Fake news and how to fight it

Fake news feels like a modern scourge of intellect, but it’s nothing new. One of the earliest fake news examples on record dates to the first century, when Octavian, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, smeared the reputation of Mark Antony for control of the Roman Empire. Octavian, better known today as Emperor Augustus, read a will of dubious authenticity aloud to the Roman Senate. In that will, Mark Antony would give Roman lands to his children with Egyptian ruler Cleopatra and asked to be buried in an Egyptian tomb in the manner of a pharaoh. While the accuracy of this document can never be proven at this point, the fallout from Octavian’s act destroyed Mark Antony’s career and indirectly led to both his and Cleopatra’s deaths.

With over 2000 years of fake news, you would think that it would be easy to spot by now.  However, judging from the current news climate coupled with reports such as this 18-month study with middle and high school students, it appears we as a society need to strengthen our ability to identify and fight fake news as we see it. Luckily, there’s a lot of things we can do.

The first and easiest thing to do is to not spread fake news in the first place. Mad-Eye Moody said it best: Constant Vigilance. Fake news is often characterized by a number of traits which can help you spot it quickly. A few of these are:

  • It makes you angry, scared or, for some political stories, overly reassured
  • It seems too good (or bad!) to be true
  • It is not from a generally reputable source
  • It does not cite its sources, or uses poor sources to back its claims

You’ll see fake news on the Facebook pages of many of your friends, but just because they believe it doesn’t mean it’s true. Even the smartest, most-educated people will make mistakes and post fake news sometimes. It’s up to you to sniff it out.

Second, if you want to share something online, check it first. Let’s look at a claim like “Farmed salmon is bad for you.” The article that this claim is based on uses lots of inflammatory language, bright colors and statements meant to alarm you. But don’t be fooled. A quick Google search for “Is farmed salmon bad for you?” will turn up a link to the Washington State Department of Health which refutes virtually every claim in the other, negative article. If you look at the author of the negative article, you’ll learn that he’s not a doctor, dietitian or nutritionist, nor does he have a degree in any medical field. He’s an editor and CEO of a popular magazine, which gives him lots of publicity but no weight to his arguments. On the other hand, the Washington State Department of Health does not operate at a profit, employs scientists and provides excellent, credible sources for its claims in this article. Even though it’s wise to consider the safety of your food, bad information doesn’t help anyone.

Third, if you accidentally post fake news – and everyone does – apologize and take it down from your feed. Some fake news outlets can look astonishingly like real ones (like this one) and you may not think you have time to verify what you’re reading. It’s always best to double check, however, to keep yourself well-informed.

Here’s a quick checklist to verify an article’s claims:

  1. Where is it located? Good articles and videos come from good news sources.  What’s a good news source? Look for ones with strong codes or standards of ethics (like this one or this one) that clearly state their responsibilities to their writers, their sources and their readers. If you can’t find a standard or code of ethics, you will probably want to consider another news source. Other good sources of information are academic journals (which Indiana residents can find using INspire, the state library’s gateway to digital information access) and nonpartisan research organizations.
  2. Who wrote it? Look up the author using Google or LinkedIn, a professional networking site. Real news is written by real journalists, and you can often find pertinent information about them like resumes/CVs, other articles they’ve written and any other qualifications they may have, such as additional education or certifications.
  3. How old is it? Information, like fish, has an expiration date. Very often, old news is repackaged as current and articles without dates should be doubly suspect. Old news might rehash incidents or disputes that have since been resolved, or make you angry over something that is no longer true or applicable.
  4. Why was it written or developed? Fake news can be profitable – ask Jestin Coler, who registered a number of websites which produced fake news and made between $10,000 and $30,000 per month. Other reasons that fake news might be produced may be to sway political opinion, promote specific ideologies or beliefs or destroy a rival’s reputation.

Fake news may be everywhere, but you are smart enough to fight it. In addition to the above advice, I have developed a Fake News LibGuide with tools, tips, websites and other resources for you to use. You deserve honest, accurate information and you have every right to be mad that fake news outlets are trying to dupe you. Fight back with real news and real information. If you get stuck or lost, remember that the library is always there to help.

This blog post was written by KT Lowe, coordinator of library instruction and service learning at Indiana University East. You are welcome to contact her at lowekat@iu.edu or visit her on Facebook.

Materials using the phonetic alphabet

An unusual item from the Indiana State Library’s original print newspaper collection is Di Anglo Sacsun (ISLN Newspaper Room), a newspaper published in Boston from 1846-1848. Our holdings include a scattering of newspaper issues from the publication period of this phonetically-spelled newspaper. The paper states its mission as being “Devoted to the diffusion of knowledge and news, through the medium of phonotypy, or the true system of spelling words: that is, just as they are pronounced.” It was thought that material printed in phonetic spelling would be easier for non-native English speakers, or those who learned the English language by rote, to master.

This newspaper is written using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) which utilizes syllables that stand for different phonetic sounds that are common to all spoken languages.

On the left and right sides of the newspaper’s masthead are printed keys to pronunciation.

The International Phonetic Association (International Phonetic Association) is devoted to representing and promoting the International Phonetic Alphabet and championing its use by linguists, speech-language pathologists, classically trained singers, actors, and others.

Another item in the state library’s collection that utilizes the IPA is the Primer of Phonetics by Henry Sweet (ISLM 414 S974P).

This book, published in 1906, serves as an in-depth phonetics pronunciation key.

Pages from the Primer of Phonetics showing English sounds.

We also have a phonetic translation of the Book of Psalms from the Bible, De Buc ov Samz From de Oturizd Verzun:  Printed Foneticali in Paraleliz’mz (ISLM BS 1422 1849).

Although the phonetic alphabet did not become a popular spelling format for newspapers, it is used in dictionaries with pronunciation keys and serves as a standardized approach to language learning.

This blog post was written by Leigh Anne Johnson, Indiana Division librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

Pianos in the library

When people think about pianos they might think about Bach, Beethoven, grandiose concert halls, Elton John, 1989’s “Great Balls of Fire!” film or even where Slash decided to stand and play his guitar solo in the Guns N’ Roses “November Rain” video. One place that usually doesn’t come to mind, however, is libraries.

Despite being known as quiet places, libraries all over the world house pianos and maintain piano practice rooms. The Toronto Public Library, for example, has multiple pianos and several practice rooms. Libraries do not keep pianos solely for the purpose of practice, though. The Woodstock Public Library, in Woodstock, Ill., “welcomes accomplished and talented pianists to play the piano at [their] library.” In this case, the piano is to be played, during specified hours, in order to provide pleasant background music for library patrons. No “Chopsticks,” though!

Strictly forbidden at the Woodstock Public Library:

Indiana is no exception to the piano rule. Several public libraries in Indiana have their own pianos.

“I’m not sure how our upright piano made its way to us, it’s been here at least as long as I’ve been here and that’s been over twelve years,” said Mary Schons, head of information services at the Hammond Public Library in Hammond, Ind. The piano at the Hammond Public Library is primarily used for two programs, the long-running “Welcome to the World of Music,” with Florian Bolsega, which takes place every Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m., and their new program, “Sing Along with Rich,” which happens every last Monday of the month at 10 a.m., in the library’s community room. “While the singalong is for everyone, Rich Boban specializes in working with people who have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In January, a mother stopped by with her adult son who has a stroke and is aphasic. The music is helping him recover,” Schons added.

Rich Boban, singalong coordinator at the Hammond Public Library

The Adams Public Library System, (APLS) which serves the communities of Decatur and Geneva in Indiana, also has a piano used for programs. APLS hosts monthly Mid-Day Music events, featuring different musicians. As for the piano itself, Kelly Ehinger, director of APLS said, “The piano was a gift to the library and restored by a volunteer.” The piano is also used for special events outside of the regularly-scheduled Mid-Day Music events.

The Adams Public Library System piano being enjoyed by local pianist Karen Fouts

Over a decade ago, the West Lafayette Public Library (WLPL) in West Lafayette, Ind. purchased their Sohmer baby grand piano solely with gift funds. The fundraising effort brought together local music teachers, a generous public and the estate of a Purdue University physics teacher. “Since its debut at the library, the Sohmer is in active use by residents who have offered numerous piano, and other musical, recitals each spring and late fall. The piano is an active part of public presentations by both the library and community groups being played for art receptions, donor gatherings and the like,” said WLPL director Nick Schenkel. “Perhaps most of all, the baby grand urged our library board president at the time of the piano’s arrival to proclaim that WLPL is a special part of our community because of its ABC focus on arts, books and culture; a proclamation we gladly trumpet to this day,” Schenkel added. WLPL’s baby grand sits proudly in the library’s main meeting room suite awaiting use.

West Lafayette Public Library Director Nick Schenkel at the library’s Sohmer baby grand piano

While the thought of a library might not conjure up images of Jerry Lee Lewis rockin’ out, it can’t hurt to check with your local public library to see if they do, indeed, own a piano or house a piano practice room. Just remember to cool it on the “Chopsticks.”

This blog post was written by John Wekluk, communications director, Indiana State Library. For more information, email the communications director at communications@library.in.gov.

Innovation in library micro-grants from the Awesome Foundation

The Awesome Foundation is a worldwide community devoted to “forwarding the interest of awesome in the universe.” Created in 2009, the foundation distributes $1,000 grants, no strings attached, to projects and their creators.

Library Pipeline’s Innovation Committee has partnered with the Awesome Foundation to found an innovation in libraries chapter that will, each month, award a $1,000 micro-grant to a project that suggests creative solutions, proposes a new way of thinking about library services and supports under-served and diverse communities. Grant applications are due by the 15th of each month, with awardees announces by the first of the following month.

According to the Awesome Foundation, “The Awesome Innovation in Libraries Chapter was created by a small working group of passionate librarians within Library Pipeline who wanted to provide a catalyst for prototyping both technical and non-technical library innovations that embody the principles of diversity, inclusivity, creativity and risk-taking. Naturally, we embedded these principles into the grant selection guidelines. We are thankful for our dedicated team of trustees and sponsors who make this initiative possible.”

Award recipients are asked to report back publicly on what worked, what didn’t and what they learned, as well as to make the results of their efforts openly available to other to reuse in communities across the world.

To apply, submit your application on the Awesome Foundation website. Applications are constantly being accepted; please check the website details to confirm the next deadline.

This blog post was written by Amber Painter, southwest regional coordinator. For more information, contact the Professional Development Office (PDO) at (317) 232-3697 or email statewideservices@library.in.gov.  

Meet Fayette County Public Library’s new director, Betsy Slavens

Recently, Southeast Regional Coordinator Courtney Allison visited the Fayette County Public Library to chat with new director, Betsy Slavens. Betsy was the director at the Benton County Public Library before heading to Fayette County.

Are you from the area? If not, where are you from originally?
No. I am originally from Greenwood, Ind.

What inspired you to work in libraries?
I have always been a reader. When I was a child, my mom and dad would take me to two different library systems on alternating days because I could never get enough books. Even now, I always carry at least one book with me because I never know when I might get a spare minute. Working in a library seemed like a solid life choice.

What is your favorite thing about working for your library?
I love being the boss! No really. I really enjoy helping the staff meet their potential, advocating for the library in the community and helping library users discover something new and wonderful within our walls. I guess that’s actually three favorite things.

What is your favorite book?
That’s a hard question. So, I’m going to go with my top five desert island picks. I’d say, “Anne of Green Gables,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Special Topics in Calamity Physics” by Marisha Pessl, “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole and “Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932” by Francine Prose.

If you could have dinner with any three famous people in recorded history, who would they be and why?
Mr. Rogers because he was gentle, kind and thoughtful. I’m not sure what kind of dinner we’d have, but he was a vegetarian and I would like to respect that. I’d like to dish with Ernest Hemingway about cats over a couple of cocktails. Isn’t it fun to think of Ernest Hemingway going gaga over kitties? Jane Austen would be a hoot, too. We could go to the mall food court and people watch; it’d be a blast. I hope these are all individual dinner dates and not one big party.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
Besides reading, I enjoy going to food and beer festivals and taking road trips with my friends, travelling throughout Europe with my husband, watching British TV shows with my old man cat sitting on my lap, sewing, knitting, daydreaming and napping.

Welcome, Betsy!

This blog post was written by Courtney Allison, southeast regional coordinator, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Courtney at callison@library.in.gov.

Ready to Lead: The InLLA Leadership Toolkit

Leadership. What is it? What does it mean? What does it look like? The first known use of the word was in 1765, so the idea and topic of leadership has been around for centuries.  Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines leadership as: 1. the office or position of a leader; 2. capacity to lead; 3. the act or an instance of leading.

If you’re interested in leadership concepts and learning more about how to become a leader, I’d like to introduce you to Ready to Lead: The InLLA Leadership Toolkit. The toolkit will contain webinars, a recording, videos and other resources about leadership and preparing for leadership. To get a sneak peek of what you might find in the toolkit, we are excited to host the following leadership webinars in April:

  • Servant Leadership – April 12th 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. EST. Connie Scott, director, McMillen Library at Indiana Tech. Connie will talk about servant leadership, which means you’re a ‘servant’ first. Servant Leaders focus on the needs of others, especially team members and staff before your own needs.
  • Leadership vs. Management – April 20th 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EST. Michelle Bradley, manager, Member Engagement Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS). Michelle will talk about differences between management and leadership. Many times we confuse leadership with management principles. This webinar will cover the difference between the two.

This blog post was written by Kimberly Brown-Harden, northwest regional coordinator, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Kim at kbrown-harden@library.in.gov

Are you being served? Library cards for non-residents

In the Library Development Office (LDO) we occasionally hear from an Indiana resident who has moved into an unserved area. An unserved area is an area where there is not a library district. Though you may be in an unserved area, there are options for library service through a contract or non-resident fee. A one-stop guide highlighting the locations of Indiana libraries is the library districts map issued by Indiana Business Research Center. The map is found here.

If you are not a resident of a library district, non-resident cards are available from each of the 237 public libraries. The fees vary based on the library’s per capita expense for the service population. For service, choose the library closest to you and find out the non-resident fee. As mentioned, fees vary, but average between $56 to $70 per year.

Sometimes a township has contracted with a nearby library for service, which means the township may take on part, or all, of the cost of the library card. Please contact your local officials to see if they offer library cards to a nearby library.

This blog post was written by Karen Ainslie, library development librarian and Professional Development Office (PDO) librarian. For more information, contact the Library Development Office (LDO) at (317) 232-3697 or email statewideservices@library.in.gov.

Duty to report child abuse

Periodically, the Indiana State Library receives requests for information about whether library staff have an obligation to report suspected child abuse. This Q & A attempts to address the most common questions regarding this subject.

Are library staff required to report suspected child abuse or neglect?
(See IC 31-33-5-1 through IC 31-33-5-4)
Yes, an individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect is required to make a report to the Department of Child Services (DCS) or local law enforcement. Furthermore, if an individual is required to make a report in the individual’s capacity as a member of the staff of a public institution/agency, the individual is required to immediately notify the person in charge of the institution/agency (in this case, the library director) or must notify the library director’s designated agent. The library director, or the director’s designated agent, must make a report (or cause a report to be made) to DCS or local law enforcement. The staff person who personally observed the child who is suspected to be abused or neglected is only excused from making his/her own report if the staff person knows the director or the director’s designee made the report.

How should such reports be made? (See IC 31-33-5-4)
Reports must be made orally and immediately to either DCS or local law enforcement. Currently, DCS operates a hotline that is staffed 24-hours a day for the purpose of receiving such reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. The phone number is 1-800-800-5556. You could also call directly the local DCS office for the county in which your library is located.

Our library has a patron privacy policy. Doesn’t reporting suspected child abuse or neglect violate our patrons’ privacy?
The law always trumps local policy. Suspected child abuse and neglect must be reported. The library could consider amending the privacy policy to address that patron privacy is automatically waived in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect.

Children fall and hurt themselves all the time, it is not unusual to see children come in with bumps, bruises and scratches. What signs should I be watching out for when making a determination to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect?
Click here for the Indiana Department of Family and Social Services guide on identifying risk factors. Click here for the Prevent Child Abuse Indiana list of signs to watch for with the various types of abuse and neglect. Click here for the laws defining what constitutes children in need of services. Also, feel free to contact your county DCS office for further guidance.

What if I am not sure if the child is being abused or neglected? (IC 31-9-2-101)
You don’t have to be sure. Actual knowledge is not required by the law, nor do you have to have a high level of certainty. If you have reason to believe a child may be abused or neglected, make the report and let DCS determine if the report is substantiated. “Reason to believe”, for the purpose of the child abuse and neglect reporting laws, means “evidence that, if presented to individuals of similar background and training, would cause the individuals to believe that a child was abused or neglected.”

Is the library or library staff at any risk of legal liability for reporting suspected abuse or neglect if the report is later found to be unsubstantiated by the Department of Child Services? (See IC 31-33-6-1 through IC 31-33-6-3)
Unless a report is made in bad faith, individuals who report suspected child abuse or neglect are immune from civil or criminal liability relating to their making the report. The law presumes a person making such a report was acting in good faith.

Are there consequences for not reporting suspected abuse or neglect?
(See IC 31-33-22-1 & IC 35-50-3-3)
Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

I am concerned about retaliation from the family I reported, should I be concerned?
(See IC 31-33-18-1; IC 31-33-18-2; IC 31-33-18-5)
The names of individuals who report suspected child abuse or neglect to DCS are not supposed to be divulged by DCS. Library employees are not required to inform the parents that a report was made to DCS about the parents’ child. The audio recordings of calls made to the child abuse hotline are confidential and may be released only upon court order. Additionally, according to the DCS website, people who make reports of suspected abuse or neglect to DCS may remain anonymous.

This blog post was written by Sylvia Watson, library law consultant and legal counsel, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Sylvia at sywatson@library.IN.gov.

Expanding computer access for Indiana libraries

Since 2011, the Indiana State Library (ISL) has partnered with Net Literacy to offer free, rebuilt computers to libraries in Indiana. Net Literacy is an Indiana-based organization first founded in 2003 by a central Indiana middle-school student, Daniel Kent. The original purpose of this organization was to assist senior citizens by having middle and high school students teach the seniors how to use computers. The group accepted donated computers which the students rebuilt and donated to senior centers to allow them computer access. By 2010, Net Literacy had increased computer access and skills for over 50,000 senior citizens.

Unloading the truck.

Student volunteers strip down and rebuild the donated computers and dispose of the unusable pieces in an EPA-compliant manner preventing computers and monitors from being delivered to landfills. Net Literacy is a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) and installs Microsoft Windows, Open Source and other software on these computers.

Ready to roll.

In 2011, Kent approached ISL about providing refurbished computers to libraries who needed more public access computers. The computers come ready to set up with Windows 7 Professional, a minimum of 2GB ram, a 40GB or larger hard drive, a DVD drive, antivirus software and an Ethernet card, making them internet-ready. These computers come with a flat screen monitors and all of the required cables, mice and keyboards.

Unloaded and waiting to be tested.

Twice each year since that time, ISL has issued an open call to all public, institutional and other Indiana libraries to request these free computers. The requirements are simple: The requests are limited to libraries in Indiana, the computers must be used to assist the public and the library should be willing to pick this equipment up from the state library whenever possible. Since 2011, this partnership between the ISL and Net Literacy has made over 1,400 free, rebuilt computers and monitors available to libraries in Indiana.

Marcus Bullock, a Project Search intern, makes sure the computers are in working order.

For more information about this partnership or instructions on how to request Net Literacy computers, please contact the Library Development Office.

This blog post is by Steven J. Schmidt, Library Development Office supervisor. For more information, contact Steven at (317) 232-3715 or send an email to StatewideService@library.in.gov.

Future genealogy webinars

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get started on your family history? Are you wondering how to begin or where to start? The Indiana State Library (ISL) Genealogy Division wants to help you stay on track and meet your goal this year. Perusing your family history can be fun and rewarding. However, for the beginning genealogist, research can be difficult and many wonder how to get started. ISL can help you with this goal.

The Genealogy Division has created a brand new webinar that will be available online in the coming months. This webinar will help you tackle the beginning steps in genealogy research. The webinar will be recorded and available on ISL’s website. Once the webinar is published you will be able to access the recording free and on your own time. Learn about records sets, how to get started and why you might be having road blocks; all from the comfort of your home. Topics to be discussed include the basic principles of genealogy research, where to start and what information you can find in different records. Be sure to check out our website for updates on this and future webinars.

In the meantime, please browse our current collection of webinars and videos.

This blog post was written by Crystal Ward, librarian in the genealogy department. If you would like more information about this webinar or other genealogy events, please contact the genealogy department at 317-232-3689.