Monday, February 28, 2011

The 'Library Committee' or To Be (Faculty) or Not To Be (Faculty)

CEO Tiare - Board Meeting - Franklin CanyonImage by tiarescott via FlickrEvery quarter here at my college, we have a faculty meeting which is run by faculty, for faculty, to raise issues or talk about concerns that we have all free from the eyes of administration. Of course, these concerns, or at least the ones deemed worthy enough, will be brought to administration to see if we can get them addressed in some way. I serve on our Library Committee as the secretary so I am the keeper of the info on the committee concerned with the info (if that makes any sense).

Now to go off on a little bit of a tangent, something that gathering at faculty meetings, of which the Library Committee meeting is a sub-division of, is the view of librarians as faculty. You see, that way things are done here at the small college I work at is that we have a Faculty Day which brings together all of the faculty to discuss our concerns/issues and meet on various committees such as the curriculum committee and the library committee. Now, all of these committees have a mix of faculty from all departments and it is pretty much up to the individual as to what committee they want to serve on. Very informal and haphazard as you can imagine.

So, to continue to make a short story long, our library committee has a lot of librarians in it but also a sprinkling of faculty. Now they raise issues and concerns about the library and usually will wax poetic on how they expound the virtues of the library in their classes which is all well and good. So I sit there as the secretary of the committee as the chronicler of what goes on and what gets brought up and I have a sort of out of body experience where I view the proceedings through a lens of clarity (yes, I need an out of body experience to have a moment of clarity) and I see the faculty at large the the librarians as two separate bodies as the faculty at large see them. I can tell this from not only the words but also the tone and tenor coming from the faculty.

Hey now, we're all in this together and all are faculty together but they don't see it that way. Maybe it's because we aren't in the classroom running classes or something but it all comes flooding to me in this moment of clearheadedness. I start to think of some other interactions I've had with faculty and they seem to think of us as support staff like to tutors in the writing center. And recently I read an article about some colleges and universities stripping librarians of faculty status and designating the position as a professional position.

So the questions that I pose are, firstly and probably most importantly, why are librarian given faculty status. Then secondly, why do many people, not just faculty members, not consider librarians to be a position that is deserving of faculty status or recognition? I have my ideas on the answers to those questions so I'll spill and let you decided if I am off the mark or not.

In an effort to confuse you, I'll tackle the second part first, and because I think that one is an easier one to explain. I think that most people out there (and here I go generalizing that will probably get me in trouble) don't really know what an academic librarian does and how it differs from other areas of librarianship that they may be more familiar with such as the public librarian. Moreover (I always liked that word), there have been many rapid changes in technology and the way information is produced, stored and disseminated, that the old models of what a librarian "is" are grossly outdated and even the new definitions become outdated rather quickly. So the disconnect in what we do and what we essentially are is a big concern for me going forward in my career.

Now, back to the first question which is decidedly trickier. One answer as to why librarians are given faculty status is to keep them as equals to the in-class faculty. If you are doing information literacy instruction, whether it be in one-shot sessions, workshop style sessions or teaching a for credit information literacy course, then there is an imperative to be acknowledged as a peer with the traditional teaching faculty at large. Moreover (there is that word again), if you are looked at to publish as a requirement of gaining tenure or promotion, then what is there that really separates you from the general teaching faculty aside from perception?

I could go on and on about this and I was having an excellent discussion about this with a colleague just this morning. You do not want to create a situation where you have the haves and the have-nots, and if librarians are going to fall under the same requirements as teaching faculty, they the rules have to be the same for both.

Time warping back to where this all began, with me sitting in a library committee meeting, let's bring this back to the beginning. Some faculty in the meeting see themselves as different than the librarians because they are in the classroom teaching every day and that is true, they are different. But, we are the same in that we are faculty and that recognition needs to take place. Faculty does not have just one definition just like there are different types of librarians such catalogers, ILL librarians, reference librarians etc, but we are all librarians. Just like that, in the academic sphere, we are all faculty.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Kill the Dead by Robert Kadrey

Kill the DeadImage by Rrrrred via FlickrKill the Dead is the second Sandman Slim book by Robert Kadrey which piqued my curiosity in the series after seeing it on a number of Top 10 lists for Urban Fantasy in 2010. I decided to read the first Sandman Slim book, cleverly titled Sandman Slim, though the review for Kill the Dead that I read said I didn't really need to read the first book and it seems like they were lying a bit.

Kill the Dead picks up shortly after the end of Sandman Slim and if you didn't read the first book, there would a lot that you would not get right away or just go right over your head. Kadrey does a good job of getting you up to speed but I think there would be a little lost if you hadn't read Sandman Slim. Kadrey also doesn't waste any time getting back into things with an action piece right off the top and let's face it, that's why you would read something like this anyway, for some hard nosed action. I also like that Kadrey has no problems going for the brass ring and bringing in the heavy hitters. What does that mean? Read the book and find out.

I've read too many books that are looking to drag things out for the sequel or to continue the series that it sometimes feels that things aren't progressing or going anywhere anytime soon. Not this series (of two so far). Kadrey keeps the action moving and, in a departure from the first, the development of Stark (Sandman Slim) beyond the sociopath bent on revenge to....something else. He was fairly one dimensional in the first book but here, in amongst the action pieces, we get some growth with Stark that added a change a pace as the one tune Stark gets stale after a while.

I highly recommend the Sandman Slim books if you're into that sort of thing, fast paced action of the urban fantasy variety. I can't wait for book three!

My Grade: A

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey's Sandman SlimImage by Chorazin via FlickrA few weeks ago, I catch this list of the top Urban Fantasy Books of 2010 on Geeks of Doom, and numero uno on the list is the second Sandman Slim book, Kill the Dead. So, if I'm going to check out the what they say is the number one book, then I should read book one of the series.

My impression was that Sandman Slim it a bit of a rip-off. He's Harry Dresden meets Joe Pitt. He's the guy who can wield some pretty bad mojo but unlike Dresden, he doesn't care who is in the way or who he has to go through to get what he needs. Before I go any further, here's the set-up. Stark (Sandman Slim) used to run with some bad boys who could all toss around some magic. Stark has potential but he's too busy playing the bad boy type, pissing everybody off, including some in his circle of magic users. So one day, they turn on him and banish him to hell where he spends the next eleven years enduring all types of torture and developing the rep of a demon killer from fighting in the arena and surviving, thus earning the nickname, Sandman Slim.

After escaping from the heat locker downstairs, Stark goes all out to get those that sent him there with, as I mentioned above, little regard for who or what gets in his way. Now, I've had some message board discussions with others that read Sandman Slim and Stark's one tone act turned them off. There was really no growth or change to the character and he spent basically all of the book being a bad ass with the fight first as ask questions later mentality. And those people were right about Stark....but damn if it wasn't a fun ride along with him.

For me, this was a fun little book. At times I thought, this is what Harry Dresden could do if he ever went off the deep end. Action galore, snappy dialog, and too-cool characters pepper Sandman Slim like Manny used to on the Green Monster. If action fiction with a little bit of supernatural is your thing, I recommend Sandman Slim. Plus, it gets you closer to Kill the Dead, which you don't need the this book necessarily to read, but it helps out.

My Grade: B+

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