TILT # 50 — Exaggerated death reports coming fast & furious


Happy New Year. I hope the holiday season treated you well. Lots of little stuff this go-round. Haven’t settled on a calendar for this year? Consider the Banned Author Birthdays calendar from Kristin Pekoll and the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom.

I got mine from my local library.

Here’s a Love Actually holidaytime tribute from Wellington City Libraries in New Zealand that made me grin.

It’s a thing: people on the internet declaring with certainty that libraries are irrelevant in the age of Google, quickly followed by librarians and others letting them have it (October, this week).

A refreshing departure from that dance… some data! This article from Inside Higher Ed looks at the actual numbers behind a recent article calling librarianship a dying industry, an article that got picked up by places like USA Today. Turns out, mistakes were made and the real picture isn’t dire at all. I appreciated ALA President James Neal writing a strongly-worded letter pointing out this error.

TinyLetter is also not as doomed as Inc. Magazine implied. While it will, at some future date, be rolled in to MailChimp, that’s a ways down the pike and might not be so bad. I’m staying the course here for now, in case you were curious or concerned.

Biggish story this week is the research findings published in Library Journal under the provocative headline “Do Librarians Discriminate”? The author, Mirco Tonin, is a social scientist who sent out queries to many US public service agencies, libraries among them, to determine if people received different responses depending whether their names sounded like they were White men or African-American men.
 
 The results point to yes, people with African American-sounding names were responded to less often and less courteously than their counterparts with White-sounding names. You can read the study yourself (PDF download) or a short analysis from City Lab that I am quoted in. We need to work on this, full stop. Implicit bias is a real thing, but also prejudice is a habit that can be broken.

As I wait to see if anything will happen with H.R. 2335: Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act of 2017 (call your reps to lobby for free online access to CRS Reports!) my favorite govdocs librarian pointed me to EveryCRSReport.com which picks up where OpenCRS (RIP) left off. And they have a Twitter. We deserve access to the research that our government produces.

“Gender-nonconforming people” is now an approved Library of Congress Subject Heading thanks in large part to the work of metadata librarian Violet Fox. Thank you, Violet.

I’ve just begun teaching my Community Engagement class for the University of Hawai’i this week, so I’ve been collecting links for readings as well as this newsletter. Still mulling over the term social cooling, but I sure do like this one-page website about it.

A few “what I’ve been up to” links

One more HNY with a few images any librarian can appreciate.

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