Library Juice 7:22 - October 22, 2004


1. Links....
2. The problem with and other plagiarism detection services
3. Project to Save Iraqi Culture
4. Information-Seeking During Wartime: Reconsidering the Role of the
Library in a Time of Increasing User Self-Sufficiency

5. Library School Drove Me Insane

Quote for the week:

"The press, which is mostly controlled by vested interests, has an
excessive influence on public opinion."
- Albert Einstein, from an interview for the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche
, 1921; also quoted in Berliner Tageblatt, July 7 1921;
Reprinted in The Quotable Einstein (Princeton University Press, 1996)

Homepage of the week: David M. Oldenkamp


1. Links....


New on articles from Progressive Librarian No. 23

The School Library/Media Center and Construction of the Subject, by Bria

The Basis of a Humanist Librarianship in the Ideal of Human Autonomy, by
Mark Rosenzweig

_Dismantling the Public Sphere_, by John Buschman, Reviewed by Bernd

John Buschman's response to Frohmann's review

_Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out_, edited by
Katia Roberto and Jessamyn West. reviewed by John Buschman


Wiki wars: Think this year's presidential debates have been rough? Check
out Wikipedia. Red Herring. October 14, 2004.

[ sent by Bernie Sloan to COLLIB-L ]


Moulton woman says she lost job for sporting Kerry sticker on car

[ sent to me by Stacy Barber ]


David Molnar and David Wagner
Privacy and Security in Library RFID: Issues, Practices, and
CCS'04, October 25-29, 2004 Washington, D.C.

Position Paper: RFID and Libraries
Lori Bowen Ayre
The Galecia Group
August 19, 2004

RFID and Libraries: Both Sides of the Chip
Karen G. Schneider
Director, Librarians' Index to the Internet,
Chair, California Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee

Richard Boss, RFID Technology for Libraries


[ sent by Don Wood ]


Libraries hit by fall in book borrowing,3604,1328008,00.html

[ sent by Mark Rosenzweig to the ALA Council list ]


Brokaw Broadcasts "Bible Ban" BS

Post-Debate Fact-Checking Is Media's Main Job

Finding Fault on Both Sides Can Be False Balance

MSNBC's Rightward Slant on Debate Coverage

Progressives excluded as right battles center
By Steve Rendall & Anne Kosseff

By Anne Kosseff & Steve Rendall

Washington Post Still Stretching to Find Kerry Fibs

[ From Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ]


The Indymedia Solidarity Petition. A Declaration in Support of the
Indymedia Network and Against the Seizure of its Servers

[ from Deborah Richards to the anarchist librarians list ]


Booklet That Upset Mrs. Cheney Is History
The Department of Education destroys 300,000 parent guides to remove
references to national standards.
by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jean Merl

[ sent by Michael Gorman to the ALA Council list ]


Nominations sought for annual ALA Recognition Awards and Grants


Some Alternative Library Collections

[ From Amy Mullin to Library Underground ]


As part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of SJSU SLIS, the
Alumni Association has created an online Memory Book. Please add your
reminiscences, anecdotes, etc., and read those posted by other alums.

To add a Memory:
To read Memories:


German list of electronic LIS serials, including many not often
seen here:

French LIS serials:

[ found surfing ]


Library of Congress Restricted Manuscript Collections

[ from Michael Ravnitzky to me ]


The Internet Courses: Weblogs

[ Found on ]


2. The problem with and other plagiarism detection services

by Rory Litwin

I attended a panel at the Minnesota Library Association conference on
October 8th about plagiarism and plagiarism detection services. It was a
thought-provoking and informative panel. I made a comment at the end of
Ruth Zietlow's presentation on, the plagiarism detection
service, that I'd like to elaborate here. I was impressed with the
service as she described it, but found myself wondering whether systems
for policing students such as that don't ultimately do a disservice to
young people by reinforcing an adversarial relationship to adult
authority rather than helping them to build an internal understanding of
the reasons plagiarism is wrong, by seeing the issue from a variety of
perspectives and by beginning to see themselves as the peers of other
authors and members of the adult world in their own right.

The panelists discussed research that provided varying reports of the rate
of plagiarism and cheating among students. Though I don't have the
research at hand to support my viewpoint on this scientifically, my
experience tells me that many students who cheat in school would not so
easily lie to their peers. Students who cheat are not necessarily
immoral people; they have a sense of right and wrong and a sense of
honor. That sense of right and wrong, however, is relative to community
loyalty. Few of even the most moralistic adults would say that the
requirement to be honest would extend to a situation in which they were
being interrogated by "the enemy." The problem, then, is the general
educational problem of leading students to internalize adult values and
identifications, while at the same time recognizing and supporting their
legitimate critical viewpoints. It's part of the job of educators to
help turn students' rejection of adult society into a sense of having a
share of ownership in that society, and along with that ownership, a
sense of the ability and the responsibility to change it according to
their innate sense of justice; and along with that sense of ability and
responsibility to oneself, an ethical sense of responsibility to the
community as a whole that recognizes the rights of other individuals and
various aspects of the social contract.

I think it's important to look at plagiarism, plagiarism prevention and
plagiarism detection from that point of view, to recognize the question
of how the "rules" against plagiarism and other forms of cheating are
viewed by students, and how pedagogical practices affect how those rules
are viewed. Another panelist, Jim Newsome of the College of Saint
Catherine, emphasized the importance of plagiarism prevention through
education, and the importance of using relevant and interesting
assignments, and his talk did hit on the importance of teaching in a way
that doesn't alienate students (e.g. the importance of assignments that
are interesting and relevant; communicating a sense of excitement about
the research process). (In fact, much of what I am saying here echoes
things that he touched on, in a rather understated way, in his

Ruth Zietlow described using the plagiarism detection system
in an open and public way in some classes, so that students could not
only see what the system looks like from the instructor's perspective
(which creates a distinct awareness of the mechanism of enforcement of a
rule by the authority figure) but could also see their fellow students'
"scores" on a scale of suspiciousness when they turned in their
assignments. There is something about this that seems to me at variance
with the overall task of leading students to a mature, independent
ethical sensibility, because it maintains the whole issue of plagiarism
on the footing of a "game," where the students and the instructor are
adversaries, rather than emphasizing learning experiences that lead
students to the independent realization that cheating in school is
cheating oneself as well as cheating people who, in a larger sense, are,
or will become, one's peers.

Does this mean that I think there is no place for the policing of
plagiarism in education? Not exactly. I think that we should be using
plagiarism detection software, and TurnItIn is probably the one with the
most extensive database of papers. I think, however, that our use of it
should be discreet, and I think our response to plagiarism when we
uncover it should be primarily educational rather than disciplinary (with
the exception of chronic cases). In other words, we should approach
plagiarism not with the attitude of police but with the attitude of
educators who are helping our students reach moral as well as
intellectual maturity and a sense of shared ownership of society and its


Response from Ruth Zeitlow

Re: Plagiarism presentation
Date: 10/11/04 12:34 pm
From: "Ruth Zietlow" <Ruth.Zietlow[at]>
To: <rlitwin[at]>


Thank you very much for the opportunity to review your opinion piece
and offer a response.

I, too, can see where Turnitin may be a blunt tool that does not
support a trusting relationship between students and their instructors
if used in an indiscriminant, "gotcha" way. In my presentation I
tried to present an alternative way to use Turnitin.

I wish to highlight a few points in response to your editorial.

The product exists. In fact, there are several vendors that produce
software like this. Turnitin is presently the largest and most known of
the products. I do not wish to be an apologist for these vendors,
however, I do not foresee them going away.

I work very hard at developing a trusting relationship with my
students, and the evaluations at the end of the course confirm that I
usually accomplish reach this goal. As a class we address the social
issues that surround plagiarism and copyright late in the course. I
feel my offer to have students submit their own papers a week before
their final copy is due is an innovative way to let students know of
this product's existence and use it in a way that they control. I do
not force my students to submit their papers to the system, though they
seem to appreciate the opportunity to use the system when it is offered.
I have had two students opt out of the exercise in the last two years.

My university has a very large number of students who are the first
generation to attend an institution of higher learning in the U.S. We
are not a residential campus of young students who go to school
full-time. 67% of our students work full-time and go to school evenings
and weekends. Generally speaking, they are not members of the
"well-off" societal classes. The average age of a Metropolitan
State student is 32 years old. Thus I find it difficult to apply your
thoughts on the adversarial relationship between young people and the
"adult world" to my environment. My students are already part of
the adult world. To review demographic information about my university,
you may want to take a look at

I would appreciate a description of classes you've taught, and the
schools where your classes were offered, so that I might expand more on
commonalities and differences in our student populations, and the
various curricula with which we have seen our respective students

There is a major inaccuracy in your piece. One student cannot see
another student's report in Turnitin. They only see their own report.
The fact that my students started joking with each other, and sharing
their scores with each other, was a class dynamic I had not seen before.
In fact, given the commuter nature of my university's student body, I
see it as a positive sign that friendships were made in my class, and
that my students were choosing to share with each other voluntarily.

I think it would be a disservice to my students if they left my class
without knowing about the commonly held values of intellectual integrity
in the larger academic community, the existence of these detection
products, and the potential fallout to their reputation if they
disregard this cultural norm of the academy.

I believe that overall we agree more than we disagree. We share the
sense that "the overall task of leading students to a mature,
independent ethical sensibility" is a worthy goal. Given your ethical
sensibilities, I am sure that if you publish your original editorial
piece that you will publish this response in its entirety.

Thank you,
Ruth Zietlow
Assistant Professor and Minneapolis Campus Librarian
Metropolitan State University

3. Project to Save Iraqi Culture

[ARLIS-L] Project to Save Iraqi Contemporary Art
Date: 10/17/04 09:52 pm
From: Andras Riedlmayer <riedlmay[at]FAS.HARVARD.EDU>
Reply to: Andras Riedlmayer <riedlmay[at]FAS.HARVARD.EDU>

(Fwd from the GNAA list -- )

From: Sami Al-Banna
To: hal-tawil[at] ; shabout[at]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2004 8:13 PM
Subject: Project to Save Iraqi Culture

To all the colleagues in the mailing list:
Please try to assist in this important project to save the Iraqi Culture

"Project to Save Iraqi Culture"

Dr. Hashim Al-Tawil

The US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the ensuing conquest by the
US-British forces caused Iraq to suffer tremendous loss on all aspects:
socially, economically, and culturally. The invasion resulted in
an unprecedented pillage and destruction of Iraqi antiquities, rare
collections of manuscripts, and other valuable artifacts. Looted also
is almost the entire collection of modern Iraqi art which was housed at
Markaz Saddam lil-Funun (National Museum of Modern Iraqi Art) in Baghdad.

This collection is an important visual documentation to the historical
and cultural development of Iraqi and Arab modern art. It contains
magnificent examples of the various styles, contents, techniques, and
media that characterize the rich modern Iraqi art experience with diverse
visual presentations: political, cultural, ethnic, religious, and others.

For over three decades (1960-1990) Baghdad was the center for art
activities of both regional and international nature, where Arab art
Biennials, International exhibits and conferences, and national annual
exhibit took place years round. The results of these tremendous activities
was reflected in the richness of the priceless collection of thousands
of artworks in painting, sculpture, ceramic, calligraphy, poster, print,
and 3D forms. The collection contains work from the late 19th century to
early months of 2003.

Starting before the second half of the twentieth century and later years,
especially during 1960-1990 Iraq rapidly developed a rich and diverse
cultural scene. For decades Baghdad was the center of bright cultural
activities that attracted artists and intellectuals from all around
the Arab world, Europe, and the rest of the world. The outcome of
those productive years was a wealth of cultural programs, art schools
with offerings in both graduate and undergraduate studies, galleries, and
national museums. Iraqi artists produced valuable collections of artworks
that set up an influential style in the Arab world for years to come.
Great number of art galleries opened with around the year activities of
endless shows for Iraqi artists as well as Arab and international artists.

The ministry of culture and information was keen to acquire artworks
and added it to the ever growing collection of Modern Iraqi Art.

That collection was brutally looted in the aftermath of the invasion.
Currently efforts are being exerted by many concerned intellectuals,
artists, and scholars to retrieve, restore and recover what is possible
from the collection. I recently joined Dr. Nada Shabout in her noble
task of recovering the records and documenting that lost heritage.
She has done tremendous preparatory work to materialize the details of
this important project. We are working with the help and support of many
concerned Iraqi and Arab intellectuals and artists to reach this goal.
Our multifaceted plan is aimed at securing, retrieving and safeguarding
what can be salvaged from that lost Iraqi heritage. We are trying to
secure funding from educational institutions, International cultural
organizations and sympathetic individuals. Any help in this regard
is truly appreciated.

The second part of this project involves an important portion of Iraqi
culture that is in jeopardy at the present time. While Markaz Saddam
housed the entire collection of modern Iraqi art, a considerable number
of artworks were housed in few other places, and have not been damaged
entirely. These works are found in the following and possibly other

1: Saddam International Airport contains 50 artworks, most are murals
executed by prominent Iraqi artists in early 1980s.

2: The Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad contains over 20 monumental works
(painting & sculpture) and some 900 original prints distributed in
the luxurious bedrooms and suites of that hotel.

3: The Republic Palace (Saddam's Residence) contains a museum with unknown
numbers of artworks, craft, gifts, and documents. It is a well-known fact
among Iraqi artists that a special joint committee from the ministry of
information and the palace used to acquire artworks from major exhibitions
in Baghdad for that museum. This tradition continued for many years
(1980-1990). There is no published official record for the art collection
at the palace, but it is a sizable one.

4: Conference Palace, Baghdad with uncertain number of artworks.

The above mentioned four locations - with possibly more - are currently
under the US occupation authority. Other art collections are found
at different offices belonging to the Ministry of Culture & Information
such as the Iraqi Fashion House, and different cultural organizations.

As the country is still under occupation, it is the responsibility of
the occupying forces and the Iraqi government - appointed or elected -
to make every effort in securing the safety of these works.

5: Public Monuments

The US-British occupiers will not allow symbols of independence stand
in their presence. Jawad Salim's monument and Faiq Hassan's mosaic mural
(in al-Tahrir Plaza in Baghdad), both represent Iraq independence
from British colonialism in 1958 are certainly in jeopardy. The "Shahid
Monument" of Isma'il al-Turk and Khalid al-Rahhal "Unknown Soldier" and
"Victory Monument", and many other public art monuments in other cities
will be in direct danger because of their political iconography which
does not resonate harmoniously with colonialist mindset. These monuments -
throughout Iraq, regardless of their quality and content - are part of
the cultural history of the country. We need to build public awareness
on these issues for their protection and that of other cultural materials
of Iraq history.

Since most of these locations have not been looted (yet), chances are
that the majority of the works are still unharmed. There is an urgent
need for action to rescue these works of art before another wave of
chaotic events strike. It is our intention to acquire all necessary
legal advice to be able to inventory, record and document artworks
in these places. We are in the process of consulting with legal firms
to solidify the legality of such acts and their due process. We need to
create a constructive set of guidelines for safeguarding these works
of art in cooperation with a trusted body of Iraqi officials. We ask all
fellow Iraqi and Arab artists, scholars, intellectuals, art collectors,
gallery directors, and supporters to assist in this noble work
by providing us with any relevant information, books, articles,
documentation, pictures, digital images, slides, catalogs, brochures,
booklets, video clips, film footage, audio recording, and any other
related useful information.

This is a collective voluntary effort and we need your support. It
is crucial that the project connect with professionals in the field
working in Europe, Arab countries, Iraq, and other parts of the world
that might produce significant support to this subject. Also please
forward this message to any and all concerned individuals, artists, and
intellectuals who might be of help. Please direct your communication
and suggestion to either me or Nada Shabout as follow:

Hashim Al-Tawil

Hashim Al-Tawil, Ph.D.
Professor & Head of Art History program
Fine Art Division
Henry Ford Community College
5101 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128-1495
(313) 845-6489

Nada Shabout, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Art History
University of North Texas
P.O. Box 305100
Denton, TX 76203
(940) 565-4027

4. Information-Seeking During Wartime:
Reconsidering the Role of the Library in a Time of Increasing
User Self-Sufficiency

Doug Horne
Head, Academic Liaison
McLaughlin Library
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 2W1

As a life-long news addict and career information professional,
information seeking habits are always of interest to me. I am either
trying to figure out how to get people what they need when they need it,
or I have a personal interest in getting the good information first.
Information seeking reaches a new level of intensity when a "breaking
news story", a crisis, or some other event of global interest becomes a
focus of attention. The Internet has made it all the more possible to
remain up-to-date, consult many sources and viewpoints, and get the
information as it becomes available. In recent cases, each subsequent
international news story has produced new strategies for obtaining
information, as developing Internet technologies put the tools for
gathering and disseminating information into the hands of an increasingly
large group of people. When an event like the 2003 invasion of Iraq took
place, the huge range of possibilities for online sources of information
lead to a lengthy and involved search for the "best" information and
unique insight into the events. This type of information gathering can be
a great challenge and the world of information has become all the more
rich and daunting as the possibilities for sources of information have
grown exponentially with the advent of networked information and
instantaneous global communication.

In 1991 as the war in Iraq broke out, we were introduced to a new type of
reporting of information. While Viet Nam had been the war fought on the
evening news, Iraq was the war in which we watched live footage of the
bombing of Baghdad in grainy night-vision images of tracers in the sky.
Occasionally, we would see reporters in a Baghdad hotel giving live
accounts of life in a city under attack. On the first night of this war
the public library I was working in at the time completely emptied as
people watched prime-time broadcasting of the bombing of a city. At the
time this was a new phenomenon and both television and radio provided
constant coverage. During lulls in the action we were shown videotaped
footage of bombs being dropped, and the impact of precision weapons on
targets. All of this was carefully delivered in press briefings that
were the sole access the press had to the military. In this conflict, we
were offered the strange combination of tremendous new technology for
delivering coverage of war, coupled with a very controlled release of the
available information. We were frequently watching live broadcasts but
the authorities, very aware of the power of the media at the time, made
great efforts to try to ensure that the message getting out was under
their control. In 1991, it was still possible to control the relatively
small number of media outlets, and journalists were not allowed to roam
freely in Iraq but were fed information through press briefings.

Teaching university students how to research this type of event a couple
of years later, I would relate the first piece of advice imparted in my
undergraduate international relations classes: read the newspaper. Better
yet, read more than one newspaper. For the new crop of now Internet
savvy students who thought they didn't need such a primitive method of
retrieving information, I related the following experience. During
Desert Storm in 1991, one of the most dramatic events was the Iraqi
retreat from Kuwait City along what was called the Basra Highway. The US
media related in press releases how Air Force F-15s and A6s intercepted
and destroyed the retreating Iraqi military as they raced North in a huge
victory for the coalition. The Times reported "roads leading north from
Kuwait City were clogged with Iraqi military vehicles". (Apple, 1991)
Later, browsing our library's copy of the Times of London, which at that
time was received in paper and thus was always behind, I read a very
different account of this event. In this version, a panicked Iraqi
military had escaped Kuwait City in any civilian vehicles they could find
and were racing North in what was described as "anything that had
wheels" and "brand new Mercedes, Range Rovers, and luxury American
limousines." (Airs, 1991) This unfortunate convoy was cut off at a
bottleneck in the highway and destroyed like fish in a barrel by the
American air power, the vehicles gradually piling up behind each other
and fanning out into the desert as each tried to get around the carnage.
My example simply pointed out the importance of reading multiple sources
and gaining multiple viewpoints, then assessing the accumulated
information. One source is rarely enough to provide a well-rounded
account of events and most sources have a political stance or agenda,
even when the intention is to remain objective. In 1991, most people
still only had access to a small number of media outlets, using
television, radio, and print media. The voices most heard were North
American, and to find alternate viewpoints required a good deal of

From the start the 2003 version of the war in Iraq was different.
"Embedded" journalists rode into battle with the troops with everything
broadcast live via satellite. The promise of embedding journalists was
that this war would be transparent, and we would witness the reality of
the events as they unfolded on the front line. With a thoroughly
promoted and anticipated "starting time" for the war, people sat down to
watch it begin and saw many correspondents head north into the Iraqi
frontier. Unfortunately, war in real time turned out to be extremely
boring. Hours of footage shot through the window of a military vehicle
rolling across endless desert did not impart a great deal of information,
and did not hold the attention for long. Network broadcasts provided
little more satisfaction as we were provided with a very narrowly focused
account of the events, often from nothing more than a stationary camera
focused on a Baghdad intersection. Putting the camera in the hands of
individuals in the field gave us a very personal and detailed view of the
events that we received immediately, but these views were still those
filtered through the major television networks, and thus limited in
scope. Despite significant advances in technology, receiving messages
from the mainstream media left one only as informed as when reading a
single newspaper in 1991, and many of us were also suspicious of the
"good news" message we were uniformly receiving from these outlets. In
fact, the views of combat journalists in Viet Nam were far more
informative and provided more in-depth coverage, even though they took
time to compose and had to be shipped out of the country to be published.

For those of us who had been paying attention to the buildup to the Iraq
conflict, we knew that there were better sources of information than the
mainstream media. For some time, I had been debating all things
political on an Internet bulletin board. The participants were mostly
young, well-read, opinionated people who were very good at keeping
up-to-date and using the Internet to back up their claims. Whenever I
had discussed such forums in the Library setting, they had always been
dismissed as places for subjective ranting, lacking the academic rigor
that we required in our information sources. What was clear to me from
my very early visits to this forum, however, was that this community did
not tolerate poor arguments and unreliable sources. In fact, one learned
quite quickly to thoroughly research one's arguments, as the other
members of the forum were quite merciless in their attacks on flawed
reasoning and sources. Those who became known for sloppy reasoning might
not be banished, but they were most certainly labeled and known to the
community. It's true that the discussions often didn't meet the
standards of academia, but that does not diminish the fact that informed
and well-read people were expressing themselves, relating information
from many international viewpoints (one was a young person in Lebanon,
another a member of the US military), and often comparing favourably with
major news outlets in terms of how quickly they communicated the latest
news. The advantage of this type of forum was that the participants
expressed a wide range of viewpoints, which was a refreshing change from
the homogeneity of the media's message. I was quite impressed by the
ability of these people to very quickly find interesting and obscure
sources of information and to use the Internet to its fullest potential.
Activity on these boards generally fluctuated with the activity on the
ground in Iraq and in the media, so that when the war began in earnest
information was passed at a high rate of speed.

At a certain point in the conflict as information was flooding in from
many sources I felt the need to ask these people to list their favourite
information sources. The results were varied and fascinating, and I made
a large bookmark file to keep track of it all. These people certainly
didn't need my advice about reading a wide range of newspapers, as they
read any and all that could be found. The most significant fact to
emerge was that the availability of newspapers on the Internet leads
these people to read not just major North American papers, but to branch
out to interesting sources around the world. While The NY Times, The
Times of London, and The Guardian were popular choices, quality sources
were visited wherever they might be found. These included the Sydney
Morning Herald, The Ha'aretz Daily, The Lebanon Daily Star, and The
Sacramento Bee. The papers were often chosen exclusively for the quality
of coverage and local writers. While any source can provide wire service
coverage, intelligent analysis of the issues was highly valued during
these confusing times. While I had access to quite a number of newspapers
in my student days, I had no way to search as far and wide as these
people could on a regular basis from the comfort of their homes. There
was a strong desire expressed to seek out a wide range of viewpoints, and
to find more than the wire services had to offer.

Many of the participants also consulted Al-Jazeera on a regular basis.
This was an interesting new addition for those in search of information.
In the 1991 war, there was no information flowing from Arab side of the
war, and I don't recall ever hearing an Iraqi opinion on the situation.
This new source of information sprang up somewhere between 1991 and 2003
and made its way rapidly into our consciousness with the new Gulf War.
Perhaps the most significant inroads made by Al-Jazeera occurred as CNN
reporters were asked to leave Iraq temporarily at the beginning of the US
attack on Baghdad, and all of the live feeds of the bombings (watched by
millions), were provided by Al-Jazeera with their logo only partially
covered at the bottom of our television screens. (Goodman, 2003) I
suspect that many people never noticed the Al-Jazeera logo on their
screens, but the impact of their coverage was clear and significant.
This was also the same news network that broadcast footage of captured US
soldiers early in the conflict, leading to a great deal of ethical debate
about the treatment of prisoners. (El Deeb, 2003) While its introduction
to our world of information was controversial, it was clear from the
beginning that this news source was credible and tended to be present
when news was being made in the Arab world. In fact, once one got used
to the idea, Al-Jazeera seemed very similar in nature to CNN. For those
of us suspicious of the major media outlets, a dissenting voice was
welcome, particularly one that obviously possessed significant resources.
Some clearly felt that this dissenting and loud voice was a threat, as
the Al-Jazeera web site was repeatedly hacked and made unavailable during
periods early in the conflict. This lead to the interesting phenomenon
of people posting instructions on how to watch Al-Jazeera television
broadcasts live on one's computer, and others providing summaries of this
news source on their own sites. As with everything on the web, it
turned out to be impossible to silence an information source if it wishes
to be heard.

One of the most remarkable sources of information available from the
Internet during the Iraq conflict was simply called "War in Iraq",
( a half English half Russian site with details
regularly posted on troop movements and major military engagements.
While we were watching embedded reporters in the western media, this site
seemed to be monitoring military communication inside Iraq and reporting
detailed troop movements and combat operations. These stories were very
different from the others we were hearing, and the reports seemed more
authentic, relating the difficulties and ugliness of war. This source was
unlike anything I had seen before, describing in great detail the
progress of battles that were mentioned only in passing by the major
media outlets. While it seemed reasonable to assume at the time that
these were authentic accounts, many of them have been verified since. As
the US troops approached Baghdad this web-site temporarily packed up and,
suggesting that they were leaving the country with the Russian embassy,
disappeared for a few days. The site began updating again in the same
interesting manner shortly thereafter and recently went offline.
(remnants of this site can be viewed by searching at The site claimed to be gathering information
by monitoring military radio and there seemed to be no reason to doubt
this as the reports were detailed and mirrored the reports coming through
other outlets. Such a point of view had been completely unavailable in
previous conflicts, and the discussion forums on this site were
particularly unique, pitting Russian visitors against those from the US.

The possibility of receiving first person reports from the front line was
fascinating for those in search of the most detailed information. While
this type of reporting had been possible previously, instantaneous
reporting from the front lines was new. For those on the move, initial
television reports delivered by satellite telephone were disappointingly
grainy and out of synch. The obvious tool to provide continually updated
information was the blog. This source of information has been routinely
devalued in the past as "vanity publishing" by researchers and
information professionals. Indeed, many thousands of blogs are nothing
more than a diary for people with little to say, but in the hands of the
right people they can be a unique insight into the minds of otherwise
inaccessible viewpoints. Now a standard form of communication, the
situation of war brought the blog to the centre of public attention.
These websites featuring frequent posts can be easily and quickly
updated, and being largely text-based are not overly demanding of
bandwidth or processing power. Perhaps the most famous of the blogs came
straight out of Baghdad beginning well before the war, featuring a young
Iraqi name Salam Pax. Called "Where's Raed?", this blog quickly became
known as a unique viewpoint from inside the society and city being
dominated by Saddam Hussein. What may have been most surprising about
this depiction of life in Iraq was simply how normal it all seemed.
While it is easy to think of the "other side" as an alien environment, it
was clear that Salam was just a young person in large city. Salam was
able to tell us from the site of the action when a missile landed or a
bomber flew overhead. While CNN could relate the story with the
detachment of a foreigner in a strange land filtered by the US military,
Pax was telling of the experience while sitting in a residential living
room. As the inevitable invasion approached the depictions of Baghdad
became darker and more uncertain. One image that stuck in my mind was of
Ba'ath party members digging in on the streets and stacking weapons on
the corners for the citizens to keep in their houses. The intention and
consequence of this distribution of weapons is now very clear in an Iraq
in which everyone seems to be armed.

Where's Raed? ( was just one of many blogs
being published from inside Iraq during this conflict. While there were
blogs produced by mainstream media and American soldiers in Iraq, the
more interesting ones were those from otherwise unheard voices. ( provided an aggregating service of
headlines from around the world combined with the personal observances of
its creator as he crossed the border from Turkey and explored Northern
Iraq. Blogs such as "Back to Iraq" ( and
"Baghdad Burning" ( are just two sources of
information coming from Iraq that are not aligned with any particular
authority but supply reports of day to day life in the country. There
are also a number of blogs maintained by those fighting against the
occupation. Such a thing would have been inconceivable in the last war
in Iraq, but the level of organization and sophistication of the
opposition is significantly different this time. The opposition is also
clearly aware of the power of information and they realize that providing
an alternative voice makes a huge difference in the message getting out
to the world. Perhaps the most remarkable of these sites is 'The Iraqi
Resistance" (,
devoted to day to day reporting of activities in Iraq. While many would
consider this to be anti-American propaganda, it is a fairly
straightforward (although obviously biased) accounting. It provides
weekly activity reports that often reflect what can be heard elsewhere,
although told from a viewpoint not often heard in the Western media. I
was also very interested in the photo gallery on this site, as it
displays a series of images very different from those seen elsewhere. As
one might expect, the images are clearly depicting the negative aspects
of the war, but they are eerily reminiscent of images from Viet Nam.
American soldiers suffering the horrors of war are the standard here, but
the site wisely stops short of the grisly to simply focus on the fact
that war is ugly and sad. The fact that an increasing number of people
are media-savvy is obvious here, as the maintainers of this site seem to
realize what will draw in the sympathetic visitor, but don't go so far as
to turn off most people with the sensational. In fact, rather than
showing the expected images of triumphant opposition forces, the
selection is clearly carefully selected to increase support for their
side of the issues. The viewpoint they communicate is important, as it
is clearly reflective of a reality, whether or not it is one many people
in the West want to view.

The pace at which information was being made available during the war made
sites with frequent updates and information from a wide variety of
sources very valuable. While the larger news sites that are frequently
considered the most reliable still offered a great deal of information,
there were many other options. The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, and
other major new outlets are now able to update at a moments notice (a
practice perfected after the experience of the Internet being a primary
source of information on September 11 and at times being incapable of
keeping up with demand). (LeFebvre, 2002) News aggregators, however,
have probably never been as popular and as useful as they were early in
the Iraq war. These sites bring together news from a variety of sites to
produce a complete up-to-date picture of the news, albeit generally with
an identifiable political slant. Perhaps the most well known of these
sites is The Drudge Report (, providing quite a
large number of politics-related headlines from many sources. Although
Drudge is controversial and shunned by many as transparently ideological,
what he does is very useful. These digests of the news make for
convenient "one-stop" picture of the state of things and allow one to see
articles that might otherwise require a great deal of searching. It is
important to be careful, however, to balance one's input by visiting a
number of sites and gathering different viewpoints.

During the most information intensive moments of the recent Gulf war, it
was helpful to visit several aggregators a day (and at times several
times per day). One that I visited regularly was the Agonist
(, a site that combined the blog of a reporter
in Iraq with links to breaking news from a variety of sources. Others
included the Independent Media Center (, and the
rather obvious but often overlooked Google news (
A great source that really came into it's own during this conflict was
the World Press Review online ( which is a
truly international collection of world news, collecting material from
virtually everywhere. I also noticed that people were turning to sites
with more sophisticated analysis of events as well as examination of the
media itself, like that found in The Economist
(, MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research
Institute, (,
(, or sources like the Cato Institute
( With all of these sources available,
the mainstream media seemed like the least likely source for information
when things were happening quickly. The major networks in the west have
been criticized for taking on an overly positive tone on stories related
to the war, and seemed a bit to keen to run stories that were clearly
being looked at with a more skeptical eye by other outlets. (Regan, 2004)
For those of us interested in getting as close as possible to what's
"really happening" viewing the commonly seen pictures of Saddam's statue
being pulled down was not sufficient, when the alternative new sources
had the wider angle shots showing it to be a carefully controlled media
event. (Watson, 2003) By this point in the war, those of us who had been
following it through the Internet identified this event immediately as
one requiring further investigation, and multiple sources provided
alternative views.

The rapid development of the information environment in response to the
increased demand for information at the beginning of the recent Iraq
conflict was a fascinating thing to watch for the information
professional. While people in the West (and likely those in the Middle
East as well) initially tuned into the usual media outlets to view the
promised embedded journalists ride across the border into Iraq, the
curious very quickly began to search out other outlets. While the
official outlets provided coverage, homegrown sources of information
quickly became a very important alternative. People quite simply
referred to the source that provided the most up-to-date and credible
information. In this war, the availability of many different viewpoints
caused the curious to seek out as many versions of the stories as were
available, and this lead to perhaps the most startling of revelations
relating to people and their information seeking habits. Many of the
knowledgeable and well-read people I spoke to were doing their own
searching and determining the value of information on their own. None of
these people were turning to the Library for the information, and while
many recognized the value of libraries and their materials, the fact that
information was restricted to registered users in the case of
universities, or was limited in scope in the case of public libraries,
meant that these people simply went elsewhere, and got results. They
occasionally envied my access to historical newspapers, or expensive
journals, but this didn't cause them to seek them out. On reflection, I
realized that I also was not turning to the very library that I worked in
every day. I also realized that all of the sources that I was finding
and being referred to were not the sources that my Library was offering
to users on a regular basis. While the available information had
exploded in volume and variety, those asking at the Library were still
being pointed to the traditional sources, meeting our criteria of
academic quality. An entire world of information and alternative
viewpoints was virtually invisible to the Library, and a large number of
people were bypassing the Library without a second thought.

In curiosity one evening I decided to visit my own library's website, and
realized (to my dismay), that the site seemed quite lifeless compared to
all of the dynamic sites I had been visiting to find up-to-date
information. While many websites, and many people, reflected a world in
constant change and turmoil, our site seemed completely oblivious to the
events in the world around it. We were hardly alone. As reported in
Library Journal:
"While antiwar rallies have occurred in front of several campus libraries
nationwide, many academic facilities haven't altered their homepages in
response to the war. The main library pages for Columbia, Cornell,
Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and Brown universities, plus the University of
Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College - the Ivy League - offered no
immediate links. Several large state university library web sites -
including Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Caroline, and Texas - were
similarly unchanged". (Rogers, 2003) A number of times when I have
raised this issue, the response to this concern has been that it is not
the role of the library to provide this type of information, and I have
found this troubling. While libraries do have a very important job to do
in preserving and maintaining the information of academia, they clearly
also have a mission to provide access to current information from all
sources that might be useful to the academic enterprise. The idea that
the Library should be identifying and disseminating quality information
is as true now as it ever has been, but it seemed that we are now missing
a great deal of the available information. In my days in university, the
library collected a wide range of newspapers from around the world,
journals on all topics, and such things as access to the Reuters
newswire. Aside from what could be found on radio or television, the
library was the place to turn for information of any type. It was
disturbing to me that one of the most read-about and documented events of
our time was not being reflected by the major point of interface with the
Library. People were watching the events intensely; they were the
subject of headlines and hours of television coverage, and surely people
had questions or were curious to find out what was going on beyond the
major news outlets.

User needs and expectations have clearly changed since the Gulf War of
1991 and information seeking habits experienced anecdotally during the
recent conflict suggest how much things have changed. In many respects
librarians have ceased to have exclusive claim to being the authorities
on searching for information. In the case of searching out information
on current events such as occurred during the war, the anecdotal evidence
would seem to suggest that users are also not counting on libraries to
collect or disseminate this type of information. If we adjust our
perceptions of our place in the academic process Libraries still have a
valuable role to play, particularly in light of the increasingly large
universe of information available to our users. As in the past, we must
stress the availability of information and the value of seeking out
multiple sources of information (well beyond the major newspapers
suggested in 1992). With the huge variety of available sources it is
more important than ever to focus on some traditional roles of the
librarian. These most certainly include information literacy, helping
the user to understand what information is, and the many forms that it
takes. The user must not only be able to find the information, but also
be able to critically assess its value wherever it may be found. More
than ever in this era of Internet resources, this aspect of information
literacy is absolutely crucial to teaching users to successfully carry
out research, and to independently accomplish this in an environment in
which we no longer control all aspects of collections and access to them.

While it seems that the fact that library users may not feel a need to
visit the library to fulfill their information needs is simply bad news,
it seems quite reasonable to suggest that Librarians should see this as
the proverbial "wake up call". In fact, I would suggest that we should
not accept a new limited role in which we are no longer the experts in
finding and distributing the information to users. As our users'
opportunities for information gathering grow at an increasing rate, we
need more than ever to survey and understand their needs. As far back as
1996 the need to reassess how we provide added value to the academic
process was being expressed in a Follett Lecture by Carla J. Stoffle:

"Academic Libraries have always seen themselves as adding value in the
scholarly communication and information delivery processes by organizing
knowledge that is created and packaged (usually in book or journal form)
outside the library. We have done this primarily by providing access
through cataloguing and classification systems, and by creating in-house
indexes and bibliographies. Now libraries have the potential to
participate in the creation of new knowledge packages and access tools.
We can increase the availabilities of information that heretofore have
not been accessible, by using electronic publishing and new information
access and telecommunications advances including the internet, web
browsers, multimedia programming and mark-up languages, scanning and
imaging hardware and software." (Stoffle, 1996)

While many of the technologies mentioned in Stoffle's talk are now taken
for granted, the idea expressed is very significant, and perhaps even
more relevant today. We are even more involved today in the process of
dealing with information packaged outside the library, and our challenge
is to add value by making it accessible and providing the tools to
identify the valuable resources. Even more important is the concept of
creating "new knowledge packages" which may now extend far beyond the
creation of indices and bibliographies. In fact, we may create tools
that deliver customized information based on user preferences, behaviour,
or characteristics such as academic programs or curriculum. These types
of services, along with information literacy and critical thinking skills
that the library can add to the learning process, create the "added
value" that the library can bring to the academic process.

At this point, libraries are beginning to respond to the challenge of
re-assessing user needs and library roles in the face of increasing
access to online information. There are certainly more useful
pathfinders appearing on library websites to point users to resources
online and the variety of material included is growing to include some of
the new types of information available. While a positive step, this does
not address the fact that many of the users do not turn to the library as
the source of this information in the first place. The difficult step to
take is to admit that many users are bypassing the library for this part
of the information seeking process, because they can search independently
and quite often are able to access all of the information that they need
to complete their work. Having come to understand this position in the
process of research, it is then the job of those in libraries to
determine how the professional skills of librarians may continue to bring
added value to this process. While anecdotal evidence (and reference
statistics) suggests that fewer people are coming to the library to take
advantage of our traditional services (Kyrilladou, 2000), we are the
people with knowledge of the world of information and a history of
teaching information literacy. Our users are still seeking information
and it is more abundantly available than ever before. The fact that the
finding aids and classification systems are now scattered, imprecise, and
possess as many variations as there are sources, means that our
information literacy skills are now more needed than ever before. It is
essential, however, that we also utilize our skills and experience with
user needs assessment to monitor this constantly changing world and keep
up to date with new sources and means of distribution of information. If
we do not do this, the Iraq war of 2003 will just be one of the early
examples of our users bypassing the library in their search for

Airs, Gordon and Wills, Colin. (1991, March 2). Landscape of Carnage on
the Basra Road. The Times, p.1.

Apple, R.W. (1991, February 26) U.S. Cites 'Tremendous Success' in Kuwait
Action. New York Times, p. A1.

El Deeb, Sarah. (2003) Al Jazeera Says it has Duty to Show World
Casualties From Both Sides. (March 27, 2003). Retrieved June
27, 2004 from the World Wide Web:

Goodman, Tim. (2003, March 22) Baghdad Booted CNN before 'awe' struck
U.S. Broadcasters Shift to Arab TV Cameras to Show Bombing, San Francisco
Chronicle, p.w-2.

Kyrilladou, Martha. (2000) Research Library Trends: ARL Statistics.
Journal of Academic Librarianship, 26(6), 427-436.

Lefebvre, William. (2002). Computer Systems Laboratory Colloquium:
- Facing a World Crisis. Retrieved July 12, 2004 from the World Wide Web:

Regan, Tom. (2004) Media Knocked for Iraq War Coverage: Experts Say US too
Soft, Foreign Media Often Too Hard. Retrieved July 12, 2004 from the
World Wide Web:

Rogers, Michael. (2003) For Libraries, It's Mostly Quiet on the Middle
East Info Front. Library Journal, 128(8), p.16.

Stoffle, Carla J. (1996). The Emergence of Education and Knowledge
Management as Major Functions of the Digital Library. Follett Lecture
Series. Retrieved January 6, 2004 from the World Wide Web:

Sunderland, Alan. (2003) Eye Witness Report: The Toppling of the Statue
of Saddam was a Staged Media Event: Interview with Neville Watson.
Retrieved June 17, 2004 from the World Wide Web:

5. Library School Drove Me Insane

By Shannon Weaver

I finished library school about eight years ago, and I've had enough
conversations with other librarians to have figured out that I was not
alone in going through the brief period of insanity that was my little
third semester secret. Quite a number of us buckled under the pressure
of the heavy and mind-numbing assignments and deadlines, as well as the
pressure that comes from being surrounded by a bunch of other
future-professional, also stressed to the breaking point. Our symptoms
were conditioned by the ferment of the networked academic environment.
We were all stressed out at home in front of our computers, connected to
all the other students and the faculty asyncronously through this
mysterious technology that we were warned affords us no privacy; though
privacy, we were also informed, is among our highest values as

I communicated with a student the other day who was worried - but not
seriously, as far as I could tell - that her "ghosting" monitor was
recording her screen for some unknown surveillance purpose. As a library
student, my thing was that my and other students' email accounts on the
school's mail server were being dipped into by people other than the
owners of the accounts (faculty? students?) So many people seemed to
know things that they shouldn't - intimate details of our lives. But of
course I was never sure whether I was imagining it or not, or how much a
person could know by intuition or infer from gossip. I mostly kept my
thoughts to myself to the extent that they went beyond reasonable
questions. The answers to my reasonable questions? Usually that no
system is totally secure and that you should never assume that you have
privacy on the internet, which of course only supported my anxieties.
Those anxieties and speculations were a painful and lonely part of my
library school experience.

In my fourth semester I pretty much got past those ideas, but not without
permanent effects. My sense of the lack of privacy that I learned is a
part of the information society gradually became integrated into my
personality, so that I now unconsciously assume that I might be under
surveillance at any given time. I can't write an email or have a
telephone conversation without keeping in mind not only the primary
audience of my friend or colleague but also a silent, panoptical audience
- who might be the FBI, a bcc recipient in an occasion of minor betrayal,
an ex-boyfriend who ended up with my password somehow or is sharing some
old email with his friends, or a bored technician at my ISP. My actions
have been affected by the myriad ways in which our communications, once
digitized, stored and transmitted, can be distributed without our
control. I am also aware that this is happening in the context of a
society that is gradually giving up much of the privacy it previously
took for granted, in a process that has only been accelerated by the
reaction to 9/11. Society elects to be surveilled not only because we
want to shop freely (which requires our consent to have marketing data
collected and stored in shared databases) but because we want to be safe
from terrorists (which means having our lives digitally scrutinized by
invisible systems for signs of revolutionary intent).

The overall effect is at once isolating and uneasily confessional. It is
isolating because we have no knowledge of how our information is being
shared, only that it might be. That knowledge of "being in the dark"
points to a world of communication that possibly concerns us but of which
we can have no part. It is uneasily confessional because in having no
privacy and yet moving on unimpeded (implicitly forgiven of our sins as
they are in full view) we are relieved of shame (so far as we can tell).
It is a lonely sort of communion. Some turn to Reality Television for
relief, for a sense of living on the other side of the camera, so that we
can imagine we are all in the same boat, equally watchers and watched
(when in fact we are not all in the same boat - this surveillance is a
new, technocratic manifestation of class structure).

I've somewhat mixed together my sense of our condition as members of the
surveillance society with the intensity of my library school experience,
but I think that for many librarians it was library school that
accellerated their entry into this postmodern realm, and that, for many,
library school creates a more intense experience of the paranoia of
exposure that is the background radiation of postmodern society.

In writing this, I feel more than a little bit exposed. My hope is that
it will help some library student hang in there and feel a little less
alone. The good thing is that we are, finally, as librarians, all in the
same boat.

L I B R A R Y   J U I C E

ISSN 1544-9378

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