Tor Haugan writes: “Outside a select group of researchers, demography nerds, genealogists, and dataphiles, the US census is often considered a staid and decidedly unsexy part of American civic life, like serving on a jury or paying taxes. But a richly detailed, incisive, and delightfully wonky new exhibit in the UC-Berkeley Doe Library is challenging that. ‘Power and the People: The US Census and Who Counts’ opened in September, providing an inside look at some of the fascinating stories and hidden gems relating to the nationwide decennial drive for data through maps, data, and other library treasures.”
UC Berkeley Library News, Sept. 24
Patrons of the Millinocket (Maine) Memorial Library can not only check out the latest Stephen King book, they can borrow one of the library’s many mountain bikes, canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or sets of cross-country skis and take them out for a spin in the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument or on the new Katahdin Area Trails. The equipment, which was donated to the library by the Outdoor Sport Institute, makes up the new Katahdin Gear Library, and is free and open to anyone. “If ecotourism and the outdoors is what’s going to save the Katahdin region, then that’s what we need to offer to our patrons,” said Director Matt DeLaney.
Bangor (Maine) Daily News, Sept. 23
Barbara Fister writes: “Libraries are easy pickings for layoffs because librarians’ labor is almost by design fairly invisible. When you click on a database link and download an article, it may take only a second, but people did a lot of work to make that happen: They selected and negotiated a license annually for that database, put links to it in all the right places on the library website, changed them when the vendor randomly decided to rebrand, and did a ton of work to make sure the links to hundreds of thousands of individual articles actually work. When all goes well, it appears seamless. We want to save the time of the reader. But it’s a ton of labor that nobody sees.”
Inside Higher Ed: Library Babel Fish, Sept. 18
Alexandra Alter writes: “In an era plagued by deep fakes and online disinformation campaigns, we still tend to trust what we read in books. But should we? In the past year alone, errors in books by several high-profile authors—including Naomi Wolf, Jill Abramson, Jared Diamond, Paul Dolan, and Michael Wolff—have ignited a debate over whether publishers should take more responsibility for the accuracy of their books. While in the fallout of each accuracy scandal everyone asks where the fact checkers are, but there isn’t broad agreement on who should be paying for what is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process in the low-margin publishing industry.”
New York Times, Sept. 22
Mark Joseph Stern writes: “The Trump administration has threatened to withdraw federal funding from the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies because it does not portray Christianity or Judaism in a sufficiently positive light. A letter from the Department of Education—sent on September 17 and reported by the New York Times—directed the program to emphasize ‘positive aspects’ of these and other non-Islamic religions in the Middle East. If it refuses, the department may strip the program of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Slate, Sept. 20
Margaret Renkl writes: “When the Rev. Dan Reehil, a Catholic priest, ordered the removal of all Harry Potter books from the St. Edward parish school library in Nashville, Tennessee, in August, the community demanded an explanation. Reehil responded by email, noting that he had ‘consulted several exorcists, both in the United States and in Rome,’ and had been assured that the ‘curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.’ Harry Potter and his friends don’t exist in real life, but they wrestle with real-life challenges: bullies, rejection, loneliness, fear, grief—and, yes, with clueless adults whose behavior is patently ludicrous.”
New York Times, Sept. 23
Librarians at the Homewood (Ill.) Public Library celebrated Banned Books Week in 2017 by collaborating to create a parody music video titled Leer Despacito, a Banned Book Week parody of Despacito by Luis Fonsi with Justin Bieber. They adapted the visual look and music of Fonsi’s Spanish-language dancehall song. This black-and-white video shows young readers who encounter banned books by Hispanic authors.
Homewood Library YouTube channel, Sept. 24, 2017