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Category: News

Older III OPAC due to lose functionality on Google Chrome Browser

Not being a systems librarian, I hadn’t heard about this change until today. If you are a systems librarian, you’ve probably known about this for a while, but it was news to me so I’m passing it along just in case. Also, the usual disclaimers apply about me not actually speaking Server but working with people who do, so I hope I’m not garbling things in translation.

There are three facts that are coming into convergence soon that will affect people using Innovative Interface’s OPAC but who have not signed on for their upgrade to Sierra.

  1. There is a major transition going on in the web security world from an old version of security (SHA-1) to a new version (SHA-256).
  2. Modern browsers are beginning to phase out support for sites that are on the old system. (Here’s some more in-depth information about that.)
  3. III’s OPAC runs on servers using an ancient operating system (Red Hat 4) that does not support SHA-256.

Beginning near the end of November, Google Chrome will start displaying warnings to users telling them that sites on the old system are not secure. In spring of 2015, Chrome will stop displaying those sites. In 2016 all major browsers will stop displaying those sites.

For III’s old OPAC, users will still be able to use the search interface and see results, but if they try to log in to save records, that functionality will fail.

At my library, we have a discovery layer between most users and the OPAC (we use VuFind), and the functionality there will not be affected.

Luckily, at my library we’re also in the market for a new Library Management System.

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Managing a collection is easier without all those books in the way: The Urbana Free Library’s lesson for the rest of us

It’s kind of a common joke among librarians: “Our jobs would be so much easier without the patrons.” It’s the kind of thing we say in a moment of frustration that both allows us to vent and also reminds us why we’re here in the first place. We would never lock our doors to keep the patrons out — to “protect” our collections and our time.

Apparently the library director at the Urbana Free Library, Deb Lissak, decided that her staff’s jobs would be so much easier if there weren’t any books. And rather than sigh and get on with life’s little frustrations, she actually acted on the impulse. In the space of a few hours, and without the knowledge of the librarian in charge of the collection, she had 12 new staff weed 50-70% of the adult non-fiction collection using publication date as her only criteria. Looking for a non-fiction book published before 2003? You won’t find it at the Urbana Free Library.

Of course, thoughtful weeding is a vital part of maintaining a useful collection. This, however, does not resemble thoughtful reading in the slightest. This resembles a daycare dumping basins of bathwater without checking for people’s babies first.

Somehow, of all the appalling aspects of this story, her stated reasoning is what gets me the most.

[It] has to do with RFID [tagging]. We have to touch every single piece in the collection and have to tag it… And you don’t want to be doing all that and then find you’re — six months from now — you’re weeding and taking things back out you just went to the trouble of doing this for. (Quoted here)

There you have it: proactive weeding. We might find we want to weed it later, so we’ll just weed it now instead. The ultimate in efficiency.

Meanwhile, the library is telling its patrons not to worry, that this will make browsing easier. It’s so much more efficient to browse 10 books compared to 50 books. You’ll love it!

Libraries sure can be more efficient without those pesky collections.


Non-harassing protest of SOPA at ALA Midwinter

Quite a few of the vendors that will be exhibiting at ALA Midwinter support SOPA, which “could have potentially disastrous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, for the principle of interconnectivity that has helped drive the Internet’s extraordinary growth, and for free expression” according to the Stanford Law Review.

The Library Society of the World is here to help you help us conduct a non-harassing protest against these vendors. We recognize that the vendor representatives that will be staffing the boothes in the MidWinter exhibit hall are not the bad guys. They didn’t make these decisions and they don’t deserve to have bad days because of this protest. Their executives, however, need to know that SOPA is not ok with us. The Library Bill of Rights is clear:

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

So here’s the plan:

  1. Print off as many copies of the LSW SOPA Protest Coupons (PDF) as you can manage, making sure to print it double sided. (The file is in color, but it prints in black and white just fine.) Ideally, print off as many sheets as you think you can use and as many as you think you can carry to hand out to people at Midwinter.
  2. Cut or tear sheets into 6 protest coupons, each of which should have the letter on one side and the “+1 Protest Point” pattern on the other.
  3. Use Andy’s Exhibit Hall map to help you know which vendors support this legislation, and take them a coupon or three.
  4. Please try to be nice to the vendor reps, but make it clear that their higher-ups need to know that we’re not ok with this.

Ideally, by the end of Midwinter, each vendor booth should have a hefty collection of protest coupons quantifying our displeasure.

P.S. This post and the protest coupons have a CC0 license — that means that I claim no copyright on this work and that you can use it and share it at will.


Dear Facebook: Leave Me Alone

My friends know that I have a complicated relationship with Facebook. Simply put: I hate it, but I can’t leave. The interface never made sense to me, the multiple audiences made participation hard for me, the quizzes cluttered everything up, college friends flaunted their perfect lives in my face (without meaning to, but it still hurt), and Hasbro took away Scrabulous, which was really the only redeeming feature of Facebook. So why can’t I leave? My local friends assume I’ll know what they’ve posted when we meet on the weekend.

I’d finally figured out a balance that worked for me: I put my local friends and my family members on a list of their own, dragged that list to the top of my list of lists, and now when I open Facebook, they’re all I see. But then Facebook started messing with privacy settings again. For a more full story, check this out: Facebook’s New Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. But here are the four things I did this morning in my battle to coexist with Facebook:

  • Overwrote and then deleted some parts of the newly designated set of “publicly available information” (this includes your name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks, and the pages that you are a “fan” of). I overwrote what I could because I wanted to actually change the cached information in Facebook’s database, and then I deleted it because a) I don’t want to give that information away, and b) it was now bogus anyway.
  • Clicked “edit profile” and then the little “edit” icon next to my Friends list and unchecked the box that says “show my friends on my profile” because that seems to be the only way to keep my friends lists out of the hands of apps and random passers by.
  • Went to Facebook > Settings > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites > What Your Friends Can Share About You and unchecked everything. I don’t like the idea that having a friend who answers quizzes on Facebook means that the quiz creators can gain access to a lot of my information.
  • For good measure, took the opportunity to go through all the other privacy settings and make sure they still reflected my wishes.

Is this overly paranoid of me? Probably. (Tinfoil hats help keep warmth in, remember, and it’s pretty incredibly cold out right now.) The thing is, I’m not invested enough in Facebook to feel like the privacy trade-off is worth it for me. I’m there so I can keep up with my local friends. Full stop. I’m already making concessions by making myself available to the students who want to friend me there and by grudgingly admitting that I like the rolodex function it plays. But I feel zero motivation to give up more than I can help to Facebook and its third party developers. They can kindly leave me alone, please.