Monday link-reading


Two desk shifts today; six hours at the reference desk makes me a little batty. I get a lot of professional reading done, though.

  • Walt Crawford has written a new book, called Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change. I’m thrilled, and very eager to read it. I don’t always agree with Crawford 100%, but he always makes me think about my own assumptions, why I disagree, and where the middle ground might be. And that’s the kind of thoughtful examination that matters.
  • Over at Librarians Matter, Kathryn Greenhill lists some of what libraries aren’t doing anymore:
    • We’re not only about books. And haven’t been for decades
    • We are no longer gatekeepers of knowledge, popular and obscure. Public libraries are reducing their non-fiction and reference collections. Not only are undergraduates using information from Google Scholar as the basis of their assignments, but academics are letting them.
    • We aren’t “halls of shush”. Unless your library has a silent floor, there is no longer an oasis of peace and studiousness in our buildings.
    • Archives and libraries of deposit have become representative rather than comprehensive records.
    • Not all of our collection is contained in our buildings anymore.
    • Our clients can use our services without direct contact with any of our staff.
    • Most of us do very little original cataloguing.

    And then she says, “This destabilizes me a little.” Which is really fascinating to me; libraries are changing, the world is changing, our users and our work are changing — and it doesn’t destabilize me in the least. I’m energized by the possibility and challenge of it all. But I see more and more of my colleagues, near and far, becoming more and more upset by the pace and rate of change in our profession — being destabilized by it — and I wonder what the perspective, the attitude, the educational marker, the social identifier is that puts you on one side of that line or the other.

  • Doing some link-jumping from that post, I was reminded of Karen G. Schneider’s manifesto, The User Is Not Broken. My personal favorite bits include:
    • You fear loss of control, but that has already happened. Ride the wave.
    • The user is the magic element that transforms librarianship from a gatekeeping trade to a services profession.
    • Information flows down the path of least resistance. If you block a tool the users want, users will go elsewhere to find it.
    • The user is not “remote.” You, the librarian, are remote, and it is your job to close that gap.
    • Stop moaning about the good old days. The card catalog sucked, and you thought so at the time, too.
    • Your ignorance will not protect you.
  • Michelle Boule, aka Jane of A Wandering Eyre, has sparked a great conversation about the financial needs of regional (and other small) library conferences vs the rights of the professional who provides the content that makes those conferences possible. First, Second, and Third. The comments are just as good as the posts, and I have sympathy for both sides. In the end, though — fair is fair. Presenters should receive equal treatment, whether they’re in or out of state, members or non-members, and that equal treatment should be fair and respectful. Period. We’re not martyrs, and we’re not masochists. We’re professionals. Treat us as such.
  • And, in non-librariana, the fanboy fixation with Neil Gaiman has been taken to its logical April Fools’ conclusion, with this piece. “Today the Roman Curia announced that the beatification of Neil Gaiman had been completed, putting the writer one step closer to the official recognition of his sainthood. These steps were carried out despite the fact that Gaiman himself has repeatedly denied being a saint, pointing out that he was not Catholic, not really religious and, most importantly, not dead.”

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