I have a gift for picking despised professional niches. I used to run institutional repositories, and if there’s a niche in academic librarianship more despised than that, I’m honestly not sure what it might be. From the frying pan into the fire—now I teach library school. If nothing else, I’ve greatly expanded the universe of librarians and archivists who despise my work!
Librarians rejoice! The Supreme Court of the United States insisted in its Wiley v. Kirtsaeng decision that we can legally lend foreign-manufactured materials!
The case was about textbooks and textbook-market arbitrage, though. That’s worth keeping sight of. Extrapolating from reactions on all sides, what does the Wiley v. Kirtsaeng decision likely mean for the textbook-publishing business, and what can textbook publishers and libraries do if they don’t like that?
Roy Tennant’s recent series on assimilating new technology (start here to read it) spurs me to talk about helping library school students do that. My workhorse course, the one I first developed and taught in 2007, that I’ve been teaching ever since, is an introduction to computer-based technologies in libraries called “Digital Tools, Trends, and Debates.”
I never met Aaron Swartz, though I certainly knew of him. I’ve been teaching library school students about him since his 2011 arrest for sneaking into an MIT server closet to mass-download the contents of JSTOR. I learned of his death by his own hand via airport wireless, early on the morning of Saturday, January 12. Exhausted by a week of teaching a data-curation bootcamp for librarians and digital humanists, the most I could muster was a weak, aghast “aigh. no.”
I got into a thought-provoking conversation on the Digital Humanities Question and Answer site the other day. Columbia University is planning a two-year staff-reskilling program, so that its librarians can “be the consulting arm of [the university’s] re-envisioned Digital Humanities Center.” Columbia’s is hardly the only library—hardly the only academic library, even—needing to reskill some of its existing employee complement in various ways, digital humanities only one possibility of many. Granting the necessity, how do we as a profession do this, and how should we?
The single most vital, sine qua non skill for any self-respecting library-school instructor is learning to shut up during librarianship’s ubiquitous, interminable “what I didn’t learn in library school (but should have)” kvetch-fests. Not long ago, though, the Library Society of the World’s Friendfeed contingent turned that well-worn wrangle on its head, collecting examples of education they hadn’t intentionally sought out, but now valued.
E-resources license negotiators, start your engines! A group of content aggregators are approaching colleges and universities promising lower costs for vitally-important materials, as well as fast, convenient, patron-friendly digital access—but only if we risk content and platform lock-in, and sign contracts for massive amounts of content at once, including much we don’t need and only [...]
My students are their own people; what makes them amazing comes from them, not me. I see them for two or three semesters at most. Still they enrich my life considerably, and when I manage to enrich theirs in return, I’m happy. With the “Librarians Abroad” series, I’d like to introduce Library Journal readers to [...]
I have heard a man say perfectly seriously that the Native Americans before the Conquest had no technology. As we know, kiln-fired pottery is a naturally-occurring substance, baskets ripen in the summer, and Machu Picchu just grew there. —Ursula K. LeGuin, “On Not Reading Science Fiction.” I have three kinds of memory: short-term, long-term, and [...]
I hated group projects when I was a library-school student. Oh, did I hate them! Slackers going unpunished, poor communication, floundering, missed deadlines causing panic, what’s not to hate? Now that I’m teaching library school, I assign group projects anyway. A terrible hypocrite am I. The logistics are compelling enough. SLIS’s introductory library-technology course seats [...]