February 16, 2018

Backtalk

Submissions for Backtalk should be 850 to 900 words and sent to Meredith Schwartz at mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com

So Much More Than Info Tech | BackTalk

In his Wall Street Journal (WSJ) January 11 op-ed piece, “In Age of Google, Librarians Get Shelved,” public librarian Steve Barker writes, “The role for librarians and public libraries is shrinking” because of emerging information technologies. Five respondents disagreed in letters to the editor reprinted a week later by calling attention to librarians’ ability to ferret out “higher-level information” and their capacity “to readily decipher between the relevant and irrelevant information” that has been made possible by the profession’s “metamorphic shift to information science.” And American Library Association (ALA) president Sari Feldman justifiably concludes, “At a time of information overload and growing gaps between digital ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ the roles for dynamic and engaged librarians are growing.”

Mind the RA Gap | BackTalk

The inconsistent treatment of readers’ advisory (RA) as a core service for adults in public libraries has led to inconsistent demand for quality RA education, which has further led to inconsistent service. Jennie Maas Flexner noted as far back as 1934 that the “need for specialized education is as evident in [readers’ advisory] work as in every other department of the library.” This is still true, and the need is still not being met. Two gaps prevent RA from being taught in a way that would make it the core public library service it should be.

Inclusion Starts with Awareness | Backtalk

Great strides have been made in bringing physical accessibility to buildings and public spaces, including libraries, since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990. However, even after 25 years, much work still needs to be done in the area of providing persons with disabilities full access to these same spaces and resources, including digital counterparts.

Slow Libraries in a Fast-Paced World | BackTalk

In our turbo-charged world, we are expected to work at a fast pace, move in the fast lane, and not fall off the fast track. If life is speeding up, we need to go faster or, better yet, perform multiple activities simultaneously. We hold speed in high regard, paying premium rates for quick delivery and instant gratification. Best-selling business books equate speed with efficiency, accomplishment, and success. But there is a hidden cost to such an existence.

Making “Desk” a Four-Letter Word | Backtalk

Is the idea of leaving the reference desk really so shocking? Maxine Bleiweis proposes an alternative that will be more satisfying to librarians and patrons.

Lessons from a Leader’s First Year | Backtalk

A colleague once told me that librarians get into management like penguins falling off an ice floe. While it’s not the most flattering image, it felt a little too apt during my first year as an assistant director. Moving into leadership has been the single most formative experience of my career. It’s also been one of my most difficult professional challenges, and sometimes I still relate all too well to a flailing, flightless bird dropping into icy water.

Crowdfunding Access to Archives | Backtalk

Ryan Cordell, Northeastern University (NU), Boston, and his colleagues are studying how information went “viral” in 19th-century America, when newspapers and periodicals published short works of fiction, poetry, and other prose. Before modern copyright law, it was common for editors to reprint these texts, originally published elsewhere. The texts moved around the country through this network, resulting in a shared print culture. Cordell’s research seeks to identify these shared texts, to examine which were reprinted and why, and to map how they traveled and changed as they passed from publication to publication.

My Salute to Librarians | Backtalk

From the moment I entered the hushed, sacred precinct of the Brownsville Children’s Library in Brownsville, Brooklyn, back in the mid-1930s, I have been a passionate advocate of the public library. That love affair with libraries inspired a lifetime of heavy patronage in every part of the country I have lived. In my twelve-year stay in Jackson Hole, WY, I helped shepherd our lovely little library from a log cabin, into what is now one of the best modern libraries in the Midwest. I was enormously proud to serve as its president.

Endow a National Digital Library | Backtalk

Only about 12 percent of an average U.S. library budget is for books and other content. Antilibrary zealots will latch onto this statistic eventually, downplaying that libraries are about much more than books. A good proactive response would be a national digital library endowment and separate but allied digital library systems—one for public library patrons, the other mainly for academia, even though everyone could access both. New digital efficiencies could help libraries offer taxpayers even more value than they do now.

Librarian Lessons from Kindergarten | Backtalk

Most library professionals know how easy it is to get caught up in the whirlwind of daily tasks as we struggle to keep pace with demanding jobs and a rapidly changing profession. Sometimes, this can make us lose sight of why we entered librarianship in the first place—the basics that made this career mean so much to us. Those things we value most, like offering access to quality information, maintaining a diverse collection that appeals to everyone, preserving older titles for new generations, and serving the public good.