You Only Hurt The Ones You Love

And whose LIBQUAL+ feedback you heed . . .

If there is one request that I have seen from students in every user survey to which I have ever been privy, it is the request for more hours. Here at Kansas, we have two 24-hour facilities, and our feedback from students remains: “More hours at Watson Library” (one of the two that is not already 24-hour).

Now, on the other side, today’s Inside Higher Education reports on the concerns of campus health care professionals, who worry that 24/7 access to libraries and computer labs may result in increased physical and mental health problems among students due to lack of sleep. It’s an interesting argument, but it seems to me that I spent plenty of nights in college not getting enough sleep even before libraries were 24/7 and, yes, before the World Wide Web!

I’m not sure how this is our fault.

Other reasons to stay up all night that are perfectly legitimate: (1) being involved in theatre (my college pre-occupation; rehearsals and tech calls routinely lasted until 3 am); (2) working (more and more students have to work 20+ hours/week to afford college – see this week’s CHE – my first job in college was working library security from 12-3 am); (3) being involved in undergraduate research, esp. bench science (those experiments often have to be checked regularly all night long; hence the long-time call for 24-hour science libraries); and (4) being a student in Engineering or Architecture (I don’t know why, but those students are always up all night working on projects).

There are some good opportunities for collaboration here, though, around real Information Age health issues, e.g., repetitive movement disorders, Internet (now video poker) addiction (see last week’s story in the NYT Magazine), etc., but I don’t see them shutting down the libraries or labs, and I don’t see them turning off wireless access to the residence halls after 10 pm.

Financial Aid and the Digital Divide

CHEPA is the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at USC. Every few months, I check out the new issue of its newsletter, The Navigator. The Spring 2006 issue had an interesting piece on the digital divide that suggests a new opportunity for collaboration between academic libraries and student affairs.

A report on a forthcoming study of low-income, urban high school students that suggests that the ongoing digital divide can have a significant impact on student access to financial aid, i.e.: “students increasingly have access to financial aid information on school computers . . . [but] lack the practical knowledge needed to complete the application process . . . . Because of little to no training of college counseling staff and/or students at the high school site, many students engage in financial aid processes online without a clear understanding of how to be a proactive advocate for one’s own financial aid needs.”

Now, imagine: instruction librarian + financial aid office + diversity recruitment officer + Office of Civic Engagement = workshop provided at urban high schools (or at convention of high school guidance counselors) aimed at making high school counseling staff and first-generation college students more information literate about the financial aid process.

There’s also a little piece on new research on Video Games and Student Learning – another hot topic on the conference circuit this year!

Are Your Faculty “Library-Ready”?

Tomorrow’s Professor has posted a piece asking its faculty readers a very interesting question: Are You a 21st-Century, Library-Ready Instructor?.

Reading this piece took me back to my days in library school, during which I balanced my LIS studies (and work in the Indiana University Libraries) with my ongoing responsibilities as an instructor for the IU School of Education. I don’t know if I ever had a learning experience in any of my LIS classes as powerful as the one I had on the day that I watched my undergraduate teacher education students in the Education Library trying to conduct research for the paper I had assigned them. I had been giving that assignment for 4 years, and I thought I had honed it to crystal clarity. Watching my students struggle to define their research topics and to locate resources in the library, I realized that my “crystal clear” assignment was virtually opaque to the average undergraduate. Very humbling. I was not yet, evidence suggested, a “library-ready instructor” (I’m much better now, of course)!

Reading the discussion of faculty perceptions of information commons projects and other library renovations aimed at enhancing the library experience for contemporary undergraduates also reminded me strongly of debates we’ve had on our own campus, where, just as in this article, commitments to renovate and improve user space have dovetailed with a review of our serial allocations (the piece does not make the critical distinction between one-time money and serial commitments, but why nit-pick?). The authors suggestions about how to pitch the information commons as an opportunity for instructional innovation – one in which classroom faculty members and librarians can collaborate closely – were also very familiar, as they are very much like those we have used here at Kansas over the past 2 years to promote use of the Collaborative Learning Environment designed by a committee with representatives from the Libraries, IT, Instructional Development & Support, and the Center for Teaching Excellence (anyone who is interested in what that looks like, and who has access to ECAR publications, can find a short discussion of the CLE in the EDUCAUSE library).

“Is the library information commons a frill, or can it be an essential tool for teaching the 21st century learner?” The answer is, of course, that it can be an essential tool if classroom faculty and librarians work together to make sure that it is used that way, and this piece gives the reader a nice way of looking at things.

And, You Thought It Was Just Us

It’s become pretty commonplace to discuss the pace of change in libraries and in the academic library profession – how quick it’s coming, how significant it is for us to manage effectively, etc. – so it’s nice (I suppose) to see that it’s not just us.

This morning’s IHE has an article on a new book on the faculty profession that “argues that we are experiencing ‘a revolution’ in academic life that will be equal in its lasting significance to such events as the importation of the research university model to the United States in the late 19th century or the “massification” of higher education after World War II.” Among the changes to the profession that the authors note are the recruitment and retention patterns, which, if memory serves, are among our “Top Issues,” as well.

For those who want the whole story, you can find The American Faculty: The Restructuring of Academic Work and Careers at your favorite vendor.

Talk of change has been popping up all over for 10 (20?) years in libraryland, but what this book should help us all to see is that talking about “change” is not simply a management fad, nor is it simply about innovations in technology. The library and the university are among the oldest and most stable social institutions the world has ever seen, and, for both, “the pace of change has accelerated dramatically.”

The question for all of us is how well we deal with it.

Copyright Education and the ETD

I was very interested to read the article in this week’s CHE on electronic theses and dissertations (subscription required) and the brave new world of copyright issues their production has engendered.

The questions of: 1) how and when one would seek permission for the use of images, video, and sound used in a multimedia dissertation; 2) how the process of seeking such permission might differ from prevailing practices related to “fair use” of text “clips” (i.e., quotations); 3) the impact of open access policies; and 4) the big question of whether or not such a dissertation would be accepted (either by the host school or by UMI/Proquest) are all critical ones for our graduate students and for us.

Here at KU, we have recently implemented a mandatory ETD program in which the library has been very much involved. We were part of a couple of large public meetings hosted by the Graduate School last Fall aimed at answering questions about the ETD process and several of the above questions were exactly the ones that faculty and students asked. It will be interesting to see if we receive any feedback based on the CHE article.

On the whole, it’s another great example of how a technological innovation like the ETD can provide a fertile field for one dimension of scholarly communications instruction, i.e., education (esp. for future faculty and scholars) on copyright management and challenges to fair use in the digital environment.