TILT #38 CRAAP and bullshit and making things change

My heart is everywhere the library is

Hello from looks-like-Spring. After I wondered if Google really ever fixes anything in response to user feedback, we have an… indeterminate answer. The busted Shirley Temple Google snippet (which I reported every few days) looked like this:

…and now looks like this:

This isn’t just a “Robots can’t understand human nuances” situation. This is an algorithm that has no reality checking built into it, like “If human age is over 120, check your math.”

Was this change a response to feedback, or just a tweaked algo? We’ll never know. Now I’m working on reporting their results for hamster. The animal directly above the word Hamster in this snippet is actually a guinea pig.

I explained this robot thing to students at the local Technical Education high school last week while giving a run down of the CRAAP test. The test helps people weed out the bullshit when they’re doing internet research. My talk and notes are here. Handout is here and free for reuse.

Many Tech Ed students in Vermont attend schools without libraries. Their schools are often attached to the local high schools, but there’s often political mishegas over when and how the Tech Ed students are able to use the library. So it’s even more important for them to know how to find and evaluate things online without a lot of guidance.

In the past, these talks would trot out the old beloved Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus and maybe MartinLutherKing.org (a domain owned by white supremacists). Now we also have to talk about the nature of capitalism and what it means for Google to be the largest search engine and the largest ad agency in the world — and why “fake news” can be a money-making strategy.

While you’re contacting your reps this week, please tell them that the alterations made to the Americans with Disabilities Act via the ADA Education and Reform Act, HR 620 do not actually solve problems for disabled Americans. More specifics about this at the Take Care Blog.

It’s also worth brushing up on what’s going on with Net Neutrality (Spoiler: nothing good). This Washington Post article outlines the issues or you can watch this episode of Last Week Tonight. (Note: the amusing GoFCCYourself URL mentioned in the show is not currently functional).

Remember the adorable Bird Library twitter (a bird feeder designed to look like a library)? They now have a live stream, and a field guide to their local birds.

I have a confession: I tend to find food blogs intolerable. I just want to know the recipe, not read food stories. However, I am making an exception for the Little Library Café, a food blog (and upcoming book) about food inspired by literature. It did not hurt that their latest entry was from a very favorite book of mine.

I was always a fan of the Edible Book Festivals and should make more of an effort to find one near me.

A few other reads that are worth your time:

I think we need to own the library’s role in the way fines can limit library access to children, or to anyone. Setting arbitrary “return by” deadlines and then calling it “bad behavior” when someone doesn’t or can’t meet this deadline is a poor user experience. Technology can help smooth the edges of these interactions — allowing auto-renewals, simplified hold procedures and locating of overdue books — but so will rethinking what our ultimate goals are here.

This perspective, that a book is entirely unavailable to patrons if it’s checked out, is a complex one and reinforces the notion that a library is just “a room full of books”. We should tread carefully when advancing such claims.

I went to Montréal in March. On the way up I stopped at the Alburgh library, a library that lends showshoes. They gave me a tour and told me about their former head librarian, still on the job full-time when she was 90 years old. Apparently she arrived in town and moved into the “weird old house” which had allegedly been owned by a game show executive who had gone to prison. I couldn’t verify many of these details with a quick Google, but I did find this lovely news story about Marybelle Singer from a few years back and her obit from when she died a few months later. Both include a line from one of the many poems she wrote: “My home is anywhere I am, my heart is everywhere you are.” which is how I mostly feel about the library.

Today in Librarian Tabs is written irregularly by Jessamyn West who also maintains librarian.net. It’s also available in your inbox via TinyLetter. Thanks for reading.



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Jessamyn West

Jessamyn West


Rural tech geek. Librarian resistance member. Collector of mosses. Enjoyer of postcards. ✉️ box 345 05060 ✉️ jessamyn.com & librarian.net