September 1, 2014

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.

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?

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.

Is it an Industry?, Facts Are our Mission, Speak Up about Salaries!| Feedback

Readers comment on why libraries should not depend on the rich for support, whether librarianship is an industry, why librarians should provide info on laws they disagree with, and more letters to LJ’s August 2014 Issue

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.