In my last column, I discussed research on cognitive bias and the human mind, and speculated that what librarians call information literacy is a deeply unnatural state. The human mind hasn’t evolved to analyze carefully or think critically without a great deal of effort, and even then, the effort is often misplaced. That’s of course one reason we educate people, and higher education particularly values traits like intellectual curiosity and critical thought that often help us overcome our natural intellectual inclinations. But education is not necessarily a salvation.
Late last month, the announcement that libraries at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton would have to cut $1.7 million from the materials budget sent staff and students around the campus into an uproar, with students and faculty flocking to defend a library system that they see as key to their success as scholars. While UNT Provost Warren Burrgren has walked those statements back in recent days and laid immediate concerns about budget cuts to rest, the controversy started a conversation on the campus about how the library should be funded that isn’t dying down, even as cuts to the library budget are halted or postponed.
Can, Should, and Will, Part 1: Because What Libraries Need Is One More Venn Diagram | Peer to Peer Review
I came up with the diagram below while I was thinking about library management during a lull in traffic at the reference desk recently. My original intent was sort of wryly humorous (it is hilarious, don’t you think?) but the more time I spend looking at it, the more I think it’s a potentially valuable tool for helping give shape to conversations about priority-setting and decision-making in libraries, and maybe in other organizations as well.
Jennifer Vinopal is the Librarian for Digital Scholarship Initiatives at New York University, where she helps scholars bring their work online for preservation, curation, and more and more frequently, collaboration. She talked with Library Journal about how the face of digital scholarship is changing, what role librarians play in that change, and how the partnerships between researchers and librarians are growing closer in the new research landscape.
For years, Ohio State University (OSU) has had a collection of graphic novels, editorial cartoons, and comic strips that could go toe to toe with archives the world over. What it didn’t have was a space that did that collection justice. For decades, OSU’s cartoon collection, which includes more than 2.5 million comic strips spanning decades of American newspapers, was housed in a pair of disused rooms in the school’s journalism building. A recent move to renovated space, though, means that the decades of pop culture history housed at OSU’s newly-minted Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum (BICLM) finally has a happy home, and one that staff are eager to introduce to the public.
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.
This year’s listing of library building projects completed between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, expands on the concept of all-purpose spaces to suit a variety of patrons and needs. There are 77 public efforts, and among the 14 academic buildings is the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI (above), which allows students to invent their own environments. A banquet of libraries with that all-important, all-purpose ingredient.