September 23, 2014

Creating Clear and Simple Signage | Design4Impact

ICONS Pictorial icons (in their largest view, l.) assist customers visually, communicating information at a glance and helping to bridge language barriers. Careful attention was given to the content, instructions, layout, and hierarchy of information displayed to ensure clear communication with a friendly voice. A single color scheme at all locations guarantees consistency. It had to be appropriate and visible in a variety of environments, each with its own interior color choice. The universal icon colors and design make it easy to transfer items among facilities

At California’s Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD), we have discovered that 48 percent of patrons prefer finding information themselves rather than asking staff members for help. This led us to examine our user experience of signage, particularly for computer use. We wanted to place ­signage in the exact place where patrons need help and ensure it was meaningful in guiding them in their independent use of the library.

Frenemies: The Perfect and the Good | Peer to Peer Review

Rick Anderson

We’ve all heard—and many of us have probably invoked ourselves—the admonition “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” It’s a concept that has kind of a fraught history in library discourse, because it embodies a tension that exists between two conflicting aspects of library culture: on the one hand, we place a lot of value on accuracy, completeness, and quality in the work that we do; on the other hand, we are painfully aware of the limited resources we have to work with.

Connecting Researchers to New Digital Tools | Not Dead Yet

Cheryl LaGuardia

A couple of months ago I got an email from my colleague Chris Erdmann (Data Scientist Training for Librarians) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He wanted to talk about ways librarians could help keep the scholarly community informed about new and developing technologies that could affect its work. He’s been following Thomas Crouzier’s blog, Connected Researchers, and talking with other interested, interesting folks such as Amy Brand at Digital Science. Chris and Amy thought that a discussion among a group of librarians and other stakeholders in the scholarly process could be a promising beginning for brainstorming ideas and strategies.

Keeping Library Content Secure | From the Bell Tower

Steven Bell

Illegally breaking into licensed library content doesn’t require sophisticated hacking skills—just a legitimate network account. Higher education recently discovered such accounts for sale on the Internet. Do we have good options for preventing thefts?

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.