Techdirt provides one perspective on the increasing trend towards downsizing or even eliminating reference/research librarians altogether.
Most recently, the WSJ has announced that it has gotten rid of its two research librarians for good. Now, reporters will have to do their own research because of the abundance and simplicity of the tools that are now available onlilne.
I do realize that times are tough and that belts do need to be tightened, especially in the newspaper industry. However, when you remove a core element that helps create validity for an entire industry, I begin to worry about the direction other papers will take on seeing this decision. Not that they wouldn’t do it anyway. But the seeming lack of concern for credibility in a profession that depends on getting the facts exactly right (okay, minus the tabloids — but I think they’re strangely in less danger than the big guys) makes me wonder if I got into the wrong gig after all.
But alas — never fear — I could always snag one of the Annoyed Librarian’s “Jobs that Suck.” Whoopeee!
Technology Review has published an interesting take on the validity of Wikipedia and a look at a new tool designed to warn readers of the potential for controversy on individual articles. It’s called WikiDashboard. Developed by PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), it “provid[es] social transparency to Wikipedia” and graphically shows the percentage of edits made by individuals. The more edits made, the greater the possibility the information could be altered.
I mean, really. Who would even care about editing the page of someone like, say, George W. Bush or Rod Blagojevich?
It may shock some of you to see that I’m posting again after an eight month long hiatus. Hello, world of internet stalkers and friends alike! It’s nice to see you again.
My wish lies in directing this blog to something more … well … reasonable. Say, a topic that doesn’t range from gummy bears to open access issues. It’s tougher than I initially thought to really get down to brass tacks and write something of interest, value, and perhaps even a bit of humor. This often means chugging out actual original material rather than regurgitating whatever’s on Google Reader at the time.
So I begin with this line of thought: cynicism.
With all that’s been going on in the world the past few months, it’s easy to see why many people choose to plead ignorance and continue on as before, stuffing their faces with DiGiorno frozen pizzas (okay, guilty, I admit) and blindly flip the channel when depressing news gets stuck on repeat night after night. Wars, trials, massacres, famines, floods, and worse ravage the unsuspecting. No amount of charity even seems to come close to healing those wounds.
While I skim the headlines and perhaps take a peek at the more sensational stories in my rss reader, little really sinks in because I’m nice and comfy, nibbling on the grisly scraps of injustice that dribble through the cracks of various media outlets. They leave a bad, greasy taste in my mouth. But what to do?
Add a little cynicism to the diet. Along with a bit of self-willed ignorance, disdain of the state of North American Christianity, and horror at the quality of GM vehicles, I often degress to watching episodes of Jon Stewart while pondering the meaning of pork.
In short, I’m pretty much working from the ground up on this one. I won’t tell if you won’t.
I know, it’s a short order to fill. But now anyone can participate and get a taste of one of the Ivies in their own office, bedroom, kitchen, or … toilet even. I don’t care, and I don’t want to know. But if you have an Internet connection you can go to class. For free.
So Yale University is joining the online frenzy with the aid of a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Over an 18 month trial session, these partners will provide offerings from 8 core courses, completely free to the public. Poetry, philosophy, psychology, religion – the works.
While these courses won’t earn you any credits, it’s a relatively unprecedented move for such a prestigious school (or any school, for that matter) to provide audio, video, transcripts in multiple languages, syllabi, etc, to the world at large. I’d say this is a great step towards open education, whether it earns a spot on your CV or not.
You could put it that way in the Washington Post article that outlines the disturbing statistics found: 13 percent of materials, or one sixth of the collection, is nowhere to be found at the Library of Congress. I’d say that’s something to be concerned about. Now that I’ve got a bit of an inside view at conducting a library inventory (the library I work at hadn’t been inventoried ever in anyone’s recent memory) and the horrors that show up (you mean there are books on the shelf that have never been cataloged??), maybe the LOC isn’t doing too bad. I mean, who really reads all of those books anyway? It’s not like you go there to do some “beach reading” and then grab a Cosmo for the metro ride home. But, alas, I suppose it is important that the top library in the country have some sense of pride in its massive collection. Hopefully the culprits didn’t have too much fun with those missing copies of Huckleberry Finn and The Street Lawyer.
Filed under library, news