Ilene F. Rockman CARL Conference Scholarship

November 11th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

carlconference_logoIf you are student planning to attend the CARL conference in April, don’t forget to apply for the Rockman scholarship! I hear the odds are in your favor. From Daniel Ransom:

Applications for the 2014 Ilene F. Rockman CARL Conference Scholarship are due on December 3, 2013. Two candidates will be awarded $500 each to subsidize participation in CARL 2014 Conference: Leadership in Action taking place in San José, California from April 4-6. To be eligible, candidates must be currently enrolled in a formal master’s degree program in library and information studies and be CARL members.

More eligibility details and application instructions are available on the CARL website:

In the past, scholarship committee members have noted that many of our strongest applicants applied because they were directly encouraged by a supervisor, library director, or mentor. If that describes you, please consider any library school students you know and share this information with them.

Completed applications should be submitted to Daniel at


Did I mention…

October 19th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

Hm. There seems to be a lack of content here of late. Did I mention I started a new job this Fall? Dear reader, my apologies for leaving you out of the loop. I was hired as the Reference & Instruction Librarian for Whittier College back in August. With only two weeks before the semester started to prepare, I hit the ground running teaching instruction sessions for First Year writing courses, managing the reference desk and a team of student assistants, overseeing ILL, liaisoning to a handful of departments/programs, and promoting the library through its social media accounts. Between my daylight hours at Whittier and my late-night hours with our newborn daughter, I’ve had little time for writing or much of anything else (ask me when was the last time I went to the grocery store).

Instruction season slows down dramatically in two weeks and while I’ll need to turn my attention to other tasks like collection development and assessment, I hope to inhabit this space once again. I’ve been rethinking the way in which I use social media (as a professional). More on that later. Until then, I hope you are well and we’ll chat more soon.

Cossette’s unified philosophy of librarianship

July 30th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Yesterday, Matthew Ciszek posted on Cossette’s essay, Humanism and Libraries: An Essay on the Philosophy of Librarianship, translated by Rory Litwin. It’s been a few years since I read Cossette’s text and admittedly my knowledge of it is a bit rusty, but I remember thinking that he fell into the same trap as Ranganathan, the same trap that many thinkers in our field continue to fall into: trying to define a “unified philosophy of librarianship.” Cossette argues that by creating a unified philosophy of librarianship, we could bring “faith and certitude” to our actions as librarians, inspire professional unity, and give us a raison d’etre for what we do.

The longer I work as a librarian, the more I begin to believe that a unified philosophy simply isn’t possible given the diverse communities different libraries serve (public university, private college, city public, state repository, middle school, corporate archives, etc.) and, in fact, the pursuit of such may do more damage to our causes (esp. in raising public awareness, connecting our services to institutional goals, and telling our story to stakeholders) than good. What Ciszek argues is more sensible: an empirical approach that looks at what we are doing and explains why it is important to society. But I would add that this only works externally when the emphasis is placed on *our* society.

My hope is that through an empirical look at generalizations like the Five Laws we can begin the work of creating new theory, grounded in the social study of the phenomenon of libraries and librarianship, and philosophy that seeks to answer why what we are doing is important to society. Let’s start of renaissance of thought in librarianship and move past Ranganathan. He’s served us for almost 60 years, but it’s time we move the profession forward. Let’s resurrect the library theorist.

Of course, I’m reading my own views into Ciszek. His goal in the above paragraph is to argue for a reemergence of the library theorist (hear hear!), not a specific methodological approach. With that said, there is a groundswell of discussion happening now, mostly surrounding the New Librarianship class and mostly happening on Twitter and in blog comments. So if the future of library theory interests you, join the discussion!

Friday fun: Librarian stereotypes and legos

July 26th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

lego librarian

Mr. Library Dude, with tea and tablet.

I generally avoid discussions of librarian stereotypes because: (1) I don’t believe that discussion does anything to advance our mission as librarians; (2) I don’t think anyone outside Library Land cares that much; and (3) I am a walking librarian stereotype (sans cats). That said, playing with representation (gender, professional, age, or otherwise) and expectations of such can be a fun pastime, especially for a degenerate English literature student like myself.

Joe Hardenbrook has created a parade of library-themed Lego characters, most of which I identify with in some way. Though if asked to choose, I probably fall somewhere between the “I quote ‘Buffy’ and none of the students get it! Can you believe it?” character and the “I desperately want to be a hipster librarian with my pencil mustache and bowtie!” character (though, I am sadly unable to pull off successful facial hair).

What about you? Which Lego character are you? Happy Friday!

New librarianship, halfway point

July 21st, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

How are you coming along with the New Librarianship course? I will be honest: between end-of-the-year deadlines at work and various projects at home (plus family in town this week), I haven’t been able to devote much time to Week 2 materials. The discussions on Twitter seemed to have simmered down a bit over the past few days as well. I’ll be catching up and progressing with Week 3 over the next few days. Are you still sticking with it?

I am a librarian

July 19th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

It’s self-affirmation Friday here at Ink and Vellum. This is for all the MLIS students, the part-timers, the contract employees, the assistants, the staff-not-faculty, the not-yet-employed, and all the other library workers who go above and beyond their call to service.


I am a librarian.

I teach students how to discover value in information resources and in doing so help them to recognize the value of their own thoughts.

I stay at the reference desk until every question is fully answered and only then do I take my lunch break.

I keep a copy of Dublin Core next to a copy of the customer service manual because I believe metadata is a service.

I double the Rule of 3.

I advocate for policy changes that increase diversity, recognize and celebrate alterative perspectives, and make the workplace a safer and more equal environment.

I stay late on a Friday because that one colleague needed someone to cover her instruction class at the last minute. And I do it off the clock.

I make students laugh at access policy jokes.

I assess everything.

I develop research guides for students not because they are requested, but because they are helpful (and I really love creating bibliographies).

I spend my breaks reading through virtual chat logs to stay up to date on student assignments.

I test each new product the library purchases. And I always fill out the feedback form.

I share new ideas for outreach because our patrons are an ever-changing organism. And I know library services won’t simply sell themselves.

I always stop and talk to the student with the confused look on her face.

I assume everyone who comes to the circulation desk is faculty.

I never miss an opportunity to make students feel welcomed and loved.

I rock professional library conferences.

I have an MLIS.

I am a librarian because I have librarian skills. I am a librarian because I have library values. I am a librarian because I have library passion.

My job description does not define me. The title on my office door does not define me. My salary does not define me. My institution does not define me.

I am a librarian. And always have been.


::drops mic::


OK Google

July 18th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

john wearing Google Glass

I’ve been teaching Orientation classes for incoming first-year students at USC the past few weeks. The students who attend the class are usually self-selecting and tend to be extremely energetic and excited about library spaces. The one-hour session starts with a brief photo-taking activity and ends with a Special Collections “petting zoo.” In between, I give a 10-15 minute spiel on the various campus libraries (organized by proximity to dorms and late-night food options).

Today, one of the students came to the session wearing Google Glass. He’s a developer and a future engineering student. He was kind enough to let me try them out. I have strong objections to Google Glass from the standpoint of privacy, but in a moment of overwhelming technolust, I squealed like a child.

I’ve already discussed with him the possibility of developing a library app. =)


New librarianship, week 1 review

July 15th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

The mission of libraries is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

This statement was the primary topic of Week 1 in the NewLib course and it is the mission that drives R. David Lankes’s theory of new librarianship: a theory that shifts the balance between a collections-based approach to library work and an actions-based one toward a strong preference for the latter. It asks us to transform our worldview from one in which libraries stand as tombs of information to one in which librarians actively foster knowledge through more than simply providing access. The library as forum, rather than cathedral.

This past week, we discussed how new librarianship changes the question about the future of libraries and librarians from “what will we be?” to “what should we be in a democracy?” As a result of this change, the role of knowledge in library work shifts from a passive position to an active one: knowledge is not something we offer, it’s something we facilitate. Personally (and I only speak for myself), I connect with this approach: I would rather see my role as a librarian as one who helps students move to higher levels of understanding through negotiation and conversation rather than through bibliographic control and access. I can’t say precisely at which point in the past few years I made this realization, but it was some time during my MLIS work. Probably the first semester. Probably the first day of class.

We also discussed theories of knowledge and learning, specifically Conversation Theory. Jacob Berg and Lane Wilkinson (see links in first para) have convincingly argued about the dangers of limiting one’s approach to this learning theory. For now, I am content to allow Lankes’s premise to play out. I signed up for this course as a thought experiment (as well as to have the chance to experience a MOOC) and so will try as best as possible to stay within the limits of the scenario. That said, if you are taking the course I encourage you to read Jacob and Lane’s posts and to keep their criticism in mind (also, take note of the comments on those posts).

Regarding the format of the course, the content is well organized and I have no trouble keeping up (even though I’ll admit that I read all the material on Friday night). The forums are lively and they contain the one feature that I require: the ability to rate comments and then filter comments by rating. My only recommendation would be to create a more Reddit-style threading feature that allows you to organize conversations by rating, number of responses, and “rising” threads. When I walk into a room, I want to go where the action is.

Are you taking the #newlib course? What are your thoughts so far?

I fight for the user

July 12th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

I was delighted to find the following email in my inbox the other day. From ALA’s president Barbara Stripling:

ALA is saddened by recent news that the government has obtained vast amounts of personal information and electronic communications of millions of innocent people. The extent of the personal information received by the government is very troubling. Those of you who have been long-time members of ALA know that we have always argued that provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act encroach on the privacy expectations of library users. Worse, the surveillance law erodes our basic First Amendment rights, all while undermining the very fabric of our democracy [...]

We need to restore the balance between individual rights and terrorism prevention, and libraries are one of the few trusted American institutions that can lead true public engagement on our nation’s surveillance laws and procedures. Libraries have the tools, resources and leaders that can teach Americans about their First Amendment privacy rights and help our communities discuss ways to improve the balance between First Amendment rights and government surveillance activities. And patrons are ready to learn about their privacy rights from their libraries.

How academic libraries can join the fight for privacy has been buzzing around my head of late. Thankfully, Stripling’s email also links to some helpful resources: the Choose Privacy Week website and a Moderator’s Guide [pdf]. I haven’t given this enough thought to craft a decent post, but three things immediately come to mind as actions academic librarians can take (in addition to hosting discussion forums):

1) Prominently display a link to your library’s privacy statement and data retention policies on the homepage. Wait, you don’t have one? Well, now is a better time than any to get started!

2) Know your university’s policies on user data and find out what third parties (esp. email platform providers) have access to it.

3) Start talking to electronic resources vendors about how they use your patrons’ data. What do they collect? What is their retention policy? What other third-parties have access to that data?

I don’t imagine I’ll have many discussions at the reference desk about protecting user privacy and data, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fight for it. More thoughts on this later. Happy Friday!

My ALA 2013 schedule

June 23rd, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

ALA 2013 logo

The 2013 ALA Annual Conference begins this week and I’ll be on my way to Chicago in the next few days. As is customary among Libloggers, I’ve posted my schedule below. Safe travels to everyone traveling this week. I hope to see you there!


Friday, June 28

02:20pm: Arrive at Chicago Midway

03:00pm – 10:00pm: Check in, Registration, Opening events, etc.

10:00pm – 12:00am: Reception

10:00pm – 04:00am: ALA Dance Party 4 (Ay Chiwowa, 311 W Chicago Ave.)


Saturday, June 29

08:30am – 10:00am: ULS Executive Committee Meeting (Hyatt Regency Chicago – Gold Coast)

10:30am – 11:30am: ACRL New Members Discussion Group (Hyatt Regency Chicago – Columbus CD)

01:00pm – 02:30pm: Forum on Revised Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (McCormick Place Convention Center – N132)

03:00pm – 05:00pm: Beta Phi Mu General Assembly (McCormick Place Convention Center – N230b)

04:30pm – 06:00pm: Busting Out of the Cubicle: Your Creative Self at Work (McCormick Place Convention Center – S102bc)

05:30pm – 07:00pm: ACRL ULS/CLS Social (Plymouth Grill, 327 South Plymouth Court)

07:30pm – 09:30pm: ALA Newbie and Veteran Tweetup (Elephant and Castle, 185 North Wabash Avenue)

09:00pm – 12:00am: ALA Afterhours EveryLibrary and Librarian Wardrobe Party (Blue Frog’s Local 22, 22 E. Hubbard)


Sunday, June 30

09:15am – 10:00am: Conversation Starters: Achievement unlocked: Motivating and assessing user learning with digital badges (McCormick Place Convention Center – S102d)

10:30am – 11:30am: Conference Program Planning–Las Vegas 2014 Committee Meeting (Hyatt Regency Chicago – Columbian

01:00pm – 02:30pm: ACRL Information Literacy Web Site Committee (Hyatt Regency Chicago – Wrigley)

03:00pm – 05:00pm: ALA Website Advisory Committee Meeting (McCormick Place Convention Center – N134)

06:00pm – 08:00pm: GLBTRT Social, $5 suggested donation (Ann Sather Restaurant, 909 W Belmont Ave)


Monday, July 1

08:00am – 08:45am: Conversation Starters: Tumblarian 101: Tumblr for Libraries and Librarians (McCormick Place Convention Center – S102d)

01:00pm – 02:30pm: ALA Conversation Roundtable (Hyatt Regency McCormick (HRM), Meeting Suite 5)

05:30pm – 07:00pm: Chicago Showdown: ALA Battledecks IV (McCormick Place Convention Center – N229)

08:00pm – 12:00am: Reception

09:00pm – 2:00am: Que(e)ry: Leather Bound in Chicago, $10 suggested donation (Ann Sather Restaurant, 909 W Belmont Ave)


Tuesday, July 2

01:00pm: Flight out of Chicago Midway