I am not ignoring you

To everyone who has sent me an email or made a comment in the last 18 or so hours, I am not ignoring you. 

I am racing out the door to head to Bloomington/Normal to see my daughter for an hour or so before she heads back to college, and to go to the dentist.  I am also struggling to finish my book index AND do a great job.  In my mind, I need about another 20 hours to do it right; I have about 2.  Maybe I’m overdoing it.  I do set tough standards for my academic work, but it does account for 25% of my grade.  To me, that is a significant slice.

The reason I can make this post, but not answer emails or comments is that this takes less time and also that I don’t answer emails to my insight address from the laptop unless they are emergencies.  [Long story, but has to do with a web email client vs. Outlook and having a good record of replies.]  And as important as these emails and comments are to me, and they are (you know who you are), they are not emergencies.  Unfortunately, that means tomorrow morning at the earliest probably.  Maybe late tonight, but don’t count on it.  Sorry. 

May your day be less hectic than mine.

How to lose your tech librarians and Rory Litwin: Some thoughts

Last night I wrote a post that started, "Rory Litwin at Library Juice has written a great piece on "Questioning the Techie Mission.""

My friend Jenny posted the following comment:  "I am not even going to begin commenting on this, but I am wondering
what you thought about the "ways to lose your techie librarian" lists.
I mean Rory’s writing seems a lot like the thinking those lists points
out as forcing techie (or tech competent) librarians out of libraries.
So I would wonder what you thought about the lists…."

I am moving my reply to the front page, if you will, and out of the comments because I’d like it to get more exposure than if it was buried in the comments.

In the interest of those who only want the synopsis, here is the gist of my reply to Jenny in the comments of that post.  Further explication for those who don’t mind a bit of sustained reading follows:

But the short answer is that I see no conflict. Can (do?) others?
Probably. I see two ways to take Rory’s comments in relation to the
"lose your techie" lists depending on whether one is an unrepentant
technophile or an unrepentant tech obstructionist. And both of those
groups need to be publicly humiliated in my not-so-humble (in this
case) opinion.

Yes, I did read many of those lists.  I also agreed with much that is on them.  I have even, in some small sense, been one of those tech librarians who left.  The problem at "my library" was not that they had no tech vision.  It was that it was driven from the top and the top was completely clueless as to how to get from the bottom of the valley to the mountain top.  Thus, they were guilty of many things on the lists.  My issue was that I was attempting to help get them where they wanted to be, to be a Sherpa or even a simple pack animal.  But just as in any major expedition, if you ignore your guide or even your pack animals you are bound to fail at some point. 

I was the only one doing anything remotely close to what one specific "grand vision" was.  My boss and I had taken things as far as we could, but we needed help with a few issues.  Keep in mind, all of these issues existed in and were 100s of times larger in the "grand vision."  We had organized other staff (mostly) and faculty within the library (mostly systems folks) who were willing to give us some of their time and expertise.  We did not require large amounts of money, nor even necessarily other resources.  What we needed was some policy guidance and priority setting from those who could set it.  And yes, in many cases we had already submitted draft policies only to have them lost by the person at the top who was the approval authority (one of the things on some of the lists).

As for systems help, it was mostly of the mashup variety kind of thing.  A few SQL queries written to get things out of the Voyager database, something (simple, really) coded up to help us manage copyright issues other than 1000s of individual pieces of paper and my bosses, and my, memory.

But we could get absolutely no support for what we needed.  And I could not get listened to by those with "grand visions," even though I was the only one in the building with any current knowledge of anything related to the basic processes which constituted this specific "grand vision."  Since we could not get listened to, we could not get the folks with the power to say, "Yes, you systems folks can devote 5 hours a week to this project."  Thus, we were stuck with an archaic technology that worked reasonably well when we had several hundred records, but was completely unable to scale when we had over 3000 records and were growing by a few hundred records a week on average.  Also, due to other changes on campus and in the library, this service needed to grow even more.  Unlike Dorothea’s issues with growing an institutional repository, we had long passed the tipping point in selling our service, but it was still being actively sold.  Business was pouring in.  We were making do for the meantime, but I was extremely unhealthy.  I cared too much about the mission and for my bosses success, if that is possible. 

I don’t have any hard figures, but my understanding is that this very basic pedagogical library support service was significantly scaled back after I left; just as it needed to grow even more.

I know this is a long, hard way to get in this post without even addressing the question.  But, I wanted to ensure that people understand that I have been there.  I have done some of this.  I have left an untenable tech situation.  I initially just tried to move elsewhere within the library as my skills and knowledge were not valued, except in the routine daily production mode, but that soon became untenable for other reasons and I left.

Here is a link to one of Michael Stephen’s posts where he collected links and added more thoughts on ways to lose techie librarians.  And here are some of his points from his initial post:

  • 2. Plan technology projects without involving them until the wheels are in motion/contracts are signed
  • 4. Allow barriers to exist that make it difficult for IT staff and librarians to plan and collaborate
  • 5. Bog down their projects in red tape and approvals that take weeks or months to get
  • 10. Always ensure that non-technical people make the important technical decisions

Here’s one from Karen Schneider’s list:

  • 3. Be sure to throw around the phrase "professional staff" in the
    presence of library tech workers who do not have library degrees. So
    what if they have degrees in computer science or decades of skill, if
    they aren’t librarians?

And for an alternate view, see Jessamyn on "…and about those techie librarians."

Many of those I selected from Michael’s list are directly related to my issues I mentioned above.  It once took me over 10 weeks to get access to a piece of software that cost $25 for a single-license version.  We had a 60-license agreement in the library, which meant about $8 for the license I needed, but they were all in use.  Now keep in mind, this is after I have proven to all concerned parties that having this piece of software would literally double productivity (and improve accuracy) in one of the most critical steps in our process.  This was not a question of how fast we could pay for it or some other logistical issue.  It was simply a matter of focus.  Someone in charge had to tell someone else to make it happen.  Once that was decided, a copy was located on a workstation that wasn’t even using it all.

As for Karen’s point 3, personally I think it applies even more broadly.  Here are some comments, also from my 1st LIS class in 2004:

“Profession” vs. what – unprofessional? I have spent 6 years in an
academic library split evenly as a student worker/student supervisor
and as a staff member. Whenever I hear "professionals" say "I do more
than shelve books" I just want to round up all of the staff and
students and leave the building to the "professionals." Then they might
actually see that they are not the ones to make the library actually
work on a daily basis. And as a career military person with a son who
has now experienced the horrors of war for his country, I have a hard
time putting into words how divisive such talk is. At least in the
military there is no talk of officers being the "professionals" while
the rest of us are–what?

I understand that there needs to be some differentiation between degreed librarians and other forms of staff, and I understand the sociological concept of "professions."  Yes, I have read Abbott.  But, this label is nothing but divisive.  Words are powerful.  And besides having a denotation they also carry connotations, and these connotations are not the same for different peoples.

I can look at all of those lists and find almost nothing to disagree with.  Tech folks need training.  Tech folks need to go to conferences.  They need to be valued members of the team.  Their expertise needs to be recognized.  And so on.  What the heck is there to disagree with?

As for Rory’s specific points and how they might relate to these lists [Caveat:  I do not, and am not attempting to, speak for Rory Litwin.  Any comments here are strictly my interpretation of his words.]:

I question the value in
being advocates or missionaries for technology, and question the
assumptions behind that posture. Technology advances strongly and
securely enough without the help of technology advocates, and as
librarians there are more important ends to pursue (often with
technology as part of the means, but always with explicit reasoning).

I fully agree with every word in these sentences.  Could they be teased apart, nuanced a bit perhaps?  Certainly.  But I doubt that most any reasonable person would disagree with any of it once that was done.

Does this preclude being an advocate for a specific technology in a specific use?  Certainly not!  See the parenthetical comment in the last sentence.  Technologies should always be used with explicit reasoning.  Sometimes that reasoning is far easier than other times, but it should still be done.  And yes, sometimes play is a good thing, as long as the reasons for play have been considered.

I’ll skip some of his points on certain assumptions because I don’t see them as relevant to the topic at hand.

That library users and potential library users are generally
underserved at present because of the slowness of libraries’ adoption
of new technologies. This is an assumption that can be questioned
objectively, and may turn out to be true, but hasn’t yet really been
tested. It is assumed irrationally.

Can anyone really debate this.  There is some "data," mostly from surveys.  But that proves nothing until you’ve done a serious analysis of the survey instrument, the sample, and so on.  Dangit!  I can’t remember who, but someone recently posted about surveys and how folks answer certain ways because they think the surveyor, society, etc. think they should.  Surveys are useful, but they have serious issues as real data.  Rory’s point is that this is an untested assumption.

…such technologies and all of their effects are automatically good.  Technology is a cause
to fight for, us against them. This is an assumption that many techie
librarians make at a deep level, leading to a fervent zeal that seems
very curious to those of us who fail to see its basis.

Again, personally, I can’t argue.  But then I’ve done a lot of work in the history, philosophy, and sociology of technology.  It is extremely hard to see these pro-technology biases unless one has, and even then it is still hard.

As for the tech-centric focus of much of the biblioblogosphere feeling alienating to many librarians, well, I certainly have no stats, but I know it is the case, in several cases at least, based on personal knowledge and discussion.

Because of the dominance of the library blogosphere by tech promoters,
the assumptions behind the tech-promotional mission of many librarians
are unlikely to be questioned within their own culture.

Yep.  Even if only me, I do do less questioning than I meant to, and would like to.

There has been little examination, that I am aware of, of technophilia
as an ideology. It is an ideology, and a very strange one. As an
ideology it is a lens through which things are are rendered according
to a set of values in the act of seeing. But unlike the ideologies of
Right and Left, these values don’t spring from any idea of what is
essential to humanity, but from something else: a prioritization of the
process of controlling and reshaping the world through the use of ever
more complex tools, and of our own adaptation to that artificial world
and to those tools. As ideologies go, seen at its root, it is rather
perverse.

I would love to sit over some coffee or a good beer with Rory and really tease apart what he meant by "it is a lens through which things are rendered according
to a set of values in the act of seeing."  I think I agree, but I also would describe it in other ways.  Technology is definitely driven by our visual culture.  And visual culture has and leads to serious moral issues.  ‘Causes’ moral issues might be too strong, but that is the natural tendency of a visual culture, especially a consumer-driven visual culture.  But I certainly agree with every other word in that paragraph. 

I’m going to stop with the direct citing of Rory’s post now because I’m boring myself.  Not because his words are boring, but mostly because he does not need me to "defend" him.  Personally, I find these words of his inspirational.

So back to the point of this lengthy post:

My friend Jenny posted the following comment:  "I am not even going to begin commenting on this, but I am wondering
what you thought about the "ways to lose your techie librarian" lists.
I mean Rory’s writing seems a lot like the thinking those lists points
out as forcing techie (or tech competent) librarians out of libraries.
So I would wonder what you thought about the lists…."

I see absolutely no conflict between Rory’s post and the how to keep/lose your tech librarians.  Can, do, will others?  I have no doubt that they will.  I see two ways to take Rory’s comments in relation to the
"lose your techie" lists depending on whether one is an unrepentant
technophile or an unrepentant tech obstructionist.  And both of those
groups need to be publicly humiliated in my not-so-humble (in this
case) opinion.

Some (many?) of the folks who unquestioningly embrace most any technology will take severe umbrage at his words.  Those are the ones who most need to take a step back and learn about unintended consequences and the moral implications of rampant unquestioned technology use.

As for the obstructionists latching on to his words and saying, "See we told you. We can’t / shouldn’t / won’t do that with technology…."  Well, they need to wake up too.  And they also need to re-read his words.  He never said any such thing.  He claimed that there is a rampant unquestioned push towards the implementation of technology in much of the biblioblogosphere and that that is not a good thing for various reasons.  He did not accuse everyone of it.  He did not say all technology is bad.  What he did say is correct.  When he did make a claim he was careful to nuance it and to point out which were empirically testable. 

I see absolutely nothing in his words that impact one way or the other the various "lose your techie" lists.  As for having any sort of answer myself, well, I’m sorry but I don’t.  On that point, I would again say see Jessamyn on "…and about those techie librarians."  And be sure to follow the links in her post.

There is a very large middle ground here.  I like to think that I, and many others, are in it.  I do agree with Rory that it at least seems as if much of the biblioblogosphere is firmly on the pro-technology side.  And some of them are very denigrating to any on the other side of the middle, and honestly to many in the middle.  Personally, I find the pro side to be the most dangerous, by far.  That is not to say that some of the people completely afeared of any technology newer than the horseless carriage aren’t denigrating also.  I could name one prime example and so-called leader. 

Again, I see no overlap between "the thinking those lists points
out" and Rory’s post.  Absolutely none, except for the far "right" and the far "left" in this ideology of technology.  And make no mistake, that it is.  I hope to engage with people in the vast middle ground.  In my mind, those are people like Rory Litwin, Walt Crawford, Meredith Farkas, Jenica Rogers, Angel, Jessamyn West and many, many others.  I full well know that many people might would put some of them elsewhere than middle, but at the moment I’m the one writing about technology and it’s my list. 

Things will be better when we all can finally start discussing and not dissing each other, drawing lines, and so forth.  And, yes, I question.  I probe.  I ask people to reconsider or nuance.  It is intended as critique, and not as criticism in the negative sense.  Unfortunately, I have learned that it is not welcomed and, in fact, is completely untolerated in much of the biblioblogosphere.  I almost feel bad about trying to invite Rory to the table last night.  Maybe I was in a better mood then, but now I’m not so sure I should have been so encouraging.  But then, some of us can always go sit at the folding, card table off in the corner just like we had to do as children during large family gatherings.  Maybe there we can have our own nuanced discussions and learn from each other as we help each other figure out just what it is we think.

There is so much more that could be said, but I have to finish indexing a book.  By hand.  With 3×5 cards.  Some may consider me a Luddite on occasion, and if so I’ll wear the label proudly, but there is a definite pedagogical purpose in doing it this way.  And that is the point.  I am rationally and morally using the correct technology for this learning exercise.  Just as should be the case no matter the task or the technology at hand.

 

Rory on “Questioning the Techie Mission”

Rory Litwin at Library Juice has written a great piece on "Questioning the Techie Mission."

I have to agree with almost everything he wrote here.  I am not one of the younger techie librarians.  Heck, I’m not even an older techie librarian (or soon-to-be anyway).  I’m older and will soon be a librarian.  I am fairly techie.  But I’ve spent a large number of hours reading, thinking and writing about works by Ellul, Stivers, Postman and many others and I have a very healthy questioning of technology.

Technologies can be very beneficial.  They can also be very dangerous.  In fact, they are generally inherently dangerous in that they are rarely questioned.  I don’t write a lot of anti-technology stuff (and I’m not saying or implying that Rory does) because it wouldn’t go over very well with much of the biblioblogosphere crowd.  Not that I am trying to pander to anyone but, although I often fail, I try to choose my "battles" carefully.

Some excerpts of what I wrote in my 1st LIS class on my professional concerns and on community and, yes, I still stand by every word:

Professional concerns:

I have many other concerns regarding the profession of librarianship,
to include the rampant technological deteminism and what I call
"technological elitism." I am searching for other voices of reason and
a long-term outlook on these and other issues but they are hard to find
in a world that is more and more media constructed to take an
ephemeral, short-term view of the trendy, the hip, and in reality what
makes money for the massive corporations behind it all. Basic human
rights and dignity is not a sexy idea in the culture we are rampantly
imposing on the world. I must strive to join those very few voices that
are concerned with such issues and to find the actions that I
personally can take to work towards these goals.

Community:

During summer 2003 I lost faith in my choice to become a librarian due
to conditions at the academic library in which I work. Then I stumbled
across some radical librarians (Jessamyn West, Rory Litwin,…) on the
Internet and found some "alternative" library literature, along with
some saner (than the orthodoxy) voices about the uses and relationships
of technology to and within librarianship and higher education. This
discovery was of critical importance to me. If I had not found these
voices I probably would not be here today. This is one community that I
definitely intend to join.

Feel free to consider this some "link love" Rory.  But as for being part of the conversation….  Well, from your feed that I’m subscribed to in Bloglines, and there is another one, you have over three times the subscribers that I do.  I’ve wanted to leave a comment on occasion, including on the above post, but it seems that I need to be registered with WordPress to do so.  I’m tired of having a zillion different logins and identities, so I haven’t done so, yet.  Maybe you’d have more comments if your comment system was more transparent.

Also, as for being part of the conversation…are you leaving comments at other blogs?  Can’t say I remember seeing many, although I could have just missed them.  Make an effort to join the conversation and folks will engage with you.  At least that is how I’ve experienced it.  Feel free to question folks.  I’ve had nothing but good feedback from people, even when we’ve disagreed.  Ask for more nuance.  Ask for clarification of a position.  Play devil’s advocate.  Hell, just be the devil’s advocate.  That is a position that I often try to fill, and I’d like a little company.

And yes, you did present yourself "from the beginning as not wholeheartedly into the blogging thing."  I assume that has had some effect on your reception, or lack thereof, into the biblioblogosphere.

I love your writing and the fact that you’re willing to take a position that often seems vastly different than much of what gets passed around out here.  You have many more subscribers than a scrub like me, but it’s based on (and deservedly so) your name from previous incarnations of your work.  To be a part of the conversation you need to join it.  So maybe I’m offbase here, but I say don’t be so standoffish and come sit at the table with the rest of us.  Some may argue with you, some may ignore you, but some of us will engage with you.

This post was hard for me to write, because while Lorcan Dempsey may have fangirls, you have at least one fanboy (if someone nearing 50 can even be a fanboy).  See the above excerpt on community for why.  And, no, I’m not a fanboy of you per se.  We haven’t yet met.  It is of your "voice" and your intelligent writing.

I am supremely happy that that voice is available again.  You say many of the things that I’d like to, but so much better than I would.  But I’d also like to hear that voice at the table and not from the doorway.

Oh, and thank you for helping to convince me that I should become a librarian despite what I had already seen.  Sincerely!

ALA, Quit wasting my dues

Honestly, I am tired of picking on ALA, but they make it so easy.

In the mail today, I received a nice packet of material from ALA.  There is a one-page letter from Michael Gorman, a one-page "Brief Summary," and four-page FAQ.  All of these materials address the proposed dues increase.

I realize that voting is open until April 24th but, also, that the polls opened on March 15th.  That was 12 days ago. 

Thousands of people, including myself, have already voted.  What in the name of St. Jerome was your, and my, dues monies wasted for on this folly?  I mean really.  Honestly.  I’d like an answer.  Someone is completely clueless!

This should have been sent 3-4 weeks ago.  And if it was mailed 3-4 weeks ago then it should have been mailed 5-6 weeks ago.  At best, we should be receiving emails, or some other low cost form of communication, about this right now, after the polls have opened and thousands of people have already voted.

I did vote for the dues increase.  But, honestly, if I could change my vote right now I would.  This is simply asinine!  I know some of you will differ with me and that’s fine.  It’s your prerogative and your right.  But in my mind, while definitely not fraud, it is waste and abuse.

I am not the biggest technophile in the world, but this is so….  Well, I’m not going to denigrate any time period, but it is simpy asinine and wasteful.  I am serious.  If I could change my vote I would.  ALA does not deserve any dues increase from me until they can prove differently.

I am not advocating for anyone to vote any particular way on this issue.  There are good reasons to vote for the dues increase, just as I did.  But this shows me that I cannot trust ALA with any additional monies from me.  Hell, I can’t trust them with what I already give them.

ALA, please, just get a clue.

Break’s over

Well, my "break" is over. 

I’m still finishing up my book index.  Typing it up and differentiating some entries.

Got one of my checkbooks balanced after being hosed up for 2 months.  I never did quite figure out what the issue was, but I fixed it. 

Dog sat for about 36 hours this weekend, although I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it again.  She really bothered my allergies; still is since I haven’t revacuumed yet.

Did not get any of my draft posts finished.  By the time I’m able to they may not be worth it any more, although none are really time sensitive.  Oh well.

Unfortunately though, that means I have nothing to submit to Greg for the Carnival this week.  I know he asked for submissions, so I’ll offer my apologies and offer my simple, but heartfelt, congratulations on Open Stacks reaching its 3rd anniversary.  I only wrote one thing library-related this week and I do not want to submit it for wider dissemination.  I asked a question and I got a good and friendly answer.  I heard almost immediately from one of the authors and I’m fully satisfied.  The study is important for its historical illumination and it had been meant to be more timely, but stuff happens.  It would be unfair, I think, to propogate my post any further than it reaches naturally on its own.

Just finished watching the last of another set of 3 movies:

Marina Golbahari is simply incredible as Osama.  Her eyes are incredible storytellers; beautiful, yet haunting.  While not a feel good movie, this is a movie we all should watch.  The simple truth is I cried at the end.  Our world is not as it could be.  And for many, it is far worse.

Meritocracy and education

A very interesting interview of Lani Guinier on "The Measure of Meritocracy,"  and how "our educational system has become a copy of the aristocracy it was intended to undo."

RP: Can you talk about the Harvard and Michigan studies?

LG:
Harvard University did a study based on 30 Harvard graduates over a
30-year period. They wanted to know which students were most likely to
exemplify the things that Harvard values most: doing well financially,
having a satisfying career and contributing to society (especially in
the form of donating to Harvard). The two variables that most predicted
which students would achieve these criteria were low SAT scores and a
blue-collar background.

That study was followed by one at the
University of Michigan Law School that found that those most likely to
do well financially, maintain a satisfying career and contribute to
society were black and Latino students who were admitted pursuant to
affirmative action. Conversely, those with the highest LSAT scores were
the least likely to mentor younger attorneys, do pro-bono work, sit on
community boards, etc. So, the use of these so called "measures of
merit" like standardized tests is backfiring on our institutions of
higher learning and blocking the road to a more democratic society.

RP: You refer to college education as a gift from poor to rich.

LG:
Anthony Carnevaly made that statement when he was the vice president of
the Educational Testing Service. He did a study of 146 of the most
selective colleges and universities and found that 74 percent of
students came from the top 25 percent of the socioeconomic spectrum.
Only three percent came from the lowest quartile and 10 percent (which
is three percent plus seven percent) came from the bottom half. So that
means that 50 percent of people in the country are providing
substantial state and federal taxes to both public and private
institutions even though they are among those least well off and are
being excluded from the opportunity.

Read it for more interesting information on how class, race, societal position, and "merit" influence our educational system.  There are some very interesting claims made.  While you may not agree with them all, I challenge anyone to disprove that there are major flaws in our system of higher education and who gets the privilege to attend.

Oh, and please remember that as soon as you reinterpret Ms. Guinier’s data I will challenge any claims to the possibility of measuring "merit."  Do I have an answer to who should be admitted then?  No, I do not.  But recognition of the problem is the first step.  Open discussion of the issues, difficult as they may be, is the next.  And while I admit that it is often a useful stance to take, those who would claim that pointing out a problem without offering a solution is simple carping, will be immediately disenfranchised from the conversation.  Seems fair, as that is what they have just done to those bringing the problem forward.  Some problems need to be openly discussed and a compromise solution sought.  To imagine that any individual could have a solution to a problem of this magnitude and complexity is sheer unadulterated hubris.  To those who would take that stance, I can only say, "May you fly too close to the sun…."

Found at alternet.org via
IFACTION Digest 1498.

Also from the same sources, an interesting article on increased student debt, which has garnered a whole range of comments.  Interesting idea nonetheless:

There is social control in loading young people up with financial
obligations. Burdened with debt and desperate to have and keep a job,
there is no way they can take a wild year off, and there is certainly
no time for protesting, organizing or causing the kind of social and
political trouble young people cause from time to time.

How many
young people turn away from low-paying but vital professions because
they can’t earn enough to pay back their loans? How many potential
social workers, pro bono lawyers, journalists, environmentalists,
teachers, artists, secondary medical professionals and community
workers are we losing?

More movies and indexing

Been spending a lot of time working on my book index for class.  I have about 14 more pages to do tomorrow (out of 88) and then I have to type it up and check it, disambiguate some things, and so on.

Since it is such tedious work I have allowed myself to intersperse some breaks.  I’ve been following the adventures of others at CiL, and to a lesser extent at PLA.  I’ve also been doing some reading at lunch time and while having snacks.  I’ve been making a bit of progress in a book on book history that I started a while ago. 

Also read Edouard Machery, "Concepts are Not a Natural Kind." Philosophy of Science, 72 (3) July 2005.  I still am a member of the Philosophy of Science Association, because for $25/yr as a student I consider it a deal to get the print journal and have full online access.  I’m sure I could get it at the UIUC Library, but I prefer to have it in hand.  I know.  Archaic.  Especially since so much of it is beyond me.  So be it.  These are exactly the kinds of articles I need to hand if I want to be a cataloger.

Got more movies when I returned the last set.  This was a very good trio, let me say.

Sex and Lucia was recommended by Ranger at in the hoosegow back in Sep 05.  It was very good.  A powerful story.

Sueño was lovely and had wonderful music.  I just wish the songs had sub-titles so I could understand more of the lyrics.  A nice, little story about reaching for your dreams.  Oh, just don’t believe that plot synopsis at imdb.com.  There is no love triangle.  Must have been a 12-year old boy who wrote that stupid comment.  And while I may think Michelle Williams is a little cutey and feel bad for it,
Elizabeth Peña is one gorgeous middle-aged woman and I see no need to
feel bad about thinking that, because she is only 2 1/2 years younger
than me.  I really liked her in Lone Star.  I also see she’s been in a lot of movies I haven’t seen.  May have to add some of those to my list.

Off the Map is set in the high desert of northern New Mexico and is a treat for the eyes.  Sam Elliott is at his finest playing the depressed husband, while Joan Allen shines as his wife trying to cope with his depression.  Valentina de Angelis is exquisite as their highly independent 12-year old daughter Bo.  Simply incredible storytelling and movie making.  Rent this movie.

Other than that, not much getting done.  The to-do list gets added to but not much gets taken off.  I remind myself that I am making progress on things that are somewhat involved, but still….

No massage because they’re closed this week.  Can’t turn in my petition paperwork because I need my advisor’s signature and she’s wisely on break herself.  Should write Jeremy but we did talk on the phone the other day so it isn’t quite so pressing.  Not getting on campus much so can’t do much networking. 

I love taking vacation and not getting much of anything done.  Especially when the point of the "vacation" is to get stuff done.  Of course, needing to take vacation so one can get things done sucks to start with!

Tomorrow I have to clean because I have a dog showing up about 8 AM Saturday morning.  Can’t have poor Hap turning into a dustball while she’s here.  She doesn’t breathe very well to start with.  Cleaning it is then.

Technical Services Job Ads: Changes Since 1995 :: Questions

Deeken, JoAnne and Deborah Thomas.  "Technical Services Job Ads: Changes Since 1995."  College & Research Libraries 67 (2), March 2006: 136-145.  Read in print.

I received my copy of CR&L a few days ago and immediately read this article.  It is a replication of, and comparison to, similar studies that analyzed job ads from the mid-1990s.  It looks at job postings from 2001.

I have only two questions about this study.  I know.  Surprising, isn’t it?  Keep in mind this is looking at data from 2001.

The authors encountered an unexpected problem when entering data. A significant number of advertisements simply listed the job title and the school and stated that the full position description was posted on a Web site. Many of those Web sites were no longer available to consult when the study was done, so those jobs were reluctantly excluded. It is estimated that approximately 10 percent of the total job ads were in this category. If this trend continues, the validity of this type of study in the future could become suspect (138).

I do not know if the authors are using some special operational definition of validity in that paragraph, but let me suggest that this study is already suspect on this basis.  You had to throw out "approximately ten percent" of your data and yet you say "could become suspect."  Researchers claim statistical relevance at percentages far below ten percent in most cases.  I say you discard ten percent of your data, which I agree you had no choice but to do, and your results are already suspect.

My second question, which is really a direct question this time, is what is the relevance of this study?  2001?  I’m all about historical analysis, but as far as I could discern in this article it never represented itself as a historical analysis.  It is attempting to answer questions of current relevance.

Why couldn’t data from 2005 be used?  Maybe even 2004?  There have been many changes within libraries, society, and academia since 2001.  Economic, attitudinal, societal, technological, and budgetary changes, among many others, have occurred in the intervening five years.  I maintain that some of these changes may have, and probably have, had a significant impact on the questions this study is trying to answer.  2001?

Color me confused.  Again.

Just as I emailed Penny Beile amd Megan Adams my questions about their July 2000 CR&L article, "Other Duties as Assigned: Emerging Trends in the Academic Library Job Market," which was pleasantly and very generously brought to my attention by Lisa Hinchliffe, I am going to email my question about using 2001 data to the authors.  I will also provide a link to this post so they can see my public comments on their article, and respond here if they so desire.


Update:

Meant to do this several days ago.  Thanks to Rudy for reminding me via her comment.

I very graciously heard from one of the authors almost immediately.  I did not receive any specific guidance one way or the other on whether I could cite from her response, but I feel this needs an update so folks will know that I got my main question answered.  Thus, I’ll do a mini synopsis.

  • Data collection began in 2002, with 2001 as the data collection period.  [That certainly fits my criteria for timeliness.] 
  • Several reasons arose to delay publication.  [Life trumps publication?  ;-)] 
  • Reviewers and authors still felt it was valuable information.  [So do I, which I hope I stressed.  My gripe was that although valuable, it had become historical data.] 
  • The author fully realizes that the study should be updated, and encouraged me or anyone else to update it and even offered to share their data to make meaningful comparisons possible.

I am very grateful to this author for addressing my concern about timeliness and shedding a little light on the reality of getting timely information actually published in a timely manner.  Thus,…

Highly Recommend reading, especially for those of us contemplating or pursuing careers in technical services.  My only caveat is that you should keep in mind that this is now an historical analysis.  Also, for those of you needing a research project and a (probable) publication opportunity you should consider replicating this study.  Feel free to email the authors with your interest and I imagine they will be happy to share their raw data with you.

By the way, whatever my other gripes may be with College & Research Libraries, I love that they publish the authors’ email addresses right along with the rest of the authors’ info in the articles.  I have used this feature twice now over the years and have been very pleasantly surprised at the level of collegiality, and timeliness, of the replies.

Happy Vernal Equinox

Greetings from the snowy cornfields of central Illinois!  It finally snowed sometime during the night, but nowhere near the predicted levels. 

it was now fine music
the frogs and the boys did
in the towering illinois twilight make and into dark
in spite a shoulder’s ache
a boy’s hunched body loved out of a stalk
the first song of his happiness
and the song woke his heart into the darkness and sadness of joy

andrew bird  "first songweather systems

I got quite the surprise this morning!  My son called.  He wanted to tell me that he’s been selected for promotion to Sergeant First Class.  This is to the rank I retired as.  He’s done it in half the time it took me!  He’s also getting a new job which will require a lot of travel.  I didn’t tell him his mom had already told me.  I was able to give him my news about another degree.  We talked for a good long while.  But just as we were getting into our "issues" my phone’s battery ran out.  I told him that I’d write and try to explain how I feel about things.  How, for example, my issues with him going to war are between my country and me, not between him and me.  I told him I love him very much and that I am very proud of him.

He supposedly has a CD out and is going to send me a copy.  It is hip-hop and rap.  He has also written a lot of songs that he hasn’t recorded yet because of his circumstances.  It is hard for him to be as publicly political as he’d like being in the Army.  It isn’t a good idea to publicly dis the Commander in Chief while your still in uniform.  And some people wonder why I do not like being told I can’t say certain things….

I spent a large portion of the afternoon indexing the first quarter of my book for class.  I can tell you now, I do not particularly like book indexing.  I had to go out and buy more 3×5 index cards after using well over a hundred on the first quarter! 

After picking up the index cards, I went to the local caffeine pusher and got a pastry and a cup of coffee and sat there and read the last chapter and epilogue of Auerbach’s Mimesis.  It seems very odd to be finished with this book seeing as we’ve been reading it for over 3 years now.  I still need to finish To the Lighthouse, but I had already read past the scene Auerbach recounts so decided to finish it as it is more important to the discussion than Woolf even.

My sister just called to discuss my daughter’s graduation.  She was not happy to find out the actual graduation is on Monday (Memorial Day).  I have to say, "I agree!"  They have a whole damn Monday holiday weekend, yet they have the commencement ceremony on Monday morning.  That has a serious impact on how people can travel to, and particularly from, Oberlin in a timely manner.

Rib pain is back to a mostly dull ache today, for which I am very grateful.

When I’m done with this, I think I’ll watch House of Flying Daggers.  When I returned the previous movies I got 3 more.  I’ve already watched Layer Cake and The BaxterLayer Cake is a British gangster movie.  It was fairly good, but the ending was a definite surprise.  The DVD actually has alternative endings, but I didn’t watch any of them.  The shock had already occurred.  The Baxter ended quite sweetly, and darn that Michelle Williams is a cutey.  [Cripes!  She’s younger than my son.  Nonetheless, she is a cutey, particularly in this movie.]  But in the end, sweet or not, the movie just left me feeling all alone and depressed.  Luckily, it was time for bed.

whenever paul thinks of snow, soft winds blow round his head and his phone rings just once late at night-like a bird calling out, "wake up, paul. don’t be scared. don’t believe you’re all alone."

andrew bird  "don’t be scaredweather systems

I do try to believe.  Belief is not enough though, as I learned during the early depths of my depression a few years back.  One must also feel.  To truly know that one is loved and is not alone, it is far more important to feel it than to believe it.