Suggestion Box: The Full Catastrophe: NYPL – Please review your circulation policy

The off-site storage policy of New York Public Library has stirred much public debate, and rightly so. I feel honored to live in a city that cares about its public library. I wont repeat the debate and will only say briefly that I personally have no problem with off-site storage. From what I tested, the turn-around time is pretty good and I feel the books are accessible. What I do take issue with is that all the books stored off-site do not circulate. To invoke the cliché, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? In other words, why can’t off-site books circulate, and why are so many book in-library use only? Once a book is delivered, why can’t I check it out? For example, Zygmunt Bauman is a contemporary socialist that has published widely on themes on post-modernism, modernity, liquid societies. He published 57 books and countless articles. Many of his popular books are available on Amazon but at NYPL, only two of the books circulate, and the others are all either off-site or in-library use only. Why don’t these books circulate? These are not books one can read at the library, these are not reference books; these are books you have to have by your side as you read them.
Screen shot 2013-05-26 at 5.40.53 pmAnother example: The Full Catastrophe, a book by David Carkeet, is a academic funny mystery novel with a linguistic twist. It’s fiction, it’s a novel, it’s mystery, it’s summer on-a-rainy-day upstate kind a book. What is it stored off-site and does listen? NYPL are you listening?


Questioning the standard Call For Papers model: ALISE 2014

ALISE, the Association for Library and Information Science Educators, recently posted a call for juried papers (CFP) for its 2014 annual conference. As far as CFPs go, this is a pretty standard one.

First we are told that the conference theme is “Educational Entrepreneurship,” well within the scope of the ALISE audience. Then comes a more detailed description of topics of interest, which include

“original contributions including reports of research, theory, pedagogy, best practices,
think pieces, and critical essays […] Potential topics […] include but are not limited to:
Program revision; Curricular innovation; Program delivery; Innovative service learning
initiatives; High impact practices; Novel pedagogical approaches; Approaches to research.

So far this makes perfect sense to me, and as a library educator these topics are of interest. Then, again quite typically, comes the following:

Submissions should be original papers that have not been previously published. There are no
restrictions on research methodology. Alternative perspectives on educational entrepreneurship
in library and information science are welcomed and encouraged.

It is that first sentence of the section above that gives me reason to pause: submissions not previously published. ALISE does not publish conference proceedings—not on the conference website, as a monographic series, or as part of a journal. The conference program includes only extended abstracts, and papers “are eligible for consideration for the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science (JELIS) ‘best papers’ conference issue.”

It seems to me that in the spirit of Library and Information Science, papers should be made available as open-access publications on the conference website. Given that they are not, why does it matter whether they have been previously published? As a conference attendee I don’t mind if a paper has been published elsewhere. But as someone who is considering submitting a paper to the ALISE conference, I have little motivation to submit a previously unpublished paper that will not be disseminated beyond the score of people in the session.

As an information professional I support practices that allow for as much open access and as little gatekeeping of submissions as possible, and educate my students in that spirit. I would like my professional association to also share and act on such values.


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