Unintentional Knowledge

I love this article! It’s a wonderful summary of the real value of browsing the stacks.

Unintentional Knowledge: What We Find When We’re Not Looking by Julie Alves (posted on The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 23, 2013)

As a professional librarian, I’m obsessed with the phenomenon of serendipitous discovery. Some of the most rewarding learning experiences of my life came to me by chance; I discovered some of my favorite books and authors simply by browsing the shelves at the library and allowing interesting things to catch my eye. I’m more grateful for these unlooked-for experiences than I can say.

With new digital content services, and with more libraries going towards automated storage and retrieval systems for their print collections, we’re challenged to find ways to maintain the possibility of non-targeted browsing and unanticipated discovery under these new conditions.
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Information Tsunami

One of the primary functions of libraries – and librarians – especially in our current Information Age, is to sort through the ocean of information available to us and find the truly worthwhile bits. We talk about “tsunamis” of information, “deluges” of information, and we’re acutely aware of how easily people can get lost and drown in it all.

I recently had an experience that made all this very real to me.

Bookgate

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Libraries & Third Party eContent Services

It’s self-evident that more and more library content is being delivered digitally – ebooks, emagazines, digital movies and TV shows, digital music, databases. It’s even more self-evident to point out that many of the third party econtent services to which libraries subscribe suck in some truly horrendous ways. Sometimes the content is bad, or the selection is too limited, or the user interface is frustratingly complicated and unfriendly. (It’s frequently a combination of these.)

Few of these services – if any – live up to the expectations we have for them, or the standards we set for non-econtent library services. Third party econtent subscription services always seem to make us feel like we’re compromising too much.

From what I can see, when it comes to econtent services, opinion amongst library professionals gets divided into two camps:

  1. Those who believe that services that aren’t good enough are still better than nothing when it comes to offering patrons what they want.
  2. Those who believe that it’s far worse to provide a not-good-enough service than none at all.

In the last year, I’ve flip-flopped between these two camps more than a few times.
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Libraries & eBooks

[NOTE: This is a piece I originally posted on Facebook on March 23, 2012. It’s already somewhat dated, even only a year later, but I want it to live on my blog here because it addresses an issue that I believe is still, and will continue to be, one of the central questions librarians face in a world where more and more of our content is being delivered digitally via third party services.]

Is not good enough better or worse than nothing at all?
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This Is Why Libraries Are Important: A Reminder

When I got to work this morning, I had an email from a co-worker sitting in my Inbox. He’d sent it to all staff in our Library. It was a link to the following video interview:

Father’s Pride, Support Brings 10-Year-Old Son To Tears During Emotional Interview [VIDEO] (posted by NewsOne on June 9, 2013)

My co-worker’s message to go along with this video was simple and powerful:

I hope this message finds everyone in good spirits. I am sharing this video link because, every once in a while, I think we all need a reminder of why we decided to enter the world of literature and education.

[This is] a link as to why we as a library system are so vital in the 21st century. … I hope your takeaway is the one I had as to why all of our jobs are so important.

Scroll down in the article to watch the video. For some sense of the part libraries play in the lives of children everywhere, the power we have to contribute to the transformative process of education, see how they talk about the role of of reading at 2:30 and again at 3:00.

This is a message we need to hear and it’s one that we need to communicate to our communities. This is the role we play in people’s lives.

Traditional vs. Modern Libraries

Kim Leeder at In the Library with the Lead Pipe wrote a fantastic and thought-provoking piece about the rhetoric that characterizes the debate between so-called “traditional” and “modern” libraries. It’s worth the read!

Adventures in Rhetoric: The Traditional Library (posted on June 5, 2013)

This is the comment I left on her article:

We get so caught up in comparing the form and practical functioning of different types of libraries that it becomes all too easy to believe that these forms and functions are the definition of a library. We must remember that form and function are merely strategies employed to try and achieve deeper goals and serve essential functions in our communities.
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How To Attribute Creative Commons Photos

Given my concerns over the current state of copyright law, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I’m a fan of Creative Commons licensing. The main issue I – and many others – encounter with CC, though, is proper attribution. Attribution of CC material can get rather confusing.

This infographic helps clarify the issue for photos:
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