Higher Education Webinars

Library Babel Fish

A college librarian's take on technology

November 20, 2012 - 10:43pm
Almost before I pushed “publish” last week, the Library Loon responded to my gushy love letter to the stacks with an essay of his or her pseudonymous own, titled “On Hating the Stacks.” It’s a bracing reminder of why library stacks can be anything but inspiring.
November 15, 2012 - 9:43pm
There was a terrific post a little while ago on ACRLog (cross posted at Library Hat) by Bohyun Kim about what it is that appeals to us about being in the stacks of a library. She suspects that the reasons we give when we yearn for the stacks isn’t actually the ability to serendipitously discover things through browsing. The real value is ambience that is inspiring and conducive to promoting a sense of “flow” for researchers. Being in the stacks inspires awe because we sense the physicality of knowledge.
November 8, 2012 - 8:38pm
I get a little testy when every attempt at developing a new way to share scholarship is required to pass a sustainability test. What we’re doing now isn’t sustainable. So why should new things have to prove they can do something our current system cannot do? I’m all for thinking through the implications and having a some kind of plan. I’m not in favor of abandoning ideas because we can’t figure out how to put them to a test that the status quo has already failed. Miserably.
November 1, 2012 - 9:55pm
Who controls journals? Good question. The mass resignation of board members of the journal Organization and Environment raises some familiar issues that scholars should take seriously.
October 23, 2012 - 8:47pm
It’s open access week, and this always is a week when I feel inadequate. I didn’t plan ahead. I didn’t get that project off the ground, or bring in a speaker. We coulda invited a contender! I tell myself it’s a busy time of year, and my cynical self says “yeah? When isn’t it?” and that shuts me right up. But because I believe in open access, I thought I’d think about the ways small institutions, ones that are understaffed and overworked and underfunded (does this sound familiar?) can make change on a small scale.
October 15, 2012 - 9:12pm
Just over a quarter of a century ago, David Bartholomae published an influential essay, “Inventing the University,” in which he explored the difficulty new college students have as writers, trying to grasp the social discourse conventions of a totally unfamiliar community: they have to invent the university. Project Information Literacy, a font of interesting research about colleges students and their attempts to make sense of the world of information, has just come out with a fascinating new report about how new graduates navigate information on the job. It turns out they have to invent the workplace, too, and it’s not easy.
October 11, 2012 - 10:04pm
When there’s not a lot of good news around, it was uplifting to check Twitter late last night after a full day and find out that a federal judge has upheld fair use in an important case. Judge Harold Baer denied the Authors Guild et al’s motion for summary judgment (making quite a hash of their arguments in the process) but affirmed that what the Hathi Trust is doing is legal.
October 4, 2012 - 9:25pm
When the chemistry faculty of SUNY Potsdam aligned themselves with their library director, Jenica Rogers, to say “no” publicly to the American Chemical Society (ACS) - because the price of their journal package was too high for schools like theirs and would have consumed a disproportionate percentage of the library’s total budget - it was newsworthy. Why in an era when “no” is being said so often is this news? 
September 26, 2012 - 10:02pm
The American Historical Association recently came out with a cautious statement about open access to humanities scholarship. I concur with their concerns about the recommendations made in the Finch Report. That report, the fruits of a UK government task force that included government officials, scientists, and publishers, more or less argues two things: publicly-funded research results should be accessible to all and, in order to create a model to accomplish that, publishers’ expenses should be covered by authors and their proxies, not by readers and their proxies. It’s a great recipe for sustaining publishing corporations. It is not a particularly good way of making research accessible. After all, the publishers who make the highest profits got us into an unsustainable situation. Why should the solution be designed to keep their revenue streams flowing with public dollars?
September 19, 2012 - 9:50pm
I am finally getting around to reading Andrew Delbanco’s College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, and was struck by a list he provides in his introduction of “qualities of mind and heart” that are necessary for citizenship and which colleges should help their students develop. As I read them, I thought “oh, but this is also what libraries are for.” 



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