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.
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.
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.
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.
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.