Don’t you hate it when a good bit of teaching material comes to your attention just a little too late? I hate it when that happens. In this case the problem is that last unit, in Introduction to Asian Studies, we were talking about Journalism. How it gets created, and how you can use it to understand Asia but need to be careful with it etc. We read some sections from Joris Luyendijk. People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East. Soft Skull Press, 2006. He talks about the wires, and how a handful of stories get re-published over and over again, and how being a journalist is sometimes just trying to get the proper by-line for a story or a good quote. He also talks about the frustration of being a good journalist trying to get editors to run stories that don’t fit their expectations.
As luck would have it, there is an Indiana PA. byline running all over the world right now. The story is from the AP. “A library without books? Universities purging dusty volumes” by Michael Rubinkam.
The basic gist of it is that universities are getting rid of dusty, worthless old books. Not just the regular weeding they always do, a new paradigm of library hood or something like that. Our library is mentioned because we are currently in the process of tossing about 1/3 of our books to make room for study tables. Also, they have put red stickers on (some of) the books that they are tossing, which makes for good pictures. As the article puts it “Bookshelves are making way for group study rooms and tutoring centers, “makerspaces” and coffee shops, as libraries seek to reinvent themselves for the digital age.” Our Library Dean is leading the charge, and establishing himself as a leader in the field! Some versions of the article mention digital repositories like Hathi Trust (which we are not a member of, and never will be), and our Library Dean has already pointed out that books will still be available through interlibrary loan from real universities. The article is not really all that good on the issues facing modern libraries.
Needless to say, a story like that would not be complete without a quote from some fuddy duddy old professor who likes books. I gave him a quote “We’re going to throw away as many of them as the library can get away with, which is not a strategy,” said IUP history professor Alan Baumler.
You can see this quote in my old hometown paper
I will probably talk about this in class tomorrow, as an example of how the same story gets re-used over and over. Of course one reason I find this so cool is that I have been quoted in the Daily Mail.
For those of you not familiar with the Mail, here it is explained by Fry and Laurie
Or, if you want to be a bit more highbrow, by the Right Honorable James George Hacker, Baron Hacker of Islington, KG, PC, BSc (Lond.), Hon. DCL (Oxon.)
Start at 1:00 if you are impatient
And, of course