August 29, 2014

Academic Libraries

Theory of Change: Foiling Librarianship’s Underpants Gnomes | Peer to Peer Review

Dorothea Salo

The animated television show South Park made a business of touching nerves, but even its creators reportedly did not expect the furor that roared forth over their Underpants Gnomes episode satirizing common workplace beliefs and practices. The Underpants Gnomes’ business plan lives on (slightly altered) in web culture as a shorthand for inadequate, failure-prone product or service planning. I spent my entire library career wallowing in Step 2.

Gale Founder Frederick Ruffner Dies at 88

Frederick Gale Ruffner

Frederick Gale Ruffner, Jr., who founded Gale Research Company with his wife Mary Evans Ruffner, died on August 12 following a long illness. He launched enduring reference works including the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Contemporary Authors, and the Encyclopedia of Associations

Asserting Rights We Don’t Have: Libraries and “Permission to Publish” | Peer to Peer Review

Rick Anderson

In late June, a minor brouhaha erupted when the library at the University of Arkansas suspended reporters from the Washington Free Beacon, an online newspaper, from using its special collections. The reason given by library administrators was that on multiple occasions the newspaper’s reporters had published content from those collections without asking permission, as library policy requires. Much has been made in the right-wing press about the politics supposedly surrounding this conflict. I want to focus on a different issue: the practice of making patrons request library permission before republishing content drawn from documents in our special collections.

If Confusion Helps Students Learn, Shouldn’t They Be Information Literate By Now? | From the Bell Tower

Steven Bell

When students have trouble grasping the subject matter, intuitively we work to make it as clear as possible. New research suggests actually promoting some confusion may work better. If that’s true, how would it change library instruction?

New Florida University Unveils Bookless Library

Kathryn Miller, director of FPU's library, in The Commons
Photo courtesy of Florida Polytechnic University

Florida’s newest public university—Florida Polytechnic University (FPU)—is so new it doesn’t even have accreditation yet. Its mission is to educate students in the STEM fields, and Chief Information Officer Tom Hull describes it as part of a future “Silicon Valley East” between Orlando and Tampa. FPU features a lot of innovative, not to say controversial, departures from tradition, including a no-tenure model for its 26 newly hired professors and a library without physical books.

More on the Damage Done | Peer to Peer Review

Wayne Biven-Tatum

Last year, Walt Crawford self-published a book entitled The Big Deal and the Damage Done (which I wrote about here). In it, he analyzed statistics for academic library budgets and showed that Big Deals for serials were gradually taking over many library budgets as serial expenditures rose significantly more than inflation and the inflexibility of the subscription packages led libraries to cut expenditures for books and other materials. This year, Crawford published a revised and expanded report on the topic as the May/June volume of the ALA Library Technology Reports: “Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage,” in which he analyzes the “Academic Library Data Files” from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

Columbus Community College, Public Library Partner

Photo courtesy of Columbus Metropolitan Library  (CML)
Columbus State Community College space in CML’s new Driving Park Branch

Columbus State Community College (CSCC) and the Columbus Metropolitan Library have joined forces in a partnership that will benefit students at all grade levels and the community at large.

Harvard’s Copyright First Responders to the Rescue

128px-Question_copyright.svg

While most academic librarians are familiar with the basics of copyright law, the questions they’re asked are getting more complex. Issues of fair use and open access, MOOCs and repositories, and the push to digitize mean that students and faculty need more guidance on copyright matters than ever. This spring Kyle K. Courtney, Harvard University’s Copyright Advisor, brought together a pilot group of librarians known as Copyright First Responders (CFRs) to address this situation.

What PIL Teaches Us About Lifelong Learning | Peer to Peer Review

Barbara Fister

Recent college graduates are recognizing the social nature of information and the fact that “finding sources to solve a problem” is less important than “finding ways to keep up,” according to the latest Project Information Literacy report.

Resolving the Link Resolver Problem | From the Bell Tower

Steven Bell

Students appreciate having access to a vast selection of full-text content, but when our link resolver takes them to an intermediary screen—between the database and content—they find it extremely confusing, presenting them with too many unclear options. Academic librarians have researched the effectiveness of link resolvers since 2004. One not-so-surprising finding is that a high percentage of users never make it past that screen.