Maura Seale's Weblog

Bio: Librarian for American history, American studies, and African American studies.

 

Posts

 

Oct 02 2012

fall semester happened…

And blog posting totally disappeared, gah.

I really like the distinction here between ‘how information works’ and ‘how to work information.’  My instruction sessions usually look like ‘how to work information’ because that is often what the professors and students want – and its instrumental value is immediately apparent.  I do try to weasel in ‘how information works,’ because that is actually the important stuff (that is, seeing information as socially constructed, contingent, and implicated in power relations).

Here’s an essay from Fister on the cult of change.  Not surprisingly, I agree with her (and I really, really hate all of that b-school talk.  It doesn’t MEAN anything).  I would also include stuff like this.  Portable computing might be cheap to THIS guy, but it isn’t to many, many people, and not every book is available digitally.  It’s easy to make provocative statements, but it’s hard to back them up with, you know, any sort of evidence beyond ‘well, this is how I personally do things.’  These sorts of claims are political; what sorts of users is he erasing and disempowering?  Which people matter? I think we can make some pretty good guesses.  He works for the Washington Post, too, so it’s not like he has all (any?) of the answers about technology and media. </snark>

No responses yet Tags: higher ed,technology news

Jun 21 2012

sloppy reading, sloppy writing

I don’t know why I decided to read Steven Bell’s most recent Library Journal column.  I like how there are no actors in this column; higher education “unbundles” (which, NO) and costs “soar” MAGICALLY, ALL BY THEMSELVES.  But even better is how sloppily he reads the articles he cites.  He says “Compared to those enrolled in regular degree programs, certificates holders are the ones actually getting jobs” but as far as I can tell, having looked at both articles and the executive summary of the report, the data gathered and analyzed focuses on median earnings rather than employment rates. He just says that because it fits in with his oversimplified talking points about higher ed.

Sigh.  This is the president of ACRL.  It’s disheartening.

No responses yet Tags: library news

Apr 04 2012

library as business

Barbara Fister’s recent post on Inside Higher Ed dovetails nicely with the chapter I recently wrote on neoliberalism and information literacy:

“They think of these social institutions like universities and libraries in terms of what customers can get from them, and how they could get it for less. In short, they have no idea of the common good. It’s the logical outcome of the near-religious faith that markets are always right, just like customers.”

This sort of critique is increasingly necessary, as market fundamentalism has become the dominant ideology in most realms, including libraryland.  Just take a look at any column by Steven Bell.  Unfortunately, this critique is often sidelined by libraryland’s interest in navel-gazing and making sure that we all have library tattoos and are represented in Kanye’s posse.

Sigh.

No responses yet Tags: library news

Mar 29 2012

privatized libraries

A recent article from Atlantic Cities wonders Are Privatized Public Libraries So Bad?

“The bulk of the lower costs, both for the city and LSSI, comes from cutting the benefits previously afforded to librarians. Santa Clarita’s library staff has been removed from the state’s pension plan, and must instead contribute to a 401K.”

[…]

“In a 2010 New York Times article, then-LSSI chief Frank A. Pezzanite argued that public libraries are “all about job security. That’s why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way.””

This sounds just awesome for the employees, most of whom probably entered this line of work because they wanted to, you know, help people.  I often wonder why we have lost the sense that we all deserve better from our employers, that the end result should be pensions for all rather than pensions for none.

The article doesn’t even raise the issue that maybe some aspects of life should not be subject to market imperatives and the need to continually make money.

No responses yet Tags: library news

Feb 03 2012

&c.

Busy semester!

This recent article about digital humanities on Inside Higher Ed really gets at what I was talking about in my earlier post:

“Rather, the point is to spur students to “think critically and differently” about digital gateways and to “encourage new forms of close reading, knowledge production and interpretation” in the context of the modern information landscape, said McGrane. A peek behind the curtain, she said, can go a long way toward inculcating a healthy appreciation for the soft power of information gatekeepers and the instruments they use to exercise it.”

This is exactly the type of instruction I think librarians should be doing, and the territory we should claim.  Metadata, search algorithms, and publishing are topics we are *very* familiar with.

***

I usually like Annoyed Librarian but this column makes me angry.  Unions are the bad guys, really?  The private sector is super productive, REALLY?  Unions are the reason we don’t have factories like Foxconn and that is a GOOD THING.

***

Faculty have begun boycotting Elsevier.  This is a start, but the problems with scholarly communication practices go beyond just this publisher….

 

 

No responses yet Tags: higher ed,library news,publishing

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