Higher Education Webinars

Library Babel Fish

A college librarian's take on technology

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.” 
September 13, 2012 - 8:49pm
As I walked  to work, doing that risky thing of reading on my phone while crossing streets, I discovered Friendfeed was down. Friendfeed is where I get all my information, inspiration, and hot news. It’s where I go to vent when I’m frustrated. It also has a nice widget that I’ve embedded in many of my websites, from my CV to my obsessive catalog of Scandinavian crime fiction translations. When Friendfeed goes down, my pages get messed up, and I can’t go to my usual watering hole to complain, because . . . well it’s down.  Instead, I went to Twitter to see if anyone knew what was going on. Nope, just lots of consternation.
September 6, 2012 - 9:30pm
There is an extraordinary tension in our culture between individual creativity and the creative community, between originality and a shared body of knowledge, between the acts of reading culture and writing culture. And our students are caught in the middle.
August 28, 2012 - 9:10pm
A recent post by Emily Ford at In the Library With a Lead Pipe asked us to think about what we do and why we do it. That’s a wonderfully clear way to ask how our philosophy of librarianship is applied in daily practice and how the things we do articulate our beliefs, for better or worse.
August 20, 2012 - 9:06pm
Thanks to my membership in the Library Society of the World, an anarchic group of librarians who pay no dues and have no rules (my people!), I get useful information (and many moments of laughter and delight) on a regular basis. Two bits of recent news made me think about how quickly things can change in the mostly-digital library.

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