Going fearlessly into the future

This is how the new CIO at Xavier University describes his efforts to merge the library with the IT department. He scrapped traditional library and IT units in favor of one with librarians and techies working side by side. A Learning Commons will be erected to house the organization and serve as a center for various educational programs. Users will be able to get technical help, use multimedia software, view the library's online holdings and have their reference questions answered. The library, which will be attached to the new building, is being refashioned as simply a warehouse for books. <a href="http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i19/19a00103.htm">The article</a> also describes how similar efforts at other institutions have often failed miserably, especially at larger, research-centered universities.


The CIO at Xavier University might be a visionary, but I hear he's a mutant!

Jerks like this guy, David W. Dodd, give me gas. Instead of leaning on the college professors to demand higher levels of research from their students other than quick google searches or wikipedia articles, he decides in his ignoarance that librarianship and IT are the same. Then the fool hires an IT person to be in charge of the libraries.
It would be better to recognize that IT is a tool for librarianship and not the other way around. Hire a good library director to be in charge of both the IT and library, and you'll get better results. Hire someone who will brand library subject databases and electronic journal resources, so people will realize they come from the library, and not the IT dept. Hire a librarian who can direct IT to make more services available to more people, but also to incorporate library catalog entries with online access, etc.
As a librarian from that college, the first thing I would have done was ask Dodd for his bibliography of research that he has done to back up his ideas, with citations to both papers that have described similar efforts, and their results. I'll bet this idea was not researched and the result of scholarly study, but was based on a few partial interveiws and some wildcat thinking late at night. If he didn't use the library in his proposal, shame on the college and faculty senate for accepting an unresearched concept. If he did use the library in researching this proposal, then he undercuts his own ideas over the value of libraries.
This is also where other librarians need to jump in and do some research and write up some papers. We need to defend our profession by exploring these money saving ideas of jerks and fools, and showing how and why they do or don't work. If the director of a new college in California can gain sucess from creating a brand new college without a library, the library community needs to keep up and show by published research why a new library was needed a year later. And why that fool of a director was not asked to resign over a obvious and silly lack of academic understanding of the education process.
"It's all on the Internet. It's all free. It's all authoritative and accurate and up-to-date and refereed. A google search is satisfactory research." Only fools, and college administrators, still believe this hype anymore.


R. Lee Hadden (These are my own opinions!)

I agree. Unfortunately, it's getting damn hard if not impossible to find a librarian who is decent at any kind of advocacy, in academics or otherwise. Academic libraries are marginalized so often because of the ineptitude of library directors/deans. I've seen this over and over for the past 20 years as an academic librarian. Which is why I went corporate. It's sad.

Lee -- and the research upon which you base your opinions is.... where?

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