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Librarian Blog

Wrong again

Oops!

Today, the national polling organizations must be repeating that famous line from presidential candidate Rick Perry.

They flubbed it again.

Alan Stamm, a columnist for Deadline Detroit, posted a column this morning about the Democratic Party's primary win yesterday by Bernie Sanders:

"To call political surveys an inexact science is like saying astrologers' forecasts are unreliable."

Yep.

Pollsters have been pretty miserably wrong this political season.

And they will continue to be wrong. They don't have the technology to keep up with how voters and possible voters are able to be contacted to give them polling results.

You didn't need to poll anyone to come up with the prediction that we would be where we are in polling. But, we continue to see pundits and reporters cite lame poll results because they have to, after all, report something very news cycle, and polls make for good copy even if they are wrong.

 

Success!

Our event yesterday to launch sales of the book about the Memorial Day flood of May 23, 2015, was a huge success.

We sold about 350 books at the community center.

We have sold about another 50 so far today, and, of course, we have more available. We printed 1,000 copies.

The Old Mill Store has a large number for sale at that downtown premises. And if you notice on our website front page, you can order the book online through a secure gateway operated by the Old Mill Store.

Thanks to all who have bought their books!

ROI for the library

It's not exactly BIG DATA, but we do keep track via computer of every kind of statistic you can imagine having to do with the library and its use.

Director Carolyn Manning just pulled together the information for 2015, and the numbers are interesting.

For example, our patrons got a 625% return on their investment when you consider how much sales tax went into our operations and how much that tax money bought.

We checked out more than 10,000 nonfiction books and nearly 21,000 works of fiction. If you had been forced to buy those at retail, you would have paid a grand total of about $1 million.

Our most circulated items are children's books and DVDs. If you'd bought all of those items that we checked out to you for free, you would have paid north of $1.2 million.

I think we undervalue the programs we offer. For example, we say that $75 is the value for use of our multi-purpose room. But, check out what that room would cost you anywhere else in town -- and, by the way, there aren't many rooms like it in Wimberley.

Bottom line: the total value of our services last year was a conservative $3.1 million.

A big thank-you!

We're getting ready for the kickoff of sales of the Wimberley flood book about the events of May 23-24, 2015.

The event is at 3 p.m. Sunday at the community center.

Now, it's time to say a big THANK-YOU to all of those who came in to be interviewed or allowed us into their homes for interviews, plus all those who wrote out their stories and emailed them to us for the book.

We have about 100 stories in the 350-page volume, and each of them is compelling and moving.

I think readers will be particularly touched by the accounts about folks who came to Wimberley to help in the aftermath and those who live here but were not affected who also pitched in to help.

Thanks, particularly, to Nancy Williams and Steve Klepfer, partners in production, and to the City Council of Wimberley and City Administrator Don Ferguson and the library district board for underwriting the cost of this first print run.

 

Let me count the ways

Many years before I retired as a newspaper editor, I put together an ever-growing compendium of information for my reporters and editors about how to deal with numbers.

Reporters are notoriously bad about even subtraction and addition, and I needed them to understand far more than that -- like city budgets, basic economics and so on.

Every year I ran a mandatory training session for them, and I offered the course to other editors, which they took me up on.

My basic text was "News and Numbers," a handy guide to how to read graphs, how to make sense of scientific studies, etc.

I was dismayed to learn via the op-ed pages in the Sunday New York Times that the general population is as poor innumerate as my reporters and editors. Andrew Hacker, a professor, wrote a piece about this issue called "The Wrong Way to Teach Math." It should be required reading for every parent out there, as well as every reporter and editor.

What Hacker wants is what I wanted: a public that is less likely to be duped by folks who want to delude them for profit and fun and political gain.

I doubt Hacker will be taken seriously. Educators are still in la-la land, thinking anyone other than an elite few will ever take algebra and geometry and calculus and retain them long enough to make a nickel's worth of difference in the marketplace of ideas.

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