28 September 2011
a rare serious post...
i'm sure, dearest of dedicated readers, that you are wondering, what, pray tell, could be so serious as to require a serious blog post on this most entertaining of blogs. well, a story that comes out of our esteemed colleague of a state on the west coast, california. the city, san diego.
see the student over there? he is sleeping peacefully amongst the stacks of the copley library at the university of san diego. but, little does he know of what goes on behind the doors of the hallowed halls within.
the story: 8 library employees were laid off at the university of san diego. these layoffs were made to "bring the library into the 21st century." [make sure you read the comments at the end of the article.]
the journal 'inside higher education,' gives excellent coverage, i think, of both sides of the argument here. what skills are relevant and necessary for library faculty and staff to have (or procure) in support of the academic curriculum and mission of their respective universities and colleges?
the library loon places some responsibility (blame) on individual staff and faculty who either don't keep up with current trends, don't attend professional development courses or use conferences as "kaffeeklatches."
but, imho, the most interesting point of the whole debate is the fact that the university of san diego is a roman catholic institution. according to some faculty there, layoffs do not support one of the core values in the university’s mission statement which is to uphold the “Catholic moral and social tradition by its commitment to serve with compassion, to foster peace, and to work for justice.” in essence, it's morally wrong to fire people.
some of the people laid off had been with the university for many years, a couple were close to retirement age.
the administration's position (including the university librarian) maintains the reorganization of the university’s Copley Library was necessary to keep the library on track with the ongoing progression of technology. critics argue that these individuals could be trained (or re-trained) in essential skills.
over at blog u, a part of 'inside higher education' website, the discussion centers on library jobs, library/staff distinctions, and 'necessary' reorganizations and unnecessary reorganizations.
so, what of it? who knew? when did this debate begin? have i been blind to the plight of my brethren and brethrenesses (yes, i made it up - i can't be serious all the time).
i daresay...no. for i am one of those staff people. ever since entering academia four years ago, i have been constantly questioning the library as place and my place in the library. as a circulation supervisor, i see circulation numbers and gate count numbers and dwindling physical monograph collections and think...
is what i do important (or even necessary) anymore? and who will tell me? the patron? administration? steve jobs? amazon?
in all the talk of library 2.0 and the library as place, did we forget about the people? do we leave our humanity behind when we embrace technology? will we value only those humans who can harness the future that is electronic? or out in the cloud?
barbara fisher from gustavus adolphus college in minnesooooota wraps it up pretty succinctly in her column on library journal's website. the title: what do we want? change! when do we want it? yesterday!
happy reading . . . no matter the format . . . for now!
thumbs up! the illumination by kevin brockmeier. stories of what happens when you can see people's pain, literally.
ps - yes i will be discussing the big news that is the amazon kindle fire, new touch kindles, amazon silk mobile browser and the cloud. here's a bit from information week. the power that is . . . amazon! stay tuned...