Deepening the Conversation

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


officially Annoyed

There are so many things, dear readers, that I have been wanting to find the time to talk with you about. But those will have to wait. Because this week a peer-reviewed journal of librarianship published an entire issue by an anonymous hack blogger with a following. That’s right folks — not a magazine, and not a hoax, but peer reviewed journal. I mean, ISI doesn’t have it’s impact factor, but still. Journal of Access Services 5:4 is made up entirely of ‘articles’ by the Annoyed Librarian.

Why does this make me sputter and fume and contemplate fomenting a university-wide mass-cancellation of all Haworth journals? Well, it’s an affront to scholarly publishing for one. There are lots of reasons to rail against scholarly publishing, and I agree with many fo them, but in a world where words are a primary form of communication, I tend to prefer that my words are used how they are defined, and not as double speak. A peer- reviewed journal is a specific thing, and a set of specific things. To wit, I taught my students to tell a journal article was peer-reviewed when:

  • the article was dense with scholarly conversation, and hard for those not in the field to understand
  • the article was attributed, with contact information
  • part of a conversation between scholars
  • contains footnotes and a bibliography

Scholarly articles are also identified by their reasoned arguments, their attentions to both sides of the issue, and the evidence that is brought to bear to support the argument and refute counter arguments.

Are any of these things true of the so-called articles published in Journal of Access Services this quarter?

Has scholarship in librarianship grown so weak that AL is now the best of what;’s out there? Is this what passes for reasoned argument? Is Access Services so devoid of smart people doing interesting work that this is the best the journal could find to publish? It seems like one of the premier publishing houses in the field of LIS thinks so.

Have I lost my sense of humor? Am I being curmudgeonly and behind the times? Has the purpose of peer-reviewed librarianship grown so pointless that we should be OK with this? I don’t think so.  And I think we should revolt. This journal, publishing this obvious pablum as peer-reviewed scholarship denigrates the work of every person who has ever published in the journal or for the press, and every person who does so in the future.

How do we fight back? Scholarly communication still has a place, but I’m not sure there is a place for this press in the conversation anymore. How do we hold them accountable? What amends will make this OK? What actions can and should we, the consumers of this material on all fronts (consumer and library), take to protect our professional interests both personal and scholarly? It is up to us, as the guardians of scholarly communication (of many many hats we wear, this is certainly one of them)??



New Post, new post! Calling Learning Commons Librarians!

Hello readers! After a long transition, I am finally in place at my new position, Learning Commons Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Undergraduate Library! (wow, that’s a mouthful!). My apartment is full of boxes, my week is full of scheduled meetings, my mind is full of exciting possibilities, and my heart, my heart is full of happiness.

I am so thrilled to be here.

The new position is going to be an interesting ride, mediating my idealistic hopes and plans for the Learning Commons with the institutional realities and prior shape of the Commons. I’m still working on my ‘elevator speech’ but I think I’ve given the super succinct version here before: I’ll be creating collaborations with academic and student services units across campus to maximize the unique opportunities afforded by being one of the few non- or trans- disciplinary educational sites on campus.

It’s a huge change from my very traditional former position as an instruction dn collection development librarian, but I think this position will allow me to explore the reasons I came to librarianship in the first place. I left my doctoral program in Religious studies in large part because I realized that the take away I wanted was much more about enhanced critical thinking and less about content than might be desirable for a disciplinary professor. I entered librarianship because I thought there was enormous potential for enhancing undergraduate critical thinking skills through information literacy. My take on the Learning Commons is that it is a way to focus more on critical thinking and information literacy, although in a non-classroom-based manner.

This seems to be a very different take on Learning Commons’ than what I’m seeing out there in the literature, so I expect you will be hearing a lot from me on Libraries as a locus for learning and knowledge creation as I try to build community and develop like-minded support, and generally change the world.

That said, I have started a small spreadsheet of Learning Commons folks that I know of. Please, leave a comment or drop me a line if this is your work too — I’m eager to see all the different forms this work can take!