The Week in Libraries: August 10, 2018

Love your local librarian? Here one way to show your appreciation. The American Library Association (ALA) is currently seeking nominations for the 2018 “I Love My Librarian Award,” a coveted honor that recognizes librarians for work they do in communities throughout the country. You can nominate your favorite librarians working in public, school, college, community college, or university libraries through Oct. 1, 2018.

The ALA will select up to 10 award recipients, and each winner will receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque, and a travel stipend to attend the I Love My Librarian Award ceremony and reception in New York City on Dec. 4 hosted by the award sponsor, the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Since the award was established in 2008, library users nationwide have shared more than 18,000 nominations detailing how librarians have used their expertise to connect them to information, educational opportunities and critical technology to help improve the quality of their lives.

Last year’s award winners included an academic librarian who preserves LGBTQ history, a public librarian who helps economically disadvantaged families connect with social services and a school librarian who inspires a love of reading in students who are new to the United States or speak English as a second language.

Reserve Reading

How many times have you heard someone say that their local librarian saved their life? Well, these librarians literally saved someone’s life. Great job!

Unfortunately, it seems like Bibb County in Georgia (which includes Macon) is about to close its last library, after voters rejected a small millage rate increase.

It happens more often than you think: a patron comes into the library asking for a book they can’t remember, “you know, that one with the red cover…a W in the title?” And librarians, it turns out, are remarkably good at finding these forgotten books. Atlas Obscura, profiles this “crack squad of librarians” who track such requests down. “The first case was cracked in just a few minutes, courtesy of a remote staffer who recognized the plot of Imbolo Mbue’s 2017 Behold the Dreamers. The room filled with a smattering of applause and enthusiastic dinging of the hotel bell. Someone made a hash mark on the dry-erase board.”

Last week we questioned how librarians would respond to patrons wanting to use the library’s 3D printer to make guns. Turns out it’s not an abstract question. “A recent request from a patron of Millburn (N.J.) Free Public Library (MFPL) was a first for the library—and it left the reference librarian unnerved,” reports American Libraries. “The patron wanted to use the facility’s 3D printer to create a part for an AR-15 rifle.” The column goes on to detail the ALA’s policy recommendations for 3D printers.

The Daily Beast reports that 43% of Republicans want to give Trump the power to shut down media outlets (compared to 12% of Democrats and 21% of Independents). Is the president’s “enemy of the people” talk working?

The Intercept details the internal backlash among Google employees after the company’s confidential plan to launch a “censored version of its search engine” in China was revealed last week. “One source who spoke to Bloomberg characterized the project as a ‘censorship engine’ which they said they viewed as a betrayal of Google’s values,” the report notes. “Bloomberg described a ferocious discussion among Google staffers, with some backing the company’s censored search proposal because they believed that boycotting the country would not ‘bring any positive change.’

Following Apple, Spotify, and Youtube, Facebook this week took a big step and removed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars pages for violating the site’s community standards. In a post, Facebook officials said the site was not banned for spreading fake news, but for violating Facebook’s “graphic violence” and “hate speech” policies.

Meanwhile, CEO Jack Dorsey says Twitter won’t follow suit, because InfoWars hasn’t broken Twitter’s rules.

Except CNN claims that their review of Alex Jones’ accounts show that he has apparently broken Twitter rules.

Over at Vox, Aja Romano blasts Twitter’s decision. “In effect, Twitter is at a moral crossroads—and choosing the wrong path. The choice to allow Jones and his rhetoric to remain active on the platform suggests that there is no point at which a situation will become morally reprehensible enough for the company to take a stand.”

Kara Swisher at The New York Times has a good editorial on Twitter’s decision.

And over at TechDirt, Mike Masnick, has a long, thoughtful take on the broader implications of letting social media and internet giants define acceptable speech.

JSTOR Daily has an interesting post on how librarianship was once considered too dangerous for Victorian women. “One speaker at the American Library Association’s 1910 conference claimed he knew fifty librarians who had become incapacitated by the work,” the post notes. By the 1920s, however, “the dangers of library work disappeared from public discussion as increasing numbers of middle-class women proved their competence.”

A report this week that illustrates how stubborn a problem sexism remains: “A prestigious Tokyo medical school has admitted and apologized for deliberately reducing women’s entrance test scores to allow more men to enter the institution.”

Remember during the net neutrality debate how FCC officials said the agency’s comment process was the target of a DDOS attack? An Inspector General report confirms that was a lie. Turns out, encouraged by HBO’s John Oliver, a lot of people were just trying to post comments.

At The Scholarly Kitchen, Kent Anderson weighs in on Elsevier’s acquisition of Aries Systems. “Even if Elsevier doesn’t grow significantly in revenues with this acquisition, it grows significantly in gravitational pull and centrality.”

And finally, from LitHub, what immersing yourself in a book can do for you. “For a moment in time we leave ourselves; and when we return, sometimes expanded and strengthened, we are changed both intellectually and emotionally.”

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