Archive for August 2007

Our Density

(From the to be posted but never finished files — now that I have my desk back, I’m starting the process of clearing out everything else!)

There’s been another little flurry of posts and articles about “The Future Of Libraries.” Here, a choice few:

If Libraries had shareholders
If Public Libraries Didn’t Exist, Could you Start One Today?
Future of Librarians Interviews (Degreetutor)
The Ultimate Debate: Do Libraries Innovate?

I think many of us are frantic, not necessarily about the future of libraries — many of which are doing quite well, thank you — but of the future of librarians and librarianship, at least as we have traditionally conceived of the profession.

Library Web Chic points to Ross Singer’s Union Card post about an MLS requirement for a technology position, and lists a number of factors going into her institution’s decision to require an MLS for a web services coordinator position — one of which involves the ability to do a national search for a position classified as “librarian” rather than “staff.” Commenting on a question raised in her post, Blake notes: “Q: why would I want my web developers to have MLSs? A: Your librarians won’t respect them if they don’t.”

Both of these points speak more to the way we have defined “librarian” and “staff” than to any actual abilities on the part of these potential hires. Given the changes in our profession and the emergence of jobs that didn’t even exist 15, 20 years ago, is the MLS actually still necessary for all of these positions? More than one commentator has pointed out the lack of rigor and currency inherent in some MLS programs and the need for changes in curricula and standards. All right, but we’re using that MLS as the union card now, despite the huge variation in what grads have learned and experienced. Why are we so scared to admit that not every “librarian-level” position in libraries requires an MLS?

On a related note, I’m looking forward to the imminent publication of Information Tomorrow, a collection of “reflections on technology and the future of public and academic libraries” that I edited. (I’m waiting on PDFs from ITI, and will post here when my own page, with sample content, is up.) Reading contributors’ varied perspectives was fascinating, and hopefully it will attract readership and spark conversation among folks who don’t necessarily frequent the biblioblogosphere.

One in Four

Yeah, you’ve seen it everywhere, that little report about one in four U.S. adults having read no books at all in the past year (what they don’t tell you is that another one in four ONLY read Harry Potter…), and the average among those who read at all being 7. Hmm. That’s about a book every two months, meaning that the average reader has a much poorer ROI on their public library than I.

I do, though, like Karen Schneider’s slant — it sounds a lot different when you say “Three out of four people read books!” That’s the power of marketing right there, especially when we’re still and likely always brand: books.

(Perhaps people are spending their time at Hamsterdance instead — I know I’ve missed these little guys.)

You Can See the Desk!


You Can See the Desk!
Originally uploaded by lib_rachel

Today… I went and bought a table, a whiteboard, and a bulletin board. (Thanks, IKEA and Costco! Table: $35. Boards: $30. Increased work surface? Priceless.) Now, I can see the surface of my desk — here is the work-in-progress. Next: the cubbies.

I’ve been scattered lately, partially because my working environment started to get out of control — I kid you not, I’m typing about 20WPM faster right now.

Reading, ‘Riting, and Ranting

Since I’ve finally waded my way out of the Deathly Hallows (and don’t even get me started on that ending!), it seems timely to point to “Teens Weigh in on Changes in Publishing, Media” over at O’Reilly Radar. This quote cracks me up:

“As high school students with busy lives, going to a bookstore is just not part of our schedule. It isn’t that we don’t want to read, but with schoolwork, sports, and personal life, not enough time is left open to both find interesting books, as well as read them.”

Yeah, gosh, that is different than when I went to high school… but, sarcasm aside, some thoughts there about reading for information v. reading literature. And about movie hype v. book hype, which displays a pretty major lack of understanding as to the comparative economics there, but so it goes.

On that note, we’re also off to play the blogs vs. print game again… Current Cites points to “What a Difference a Publisher Makes” over at OptimalScholarship, with a fascinating look at recent studies on copy editing changes and the implications for repositories. Stephanie Willen Brown at CogSci Librarian asks which is better, blogging or print publishing, and Jim Rettig responds over at Twilight Librarian.

Brown writes: “…does it matter that librarians are writing more on blogs than in print?” Are they? This, I’m not so sure about. Some librarians are writing more on blogs than in print. Some librarians are reading more on blogs than in print. Some librarians still wouldn’t know a blog if it came up and bit them. I think it’s more useful to argue that different formats serve different purposes. Brown quotes Stephen Abram along the lines of: “It doesn’t matter where you write, just get your ideas out there.” Well, yes, and no. It does matter where you write if you’re working towards tenure. It does matter where you write if you are targeting a specific audience, or trying to impress your boss, or your work needs some editing editing, if you are worried about the longevity of your work, or want a bigger audience than might flock to your brand new blog, or … It does matter where you write if you are concerned about timeliness or if your thoughts flow more freely in a more informal medium or if you have a built in audience online, or …

In principle, though, Abram has it right. The answer to the question of blogs or print is: YES. The more of us that participate, in whatever medium, the wealthier and more robust our profession.

Then again, publishers don’t help themselves in cases like Eric Schnell’s, who details his two-year saga over at The Medium is the Message in “Where is My Manuscript? part 1 and part 2. Perhaps one of our measures of a journal’s prestige should relate to its responsiveness and timeliness. T. Scott weighs in here with “Publishing Faster,” talking about the five-six month turnaround time at JMLA and the basic issues with timeliness and quarterly publication.

Note also his comments on the other issues with Haworth journals when considering where you might yourself wish to publish… Then again, you could always self-publish on Amazon.com!

Free Trial Access: Sage Journals

I learned today via What I Learned Today that Sage is offering free trial access (to both current and back issues) through Sept. 30 to several LIS publications:

  • IFLA Journal
  • Journal of Information Science
  • Journal of Librarianship and Information Science
  • Information Development
  • Business Information Review
  • Journal of Health Informatics

You just might find something of interest…