British libraries under threat

5th of November library demonstration

Reposted from Inside Higher Ed ; photo courtesy of @5thNovDemo

There’s something pretty amazing about the idea of a public library. It’s the one place where everyone in the community is welcomed – all ages, all races, all religions, all political persuasions. It’s a place where you can borrow things for free and nobody sneers at your taste or uses marketing techniques to persuade you to choose differently. It’s a place where you can hang out for hours without having to buy coffee to justify the space you’re taking up. It doesn’t invade your privacy in order to “improve the user experience.” It’s a place that, according to Pew Research, has amazingly high approval ratings, rare among social institutions these days.

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hello world!

typewriter innards[waves] Yes, I’m starting a new website. I have a couple of reasons to do this. First, I am working on a book proposal, and if this goes well, I’ll probably be blogging the process here, just as I previously blogged my sabbatical project a while back. Consider it my messy but public scratchpad for ideas. This also seems like the right time to renovate my public identity, which has always been held together with string, duct tape, and bad html.

Second, I’m beginning to revise a course I teach and one of my goals is to have students create their own website. I haven’t totally figured out how I will do this as an assignment. I want students to fully control their own web presence, which would include not having one if that’s their preference. But I think it’s time to shift from having students contribute to a joint blog (an assignment they’ve never loved) to inviting students to craft their own online identity for academic and professional self-representation. Who knows – they may not love that, either, but it’s time to try something new. I’ve been interested in the Domain of One’s Own project (see Audrey Watters being intelligent as usual about the concept), and while my institution isn’t doing that, it would be easy for students to get a domain and hosting from Reclaim Hosting. One they can keep for as long as they like.

Of course, if I’m going to assign creating a website using this service, I have to do it first myself, which is why I have this new front door for my own online presence. It will take a while to finish painting and cleaning and get my stuff moved in, but it’s a start.

(image courtesy of Rachel Knickmeyer)