American Library Association
There's crafting your public persona, and then there's Lemony Snicket, the pen name and alterego of the writer behind the Series of Unfortunate Events books. And then there's the yearly prize he just founded with the American Library Association, to give librarians who go above and beyond the call their due. And even the official description of the prize abounds with Snicketian prose.
Inside of a dog it's too dark to readI usually write a post about the American Library Association's top ten list of the banned, pulled, contested, and challenged books in American libraries every year, because more often than not the list is a lovely illustration of how our society is disproportionately uncomfortable with stories by women and minorities when they actually talk about their experiences as women or minorities. But this year everything's pretty equitably awful. In fact, this is the first time since 2008 that male authors on the ALA list have outnumbered their distaff counterparts. Hooray?
While there was a big outcry against SOPA that included protest from many well-known Internet giants like Wikipedia and Reddit, the backlash against CISPA hasn't had quite as many champions. Some sites that came out against SOPA, like Facebook, are actually pro-CISPA for very self-interested but logical reasons. Along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), whose opposition to the bill is frankly no surprise, the American Library Association (ALA) has also come out against CISPA, and in doing so have suddenly become my heroes. Here's why.
Google, knowledge-monger number 1, may actually be making students worse at researching say researchers involved in the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (ERIAL) Project. The study, Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know, soon to be published by the American Library Association, voices worries that Google is keeping students from learning about other databases and library services. Unfortunately, unless that study shows up on Google, few students will know what they're missing, apparently.
The study deals chiefly with addressing two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, it appears that students are becoming less and likely to ask librarians for help navigating databases. Perhaps they are afraid librarians will roll their eyes, scoff and think they are stupid for not being able to navigate academic
labyrinthsdatabases. As a result, students are losing out on the opportunity to learn the important skill that is digging up articles from JSTOR, as well as losing out on the quality JSTOR articles they might find. On the other hand, the study may be confirming that Google's interface, in all its user-friendliness, is making academic database searches look as archaic as they are. Perhaps the lack of student interest in traditional academic detective work is because it is an inefficient alternative.