The Year In Review

It’s time for another review of some top stories from 2006. There were certainly some trends and developments of interest to academic librarians. Please share a comment if you think of something we overlooked, or if you’d like to share the event or news development that had the most impact on you.

The Year of Socio-Tech Trends

It seems we always have our share of trends worth paying attention to and 2006 was no different. ACRLog took note of the “Age of User Experience” but there was also the “Age of Peer Production” – and – oh yeah – the 2.0 thing.

Academic Libraries in Social Networks

Participation in social networks soared to new heights this year as MySpace took over the top spot as the most visited web site. Lots of librarians decided that social networks presented opportunties for connecting with their users. It worked better for some than others, but when Facebook started enforcing its rules against insitutional profiles a number of academic libraries found they were asked to leave the party.

Thank You OCLC

Let’s once again say thanks to OCLC for delivering a great subset of data for college students from its earlier Perceptions Report. Yes, the data was in the original report, but this new one made it much easier to absorb the data about college students – and share it with colleagues and administrators. Finding out more about how college students perceive academic libraries is great. What’s next OCLC? Can tell us more about what faculty think about their academic library?

ACRL’s First Virtual Conference

Although it had previously dipped its toe into virtual conferencing at the 2005 ACRL conference, ACRL took a major step forward when it organized its first dedicated, totally virtual conference that was held April 20-21. It had keynote and featured speaker presentations, and lots of concurrent sessions – just like a real conference. ACRL followed up with a one-day virtual symposium on November 9. Let’s hope ACRL keeps up their ALA leading effort in e-learning and virtual conferencing. And let’s hope the quality of the presentations improves. Too many virtual speakers still think they’re giving a presentation at a F2F conference, and virtual presenting requires a very different approach.


Speaking of OCLC, was it their year or what? When OCLC acquired RLG, one of their other big moves in 2006, it had a big impact on research libraries. It looks like many of the RLG services and programs will continue, for now, but look for ongoing integration of RLG’s products and services into OCLC. Red Light Green will be missed, but look for OCLC to incorporate some of that technology into Worldcat. Next year, how about a higher profile for the Open Worldcat records in Google results.

Library 2.0

At one point it was difficult to read a liblogoverse post without getting someone’s opinion on Library 2.0 and what that meant? Was it a revolutionary new way of approaching services or just some old wine in a new bottle? It certainly spawned some interesting conversations, and even some new blogs, but it will be interesting to see if the bandwagon moves on to a new fad in 2007. But if the Library 2.0 frenzy was any indication, what’s it going to be like when Web 3.0 arrives?

Todaro Wins

It didn’t get quite as much attention as this past November’s mid-term elections, but for ACRL members the annual election for the next vice-president/president-elect of the association is about as big as it gets. After a well-run race and a close election the winner was Julie Todaro. We look forward to having Julie take over the reins of ACRL from Pam Snelson (who is doing a fantastic job as our current leader!) after ALA annual in 2007.

Talk of the Town: Catalogs and Cataloging

Did any topic seem to get as much attention as OPACs and the future of cataloging this year? It seemed like every time you turned around someone else was dissing the OPAC or suggesting a better solution was available. And then we had several studies and more than a few conference programs that questioned the future viability of cataloging rules, classification schemes, and LC subject headings. If I was an OPAC, I’d be pretty darn paranoid in 2007.

Age of Accountability Dawns

While the higher education industry has paid far more attention to assessment and accountability in the last few years, in 2006 the actions of the U.S. Commission on the Future of Higher Education brought a heightened awareness of the need for greater accountability in higher education. Numerous recommendations were made by the commission, but there appears to be a focus on three things in particular: making higher education more affordable; allowing consumers greater access to institutional data; and ensuring that graduates have achieved learning outcomes. Our profession needs to further explore how we can contribute to our institutions’ growing focus on accountability and assessment in 2007.

A Few Good Controversies

What would any year be without a few events that got academic librarians abuzz about what happened and what it meant. This year did not disappoint:

  • You Did What To Our Books – The Chronicle reported widespread dissatisfaction at Cal Poly over the library’s actions during a renovation project that resulted in many books being discarded or stored off site. Clearly some lessons can be learned from this one.
  • Another Nail in the Coffin – Probably not just yet, but Google’s debut of the News Archive Search suggests that library database aggregators are quite eager to have their content indexed by Google, and then made for sale, by-the-piece, to the public. Raise your hand if you think Google will buy the New York Times company in 2007, and then make every last drop of their content available for free on the Internet in their race to keep one step ahead of their competitors for advertising revenue.
  • Publishers Deliver E-Reserve KO Punch To Cornell – Academic librarians were shaken up by the news that Cornell University had issued a fairly stern set of rules for what was permissible when creating e-reserves for courses. Looks like the publishers are getting more serious about how faculty are digitizing course readings, and where and how they are being made accessible. What’s in your e-reserve collection?
  • So Much For Librarian-Faculty Collaboration – Several faculty at OSU-Mansfield filed harassment charges against librarian Scott Savage over books that were suggested for a freshmen reading program. Seems the faculty, who were serving on a book selection committee with the librarian, thought Savage’s suggested books were anti-gay. A conservative defense organization quickly jumped into the fray. Savage was eventually cleared of the harassment charges.
  • Don’t Try This At Your Library – Thanks to the power of YouTube, an enormous wave of public outrage resulted when a student was tasered by campus police at UCLA’s Powell Library when he could not product a student ID card. ALA immediately responded with a stern rebuke to the UCLA Chancellor.
  • Let’s Debate What To Call It, Not Whether We Should Do It – Though the organizers and participants gave it their best shot, the “Great Information Literacy Debate” held during the ACRL President’s Program at ALA Annual probably fell a bit short of expectations. Neither side made a strong case either way, and ultimately the audience was mostly not buying the arguments to do away with information literacy. But who will ever forget the information literacy cheer. Be it resolved that information literacy is a lousy name that nobody in higher education, other than academic librarians, really gets and we need to come up with something better. Who wants to go first?
  • Well, whatever you thought of the world of academic librarianship in 2006, we hope it treated you well personally. The ACRLog team looks forward to continuing to make this a space to share news, information, and perspectives on the events that matter in academic librarianship. We thank you for choosing to read ACRLog, and hope you’ll join us for what should be an interesting ride in 2007.

    2 thoughts on “The Year In Review”

    1. Neither “information literacy” nor its cognate “information fluency” conveys an image to those not schooled in the concept. In other words, “nobody in higher education, other than academic librarians, really gets [it].”

      What about “research competency,” a term that might resonate with faculty. It also offers great flexibility. A baseline level of expected research competency could be specified for all students at an institution and discipline-specific research competency could build on that foundation. It also puts us on the side of faculty who expect their students to demonstrate research competency of a certain sophistication. Furthermore, it embraces far more than bibliographic research competency; it includes competence with statistics, images, multi-media, etc. That offers opportunities for partnerships within a college or university.

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