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Evaluating Research By the Numbers
"Last week I taught an information literacy class to a group of senior Chemistry students. We didn’t talk about databases or indexes, we talked about numbers. We talked about impact factors and h-indexes and alternative metrics, and the students loved it. Librarians have used these metrics for years in collection development, and have looked them up to help faculty with tenure and promotion packets. But many librarians don’t know where the numbers come from, or what some of the criticisms are."
Contrary to the popular misconception of libraries as stacks of musty books, they have long been at the forefront of information technology, maintains Amy Buckland, a librarian at McGill University in charge of electronic scholarship, e-publishing and digitization of rare books.
"People who say that libraries are on the way out have no idea what we do," she says. "We've always been ahead of things in that sense and we still are."
Buckland views Google not as a threat, but as an adjunct to the librarian's role.
"Librarians use Google all the time," she says. "It is handy for quick questions. But how do you vet the quality of these things? That's what librarians do. We teach our users how to find the quality answers."
Maria Shine Stewart authors the "A Kinder Campus" column for Inside Higher Ed. She focuses on what we can do as members of academic communities to improve our relationships, treat each other with respect and build better communities. Apparently she thinks very highly of the campus library as a community builder - owing to the strengths academic librarians bring to the community. From the column:
"Academic librarians -- and libraries -- don’t need me to defend them. In fact, they don’t need to be defended at all. But I think they sometimes might be more clearly celebrated on our campuses. Yes: celebrated. And I’ll bring the party favors, including several armloads of questions (from the profound to the basic) and dozens of looks (from the puzzled to the angry to the restless). Above all, I’ll bring my gratitude and respect...Academic libraries may be some of the kindest places on campus. And whether they need my vote of confidence or not, they have it. Read more at: http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/a_kinder_campus/stewart_essay_on_celebrating_the_campus...
I wish I could've used this as the title for this post: "Designing information literacy instruction without understanding that feral place where many library users reside is about as effective as taming a wolf. We can do it, but what good does that do for the wolf?"
"Digital native is a fantasy invented by the fans of silicon valley to pigeonhole a generation for the sake of selling technology, but the truth is far less convenient. Not only the digital natives, but many people take on a feral state in their interactions with the internet, as it constantly shifts its boundaries, its cities and deserts. Likewise, the library is a place where we ought to allow for the feral. The ACRL information literacy standards are only useful to the domesticated to promote their efficient and purposeful use of the library. The truth is that most people do not experience the library as a city, but rather as a wilderness on the edge of civilization.
See Also: Matthew Battles, The Call of the Feral.
More from The Chronicle too (but fewer pix).
Over at Attempting Elegance, Jenica Rogers is "Feeling Pointy":
"I am, professionally and personally, livid; I do not appreciate condescension, eradication of librarians’ professional expertise, or sidestepping of questions that are completely valid in a consumer-seller relationship in which a carefully delineated accreditation relationship is also involved. Our vendors seem to think that going straight to the faculty is going to benefit them, but I don’t understand their logic in sidestepping librarians. We’re the ones with the budgets. We’re the ones they have to work with. Yes, our faculty are influential, key stakeholders and partners, and are the source of our research agenda and teaching and learning needs, but still: How is undermining and alienating the librarian middleman going to help business?
Anger and bewilderment aside, I’m caught between the proverbial rock and hard place — I must support the faculty and students who rely on the research materials published by the ACS. But I must also strive to manage the budgets, resources
Librarians, archivists to commence strike
This afternoon, librarians and archivists at The University of Western Ontario announced they would commence strike action effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 8
The 51 members of the bargaining unit are represented by the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA). The librarians and archivists and the university have been meeting since April 26, working to renew the group’s second contract, which ended June 30.
Peer review and the corruption of science
Pressure on scientists to publish has led to a situation where any paper, however bad, can now be printed in a journal that claims to be peer-reviewed...By and large, the problem does not arise from outright fraud, which is rare. It arises from official pressure to publish when you have nothing to say.
Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist
"What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning."
See Also: Response to George Monbiot’s Rant against Academic Publishers
"No one doubts that commercial publishers are in the business of making money. But the way they make money is by doing something that academics value but that they would not do for themselves, left to their own devices. What I mean is captured in two words: ‘innovation’ and ‘extension’. "
Digital libraries wasted
"In their future career, students will have to research subjects related to their work more often than they might imagine. On the more professional levels, in fact, a basic search-engine query might not return any suitable results. Students should acquaint themselves with the databases USC subscribes to, most of which are common and highly regarded in the professional world."