Ten Stories That Shaped 2018

As we limp our way into 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the notable library stories from the past year.

10. The Opioid Epidemic Continues

The abuse of narcotics has become so widespread in this country that our average life expectancy has declined as a result. The use of Narcan to treat overdoses occurring in libraries is one way we can contribute to public health.

9. More Fake News

Although political propaganda is nothing new, the growing threat of what has been dubbed “information terrorism,” aided by technological advances in the creation of bogus pieces of reporting, make our role as archivists and educators all the more important.

8. Search Engines are Bigots

The popular book Algorithms of Oppression brought to light something that librarians have long known: “Garbage In, Garbage Out” applies when it comes to aggregating information. Here’s hoping that future generations of AI can unlearn the prejudices of the past.

7. Prison Book Bannings

The majority of Republicans think that higher education is bad for the country. So it’s little wonder that efforts to provide for a literate prison populace have met stiff resistance by those in charge of the prison–industrial complex.

6. Judicial Issues Roundup

Legal cases making headlines in 2018 include: the right to repair; abandonware and Fair Use; the GSU e-reserves case; the Marakesh Treaty; Ebsco and pornography; 3D printing of guns; and moving the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress.

Honorable Mention

Kudos to John Oliver for donating all proceeds to The Trevor Project and AIDS United from the sales of his bunny book, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.

5. A New “Fake Paper” Scandal

There was a split verdict this year over the success of an elaborate sting to publish hoaxes and other dubious scholarship in peer-reviewed humanities journals.

4. Whither Open Access

A proposed European policy that would eventually require journals to make published articles freely available and without an embargo, known as “Plan S,” has won over many Open Access advocates, although not everyone is totally on board with the idea.

3. Eschewing Fines

Several libraries made the news this year by eliminating fees for overdue books.

2. Data Breaches Fuel Privacy Concerns

The Cambridge Analytica scandal and similar exploits have led librarians to carefully examine their own data collection practices. Be on the lookout for a gradual erosion of patron privacy through new tracking mechanisms on the horizon.

1. LGBT Challenges & Drag Queen Story Hours

Amidst the backdrop of a Utah library director banning LGBTQ-themed displays and an Iowa man burning LGBTQ library books, libraries in Louisiana, Kansas, and Texas faced strong criticism for planning childrens’ programs with drag queens, prompting a reasoned blog post titled, “Appeasement Doesn’t Work.”

What was your favorite library story of 2018?