McCain is Saved from Librarian Fashion Faux Pas

I guess you can’t have it all. According to Technorati links about the Carol Kreck video clip, where she is shown defending her right to free speech on public property in Denver at an open McCain town hall meeting, she is a both a “Democracy Superhero” as well as an “affront to fashion conscious Americans“. You go girl!

In all seriousness, take a look at the comments about this clip on YouTube. Some of the comments are so rude you can’t take them seriously. But of the serious comments, I have to say that the Kreck supporters were more on target. For example, one obvious McCain supporter comments “Refusing to put a sign away was apparently a violation of the rules of the townhall meeting. That is why she was asked to put it away. She refused and was then asked to leave. She refused and was then trespassing. If she wasn’t allowed to be there and refused to leave, then that is trespassing. She should have put the sign away and then sought to ask hardball questions to McCain. That would have been the smart thing to do“. Are you kidding me? If her sign had said McCain for America (or something like that) she would also have been asked to leave? Uh huh.

Office Hours

As we contemplate our upcoming relocation and remodel, we are attempting to find spaces around campus for our faculty and staff. One obvious solution has been that the subject liaisons could have offices in the building where their faculty and student constituents are located. I was interested to read this post on the ACRLog about an experience with this. It seems there could be some benefit to this arrangement.

http://acrlog.org/2008/05/31/office-hours/

Hoping we can avoid janitor’s closets –

Rhonda

Tenure for Librarians – Is It Worth It?

About once a year or so, I feel the need to say something about tenure and faculty status for academic librarians. Not quite “defend” our position, but at least take stock and reevaluate that position. Am I feeling defensive? Well, perhaps just a little. The truth is, library faculty play a different role than other departmental faculty and it can be a little bit difficult being in the minority.

A lot of misunderstanding exists about the responsibilities and contributions of library faculty. Much has been written about it in the library literature, but today I came across an article published in 2005 by Catherine Murray-Rust, Dean of Libraries at CSU – Fort Collins, in the Chronicle of Higher Education that sums it up very well. Here are a couple of quotes:

First, why librarians need tenure: “At a time when higher education is under attack, and libraries make the national news as partners with Google, the role of the library in academe is anything but certain. The comforting metaphor of the library as the heart of the university no longer resonates. Libraries compete openly for resources with other campus units and are expected to deliver increasingly expensive and sophisticated information services to ensure the university’s success in research and teaching. … Librarians can no longer afford to stay within the walls of the library and the confines of their profession. To ensure that libraries have a say in the future and help shape their institutions’ activities in important areas like digital scholarship and information literacy, librarians need to be at the table, in on the deals, and in the classroom. They need to lobby for new visions of library services and collections. They need to become astute politicians and fund raisers.”

Second, the benefits: “The inescapable conclusion is that the performance of libraries and librarians is being evaluated in new ways, strongly influenced by the development of new technologies for teaching and learning, radical changes in scholarly communication, and increasing demand for resources. … The best way to increase the odds that librarians will be visible on the campus and play a vital role in the changing world of higher education is to give them faculty status. When they participate in university governance, they provide a unique viewpoint — and develop political and negotiating skills. And when they collaborate with other faculty members, they have a better understanding of the academic enterprise, including conducting research.”

http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i06/06b01001.htm
Chronicle of Higher Education: Volume 52, Issue 6, Page B10 (9/30/2005)

Having worked in academic libraries where librarians did not have tenure and in my present tenure-track position, I can attest personally that tenure for librarians is beneficial to the University. In my current institution, librarians are able to collaborate much more extensively with other faculty members. I firmly believe that our efforts in partnering with other academic departments to further the research and instructional mission of the university benefits students.

Association of American Colleges and Universities Embraces Information Literacy

Today on the Association of College and Research Libraries’ blog, ACRLog, Barbara Fister reported that, while attending the AACU Midwinter meeting, she “was struck by how much faculty and administrators embraced information literacy as one of several key intellectual and practical skills, identified in the AAC&U’s Greater Expectations report and revisited in a just-released publication, College Learning for the New Global Century.”

She also reported that, “also discussed at the conference, and worth a read, is a survey of business leaders and new graduates about what areas they feel need more emphasis in college. Seventy percent of the employers surveyed said colleges and universities should place more emphasis on learning how to locate, organize, and evaluate information. (The recent graduates were less convinced; only 48% felt it should receive more attention – but still, that’s nearly half!) “.

I am so encouraged by this and it further supports what we are seeing on our campus. Faculty members are beginning to understand the value that teaching information literacy concepts can bring to their curriculums. We are currently testing our new pilot information literacy program in English Composition, Exercise Science, and Mass Communications courses. The next crucial step is to convince administrators and curriculum committees on campus. These concepts are so important in helping our University meet its goals to educate students for today’s technologically rich and information saturated society. The challenge for librarians is to provide enough staff to meet demand. Is it more beneficial to the library to explore models where we provide training and resource material for faculty so that they can incorporate information literacy lessons into their courses? Or is it more beneficial to the library in the long run to teach the sessions ourselves so that we remain part of the teaching process. I believe that, because of our lack of staffing, we may have to look at implementing the first model to some extent, but I do value the face to face time I get with students and would hate to see that disappear completely.

Have a great day!

Annoyed Librarian: To the Frustrated Trendsetters

Annoyed Librarian: To the Frustrated Trendsetters

“They are not going to start a blog, because they not only have nothing to say, but (and this is what separates them from many bloggers) they know they have nothing to say and they don’t want to bore people with their trivial thoughts.”

I always love the Annoyed Librarian’s posts. They brighten my day more than any other heavy library blogs I read! Today’s post was especially funny because it could have been a direct response to a conversation I had earlier this week. On Monday, I met with other academic library directors and library leaders in my state to plan a library summit for next spring. The topic we are exploring is something about how libraries are pushing out of traditional roles and exploring new service models, due in large part to advances in social computing. One of our observations was that, in addition to break out sessions for librarians interested in learning about these new developments, we should also have some sessions on coping with all the changes. I’m now convinced that we need the Annoyed Librarian to lead the coping session! Read more below. I certainly hope my blog doesn’t fall into this category!

Continuing Education for Librarians

In her blog, What I Learned Today, Nicole C. Engard comments on the following question posed in a Library Journal article regarding “ALA’s Alternate to an MLS”. “Should certification and continuing education credits be mandatory for library workers?” She suggests “YES! The problems that most of of us have today is that there is such a varied education among the staff. Requiring continuing education would make it so that we’d all be closer to being on the same foot.”

I agree that there is a great need for ongoing training. In fact, I have been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about continuing education for my staff. One of our biggest needs is for continuing education opportunities that allow faculty members to keep current with new technologies and other trends in our field. Specifically, I would like to see the following (or maybe I should say “more” of the following since ACRL and others are already offering some valuable opportunities):

1. Sequential courses that lead to an advanced certificate, offered either via regional institutes or distance learning; ideally with a local or regional cohort group, so that networking relationships can be established.
2. More continuing education opportunities like ACRL’s that allow the participant to leave the course with a finished product.

It would be helpful for every librarian to participate in these sorts of continuing education opportunities, but I don’t believe that in the academic library setting it could be made mandatory. Our librarians, as faculty members, follow our faculty handbook and enjoy a certain amount of freedom to pursue research in a variety of library related areas. I believe, as Dean, it is my responsibility to help identify and encourage participation in continuing education opportunities that help our library meet its goals.

Group of University Researchers to Make Web Science a Field of Study – New York Times

This New York Times article discusses an announcement regarding a new field of study being proposed. Referred to as “Web Science”, this discipline would study the phenomenon of the Web from both a social science and an engineering perspective. Should schools of Information Science be worried or excited by this announcement? It seems to run parallel to what some schools are are already teaching. Would it be fair to say that perhaps this new discipline would approach the Web on more of a macro level than Information Science? Maybe library schools should be the ones teaching “Web Science”. At a time when library schools are still trying to redefine themselves, this new wrinkle could cause more uncertainty, but might also represent a good opportunity for L.I.S. programs to expand.

Group of University Researchers to Make Web Science a Field of Study – New York Times
Web science represents “a pretty big next step in the evolution of information,” said Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, who is a computer scientist. This kind of research, Mr. Schmidt added, is “likely to have a lot of influence on the next generation of researchers, scientists and, most importantly, the next generation of entrepreneurs who will build new companies from this.”