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Librarian Blog

Slip slidin'

The slippery slope's leading edge was music.
That's how it all began. First, music went online and you could buy it for next to nothing or not pay for it at all.
Next was books. Now, you can buy them, but mainly through one retailer who can charge what it wants.
Then came (or went) newspapers. And then magazines.
And now it's shopping malls.
The internet eats everything in its path. And it takes no prisoners.
Today alone, The New York Times has three stories about the online world's impact on jobs, retail sales, malls -- commerce in general.
We appear to be approaching a tipping point.
Amazon seems to realize this. It just bought Whole Foods.
Whole Foods is a subset of Whole World.

Reading to a child

One of the great pleasures of parenthood is reading to a small child, all cuddled up and cozy, perhaps in a rocking chair.
This must be a lost art, though.
Why do I think so?
Because none other than The New York Times magazine has published an article on how to do this.
Malia Wollan produced the tip in a recent Sunday edition. The piece was called, "How to Read Aloud to Children."
The tips are good ones. If you'd like a copy, I'll make one for you. Just drop by.
While you're here we can give you some ideas on books that are good to read to children.

Bee on the brain

Planning is well under way for this year's adult Spelling Bee sponsored by the Friends of the Library.
The date is Sept. 22. The place is the Community Center.
We will have a recognized Toastmasters expert who will be our official pronouncer, and a nice lunch for those who compete and those who cheer them on.
If you'd like to sponsor a team, please contact Carroll at the library.

You're kidding, right?

I think maybe this is a joke.
Someone named Victoria L. Rubin has written a paper just published in Canada with a very serious-sounding title: "News Verification Suite: Towards System Design to Supplement Reporters' and Editors' Judgements."
Rubin, who is affiliated with Western University in Canada, may have been a journalist at one time; it's hard to tell. She does know something about the inner operations of newsrooms, how stories are put together, edited, etc., and she seems to know something about the mindset of the reporters and editors who write for the world's mainstsream dailies and their counterparts in other media.
The process at its most basic is this: a reporter gets information and writes a story after vetting his sources; an editor looks over the work, checking spelling, grammar, facts,  and so on; another editor may do another review; and then it's off to be published.
Now, into that system -- and here's where thinks get a little fuzzy -- Rubin would introduce a News Verification Suite that would include, I think, some kind of algorithm that could detect lies and distortions and errors in inconsequential facts and, even, satire.
I am actually trying to picture this in my head, this B.S. Detector.
And, frankly, I have a hard time with it. I was a journalist for 45 years, and I came to believe that the most important element in gathering and publishing news was to have people who were honest and of the utmost integrity doing the job. These people are pretty good at B.S. Detection without an algorithm.
Which may, itself, fall into the category of B.S. that needs detecting.
Or maybe it's satire?
Where is that algorithm when you need it?

A small crime, but still ...

Perhaps it is one of Vladimir Putin's lesser crimes, but still it's notable for what it tells us about the man who leads Russia and wants to tilt the world to his way of thinking.
Natalia Sharina was put on trial recently for not being careful enough about perpetuating official Russian lies about the Ukraine.
Sharina was director of the Moscow Library of Ukrainian Literature, and on the shelves in storage were some materials that suggested that Ukraine had a history that was separate from the one Russians want to try to perpetuate, ala the methods of Stalin and Goebels.
The New York Times published a recent editorial about the trial, noting that Sharina was guilty of nothing beyond being a librarian.
She simply did not go along with the Newspeak way of the Putinistas.
"But in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, rights, responsibilities and the law have fallen prey to the old Soviet notion that any deviation from the position or the lies of the state is liable to be prosecuted under vague anti-extremism legislation," The Times opined.
Everywhere there are warnings to our way of governing if we fall victim to the same kind of thing in the facile notion that we will be safer or stronger or better for it.
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