Happy new year! As we ring in 2017 and look forward to what is sure to be another eventful year for libraries, information professionals, and information services, it’s time to reflect on the major industry happenings in 2016. Here’s an overview of the topics NewsBreaks covered in the past year.
The New Librarian of Congress
The incoming president may have dominated headlines in 2016, but another new government official caused quite a stir herself. When Carla Hayden was confirmed as the 14th Librarian of Congress, she made history as the first women and first African-American to hold the position. Corilee Christou covered Hayden in April (“The Next Librarian of Congress: History Has Its Eyes on Her”), after she had been nominated by President Barack Obama but not yet confirmed by the Senate, and again in September after her swearing-in ceremony (“A Big To-Do List for the New Librarian of Congress”).
The FCC’s Controversial Year
In March, George Pike covered the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal to “to regulate the use and disclosure of the data that ISPs collect about their customers’ online activities” (“FCC Proposes Broadband Data-Privacy Protections”). It says that ISPs, which include broadband and cellular providers, would have to get customer consent when using their data and report the use of that data as well as data breaches. Pike writes, “Since its release, the proposal has been hailed as a significant improvement in online consumer privacy—but also has been criticized for singling out broadband providers while doing nothing about the use of data by large-scale collectors such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon.”
In November, Pike reported on the recent adoption of the proposal (“FCC Approves Broadband Privacy Rules, But Will They Last?”). He writes, “With the election of a Republican administration and a Republican Congress, it is possible that the rules may be modified or even canceled. It is the practice of commissions such as the FCC to be chaired by a member of the party that occupies the White House and for that party to have a majority of the five-member commission. Wheeler, a Democrat who advocated for both Net Neutrality and the privacy rules, is expected to step down from his chairmanship prior to Jan. 20, and another of the Democratic members will likely leave [too].”
OA in the News
SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) got a spotlight in Abby Clobridge’s February OA roundup (“OA Community Unveils New Initiatives”; it also covered the planned merger of DuraSpace and LYRASIS, which fell through) and in Dave Shumaker’s October interview with its executive director, Heather Joseph (“Librarians Working Inside Out: An Open Access Week Interview”). “We’re aiming to combine lots of small actions to build the presence of the open access movement. … We see open access as being in the best interests of society, of science, of institutions—and we want it to be equally in the best interest of the individual researcher,” Joseph told him.
Making Government Data Available to All
The federal government’s stance on transparency was on everyone’s mind this year. In March, Barbie Keiser wrote about House and Senate bills “that authorize the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) to make reports prepared for Congress freely available to the public. Libraries, educators, and groups advocating for transparency in government support the legislation” (“A New Focus on Transparency for the Congressional Research Service”).
In June, Nancy Herther covered the launch of Data USA, “described as the most comprehensive website and visualization engine ever created for U.S. government data using an open source platform available to anyone. This marks a major milestone for open source data, visualization, and global access to key information” (“Have a Question About Government Data? Data USA Can Help!”).
Throughout the summer, Keiser tracked the responses to and developments with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other transparency initiatives for the act’s 50th anniversary (“Recent Innovations in Open Government”; “Government Transparency Update: FOIA Turns 50”).
What’s With the Web
NewsBreaks went in-depth on some internet tools that might not be well-known—and one that is ubiquitous. Herther covered Google’s strategic acquisition of Kifi (“Google Gobbles Up Innovative Startup Kifi”) and discussed the new service Webrecorder (“Webrecorder Makes Web Preservation Personal”). Christou shared the details of the Copyright Alliance’s site redesign (“The Copyright Alliance Unveils Easy-to-Use New Website”). And Herther explored how its more than 1 billion unique users made YouTube the ruler of online streaming video (“YouTube Settles Into Its Role as the Web’s Biggest Success Story”).
News From Around the World
In February, John Charlton shed light on the Egyptian Knowledge Bank’s collection-development strategy (“The Egyptian Knowledge Bank Draws Western Publishers”). In July, he gave a man-on-the-ground account of the issues Brexit raised for the information industry (“Brexit, Schmexit!”).
Kenneth “Woody” Evans analyzed the Islamic State group’s approach to cyberterrorism and infrastructure in “The Islamic State Group Attempts to Survive in the Information Age.” He writes:
If an organization, be it a garden club or a caliphate, a book club or a state, is unwilling or unable to allow the information it generates and uses to be examined and analyzed critically, then it cannot pretend to have the kind of legitimacy that comes only from such dispassionate scrutiny. … If wrongdoing or ineptitude is found, an organization has the choice to admit it and improve its operations, or to deny it and try to save face. Good organizations do the former. … Can the Islamic State group perform any of the actions of a good organization? If so, then it won’t be the group we know for long, and its current form will die out and be replaced by a more tolerant one. If not, then the clock has already started counting down its demise for good. No regime that opposes information and its values can last.
The full list of NewsBreaks is searchable by keyword. For predictions about the year ahead, check out “What Trends May Come in 2017.”