Oct 10

A Call for Change (Jill Hurst-Wahl)

Hey libraryfolk.

It’s been more than 3 years since I worked in a library.

I don’t live in my feed aggregator any more and I don’t often read liblogs/biblioblogs.

I was lucky to have run into Jill Hurst-Wahl yesterday, though (we both live in Syracuse, but rarely cross paths)- and she mentioned this post to me. It’s good and I think the profession would benefit from thinking on it. Please read it. If you see why I think it is important, please share it and link to it.

-David

Apr 06

Books I Would Very Much Like to Read/Review

New(ish) or upcoming books that I would really like to read and review here

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
By James Gleick

Okay, I admit I’m already reading this one- and LOVING it.  Gleick (who also wrote a great biography of Richard Feynman), writes in a fascinating, engaging way about the history of information and of information technology.  This book wonderfully illuminates how we got where we are and provides hints at where we might be going.

I would like a stack of 20 copies, please, so I can give one to each of my favorite 20 technology-resistant librarians.

Check out these reviews.

________________________________

An Introduction to Research for Health Librarians
By Barbara Sen

This looks like one I’d love to read- and it is being released in May.

“This step-by-step guide provides encouragement, support, and direction for health librarians who may be new to research and evaluation or lacking in confidence or expertise. With a focus on practice-based research, evaluation, and small projects, it guides the reader through the research process, from starting to think about the research question, through to the completion of the research and dissemination of the results. It is designed to encourage quality research from library professionals and encourage them to add to the evidence base in this sector. This timely collection considers methods and approaches that are suitable in a health library context, making it a useful tool for health library professionals and students alike.”

________________________________

Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach it
By Sharon E. Straus MD, Paul Glasziou MRCGP FRACGP PhD, W. Scott Richardson MD, R. Brian Haynes MD

This one was released in December, but I haven’t gotten to it yet- and I’ve been instructed quite sternly to read everything Sharon Strauss writes.

“Evidence Based Medicine provides a clear explanation of the central questions: how to ask answerable clinical questions; how to translate them into effective searches for the best evidence; how to critically appraise that evidence for its validity and importance; and how to integrate it with patients’ values and preferences.”

________________________________

Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide
By Jessamyn C. West

Rachel Walden taught me what a “librarian crush” is, and I have had a librarian crush on Jessamyn since I saw these signs.

Teaching novice computer users, including seniors and individuals with disabilities such as low vision or motor skills, how to do what they want and need to do online is a formidable challenge for library staff. Part inspirational, part practical Without a/the Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide is a summary of techniques, approaches, and skills that will help librarians meet this challenge.

Jessamyn C. West’s experience as a librarian is deeply immersed in technology culture, yet living in rural America makes her uniquely qualified to write this book. Taking a big-picture approach to the subject, she demystifies and simplifies tech training for the busy librarian, providing an easy-to-use handbook full of techniques that can be used with all of a library’s many populations. As an added bonus, she also examines the players in the library technology arena to offer firsthand reports on what works, what doesn’t, and what’s next.

________________________________

The Atlas of New Librarianship

Libraries have existed for millennia, but today the library field is searching for solid footing in an increasingly fragmented (and increasingly digital) information environment. What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings, and committees? In The Atlas of New Librarianship, R. David Lankes offers a guide to this new landscape for practitioners. He describes a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning; and he suggests a new mission for librarians: to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

The vision for a new librarianship must go beyond finding library-related uses for information technology and the Internet; it must provide a durable foundation for the field. Lankes recasts librarianship and library practice using the fundamental concept that knowledge is created though conversation. New librarians approach their work as facilitators of conversation; they seek to enrich, capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities.

To help librarians navigate this new terrain, Lankes offers a map, a visual representation of the field that can guide explorations of it; more than 140 Agreements, statements about librarianship that range from relevant theories to examples of practice; and Threads, arrangements of Agreements to explain key ideas, covering such topics as conceptual foundations and skills and values. Agreement Supplements at the end of the book offer expanded discussions. Although it touches on theory as well as practice, the Atlas is meant to be a tool: textbook, conversation guide, platform for social networking, and call to action.

[More here]

________________________________

What new books are you reading or looking forward to?

Mar 02

Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto

Common Sense Librarianship

1. The world of information has always been in a constant state of flux. As technology continues to change the world of information, it is preferable for information professionals and the institutions they serve to adapt rather than perish.

This is not a new idea.

2. The most important qualities an information professional can posses are adaptability, resourcefulness, a habit of looking for better/easier/more efficient ways to do things, creativity, and a love for solving problems.

This is not a new idea.

3. Organizations providing information services should pay as close attention as possible to the needs of those whose information needs they serve. Where these needs can be measured, they should be measured. If you can find something that your library is regarding as more important than user needs, something is very wrong.

This is not a new idea.

4. Whenever possible, obstacles between users and the information they seek should be removed.  Among these obstacles are academic jargon and expecting users to care about cataloging minutia (it is minutia to them, get over it).  Information professionals should be champions of clarity and concision who find accessible ways to describe complex topics.

This is not a new idea.

Much of the above comes from conversations with really smart and insightful people like Amy Buckland, Kathryn Greenhill, Jenica Rogers, and Maurice Coleman.

Any good stuff above should be credited to them. Any stupid stuff should be blamed on me.

May 04

“Professional Librarian?”

I’m reading, re-reading, and loving this post from Ryan Deschamps:

Ten Reasons Why ‘Professional Librarian’ is an Oxymoron

Deschamps’ 10 Reasons are:
1. Librarians Have No Monopoly on the Activities They Claim
2. There are No Consequences For Failing to Adhere to Ethical Practices
3. Librarianship is Too Generalized to Claim Any Expertise
4. ’Librarian’ Assumes a Place of Work, Rather than the Work Itself
5. Peer Review in Librarianship Does Not Work Because There is No Competitive Process to Go With It
6. Values Are Not Enough
7. The Primary Motivation for Professionalization is the Monopoly of Labor
8. Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work
9. Competing Professions Are Offering Different Paradigms to Achieve the Same Goals
10. Nobody Can Name a ‘Great’ Librarian

Go read the whole thing. Even if you don’t agree with him, you’re still likely to find it meaty food for thought.

I strongly suspect Deschamps’ post is in response to this piece by Rory Litwin:

The Library Paraprofessional Movement and the Deprofessionalization of Librarianship

It will probably come as no surprise that I don’t care for Litwin’s piece.

A little fisking follows to supplement the things I like about Deschamps’ post.

Litwin writes:

Most librarians support the requirement of the master’s degree for professional‐level work, but many find the issue difficult to discuss when it is restated in terms of fairness toward working-class library workers, who are pursuing their rights.

Seeing “working-class library workers” literally made me snort aloud. Class has no meaningful or useful place in a discussion about where we are and where we need to go, especially when many degreed librarians make far less than many “working-class” people in many lines of work. I dearly wish that I could say my libraryfolk friends with multiple masters degrees and years of experience had as much income as my plumber, but they don’t. I also distrust anyone (and I mean *anyone*) who uses the term “working class.”

While it is difficult to say exactly what will be required of students who go through this certification program, one can assume that the academic standards of graduate education will not apply…

When the standards are as hugely varying as they are in library schools, they aren’t really “standards” at all. Like most, I know some paraprofessionals with greater knowledge and skills than some degreed librarians. Let’s stop pretending that the degree necessarily says something about the skills and knowledge of the person holding it…because it doesn’t. (See Deschamps’ #8.)

Litwin pretty much admits this:

There can be no denying that many paraprofessionals are more talented, more experienced, and even better educated than many MLS‐holding librarians. There are also libraries that fill their professional positions with non‐MLS holding librarians who, after years of working closely with their communities, can serve as positive examples for the profession in many respects. This is all true.

If you put aside Litwin’s condescending tone ([sarcasm]“I CAN, Rory?! In MANY respects?! Wow, thanks!”[/sarcasm]), we seem to agree.

The problem with framing the question in these terms, however, is that it overlooks the value of the professional status of librarians itself, both for the institutions in which they work and for the world of libraries as a whole.

Think about this for a minute: Litwin is comparing “library professionals” with “library paraprofessionals” but DOESN’T think that comparing skill-sets or experience isn’t a good way to frame the comparison. I call shenannigansWhich is a nicer term for the subject of this book.

After telling us that we’re overlooking “the value of the professional status,” Litwin gives several paragraphs on sociological theory and completely fails to support his assertion.

A profession that is dedicated to sharing knowledge is unlikely to create effective barriers to its knowledge base, a factor undercutting the profession’s defense of its degree of autonomy.

Two things here: The first is that Litwin is saying the failure of librarians to create effective barriers to knowledge is a bad thing. The second is that I reject his assertion that there is a significant difference in the level of autononomy of an employee in a library depending on whether he/she is classified as a professional or a paraprofessional (or, as Litwin writes elsewhere in his piece, salaried or paid an hourly wage). In my experience, the autonomy of an individual employee is largely based on the management philosophies of those they report to and the credibility the employee has earned. Perhaps this is different in academic libraries.

A librarian in technical services, according to Gillham, is a manager, meaning that the department is left without an autonomous professional presence and the attributes that accompany it (code of professional ethics, graduate‐level education, intrinsic reward of service, etc.).

So…now it seems that one cannot ascribe to a code of ethics or experience intrisic reward of service without an MLIS? I’m calling shenannigans again.

Litwin’s article isn’t *all* bad. If you remove the unsupported (or just poorly-supported) assertions about libraries, it is an interesting review of sociological literature on “deprofessionalism.” *With* the library stuff, it is pseudointellectual gobbledygook that provides no useful insight or guidance. (See Deschamps’ reason #5.)

By contrast, Deschamps’ piece is clear, succinct, and lays out the reality of our circumstances in a way that cuts through all the shennanigans.

Since I’m giving Litwin such a hard time, though, I’ll try to find some nits to pick about Deschamps’ post.

[Insert 30 minute pause here]

Deschamps’ #5 is “Peer Review in Librarianship Does Not Work Because There is No Competitive Process to Go With It”

I disagree that so much of library literature is mediocre because of the collaborative habits of libraryfolk. Rather, I think it is largely because of Reason #8, “Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work.” The degree is frequently not academically demanding, so it doesn’t produce a lot of academics.

Deschamps’ phrasing of his Reason #7 (“The Primary Motivation for Professionalization is the Monopoly of Labor”) could, I think, be improved. I might rephrase it:

“The Primary Motivation for the Whining about ‘Deprofessionalization’ is the Fear of Losing Work or Having Needlessly Invested a lot of Effort, Time, Money, and Psychic Energy becoming a ‘Professional’ Librarian.”

But these are nitpicks.

Thoughts?

Apr 28

Listen to Punk. LibPunk.

So I listened to the first LibPunk podcast and can honestly say I’ve never so enjoyed listening to libaryfolk talk about librarianating.

You can download the mp3 or listen in the embedded player below:

Sarah and Kendra have a site here: http://libpunk.info/

Here’s the Podcast feed.

Want to join in? Do!

Nov 05

Vlogging: ‘Library 101′ and the AL

I’ve never videoblogged before and I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, but it was fun to try. Please see embedded YouTube video below.

Links mentioned in the embedded video above:
http://davidrothman.net/category/library-20/
http://www.libraryman.com/blog/essays-on-101/

[Edit]

Excellent response from Sarah Glassmeyer (video embedded below):


[/Edit]

Mar 15

Congratulations To Movers and Shakers!

There are a number of names in the 2009 Movers and Shakers by Library Journal that made me smile. I’m whacky on cold medicine and half asleep, but these need mention and will, in addition, receive a “Macher and Shtarker” recognition from davidrothman.net.

Melissa Rethlefsen:
Melissa is a co-author, a mentor who is always ready to help, and a wonderful, treasured friend. I can think of no medical library geek who would be more appropriate to receive recognition for her awesomeness.

Rachel Walden:
Rachel has been blogging longer, better, and more consistently than I have. Her blog is not only wonderfully informative and frequently entertaining- it also makes medical librarians look soooooooo good. Rachel was absurdly nice to me when I started blogging and has remained someone I frequently turn to for advice, both professional and personal. I join Library Journal in noting Rachel’s butt-kickery.

I was shocked to discover that Dorothea Salo hadn’t been recognized previously. What do I enjoy more than a smart, articulate, argumentative person? One who disagrees with me. I can’t claim to know her well, but I’ve had fun getting to chat a little with Dorothea on Friendfeed and I’ve always been impressed by those of her writings I am able to properly understand. Read her blog if you haven’t yet.

I’ve only gotten to know Jenica P. Rogers-Urbanek a bit in the last year or so, but quickly came to respect her knowledge, intelligence, kindness, and wit.

Dave Pattern is one of those guys who is perpetually playing with new, interesting, and useful geekery. We should just be grateful he uses his talents for good and information services. If his powers were put to evil applications, we’d all have reason to fear.

I was also pleased to see smart folks like Michael Porter, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Lauren Pressley, Jason Griffey and Karen Coombs. I know none of them well but have admired their work when I’ve encountered it.

Congratulations to these and others recognized this year!

Aug 29

KQED’s Forum: The Future of Libraries

Just stumbled across this episode of KQED’s Forum (a call-in talk show):

Tue, Aug 26, 2008 — 10:00 AM
The Future of Libraries
Traditional libraries have been caught between declining budgets and the explosive growth of online research. We talk with experts in the field about how the institutions are evolving to meet the changing needs of patrons.
Host: Michael Krasny
Guests:
• Al Escoffier, city librarian for the Burlingame Public Library
• Jane Light, director of the San Jose Library
• Jim Rettig, president of the American Library Association
• Martin Gomez, president of the Urban Libraries Council

Embedded player:

[Direct link to mp3 file]

(Yes, I remember what T. Scott said about discussing the future of libraries.)

Aug 28

T. Scott on ‘Libraries or Librarians’

My favorite parts of T. Scott’s post:

“As I’ve been saying for years the library is becoming less relevant, and no amount of hand-wringing over what we can do to get people to use the library more is going to change that. But librarians are more relevant than ever, if only we can disengage ourselves from privileging our buildings and collections the way that we do and utilizing our individual skills in more effective and relevant ways.”

“The way I see it, the mission of librarians hasn’t changed at all. But we’re not going to fulfill it if we keep worrying about the future of libraries. There’s way too much interesting and fun work to do to waste time on that.”

Go read the whole thing.

Apr 21

Hakia’s Health Search

Hakia says they’re tapping the expertise of librarians. As CEO Dr. Riza C Berkan writes on the Hakia blog:

Every Web search starts with two queries. One is X. The other one is “who knows X the best?” Because finding X is not enough if the author of that page does not know X himself/herself. This will immediately resonate with you if you ever searched for medical, legal, or financial information for a serious case.

This was called the “credibility” criteria in the old world-order which has progressively vanished in the new age of Internet search engines. You enter X, and get the same “popular” perspective without distinction of credibility. You may recognize some of the sources, but are you an expert yourself about these things?

Ironically, there is a science for this. It is the science of libraries and librarians. That’s their job. They know what is credible, trustworthy, and commercially-unbiased.

So how does Hakia leverage librarian expertise? They say it is by indexing “quality sources” which are “taken from the Medical Library Association recommendations.”

That’s a great idea of where to start, but anyone could accomplish the same by making a Google CSE like this one. The Google Health Co-op greatly surpasses Hakia’s effort here by including a greater number of recommended sites and greater value from having more authoritative recommenders than just the MLA.

Also interesting is that Hakia has created a little micro-portal for each of the following sites:

PubMed – http://pubmed.hakia.com
World Health Org – http://who.hakia.com
ClinicalTrials.Gov – http://clinicaltrials.hakia.com
Centers for Disease Control – http://cdc.hakia.com
The National Cancer Institute – http://nci.hakia.com
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute – http://nhlbi.hakia.com

Mayo Clinic – http://mayoclinic.hakia.com
familydoctor.org – http://familydoc.hakia.com
Healthfinder – http://healthfinder.hakia.com
HIV InSite – http://hivinsite.hakia.com
Kidshealth – http://kidshealth.hakia.com
Medem – http://medem.hakia.com
MEDLINEplus – http://medlineplus.hakia.com
NOAH – http://noah.hakia.com
American Cancer Society http://acs.hakia.com
Cancer Care, Inc. – http://cancercare.hakia.com
Oncolink – http://oncolink.hakia.com
Women’s Cancer Network – http://womenscancernet.hakia.com
American Diabetes Assc. – http://ada.hakia.com
diabetes123 – http://diabetes123.hakia.com
Children with Diabetes – http://childrenwithdiabetes.hakia.com
The Diabetes Monitor – http://diabetesmonitor.hakia.com
Joslin Diabetes Center – http://joslinharvard.hakia.com
National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases – http://niddk.hakia.com
American Heart Association – http://aha.hakia.com
Congenital Heart Information Network – http://tchin.hakia.com
March of Dimes – http://marchofdimes.hakia.com

These are also interesting, but superior results could be achieved using existing tools. Rather than searching Hakia’s portal for the American Heart Association for myocardial infarction, we could more easily search Google for myocardial infarction site:americanheart.org and make use of Google’s further refinements from there.

Mar 31

When the user actually *is* broken (Anna Kushnir and PubMed)

I have distinct childhood memories of asking my mother what one word or another meant. She would point out that there was a dictionary close at hand designed exactly for that purpose and invite me to make use of it.

I remember asking my father to teach me to program in BASIC. He cheerfully agreed and handed me the big brown manual.

So maybe I’m weird and so are my folks, but these memories inform my take on the chatter in the blogosphere and on MEDLIB-L about this post by Harvard PhD student Anna Kushnir in which she expresses her frustration with PubMed. Kushnir writes (in part):

“I hate PubMed. I hate it with a burning passion. For a site that is as vital to scientific progress as PubMed is, their search engine is shamefully bad. It’s embarrassingly, frustratingly, painfully bad.”

[...]

“Why is PubMed so behind the times? Why? How does it even work? Does it search only the abstract? Does it also search the body of the papers that are available online? Why does it get so massively confused by an author’s initials and last name together, in one search? Why can’t it alert me when papers relevant to my work are published?”

I’m the first to admit that PubMed has problems and much room for enhancement, but if Kushnir had bothered to look at PubMed’s help manual or try some of its excellent tutorials she’d have learned exactly how it works, what PubMed indexes, how she can search by author, and that it can alert the user when papers relevant to her work are published via email or RSS.

So while PubMed has real, legitimate problems, Kushnir’s complaints don’t really touch on any of them. She could’ve resolved the problems she notes by flipping through the well-written, clearly laid-out, easy-to-navigate manual.

A number of helpful people who are much nicer than I am left useful comments for Kushnir.

Medical librarian Kathleen Crea offered a clear explanation of how articles are indexed and what MeSH is.

Medical librarian Rachel Walden even offered to help remotely with specific searches if Kushnir didn’t have a Harvard medical librarian handy.

But Kushnir decided that none of this really helped and later commented:

I don’t think I should have to be, or enlist the services of, a medical librarian in order to do a simple search on a literature search engine. PubMed should be an intuitive search engine such as Google, or others. I don’t know of many researchers, either MDs or PhDs, who have had extensive training in computer science or search algorithms. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I am representative of many other biomedical researchers in my struggles with PubMed. I am trained in Cell Biology and Virology. PubMed should be tuned to my needs and my skill set. I should not have to tune to it. Harsh as it may sound, PubMed is most useful for biomedical professionals, not for medical librarians or for computer scientists. Yes, if I devoted an afternoon or more to learning the system I dare say I would become a proficient, but my question stands – why should I have to?

Huh.

The index of biomedical literature searched from PubMed is a vast and complex set of data. Any tool that will search it effectively for very specific needs will necessarily be complex. If Ms. Kushnir doubts this, perhaps she should perhaps try any other interface for the same data. Some other interfaces work better for some purposes and some users, but all are complex.

Using PubMed does not require “extensive training in computer science or search algorithms,” it requires reading the manual. Kushnir actually admits that if she “devoted an afternoon or more to learning the system” she would “become a proficient,” and yet she fails to recognize her complaints as the whining they are.

Kushnir writes at JOVE:

My rant somehow wound up on a medical librarian listserv and they came out in force defending NCBI and PubMed, listing pages and pages of helpful and warm instructions and hints on how to make it do what I need it to do, pages of suggestions, with offers of hands-on assistance and training, which have all been wonderful. Occasionally though, they were biting and harsh, saying that if I only knew what I was doing (and only if I weren’t so ignorant… yup, ignorant), PubMed would seem to me the greatest thing ever.

I’m not criticizing Kushnir’s ignorance and would take issue with those who did. Ignorance, once identified, should alert the librarian to a teaching opportunity- not an occasion for shaming. Criticizing the extraordinary laziness in her refusal to receive help from a librarian or to take a quick look at the manual, though? That’s fair game.

Kushnir continues:

I am a research scientist by long, hard training. I am a fairly web-savvy research scientist, and still, I have trouble with PubMed.

As a medical librarian friend recently pointed out to me, it requires instruction to learn to drive a car. Kushnir is unwilling to read the manual and wants to blame PubMed/NLM for her difficulties. Kushnir talks about having spent hours trying to get PubMed to do what she wants, but declines help from multiple medical librarians who’re happy to teach her and can’t be bothered to invest 30 minutes in reading from the manual because it should, in her thinking, be possible to do without any effort on her part.

Kushnir continues:

The search engine is not made for medical librarians. It’s not made for computer programmers. It’s made for scientists, to be used by scientists, needed most by scientists.

Actually, Medline’s history is that it was made primarily for medical librarians and secondarily for physicians, but that’s not really important.

It should be easy for scientists, goofy, only moderately-computer literate scientists, to use. It should be intuitive (read: Google), it should not have a ginormous page of inscrutable instructions, it should not require the hour-long training sessions, kindly offered at most medical libraries. It should be plug and chug.

I might just as well argue that the tools of virology research should be intuitive to me. After all, I’m a very computer-literate, Web-savvy biomedical information professional. Why should I need her years of training to understand her work?Hint: Because the work is complex and involves a skill set that grows (with effort) over time.

“Inscrutable?”
Kushnir also describes PubMed’s help documentation as “inscrutable.” When I was teaching myself how to use PubMed, I found the documentation clear and helpful, so this surprised me. I decided to run the PubMed Quick Start document through Google Docs’ analysis:

Let’s review these scores:

Flesch Reading Ease: 62.97
(A score from 60-69 is considered “standard”)

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 5.00
(Fifth grade)

Automated Readability Index: 5.00
(Again, fifth grade)

So it would appear that the help documentation is written at a fifth-grade level. I find it hard to believe that a PhD student at Harvard cannot read at a fifth-grade level, so I’m left with the impression that Ms. Kushnir didn’t actually attempt to read any of the documentation before declaring it “inscrutable.”

Suggestions for Ms. Kushnir and other research scientists who don’t like reading the instructions:

So the tool is necessarily complex because the data it searches is complex and the user refuses to read the well-written help documentation or accept help from a friendly librarian (even when multiple librarians are reaching out across thousands of physical miles of distance and the gulf of the patron’s unwillingness to learn).

I can only conclude that sometimes the user *is* broken.See Karen Schneider’s excellent post, “The User is Not Broken”.

Thank you to the two medical librarian friends who read the first draft of this post and offered comments.

Feb 26

Medical Librarian Treating Information Overload (Nurse.com)

Medical librarian Anne Ludvik takes a proactive approach to helping busy staff nurses solve patient care problems and get up-to-date health information at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.

“It’s difficult for nurses to get to the physical library, so we work to bring digital resources to them,” Ludvik says.

[Read the rest]

Feb 23

Calculating the Value of Your Library

I had planned just to blog about the calculator posted by the MidContinental Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, but before I got to it, The Krafty Librarian did much more by pointing to a whole bunch of calculators. Go check out Michelle’s post and see if one (or more) of these tools will help you prove the value of your library.

Jan 27

NPR: “Who Needs Libraries?”

Just heard this story from SoundPrint on my local NPR station. If you work in a library, you should go listen to it now.

Who needs libraries?
Produced by: Richard Paul
As more and more information is available on-line, as Amazon rolls out new software that allows anyone to find any passage in any book, an important question becomes: Who needs libraries anymore? Why does anyone need four walls filled with paper between covers? Surprisingly, they still do and in this program Producer Richard Paul explores why; looking at how university libraries, school libraries and public libraries have adapted to the new information world. This program airs as part of our ongoing series on education and technology, and is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education.

You can listen online (streaming RealMedia audio) for free here.

Streaming Tip: If, like me, you loathe Real Player and don’t want it installed on your computer, I recommend downloading and installing Real Alternative. I’ve been using this for years now with absolutely no complaints.

Dec 14

TV Librarians (YouTube fun)

A YouTube user going by the handle of “TVLibrarian” is collecting and posting short clips of librarians and libraries from popular television programs. Neat!

I love this one:

Although I’ve never heard of of a public library volunteer being called a “docent”…

Want to be informed when TVLibrarian posts new videos? Subscribe to this feed.

Nov 07

Awesome Dean Giustini quote in University Affairs

Dean Giustini just keeps making his profession look good from the outside, doesn’t he?

University Affairs (“Canada’s magazine on higher education”) features an article on The New Librarians in which Dean is mentioned and quoted.

University of British Columbia’s libraries have also seen dramatic changes. When biomedical branch librarian Dean Giustini joined the UBC library staff 10 years ago, the biomedical library offered just three electronic journals. It now offers 40,000. Mr. Giustini, named Canadian Hospital Librarian of the Year for 2007, is a well-read and popular blogger. He maintains the Google Scholar Blog (with the stated purpose “to observe, document and comment on the evolution of academic-scholarly searching”) and is the blogger for Open Medicine, a peer-reviewed, open-access online journal that aims to provide high-quality health information. In 2005, he kicked off a lengthy debate among experts with a British Medical Journal editorial entitled “How Google is changing medicine.”

Mr. Giustini doesn’t believe that the librarian’s role is diminished by today’s ready availability of information. “I think our role will be helping people to teach each other how to find information, but also how to critically evaluate information,” he says. “People need to see us as knowledgeable about knowledge, in all its forms.”

…and later in the article:

Tim Mark, executive director of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, says that some older, more traditional academic librarians have found the new technology a bit daunting, and the new approach to library space, challenging. This has sometimes led to generational tensions, ones which Dean Giustini at UBC says he has felt first-hand.

“Some people just don’t get it,” says Mr. Giustini bluntly. “But I’ve got tenure, and I’m going to continue to push the envelope as much as I can. … Librarians need to be seen to be part of this revolution. And if you don’t want to stay in the profession because of it, there are lots of young, fresh, smart librarians who will take your place.”

Let’s just repeat that last part in bold:

“…Librarians need to be seen to be part of this revolution. And if you don’t want to stay in the profession because of it, there are lots of young, fresh, smart librarians who will take your place.”