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Thursday
Nov012007

LM-Net

The original read/write internet - LM_Net

You Know You're a Librarian in 2005 when... 5. You know more librarians in Texas than you do in your home state because of LM_Net. 

Peter Milbury and Mike Eisenberg, the moderators par excellence of LM_Net for the past 15 years, announced this morning that they are passing the torch.

For those of you who don't know about LM_Net, it has been the mainstay mailing list for an estimated 100 million school librarians in 2 million countries, on a dozen other planets, and at least two identified alternative universes. It produces in excess of a billion e-mail messages each day - 10 billion on "recipe day." (These number are rough estimates.)

LM_Net.jpg

I was an early subscriber and participant on LM_Net -  palsdaj@vax1.mankato.msus.edu back in 1992 when I first joined. I am not sure if I was among The Hallowed First One Hundred or not, but I was in there pretty early. And this was 1200 baud modem dial-up, line interface, pre-www, uphill-both-directions-in-the-snow Internet days. Not soft and easy like you young'uns have it today with your blogs and wikis and RSS feeds. And the computer screen was hard to read by candlelight too.

Anyway, I owe LM_Net big time. Here's why...

It was my second year as library media supervisor here in the Mankato Schools and I came home very, very angry and frustrated one night. I was getting lots of push-back from the librarians I had inherited with in the job. I was determined to make them tech integration specialists and they seemed determined to remain print-only librarians. I turned on my computer, opened my e-mail, and just let rip about the reactionary, troglodytic, myopic, etc. nature of librarians, especially school librarians, concluding that they had better damn well wake-up and smell the coffee or they would all be replaced with techs and not to let the door hit them on the butt on the way out. I knew as I was writing it that I had better sleep on the matter, re-write the message, and THEN send it to my friends on LM_Net.

What I had forgotten was that I had a new e-mail client (Eudora) that automatically sent my queued mail as soon as the program was opened. The fiery diatribe was sent out, and as we all well know, an e-mail once sent can never be taken back.

Let me put it this way, I got a little reaction from the message. I knew librarians had good vocabularies, but even I learned some new words from the responses to that LM_Net message. I believe other LM_Netters opened my e-mails from then on simply wondering what idiotic thing I might say next.

I kept contributing to LM_Net and eventually some of my postings became columns and columns became articles and articles became books which led to speaking engagements etc. (The column version of that nasty e-mail became The Sound of the Other Shoe Dropping, I think.) In LM_Net I found my voice, and more importantly, like-minded colleagues who offered encouragement and support.

I spent a few minutes earlier today looking over some names from the earliest LM_Net archives still available (March 1994).  Forgive me in advance to all those I've left out.

  • Betty Dawn Hamilton
  • Mary Alice Anderson
  • Carol Simpson
  • Michele Missner
  • Frances Jacobson
  • Ken Haycock
  • Floyd Pentlin
  • Paula Gallard
  • Eugene Hainer
  • Marg Stimson
  • Esther Sinofsky
  • Gail M. Szeliga 
  • Ann Symons
  • Diane Durbin
  • Debbie Abilock
  • Guusje Zimmerman Moore

Quite a line up and I'm guessing some of these folks are still alive and some even have many of their marbles yet today. Amazing!

I also have to LM_Net to thank for introducing me to lots of really, really smart and interesting people, both virtually and in person, including Joyce Valenza. At the 1997 AASL Conference in Portland, Joyce and I were both invited to participate in "Late Night with LM_Net with Your Host, Mike Eisenberg." I told lame Ole and Lena jokes, but Joyce was the hit of the evening, doing impressions of single-cell organisms. And Mike kept all of us LM_Netters in line.

Mike and Peter have kept us all in line on LM_Net very well over the past 15 years. It's been a civilized, useful, supportive resource that has been the best professional development of my career.  A remarkable accomplishment since managing librarians is, as the saying goes, like herding cats. Unlike science teachers or kindergarten teachers, school librarians are usually the sole practitioner of their craft in their buildings. The virtual community built by LM_Net (a professional learning community before they were so named) was a lifeline and sanity-keeper for lots of us.

Hats off to you, Peter and Mike. You're a credit to your profession. 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Oct312007

Will we do better with The Golden Compass than we did with Lucky?

“Thou shalt not” might reach the head, but it takes “Once upon a time” to reach the heart. Philip Pullman
Given the recent discussion of Philip Pullman trilogy that begins with The Golden Compass and our individual reactions toward it on LM_Net, it might be a good time to review the American Library Association Code of Ethics especially items 2 and 7.
  1. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  3. We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  4. We recognize and respect intellectual property rights.
  5. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  7. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  8. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

Regardless of our own religious values or personal tastes (or that the religious right will be mounting a pressure campaign to have these books censored), all public school librarians should fight to keep Pullman's books on their shelves. As well as C.S. Lewis's books. As well as any writing that has been critically and positively reviewed.

Our profession needs to handle this one better than we did the Power of Lucky last spring!

Oh, I personally really like Pullman's His Dark Materials series. I've read them all and am currently enjoying re-reading them.

nk.jpgAs to the movie - one word: Nicole! I just may have to see it twice - but only to make sure the movie's values are suitable for children.

 

Tuesday
Oct302007

Threat level orange

The sign just outside the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport has read "Threat Level Orange" for as long as the sign has been up - I'm guessing about five years. I wonder if the message even registers on anyone anymore.

I thought about that sign and its message of fear after reading this great response to an early blog post, "Fear-Mongering": 

Thank you, Doug - and Nancy - for this timely post. "Fear mongering" is exactly the term I would use to describe the US Attorney's Project Safe Childhood video, which you can view or download at http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov/. Since I teach an Internet Safety workshop for my district, my boss gave me a copy to review. He attended an evening workshop the US Attorney's Office did last month at one of our high schools during which this video was shown. Fortunately, it was poorly attended or I think many students would have lost their parent permission to use the Internet while at school.

In a nutshell, the video is about Internet predators and has little to do with how to teach our students to use the Internet safely, effectively, and ethically.

I think a much better resource is the What You Need to Know video from http://ikeepsafe.org/PRC/, which introduces parents to the benefits and realities of Web 2.0.

Thanks for starting the conversation! - Gail Dresler

I watched both videos that Gail mentions. Wow, what a difference in treatment of Internet dangers. These clips are representative of the approaches taken:

from US Attorney's Project Safe Childhood video

doj.jpg

from What You Need to Know video from ikeepsafe

ikeepsafe.jpg

Just a quick disclaimer: I am of the opinion that the easiest way to tell if the current administration and its ilk are lying is to see if their lips are moving. That they use irrational fears, whether of terrorists or child molestors (everything except global warming), to keep in power. You've been warned.

The Department of Justice video lumps all pedophilia, all child porn and all predation directly to the Internet. No statistics, no recognition that there is a difference between the Internet as causation or distribution of crimes against children, no attempt to gauge the scope of the problems. Agreed, that even one pedophile or child pornographer is one too many, but watching the DOJ video gives the impression that these dangers are omnipresent. At what point, as with the "Level Orange" hyperbole of airline safety, does the public simply tune-out?

The iKeepSafe materials, take a rational, positive, and, I believe, more effective approach to keeping kids safe online. Unlike the DOJ production, there are actually ideas about what parents can do to help protect their children, and more importantly, how they can help teach their kids to be safe, indpeendent of parental supervision.

I encourage you to watch both videos. And be aware that there may be fear-mongers who may be more interested in their own importance than in children's safety working within your community.  The opportunities and skills offered by the Internet are too important to kids to have these folks scare the bejeesus out of parents and school administrators who will attempt to block instead of teach.