Month: June 2014

The Future (in 1971) Is Up To You!

Chatting with our Library Director the other day, and he hands me (a portion of) an article from American Libraries, titled “The Future is Up To You”, by Keith Doms.  It was published in 1971.  Aside from bad suits, bad hair, and an ardent denial that the American Library Association was on the verge of bankruptcy — it was, though Mr. Doms optimistically cites the organization’s “creative membership” as an asset — we get this provocative nugget:

“We must be realistic.  Today’s kids, who incidentally will be tomorrow’s taxpayers, are multi-media oriented.  In ten years the majority of young people will be comfortable with and very much skilled in the use of both print and nonprint media… The librarians of this nation must prepare themselves and their institutions to be as fully responsive to the expectations of the next generation as is possible (989).”

Excepting the anachronistic use of the term “nonprint media“, this might have come from any number of currently employed library personnel.  And it’s not that the sentiment is false — it isn’t — it’s just mind-boggling to think that, even forty-years later, we as a profession are still fixated on the “book issue”.  The “book issue”, briefly, is one of essentialization: it supposes that libraries are, and can only ever be, repositories for the storage and lending of print material.  The truth of the matter, however, is that libraries have been profitably expanding their mission for quite some time.  Patrons are happy, we produce a great ROI, and the Internet hasn’t been the sniper-shot some assumed it might be.

But libraries are, for better or worse, linked with the book.  And no one is more threatened by that than the library profession itself.  We have one of the most reductively inward-looking scholarship bases in all of academia; our trade journals are preoccupied with stereotype deflation; our conferences are often little more than extended exercises in book denialism.  A healthy dose of format agnosticism probably solves all of this, but, sadly, that doesn’t seem forthcoming.  Regardless, it’s heartening to see that even in the halcyon days of the 1970s, librarians were taking a proactive stance when it came to incorporating progressive technologies in their libraries.  And so too will we at Schewe with our forthcoming Digital Learning Center — watch for it in Fall 2014!

Secretary Old



IC’s New Archives, the Engelbach-Hart Music Festival, and…

Yesterday, construction began on The Illinois College Archives and Iver F. Yeager Special Collections (also referred to as The Archives at Illinois College, and soon be known as the Khalaf al Habtoor Archives at Illinois College).  Currently, the Archives sit on the Library’s third floor, and are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, with Assistant Professor of History Jenny Barker-Devine and her crew of student workers furiously accessioning backlogged material into record.  It’s an exciting effort, of course, but with the Archives also getting a new home on the Library’s first floor, you really get the sense that IC is putting some muscle behind the preservation of its history.

Archives Rendering







One such piece of history went down last weekend as IC hosted the 4th Annual Engelbach-Hart Music Festival, featuring wonderful performances by jazz vocalist Justin Binek and classical pianist Stephen Beus.  Like many concerts at IC before it, this one was recorded, and someday that recording will make its way into our new Archives.  The good news is that the recording was done digitally; the bad news is that a number of our old recordings weren’t.

Engelbach-Hart Poster 201465874








One challenge the Archives will face in the coming years is the conversion of analog materials into digital formats.  Having worked on an analog conversion program at The Banff Centre, I can attest to the difficulty in these undertakings, and I wish Jenny, her students, and our future Archivist all the best of luck in what I’m sure will be a rewarding, if protracted, conversion battle!

Take-A-Book, Leave-A-Book

Academic library outreach is a tricky business — shifting constituencies, varying demands, multiple projects, etc. — but one thing you quickly learn is that your best work is done around the margins.  Everyone more-or-less knows what to expect out of a library: books, help with research, some computers, and a quiet place to study.  Pitching “the core 4” in anything more than an offhand manner is an exercise in redundancy, like McDonald’s reminding you they serve fast food, or the Dollar Store telling you they sell cheap.  “We already know that!”, they said.  And indeed they do.

So, much of the outreach work we as librarians do is designed to light up the library’s darker corners.  In said corners, we hope to find things that will energize, enlighten, or otherwise nudge our patrons towards a brand of library-induced happiness.  One such [metaphorical] corner at Schewe is our “Take-a-Book, Leave-a-Book” program, which has, unfortunately, fallen into disrepair.  As the name suggests, the program allows patrons to swap one of their own books for another patron’s book.  We provide the shelf, they provide the books.  The program plays on impulses of disclosure, treasure hunting, bargain seeking, and so on.  Basically, it’s the sort of program we hope will leave the patron with positive feelings about the library.

Currently, however, our “Take-a-Book, Leave-a-Book” program consists of a series of moldering romance titles, sits in an out-of-the-way location on our third floor, and has mostly been forgotten by the library staff.  The upside, though: as the Outreach Librarian here at Schewe, I get to resurrect this program and make something out of it!  Neat-o, for sure, but the whole thing is also an apt metaphor for outreach librarianship itself — getting things to work where they once didn’t, and enticing people to enjoy those now-working things.  Google Images is already giving me some great ideas for the “Take-a-Book, Leave-a-Book” program (the telephone box one exempted), and I can’t wait to see the program up and running again!

Telephone Box


WILU 2014

It’s been 10 days since I returned from the WILU 2014 conference, and I’ve had a lot to think about in the interim.  The Workshop for Instruction in Library Use (WILU) is one of Canada’s premier academic library conferences, and has been held annually since 1972.  WILU enjoys a reputation as a grassroots, progressive conference, and exists in contrast to the more establishment conferences held by the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL).  WILU 2014 continued to occupy a more ‘alternative’ space in the Canadian library conference sphere, with the theme of this year’s conference being E-magine The Possibilities.

WILU 2014 Program Cover

I attended the following sessions:

Wednesday, May 21st

  • Planning & Implementing Library E-Learning Projects – Qinqin Zhang & Maren Goodman (Western University)
  • Opening Keynote [dealing with the ACRL’s soon-to-be-updated Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education guidelines] – Craig Gibson (Ohio State University) & Trudy Jacobson (SUNY Albany)
  • Head Over Heels: Approaches to Flipped Teaching – Carolyn Doi & Tasha Maddison (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Take Your Phone Off the Hook: Going Live With Online Library Instruction at the University of Toronto ­– Monique Flaccavento & Jenaya Webb (University of Toronto)

Thursday, May 22nd

  • Developing Online Learning Tools: Strategies for Creating a Set of Best Practices for Your Library – Liz Johns (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • E-magine a New Way of Thinking: Design Thinking for Students-Centered Instructional Design – Rebecca Peacock & Jill Wurm (Wayne State University)
  • Good Things Come in Small Packages: Reimagining IL Instruction in the First Year Seminar – Lindsay McNiff (Dalhousie University)
  • What Do You See? Image Searching for Research Topic Selection & Development – Beth Fuchs (University of Kentucky)
  • Roundtable Discussions, Ignite Talks & Poster Sessions – Various

Friday, May 23rd

  • Library on Demand: Now Delivering Fresh Services to Your Online Course – Debbie Feisst & Kim Frail (University of Alberta)
  • The Proof is in the Pudding: A Mixed-Methods Approach to Assessing Instructional Design and Planning – Steven Hoover (Syracuse University)
  • Closing Keynote [dealing with the need for sophisticated library assessment using vendor, online, and website data] – Meagan Oakleaf (Syracuse University)

I picked up a lot of great material from these sessions, and look forward to bringing some of this international flavour (sic) to IC’s Library instruction and online presence.  The conference website and archives can be found here:

Conference Website:

Conference Archives: