Higher Education Webinars

Library Babel Fish

A college librarian's take on technology

March 28, 2013 - 10:16pm
I am puzzled and dismayed by all the hostility toward being generally educated these days. Apart from high-profile slams on entire fields of study by a governor who was disappointed by his daughter’s choice of major, so declared it universally useless,there is the fact that in the budget just signed this week, the National Science Foundation has been instructed by Congress to only fund political science research  if it benefits national security and the national economic interest. The implication is that advancing knowledge does not make our country more secure or better off.
March 20, 2013 - 9:12pm
The news business, the fight against CIPSA, and an important Supreme Court decision - all on my mind this week. 
March 14, 2013 - 9:17pm
Remember how the long tail was going to be the greatest thing ever? How technical innovation would let a thousand flowers bloom? How Silicon Valley’s great visionaries would lead us away from a world of few options and give us a world full of endless choices? That was then. Now it's all about me. 
March 7, 2013 - 9:08pm
A couple of fairly dorky words seem to be getting a lot of play lately: “curation” and “discovery.” Both of these are words that are familiar to librarians, a part of our professional toolkit, but they are being used increasingly in non-library settings. 
February 28, 2013 - 9:10pm
I have a friend who is tough-minded, outspoken, and perennially skeptical. She’s not a pushover, and she’s not the least bit sentimental. But last week, with the stroke of a pen, the president reduced her to tears. 
February 21, 2013 - 9:06pm
I’m finishing up a draft of a department self-study for an external review of our library. It’s the third time I’ve been involved in one of these, and the second time I’ve been primary author. It’s making me feel reflective about this enterprise we are part of, the nature of time, and questions of purpose and agency. Deep thoughts, in other words.
February 14, 2013 - 10:04pm
It suddenly seems as if suing librarians is the new business model for some publishers. There are a lot of reasons this seems unwise. For one, pissing off your customers is likely to cause your market to dry up.  For another, it’s going to result in a lot of publicity, but not the kind you want. But most importantly, we grownups have better ways of dealing with criticism.
February 7, 2013 - 9:48pm
We are all, in some sense, curators of our cultural lives, and always have been. Commonplace books were a popular means of arranging nuggets of valuable material selected by the compiler. Marginalia is another time-honored form of highlighting and annotating texts, personalizing them and noting the most meaningful bits. In a digital era, this activity is social. But "anthological copying" that libraries claim can be a fair use is something three major book publishers find illegal and indefensible.
January 31, 2013 - 10:12pm
This month, students in my January course have been reading about books and culture. This week, as we’re wrapping things up, they speculated about what the world of books might look like in ten years, and came up with some intriguing scenarios and proposals. As I left the building where the class meets I chatted with some humanities faculty and mentioned what we’d been talking about. They seemed at first apprehensive, then surprised and relieved that students predicted a future for books.
January 24, 2013 - 9:45pm
So, I’m teaching this course on the rather absurdly broad topic of books and culture. It’s not that easy to discuss the book industry (or, more properly, industries) with students who are 18 or 19 years old and don’t have a big stake in it. It’s all pretty new to them, but they know what they don’t know - unlike many seasoned scholars.

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