Dale Askey, a librarian at McMaster University in Canada, is the one who has been sued by Mellen Press for giving them a bad review. Here are two statements supporting him, one from the Association of Research Libraries and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, and the other from the British Columbia Library Association…
ARL-CARL Joint Statement in Support of Dale Askey and McMaster University
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) share a commitment to freedom of opinion and expression of ideas and are strongly opposed to any effort to intimidate individuals in order to suppress information or censor ideas. We further share the belief that a librarian must be able to offer his or her assessment of a publisher’s products or practices free from such intimidation.
Consequently, we are highly supportive of Dale Askey and of McMaster University as they confront the lawsuit brought against them by Edwin Mellen Press. We strongly disapprove of the aggressive use of the Canadian court system to threaten Mr. Askey with millions of dollars in liability over the contents of a blog post. We urge Edwin Mellen Press to withdraw this suit and use more constructive means to address its reputation.
“No academic librarian, research library, or university should face a multi-million dollar lawsuit because of a candid discussion of the publications or practices of an academic publisher,” said Brent Roe, Executive Director of CARL. “The exaggerated action of Edwin Mellen Press could only impose a chill on academic and research librarians’ expression of frank professional judgments.”
“Unfortunately, this is just the latest publisher that has chosen to pursue costly and wasteful litigation against universities and librarians,” said Elliott Shore, Executive Director of ARL. “These hostile tactics highlight the need for people who share the core values of research libraries to embrace models of publishing that foster—rather than hinder—research, teaching, and learning.”
Together, ARL and CARL represent 136 research libraries in the United States and Canada.
Press Release from the British Columbia Library Association
The British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) is extremely concerned about the unwarranted and frivolous lawsuits that Edwin Mellen Press has filed against Associate University Librarian Dale Askey and against McMaster University.
Edwin Mellen Press alleges that that comments made by Mr. Askey on his personal blog regarding the quality of their publications were defamatory, and are seeking a total of $4.5 million dollars in damages to compensate for injury to their reputation.
As a professional librarian engaged in collection development, Mr. Askey is both qualified and obliged to make decisions about published materials. Central to this issue is Mr. Askey’s academic freedom which should ensure that he, as well as fellow academic librarians, has the ability to freely speak, write, review and evaluate as professionals without fear of reprisal, litigation, or control by vendors, employers or other external bodies.
As a citizen in a democratic society Mr. Askey is free to have and share his opinions with his community, society and country. Sharing and debating perspectives without fear of recrimination is the hallmark of a healthy democratic society peopled by engaged citizens.
Librarians and information workers uphold the rights of all community members to express a critical view about the value of a book or other information materials. This includes a librarian’s own right to do the same. Every citizen should be able to express an opinion without fear of litigation should they offend an author or publisher. By filing lawsuits against Mr. Askey and McMaster University Edwin Mellen Press is attempting to create a climate of fear among librarians, information workers, and all libraries that may critique their product.
BCLA condemns the misuse of the court process to intimidate libraries, librarians and information workers from discharging their professional obligations and from demonstrating one of the library’s core responsibilities to uphold the right of freedom of thought and expression.
BCLA urges Edwin Mellen Press to withdraw its lawsuits and instead engage in a debate, a conversation or a discussion with the library community in order to build a healthy society that reflects a myriad of opinions held by diverse community members.
For information contact:
BCLA Executive Director
If you can make it to the Boston area on Saturday, November 17, head to the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. The wonderful Boston collective of Radical Reference is putting on a symposium called “Practical Choices for Powerful Impacts: Realizing the Activist Potential of Librarians.” It features a panel of “librarians who use their skills to undertake consciousness-raising in libraries and within the LIS profession; actively participate in anti-oppression and empowerment work; and develop programming that supports the library as space and library as a means of liberation,” followed by group discussions. And it’s free!
Phil Davis writes in The Scholarly Kitchen about “The Secret Life of Retracted Articles.” Scientific papers are frequently retracted, officially, by the journal’s publishers and editors if it is found that data was faked or for other reasons that invalidate the article’s conclusions. The problem is that the articles stay around, in libraries, on websites, and in other places, with no indication that they have been retracted.
TITLE: Informed Agitation: Library and Information Skills in Social Justice Movements and Beyond (An Edited Collection)
EDITOR: Melissa Morrone is a librarian at Brooklyn Public Library and has been involved in Radical Reference as well as other social justice groups.
BOOK ABSTRACT: In librarianship today, we encourage voices from our field to join conversations in other disciplines as well as in the broader culture. People who work in libraries and are sympathetic to or directly involved in social justice struggles have long embodied this idea, as they make use of their skills in the service of those causes. Following in the tradition of works such as Activism in American Librarianship, 1962-1973; Revolting Librarians; and Revolting Librarians Redux, this title will be a look into the projects and pursuits of activist librarianship in the early 21st century.
POSSIBLE TOPICS: Essays should describe specific activities undertaken by the library worker and how the work was received by fellow activists and/or the constituents of the project. Such activities may include:
- Programming and collection development that gives voice to underrepresented communities and subjects.
- Conducting community-based reference or other information services outside of any institutional affiliation.
- Setting up libraries or archives in political organizations and contexts.
- Doing research on behalf of social justice campaigns.
- Training people in technology and content creation with the goal of community empowerment.
- Other creative ways of using library and information skills to support activist causes, both inside and outside of conventional library settings.
Essays should also include analysis of the ways in which these activities are in sync with but may also challenge the “core values” of librarianship.
OBJECTIVE OF THE BOOK: This edited collection, to be published by Library Juice Press in June 2013 asks: How and to what end are people using their library skills in the service of wider social justice causes? What do these activities say about the future of library work, both inside and outside of traditional institutions?
- People interested in going into librarianship who want an idea of nontraditional and activist areas in which librarians operate.
- Practicing library workers seeking inspiration for ways to combine their expertise with their political interests outside the library.
- Practicing library workers who want articulations of how their work fits into a broader context of power structures, politics, and social justice.
- Activists interested in collaborations with library workers and/or projects related to literature, information, education, and documentation in social movements.
- People in other fields who want to draw connections between their own work and social justice goals, and are looking for supportive literature.
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Please submit abstracts and proposals of up to 500 words to informed.agitation AT gmail by July 15, 2012. Notifications will be sent by September 1. A first draft from 1,500-7,000 words will be due by November 15, and final manuscripts will be due by January 15, 2013.
If you’re headed to the iSchool conference, something to read if you haven’t yet is a paper that was rejected for inclusion in the 2008 iSchool conference, by Jonathan Furner and Anne Gilliland, both professors at the UCLA School of Information (officially an iSchool). It’s titled, The Humanistic iSchool: A Manifesto. I am very much down with the program of making information studies more humanistic. There is a lot of progress being made at UCLA along those lines, though judging from the fate of this paper in 2008, there is opposition to the idea…
The CEO of an internet business in Kenya called Mocality has posted a report to his blog about what seem to be some unethical and probably illegal business practices by Google, involving trolling their database in order to poach their customers for their own competing service, and lying in the process. If this report is true, it deserves to be a scandal. Mocality’s Stefan Magdalinski’s post is titled, Google, what were you thinking?
Arthur Brisbane is New York Times Public Editor, a position outside the regular editorial team that is supposed to act as the reader’s representative. Followers of this blog have probably already heard about his recent post, “Should the Times be a Truth Vigilante?, which many readers found maddeningly stupid. Brisbane was asking whether NYT reporters should challenge statements by journalistic subjects that the journalists know to be untrue. Brisbane was responding to broad public discussion about “He Said/She Said” reporting, in which the truth tends to get lost, although he seemed not to realize that this was the context of his post when he followed up on it yesterday. (Ostensibly, he was responding to an op-ed by Paul Krugman published in December, but he must know that the discussion about this problem has been much broader and been going on for a long time.) An informative early response to his initial post was from the tireless watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). (I will also point to a useful note from FAIR about “both sides are right” presumptions at PolitiFact, the political fact-checking blog.) What is so maddening about Brisbane’s question to readers is that it verges on questioning a fundamental principle of the fourth estate as the supporter of the public sphere – to be an independent monitor of power. At a time when traditional journalism is in a crisis for reasons beyond its control, it is difficult to comprehend why the public editor of America’s paper of record would flirt so explicitly with the idea of giving up on that principle that is the source of journalism’s enduring value to people. What it seems to me that he was doing in asking that question was asking the public to validate a journalistic trend that has been in progress for some time, that seems to be born of a failure to stand up to political pressure. The public hates He Said/She Said reporting. I think Brisbane simply miscalculated in his hope that the public would take the paper off the hook by providing a number of useful responses supporting this sorry trend.
I have said in the Library Juice blogging pledge that we won’t write about news topics that other people are writing a lot about unless we have something new to add, so let me attempt to add another angle to the discussion. What I would say it’s worth considering in light of this debate is that issues like this one have been debated from the beginning of modern journalism, and those earlier discussions can offer much to us now. Some recommendations along those lines. First, an article in Acadame, the AAUP’s journal, by Eric Alternman, summarizing the 1920s debate between Walter Lippmann and John Dewey over a broader question about the way journalism works in relation to democracy. Lippmann held that (even at the time) real policy issues were too complex for the public to understand through a simple presentation of accurate information, and that the main service of journalism is to provide the basis for conversation rather than information, and that this conversation is the real basis of democracy. In the time I spent as a reference librarian at the California Research Bureau providing service to policy analysts and legislative staffers, I came to sympathize strongly with this kind of view, because I saw that in fact public debate was highly simplified and dramatized versus the more sober and technical discussions that go on in the policy sphere, and this was partly because of the orientation of the public toward issues. Dewey’s side of the debate was more idealistic. It may be that journalism’s insiders see this problem partly from the perspective of the policy sphere about which they are charged with reporting to the public, with the result that in the process of negotiating the level of technical detail versus drama that they provide in news, they also negotiate with the level of truth.
An answer to this apology for compromised journalism could be found in many sources, and I will cite a couple of them. First, a book that is dated in its examples but not in its overall thrust: The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky. This book provides thorough evidence of the the kind of positive falsehoods, as opposed to oversimplifications, often offered by experts and reported unquestioningly by journalists. It is dated, but to the point.
More important, however, is the rich area of work surrounding the effects of the capitalist organization of the institutions that give us the news. From the most recent past era, a cornerstone work is Ben Bagdikian’s The Media Monopoly. Though it is from before the internet era, I think it is still essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the core problem behind “He Said/She Said” journalism and related failures (such as that steady stream of PR that makes up so much of what is presented as news). There are other important works related to Bagdikian’s from the same era, including Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s Manufacturing Consent and works by Robert McChesney. Not long ago these books were essential starting points for anyone wanting to think progressively about journalism, but new issues are causing them to fade into the background. It’s time for new to works deal with the same issues in the new media context. But these works and older ones are still important. For an understanding of how far back these market effects on journalism have been a problem, books worth consulting would be Upton Sinclair’s 1919 The Brass Check, which is freely available in various forms; a compilation of media criticism edited by Robert McChesney and Ben Scott, titled Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Media Criticism; and a new book out by Amy Reynolds and Gary Hicks, Prophets of the Fourth Estate: Press Critics of the Progressive Era. (Full disclosure: Litwin Books is the publisher of the latter one).
I think the historical and political-economic context Brisbane’s question to readers is worth understanding better through some reading beyond the blogosphere, where past work is easily forgotten.
I’m talking with Jennifer Szunko, Clarion Services Director. Jennifer offered to be interviewed for Library Juice to talk about Clarion’s services in doing paid reviews for authors and publishers.
Thanks for being willing to do this interview. Jennifer, can you explain a bit about what you do at Clarion, and how it is different from Foreword Magazine, which I understand is the parent company?
Thank you for inviting me.
For the past 14 years ForeWord Reviews has offered pre-publication reviews of good books from independent publishers in our print magazine. Like most magazines, it is supported by advertising. Ten years ago, librarians were asking for more reviews than what we could accommodate in the magazine and with the explosion of books being published we were receiving hundreds of books each month that we just could not fit into the magazine–the Clarion Review fee-based service was born. I manage the orders that come in for books to be reviewed for a fee and work with the same pool of reviewers as we use in the magazine.
The reviews in our magazine are all pre-publication and are all for good books–those reviews are all very positive. But there are millions of authors that would still want a review but their books just didn’t qualify–either due to the publication date or the editorial content didn’t align with the magazine’s calendar, or the book just hasn’t captured the attention of an editor. That is when the author will order a Clarion Review.
Thanks for that description. Just to clarify, when Foreword Magazine was new and before Clarion Review was started, did Foreword Magazine offer paid reviews?
No, we have never charged for reviews that appear in the magazine. We only started the fee-based review service to accommodate the “overflow” of requests from authors to get their book reviewed. And it offers librarians many more reviews–all of which are archived with Bowker’s Books-In-Print online, Baker & Taylor’s Titlesource 3, and Ingram’s iPage, in addition to Google Books and the Foreword Reviews Website.
Interesting. Where else might librarians or readers encounter the reviews?
The authors will also use the review (if its a positive review) in the marketing of their book, on the back cover, or on their own Website. All of our reviews reflect an honest and unbiased look at a book, however, we only publish reviews of the best books in the magazine. You will find everything from a one star to a five star review on our website. The difference between the reviews in the magazine and a Clarion Review is that the Clarion Review gives a critical analysis of the book–useful information for librarians and booksellers.
So it is possible for a paid review to receive a one-star rating? I can imagine that that would result in some unhappy customers.
I recently pulled a report of all of our reviews and found an almost perfect bell curve. We have mostly three-star reviews but we about the same amount of one-star reviews as five-star reviews. And the two and four star reviews are balanced, too. Its never easy delivering a negative report to an author but more often than not they appreciate the honesty. With digital technology, it’s easy to implement many of the changes that are mentioned in the review; so the author ends up producing a better book. So everyone wins!
Thanks for the info on stats. That is reassuring. About how many paid reviews do you publish a month? And just to clarify, you’re talking about paid reviews there, right?
Yes, the Clarion Reviews are purchased by the author and those are the only reviews that receive the star rating. We publish about 70-90 reviews on our website each month and share those with the licensees I mentioned earlier. We do give the author the opportunity to “kill” their review if they feel it is too negative. Most recognize the value of a professional review so they don’t go that route.
Even though the highest proportion get only three out of five stars. That is a more credible system than I thought, I have to admit.
I think it’s to Foreword’s credit that Clarion Review is open about selling paid reviews. However, I wonder if there is any disclaimer to that effect in the reviews that are published through these licensees, and whether at least Clarion is identified as the source.
Clarion is identified as the source on all the reviews that we write for a fee. Our integrity is extremely important and if anyone thought the reviews were somehow compromised because of the fee, we wouldn’t have survived this long. All of our reviews are objective opinions about a book, and there has been some reticence by a few publishers or authors who prefer to do business using an outdated business model, one that can no longer support itself due to declining advertising dollars. I don’t know any librarians who criticize the paid review service. Librarians are the reason we added the additional review service; they want as many quality reviews as they can get and look to us as a trusted resource. Our brand speaks quality and they can depend on us, and they are the biggest users of subscription services at our licensing partners…who are also dying for all the reviews we can provide them–regardless of whether the funding comes from ad dollars or a straight up fee.
Are you familiar with the review service BookNews?
BookNews also produces brief reviews that are published by book jobbers for the benefit of collection development librarians, though I suppose they may focus on the academic market. Their reviews are all solicited; as a publisher I receive requests for titles from them for review. I believe their source of funding is the book vendors themselves. I don’t know about the quantity of reviews that they publish, but I do know that they select the books that they choose to review.
Interestingly, ForeWord was the first to offer a fee-based review service and took a great deal of grief for it for several years but now we are one of many. To get around the stigma of a “fee-based review” other companies call it a publicity fee or a marketing fee but when you get to the bottom of it –we are all offering a professional service and professionals are paid to deliver a professional product. The BookNews model sounds more like the model for our magazine–our editor solicits for books based on our editorial calendar.
Regarding the question of the disclaimer… While Clarion Review is out there advertising paid reviews, do you think that most librarians or readers will be clued into that fact when a review is credited as coming from Clarion? I think this is an important point, because even if the highest proportion of reviews are mediocre, there has to be a market effect on the reviews Clarion gives in order for the service to be financially successful. Yes, authors want credible reviews, but they also want reviews that will lead to sales, which is the purpose of it from their point of view. Normally, or at least in the “outdated business model,” the appearance of a review usually constitutes a recommendation in and of itself. If it weren’t for the fact that so many of the paid reviews come from self-published authors, I think the bell curve you cite would be less troubling. I do find it a little hard to believe that given the nature of the customer base that so many books would be judged as being basically pretty good.
That’s an interesting position. Its not an argument that I have come up against. If you look up the word review, I think you will find it to say something like a critical analysis and not a recommendation. So maybe that is where the distinction lies. Clarion reviews reflect strict editorial standards and positive consideration is given to well-written and produced books–anything less than that must be mentioned in our reviews. It probably helps that there is at least a one person buffer between the reviewer and the author–the reviewer has no emotional stake in the transaction. We don’t hesitate to have a reviewer rewrite a review that sounds too much like an attempt to sell the book–we exist to provide honest information on books. That doesn’t always make us popular with authors or publishers.
What is the profile of the authors and publishers who use the paid review service? Do well-known publishers use them? What is the proportion of self-published authors using the service, as far as you know?
And regarding the judgment of quality, it is a relative thing. It just seems to me that in a paid review situation, if there are a lot of self-published authors, in order to maintain a bell curve the standards are going to have to be lower than they would be in a selective review source.
Good point about the self-published author as a big part of our client base. We have seen a tremendous improvement in the quality of the books from self-published authors in the past two years (and we have been doing this for ten). Remember that we do offer the option to “kill” the review and it is more likely that a one-star review will be put to death than a five-star review; the numbers do skew a bit in that sense.
How many reviews get killed relative to the 70 to 90 published a month?
ForeWord has always only reviewed books from independent publishers. We have not reviewed books from any of the Big Six or their imprints.
What about the proportion of reviews going to self-published authors versus books published by small publishing houses? (Small publishing houses being selective by necessity.)
I have not tracked the number of reviews that are “killed” each month but I would guess more than half of the one and two star reviews do not survive. So, yes we do actually write many more negative reviews than five-star.
Of the one-star reviews that do not survive, are you counting them in the bell-curve cited earlier or not?
Reaching the small press market with the Clarion product may well be our biggest challenge but we have kept very busy with self-published authors which make up about three-quarters of our fee-for-review service. The landscape is changing quickly and with the exponential growth in book production–authors and publishers are looking for ways to get noticed. That is true for self-published authors and those that have a contract with a small publishing house.
The bell curve that I mentioned earlier is only the reviews that are actually posted on our website.
Regarding the stats on the one-star reviews, that is encouraging from my point of view.
I have something to disclose that leads me to a question. About ten years ago I was very active in the group Alternatives in Print, which was a part of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of ALA. A major focus for us was advocating alternative press publishers, which for us meant small publishers publishing books that we felt were kept out of the mainstream market because of their political viewpoints. A big part of what we wanted was for books from these publishers to be more widely reviewed, and we were looking for ways to accomplish that. We were often asked for advice by these small publishing houses about how they could get their books into libraries, and reviews were a part of the answer. I think it was in that context that I first had contact with someone at Foreword Magazine, so I believe that I am probably one of the librarians you’re counting as asking for more reviews from these hidden sources. From my point of view, however, what Clarion is doing is not exactly what I was asking for (just to speak for myself), in that what I was talking about then had to do with the commercial nature of publishing, and the role of money in the marketing of books to libraries. What we were advocating in AIP was for a more non-commercial review sector that would compensate for the advantage that major publishers have in getting reviewed, by virtue of their economic power. The publishers we tended to advocate were publishing a lot of anti-capitalist books, and to them I think something like a paid review service would be anathema. Our analysis about the distortion in the market had to do with the political nature of the books we wanted to advocate, whereas for you I would imagine it has to do with the place of the little guy in the overall scheme. How would you approach small press publishers who may have a bias against something like paid reviews for these kind of idealistic reasons? I mean, to someone with that kind of a point of view, it smacks of the Better Business Bureau pay to play scandal.
I do think we are on the same page in the end–librarians want to be notified of the true contents in books and authors want visibility and an honest evaluation. This is true for all publishers, but you’re right: the bigger budgets get the bigger splash. Foreword is about the little guy and bringing attention to good books. My question would be…how would a small business owner support their staff if all of their product was offered at no charge? In the ideal world we could charge an extremely high rate to our 15,000 librarian subscribers for the privilege of reading our reviews–in reality, we would not survive. Instead we choose a per piece model so we can offer the quality we demand at a fair price to our customer. Every Clarion Review is worked on by four editors before it is returned to the publisher or author–that type of commitment to quality comes at a price. We never set out to be all things to all people but we do have a growing body of publishers and authors that value our service. There are non-commercial review sources but they are inconsistent and their quality is questionable–they don’t have anything to lose. We guarantee our quality and stand behind our reviewers opinions.
I disagree that non-commercial sources of reviews tend to be unreliable. Being in academia, where all the reviews are produced non-commercially, from my perspective the situation is the reverse of what you say. As a librarian who has worked in all types of libraries, I would just offer that in my opinion there is no demand for reviews of a great number of self-published books. I see nothing wrong with a business model that requires reviewers to be more selective; including more small press titles can easily fall within that framework if there were stronger regulations against the kind of pay to play practices that result in reviews not being given in sources like PW or LJ where the publisher doesn’t purchase ad space. I have never seen a need for the reviews that result from a pay to play review service. But I can only speak for myself – obviously you have access to more objective information about the market for reviews.
So, I have offered my opinion now. Before we say goodbye is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just that I have enjoyed our discussion and its a very exciting time in the publishing industry and we are thrilled to be a part of it all.
I want to thank you for all the information you provided about Clarion Review. I learned a lot from our conversation and enjoyed it as well.
2nd Milwaukee Conference on the Ethics of Information Organization
June 15 – 16, 2012
Information organization, like other major functions of the information professions, faces many ethical challenges. In our literature, ethical concerns have been raised with regard to, topics such as, the role of national and international tools and standards, provision of subject access to information, deprofessionalization and outsourcing, education of professionals, and the effects of globalization. These issues and many others like them have serious implications for quality and equity in information access. The Information Organization Research Group and the Center for Information Policy Research of the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee join in presenting this second conference to address the ethics of information organization.
Like the first Ethics of Information Organization conference held in Milwaukee May 2009, this conference (June 2012) welcomes papers on ethics and any element of information organization from cataloging standards to tagging; subject access; technology; the profession; cultural, economic, political, corporate, international, multicultural and multilingual aspects.
INVITED SPEAKERS WILL INCLUDE:
Opening Speaker: Jens-Erik Mai
University of Toronto
Closing Speaker: Richard Smiraglia
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Other invited speakers will be announced
We invite submission of proposals for papers which will include: name(s) of presenter(s), title(s), affiliation(s), contact information and abstracts of 300-500 words. Presentations will be 20 minutes. Time will be set aside for questions as well as broader discussion. All abstracts will be published on the Web site of the UW-Milwaukee Information Organization Research Group. Full papers will be published in a special issue of Knowledge Organization.
ABSTRACTS DUE: February 15, 2012
NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCE BY: March 15, 2012
FULL PAPERS DUE: July 15, 2012
Submit proposals via email to: Hope A Olson, Conference Chair (holson [at] uwm.edu)
CFP: Queers Online: LGBT Digital Practices in Libraries, Archives, and Museums
(An Edited Collection to be published as part of the Series on Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies)
Litwin Books and Library Juice Press
Rachel Wexelbaum, Editor
Emily Drabinski, Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies Series Editor
Editor: Rachel Wexelbaum, Collection Management Librarian, Saint Cloud State University:
rswexelbaum [at] stcloudstate.edu
In the 21st century, there are more LGBT information resources than ever before. The challenges that arise both from the explosion of born-digital materials and the transformation of materials from physical to electronic formats has implications for access to these resources for future generations. Along with preservation concerns, making these numerous digital LGBT resources available to users becomes more difficult when they swim in an ocean of websites, EBooks, digitized objects, and other digital resources. Librarians, archivists, and museum curators must engage in a range of new digital practices to preserve and promote these numerous LGBT resources.
A “digital practice” in libraries, archives, and museums includes, but is not limited to, the digitization of physical objects; the creation of online resources and services that improve access to these objects; the use of online catalogs, databases, and metadata to categorize such objects; and the online social media and Web 2.0 tools used to connect users to these resources. Information professionals engaged in digital practices must also understand the information needs, online searching behaviors, and online communication styles of their patrons in order to make them aware of the digital resources that may be of use to them.
This is the first book to specifically address the digital practices of LGBT librarians, archivists, and museum curators, as well as the digital practices of seekers and users of LGBT resources and services. More broadly, this collection aims to address these issues in the context of the technical, social, economic, legal, and political challenges of creating LGBT-specific digital collections, electronic resources and services.
Objective of book
This book, to be published in Library Juice Press in Spring 2013, proposes to consider the following questions:
What advances have been made in the digitization of LGBT books, art, music, film, primary sources, and other LGBT physical objects?
What types of LGBT-specific online resources and services have been created to promote visibility of LGBT-specific content, as well as to organize and market such content?
What LGBT-specific institutions have created electronic LGBT resources and services of interest to libraries, archives, and museums? What mainstream institutions and vendors have created electronic LGBT resources and services of interest to libraries, archives, and museums?
What are the technical, social, economic, legal, and political challenges of creating LGBT-specific digital collections, electronic resources and services?
What are the digital practices of seekers and users of LGBT resources and services, and how do they influence the development and marketing of online LGBT resources and services?
Professionals and non-professionals involved in the work and study of libraries, archives, and museums, as well as publishers and content providers for such institutions, will find this book helpful in building awareness of electronic LGBT resources and services, in libraries, archives, and museums and the practices that connect users to them.
Suggested topical questions
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
What are the histories of LGBT digital objects and practices in libraries, archives, and museums? How does LGBT information seeking change in a digital environment? How does digitization affect the organization of LGBT resources?
How are libraries, archives, and museums responding to the shift to mobile content and services? How are institutions making resources and services accessible through mobile devices (mobile phones, EReaders, tablets, and apps)? How does the shift to mobile information improve access to LGBT digital resources?
How does digitization change the ways LGBT populations access information? Are there differences related to race, gender, class, immigration status, or geographic location? Do LGBT populations with special needs (Deaf, visually impaired, physically handicapped, others) use particular technology/online resources/digital resources to find LGBT-specific information?
How do electronic formats, including ebooks, electronic databases (e.g., GLBT Life), digitized museum and archives collections, and open web resources (e.g., www.outhistory.org), change the LGBT research landscape? How do these new formats change traditional library functions, including collection development, reference, outreach, and instruction?
What problems and possibilities are presented by metadata about LGBT-related materials in a digital environment? What are the critiques of LGBT-related subject vocabulary/subject headings in online catalogs and/or databases that could restrict access to information or mislabel it?
What LGBT-specific digitization projects for print and non-print materials have taken place in your library, archives, or museum? What were the challenges that you faced during the process? How are digital collection marketed, and how is usage calculated? How are digital collections kept updated?
What kinds of digital projects exist to preserve and make accessible LGBT primary sources (personal papers, manuscripts, oral histories, government documents, ephemera, etc)?
How are LGBT-specific Web 2.0/social web tools used in libraries, archives, and/or museums?
Please submit abstracts and chapter proposals of up to 500 words and a short author’s statement to rswexelbaum [at] stcloudstate.edu by April 1, 2012. Chapter authors will receive notification of acceptance by June 1, 2012. Final manuscripts of between 3000 and 5000 words will be due September 1, 2012. Final edited chapter manuscripts will be due to Library Juice Press January 1, 2013.
Here is a guest post from Julie Teglovic, an MLIS student at the University of Denver, where students have been protesting a decision regarding the library…
Library as Space: University Students Want Books
This April, the paper books at the University of Denver’s Penrose Library began a move into a storage facility 10 miles away in preparation for the library’s gutting and renovation. I, like most students not hearing otherwise, assumed that the move would be temporary, until I happened across the “Keep the Penrose Library Book Collection on Campus” Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/savethestacks) in early May. According to this page, secret dealings had been made “behind closed doors and at the last minute” by the university Chancellor and Board of Trustees, culminating in a decision to retain 80% of the books at the storage center and return 20% to campus after the renovation.
About six students and a few faculty members, led by undergraduate English and Psychology major Brandon Reich-Sweet, united to disseminate information through the Facebook page and a website (www.savepenrose.com). They distributed online and paper petitions, contacted news outlets and university officials, made t-shirts and signs, and organized check-out/sit-in protests in and around the library. Because of these efforts, as of right now, university administration has agreed to return 50% of the books to campus (this is according to library faculty and student organizers; no official communication to students has been released).
Concerns over environmental sustainability and transparency were important to the group’s arguments (books will be driven by truck to and from the storage facility indefinitely, and neither students nor library staff were asked for input on the initial decision), but perhaps more interesting here are this group of non-librarians’ deep concerns about the library, its space, and its purpose.
I’ve read a lot in library school thus far about adapting to survive, about the need to see the library as community space, meeting space, and cutting-edge technology space. As gaming space, video-editing space, music-recording space. I’ve taken classes on ebooks and seen the skills requirements for programming languages and systems analysis on academic librarian job descriptions. Librarians want to redefine their collective image, to be tech-savvy and rethink education; we champion webinars and iSchools and digital repositories as solutions. Penrose is certainly not the first academic library to move a large number of books off-campus. Some students supported the Chancellor’s original decision and spoke out in the student newspaper The Clarion, asking why a book that’s never been circulated should gather dust. They argue that the way students learn has fundamentally changed in the last 20 years, and by designing a library with more collaborative learning space, the university is responding to this change.
Yet the (mostly undergraduate) students protesting—the library users, not the librarians—organized this movement and voiced—loudly—a different opinion: they want the books. As symbols of academic rigor, as visible history, as an elegant reminder of long-form reality itself to Brandon—the pages mean something to them. The millennials we jump to categorize as attention-deficient and gadget-crazed are perhaps more attuned to the emotional, existential, and intellectual redemption that a brick of words, a collection not on a screen, can provide than we as a profession would like to acknowledge. “The decision by a group of number-obsessed business-types to remove almost all of the books from a LIBRARY was really just a small symbol of a broader cultural trend,” Brandon says in an editorial for the Clarion. He writes about “Things without meaning…the terrible anxiety that comes standard with existence in modern human society…The victory of the Save Penrose movement then is not only one of logistics but one of meanings.”
I was just reading a bit of Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript, and came across a section that I think applies to the bibliometric obsessions with impact factors, h- and g-indexes, and other quantitative measures of the value of a scholar’s work. The following is from pages 119 and 120 of the translation by Swenson and Lowrie (1968 edition):
…Ethics and the ethical have to raise against this entire order of things. For in our age it is not merely an individual scholar or thinker here or there who concerns himself with universal history; the whole age loudly demands it. Nevertheless, Ethics and the ethical, as constituting the essential anchorage for all individual existence, have an indefeasible claim upon every existing individual; so indefeasible a claim, that whatever a man may accomplish in the world, even to the most astonishing of achievements, it is nonetheless quite dubious in significance, unless the individual has been ethically clear when he made his choice, has ethically clarified his choice to himself. The ethical quality is jealous for its own integrity, and is quite unimpressed by the most astounding quantity.
It is for this reason that Ethics looks upon all world-historical knowledge with a degree of suspicion, because it may so easily become a snare, a demoralizing aesthetic diversion for the knowing subject, in so far as the distinction between what does or does not have historical significance obeys a quantitative dialectic. As a consequence of this fact, the absolute ethical distinction between good and evil tends for the historical survey to be neutralized in the aesthetic-metaphysical determination of the great and significant, to which category the bad has equal admittance with the good. In the case of what has world-historic significance, another set of factors plays an essential role, factors which do not obey an ethical dialectic: accidents, circumstances, the play of forces entering into the historic totality that modifyingly incorporates the deed of the individual so as to transform it into something that does not directly belong to him. Neither by willing the good with all his strength, nor by satanic obduracy in willing what is evil, can a human being be assured of historical significance. Even in the case of misfortune the misfortune may obtain world-historical significance. How then does an individual acquire historical significance? By means of what from the ethical point of view is accidental. But Ethics regards as unethical the transition by which an individual renounces the ethical quality in order to try his fortune, longingly, wishingly, and so forth, in the quantitative and non ethical…