Give them a temp card but don’t make proving their ID a requirement for a guest card. What possible purpose could it serve? If you’ve got a "purpose" for me on this one then my response will be "then why don’t you require an ID to use a book in the library?" If a patron isn’t removing the resource from the library (wether book, CD, tape, magazine, or computer) what possible legitimate purpose does showing ID serve?

Library Reciprocity

This one is a little harder to explain, especially separately from the media equity issue since that issues typically leads to this one. Anyway… This is the attitude that typically bugs me: "You don’t pay taxes here therefore you don’t get services." While I understand that in principle, how it’s sometimes practiced is what drives me nuts. For example, "if you don’t pay taxes here you can’t use our computers." But wait, harkening back to media equity, if I don’t pay taxes to your library I can still walk in and read a book. Why should I have to pay taxes to your library to check my e-mail on a computer?

Another way to look at it is this: if every single one of your library’s tax payers demanded library services tomorrow, your library would collapse. You work off the assumption that not everyone who pays actually receives. Think of me, the outsider, as using the services that one of your tax payers isn’t. Ultimately, I’m paying taxes somewhere and maybe one of your locals is currently in my town wanting to use my library’s services. Isn’t it a wash in the end? (I realize that this is a harder point to agree with from certain points of view.)

I’m not advocating that anyone should be able to check out books from any library anywhere. There’s still the traceability of the item to contend with and loaning a book to someone from another state who’s just visiting could significantly increase the chance that the book isn’t returned. Remember, I’m talking about in-library use.

Lastly, what about tourist meccas that have "so many tourists" that to provide services to all the tourists would "prevent us from providing services to our public"? I’ve got some trouble with this too. By having this attitude you end up offending the tourists who just want to check their e-mail. Yeah, offend the tourists. Do that enough and they’ll stop coming. They stop coming and you loose what they contribute to your local economy, the budget suffers, and the local’s taxes go up. (A stretch but I’m trying to make a point here.) 

Remember, it’s about service. Not service to "your" patrons but to patrons. Firemen and police don’t ask for proof of residency and tax payment before offering basic service. Why should libraries?

Thanks for listening. Now all you Uncontrolled Vocabulary people who promised to comment, it’s your turn.

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December 3rd, 2007 by Michael Sauers

Continuing the theme of my last post, here’s a college library in the UK in which "[u]sing the social networking site in the library is now banned" because "[d]uring peak times students had to queue for up to twenty minutes to get onto a PC in the library last week. Infuriated students were left standing in line watching their fellow students writing on each other’s Facebook walls and ‘poking’ each other." The funniest part is the response from students. Here’s a common one: 

“It pisses me off,” she said, referring to other students using Facebook. “But then I do the same sometimes.”

In other words, the students get upset if they have to wait yet admit they make other wait. So, the library decided to just ban Facebook since it obviously isn’t a "legitimate" use of computers in the library. Oh, IM and gaming on library computers are banned to. "Exeter Students’ Union tried to ban Facebook on campus, but the plan was blocked by addicted undergraduates."

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December 3rd, 2007 by Michael Sauers

Another topic I’ve been on the record with is my feeling that banning a technology (Wikipedia, Google, Social Networking services, Cell phones) as a result of some not using it "correctly" or "appropriately" is short-sighted at best, harmful at worst. This morning a co-worker forwarded me an article which says that the Ohio Education Association has officially "strongly discouraged teachers from using social-networking web sites such as MySpace and Facebook to create personal profiles or communicate with students." Why, because "the dangers of participating in these two sites outweigh the benefits.” [emphasis added]

It seems that a few teachers in Ohio have created seriously inappropriate MySpace profiles which their students had access to. The examples include "one [who] says she’s an ‘aggressive freak in bed,’ another says she has taken drugs and likes to party, and a third describes his mood as ‘dirty’." As a result, no teacher should use these services. Yep, let’s take the actions of a few and apply it to everyone. Hey, a few people have hit people with cars, let’s ban everyone from cars. Better yet, let’s ban roads! That’s a great way to teach kids how to drive safely.

Well, one of the commenters to this post pointed out another blog post along these same lines. A Proposal for Banning Pencils was written by Doug Johnson, the Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato Public Schools, back in 2005. Why does he think pencils should be banned?

  1. A student might use a pencil to poke out the eye of another student.
  2. A student might write a dirty word or, worse yet, a threatening note to another student, with a pencil.
  3. One student might have a mechanical pencil, making those with wooden ones feel bad.
  4. The pencil might get stolen.
  5. Pencils break and need repairing all the time.
  6. Kids who have pencils might doodle instead of working on their assignments or listening to the teacher.

His justification? These are the same reasons for banning MP3 players in the classroom:

  1. They might get stolen.
  2. They make kids who can’t afford them feel bad.
  3. Kids might listen to them instead of to the teacher.
  4. Who knows what kinds of lyrics the kids might be listening to?
  5. Kids might listen to test answers.

Read both article and all the comments. Then think about your library’s cell phone policy? Is the policy based in the reality of technology today or a knee-jerk reaction to the behavior of a few?

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