Keywords of a Librarian is the title of a new blog by academic librarian Mary W. George. What's very interesting about the blog is where it's being hosted.
It's part of InsideHigherEd's BlogU community so Mary George is a fellow academic library blogger embedded within a faculty blogging community. This is a great development as I think it's incredibly important to raise librarians' profile within the broader faculty/academic community; so having regular blog posts bring our perspectives and concerns to that audience is great. A hearty congratulations to Mary on her new post!
She's taking on an interesting mission with regards to helping faculty fine-tune assignments with literature search components:
I welcome library research assignments in any field and at any level. I will analyze some of these (either anonymously or not, as each submitter prefers) in this blog, suggesting ways to foster student understanding of the source-seeking process. Please send the context and wording of the assignment to firstname.lastname@example.org, with your own comments on what aspect of the project you would like to strengthen.
I'm curious to see how that turns out.
The first post was August 18, followed by another on August 24. Late summer and early fall being a crazy time for us academic librarians, I hope she can find a regular posting rhythm over the coming weeks and months.
Let's take a look at those first two posts:
The best line from this post is by far: "Teaching faculty have immense persuasive power; we librarians do not."
Which summarizes quite nicely the position we librarians have within the academy.
What we do have are sweeping views of what scholars are up to, a grasp of how researchers do their business and what evidence ensues, and a knack for identifying and locating that evidence. By and large faculty and academic librarians respect one another's expertise and collaborate happily. But where and how do our apprentices--either undergraduates or graduate students -- learn the process and logic of source seeking? That is the question that haunts me and inspires this blog.
A fine and important thing to be haunted by, something shared by most of us concerned about the present and future of academic libraries.
Is the second post, concerned who our students are and how they find information:
The fashionable thing in academic libraries today is to overlay the catalog with a Web 2.0 interface. Implemented well, such software can reduce the number of frustrating searches, those that retrieve nothing relevant, and allow researchers to succeed with their own terminology, but it will not help students judge the items they find. But then neither did the card catalog when that was the sole means of discovery. It's just that now alphabetical order and a grasp of standardized/stilted subject headings are less important, while spelling, synonyms, and typing skills are more so. So this year's Beloit list reminds me that when it comes to exploring the library's collection, the challenges remain the same, both for me as a teacher and for freshmen as learners.
This looks to be a great addition to the world of academic library blogging. I wish Mary W. George all the best with her new blog and look forward to seeing what she has to say.