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Librarians <3 Neutrality

posted: , by Samantha Soucy
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Online Services | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Government | News | Science & Technology

There is one word that makes a librarian especially happy, and yesterday it was said again and again. “Neutrality” was the word of the day, as the Federal Communications Commission agreed to recognize Internet infrastructure as a public utility. This is exciting news. It has been an issue for over 10 years, starting in 2005 when the FCC voted to reclassify DSL broadband service, away from being an “information service” to instead be called a “telecommunications service,” effectively allowing Internet service providers to hide their infrastructure allowing it to be riddled with unfair practices.

But yesterday’s decision ensures that access to the Internet will be based on fair and equitable practices. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says: “the landmark open-Internet protections that we adopted today should reassure consumers, innovators and financial markets about the broadband future of our nation.”

So, next time you access Netflix, Twitter, Google, or one of Portland Public Library’s own digital resources, rest assured you’ll be connecting to each of these sites with the same network speeds available—not faster tiered levels of service (with companies paying for higher speeds) that prioritize network traffic to ensure streaming services are better quality and pages load faster.


Announcing the Call for Presenters: Makers @ PPL

posted: , by Samantha Soucy
tags: Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture | Business | Portland History | Science & Technology

The Portland Public Library is thrilled to announce Makers @ PPL—the first Maker Fair event to take place in Portland, Maine. It will take place on Saturday, April 25 from 11 am to 4 pm.  In true maker spirit, we’re opening up the event to public contribution, asking: what skill have YOU got that you can teach to others? We know Portland is brimming with creative energy, technical expertise, and unique crafters, and it is time to come together to share these skills, pick up some new ideas, and walk away with a tool belt full of new ways to engage with the community.

Everyone has a hobby. Some people make cat beds from old computer monitors, while other people can make mini battle robots!

If you have a passion for creation, and can boil it down into a workshop style presentation (hands on encouraged!) we’d love for you to fill out this form to be a part of the event.

The event is themed like a conference, so participants can take part in a specific track (Entrepreneurship, Creative Arts, Science & Technology, Local History, and Food & Drink). There will be an exhibit hall in the auditorium for people to display and present creative endeavors that are not suited to workshop style presentation. Special programs for children and teens will happen too.

Get you application to present in by January 15, and be a part of the Presentation Team putting on this exciting event. Fill out the form here to submit an application. You’ll be notified by February 1 if you’ve been selected. The Library will be unveiling some cool new tools that we’re adding to our collection…so stay tuned!


Your Privacy and Library eBooks

posted: , by Samantha Soucy
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Adults | Seniors | Science & Technology

Earlier this fall, it was discovered that Adobe Digital Editions 4.0 (a crucial piece of software for accessing library eBooks) was transferring data back to Adobe about the user’s reading choices in plain text. Not only was this confidential information accessible to anyone with a bit of technical savvy, but Adobe was also gathering data about other eBooks and materials on user’s devices. The Electronic Frontier Foundation was of the opinion that sending the data over plain text “undermines decades of efforts by libraries and bookstores to protect the privacy of their patrons and customers” even if Adobe’s practice was a mistake.

The Library responded to this situation in a blog post in October as did many other libraries around the country, and we are pleased to report that the situation has since improved.

There is now a patch in place with ADE version 4.0.1., and patrons should feel confident that their privacy is protected and secure with this update. The American Library Association commended Adobe for taking this action to make users’ information secure, but ALA continues to be wary “about the amount of data collected and retained by all vendors within the eBook ecosystem.”

As librarians, we have made a commitment to work together to pressure vendors to adhere to the highest standards of privacy the Library has long represented. In addition, librarians are working together to develop technical expertise to verify that privacy is respected at the digital programmatic level—something often invisible to both users and librarians—but often conspicuous to anyone with basic hacking skills seeking this information.

Please ensure your version of Adobe Digital Editions is updated to ADE 4.0.1 to incorporate the changes that will keep your personal information safe. If you need assistance with this, you can contact the Public Computing desk—871-1700 x 708.

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