COVID 19: Health care crisis and mis-information

As librarians, we can help during this current outbreak by curating lists of reliable sources and, as much as possible, being available (in many cases remotely) to provide reference services and point our users to reliable sources. We can continue to do what we always do – serve as touchstones for patrons looking for reliable information in a time of stress. We can do our best to help them sort through the bad and misleading information and promote the more reliable information.

Lisa Hoover, Public Services Librarian at Clarkson University, and Michelle Young, Dean of Libraries at Clarkson University, at the NYS Capitol building on Legislative Advocacy Day. Photo by Ginger Tebo, School Library System Director at St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.

Advocating for our patrons

Overall, going to legislative advocacy day was a really positive experience. I think it is important for librarians to speak up about the importance of libraries and the needs of our patrons. Many of our patrons – especially in school libraries – can’t speak up for themselves about what they need. In today’s fiscal climate, I think we need to speak up to make sure we can continue to serve our patrons’ needs.

A newspaper silencing their own reporter: what about free speech?

I was fascinated to wake up to the headline “Washington Post reporter who tweeted about Kobe Bryant rape allegations placed on administrative leave” recently. My first thought was “What? I must have read that wrong.” But I didn’t – The Washington Post reported itself that it had suspended political reporter Felicia Sonmez after she “sparked a furious backlash” by posting about the rape allegations from 2003 against Kobe Bryant shortly after his death in a helicopter crash.

Hands on a fence.

Charging for the right to read: who really pays?

Ultimately, when it comes to a fundamental right like reading, all prisoners should have equal access regardless of ability to pay. As I have argued before, reading can play an important role in educating and rehabilitating those prisoners who want to reform. When we place barriers to information between prisoners and rehabilitation, I would argue that they aren’t the only ones who pay – we all do.

Everybody Lies

Review: Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are

However, I think even when it isn’t explicitly discussed, the reader must be thinking about privacy – it’s hard to read about how data was collected regarding racism toward Barack Obama or about sexual problems, for example, without reflecting on what your own search history might say. I think the reader cannot avoid considering privacy issues while reading about just how much data Google (and others) can collect.

JK Rowling

Happy Birthday JK Rowling

While many of Rowling’s characters are good role models for her readers, she is also a great role model herself. She shows that personal struggles are nothing to be ashamed of, and that they can be overcome – and in fact, you can even go on to help others. It is fortunate that libraries continue to ensure that children have access to books and authors, including Rowling and Harry Potter, that can inspire them even when those books are challenged.

Libraries are for – and should support – everyone

While library materials and events related to LGBTQ+ issues have unfortunately seen plenty of challenges, and drag queen story times have proven particularly controversial, I find this particular instance especially troubling. Libraries are for everyone which, it should go without saying, includes LGBTQ+ people who, as Snyder points out, pay their taxes too. They deserve materials and programming that are relevant to them, just as much as the rest of us.