Distinctive Signifiers of Excellence

Scott Walter’s guest editorial in College & Research Libraries offers an alternate model for measuring the success of research libraries.  Noting that even now ARL libraries pride themselves on their distinctive collections, he asks if some notable examples of distinctive and distinguished services such as the Office of Scholarly Publishing at Penn State, the Library Assessment Program at Univ. of Washington, the Campus Information Service at University of Kansas, or the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia might be equally if not more important markers of excellence in today’s research library landscape where the digitizing of increasing portions of our print heritage make many distinctive collections less scarce.

Other interesting programs mentioned in the editorial include:

The Ticklish Problem of Pricing E-books for Libraries « The Scholarly Kitchen

The Ticklish Problem of Pricing E-books for Libraries « The Scholarly Kitchen.

Jos Esposito offers a reasoned explanation of the problem academic presses have pricing ebooks, noting that when they sell an ebook to a library it covers the needs of several constituencies. In the print market each constituency would (might?) have bought copies.  He notes that “that the issues expressed here are active in the current Georgia State litigation.” Rick Anderson’s comment amplifies Esposito’s thesis pointing out that while the library sees that the marginal cost to the publisher of those extra copies is minimal, “the publisher’s marginal costs are beside the point; where greater value is offered, a higher price is reasonable.”  So fairness enters the fray.  While neither Esposito or Anderson offer a fair solution, libraries may in the end have to either choose to pay more to maintain the system, or play a greater role in its transformation (and their own place in that transformation).

ERIH Foreword : European Science Foundation

ERIH Foreword : European Science Foundation.

The European Reference Index in the Humanities “created by and developed by European Researchers both for their own purposes and in order to present their ongoing research achievements systematically to the rest of the world” has created a highly controversial list of research journals in the humanities.  So controversial has this list become that in 2011, the list (first published in 2008) has now changed its grading system from A-B-C to categorizing by influence and scope (i.e. NAT=national or INT= International).  See the summary article in the Chronicle by Rachel Wiseman.

Collaborating with Faculty Part 1: A Five-Step Program | In the Library with the Lead Pipe

Collaborating with Faculty Part 1: A Five-Step Program | In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Kim Leeder draws a useful and intensive blueprint for establishing collaborative relationships with faculty.  The bottom line?  You establish a real human relationship: “The best collaborative relationships often include an element of friendship, or at least friendly collegiality, in addition to a solid professional working relationship. If we think of collaborative relationships as just that, relationships, we can more readily accept the fact that they take patience, cultivation, and work, like any relationship.”  Leeder makes it clear that relationships take continued and sustained effort, communication and responsibility.

What faculty members do with their time!

On July 10, following an Article by Audry Williams June entitled “Efforts to Measure Faulty Workload Don’t Add Up” The Chronicle of Higher Education published three articles from three faculty members at the University of Texas, Dallas entitled “What I do with my time”  The three faculty members included one from biomed (Lee A. Bulla Jr.), one arts and humanities (Pamela Gossin) and from art and performance (Fred Curchak) [all links here require authentication]  What was interesting to me was not only the variety of how they spend their time, but their different styles of work.  The Chronicle gives us for each the number of sections taught, the number of students each teaches, their research grants (none had any at the time of their interviews) and their annual salaries (presumably this is a matter of public record).  While clearly these three do not necessarily represent the wide variety of faculty across higher ed much less those at my own institution, it was instructive to look at what they mentioned and what they didn’t.  All three mentioned teaching and some form of class preparation (although only two appeared to be looking ahead to developing new class content).  Acting as peer reviewers, serving on committees, advising, counseling, supervising postdocs, doing research, grants (or thinking about them) all appeared among the activities, none of which were surprising.  What was surprising?  Watching!  Two mentioned in their class prep they were watching TV or film documentaries for potential use in their classes.  The other surprise was the odd collection of snarky comments that appeared especially following Prof. Gossin’s schedule.   But, this is standard behavior.  Lessons here for outreach?

Look for connections to the library.  The obvious one is class preparation which all faculty appear to do, whether it be far in advance or at the last minute.  Supervising postdocs is another area of interest.  We’ve only a tenuous connection to them now, yet one of my colleagues points out, that like new faculty,  they know the least about the libraries when they arrive.  Some ideas:

  • Providing/feeding relevant literature for upcoming (i.e. planned) classes via new titles lists, RSS feeds from key journals, saved searches [our new discovery tool can save searches]  — but SDI is hardly a new idea, maybe just one we shouldn’t forget.
  •  Include postdocs among outreach effort to new faculty.  Since this number is considerably larger than new faculty appointments, we may want to target a few departments.  Who are the supervisors?