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How Blogs Work: A Tutorial for Mr. Acosta

The director of the National Library of Cuba has been e-mailing me fairly regularly (the messages are forwarded through an American librarian). I have been preparing responses to his messages, but have not rushed to publish because I wanted to get my citations correct (and frankly, because I have been busy with managing my running-dog life).

However, Mr. Acosta and, apparently, many of his librarian supporters in this country need a quick tutorial in how to search and browse a blog. I say this based on the following accusation, now making the rounds of lists such as PLG-L:

“(2) When is Ms. Karen G. Schneider, the self-proclaimed champion of freedom and rights, who has placed her website at the service of the cause of Mr. Robert Kent [not really–I called him shrill], which [website] is lacking in objective balance and has tendentiously slanted contents, going to have the decency and good taste to put back on Free Range Librarian the English text of the press release issued by the professional organizations that represent more than 12 thousand Cuban librarians, which was erased in the past few days, thus committing a grave violation of professional ethics?”

Disregarding Acosta’s misunderstanding about the nature of this blog–its tagline is “one librarian’s daily meditations about librarianship,” which hardly commits me to anything other than thinking out loud–I understand how Acosta rushed to conclude that the press release was “missing.” He’s a director of a very large library, and in just about any country, most high-ranking library administrators are technically-challenged. I am patient with these folks (anyone over 20 has been there, and that includes me), and have found myself explaining to fairly high-ranking librarians, without cracking a smile, how to press the “Enter” key, how to insert a CD-ROM right side up, and even, for the truly daring, how to right-click.

Therefore, I have a lot of sympathy with Mr. Acosta’s inability to locate the press release I had earlier published on this blog. Mr. Acosta: type the word acosta in the search box and then click the Search button. The press release will pop right up. You can also browse for this entry using the monthly archives, although my archives aren’t as fine-tuned as I’d like–so I recommend searching. (Mr. Acosta, if you invite me to your library in Cuba, I’ll conduct Internet search classes for your staff and the public. You do let the public search the Internet, right?)

What I don’t have much sympathy for are my colleagues in librarianship with such limited research skills that they would take Acosta’s words at face value without looking for themselves. Such is the pathetic state of library reference in this day and age that librarians would mindlessly forward, forward, forward without checking facts. If our collective abilities don’t have a sharp uptick very soon, we will be a dead profession in fifty years.

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