As you probably know, the concept behind the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia is that anybody can add to or change its contents. This results in a huge and powerful knowledge base culled from the varied interests and expertise of its worldwide members.
But this also raises questions about the reliability of such information. Recently, Cal Tech student Virgil Griffith has asked that same question and tried to answer it. Griffith has created a website called Wikipedia Scanner that makes the history of these changes transparent by exposing the changes that come from IP addresses within companies. This way, even when someone is making changes to Wikipedia anonymously, we can match those changes with the source they are coming from. For example, with a search on Diebold on the Wikipedia Scanner, you can find out that the company has excised an entire “Criticism” section from the Diebold entry (which has since been restored). Similarly, Wal-Mart has inserted statements that provide a positive spin on the company, replacing “Wages at Wal-Mart are about 20% less than at other retail stores,” with “The average wage at Wal-Mart is almost double the federal minimum wage (Wal-Mart).”
Knowing as much as possible about the source of your information is one of the keys to doing top-notch research. Thankfully, we have new ways of harnessing this incredible source without so easily falling into its traps.
Check out some of the other great research tools available free at the library!
Odds are you have read some banned books, or at the very least you’ve probably read a book that has been challenged: books in the Harry Potter series, “Gossip Girl”, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings“, “The Bluest Eye“, “The Color Purple“, and “Captain Underpants” have all been challenged.
A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Sexually explicit and offensive language were the most cited reasons for challenging a book but other reasons include: violence, homosexuality, racism, promoting occult themes or Satanism, anti-family, or “unsuited to age group”.
Celebrate the freedom to read September 29 – October 6 by checking out a book from your Dekalb County Public Library.
Most challenged books of 2006
Harry Potter and the Censor’s Flames
ALA Banned Books MySpace Page
There’s a lot of talk in computer and information circles about “Web 2.0.” This term refers to all the new technologies that are suddenly abundant on the web, and with these come a brand new vocabulary. Where terms like “cybersurfing” and “e-business” were new words 8 to 10 years ago, we now have “RSS,” “blog,” and “wiki.” Insiders and web aficionados have at least heard these words, but even people who use the web all the time may have trouble understanding what they mean. Fortunately for those of us who need a primer in all these new technologies, a group called Common Craft has put together some video tutorials that explain how all these work in simple, easy to understand ways.
Here’s a link to Common Craft’s video tutorial for RSS feeds.
And their main site: www.commoncraft.com
Twenty nominees have been selected for the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers!
Now it’s time for teens grades 9-12 to vote for their favorite. You can vote at any DeKalb County Public Library. Just make sure you do by March 14th 2008!
View the 2007-2008 Nominees!
Click here to check out The Georgia Peach Award Blog and comment on the nominee books you’ve read so far!
The film industry in Iran has been one of the most active and exciting ones in recent years. Luckily for us, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta has been presenting Iranian films for the last ten years. Don’t miss this year’s film series, which ends this weekend. Tickets are $5. Here are the last two films being played:
A Few Days Later…/Chand Rooz Ba’d…
Friday, September 28, 8 PM, Rich Theatre
Saturday, September 29, 8 PM, Rich Theatre
For more information, visit the High Museum of Art’s webpage.
Also, check out some of the other great Iranian films that the library owns:
Questions about health? Confused by your doctor? Go and ask the WIZ, the Wellness Information Zone, that connects you to health information.
DeKalb County Public Library is excited to be a part of a new pilot program which provides health information in three of our branches: Decatur, Chamblee, and Wesley-Chapel William C. Brown (photo). Developed by the Humana Foundation partnered with Libraries for the Future, the WIZ is a specially designed website where you can find information and links to a variety of health care topics from medical conditions to exercise and fitness. The WIZ website will also link to information on insurance programs and many websites, including the WIZ, have Spanish language content.
Using the WIZ is easy, each of the three branches has a special computer station that can be accessed with your library card and PIN or a guest card. Your time on the WIZ computers is a part of your normal internet access time at DeKalb County Public Libraries and you can also print from the WIZ stations.
DeKalb County Public Library Director Darro Willey was among those on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony at Atlanta-Fulton Public Library September 12 launching the Wellness Information Zone project. The project’s aim is to provide reliable health care information online.
Photo: From left to right: John Szabo, Director, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library system; Darro C. Willey, Director, DeKalb County Public Library; former Atlanta Hawks basketball star Dominique Wilkins and Virginia K. Judd, Executive Director of The Humana Foundation.
Dunwoody Library patrons now have the option of checking out their own items using self-checkout machines. After weeks of peering behind cardboard boxes with "Self Check-out Coming Soon" signs on them, patrons now have an opportunity to use the two 3M SelfCheck machines recently acquired by the library. So far the response has been very positive. When asked by a staff person how she liked it, one patron remarked, "If I can do it, anybody can!" and many others are pleased with the ease of use. Another gentleman said he would only use them if the line was really long. "I like to make you folks work!" the patron quipped.
Some patrons seem to fear that the self-checkout machines will somehow replace library staff, but library staff members know better. "Many of our long-time patrons would rather deal with people," says Gail Sessions, a veteran Dunwoody staffer, "These machines are very useful, but they can’t resolve library card problems, look up library books, or answer questions."
Self-checkout stations will be coming to several other DCPL branches soon.
This was also reported in Sunday’s AJC (online registration required).
Welcome to DCPLive, our new library blog for DeKalb residents. While not a veteran blogger myself, I am aware of what a ubiquitous presence blogs are in today’s world. So we are now offering this feature on our website to give library users a vehicle to stay in touch with what is going on at DCPL and share thoughts on whatever literary or library topics strikes them and vice versa.
For those less technologically inclined, the word “blog” is a portmanteau of the words “web” and “log,” and for those less inclined toward literary terms, the word “portmanteau” is defined as a word that fuses two or more words or word parts to give a combined or loaded meaning. I think it’s interesting to note this usage of “portmanteau” was coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). In the book, Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice words from Jabberwocky saying, “Well, slithy means lithe and slimy … You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.” I mention this only because “blog” sounds like something Carroll might have come up with if he lived today.
But I digress.
DCPLive will be a blog written by frontline library staff members. Posts will cover a wide array of topics and perspectives on DCPL services, books, reading, etc. You may wish to share your thoughts on a book mentioned in the blog or a program you attended by commenting on the blog post. We encourage you to do so.
Well, that’s my inaugural blog entry. While most of the posts on DCPLive will be by other library staff, from time to time I might chime in if the topic appeals or it seems appropriate.
Darro Willey, Library Director