Big things have been happening at the Harvard library lately. In September they announced a system restructure around affinity groups, at the end of January they revealed that plans for the reorganization included significant staff downsizing and the fallout from that announcement meant protests and backlash from the library community throughout March. Earlier this week the Faculty Advisory Council made an announcement that rocked the library world, yet seems rather obvious: electronic subscriptions are too expensive. The rocking part is that Harvard is the Bill Gates of libraries. The Atlantic describes it as the “second-wealthiest nonprofit institution in the world (right behind the Catholic Church)“ and Harvard’s library swings a $3.75 million serials purse. Harvard’s boundaries in this area carry a lot of clout. The other scandal is that for all the hand-wringing subscription librarians do around conglomerate packages and steadily rising prices, it’s thought that Harvard is the first to plainly state that the current prices are more than they can bear.
Paying for College is a site recently created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The project is part of a larger legislative push towards education on both sides of the loan with a tri-focus on student debt, credit cards, and mortgages.
This site lets students compare the average prices of up to three schools, with good breakdown and a dash of other relevant information like default and graduation rates per school. The information is presented in a very clean and straightforward manner and the data is pretty sound and well-explained.
The site is definitely in beta, features like switching from on-campus to off-campus projections don’t always work. The organization of the site could use some help too, the absence of a menu or breadcrumbs of any kind make it difficult to visualize the resource as a whole and differentiate it from the other offerings on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau page. The site is also very text heavy, it would be nice to see more data visualization.
A recent study conducted by the Book Industry Study Group examined faculty attitudes about the role of textbooks in teaching and reluctance to explore digital formats. The study rather unsurprisingly found that 93% of professors believe course-assigned reading is important for classroom success. Only 32% of those surveyed said that they were open to making required readings available in electronic format and this could be an availability issue, respondents mentioned they were worried about access issues and diversity in electronic offerings. The percentage of students and faculty that prefer electronic content to print was also relatively low, 16 and 12% respectively.
Quinlan, C. & McHarg, H. (2012). The emerging library: Structure, culture, and lessons learned from the dissolution of a combined libraries–IT organization. Journal of Library Administration, 52(1), 147-161.
In 1997 the University of Southern California’s libraries joined campus technology to become the USC Information Services Division. The merge was part of a growing, largely librarian-motivated trend to hitch libraries to the accelerating wagon of personal computing and internet usage. In 2006 the two entities went their separate ways, the digital information landscape had become roomy enough for both organizations to exist side-by-side. The first shake out of the library staff in 2007 revealed a hearty enthusiasm for the re-emerging space, staff identified over 200 action points towards providing better library service. The transition team organized these into 14 overall objectives which became the 2008-2009 strategic plan for the library.
As part of a cost-saving experiment, Southern University’s Morris Library did a use study of monographic preprocessing suss out the areas of outsourcing efficiency. Staff reduction and stagnant budgets have caused many library technical departments to cut services and seek alternative workflows, primarily through outsourcing and Morris’ aim was to compare this new workflow with the cost of in-house processing.
Morris chose a shelf-ready processing plan from YBP. With this service, ordered books theoretically come barcoded, labeled, and security-enabled to the library’s particular specifications. Their first invoice pre-processed through YBP showed significant losses, $7,469.25 to an (optimistic) in-house estimate of $2,843.36, the outsourcing number includes nearly $400 in staff time pay for negotiating technical difficulties. For their preliminary test, Morris did not adapt their expectations to the outsourcing process and the conclusion suggests that resistance to change might be an issue in managing the switch effectively.
The D.C. public school system recently released budget guidelines for the coming school year and the results are not pretty for librarians. Last year, schools with fewer than 250 students lost allocated funding for an in-house librarian. This year the bar has raised to 300 students and the funding has become flexible, allowing principals to make the call if they’d like to forego a librarian. On the heels of that announcement came the news that a school board in Nova Scotia has opted to forego all librarians in the coming year due to budget cuts.
One of many out/crowdsourcing sites that have popped up recently, Namestation is aimed at domain and startup naming. It has a pretty active community and lots of resources for generating unique keywords for e-business. The most attractive part of the site, especially for our exuberant in-house namestormers, might be the name contest section. Name genius is often rewarded with hard e-cash.
Hack your social media database. Ark provides an external search for Facebook, Google, Linkedin, meetup, and a handful of other social sites to allow for nuanced filtering and pinpoint searching of personal data.
Ark’s primary temptation is the unsuckification of in-friend Facebook searching. With the tool, users are able to complete seemingly simple searches like birthdays by date or filter by interests and activities. Ark’s secondary mission is to help users expand their social and professional networks by suggesting non-friends based on profile data and functioning as a contact directory for users based on area, relationship status, or field. We’ll get back to that in the cons, but the bottom of the Ark homepage also includes an adorable penguin-themed animated visualization of current users. Go on...augment your Friday afternoon.
The article describes the evaluation of student-created bibliographies and the teaching effectiveness of the social citation game, BiblioBouts. The game was created in 2011 by the School of Information at the University of Michigan and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason. For the study, an assessment measure was created that allowed for the diversity in formats cited by modern students. Evaluation criteria used in previous studies, like scholarly/nonscholarly, were not considered applicable to student research in a flatter, online environment.
Harvard University, home of the oldest American Ed.D program, announced plans this week to end the program and transition graduates towards a Ph.D instead. This fracturing could be part of a greater trend towards Ed.D reinvention including initiatives like the Carnegie Project, a grant-funded program which has helped over 50 institutions modernize their Ed.D programs. The idea behind these initiatives is to equate the Ed.D with other terminal professional degrees instead of comparing it unfavorably with researched-focused Ph.D programs in education.
As part of this trend, Harvard is restructuring its program with guidance from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.