Wow! It’s been a month since the last Carnival and I am afraid it shows. People seem to have forgotten about this struggling little venture. It also looks like we need hosts for the future. We have one more scheduled after this one, pulling into LIS – Michael Habib in two weeks, but after that there are no hosts scheduled. Please volunteer.
Now, onward to the spectacle that is the 62nd Carnival of the Infosciences
Our first, and only, submission this week comes from Christina Pikas of Christina’s LIS Rant. Christina wrote “a mini essay on weeding in response to the biblioblogosphere kerfluffle.” She is referring to the assorted responses to one or more articles written about the weeding going on at the Fairfax County Public Library system. So, without further ado, “On Weeding…”
Public libraries, on the other hand, especially branch collections, usually will weed more aggressively. First, the books are handled much more roughly and so can be in much poorer shape. Second, the mission of the library is for the local citizen’s person information needs like health information (should be rigorously and continuously weeded), legal information (should be rigorously and continuously weeded), self-help, hobby related, entertainment, and educational materials for both children and adult learners. Libraries that fail to weed will have out of date and possibly harmful materials. Sections like travel books where there are new copies every year should also be weeded — who wants a restaurant guide from 1999?
Seeing as the only submission is above this line, we will now move into the Ringmaster’s picks. As I said once before:
I’ll consider the chance to construct my own little version of “What did Mark find interesting around the biblioblogosphere …?” as a present from the rest of you all who stop by.
To continue with the theme which Christina is responding to I present two posts, with links to the article(s) that started the issue, or so I believe:
Chadwick Seagraves at InfoSciPhi gives us “Another Uproar over public libraries weeding non-circulating books.”
At these points people like Mr Miller, who actually said some insightful things, step up to pontificate about an issue that they are perhaps not an expert on. It is great to hear these opinions, but they should not drown out the clamour of the librarians who should be explaining and educating his readers that these are the tough choices that libraries face when we lose the financial and adminstrative support of our Boards and governments. They are also a result of our initiatives to adapt to the evolving information seeking and retrieval models so familiar to the average consumer.
As I was taught in library school and as I believe as a practicing librarian, librarians are here to provide information service and access, not to pass judgment on this information or those who seek it. Libraries need to be neutral zones, not a place for librarians to dictate what is worthy information and what is not.
Speaking of serving your community, we’ll move along to the issue of the Maplewood (NJ) Memorial Library closing the doors to their “two buildings on weekdays from 2:45 to 5 p.m., until further notice” due to unruly teenagers. This story has been all around the biblioblogosphere. Feel free to use your favorite engine of search to find more commentary.
None of this has been easy or inexpensive. Security guards and off-duty police officers cost money, as do extra staff. The time to plan and present teen programs is also not without a cost. But the return on this investment has been remarkable. The numbers of incidents in the branch are down. Customer comments are far more positive and, perhaps most importantly, the community understands and approves of the library’s efforts because the community has been made an integral part of the solution. While it is never possible to please everyone all of the time, the efforts being made in Dacula are showing very real and positive results. I hope other libraries facing such issues can find the resources to address their teen problems without resorting to closing their doors.
He then gives us a follow-up with “Maplewood Continues.”
Another wonderful piece by someone I am doing my utmost to learn from, although I have never met him, comes from T. Scott Plutchak. “What Do you Call “Success”?” comments on a recent Library Journal article by Roy Tennant about the future of academic libraries.
The three challenges that he speaks of are to “reconceptualize the role of the library,” acquire “agile, imaginative staff,” and get our hands on “new tools.” Seems pretty straightforward. But I worry just a bit when he goes on to say that, “In the end, we all came away from this meeting with a profound sense that things must change.” I sure hope that wasn’t new news to any of the participants.
We provide the ways and means for people to find entertainment and solace and enlightenment and joy and delight in the intellectual, scientific and creative work of other people. This is what we have always been about. For all those centuries, the way that we could best do that was by creating places and collections — but along the way we lost sight of the fact that those were only tools. We allowed our tools to define us.
For an interesting look at “Euro search” see 3 Quarks Daily on “Countering Google and Anglo-Saxon Cultural Imperialism.” Be sure to click through to the actual Guardian article; the blog post is more of a pointer than real commentary.
I am prompted to caricature those portentous lines of Eliot from The Rock often raised in library conversation (where is the knowledge we have lost in information, etc). We might well ask ourselves where is the data we have lost in information management, and the knowledge we have forsaken thereby.
Jennifer Macaulay of Life As I Know It asks “Should Tech Support Be An Explicit Library Service?” in response to an earlier post by Laura Cohen. Be sure not to miss the comments.
Ultimately, libraries need to decide whether they will provide technical support to their clientele. I personally think that if we offer technologically-driven services, we should be obligated to provide good, reliable and consistent support for them. Going further, we should not provide any service to patrons that we cannot support. Currently, I don’t think that we are doing a good job of providing technical support – specifically because we are still providing accidental tech support in a rather haphazard and inconsistent manner.
Not all that is old, small, or dark is bad. The trick is figuring out the difference. The challenge is acting on the difference to improve the roles we play in people’s lives.
FISH: Free (as in kittens) Integrated Search Handler.
inkdroid [Ed Summers, thanks to Lorcan Dempsey in the comments]
(sorry, I could only find a first name) tells us about OCLC’s Linked Authority file in “identifiers and authority records” and the potential such capabilities could give us.
All in all it’s an impressive mix of technology, standards and practice. It is not entirely clear to me how this work relates to the Virtual International Authority File. Perhaps LAF wasn’t considered a good acronym?
So if the canon is this problematic, either adopted or rejected, then what replaces it? Aimless fooling around on messageboards? This atomised culture in which you cannot ever assume that you have any points of reference in common with anyone? Perhaps. Perhaps ’twas ever thus, and the literary canon was a convenient (body of) fiction papering over the cracks.
Well folks, the elephants are getting antsy and are ready to start pulling up the tent stakes. Thank you for visiting the Carnival of the Infosciences #62.