There’s a good overview of LibraryThing in today’s free Wall Street Journal. LibraryThing is a social software site for books. I remember looking at it about a year ago and being like, yeah whateva. I don’t have much time to read never mind catalog, review, and tag my books. I’m not sure I care that much about finding other sick individuals who have the same tastes as me, and the whole privacy thing gives me the creeps. Yes you can use an alias but won’t you be found out eventually? And then there’s the P.J. O’Rourke problem–”always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” Maybe I’m just being grumpy and the site is incredibly popular, so perhaps LibraryThing deserves a second look. Any academic librarians out there using LibraryThing? Anybody use it in their library somehow? On the blog Thingology I noticed a detailed discussion (written by Abby, the LibraryThing librarian) about the pros and cons of subject headings and tags that I plan to incorporate into my lessons on subject headings. LibraryThing is worth checking out, but notice that the WSJ has the article under the headline “Time Waster.”
Yes, ALA’s 2006 national conference is only just about to end and new officers are only about to begin, but it’s never too soon for ACRL to start announcing who is running for top offices next year. I learned today at the conference that the two candidates for ACRL President Elect/President for 2007 are two distinguished academic librarians. They are Erika C. Linke, Associate Dean of University Libraries, Carnegie Mellon University and our very own blog team member, Scott Walter, Assistant Dean of Libraries and Visiting Assistant Professor of Teaching & Leadership at the University of Kansas.
It should be an exciting election and we wish both Erika and Scott the best on their campaigns. ACRLog will keep you posted on the election.
On Sunday morning I attended a meeting of the Baltimore National Conference Executive Committee. Planning for the 2007 conference is really moving along and shaping up nicely. ACRL members will be hearing much more about the great programming that the Conference will offer.
I thought you might be interested to know more about the numbers of proposals submitted for the conference:
If your proposal is not accepted keep the poster sessions and roundtables in mind. Deadlines for those programs come later in 2006, and will provide more opportunities for participation. Speaking of the poster sessions, anyone who attended the Minneapolis conference will recall the massive overcrowding at the poster sessions owing to a serious lack of space in the exhibits hall for the posters. The early word is that there will be much more room allocated for the poster sessions area which should provide more than sufficient space for the ever popular poster sessions.
ACRLâ€™s New Publications Advisory Board and the College Library Section co-sponsored the “Publish, Donâ€™t Perish: Helpful Hints for Authors” program at the ALA Annual Conference. I attended along with several College Library Section colleagues as we were graciously invited to briefly describe the Your Research Coach program. I spoke for just a few minutes on my experience as a research coach, explaining how Iâ€™ve helped the partners with whom Iâ€™ve worked. There was lots of good advice and practical strategies from the speakers (Marie Radford, Rutgers University, Tony Schwartz, Florida International University, and Patricia Neal-Schuman, Neal-Schuman Publishers). Their suggestions for would be authors included starting small but thinking big, creating time for writing, dealing with rejection letters, communicating with editors, and much more.
One of the common themes among the speakers was the need for and value of seeking out help from others. Perhaps Tony Schwartz nailed it when he said â€œwriting is a social interactionâ€. In other words, authoring, even if you are writing solo, involves others. Less experienced writers may be intimidated about asking for help, but the presentersâ€™ message was that your colleagues are often glad to provide help â€“ and help can come in many forms.
Even more could have been said about the essential importance of having a good, workable idea. As Walt Crawford wrote, â€œfirst have something to sayâ€. You need a good idea to write about before you start writing anything of substance. If an idea is not well focused or too far a field from your expertise the writing process is bound to become a struggle. The intangible factor is passion. Passion for your topic can make the difference between hitting a wall during the writing process and getting to the finish line. Attendees were clearly challenged by getting started, and several questioners wanted advice on good ways to kick start the writing process. In almost all situations where help is needed the source is likely to be a colleague (although Tony recommended seeking colleagues outside your institution who are not your friends and much more likely to provide realistic feedback). For those who need or want to publish or present more regularly â€“ or just want to get that first professional article or presentation under the belt â€“ the good news is that there is help out there, both in print and from colleagues.
Lesley Williams has a thoughtful piece in Library Journal about the need to make our electronic resources more visible. Though she’s coming from a public library perspective, we all run into situations where students (and faculty!) only learn about a database by accident or assume their choices are between what they can find on Google and what they can turn up in the stacks. In fact, she starts out with an anecdote about a graduate student working on her dissertation while away from her institution.
One day she came over to show me a wonderful new online tool she’d discovered that let her search through thousands of scholarly articles and print out the full text. She was referring to Google Scholar. â€œIsn’t this great?â€ she asked happily, as the titles of thousands of articles scrolled across her screen. I pointed out that almost none of the pages she’d retrieved actually provided the full text for free, that she couldn’t search by subject terms or in the article abstracts, and that she could search by author but not sort articles by author or date. She was undeterred: â€œBut this covers so many sources! Where else could I find this much in one place?â€ she exclaimed. I showed her the hundreds of online sources available at the Yale library web site, including an African American newspapers database and historical databases for national newspapers. She had never seen or used any of these before.
Some of her suggestions ask us to think outside the library – vendors could advertise to end users, not just to libraries; libraries could promote what they offer through affiliated organizations. But however we approach it, she makes a strong case that we need to do more to get the word out.