November 20, 2015

Seeking Assistant for ALA Midwinter in Boston

Library Juice Academy/Library Juice Press is seeking one or more assistants to help us with our presence with our exhibit at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, January 8th through 12th, 2016. This will involve helping us set up and break down the booth and assisting us in staffing it. Compensation will be free admission to the exhibits hall, plus payment of $20 per hour, with the number of hours negotiable and based on how many helpers we enlist and what else you want to do during the conference.

The ideal person will have prior familiarity with our publications, so that we can feel confident in your ability to represent them well at the booth and show enthusiasm. We will have all of our books on display, and will also be promoting our online professional development courses.

If this opportunity interests you, please contact Rory Litwin, at

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November 18, 2015

Leslie Sult talks about the ACRL/ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award

ACRL’s University Library Section has a new award, the Outstanding Professional Development Award, which is going to be sponsored annually by Library Juice Academy. Leslie Sult was one of the people involved in creating the award, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to interview her about it for this blog.

Leslie, thanks for agreeing to do the interview.

Hi! Thanks for interviewing me!

I’d like to start by asking you to describe what the award is.

The ACRL ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award was created to recognize librarians, archivists or curators whose contributions to providing professional development opportunities for librarians have been especially noteworthy or influential. The contributions may be the result of continuous or distinguished service to the profession. People can also be recognized for their active, innovative or collaborative work in the realm of professional development.

Very nice. I think there is a need for something like that. It will be nice to highlight this kind of work. I understand that you were involved in it from the start. Do you want to describe how it began? How does something like that get created?

Wow – Let me think about that. I was involved in it form the start. In 2011, the then chair of ULS, Kim Leeder, contacted me to ask me if I’d be willing to chair an ad-hoc award committee for ULS. The committee was charged with “exploring the possibilities for creating a ULS award and hopefully making it happen!”. Kim Leeder (now Kim Reed) is awesome, so I told her I’d be happy to. The committee got underway and came up with a few different ideas for awards, but the idea that had the most interest and traction was the one that focused on recognizing people for contributing to the professional development of librarians. Once the focus of the award was determined, a small implementation committee was appointed and we worked with ACRL to draft and vet the award and get it approved. Beth Filar Williams and Jason Martin did a great job keeping the committee moving and getting the award through the ACRL approval process, and my department head, Michael Brewer, helped a ton with the drafting of the actual award – it was a big group effort and a lot of fun to see so many people get involved and help out.

Thanks for that summary of the process. So now I assume a committee has been formed to actually look at nominations and select a winner. Is that right?

Yes – this is the first year that the award will be made – thanks a big bunch to Library Juice Academy for the sponsorship!. The vice-chair of ULS, Rebecca Blakiston, has appointed an award committee and I think submissions are due by December 4th. It will be exciting to see who will be recognized once the committee reviews the nominees.

What kind of professional development projects do you expect to see from nominees?

That is what I think makes the award so exciting – I think it can span a number of things from people providing training within their own institutions, to people that are offering great online courses, or that are trying things with online chat discussions or a combination of a number of different approaches. I could see book or journal editors being nominated for the one-on-one mentoring and professional development that they provide to authors just like I can imagine instructors in Library Juice Academy or instructors in the various courses that ALA and ACRL offer being recognized.

People are expected to nominate their peers. Have many nominations come in yet? What are you doing to get the word out about the award?

Since I am not actually on the selection committee, I am not sure – the ULS Vice-Chair is the person that is running the award committee. I know that ULS has sent out a number of emails to encourage people to nominate their peers – I hope we get a big response!

I hope so too. I’m excited about the award. Neither of us has mentioned, it’s for $1,000, so it’s a nice chunk of change for the winner. I hope that motivates people to nominate. So to wrap up, I should ask how people can get more details about the award, things like criteria and such.

It is a great chunk of cash, the recipient will also get a certificate, which is nice to have as well! If people are interested in nominating a colleagues they can go to this URL for additional information and to access the nomination form. Thanks for taking the time to highlight ACRL ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award!

And congratulations to you for getting the award off the ground. Thanks again for the interview.

Thanks for the opportunity.

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Snippet from Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

A couple of paragraphs from Roy Scranton’s Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, from City Lights Books, 2015. Pages 108 and 109:

Wars begin and end. Empires rise and fall. Buildings collapse, books burn, servers break down, cities sink into the sea. Humanity can survive the demise of fossil-fuel civilization and it can survive whatever despotism or barbarism will arise in its ruins. We may even be able to survive in a greenhouse world. Perhaps our descendants will build new cities on the shores of the Arctic Sea, when the rest of the Earth is scorching deserts and steaming jungles. If being human is to mean anything in the Anthropocene, if we are going to refuse to let ourselves sink into the futility of life without memory, then we must not lose our few thousand years of hard-won knowledge, accumulated at great cost and against great odds. We must not abandon the memory of the dead.

As biological and cultural diversity is threatened across the world by capitalist monoculture and mass extinction, we must build arks: not just biological arks, to carry forward endangered genetic data, but also cultural arks, to carry forward endangered wisdom. The library of human cultural technologies that is our archive, the concrete record of human thought in all languages that comprises the entirety of our existence as historical beings, is not only the seed stock of future intellectual growth, but its soil, its source, its womb. The fate of the humanities, as we confront the end of modern civilization, is the end of humanity itself.

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November 17, 2015

ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award

Established in 2015, this award is intended to recognize librarians, archivists or curators whose contributions to providing professional development opportunities for librarians have been especially noteworthy or influential. The effect of these contributions may be the result of continuous or distinguished service to the profession, but may also be the result of extraordinarily active, innovative or collaborative work that deserves national recognition.


$1,000 cash plus a certificate for the award winner, sponsored by Library Juice Academy.


Any individual who holds, or has recently held an appointment as a librarian, archivist or curator at a public, academic or national library, archive or museum. Award winners must be members of ACRL and ULS, or join ACRL and ULS upon receiving the award.


At least two of the following four criteria need to be met:

  • Implementing innovative or creative professional development ideas or activities that have measurably impacted library users and / or the profession.
  • Active participation in special projects, efforts or initiatives related to providing professional development opportunities that have measurably impacted library users and / or the profession.
  • Evidence of service and/or collaboration over time related to providing professional development activities that clearly benefited a number of library professionals and library users.
  • Exemplary and influential research and/or scholarship pertaining to professional development for librarians.


All nominations should be accompanied by a completed nomination form. Completed forms should be emailed to Rebecca Blakiston, University of Arizona Libraries, E-mail:

Supporting documents to accompany the nomination form include:

  • A full and clear description in two (2) pages or less of the nominee(s)’ work as it pertains to the development and provision of high quality continuing education opportunities for librarians
  • One (1) letter of support from a beneficiary (may be a library professional or a library user) of the professional development opportunities detailing how the professional development has benefited the library profession
  • If applicable, a list of publications or research conducted by the candidate(s), with an explanation of how the research pertains to providing high quality professional development activities for librarians.
  • If possible, please submit a high resolution photo of the nominee (at least 300 dpi). The photo will be used to make the official winner announcement immediately after the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

View the full awards committee roster here.

Submission Deadline: December 4, 2015

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November 12, 2015

What about the iceberg?

by Emily Drabinski

I spend a lot of time in critical librarian spaces. I am an active tweeter in the #critlib community. I’m organizing a colloquium on critical perspectives on gender and sexuality in the field (abstracts due Monday!) and edit a related book series. I’m working on a talk this spring about critical pedagogy in a time of compliance, trying to figure out how to make social change happen in contexts that sometimes make that feel impossible. I have lately been struck by the relative smallness of our conversations, and feel myself straining to talk more about bigger pictures, to understand the structures that produce the problems and solutions that we engage.

Last week, I talked about critical librarianship at the Charleston Conference. Rachel Fleming (Appalachian State University), Nora Almeida (New York City College of Technology, CUNY), and I developed a “Lively Lunch” presentation titled #critchs, an effort to rough out a frame of what would constitute a critical acquisitions and technical services activist agenda. As we brainstormed topics, I was struck by how much the issues we defined—open access and open educational resources, consolidation in the vendor marketplace, the relentless desire for universal technical solutions to complex and contingent human problems—were the same issues that mainstream librarianship takes up again and again. Ours was hardly the only time set aside to discuss OERs.

The same issue crops up when we talk about critical information literacy. If the self-consciously political project is simply one of replacing rote lectures with guide-on-the-side active learning, well, that’s what they teach in Immersion, about as mainstream as professional work gets. What can a critical or political librarianship offer the field that is potentially transformative of librarianship and the world?

Charleston was a particularly apropos location for these thoughts. Walking between the conference hotels and the sessions at the Gaillard Center took us right past Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, site of the horrific murders nine people engaged in prayer. We walked right past it, on our way to coffee and meetings and drinks with vendors. Organizer Katina Stauch offered a moment of silence as the conference began, and opening keynote Courtney Young pointed to Emanuel AME as a sign of how much more work there is to do in terms of disrupting and upending white supremacy. But then we did what people always do, we went about our business.

Of course, the uncomfortable conjunction of past and present in Charleston is much older than that. The city’s port was the entry point for more than 40% of enslaved African people forcibly transported to North America. (The National Park Service site at Fort Moultrie chooses to tell the story of America’s coastal defense history instead.) Plantations surround the city, pitching themselves as sites of genteel Southern grandeur rather than as the sites of America’s evil origin story. Cabins built to house enslaved people in the 1840s—small, overcrowded, without heat or running water—remained in use until the 1990s, when they were steps from the bank branches and gas stations of the outskirts of town. History is very present in Charleston, as it is everywhere, but distinctly so for me in this place I had never seen before. Sure, Charleston has a hot restaurant scene and cool film festival. But I could feel the blood oozing up from the sidewalk. It was difficult not to know where I was.

But what does this have to do with open educational resources or library classrooms? For me, Charleston was another reminder that the field could stand to look up from our close reading of library problems to the social, political, and economic forces that structure those issues for us. A call to more critically engaged teaching librarianship emerges simultaneous with the adjunctification of higher education, including librarianship, demanding more from people being paid less and less. We talk a lot about digital humanities and open access online publishing, but a lot less about extractive industries and electronic waste. We want to make lifelong learners, but what are we doing to extend those lives, to address premature death caused by maldistribution of wealth and white supremacy? How does the future of libraries account for the radically different futures we face depending on the historical forces that have structured our presents?

There’s always something parochial about a professional conference, of course, especially one with a narrow focus. The opportunity to talk among ourselves about the issues of our daily work lives matters. (How *are* people dealing with reference stats these days, anyway?) But in these spaces, I’d like to think bigger about what critical and political librarianship has to offer the field. At its best, I think this means richer analyses of the structural issues beyond our conference rooms and vendor dinners. We can’t talk about the Big Deal without talking about capitalism. We can’t talk about student learning without talking about student debt. If we want a librarianship that does more than embroider a pincushion while the Titanic goes down, we must generate a better account of the iceberg.

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November 9, 2015

CFP: National Diversity in Libraries Conference

National Diversity in Libraries Conference
August 10-13, 2016 v UCLA
Deadline: November 30, 2015

The National Diversity in Libraries Conference (NDLC ’16), co-sponsored by the UCLA Library and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), will take place on the UCLA campus on August 10-13, 2016. The NDLC ’16 Program Committee invites you to submit a proposal that addresses the conference’s theme of Bridges to Inclusion, highlighting issues related to diversity and inclusion that affect staff, users, and institutions in the library, archive, and museum (LAM) fields. NDLC ’16 aims to articulate the value of and develop strategies for diversity and inclusion in LAMs in order to improve organizational excellence and community engagement.

NDLC ’16 Tracks and Topics

NDLC’16 seeks conference presentations in all areas of diversity, including but not limited to the following topics:

· Collections and Access
Global and multicultural collections, different languages and formats, archives, oral histories, traditional knowledge, data, government information, digital collections, subject headings and controlled vocabulary, accessible spaces and equipment, assistive technologies, accessible catalogs, access services, preservation, etc.

· Programming, Outreach, and Advocacy
Cultural programming, outreach to diverse populations, teaching and learning, reference and research, instructional design, assessment, community collaborations, services to special populations, health education, financial literacy, marketing, social media, apps, advocacy, community and learning spaces, emerging technologies, digital humanities, makerspaces, institutional repositories, online learning, etc.

· Personnel, Management, and Organization
Recruitment and retention, staff development and training, administration and management, leadership development, mentoring, organizational culture, conflict resolution and mediation, bias and prejudice, harassment, unions, cultural competencies, institutional change, public policies, diversity programs, diversity plans, etc.

· Challenging Topics
Difficult patrons, vulnerable users, book challenges, controversial displays, contentious collections, digitization of traditional knowledge, free speech, trigger warnings, censorship, intellectual freedom, privacy and confidentiality, policies, cultural competencies, other legal issues, etc.

Ideal sessions will: provide insightful information and practical skills and strategies; facilitate constructive conversations around critical issues, including an exploration of potential solutions; highlight new research in the field; showcase exemplary programs; examine the successes and failures of initiatives designed to improve diversity and inclusion; or offer approaches for substantive change on limited resources.
Session Formats

All sessions are 75 minutes in length. They can take the following formats:

· Workshop A session with facilitator(s) that provides an in-depth introduction to a topic and/or practical skills and techniques.

· Roundtable A facilitated discussion between presenters and audience participants on a particular topic or broader issue. Should include multiple viewpoints and diverse voices.

· Panel Presentations may cover a specialized topic from different perspectives or a general topic in-depth. Should provide sufficient time for audience questions.

· Individual Paper/Presentation Proposals that are not already part of a set panel. May be assigned to a panel with similar topics.

NDLC ’16 will also accept proposals in formats other than those listed, especially if they provide a new way to engage the audience. A call for poster proposals will go out in early 2016.
Submission Guidelines

All proposals must be submitted on the NDLC ’16 website: Proposal form will be available beginning on October 23, 2015.

You will be asked to provide the following information:
· Primary contact: name, title, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and phone number
· Additional participant(s): name, title, affiliation, and email address
· Proposal title
· Brief abstract for the conference program (up to 75 words)
· Detailed description, including learning outcomes, for proposal review (up to 250 words)
· Program track
· Session format


All proposals must be received by midnight PST on November 30, 2015. Notifications of proposal selection will be made by February 1, 2016.
Selection Criteria

All proposals will be reviewed by the NDLC ’16 Proposal Review Subcommittee. Proposals are evaluated on quality and clarity of content, relevance to conference themes, and ability to engage the audience.

Presenters may be invited to use a format other than the one(s) selected or co-present with others who have proposed similar topics.

Additional Requirements

All selected program presenters must be registered for NDLC ’16 in order to present. Presenters are responsible for paying the conference registration fee, travel, and lodging. (UCLA will offer economical conference housing that includes meals.)

Non-Commercial Policy

NDLC programs are non-commercial educational learning experiences. Under no circumstances should a session be used for direct promotion of a speaker’s product, service, or other self-interest.


Questions may be sent to the NDLC ’16 Program Committee at

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November 5, 2015

CFP: Radical Teaching and Archives

CFP: Radical Teaching and Archives

To create, maintain, and control an archive is to establish facts and exercise power. Archives consolidate objects as sources of knowledge, and in so doing, they help construct boundaries around what counts as history and whose stories are likely to be told. Often, archives are the province of the powerful, who have the resources to preserve and regulate access to materials in ways that narrate the world from the perspective of history’s winners. Radicals ignore such depositories at their risk, however, since they must understand power in order to confront it. Official documents often enable critical readers to understand the behavior of their authors in ways that those authors may not have intended. In recent memory, for example, the release of the Pentagon Papers, declassified NSA documents, and wikileaks have all provided opportunities to reconfigure knowledge around highly-charged government actions and historic events. At the same time, professional archivists, scholars, and activists are creating new community-based and bottom-up archives, such as Brooklyn-based Interference Archive (, a collectively-run repository of social movement materials; The Lesbian Herstory Archives (; and the CUNY Digital History Archive (, a participatory project to collect and preserve the histories of the City University of New York. These archives, among many others, are part of a larger movement to build resources for alternative versions and visions of history and society. Accessibility has become a growing problem, however, as the institutions that house these records all too often reduce and/or deskill their professional staffs. Without trained archivists, who know the contents of their collections, students, teachers, and other researchers may find it difficult, if not impossible, to find the materials they seek. Funding is, of course, the issue here, as the neoliberalism suffusing 21st century society is unlikely to put a high priority on recovering the radical past. Radical Teacher invites essays that address radical teaching with, in, and against archives. Some of the questions one might consider include:

– How are progressive educators incorporating archival research, trips, and materials into their pedagogy? What is radical about this work?
– What kinds of efforts have archivists, educators, librarians, and activists undertaken to reconstruct archives in ways that reflect the power and experiences of everyday people (gays/lesbians, working class people, disabled people)? And/or in ways that pose challenges to established forms of information, data-gathering, and political power?
– In what ways can archives be used to promote radical inquiry by students—individually or as group projects?
– Does the radical use of archives require radical content (e.g., the archives of activist collectives, social movements, or avant-garde artists)?
– How might one use community-based archives in the classroom? What questions, anxieties and/or possibilities arise regarding preservation of and access to these records?
– How have progressive educators used archives at their own institutions in their teaching?
– What problems of access have radical teachers and/or their students encountered in using certain archives?
– How has digitization helped or hampered the use of archives? How has it changed the way radical teachers and their students use such collections?

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2016. Queries, abstracts and proposals are welcome in advance and should be directed to Linda Dittmar ( and Joseph Entin ( Prospective authors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Radical Teacher by reading the journal at

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November 4, 2015

CFP: Unintended Consequences: the Paradox of Technological Potential (IEEE Potentials)

IEEE Potentials is seeking contributions to a special issue guest edited by Ramona Pringle, Katina Michael and MG Michael. The theme of the issue is: “Unintended Consequences: the Paradox of Technological Potential”.

We are looking for critical reviews and analyses, case examples, commentaries, interviews, opinion pieces, stories, projections and science fiction narratives from researchers, futurists, practitioners and storytellers, examining the hidden implications of our ever-digital lives.

While we are open to predictive scenarios of what the near future will bring, we are also looking for contemporary analysis as well. After all, we are living at a time where the line between science fiction and reality is blurring: our relationships are mediated, our memories are archived, and our identities are public documents. What are the implications of rapidly advancing technology on government (e.g. military drones), organizations (e.g. data analytics), and our personal lives (e.g. wearables)?

With all great innovation comes responsibility; an inevitable dark side, and with the exponential growth of technology, the window within which we can examine the ethics and consequences of our adoption of new technologies becomes increasingly narrow. Instead of fear mongering, how do we adjust our course, as a society, before it is too late? We are looking for disruptive perspectives, and articles that present solutions and blueprints, while questioning the status quo. These may take the form of precautionary tales, scenario-based planning and action, assessment impacts and response, design principles, standards, regulations, and laws, organisational policies and approaches to corporate social responsibility, externality fines and penalties for breaches, advocacy, and the formation of specialised global NGOs.

IEEE Potentials is interested in manuscripts that deal with theory, practical applications, or new research. They can be tutorial in nature.

Submissions may consist of either full articles or shorter, opinion-oriented essays. When submitting an article, please remember:

? All manuscripts should be written at the level of the student audience.

? Articles without equations are preferred; however, a minimum of equations is acceptable.

? List no more than 12 references at the end of your manuscript. No embedded reference numbers should be included in the text. If you need to attribute the source of key points or quotes, state names in the text and give the full reference at the end.

? Limit figures to ten or fewer, and include captions for each.

? Articles should be approximately 1,500–4,000 words in length; essays should be 900–1,000 words.

? Include an individual e-mail address and a brief biography of four to six lines for each author.

All submitted manuscripts are evaluated by the IEEE Potentials reviewer team and graded in accordance with the above guidelines. Articles may be required to go through multiple revisions depending on reviewers’ grades and comments.


CFP distribution: 30 November 2015

Expression of interest (abstract submission): 8 January 2016

Feedback to authors: 15 January 2016

Final paper submission: 15 March 2016

Proof back to authors: 15 April 2016

Publication Date: July/August 2016 (vol. 35, no. 4)

Guest Editors

+Ramona Pringle is an Assistant Professor at the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University.

*Katina Michael is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences at the University of Wollongong.

*MG Michael is an honorary Associate Professor in the School of Computing and Information Sciences at the University of Wollongong.

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October 28, 2015

New book: The Psychology of Librarianship

The Psychology of Librarianship

Editors: Lynn Gullickson Spencer, Leanne VandeCreek, and H. Stephen Wright
Price: $45.00
Published: November 2015
ISBN: 978-1-63400-016-1
406 pages
Printed on acid-free paper

Available for pre-order now on Amazon

The Psychology of Librarianship is a collection of scholarly essays on the role of psychology in libraries and library work. It is the first book-length, in-depth study of the psychological implications and underpinnings of the library profession. Although there have been occasional articles about the psychological dimensions of library work, there has never been a book that attempts a broader and more comprehensive examination of this topic.

Psychology is a factor in virtually every aspect of librarianship. Beyond the expected psychological issues inherent in any organization, there are psychological dimensions that are unique to library work. The Psychology of Librarianship addresses both of these: how traditional organizational psychology applies to librarianship, and how library work involves unique psychological situations. The thirteen essays examine topics such as the role of social psychology in information literacy, the problems of stereotypes within the library profession, addictions and the library, and technology anxiety. The Psychology of Librarianship focuses attention on this heretofore neglected aspect of libraries, and provides signposts for future research.

Lynn Gullickson Spencer is a music cataloger at North Park College and a cataloger at Wilmette Public Library; she is also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at LifeCare Counseling & Wellness in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She was formerly Head of Technical Services at Wheaton College; she holds an M.L.S. from Indiana University, an M.M. in Music History and Literature from Northwestern University, and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Wheaton College.

Leanne VandeCreek has been the Psychology Reference Librarian at Northern Illinois University since 2000. Prior to receiving her M.S.L.I.S., she earned an M.S.W. and was a practicing Clinical Social Worker for 6 years.

H. Stephen Wright is an Emeritus Professor at Northern Illinois University (retired 2012), formerly Catalog Librarian at NIU. He previously held the positions of Associate Dean for Public Services, Head of Branch Libraries, and Music Librarian. His previous publications include A Research Guide to Film and Television Music in the United States, with Jeannie Gayle Pool (Scarecrow, 2011) and Film Music at the Piano (Scarecrow, 2003).

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October 21, 2015

New Book by Joseph Weizenbaum

Islands in the Cyberstream
Seeking Havens of Reason in a Programmed Society

Author: Joseph Weizenbaum with Gunna Wendt
Translator: Benjamin Fasching-Gray
Price: $28.00
ISBN: 978-1-63400-000-0
Published: October 2015
Printed on acid-free paper.

Joseph Weizenbaum is best known in the English-speaking world for his 1976 popular critique of artificial intelligence, Computer Power and Human Reason. His reputation in Europe continued to flourish, however, as he wrote and spoke for German-speaking audiences until his death in 2008. Islands in the Cyberstream: Seeking Havens of Reason in a Programmed Society is an extended interview with Weizenbaum, originally published in German in 2006. Imaginitive, iconoclastic, and always insightful about the role of computing in society, this book is a great introduction to the thought of Joseph Weizenbaum as it has evolved over the decades.

Available now on Amazon

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October 18, 2015

Interview with Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays is the Instructional and Research Librarian and the Co-Director of the Center for Games and Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University. She holds an undergraduate degree in education, a masters in library science, a masters in educational technology, and a graduate certificate in online teaching and learning. She is co-teaching two classes for Library Juice Academy that she has agreed to talk to us about: Games in Academic Libraries and Informal Learning in Academic Libraries. Read her interview on the Library Juice Academy blog.

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October 16, 2015

Tweet-up on sustainability in libraries and archives

Join a Tweet-up with ProjectARCC & SustainRT on sustainability in libraries and archives on October 19 at 1pm ET!

On Monday, October 19, 2015 at 1pm ET, ProjectARCC (Archivists Responding to Climate Change) and ALA’s SustainRT (Sustainability Roundtable) are co-hosting a tweet-up to discuss how we as archivists and librarians can reduce our professional carbon footprint and implement sustainable practices in our institutions. We invite you to participate by using #SustainLIS and by following @projectARCC and @ALA_SustainRT on Twitter.

You don’t have to be an expert on sustainability or climate change to attend and contribute! We welcome all librarians, archivists, and information professionals to join this open discussion. How can we make our institutions environmentally sustainable in order to preserve our collections, profession, and planet?

Feel free to send in advance any questions or issues you’d like addressed in this tweet-up to or

About ProjectARCC:
On Earth Day in 2015, a group of alarmed archivists founded ProjectARCC, a task force with a mission to motivate the archival community to affect climate change. We believe that as those responsible for the preservation of history for future generations, we should be as passionate and concerned about preserving a safe and habitable planet for ours and future generations.

About SustainRT:
SustainRT is a new round table under the American Library Association. In the face of pressing climate disruption, the group was formed from an urgent ‘Call to Action’ within the library profession. The need: A unified effort to address the new millennium’s environmental, economic and social sustainability challenges. The group offers resources for the library community to support sustainability through curriculum development; collections; exhibits; events; advocacy, and library buildings. They also offer a free webinar series which is open to all.

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October 1, 2015

James Lowry Wins Third Annual Library Juice Paper Contest

James Lowry Wins Third Annual Library Juice Paper Contest

October 1, 2015
Sacramento, CA

Library Juice Press is happy to announce the winner of the Third Annual Library Juice Paper Contest. James Lowry’s unpublished paper, titled, “Information and the Social Contract,” was judged by the award jury to be the best paper out of 24 submitted in this year’s contest, in a blind process. Jury member Melissa Adler wrote,

“[This paper] makes an important theoretical intervention into archival studies by artfully bringing the concepts of performativity and control into dialogue around the notion of the “record-as-command.” …[T]he author raises some provocative questions. It’s a scholarly work–clever and challenging and fun to read.”

James Lowry is a doctoral student in the Department of Information Studies at University College London (England).

The Library Juice Paper Contest winner receives an award of $1000. The intention of this contest is to encourage and reward good work in the field of library and information studies, humanistically understood, through a monetary award and public recognition. Papers submitted may be unpublished, pending publication, or published in the year of the award. Any type of paper may be entered as long as it is not a report of an empirical study. Examples of accepted forms would be literature review essays, analytical essays, historical papers, and personal essays. The work may include some informal primary research, but may not essentially be the report of an empirical study.

The critera for judgment are:

– Clarity of writing
– Originality of thought
– Sincerity of effort at reaching something true
– Soundness of argumentation (where applicable)
– Relevance to our time and situation

The jury for this year’s award consisted of Melissa Adler, Assistant Professor, School of School of Information Science, University of Kentucky; Emily Drabinski, Coordinator of Library Instruction, Long Island University, Brooklyn; and Lacey Torge, Outreach and Social Media Librarian at Tri-County Technical College, Greenville, South Carolina.

Entries in next year’s award are due August 1st, 2016.

Library Juice Press is an imprint of Litwin Books, LLC specializing in theoretical and practical issues in librarianship from a critical perspective, for an audience of professional librarians and students of library science.

Media contact:
Rory Litwin
PO Box 188784, Sacramento, CA 95818


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September 25, 2015

A few items

It’s been a little under the radar, but this blog is maintaining a list of calls for papers, with links and deadlines. CFPs are deleted after the deadlines pass. It’s a good way to find out about conference and publication opportunities. The link is always going to be over on the right on this blog.

The Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies (JCLIS) has a twitter account: @JournalCritLIS

Library Juice Academy news:

  • Coming soon: a new Certificate in Library Instruction, consisting of a set of required and elective courses.
  • Package deal for the four courses in the Painless Research Series
  • The next sequence of the XML/RDF certificate series will start in February. Registration in those courses will be open soon.
  • We’re restarting Deborah Schmidle’s Certificate in Library Management series in March. Registration in those courses will open soon.
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August 30, 2015

Interview with Stephen Bales

I’m interviewing Stephen Bales, the author of our most recently published book, The Dialectic of Academic Librarianship: A Critical Approach. Stephen, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

Hi Rory.

I’d like to ask you first off to give a little summary of your book for readers.

When many people think of the academic library, they conceptualize it as some sort of monolithic entity. The library becomes a grand, transcendent idea that is understood in terms of one-sided abstractions like “Education,” “Intellectual freedom,” “Scientific progress,” and “Democracy.” While people have always tended to engage in this type of thinking when considering the products of their culture, such thinking is not particularly conducive to the critical examination of our societal institutions. Neither is it conducive to making meaningful change to human society. Things get “stuck” because they become seen as eternal, unchanging realities, and the status quo of neoliberal capitalism becomes “just the way things are,” even though capitalism is marked by inequality and anxiety. The book proposes dialectical materialism as a different way of looking at the academic library; one that refuses to consider the library either as either something sacrosanct or as a purely physical set of things, but one that takes into account its great influence on history and culture. Marxian dialectics lets us view human institutions in terms of material relations in motion, as conglomerations of both physical and mental phenomena that penetrate all aspects of human existence; relations that help us define our total social reality. I outline dialectical materialism as a means for both explaining the function of academic libraries in capitalist society and as a means of action, i.e., as a basis for a praxis of social transformation. A major current in the library literature is the debate over library neutrality. If one adopts a dialectical understanding of academic librarianship, it becomes impossible to accept even the possibility of neutrality. Through considering both theory and practice, the book supports the notion of academic librarianship as an inherently political profession, and I use dialectics as a basis for advocating a progressive professional approach to our work.

Thanks for that summary. I think it’s a good jumping-off point for a discussion about your views on library neutrality. I think a lot of readers here would acknowledge that neutrality is an impossibility, but for the sake of argument or clarification, is some form of non-interference with an autonomous library user possible, say, at the reference desk?

That is a good question. If you look at an isolated reference transaction it may certainly appear to be neutral. From a dialectical perspective things start to get sticky. When you take a relational view of reality, you see the reference transaction as a part containing the whole. That is, the transaction is a phenomenon that exists only by virtue of its relations to all other phenomena. Even though the transaction may appear to be an isolated event, it is codetermined by everything else (and it codetermines everything else). Now many of the other phenomena that comprise this network of relationships have their own interests and, in the current sociocultural situation, these interests are dominated by those of capital. So, although the provision of information in the reference transaction may appear to be neutral, we need to consider the other things that impact it, i.e., we need to critically analyze the “deep structure” of reference work. We should ask questions like: who has access to the reference interview, who does not, and why? How do reference workers orient themselves to their patrons and why? How do the library’s collections affect the outcome of the transaction? How does the bibliographic organization of the information that we access and proffer affect the outcome of the transaction? Whose interests do such things ultimately serve and at whose expense? What are the ideological foundations of the neutral reference transaction? There are many more questions that may be considered in relation to reference work. Although it is not feasible to consciously approach every reference transaction as a particular locus of struggle against neoliberal capitalism—we would frustrate and alienate most of our patrons—it is important to consider the things that we do and how we do them in relation to the whole in which they are performed. By understanding the deep structure surrounding a phenomenon, we can work towards fundamentally transforming that structure in support of social justice. Ultimately, “non-interference” supports capitalist ideological structures and is a political act.

So to get a little concrete, in the context of reference specifically, what does praxis look like? What are some examples of what you would recommend? I realize that is a little outside the scope of the book, but in a way it could contextualize it for practitioners.

I am particularly fond of Marx’s quote that “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.” Theory seems like a bottomless pit sometimes and it’s easy to get caught up in the esoteric and obscure. That is why praxis is essential for meaningful progress. The best way to test our theories is to put them into practice, and the best way to evolve our theories is through practice. How might we do this in our reference work? In terms of the “back stage” processes of information retrieval like information acquisition and organization, subject selectors and liaisons should proactively work to obtain and/or make more easily available counterhegemonic information resources. They can do the same things by creating online subject guides that point patrons as well as other reference staff to alternative or underrepresented viewpoints. In terms of the public service side of reference, it is important to understand where librarians fall in the reference transaction as a social relation. If we understand that reference librarians are in a position of power in most of these transactions, we can better counteract problems with the reference process like patron library anxiety, discrepancies in service due to patron status, or the tendency for reference interactions to devolve into essentially a commodity exchange. One solution to problems like these may be a simple reorganization of the physical environment that makes for a more commensurate and collaborative relationship between the librarian and information seeker. I am often struck by how many reference rooms look like church with a desk and librarian in the place of an altar and priest, transforming the patron into a sort of supplicant. It’s not particularly surprising, as a result, that many patrons feel cowed when asking for help. Ditch the desks and put the patron on the same level as the gatekeeper. In addition, librarians should consciously adopt a relationship with the patron in which they are compeers as opposed to the more traditional client/patron, agent/customer, or priest/supplicant relationships. Not only will the hesitant library user be empowered when treated as an equal, the reference librarian will benefit from the exchange. Currently, I am looking at the work of the “cultural school” of interpersonal psychoanalysis and the ideas of authors like Karen Horney and Harry “Stack” Sullivan for clues on how to accomplish this. Horney and Sullivan advocated that the therapist approach her analysand as an ally rather than as a patient or (worse) as an opponent. Both the therapist and analysand are transformed through the therapeutic relationship. Reference librarians often treat users like patients, opponents, or (worse yet) as objects to quantify in stats. By allying themselves with users, librarians can actively position their practice against concepts symptomatic of capitalism such as hegemonic domination (e.g., through the marginalization of bodies of knowledge), alienation (of the user from these bodies of knowledge as well as their reduction to consumers on which we shovel information), and exploitation (not only the exploitation of the library user, but of the information workers themselves). Thinking dialectically about our practice, i.e., thinking about what we do in terms of the relationships involved, opens channels of communication and subverts hierarchies; it puts us in closer touch with the communities that we serve.

I’m curious about how what you’re saying would play out in different situations at the reference desk. Let’s say you’re in an academic library, and a white male fraternity member, with a Dad who is a “pillar of the community” and a big landowner, comes to the desk asking for help writing a composition paper in which he wants to make an ugly neoliberal argument about poverty and personal responsibility. Hypothetical, yes, but this kind of thing happens, especially at certain kinds of institutions. I take it that you would find yourself challenged to ally yourself with this user. And in prescribing counter-hegemonic resources, wouldn’t you be making use of your position as the bearer of academic authority? It seems to me there may be a conflict between allying yourself with the user and countering neutrality. Isn’t overcoming the traditional teacher/learner paradigm of reference work in effect potentially adopting an attitude of neutrality? I mean if you adopt the point of view of the user, aren’t you forgetting about your own?

A basic problem that I am having in applying psychoanalysis to my areas of research is that psychoanalysis is a bourgeois science. The point of psychotherapy is to adjust people to capitalist society, not to transcend it. And, with the exception of a few solid socialist theoreticians like Eric Fromm and Slavoj Zizek, Freudo-Marxism has left us with strange ideas like orgone accumulators. So, to be honest, I am still working on fitting ideas like the therapeutic alliance into my ideas concerning professional praxis. Nonetheless, I have high hopes because psychoanalysis is very dialectical; it is also proactive, aiming to actively help people. I think that approaching a user as an ally should not preclude challenging the user or being challenged by the user in return, it should encourage productive conflict. What I have in mind is something more in line with Paulo Freire’s ideas about developing conscientizaco, where the relationship between librarian and user is used to develop the consciousness of both parties (as opposed to the traditional model of education, which Freire concludes “domesticates” the learner/information seeker). The ally relationship is not neutral because the counter-hegemonic librarian has a normative agenda, and the process does not involve adopting the point of view of the user so much as it means maintaining open lines of communication. By overturning the traditional teacher/student relationship, we challenge–even if in just a small way–a system typified by unequal power structures, one-way communication channels that push resources, and a fascination with efficiency and quantification. Doing this is definitely not an easy task when one considers the limited amount of time that a reference worker typically has with a patron, and developing conscientizaco will likely require a concerted effort on the part of the librarian to maintain and build relationships. But again, dialectics recognizes the part only in terms of its relationship to the whole. Should the reference librarian approach the fraternity member patron as an ally? I suppose that depends a great deal on context and circumstance. Foisting counter-hegemonic resources on an arch-conservative student will likely do nothing but maintain the traditional (and stereotypical) power structure found in college. It is probably a quixotic strategy at best. Progressive librarians need to pick their battles, and injecting didactic lectures on class struggle into every situation is counterproductive if one aims at staying both sane and employed. From a dialectical standpoint everything is related to everything else, and we can address the same problem from alternative vantage points besides engaging a quixotic reference interaction. What we might not get done in a reference interview, we might work towards tackling by writing an article, building a collection, or serving as a faculty advisor to a student book club.

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for making it a bit more concrete. What we’re talking about seems related to the difficulty in developing class consciousness among people who view themselves as middle class. If people are relatively comfortable, they are less likely going to be aware of their place in the larger structure of power and the nature of their dependency. You’re a practicing librarian. Do you have any illustrations from your own experience in teaching about the capitalist system to middle class students, whose motivations in college may primarily be to have a stronger position when they enter the job market? I realize that your book isn’t focused on concrete illustrations like this, but I think it can be helpful in orienting your readers to it.

I work at Texas A&M University Libraries where a large portion of the student body are white, middle class, and from rural areas and small towns. The student body is a very conservative one. For example, in Austin there is a popular tee-shirt reading “Keep Austin Weird.” I have seen tee-shirts on the TAMU campus that read “Keep College Station Normal.” A few years ago another TAMU librarian and I taught a semester-long, for-credit freshman seminar course on zombies (this was at the peak of the latest zombie craze). The class combined an examination of pop culture with in-depth library and information literacy instruction. It was also a rare opportunity to build an ongoing relationship with the students because, unlike some colleges and universities, as Texas A&M does not have required information literacy credit classes. We organized the class around group discussions of zombie movies, books, and video games, and the semester project included an essay on one such pop culture artifact. Over the course of the semester, everyone brought their own experiences and interests to the conversation. My library colleague, for instance, shared her expertise in public health with the class, and the students brought their own experiences and personal interests. I used the opportunity to discuss concepts like the commoditization of culture, the “other,” and hyperreality in relation to the subject matter. I suspect that these ideas were new to most of the class, most of whom would label themselves conservative, but we discussed these ideas along with other viewpoints. The main requirement for the discussion was that one had to be willing to listen. As the course instructor, I was in a position of authority but I consciously adopted a policy of communicative openness (but not impartiality) as opposed to the transmission-belt model of pedagogy in which students are seen as tabula rasa. What surprised me the most was that my preconceptions about the students’ reactions were wrong. Despite the fact that most of them had solidly middle class backgrounds and that most if not all of them were from Texas, their intellectual curiosity far outstripped their desire to blindly defend political positions or tune out challenging ideas. It might have had something to do with the fun subject matter and the fact that zombies act as ciphers upon which we transfer social relations. This let the students really plumb the depths of something usually seen as trivial entertainment that really, if anything, only made the subject more interesting. The analytical papers that they turned in at the end of the semester were refreshingly critical in nature, but they didn’t come across as forced. They weren’t political in a partisan sense, but they were political in that they made connections between history and social relationships. I harbor no illusions that any of them had been radicalized, but I believe that the consciously dialectical approach to learning made for a meaningful change in their approach to analysis in the Hegelian synthesis sense, as opposed to treating them like buckets to fill up with knowledge. To top it off, they learned how to effectively use library resources during this process of discovery, and I like to think that their critical attitudes towards the subject matter critically oriented them towards the research process and the research process. I was changed by the experience as well.

Thank you. That is clarifying, as well as inspiring of hope. I’d like to finish by asking you if there’s anything else that you’d like to say or to emphasize.

I was going to say “keep the library weird” but I think it is probably more appropriate to say “make the library weird,” and if you haven’t started already, start today.

That’s great, Stephen. Thanks so much for doing this interview. I hope that your book reaches a lot of people.

Cool, thanks Rory

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