Google, Twitter, + more embeddedness


Last week we had Paul Courant guest speak about the Google Books court decision.  I must admit that I haven’t been following this issue as closely as I should be, so I learned  a lot from Paul but didn’t really know what to ask about.  I did notice an article from ALA come through my e-mail in which Paul is interviewed about what the Google Books ruling means for HathiTrust, etc., so I’ll have to read that to start catching up a bit more.  Librarians seem to be in a tricky spot in issues like this because we’re dedicated to access as well as to protecting copyright holders—which, I guess, is what copyright law is supposed to be all about, too. 

After the guest lecture, we discussed embedded librarianship with others in our cohorts. School libraries are heavily represented in our group, but we also have academic, law (which is also academic, right?) and public library people.  To me, embedded librarianship means that the librarian operates from within the community, that s/he is where the users’ needs arise rather than being someplace that the users have to go to.  In a school, the library is already embedded in the building, ideally right in the center of everything.  It’s not as convenient as always having a librarian right there in the classroom, but I was in fantasy land when I came up with that idea. :-P In a university setting, the general library is typically (okay, I don’t know about typically because I’ve spent too much time at U-M) in its own building, though there might be some special subject-area libraries that are housed in their departments’ buildings.  At U-M, I believe there are several libraries like this, the one with which I’m most familiar being the Fine Arts Library housed inside Tappan Hall with the rest of the History of Art department.  That “embeddedness” makes it really convenient for History of Art researchers to pop in to the library at any time, whereas it’s no longer so convenient, especially in January, for SI students to swing by Hatcher (I do miss the West Hall connector…). As for public libraries, the library is located within the general community, but it is a place that you go to—the librarian doesn’t hang around your house waiting for you to have an information need or an inkling for a good mystery. 

Which brings us to what embedded librarianship looks like in different types of libraries.  Are online reference services, catalogs, and instructional sessions a version of embedded librarianship because the library is always at your fingertips? What about pick-up/drop-off points for library materials located throughout the community (such as at the grocery store, post office, gas station, etc.)?  For schools, are school librarians really “embedded” if they never leave the library space or if access to the library/resources is restricted or if they are often unavailable because there is only one librarian and there may be hundreds of students and dozens of classrooms? 


Our readings were many, but each no longer than 140 characters.  I’ve had a Twitter account since last semester, but haven’t really used it much.  Now I’m in the habit!  It has been a process to get used to parsing through all the hashtags and @s, but I’ve found some interesting articles and many references to conferences I wish I were going to.  But it sure is frustrating to me when there’s a fascinating tidbit referenced from a conference session and no link to find out more other than the hashtag—I want to find out more firsthand, not just read a bunch of people’s reactions to something I haven’t experienced!

I have also been frustrated by how many tweets seem entirely disconnected, irrelevant, or pointless.  I’m sure I’m guilty of such tweets myself, but to me it seems like a sign of lonliness.  We all want someone to talk to, but if there’s no one there we put it online.  Maybe your bff cares what movie you’re watching or how quickly you can snap your baby’s Onesie, but I actually don’t…I guess this is what Kristin meant when she said she unfollowed some library people because they posted too much about their cats or what they ate for dinner. 

When I first heard of Twitter, the preceding paragraph was how I understood it.  A little too much exhibitionism/voyeurism and I didn’t really see the point.  I now see how it can be helpful for building a learning network—the many tweets that linked to fascinating articles and other web resources seem like a great use of Twitter.  I came across many things that I might not have otherwise, including articles on Web 2.0 tools for learning, a video on librarians and copyright, awesome activities that some public libraries are doing, a whole bunch of educational and ed tech resources and examples of what others are doing successfully. It’s almost overwhelming, but I have absolutely come across more library- and education-related information than I otherwise would have this week.  I feel like I’m more aware of what’s happening right now in my profession.

But then there’s this article about Twitter and narcissism coming from someone guilty of the okay-but-who-cares? kind of posts. And I’m following few people who use Twitter mostly to direct people to their blogs (many of which are wonderful, but still…).  I guess it’s like any other tool—it is what you make of it.  I will be weeding out some of the people I follow and I plan to use Twitter more in the future.   

P.S. Am I missing something? I can’t seem to edit a retweet in order to add the #SI643 hashtag.  Is that just the nature of retweeting?

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