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I have a baby on my shoulder and a pug on my lap (who is also propping up my tablet). Opera playing on the radio. I cannot think of a better way to spend Sunday morning.

Bits and pieces 2013.06.06

Academic library news from around the web this week:

Lauren Pressley is working on building a local repository of instructional materials. This is something I’ve advocated for for some time and hope to start working on at MPOW this year:

All we’re talking about is a searchable database of online teaching materials. These might be PDFs, websites, slide decks, or videos. They’d hopefully be to-the-point and relevant to our users. Of course, we’re dreaming up all kinds of features to make this system even more useful in the final version, but to kick it off we’re just looking to make a container to house all of our online instructional content in one place.

Steven Bell helps us to find a more realistic view of the “higher education bubble” and encourages us as academics and librarians to help set the record straight:

Despite the media’s portrayal of higher education as an out-of-control spendthrift that is damaging both the little guy and the nation, prospective students and their parent still believe in its value. The industry and its employees must pay attention to the media’s stories about tuition, student debt, and the bubble hype, and consider how we might, individually and collectively, respond with our own story about the value of higher education.

Jennifer Howard tells us about how libraries are helping academics to look beyond journal impact factors and citation counts to measure the value of their work:

Librarians and administrators say altmetrics can help provide a more nuanced view of how scholarship lives in the wider world.

Springer Science is gearing up for its IPO. Or it might be sold off:

EQT is still accepting takeover offers for Springer Science this month and may scrap the IPO, people familiar with the matter said last week. The buyout firm hasn’t made a final decision whether to do the IPO or sell the German publisher, according to the people. Buyout firms BC Partners Ltd., which is most interested, as well as KKR & Co. and Providence Equity Partners have until about June 10 to hand in takeover offers, the people said at the time.

ACRL has initiated the process of rethinking the Information Literacy Standards that were first developed in 2000. I can’t tell you how excited this makes me:

Though they have served the academic library profession well over the past thirteen years, the current standards are showing their age. It is time for our association to engage in a process to rethink and reimagine them for the next generation of academic librarians, college students and the faculty.

Finally, Bobbi Newman and Emily Lloyd want to change the conversation around libraries. Rather than talking about why libraries need saving, let’s talk about how libraries save communities:

How you frame your discussion matters and if librarians keep talking about how libraries need to be saved is it any wonder that our patrons and society believe we’re dying? We are basically telling them we are! So stop! Stop right now! Instead we need to start framing the conversation like the powerful partners we are! Let’s make this hashtag [#ittakesalibrary] happen! It is much more positive and affirmative than the save libraries rhetoric. I talked about this when I wrote Libraries are Powerful Partners last year.

Have a great weekend!

On breaking up with libraries, by Nina McHale

Last week, Nina McHale told us why she’s breaking up with libraries. Nina is currently the Assistant Systems Administrator for the Arapahoe Library District but will soon be moving into non-library work with Aten Design Group. While my interactions with Nina have been predominantly through online professional groups, I’ve come to know her as a highly talented, creative web designer. The loss to our community is significant and one we shouldn’t be too quick to write off.

Nina notes two major reasons for her decision to leave LibraryLand: finances and a general frustration with technology.

Like Nina, I live in a two-income family. We just had our first child. While we could probably live on my wife’s income alone (though not without sacrifice), we certainly could not live off what I make as a paraprofessional at a private university. Well, perhaps if we sold the house and moved into a 2-bedroom apartment in the Valley. Maybe.

As Nina points out, salaries for librarians often go for much less than the median pay for positions in other fields that require similar skills.

I knew going into my MSLS that I wasn’t going to get rich working in libraries, but accepting less than I’m worth puts undue strain on our family finances. I’m not willing to be a martyr for my profession if it means compromising what I want out of life for myself, my husband, and our kids.

If we want to keep talented, creative people on staff, we don’t have to pay them exorbitantly, but we have to pay them enough so that they don’t have to worry about it.

Nina also points out the lack of technological innovation. We spend millions of dollars on products that fail to provide decent user experiences and rather than demanding changes or working together to collectively build a better product, we acquiesce and continue to pay for substandard ones. As one commenter on Nina’s post put it, why didn’t librarians invent Yahoo in the 90s? We could have. We should have.

We sacrifice instead of create. We compromise instead of improvise. We undersell our worth and consequently are underpaid for it.

It’s been a year since I finished my MLIS degree. I am still working in the same position for the same pay (adjusted for inflation). As I see it, until I’m able to move into a position that makes full use of my degree, every day worked is a loss of potential earnings.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love the work I do, but as Nina points out, “we are so eager to please that we kill ourselves helping people for compensation that’s all too often below the country’s median salary.” Eventually, the need to provide for our own will catch up with us and at that time if there is a shiny job in a different market, can you blame us for leaving?

All established institutions seek to persist

I don’t often agree with Scholarly Kitchen, but this has a point:

“In my view, publishers are making a very, very big mistake in not addressing the interests of librarians about lending rights. Libraries are in the business of lending books and other materials; when publishers hesitate in making e-books available to libraries, librarians naturally act to preserve their interests. Telling a librarian that “this is the future; deal with it” is not a wise strategy — because all established institutions seek to persist. Librarians have gathered formidable intellectual talent to further their aims and the first-sale doctrine is being prepared to go on stage in the digital age. The prudent action for publishers is to establish library-lending programs for e-books so that first-sale does not become a rallying cry against all form of copyright.”

Source: The Time Machine Investigates the First-sale Doctrine

I’m not sure, but Lincolnshire Posy may be the greatest piece of music ever written.

The internet is where people are

“I’d read enough blog posts and magazine articles and books about how the internet makes us lonely, or stupid, or lonely and stupid, that I’d begun to believe them. I wanted to figure out what the internet was “doing to me,” so I could fight back. But the internet isn’t an individual pursuit, it’s something we do with each other. The internet is where people are.”

Source: I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet


We have permission to change

A good reminder that we need to be flexible:

“Change becomes something that people invest in because they are helping to drive it—they’re looking for it. We start talking about outcomes and aspirations. We have permission to be wrong, to pivot, to succeed, or to fail. We have permission to dream and follow unusual ideas. We have permission to seek new problems or to test new approaches. We have permission to work with different people. We have permission to stop doing things that no longer have an impact. We have permission to change our schedule and workloads.”

Source: Change Needs a Brand

There is still work to be done

From John N. Berry III, Why I Stick with ALA:

“Most important, ALA provided an open structure in which members could organize units to advocate for the information rights of women; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals; the incarcerated; the poor and homeless; indeed every citizen. That structure allowed activist members to force the old association to be more democratic a few decades ago.”

Whatever your thoughts on the structure/bureaucracy of ALA, Berry has this part right: it provides an open door for new, underrepresented, and/or marginalized groups to have a place and a voice.