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With permission, I am forwarding the following message from Bruce Fulton, Outreach 
Librarian for the Univiersity of Arizona School of Information Resources and 
Library Science, where I initiated the same discussion on the AASL Forum:

With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely, I don't think we can afford to be 
complacent about the changes that are occurring in online ready reference and the 
profound impact the read/write web has on our understanding of how information is 
mediated. Authority is important and students need to understand it. But it may not 
always be the best or only way to evaluate information resources.
Tomorrow, 5/31/2007 is a blue moon, say some. That would be the second full moon in 
a calendar month, according to conventional wisdom.
Today on NPR, I heard that Sky and Telescope finally 'fessed up about their 
complicity in fostering this wrong notion about the meaning of 'blue moon.' They 
tracked it back to an article originally published in Sky and Telescope that 
referenced an authoritative source (meaning that the sources were identified and 
deemed authoritative) dating to 1985. Sky and Telescope now spin it this way, 
"Where the authors, Margo McLoone-Basta and Alice Siegel, got it, no one seemed to 
know. Used in this way, the term was certainly very, very local before they 
included it in their book. It seemed never to have been written down before. Of 
course, authors sometimes "invent" information to protect themselves against 
plagiarists. Well, if that were the case they'd already lost, because the new "blue 
Moon" almost immediately entered the folklore of the modern world. It became as 
living a meaning as any of its predecessors."
Today alone, the Wikipedia article on Blue Moon [astronomical phenomenon] has been 
updated nearly a dozen times to reflect the new information. The article provides 
original source links to today's Sky and Telescope printed retraction  and other 
sources reflecting scholars' interpretations of the phrase. There are a dozen 
citations and external links.
In contrast, searching Blue Moon in the University of Arizona's very expensive and 
restricted subscription to the Academic Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica 
references 94 articles on the query, none of which has anything to do with the blue 
moon topic in question. Restricting it to the phrase "blue moon" narrows the field 
to 13, not a single one of which is relevant. Linked articles to the phrase range 
from "beer" to "Mel Torme" to "Credence Clearwater Revival."
Telling students to "just say no" to Wikipedia does as much good as telling them to 
just say no to sex or drugs. They're perfectly capable of looking up Blue Moon both 
in Wikipedia and EB, and they will. We can peer down disapprovingly of their 
naiveté and insist on academic purity, but I think we owe them better than that. If 
we don't address the current environment honestly, take the time to understand it 
ourselves, and work with students to help them navigate it confidently, 
appropriately and with the requisite skepticism, we've failed.
Students today need to deal with a sea change in how information is collected, 
stored and accessed. As educators and information specialists, we need to mediate, 
not castigate. Authority is only one metric used to evaluate information resources. 
Today's students are tomorrow's information workers who will be using wikis and 
other community-based information resources and collaborative software along with 
both traditional and 21 st century tools to build the next generation of 
information resources.
Let's make sure we provide them with the analytical and higher order thinking 
skills to manage and use them effectively and work with them to bring them to a 
level of competence as knowledgeable consumers and creators of society's archive.
Bruce Fulton, MLS


Ann Dutton Ewbank, Ph.D.
President, Arizona Library Association
Education Liaison Librarian
Fletcher Library
Arizona State University at the West campus
P.O. Box 37100
Phoenix, Arizona 85069-7100
Fax 602.543.6500

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