Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obsolete? Not Yet.

An Australian columnist wonders whether book rental schemes like Book Swim will make libraries as obsolete as video rental stores - and concludes that they won't. Not only do the rental schemes cost money (and libraries, unlike video rental stores, offer their collections for free) but they don't have a wide enough variety of offerings, focusing instead on current bestsellers. But she also points out something less tangible but very important about libraries.
Libraries still serve as one of the rare public meeting spaces not devoted to commerce. They help kids with research and adults with job hunts and starting businesses and their own formal and informal educations. Libraries buy books based on both popularity and serving their public. They tend to fight the good fight to make sure controversial material is available. You know, good quality-of-life, bastion of democracy stuff.
She also recommends some simple ways that libraries could be even better.
I think with the right savvy, libraries are up to the task of competing with even an improved book rental service. Already, through inter-library loans you can get almost anything, and with my countywide system's online reservation system, it's almost as easy as Netflix to request something. A little slow to get it, but that should be fixable. Make renewing easier, with a warning system when something's coming due, and you're most of the way there for me.
And she closes with a final benefit: when you've grown weary of reading that same picture book fifty-five times to your child, you can claim that it's due at the library.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Don't Mess With Us

Mother Jones has a profile of "America's Most Dangerous Librarians" - the principled librarians in Connecticut who challenged the constitutionality of a National Security Letter authorized by the PATRIOT Act and served on a library consortium.

It's good reading, even if the title is a play on popular stereotypes. Dangerous? Librarians? How could that be?

But here's a case where members of our profession stood up to authority for principled reasons, and that made them powerful. And a threat to a law that was enacted in haste to strengthen the FBI's surveillance powers even as it weakened the Constitution.

As Michael Moore once said, "don't mess with librarians."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just in Time for Banned Books Week . . .

London news sources are reporting that the home of a Dutch publisher who will be releasing a novel about Aisha, Mohammed's wife, was the target of a firebombing. Police arrested three men in the attack.

The novel, Jewel of Medina, by American author Sherry Jones was nearing publication in the US with Random House when the reaction of an early reader led the publisher to cancel its publication. Some criticized Random House for the decision.

Banned Books Week "emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them." David Ulin, Books Editor for the L.A. Times, has an interesting essay on this "thorny issue."
What happens when our ideals require us to defend a piece of writing that is reprehensible, that stands against everything we stand for?

It's easy to condemn those who would remove "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" from a library, but what about "The Turner Diaries" or "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"? Or for that matter, "Tintin in the Congo," which Little, Brown dropped from its "Tintin" reissue series last fall after controversy arose about the book's racist overtones?

These are not just academic questions; they are the heart of the matter, regardless of where you stand on the ideological divide. How do we defend one book without defending all? Such a notion can't help but make us uneasy, but then, that's one of the most essential things books can do. . . . Yet we forget the world is complicated, that it is full of opposing viewpoints and beliefs that, in many cases, we can't accommodate, at our own peril. What to do, then? Sweep them under the rug? Or face them and consider what we're up against?

This is the conversation we ought to be having during Banned Books Week, a conversation that encompasses not just a love of reading and a disdain for those who would restrict it but also the implications of the free flow of ideas. Even the most horrific things have something to teach us, something about human darkness, our capacity to go wrong. . . . if books don't make us uncomfortable, they're not doing their job.

To call that a mixed blessing is an understatement in a world where a work like "Mein Kampf" can continue to exert its awful pull. And yet to suggest otherwise is to declare that writing is unessential, which is even worse.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

both a borrower and a lender be

This map surprised me. It uses data and alters maps to reflect the numbers by changing the size of countries; here, it shows how many books were borrowed from public libraries per capita around the world in 1999. US circulation rates are on the rise, but still - what a surprise that Russians borrow more than Americans. Well, maybe not ... though I wonder what state their libraries are in these days.

The saddest thing is this last bit of commentary: " Where many people cannot afford books, it appears they often cannot borrow them either."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

privacy and security

Here's another stumper for the files. A librarian, surrounded by large police officers searching for a missing girl, asked for a warrant when they tried to seize a computer. And she stuck to her guns.

A missing girl is serious, and it's not hard to see that time is of the essence. But like most states, Vermont has a law protecting library records. I am not sure if they have a law enabling phone warrants in an emergency, but many states do - basically, you get a judge to sign off fast and do the paperwork later.

To my mind, not getting a warrant is risky if you're expecting to prosecute someone successfully. If the evidence were thrown out, so would any evidence arising from the search as "fruit of the poisonous tree." You have to balance speed with the very real need to not just respect the Constitution, but to build a case that can lead to conviction.

I think librarians need to do more than talk about privacy and slippery slopes to explain why a librarian would refuse to help police in a case like this. It's not self-evident to everyone that privacy is important at all when a child's safety is at risk - and we run the risk of sounding like rule-bound twits.

It's something to think about. How would you handle a situation like this? And how would you explain your decision in a way that even skeptics could understand?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Future of Libraries ...

... is sounding interesting. This is quite a fascinating time to be in the profession.

I really like the idea of the library as kitchen rather than grocery store. In the early 20th century, John Cotton Dana envisioned the library as an industrial place. People were supposed to get in and out, fast, with maximum efficiency. A counter-idea to the workshop/factory library was the welcoming living room, where female librarians nourished proper habits. Early works on library design show some fascinating underlying assumptions.

I like the idea of it being a welcoming kitchen where you can do some cooking, have a chat around the kitchen table, and where everyone's comfortable. But most of all, where you get to cook your own, not be served a meal that someone else decided was nourishing nor to be efficiently served by a machine.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amazon Mechanical Turk

File this under crowdsourcing (or the "wisdom of crowds"), virtual reference, or "digital sweatshop"...

A fascinating article explicates a new "crowdsourcing" tool called Amazon Mechanical Turk. The company ChaCha, which provides a type of virtual reference service, employs Turk workers. The author of the article tried out ChaCha, and observed that, crowds are "no more intelligent than their smartest members."

Anyway, read the article. I am not sure how to explain the concept pithily...

Collecting of self-published books

Here's an interesting snippet from the April issue of College & Research Libraries News:

Print-on-demand publishing continues to rise in popularity. has published more than 320,000 titles, created by people in more than 80 countries, with more than 5,000 new titles added each week. offers a similar service via its CreateSpace, which also produces film and audio on DVDs and CDs. makes available 11,000 self-published titles. The interfaces on these Web sites now make it easier than ever to publish and make changes to books without cost to the author. Candice Choi, Associated Press Writer, “Got a manuscript? Publishing now a snap,” The Boston Globe, January 1, 2008.

So, the question is, how do libraries collect these self-published books? A lot of librarians depend on published reviews or approval plans for collection development, neither which really cover this market. I suppose one way would be to look at these sites' best seller lists (1, 2) as a starting point.

Librarians have an obligation to consider these sources if they hope to develop diverse collections.

"Library budgets, open access, and the future of scholarly communication"

For those interested in the future of academic librarianship, you may find this an intriguing article. David Lewis argues that the increasing costs of scholarly journals are not sustainable and that the changing landscape of scholarly communication mean that libraries cannot continue offering the same old services.

He offers three ways libraries can ensure a place in this changing landscape and five-point budget strategy for the future. Read the article and let me know what you think, especially of his budget strategy.

Depressing Article of the Week

Read this article at Inside Higher Ed. While this may seem like a digression from the central theme of the blog, the implications for libraries and librarians are enormous.

This article paints a bleak picture for the future of the humanities. The increasing privatization of education, the adoption of corporate values by administrators, the high cost of education, and students choosing schools and majors in hopes of being offered a high-paying job are all contributing to its demise.

I wonder why we are giving up on education for education's sake: to free ourselves from ignorance and to free ourselves for exploring the world and serving others. I, like everyone else, like to get paid for my work at the end of the day, but how can we convince students and parents there is more to life than this? How can we share our passion for discovery, knowledge, and community?

I may delete or edit this post in the future, but these issues have been weighing heavily on my mind for some time now.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Kindle making waves

Amazon's e-book reader, the Kindle, has been making waves at BookExpo America.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

librarian with a thousand faces (or half a dozen, anyway)

Old maid? Policeman? Inept or heroic? In this study, media representations are sorted into categories and analyzed. The sad reality, according to the authors, is that most people don't know what librarians do and that means they don't take full advantage of our talents.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

finding a balance

T. Scott has a very good post on work/life balance. One of the things that can be challenging in an academic library (and no doubt in other types of libraries, too) is that you can never sit back and say "There, I'm done." You can finish a project, sometimes - though most of mine seem to be ongoing commitments that need constant care and feeding. But there's always more to do, and in this wired world there is no real demarcation between "work" and "the rest of my life." He says -

I don't have a "life outside of work." I have a life. It's comprised of many things -- many responsibilities, many joys, a handful of deep sorrows, a continual sense of wonderment as the days unfold. I never stop being the library director, but I never stop being the musician, friend, grandfather, lover, writer, or endlessly curious little boy, either.

When a "job" is what you go to for eight hours a day, five days a week, within rigid time & place boundaries, I suppose it makes psychological sense to think of "work" and "life" as two separate things. But in the networked world in which we now live, for many people that time & space separation simply doesn't exist. It certainly doesn't for me. When I go to Peebles, whether I'm playing guitar or talking about health information, I'll just be living my life as best I can.

That sounds very healthy to me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

. . . because sometimes . . .

. . . you just have to be silly.

I found this via Jessamyn's blog, where I particularly liked Tim K's comment, "What, no guys to dress up? As a male librarian I resent not being objectified!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What Will Librarians Do in 2020?

Planning ahead? Some librarians provide interesting food for thought about what libraries - and librarians - may be doing down the road, at least in academic libraries. Some things will likely remain the same, some things will change - in ways we can't entirely predict.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Balancing security with access

Here's some food for thought from Slashdot. How will the government's proposed network security plans affect access to government information?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bad travel guides

Here's an interesting story about some of the Lonely Planet travel guides. Apparently, one of their writers plagiarized some of his material and did not visit some of the places he wrote about. The libraries I have worked in purchase large numbers of travel guides, including those published by Lonely Planet. I wonder if we'll see the guides he wrote being pulled from library shelves?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Good reading

The latest issue of EDUCAUSE Review is out, and there a few good articles that would interest academic librarians:
  • Conference Connections: Rewiring the Circuit. This article discusses "remaking" conferences with Internet technologies and social networking tools. As the technology becomes more reliable and easier to use, conferences can consider moving away from physical gatherings to online events, reducing costs and enabling wider participation. The extraordinary costs (financial, time, environmental, and more) of attending the semiannual conferences of ALA have been a recent issue of conversation in the library blogosphere.
  • E-Books in Higher Education: Nearing the End of the Era of Hype? An update on the status of e-books in higher education. I don't know any librarians who really like the kinds of e-books we have available to us now. (NetLibrary, *cough*.) Incompatible devices, digital rights management, poor accessibility and usability, strange licensing agreements, and lack of choice (both titles we want and the ability to customize large packages) are just some of the issues. However, some shrewd people are making use of the e-books we have available to us, such as graduate students using the books accessible through Google Books. (A historian has another perspective.)
  • Facebook 2.0. The author, Tracy Mitrano, explains three implications of this popular social networking tool. The first is "user education, especially for adolescents and their parents." She provides an anecdote demonstrating the need for this education. In her particular example, it appears that some young adults may not be completely aware of the importance of privacy, which Siva Vaidhyanathan defines as "reputation management." The second implication (and last I will list here) is the possibility of "connecting higher education's missions to the popular site." She highlights perhaps the central concern with such linking (which Siva explicated in the above post): "Privacy and free speech concerns will always be in tension with commercial interests that seek information about users and their preferences."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Is Librarianship a Profession?

Well, Dorothea Salo has some pungent thoughts on that topic - suggesting that, if it is, it's not about what we do, it's about how we set up our boundaries and who we keep out. Provocative reading. So is Rachel Singer Gordon in "Whole Lot of Quacking Going on."

The nub of the issue is the divide between people who work in libraries who don't have the graduate degree and those who do - and how power relationships, respect, and reward for the work a person actually does play into it.

Personally, I work at a library where the day-to-day management of things is done by non-degreed folks who regard their work as a serious career. Librarians teach in classes and at the reference desk, develop the collection to match the curriculum, work on making it as accessible as possible through well-designed portals, and do research. A lot of decisions are made by everyone in the library, a few are made by those without graduate degrees in librarianship, a few are made by the library faculty, and a lot are made by mixed groups tackling a problem. It's not a matter of who's important or who deserves respect, but where it makes the most sense for decisions to be made.

Somehow, the why I teach meme says more about why I'm a librarian than "are we a profession?" debates.

Friday, March 28, 2008

US News and World Report's Best Graduate Schools

The 2009 rankings have been released, but the library and information studies schools have not been updated. The last time US News ranked LIS programs was in 2006.

What we librarians have been doing for years...

A short article at Wired. [Via Library Link of the Day.]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Books meet Web 2.0

Barbara has discussed LibraryThing here, among other places. Today NPR explores social-networking sites for readers, like LibraryThing and similar sites.

(Alec, hope you don't mind but I decided to upload a photo of Sonya, who works with the LibraryThing for Libraries program, who I met at the Public Library Association conference - with the famous rhino. Actually, there were two rhinos, so they're moving up in the world. --Barbara)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Upgrading to Geek 2008

There is a great article in the January issue of Computers in Libraries titled Upgrading to Geek 2008. The author describes how some formal education in computer science really helped him in his library work. For example, he explains how coursework in discrete math, finite automata, and database design, theory, and implementation made him better at what he does. He contends that the best way to learn this material "is to take some classes," such as at the college or university you might work for or at the local community college. If you can't take some classes on the side, he strongly recommends picking up a book and learning the Python or Ruby programming languages.

As a librarian and as someone who completed a minor in computer science, I can't agree more with his advice. Basic coursework in computer science helped me develop better abstract thinking and gave me some knowledge of different computer programming languages, as well as the confidence to play around with code with which I am not immediately familiar. As a result, I have been able to make tech contribution in every library at which I have worked.

So, if you are still in college and thinking of pursuing a library career, consider completing a minor in computer science. It makes a wonderful complement.

The end of the print encyclopedia?

The online encyclopedia is a great example of an e-book done well. Read more about the possible end of the print encyclopedia at the NY Times.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shake, Shake, Shake!

If you want to get a peek at how much fun librarianship can be - and how librarians can be innovative, check out Library Journal's current crop of "movers and shakers."

One of my favorites on the list is not a librarian by training, but Tim Spalding is one of those bibliophile hackers who is doing very cool stuff with cataloging. And now some of it can be integrated into library catalogs, too.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Why I am a Librarian - more responses

I loved the Other Librarian's response to the "why I am a librarian" meme - starting from infancy and proceeding through the career. Six months into the first professional job, she finds these are what convinces her it was the right choice:
  • teen patrons saying hello out of a library context
  • helped someone through a serious health information inquiry
  • got a procrastinating student through a project due next weekend
  • found a weird object to classify and got it fixed nice and easy-like
  • saw a navigation issue with the website and found a logical way to fix it
Another great contribution to the meme is from Iris, the Pegasus Librarian. (Her blog is an excellent one to read if you're interested in academic librarianship.)

Slightly more prosaic is the twitter-style response that Julian provides - in only 140 characters.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Vanishing Librarians

When the business models and practices invades every aspect of our lives, from our public services to our colleges and universities, this is what happens to a profession.

Here's one snippet:
The success of the enterprise is measured in the number of products collected by patrons, now called “customers.” It is no longer measured in the usefulness or impact of the service on the quality of life in the community served.
I had the experience of working briefly in a public library where my manager called all library patrons "customers" and I spent a lot of my time, a professional librarian, showing people how to use the self-checkout station. I didn't stay there long.

Libraries have distinct missions separate from those of bookstores and other businesses. Such distinctions can be found in the ALA Library Bill of Rights and the Code of Ethics. Examples:
  • "Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation."
  • "Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval."
  • "Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment."
  • "Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas."
  • "A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views."
  • "We [librarians] provide... equitable access..."
  • "We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom..."
  • "We protect each library user's right to privacy..."
Bookstores and other businesses are not obligated to:
  • provide resources for enlightenment,
  • serve all people in its community,
  • provide materials providing all points of view,
  • challenge censorship,
  • resist abridgment of free expression,
  • provide equitable access to information,
  • uphold principles of intellectual freedom, or
  • protect their customers' right to privacy.
As long as businesses are beholden to shareholders, their primary mission is making money. Yes, business models and practices can bring tremendous cost savings and efficiency to enterprises, but the values listed above are neither cheap nor efficient to provide. That is why libraries exist as public entities. The community makes available to itself a place where individuals can access the world of information and find a broad range of resources free from censorship with multiple points of view and can read and use those materials privately.

A big part of professional library education is becoming acculturated to and conversant in these values. John Berry's article behooves us to fight for these values and against the business creep into our libraries, whether they be public or academic.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Privacy has been a core value in librarianship for some time because, as Barbara has recently explained, "it’s a necessary condition for the freedom to read whatever you want without risk of penalty." It's a topic that is being reconsidered in the profession, because strict privacy "makes it harder to offer the kind of personalization, such as recommendations based on previous book choices, that the public increasingly expects from online systems. After all, it’s what they get from Amazon."

So it's timely that Siva Vaidhyanathan discusses the state of privacy in our society in a recent review article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Privacy is important, but why? He explains:
When we complain about infringements of privacy, what we really demand is some measure of control over our reputation in the world. Who should have the power to collect, cross-reference, publicize, or share information about us, regardless of what that information might be? ... Through a combination of weak policies, vapid public discussions, and some remarkable technologies like camera phones and the Internet, we have less and less control over our reputations every day. ... Rehabilitation demands substantial autonomy and control over one's record — or at least forgiveness. As long as we are held highly accountable for youthful indiscretions that are easily Googled by potential employers or U.S. customs agents, we limit social, intellectual, and actual mobility. And we deny everyone second chances.
Because privacy "is not a clear and common set of traits," Siva defines four types of privacy domains:
  • Person-to-peer
  • Person-to-firm ("the flow of information to companies from and about consumers")
  • Person-to-state ("Because the state has a monopoly on legitimate violence, imprisonment, and deportation, the cost of being falsely caught in a dragnet is worth considering no matter how unlikely it seems to be.")
  • Person-to-public ("the ways we regulate what those around us know or assume about us")
Moving from defining privacy to examining its invasions, Siva contends that we work in a "Nonopticon," which is the "state of being watched without knowing it, or at least the extent of it." Indeed, "[t]he most pervasive surveillance does not reveal itself or remains completely clandestine... We don't know all the ways we are being recorded or profiled. We are not supposed to understand that we are the product of marketers as much as we are the market. And we are not supposed to consider the extent to which the state tracks our behavior and considers us all suspects in crimes yet to be imagined, let alone committed."

Companies, Siva writes, "want us to relax and be ourselves. ... They are devoted to tracking our eccentricities because they understand that the ways we set ourselves apart from the mass are the things about which we are most passionate. Our passions, predilections, fancies, and fetishes are what we are likely to spend our surplus cash on." And "[e]ven the state wants us to be ourselves": "It wants subversive and potentially dangerous people to reveal themselves through their habits and social connections, not slink away in the dark to avoid obvious surveillance."

Siva believes nothing will really change from small changes, "like better privacy policies." Instead:
We must demand to know the terms of surveillance by our state and its partners in the private sector. We must be allowed to be agents in the construction of our reputations. We must insist on fairness, openness, and accountability in those institutions that commit such widespread surveillance. Otherwise we will cease being citizens. We will be subjects...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Thinking about academic librarianship?

If you are pondering a possible career in academic librarianship or have graduated from library school and are preparing for interviews, read up on issues facing our profession in two important reports:

The Association of College and Research Libraries' Environmental Scan 2007. [PDF]

The EDUCAUSE 2008 Horizon Report.

Librarians ahead of the curve...

For our Minnesotan readers, you might enjoy this post over at the MINITEX Reference blog. Turns out Minnesota librarians are already providing their residents with the Governor's proposed "world-class, digitally stored, always available, anywhere, anytime, jaw-dropping, eye-popping teaching toolbox accessible to all our teachers and students."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stand out as a librarian

I found this post, Nine Simple Ways to Stand Out in Your Career, at the blog The Simple Dollar, to really ring true to me. I have practiced these suggestions to different degrees and have found all have advanced my career in various ways during my first three years as a professional librarian. But these are good to keep in mind whatever year we're at in the career.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Don't take our word for it...

U.S. News and World Report names librarianship one of the top careers in 2008!

Their narrative description is a bit simplistic, but I do agree that it is an underrated career.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Why I am a Librarian

Free Exchange on Campus started a meme on "why I teach." I weighed in on "why I am a librarian" and tagged some others. I hope we'll collect a few more, since they offer some real insight into both the daily pleasures and the philosophical reasons for being in this profession.

Free Exchange (Barbara Fister)

Info-fetishist (Anne-Marie Dietering)

Karen Munro, E-Learning Librarian

All of the "Why" posts can be found here if you scroll down a bit.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Librarians and classroom faculty: Defining roles in information literacy

For you academic librarians and wannabes on the list.

I appreciated the article "A Discipline-Based Approach to Information Literacy," by Ann Grafstein, published in the Journal of Academic Librarianship (July 2002, pgs. 197-204). I think there is a lot of confusion, especially among classroom faculty and young librarians, about the roles of each in teaching information literacy.

Grafstein first highlights a key assumption in the information literacy literature:

"The [information literacy] literature conveys a widely held belief that because the content of disciplines is constantly changing, subject content cannot be taught effectively; therefore, teaching should focus on process." (200)

But Grafstein goes on to argue that we must distinguish between different types of content: information and knowledge. This leads her to argue:

"Bearing in mind the distinctions between knowledge and information, it can be truly stated that information--not knowledge--is constantly changing. ... The paradigms and knowledge-base of a discipline are a conservative force, and are not subject to rapid, sudden changes." (200) (emphasis mine)

(This, of course, is a reference to Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.)

We librarians, then, must respect that subject-based knowledge is just as important as "information retrieval" in helping to develop an information literate person, i.e. one who has the skills of "analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and learning to learn" (200). Indeed, there is "a substantial body of research that supports the view that prior related knowledge is an essential element in the acquisition of new knowledge" (200).

All this is Grafstein's long way of coming to define what she sees as the appropriate roles for librarians and classroom faculty in teaching the skills needed for information literacy. Librarians should teach the following:
  • Searching skills
  • Generic critical thinking skills, such as the evaluation of information using the criteria of timeliness, authority, bias, verifiability, and logical consistency. (This list looks awfully familiar to those who teach evaluation of Web information.)
Classroom faculty, one the other hand, should focus on the following "evaluative skills... within the context of [their respective] discipline[s]" (202):
  • Evaluating the content of arguments
  • Assessing the validity of evidence
  • Proposing original solutions
I think if we librarians can keep these distinctions in mind, we might be able to better reach out to those classroom faculty who think we librarians want to come into their classrooms and take over teaching the content of their courses. We just have to remind them what we do well and praise them for their own subject expertise. I have faculty time and again tell me that they are amazed by the search strategies they learn from me when they bring their classes into the library. This makes sense; we librarians have search skills. I, on the other hand, am always amazed by what I learn from faculty when I sit in in their classes. So, let's work hand in hand, each with our own expertise complementing the other's, and teach our students to work critically with information.

Reading: Diminishing? Or was it never here anyway? [edited]

I have become really interested lately in the national discussion about reading. The National Endowment for the Arts believes the quantity Americans are reading is diminishing at an alarming rate, with devastating consequences for our democracy and culture. If you want to read more about this debate, here are some relevant citations. I am interesting in finding more, so please share then, if you have any.

Google and librarians [edited]

Some big name bloggers are wondering if Google "cares" about libraries and librarians. See here and here. My take? They care enough at least to work with libraries to access to their books for the Google Books project. But even this project is suspect. They have their mission (profit) and we have ours (access). While we can appreciate the power of Google's capital to do the big projects we can't do, we can't lose sight of the divergent missions.

By the way, here are some readings if you want to learn more about the Google Books project or ebooks in general:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Careerism or Career?

The Guardienne of the Tomes has an interesting post about her take on librarianship as a career - focusing especially on her radical lack of interest in advancing up the ladder and becoming a library director.
Director/deanship was never in my plan. I wanted to find an academic library where I could make an impact on the students and teach them some lifelong skills they'll actually use once most of that philosophy major is long forgotten, where every day would bring something different and where I could - within reason - make my own decisions about what I thought was important for a librarian to be involved in, and, like Nike says, "Just do it." I have that in my current position....

I suppose my question for all those who are pouring out the career advice would be, is there anything wrong with being happy where you are? Is that complacency, or just sanity?
I think "sanity" covers it nicely. And there's plenty of evidence of both her sanity and her commitment to the field in her post on teaching.