At the Ref Desk (7/11/20): After 6 hrs of chat-reference, I got out of the house and hiked north on Broadway all the way from Diversey to Howard. Nice evening. (Took the bus home.) [more...]
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Academic Libraries

The Value of Library Reference : You Decide

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 4/28/20 (5:51pm)

It’s 8:30pm on a Tuesday evening. Student contacts Reference Desk saying he/she is looking for ‘research’ articles on effects of poverty on success in education. Instructor wants list of articles from student by class tomorrow.

Student Worker Solution:

  1. Sends link to Research Guide for Education
  2. Says ‘good evening’.

Reference Librarian Solution:

  1. Explains that there are several databases -- some focused on education, some focused on social science
  2. Steps through how to access these databases by pointing to library’s home page and link to ‘Research Guides’ -- where databases are arranged by subject
  3. In background does quickie search through standard databases, sizing up the lay of the land and then recommends to student strategies/pathways that appear most promising
  4. And oh yeah: Explains how to identify ‘research’ articles through a number of characteristics
  5. Says ‘good evening’.

Observation : Both responses did in fact answer the student’s question. So what’s the diff?

Our Current Predicament (Academic Library Edition)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 4/2/20 (9:55am)

Digitization in an Emergency: Fair Use/Fair Dealing and How Libraries Are Adapting to the Pandemic (Ryan Clough, ARL Blog):

“Like every other major institution operating during the coronavirus pandemic, research libraries are confronting sudden and radical shifts in their daily realities. Foremost among these challenges is the near-total loss of access to paper books and other physical library holdings. As of today, nearly every ARL member in the United States and Canada has closed its brick-and-mortar facilities and discontinued or severely limited access to print collections.... This emergency is truly unprecedented in modern times, even during times of war.”

More here...


Current Cites for Feb. 2020

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 3/1/20 (11:58am)

go to Current Cites
Current Cites for Feb. 2020 is out! You can find the issue here...

Wrote about an interesting study that looked at the characteristics of transfer students at the undergrad level. Rang a bell.

First Saturday of the New School Year 2019

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 9/14/19 (6:35pm)

1st Saturday of the school year with colleague Jim from the West Desk. Note: folder was carrying all the articles I've been going through for a research project.


Remembering the Spectator - Issue no. 105 (6/30/1711)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 5/9/19 (4:50pm)

Talking to a student last week, I tried to remember the quote (and the source of the quote): "I spell like a gentleman and not like a ..." Finally found it: [LINK].

P.S. Initial Google search (with auto-correct) came up with, "I smell like a gentleman..." Ah, no.

From the Series, Why We Need Librarians...

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 1/15/19 (5:40pm)

From the Series, Why We Need Librarians (IM edition) ...

Question: "Got the '3rd Symphony' by Copland? I had a look but couldn't find anything."
Answer: "Try 'third'..."

First Saturday of the Year

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 9/8/18 (10:48pm)

First Saturday of the school year -- with Jim from Access Services!


Proceeds of the day

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 10/18/12 (7:52pm)

At the Reference Desk (actually in the workroom):

  1. OMG! 'Students Help Yourselves'? So unfair! What about us starving non-students? Strike! Strike!
  2. Then I turn to the table and see this wonderful home-made cake!
  3. Then a student brings over a burrito from some event just outside the library! At the same time, someone from Access Services says they've got a bunch of trays from yet another event and could I help clear them out? Are you kidding? Here's a picture of the final haul. It's too much!

Woodworking vs. Library Science at the University of Alabama

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 12/4/10 (12:43pm)

The old joke in the Soviet Union used to be: 'We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us' -- Soviet currency being completely worthless outside its own borders. So what can I say about the position of "Digital Repository Coordinator" at the University of Alabama (UA) advertised recently on the LITA list? First, it's not even listed as "Coordinator" on UA's own HR site (or on LibJobs for that matter) but rather under the slightly more dignified title of "Digital Repository Manager". So somewhere in between, there must have been a reclassification.

But whatever it's called, the job description is the same: the lucky-ducky who lands this position must demonstrate "expertise" in MS Basic, Perl or Python, have some knowledge of either JavaScript, Java or PHP and of course, be able to design and interact with SQL databases. These are the "minimum qualifications". "Preferred qualifications" include a knowledge of XML, XSLT, diacritics and encoding issues as well as metadata standards such as EAD and MODS. An academic degree in Computer Science would be nice plus some experience in programing.

Annual salary: $26,062.40.

When someone pointed out that $26k might be a tad low, the original poster defended the rate saying "technical skills have historically been paid little in academia". On the bright side, she added, "we don't require employees to work 60-80 hour weeks as is common for programmers in the wider marketplace."

I s'pose not being required to work "60-80 hour weeks" might be a consolation for making $26k a year -- but I hardly think it's an incentive to stay very long with the employer. In fact, if I were making that little, you better believe I'd be carrying off everything that wasn't nailed down at the end of the day (joke). In any case, I did have a look at some of the other jobs available on the UA HR site -- just to get a feeling of what the prevailing wage is. And wouldn't you know, they've got a position as "Cabinet Maker III" paying close to $23 an hour -- or more than double what the library is offering for the position of "Digital Repository Manager".

So what's the moral of this tale? Woodworking beats Library Science -- at least at the University of Alabama. (And Thank God I've got a background in both.)