Monday, July 9, 2012

Someone moved my eggs and cheese in a basket to Japan

Yes, that is an interesting title.  I hope the following with explain it a little bit.

I've had a bit of a job change in the last month.  I am now officially the Collections & Electronic Resources Analysis Librarian at the University of Denver.  Thus, I am no longer the Science & Engineering Librarian.  [Someone moved my cheese.]

Way back in 1994, I had the realization that I could be a darn good science librarian because of my love of science, because I like helping people find scientific information, and because I like learning about the scientific publishing business.  However, because of some staffing changes in the library, I was asked to focus my energies in this different position.  [You shouldn't put all of your eggs in one basket.]

1) I read a blog post concerning the impact scientists have via twitter, and Ted Hart wrote that "the beauty of saying you're big in Japan is that no one can ever really verify the statement (or at least that was more true in 1999)."

That rang true for me.  I spent (and still spend) a lot of time and energy working with SLA and the various scientific divisions (PAM Division Chair in 2007 and Sci-Tech Division Chair in 2011) from 1995 to the present so I could be a good science and engineering librarian.  Maybe SLA is like my Japan.  I may be influential within SLA, but that didn't seem to matter in this case.

For the next two thought pieces, Jenica Rogers was the base inspiration.

2) Wayne Bivens-Tatum wrote this post, Services, Stuff, and Size for the Academic Librarian Blog at Princeton.  This was a response to Jenica Rogers who wrote Killing Fear Part 1.

He noted that "by the time people have finished their PhDs and gotten jobs at colleges and universities that require research and publication for tenure, they hardly need librarians to teach them how to do research, which is why they rarely ask for research help, and almost never within their fields of expertise. They don’t need “information literacy,” they need stuff."

Other evidence to support this idea of stuff is the Ithaka Faculty Survey from 2009. Here is a synopsis from IHE.  "The declining visibility and importance of traditional roles for the library and librarian may lead to the faculty primarily perceiving the library as a budget line, rather than an active intellectual partner."

And ACRLog wrote: "Almost three-quarters of humanities faculty indicated teaching support is a very important role of the library, while a notably lower share of social scientists and scientists saw teaching support as very important."

In short, many science and engineering faculty see the academic library as a wallet.  We are there to purchase stuff for them and their students.   It seems like the DU science and engineering faculty think of the library mainly as the purchasing agent as well; they don't really think of the library as a teaching partner.

3) The Library Loon wrote When Heroes Fall which is a response to Jenica's Killing Fear Part 4. The Loon noted:
If we can’t defend Troy, we’ll found Rome. Perhaps the topless tow’rs of Ilium are indeed past their useful life as configured, but they are too hard for even Hector the hero to rebuild from within. Very well. Let us see what sort of tent-city we can erect between the walls and the sea.
Much of this article talks about fighting battles within libraries, and the person asks what kind of risk one should take when those battles are fought.  What is the worst that can happen if one looses?  The thing I like about the quote above is the idea that if we don't succeed to transform the institution from within, we can try to create a new ecosystem that exists outside of the library's or the institution's walls.  Hence, this is the reason I am becoming more and more involved in OA journal publishing initiatives.

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I link to and think a lot about Open Access resources.  That is the ecosystem I would like to support that exists outside of the library walls.  I would love it if more scholars and scientists supported the Open Access movement.  Thankfully, the Academic Spring Revolution took place, and this has gotten more scientists and librarians to talk about methods to open up their research and the supporting data.

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