Friday, May 30, 2008

Eradicating our Roots

Can anyone do reference?
Before I landed a position in reference and then my current professional post, I was a circulation manager. I was told time and time again that my staff and I were unnecessary because there are automated checkout systems and patrons don't really care to deal with a human. Most of the patrons at our service desk weren't checking out books. They had questions no machine could answer.... Librarians are responsible for some of these trends, particularly those who are “too important” to work a desk and hide in their cubicles chasing tenure while uninformed graduate students and undergraduate clerks staff the reference desk. At my current institution, even our dean works the reference desk (as does every librarian, no matter their specialty)....

Fewer and fewer “librarians” are taking any but the basic reference course in “library” school. Programming and technology classes are pushed.... This leaves us with few reference librarians who can master both the electronic and what some might call the archaic—like the skills to know and use print indexes. In the academic library...we may think that the dispersal of service desks, staff, and professionals working in public areas goes unnoticed. It does not. It is noticed by students and faculty, particularly those who were accustomed to knowledgeable professionals and good service. As libraries change to a more businesslike model, with more automation and more outsourcing, student achievement at our universities is declining. That is a very disturbing trend of which we should be wary....

What concerns me is the laissez-faire attitude often taken when making field-altering decisions and the disappointed faces of patrons when they don't like what we're doing. It is fine to evolve and adapt, but to do so by eradicating our very roots and the reasons our profession exists is shortsighted at best.

—Colleen Harris, Asst. Prof., Reference & Instruction Libn., Univ. of Tennessee, Chattanooga

-- Library Journal, 3/15/2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Employee Expression in the Library Workplace, encouraged or censored?

Does your library silence dissent?CLA 2008 Annual Conference

Inside Talk: Freedom of Speech in the Library Workplace
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Speakers: Maurice Freedman, Kathleen de la Peňa McCook, Sam Trosow, Paul Whitney

Convened by: Toni Samek

What are library and information workers talking about on the job? Whose voices are coming through the library channels? To what extent is self-censorship or inside censorship a common practice? What is and is not acceptable when librarians participate in citizen journalism that criticizes employers in the blogosphere? And in a professional community that holds intellectual freedom so dear, why did the ALA see the need to adopt a 2005 Resolution on Workplace Speech which states: “Libraries should encourage discussion among library workers, including library administrators, of non-confidential professional and policy matters about the operation of the library and matters of public concern within the framework of applicable laws?” Should the CLA adopt a sister-resolution? And what about our library administrations? The pros and cons of resolutions on workplace speech for library institutions are up for debate with panelists Kathleen de la Peňa McCook, Sam Trosow, and Paul Whitney, who will discuss just what resolutions on workplace speech might look like and mean for the CLA, library administrations, and Canadian library and information work in the 21st century. Audience participation is highly encouraged in this timely, reflective look inside our very own institutional culture. Organized by the CLA’s Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom.

Learning Outcomes:
-What is “workplace speech” in the context of library institutions?
-What is the history and context of ALA’s 2005 Resolution on Workplace Speech?
-The pros and cons of adopting sister statements in the context of the daily-life, recruitment, and retention of Canadian LIS workers in the 21st century.

Toni Samek
Convenor, CLA’s Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom
Associate Professor & Graduate Coordinator
School of Library & Information Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta
SLIS, 3-15 Rutherford South, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA T6G 2J4

Friday, May 02, 2008


(ædvkt) --- lit. One called in, or liable to be called upon, to defend or speak for.
(Oxford English Dictionary)

Advocacy for librarians is advocacy for libraries ---- not new to the librarians of CCL or ALA's president-elect.

Camila "Alire will become president-elect at the American Library Association annual conference next month, and will take the top spot the following year.

In an April interview with Library Journal, "Alire stressed advocacy training for librarians." She "will push for enhancements to what she calls “grassroots advocacy” by front-line librarians. That means getting the front-line people, both librarians and other staff, involved."

Source: Library Journal