November 25, 2009

Seeking an author with strengths in statistics and skepticism

There’s a book idea we’ve been kicking around here at Litwin Books, and we need an author. I don’t want to completely disclose the idea for this book, but I want to say enough to potentially find the right author. It will be a reference book that takes a skeptical view of commonly-encountered statistics and facts. I want to find an author who is good with social science research methods and able to see the problems behind factual claims across a range of issues and subject matter. I want to find someone who has these skills and has a healthy dislike for the way that public discourse is distorted by misinformation, bias, and ideology. My hope is for a book that has something to offend everyone.

Any takers? Please contact me at rory at

November 22, 2009

Beavis and Butthead Go to the Discovery Layer

Uhhh… Hey Beavis. This scholarly recommender service wants to know how I rate this article.

November 20, 2009

Phil Agre is missing

Phil Agre is a professor of library science at UCLA whom I’ve long wished to meet.

A few weeks ago the Los Angeles Police Department announced that he was missing. He abandoned his apartment and his job at some point between December of 2008 and May of 2009, according to the LAPD missing person alert (pdf).

I just learned about it in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, but I won’t bother linking to their article because it is subscription only. It is in today’s issue if you have access and want to look for it.

Friends and colleagues of his have set up a website to let him know that he’s missed, as well as a site devoted to his work.

I first read Phil Agre in the journal Progressive Librarian, issue 12/13, 1997. That issue had an article of his titled, “The End of Information and the Future of Libraries.” It’s very much worth reading.

Sale price on Barbarians at the Gates of the Public Library

I always feel a little hucksterish when I use this blog to try to sell books, but Library Juice Press is a business, and selling books is what it is about. So here we go…

I have too much inventory of Ed D’Angelo’s book, Barbarians at the Gates of the Public Library: How Postmodern Consumer Capitalism Threatens Democracy, Civil Education and the Public Good, and I need to put it on sale.

So, through the end of 2009, the price will be $10 instead of $18, if you buy it via the website. Big sale. Blowout sale. Bring your wife, your wallet, your pink slip and your checkbook.

I like this book, and you might too. If you want to read the first two chapters, they are online and accessible from the book’s page on the website.

November 19, 2009

Ed D’Angelo’s book translated into Japanese

One of the first books from Library Juice Press was Ed D’Angelo’s Barbarians at the Gates of the Public Library: How Postmodern Consumer Capitalism Threatens Democracy, Civil Education and the Public Good, and it has been our best selling book so far.

We’re pleased to announce that the book has been translated into Japanese and published for the Japanese market by Kyoto University. Here is what it looks like:

November 14, 2009

Why is a library like an aquarium?

Riddle: Why is a library like an aquarium?

November 10, 2009

New from Library Juice Press: The Politics of Professionalism: A Retro-Progressive Proposal for Librarianship

The Politics of Professionalism: A Retro-Progressive Proposal for Librarianship

Author: Juris Dilevko
Price: $32.00
Published: November 2009
ISBN: 978-1-936117-04-8
6″ by 9″
242 Pages
Printed on acid-free paper

This book presents a retro-progressive proposal for the education of librarians: the removal of library education from the jurisdiction of universities, which in recent decades have become increasingly corporatized, internalizing market-based concepts such as performance metrics and “audit culture” to the extent that, ideologically speaking, they are indistinguishable from corporations. Accordingly, education for librarianship should reject the science- and technology-based information model that is associated with university-based library education and whose origins can be traced back to Charles C. Williamson, especially his article “The Place of Research in Library Service” in the early 1930s. Instead, building on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “professor of books” model, Dilevko suggests that anyone wishing to work in an academic, research, or public library must independently pass a series of essay-type subject-specific examinations in about ten to fifteen fields or areas of the arts, social sciences, and sciences. In addition, he or she must be able to read and speak at least one non-English language fluently, as well as attend courses about various aspects of the operation of libraries at regional summer institutes.

With its emphasis on subject-specific knowledge, this proposal would reintellectualize librarianship, allowing librarians to deliver meaningful educational opportunities to users in venues that function as bulwarks against what Susan Jacoby labels as the “culture of distraction.” Libraries would become, in the words of David Levy, oases and sanctuaries conducive to “sustained reflection and contemplation.” Because aspiring librarians would not be required to earn university-level professional degrees, they would no longer be obsessed with being thought of as professionals, nor with enhancing their professional standing. This would be a positive development because the notion of professionalism has devolved to a point where it is more about credentialism, careerism, and the accumulation of power and prestige than about the possession of meaningful knowledge that can be turned toward social good.

Juris Dilevko is an associate professor at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. He is a co-author of Readers’ Advisory Service in North American Public Libraries, 1870-2005 (McFarland, 2007); The Evolution of Library and Museum Partnerships: Historical Antecedents, Contemporary Manifestations, and Future Directions (Libraries Unlimited, 2004); and Reading and the Reference Librarian: The Importance to Library Service of Staff Reading Habits (McFarland, 2004).

November 8, 2009

The Ph.D. problem

Welcome support for intellectuals who are making the choice NOT to go for a Ph.D.:

The Ph.D. Problem: On the professionalization of faculty life, doctoral training, and the academy’s self-renewal, by Louis Menand, Harvard Magazine, November-December 2009.

November 7, 2009

New books

Three forthcoming books that I haven’t announced yet:

November 1, 2009

Sale Price on Lara Moore’s Restoring Order

Restoring Order: The Ecole des Chartes and the Organization of Archives and Libraries in France, 1820-1870

This book is on sale through November and December if purchased through the website (using the link above). Regular price is $32, sale price is $20.

We have excess inventory of this title and need to sell some copies.