March 19, 2018

The Battle over Library Spaces. Pt. 2: Being a Host with the Most | Peer to Peer Review

In my last column, I talked about some general principles that academic library administrators should bear in mind when faced with requests from other entities on campus to occupy space in the library (either temporarily or permanently). Those principles were: first, remember that the library does not belong to you; second, say “yes” or “no” based on strategy, rather than on a knee-jerk defensive reaction; third, remember that cooperation creates political capital. With this column I would like to share some of what we’ve learned in my library about building and maintaining happy and mutually beneficial relationships with those non-library entities that do find their way into the library building.

The Battle over Library Spaces. Part 1: Saying Yes and Saying No | Peer to Peer Review

In academic libraries, there seems to be growing concern about the problem of space—not only a lack of it in our library buildings, though that is a problem for many of us, but also a concern that the spaces we do have are going to be (or already are) taken over by campus entities and programs that are related only tangentially, if at all, to library services. I’m convinced that this concern is valid, and that it should actually be more widespread than it currently is.

An Open Letter to Miss Petersen | Peer to Peer Review

The becomingly modest thing to say would be “you probably don’t remember me,” but in fact I think there’s a good chance you do. In the early 1970s, when I was between the ages of seven and eleven or so, I was a regular visitor to the children’s room located in the basement of the Dallin Branch of Robbins Library in Arlington, MA, where you were the children’s librarian. I want to take this chance to thank you publicly for your kindness, your patience, and your help. You significantly shaped my idea of what a librarian should be like, and I will always remember you and be grateful.

Can, Should, and Will, Pt. 2: Science and Religion in the Library | Peer to Peer Review

Let me start out by acknowledging that “Science and Religion in the Library” is a provocative subtitle, and to some degree it’s meant to be. Let me explain what I mean by it. For my purposes here, I’m going to define as “science” those aspects of library work that deal with figuring out and describing things as they are, and as “religion” those that deal with figuring out how things should be and why they should be that way. In the sense that I’m using the terms here, science is descriptive, and religion is prescriptive; science is involved with “is” questions, while religion is involved with “should” questions.

Can, Should, and Will. Pt. 1: Because What Libraries Need Is One More Venn Diagram | Peer to Peer Review

I came up with the diagram below while I was thinking about library management during a lull in traffic at the reference desk recently. My original intent was sort of wryly humorous (it is hilarious, don’t you think?) but the more time I spend looking at it, the more I think it’s a potentially valuable tool for helping give shape to conversations about priority-setting and decision-making in libraries, and maybe in other organizations as well.

Authentic Librarianship and Procrustean Management | Peer to Peer Review

When you apply for any kind of managerial or administrative job, there’s one interview question you can always count on: “Tell us about your management style.” I hate that question. Not because it isn’t a fair and legitimate one, but because (in my opinion) a good manager won’t be able to answer it.

Kitten in a Beer Mug: The Myth of the Free Gift | Peer to Peer Review

Most of us who work in libraries are familiar with the Myth of the Free Gift—otherwise known as the Kittens-or-Beer Conundrum. Free Beer is a gift that requires nothing of us but to consume it. Free Kittens don’t cost anything to acquire, but they entail ongoing costs as you keep and care for them.

The Library of Congress Twitter Archive #Hmmm #Skeptic | Peer to Peer Review

We can’t handle more than a tiny, tiny sliver of the world’s information output. One thing I believe it implies is that we might want to raise an eyebrow at the Library of Congress (LC)’s decision, a few years ago, to become the permanent archive of Twitter.

Organizational Body Language | Peer to Peer Review

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that everything we do in the presence of others is, among other things, language—and in the academic library, virtually everything we do is done in the presence of others. we are constantly doing things that send a message—sometimes explicitly, but more often implicitly. In fact, everything that we do sends a message. If we don’t pay attention to what I like to call our “organizational body language,” we run the risk of sending the wrong message inadvertently.

On the Academic Library As a Critical Institution | Peer to Peer Review

Everyone agrees: libraries are critical institutions. Librarians certainly feel that way, but so does the general population and even (mostly) politicians—especially if asked publicly. But since I’m kind of a fussbudget, I can’t help wanting to drill down into that sentiment a bit. What do we mean when we say that libraries are “critical,” particularly when we’re talking about academic and research libraries?