Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How #librarianfestivus explains the states of librarianship in 2013

While I was burning vacation days, use it or lose it!, Andy Woodworth went and did it again.
His post was much more of an airing of grievances than a feat of strength, and then The Chronicle of Higher Education inexplicably sent out a tweet, since deleted, with the hashtag "librarianfestivus."

Thanks to The Stacks Cat for retweeting that before it was deleted,
enabling me to screen capture it.
The outpouring that followed nicely sums up the year in libraries, both for better and for worse.

Confession: I can never remember what the G stands for anyway.
On vendor relations:
I ranted about this earlier in the year and while I suspect the "Big Deal" is going to take some hits in the next year, I also think we librarians are going to be stuck with it.

On why unpaid internships suck (tl:dr, they perpetuate inequality, are exploitative):

My Place of Work has a position titled "Library Intern." It's paid, as it should be.

MLIS bashing

And of course "the graph" made an appearance.

Via Liz Lieutenant 
To make matters worse, the most popular metrics one might use to chose a school are flawed. But in 2014, maybe, just maybe, we will be in a position to do something about this.

On faculty passing the buck to libraries, giving up copyright...

On the price of textbooks:
In 2014 I hope academic librarians work closely with faculty on open-access textbook options, and that more faculty write and unlock said texts. The wheels are already in motion here, thanks to the State Universities of New York, the University of California system, the University of Minnesota, and Rice University, among others.

There's an article for that...
And of course the Think Tank was mentioned as well. Quote Andy:
Honestly, if you can’t control your resident lunatics, please at least keep them within the confines of your posting area. When people in the position of hiring within the library start talking about membership in the group as being a liability on the resume, you might want to work on your image within the library world.
Here's what I said to Hiring Librarians about ALA Think Tank, to be published by that site shortly (UPDATE on 1/3, here it is):
Membership in the ALA Think Tank Facebook group won't hurt a candidate in my eyes, but participation is another story. Ninety-five percent of what goes on in that group is fine by me, so if you use the group to "make it happen" and get ideas/feedback/discuss the issues of the day, that's great. But the remaining five percent gives me a great deal of pause. If your participation in ALA Think Tank includes making fun of South Asians, being sexist and using the group to create gendered spaces, subtweeting and bickering with your peers as if librarianship is junior high school, and generally acting like a "drunken embarrassment," then yes, participation in the group is going to hurt a candidate's chances with me.
via Twitter
I'm heartened that in 2013 I saw much more discussion (and please do read the links therein) of diversity, gender, race, class, and I aim to further this dialogue in 2014. However, this needs to progress beyond discussion.  While I grew up in one majority minority city and now work and live in another (thus as a hiring manager I have a slate of candidates available that other hiring librarians do not), if there's anything I can do to move this topic from one of position to one of maneuvers, I will do it.

Happy New Year!

Cheers, Jake

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Beer in Review: Craft Versus Crafty Isn't Going Anywhere

Beer aficionados' reactions to Goose Island's release of various coveted Bourbon County Brand Stouts (BCBS) tells us a bit about the current state how we view beer, and it's not always pretty.

In short, beer is like music in 1993, full of people complaining about "selling out."

But in 2013 there's very little discussion of selling out in music. Instead, you like what you like. It helps that mainstream music is plenty weird on its own, whereas mainstream beer is not, unless you count Shock Top Midnight Wheat. Craft beer is still young, in its teenage, Holden Caufield stage, railing against "phonies," and while this is happening, maybe the world is passing it by.

Instead, we're having yet another discussion about "craft versus crafty," which is what a certain trade association wants us to talk about. It would be nice if beer in 2013 could be like music in 2013. Because how far do we want to take the "sell out" argument? If someone wearing Nikes wants to complain about Widmer's distribution network, I'm not interested in that conversation. You wear Nikes because you like them, right? They feel good? They look good? Okay. Now, what's wrong with Goose Island's Sofie?

(There's plenty wrong with Sofie's parent company, which makes sexist and homophobic beer adverts. Then again, where were those Nikes made? Innocence has a price, a craft beer is a more affordable price to pay than most.)
Like Jeppe at Evil Twin doesn't benefit from this schism. He has a boogeyman to rail against. It gets better: some of Evil Twin's beer is brewed at Westbrook in South Carolina. A significant amount of money earned at InBev, parent company of Anheuser Busch, helped build that facility.

Craft beer exists in large part because the macros didn't make what a significant number of people wanted to drink. Compare this to bourbon.

All that bourbon? It's good. Via GQ Magazine
If macros made beer as good as Beam makes whiskey, then maybe there isn't any craft beer.

I am interested in supporting local, and supporting good. Craft usually supplies the first part of that statement, but the "craft" label is less reliable in terms of taste, so in 2014 let's also distinguish between what tastes good and what doesn't.
For a good read on where Goose Island is, and where they will go, please see this Ad Age article. Though I have some concerns about their flagship beers, like 312 Wheat Ale, it seems as if they're spending their money wisely. Beer aficionados should do the same.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cease. And Desist. (A Prelude to My Year in Lists.)

Last week, I played journalist and broke a story that DC Brau, a local brewery that makes a beer called "The Citizen," had sent a cease and desist letter to a yet-to-open local brewery that wanted to call themselves Citizens Brewing Company. This after some conversations between the two parties.

I thought it newsworthy because while DC has been a nice place to drink beer for some time, we've only had production breweries for about four years, following a period of nearly sixty years without. It was our first public conflict over trademarks. It was a learning experience for brewers and consumers alike. No doubt other news outlets thought it merited articles as well, and hey, it's nice to claim "firsties."

However, I was a bit taken aback by the reaction, which, in many parts of the internet I frequent, portrayed DC Brau as bullies. All this for defending and protecting a brand they had spent four years creating and maintaining.

So I took off the journalist hat and put on the op-ed one. To wit:
Imagine walking into a bar in Silver Spring and ordering “a Citizen.” “Which one?” replies the bartender. To further complicate the matter, continue the hypothetical and say you don’t like the beer you’re handed. This being 2013, you tell your friends on social media that you didn't like said beer. Now you, dear reader, know the difference between these two brands, one the name of a brewery, the other the name of a beer made eight-and-a-half miles away. The well-trained bartender also knows the difference. But as we play the game of Telephone, things get muddled. At some point, someone will say “Oh yeah, my friend had a beer called Citizen in DC and didn't like it.” In that case, both brands, both the beer’s and the brewery’s, suffer. In a similar scenario in the craft beer alternate universe, you have a beer from Citizens and like it, and then a confused friend, one who happens to not like Belgian-style ales, orders a Brau based on that, and dislikes it. Brand confusion is the name of the game here. 
A large problem stems from the perception that though people pay for craft beer, it is somehow exempt from the forces that govern other economic transactions. Craft beer is a business.
Some of the nicest, most generous people I've met in any business are in the beer business, but it’s a business all the same. Craft beer is not a hobby. That would be homebrewing. Craft beer does not come from magic elves. It comes from businessmen and -women, with employees and bills to pay. The notion that craft breweries are somehow separate from other businesses because of the products they make is false and harmful.
For more on this, heavily excerpted above, please go here.

Let's debate!

Citizens Brewing Company is now Denizens. You can meet them here.

From Denizens, via DCBeer.

Elsewhere on this site, vaguely related: Copyright for Educators.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fifty-Seven Channels and Nothing On: The Big Deal

Ah yes, the Big Deal, in which many many many titles are bundled and sold to libraries. Usually it's journals in databases, but sometimes it's a package of ebooks, or a suite of videos, or other multimedia project.

The Big Deal is useful; it allows overtaxed library staff to focus on something other than collection development, especially in areas s/he may not be familiar with (waves to our School of Nursing). The Big Deal puts many resources at our fingertips.

But the big deal is a product of extreme cynicism; as mentioned above, it removes collection development from the purview of library staff. And the far majority of the resources don't get used. The Big Deal is your cable television package: fifty-seven channels and nothing on. Though now it's more like nine hundred channels, tens of thousands of journals. So many options! We're adding more every day! Please pay more for them.

"Wow. Such choices. Amaze. Many research." Via Giphy/thebiggyiff
The Big Deal is patrolled, contested space, in which Harvard Business Review can police your IP addresses and servers, looking for signs of, lord forbid!, actual use while the parent institution, Harvard University, purports to be a proponent of open access.

And as of right now, the Big Deal isn't going anywhere.