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October 31, 2004

Info Commons -- Sunday -- Session II

Libraries & Information Commons


Panel 3 -- Part 2: The Commons and Policy

Mary Minow
Digital Promise -- initiative started
The public owns the electromagnetic spectrum -- 30% of sales of current spectrum/backbone needs to be set aside for a digital trust devoted to the public interest ... a Digital

If we do not invest wisely and heavily in digital diversity and opportunity, America will be unable to maintain its dominance in the world
Proposed structure: national board resembling the NSF; board would select a director of the trust, grants would be given to libraries, museums, other cultural institutions

Rick Emrich
How to promote commons
Creating commons is about eliminating barriers

The tensions in commons work -- we need a coherent policy/definition/policy, but we also need concrete examples

Currently - market failures in the U.S., but a reluctance to see viable and desirable alternatives to commons; we need to use instances of market failure to connect people to the possible of these alternatives

Commons are about community

Illustration of what commons can be: Agnes Varda's "The Gleaners & I"

Charlotte Hess
We want to foster civic engagement, discourse
We also need to protect the cultural record from enclosure, encroachment, capture, etc.
Collecting at-risk information; ex.: satellite images being discarded by NASA
The preservation of cultural and scholarly information is very important and is a relatively new concern
Path dependency - a barrier (i.e. doing things based on how its been done before/by others)
We need to start recording local information
There's always going to be a break between global standards and local initiatives

Nancy Kranich
How to create a new paradigm
The importance of communitarian values -- "We the People"
How do we change our own behaviours and how do we influence the behaviours of others
Consider how we build information communities -- how do we identify and bring in the stakeholders
Many people/institutions need to be part of the discussion; we are/will be the facilitators of the discussion
Elements of the commons: trust (are people aligned to their institutions or their discipline), reciprocity
We need to learn from our mistakes in order to encourage/build better models
We bring a culture of collaboration
Lakoff -- "Once you reframe the discourse, everything you say is common sense"

Info Commons - Sunday - Session I

Libraries and Information Commons Workshop


Panel 3: Part 1 - Information Commons and Policy

Rick Weingarten -- ALA OITP
We're trying to find language that resonates in a commons debate, not redefine libraries or their roles

Policy from the outside in: commons from outside of the library community
Technological change provides new opportunities and threats: infrastructure, hardware and software
System breaks: major societal changes -- the fights over copyright and privacy are systematic changes because the outcome is so uncertain and unknownable

Illustrative examples with the scholarly communication debate:
From ARL conference on scholarly comm: The whole process of scholarly communication is transforming, no one knows where it's going to come out; the people doing it are making the decisions, but there's no interaction or input from the larger community -- public libraries, press, users ... even the humanities are underrepresented

From a conversation with an Internet2 person: the Commodity Internet is dying -- the research community is buying up backbone/dark fiber for a new cyber infrastructure-- where are the libraries, museums, other institutions?

The library community needs to get its voice into these other debates in order to seriously build a commons

Lee Zia -- NSF
The federal role in commons policy
NSF is concerned about the role of data in the pursuit of scientific education
Lee uses the term "data" to imply broader forms of information beyond just numbers
NSF is a grant-making agency, not a policy-making body and is very laissez-faire towards the investigators once a grant has been awarded; peer review--as a behavioural norm--functions as a type of commons within scientific research communities
NSF is unlikely to preemptively push grantees to enforce non-proprietary distribution systems (open access, commons) as a condition of their awards
The National Science Board is interested in such things as long-lived archives of data/research

Jeremy Frumkin -- University of Oregon
Has done a lot of work in building digital libraries
How can standards influence policy and policy influence standards?
Is Google a commons? Is Napster a commons?
When we develop technology, we don't consider the policy that may come out of it in the short or long-term
Policy can influence technology
Example: Digital rights management
Four years ago, the conversation over rights and management was focused on eBooks
Many standards were proposed and worked on but never approved
The only standard for eBooks that was approved and adopted and implemented was DRM
2 types of standards: de facto standards and official/de jure standards; de facto standards often do get adopted as official standards (ex.: OpenURL, OAIS, MS Word docs, PDFs)
De facto standards tend to be efficient standards, and de facto policy tends to be efficient policy

Tight coupling & loose coupling: tight -- projects or products that are well-integrated but aren't very flexible; loose -- projects or products that work together to a lesser degree but are very flexible

We want tight coupling between commons policy and commons work, and we want to be proactive and drive the commons we want, not be reactive
We will be successful when we can deal with commons in such a simple way that most of the work is invisible to not only the users but the builders of the commons


October 30, 2004

Info Commons - Saturday - Session III

Libraries and Information Commons Workshop


Panel 2: Part 2 -- Creation and Preservation of Commons

Ann Weeks -- ICDL

Weeks -- ICDL
ICDL: a concrete example of a virtual commons; 5-year projects, located at University of Maryland, first partnered with the Internet Archive
Includes 6 kids as part of the research team
Launched 2 years ago, was Java-based -- was a barrier to access to those without leading-edge technology (non-broadband, latest software, etc.); six-month project to make the content platform/software independent
Current: 526 books in 30 languages; goal of 40% public domain and 60% in copyright (historic and contemporary collections) -- virtually no one had digitized children's material before ICDL
Read-only site: doesn't support downloading or printing -- concern to adults, but it doesn't bother children
Metadata in English and original language of book; every page of the book is scanned
Simple and advanced search: look for books by location, color, age, "how the book made them feel" and peer ratings
ICDL will encrypt books (readable only via Adobe eBook Reader) at the publisher's/rightsholder's request
Still working on building critical mass
Books of literary/historical significance are identified by the contributors, who also tend to negotiate the rights themselves
ICDL is a commons due to the level of contribution/collaboration

Fred Stutzman -- iBiblio
Oldest and largest digital commons on the net (12 years old): providing space/hosting
Old and new models of commons
Old model -- Local repository; one major site, people go to the content
Next steps
The Internet has an intrinsic storage and sharing model
Information commons = silos (repositories existing independently without intermingling)
Networks that allow commons to aggregate
Standards-based methods of communications -- the next place
How do we discover information repositories
Building near-infinite amounts of storage allow for more opportunities for contribution/collaboration
The protocols and methods are existing ... it's a matter of getting them accepted across the board

Howard Besser -- NYU
Framework of evaluation of commons work/ideas
4 critical points
1) Philosophy of sharing and public discourse
2) A place for interaction and communication and creation (not just consumption)
3) A place that's free from commodification
4) A sustainable space that houses our cultural heritage and discourse

Actionable goals:
An importance of widespread access, preservation of historic and cultural material, resistance to enclosure and encroachment

Tools and standards for discovery across multiple sites/repositories/commons, tools for communication, tools for preservation

Issues at the forefront:
Disenfranchisement of peoples by commodification
Increasing access
Current places of preservation
Who's part of the community of certain repositories
The Geneva Declaration of WIPO -- a non-commodification agenda to material/content/cultural products
The role of the local vs. the national
Problems with public TV ("only the tip of the iceberg")

Stages of digital library development - First Monday
We have digital library projects, but we haven't injected the value systems of libraries into those projects ... yet.
Specific projects:
Current project at NYU with Creative Commons-like licensing
Student database of papers for Howard's classes -- however, self-archiving doesn't work very well
NDIEPP-funded project to archive programs by local public TV stations -- many, many challenges

Fair use and the public domain are critical to the commons and are essential to creativity

Tom Phelps -- NEH
Cultural institutions and the commons

Example: Program on I.B. Singer -- programs, readings, blog, etc. put online
The NEH owns no rights to the programs it's funded -- a lot of libraries are copyrighting material funded by NEH and others
The re-use of film -- legal problem of permissions running out after limited time; libraries are using permissions as revenue sources
Developing more shared/collaborative websites across institutions
Combined effect of copyright and censorship/decency concerns -- increased caution/chilling effect
The cultural institutions need to talk to each other and share resources

Info Commons - Saturday - Session II

Libraries and Information Commons Workshop


Panel 2: Creation and Preservation of the Commons
Tom Moritz -- American Museum of Natural History
"A Vision of the Biodiversity Commons"
There is ONE commons that have a variety of dimensions (physical, digital, ethical, managerial)
"The mission of a park ranger and the mission of a librarian is the same"

Jefferson (1807): "The field of knowledge is the common property of all mankind"

The potential commons is huge

Access to scientific publications beyond the U.S./Europe -- very problematic
Axes of access: open to close, public to private

Modalities of constraint on open access

Strategic decisions about data, information, knowledge and technology must be conscious

Is information free? No

Peter Hirtle -- Cornell University
"Open Archives, Self-Archiving and Trusted Archives"

Crisis in Scholarly Communication
Rising price of commercial publications
High cost of titles
Need to buy our own product

Proposed Solutions
Budapest Open Archives Initiatives
- For peer-reviewed journals
- Two approaches:
Open-access journals
- People are free to read, print & use
Example: PLoS, PubMed Central (not free to produce)
Problems: Author-pays model could cost some universities more, which could impact academic freedom

Institutional Repositories
- Universities become publishers
- Comprehensive
More than peer-reviewed
Covers all subjects
- Compatible with self-archiving
Examples: DSpace, FEDORA
Problems: DSpace - more hype than follow-through on the long-term access end; not a lot of material in DSpace - for DSPACE and FEDORA, issues of faculty mistrust

Disciplinary archives
_ Repository for one field
Examples: ArXiv in physics -- arXiv.org e-Print archive
- Selective, controlled
- Open Archives Intiative -- metadata harvesting protocol for archiving

What's in a Name?
Archive vs. Archives
Characteristics of archives:
Trusted 3rd party
Ensures authenticity, integrity, reliability of information
Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model, Trusted Digital Repositories
OAIS-complaint institutional, disciplinary repositories?

Open access is about immediate access, not archival access
Self-archiving = self-publishing
Trusted 3rd parties are needed
Long term costs of archiving are unknown

Mary Kadera -- PBS
Commons and public broadcasting
Public broadcasting was to be the commons antidote for the "vast wasteland"
PBS is a cooperative at the national end, not a "network"
Physical commons - local public broadcasting stations
Organizationally -- changes to traditional models of interaction/input from the public
Transition to digital broadcast (partially funded mandate from Congress to move to digital spectrum by May 2003)
Proliferation of cable and satellite
The Internet: benefits and challenges - has along for more interaction with the public and more opportunities for discourse, but it is NOT local

Barriers to public broadcasting -- chilling effects of public complaints regarding decency, bias -- fairness & balance, etc.

How do publicly funding institutions continue their missions and not be used as partisan petards?

Education, archives and public broadcasting: lack of human support for the technology

Open source solutions and interoperability solutions in schools; going beyond e-textbooks; economic structures and partnerships to help with the resource issues

Info Commons - Saturday - Session I

Libraries and Information Commons Workshop


Panel 1: Commons Space
Peter Levine
Brian Campbell
Daniel Lee

Levine -- Prince George County Commons: series of research projects, managed by Univ. of Maryland and executed by local high school students

Several types of commons
1) Libertarian/free-owned commons: no one can control it as a whole -- oceans, the ideas within books in a library/bookstore, the Internet
2) Democratic commons: some people own it, makes rules for its use, not infinitely shareable -- Boston common, library facilities
Flaws in libertarian commons ... some control may be warranted (ex. restricting access to obscene or lewd material by children)
Who the people are who own the commons is a basic question for the democratic commons
3) Communitarian commons -- involves intense personal communication, many obligations, involves lots of control
4) Associational commons: owned by a voluntary group (non-profit, 501(c)3 type orgs) -- membership of the association is key to access of the commons
Associational commons can defend itself against enclosure, overuse, exploitation
The Internet is doomed as a libertarian commons
An associational commons can recruit "new blood" -- requires moral discipline, and non-intuitive skills for the maintenance of the commons

Brian Campbell
Class and politics in the info commons -- lacking in discussions of the commons
The concept of commons and the value of neutrality -- contradictory
'You can't address the commons without becoming non-neutral'
Vancouver Public Library
45,000 people a year attend public programs at VPL
"Public Voices" programs -- left, social democrat and libertarian speakers
The library has become a civic space for protest (very near Canadian INS facility)
The library plaza and surrounding area has become a staging ground for political parties, activists, etc.
Fight between the commons and the marketplace (plaza space shared by commons-oriented programming and marketing)
Ongoing struggle to define "the public good" and how the library can/should contribute to that
A lot of people are excluded from how libraries are currently organized
Projects to reach poor and socially-isolated communities
"There is no use talking about the commons when 40% of the population are not library users"
Active Info Policy debate
We must "protect what we got" before we can extend our resources
VPL moving to open source software for public applications; setting up virtual communities
It involves risk to get library boards and staff on the side of access and openness, and if we can't get them to support what we already have, we won't be able to do the commons work
Saving community information as important as academic information

Daniel Lee - Commons as Space
University of Arizona Information Commons space -- learning environment
Part of a new facility: Integrated Learning Center -- underground classrooms and meeting spaces in front of the library, leads into what was the basement of the library
Space for learning -- commons of a sort
No sign-ins or log-ins to use the workstations; no checking of IDs
Students don't always recognize their peers (complaints to get the "homeless" out of the library)

Concern of commons as a technological space -- technology should not be the only focus of commons

Why limit commons work to libraries ... need to reach out to public radio, public TV, etc.
The commons as a space for the public to be with others
Interconnecting commons -- Content commons as well as space commons
How to take an info commons space and turn it into a true commons -- organized and managed by the users/participation

Jessamyn West
Wayann Pearson
Kathleen Imhoff

Imhoff -- the physical space isn't easy
Many libraries AREN'T resource-rich ... but libraries can serve as the "gate" to the commons/"pasture"
Libraries as meeting spaces, civic spaces, safe spaces, a "third" place

Pearson -- Cerritos strives not to be known as "the information space" -- emphasis on the "commons as space"
"information just happens to be the commodity" of the space
Focus: how-to information, practical information; informal learning opportunities, original content
Librarians as stewards of the environment, not just the information within the environment

West -- Balance with demands of the public and the principles of the library
Issues of sharing; dealing with expectations of staff and patrons; how to bring the high-minded ideas of intellectual freedom, commons, etc. to the basic small public library

(Break-up into multiple groups to brainstorm of commons concepts and execution)

Information Commons - Friday - Intro Session

I'm at a workshop of Libraries and Information Commons at the Cerritos Public Library. The introductory session on Friday evening was taken up mostly with introductions of all the participants, but there were two brief talks on the Commons:

Nancy Kranich -- Articulation of the Commons
Framing the debate (inspired by George Lakoff)
Understanding how people make their decisions: belief systems, existing frames of reference & language
Reinforcing our values into the language of the debate

Charlotte Hess -- the Nature of Commons
"Public Entrepreneurship: A Case Study in Ground Water Basin Management" by Elinor Ostrum -- dissertation of natural resource commons: public capital build by commons/collaborative/cooperative network for public profit
Predates "The Tragedy of the Commons"
Commons aren't inherent failures; commons fail due to ineffective management and inappropriate rules
Commons is a revived concept, after a long period of enclosure, commodification & capture of resources
The New commons: applying the principles of natural resource commons to other types of commons
How to examine commons: what are the resources, who's using them, and under what circumstance
Commons require collective action by each user/actor
Antithetical to Lessig's notion of the commons: the commons must be managed in order to be protected

More later ...

October 28, 2004

The obligatory election post

1) Go vote. If you requested an absentee ballot, put it in the mail already. If it's not in the mail by early Monday morning, drop it off at your polling place, if your state election laws allow.

2) If your precinct is using electronic voting machines, verify your choices before you submit. Be sure to read the instructions before you even start. If you live in a county where the machines have been decertified and you don't trust the technology, ask upfront (or demand if you know) to use a paper ballot.

3) Michael McGroty has very statistically insignificant poll results. But par the course, he writes beautifully and forcefully.

4) If you're working the ref desk/research line between now and Jan. 20 ... I feel for you. Be prepared.

5) Ahem.

6) Oooh, look, a Sunshine Amendment on the CA ballot ... wonder how the staff at the California State Library feel about it?

7) During the debates, I had a whimsical, downright silly fantasy: wouldn't it be great if either of the major presidential candidates pandered to the library community? What if major operatives of the campaigns (or even the candidates themselves *gasp*) had made a stop at Annual to court the library supporters vote? Or how about if there was a shout-out (or 3) to library workers and their issues (e-rate, CIPA, LSTA, etc.)? What if either campaign had sent an extra-special, authentically signed, printed-on-embossed-letterhead missive to Carla Hayden or Carol Brey-Casiano? Wouldn't you fall over and just about die if either candidate mentioned the upcoming closure of the LIS program at Clark Atlanta University during one of their education stump speeches?

This is, of course, silly. Thus, I put away such childish thoughts. But then I heard about the Buffalo/Erie County library funding problems ... and I remember the wave of budget and service cuts that affected libraries acrossed the country and how a lot of people are either still holding their breaths or just starting to exhale. Even though the recession is over, the Campaign to Save America's Libraries isn't.

Obviously, presidents don't have much say over libraries (not even LoC, which is part of a separate branch of government). And this isn't to say that libraries should be the nation's highest priority. But libraries are key community institutions and educational components. Community and education should be priorities, right? So, not to take away from first responders and teachers and hunters and deaf Americans and soccer enthusiasts and military reservists ... but where's our props? Would it kill either of them to actually visit a library? Maybe conduct a BI session on how to navigate FirstGov or check in a Gov Doc (maybe a stack of Public Laws)?

Well, at least ALA has put together a survey of "2004 Presidential Election Candidates' Positions on Libraries". Yay, ALA.

October 22, 2004

Google's desktop search and privacy

From CNN:

NEW YORK (AP) -- People who use public or workplace computers for e-mail, instant messaging and Web searching have a new privacy risk to worry about: Google's free new tool that indexes a PC's contents for quickly locating data.

If it's installed on computers at libraries and Internet cafes, users could unwittingly allow people who follow them on the PCs, for example, to see sensitive information in e-mails they've exchanged. That could mean revealed passwords, conversations with doctors, or viewed Web pages detailing online purchases.

"It's clearly a very powerful tool for locating information on the computer," said Richard M. Smith, a privacy and security consultant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "On the flip side of things, it's a perfect spy program."

Okay ... but 9 out of 13 system librarians would already know this, yes?

Managers of public access terminals can also install software or deny users administrative privileges so they can't install unauthorized programs, such as Google's. In fact, many libraries and cybercafes already do so.

Yay. But nothing's foolproof, right?

But policies do vary, and no precaution is foolproof, warned Carol Brey-Casiano, president of the American Library Association and director of public libraries in El Paso, Texas.

"We do our best to protect our patrons and computers and network, but as you can imagine, thousands of people can use public computers in a given week," she said.

But in the end ...

"It's not designed to be an illicitous tool," Mehta said of the Google software. "It's designed to be a search engine."

My question is, where will this be a plot point first: the Law & Order franchise or the CSI franchise. My money's on L&O, probably SVU, involving a detective with a search warrant for an apartment, a deleted file showing up in Google's DeskTop index and whether having the index open and active on the desktop constitutes 'in plain sight/view'. Just a thought.

October 21, 2004

Zine collection at SFPL-Main

Ooh ... I may have to visit this:

San Francisco Public Library
Book Arts & Special Collections Center
Little Maga/Zine Collection

The Little Maga/Zine Collection represents the intellectual activity of the San Francisco experience: documenting literature as well as underground and popular culture of the twentieth century and beyond. While the main focus is on the San Francisco Bay Area, an attempt has been made to identify and acquire significant little magazines and zines published on the West Coast, as well as those magazines of specific literary movements.


This collection of more than one thousand titles continues to grow from gifts and donations, rather than subscriptions � readers, publishers, researchers, and anyone interested in the writing life of the San Francisco Bay Area is invited to donate to the collection. Although we are happy to con-sider other magazines outside this region, the focus remains on San Francisco. Donations to the Little Maga/Zine Collection may be made by contacting the Book Arts & Special Collections Center, at 415.557.4560, by email to bookarts@sfpl.org or by visiting us.

October 15, 2004




Looks like I got into BloggerCon III. Clutch the pearls.

I'm not hugely interested in the meta of blogging, but I'll try to represent -- last I checked, there weren't many librarian blogs on the reg list.

October 06, 2004

Swets link resolver

Excuse my cluelessness ... but when did jobbers get in on the ERM software wagon?

Swets Launches SwetsWise Linker

September 29, 2004
Swets Information Services, the leading global subscription and information services company, announced today that it has launched SwetsWise Linker as part of its far-reaching e-journals management drive. SwetsWise Linker is an OpenURL link resolver providing users with a cohesive search environment for over 9,000 e-journals and 500 e-journal aggregators and secondary databases.

SwetsWise Linker enables libraries to integrate all of their electronic holdings resources in one intuitive and customizable interface, providing seamless linking from one article�s bibliographic information to another�s full text. Based on Openly Informatics� proven 1Cate technology (1 Click Access to Everything), SwetsWise Linker dramatically reduces the number of steps needed to move from one resource to another.


October 04, 2004


According to Library Journal, ALA President-Elect Michael Gorman has announced his focus for his presidency: "'the crisis' in library education". John N. Berry editorializes on the immediate response among LIS educators and his take on the crisis.

This is should really interesting:

  • As I've mentioned in the past, library workers have been complaining about and defending library education for decades. While I was working on my thesis, I saw articles and letters about whether or not new MLS holders were adequately trained and/or had the right mindsets upon entering the profession. While there are certainly new aspects to consider in this 'crisis,' it harkens back to a continual cycle of doubt and questioning about how to prepare people for the profession.
  • We have a very neat paradox going on--applications and enrollments to LIS programs have supposedly grown steadily during the latter part of the dot-com boom and continuing through the dot-com bust. And the boom DID influence the LIS job market -- you didn't have to focus exclusively on an IS/Info Architecture track in order to get a dot-com job. Especially in Silicon Valley, a lot of new librarians (and more than a few veteran ones) became tech writers, taxonomists, database managers, etc. for start-up tech companies and that left lots of openings as libraries hired people into those vacated positions (or promoted from within and hired people with less experience for lower-level or entry-level positions).

Well, the bust stopped that. Since recessions tend prompt people to go back to school, enrollments continued to rise. And then there's the whole "Baby Boomers are about to retire and who will take their places?" scenario. But the bust wasn't just a recession -- it was a deep correction to a radically-altered sector of the economy. Which isn't to say that such a boom won't happen again in the same sector ... just that it may not happen within our employment lifetimes again.

What's the 50-words or less version of the above?
The bar for employment of library workers is significantly higher than it was 5 years ago and it will never again be as easy for current MLS/MLIS holders to find the work they want at competitive wages as it was.

Just my $0.02, obviously (and no, I'm not looking at figures right now to back up everything I've just written).

Now, the library job market seems to be easing up: hiring freezes are being thawed slowly at a number of institutions (including the one I work for) ... but a fair number of jobs have gone into the ether: the tasks absorbed by existing personnel on an indefinite or permanent basis, or broken up into part-time jobs (or a combination of both). Budgets are still constrained, workloads have grown -- both of these have cut into the amount of resources (both labour and capital) that institutions will want to expend to train someone. The expectations have changed on both sides of the hiring table.

This could be an intriguing debate, regardless of which side you sympathize with the most ...

October 03, 2004

The Wonderful World of Government Documents

There are now blogs devoted to GovDocs. Huzzah!

Library Autonomous Zone covers many issues within and outside of librarianship, but there's a lot about government documents and depository systems for federal and CA state documents.

Cool Gov is a very breezy blog that is devoted to finding the "coolest [Government-published] stuff there is and post it here. After all, you paid for it� dammit, you better get some use out of it."

Also, while opening/processing GovDoc mail, I found these delightful items:

* A box from the GPO filled with the latest Cataloging Service Bulletins was stuffed with Zip-Loc (oops, make that storage) baggies emblazoned with "Library of Congress - Copyright Office" and a lightning bolt in a circle right in the middle, surrounded by the words, "Protected by Copyright".

How cool is that? Heck yeah, I kept them! It's detrius, after all ...

* A book on fundamental rights within the EU written in French. That's not unusual, but the physical dimensions of the book are: 1" x 1 1/4" x 3/8"

Like a good little parapro, I walked it over to the selector/bibliographer in charge of international Gov Docs for his evaluation. He was fascinated. No telling if it'll actually end up in Special Collections or in some type of display. I should see if I can order more ... perhaps for use as stocking stuffers.

Lastly, I've noticed my first children's book from the UN: Tessa and the Fishy Mystery. It's about marine pollution and over-fishing and other oceanic environmental issues. Colourful graphics. Very cute. Of course, the UN ripped off the idea from the EU, which issued Let me tell you a secret
about the environment
, a children's book on environmentalism (focused on a child and a fox in a landfill) in 2002/2003.

Nothing, however, beats the EU comic book ...

October 01, 2004

Tell me why

Since the dot-com bust/recession cooled off the library job market, there's been a lot of confusion, self-recrimination and bitterness among those just entering the profession who find that the competition for jobs (and the expectations of employees) to be withering.

For a while, a few list-servs that are particular for new librarians were filled with tense, biting posts. Some people bemoaned the job market and whether or not they felt that they were misled when recruited to library school. Others attempted to give a bracing, "Snap Outta It!" approach to encourage perserverance and tentatiousness during the job hunt. And some people were sick of it all.

One established librarian, Matt Wilcox (who gave his permission for me to use the remarks), decided to give his point of view of what hiring librarians, directors and search committees look for in candidates and what might put them off their feed, metaphorically:

Why I am not going to hire you

Ok, someone wanted a manager to chime in. I happen to be one (wielding great power and what not). Below I will let you all in on a few of the secrets of what goes on behind the closed doors of the academic library search committee. I have no idea about what happens in a public library, because hey, I am a snobby academic type ;-)

A caveat that will likely be ignored from those of you itching to fight (bring it on, I can take you): I do not believe half the stuff below. I am an enlightened being and would never do anything wrong or allow any sort of prejudice to cloud my judgment of your perfect application/resume/CV. I am acting as reporter of what I have encountered serving on 10-15 search committees in the last 6 years. So, I am not necessarily the "I" below.

Why I am not going to interview you:

--I googled you and found that a) you are weird or maybe b) whine a lot on listservs with searchable archives or c) whatever. Do I know that this is wrong, that I should be evaluating your skills and not your personal life? Yes, of course. I am not stupid. Will I do it anyway? Yes, of course. After all, I am not stupid. Should you hide your personal life? Up to you. It often works to someone's advantage because it adds life to your boring resume if I know you are also a writer/harley owner/dominatrix/whatever. But I google every serious candidate.

--All your experience is in public libraries and you did not do a good job reminding me that many skills are the same or transferable. Yes, yes. We are all the same. A librarian is a librarian and why can't we all just get along. But the resumes I am looking at from academic types look like my resume. I understand them better. You have to make me understand you better.

--I look at your resume/cover letter and I see what? That you went to library school. Ok, good, you have the absolute minimum requirement. Anything else? Did you work at a library while in school? An interesting internship or practicum? Anything at all that stands out. Now I have seen resumes and cover letters from newbie librarians that make the most of what they have even though there is no library experience. They point out how previous work experience in another field showed them how to be helpful, or how to teach, or how to deal with unreasonable expectations from clientele. Or how they turned some boring library school class project into something interesting and relevant to the position I am advertising. (At this point some of you will be wanting to respond to this telling me that no one told you to do this at your crappy library school or hey, you need to eat and could afford to do any of the above. Save it. I mean really, please just save it. Go ahead and write it out if it makes you feel better, but don't send it. I read the list and have heard your same sad song too often and can just tune it out)(Besides, in this email I am "search committee member" which means I have a job and I do not care about why you do not. I am judging you when i read your resume. And even if I am an enlightened search committee member and we are trying to hire a fresh newbie because we want to help all you poor people lied to by your graduate schools, I still want to hire someone who did more than just show up.)

--Your cover letter makes you sound dumb/stupid/bitter/whiner/loser/incompetent. Or I cannot tell from your resume/cover letter that you even read the job description. Or you misspelled something in the first sentence. In short, you couldn't handle polishing one of the more important set of documents you will put together. Remember, you resume/cover letter and google is all i have to go on.

--There are at least 3-4 better resumes in the pile. I am looking for the best set of skills packaged in the best person I can find. Someone else can worry about giving the mediocre a shot. I have to work with the person I hire.

Why I am not going to hire you after interviewing you:

--The person I interviewed the day before was better. Define better however you wish.

--Hanging out with you for the day I just get the feeling that you are a frustrated academic that couldn't hack it so you are slumming with your PhD in the library world. That if the academic departments out there were more enlightened they would hire you in a heartbeat and beg you to teach all them big and important ideas in your head to the masses. Not that I am bitter, but I deal with all your colleagues that could hack it and get the job and they are pains the ass, so why do I want to hire you? It is ok to _be_ all of the above, but it is not alright to show that you are in an interview.

--Around lunchtime (insert superfluous reminder about academic library interviews usually lasting a long days journey into night), you started to get unintelligible. I am on the search committee and have seen you at various pints in the day and know you were fine at one point, but some key people will have only seen you once and they cannot believe you have a brain.

--You at no point could show any knowledge or curiosity about important topics affecting the library world. If you have no publications or experience I am trying to see if you have anything to build on, and when I asked you what you were reading/following you had nothing.

--You are so good that I am threatened by you and so I pick a more mediocre person so I can continue to shine (obviously this doesn't refer to me ;-) (or you, probably)

Why I am not going to hire you even though I want to:

--We went into a bad budget cycle and we cut/froze the position (or, more likely, it was cut/frozen by someone higher up the food chain.
--Your references didn't check out.
--The long arm of the plot against you got to me

Hope it is useful.

The Web as a subject discipline

Vol. 1, no. 1 of Webology is up. What is Webology?

We are delighted to welcome you to the first issue of the journal of "Webology", the first international journal on Webology (the study of the Web, Web science and technology), With your help we aim to make this journal the premier publication for this new era of science. This is a trial issue of Webology which publishes papers by researchers and students about the World Wide Web.

They then ask the obvious question:

Why does the world need the Webology?

The Internet, and more specifically, the World Wide Web has a significant impact on many areas of sciences, engineering and medicine. We intent to introduce the Web impact on society, communication, research and development. The World Wide Web has a greater impact on communications and society than any other technology and it has only just started. The Web, as the most publicized and fastest growing aspect of the Internet, is increasingly important as a source of educational resources, commercial information, news, and government data.

As stated by Bjorneborn & Ingwersen in Scientometrics (2001), since the Web consists of contributions from anyone who wishes to contribute, the quality of information or knowledge value is opaque due to the lack of kinds of peer reviewing. On the other hand, because the Web is an unstructured and highly complex conglomerate of all types of information carriers produced by all kinds of people and searched by all kind of users it is tempting to investigate; and journal of Webology indeed offers some methodologies to start from.

I have no idea if it will reach the same levels of renown and authority as D-Lib or First Monday, but it could provide some interesting cross-displinary research. One hopes. Fingers crossed.