Category Archives: Libraries & Media

Free and Legal Stock Images

Finding the perfect picture to put on your website, brochure, or Facebook event can be tricky, and it gets even more difficult if you’re making sure your photos are legal to use. That’s right, legally, you can’t use any picture you find on Google Images. Using these photos opens your library up to possible lawsuits for copyright infringement. Instead, look for photos that fall into Public Domain or have a Creative Commons license.

Public Domain: The person who created this work has waived their rights to the photo. This means that you can copy, change, distribute, and perform the work for commercial purposes without asking permission.

Creative Commons Licenses: These licenses allow creators to waive and reserve certain rights in regards to their work. This may include if the image can be used for commercial purposes, if it needs creator attribution, and so on.

A guide for helpful information regarding stock photos can be found here.

The following websites are full of free and ready-to-use photos (as long as you follow the licensing restrictions) to make your library marketing a little more beautiful:

Website:

Free No User Account No Attribution
Unsplash X X

X

Pexels

X X X
Pixabay X X

X

Gratisography

X X X
Burst X Low Resolution: No account

High Resolution: Account

X

Creative Commons

X X X

Negative Space

X X

X

Free Images X Account Needed

Various Usage Rights

Freepik (Graphics)

Most are free X Attribution to Freepik
Freerange X Account Needed

X

Vecteezy (Graphics) Most are free X

Attribution to Vecteezy

This post was written with sources from Angela Hursh’s blog “Super Library Marketing.

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Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit

The “Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit” has been released. Members of AASL (American Association of School Librarians), ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children), and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) worked together for three years to create a document that benefits both school librarians and public librarians by encouraging them working together collaboratively.

This toolkit provides 5 chapters full of research, information, and examples for librarians to look towards when beginning collaboration initiatives between school and public libraries. There are also scrips and tips for both school and public librarians on how to overcome their different institutional hurdles.

Working together makes libraries and communities stronger. Look through the toolkit here.

ALSC put together a brief explanation of the toolkit here and has a list of successful past partnerships between school and public libraries that can be found here.

Fanfiction in Libraries

Fanfiction in libraries!?! I’m sure many of you are thinking “not in my library!” but with the growing popularity of fanfiction and pop culture this is an easy programming idea. During the North Dakota Library Association’s annual conference Dr. Aimee Rogers, from the University of North Dakota, and Justine Sprenger, from the Grand Forks Public Library, gave the presentation Fanfiction: Why you should be a fan! Through this presentation the two presenters described why fanfiction is beneficial to young patrons in libraries, how many main stream authors began in fanfiction, and even books that highlight fanfiction as a part of the plot line. Their focus was to help the audience understand what fanfiction is and why it should not be scoffed at as a writing style. In fact, studies show that teaching writing through fanfiction helps the novice writer because they do not need to come up with their own characters and their own worlds, they can just add to the one that already exists.

If a library has a creative writing program within it, for children or teens, allowing them to begin by writing fanfiction may be more helpful than making them create everything on their own. Though some patrons may have all those ideas others may be intimidated by the fact that they need to create everything themselves, especially if they only have a character idea that could fit into another world. This presentation encouraged librarians to continue to embrace pop culture in their libraries through clubs and programming that highlight items like fanfiction, graphic novels, and cosplay. After the presentation, the presenters welcomed a discussion on how the librarians in the session felt about fanfiction in general and about it as a tool to be used to help with creative writing.

Fake News

[updated September 2018]

Fake News:
t
he history, hysteria, and hype –
and how to see through the subterfuge

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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 nationalist 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. Fake news could even be traced back to the fall of the Knights Templar in the early 1300s.

A 2017 NPR article explains that long before fake news, there were staged photos.

Yellow journalism is 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.

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.

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, and Weekly World News).

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. In a study conducted by Stanford University:

  • Over 80% of middle schoolers thought an example of “sponsored content” was a real news story
  • Over 30% of high school students thought a fake Fox News account was more reliable than the real one
  • Sam Wineburg, lead author of the report, said, “Many people assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally perceptive about what they find there. Our work shows the opposite to be true.” (Source: report’s press release)

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:

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 the “Pizzagate” incident).

A 2018 article from The Atlantic states fake news/ misinformation has fueled the spread of certain health risks, like diseases, not receiving vaccinations, etc.

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 Stuff

Fake news has become a rather broad term. Its use has evolved into basically describing anything that might be fake (hoaxes, urban legends, traditional fake news, misinformation, etc.). So when breaking things down into categories, it can be more beneficial to use the technical/ scientific term “fake stuff.” There are a few different ways to categorize fake stuff, but generally it 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, wanting 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 (Fox News, The Washington Times, MSNBC, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, etc. don’t have to be completely avoided, but just be aware that biases may exist).
  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. Humor (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:

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. In fact, a 2017 Pew Research Center survey listed libraries at the most 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 North Dakota 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.”

Many universities and colleges are adopting the CRAAP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose).

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!

Only You Can Prevent 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 posts that are spam, harmful, or inappropriate. Click the dots or 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).
  • Be responsible – Don’t try to fool people by sharing something that could be mistaken as a real story (like the person who intentionally tweeted a fake image of a shark swimming through the streets of Houston).
  • 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. Think before you share.

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
  • Davis, W. (2016). Fake or real? How to self-check the news and get the facts. NPR. Retrieved from http://n.pr/2hbEsl3
  • Domonoske, C. (2016). Students have “dismaying” inability to tell fake news from real, study finds. NPR. Retrieved from http://n.pr/2ggms4o
  • Lohr, S. (2018). It’s true: False news spreads faster and wilder. And humans are to blame. New York Times. Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/2G7aWGI
  • Solon, O. (2017). The future of fake news: Don’t believe everything you read, see or hear. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2uW9IuY
  • Tufekci, Z. (2018). YouTube, the great radicalizer. New York Times. Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/2FxTePz
  • Weissman, C.G. (2017). The question isn’t if Facebook can fix its problems – it’s how much it wants to. Fast Company. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2ga08zf

Short Notes…

In addition to gLifeLearningetting credit from traditional college programs, many institutions are now giving credit for what you have experienced and learned in life: Competency-Based Education.


Ebooks

Contrary to popular belief, publishers are not hurt by ebook sales. Check out this compilation of ebook profit margins  by author, Hugh C. Howey.

Importance of Library Services to Younger Americans

The Pew Research Center surveyed over 6,000 Americans ages 16 and over. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish from July to September, 2013. The chart indicates the percentage who say these library services are “very important” to them.

Importance of Library Services by Age and %

LibServices

For the complete September 2014 Pew Research report, see Younger Americans and Public Libraries.

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” – Robin Williams

Self-Publishing is now Legit

PublishingJust 5 or 6 years ago, printing your own book through a “vanity press” was considered to be the last act of a no-talent author. If legitimate publishers would not accept your book, you must be a failure. Most library acquisition departments did not purchase a vanity press book, unless it was a town or church history.

Today, the stigma associated with self-publishing is mostly gone. Many best-sellers are self-published titles whose authors are not interested in signing with traditional publishers. Now, writers can digitally format their own books, or they can deal with online publishers like Amazon, Smashwords, or Kobo. Self-published authors are able to keep 60%-85% of e-books sales. Traditional publishers keep about 85% of net proceeds.

Traditional publishers formerly determined good from bad writing. Good writing was published and bad writing was discarded. Publishers covered the costs of promotion, printing, and distribution. Today, good writing is determined by readers through online reviews and e-book sales.

The real questions are: Who bests determines good from bad writing? Do readers need publishers to find good books? Do traditional publishing houses have too much power? Who should get the biggest piece of the pie, the author or the publisher? I think the reader ultimately determines whether or not a book has value. The real problem is navigating through all the junk to get to the good stuff.

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”  – Arthur C. Clarke

Social Media Connections

Many libraries use social media as a way to connect with their patrons these days, but who do you connect with as a library? The database vendors all have several social media channels you can use to connect with them and learn more about services they can provide for your patrons. Check out the links below for ideas you can use in your library.

Ancestry
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
YouTube
Blog

BritannicaBritannica
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
YouTube
Blog Continue reading

Surveys, Valuable and Annoying

SurveyThe other morning National Public Radio had a story about customer surveys, which seem to be everywhere. In the library world, as well most other worlds (business, education, government, sports, etc.) surveys are extensively used to find out why people do what they do, and what they want.

On one hand, surveys have value. We even have a book club survey posted on our “Field Notes” blog. But on the other hand, surveys can be one of the banes of modern society. Occasionally I will fill out a survey, if it isn’t too long and if it relates to my experience. I’ve created surveys. Most times though when a survey pops up on a webpage, I close it or say, “No thanks.”

Online surveys are everywhere because they are inexpensive, immediate, easy to create, and have value for discerning what customers are thinking. Institutions and companies find surveys to be worth the risk of annoyance. So, if you see value in a survey, take it.

“Add a few drops of venom to a half truth and you have an absolute truth.” — Eric Hoffer

Cellular Telephone and Broadband Internet service Essential to Rural Youth

CellPhoneThe 2013 Rural Youth Telecommunications Survey was conducted between January and April. The survey respondents were 60% female, and nearly 75% were 19 years old or younger. More than 90% have an Internet connection in their home.

Rural youth see their cell phones as much more than a means of voice communications and are intrinsically attached to them. They also use their cell phones for texting, taking pictures, shopping, surfing the Web, social networking, playing games, downloading music, watching videos, or homework. The cell phone is an expression of lifestyle and an extension of themselves.

Mobile cell service and broadband Internet are critical to today’s youth; they do not want to be shackled to a fixed location to access services. The majority of survey respondents indicated that they will only live where cellular telephone and broadband Internet are available. Libraries and businesses take note: design your websites, products, and services to be accessible to a mobile generation.

“Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a moron.” – George Carlin