Sunday, July 11, 2010

MediaWeek (Vol 3, No 28): Students study habits, The future of our Bookshelves, Trends in researchers and libraries.

The Atlantic looks at reports that college students don't study as much as they used to. These are eight possible reasons which they expand upon (Atlantic):
  • Study Leaders Cite Professor Apathy
  • Modern Technology Not to Blame
  • Grades Becoming Less Important Than Activities
  • Increase in 'Temporary, Adjunct' Faculty
  • Advent of Pass-Fail Classes, Fewer Language Requirements
  • Studying Methods Became More Efficient
  • Rise in Publishing Requirements Means Professors Assign Less Work
  • More Working Part-Time as Scholarships Decline
  • Students Less Comfortable With Long-Form Reading
Nathan Schneider writing in Open Letters Monthly: On the decline of print which while delayed now seems inevitable (OLM)

The decline of actual, physical book-publishing has been taking longer than it was supposed to. Way back in 1992 Robert Coover announced in The New York Times that printed books were as “dead as God.” His doomsday was premature. But the digital offerings of Amazon and Google, along with their ever-better delivery devices, promise that finally the end may be nigh. Crotchety complaints about screen-reading aside, it should be obvious to anyone who cares about information that in many respects digital text is a superior technology to the printed page. On Google Books, I just searched “the printed page” (without the quotation marks) across “some seven million volumes of books,” instantly returning results in 76,000 of them. And that is not mere statistical flourish; for the several years since I lost my borrowing privileges from research libraries and have had to leave my source texts behind, I’ve come to rely on Google and Amazon searchable previews. My old dream of a possessionless library, unencumbered and mobile, seems possible again. The very meaning of the word “book” has become something more powerful, dynamic, and accessible than ever before. Every good reactionary knows well that there arises, in the process of using these wonders, the opportunity for laziness. Days, weeks, and years of archival labor are replaced by a keystroke and, with it, much of the discipline, erudition, and tenacity that the old ways required. But there’s no time to be nostalgic and grumpy. Living well with technology has always been a matter of beating it and abusing it. No one cared much about the electric guitar until somebody turned it up too loud. Now our job is to figure out how to be cleverer than the search engine; when certain ways of finding information become easy, the knowledge really worth having becomes what those methods don’t turn up, what the crawlers somehow managed to miss. As the Temple of Knowledge comes to look ever more like the Googleplex, public libraries are downsizing their reference desks, presuming that for every query an internet search will suffice. ... So far, for all the wonders they offer, the digital alternatives to a bookshelf fail to serve its basic purposes. The space of memory and thinking must not be an essentially controlled, homogenous one. Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad are noxious ruses that must be creatively resisted—not simply because they are electronic but because they propose to commandeer our bookshelves. I will defend the spirit of mine tooth and nail.

David Brookes in the NYTimes also wonders at the efficacy of books versus the internet (NYT):
A citizen of the Internet has a very different experience. The Internet smashes hierarchy and is not marked by deference. Maybe it would be different if it had been invented in Victorian England, but Internet culture is set in contemporary America. Internet culture is egalitarian. The young are more accomplished than the old. The new media is supposedly savvier than the old media. The dominant activity is free-wheeling, disrespectful, antiauthority disputation. These different cultures foster different types of learning. The great essayist Joseph Epstein once distinguished between being well informed, being hip and being cultivated. The Internet helps you become well informed — knowledgeable about current events, the latest controversies and important trends. The Internet also helps you become hip — to learn about what’s going on, as Epstein writes, “in those lively waters outside the boring mainstream.” But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer’s world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher. Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.
American Research Libraries blog notes the amicus filing in the Costco vs Omega watch case (ARL):
And that is why this case is important for libraries. In its amicus brief, LCA notes that “[b]y restricting the application of Section 109(a) to copies manufactured in the United States, the Ninth Circuit’s decision threatens the ability of libraries to continue to lend materials in their collections.” There are millions of volumes in library collections that were manufactured abroad. A more precise estimate than “millions” can probably never be known, though, because there is no reliable way of knowing where books in library collections were actually manufactured. So, if the Supreme Court agreed with the Ninth Circuit, and libraries determined that they could not find an alternative to the traditional first sale doctrine rationale for circulating foreign-manufactured works, they would face an impossible task in determining which of their books could not circulate under the new rule.
Also related a brief filed in the case of Pearson vs Textbook Discounters (JDSupra) Fastcompany makes up for lost time (10yrs) in extrapolating the changes in academic libraries to bookstores (Fastco):
The change in publication habits for periodicals, and plain ol' text books too, has been so severe that a new library building, commissioned in 2005 and due to open next month, actually has 85% less shelf capacity than the previous edifice. That's a massive reduction in storage volume, and a pure reflection of the fact that bytes don't weigh anything. It's also the next logical progression in the modernization of library systems. Remember card catalogs? They were once a staple of any visit to a library, and their often hand-typed and hand-annotated reference cards were vital for finding the right book in a collection. But the card index was a perfect contender for digital replacement, even in an era when computers were mainly text-based. First they came for my card catalog ... then they came for my books ...
In a Podcast from OCLC and JISC, Lynn Silipigni Connaway asks, "what does the digital information seeker look like". (JISC):
New research from JISC suggests that the way people look for information in libraries and online is changing. JISC recently commissioned a report2 from the OCLC to bring together a number of different studies in the area. Senior research scientist Dr Lynn Silipigni Connaway at OCLC Research in the US talks to Nicola Yeeles about how researchers ‘bounce’ and ‘whirl’ and what that means for the library of the future.

Also OCLC has a number of podcast available for free via iTunes. From ACRL: 2010 top ten trends in academic libraries (ACRL):
The ACRL Research, Planning and Review Committee, a component of the Research Coordinating Committee, is responsible for creating and updating a continuous and dynamic environmental scan for the association that encompasses trends in academic librarianship, higher education, and the broader environment. As a part of this effort, the committee develops a list of the top ten trends that are affecting academic libraries now and in the near future. This list was compiled based on an extensive review of current literature.
From the twitter this week: Tom Sutcliffe -Throw the book at clich├ęd blurbs - Independent. Over the top blurbing. If the new Tom Jones album is that bad, I must hear it. Telegraph Marketing a stinker. Do good buildings make for better educated children? Observer Huge for me, but I was lucky. Seabury Hall PwC Technology Forecast 2010 Issue 3:Tapping into the power of Big Data: PWC Tech Report Nerd alert - interesting. Can Bloomberg Law Compete With Westlaw and LexisNexis? - LawBlog WSJ The textbook system is broken: high costs, poor information for students, bad books: Chronicle In sports, Iniesta was the mvp of the tournament for me and well done Spain.

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