Friday, July 28, 2006

Changes at the Library of Congress

Controversy related to proposed changes by the Library of Congress has been simmering in the academic library community for months. The controversy is now breaking into more general academic news sources. Today's article in Inside Higher Ed does a good job summarizing the issues without overwhelming readers with complicated jargon. One of the major sticking points is that "catalog records for new books will no longer indicate if they belong to a series." Anyone who has done any amount of serious library research would realize what a devastasting problem that would be. While I agree that changes are certainly needed to enable the library world to respond faster to a rapidly changing information environment, LOC's unilateral approach violates one of the field's most sacred values, collaboration. Arguably, their changes, while an attempt to increase access to library materials by making them available sooner through various streamlined processes, paradoxically hinders access, which is another library value. It will be interesting to see what the response will be from disciplines in the humanities, which especially depend on traditional print library resources.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Free WorldCat!

WorldCat is going to be free to the world! According to this story in Information Today, it will go live sometime in August.

So what? You may ask. Or even, What the heck is WorldCat and why is she so excited about it? This is the mega-catalog of over 70 million book records shared by libraries worldwide. When their "find in a library" program was announced I thought it was cool, but the links to library availability weren't easy to find in a general search, and it was only a miniscule mere 3-4 million records. "Why not make the whole thing free and searchable in one place rather than hidden among a billion bookseller links?" I wondered. Well, finally OCLC will do that. Previously the only public access has been through libraries subscribing to it as a database, just another hard-to-figure-out database among dozens.

I'm excited! And it sounds as if the interface could do some very innovative things. It will be terrific if people can hop on the web and find out what's available in area libraries without having to go to specific library sites and figure out their various catalogs. If we want people to find us, we should be as easy to use as ABEbooks and Amazon. Because we know from their experience people really do want books.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Finding the Right Match

There's an interesting post over at ("putting the rarin' back in librarian") about the Canadian effort to recruit people into the field. Not just any people, but those who will bring the leadership skills and creativity the profession needs. There has been some controversy over a US federal grant intended to bring more people into the field by getting more PhDs who can teach in library schools - and since there are always librarians who will complain about their education being a) boring b) irrelevant c) too easy d) too theoretical, including the past president of the American Library Association, Michael Gorman, cranky comments come up a lot in blogs. (Michael Gorman comes up a lot too, but that' s another story.)

The Canadian effort, though, is smart in that it doesn't focus on a supposed shortage (which is a hard argument to swallow for young librarians who don't find jobs as easily as they were led to expect as geezers like me fail to drop by the wayside) but rather on the value of the profession and finding people who are a good match for its challenges.

I must be a geek (and a nerd), I enjoyed library school, especially the theory. But the fact is if you're a librarian you're going to be learning for life, so don't expect a measily year of graduate study to be anything but the beginning of your education. That must be why I like it so much!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Jimmy Carter on freedom of information

He may not have been a great president, but he's an excellent elder statesman. Read Jimmy Carter's op-ed on free access to government information.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Disciminating against homeless patrons?

Yikes. Would any of our public librarian readers/writers like to respond?

Community College Librarianship

I was recently speaking with a peer in my library program who said she heard taking her first librarian position at a community college made it more difficult for a friend to get a position in a traditional academic library later. Has anyone else heard about or had experience with this? I would be interested to know since this seems to be a growing area of librarianship.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pentagon funding academic research to limit Freedom of Information Act

Arguably one of the most important laws related to access to information is the Freedom of Information Act, which celebrated its 40th anniversary on Tuesday, July 4, 2006. (A neat coincidence.) You can read about your rights under the Act here. So, isn't it ironic to learn that the Department of Defense is now funding a study to a tune of one million dollars that will find ways to limit the law?