Monday, July 6, 2009

Plagiarism by ALA Executive Board Member Diane Chen

An American Library Association [ALA] Executive Board member, Diane Chen, has committed plagiarism. Diane Chen writes for the School Library Journal.

On 30 June 2009, she wrote, "ALA Event Meet West Bend Community Library Supporters," by Diane Chen, School Library Journal, 30 June 2009. On that very same date, Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom had already written the words Diane Chen copied and more. See, "West Bend Librarians and Community Activists Share Censorship Stories at ALA Annual Conference," by Deborah Caldwell-Stone, OIF Blog, 30 June 2009. Take a look. It is a word for word copy, 100%. Only the title has changed. Nowhere does the real source of the wording appear.

Incredibly, Diane Chen proclaims everything she writes is her own, and nothing she writes is the ALA's! See for yourself: "All blog posts reflect the opinons [sic] of Diane and not her district or ALA."

Is this plagiarism, or is this plagiarism? Will there be any consequences for this from the School Library Journal or professionally generally?

Do any ALA Code of Ethics apply to Executive Board members who plagiarize?

(If some of the links in this blog post no longer work or suddenly the wording is attributed to Deborah Caldwell-Stone, it might be due to appropriate corrective action as a result of this blog post. I have kept a copy of the original page in case anything changes and I am required to defend my statements.)


Here are before and after pictures:

BEFORE (as of 6 July 2009):

AFTER (as of 7 July 2009):



  1. Thanks for pointing out my mistakes and note that I did go back in and attribute the wording to Ms Caldwell-Stone. I am happy to correct my errors, but I am still waiting for you to provide the readers with information. Many of them may not read your blog.

  2. Diane Chen, thank you for posting here. I have responded in comments to your own blog post at the School Library Journal.

    I do appreciate the changes you have made, and I hope you will keep this incident in mind for the future.

    But you didn't have to mention me! Feel free to change it again to something simple, I don't know, maybe provide the URL for DCS's blog post. Notice Nanette Perez included that URL in her broadcast message.

    Thanks again.

    By the way, you may wish to subscribe to my blog. I am certain it is one of a kind in the library world, and I back it all up with links to relevant reliable sources.

  3. I see you are enjoying my library news Delicious links as well.


    It is recommended reading. See:

    "plan2succeed's bookmarks on," by Steven M. Cohen, Library Stuff, 16 Mar 2008:

    "Want to stay current on library porn/filtering/computer news? this is the place. Of course, it's one sided, but it's better than no sided. :-)"

  4. Just wondering...what is the consequence for plagiarism. This really taints the ALA's Board Member, Chen's, integrity. Let's think about this....alleged experts of the literary world sink to plagiarism. Perhaps they should have a panel discussion on this at the ALA conference? Chen, you knew you were copying and pasting, i.e., stealing/plagiarizing. The world is not so naive.

  5. The statement by Caldwell-Stone was a press release, I believe originally posted here:

    Publishing a press release is not plagiarism, and press releases are generally not attributed to the original author and give the media and other entities the right to use/publish the information at will.

    Ginny/WBCFSL, I find it interesting that you weigh in on this when a few weeks ago you cut and paste a blog post from my website and posted it on yours, without indicating that the comments were made in another forum. The way you posted it was misleading, making it seem like the comment was posted directly to your blog. (See blog post here: But, as you said there, "Blog etiquette is not mandatory."

  6. WBCFSL and Maria Hanrahan, thank you for writing.

    Maria, in this and other blogs, you defend the ALA no matter the truth.

    In this case, the truth is that Diane Chen has already taken corrective action to repair what you claim doesn't exist. I view Diane Chen as a greater authority on Diane Chen's writing than Maria Hanrahan.

    So even after an admission against interest, you still feel the need to defend the ALA. Remarkable.

    Just so people know, Maria Hanrahan leads an organization in West Bend, WI, devoted to ensuring West Bend children retain access to inappropriate material. In her zeal, she has broadened her perspective to include finding and stamping out perceived slights on the ALA. Remarkable.

    She often uses repetitive and ad hominem argument, though she has not yet done that here. Yet. Oh wait, I just read her remarks to "Ginny." That's ad hominem, is it not? And check out her nasty tone. She speaks as if she is the fountain of all knowledge, as she has done here.

  7. Wow, Dan, have I now become your new primary target? It puts me in good company, I know.

    Diane Chen did admit to an error, yes, but it was my feeling that both you and she were unaware of the fact that Caldwell-Stone had originally released the info about the panel via a press release. Just wanted to call that to your attention and that of the readers; if that means I "defended" the ALA, so be it.

    Maria, in this and other blogs, you defend the ALA no matter the truth. Dan, yes, I have defended the ALA, but not "no matter the truth." If I don't agree with something the ALA has done, I will speak out against such action.

    Just so people know, Maria Hanrahan leads an organization in West Bend, WI, devoted to ensuring West Bend children retain access to inappropriate material. Ad hominem alert! You are wrong again, Dan. Readers are welcome to visit my website to find out what West Bend Parents for Free Speech is all about. Visitors will note that we do not endorse any books as being "appropriate" or not; we exist to protect the rights of parents to decide that for themselves.

    My comments to Ginny were not nasty. She commented on the idea of Chen's post being plagiarism. I pointed out her hypocrisy, as she has often lifted entire posts or comments from other people's blogs or websites without attributing credit or providing a link to the original source. That's not an ad hominem attack; it is pointing out that she has done the very thing she is speaking out against. Nasty tone? I think not.

  8. Maria again, as I predicted.

    Maria, you have become an Internet troll. I'll stop feeding the troll.


  9. By the way, the press release (I learned about thanks to Maria) was not what was published.

    Here is a section from the press release: "including a demand to publicly burn Francesca Lia Block's YA novel...."

    Now here is the plagiarized material: "including a demand to publicly burn (!) Francesca Lia Block's Young Adult novel...."

    See the differences? So even if publishing press releases without attribution is acceptable, that is not what happened here.

  10. Folks:

    Diane Chen has just done something so admirable that I hereby excuse her for what turned out to have been a simple, inadvertent omission.

    I'll likely write about it soon because it's so good. It's about her getting the ball rolling on ALA support for America's fighting men and women.

  11. So will you change the title of your post, or will you leave it stand with the accusation of plagiarism?

  12. Maria again. I've stop feeding that troll as I said above.

    In general, however, the title stands. Simple, inadvertent plagiarism is still plagiarism. That said, the degree of the plagiarism has been seriously reduced, at least in my mind, and I doubt it will ever occur again.

    Further, my "accusation of plagiarism" turns out to have been accurate in that actual plagiarism was admitted ("Thanks for pointing out my mistakes"), corrective action was taken ("I did go back in and attribute the wording to Ms Caldwell-Stone"), and an honest explanation was given (as explained in the original blog post as reworded).

    No one can fault Diane Chen any further under those circumstances.

    At the same time, no one can claim I cried wolf, which, in true troll fashion, is where Maria is heading.

  13. Pot? Yes, Kettle? We're both black.

    You accuse Chen of committing plagiarism by not attributing the post to Caldwell-Stone, but you do not do the same for others, such as WBCFSL. Even if you have granted them approval to use your material without credit, if someone posts one of your blog posts elsewhere and does not credit you, they are committing plagiarism. This is something that has been done on the WISSUP blog, yet I don't see any accusations of plagiarism for that. Curiously inconsistent.

    And "thanks for pointing out my mistakes" is not an admission of plagiarism.

    In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

    I strongly object to your assessment and ask your readers to consider: have my comments been inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic? How? My comments to this post have been about the subject of the post: supposed plagiarism. Your comments are the ones that have gone off on tangents or included personal attacks. So, who is really the troll in this scenario?

  14. I'm not responding further to incorrect, inapplicable, irrelevant , ad hominem comments. This lady really needs to stop attacking people who comment on my blog posts.

  15. See my new blog about Diane Chen here:

    "Diane Chen Leads ALA Troop Support Effort"

    Diane, I think you'll like this one a whole lot more.


Comments of a personal nature, trolling, and linkspam may be removed.