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Librarian Blog

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.

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.


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.

The porn guy

Before Christmas, one of our male volunteers was going from back to front in the library, passing by our bank of public-use computers and was brought to a dead stop by something he saw on the screen of one of our patrons.

Yep: Porn.

Right here in a public library for God and His little children to see.

We got the guy straightened out in very fast order.

And we're still wondering why he would think it's perfectly OK to come into a public place and watch porn. Brain dead?

I guess not. Turns out a guy up in Eau Claire, Wisc., was in the university library there watching porn when he was turned in by a couple of students who thought it was tacky, rude, and insulting, much less offensive.

The librarians stopped him. And he sued, alleging a First Amendment right to view pornography in a public place.

Now comes an appellate court in Wisconsin tossing out the guy's lawsuit. No right was offended by the library's action, the court said.

To which I say, "Amen."

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.

Prices rising

I've written here before about the rising price of college attendance, and there's no sign of it going down.

A small part of the rise is due to the cost of textbooks. I think I have mentioned here before that when I was teaching editing at UT-Austin I did not require students to buy a textbook. Instead, I just provided materials that I had developed over my years as an editor and reporter.

Texts come from a variety of sources, including commercial scholarly presses and university presses. The Journal of Scholarly Publishing just released a comparison on pricing by those two kinds of press, showing the variation in prices associated with different kinds of books by general area. For example, all English lit books are compared with each other, and all Psyc books are compared, so things are apple to apple.

Commercial scholarly press books are now approaching the $100 per-book price. University press books are in the $60 to $80 range.

The difference is explained, of course, by the drive for profit. University presses don't expect to make  money. And they should only make enough to keep printing.

But, that gives you some idea of why costs are rising. None of the books have gone down in average price since 2012, the first year reported in the stosry.

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