Posts Tagged ‘ unbunnedness ’

keep ER&L weird

Not sure why I didn’t post this last April, right after the conference.  But in the spirit of just writing and getting it out there, and because ER&L 2013 sessions were just announced, and because I am thinking about ERLs and OE again recently, I am publishing anyway.

My biggest personal takeaway from the  Electronic Resources & Libraries conference this past week  April in Austin TX was this: I’m OK, you’re OK, we’re all OK.  Maybe that seems a strange takeaway, given the state of upheaval we librarians, especially we ERLs, find ourselves.  But it was the message I needed to hear recovering from the week prior where I struggled to recommunicate why this little ol’ ERL might have something intelligent to say on the matter of strategic planning and organizational effectiveness.  Quite similar to the KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD motto of this “little drinking town with a live music problem” , I left affirmed that my passion and experience for information management, strategy, and organizational effectiveness (now!) is not the domain of only upper administrators.  These qualities and experiences are quite common among ERLs.

 

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brutiful truths

When I set up this blog for my MLS capstone, I gave myself permission to seek truth beyond the MLS.  I’ve done that in my tradtionally quiet way.  But I’ve been wrestling a lot lately with how to speak some of that seeking more openly here, and more often.  This post, by one of my favorite truth-speakers has motivated me to get started on this…just a little.

G, I’ve been tweeting about my 2012 resolution to read 12 books this year.  My last book was kind of a cop out, it being an “I Can Read” children’s book of only 63 pages.  But, one of the things your shared truth has taught me is that deep, full, and brutiful truths can be found in the simplest places. So, I’m sharing just two pages (a fair use) in hopes it will encourage you, encourage me, and maybe even get you out to the library and pick up a copy.  Oh yeah, and my kids like it too.

We look brave

Brave Together

Lobel, Arnold. (1971). Dragons and Giants. In Frog and Toad Together pp.43,51. Columbus, OH: Newfield Publications.

confessions of a truthbrarian

To all the kind friends who have shared nonamerah’s A Girl You Should Date on my fb wall or spread it across the interwebs for the promotion of reading and librarianship, to those who may be reading my blog or following this truthbrarian in hopes of literary comradery, I confess.  I can relate to nonamerah’s post perhaps only in its painful description of my own young dating failures.  I think I was nerdy and pretty enough to attract suitably interesting and intellectual boys, only to disappoint them with a lack of disciplined bookishness.  You see, I am one of those librarians who doesn’t really read a lot of books — mostly nowadays, I claim, because I’m too busy.  But the whole thing has got me thinking about my entire literary past and inspired me to take stock.

Past elementary school, I couldn’t tell you my librarians’ names, and I don’t recall story times or visits to the public library that involved anything more than a place to do homework and have fries at the Hardees next door.  I actually did. not. believe. my college voice professor who told me the library had books with the full English translations for the various language arias I was working on.  “It can’t be that easy!”, I thought.  And since I never recall seeing what might have been a librarian anywhere in that college library, I never followed up to verify this outrageous claim.

What?!  I know!

As a truthbrarian, I’m obviously not proud of this.  And it’s not even that I have trouble reading or that I don’t enjoy it as a pastime. I do!  In fact I boast at home that among the larger tomes in our recently reestablished home library,  I’ve read the largest of them in their entirety. My husband, the main collector for the library, has read some or all of more of the books and is certainly the more read in our family.  Our eldest daughter is not far behind. But I am a late (or perhaps, interrupted) bloomer.

Leo the Late Bloomer, by Robert Kraus and José Aruego

While I don’t remember my parents reading to me at home, I do have fond memories of my elementary school librarian and that library. I can still picture the reading bathtub, where the Judy Blume books were located, and what a big deal it was to have visits by author/illustrator, Tommy de Paola, and also Jose Aruego, who showed us step-by-step how he illustrates animals. Fascinating!  I can also recall my mom supporting our local bookstore and my particularly intense preteen reading spree of the entire Sweet Valley Twins series and Garfield comic books – don’t judge.  I also  loved my church library, but only have 3 solid book memories:

  1. The Giving Tree (and other Silverstein poetry)
  2. Joni, an autobiography of diving accident victim turned artist
  3.  a crazy cartoon book about a boy who got bit by a dog with rabies.

My current reading choices retain this pattern for creative humor, biographies, and a touch of morbidity.  But what I remember having an even greater fascination for in these libraries was the organizational system of the books, the act of checking out books, and wanting very badly to stamp and sort.

Many librarians, of course, share this organizational proclivity. But, I’ve always felt that every other librarian must have always loved books in a way that I never fully grasped.  I now know,  that truthbraries give you more than books.  They give you the ability to seek, discover new things, be curious,  and seek even more.  This has always made me a good problem solver and information organizer/seeker.  But that seeking within books and stories in the traditional sense has been late to bloom in my life.

The problem with lackluster seeking (as opposed to desperate seeking)  in books is not just less reading, but that my bibliography relied almost solely on the recommendations of others.  This, for better or worse, boils down to the company you keep.   My first recommendation I count as a plus. My big sister gave me Catcher in the Rye, which led me to inquire and read the entire Salinger bibliography,  articles about him, and his daughter’s biography of him.  However, in my high school naivety, I once settled on a recommended Danielle Steele novel  for a book report, making me reading adverse for quite some time!  However terrible that reading experience was, though, I see now the silver lining was a new-found appreciation for its opposite —  good writing, and the skill to critically evaluate for it. Today, I love to edit and to write.

I recall one more remarkable recommendation through a senior English reading essay (not really recommended as much as part of the reading requirement of the class).   It was a timed essay exam where I nailed a comparison of themes in the Red Badge of Courage.  I remember being super energized by a  feeling of discovery and impressed with how quickly I organized my ideas on paper.  This probably speaks again for my analytical skill and enjoyment of writing than it does for my love of reading.  But it is certainly connected, and I can see, through nonamerah’s A Girl You Should Date,  how those who have immersed themselves more fully and regularly into reading would develop a self-perpetuating love of it.   I am also totally into the concept there that exposure (through reading) to a variety of both creative and factual stories will only make one a better and more creative thinker, conversationalist,  writer, and even lover.  This truthbrarian seeks all of these  adding mother, friend, and leader. A tall order!

While I’ve got a late start to it (overall and in this late 2012 new year’s post), I have recommitted to the avid reading side of my dear profession.  This new year, I  firmly resolve to a reading regimen and welcome suggestions for its  structure and content.  You can keep up with my #2012resolutions progress by following me (@atruthbrarian ) on twitter.

 

the truth about reference

It’s been quite a month in my personal life, and no wonder  I never got back to filling out that last truthberry picking post.  I see some where I have no memory of what I found interesting at the time.  But, others, like Sheehan’s recent  ALA Techsource post on AI and reference,  are still relevent and worth building on, as other insights and starting points toward my big research interest  — the reapplication of the reference interview to interorganizational communication/information seeking — have come about since then.

It is also ARL stat collection time.   I serve on team monitoring a shared email account for e-resources troubleshooting questions (think of it as a distance cousin of virtual reference) and annually question whether I am supposed to count these as reference transactions.  For your information, ARL defines a reference transaction as:

…an information contact that involves the knowledge, use, recommendations, interpretation, or instruction in the use of one or more information sources by a member of the library staff. The term includes information and referral service. Information sources include (a) printed and non-printed material; (b) machine-readable databases (including computer-assisted instruction); (c) the library’s own catalogs and other holdings records; (d) other libraries and institutions through communication or referral; and (e) persons both inside and outside the library. When a staff member uses information gained from previous use of information sources to answer a question, the transaction is reported as a reference transaction even if the source is not consulted again.


I’ve always held, and our head of reference agrees, that we should count them.  But as distance cousins, the majority of questions we get are referrals from the real reference folks who are, thus, already counting them.  This year we may have more transaction to count as we have begun putting our face (our email address) out there a little to assist more directly with things like persistent linking, when resources are on order (and not yet available), and when we know there are likely to be problems with e-resources.  The latter two actually pick up the slack for what our ERM ought to be doing for us —  but that’s another post.  So, what I ultimately mean to point out here, is two-fold:

1) technical services libraries are increasingly access service librarians (our email troubleshooting group  is a concrete example).

2) as a result (and in addition to our counting transactions in this new role), we ought to look at the ARL definition above more closely.

Garden Libraries - The Imaginarium Garden (courtesy of Southfield Public Library, Southfield, MI)

My guess is traditional reference or public services librarians translate these transactions primary as a service to users wherever they are — as in “the library as place” and that place is inside and outside the library (in the Union, dorms, faculty offices, or even via email, IM, social media).  By seeking these reference stats of their colleagues, traditional reference librarians do concede that they aren’t the only transactors with our users.   But, I wonder how many interpret that definition to apply to transactions with people inside the library who work there?  This internal reference transaction among colleagues, I argue, is an activity technical services librarians have long been doing but perhaps not historically thought of as a reference transaction. Some examples of this I’ve thought of might be when we are helping reference staff to answer more technical questions (maybe we should count these twice!), when we help a subject liaison by pulling together reports for collection management, and maybe even when problem solving organizationally and seeking information about each others’ workflows in order to put a bigger picture together.

As for and how to go about answering my research question, this leads me back to Sheehan’s post and whether a direct reapplication of the theory behind the reference interview is the way to go, or whether so much changed both in reference (going virtual) and technical services (going reference) that a new theory is needed.  In addition to my own fascination with AI, the post connects to a debate about 2.0 vs. f2f communication that has stalled me in starting my research.  The post, specifically, led me to ask this question: has the stigma of ‘why’ questions in the reference interview (see Dervin & Dewedney, 1986) diminished as a result of more open sharing in social media?  Or is it (as Sheehan seems to point to) precisely because it’s online that this openness in social media occurs, but the f2f human interaction still requires the finesse of something like neutral questioning?

Other questions I’ve mulled over, related to the ARL stats definition, are whether there are too fundamental of differences in the reference transaction (and the use of reference interview skills) when the players are our working peers than when between librarians and students, faculty, or community users.   I’d be interested to know what you think and suggestions you may have for methodological starting points.

Comments below or emails to atruthbrarian[at]gmail[dot]com are welcome.

Dervin, B., & Dewdney, P. (1986). Neutral questioning: A new approach to the reference interview. Reference Quarterly25 (4), 506-513.

truthbrarians and copyright

I was so glad to see this post on copyright-knowledgable librarians highlighted in American Libraries Direct this week. It gives me opportunity to agree and briefly follow-up on a previous post of my own on the matter.

My favorite point this Copyright Librarian blogger points out is the context that librarians bring to the issue of copyright.  The reason that we know what we know and can impart this wisdom effectively to others is because we had to learn it in the context of doing.  And that context of doing is the same or very similar to the context of need for faculty or other library users.   Moreover,  as librarians who value integrity of knowledge, we don’t just half-ass our learning in doing — we research.

Few copyright specialist attorneys have extensive experience with academic publishing, but academic librarians – they have an amazing view of the whole system and life-cycle of scholarly publishing.

The post goes on to illustrate a small survey comparing faculty and librarian knowledge on copyright matters relative to the use of textual quotations, use of images, and course reserves.  The latter which I was happy to see the least margin of difference between the two.

And what’s more, the post references another little blog (before I knew what blogs were) entry of yore — one that made me want to be a librarian!

In summary:  we are cool, we are knowledgable, and we’ve got image issues to overcome.

Good news

And so I can add another to the tag ‘unbunnedness’…a nice article on  the value of great academic librarians.   It includes nods to a couple of books I’d like to read.   Namely, Marilyn Johnson’s This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (HarperCollins, 2010) and Robert Darnton’s The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future (PublicAffairs, 2009).  Although, I side more with the comment by mbelvadi (May 21, 2010 at 02:41 pm)regarding  the tired issue of the value of the smell of books, I do agree with the  Benton’s conclusion that the major point is that (quoting Darnton):

“Libraries were never warehouses of books. They have been and always will be centers of learning. Their central position in the world of learning makes them ideally suited to mediate between the printed and the digital modes of communication.”

Journal 09-25-03

Well, this is probably a strange journal overall.  Some entries I typed from free writing and others I wrote straight onto the computer, either by adding on to discussion topics or creating an original entry.  So, it probably lacks consistency overall.  But, I guess if it isn’t clear in other entries, I can say it here, that I do feel more confident about the issues we’ve discussed in this class.  Whereas at first I was completely overwhelmed by the multiplicity of areas that the information sciences cover, now I feel I can approach it with a growing curiosity.  I am still overwhelmed in as much as if I get going on a topic I tend to be more impassioned than intelligible.  But I think I’m learning more and more.

An article I read recently really takes a bite out of all this realm of our profession.  Rich Lowry in an article titled “The ideological librarians” would have us bottom feeding (as  the joke goes) with the lawyers of the world.  He doesn’t seem to have liked that we’ve let our hair down and become impassioned about civil liberties.  Instead, he seems to be more in a state of shock, revealing a bit of fear of abandonment, as he reflectively defines librarians by the books he learned to read as a kid.  This is just what John Ashcroft also did in his statement regarding the ALA “hype” over the Patriot Act.

My initial entry essay to this degree program was filled with excitement precisely at the fact that it was so obvious to me that the library profession is changing, that we’ve “come unbunned”.  Though I had no idea to what extent I would become involved in this, I am no less confident about this evolving mission.  I do have to wonder, after reading articles like these, if I am (we are?) too isolated in this vision when all around people outside the profession don’t seem to have a clue what librarians do.

To Lowry’s credit, he does bring issues to light that we have discussed in class, especially in the area of fashionable librarians’ and libraries’ social service bent (e.g. the homeless) while contrasting that to the majesty of the more traditional library (e.g. Library of Alexandria).  He also raises questions that I have not yet answered for myself (e.g. Internet access filters).  If nothing else, I think the rising voice of the ALA to these and other issues of public concern is a dramatic statement to our changing role.  So, I guess it is to be expected that it takes people by surprise.  Lowry’s opinion will not stop the change, and perhaps his voice is a diamond in the rough if it causes people to see a little bit of the revolution at hand!

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