Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

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Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby Paul Braterman » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:15 pm

Glasgow University has a copy of Explore Evolution, presumably donated. They have a policy of filing Steve Meyer's work under "theology", where you will now find it, alongside such works as Pennock's exhaustive (and exhausting, but unfortunately necessary) Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics. This is as it should be.

I live in Glasgow and, visiting the Glasgow city libraries catalogue, I discovered that they had no fewer than 10 copies in branch libraries. I have therefore written to them in the following terms, and would suggest that other members may wish to do likewise, if relevant:

I see you have 10 copies of this in local branch libraries, presumably donated. You have classified it, as the donors (probably the creationist group that calls itself Truth in Science) would have wished, as science. This is misleading. The work is a Creationist polemic, deceptively packaged as science; read my own review here [on the Glasgow libraries website], and the more detailed analysis by the British Centre for Science Education at

http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/images%20for% ... xposed.pdf

I would respectfully suggest that you consider the merits of this book, although the Mitchell [Glasgow's municipal reference library] should certainly retain a copy as an interesting document. If you decide to keep it, I would also suggest that it be filed under philosophy, the one area in which the lead author has professional-level qualifications, rather than under science.


We know of at least one library that has been selling off its (presumably donated) copies very cheaply. Meantime, the list price on Amazon.co.uk is approaching the ludicrous figure of £50, which can only be intended to deter unauthorised purchases.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby Roger Stanyard » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:14 pm

Paul Braterman wrote:Glasgow University has a copy of Explore Evolution, presumably donated. They have a policy of filing Steve Meyer's work under "theology", where you will now find it, alongside such works as Pennock's exhaustive (and exhausting, but unfortunately necessary) Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics. This is as it should be.



I checked with my local library yesterday and the local library service there (Hampshire) had two copies of the 2009 Hillhouse (British) edition of the book. One was out on loan.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby Paul Braterman » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:33 pm

Glasgow City Libraries have now told me that the original suggestion (from the donors, I must presume) was for a separate copy in every single library (over 30). The City accepted just 10 copies, two for each of its sub regions, but will be reviewing the question because, as Roger and others will be pleased to hear, they have hardly ever been borrowed.

In reply, I have argued that Glasgow City, like Glasgow University, should file anything by Stephen Meyer under "philosophy" or "theology". I would have suggested "horror" or "fantasy", or even "science fiction", but I might not have been taken seriously.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby Roger Stanyard » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:13 pm

Paul Braterman wrote:Glasgow City Libraries have now told me that the original suggestion (from the donors, I must presume) was for a separate copy in every single library (over 30). The City accepted just 10 copies, two for each of its sub regions, but will be reviewing the question because, as Roger and others will be pleased to hear, they have hardly ever been borrowed.

In reply, I have argued that Glasgow City, like Glasgow University, should file anything by Stephen Meyer under "philosophy" or "theology". I would have suggested "horror" or "fantasy", or even "science fiction", but I might not have been taken seriously.


That's interesting - they were aiming for one copy per library. Well, there are 53 libraries in the Hampshire Library Service network and that excludes libraries in Southampton and Portsmouth and mobile libraries. So, extrapolating that right across the UK suggests that are around 1,500 public libraries. Given that the list price of Explore Evolution is a touch under £50, that suggests someone may have put up as much as £75,000 to ditribute Explore Evolution to public libraries in the UK. Where has all this money come from?

Explore Evolution not only appears to have been given away to very school library but also University libraries and public libraries. Presumably it has also gone to further education institutions and we also know that it was given away to science teachers who requested it. We are probably looking at about 3,000-4,000 copies or a total cost based on the Amazon price of £48.95,, of around £150,000. That doesn't appear from thin air in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s.

The creationists appear to be thinking big again.

Why have the people involved not let the public know about what is going on? We're talking here about public libraries, not private institutions. Why the deceit?

I'm due in the centre of town tomorrow so I#ll drop into the local library to start to find out who has been behind this.

We already know that a company in Poole in Dorset appears to have had some role in distributing free copies of Explore Evolution (one of our members contacted them and got a free copy).
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby Paul Braterman » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:36 pm

I don't think we need to take the £50 seriously; C4ID will send you a copy for a tenner, and I think at one time the price was £6.60, which seems realistic. Perhaps even less for break-even direct marketing. So I stick with the suggestion that £50 is a deliberate shut-out.

Even so, some £20,000 before postage, packing, and organisation. As you say, not trivial.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby cathy » Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:12 pm

It's NOT listed on the online catalogue of either Worcestershire or Warwickshire libraries which is surprising given the Warks site includes Leamington. Both sites are pretty accurate, I've used them to order books before. Worcs has Darwins black box listed which I already knew as it's in Redditch and I move it to either religion or sci fi whenever I go in. I'll see what comes up for Birmingham but so far it looks as if the IDers are continuing to avoid the West Mids. Don't know why but I'm certainly not complaining. Will moniter the situation though in case it's on its way.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby cathy » Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:23 pm

Nope not in any of the Birmingham libraries either. They list two copies of Darwins black box though, in Sutton and Sparkhill. Sparkhill is a tiny bit of a studenty place for the uni's but not one of the main ones. Doubt they'd use local libraries anyway.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby cathy » Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:34 pm

Eek there are TWO copies in Gloucestershire, in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury-in Tewkesbury it looks to be filed under popular science rather than science. Even though it's a different county Cheltenham is closeish to Leamington. Nowhere near me so I'm not sure if I complain would it have any weight? Shall I write a copy of the complaint letter anyway?
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby Brian Jordan » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:22 pm

cathy wrote:Eek there are TWO copies in Gloucestershire, in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury-in Tewkesbury it looks to be filed under popular science rather than science. Even though it's a different county Cheltenham is closeish to Leamington. Nowhere near me so I'm not sure if I complain would it have any weight? Shall I write a copy of the complaint letter anyway?
Nothing to be lost, I'd have thought. I've just checked the Kirklees catalogue - none there but they do have Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins , Daniel Dennett, Steve Jones and even Eugenie Scott - must get some reservation cards! The worst they have seem to be Evolution Under the Microscope: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution by David Swift and The Great Evolution Mystery (1983) by Gordon R. Taylor.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby Roger Stanyard » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:19 pm

Brian Jordan wrote:Nothing to be lost, I'd have thought. I've just checked the Kirklees catalogue - none there but they do have Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins , Daniel Dennett, Steve Jones and even Eugenie Scott - must get some reservation cards! The worst they have seem to be Evolution Under the Microscope: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution by David Swift and The Great Evolution Mystery (1983) by Gordon R. Taylor.


I think we can pretty safely conclude from your and Cathy's checking that we have no evidence that copies of Explore Evolution were distributed free of charge to public libraries across the UK. To suggest otherwise is just speculation.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby cathy » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:29 am

Hmm. I'd be surprised if Gloucestershire council bought two copies of an obscure book like explore evolution. It's not really a general science text, it's not useful for any courses so colleges won't have requested it and it's not something a normal librarian would consider is it? Maybe they're just being donated by random supporters to their own local libraries. Would that explain the patchiness of distribution and the fact Glasgow was so swamped? Will keep an eye on Worcs, Warks and B'ham every so often.
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Re: Explore Evolution in University and local libraries

Postby tubataxidriver » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:33 pm

Because schools and local libraries generally fall under the same local authorities, it is possible that books not thought useful in school might be donated by the school back to their parent local authority, and end up in the library system.
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