A colleague, a librarian from Brazil, told me the story.
A local politician, eager to campaign, thought of going to an indigenous community to get some pictures taken. His advisers suggested the creation of a small library in that community; its opening would be a fantastic opportunity to take those photos. In the end, it wouldn't be the first or the last time those poor devils were used for somebody else's goals, the consultants argued.
So the man sent a batch of books ―any kind of books, probably useless ones― to the indigenous village in advance, in order to gain some time and make all the preparations for the "grand opening."
A few days later the politician travelled there, with his entourage of flatterers and photographers. The community received all of them with the town completely decorated: all the (few) streets and houses were literally covered in paper garlands and ornaments.
Garlands and ornaments made with all the pages of the books they received. Until the last one.
One wonders if the members of that community didn't understand why the books had been sent to them... or if they understood it better than anyone ― and acted accordingly.
"We are a green and sustainable library," I was smilingly announced at the entrance. It happened recently, in a place whose name I do not care to remember.
"What makes you a sustainable library?" I wanted to know. "Well, we recycle our waste and save energy, and we educate our users so they do it at home," was the answer.
I went through the library, mentally pointing out the technological decisions they had made, the way they had invested their budget, the services they supported and those that were lacking, the socio-economic sectors they served (and those who they didn't, the information they provided and the one they stressed... No, it had nothing sustainable: it was another piece of the huge consumerist structure in which we live. That structure that is depleting all resources and crossing all the biophysical limits of the planet and that is facing an unprecedented socio-environmental crisis. It happens that few are aware of how close that crisis is, and how hollow the words green and sustainable are becoming.
In 2013, Robert Engelman started Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2013 with a lapidary phrase: "We live today in an age of 'sustainababble', a cacophonous profusion of uses of the word 'sustainable' to mean anything from environmentally better to cool".
Given the circumstances, I think it's time to stop babbling and act responsibly.
John H. McCool wrote this story in one of the last issues of The Scientist (June 2017, p.23), in an article titled "Why I published in a Predatory Journal."
As part of his campaign to unmask the so-called "predatory journals" ("academic", open access, low-quality journals that invite authors to publish and charge them a large amount of money), he answered a call-for-papers from the Urology & Nephrology Open Access Journal, belonging to the infamous MedCrave Group.
He wrote a completely made-up article, based on the TV series "Seinfeld". According to the author himself, he included a terrible amount of ridicule stuff in the text, which could have been detected even by a layman in the matter, with a simple Google search.
After going through a supposed peer review, the journal's editors announced that his article had been accepted. And they wanted to charge him $ 800 for publishing it.
A popular list of confirmed and suspected "predatory journals" is Jeffrey Beall's, with more than a thousand titles.
And yes: they also exist among Librarianship and Information Sciences.
About the posts
Texts: Edgardo Civallero.
Las entradas pertenecientes a la serie de notas Conocimiento y biosfera pueden leerse aquí, junto a las de las series Apuntes críticos y Gotas de animación a la lectura. Asimismo pueden consultarse las distintas entradas de las columnas Palabras ancladas, Los muchos caminos, Palabras habitadas y Libros y lecturas indígenas.
Por último, las conferencias, los artículos académicos y otros trabajos similares pueden consultarse a través del listado completo de publicaciones, o bien revisando el archivo de Acta Académica (de acceso libre) o las plataformas Academia.edu, Issuu, Scribd y Calameo.