American Authors Quotes
As a professional rule, I try to keep things positive. I like to be a cheerleader for all the great people out there and avoid boosting the signal on a bunch of negativity.
However, situations compel me to devote this one post to something totally crappy.
TL;DR: Patricia Hswe and I wrote an article for American Libraries and the editors added some quotes from a vendor talking about their products without telling us. We asked them to fix it and they said no.
Because American Libraries refused to clarify what happened, we decided to clarify it ourselves. What follows is our second (and hopefully happier) attempt at collaborative writing. This little blog does not have quite the reach of that big glossy magazine so please feel free to share as widely as you want. As always, let me know if you have any questions!
If you are a member of ALA and receive American Libraries, you may have seen an article we wrote in the most recent issue (Jan/Feb 2016) titled “Special Report: Digital Humanities in Libraries.” Unfortunately, because the article was edited after we thought we had turned in the final version, we aren’t nearly as happy to share it with you as we had hoped to be.
The edits in question were not harmless. They were quotes added to the body of the article from a representative from Gale/Cengage about steps they are taking to develop commercial products which they believe will be useful for digital humanists.
We probably do not need to spell out why we are disappointed by this but, just for the record, we have two major problems:
- These were not superficial changes and the editors at American Libraries should have spoken to us before publishing them.
- More substantially, we feel it is grossly inappropriate for a magazine that is supposed to represent libraries and librarians to insinuate a vendor’s perspective directly into an article without the authors’ knowledge or permission. This is especially true when the vendor has a very obvious financial motive for being part of the conversation.
Let us state for the record that we did not speak to anyone at Gale/Cengage about this article, we had no role in developing or carrying out the survey, we did not see those quotes prior to publication and would not have included them in our article if we had.
Importantly, our problem is not with Gale/Cengage but with the way American Libraries is handling their relationship with them in the context of the article we wrote.
When American Libraries approached us about the article, they said “We are also conducting a survey with Gale/Cengage, so that data would be incorporated” in our article. This was reiterated in the official scope document for the article which stated, “[w]riters should also include the results of the Gale and survey of faculty and librarians.” The editor at American Libraries gave us access to data from that survey and we did, in fact, cite some of that data in our article.