International

Saving the New Library of Alexandria

From the New York Review of Books:

Located near the site of its ancient predecessor, in the heart of historical Alexandria, the remarkable Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the new Library of Alexandria, which opened in 2002, has been uncomfortably close to the turmoil that now wracks Egypt, and especially Egypt’s cities. First a suicide bomber attacked one of Alexandria’s Coptic churches on New Year’s Eve, killing 21 Egyptian Christians and injuring a hundred (including several Muslims worshipping at the mosque across the street). Now, for the past week, tens of thousands of young Egyptians have taken to the city’s streets, calling for more freedom, more jobs, lower prices, and democracy, unfazed by a harsh government crackdown and episodes of violence in which some three dozen Alexandrians have been killed. So it was a great relief to read the message “To our friends around the world” from Ismail Serageldin, the director of the Library, who reports that when unrest broke out on Friday, a cordon of young people rushed to surround the Library complex (which includes conference halls and a planetarium) and protect it from vandalism.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #140

This week's episode is a cross-cutting, interdisciplinary look at the violation of the knowledge ecology perpetrated in Egypt. Practical discussion is presented as to circumventing the disruption of Internet access as well as SMS/MMS messaging as seen there. Implications for information architecture are also discussed.

Related links:
Xubuntu Project Lead Approved
Mashable: Egypt Protests
Deutsche Welle: Egypt Protests
Media Network: Egypt Protests
Renesys: Egypt Leaves The Internet
The Other McCain: Egypt Protests
The Register: Egyptian Media Crackdown
Al Jazeera English: Egypt Leaves The Internet
Al Jazeera English: Online Activism Fueling Protests
Caroline McCarthy: No such thing as a "social media revolution"
Committee to Protect Journalists: Egypt Leaves The Internet
The Register: Vodafone acknowledges shut down order
Librarian Phoebe Ayers: Egypt Protests
Infodisiac: Egypt access to Wikipedia disappears
The Associated Press: Egypt Leaves The Internet...and fails to quell protests!
Media Network: Radio Netherlands Worldwide to target increased broadcasting at Egypt
The Associate Press: The Day Part of the Internet Died
RFC 1930: "Guidelines for creation, selection, and registration of an Autonomous System (AS)"
Ars Technica: How Egypt Fractured The Internet
RIPE Network Coordinate Centre stats on Egypt traffic
Project Gutenberg's CD & DVD Project for offline access
LOCKSS
MirrorBrain
FLDIGI
QSSTV
TOR Project: Egyptians Switch En Mass To The Onion Router
TOR Project: Downloading for Ubuntu

Creative Commons License
LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #140 / Burning Circle 17 by The Air Staff of Erie Looking Productions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

11:54 minutes (9.54 MB)
mp3
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Egyptians Remain Vigilant Guarding Libraries & Museums

From Discovery News: Egyptians are bravely defending their cultural heritage, according to a statement from Ismail Serageldin, librarian of Alexandria and director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

“The young people organized themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighborhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria,” he said.

“The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters,” Serageldin said.

However, the risk for cultural and archaeological sites remains high.

The West Bank, where the mortuary temples and the Valley of the Kings are located, is without any security, with only villagers trying to protect the sites.

“All the antiquities in the area have been protected by the locals all night, and nothing has been touched,” Mostafa Wazery, director of the Valley of Kings at Luxor, said.

UPDATE: Sun Jan 30, 14:40pm EST: In a faxed statement, Dr. Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, confirmed that a total of 13 cases were smashed at the Egyptian museum, adding that other sites are at risk at the moment.

A Ray of Hope in Tunisia...Previously Banned Books for Sale

From The Irish Times:

LOOKING OUT the window of her bookshop on Avenue Bouguiba, where two dozen curious faces are pressed against the pane to catch a glimpse at her latest display, Selma Jabbes is a picture of quiet satisfaction.

The crowds outside the Al Kitab bookshop are staring at a selection of newly arrived titles under the heading Livres interdits , a selection of books banned under the regime of deposed president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and now freely available for the first time.

Most concern Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi, political repression, Islamism and corruption in the regime.

Al Kitab is still awaiting delivery of its first order of banned books from Europe; those in the window were donated by readers and put on display “to give an idea of how we suffered here”, says Jabbes, a softly-spoken woman greeted by name by many of her customers.

Under Ben Ali’s rule, booksellers required a visa from the interior ministry for every work they wanted to import, and the process could take several months. The list of sensitive subject matter was long and ever-changing, but virtually every foreign title that touched on the president or his entourage, or which denigrated his policies, was strictly prohibited.

The Lights Are Going Out

Things are apparently developing in Egypt. There is an unconfirmed report that Egypt is totally offline. The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted to Identica about a separate report about the Internet being cut off in Egypt. Caroline McCarthy at CNET notes that Twitter is presently being blocked in Egypt. Later reporting by Elinor Mills at CNET notes that blocking is on the rise in Egypt and Associated Press reporters are unable to communicate. Nina Shea at National Review Online's group blog The Corner notes that these reports of disruption are not anomalies which is echoed by Matthew Shaffer there as well. Agence France-Presse notes that cellular telephone service is disrupted in addition to the reports of Internet disruption.

The situation in Egypt, much like the recent case in Tunisia, illustrates fundamental flaws in the nature of Internet access. Even though the system is purportedly designed to route around outages like this, failure seems to be easily caused. In conjunction with the proliferation of computer sound cards and software like fldigi, the deployment of radiofax service by outside powers to distribute information may be advisable. Examples of what this might look like are available online. Though such would have required specialist equipment twenty years ago that method for information distribution can take advantage of consumer-grade computer and radio hardware.

This situation continues to develop...

Creative Commons License
The Lights Are Going Out by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at erielookingproductions.info. -- Read More

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #137

This week's episode contains a replay of the most recent episode of TVO's program Search Engine about the censorship situation in Tunisia. We follow up last Tuesday's release of Search Engine by bringing the story up to date with events that happened since.

Another episode of LISTen will be released late Tuesday night/early Wednesday overnight with content that is more traditional.

Related links:
The episode of Search Engine being replayed
Ars Technica on Twitter vs. Tunisia
Committee to Protect Journalists on Tunisian Censorship
BBC News reporting on Tunisian censorship...in 2005...
The Voice of America on the Tunisia situation
Story by Aidan Lewis on BBC News about the situation in Tunisia
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news on the ex-President of Tunisia fleeing to Saudi Arabia
France24 on the possibility of more incidents like this

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at www.tvo.org.

18:12 minutes (7.29 MB)
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In Brisbane, Serving the Public in a Crisis

This is an artist's illustration of the recently completed Kenmore Library in Brisbane, Australia, which residents are encouraged to utilize to check the internet and recharge their cellphones and laptops during the current flooding crisis.

From the ABC Local station:

"Residents that can get to Kenmore Library are able to access the internet and charge up mobile phones and laptops at this location."

Here is the same library on Library Thing for Libraries.

Brisbane's Libraries Prepare

Art galleries and libraries in Brisbane, Australia, are shifting their collections to upper levels as floodwaters that struck rural areas move toward the city as reported by CBC News.

Waters are rising close to the city's major cultural institutions, including the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Museum and the State Library.

The library, Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery are close to the Brisbane River, which is expected to reach a flood peak at 5.2 metres sometime in the early morning hours of Thursday.

The art galleries and library have closed and the performing arts centre has cancelled performances. A car park for the cultural institutions is already flooded.

GoMA is currently hosting a summer exhibition, Art In The 21st Century, featuring contemporary art from 40 countries. Doyle said the art in the blockbuster show is not at risk because it is displayed on an upper level.

State librarian Rory McLeod said staff at the library have been quietly preparing for the flood for weeks and have moved collections out of the basement and ground floor.

However, he said, he is concerned that days of prolonged power cuts amid Queensland's summer humidity could result in damage to books and other collections.

"All of us have got climate controlled repositories where they are stored which will retain their ambient temperatures for a while, but after a few days there may be some humidity," McLeod said.

Cycling for Libraries

Librarians on bikes, unite! From the website:

We (Finnish librarian Kai Halttunen, Tampere University) – me with a team of keen library lovers – will arrange this tour supported by library associations and collaborators in different countries and I am sure it will be an unforgettable experience for all you who like cycling, get-together and passionate and visionary conversations about a variety of library topics.

Our aim is also to bring libraries, their highly proactive staff and the work all librarians do more to publicity and media. We mean to make this public by using internet and social media and making a documentary about how we handle this challenge of cycling 650 km --from Copenhagen to Berlin in spring-summer 2011 (We leave Copenhagen 28.05.2011 and arrive in Berlin 05.06.2011; 6th and 7th of June we have programme in Berlin).

We all know that good ideas are generated in cafes and hallways and not so much on lecture halls’ benches or somewhere we expect them to generate. That is why we go to this courageous venture of cycling about 10 days together – to see what kind of spectacular performances the library staff can reach if they just wish to. This is a challenge for you, and I hope that you accept it. Let’s go cycling for libraries! The participation is open to all librarians and everybody interested in the field of libraries.

Stay tuned by following this site or our Facebook page.

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