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Intellectual Freedom and Social Justice

After giving a couple of talks on this topic, I was invited to submit an article to the Texas Library Journal, which comes out today. I'm reposting it here.  Embedding professional values takes time, and grows from social context Professions are predicated on values. In 1892, the American Library Association (ALA) was guided by this modest motto: "The best books for the most people at the least cost."   In 1938, Des Moines Public Library director, Forrest Spaulding, noted that, "Today indications in many parts of the world point to growing intolerance, suppression of free speech and censorship affecting the rights of minorities and individuals." Among those indications was the rise of Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, and Stalin in the Soviet Union. Books under attack in Des Moines eventually included Mein Kampf (anti-Semitic) and Grapes of Wrath (communist). In response, Spaulding pitched a "Library's Bill of Rights" to his board. In 1939,
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Storytelling as a path to funding

Ever since my days as a wandering poet, I've believed in the power of story.  As I was hitchhiking around the country, I once wandered into a biker bar in Phoenix. Being young, poor, and desperate, I asked the bartender if I could give a 45 minute poetry reading. In exchange, if I could hold the attention of the customers , could I have a pitcher of beer and a pizza? The bartender actually snorted. "You're going to read poetry to this crowd? This I gotta see!" I not only got my beer and pizza (after an hour of performance), I got lots of deeply insightful comments from the audience. I say this not because bikers have the souls of poets (some do!), but because I learned, as I knocked about and gave readings, that dense and deeply allusive verse (academic poetry) left most folks cold. What they wanted were  stories . So my poetry tended toward dramatic narratives. The closer I got to an authentic experience, the more it resonated.  The same is true of library stories.

elementary apps for writing

A few months ago, I installed the   elementary   OS (a Linux based distribution) on an old 2011 Mac. On the one hand, I had to fiddle with things some, as one does with Linux. But on the whole, the experience has been very positive. Computing can be fun.   The desktop environment (think Gnome or KDE or Mac or Windows) of elementary is called Pantheon. It has a very nice look to it, light and fast. It’s not Mac, but it’s Mac-like, meaning that it seeks mostly to get out of your way. Unlike many distros, elementary has its own AppCenter, where applications written for the environment are offered for sale, for modest sums. Or sometimes for free. Recently, I bought three of them that together make up a nice tool set, handy for the creation and elaboration of documents. That’s my primary interest in them. The first was   Minder , a mindmap program written by Trevor Williams. It was responsive and colorful. Pantheon, and elementary generally, leans toward the minimalist, easily l

Virtual Placemaking

Today I sat in on a Zoom conference with the Futurist Interest Group of the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL). There was a presentation by Susan Simpson of the Pikes Peak Library in Colorado Springs. She, in turn, based some of her thoughts on the work of Cara Courage (see ). Look for a series of "lightning talks" about various futurist topics at the next CAL conference, September 10-12, in Loveland. This blog is an attempt to capture just some of my thoughts sparked by Susan's remarks. There are various factors that make a place real and important to us. Such places are creative . They speak to the part of us that wants to appreciate the beauty around us, or to make something that delights or captivates us. Interesting places are engaging . And that means that they don’t just present distractions that succeed in capturing our attention for a moment. We put something of ourselves into it. The place becomes a focus for feeling or thin

Outliners Redux

As noted in my last blog, I've been mucking about with classic DOS outliners, booted up through dosbox-x on Ubuntu. The experience made me dig up some older blogs that have oft been cited on the web, but because I've shifted around the hosting of my website, the links went bad. I still find outliners utterly absorbing. If you do, too, you will find your people at . Outliners Redux February 18, 2002 by James LaRue Copyright, 2002 All Rights Reserved   Introduction As I wrote in " A Blastfrom the Past: Classic Outliners ," outliners (also called outline processors) are a powerful tool for the manipulation both of text, and of its underlying structure. I also recommended two "classic" outliners (where "classic" means "created in the early 1990's"): KAMAS for DOS, and MORE 3.1 for the OSX Macintosh. I used KAMAS (an acronym for "Knowledge And Mind Amplification System") for years, from

Blast from the Past: classic outliners

Lately, I've been playing with classic DOS outliners on my Linux system, mostly using dosbox-x , KAMAS , PC-Outline , and Grandview . Those are live links for downloads, so they are still to be found, and could still be used. Shockingly, they are still far ahead of anything readily available in today's graphic interfaces. I'm still thinking about what I've learned from this stroll down memory lane. But in the process, I dug up some old posts that might be worth preserving. (They disappeared off the internet when I changed web hosting providers, and trimmed my content.) This is the first of two . A Blast from the Past: Classic Outliners by James LaRue September 2001 The "classic" period of outlining preceded Windows. Outliners thrived in DOS and on the Mac. While most of those programs are orphaned now, abandoned by their developers, they can still be found on various shareware sites. There is much to be said for these p

Installing Linux on a 2011 Macbook Pro

I had two MacBook Pros, both 13" models from late 2011. One had 4 gigs of RAM, and the other 8. Both of them were intolerably slow. In the first case, I wound up installing CleanMyMac , which did arcane things to various files, and put up alerts to warn me about disappearing memory. But it made the machine useable again, albeit not exactly speedy. I changed some habits: Safari as browser rather than Firefox or Chrome. I tried to keep tabs down to four or five. The second Mac had bigger problems. Its charger was shot, but even with that replaced, the battery tapped out at 75%. More importantly, the whole disk had been wiped, which meant that it wouldn't boot. Recently, I had downloaded a couple of Linux distributions ("distros") on USB drives. Elementary OS 5.1 (Hera) was reputed to be a lightweight, beautiful distro that shared some aesthetics with the Mac OS. So I thought I'd give it a try. Ahead of time, I tried to read up on how difficult it might be to