I’ve been doing a lot of writing in my newsletter lately. You might like to read it but I do still post here from time to time and I keep my talks list and my booklist updated.
This week I had my most popular tweet ever and it was an interesting experience and I thought I’d spend a few words talking about it since we’re wrapping up National Library Week. Ivanka Trump, the POTUS’s daughter and special assistant, made a fairly banal “Go libraries” tweet. This is to be expected from politicians and celebrities, but maybe not so much ones who are involved in an administration actively working to defund IMLS, one of the major federal organizations that helps libraries nationwide. IMLS gets about $200 million annually, less than the cost of one of those mega-bombs. So, you can imagine how well that went down. It’s actually amusing (to me) to read the top replies. Mostly librarians being like “Are you fucking kidding me?” Top reply tweet was from Margaret Howard who, I am assuming, took the brunt of the haters.
Most of the people replying to or retweeting me were people who agreed and the occasional grump who doesn’t know how to use an Oxford comma. But then someone called me a whore. Which, I have mixed feelings about. I mean, most people don’t like being called a whore. I didn’t take it personally, that person doesn’t know me. I even redacted his personal information before I complained about it, because I didn’t want to turn it into a thing.
However, I did want to see if Twitter’s abuse system was working any better than it has in the past. So before I blocked him, I reported his tweet for abuse. And, unlike in the past, I got an email that said “Hey we received your report and we’ll let you know what happens.” Which, sure, it’s easy to send a “We’re handling this” message. Much easier than it is to handle things. And then today when I woke up, I got a specific email that said his account had been locked and wouldn’t be unlocked until he had agreed to follow twitter’s policies.
Now I’m not fooling myself I know this probably just involves clicking an “I’m sorry” link and getting right back in the game. I also think my verified status may have helped here, though it’s hard to tell just what the verified status thing really means. I’m also a polite middle-aged white lady who doesn’t lose my shit about this sort of thing which shouldn’t matter and yet might. As I mentioned to someone else, I’m not even sure if the insult was directed at me, there’s a slim chance that the guy was trying to insult Ivanka but that’s still actually not okay. As far as Twitter’s abuse handling, I do feel that this may be too little too late, but I do marvel that it’s even working at all. If you’re someone who deals with harassment on Twitter and gave up on their abuse team long ago, consider trying again, or looking into tools like Block Together which can really help keep the noise down. No one deserves your attention. No one deserves online abuse.
I read this CNN article about a group in Wisconsin who has been fighting with the West Bend Community Memorial Library over the group’s desire to have a long list of YA books moved to the adult section of the library. Their challenge failed, but there’s a lawsuit pending.
The news article has the predictable all-over-the-place approach to the issue but it seems that this is one of those fights that has everything including outraged parents, a beleaguered library board whose members don’t have their terms renewed, assertion of First Amendment rights, threats of book burning, and a lot of homophobic-sounding nastiness. The article, though on the web, also doesn’t seem to understand the usefulness of hyperlinks to telling a story that is playing out on the web so I have added them here
I really wish the library or the city had more accessible public statements about this whole ongoing mess.
Having a policy for when you do and do not limit access to materials is always a good thing. This includes your book selection policy, your Internet use policy and your “when do we cancel a summer program when we’re getting harassed by people who think yoga is a religion”? I understand that dealing with a steady stream of phone calls and emails is unpleasant for the South Carolina library that cancelled its summer reading program due to this type of harassment from one local church, but I really wish they’d taken more of a stand and not likened this sort of pressure from one aggressive group as tantamount to a bomb threat.
The librarians got nervous and decided to cancel all the Thursdays.
â€œThey were talking about picketing the library,â€ the library system director told a newspaper reporter.
The minister said he didnâ€™t mean things to go that far, that he and his congregation had no problem with all the other Thursdays, only the evil tarot card one.
â€œWe werenâ€™t against the reading program at all,â€ he told the reporter. â€œWe just want our children being taught the right things â€¦â€
Rory has more information at Library Juice and you can read this earlier post concerning the controversy regarding Elsevier’s involvement in “organizing weapons trade shows attended by representatives of the worldâ€™s militaries.” They got pressured, people sent a petition. They backed down. I think this is sort of good news.
Are you a library that has gotten one of the cut-n-paste emails warning about “hardcore and even child porn” images on Flickr? Do you host a library-oriented group that has suddenly had an inundation of inappropriate (and possibly pornographic) pictures from users unknown to you? If so, you are not alone. Libraries and librarians have set up a discussion forum in this Flickr group to talk tactics. Michael Stephens has some backstory about the problem on ALA TechSource, particularly concerning as we watch DOPA inexorably move through Congress.
Educate your usersâ€”your communityâ€”about the good and bad of social software. I’d much rather give a roadmap and some guidance to someone instead of blocking access.