Fake News Browser Extensions

Fake news and misinformation are everywhere. It seems like every time breaking news emerges, there are also fake or misleading stories being spread right alongside the factual information (often times via social media).

What is a person to do? Well, there are some easy steps the average person can take to remain vigilant (consult the many resources available here). It is vital that everyone should learn to identify and prevent fake news, why not let something else do the work for you if that option is available?

In the United States, the majority of adults (90+%) get at least some news online via mobile or desktop, according to a Pew Research Center report. Folks who get their news exclusively from mobile devices will have to manually identify and prevent fake news; but if you use a computer to get your news, consider installing a fake news-related browser extension.

Put your browser to work!

There are many fake news browser extensions available, but two prominent ones are NewsGuard and Media Bias Fact Check. They may not be 100% accurate (or you may not agree with them 100%), but they do a wonderful job of flagging sources that are suspicious, biased, untrustworthy, etc.

The two browsers don’t compete with each other. Rather, they are great companions to each other.

NewsGuard

(The bulk of the text below about NewsGuard is derived from an article written by Carmen Redding, which was published in the November 2018 issue of the State Library’s “Flickertale” newsletter.)

Are you having trouble deciding if a website is sharing the truth? Well, NewsGuard, a news literacy program, has been launched with the support from Microsoft. Staffed by almost 40 reporters and dozens of freelancers, the NewsGuard team diligently examines thousands of websites based on nine widely-accepted, journalistic criteria designed to minimize human bias and subjectivity. The results determine a website’s rating.

Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard Technologies’ co-founders and co-CEOs, joined forces to give this program a human face rather than relying on algorithms to determine what we see. NewsGuard is the opposite of an algorithm. People with journalistic backgrounds are reviewing the sites. “Algorithms don’t call for comment,” says Brill. NewsGuard, on the other hand, gives plenty of explanation about their ratings.

NewsGuard works as a browser plug-in/ extension, giving credibility ratings to thousands of websites. A user simply downloads the extension on Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari. Sorry, Internet Explorer, users. If you are reading this, it is time for you to abandon IE and go with a much superior browser.

After the extension is added, the NewsGuard icon will appear in the upper right corner of the browser. The rating icons will appear on websites, Google searches, and Facebook and Twitter when website articles are used.

George Washington

By hovering over the colored icon, a “Nutrition Label” appears. This label explains how NewsGuard decided the website’s rating. Ratings and label information are updated regularly, and whenever a site changes its practices, the icon will be adjusted accordingly.

Addicting Info

The NewsGuard website contains plenty of information, including a section dedicated to news literacy; and on this page, NewsGuard makes a compelling argument for libraries, educators, parents, etc. to add the browser extension to their computers.

The NewsGuard browser extension can be downloaded from their website: https://www.newsguardtech.com/

Media Bias Fact Check

According to their website, Media Bias Fact Check (MBFC) was founded in 2015 and “is an independent online media outlet. MBFC News is dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices. MBFC News’ aim is to inspire action and a rejection of overtly biased media. We want to return to an era of straight forward news reporting.” MBFC’s methodology and additional information are available on their website.

The MBFC browser extension is not as comprehensive as NewsGuard, but it does excel in one area that is more hidden on NewsGuard: bias. After the extension is added, the MBFC icon will appear in the upper right corner of the browser.

When visiting a news-related website or reading an article, the browser extension will prominently display a color-coded icon indicating its bias (see image below for a list of the icons).

MBFC icons

Clicking on the icon will reveal more information about the source (see the slightly compressed image below).

Fox News

The Media Bias Fact Check browser extension is only available for Chrome (a Firefox version exists but it seems to be faulty). It can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store.

YA Programming: Resources & NDLCC Standards

NDLCC Standards

Programming is a vital service that public libraries provide. Because of this, the North Dakota Library Coordinating Council (NDLCC) Standards for Public Libraries includes programming requirements. Consult the Standards for additional information.

Definition

So what exactly is a young adult program? Well, the federal definition (slightly reworded) is as follows:

Any planned event for which the primary audience is young adults (age 12-18) and which introduces the attendees to any of the broad range of library services or activities for young adults or which directly provides information to participants.

Young adult programs may cover use of the library, library services, or library tours. They programs may also provide cultural, recreational, or educational information, often designed to meet a specific social need.

Examples of young adult programs include board game nights, Nerf battles, video game tournaments, escape rooms, coding clubs, trivia, selfie contests, etc.

Young adult programs can be held on-site or off-site and be sponsored or co-sponsored by the library. Young adult programs sponsored by other groups that use library facilities are not considered a program of the library.

If young adult programs are offered as a series, each program in the series can be counted. For example, a coding club offered twice a month should be counted as 24 programs.

Resources

There are a lot of resources available online relating to library programming. It can be a little overwhelming to even know where to start. Below is a list of resources that make great starting points.

Young Adult Programming Resources:

General Resources (for all ages):

Duties of the Library Board & Library Director

The relationship between the library board and the director works best when each party’s roles and responsibilities are clearly understood and adhered to.

The board is primarily responsible for the big picture; the director administers the day to day operations of the library.

The chart below outlines the basic duties of the board and the director in relation to one another.

  Library Board Library Director
Bylaws Adopt bylaws for board procedures. Develop and review bylaws in consultation with board.
Staff Employ a competent and qualified director. Review the director’s organizational structure, identifying lines of authority and responsibility. Act as technical advisor for the board. Employ and supervise all other staff members. Make recommendations on organizational structure to the board.
Policy Determine and adopt written policies to govern the operation and program of the library. Recommend and draft policies for board action. Carry out adopted policies, delegating responsibilities to staff as needed.
Planning/ capital projects In cooperation with director and staff, develop a long-range plan for commitment of resources to meet the changing needs of the community. Work together with board and staff in preparation of a long-range plan by projecting needs and trends in library service.
Budget Review the annual budget to determine its adequacy for meeting goals and objectives. Work actively for public and official support. Explore all possible revenue sources. Prepare the annual budget draft to achieve objectives as identified with the board. Supply facts and figures to aid in interpreting the library’s financial needs. Attend budget hearings as a resource person.
Finance Review and approve monthly financial statements in context of the annual budget. Prepare and present monthly financial statements and bills for board action.
Public relations Establish, support, and participate in a planned public relations program. Interpret the library’s role and plans to other community boards and committees. Maintain an active program of public relations and public information. Represent the library on other community boards and committees.
Library legislation Know local and state laws. Actively support state and national library legislation. Know local and state laws. Keep board informed of pending legislation, library trends, developments, and standards.
Advocacy Report regularly to governing officials and the general public. Report regularly to the library board, local government officials, the general public, and the state library agency.

Adapted from:

  • Pearlmutter, Jane, and Paul Nelson. Small Public Library Management. Chicago: American Library Association, 2012. Print.

Additional Resources:

Subscribing to Digital Initiatives

Want to stay up to date on what the Digital Initiatives team at the North Dakota State Library (NDSL) is doing? Want to be informed of new projects? Can’t get enough of the NDSL’s content on Digital Horizons? Want to be notified when new items are added to Digital Horizons?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we have solutions for you!

Option 1

One way to follow Digital Initiatives is to subscribe to NDSL’s newsletters. The Digital Initiatives team occasionally writes articles for these newsletters. The articles often include information on upcoming events and new projects.

Option 2

Another way to follow Digital Initiatives is to view our posts on NDSL’s Field Notes blog. Like our articles in the newsletters, these posts include information on upcoming events and new projects; but they also include many other topics relating to digital projects, such as digitization, preservation, tips and tricks, recommendations and best practice, resources, and the occasional “just-for-fun” post.

To specifically monitor blog posts about new content added to NDSL’s collections on Digital Horizons, look for posts titled “New Items Added to Digital Horizons…” Posts like these are added every couple months. They can also be found here: http://bit.ly/2UxEkvT

Option 3

Potentially the easiest way to follow Digital Initiatives is through Facebook. Digital Initiatives does not have its own Facebook page, but posts relating to Digital Initiatives are often made on NDSL’s Facebook page as well as the Digital Horizons Facebook page.

Option 4

One final way to follow Digital Initiatives is a little more complex. This method focuses on subscribing to new content that is added to NDSL’s online collections on Digital Horizons via a RSS browser extension. RSS is a web feed that allows users to track updates to online content. RSS is typical symbolized with an orange icon:  rss

Using RSS, will allow you to subscribe to NDSL’s collections on Digital Horizons and will notify you when new items have been uploaded.

For Firefox users, we recommend the Feeder browser extension. For Chrome users, we recommend the RSS Feed Reader browser extension. For Internet Explorer users, we recommend that you discontinue use of this browser immediately and instead go with either Firefox or Chrome, which are far superior. Both of these extensions are the same. They just have different names for some reason. Because they are the same browser extension, adding feeds to them will follow the same process.

If you are already have a favorite RSS browser extension, go ahead and continue using that instead of downloading a new one. However, the instructions below on how to subscribe to feeds use the browser extensions mentioned above. Other RSS browser extensions surely follow a similar subscription process, but their steps will likely be slightly different.

Digital Horizons does not have a handy RSS icon on its collection landing pages; therefore, you cannot click on a RSS icon to automatically subscribe. However, you can subscribe to each collection by adding the appropriate RSS code/URL into the browser extension. Don’t worry, we won’t make you try to figure out these RSS codes/URLs on your own. We got you covered.

The RSS codes/URLs for NDSL’s collections on Digital Horizons are as follows:

Now that you have the RSS codes/URLs, all you have to do is copy and paste them into your browser extension (after you have added the extension to your browser of choice, of course).

To subscribe to one of the collections listed above and add them to your RSS, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the RSS icon at the right top of your browser.
  2. Click on the plus icon to add a feed. You will then be redirected to the RSS extension’s page.
  3. Copy one of the URLs above and paste it into the “Search feed” bar.
  4. Click “Search.” The collections feed will appear in the area below.
  5. Click the “Add” button. The feed will then be added to your RSS browser extension.

Repeat this process to subscribe to each collection.

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When new content is added to the collection, there will be a notification on the RSS extension icon. There will be a small number that appears on the icon reflecting the number of new items that have been uploaded.

Click on the RSS icon and then click on the collection to see the title of the newly added items. Clicking on the title will redirect you to the item record on Digital Horizons.

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Feel free to contact Digital Initiatives with any questions.

Grants for Libraries

Dollar sign

Master of Library and Information Science Degree Grant (NDSL)

Application deadline: May 31

The North Dakota State Library provides a training grant encouraging North Dakotans to pursue a Master of Library and Information Science degree from an ALA-accredited school (ALA/MLIS) and to work in North Dakota. Applicants must be employed by a North Dakota public school library, a public library, a public academic library, or the State Library. Applicants must be accepted into an ALA/MLIS program prior to the award. Applications may be submitted for a total amount of up to $8,500. To learn more or apply, head to the State Library’s PDF about this grant.

Penguin Random House Library Awards for Innovation through Adversity (ALA)

Application deadline: March 16

The Penguin Random House Library Award for Innovation through Adversity recognizes U.S. libraries and staff who overcome adversity and create lasting innovative community service programs that successfully inspire and connect with new readers. Selection criteria include: evidence of hardship, successful partnerships working together to overcome hardship, a strong focus on innovative and unique programming incorporating new technology, and a  strong focus on inspiring and connecting with new readers. One $10,000 cash award and four runner-up awards consisting of $1,000 in Penguin Random House books are given annually. Further details and the application are available through ALA’s Awards, Grants, & Scholarships site.

EBSCO Solar

Application deadline: April 30

Continue reading

New Online Atlas Collection

The North Dakota State Library has launched a new digital collection: North Dakota Atlases and Plat Books. The collection can be accessed online on Digital Horizons by anyone from anywhere, completely free of charge.

The collection is comprised of historical atlases and plat books from North Dakota counties, primarily dating from the 1890s to the 1910s. There are currently 15 items in the collection, and more are continuously being added. The counties presently represented in the collection are Adams, Barnes, Benson, Bottineau, Bowman, Burke, Burleigh, Cass, Cavalier, Foster, Stark, Steele, Traill, and Williams.

Digital Horizons is an online digital library consisting of thousands of images, documents, videos, and oral histories depicting life on the Northern Plains. The State Library is one of the members of the Digital Horizons consortium. Other members include the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Prairie Public Broadcasting, North Dakota State University, Concordia College, and the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library.

Contact the Digital Initiatives team with any questions on this new atlas collection, Digital Horizons, or any other digital project at the State Library.

New Items Added to Digital Horizons (Dec. 2018 – Jan. 2019)

The Digital Initiatives department has been keeping busy. Many items have been uploaded onto Digital Horizons the last couple months. Listed below is a highlight of new items added to the North Dakota State Library’s online collections. You can access the items featured below by clicking on them or by visiting the Digital Horizons website (where you will also find thousands of other treasures).

ND Memories

ND County and Town Histories

ND State Documents

Oral History Guides & Preservation Resources

If you are interesting in conducting oral histories, recording oral histories (audio or video), and/or preserving digital oral histories but you’re unsure of where or how to start, consult the resources below. They will assist you in getting your oral history project off of the ground.

Questions can also be directed to the Digital Initiatives department at the North Dakota State Library. Also, if you are interested in donating a digital copy of your oral history to the State Library and have it made available online on Digital Horizons, contact Digital Initiatives.

Oral History Guides

Preserving Digital Oral Histories

Audio/Visual Preservation

Library Advocacy

It is important to always advocate for your library. Because more often than not, libraries easily fall victim to budget cuts (at every level – including federal and state).

There are common misconceptions that libraries are essentially museums for books, nobody uses libraries anymore, and everything libraries offer can instead be accessed online. These could not be further from the truth, but these misconceptions are often the reason libraries need to advocate. It is the responsibility of librarians to dispel these inaccurate misconceptions and to educate folks on the continued importance of libraries.

Advocacy should be an ongoing process, so libraries, librarians, trustees, and other library stakeholders need to be proactive with advocacy. But where does one start? Advocacy can be intimidating for some. Thankfully, there are numerous free resources available online to help you.

Great places to start (in no particular order):

Statistics, numbers, and data:

Statistics and fun facts are a sensible method to prove the worth of libraries. Statistics can be very eye-opening for people who may not know enough about libraries. For example:

  • In 2017, there were more people who visited North Dakota public libraries (2,162,559) than those who attended Minnesota Vikings games (1,099,905).
  • In the United States, there are more public libraries than McDonald’s or Starbucks.
  • Americans visit public, school, and academic libraries more than 3 times as frequently as they go to the movies.

Numbers can really drive the point home. However don’t use too many figures. That may overwhelm folks. Consider doing something fun with the data, like an infographic (which is brief and visual). To view the data from past annual reports, you can view the usage maps (see link below) or you can contact the State Library to get a copy of the raw data in an Excel Spreadsheet.

The State Library creates a fun infographic every year based on the data that is submitted by North Dakota public libraries on their annual reports. The infographics are available as PDFs on the State Library’s website (see link below).

You can also retrieve data and fun facts from national resources, such as ALA and IMLS (see links below).

Legislators:

It is important to know who your local, state, and federal legislators are in case you need to reach out to them. Be on friendly terms and have a positive relationship with your elected officials, as you want them to support libraries.

Importance of libraries:

North Dakota resources:

Additional resources from ALA: