Link Round-Up: February 2018

“A breakdancing workshop and presentation was part of a recent “Digging in the Crates” event. Another event’s theme was learning about plagiarism through music, and how musical artists credit and respect their predecessors through homage.” Roanoke Times

Innovative Library Programming

Going behind the scenes at the library via Petoskey News-Review

February 13, 2018: “Children will be able to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what a librarian’s work is really like during an upcoming program at the Petoskey District Library.

The Mini Masters of Library Science program will allow children to work with a librarian to process books, plan events and advise readers on new books that fit their interests.

“They’ll get to put a barcode on a book and catalog it into the computer and do check-in and check-out of books,” said Megan Goedge, children’s and youth services librarian at the Petoskey District Library. “There’s going to be a lot of stuff, so we’ll meet twice. At the end of the (second session) kids will get a Mini Masters degree of library science.”

Students digging monthly hip-hop event via The Roanoke Times

February 26, 2018: “Students have an excuse to be loud at Virginia Tech’s Newman Library thanks to the work of a DJ librarian. The third Thursday of every month, a group of Tech students, faculty and staff gather together to explore hip hop, education and expression through an event known as “Digging in the Crates,” which started last year.”

Opinion Pieces

IMLS’s 2018 – 2022 Strategic Plan Sets a New Tone via LibraryJournal

February 1, 2018: Rebecca T. Miller’s writes an editorial evaluating the IMLS Strategic Plan.

Reflections on a symposium about libraries and capitalism via InsideHigherEd

February 5, 2018: Barbara Fister reflects on the “Libraries in the Context of Capitalism” symposium and the themes of hidden and undervalued nature of library/archives labor that emerged as a result of the meeting.

2018 Midwinter Wrap-Up via American Libraries Magazine

February 26, 2018: “Just over 8,000 registrants came to the Mile High City for five days of presentations, conversations, and innovations, many of which centered on the importance of making sure that people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and walks of life have a voice in our national dialogue.

Artist, activist, and author Patrisse Cullors began the Opening Session by telling the story of her 4th-grade teacher—Mrs. Goldberg at Erwin Street Elementary School in Van Nuys, California—who gave the young Cullors books about the civil rights movement. “This part of education—the part where I get to be curious, get to be engaged—is the part I loved the most,” Cullors told attendees. “This is the foundation for my activism.”

New Projects

Project revives old software, preserves ‘born-digital’ data via YaleNews

February 13, 2018: “Digital preservationists at Yale University Library are building a shareable “emulation as a service” infrastructure to resurrect thousands of obsolete software programs and ensure that the information produced on them will be kept intact and made easily available for future access, study, and use.”

TV News Record: Television Explorer 2.0, shooting coverage & more via Internet Archive Blogs

February 22, 2018: “Simply put, our mission is to build and preserve comprehensive collections of the world’s most important television programming and make them as accessible as possible to researchers and the general public. We will need your help.”

“Preserving TV news is critical, and at the Internet Archive we’ve decided to rededicate ourselves to growing our collection,” explained Roger MacDonald, Director of Television at the Internet Archive. “We plan to go wide, expanding our archives of global TV news from every continent. We also plan to go deep, gathering content from local markets around the country. And we plan to do so in a sustainable way that ensures that this TV will be available to generations to come.”

Link Round-Up: January 10 – January 17, 2018

Obama’s Presidential Library Updates

Five things to know about the Obama Center via Crain’s Chicago Business

Libraries & Education

Like in Texas, college libraries around the U.S. rethink their future via Houston Chron
“Texas’ campus libraries are shuttling books off site, adding exercise machines and transforming the spaces from information hubs to collaboration centers. Campuses across the state are pouring money into renovating libraries, adding study rooms, café-like booths and exercise machines so students can multi-task while studying.”

A New Home for AI: The Library via InsideHigerEd
University of Rhode Island plans to use its library to broaden the reach of artificial intelligence. 

New Research Article: Measuring Library Impacts through First Year Course Assessment via infoDocket
“This study shows the value of library instruction in the building of first-year students’ information literacy skills and it illustrates librarians as partners in leading student learning outcome assessment. Using research papers from a required first-year course, raters from units across the institution evaluated student information literacy (IL) skill development.”

New Products

Dimensions from Digital Science Launches Today via infoDocket
“This new resource provides both free and fee-based services and tools…’Global technology company Digital Science is proud to announce the launch of Dimensions, a new platform that aims to democratise and transform scholarly search.'”



First Link Round-Up of 2018!

Happy New Year! For this round-up of LIS News, I thought it would be interesting to highlight stories about the construction and conception of the Obama Presidential Library (pictured above). There is a great deal of controversy over the location and what will, or perhaps in this case what will not be included and exhibited in Obama’s library. What seems to be most shocking to some critics is that there are no plans to include physical copies of manuscripts, letters, or documents but will instead have a digital archive. Adam Campbell of Liberty News Now refers to this as “simply host(ing) a digital archive” but as I’m sure many LIS professionals would agree, there is nothing ‘simple’ about digitizing thousands of materials in multiple media formats (paper documents, photographs, born-digital, etc.) so that they are accessible and successfully preserved.

In a column for the Chicago Tribune, Ron Grossman, an Obama supporter, writes that “what brought [him] up short was a space labeled ‘test kitchen.’ Presumably that reflects Michelle Obama’s war on junk food. The museum’s champions similarly suggest it could host yoga classes. President Obama, is that how you want to be remembered? As the healthy-eating and meditation advocating president?” Grossman vehemently disagrees with the concept of the Obama Library and goes on to suggest how he thinks the museum should be designed and what stories it should tell.

I think that this harsh criticism at the thought of a test kitchen and yoga studio being present in a library reflects a larger societal disconnect between how the public and how LIS professionals view the purpose of the institution of the library. For example, the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) has a very successful 3-year-old initiative called The Culinary Literacy Center (CLC) located in its central branch. The CLC advances literacy through cooking lessons, nutrition classes, and neighborhood environmental sustainability workshops that are mostly free and available to the entire Greater Philadelphia community.

While the FLP is not part of a Presidential Library and is perhaps not subject to the same scrutiny when breaking from tradition, it is still a major hub in one of America’s largest cities, similar to how Obama’s Library may ultimately serve Chicago. Libraries can be extraordinary centers for community engagement and growth as well as a place of innovation and creation. Rather than following the status quo and more traditional concept of Presidential Museum and Library, the Obama Foundation seems to be more future-focused and it will be interesting to follow this national conversation on what a library should or should not be.

Debate Over Obama’s Presidential Library

Yoga, basketball and a test kitchen: Obama’s Presidential Library Plans via The Guardian

Please, Mr. Obama, skip the test kitchen and make it a museum via Chicago Tribune

University of Chicago faculty tell Obama to move ‘socially regressive’ library via Washington Times

Obama Library Hires Minority-Owned Construction Firms via Next City

Residents Convince Obama Foundation to Remove Garage from Midway via Streets Blog Chicago

Obama Criticized for Lavish Library via Liberty News Now

Librarianship & the Future

Libraries Under Capitalism: The Enclosure of the Literary Commons via
“Our public libraries, our literary commons, are gradually being enclosed — sealed off to the public by a series of acts of our government — local, state and federal — as it bows to the dictates and priorities of corporations. The public library is one of the few settings where people can enter for free, access materials for free and stay without being expected to buy anything. The value of public libraries not only exists in the materials they lend and the non-commercial model they embody but in the commons that they represent: A public area that offers Americans liberated intellectual spaces, the potential for community dialogues and organizing.”

Libraries and Librarians Aren’t About to Disappear via Inside Higher Ed
“Last month a publication called 24/7 Wall St. published an article titled “America’s 25 Dying Industries.” Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the article analyzed how employment levels in various sectors changed between 2007 and 2016. The article, which was recently republished by USA Today, Yahoo Finance and many others, ranked libraries and archives as one of the fastest-declining industries in the U.S., second only to video tape and disc rental. The publication of the article prompted a strong response from librarians, who questioned the validity of the analysis.”

Innovative Programming

To Infinity and Beyond: Skyping with Astronauts via ALSC Blog
“How did one humble library end up with a direct line to outer space? We all know that libraries are about sharing books, movies, magazines, music, and more.  In today’s ever-evolving world, libraries have also become a place where people can gather to share ideas, learn about new topics or technology, and expand their skills.  These thoughts were what propelled me to apply to NASA for an In-Flight Education Downlink a year before the actual event occurred.”

NC Kids Digital Library: PL Directors Launch Innovative New Digital Reading Program Statewide via Knowledge Quest
“NC Kids is a database of more than 6,000 high-quality, high-interest digital books suitable for grades K-4th that are available for checkout through NC Cardinal. Anyone in North Carolina can access this database with a public library card and any device connected to the Internet.”

Hommocks Middle Students Get Real-Time Data on Reading via
“We said to ourselves, ‘How can we learn more about the secret reading life of kids?’ said Rob Andrews, an assistant principal at Hommocks. ‘It was kind of a simple idea in the beginning and it’s grown into this tool that has empowered us not only to give teachers access to the secret lives of kids but promote conversations between teachers and kids.’”

Technology & Projects

2017 Patent Rankings – Hot Off the Press via infoDOCKET
“A record number of 320,003 patents were granted by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2017—a 5.2 percent increase from 2016…The computing, telecommunications, and medical industries are continuing to receive a high volume of patents. New technologies showing rapid growth include e-cigarettes, 3D printing, and autonomous vehicles.”

Michigan State University Awarded Mellon Grant to Build Slave Trade Database via infoDOCKET
“Michigan State University, supported by nearly $1.5 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will create a unique online data hub that will change the way scholars and the public understand African slavery. By linking data collections from multiple universities, the website will allow people to search millions of pieces of slave data to identify enslaved individuals and their descendants from a central source. Users can also run analyses of enslaved populations and create maps, charts and graphics.”

University of Washington Reality Lab Launches via UW News
“The University of Washington is launching a new augmented and virtual reality research center — funded by Facebook, Google, and Huawei — to accelerate innovation in the field and educate the next generation of researchers and practitioners. The $6 million UW Reality Lab, funded with equal contributions from the three initial sponsors, creates one of the world’s first academic centers dedicated to virtual and augmented reality.”

Core and More: Identifying Key Skills and Qualifications for LIS

by Eileen Abels and Laura Saunders

The LIS field is changing rapidly, and encompasses a wide range of career paths and directions, all of which must be considered when preparing new LIS professionals. In addition to more traditional skills related to information organization and soft skills like customer service orientation and interpersonal skills, employers are also looking skills and qualifications in areas like emerging technologies, preservation of print and non-print materials, design thinking, and cultural competency. It is incumbent on LIS schools to ensure that their curricula are meeting the needs of the field. But which skills are core—meaning that all students should have a foundation in those skills, regardless of their area of focus or ultimate career path—and which are specialized, meaning that only professionals in specific positions are likely to need those skills?

In spring 2017, Simmons SLIS undertook a survey to address these questions. The survey went out to area employers, internship and practicum supervisors, faculty, and alums. Respondents were asked to rank 53 skills on a scale of “core” to “specialized,” and were also given an opportunity to identify additional skills that they did not see represented in the original list. We received over 1100 responses, which we will be analyzing and using to inform our curriculum.

Attached is the executive summary of the survey. We would like to thank everyone who participated, and we look forward to continued conversations about how best to prepare our LIS graduates for success. Click this link to access the Executive Summary of the Survey: Executive Summary

Taking Advantage of Librarianship’s Hidden Curriculum

Photo credit University of North Carolina Chapel HillAs a GSLIS student in the mid-1990s, I took the traditional reference and cataloging core curriculum courses. Two decades later, I have seen a lot of changes to information technology and librarianship. Yet the core curricula of most library and information science (LIS) programs still retain these traditional courses or, in many cases, their modern incarnations: information services and metadata.

These courses remain in most LIS programs’ core because the American Library Association’s (ALA) Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies requires that the curriculum address certain topics and prepare students with certain skill sets. On the other hand, the ALA’s Accreditation Standards also require that the curriculum “provide direction for future development of the field.”

While traditional topics in LIS remain important, the future of the field depends on a broader set of skills that are necessary to remain in relevant and mobile in today’s marketplace. And I’m not talking about additional information technology skills.

A study was recently published analyzing the prices that university libraries pay for “big deal” journal bundles. This study revealed that some institutions are paying nearly twice what other peer institutions are paying for the same bundle. While it is shocking, it is not surprising. What makes it worse is that publishers brought suit against universities involved in this study to prevent them from releasing the details of their contracts (the courts ultimately ruled that these universities could release the data). University libraries may know what they’re paying for their subscriptions, but they usually do not know what their peer institutions are paying. Vendors would like to keep it that way.

Over the past several decades, libraries have decreasingly been in the business of owning things, and have increasingly become portals through which users access resources owned by others. Libraries can provide access to additional resources this way. However, under the regime of renting access to resources, it’s critical that libraries be able to negotiate the terms of rental agreements. Contract negotiation has become an essential skill for librarians to possess.

Contract negotiation ultimately is about being a good steward of resources, which includes financial management. Budgets in libraries are often siloed by department. An example from my own research is determining the cost-benefit of reference services: How much does it cost to answer a reference question? The simple question turns out to be difficult to answer. Many studies have investigated this question, and come up with different answers because there’s little agreement on what should be included in the calculation. Staff time is about the only cost that everyone agrees on, but should some percentage of the cost of purchasing the resources used, network access, or facility space also be included? While the answers are debatable, the issue remains that it is virtually impossible to argue that the service you’re providing is worth the cost, if you can’t say what the cost is.

Discussing the cost-benefit of libraries doesn’t sit well with everyone. Librarians often like to make arguments about the benefit of libraries to society. Unfortunately long-term arguments often take a backseat to immediate concerns, especially where money and politics are concerned. A decades-long history of libraries being threatened with closure – Detroit, Denver, Cuyahoga Falls, Monterey, Chicago – drives this point painfully home. There may not be much that librarians can do to increase their institutions’ budgets, but there is plenty that librarians can do to advocate for their slice.

This sort of advocacy is ultimately about becoming a thought leader in your organization and in your community. Leadership doesn’t just mean that you’ll be a manager, such as a library director or department head. Sometimes it means chairing a committee, organizing a conference or being faced with a situation that involves managing your manager. Such circumstances require leadership skills. How do you motivate members of a group, all of whom have different concerns and agendas? How do you get people to do things for you, especially if you’re not their boss? While these skills can be learned, there needs to be increased emphasis on such skills in LIS school.

Leadership, financial management, strategic planning, and contract negotiation are the skills that will provide direction for future development of the field. These are the hidden core curriculum for librarianship.

Some courses address these skills, although they are not labeled as such. Project-based courses, such as GSLIS’ Dr. Candy Schwartz’s LIS 462 Digital Libraries and Linda Braun’s LIS 467 Web Information and Architectures involve project management, and project management is all about leadership. Dr. Mary Wilkins Jordan’s LIS 404 Management course involves writing a grant proposal, which develops budgeting skills. The onus is upon the student to find the hidden skills in each course.

Faculty do what they can to develop courses that include these skills. But it’s up to students to capitalize on these opportunities to develop those skills and talk about them in your next job interview.

By Dr. Jeffrey Pomerantz’97LS, Associate Professor, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill