I’ve seen polls in which folks were asked, “would you rather work with someone who’s really smart and difficult or someone who’s not so smart but is nice and easy to work with?,” and the results show that people generally prefer the latter. I’m with them.
Nature has built in two important responses for human beings and other animals facing danger, which psychologists call the fight and the flight reflexes. Depending on the nature of the threat, either choice might be sensible in a specific context. This all came to mind during a conversation a couple of weeks ago with Chris Bourg, the Associate University Librarian for Public Services at Stanford. She spoke to Duke’s Seminar on the Research Library about the threat to libraries from neoliberal thinking in higher education. Chris’ talk was very interesting and challenging. I am not sure I entirely agree with her. But the part of the conversation I want to focus on is how librarians respond to a sense of crisis in our profession.
This past December, LJ teamed up with Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) to dive deep into the use of data-driven decision-making in academic libraries in a series of three free webcasts. The series, moderated by Bonnie Tijerina, head of e-resources and serials at Harvard Library and ER&L conference coordinator—and made possible thanks to sponsorship by ProQuest, Springer, and Innovative Interfaces—explored a range of strategies academic libraries are deploying as they use data to serve their customers more effectively.
In a column called Peer to Peer Review, it’s appropriate to review our peers once in a while, so I’d like to discuss last week’s column by Rick Anderson on “science and religion in the library.” He’s not talking about the Qs and the Bs. In the column, Anderson writes: “For my purposes here, I’m going to define as ‘science’ those aspects of library work that deal with figuring out and describing things as they are, and as ‘religion’ those that deal with figuring out how things should be and why they should be that way.” My question is, why would he want to make such a distinction?
Let me start out by acknowledging that “Science and Religion in the Library” is a provocative subtitle, and to some degree it’s meant to be. Let me explain what I mean by it. For my purposes here, I’m going to define as “science” those aspects of library work that deal with figuring out and describing things as they are, and as “religion” those that deal with figuring out how things should be and why they should be that way. In the sense that I’m using the terms here, science is descriptive, and religion is prescriptive; science is involved with “is” questions, while religion is involved with “should” questions.
One of the biggest names in information services for libraries is seeing a change at the top. After more than four decades with the company, EBSCO CEO F. Dixon Brooke announced his retirement today. The announcement also brought the news that EBSCO Information Services President Tim Collins will step in as CEO.
At the University of Oregon (UO), staff at the Science Library have only had an in-house 3D printer for a few months, but have wasted no time putting the new equipment to use. At the beginning of January, the library printed a 3D model of a rare fossil in the UO paleontology department’s collection—the remains of a 5-million-year old saber toothed salmon.