Agenda-driven books regarding COVID-19 and vaccines are appearing as top results on retail searches. Those of you who have worked library reference are most likely accustomed to patrons showing you an Amazon page on their phone asking “can you get me this book?” Performing a book search for “COVID-19” via both Amazon and Barnes and Noble shows books suggesting debunked conspiracy theories within the first ten results. Additionally, searches on OCLC WorldCat reveal that books with such misleading or debunked information wind up on the shelves of public, college, and high school libraries.
When it became clear that masks and online education would be a part of fall teaching this year, I know many of us in academia (and education more broadly) discussed potential challenges for accessibility when teaching with a mask. But as an academic librarian who is childless, I didn’t think about the broader potential impacts of mask wearing, or online learning, on children trying to learn early literacy skills.
William Marden, NYPL Director of Privacy and Compliance, gives advice about privacy as we move online during COVID-19 pandemic.
Some see contact tracing as an intrusive privacy concern and some see it as necessary for combating the virus. Like it or not, it would appear that contact tracing is going to be a new reality for American library workers. Let’s start a conversation on the Dos and Do-Nots of conducting contact tracing in our libraries.
When we provide library patrons with books that tell a fuller story about Asian American experience, we can help eliminate the conditions in which ignorance and fear flourish.
The media tends to report on politics as if it were sports. It’s A or B, a winner or a loser, a zero sum game. But now, the media covers politics like reality TV. It’s not even about winners and losers anymore. It’s about the spectacle, the outrage, the drama.
Ultimately, while there may be arguments about the wisdom of these stay-at-home orders, and perhaps other constitutional arguments to be made, I don’t think the argument that they violate the right to assembly or the right to religion is particularly persuasive. Let’s cross our fingers that these social distancing measures work, and we can all go back to “normal” soon, making this debate a distant memory.
It is interesting to think which cases, causes and decisions we give our attention to and follow today will be textbook in the future. The events of this year that cause our conference to be canceled are epic and will be written about as a force of nature.
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.