Who’s New?

My usual habit with the Sunday New York Times is to start with the front section, then proceed to op/ed, with Travel and Styles reserved for, oh, lining bird cages and other useful functions, perhaps because I can’t afford much of either. However, this morning the lead story in Styles caught my eye. It’s about how Who’s Who entries are selected and how those criteria are changing. The “old-boy’s club” is now admitting icons of popular culture. But notoriety can blackball you; Martha Stewart, according to the story, was delisted while she was in the slammer, but now that she’s paid her debt to society, she’s back. (This makes me wonder: was Nelson Mandela excluded while he was in Robben Island?)

Members of our profession are quoted in the story, and the reporter (who notes mobsters don’t qualify for listing) finds us “an egalitarian but tough crew when it comes to reference materials, exhibiting a protective ferocity that might impress the Gottis.”

We may not know where the bodies are buried – but we know how to find out. So your favorite celeb isn’t in the next edition due to slight misunderstanding? No problem, we’ll help you identify another source of information.

Understanding Books – and the Changing Marketplace

Remember our conversation about the EDUCAUSE piece about standing at the wrong platform? I think I see some publishers huddled down the station, anxiously checking their watches.

The Economist has yet another analysis of Google Print and its “threat” to publishers. They buried the lead, though: the real impact of the Internet on traditional publishing is online sales of used books – jumping from 1% of market to 20%. (That was 2002 – I suspect it’s higher now.) Funny how that doesn’t seem to have made trade publishers reconsider their traditional practice of embargoing mass market availability for a year after hardcover. Now you can buy the hardcover at paperback cost within weeks of publication. If an industry can’t adjust to that reality, it has bigger problems than Google.

Luckily, university presses don’t generally play that annoying game of making us wait for the paperback. Which reminds me: are you all aware of the excellent “Books for Understanding” program? Wonderful lists of UP books that are ready to roll when an issue is suddenly in the news. Sign up for it today. I use it a lot for collection development, and faculty seem delighted with it too.

ARL/ACRL Announce Scholarly Communications Institute

Building on the successful professional development model found in programs like the ACRL/Harvard Leadership Institute and the Institute for Information Literacy Immersion program, ACRL will be teaming up with ARL to provide an Institute on Scholarly Communication in July 2006. From the brochure:

“As a participant in this 2.5 day immersion program, you will become fluent with scholarly communication issues and trends so that you are positioned to educate others on your library staff, engage in campus communications programs and other advocacy efforts, and work collaboratively with other participants to begin developing an outreach plan for your campus.”

No information yet on program faculty, but applications aren’t due until April 1, 2006, so there’s time for much more content to be delivered. Mark your calendars!

One-Way Signs on the Information Highway

The Washington Post had an article a few days ago that spells out in depth the extent to which National Security Letters – like the one used against a library consortium in Connecticut – are used routinely against law-abiding Americans: thirty thousand since the PATRIOT Act was enacted. Congress, according to the Chronicle, is finally noticing. But of course those served with NSLs can’t contribute to the debate – that’s against the law.

Meanwhile, Inside Higher Education is reporting a suit to prompt the honoring of FOIA requests to find out why visas are being denied to foreign scholars. Though the government wants us to trust them to rummage through our information at will, they’re awfully reluctant to comply with laws that let us get information from them.

To paraphrase the slogan often found on the walls of diners: “In God We Trust: All Others, Bring a Subpoena.” If you care about these things, take action. Because pretty soon it’ll be too late.

Books – And Libraries To Hold Them – Still Essential

The University of Chicago has previously been in the higher education news because it is bucking the trend of some peer institutions to reduce or eliminate campus space for books. At Chicago they are planning a $42 million expansion of the Joseph Regenstein Library to make room for 3.5 million volumes. As part of the planning process the University conducted a survey that collected information on the library usage habits of 5,700 students. While the survey indicates that students prefer to use online journals over print, it clearly shows that heavy digital media users are heavy physical media users. The poll findings will be presented Thursday, Nov. 17, at a conference titled “Space and Knowledge,” which will explore the use of libraries on campus. If any of our ACRLog readers attends the conference please consider sharing your notes as a blog post here at ACRLog.