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.