Monday, December 15, 2008

Conference themes

What sort of theme would you like a small-ish, regional, academic library conference to have?

No reason. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Broader Question

I'm late to this particular party, which might be the closest thing to an unforgivable sin in the blogosphere (god, what a horrible word). But sometimes being late to the party has certain advantages.

Perspective, for one. Reflection, for another. Context, for a third.

So by now everybody who could possibly care one way or the other knows that the Journal of Access Services ran an issue that consisted entirely of articles by the Annoyed Librarian. Hilarity ensued, and you wouldn't have needed a Magic 8-Ball to predict exactly how: it's the death of peer review! OMG, how can anyone take the Journal of Access Services seriously now?! Or library science scholarship for that matter?? How will I explain this to my students? What were the editors thinking?? (It turns out the editors didn't even know--how's that for setting the dog among the pigeons?)

Let me advance this thought: if the state of scholarly publishing in our field is so perilous that a joke issue of a journal (something not unheard of in other disciplines, including ones with a much longer and more substantive history of scholarship than ours, which is most of them--the British Medical Journal's Christmas issues come to mind, or the Annals of Improbable Research) is capable of destroying it, then we have much, much bigger problems than the Annoyed Librarian.

Assuming that you think the Annoyed Librarian is a problem.

I'm not here to accuse those who think so of having no sense of humor. I personally find the AL's schtick pretty one-note; this profession has plenty of sacred cows, but once you've shot them, is it necessary to come back around and beat up on the carcass? Maybe the AL agreed, and decided to do this as a way of following his or her own act. I don't know, and it doesn't really matter. Because if this stunt and the response to it generates an examination of library science scholarship, and particularly its flaws, then it will have served a useful purpose.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Reading the Research: Journal of Academic Librarianship

Tidbits from volume 34, issue 6.

Toolkit Approach To Integrating Library Resources Into The Learning Management System:
Regardless of what librarians choose to label the various ways of doing this, articles like this one are among my favorite examples of why "How we done it good"-style reports are worthwhile. Course management systems are just one way that online library services, like online services of other kinds, are becoming distributed--in both senses of the term.

The Value of LIS Schools’ Research Topics to Library Authors’ Professional Work
This title almost seems to be begging the question, but perhaps I'm jaded--after recent conversations with professionals in various social sciences, which is where library science has borrowed its research methodology, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that LIS courses in research methods would be valuable if students gained firmer grounding in how to actually do research. In fact, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I'd like to see library schools farm this one out to the nearest social science program.

There's also the assumption that all research in the library science field ought to follow a particular methodology. Personally, my favorite scholar in the field from whom I've gained the most professional benefit is Patrick Wilson...

Do clickers improve library instruction? Lock in your answers now
This one interests me because I've actually used clickers in a classroom setting recently. Leaving aside the much bigger and thornier question of how one actually teaches people to use the library and conduct literature searching (the two are not equivalent, if in fact they ever were), the question of retention is a good one and I'm not surprised to learn that the answer seems to be no. It's not that the things don't work, but a quick quiz at the end of a session (which is how I've used them) doesn't tell you anything about how students will actually use what you teach them. In my library we try to time library instruction for as immediate applicability as possible because really, the only way you're going to remember how to do this stuff is if you use it.