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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Statistics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 103
1. Print Textbooks Lead to Higher Reading Comprehension Than Digital: Study

ipad304Digital textbooks may not be as powerful of learning tools as print textbooks. According to new research from West Chester University professors Heather Ruetschlin Schugar and Jordan T. Schugar, when middle school students were given the same reading assignment in print versus digital, the readers’ comprehension was higher when they read print books than when they read eBooks.

The professors presented their findings at the American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia. The report suggests that enhancements in eBooks such as games and activities actually take away from reading comprehension.

The New York Times has more: “Such flourishes can interrupt the fluency of children’s reading and cause their comprehension to fragment, the authors found. They can also lead children to spend less time reading over all: One study cited by Ms. Smith and the Schugars reported that children spent 43 percent of their e-book engagement time playing games embedded in the e-books rather than reading the text.”

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2. WordPress.com by the Numbers: The March Hot List

Another month is in the books! The WordPress.com community made March a month to remember with an avalanche of great achievements. Here's a look at some of the highlights.

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3. Author Website Tech: Statistics


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma by Darcy Pattison

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma

by Darcy Pattison

Giveaway ends March 21, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

Track the Growth of Your Author Website

WWW under construction building website

You’ve gone to a lot of trouble to set up a website. Don’t you want to know how many visitors the site gets? You can find out this and much more by the use of a statistics and analytical package. And fortunately, WordPress makes this easy with a couple plugins.

Statcounter. Statcounter is a simple, easy to understand statistics and analytics package that records information in real time. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow to see what traffic is like today. I like this one because of its simplicity. First search Plugins/AddNew/Statcounter. Install and activate the plugin. Go to Statcounter.com and set up an account. Follow their instructions for configuring the plugin with your account information. Sit back and watch the numbers roll in!

Besides general numbers, I especially like to look at the Visitor Paths.This tells me what websites a visitor sees in what order. And I love to look at the Recent Visitor Map, which shows the location of your visitors. Or, look at Country/State/City/ISP. Today (the day I wrote this post) 62.5% of my visitors were from the US, and people from 35 different countries visited this site. Notice that there are NO personally identifiable bits of information here, so the Privacy Policy is still accurate.

Note that I have a free account, which means: Each projects comes with lifetime summary stats as well as a free log size of 500, i.e. a detailed analysis of the last 500 pageloads on your website. When your log is full, it continues to operate; the oldest entry is replaced with the newest entry that comes in. So, that number (62.5% of recent visitors are from the US) only refers to the last 500 visitors to my site. Statcounter is real time and as the globe turns, you can see the progress of daylight across the globe by looking at your visitors locations! Cool, huh?a

Location of visitors to Fiction Notes

Location of visitors to Fiction Notes. Click to enlarge.



Google Analytics. Another common option for website statistics is Google Analytics, and it’s a free powerhouse. You should set this up, but it might take a year or two to learn the ins and outs; in fact, I’m still learning. Yes, of course, there are WordPress Plugins for this. Search Plugins/AddNew/Google Analytics to find a couple dozen plugins. Some will only add in the required code, but some add bells and whistles. Try out a couple until you find something you’re comfortable with. Sign up with Google Analytics and follow their directions and tutorials to get everything set up.

Do you need both stat programs? Here’s the dirty little secret about stat programs: they never agree. Your CPanel may be set up with server stats, which will differ from both of these programs. Generally, they will be close, but there are all sorts of reasons why they may not agree. When I set up my account seven years ago, Statcounter was the only program that recorded information in real time; Google Analytics only added that feature recently. I could probably go with just Google Analytics, but it’s so complicated–complete and wonderful, but complicated–that I still stick with Statcounter for simplicity. When I really need to dig into stats, though, to figure out something about my traffic, I rely on Google Analytics. For me, it’s a win-win to use both. But you don’t have to! There are many other stat programs, too, so find what works best for your website and your needs.

The best thing about stats? You can track the growth of your website from just a few visitors the first month to that first exciting day of 100 visitors and onward and upward to 1000 a day or more.

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4. Rich People Read More Than Poor People in the UK: Booktrust

booktrustSocioeconomic background has a lot to do with how much people read in the UK. According to a new report from Booktrust, which includes survey results from 1,500 adults, the more money you have, the more likely you are to read and vice versa.

Twenty-seven percent of adults from the poorest socio-economic backgrounds revealed that never read books, while only 13 percent of the richest people surveyed admitted to never reading books. In addition, the report found that 62 percent of richest respondents admitted reading daily or weekly, whereas 42 percent of the poorest respondents read that often. Not surprisingly, richer people own twice as many books as poorer people.

Despite discrepancies in access to books and the time spent reading, most of the interview subjects agreed that reading improves their lives. According to the report, 76 percent of survey respondents said that reading improves their lives. Broken down into socioeconomic background, 83 percent of rich adults and  72 percent of poor adults admitted this. (Via The BBC).

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5. Don't Forget the Databases


We are big believers here in using a variety of program types to fill out our dance card. By combining active, DIY and stealth/passive programs, we create time in our schedule to

  1. serve all ages 
  2. incorporate more outreach to schools and daycares
  3. do stronger collection development
  4. blue sky and write successful grants to support new initiatives
  5. provide time for CE time for staff (PLNs, webinars, in-person attendance and networking)

So just what are these program types?

Active programs can be simply characterized as programs a staff or volunteer present or lead: storytimes, afterschool workshops, parties based on book characters or popular subjects, STEAM

DIY programs can be thought of as times or spaces devoted to kids in the library that allow them independently to manipulate materials. Think of scavenger hunts, art and craft materials set out for kids to make things, Story Action Pods, imaginative play stations for any age.

Stealth programs are those that, once prepared by staff, are totally powered by the kids and families. They provide the reading or return visits to the library. SLP is a great example we all do. 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is another great example.

We keep track of how participation/attendance is in all the programs. How many kids used the story action pod (based on number of sheets of paper used); how many bags of legos were give out at check-out for Lego Tower Build; how many children attended storytime; how many return visits were made for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten this month? These stats help us stay informed of the usefulness of each effort.

We keep a fairly simple database of our programs and numbers to help us track participation. At some libraries, an excel spread sheet works; others use a paper copy. By keeping statistics on our programs – and referring to and studying them for patterns and trends - we make informed decisions on what programs should be continued, when to end programs and the types of programs that fit best within our budget, staff time and community needs. This analysis and evaluation becomes second nature and gives us the support we need to expand, delete or add programs based on hard facts rather than supposition.

These statistics not only inform us, our director and our board, but we also report out these numbers to the state library for the state annual report. Sadly, for a long time, although we did this mix of programs, only our active program statistics and SLP participation were reported to the state for the annual report. Winter reading program? Too bad? Lego Build effort - no way. Cookie Club? You dreamer! 1000 Books Before Kindergarten? Nope.

That was a problem. In our state youth librarians started working hard to change that dynamic. Our state library folks could see the efforts and time that went into DIY, reading programs beyond summer and passive programs that brought children and families into the library. They became champions of change in the reporting of youth program statistics. To get a peek at the results of that work in Wisconsin, check out this PDF of the new reporting system and definitions for programs.

Now ALL.THE.THINGS.COUNT. It makes it easier as a manager to justify our hard work. And it makes me glad we have our database of program stats for all types of programs that shows what happens when we reach outside the box of traditional programming and bring it to our community!



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6. Women Still Lag Behind in Book Reviews: VIDA

vidagraphBooks written by women are reviewed on average much less than books written by men, according to the annual VIDA count a report that tracks gender inequality in literary publications.

The organization looked at the number of women whose books were reviewed, as well as the number of female reviewers in 39 literary publications and found that some are more gender balanced than others.  Gender-biased publications included The New York Review of Books which published 212 book reviews written by male reviewers in 2013, and only 52 by female reviewers. In addition, The London Review of Books reviewed 245 books written by men last year and only 72 written by women.

Not every publication was so biased. The Paris Review was very balanced with 47 men and 48 women represented overall. Granta reviewed books by 30 females and 36 males.

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7. Items added

November = 554 (T.=74; me=480)

  • [last year = November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)]
October = 1145 (T.=120; me=1025)
September = 767 (T.=176; me=591)
August = 1053 (T.=148; me=905)
July = 957 (T.=130; me=878)
June = 957 (T.=60; me=1006)
May = 957 (T.=67; me=890)
April = 598 (T.=60; me=860)
March = 598 (T.=37; me=561)
February = 621 (T.=77; me=544)
January = 761 (T.=92; me=669)
December = 409 (T.=112; me=297)

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8. Items added

October = 1145 (T.=120; me=1025)

  • [last year = October = 773 (T.=107; me=666)]
September = 767 (T.=176; me=591)
August = 1053 (T.=148; me=905)
July = 957 (T.=130; me=878)
June = 957 (T.=60; me=1006)
May = 957 (T.=67; me=890)
April = 598 (T.=60; me=860)
March = 598 (T.=37; me=561)
February = 621 (T.=77; me=544)
January = 761 (T.=92; me=669)
December = 409 (T.=112; me=297)
November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)

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9. Nearly 90% of Russian Parents Read Print Books with Young Children

Russian parents read print books with their kids when they are young, but this activity tapers off as kids get older and new media channels play a larger role.

According to a new report from Anketki Research called Digital Parenting Russia, almost 90 percent of Russian parents read print books with their four-to-six year old kids but that number drops down to less than 50 percent with sixteen-to-eighteen year olds. Russian parents are less likely to read eBooks to their four-to-six year old kids than they are with their sixteen-to-eighteen year olds.

When looking at attitudes about the positive impact of digital media on children’s development, eight percent of dads think that eBooks have a positive impact on a child’s development and four percent of mothers think that paper books have a positive impact on a child’s development.

continued…

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10. Items Added

September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552]

  • [last year = September = 699 (T.=180; me=519)]
August = 1494 (T.=449; me=1049]
July = 1068 (T.=235; me=833]
June = 753 (T.=112; me=641)
May = 1016 (T.=101; me=915)
April = 790 (T.=121; me=569)
March = 920 (T.=80; me=840)
February = 787 (T.=130; me=657)
January = 665 (T.=164; me=501)
December = 961 (T.=181; me=780)
November = 741 (T.=120; me=621)
October = 963 (T.=316; me=647)

* As I noted last month, aboutt 1/3 of our Science Fiction collection had somehow disappeared from the database; 350+ of this month's adds were T. replacing the ones we decided to keep. I think we're done with that little project now!

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11. Children’s & YA Revenues Up Nearly 41% This Year

According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) StatShot report for the first half of 2012, sales revenue in the children’s and young adult category skyrocketed by nearly 41 percent compared to the same period last year–rising to $845 million.

Those gains were driven by a 251.5 percent increase in children’s and young adult digital books (see the chart embedded above). At the same time, adult fiction and nonfiction sales increased 8.3 percent.

Below, we’ve embedded a chart below that breaks down overall year-to-date sales by category as well. The AAP collected information from 1,186 different publishers to compile the report.

continued…

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12. Hardcover Children’s & YA Revenues Up Nearly 30%

According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) StatShot report for July 2012, hardcover sales revenue in the children’s and young adult category skyrocketed by nearly 30 percent compared to the same period last year–rising to $424.7 million.

In contrast, adult fiction and nonfiction hardcover sales declined 0.7 percent in July. Children’s and YA also saw a 222 percent jump in digital sales while the adult category grew 37 percent. While adult fiction and nonfiction paperback sales increased 11 percent, mass market paperback sales continued to slide, dropping by more than 20 percent.

Below, we’ve embedded a chart below that breaks down adult fiction and nonfiction sales by category as well. The AAP collected information from 1,184 different publishers to compile the report.

continued…

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13. Items Added

October = 773 (T.=107; me=666*]

  • [last year = October = 963 (T.=316; me=647)]
September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552]
August = 1494 (T.=449; me=1049]
July = 1068 (T.=235; me=833]
June = 753 (T.=112; me=641)
May = 1016 (T.=101; me=915)
April = 790 (T.=121; me=569)
March = 920 (T.=80; me=840)
February = 787 (T.=130; me=657)
January = 665 (T.=164; me=501)
December = 961 (T.=181; me=780)
November = 741 (T.=120; me=621)
____________
*how appropriate for Halloween, eh?

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14. Items Added

November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)

  • [last year = November = 741 (T.=120; me=621)]
October = 773 (T.=107; me=666)
September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552)
August = 1494 (T.=449; me=1049)
July = 1068 (T.=235; me=833)
June = 753 (T.=112; me=641)
May = 1016 (T.=101; me=915)
April = 790 (T.=121; me=569)
March = 920 (T.=80; me=840)
February = 787 (T.=130; me=657)
January = 665 (T.=164; me=501)
December = 961 (T.=181; me=780)

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15. Children’s & YA eBook Revenues Rose 196% in August

According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) StatShot report for August 2012, the adult fiction category saw eBook revenues increase nearly 37 percent to $857.7 million.

In the same category, mass market paperback revenues plunged 16 percent compared to the same period last year (chart embedded above). In addition, the children’s and YA category grew by more than 196 percent in August. Hardcover sales in that category grew by 27 percent for the month.

Below, we’ve embedded a chart below that breaks down the children’s and young adult sales by format. The AAP collected information from 1,186 different publishers to compile the report.

continued…

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16. Items Added*

December = 409 (T.=112; me=297)

  • [last year = December = 961 (T.=181; me=780)]
November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)
October = 773 (T.=107; me=666*)
September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552]
August = 1494 (T.=449; me=1049]
July = 1068 (T.=235; me=833]
June = 753 (T.=112; me=641)
May = 1016 (T.=101; me=915)
April = 790 (T.=121; me=569)
March = 920 (T.=80; me=840)
February = 787 (T.=130; me=657)
January = 665 (T.=164; me=501)

2012 Total = 10,102 (T.=2,177; me=7,925)
2011 Total = 10,583 (T.=2,158; me=8,426)
2010 Total = 9,228 (T.=1,669; me=7,559)
2009 Total = 7,484
2008 Total = 7,994
2007 Total = 8,296
2006 Total = 7,789
2005 Total = 8,033
2004 (May-December) = 6,230
a bit early because the stats need to be done before Jan. 2, and I don't like to wait till the very last second

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17. Checking in on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, with data

By Sydney Beveridge


Martin Luther King, Jr. was the legendary civil rights leader whose strong calls to end racial segregation and discrimination were central to many of the victories of the Civil Rights movement. Every January, the United States celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to honor the activist who made so many strides towards equality.

Let’s take a look at the demographics of the legendary man’s hometown then and now to see how it has (and has not) changed. King was born in 1929, so we’ll examine Census data from 1930, 1940, and the latest Census and American Community Survey data.

His boyhood home is now a historic site, situated at 450 Auburn Avenue Northeast, in Fulton County (part of Atlanta). In 1930, Fulton County had a population of 318,587 residents. A little over two thirds of the population was white (68.1 percent) and almost one third of the population was African American (31.9 percent). Today, the 920,581-member population split is nearly even at 44.5 percent white and 44.1 percent African American, according to 2010 Census data. Fulton’s population is more African American than the United States as a whole (12.6 percent), but not as as much as Atlanta (54.0 percent).

A closer look at 1940s Census data of the Atlanta area offers more detail about where the black and white populations lived. The following map shows the distribution of the black population in the Atlanta of King’s youth. Plainly, African Americans lived together, largely apart from whites.

African American Population in Fulton County, GA, and Surroundings, 1940 (click map to explore)

For comparison, the following map shows where the black population lives today. Now the black population has expanded in the metro area, but still seems to be quite segregated.

African American Population in Fulton County, GA, and Surroundings, 2010 (click map to explore)

Reflecting on a century after the end of slavery, King said in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963:

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

The quest for equal rights and freedoms made up part of a larger vision. In 1967, he spoke of aspiring for full equality at a speech at the Victory Baptist Church in Los Angeles:

Our struggle in the first phase was a struggle for decency. Now we are in the phase where there is a struggle for genuine equality. This is much more difficult. We aren’t merely struggling to integrate the lunch counter now. We’re struggling to get some money to be able to buy a hamburger or a steak when we get to the counter…

He went on to say that this would require a commitment of not only political initiative but also money: “It didn’t cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters. It didn’t cost the nation one penny to guarantee the right to vote. The problems that we are facing today will cost the nation billions of dollars.”

In 1968, King and other activists launched the Poor People’s Campaign, advocating for economic justice to address these imbalances in opportunity and resources. A few months later, he was assassinated.

We can look at different socioeconomic indicators to measure the country’s progress towards equality.  According to 1940 Census data, more than a third (36.5 percent) of housing units in Fulton County where whites lived were owner occupied, compared to less than a seventh (14.0 percent) of the housing units where African Americans lived.

Today, home ownership increased for both groups, but the gap remains. Two thirds (66.6 percent) of white households are owner-occupied, compared to two fifths (41.7 percent) of all black households.

Home Ownership Comparison in Fulton, GA, by Race

Let’s examine other measures of equality to see examples of additional gaps.

The unemployment rate is nearly twice as high among African Americans (17.9 percent) compared to among whites nationwide (9.5 percent). That gap is even more pronounced in Fulton County, where the unemployment rate for whites is 7.7 percent, while the unemployment rate for African Americans is 20.4 percent.

The percent of those living below poverty is also higher in the black community (27.2 percent) than in the white community (12.5 percent). While both groups are better off in Fulton County than the rest of the US, the poverty rate gap is even larger (8.2 percent among whites and 26.6 percent among African Americans in Fulton).

Similarly, while both groups are better educated in Fulton County compared to the rest of the US, nearly two thirds (62.4 percent) of white adults in the county have BA degrees or more, while just one quarter (25.3 percent) of the black population have the same level of education. The college attainment gap is 11.6 percentage points nationwide, but 37.1 percentage points in Fulton County.

While much progress towards freedom and equality has been made since King’s time, chronic gaps persist, even in his own backyard. The data show that 50 years after the “I Have a Dream Speech,” equal opportunity and socioeconomic status continue to lag behind equal rights.

Sydney Beveridge is the Media and Content Editor for Social Explorer, where she works on the blog, curriculum materials, how-to-videos, social media outreach, presentations and strategic planning. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A version of this article originally appeared on the Social Explorer blog. You can use Social Explorer’s mapping and reporting tools to investigate dreams, freedoms, and equality further.

Social Explorer is an online research tool designed to provide quick and easy access to current and historical census data and demographic information. The easy-to-use web interface lets users create maps and reports to better illustrate, analyze and understand demography and social change. From research libraries to classrooms to the front page of the New York Times, Social Explorer is helping people engage with society and science.

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0 Comments on Checking in on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, with data as of 1/21/2013 2:14:00 PM
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18. Items added

January = 761 (T.=92; me=669)

  • [last year = January = 665 (T.=164; me=501)]
ecember = 409 (T.=112; me=297)
November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)
October = 773 (T.=107; me=666)
September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552)
August = 1494 (T.=449; me=1049)
July = 1068 (T.=235; me=833)
June = 753 (T.=112; me=641)
May = 1016 (T.=101; me=915)
April = 790 (T.=121; me=569)
March = 920 (T.=80; me=840)
February = 787 (T.=130; me=657)

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19. Items added

February = 621 (T.=77; me=544)

  • [last year = February = 787 (T.=130; me=657)]
January = 761 (T.=92; me=669)
December = 409 (T.=112; me=297)
November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)
October = 773 (T.=107; me=666)
September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552)
August = 1494 (T.=449; me=1049)
July = 1068 (T.=235; me=833)
June = 753 (T.=112; me=641)
May = 1016 (T.=101; me=915)
April = 790 (T.=121; me=569)
March = 920 (T.=80; me=840)

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20. VIDA at AWP



One of the most interesting discussions I saw at the AWP conference was one sponsored by VIDA, with editors and writers talking about the results of VIDA's 2013 count of female and male writers in various publications. This year, they were able to offer a particularly revealing set of graphs showing three year trends in book reviewing at major magazines and journals.

The only report of the discussion I've seen so far is that of VIDA volunteer Erin Hoover at The Nervous Breakdown (although I'm sure it was covered by Twitter when it happened). Hoover gives a good overview of the panel and the issues. I took lots of notes, so will here add some more detail to try to show how the discussion went.

After introductory remarks by moderator Jennine Capó Crucet, the first responses were made alphabetically by last name, and so two men began: Don Bogen, poetry editor of The Cincinnati Review, and Stephen Corey, editor of The Georgia Review. Bogen noted that, inspired by VIDA, he'd done a count of the poetry published by CR during his 7-year tenure and discovered to, really, his surprise that he'd achieved parity between male and female writers (or at least male and female bylines). How had he managed to do this unconsciously, he wondered? The best hypothesis he had was that he seeks real diversity of experience and point of view in poetry and has eclectic taste — indeed, the only poems he said he's not particularly interested in are ones that reflect his own experience. He noted that certainly the idea of parity depends on where one is counting from, as particular issues of the magazine would go one way or the other, and he tends to organize blocks of poems in between other genres in each issue in ways that have sometimes been balanced but also sometimes been entirely female or entirely male. Many times, too, he said, he does his best to read blind, paying little to no attention to a byline, and has often discovered that material he thought was "male" or "female" had been written by someone of another gender. Thus, the magic of literature.

Of the panelists, Stephen Corey seemed perhaps least comfortable with the discussion. His initial statement was simply a set of questions. (I think I managed to write them all down, but may have missed something.) When we talk about gender balance, he asked, are we talking about balance in submissions? In page counts? (Does a 30-page story count the same as a 1-page poem?) Should reviews be counted the same as poems, essays, or stories? Do you want an editor to read your work with gender in mind? Should a publication put out a call for more work by males or females? Should a publication put out an anti-call against one gender? When you read, do you care if what you read is by a man or a woman [audience: YES!], and should an editor care?

After Corey, E.J. Graff said so many interesting things I had trouble taking notes. Here's what I wrote down:

  • The count is an example of why all English majors should take a course in statistics. Graff: "I wish I had!"
  • The submission gap is enormous. With opinion pieces, women editors solicit women and are often turned down or need more time, whereas men often say yes and offer to get the piece done very quickly (important for current events).
  • Men continually send pitches after rejections, women don't.
  • Structural acculturation. We have to overcome our own socialization — and not just in terms of gender. The audience, for instance, was overwhelmingly white.
  • We must make our own choices conscious because many of our prejudices are unconcious. Graff pointed to the Implicit Association Test.
  • For students, there is a dramatic shift between the world of school and the world of work. It can be difficult to learn how to promote yourself. Men tend to do this more comfortably than women, because it's generally more socially acceptable for men.
  • Make a posse. Promote yourself and your group. Start a movement or magazine. Challenge each other, help with drafts and careers, but as a group move each other forward.
  • When lesbians and gay men started working together in the 1980s, there were many difficulties, suspicions, and prejudices. To overcome these difficulties, many groups decided on a shared leadership structure that required equal power sharing between a man and a woman rather than just one leader. Why not do that with more prizes, editorships, groups?
Katha Pollitt (a personal hero of mine, and one of the main reasons I went to the panel) then offered her perspective, particularly as someone who has a long career as a poet and essayist, as well as a former editor with The Nation. Because I love Katha Pollitt, I tried to write as fast as she talked, and so here are my notes from her initial statement:
  • Some editors are quite conscious, others not at all — and some of the latter group are women. They can be very far away from consciously considering the issue, they can be very far away from any sort of balance, and yet still think they're doing great (and thus not need to become conscious).
  • As VIDA has shown, raising the issue can, sometimes, make change.
  • At The Nation, the front and back of the magazine are totally separate. In front, the subject areas (politics, news, current events) and speed of weekly publishing means the editors have settled on "go-to" people who they know are very reliable — maybe not the best writers, but they turn in clean copy on time. These editors would need to make the time to seek out new, female experts who are reliable. Some places have made such an effort — Alternet and Mother Jones, for instance.
  • You have to think about it (make the issue conscious) because we have to compensate for elements in the culture.
  • There are too many women trying to write in too few subject areas. Look at how many women are writing about Girls! Women should try to cultivate interest and knowledge in areas outside those seen as "feminine" or "women's issues".
  • If you're not getting submissions from women, you have to ask why. Why would a woman throw herself at your wall?
  • Most op-eds are solicited. Most slush piles aren't even read by an editor. Slush is not where the problem lies.
  • Things are fairer at newspapers. They have unions and must follow anti-discrimination policies.
Then the discussion moved on to questions and comments from the audience. Again, from notes, which may distort some things simply because I couldn't write fast enough. (I'll offer some summary and response at the end.)

Q: Is gender-identified subject matter more or less appealing? Also, racially-identified? Etc.
Don Bogen: An experience can be gendered, but not to the writer. Surprised plenty of times to discover the gender of a writer whose byline was indeterminate. The otherness of the imagination is important.

Q: 99% of news is what is seen to be traditionally male. Much of human life is dismissed as female.
E.J. Graff: It's worse than you know! The Global Media Monitoring Project statistics are horrifying. Women in the news are usually victims or family members ("the wife of", "the mother of", etc.). These create our implicit biases. Though, as Katha Pollitt said, there may be a good amount of female bylines in newspapers, the top editors and the columnists tend to be male.

Q: Wal-Mart has a huge effect on the economy because it is so large, and so getting Wal-Mart to change practices can have a massive ripple effect. Is there a Wal-Mart of the literary world that we should focus on trying to change?
[Some laughter, cross-talk]
Another audience member: The Wal-Mart is in the room. Unsubscribe from magazines you don't like the numbers for, and let them know. Let Harper's know. Let The New Yorker know. Don't let your subscription lapse silently — it's important that the magazines know why you are leaving them, and what it would take to get you back.

Q: Why is the literary world so obsessed with dudes from Brooklyn?! I don't want "women's literature", I want literature. Even when women are put forward, though, they become invisible.
Pollitt: Yes, why when Jonathan Franzen writes a book is everybody else suddenly invisible? Can Karen Russell get the same amount of notice? She should, but does she? It's a problem of publicity. Some women get attention. But does the attention last? Will it last? Can we make it last? The writers are there, the quality is there, the publicity is not.

VIDA volunteer: Feel empowered. Email magazines. Use knowledge to use your money and time well. VIDA is 10 volunteers. You are many. Vote with your dollars.

VIDA co-founder Erin Belieu: Most of the media reports on the count frame the story as, "It still sucks." And it does. But there's more to it than that. Many places say they need a comment from people such as New Yorker editor David Remnick if they're going to run a big story, but the editors of the highest-profile magazines won't talk, and so the story is not seen as journalistically significant. Behind the scenes, though, there is concern. One well-known female fiction writer gots calls from multiple editors when the count was released this year — the publications were embarrassed, and they wanted this writer to contribute. She didn't have any short fiction available and also didn't want to be the token female, so she gave the editors the names of 5 other writers who might be able to give them something.

Q for Katha Pollitt: Is there a perception among editors that there are female and male subject matter? Is more male subject matter being covered?
Pollitt: War, politics, etc. — these are not "male" subjects! More women are killed by war than men. Women's lives are deeply, intimately, and constantly affected by politics. These are human subjects. The New York Times has two male columnists who started out as food writers, a subject often associated with women. Get to know a lot about something interesting in a less crowded field and you will have an easier time getting published.

And then time ran out.

The take-away message was, as Erin Hoover wrote, consciousness. The world we live in is structurally biased against equality, and as people who live in this world, if we don't consciously work toward increasing equality, we will unconsciously contribute to inequality.

I love the idea that we could follow Don Bogen's lead and try to read and publish eclectically, seeking experiences and representations outside of our own, and thus achieve equality. But I don't think it would work. I expect he's an outlier and his example would be difficult, even impossible, to replicate. Worse, a stated interest in diversity might be used as cover. I think too many publishers and editors could just say to themselves, "Hey, we're nice, tolerant, liberal people who sorta like, you know, value that diversity thing. Yeah. We'll be equal," and then go right on reinforcing the status quo. I actually would prefer that someone just say, "I couldn't care less about equality," and not pretend.

Let's go back to Stephen Corey's questions. They're good for discussion, but I think they're problematic overall. With regard to page lengths and genres, etc., it's really not that hard to compare like to like, and VIDA, for instance, offers statistics in various breakdowns (books reviewed, reviewers, etc). The "overall" stats that VIDA provides are useful as a way to view the problem generally, but yes, there's a difference between a 200-word review and a 10,000-word article. The general view is useful, though. We're not to the point where distinctions necessarily say a lot. The trends are so bad that getting too specific is pretty much a waste of time. Maybe in the future it would be an interesting exercise, but right now the information is pretty damn unambiguous and shameful. As Don Bogen showed, there's plenty of reasons for an individual magazine issue or section of an issue to be dominated by women or men, but once you step back from individual issues and sections, once you increase the data set, then consistent, significant inequality speaks for itself.

Do we want editors to read our work with our gender in mind? I've never assumed they wouldn't. I'd love to live in a world where my gender presentation was irrelevant, but I don't live in that world, and pretending I do just reinforces a status quo I loathe. My name is Matthew and I physically present as male; that affects people's perceptions of me consciously and, especially, unconsciously. How much does that matter to any one editor? I assume a bit (at least), unless they want to give me multiple results from the Implicit Association Test showing that they are utterly unaffected by gender ... at which point I might assume they don't entirely care about my apparent maleness. Otherwise, I'm going to assume they're living in the same swamp of associations that I am.

Should there be a call made for more of one gender, or against another? Oh, please. This is a question better left to concern trolls. I can just imagine the sort of call that would go out: "Dear Womens: We don't know any female scribblers. Please submit to us so we can see if you know how to write. Thanks!" Or, even better, "Hey guys! These feminazis are doing their thing and we're afraid it might hurt our reputation in this politically correct environment, so please cut it out with the submissions for a while. Once we've published some girls, then we can get back to the real work."

More interesting to me is the question: Do you care about the gender of a writer you read, and should an editor care? The audience loudly affirmed that they care about the gender of writers they read. For me, this is a similar sort of problem to whether I care about if an editor knows my gender when I submit writing to them. In an ideal world where gender is as meaningful as handedness or eye color, a writer's gender for me would be an interesting and inconsequential detail. But I don't ever expect to live in such a world. Human culture has been and continues to be meaningfully and significantly affected by gender. To not care about a writer's gender in such a world is to not care about something that meaningfully and significantly affects that writer. So yes, I notice the gender of writers I read. I care about it. The world does not just naturally drop a nicely balanced group of male, female, and genderqueer writers on my readerly doorstep. The world makes it easiest for me to read white male writers who use the English language and publish with major publishers. I make the conscious effort to seek out others. (Among the books I'm currently reading: Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin; The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates; The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde; Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux.) If I want to know about the world outside of my own experiences — and that really is why I read — then I have to pay attention to some of the categories the writers I read fall into. It's why I got interested in African literatures, even before I ever traveled to Africa. I can't imagine not reading such work now. Not for reasons of political correctness or some other overloaded scare term, but for purely selfish reasons: my life is richer and more interesting with such writings in it than not.

So it's probably not surprising that I think editors should notice and care, because otherwise the structures of our culture are going to notice and care for them, and will replicate the dominant status quo.

The most important thing to come out of the VIDA count, though, is a desire from editors, writers, and readers to actively fix the problem. This, it seems to me, is VIDA's real message and value. Here are the stats. If you don't care about them, then don't care about them. (You're an asshole, but maybe you're okay with that.) If these numbers shock, dismay, annoy, or even just vaguely bother you, then do something. If you're an editor, seek out female writers and work to make sure your venue is not one that posts various signs saying, "GIRLZ KEEP OUT!" (Hint: If you publish mostly male writers and seriously wonder why non-males don't submit more to you, you're behaving like an oblivious dunderhead.) Be conscious, put forth some effort, and don't start whining for cookies because you did what you should have been doing all along. If you're a reader, let the VIDA count guide you. Tin House, Poetry, and Threepenny Review are three magazines that have deliberately tried to get their numbers to be better, and they're three great magazines well worth your support. There are others, too, and will, I expect (I hope!), be more. If it matters to you, speak up with your voice and your writing, with where you submit work, and with where you spend money. We can be proactive.

And remember E.J. Graff's advice: Make a posse. Promote yourself and your group. Start a movement or magazine. Challenge each other, help with drafts and careers, but as a group move each other forward.

2 Comments on VIDA at AWP, last added: 3/15/2013
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21. Items added

March = 598 (T.=37; me=561)

  • [last year = March = 920 (T.=80; me=840)]
February = 621 (T.=77; me=544)
January = 761 (T.=92; me=669)
December = 409 (T.=112; me=297)
November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)
October = 773 (T.=107; me=666)
September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552)
August = 1494 (T.=449; me=1049)
July = 1068 (T.=235; me=833)
June = 753 (T.=112; me=641)
May = 1016 (T.=101; me=915)
April = 790 (T.=121; me=569)

0 Comments on Items added as of 3/30/2013 3:17:00 PM
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22. Items added

April = 598 (T.=60; me=860)

  • [last year = April = 790 (T.=121; me=569)]
March = 598 (T.=37; me=561)
February = 621 (T.=77; me=544)
January = 761 (T.=92; me=669)
December = 409 (T.=112; me=297)
November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)
October = 773 (T.=107; me=666)
September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552)
August = 1494 (T.=449; me=1049)
July = 1068 (T.=235; me=833)
June = 753 (T.=112; me=641)
May = 1016 (T.=101; me=915)

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23. Sunday Morning Reads

This post would have been up hours ago if I hadn’t been having Internet issues. Service just shouldn’t be so intermittent in one’s own home. I’m just sayin’

This may have been my last visit to the garden. I was surprised with a head of cabbage that I missed in previous visits and green peppers that just began to grow. I run through the photos on my phone and I’m just amazed at the growth that has taken place. This time, I didn’t even think to take any pictures. Growth happens whether we’re watching or not.

In recent years, there have been amazing blog posts that contain research relating to various facets of diversity in YA lit. Do publishers look at them? Are their decisions impacted at all by the data that is collected and analyzed? I work in a world that frowns on blogs and the information they relate as if it is all bogus forms of cheap entertainment. Knowing that, part of me wishes some of these research posts were submitted to journals, but I am so glad the information is made accessible to readers, authors, editors and publishers. Information is power. I think more impactful than where these reports are posted will be the replicated efforts that better document trends and hopefully change in the industry.

diversity_tinakugler

 

Can we try to collect these reports? Please leave a link to others in the comments.

I know there’s more! I’m sure Debbie Reese has collected figures, but I haven’t found anything…yet. Are there numbers on Latinos? Asians?

This 2008 article references a Brigham Young Study I’ll trying get a hold of this week.

The Brigham Young study analyzed the race, gender and family background of human characters in 82 Newbery-winning books through 2007. The analysis compared three periods, starting with 1922 through 1950, followed by the era in which the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, 1951 through 1979, and concluding with the 1980 through 2007 period.

Black and Hispanic protagonists became scarcer during the past 27 years. American Indian and Asian main characters increased in number — to two each.

Latino protagonists disappeared from 1980 through 2007 and black ones fell to two from a high of five between 1951 and 1979, the study found. White main characters rose to 19 from 18 in the same period.

The last book with a Hispanic protagonist to win a Newbery Medal was “Shadow of a Bull,” by Maia Wojciechowska, in 1965. The book dealt with a young Spanish boy’s struggle to follow in the footsteps of his slain bullfighter father.

Books by authors of color and with characters of color aren’t written just for people of color. (Corollary: Books by white people aren’t written just for white people.) So, POC books and authors fight the good fight and show up anywhere and everywhere that readers can be found such as at book signings, local library events and conferences. Readers of color have to show up to.

Think about it.

If publishers and editors don’t see us at conferences and signings, their notions that we don’t read or buy books will only be re-enforced. Show up to these events, inquire about your favorite author of color. I say this out loud to remind myself why I’m going to ALAN this year and why I’m especially thankful that author Lyn Miller-Lachmann proposed a panel with her, myself, Kekla Magoon and Rene Saldana Jr. I think I saw names of three other authors of color in the program. So disappointing! I really hope to see more people of color than that in the audience.

If you’re a librarian looking for ways to get involved in ALA and make a difference, this information is for you.

Committees with openings:

and the Committee Volunteer Form (which requires you to sign in):

https://www.ala.org/CFApps/Committee/volunteerform/volunteerform2.cfm?group1=YALSA

YALSA has dozens of ways for its members and supporters to get involved, including many options for virtual participation.  Whether you choose to volunteer to gain additional leadership opportunities, build your resume, increase exposure in the association or library community, or give back to the profession, YALSA relies on you to help support the association and make a positive difference in serving teens through libraries.

Whichever way you choose to get involved, we are committed to providing you with a meaningful experience.  If you have any questions, or would like additional information, we’re happy to help!  Email us at yalsa@ala.org or call us at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4390.

And yes, dammit! There are malls in Kenya! And paved roads, car dealerships, universities, banks and yes, even book publishers! I remember when The Cold War between the US, Russia and China played out in Africa and now it’s this ‘war’ between… who is this between? Who are the players? These extremists in the East and in the West? It’s playing out all over Africa, from Mali to Kenya and to Somalia. Great people to follow from various locations across the continent to keep you aware of mostly literary and a few political occurences.

Storymoja Hay Fest@SMHayFest

Kinna@kinnareads

Writers Project Gh@writersPG

African Library Proj ‏ @AfricanLibraryP

Jalada Africa ‏ @JaladaAfrica

I’m thinking about mooncakes and Moon Festival while my friends in Taiwan are just getting over a massive typhoon.

Bless the people of Kenya who are mourning and grieving. Bless the people of Taiwan who should be celebrating the autumn moon festival but are suffering from a massive typhoon. Even from these tragedies, there will eventually be growth; god willing!

Bless us!

 

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Sunday Reads Tagged: garden, research, statistics, yalsa

3 Comments on Sunday Morning Reads, last added: 9/25/2013
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24. Items added

September = 767 (T.=176; me=591)

  • [last year = September = 1003 (T.=451; me=552)]
August = 1053 (T.=148; me=905)
July = 957 (T.=130; me=878)
June = 957 (T.=60; me=1006)
May = 957 (T.=67; me=890)
April = 598 (T.=60; me=860)
March = 598 (T.=37; me=561)
February = 621 (T.=77; me=544)
January = 761 (T.=92; me=669)
December = 409 (T.=112; me=297)
November = 424 (T.=115; me=420)
October = 773 (T.=107; me=666)

0 Comments on Items added as of 10/1/2013 12:02:00 PM
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25. How not to write about libraries – some guidelines for reporters

We get it. Times are tough. The public sphere is shrinking in the US and elsewhere. Libraries are around and open, doing stuff. Their funding cycle is cyclical and short and up to the whims of various people, sometimes mysterious. The public library system belongs to everyone. There is a lot to talk about; a lot of things happen there. Many people have strong opinions about how public spaces are used and public money is spent and about the library in specific. You have a 24 hour news cycle, with pages or screens to fill. That’s terrific. We’re often happy for the attention.

At the same time, there are a few tropes that do none of us any favors. You look like people who haven’t done your research or who go for the easy cliche and we look like people who can’t take a well-meaning joke (which we’ve heard for the thousandth time). Let’s get to a place where we’re all feeling good about the whole endeavor. Here are some suggestions. Hope this list, patterned off of How Not To Write Comics Criticism, is helpful. It’s called

How Not To Write About Libraries

1. Your library joke is tired, even if it’s new to you

It is almost impossible for you to make a library play on words that has not been done a million times before, even something that sounds contemporary like riffing off of “adult graphic novels”. You’re probably annoyed that you got the job writing about the library funding crisis but don’t take it out on us. Notify the headline writer also, please. We know you’re doing your best but we should never see “turns the page” or “starts a new chapter” when a new building is built or a librarian gets a new job, retires, or dies, or any sort of bun/shush/dewey/cat pun again ever. That “Overdue book returned years late” story? Heard it. Thank you.

2. Quit it with the wardrobe policing

You try working nights and weekends in a landmark building with a heating and cooling system that dates back to Carnegie times. Dressing in wool and layers is practical and smart, as is keeping your hair out of your face when you might have to crawl under a desk to fuss with a computer. Sixty-four percent of Americans wear eyeglasses, that number jumps to 90% after age 49. We’re not absurdly myopic from all that reading, we’re normal. Saying “OMG they can be sexy too!” is not actually a good response to this; as professions go we’ve always been pretty anti-censorship and sex positive.

3. We’re not all women, not even close

In 2008 the gender split among new grads was 80% female, 20% male. Last year it was more like 78% to 22% and the female/male gap is shrinking. We come from many ethnic backgrounds and we speak many languages. We date and marry people of many genders. A good number of us are just out of library school and share the characteristics of other people in our cohort: tattoos, body jewelry, a penchant for cocktails. Many of us are not just out of library school and enjoy the same things. Nothing unusual. Diversity of all kinds is important in any sort of public service position when you work for the entire public; please try to respect and represent the diversity of our population as it exists in the actual world not as it existed in the movies thirty or even fifty years ago.

4. Many different people work in a library building

This frequently comes up when there is a crime or another scandal at a library and someone gets interviewed who is invariably called “a librarian” and is later revealed to be a page, a volunteer, or maybe just an interested and chatty patron. Librarians (usually) work in libraries, but not everyone who works in a library is a librarian. There are many schools of thought on the importance of these distinctions and while we don’t expect you understand the subtle nuances of the differences between a reference librarian and a cataloger, or a circulation clerk and a shelver, it’s simply important to know that there are many different jobs within the library and not all of them are “librarian” and if you are not sure what the job title is of the person you spoke with, you should ask them. Many professional librarians, though not all, have Master’s degrees from accredited institutions. People call this level of graduate education “library school” and graduates have degrees ranging from MLib. (mine) to MSIS to MLS to MLIS.

5. There are some amazing things hidden in special collections

…and your chances of getting to see them diminish if you continually represent library archives as dusty, musty, smelly, unkempt, or populated entirely with hobbits and wizard-beings, strange and unknowable creatures unschooled in human customs. Introduce yourself and spend some time there and you’re likely to see some amazing things and learn some nifty things about your location, your neighbors or your academic institution.

6. No one with any credibility thinks “It’s all on the internet” and there are reasons why it isn’t

This is an untrue straw man argument, so you don’t have to keep bringing it up. There is a strong case to be made that the push for increasing digitization will be a net good for a society that is increasingly looking to satisfy their information needs online. However we are far from that point now, the digital divide is real and formidable. The vendor-based silos of information which are inaccessible without a payment or a password vex us as much as, if not more than, they vex you. We are trying to help people access the information they want and need. We’re sorry that the shift to digital content is causing trouble for some businesses’ bottom line, but we’ve always been publishers’ best customers and that will change only if they force it to. We would prefer that digital rights management were less onerous too. We would be happy to talk with you at length about why it’s easier to buy something from Amazon.com for personal use than it is to borrow it from the library on your Kindle. Blame copyright and capitalism, not the library.

7. The money thing is complicated, take some time to understand it

Libraries are funded differently from state to state and sometimes from county to county. Reporting on a funding “crisis” when it’s just a possible budget adjustment does us all a disservice with the “sky is falling” approach. Giving people real information about what is happening with and to the budget, and why, would be a great service. More information less doomsaying please. And, as always, if you need the numbers we’ll be happy to give them to you. They’re public. Public libraries have regular meetings of the library board that are open to the public and worth attending if this sort of thing piques your interest.

8. Not all libraries are public libraries

I work in a public library and so I fall into this trap myself. The public library system in the US is a sort of amazing decentralized mutual aid sort of creation, but it’s not the only library system in the US. School libraries and academic (college and university) libraries and law libraries and medical/hospital libraries and other special libraries all have their own systems and procedures and governing bylaws and mission statements and professional associations. Make sure that you are not reporting on one and ascribing it the values and traditions of another entirely different type of library.

9. The entire public is welcome in the public library

…including types of people you may dislike or find distasteful. And possibly including people who find you distasteful. With few exceptions people who are spending entire days or weeks in the library or who are looking at things on their computer screen that people might feel they should be viewing in private are doing so because they lack better or more genuine options. This is a larger societal problem and we are trying to help, making the best of a difficult situation within the structure of our mission statement and policies and procedures. The situation is complicated and deserves a better treatment than the usual “Porn in the library!” headline-grabbers.

10. Libraries are full of joyful noise

Not always, but often enough to say goodbye to the tut-tutting and the shushing and the QUIET PLEASE canards. While we try to have spaces that can accommodate quiet reading as well as rambunctious storytimes and group projects, libraries’ approaches to this are as varied as our buildings. Libraries are more popular than ever by most measures of library popularity and are still tremendously well-loved cultural institutions that are available to and for every single person. The reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated, especially on the internet.

However it is true that most of us like cats and mostly do not hate Wikipedia.

Here are some more pointers to places to get good, factual information about libraries in the US.

- ALA’s Library Bill of Rights
- ALA Library Fact Sheets
- ALA’s research and statistics section including the Library ROI bibliography
- IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) reports
- ALA’s State of American Libraries report
- Library Journal’s Placement and Salaries Survey

All images come from the Library of Congress’s Prints & Photographs Online Catalog and have no known restrictions on publication. Article specifically inspired by this tweet. Thanks to Andy Woodworth for reading the draft.

18 Comments on How not to write about libraries – some guidelines for reporters, last added: 9/20/2012
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