Monthly Archives: August 2011

Impending changes in blog & life

Most people who read this blog don’t know me personally. So, while this will probably come as no surprise, based on the posts I make, you likely don’t know that my career is about to change in a major way. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be ending my “librarian” job and starting an interdisciplinary PhD program.

Eek! I’m quitting my nice steady librarian job and starting a PhD program! And not even an LIS PhD program, at that!

I’ve been pondering whether librarianship is “once a librarian, always a librarian” or whether, should my path take me farther away from libraries – say, deeper into public health research or some such –  I will ever refer to myself as a “former librarian.” I think it’s the first of these two. (In my experience, when people say they “used to be a librarian” they usually mean that they had a book shelving job in a library once upon a time.)

However, even if I am a librarian-for-life, there are big changes afoot.

I don’t know where this path will take me. I’ve been fortunate to get some nice funding that allows me to be a full-time student, really dig into the research life, and see what I think it holds for me. Right now,  I think I’d love to have a faculty position when I’m done with this degree. That said, I know there are a lot of other things one can do as a librarian with a PhD, including library management, government work, and private sector research. We shall see where things go from here.

One thing I have decided, though, is that I need to curtail some of my “extracurricular” activities related to my librarian work. Including blogging. I started this blog a few years ago because I wanted to hear more LIS folk talk about social justice issues. A few others have joined me over the years, as guest posters or co-bloggers. Now it’s my turn to become the guest poster, and let some others take the wheel on this wordpress dashboard.

I’ll be around, although I’m not sure how much. Ken, my trusty guest-blogger turned co-blogger, will be taking over admin-type stuff, so stay tuned for an announcement from him about further changes to the blog. I think it’s good stuff, my friends, good stuff all around.

Thank you to those of you who read this blog, and especially to those who have commented – publicly or privately – to let me know what you are thinking about information-related social justice issues. It’s been a great ~4 years here. If anyone wants to know what I’m up to over the next few years, or needs to get ahold of me, look here.



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Shifting the Role of Academic Libraries and Librarians?

Much like public libraries, academic libraries have traditionally been viewed as warehouses of information.  As budgets continue to become more restrained within the current political environment, and technological ‘advances’ make community members feel that information is more publicly accessible, it is vital that librarians take some time to think about our approaches of working with our end-users [please note: Devons last posting on one users experience and the at times surprising responses from librarians, to basic end-user feedback].

Some public libraries (also here) are exploring the potential new roles public librarians can play in meeting the information needs of community members.  As discussed in a recent paper by Sandra Singh, the traditional role of academic libraries has primarily been focused on creating and supporting ‘internal diverse research and teaching collections, providing research support to students and faculty, and offering secondary research and information literacy instruction’ [p. 6].  However, unlike public libraries which have a mandate to serve the entire community, academic libraries have been primarily focused on those affiliated with the academic institution (although most are highly publically subsidized?).

So, as information specialists, we need to ask ourselves, will this continue to be the central role of academic librarians in the future?  Are the general public, funders, faculty, and students receiving the best service under this current library service delivery paradigm?

I STRONGLY urge you to read an article written by Sandra Singh, based on her experience at the University of British Columbia.  This article discusses and proposes different roles for academic librarians – shifting them to become:

  • That of a facilitator which connects the community, organizations, and university units… the librarian ‘looks at its clients and the entire university and all of its expertise, programs and services as its collection or resource base’ [p. 6]

It seems like a reasonable and rational discussion that progressive and innovative academic librarians should be having…

~ Ken

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