As an academic librarian I make it a point to stay up-to-date with the latest news about the higher education industry. It’s important to know what’s happening in the world of librarianship, but it may be even more essential to know the latest news and developments in our parent organizations’ industry. How long do you think you’d last as a chemistry librarian in a chemical company if you paid no attention to developments in the chemical industry? Even if you are currently getting by as an academic librarian who pays no attention to higher education, I’d urge you to start taking more of an interest. A controversy worthy of your attention is always brewing in higher education. More importantly, being knowledgeable about higher education contributes to one’s passion for academic librarianship – and being a part of the academic enterprise.
It’s probably never been easier to stay alert to news in higher education. It all started with e-mail news reports from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Then Inside Higher Ed came along. Add to the mix the daily report from University Business. Then you can also read Academic Impressions. Get the news by e-mail or RSS feed. Read them all or take your pick. And just recently it seems like the competition between these resources – in an effort to capture our attention – is heating up a bit. The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed are almost neck-and-neck in the race to get their news out first thing in the morning. Recently the Chronicle raised the stakes by starting up an afternoon news service. Then within the last few days University Business, which always sent their news out in the late morning or early afternoon, started sending their e-mail news alert almost as early as the Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed.
Perhaps all of this is pure coincidence. But I suspect these different news services are jockeying to gain the reader’s attention and develop some brand loyalty. From my perspective all these news services are important for anyone trying to keep up with news and developments in higher education. Efforts to one up the competition will result in better and more timely news delivery, and that means good news for academic librarians who want to keep up with higher education. I find the resources are just different enough in terms of the stories, the depth of reporting, the commentary, the amount of full text provided, the use of hyperlinks, and other characteristics, to demand that I routinely scan each and every one of them – and it just takes a few extra minutes a day. So if a bit of competition results in new features, more frequent news reporting, or any other enhancements, I say bring it on. In this competition, academic librarians are the winners.