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Librarian Blog

Rewriting reality

The revision of science so that it fits certain political ideologies is under way, and it sets a bad precedent for, among many others, libraries.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the EPA's websites are being revised to do away with mention of man's effects on climate change, a perfect alignment with the belief system espoused by the EPA's new director, Scott Pruitt.
Other changes are also being made to bring the data posted around to his viewpoints.
This could very well be Step 1 in the process of rewriting reality to fit preconceived ends for political purposes.
The revision of textooks in Texas so they contain or eliminate "facts" that don't make some folks uncomfortable is a longstanding tradition in this state, so maybe having the same thing happen to websites is no big deal.
But if we allow this impulse to play out, a subsequent step could well be this: keeping books out of libraries that address similar threatening subjects.

Winners all

We have just been notified that the community project made manifest by the publication of the book called "Wimberley: Epic Flood Tests a Small Town's Strength" has won the Mary Faye Barnes Award for Excellence in Community Projects from the Texas Oral History Association.
Everyone should be most proud of this recognition because it truly was a community project.
The City Council of Wimberley provided grant funding to get the idea off the drawing board and into reality. The library district's board of trustees tossed in some cash as well. Then several folks in town, including Nancy Williams and Stephen Klepfer, got to work with me and other staffers to get the interviews done, transcribed and out as a book.
We still have about 400 books available at the library and at the Old Mill Store. They are just $20 apiece, which means there's no profit in the sale of them. But, if we have any money left over after all is said and done, that will be given to a local charity to give to those in need.
 

Got ya covered

Our IT experts are constantly updating the security software used to guard our public-access computers. And they are about as secure as any such computers can be. But there are limitations. They are just what we say they are: publicly accessed computers. And because all kinds of people with all kinds of motives use our computers, we might not be able to anticipate literally every devious adventurer's tricks. So a reminder: If you log into FaceBook or Google or some other social media account from one of our computers, be sure you log out when you're finished. Then log out of the computer, too. Our computers will delete work from your session when you log off, or 10 minutes after they sense no activity. But, to be safe rather than sorry, log off all your accounts before you leave.  

News that is

The founder of Wikipedia announced this week he will launch a news service that will depend on crowdsourcing to make sure the news that gets posted is not fake news.
It will be called Wikitribune. Money will come from contributors. Volunteers will also be finding news and posting it and editing it.
Some may complain that Wikipedia is not the best partner with which to launch a trusted news site, but it may be much better than news sites that are definitely and specifically and unashamedly slanted.
We invite visitors to our site who have a concern about what they have seen or read elsewhere to click on the link that is on this page to find resources to check out "facts" and verify them. It will take a little work and time, but the truth never seems to come easy.
I wish Wikitribune the best. They will have an uphill battle.
 

A valuable addition

Off in the world of professional journals and publications, a storm is raging over plagiarism, fakery and lying -- just dishonesty in general. The problems seem to be worsening over time. I subscribe to a daily blog called "Retraction Watch" that reports on these various sins against scholarship. They have enough material to come out almost every single day. That's not just a shame, it's an utter indictment of modern scholarship. Other than retracting the work of bad actors, journals and related publications seem paralyzed about how to deal with this scourge that menaces scientiifc progress. Now comes PubMed, a federal database of abstracts from medical and life science journals, to actually do something other than wring hands and tear at garments. Retraction Watch reports today that PubMed will begin publishing authors' conflict-of-interest statements  with the abstracts they print. This will be a great service to readers and users, something other journals should emulate, if they can. Readers need to know who is supporting research. They need to be able to follow the money in this general venue as well as in, of course, politics.
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