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Librarian Blog

Reversing course

Several years ago, the public library looked to be on the endangered species list.

Or that was the general feel that one could take away from library journals and news reports.

Counties and cities were contemplanting or making grievous cuts in library budgets. Staffs were being trimmed. Materials purchases were down.

But, things seem to be turning around.

Library Journal just released data from its 2015 survey of libraries about funding and staffing, etc.

The bottom line is this: Libraries are seeing small incremental gains in funds for staffing and materials. We're talking on average less than 4 percent year over year.

But, with low inflation, that's not bad at all. Growth IS growth, after all. And far better than going the other direction.

Whither diversity?

I had no idea.

I thought the publishing industry in this country was largely white and male.

Not so.

A report called Diversity in Publishing finds there is no diversity in publishing.

About 80 percent of publishing and review journal staff members are white. And nearly 80 percent are female.

And that's the case even at the executive level. There, 86 percent are white. And 60 percent are women.

No wonder there are so few books about and by people of color.

That's kind of a national scandal, when you think about it.

Just grow up ...

I've been out of the daily college millieu for a long, long time so I haven't a clue about the new ultra sensitivity of university students.

I read about it from time to time. Seems that kids all over the country are frightened by the idea of being confronted with the New and the Unusual and the Unexpected and the Uncomfortable.

Waaaaa!

The Jan. 30th edition of The Economist is the latest publication to note timidity and touchiness of college students. Good story. The best part is about the Chicago Statement, which has been adopted by a variety of institutions. It is brief. Here is a salient part of it:

"It is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive. ... Concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable."

The responsibility of a university, its says, is not only to promote "fearless freedom of debate," but also to protect it.

Amen, folks.

Status of 'The Book'

Our book about the May 23, 2015, flood of the Blanco River in Wimberley is at the printer as of today.

We hope it will go on the press this week. We're printing 1,000 copies.

The books will be about 350 pages and 8 1/2 x 11 in size, softback, perfect bound with a heavily laminated cover.

The plan is to have them ready for distributioin around March 1. Cover price will be $20 (comparable books routinely sell for north of $35).

Check back for more information near March 1.

Polls and problems

At least 15 years ago, an international society of statisticians published a report about the future of public opinion polls.

Because of changes in technology and the way people responded to pollsters, they predicted that getting accurate public opinion on anything would be next to impossible -- sooner than later.

Not too long ago, the inaccuracy of major polls just proved how right these statisticians were. People don't respond to polls. The pollsters don't have their cell phone numbers. Just about everything mitigates against accuracy.

Today's papers carry the story about another round of bogus poll numbers, this time relating to the Iowa caucuses.

So, when does poll mania stop?

Never. The elections are horse races, and that's not going to change. Media love polls, regardless of whether they are worthless. And pollsters aren't going to quit hawking their snake oil.

Just don't believe everthing you read and hear.

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