Jamie LaRue, an erstwhile public librarian (recently turned consultant) in Colorado who has done some cool things (such as negotiating directly with publishers for ebooks while refusing to pay crazy amounts for popular titles), has thought-provoking things to say about the dynamics of change in libraries. Reflecting on a discussion at the Arizona Library Association where something he said apparently raised eyebrows, he expanded on his remarks in a blog post, taking particular aim at a pattern he sees (and many of us will recognize) in library organizations. A decision is made, a direction taken, and then the sabotage begins, conducted by people who contributed little to the discussion as the decision was being made.
I am always amazed that people who have ideas to share don’t actually take steps to share them. Yes, academic librarians, I’m looking at you. Why is it that librarians agitate for open access and, at the same time, are content to put our own scholarship behind paywalls?
I have for years been a huge fan of the WAC Clearinghouse—a remarkably deep collection of open access resources for those who teach writing across the curriculum (WAC) and want to share scholarship on the teaching of writing. That’s in part because there’s a lot in common between writing instruction and information literacy programs. But I’m also a fan because it’s such a good example of high quality open access publishing. I decided this week to contact Mike Palmquist, founding editor of the Clearinghouse, to ask him how it all works.
Peer to Peer columnist Barbara Fister reflects on the need to reinvigorate instruction in light of how we now collect resources. This essay is part of an exclusive LJ series, Reinventing Libraries, that looks at how the digital shift is impacting libraries’ mission.
The faculty of the University of California system have adopted an open access mandate. This is huge. Not only will it put a lot of scholarship from ten notable universities online for the benefit of all, it signals a shift in perception of what is normal academic practice. It’s interesting that it has happened on the heels of a major scholarly society issuing a draft statement arguing that digital open access to dissertations may harm young scholars, who should be allowed a six-year period in which to turn their research into a book contract.
I only got a tiny peek at the ALA conference this year. I was in Chicago for a board meeting of Sisters in Crime, an organization that promotes the contributions of women to crime writing, and does a bit of library support on the side. On Saturday morning, I picked up an exhibitor’s badge and did some tabling for the organization. The ALA annual conference is an overwhelming experience and the exhibits, for me, are particularly mind-blowing. When my head stopped spinning, I thought about my impressions of that vast and bustling exhibit hall. I wondered if the disorientation and sense of overwhelming abundance and confusion that I felt is how undergraduates feel when they first try to find their way around an academic library. The other thought that I was left with was that this enormous display of wares seeking our attention is a testament to our power.
We just celebrated an important holiday – towel day. Sadly, I only just found out about it as I browsed the Internet when I should have been working. But I will henceforth do what I can to “really know where my towel is,” to quote the late great Douglas Adams. This may come in handy, because I’ve been thinking a lot about “disruptive innovation,” MOOCs, and the millennial talk about the future of libraries. What I keep coming back to are some fairly simple concepts that actually haven’t changed much in a long time. Library values are, for me, like the towel that Ford Prefect carried. Simple, absorbent, useful in any number of situations, and likely to encourage people to think we librarians are well supplied with all the other things one needs on a trip.
I was fortunate enough to see an advanced draft of The New Digital Scholar: Exploring and Enriching the Research and Writing Practices of Nextgen Students, a terrific new collection of insights into how our students approach research tasks and what we can do to improve their learning. (Reader, I blurbed it.) Now that I have a print copy in my hands, I’m reading it all over again, and I expect it will become one of those books I pull off the shelf frequently, until the pages are dog-eared and rumpled. Most of the authors are in the field of composition, though librarians and technical writers also contributed. It does a fascinating job of examining how students become information literate—and what barriers get in the way.
There are plenty of reasons to be downhearted about things. But sometimes you just have to look on the bright side. This morning I found myself thinking about why I find this profession so rewarding. Here are ten easy reasons, in no particular order.
What interesting times we live in. I just got a panicked call from a professor who asked her students to find reviews of YA books that had appeared at the time they were originally published. She suddenly realized she didn’t know how to find a review of a now-classic Judy Blume novel that she planned to use as an example. She couldn’t find any reviews from 1970 on the web. She couldn’t find any in our databases, which often don’t have full text that far back. The Publisher’s Weekly review posted at Amazon is not from the time of the original publication, but refers to a later reissue. The author’s website didn’t include reviews from 1970. And here she’d thought it was a simple assignment.