Textbook American Revolution

The University of Chicago Press recently issued a two volume narrative history of the United States that is freely available online and reasonably priced ($30) in paperback.

As someone who’s responsible for my college’s history collection (and a former history teacher) I’m both impressed and excited for the future. These sorts of quality and reasonably priced offerings from scholarly presses (see also MIT Press) bode well for the future of scholarly publishing.

Check it out HERE.

Changes WILL be made: Or, does Facebook troll it’s own users?

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 10.43.15 AM
Screenshot from Facebook’s Business Manager

The above image is a familiar one to folks who run an organizational/business Facebook Page. A page suggestion is when somebody (though, personally, I’m increasingly beginning to suspect Facebook itself for reasons that I’ll spell out below) suggests a change to your page’s hours, location, category, etc.  Most recently someone suggested that my library’s Facebook page category be changed from “college & university” to “community college.” Over the last few weeks I’ve had suggestions (sometimes repeatedly) that, among other things, our phone number be changed, our hours be adjusted, etc. All of these suggestions have only two things in common. First, they are incorrect and second, Facebook will actually make the change unless we proactively respond. This is maddening. But don’t take my work for it. See this screenshot from Facebook’s “help center.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 11.02.33 AM
Screenshot from Facebook Business “Help” Center

So, why do I suspect that it’s actually Facebook making some of these suggestions? Well, here goes. First, because the nature of the changes are often partially correct. In the way that something scrapped from the web by an algorithm is often partially correct. For example, the suggested changes to the telephone number is a number that appears on our website but is not the number we want library users to call. Secondly, the changes seemed designed to get the page manager to interact with Facebook. Sites like Facebook are obsessed with getting users to “interact” with the site. One easy way to get Social Media Managers to “interact” is by simply threatening to wreck their page, unless they “engage” with the site. I once sent Facebook Business Help a direct message asking for assistance with a page issue. I received no assistance, but I did get an automated reply thanking me for my contribution and directing me to the Facebook Business Help Page. However, a few days later I began to receive suggestions to add more content and purchase add to “promote” my content.

So, I can’t prove it but I think that I’m being trolled by my own page.

Jerry Jr. and the future of Liberty University

Inside Higher Ed recently ran an in-depth profile on Jerry Falwell Jr. and his plans for the future of Liberty University.

Like most leaders, Falwell has a complex relationship with risk. He’s clearly not afraid of the big gambles, like investing in football or backing Trump. But when previous risks pay off, he can be conservative with the proceeds.

Liberty has invested a low percentage of its endowment into equities, between 20 percent and 30 percent, according to Falwell. It’s taking risks instead by pouring profits into its campus.

Construction on Liberty’s campus isn’t just limited to its athletic facilities. The university is in the midst of a $1 billion campus construction plan funded in large part by its online profits.

Projects include academic buildings, dormitories and a 275-foot-tall tower topped by a replica of the Liberty Bell. The tower, which will hold the university’s School of Divinity, sits on an academic lawn that tour guides say is larger than the lawn at the University of Virginia. It is named the Freedom Tower. Some students have referred to it as the Tower of Babel.

Read the rest here.

Image Credit: Murat Tanyel

Prayer, Oswald Chambers, and Victorian Literature

I was recently privileged to spend an afternoon listening to papers and reflections on the life and work of Oswald Chambers, most well known as the writer of My Utmost for His Highest. Something that many of the presenters noted was Chambers’ insistence that “prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work . . . prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are.”

With this in mind, I came across a delightful op-ed by Rohan Maitzen in the LA Times. Maitzen argues that studying literature offers “the thrill of discovering what words can do, and of thinking hard about what they mean. Literature is not just a means to other ends. Like all art, it deserves attention for its own sake — and also for ours. Literature is the record of the many stories we have told about ourselves and our world, and of the many ways we have found to use language artfully and beautifully, but also cruelly and obtusely. It both reflects us and shapes us. We don’t need any excuses for taking it seriously . . . even if this isn’t a winning strategy, at least we would be advocating for our classes in a principled way, rather than trying to convince people that they should study George Eliot to practice their teamwork.” Read the rest here.

I’m certainly not equating praying with reading literature, although I believe that both are worth doing and can even push us toward the true and beautiful.  Rather, I was struck by how our current cultural ethos attempts to ruthlessly instrumentalize things that are inherently worth doing.

I end my thoughts with a quote from C.S. Lewis in his important, but under-appreciated, book An Experiment in Criticism.

Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

The Humanities

The study of humanities is an important part of helping us understand what it means – and has meant – to be human. Declining enrollments in the study of arts, history, literature, language, and philosophy at colleges and universities across the country is a real and serious problem. At a recent forum at the Aspen Institute, Drew Gilpin Faust (President of Harvard) and Leon Wieseltier (former editor of The New Republic) discuss the situation and provide instruction dialogue about the issue.

Academic Library Outreach and Promotion. What’s New?

A growing and dynamic are of study and practice for academic libraries is outreach and promotion. Academic libraries are increasingly looking for new and dynamic ways to inform and market their services and resources to the communities that they serve. Below is a short list of some of the best and most recent scholarship in this area.

Allen, M. & Rust, M. (2016). Bridging the town-gown gap: An academic library building partnerships within its communityInterface.

Allen-Overbey, T., Dotson, D., & LaBadie M. M. (2016). Bringing science to the children: Cooperation between academic and public libraries. IFLA World Library and Information Congress.

Barnett, J., Bull S., & Cooper, H. (2016). Pop-Up library at the University of Birmingham: Extending the reach of an academic library by taking “the library” to the students. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 22(2-3), 112-131.

Budzise-Weaver, T., & Anders, K. C. (2016). Be our guest: Engaging graduate students through specialized outreach events. Endnotes: The Journal of the New Members Round Table, 7(1), 1-12.

Essinger, C., & Ke, I. (2016) Outreach: What works?, Collaborative Librarianship 5(1), Article 6.

Farrell, S. L., & Mastel, K. (2016). Considering outreach assessment: Strategies, sample scenarios, and a call to action. In the Library With the Lead Pipe.

Haycock, L., & Howe, A. (2016). Collaborating with library course pages and Facebook: Exploring new opportunities. Collaborative Librarianship, 3(3).

Larson, L., Stone, J., & Garcia, M. (2016). Starting from square one: Library communications from the ground up. OLA Quarterly, 21(4), 27-35.

Peacemaker, B., Robinson, S., & Hurst, E. J. (2016). Connecting best practices in public relations to social media strategies for academic libraries. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 23(1).

Ross, K., Mitchell, G., Macdonald, F. & Jones, S. (2016). UOW History Archives Portal: Collaboration between the University of Wollongong Library and the History Program to deliver innovative access to digital archives. VALA2016: libraries, technology and the future, VALA, Australia.

Singh, R. (2016). Creating engaging library experiences through effective content marketing. OLA Quarterly, 21(4), 49-54.

Van Beynen, K., Swenson, C. (2016). Exploring peer-to-peer library content and engagement in a student-run Facebook group. College & Research Libraries, 77(1), 34-50.

Wilkes, B. (2016). Let’s work out!: Getting out of the library and into new collaborations and contexts. College & Research Libraries News, 77(7), 334-337.

Free Professional Development

3551356097_294f65e8a4_z
ALA Poster  (ca. 1918)

One of the most important parts of being a professional (in any field) is staying up-to-date with the literature and technical/hard skills required to thrive in your field.

Librarians, like all professionals, should continue to both hone their current skills and develop and learn new ones.

Additionally, library managers and supervisors may wish to use online professional development to train new support staff and para-professionals or to cross train seasoned staff.

Here are some great online (and free) professional development sites for librarians and archivists.

Connecting to Collections Care (Resources)

Digital Public Library of American (Public Library Partnerships Project)

Idaho Commission for Libraries (Continuing Education)

InfoPeople Webinars

Library of Congress (Librarians and Archivists)

OCLC WebJunction

Utah State Library (Webinars)

UW-Madison iSchool Webinars

Wyoming State Library Training Calendar
(up-to-date calendar of professional development training opportunities)

 

 

 

Image credit to Boston Public Library