Sunday, February 17, 2008

River of Grass

The Library just bought a copy of the 60th anniversary edition of Marjory Stoneman Douglas' The Everglades River of Grass. I checked it out (don't worry we have a bunch of other editions if you want to read it.)

If you read my Facebook profile you will notice I have a thing for the openings and endings of books. Douglas' book now joins the list. This is such a poetic opening.

"There are no other Everglades in the world.

"They are, have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them: their vast glittering openness, wider than the enormous visible round of the horizon, the racing free saltiness and sweetness of their massive winds, under the dazzling blue heights of space. They are unique also in the simplicity, the diversity, the related harmony of the forms of life they enclose. The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow moving below, the grass that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida. It is the river of grass."

Doesn't it just make you want to go to the Everglades right now?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wow, they went for it.

It was not at all clear to me that the Arts and Sciences faculty of Harvard would go for mandatory submission of their articles to the Harvard institutional repository (IR.) But they just did.

Since Harvard is such a leader in US education, expect this to ripple through the rest of the ARL.

One thought: if open access IR's are such a great idea why do the NIH and now Harvard need to mandate submission? Were authors ever told they must submit to traditional journals? Well, yes they were, by tenure evaluation committees on campus and prospective employers. But there is an obvious difference. Authors still had to compete to get things published in the best journals,which is why tenure committees valued peer review publication so highly. The economics of IR's are different. Unlimited storage space and the lack of what we might call market discipline means that potential authors aren't clamoring for limited space in the journal. Instead IR managers are out there beating the bushes for content, which may be why tenure committees have not taken submission to them seriously.

Is this a vicious cycle or simply a start up problem?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Top Five Issues facing the Library

Later this spring we have a consulting firm -- R2 -- coming to take a look at our Technical Services and advise us on what kind of operation we need to support the Library over the next decade. I have been impressed with the kind of questions they are asking to prepare for their visit. One question they asked us was to identify the 3-5 top issues facing the library. Here is what the librarians agreed we should send them.

  • In the context of an ongoing process of curriculum review and revision, finding the appropriate role(s) for librarians and the library in developing the information literacy competencies of Rollins students.
  • Providing information resources in a hybrid world of print and digital resources so that we adequately respect, maintain, and develop print resources, while recognizing that an increasing proportion of use will be of our digital resources and our resources will be just a fraction of the information resources accessed by our users.
  • Balancing our services to users so that our digital services (for instance instruction and reference) are as well developed online as they are in person.
  • Raising the level of competency and effectiveness of our personnel in this hybrid world and making sure we are focused on what really adds the most value to the educational mission of the College.
  • Enhancing our users' experiences of the library (in this building and online) so that we become a destination on campus and a preferred "third space" in the lives of our users.

Careful readers of this blog (if such people exist!) will note the similarity between those five and our strategic plan. You can see more of the plan on our planning wiki. More on that in a later post.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Permission and innovation

Thad Seymour came to the library a couple of days ago to invite me to lunch with Jack Rogers whose father was the architect of the Olin Library. As is his way, Thad never comes empty handed, he gave me a copy of this entry from his daughter's blog.

I don't tend to read too much about public libraries. I have enough trouble keeping up with College ones. I do know that the way in which public libraries serve or do not serve the homeless has been a significant issue for many public librarians so I was really struck by this librarian's innovative solution to this problem.

It is so easy when we are so busy to simply enforce the rules, to protect the status quo. Sandy Neerman didn't do that. Instead she used the problem to reorient the whole issue. It was no longer about whether or not a group could serve food at a particular location outside the library. Instead it became a way to serve an underserved group. This is the kind of thing that wins you the Charlie Robinson Award.

Super Tuesday

We held a Super Tuesday Viewing Party in the atrium of the library last night. I left at 11:30 and there were still a hardy few hanging out for the California results (well, not so hardy. This is Florida and so it is perfectly possible to enjoy an evening outside in February in t-shirt and shorts.) As with the 2006 elections we had lots of people show up for short periods throughout the evening. We kept our own poll using red and blue snacks (a split decision: the red chips won, as did the blue candy.)
Local TV showed up and spent the evening interviewing groups of students. The sororities on campus were rushing (have I constructed that sentence correctly? It is all greek to me.) So at times we had this bizarre post modern mash up of elegantly dressed young ladies parading past the politicos to vote in the Library computer labs.
The atrium, with good furniture, the plasma, and wireless access, worked well as a space. It gave lots of people the opportunity to sit or stop by and became a great meeting and mixing space. Exactly what we were looking for.