Letters to the editor from Library Journal’s, November 15, 2013 Issue
I unpacked (slowly, slowly) my new iPhone 5S in a major moment of personal technolust. Upgrading from a quickly aging iPhone 4, the larger screen size, fingerprint identification, and enhanced camera pulled me in. It also caused me to reflect on the mobile device and its touchstone role with people in general and librarians in particular. What a history we’ve had together!
Vendor relations are a mixed bag. They can range from mutual respect and support to contempt and contentiousness. Academic librarians need to exchange experiences and information, but it will really help if someone is listening.
Back in 1917, two librarians from the Missoula Public Library wanted to bring library service to the remote lumber camps that peppered Montana’s vast mining range. One of them, Ruth Worden, was from a very powerful Missoula family. When she brought the idea to the man in charge of the camps, Kenneth Ross, she didn’t know if it would work—if the lumberjacks would actually use the books—and neither did Ross. In fact, he expected they would not, notes a story in the Missoulian (ow.ly/qmqA0). But Ross felt he couldn’t say no to Worden, so packets of books started to arrive in the camp office in Bonner. A year later, 4,000 books had been checked out—and the case was made.
Here’s an issue about which I’ve been hearing from colleagues quite a lot lately—that of libraries undertaking and carrying out assessment methods and then ignoring or “trumping” the findings by doing what they wanted to do in the first place, but putting a “check mark” next to assessment in their mental (or literal) to do lists, indicating, “yep, did that!” My thought in such cases is: well, no, you didn’t do that!
This year, several announcements and blog posts combined to focus my attention on a slightly different question. What problems can open access solve? The answer seems obvious; open access will solve the problem of highly restricted and limited access to scholarship. A somewhat different problem that OA can help solve is the problem of scholarship locked up in the hands of badly run businesses that have come to believe that their inefficient and ineffective ways of doing business must be preserved at all costs.
“We have to weed the collection!” Every librarian will tell you that, but a great many library users, including many of those unpredictable “Friends of the Library,” along with a lot of other citizens, simply don’t understand why it is necessary to throw away “good books.” As a result, careless weeding of library collections has been the source of tremendous misunderstanding, disruption, bad publicity, and, all-too-frequently, the departure of library directors.
I’ve had some strange experiences teaching workshops and continuing-education courses over the last couple of years. These challenges simply don’t happen in my regular library-school classrooms. Sometimes I can easily take them as a salient reminder to me to explain clearly the “why” behind the “what” in my teaching. More often, though, I find myself worried, both for these learners and for the state of the overall pool of professional skill.
Presented with a non-stop flow of content, choosing which links to click can be a tough decision. There’s no time to waste, but what if you miss something that could make all the difference? Can librarians help others make better clicking decisions?