September 17, 2014

It’s What We Do: Service and sanctuary in Ferguson | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

I am usually proud to be a librarian. Last month that feeling was deeply reinforced by the work done at Ferguson Municipal Public Library, MO, and the professional creativity and focus expressed by Director Scott Bonner over weeks of duress in that community.

Feedback: Letters to LJ, September 1, 2014 Issue

Librarians’ history on LBGT topics; disrupting libraries; the perils of remote lending; and more letters to the editor from the September 1, 2014, issue of Library Journal.

Politics & Libraries: Every great librarian is a politician | Blatant Berry

In a collection of old political campaign buttons I found a pink one with the number “321.8” across it in dark blue. The discovery triggered memories of activist times in librarianship four to five decades ago. In our view then, the Dewey number 321.8 was the classification for “participatory democracy,” the system of government in which our small cadre of librarians believed. We were one of dozens of groups that formed within the new Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA). We believed, as I still do, that good librarians are politically enmeshed in the larger national and international issues of war, peace, social justice, and the vital role of good government in human affairs. We even tried to convince our professional organizations publicly to support our positions and amplify our voice on these issues. Sometimes we were successful.

Collective Wisdom in an Age of Algorithms | Peer to Peer Review

Barbara Fister

Changes to platforms we use regularly are always slightly traumatic, as we invariably discover when we roll out a new library website and the complaints begin, or we find out a database interface has changed radically the day we’re introducing it to students. Platform changes are even more distressing when they are sites to which we contribute content. By creating social circles and sharing information on websites, we often forget they belong to other people who have values and motivations different from ours.

Hard Cases Make Bad Law | Peer to Peer Review

Kevin L. Smith

The legal adage that hard cases make bad law apparently has deep roots in English common law, and it was cited in a Supreme Court decision by no less a Justice than Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Its applicability has been disputed over the years, but in recent weeks we have seen the truth of the maxim illustrated in some copyright debates. Colleagues have recently sent me two different stories where the extremes of copyright law are in play—hard cases, I suppose. Both offer confirmation that when the facts are really well outside the realm of normal expectations, people can draw very bad legal conclusions. But both also offer opportunities to remind ourselves of fundamental truths about law, journalism, and copyright.

Tapping Into the Trust Culture | From the Bell Tower

Steven Bell

After decades of people trusting authority figures instead of each other, an American revolution is underway. The trust economy signals a reversal. Academic librarians should be thinking more about their trust quotient.

Low-Cost, No-Cost UX | The User Experience

Aaron Schmidt

When budgets are tight, it is easy to feel frustrated and disempowered. After all, having access to a deep pool of funds makes it easy to get things done. But when times are tough, it doesn’t mean librarians should toss their hands in the air and give up on making user experience (UX) improvements. Here are a few things you can do to improve your library’s UX that won’t require finding much of a budget.

The Degree We Need: Strong standards are just the start | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

Our professional credential is an embattled thing. It’s a rare day that the master’s in library and information science (MLIS) escapes a conversation unscathed and unquestioned. This is rightfully so. Nothing so time-consuming and expensive, and essential, should be taken for granted. It should be under constant scrutiny by the schools themselves, the candidates, those who hire graduates, and the broader profession that it serves.

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.

Deciphering the Next Big Thing | Leading From the Library

Steven Bell

Spend enough time as a leader and you’ll be exposed to an endless series of new models for leading, managing, and organizational change. How do you tell the difference between the fly-by-night fads and the ideas worth your time investment? That’s a skill leaders need to develop.