March 31, 2010

Note on the role of knowledge

David Bade sent me the following note about some LC cataloging that demonstrates (though absence) that librarianship requires more than just knowledge of tools and technique but also knowledge of subject matter. I will write more at some point on the way we can mislead ourselves and others about our role and our skills when we say “I don’t know the answer but I know how to look it up.” David writes:

Just found LC copy in OCLC for a Russian book (translated: The political (“Asiatic”) mode of production: its nature and role in the history of humanity and in Russia). The LC cataloger had this as Slavery—Asia—History; Forced labor—Economic aspects–Soviet Union. Apparently s/he was not familiar with the old theory of “Asiatic mode of production”? Does such knowledge date me as having lived in, known and studied the world prior to 1989? This kind of disconnect? ignorance? carelessness? in cataloging just leaves me reeling in disbelief. At least in the old days (pre 1989) LC had a bunch of cold warriors who knew exactly what was under discussion.

Usually I think about the role of general knowledge and subject knowledge in reference service, but this shows it applies equally to cataloging.

The Power of Google is Power

I just bought a Motorola Droid, which is Verizon’s Android-based smart phone, Android being Google’s OS for mobile devices. Its integration with Google gives me a lot of “power” to integrate my online tools with my mobile device, which is very satisfying. I experience it as empowering, and my attention is focused on learning what it can do and then on using it. My attention is not focused on Google itself and what its growing ubiquity may mean.

I am paranoid by nature, but I don’t have a vision of what Google’s growing power is going to mean decades from now. I know, however, that power corrupts. So I think I should be more scared than I am about the fact that:

  • Google records my search data
  • Google data-mines my email
  • Google tracks my visits to sites that use Google Analytics
  • Google is buying more and more websites and services and integrating the data it collects on them
  • Google maintains a database of my contacts
  • My Droid has a GPS that tells Google my location (I have the option to share it or not share it with friends – thanks for the privacy feature)
  • The usability and power of Google’s services compel me to share more and more of my own information with them – calendar, finance, shopping, documents, email
  • Google is exploring a service to manage our health records; I think it’s already available in beta
  • I can see my house on Google, from the street and from the sky
  • Google is becoming hungrier for financial returns. Its ad service is becoming more profitable, but if they can think of more ways of making money from their data, they will.

As I said, I don’t have a vision of the shape that all of this power will take. But it unquestionably adds up to power. Technologically, there is an economy to data integration that lends itself to Google growing larger and making competition more difficult. It is not like a dot com that can disappear when the fickle public notices a different one, because its strength lies in its huge database of user information. It is not so easy to migrate away from Google at this point.

March 27, 2010

Review of Humanism and Libraries

I’d like to thank Wayne Bivens-Tatum of Princeton University Libraries for his thoughtful review of André Cossette’s Humanism and Libraries: An Essay on Library Philosophy. I’m pleased to read that he and I have the same disagreements with Cossette, and that, like I do, he finds the book useful and interesting despite those points of disagreement. Bivens-Tatum links to a related article of his own that looks very interesting.

March 18, 2010

Canceled titles

Just a note to inform customers:

The following Library Juice Press and Litwin Books titles have been canceled:

Visible Voices: Literacy and the Invisible Homeless, by Melissa Juchniewicz

A Copyright Guide for Visual Artists, by Rachel Bridgewater and Kohel Haver

Gen-X Perspectives on Librarianship, edited by Erik Estep, Rebecca Tolley-Stokes, and Martin Wallace

March 17, 2010

The Library Paraprofessional Movement and the Deprofessionalization of Librarianship

I have an article in the current issue of Progressive Librarian that I have put online this morning: “The Library Paraprofessional Movement and the Deprofessionalization of Librarianship.” It says something that some people won’t like, but it’s something that I think is true and something that I think we should discuss openly. It’s in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue, which is number 33 (no volume number). In the journal it’s on pages 43-60.

March 16, 2010

C-SPAN puts entire video archive on the web

This is big news for anyone dealing with politics or gov docs collections. The New York Times is reporting today that C-SPAN has made its entire archive of programming freely available on its website. The archive contains 160,000 hours of programming. It seems that this will be a major resource for studying domestic politics in the years to come.

Audio interview with Slow Reading author John Miedema

Poet Dave Bonta has an podcast interview series on his Via Negativa blog. His latest interview is with John Miedema, author of Slow Reading. It’s a good listen.

March 15, 2010

Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods

Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods

Editors: Emily Drabinski, Alana Kumbier, and Maria Accardi
Price: $35.00
Published: March 2010
ISBN: 978-1-936117-01-7

Bringing together the voices of a range of practicing librarians, this collection illuminates theories and methods of critical pedagogy and library instruction. Chapters address critical approaches to standards and assessment practices, links between queer, anti-racist and feminist pedagogies and the library classroom, intersections of critical theories of power and knowledge and the library, and the promise and peril of reflective instruction practices. Rooted in theoretical work both from within the profession (James Elmborg, Cushla Kapitzke) and without (Paolo Freire, Henry Giroux, Deborah Britzman), contributions are complemented by stories of critical approaches put into practice in institutional settings ranging from the community college classroom to large urban research universities to virtual worlds. The intention is to begin a conversation among librarians who teach, library instruction program coordinators, faculty and instructors interested in bringing librarians into the classroom, and librarians interested in developing liberatory and anti-oppressive professional practices.

Critical Library Instruction is available directly from Library Juice Press, from and other online booksellers, through vendors of books to libraries, and in electronic form through ebrary.

March 12, 2010

Library Juice Press ebooks from ebrary

Books from Library Juice Press and Litwin Books are now available to libraries in ebook form through ebrary.

ebrary (lower case like bell hooks) is one of the major ebook vendors, and has a tight relationship with YBP, being integrated into their Gobi acquisitions platform. We are very happy to be working with them and getting our books out to libraries in ebook form.

Personally, I’m not crazy about web-based ebooks for sustained reading, but find they work well for looking up information on a few pages. As a publisher though (business owner) I am very glad to be able to sell ebooks to libraries, because I know many libraries have a mandate to spend a certain (growing) amount on ebooks.