Alan Harnum

BiblioCommons Community Lists - The Minimum to Be Done

07 Oct 2021

Update 2021-10-18: I've now had replies by email from the Vancouver and Edmonton public library systems, and have shared the suggestions for design changes below with them, as I think it's important that Bibliocommons institutional customers advocate for the needed changes as well as a random ex-librarian / software developer with a Twitter account.

Update 2021-10-08: Some members of the Biblicommons team reached out to me this morning and said they generally agree with the suggestions below regarding the recommended design changes to help make the nature of community-created lists more clear, and will be considering them based on user testing and work with their library partners. I appreciate their responsiveness and attention on this matter, kudos to them.

Some fast updates on yesterday's post Public Libraries, BiblioCommons, and COVID-19 Conspiracy Platforming, written on my coffee break via the GitHub file editor.

  1. I haven't heard back yet from representatives of any of the public libraries I contacted about the issues described in the post, either on Twitter or in replies to emails I sent this morning to the executives in charge of technology at the library.
  2. Sam Popowich wrote a smart post about intellectual freedom issues in libraries generally that mentions this issue.
  3. Several people sent me some suspect Bibliocommons lists. The most startling one was the thinly-veiled anti-semitism list.
  4. A number of smart library people via Twitter discussed some of these issues with me in ways that helped clarify my thinking:

In the short term, I think the minimum to be done should include the following, and I hope that libraries using Bibliocommons will take these as a starting point for advocacy with the vendor:

There are larger and more complicated issues, but I think those changes could be made relatively quickly, are hopefully uncontroversial in making no changes to community-created content moderation or terms of service, and would address some of the concerns.