Spring is HERE! Let’s celebrate this season of rebirth and renewal by thinking about making some changes in the library. Every library is burdened with a sacred cow or two. Some have an entire farm full! Laws of entropy dictate that once a library program or service starts, there’s a fair chance it will continue, even if it becomes clear at some point that it is no longer serving the purpose it once did. Sacred cows and other ineffective programs use up the valuable resource of staff time. The cost of feeding and maintaining sacred cows oftentimes doesn’t return much benefit to the library.
Next month I’ll have been a librarian for 37—count ‘em!—37 years, and I’ve been musing lately about how very much I’ve learned about libraries, organizations, and people in that time. That musing led me to focus on some of the questions I still ask myself after having worked in libraries for 38 years (there was that year working part-time reference while earning my MLS…).
The 2016 presidential primary activity and election may provide libraries with an unmatched opportunity to show their stuff. As candidates officially jump into the race, voters are already inundated by an unprecedented volume of information and perspectives—not to mention the onslaught of misinformation and distractions. As the pace heats up, potential voters will need help engaging in the process, and voters will need more help than ever sorting out the facts on the real issues and learning what they need to make their own decisions.
So many ideas can be sparked by coincidental juxtaposition. In the past few weeks, I have been thinking about the intersections between scholarly communications and information literacy. This was largely because I was part of a panel at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Conference about the task force charged with implementing the 2013 White Paper on the topic. My specific task was to discuss how the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education illuminated the approach we called for in the white paper. On top of these concerns came the Blurred Lines copyright case, which was all over the media in the past few weeks, and about which I have been asked my opinion repeatedly. Can these different strands be woven into a coherent idea?
A people-powered selection of letters to the editor, celebrating a wide swath of 2015 Movers & Shakers and mourning Cathie Linz, a writer and librarian, from the April 15, 2015 issue of Library Journal
A FEW YEARS AGO at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in Anaheim, CA, I had dinner with librarians from three large universities. The conversation turned to something they had in common: they were all moving print book collections at their respective institutions off-site to make room for student spaces. Back then, this was a big deal, and these administrators met with opposition and angst from their constituents.
The great debate has come to a truce: The new Framework for Information Literacy has been adopted, but will not replace the familiar information literacy Standards, at least for now. This probably frustrates people who strongly support (or oppose) one or the other, but it gives us a chance to work out some sticky issues without anyone feeling that they lost.
We talk a lot about resilience when we discuss library sustainability. It is one of the trends identified by Miguel Figueroa, an LJ 2005 Mover & Shaker, in the recent “Forecasting the Future of Libraries” report. It encompasses a broad swath of library work—dynamic programming, deep and robust community commitment to the well-being of the institution, and facility design that can withstand the very real threats of extreme weather change that comes with global warming. Resilience also means creating buildings that don’t drain precious natural resources.