Category Archives: Education

Get Your Library Ready for the Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, the Moon will pass in front of the sun and cast its shadow will across North America, resulting in a solar eclipse.

Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina, and parts of a few other states will be lucky enough to witness the total solar eclipse (a spectacle like this hasn’t been visible in the continental United States in just under 40 years). The rest of us will experience a partial solar eclipse (the moon will cover part of the sun).

Check out this cool video by NASA that predicts the trajectory of the total and partial solar eclipse:

 

Some are calling this the celestial event of the century. Don’t let your library miss out on this great opportunity!

Here are some great resources to get your library ready for the solar eclipse:

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Adult Programming Resources

The following is a list of resources relating to adult programming and the 2017 Renewal & Development session “Adults Only: Adult Programming in Public Libraries.”

Resources for “Adults Only: Adult Programming in Public Libraries” (2017 R&D Session)

State Library Resources

Other Resources

Archiving in Rural Libraries: Photographs

Many of the most popular documents in a town’s past are its photographs. These photographs may have been given to the library because it is where all of the historical documents are stored or they may have been donated by a patron of the library. For whatever reason, rural libraries tend to have a large amount of photographs that document their town’s history. Archiving photographs can be as simple as putting them in acid & lignin free folders and boxes or Mylar sleeves and then storing them in a dark room. But for those who would like to display their collection of photographs they have a few options.

If creating a display with photographs from the archive do not display them in direct sunlight. The UV rays are what make documents and pictures fade over time. I would also suggest keeping them in a clear envelope of some type. Two common types are Mylar and Polyester envelopes. For the library that would like to allow their patrons to look through their photographs without having worry about them wearing gloves and damaging the photo, I would suggest scrapbooking them into albums. Though this may sound silly it is actually a very effective and efficient way to organize and display photographs. The majority of scrapbooks and their pages are acid & lignin free and the adhesives for them are also acid & lignin free. This is important because acid in tape is what turns the tape yellow in time and would therefore further damage the photographs. If the sound of sticking an old photograph to a page is slightly abhorrent I would suggest using photograph corners. With those the photo is never stuck in the scrapbook.

In a scrapbook you can also transcribe any writings that happen to be on the back of the photograph. This will make it easier for patrons to learn about the item and the transcription will prevent any future need to see the back of the photograph if it is placed directly on the page. Each page of the scrapbook should also have a Mylar sleeve. This will protect the photographs from being touched when a patron is looking at them as well as preventing dust and other damage. Scrapbooking can be a fun and innovative way to preserve a town’s photographs and display the history of the town at the same time.

Additionally, for those of you that feel like scrapbooking will be a lot of extra work but like the idea of allowing the patrons to just look through the photographs I would suggest putting them in an album. You can purchase photograph sleeves to the size of the pictures in your collection and then put them in a nice 3-ring binder. I would suggest not using a binder from Wal-Mart or Target because they are not archivally safe.

Some places to purchase archival scrapbooking supplies:

  1. Gaylord Archival Supplies:
    1. They might be one of the pricer options but you know for sure everything they sell is archival quality.
    2. Scrapbook: Selection of Scrapbooks
    3. Page adhesive squares: Photo Corners
  2. Hobby Lobby:
    1. As a general craft and hobby store this one will have scrapbooks and pages but it will also have albums that will come with photograph pages.
    2. Scrapbook Supply Page
    3. Page adhesives: Clear Photo Corners
  3. Micheals:
    1. Like Hobby Lobby, Micheals is a general craft and hobby story that will cater to scrapbook needs.
    2. Scrapbook Supply Page
    3. Page adhesive squares: Clear Photo Corners
  4. Hollinger Metal Edge:
    1. Like Gaylord, this is a pricer option but it comes with the assurance that everything you purchase will be archivally safe for your photographs
    2. Scrapbook Supply Page: Scrapbook Option
    3. Page adhesives: Photo Corners

Note: Page protectors vary depending on the scrapbook decided on. Many of the refill pages will come with page protectors so check that when ordering.

Fake News

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We live in a digital age of information. At the click of a button we have access to thousands, if not millions, of resources online. But can we trust all of this information? Unfortunately, no. For example, did you know the website MartinLutherKing.org is hosted by Stormfront, a white supremacist organization?

What is Fake News?

There has been an increase (perhaps explosion or pandemic) in recent years of fake news. But what is fake news? Fake news can be described as propaganda, a hoax, and/or misinformation that is purposely spread and published as real news – often using social media – with the intent to mislead for political or financial gains. Fake news will often utilize eye-catching headlines and images to increase sharing and views.

The Very Brief History of Fake News

Fake news is nothing new. It has been around for many years. A trip to your local grocery or convenience store’s checkout lane will reveal a plethora of tabloids containing fictional or less than reputable information, often about celebrities; and these tabloids have been in publication for many years (some of which include the National Enquirer, National Examiner, Star, Globe, Weekly World News, and Daily Mail). A 2017 NPR article explains that long before fake news, there were staged photos. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, tall-tale postcards emerged in the early 1900s with larger-than-life images of crops and animals, thanks to clever photography and darkroom tricks. Yellow journalism was a term coined in the 1890s to describe sensational news that is not well-researched but instead strives to be eye-catching to sell more newspapers.

Social Media (fuel to the fake news flame)

If fake news is nothing new, why is it at the forefront of current issues plaguing society? Insert social media.

Social media usage has exploded in the last several years. It has become part of everyday life. In fact, a 2016 survey from the Pew Research Center indicated that 62% of adults get their news from social media. This number is up from 49% in 2012. Social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., have become one stop shops for sharing content, interacting with others, and, you guessed it, getting news.

Sharing content on social media has never been easier. One or two clicks is all it takes. But did you take the time to read more than just the headline before you liked, commented, or shared? Is the source reputable? Unfortunately, fake news outlets use social media to their advantage because the before mentioned questions go unanswered, it is easy for them to share things too, they are able to reach a wide audience, and their headlines or images draw people in (also referred to as clickbait).

With so much information present on social media and the sharing of it, it can be easy to skim something and not realize it might be fake. People do not always take the time to fact check something before sharing or commenting.

Social media cannot be completely blamed, however. People moving away from newspapers, television, and radio to get their news; lack of media literacy; the ease of creating a blog or posting your own stories online; our tendency to trust what we see on the internet; and our tendency to trust the information we receive from friends and family are all contributing factors.

Consequences (so there’s fake news, so what?)

It’s safe to assume we can all agree that fake news is a problem. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center survey, 88% of adults say fake news is either causing some or great confusion about current events and basic facts.

Okay, fake news is a problem; but why is it such a big deal? Well, according to the same Pew Research Center survey, about one in four adults has reported sharing fake news, whether they were aware of it at the time or not. And that is just with adults. Children and teens are also susceptible to fake news.

Fakes news has sometimes received more views, shares, etc. than real news. The top 20 election stories on Facebook (from August to November 2016) received the following engagements (shares, comments, reactions, etc.): 8.7 million for fake news and 7.3 million for mainstream news.

Even journalists and politicians have been known to share or reference fake news. Fake news stories have even spiraled out of control and led to violence (like “Pizzagate” incident).

People often fall victim to fake news because they don’t fact check; the story supports their argument, position, or belief; or the amount of information available is too overwhelming.

So here is the bottom line: fake news is dangerous.

What is the Point of Fake News? (why do people create fake news in the first place?)

  1. Money
    • The ugly truth behind fake news: there is big money to be made. The money comes from advertisements. The more clicks/views received, the more ads there are (which results in more money).
    • So when it comes to fake news, the more shocking the headline, the more potential for clicks and shares (and money of course).
    • In 2016, a teen in Macedonia made $16,000 between August and November with his pro-Trump websites.
  2. Agenda
    • Some examples of fake news have an agenda. They want you to get “fired up” and join their “dark side”.
  3. Joke
    • Some fake news is just a joke. It is meant to humor and entertain.
  4. Slander
    • Some stories are created with the purpose of damaging reputations.
  5. Other
    • And the list goes on and on.

Categories of Fake News

There are a few different ways to categorize it, but generally fake news can be put into these five categories:

  1. False/ deceptive
  2. Misleading
    • Stories that contain no established baseline for truth but promote an agenda
    • These stories will often take a tiny shred of factual information, give it their own spin, and run off with it in a completely different direction
    • Examples that fall under this category are intended to “rile you up” (like the story about the craziest person in Congress, Rep. Steve King, wants to investigate everyone but President Trump)
    • Conspiracy theories and propaganda tend to fall into this category
  3. Slanted/ biased
    • Stories that contain truthful elements but certain facts are selectively chosen or omitted to serve an agenda (like gaining headlines)
    • The stories that fall under this category are not necessarily false. The stories report true news, but they do so in a biased way.
    • Certain content from Fox News, MSNBC, and others could fall under this category
  4. Manipulated
    • Content or imagery that is altered falls under this category
    • “Doctored” or “Photoshopped” images would also be included (like some of the 2012 viral photos of Hurricane Sandy)
  5. Satire/ parody/ jokes
    • Stories are purposefully fake with no intention to cause harm, but has the potential to fool people
    • Satire news, like content from The Onion, seeks to entertain and be humorous rather than mislead, but people can misinterpret the content as real

How to Spot Fake News

There are a few quick and easy things you can look for to spot fake news. FactCheck.org has some great advice on how to spot fake news:

  • Consider the source
  • Read beyond the headline
  • Check the author
  • Check the supporting sources
  • Check the date
  • Is it a joke?
  • Check your biases
  • Ask the experts

It is easy to do a couple quick checks to identify fake or real news. But when in doubt, ask the experts – like librarians! Libraries are a trusted source of information. Utilizing librarians, library resources, and library databases is a great way of finding credible sources and information, and not to mention avoiding the possibility of running into fake news. Click here to explore the reliable databases available through the State Library.

Many libraries across the country are already working to combat the fake news problem. For example, many libraries are creating guides and resources.

The Harvard Library has created a guide that lists 5 ways to spot fake news:

  • Consider the source
  • Check the URL
  • Look for visual clues
  • Get a second opinion
  • Put your browser to work

Universities and schools are also fighting back against fake news. Librarians have partnered with the University of Michigan to offer a class on fake news called “Fake News, Lies, and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction.”

Other things to look for to spot fake news:

  • ALL CAPS
  • Advertisements: excessive pop-ups, banners, etc.
  • Assess grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Use a reverse image search (like TinEye)
  • If you’re not sure it’s true, then don’t like, share, or comment!

Preventing Fake News

While it is almost impossible to prevent fake news, we can, however, strive to prevent its spread. If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Let’s all be part of the solution by following these steps:

  • Before sharing, commenting, or liking, it is paramount that you read past the title of the article.
  • Follow the steps from FactCheck.org, Harvard, and others to identify fake news and determine if there are any red flags.
  • Put the article or source to the test and use a fact checking website (like Snopes).
  • Use the “Report” option on social media to flag fake news. Facebook and Twitter have options to flag posts that are spam, harmful, or inappropriate. Click the little downward arrow at the upper right of the post to report it (check out this video about reporting fake news on Facebook if you need additional assistance).
  • When in doubt, chicken out. If you are not sure if the article is true or the source is reliable, then don’t share, like, comment, etc.

There is a lot of information online, and that is unlikely to change. As more things become accessible online, we have to remain vigilant of what is credible and what is not. It is up to us to be responsible enough to decipher what is real and what it fake. Take advantage of the simple advice, the easy credibility checks, and the many resources at your disposal to win the war on fake news.

Resources

Handouts & Flyers:

Fact Checking Websites:

Identifying the Source:

LibGuides:

Videos:

Resources for Schools, Classrooms, & Educators:

Additional Resources:

Additional Reading:

  • Akpan, N. (2017). Everyone is too distracted to stop fake news, study shows. PBS Newshour. Retrieved from http://to.pbs.org/2sK1O5Y
  • Alvarez, B. (2017). Public libraries in the age of fake news. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2iSOmcx
  • Biersdorfer, J.D. (2017) Twitter bot – or not? New York Times. Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/2qMshfs

Examples of Fake News

  • Fargo Man Arrested for Clearing Snow with Flamethrower
    • Source: FM Observer (clicking on their About page will reveal this message: “FM Observer provides farcical/satirical news and entertainment for the Fargo-Moorhead and surrounding area, as well as nationally. We are the greatest website you will ever visit in your entire human existence.”)
    • It is no secret that North Dakota can get a lot of snow, so something like this can easily catch someone’s interested because we all get sick of snow at some point and likely consider doing this to our snowbanks. This fake news article coincidentally resurfaces on social media each winter since it was first published in 2013.
    • Fact checking website Snopes has confirmed that this story is indeed FALSE.
    • Fake News category: Satire/ parody/ jokes
  • Vince Gilligan Announces Breaking Bad Season 6… (and this story also appeared on Facebook: Breaking Bad season 6 announced!!!) WARNING: these articles, although fake, do contain some spoilers about Breaking Bad.
    • Source: NBC? At first glance, it appears as though this article comes from NBC News. Look carefully at the URL. You’ll notice that it says “nbc.com.co”. Anytime “.co” is added to the end of a URL, you need to be suspicious of this news source and its content (this is an indicator that this source is not reliable). Also note that the official NBC logo is missing.
    • After 5 seasons, Breaking Bad aired its last episode in 2013. The show generated a large fan base, so it makes sense that people would get excited about seeing an article like this.
    • Fact checking website Snopes has confirmed that this story is indeed FALSE.
    • Fake News category: False/ deceptive
  • Social media “chain mail”
    • Before social media, there were chain emails (and before that there were chain letters). Somewhere in the email it would say something like “forward this email to 10 people or something horrible will happen to you.”
    • Now these chain messages have made their way to social media. Things on Facebook include: share this post and Bill Gates will give you money, Facebook is deleting inactive accounts so share this post to avoid deletion, Facebook will begin charging users so share this post in protest, etc. There is no truth to these examples; so if you come across them on social media, don’t like, comment, or share! Instead, you should report them as fake.
    • Fake News category: False/ deceptive
  • Even NPR pulled a fast one on us: Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore? (and also on Facebook: What has become of our brains?)
    • Source: NPR (very reliable – except when they pull April Fools’ Day pranks)
    • NPR basically conducted an experiment with this April Fools’ Day article. They wanted to see how people would react. If you click on the article and read its content, it says: “If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this ‘story’.” If you look at the Facebook comments, you can tell many people only looked at the title of this article. Again, read the article before sharing, liking, or commenting!
    • Fake News category: Satire/ parody/ jokes

Archiving in Rural Libraries: Newspapers

Does your town have a newspaper? Did it have one once? If the town or surrounding towns have or had a newspaper the library probably has every copy ever printed. Chances are that many patrons will come in and ask for the back issues of these newspapers. Therefore, storage for these materials can become difficult. When faced with storing newspapers it is very common to see them stored in stacks that can easily be searched when requested by a patron. Keeping these papers usable for the public is the challenge that many librarians and archivists face.

The easiest way to preserve newspapers is by purchasing large acid & lignin free newspaper folders. These folders are generally labeled as oversized folders that can be purchased to the sized of the newspaper. I would suggest purchasing a folder that is slightly larger than the newspaper so the item is fully covered. This will keep it completely out of damaging light and dust. The most common practice is to have one newspaper per folder so that each item stays as pristine as possible. These folders can then be put into an oversized box that can easily be looked through in order to find the item when requested. If the newspaper is particularly fragile it is suggested that it does not circulate among patrons. A fragile item will be fine in one of the folders but for extra protection I would suggest using a Mylar or Polyester sleeve. These sleeves will encase the entire newspaper in a type of plastic wrapping that will prevent moisture and air movement through the item. I suggest this for those newspapers that are starting to disintegrate from age and use. Though it will not stop the disintegration process entirely it will slow it down enough to ensure its usefulness for the future.

Depending on where the items are purchased the cost will fluctuate. The two most common archival suppliers are Gaylord Archival Supplies and Hollinger Metal Edge. The item depends on the best place to shop. The items within these two companies are comparable in quality so when ordering it is important to have a general idea of how many items are needed. When ordering take notice of the package sizes (package of 10, 25, 50, etc.) and of the minimum order amount. Because these folders and boxes are oversized they may not be available at a general office supply store like Staples.

Where to start with your newspaper archive: 

  1. Gaylord Archival Supplies has a starter kit available for those archiving newspapers for the first time. It is available for order at this link.
  2. Hollinger Metal Edge also sells a newspaper kit. The page comes with the option to purchase more folders of the size that are in the kit right away. It is available at this link.

 

2016 ARSL Conference

arslOn October 26-29, I had the pleasure of attending the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) 2016 Conference in Fargo, North Dakota. This was my first national library conference, and what a conference it was! Each day was full of interesting speakers and great sessions.

Perhaps my favorite moment from the conference occurred during Will Weaver’s speech. Weaver is the author of Red Earth, White Earth, A Gravestone Made of Wheat and Other Stories, Saturday Night Dirt, and Striking Out. In his speech, Weaver talked about the importance of libraries and how they have influenced him over the years. He held up a book at one point, and confirmed with the crowd of librarians that it was indeed a library book. He admitted he has the tendency of accidentally stealing library books when he visits them for various engagements. As it turns out, a librarian from the library to which the book belonged was in attendance! As the audience roared with laughter, Weaver had the librarian come up to the front and he returned the book to her.

I thoroughly enjoyed each keynote speaker, and I don’t think there was one session I regretted attending. If anything, I regretted not being able to attend more sessions!

I attended two sessions on programming. One was on teen programs and the other was on how to utilize your community for library programs. The session on teen programs, presented by the librarians at the North Loan City Library in Utah, offered some great ideas: Nerf gun events, teens volunteering at the library to earn points, forming a teen advisory board, and creating an email list just for teens so they can stay up-to-date on what teen-related things are happening at the library.

The mining your community session, presented by the librarian of the Stanley Community Library in Idaho, was just as beneficial. Every community has its gems so utilize them! For example, if someone in your community knits as a hobby, ask this person if he/she would come to the library and host a program on kitting; or if someone is a toy collector, set up a display or have the person come in for a lecture on their history. Some of the great program topics from this session included knitting, adult coloring, lectures, writing classes, music, car maintenance, photography, and cooking.

Librarians are often seen as the people who know everything. As a result, we are likely to receive technology questions that we may not know the answer to, or perhaps the patron is not being receptive. One session on patron technology training tips addressed this. Some of the tips from this session included identify yourself as a technology trainer and do the best you can, create a plan, take deep breaths, narrate your process to the patron, focus on quality, create teachable moments, and implement a resource guide.

Another session, presented by California librarian/ trainer Crystal Schimpf, covered the basics of digital storytelling for libraries and how it can be used for advocacy. Technology is ubiquitous in today’s world so it makes sense for libraries to use it to promote themselves and reach patrons. Libraries can make videos that highlight a database, give a virtual tour, or provide a crash course on services. The sky is the limit! The session stressed that videos should be short but fun. When creating videos you will want to create goals, pick your video platform, write scripts, log your shots, and get the necessary equipment and software (which can be done at a relatively low cost). Once the videos are done, share them on social media and get them out there as much as you can.

One of the more entertaining sessions was presented by Harmony Higbie, director of the Underwood Public Library in Underwood, ND. The session was on Kahoot, a modern twist on trivia. Kahoot can be played for free on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Kahoot can be used in the library for trivia, book clubs, and more! For more information on Kahoot, visit their website: https://getkahoot.com/

In addition to the before mentioned sessions, I attended two sessions relating to digital preservation. If you would like more information on this area, review the services offered by the Internet Archive. You can also contact the State Library’s Digital Initiatives coordinator.

There were around 500 librarians from across the country at the ARSL conference, and I was lucky to meet some of them and hear their stories. One of the librarians I met was from beautiful St. George, Utah, which is where the ARSL conference will be in 2017. The librarian will be the co-chair for the 2017 conference, and he had some great things to say about the St. George area (he even showed me a picture of the view from his backyard to prove his point).

If you are interested in attending the ARSL conference, I would highly encourage you to do so. You can learn more about ARSL and the annual conference at their website: http://arsl.info/

If you have any questions or would like more information on the ideas and conference sessions I shared, feel free to contact me.

Librarian Ethos

BalanceBasically good ethics are common sense, linked with good manners, filtered through a moral or philosophical worldview. Culture, education, and experience shape our worldview. We perceive and filter information through our worldview, and then act. If our worldview is too fundamental or too narrow, we perceive more threats. It is essential that the information professional remain open to other worldviews, other cultures, and other ways. To truly listen, we must suspend assumptions.

We do not want to become the librarian at the gate, hands on hips, frown on face, demanding the return of a book so it can be correctly shelved in its properly cataloged place.  Basically, librarians need to remember that we have chosen a service-orientated profession.  Our work should always be user-friendly.

This ethos means that most librarians want to find meaningful, service-oriented work in a healthy and cooperative environment.  We want to be creatively challenged but not overwhelmed. We want to be understood, capable, and compensated equitably.  We want the opportunity to keep learning so we can adapt to change and innovation.

We have learned core communication skills that our professional life demands: listening, presenting, writing, persuading, participating, leading, and managing. We must be able to analyze, problem-solve, make decisions, and take risks. We must be accountable and dependable.

Librarians must make the shift from merely disseminating information to designing user-centered library services. This may require reevaluating policy, structures, and personnel on a regular basis. The skills we have acquired will enable us to make a positive contribution to our clients and our profession.

“The survival of libraries depends on librarians.” – Roger C. Greer (educator & author)

The Long Goodbye to the ACT & SAT

Some very Testsbright students just do not do well with standardized tests like the ACT or SAT. Often, they do not bother to apply to prestigious schools because their test scores are too low. No clear connection between high SAT or ACT scores and future academic success has been proven. Consequently, more than 800 colleges and universities across the nation are adopting a “test-optional” policy. Students may apply without a SAT or ACT score. The goal is to attract a more diverse pool of students.

It is not surprising that the College Board (the organization that prepares and administers standardized tests) defends the use of SAT and ACT scores for college admission. They maintain that the scores on these tests are the best predictors of college success. However a study shows that the best predictors of student success in college are high school grades. Students who did not submit SAT or ACT test scores did just as well as those who did submit.

Critics of standardized admission tests argue that these tests are primarily used by influential schools as sorting tools to filter thousands of college applications. Most likely the ACT and SAT will not go away soon. But as more high-profile schools adopt a “test-optional” policy, they are acknowledging that high-achieving students, who are not necessarily good with standardized tests, should not be excluded from admission.

Summer Reading and Connected Learning

3240-puzzle-colors-WallFizz[1]Do you have a harder time engaging teens in your summer reading program than kids? Have you considered a different approach to connecting teens to the library during the summer? At the CSLP annual meeting in April, K’Lyn Hann from the Newberg Public Library in Oregon shared her new approach to teen summer reading that focuses on connected learning.

What is connected learning? Wikipedia defines it as “a type of learning that integrates personal interest, peer relationships, and achievement in academic, civic, or career-relevant areas. The connected learning model suggests that youth learn best when: they are interested in what they are learning; they have peers and mentors who share these interests; and their learning is directed toward opportunity and recognition.”

Instead of focusing on just reading, K’Lyn’s program focuses on having teens make a connection between what’s already going on in their lives with related resources the library has to offer. For instance, if you went fishing, you could locate a pamphlet on fish native to your state, a book on how to fly fish, an article how water pollution is bad for fish, or a recipe for cooking fish. Then you would list the activity on your log, along with the item and where you found it in the library. Reading counts an activity as well. For more details, visit her Teens Summer Program page to view her program flyer, entry ticket, and prizes. Continue reading

Acceleration Nation

checkered-flags-309794_640Scholastic and NASCAR have teamed up to provide a STEM education program for elementary and middle school students, with the target ages of 8-12. Acceleration Nation teaches students about the math and science behind NASCAR’s “Three D’s of Speed: Drag, Downforce, and Drafting” and also gives them a behind-the-scenes look at some of the popular drivers in NASCAR and how pivotal science and math are to the sport.
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