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Convincing faculty of the benefits of publishing through open access sources, or contributing to an institutional repository, is one of the many new challenges facing academic librarians. Faculty outreach has always been a bit of a struggle, but now we’re trying to change a long-standing tradition of scholarly communication, and insert ourselves more visibly into a process where we tended, in the past, to be nothing more than silent collectors (at least, as far as faculty were concerned).

The librarians at UT Arlington have come up with a light-hearted, to-the-point way to convey their message, through video:

Sure, it’s slightly dorky, but I suspect also effective: short, funny, familiar, and straightforward. Definitely an idea to emulate.

It’s hard to believe that the last two years went by so fast, but yes, I’m now an official, bona fide librarian. Not only have I graduated and received my MSLIS (yes, I’m a master of science), but I got a real librarian job, to boot. I will be the new Systems/Metadata Librarian at Whitman College, in Walla Walla, WA. It’s an exciting opportunity to do a lot of forward-looking things, and I’ll be working with a small staff of very supportive, intelligent, creative people, in an excellent educational environment. I can hardly believe it all happened so fast, but I can’t even express the relief I feel that I’m gainfully employed, and the excitement I feel about all the things I will get to learn and do in this new phase of my professional life.

Of course, now that a job has been secured and I know where I’m going when I leave Boston, the fact of leaving Boston is very real and very sad and very…sudden. I still have about five weeks here, but five weeks just doesn’t seem like enough time. I was always planning to leave June 29, but June 29 was just an abstract date to me. Now, it’s a solid and quickly approaching date. And I’m in awe at how life can push you into places and situations you never saw coming. When I moved to Boston, I never in my life would have through I would eventually move to a small, isolated town in the Pacific Northwest. Two years ago, when I enrolled in library school, it was with the certain knowledge I’d be returning to the Bay Area in 2009. And as it turns out, the Bay Area is once again eluding me. All I can tell myself is that it’s just not time for me to be there yet, and I have to wait a little while longer.

I don’t know what the next five weeks will bring, as I prepare to pack up my life of the last six years and say good bye to people I love and to a city that, while sometimes frustrating, has also given me many great experiences and introduced me to many wonderful people. I can just hope that the place I’m heading will be as good to me.

Today is my last day of graduate school. As of May 11, I will be an official, bona fide librarian! The perfect time to read an excellent bit of advice from the blog Info Career Trends: Ask Permission Later. Rachel gives some excellent advice for new librarians, encouraging us not to be fearful in our newness to the field, but to get out there and start implementing our ideas. Well worth reading, both for all my fellow newly minted librarians, and for those of you who’ve been in the field for awhile.

My Tweets

Sean came up with a way to output your Tweet stream and input it into Wordle.

My Tweets, Wordle-ized

It’s pretty fun. I love visualizations.

I love it when my varied interests collide, as they just did when I found these great For the Gardener papers in the University of California’s institutional repository, eScholarship.

These papers were created by the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz, my alma mater. They produce a ton of great research around sustainability, agriculture, and eating, a topic that has been of near all-consuming interest to me lately. And this research is available for free through the UC’s institutional repository.

eScholarship is one of the most developed IRs I’ve seen yet, and I often look to it as a model when I’m thinking about IR development. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. Not only is it a great example of something that I believe is going to be a major part of the future of libraries, but you’re almost guaranteed to find something of interest to read, no matter what you’re interests are.

Banned Books Podcast

The podcast for the Banned Books panel we held last fall if finally up on the GSLISCast website. Ellen Giroud, Robie Harris, Penelope Johnson and Anne L. Moore, authors and librarians, spoke about their experiences with book challenges, the history of book challenges, and what you can do if you’re faced with a challenge in your library. This was a great event, one I’m really proud we managed to pull off, and I’m so glad these great speakers were recorded by the always helpful GSLISCast crew.

If you’re interested in book banning in the United States, even if you’re not a librarian, the podcasts are free and open to all, so please check it out.

Yesterday, in my management class, one of the campus librarians came in to talk about managing and keeping up to date with technologies in libraries. And she mentioned repeatedly that librarians “are always a few years behind the newest trends.” She mentioned this as through there is nothing to be done about, as though it’s simply a fact of librarianship that we have to accept, and that just made me sad.

I’ve only worked in one library, really, and it’s a small library in a school with a library science program, a library that considers itself something of a teaching library for future librarians. Because of that, we are pretty quick to adopt new technologies and try out new things, if not collectively, at least by a few people on the staff, experimentally. I guess I’m lucky in this respect, but I’ve also spent the last two years reading about libraries and technology and how important it is that we be innovative and flexible and creative with technology.

But if we accept that we’re going to be a few years behind every new tool and innovation that comes out, we’re only going to become more and more irrelevant. I like to think that the new generation of librarians, the people I’m graduating with in just four short weeks and those to follow, will change that slow-to-adopt habit. Sadly, I look around and see a lot of students who don’t seem all that interested in change.

It is far from the case that everyone in my program is like that. There are tons of forward thinking, innovative and creative people here. But there are also too many people who grimace at the thought of the eBook, who shake there heads at bringing mobile technologies into the library, who think creating an Information Commons is a Really Great and New Idea! These people don’t give me a lot of hope that our profession will keep up to date.

We can’t always be lagging behind our patrons, lagging behind the rest of the information economy. The sooner librarians realize we have to be at the forefront of new technologies, not a few years behind, the better chance we have of surviving. Period. Library schools need to know and encourage this, professional development and continuing education programs need to make this a key part of their training workshops and their philosophies, and librarians who are already in the field should do their best to shake of their wariness and their fears of change. Everyone seems to know this, and yet…nothing seems to be done about it.

I don’t have the answers, but I think if we collectively start to talk about how to really promote innovation, optimistically and without getting bogged down in the barriers, we might come up with some interesting ideas. And as always, I’d love to hear what other people think. If you work in a library, how have you promoted innovation? What keeps you from trying new things? What kinds of barriers do you encounter and how do you knock them down?

Innovative Education

When funding for education is being cut mercilessly and learning seems to be more about testing than anything else, it’s great to read about a school that’s doing something unique, and achieving real results. High Tech High is a charter school system in San Diego, and a recent article in Voice of San Diego highlights just a few of their innovative practices.

Charter schools offer a lot of potential for reforming education locally, though the history of Charter schools in America isn’t without its share of corruption and failure. Reading about schools that are trying to make real improvements, to be inventive in engaging students, and who base their goals for learning on real knowledge acquisition rather than compulsory adherence to “standards” are so inspiring. It almost makes me want to teach high school.

Find out more about High Tech High.

(Disclaimer: My cousin is a student at High Tech High. I’m not sure I need a disclaimer for that, but I thought I’d point it out anyway.)

To those who complain that Twitter is just a growing forum for navel-gazers with nothing significant to say, I offer this post from the Columbia Journalism Review: At the TimesOPEN conference it was easy to assume that the audience of Twitterers (Tweeters?) wasn’t paying attention, but what was really going on was a broader, more international version of the TimesOPEN conference itself. The conversation was opened up, more voices were let in, and the ideas being presented were discussed immediately and widely. The presentations turned into conversations. That is the real power of Twitter. It’s about sharing ideas, not sharing self-indulgent bon mots.

When I encounter people who summarily dismiss Twitter I usually know right away they’ve never actually used it. I, myself, felt fairly dismissive about the whole thing until I saw its usefulness in staying connected, sharing ideas and information, communicating quickly, and having communal discussions into which anyone with something to say can jump. Those who write off any kind of communication media without ever trying it for themselves, well, they are usually the ones missing out in the end.

Library Websites, redux

I read a great article this morning about the future of library websites, and thought it more than worth sharing. Steven Bell writes in Inside Higher Ed that we need to re-think the purpose and role of library web portals. He points out that most scholars (and students) are no longer using library web sites as an entry point to research materials, and talks about how we might (and whether we should) change that. He also makes some excellent points about the importance of faculty-librarian collaboration. Overall, this is a very thought-provoking and forward-looking article, one whose ideas I will certainly be bringing with me into whatever future role I might have in an academic library.