Preliminary thoughts on McMastergate, or, Why so touchy?

Yeah, and I'm touchy and upset and discomfited by this whole thing as much as anyone. This is about my touchiness, not yours. Although please feel free to add your own feelings in the comments.

Thinking about it over the last few days I've come to glimpse the sources of my own unease.

And I've come to think that they are related to the various threads that are becoming tangled up in this controversy. It's almost like there's a Cartesian diagram with four or more quadrants of issues and all the various responses are each focusing on one drawn through one or two or three of those quadrants.

(Yeah, I know, if there are more than four they aren't quadrants, but bear with me.)

The problem is, if I'm talking about a line through One and Three and you're interested in responding to Three and Four -- well, it gets heated.

And I can have distinctly different reactions to various of the strains of comment. And that's because I various levels of comfort with the Trzeciakian stance on the issues represented by the quadrants, ranging from severe disagreement to a willingness to acknowledge and discuss the implications in a constructive way.

Here's what I think is going on, at least for me:

  • There are useful and interesting things that Jeff Trzeciak has done at McMaster that seriously advance the cause of academic libraries.
  • The genuinely problematic situation at McMaster around how some of those ideas have been implemented.
  • A real desire on the part of library degree-holding librarians to be at the core of the services that academic libraries provide to their patrons. Those services include collection development and management in the very broadest sense, faculty liaison, reference, information literacy, research support and everything else.
  • The need to get people with the widest possible range of talents working in libraries to help provide those services, including of course IT people and subject PhDs.
  • The ongoing discussion about the past, present and future of librarian education.
  • Very real human resources challenges in academic libraries revolving around, among other things, retirements, tenure and reskilling.

And more. I'm sure you all can add your own quadrants to the mix. But these are the ones running around my brain.

I'm still struggling with this and I hope to come out with further thoughts in the future.

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