News From ALA: American Libraries Direct

February 27, 2008.

Supreme Court rejects wiretapping suit
“The U.S. Supreme Court declined February 18 to consider whether plaintiffs who believed they had been spied on without a court order could challenge the legality of such surveillance without tangible proof-even if the proof is classified as a state secret. The rejection of the ACLU v. NSA appeal came two days after the expiration of the Protect America Act, which from August 2007 until February 16 legalized warrantless eavesdropping on phone and internet communications to U.S. homes, workplaces, libraries, and elsewhere….”

It’s official: SMU chosen for Bush library site
“The board of trustees of Southern Methodist University unanimously approved an agreement with the George W. Bush Library Foundation February 22 to locate the presidential library and policy institute on its Dallas campus. The agreement, which followed more than a year of negotiations, states that SMU was chosen over seven other competitors….”

Another power play in Boston
“Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has informed Boston Public Library President Bernard Margolis that the city will take control of the library’s nearly 200 trust funds-private contributions and bequests totaling about $54 million-to better monitor how the money is spent. The plan has incensed Margolis and some of his allies, who say it could have a chilling effect on donors and even lead to the money being spent outside the library system….
New York Times, Feb. 26”

Black history treasure trove at Temple University
“The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University in Philadelphia contains more than 30,000 historical items, some dating to the 16th century. It includes Paul Robeson’s sheet music, African Bibles, rare letters and manuscripts, slave narratives, correspondence of Haitian revolutionaries, and a first-edition book by W. E. B. DuBois. The collection has grown so much since Temple acquired it 25 years ago that it moved into a larger space on campus this month….”

FCC grills Comcast in net neutrality hearing
“FCC chief Kevin Martin February 25 targeted Comcast’s contention that delaying peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic serves user interests, appearing to sympathize with the cable company’s critics. Through pointed questioning at a public hearing (although Comcast tried to stack the audience) at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachuetts, Martin seemed to be pushing a two-pronged agenda: Internet service providers should be as transparent as possible about manipulating network traffic, and consumers should have the freedom to get what they pay for….
C|Net news blog, Feb. 25; Computerworld, Feb. 27”
Associated Press, Feb. 23
Information isn’t reserved for books
“Research librarians say their powers have been unfairly dismissed in the online age. Not only can they outsmart Google’s dead ends and weaknesses, librarians say, but they can help people surf faster and smarter by showing them hidden databases and tricks. “It’s one of the most misrepresented professions,” said Saima Kadir, a reference librarian with the Houston Public Library….”

10 emerging technologies 2008
“Technology Review presents its list of the 10 technologies that are most likely to change the way we live. Find out more about modeling surprise, probabilistic chips, nanoradio, wireless electricity (shades of Nikola Tesla!), offline web applications, graphene transistors for speedier computer processors, and reality mining (learning human behavior through cell-phone user data)….”
Technology Review, Mar./Apr.
Houston Chronicle, Feb. 22
The life cycle of a blog
“Frank Rose writes: “You have a blog. You compose a new post. You click Publish and lean back to admire your work. Imperceptibly and all but instantaneously, your post slips into a vast and recursive network of software agents, where it is crawled, indexed, mined, scraped, republished, and propagated throughout the Web. Within minutes, if you’ve written about a timely and noteworthy topic, a small army of bots will get the word out to anyone remotely interested. Here’s how the whole process goes down.”…”
Wired 16, no. 2 (Feb.)

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