2018 Spring - Europe in Bits & Bytes

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Column Editor: Kathleen Smith

Vol. 41, no. 2

WESSWeb > WESS Newsletter > Spring 2018 > Europe in Bits & Bytes


Spotlight on ESS: Who Do We Think We Are?

In response to recent revelations involving Cambridge Analytica and its use of private information harvested from the profiles of unsuspecting Facebook users, many people are examining the data that FB has collected about them with concern, and even questioning their use of Facebook altogether.

In the spirit of inquiry and knowledge, therefore, this column investigates the ESS Facebook Group page and the information available there in order to explore one face of ESS.


The information and statistics collected by Facebook are available to administrators, and Adan Griego has kindly provided us with some highlights from the statistics for the last month.

For those of you unfamiliar with the ESS Facebook Group and related functions, Facebook allows group administrators to view demographic information about their followers and to compare their pages with similar groups. Here are similar pages for comparison with ESS: Libraries Without Borders (11,600 "Likes"), Academic Librarians (3,600 "Likes"), Rare Books and Manuscripts (2,800 "Likes"), and the LGBTQ Archives (1,300 "Likes").

The ESS Facebook page has 193 "Likes," but we're well on our way to catching up to the others.

FB ESS comparableSites.jpg

According to these statistics, ESS's fans are 60% female and 37% male (no information is available on the remaining 3%). The largest age group represented is identified as 35-44, followed by 45-54. Mysteriously, ESS has no fans under the age of 17.

FB ESS yourfans.jpg

The United States of America is the home of most ESS fans (134), followed by Germany (7), and Canada and France (each with 5).

English (US and UK) are the dominant languages (148 and 14), followed by French (9) and Spanish (Spain/unspecified: 4+3).

The cities tied for the most ESS fans are Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, New Haven (CT), and Berlin (Germany), each with 4 ESS followers.

FB ESS countriesandcities.jpg


Based on this demographic information available to Facebook and ESS administrators, we would expect to see this information reflected in the content posted by ESS members, with France and Germany largely dominating the discussions. As demonstrated by the links listed below, in some cases the demographic data holds true but in other cases it deviates from expectations.

In the past six months, from October 2017-March 2018, there were approximately 44 links posted to the site by group members. Dividing these links by region of interest, and then by news source, leads to an interesting perspective on what ESS members are reading and sharing.

France had the most numerous links by far, with 11 primarily focusing on culture, language and politics, more than Europe-wide topics such as population, religion, language, and ebooks. In terms of news sources, Inside Higher Education (8 links) beat out El Pais (6), followed by the Guardian (4).

Based solely on this de-contextualized data from the Facebook group page, ESS members appear to be more interested in the United States than they are in Austria, Switzerland, or Portugal (0 links each). They rely on a variety of online news sources, primarily in English, French, and Spanish. Professional publications such as Publishing Perspectives are represented but there are few links from the wider U.S. library community.

Take a look at this list of links posted between October 2017-March 2018 below and see what ESS members are sharing. What broader conclusions can we draw from this information (if any)? Does this Facebook Group page represent who we are?


“France’s Literature in Translation: The Shortlist From the French-American Foundation” (publishingperspectives.com)

“The Reform of French University Admissions” (insidehighered.com)

“La mairie de Paris promet la création d'un centre d'archives LGBT en 2020” (Liberation)

“A Sablons, en Gironde, le plus grand bouquiniste de France a ouvert un village du livre” (France3 FranceTVInfo)

“Gatekeepers say gender-neutral pronouns pose ‘deadly danger’ for the French language” (washingtonpost.com)

“French the new lingua franca of the world – vraiment?” (theguardian.com)

“The Push to Make French Gender-Neutral” (theatlantic.com)

“No Room for Rebuttal” (Subtitle: Paper in The French Review titled “Islamism’s Conquest of the French Republic” draws outcry, not only on charges of Islamophobia, but on its scholarly merit. An editor who joined in criticism is fired.) (insidehighered.com)

“France declares erotic masterpiece '120 Days of Sodom' a national treasure to halt sale” (thelocal.fr)

“Les 20 meilleurs livres de 2017 selon le magazine Lire” (livreshebdo.fr)

“Macron’s Vision for a New Type of European University” (insidehighered.com)

“Corsican Nationalists Sweep Elections in Bid for More Autonomy From France” (nytimes.com)


“Mapping Where Europe’s Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work”(citylab.com)

"Digital Archive of the Roma"

“Speaking more than one language can boost economic growth” (World Economic Forum)

“THE summit to address Europe's future in wake of rising populism” (timeshighereducation.com)

“How long to learn that language? Here’s a map for that” (BigThink)

“5 Facts about the Muslim population in Europe” (Pew Research Center)

“European Booksellers Cheer as Digital Market Talks on Ebooks and Geo-Blocking” (publishingperspectives.com)

“Open Data Maturity in Europe 2017” (European Data Portal)

“Globalized Higher Ed.” (insidehighered.com)


“Trove of unseen photos shows Gerda Taro and Robert Capa in action” (elpais.com)

“Reina Sofía museum benefactors donate photo trove documenting 1950s Spain” (elpais.com)

“The Portuguese fado singer who charmed Madonna” (elpais.com)

“Madrid according to Pedro Almodovar” (elpais.com)

“As Brexit starts to bite, more and more Brits are selling up and leaving Spain” (elpais.com)

"Grand Hotel: Episode available for streaming at KCET" (KCET.org)

"SPI: La edición académica española" (ILIA website)


“Lexical Geography of U.S. Spanish. About Anglicism” (Cervantes Institute at FAS, Harvard University website)

“Language classes in the US are finally useful” (Quartz, qz.com)

“U Wisconsin-Stevens Point to Eliminate 13 Majors” (insidehighered.com)

“New International Enrollments Decline” (insidehighered.com)

“Foreign Language Enrollments Drop Sharply” (insidehighered.com)


“German Apprenticeships: Made for America” (insidehighered.com)

“German newspaper publishes names of 33,000 refugees who died trying to reach Europe” (independent.co.uk)

“German researchers resign from Elsevier journals in push for nationwide open access” (sciencemag.org)

“German ebook sales increase by 4% in 2017” (goodereader.com)


“Emma Bonino: Italy's pro-Europe, pro-immigrant conscience” (theguardian.com)

“Eurosceptic Italy in race to form majority government” (theguardian.com)

“In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News” (nytimes.com)

United Kingdom

“Ireland seeks five-fold rise in students studying languages” (timeshighereducation.com)

“Why has no other European country adopted the Research Excellence Framework?” (London School of Economics and Political Science website)


“Meet Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s Left-Wing, Environmentalist, Feminist Prime Minister” (thenation.com)

“Top 10 modern Nordic books” (theguardian.com)


(Zero links)


(Zero links)


(Zero links)

Please submit notifications and/or reviews for inclusion in the upcoming issue of Europe in Bits & Bytes, as well as any comments, to Kathleen Smith.

WESSWeb > WESS Newsletter > Spring 2018 > Europe in Bits & Bytes

Editor: Jen Bonnet (jenbonnet@maine.edu)

Association of College & Research Libraries
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