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U.S. libraries news round up

The Information Literacy Group’s North American rep, Elizabeth Brookbank, has provided a round up of news from across the pond.

Vermont State University caused an uproar last month by announcing it would move to an “all-digital academic library.” This type of move is something that universities in the US have been tip-toeing toward for years, and it is often seen as a boogeyman for many libraries and librarians worried about the social value of a physical library in a “digital world.” But according to Inside Higher Ed, VSU’s “botched announcement led to an outcry, an apology and a no-confidence vote.” It also led to “a revised plan,” that states there will still be some physical books at VSU’s libraries next year, but it’s unclear if that will continue long-term.

Trauma-informed librarianship has been a topic of much discussion in the U.S. librarian community as a result of this article in Library Journal. Is this something you’ve discussed at your library? Share in the comments!

ChatGPT and AI in general has, of course, made news all over the world in the past couple months, and the U.S. librarian community has been buzzing, with quite a few blog posts like this one from Scholarly Kitchen coming out with a “librarian’s take” on the subject. Librarians also got swept up in the immediate conversation in education circles about the danger of AI being used by students to cheat. Though since that initial reaction, many in education have begun discussing how to use Chat GPT to teach, and the MLA-CCCC Joint Task Force on Writing and AI recently put out a great round-up of sites to read. Some HE librarians have also begun discussing the place of AI in conversations about information literacy and the equity (not to mention factual) problems inherent in the fact that the data set these AIs used to learn are not transparently shared. Especially as these tools have begun to make things up and make factual errors. Are there other articles you’ve read that you want to share? Please share them in the comments, as I know this is something many librarians want to stay informed about!

The ALA’s winter LibLearnX conference happened in New Orleans in January. One interesting topic related to IL that came out of it is avoiding “deficit thinking” in higher education in general and information literacy specifically. We’d love to hear examples of how librarians are taking this framing into the library classroom, so please share if you have. 

Many U.S. libraries have faced a large increase in the past year in attempted book bans and challenges to books on the shelves – specifically LGBTQIA+ books and books having anything to do with race (and thus wrongly assumed by some to be teaching Critical Race Theory). In fact, in a press release this month, ALA noted that the number book challenges in 2022 doubled from 2021. These bans and censorship attempts are mainly targeted at school and public libraries, and are happening all over the country. In Florida, one school district is enforcing special labels in the library catalog to mark a long list of books as “unsuitable for children,” a disproportionate amount of which are LBGTQ+.  One public library system in Michigan was de-funded by voters after a battle to ban some LGBTQ+ books. This story received such attention though that the library received a large amount of donations to stay open, including a large one by Nora Roberts (see the linked updates at the top of the story). There have also been other victories in this area, including when a lawsuit targeting two books for “obscenity” and trying to restrict their distribution, including in libraries, was thrown out in Virginia. In other states, however, these individual bans have begun the process of being codified in state law, including in Mississippi, or have resulted in cuts to library funding, as in Missouri.  

Do you have another reading to share on any of the above topics? Please post it in the comments! 

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