For the past several weeks, I’ve been attempting to follow two blogs written by librarians, although this has been difficult to fit in during the busy-ness of end of semester projects and has deteriorated into irregular binge-reads where I catch up on several of the more recent posts and maybe a couple older ones of interest. It didn’t help that my email provider now apparently limits RSS to a widget on the home page that I never go to and has discontinued actual email notifications of new posts, as they informed me with this nice error message: “Yahoo! RSS Feed/Blog Alerts has been discontinued.” Thanks, Yahoo. With my work schedule and class work constantly in flux, leaving me without a stable, predictable schedule, I haven’t been able to consistently work these blogs into my daily routine. Which is too bad, because there’s a lot of great stuff on both of them. Here’s a brief rundown.
Information Wants to be Free, a blog by psychologist-turned librarian-turned SLIS professor Meredith Farkas.
It probably won’t come as a surprise after reading her title, but Meredith’s blog focuses on issues relating to open access of information from a librarian’s perspective. She also covers a wide range of other pertinent topics, from information literacy, to technology, to management, to assessment, among other things.
Two posts in particular exemplify the open access focus of the blog. In her most recent post, last week, Meredith criticizes EBSCO for requiring libraries to pay twice for Harvard Business Reviews material–once for regular access, and once for rights to use within a class setting. This post is also a warning to libraries to pay attention to all the pesky details in vendor contracts and not expect to get away with breaking the usage agreements just because they’re “crazy,” as she unhesitatingly called them. Her library refused to agree to the “deal” of paying again for the added privilege of professors included the materials on their syllabi, which ultimately is the only way to put libraries in a position to negotiate fair terms with vendors.
In an October post, Meredith writes about her experience with publishing all her work in her institutional repository as well as in regular journals, and how important it is that authors do so whenever possible. She said she didn’t even have to put up too much of a fight with her publishers in most cases to get the permissions, which was encouraging, but also made it that much more frustrating that more researchers weren’t making their work available that way.
Because Meredith was an academic librarian and is now ”General Education Instruction Coordinator at Portland State University in Oregon and an adjunct faculty member at San Jose State University’s SLIS program,” she also writes a lot about information literacy and how to teach college students about effective research. I’ll limit my discussion here to her post about one of her recent projects at Portland State called Library DIY. This project is basically a portal into the PSU library site that is designed to help students learn how to use the library, with entry points like “I need help citing or using sources,” “I need to start my research or pick a topic,” and “I am looking for a specific item.”
Here’s the screenshot of the page, which can be found here.
The Ubiquitous Librarian, by Brian Matthews, Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech.
Brian describes his blog this way: “This blog is about designing better user experiences and the pursuit of use-sensitive libraries.” His most common topic, at least in the last few months, is technology–what is available and how libraries might be able to put it to good use. He writes about how Twitter can be a great tool for librarians to teach information literacy and interact with students, about his experience testing the new Google GLASS wearable computer device and all its possibilities in the library, and about whether libraries now need to provide monitors at group study tables and/or loan them to students. These posts often offer thoughtful insight and creative implementation ideas for how to use technology effectively rather than simply using it because it’s the new cool thing.
There is the occasional post on a different topic, but technology is the dominant focus. Oh, and if you missed the ALA conference gorilla, he’s got you covered.