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Category Archives: Libraries

Do classified document revelations highlight problems at the National Archives?

  • The American Prospect – “Presidential Document Scandals Should Take Down America’s Secrecy Industry We classify way too many documents. Unfortunately, that will probably not be the takeaway from recent events. America has a problem with classified information. But this problem isn’t the one you’ve been hearing about for the past few weeks, with the revelations of President Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence turning up documents improperly stored in their homes and offices. It’s also different from the problem of Donald Trump hoarding classified information at Mar-a-Lago—though the circumstances of Trump asserting the right to take the documents and obstructing the efforts of the Archives to take them back make what he did qualitatively different, and far worse. No, the problem with classified information is that there’s so much of it, so much useless, meritless, groundless classified information. Tens of millions of pieces of paper are so labeled, millions of people can see them, and yet the vast majority of such material would not remotely endanger the nation if it entered the wrong hands. In fact, much of it is just plain embarrassing to the government, or worse, a cover-up of illegal acts…”
  • The Hill – “Former President Trump is being investigated for improperly handling classified documents. President Biden has also been found to have classified documents in his possession dating back to his time as vice president. Now former Vice President Mike Pence is in a similar situation with mishandling classified documents. It would not be surprising if other public figures make similar disclosures in the coming months. So, is the problem with the people or the data and information management process used by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)? There was a time that everything was recorded on paper. This is no longer the case. With the preponderance of information now stored electronically, the concept of classified documents is about classified information, not the physical documents that have been taken, stored, or as we now know, mishandled. Not all classified information is of equal concern. Any information that can harm the United States, its people and its interests would be considered classified across one of three levels: “Top Secret,” “Secret” or “Confidential.” The levels of classified documents held by the three men remains unclear. The NARA is responsible for storing and maintaining all presidential records, as outlined in the Presidential Records Act. They provide guidelines to ensure an efficient and complete transfer of presidential documents once a president’s term ends. This means that physical presidential documents that contain classified information should no longer exist outside the NARA. Based on the recent disclosures, the NARA has either been delinquent, misled or some combination of the two. In an electronic information world, all paper classified documents should be transferred into electronic form, with paper documents destroyed almost immediately once they are no longer in use. With such a procedure in place, no one could ever mishandle such documents…”

Books Unbanned

“Brooklyn Public Library is adding our voice to those fighting for the rights of teens nationwide to read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions. Inspired by the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement, BPL’s Books Unbanned initiative is a response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books tackling… Continue Reading

ChatGPT Chatbot Weighs in on Law Librarian De-Credentialization

Via LLRX – ChatGPT Chatbot Weighs in on Law Librarian De-Credentialization – Sarah Gotschall, Associate Librarian Reference Librarian & Professor of Practice, University of Arizona Law, puts ChatGPT through the paces with a series of engaging questions and answers she has documented, adding additional dimension to the significant interest in the all the rage chatbot. Continue Reading

Florida teachers told to remove books from classroom libraries or risk felony prosecution

My Sun Coast: “Manatee County Schools Spokesperson Michael Barber confirms that communication has been sent to principals of schools to vet books teachers have in their classroom. In December, House Bill 1467 stated that School Library and Instructional Materials requires school district to adopt procedures for determining and reviewing content for library media centers. This… Continue Reading

Students want new books. Thanks to restrictions, librarians can’t buy them.

Washington Post: Schools are struggling to keep their shelves stocked as oversight by parents and school boards intensifies – “States and districts nationwide have begun to constrain what librarians can order. At least 10 states have passed laws giving parents more power over which books appear in libraries or limiting students’ access to books, a… Continue Reading

Smithsonian Open Access Create. Imagine. Discover.

“Welcome to Smithsonian Open Access, where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to more than 4.4 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s… Continue Reading

Disquiet in the archives: archivists make tough calls with far-reaching consequences – they deserve our support

The Conversation: “Right now, for technological, ethical and political reasons, the world’s archivists are suddenly very busy. Advances in digital imaging and communications are feeding an already intense interest in provenance, authorship and material culture. Two recent discoveries – a woman’s name scratched in the margins of an 8th-century manuscript, and John Milton’s annotations in… Continue Reading

Opposing Attempts to Criminalize Librarianship through State Obscenity Laws

EveryLibrary Institute: “In 2023-2024, we anticipate that many legislators whose bills failed the last session will reintroduce language in this session and anti-access activists will be inspired to sponsor their own regressive initiatives. The EverLibrary Institute is releasing a new Policy Brief “Opposing Attempts to Criminalize Libraries and Education Through State Obscenity Laws” to help… Continue Reading

Are book bans discrimination?

Washington Post – Biden administration to test new legal theory: “The federal government has opened an investigation into a Texas school district over its alleged removal of books featuring LGBTQ characters — marking the first test of a new legal argument that failing to represent students in school books can constitute discrimination. The Education Department’s… Continue Reading