Using methods familiar to designers as an approach to problem solving in organizations is not a particularly new development, but now higher education may be looking at it as a way to reform how education is delivered.
Harvard historian Jill Lepore’s takedown of Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation in The New Yorker has been getting a lot of attention. Twitter subsequently presented me with a fascinating analysis of how this theory has influenced higher education. Essentially, individual entrepreneurs are considered valuable because they find cheaper ways to reach new markets. We don’t want smart and knowledgeable workers, because they will frustratingly improve things incrementally rather throw everything out in the race to cut costs and get ahead of entrepreneurial smash-a-thons.
The West Jordan Library, UT, is the new central headquarters for the Salt Lake County Library (SLCL) system. You might think a building of more than 70,000 square feet would not have to worry about efficient ways to make space do double, or even triple, duty. But when it houses 20,000 square feet of administration, management support, and information technology and another 20,000 square feet of library proper including room for 150,000 titles, it makes sense that the 7,100 square foot community room is designed to serve multiple functions.
Letters to the editor on gun control and librarianship, age discrimination, expanding network capacity, and more from the June 15, 2014 issue of Library Journal.
The business of university press monograph publishing has always been madness, and changing conditions have made it even less sensible than it was. Yet any suggestion that there should be fewer university presses or that they should refocus their missions is greeted with shouts of dismay that are usually reserved for heretics and anarchists. Maybe we should remember that oft-quoted definition of madness—doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.
We look to our leaders to enable us to get things done. We look to them for vision and inspiration, but we also want leaders who make progress and get our organization to the place where the vision becomes reality. What sometimes gets overlooked is the need to create a workplace where people want to be while all the work is getting done.
At Lead the Change workshops, local library leaders help facilitate the presentation, adding their own perspectives on the concepts presented by program developer David Bendekovic. But they don’t usually bring their own visual aids. The Southern California workshop, held on May 15 at the Pasadena Public Library (PPL), was an exception. PPL director Jan Sanders brought a giant foamcore version of one of Bendekovic’s slides, on which she’d asked library staff members to plot where they felt their library stood.
Over the past couple of years my colleague Kathleen Sheehan and I have been working with a Library Student Interest Group, sponsored by the College Library and the Harvard Undergraduate Council, and we’ve met some great students through this work. Allison Gofman is one of the students who has been part of the LSIG. She is also a photographer. This past year, for her final project in the course, United States in the World 30: Tangible Things: Harvard Collections in World History, Allison created the beautiful online book, Harvard Libraries: Books That Breathe. It “is a visual exploration of the libraries as physical spaces: not only as beautiful architecture or as a collection of books, but as a unique intersection of the two.”
Summer lets me teach my favorite course, the run-down of what’s going on with several publishing industries and how libraries are riding the rapids. (It’s actually a course in environmental awareness and handling change, but such skills are much easier to teach given a concrete context in which to exercise them.) As I tore through syllabus and lecture revisions earlier this month to clear time for other necessary work, I found a few spare milliseconds to wonder whether the serials crisis, which hasn’t felt like an immediate all-hands-on-deck crisis in some time, might finally be heating up into one. Into many, really; the localized nature of serials pricing means that crises hit consortia and individual libraries at varying times, not all of academic librarianship at once.