Great leaders have some talents that can’t be quantified and may be more intuitive than learned. Among them, the great ones have an ability to connect separate pieces of information to form a useful pattern. But there may be ways to get better at that.
The Librarian Shaming tumblr highlights anonymous “confessions” from our field. Some are humorous, some shocking. Some will make you think and maybe reconsider assumptions. This shameful confession perked me up when I discovered it: “I want to replace all librarians with tech people with great customer service skills and teaching ability. I want the library to have its own Genius Bar.” While a bit narrow in focus, this statement resonates on an instinctive level with me as an LIS educator.
In its search for space to house new classes, the University of Pennsylvania identified a pair of libraries whose collections could be moved offsite to make room. Under the original plan, the Math, Physics, and Astronomy Library in the David Rittenhouse Laboratory would be reduced in size by more than a third, while the Engineering Library in the Towne Building would be eliminated altogether.
The first phase of the Lever Initiative is nearly complete, so it seems a good time to share what we’ve learned. In 2010, I sent an email to a group of liberal arts college library directors suggesting a crazy idea: what if we jointly investigated the possibility of starting an open access press? We formed a task force to explore the idea. The next step, should we decide to go forward, will be to explore what exactly we might do and how we would fund it.
User-generated content (UGC)—which includes tweets, reviews, Facebook posts, and Wikipedia articles—now plays a key role in the average person’s Internet experience. UGC is also becoming an indispensable resource for helping researchers make sense of big data. In his Wednesday keynote address “The Mining and Application of Diverse Cultural Perspectives in User-Generated Content” at the Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) conference in Austin this week, Brent Hecht, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Minnesota, will discuss how “UGC reflects the cultural diversity of its contributors to a previously unidentified extent and that this diversity has important implications for Web users and existing UGC-based technologies.” Prior to the event, LJ spoke with Hecht about the intersection of geography and computer science, the influence of UGC, and why librarians are needed to help patrons navigate popular UGC resources such as Wikipedia.
On March 12, academic research nonprofit Ithaka S+R released its latest survey of academic library leaders. Gathering input from 499 library deans and directors from institutions large and small, the new Library Survey—the first of its kind since 2010—paints a picture of the shifting priorities of modern academic libraries, the challenges they face, and the resources and leadership techniques they’re using to meet those challenges.
Whether librarians and faculty like it or not, Wikipedia remains at the heart of the research process for many undergraduate students. Rather than trying to stem the tide, the University of California Berkeley is trying to make students there into more responsible and effective users of the online encyclopedia. To that end, the university’s American Cultures program has hired alumni Kevin Gorman as the first Wikipedian-In-Residence at a US university.
Just how much should you care about your library job? Many, if not most, of the librarians I have known during my (pretty long) career have been passionate about their work. But seldom is any issue in a library so straightforwardly obvious to all that there is universal agreement. So what do you do when decisions are made with which you don’t agree, or when services and policies are put in place that you don’t like, or when they’re not put in place when you fervently believe in them? I remember the options described in my library school administration course: you can disagree in private, but you need to agree in public. If you find that you cannot agree in public, then you need to move on. And those choices make good professional sense—but I’m wondering how many of us are able to do that.