I came across this article by way of Library Link of the Day. Itâ€™s a good read from a student who admits his love of technology, but also acknowledges there are flaws and hidden dangers in his obsession. Like many student-authored articles Iâ€™ve read in college newspapers, when the topic of research comes up the library is the butt of a joke or its irrelevance is duly noted. This one is no exception:
“How did students do research without Google, Wikipedia and Lexis-Nexis? Are you telling me they used “books”? I guess that means they actually had to go to the library and have a proficient understanding of the Dewey Decimal system, two things any self-respecting student of the modern age avoids.”
About two weeks ago I started using INFORM.com on an experimental basis as part of my higher education â€œkeeping upâ€ regimen. I found that they have a nice college and university section under “Hot Channels”. In addition to providing articles from national and regional newspapers, it also provides content from college newspapers. The stories from the college papers offer some genuine insight into the latest issues brewing in higher education, but itâ€™s also a good way to come across student opinions and the occasional article about the state of research for college students. It would be a shame to miss out on many of these articles.
At my institution, Philadelphia University, we have no regular student newspaper. As a mostly professional/career-oriented institution, we lack a cadre of aspiring writers and journalists. There is talk of trying to get at least a weekly student-run campus paper established. I hope those of you who have the luxury of being a member of a campus community that offers a student newspaper take some time to appreciate its availability.
The ALA has joined with the American Council on Education and other organizations in filing suit against FCC regulations that could cost college billions of dollars to make eavesdropping slightly more convenient. The plaintiffs argue that the changes are not necessary and that law enforcement needs can be served (when warrants are properly served) without these expensive changes. There’s more coverage of this story in The New York Times, the Chroncle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.
I happened to be reading about this news at the same time an Australian friend send me an article about a speech given by Nobel Prize-winning novelist J.M. Coetzee (author of Waiting for the Barbarians among other novels) at the National Library of Australia. His reminder that terrorism as a threat was used to argue in favor of apartheid has caused some controversy as the Australian PM pushes legislation to expand police powers in the name of national security.
Seems ironic that an FBI that can’t get their own computer systems to work wants us to fine tune ours at great cost for their benefit. I guess “Kafkaesque” is a good word for it. Or is “Coetzeean” a word?
Dynamic stability was the theme of Karen Holbrookâ€™s, OSU President, keynote address this morning at EDUCAUSE. She emphasized that as IHEs grow more sophisticated in their technology they must retain and be guided by their core values. I think academic librarians have heard that message before in our own literature and conferences. In many ways the talk was complimentary in many ways of academic libraries â€“ without specifically mentioning them. There were many examples of ways in which the academic library can contribute to and further the realization of core values on every campus. However, at the end of her talk, Holbrook became direct about the enduring value of libraries. She finished her talk with a great tribute to the OSU libraries and OhioLink. It was great for all of the IT folks to hear librarians be described as â€œleaders in creating a digital future.â€ But Holbrook pointed out its about much more than digital assets. She mentioned that OSU is renovating their library and said, â€œWe want our library to be a place that pays tribute to books and the pursuit of human knowledge â€“ and we still need books. We want a library that brings people together. Libraries are the best example of dynamic stability â€“ constantly changing but always a stable source of help within our institutions.â€ (note â€“ I had to get that quote quickly so it may not be quite exact – but it’s close). What a great way to start the day!
I attended the first keynote address at EDUCAUSE this morning. Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, had some interesting things to say. His themes illustrated how interconnected the higher education and computing industries are, and that globally these two can advance education. He said we have moved from the information age to the participation age. Itâ€™s no longer about retrieving information on the net, but about everyone and everything happening in a participative community. He said â€œItâ€™s about contributing via social networks.â€ This resonated with me because Iâ€™ve been thinking that academic libraries need to figure out where we fit into this participation age. Sure, weâ€™re blogging at our libraries, but how do we create communities in which our faculty and students participate. For the most part, I doubt they even read academic library blogs or contribute to them. We need to get integrated into the blogging and wiki activity that is happening in the classroom. We are already doing this to some extent within courseware, but we need to explore these frontiers further. What didnâ€™t resonate with me was McNealyâ€™s statement that â€œevery library on every campus is at risk to Google. The digital natives are on Google so fast that they donâ€™t even know there is a library.â€ I wish I could have handed him a copy of the Chronicleâ€™s special report on libraries from a few weeks ago â€“ they are giving them out at the Chronicle booth in the exhibit hall. Like many IT experts, I donâ€™t think he has a real clue about whatâ€™s happening in academic libraries â€“ but letâ€™s not deceive ourselves that we have no competition. My favorite â€“ his top ten list of excuses for not handing in homework in the digital age. It included, â€œMy cut and paste keys on the keyboard are worn outâ€ and â€œI plan on open sourcing my homework from the kid next to meâ€ â€“ good stuff. If you want to follow more of what is happening at EDUCAUSE (beyond my occasional posts) there is lots of conference blogging and podasting to be found on the EDUCAUSE site.