a librarian explains the public library: funding

Government of Texas $50.00 (fifty dollars) treasury warrant from DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
Government of Texas $50.00 (fifty dollars) treasury warrant [source DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University]
When I started out working in libraries, I had this great idea that I was going to be serving the cause of justice and equality and fighting the evils of capitalism. I have little excuse for such thinking — I was not even particularly young — but so I thought. I got a little more realistic (or a little more jaded), or at the very least a little less obnoxiously high-minded, but I did still generally feel that I was on the side of righteousness, or at the very least the side of doing no harm.

I worked for five years at a library in rural Wyoming, which I loved — I loved the town (where you could have any farm animal living on your property except for a pig) and the land (we were only thirty miles from the edge of the Shoshone National Forest, where you could get lost and never find your way out) and the ways in which the place hadn’t completely succumbed to the media monopoly that strangles the rest of the country (there were multiple local papers, none of them owned by Gannett). And, I would think to myself smugly, at least I don’t work for the energy industry.

Then one day I was looking at a list of the largest property tax payers in Park County, and right there at the top was Marathon Oil Company. Well. That put me in my place. Of course I did work for the energy industry. I just didn’t do so directly.

Public libraries, like public schools, are funded mostly by local property taxes (they also — to varying degrees — get state, federal, and private money, all of which comes with its own privileges and strings). That brings with it both the advantages of local control and the disadvantages — if you live in a poor area — of not much revenue. It also creates the interesting difficulty of how library service areas are defined and drawn and thus who pays into the property tax pool that the library draws from.

Wyoming, which is extremely rural — in my town, more than half the population we served outside town limits — wisely decided to organize their libraries at the county level. All twenty three counties have a public library system, usually with a main library and several branches, but they draw funding from (and serve) all residents of the county. That — plus the school and the oil company — is how a town of 351 people was able to have a public library that was open 44 hours a week. Wyoming went a step farther and decided a few years back to integrate all the counties into a single database system. You still get a card from your home library, but you can use it at any library in the state.

Iowa, where I live now, is generally thought to be rural, but in fact it’s a network of small cities. We have 99 counties to Wyoming’s 23, all packed into a much smaller area. Each of those 99 counties has a county seat and at least a smattering of other towns, and 544 of those towns have public libraries. Each of those libraries was established by a local town or city ordinance. Here’s the one for the library where I work now. We’re a newer library — we just celebrated our 50th anniversary last year — and our earliest funding came from a Girl Scout troop that wanted a library they could use in their own town. Coralville sits cheek-by-jowl with a much larger city, and for many years, residents of Coralville could only use the library in that town by paying a yearly fee. The same was true many other small cities in the county.

Some years back, Iowa started a program they call Open Access*, which allows anyone who lives in the bounds of a participating library to get a card at any other library that participates. Currently there are only about a dozen libraries that aren’t part of the program and so, effectively, anyone in Iowa can get a library card at any other library in Iowa. You could, as I tell patrons, travel around the state and collect over 500 library cards. You can return library materials to any participating library and we’ll mail them back for you free of charge. The result is a much looser system than Wyoming’s, but one that gives individual libraries far more control.

But what of the people who don’t live in towns? In many states, those people are still out of luck unless they want to pay a yearly fee to use a local public library. The fee is usually some approximation of how much the library figures people contribute it property taxes to the library each year — I’ve seen anything from $25-$100 a year, but I have not done a thorough survey. Many counties get around this by collecting and contributing some money to the county’s libraries on behalf of their residents. Such is the case in my county. At present, we have 27,728 patrons and only 1219 of those are from rural Johnson County. So it’s not a huge service — unless, of course, you’re one of those 1219 people, in which it’s quite a big deal indeed.

Bored yet? Confused yet? I haven’t covered the half of it. But all these vagaries in funding relate to what services libraries provide, how they provide them, and whom they provide them to — all of that fodder for many other posts.

*Confusingly, there’s another very important topic in libraries called Open Access, but it has to do with free access to digital scholarship and is another problem for another day.

an open letter to the Edwin Mellen Press

I should have written this a long time ago. My delay comes not from hesitation or indecision but from illness, and for that, I apologize. My thoughts may be late in coming, but they are no less sincere.

I am a librarian. My father, John M. Crossett, was a Classics professor. He was also, albeit not until after he died, an Edwin Mellen Press author. The Press published the Festschrift his former students and colleagues compiled in his honor and later the translation and commentary of Longinus’s On the Sublime that he did with James A. Arieti. Although I have been in touch with many of the people involved in both publications, the words and opinions here are my own.

Dale Askey is also a librarian. Several years ago, he published a blog post critical of the quality of the scholarship and books put out by Edwin Mellen Press. The blog post has since been removed, but Edwin Mellen Press sued both Askey and his current employer. Mellen has now dropped at least one of those lawsuits, citing, among other things, “social media pressure,” and, among others, that it is “a small company” and “must choose its resources on its business and its authors.”

I signed a petition asking Mellen to drop the lawsuit.

I know, at least by name and reputation, many of the people involved in the social media pressure, although I also know there are many more.

Librarians, like many professionals, are often quick to spring to the defense of one of their own, and we have done so in this case — the case of a man in trouble for having an opinion.

My father was a man of many opinions. Many of those opinions made him unpopular in the times and places that he taught. But his ideas — in the form of those who did admire him — found a home at Edwin Mellen, and I am grateful to the Press for that. My copy of Hamartia, inscribed by its editors to me, is one of my most cherished possessions.

There are few things my father and I would have agreed on (the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, gay marriage, abortion, and the Western canon spring immediately to mind as points of divergence). But I believe that he would agree with me on this one thing: a lawsuit is no way to respond to criticism. The proper response in a scholarly community to a disagreement is not to sue to but to argue. Make your case. Support your argument with examples from the text, from critics, from experts, from data.

John Milton, one of my father’s favorites, one of mine, and, I daresay, one of yours wrote

For Books are not absolutely dead things, but doe contain a potencie of life in them to be as active as that soule was whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a violl the purest efficacie and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand, unlesse warinesse be us’d, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm’d and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond life.

Mellen has made a promise to keep all its books in print, and it has done so, thus preserving some life-blood that is quite precious to me, but I am just me. The quality of Mellen’s books as a whole, their place in libraries, and their contributions to scholarly discourse I leave for others to judge — I am a public librarian, not an academic. But as I judge books by their contents, I judge men and women by their characters. Dale Askey had the courage to voice an opinion. Edwin Mellen Press, on the other hand — you had the cowardice to try to shut that down. You believe Dale Askey tried to kill a good book, but he did not. He burned nothing; he destroyed nothing. You, on the other hand, are attempting to kill off the voice of a man. No one who claims to work in the tradition Milton defended, no one who “remains resolute that all have the right to free speech,” has any right to shut down a disagreement with a lawsuit — not, at least, if they wish to be found to be of good character.

hearts and minds and ebooks

Like just about everyone else in libraryland in the past few weeks, I’ve become immersed in the HarperCollins ebook expiration outrage known on the internet as #hcod. (That stands for HarperCollins Overdrive, but of course we in the Library Society of the World like to think that the Cod of Ethics is in there too. The Cod of Ethics disapproves, by the way.) (For those not in the know, HarperCollins announced a couple of weeks ago that starting March 7, all ebooks published by HarperCollins purchased through Overdrive — one of the main vendors of ebooks to libraries — would vanish after the 26th checkout, and libraries would have to repurchase them.)

We’ve had all kinds of reactions here. We’ve had sputtering outrage. We’ve had manifestos. We’ve had videos. We’ve had graphics. We’ve had long posts about the nature of print and digital materials. We’ve had numbers run. We’ve had roundups of posts. We’ve had discussions of the news and the reactions and the posts and discussions of the discussions!

I’ve been reading and following and muttering and despairing along with everyone else. Then Monday my coworker had the brilliant idea that we should display some of our “best loved” books — things that had circulated over 100 times, and we got it all together in the course of the day due to a fortunate set of circumstances involving my office furniture getting partly replaced and a table needing a new home that was perfect for a display and a lot of other details I won’t bore you with.

Then I saw some numbers Jason Griffey posted about book circulation at his library. His conclusion? At his academic library, if they applied the HarperCollins ebook rules to the physical collection, they’d have to replace 126 books.

So that got me curious about our collection. Our display was limited to adult books that had checked out over 100 times (there were 220 of those). But what would it be like if I applied the same parameters Jason used?

Here’s the breakdown:

We have 88,680 circulating books in our collection. 23,083 of them have checked out over 26 times.

So yeah. . . if HarperCollins ebook rules suddenly applied to the physical books in our collection, we’d have to replace over 23,000 books.

We would have to replace over one third of our book collection.

If you break down the numbers further, you find that that would mean over 50% of the children’s collection and about 23% of the adult collection. Anyway you look at it, though, it’s still 23,083 books. And that’s a lot of books, and a lot of money. My fiction budget for the year is about $21,000.  It’s generous, but it would not go far if I had to replace even just the adult fiction books in that list.

Griffey and others have noted that, obviously, these kinds of numbers will vary greatly between libraries and types of libraries. Others have pointed out that arguing with these numbers is not ultimately what this argument is about. And I agree with them, to a certain extent.

We are not going to win this with numbers. Libraries are a part of the book market, but we’re pretty clearly not a big enough part of it to make an economic boycott work — and an economic boycott would have the added problem of potentially keeping things from our patrons, which we are not into.

No, this isn’t an economic argument, or a how many circs has your copy of Catch-22 made it through argument.

It’s a hearts and minds argument.

And I don’t mean the publishing industry’s hearts and minds. While some of the individual people involved must have such things, the gigantic corporations they work for, despite their “corporate personhood,” do not.

I mean the public’s hearts and minds.

This is a battle about winning — and rewinning — the hearts and minds of the public. It’s a battle about reminding them what libraries have always done for them. We not only provide information and entertainment — we also preserve it. We made it available to you free not only of cost but also free of licensing agreements, entanglements with corporations, and invasions of your privacy.

We need to remind our public of how we have done that. We need to tell them about how we are currently trying to do it. And we need them to understand what we need in order to be able to go on doing it in the future.

I don’t know yet all the things we will need, but I know that among us all, we do.

information wants to be expensive

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other

Stewart Brand, 1984

This week, Amazon.com unveiled Singles: short pieces by well-known writers that are — you guessed it — available exclusively for Kindle.

The New York Times, not wanting to be left out of this small exclusive market, just released its own short ebook, currently available through the Kindle store and Barnes & Noble but “coming soon to the iBookstore and Google eBookstore.”

At the moment, none of these ebooks are very expensive: they range in price from $0.99 to $5.99. But looked at another way, these titles are all very expensive, especially if you are a library.

Let’s say you have a patron who wants to read one of those $0.99 Kindle Singles. Since it’s a Kindle exclusive, it’s not going to be available through Overdrive or NetLibrary, the two main vendors of ebooks to public libraries. If you’re a library that loans Kindles (and there are some, although as far as I can tell it’s still a dubious practice according to Amazon’s Terms of Service), you could of course buy a copy for one of your circulating Kindles. In theory, although this might also be dubious, you could buy a copy and have it on a computer dedicated as an in-library Kindle book reader, or, I suppose, as a loanable laptop Kindle book reader. Of course, those options require that you have a Kindle or a laptop to loan, or a computer to set aside. All of those things are considerably more expensive than the $0.99 ebook.

Get over it, Crossett, I hear some of you saying. It’s $0.99 cents. People can afford to pay that themselves for something they want to read. Well, sure. If they can afford the device or computer to read it on, they probably can afford the $0.99. But libraries — public libraries in particular — are about providing access to everyone, not just to those who can afford it.

Basically, I look at these ebooks and I think, The newspaper of record has published a book on a hot topic that I cannot provide to library patrons. This sucks.

Libraries not just about access: they are also about preservation. Digital preservation is doable. There are libraries and librarians working hard to do it right now. But we can’t preserve something we can’t access and — I’m speaking beyond my technical expertise here, but I’m going to go out on a limb — my guess is that the digital rights/restrictions management software installed on these ebooks would make it damn hard for the digital preservationists to do their thing without, like, breaking the law. Not good. It makes one think that the real censors will turn out not to be the government book burners of Fahrenheit 451 but the corporations that make a profit by restricting access.

Of course, none of this really matters to the ebook makers and publishers and sellers. They are, like the big information vendors, playing a different game. It’s fine with them if library econtent is a wasteland.

I deal on a daily basis with patrons whose lives are made more difficult by technology — who have to accomplish all the things that modern life requires us to accomplish online in hour long sessions on public library computers. If I’d had to work like a patron today, I wouldn’t have gotten much of anything done. The rise of emedia means that not only is information inconvenient for our patrons to gather — it’s downright impossible. Can I interlibrary loan an ereader from some library that loans them? ‘Cause I’d like to read that book about Wikileaks. Thanks.

thinking about banned books

I’ve long been a fan of Jessamyn West’s take on Banned Books Week — that it’s a marketing ploy, that most of the books that claim to be banned are actually just challenged and are not ultimately removed from library shelves, that there are many more issues of importance when it comes to censorship and the disappearance of information that used to be public. So I’ve tended to treat the subject lightly if at all at the library — I sometimes print out some stuff and throw up a book display and put a post on our website (and, in fact, that’s all I’m really doing this year), and then I complain to my librarian friends and colleagues about all my issues with the event.

This year, the lead-up to Banned Books Week in the young adult blogosphere was the attempt to have Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five removed from a school in Missouri. (Anderson also has a followup post.)

Now this is very much your typical book challenge of the sort recorded by the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. Someone gets upset that high school students are reading about sex and swear words and, using media-savvy, raises a huge stink. Nothing too unusual in the annals of book challenges.

But it got me thinking again, perhaps because Speak is one of my favorite books, perhaps because the description of it by the objector (“soft porn”) was so ridiculous, perhaps because I work in what is half a school library.

It’s easy to dismiss school libraries as, well, different. They’re serving a specific population. Their collection all has to “support the curriculum.” But I don’t think that we, as librarians, should take that view. As Justice Abe Fortas wrote in Tinker v. Des Moines, “[i]t can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Nor should they lose their right to read freely. And so many of the books that are challenged in schools deal with topics students want and need to know about. Students with same sex parents, teens questioning their own sexual orientation, young people who’ve been abused or assaulted — people don’t write books about these things to be prescriptive. They write about them because they happen. And reading about them happening is one way that those who’ve experienced those things can learn to deal with them, and one way those who have not can have their eyes opened to them.

I want to talk about a lot of things related to censorship and freedom of information, from government information and free law to the embargoes and copyright agreements and astronomical prices that often keep scholars from accessing their own work. But I still want to talk, as I so often do, about that kid lurking in the stacks, looking for something that just might change her life.

equal employment: having my say

One of the many unpaid jobs I have had over the years was that of staff writer for an alternative monthly paper in Chicago called Third Coast Press. The first big story I did for them [available as a giant PDF, if you are really interested] was about a couple of studies done by a couple of professors from the University of Chicago and MIT and by the Chicago Urban League concerning race and hiring. The first study [PDF] used just resumes — some sent out with “white” names with addresses in predominantly white neighborhoods, some with “black” names and addresses in predominantly black neighborhoods. You can guess which set of resumes got better responses. The other study [PDF] involved sending white and black candidates, where the blacks were actually better qualified than the whites, to in-person interviews and, once again, the white candidates fared much better. What interested me the most, though, was that it was the largest corporations — the Targets and Wal-Marts and Gaps of the world — that showed the least discrimination in hiring. What all those places had in common was that they had very strict standard hiring procedures, and there were thus fewer opportunities for the interviewer to say, “Oh, you went to Valparaiso? So did my best friend!”

I was thinking about these findings again in the light of the much-discussed Clay Shirky rant wherein Shirky says that women should act more like men — or at any rate adopt more of what he sees as male traits: assertiveness and risk-taking, if you like what Shirky says, or arrogance and outright lying if you don’t.

I live in a state that has the highest disparity in wages between men and women. Wyoming calls itself the Equality State on the strength of having been the first territory to give women the vote, not on anything it has done since. Most initiatives in the state that seek to address that problem are focusing on getting more women into traditionally male professions, most notably the energy industry. While I believe strongly that women should be encouraged to pursue those jobs, I don’t think that getting women into the energy is the solution to wage disparities in the state. Women already hold important jobs as nurses, childcare providers, and teachers. These are all jobs at least as crucial to the functioning of the world as energy industry jobs, but we do not pay them accordingly. Until we do, until we recognize and support the vital work that women do, we will never have any kind of equality.

Shirky is probably right in individual cases: if a candidate in the resume study had lied and given herself a “better” address, she might well have stood a better chance of getting a job. If a woman acts more “male,” that may well help her break into a profession. The tide of assertiveness — or arrogance — will lift those two ships. But when it comes to improving conditions for everybody, which is what I am really interested in, I think Shirky is dead wrong. As long as we treat “lifting people out of poverty” as “getting them better jobs” and “getting more pay for women” as “getting them into traditionally male occupations,” we will never solve the problem of poverty or inequality. There will always be scut jobs that need to be done no matter what kind of economy you live in. I have a good job, and my interests lie not in getting everyone a good job but rather in making everyone’s job good.

it’s always a little more complicated than you think

Yesterday I was scrolling through some shared items in Google Reader when I stumbled on a post from BoingBoing about the Salvation Army requiring proof of US citizenship before they gave children gifts. I tend to get a little irate about anti-immigrant policies, and so, casting aside all my good librarian skills, I immediately forwarded the piece — without even reading it fully — on to my mother and my friend.

Now as it so happens, yesterday my mother and my friend both beat me at the information literacy game. My mother clicked through to the actual post and saw the update from Cory Doctorow, wherein a Salvation Army PR person explains that they don’t require proof of immigration status; they just ask for things like birth certificates and Social Security numbers to make sure that people aren’t double-dipping. My friend, who is a Lutheran pastor, clicked through and saw the update and wrote to me a little more about her own experiences with the practice:

when I provide Salvation Army services I’m required to take their social security number. It’s one of the hardest parts of my job with them. People, as you might understand, get really upset saying that just because they are poor etc, they shouldn’t have to give their ss number to me. However, as it is is a unique number to each individual it’s a very convenient number for the Army to use.

As a national charity that is more reputable than the Red Cross they need to be able to track the needs of the people. One such example might be an influx of foot traffic from the South to the North as people seek jobs, or an increase in women and children seeking emergency housing due to abuse as unemployment rises. That said, there are ways around all of these stipulations and the article doesn’t do the Army justice about this. I have a woman right now who isn’t able to provide a social security number for her son because the card is with his father, but I’m still going to fill out a voucher for him to get a new winter coat, and some clothes due to their emergency relocation.

If you read through the comment thread on the original post, you see a little of the same thing happening. There are a lot of knee-jerk reactions like mine to start out with. Then there are some people who come in with defenses and explanations. Then there are counter examples, some with citations. And of course there are some more snarky comments (I mean, it is BoingBoing, after all). But the end result of reading through all of these things is, I think, that one feels more confused than convinced — and I think that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That confusion forces you to think about things like poverty and homelessness and charity in a practical way. It’s easy enough to say, “no one should be homeless.” It’s much harder when you have to run an actual shelter, and then suddenly you have a fire marshal to deal with, and zoning regulations, and the needs of a variety of people to keep in mind, and suddenly you do have to institute rules and turn some people away, and that’s terrible, but it’s also reality. If you have too many people in your shelter, the fire marshal will shut you down and you won’t be able to provide shelter to anyone. Librarians reading this blog are, I suspect, all too aware of the difficulties.

But I’m getting away from my topic. This morning I was reminded of this whole little saga by a couple of threads in the LSW Room on FriendFeed which further the eternal question of how we teach people to interrogate information, to ask whether it is credible or useful or even accurate. And the answer, it seems to me, is always that it is much more complicated than you think.

The ability to judge information depends on a lot of things. It depends on avoiding knee-jerk responses, and it depends on having a set of criteria you can use, and it even depends on having some previous knowledge.  I can’t teach all of that to a class of fifth graders in a one-shot session. I doubt you can teach all that to a class of college students over the course of a semester. Oh, you can help them find criteria, and you can help them gain a bit more of a knowledge base, and you can probably help them get better at this whole information literacy game. But as with many things, the only way you actually get better at this game is by playing it and playing a lot of it. I, for one, have a good deal left to learn.

the problem with solutions

There was an essay by Maurice Isserman in the New York Times Book Review a couple weeks ago about Michael Harrington and his 1962 book The Other America: Poverty in the United States. It’s a nice piece, but supposing you don’t want to go read it yourself, Isserman outlines how the book affected public policy in subsequent decades and how those policies did — and mostly did not — work to end poverty in America, which is still rampant.

Lyndon B. Johnson was one fan of the book, and his administration famously declared a War on Poverty but did not fund that war particularly well. “The resulting legislation,” Isserman notes, “passed in August 1964, provided funds for preschool education, community action agencies, legal services and the like, but did little directly to provide jobs and income for the poor.”

That line stopped me dead.

The legislation provided funds for preschool education, community action agencies, legal services and the like, but did little directly to provide jobs and income for the poor.

The legislation, in other words, funded services that were supposed to help the poor, but it did nothing to address what actually made them poor.

It stopped me dead because it reminded me so much of the kinds of services that have been established to help small rural libraries (and, for that matter, libraries of all sizes in poor areas) with technology. There are all kinds of services out there that will let you learn about technology — SirsiDynix Institute webinars and courses and discussions on WebJunction and downloadable Cookbooks from the Maintain IT Project — but there aren’t any that will provide what you probably most need — a dedicated library IT support person.

There probably is not any way to provide that solution. The people exist, but the money to pay them does not. Of course, we haven’t solved poverty yet, either. In the meantime, we stumble forward and backward, patching things together as best we can.

metaphor vs. reality: no further comment

From the Library of Congress Subject Headings Weekly List for February 27, 2008:

150 War on Terrorism, 2001- [sp2001000148]
* 680 Here are entered works on the events, metaphorically referred to as a “war,” consisting
of military operations, diplomatic activities, and other counterterrorist measures
undertaken by the United States and allied countries in response to terrorist attacks that
began September 11, 2001.
* 680 Here are entered works on the military operations, diplomatic activities, and other
counterterrorist measures undertaken by the United States and allied countries in
response to terrorist attacks that began September 11, 2001. CANCEL

information labels

I said something to this effect last week on Uncontrolled Vocabulary, but it bears repeating.

ACRLog discusses algorithmic attempts to authenticate online information, touching on, among other things, the recent Wired story about the Wikipedia Scanner, which mines IP addresses from Wikipedia edits to find out just who’s saying that Diebold never makes mistakes or what have you.

It strikes me that all these efforts are related to the seemingly unending desire that people have for a quick and dirty route to authoritative information. What they’re looking for, I suspect, is a label (a metaphor that, as a former anti-sweatshop activist, holds a good deal of meaning for me). People like labels, and I am no exception. “Oh, okay, it’s fair trade coffee, so I’ll get that.” “Oh, this is free range chicken.” “Oh, this won the National Book Critics Circle Award.” But it doesn’t work that way. You can’t say, “Oh, I believe everything in the Encyclopaedia Britannica,” and leave it at that.

There’s no such label for information, not in any grand sense. An algorithm might help you trace an IP address and learn the probably identity of a contributor to a wiki, but you’ll still need to know somthing about who that person or entity is and what their biases are before you can know whether their statements are trustworthy. I won’t even get into the profound political implications of slapping an “authoritative” label on information, as I trust you’ve all read Orwell and school history textbooks and so on. But there are days when I think that’s what Google is trying to do–not organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, but organize and filter and, in doing so, suggest an authority to those first ten search results that they may or may not possess. It’s almost as if the purpose of organizing all that information is to prohibit critical thinking, not to promote it.

That’s hardly a new practice, of course–but the tools used to do it now are much bigger, much broader, and much more pervasive.