So ten thousand librarians enter a bar...

Jan 14, 2008 • Karen

I just came back from the American Library Association conference in Philadelphia, PA. Nelson was there to speak at the SPARC/ACRL forum about student activism and open access, and SPARC invited me too since I was one of the judges for the SPARC video contest, the winner of which, "Share", was shown at the forum.

It was a pretty interesting forum. The two other students weren't free culture members--one was from Universities Allied for Essential Medicines at Princeton, while the other was a science blogger. Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions had a very good turnout. It was nice to see a lot of librarians were interested in activism, particularly student activism--when I tried to talk to Honnold-Mudd about open access and how much of their budget was spent on journal subscriptions, they thought I wanted an article from a journal they didn't offer and were like, "Don't worry, even if we don't have a subscription we can get that article for you!" It seems some librarians are used to thinking of students as customers instead of fellow members of the academic community. Good to see that at least some are breaking out of that box.

Aspects of the trip were rather stressful--I accidentally packed Nelson's tux instead of his suit (it was in an opaque suit bag; *neither* of us knew he even owned a tux!), Nelson's juicer broke, and we didn't realize until forty minutes beforehand what the hotel's checkout time was. (Oops.) But other parts of the trip were quite enjoyable--SPARC put me and Nelson up at the Philadelphia Westin, which while having crappy, expensive Internet access was otherwise ridiculously swanky; we, the other student presenters, and Gavin (who's workingdoing work for SPARC now) got wined and dined and boozed at various delicious places; and it was fun to be in Philadelphia again. I don't know why I like Philly so much, but I do. Downtown's nothing like home, but it feels more like Minneapolis than New York.

Also at the conference were a couple of documentarians from Hungry Filmmaker Productions who are making a documentary on new media and free culture, tentatively titled Copycat. The film seems to be at the stage of "film everything--figure out the story later," but the lead guy Matt Agnello seems very smart and enthusiastic. He interviewed both me and Nelson about Students for Free Culture so that was pretty cool. Yay, my first documentary appearance maybe?

Speaking of free culture documentaries, my family watched Freedom of Expression by Kembrew McLeod two weeks ago or so while Nelson was visiting us in Minnesota for the holidays. It's probably the best free culture-y documentary out there right now--I think it should be made the default recruitment "thing-to-show."

Unfortunately, the documentary is not available online, and the publisher has done a really crappy job of otherwise publicizing it. (So how's he expecting to sell copies...?) The only reason I've seen it is because Nelson got a copy for free since he appears in the film. But I have a copy now, so if anyone's interested in watching it just poke me. Or maybe I/someone should start a torrent...