Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries


New job!

Some of you may have noticed that this blog has been very quiet (at least, it was quiet until LISNews picked up a post!). But there has been very good reason for that (not just friendfeed!), reason I can now announce: I will be moving back to my alma mater and taking up the position of Learning Commons Coordinator at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (in the famously underground Undergraduate Library affectionately know as UGL).

Over the course of the summer I had three campus interviews, for very different positions. And I had the rare experience of standing at a fork in the road and waiting to see which of two very different paths would be the one I would choose to walk. It was a great experience, and I wish I had been willing to blog about it at the time.

As I have begun the process of transitioning out of my current position I have realized how deeply I will miss Collection Development — not just the actual selecting of books (which I believe will be some small part of my new position) but the big theoretical side, the planning and organizing and thinking about what allocation decisions mean and the role of content in the library.

But I will be trading that for several valuable and exciting career elements:

  • the possibility of focus.
  • getting to think about information literacy in broad trans-disciplinary, non-disciplinary and pre-disciplinary ways. Outside of the classroom
  • Getting to think about and play with ways to cultivate critical thinking, and the library as the intellectual heart of campus in sustained ways — and manifesting that!
  • Getting to spend some quality time doing research — specifically researching the changing role of changing technologies in education and in students’ lives. Digital literacies, privacy implications, the effect of the blending of private/public/work/play on learning and libraries. That kind of thing.

I will also be working with some really amazing people. Which means great colleagues, exciting opportunities and some impressive new challenges. I can’t wait! And I hope you all stick around for the ride!

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Revisiting that tenure and public libraries post

Wow! LISNews picked up one of my blog posts (albeit my least favorite one), so hello new visitors!

I think I will take this opportunity to say a little bit about what I have learned or added into my thinking from the wonderful folks who commented on the public libraries and tenure post

  1. There are far more complex differences between academic and public libraries then I put into my first pondering
  2. Tenure would not be the solution for encouraging more innovation from public libraries (which is not to say that it has not been important in academic libraries. I stand by the value of tenure pressures for creating change and knowledge in academic libraries — despite it’s numerous numerous flaws as a system. That is a separate post, though)
  3. Note the word more in point 3. Public libraries do amazing things. Under unbelievable staffing and funding pressures. I am not, and could never be, a public librarian. (or a cataloger!) But I respect the hell out of them.
  4. I still, as a reader of series genre fiction, would like these things to be cataloged better. I am not alone. And the desire predates me. I still wonder why the problems of subject cataloging and series cataloging for series genre fiction (and fiction in general) have not been solved.
  5. Who does (should do?) the work that a single public library cannot do? Systems? Consortia? OCLC? Profs at library schools (heaven forfend!)?

I ruffled a lot of feathers with that post; please accept that it was well-intentioned, and that I have learned to be more careful since posting it. Be kind, please!

And welcome.