Archive for December, 2007

Rekindle your love affair with books

Is the book dead? Is print obsolete? Is reading overrated?

For some people, new technologies will always pose a threat to what they know and love. When e-books first appeared, pundits predicted that they would eventually replace the printed book. Others argued that Google Book Search would infringe on the profit and copyright of traditional publishers. Rarely do such dire forecasts reflect reality.’s new wireless reading device, the Kindle, is already inspiring similar predictions. Yet Amazon’s own president and CEO Jeff Bezos reinforces the fact that, despite ever-changing formats, “books aren’t dead.” The full interview with Bezos can be found in the November 26, 2007 issue of Newsweek magazine.

I first encountered mention of the Kindle a month ago while working on collection development. The Kindle shares many features with previous e-book devices with one important difference: wireless connectivity. It’s designed to operate independently of any computer. You can purchase a book through Amazon via one-touch process and once you buy the book it will be downloaded to your Kindle and stored in your library. Downloads take less than 90 seconds.

While searching for more information, I stumbled upon several blog entries. I am not the only one interested and intrigued by the Kindle. This post came from Amazon’s own backyard: Seattle PI covers the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Kindle:

Boingboing offers some interesting points as well:

The times are changing in the publishing world. However, as far as this traditional librarian is concerned, nothing beats curling up with a good (print) book and a cup of cocoa.


Meeting notes from the MALC Executive Committee

The MALC Executive Committee met Friday, December 7th, 2007. Following are highlights from the meeting:

 Follow up and feedback on the MALC fall meeting. That meeting’s minutes can also be found on this blog.
 The Special Collection (print and digital) Task Force will have more information available at the spring meeting.
 Details for the MALC spring meeting were discussed. The meeting will be held April 4, 2008 and hosted by Saginaw Valley State University.
 Interest in offsite storage was shared by only six institutions. Since this does not appear to be a priority issue for the membership, the Executive Committee has completed its work. Any documents pertaining to this topic will appear in the Reports section of the MALC site. The six institutions that were interested will be forwarded to MLC for possible collaboration.
 Items tabled to January’s meeting:
o the website (
o gathering and linking various topics of interest to academic libraries such as job descriptions, Teach Act, Patriot Act, collection development policies, copyright statements
 Membership invoices will be sent out in February 2008

The Hiring Process

What are the odds that I am both an interviewer and interviewee during the same month?

As an interviewee, it can become quite difficult to suppress both apprehension and raised expectations. Failing to receive a position can play havoc with one’s self-confidence (even if you believe a better-qualified candidate is in the mix). And little can be done to ameliorate this process.

But the view is entirely different sitting on other side of the table. As an interviewer, you’re acutely aware that your final decision will have long-term consequences. So you may find yourself juggling several applicant’s strengths and weaknesses in your mind when decision-time is at hand. Indeed, taking into account each candidate’s experience, personality, maturity (as well as other subjective qualities) can be challenging. And when several qualified applicants put forth serious effort toward the position you may even hate to choose.

An interesting website I found about alternative hiring criteria (in general) can be found here

Introducing Dana Pawloski from Marygrove College

When I attended the fall MALC conference last month, I asked fellow MALC member Dana Pawloski from Marygrove College if she would like to serve as co-blogger. I’m happy to say that she has graciously accepted– so don’t be surprised to be reading more MALC Blog posts in the future.

2007 MALC Fall Conference Notes

Nov. 30, 2007 | 9:30 – 4:00 | Lansing Holiday Inn South

I. Presentation by UM/WSU Library School/dean director

University of Michigan School of Information
Martha Pollack assumed the deanship position at the University of Michigan, School of Information (SI) in August. Dr. Pollack gave an overview of SI: its mission, history, student profile, curricular changes and upcoming initiatives. Coming from the U-M College of Engineering, Dr. Pollack is trained as a computer scientist. She views the Information Revolution as the final frontier which presents both opportunities and challenges for iSchools. The SI student and faculty body is diverse. The School is experiencing increasing enrollment and currently has the largest Masters class since SI was chartered. The School has 362 students: 317 MSI (Masters of Science in Information) and 45 PHD candidates. Students enrolled in the PHD program have fully funded tuition and stipends. 100% of 06 graduates are in professional positions or are pursuing a doctoral degree. The starting salary is $54,200.

MSI offers nine areas of specialization. The implementation of recent curricular changes has resulted in a new set of three required foundation courses: Information in Social Systems, Project Management and Contextual Inquiry and Networking Computing. The Practical Engagement Program (PEP) allows students to apply classroom knowledge to solve problems outside the classroom. The STIET Program, supported by a recently renewed 6.7 million dollar NSF grant, is a doctoral training program that focuses research on the use of incentive-centered design of modern information systems. Upcoming initiatives include a new interdisciplinary undergraduate program in informatics, hiring 6–10 faculty over the next four to five years, enhancing SI’s research presence, and moving to North Quad into a new university building in 2010.

Wayne State University Library and Information Science Program
Stephen Bajjaly assumed the director position at the Wayne State University, Library and Information Science Program in August. Previously he served on the faculty of the University of South Carolina, School of Information Science. Dr. Bajjaly emphasized that UM and WSU have complementary programs. WSU is a good fit for individuals already employed who are seeking a traditional library environment. WSU has one of the largest LIS programs in the country. 587 Masters students (400 FTE) are enrolled with 80% attending part-time. Most of their students are working and have families. 87% are female. 95% come from Michigan (50% of which come from Wayne and Oakland counties). Breakdown by interest area: 22% – school media, 22% – public libraries, 12% – archival administration, 10% – academic libraries. 19% of their graduates accepted positions in academic libraries. The median salary for their graduates is $39,000.

WSU has a number of initiatives in the works. By fall 2008 WSU hopes to move their full program online. Currently 12 courses are available online. A joint MLIS/MA in History degree allows students to complete their program in 57 credits instead of 71 credits. A recently approved Information Management Certificate (5 courses) is designed for individuals who working librarians who want to refresh their technology skills. WSU is also working on a Records Management Certificate. An IMLS grant is funding student digitization projects aimed at fine arts collections and institutions. This work could lead to special certificate option. The Program is also looking to renovate their current space.

II. Open discussion with Library School Representatives
Deans and directors brought up a variety of topics: the need for continuing education opportunities, the need for universal skills allowing librarians to function effectively in today’s library i.e. (analytical, problem solving, advocacy, leadership), training librarians on research methods to fulfill tenure requirements, and staying current on scholarly communication.

Because both Schools are hard pressed just to keep their Masters and PHD programs going they do not offer continuing education. In Michigan MLC has been filling the continuing education / training niche.

U-M is working on having close connections to employers. Their foundation courses incorporate problem solving, project management and data analysis. SI is a professional school that has a solid intellectual basis of librarianship. It is not a training school. The Practical Engagement Program enables students to do field work and apply classroom knowledge. Although U-M tries to develop students’ writing skills, the teaching of research skills is difficult to fit into a 2 year program. U-M offers courses on information economics which includes digital publishing and distribution, economics of the information world and scholarly publishing.

WSU also is not a training program. However, first year students are exposed to the job search, interview techniques and resume preparation. Students are exposed to many broad based skills in their foundation courses. The Practicum option prepares students to work in a library where they can apply and test their classroom skills and knowledge. Students pursuing a academic library track are encouraged to enroll in the Research Methods class.

Library deans/directors suggested that they had a responsibility to:

• Be proactive and encourage staff to get degrees
• Collaborate with and inform MLC and MLA of continued education / training needs
• Advocate and push their institution for professional development dollars
• Provide financial support and mentoring

III. Discussion on Accreditation and Assessment
To jump start the discussion, facilitator Cliff Haka offered some accreditation and assessment tips:

• Get in touch with the units that are up for accreditation. Ask: What can the library do to help you prepare for your site visit. (Is the library linked to what is going on? Often it is not.)
• Have someone in your library read the entire accreditation report prior to the team’s visit.
• Make sure you get the appropriate library people at the table when the visitation team asks library questions. (Often only 5 minutes is allocated for the library).
• Before conducting a survey, know what you are assessing.
• Assess when you have some idea of what you want to do.
• Don’t assess if people have already made up their mind – don’t waste their time.
• Assessment is an ongoing process. Make sure you have feedback tenacles out there.

Albion – Has used LibQUAL for benchmarking. Most valuable are the additional comments. Institution has made a commitment to learning outcomes – what are the information skills of your graduates; what should the skills be?
EMU – Did LibQUAL 5 years ago and using it as a benchmark. No point in collecting data if you don’t plan to use it.
Ferris – Assessment of outcomes is becoming embedded. They did LibQUAL in the spring. Assessment is helping them with accreditation.
UM Dearborn – They use the “What/So What/Now What method. LibQUAL is ok for some perspectives and gives you comparative data, but doesn’t get to the nitty, gritty stuff.
Kalamazoo Valley CC – Speaking from experience as an accreditation examiner, Jim Ratliff emphasized that the library has a very short window to make an impression during the site visit. Library outcomes are specifically connected to instruction, that has a much greater impact. When preparing information for the accreditation team, write something specific that gets to the macro level.
Northern Michigan University – The university uses AQIP for accreditation. Assessment has to be done on an annual basis. You pick what you want to measure and improve. The library should be mentioned in the academic support section within the AQIP Systems Portfolio. Northern has a strong information literacy assessment component in their Nursing Program. This has been a product of many years of the library working with nursing faculty.
Oakland CC – Offers a 1 hour information literacy course which is tied into a college wide information literacy rubric.
U-M Dearborn – They ask faculty, does the library make a difference? As a result of librarian efforts, has the quality of student work improved?

IV. Michigan Library Association Proposed Reorganization
Josie Parker, MLA President, discussed why MLA needs to change. After considerable debate and research, the MLA Board of Directors selected a strategic governance structure. In the new structure MLA Board members will be appointed by a nominating committee. Appointments will be based on individual expertise and skills needed to run a professional association.

MLA proposes to abolish the existing 30 different units (divisions, committees, roundtables) which have become unmanageable given a MLA paid staff of four with a ¾ million budget. This structure would be streamlined and replaced with six committees. Committee chairs would be appointed by the MLA Executive Director. The restructuring plan allows for fluidity with the creation of Communities of Practice which have worked well in Iowa. Anyone who wants to get a COP group together can do so with MLA support. The group can fade away when there is no longer interest. Josie and the current chairs of divisions, committees, and roundtables will comprise a taskforce to flesh out the Communities of Practice. Academic Librarian Day will continue, as will membership in the ARLD chapter. MLA members will be asked to vote on the restructuring plan in January. Election for the MLA Board will be held in May. The new structure would go into effect in July.

Library directors/deans wondered how the new structure would impact academic librarians relative to the new fee structure, continuing education opportunities, opportunities for academic librarians to fulfill tenure requirements, and MALC as a possible Community of Practice.

Constituent group break-out sessions
Each group was asked to identify their top choices for program ideas for the spring MALC membership meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00.

Respectfully submitted,
Elenka Raschkow (MCCL)
MALC Executive Committee

Questions regarding proposed MLA restructure

Josie Parker led an informative presentation at the Nov. 30 MALC (Michigan Academic Library Council) membership meeting. The MALC secretary is passing on some questions that have been raised by the membership regarding the proposed MLA reorganization. You may already be aware of these issues. Thanks in advance for listening to the MALC academic library deans / directors and trying to provide us with clarity during this time of transition.

1. What percentage of the MLA membership is comprised of academic librarians?
2. Based on current MLA academic librarian memberships, how many of their respective university/college libraries are also institutional members of MLA?
3. How many MALC members (academic library deans/directors) hold membership in MLA?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed new MLA structure for academic libraries and librarians?
5. How will the new MLA dues fee structure be determined? What is the anticipated impact on academic librarians and libraries?
6. What opportunities will there be for academic librarians to fulfill tenure requirements i.e. publishing, conference/workshop presentations, elected to leadership positions?
7. Communities of Practice (COP’s)

• How will COP’s be structured, organized and funded?
• In the event that an independent organization decides to become a COP will it be required to join MLA?
• If the independent organization has an established institutional membership fee structure, by-laws and website, what happens to these in a COP?
• Can membership be restricted to a particular group within a COP?