I have been mostly off Twitter these days, save for daily dips to see what new horrible political news has taken shape. So I am, here, admittedly jumping into a (probably contentious) debate without having seen all sides. But since I happened to catch a whiff of this evergreen libraryland discord over the value of the MLS and whether those without it can truly be called librarians, and what it means for the future of the profession… I have some thoughts. Apologies if I sound like a broken record. I think it’s telling that so many people complain about the MLS by disparaging it asRead More →

Lately I’ve become fascinated with the mechanics of being a scholar.  Or, more precisely, the mechanics of scholarly research. Along this vein, I’ve read two pieces recently that have altered the way I think about scholarship and the intellectual labor of academics. The first is a short piece by C. Wright Mills that appears as an appendix to his The Sociological Imagination (1959). The second is Umberto Eco’s How to Write a Thesis (1977), which the New Yorker calls, “A Guide to Thesis Writing That Is a Guide to Life.” It’s remarkable how many parallels to today can be drawn from these pre-internet guides toRead More →

Today is the annual “Day of Remembrance,” in which the United States reflects on the atrocity we now affably refer to as Japanese American Internment. I recently deposited my thesis, which touches on the topic, so I thought I’d post here the preface I wrote explaining the background of my project. If you’d like to read more, it’s available in its entirety in CUNY Academic Works. *** On May 6, 1942, Dr. Peter Marie Suski assigned my great-grandfather, Willis M. Hawley, power of attorney to manage his personal affairs when he and his family, along with 120,000 Japanese Americans, were forcibly removed from the PacificRead More →

What is the relationship of the librarian to the institution that employs her? There are certain expectations of workplace allegiance that surpass professional autonomy and even the notion of academic freedom. By this I mean the extent to which you are expected to shill for your employer. It’s one thing to shy away from “biting the hand that feeds you” but it is quite another to become a booster for your institution. So what happens when library outreach crosses over from publicizing the library—its collections and services—and dips into praising the university? Are they, in fact, separable? Recently I sat in on a talk fromRead More →

Some of you may know that I’m at Rare Book School this week, taking The History of the Book in China with J. Soren Edgren. I was very lucky to receive a Director’s Scholarship which allowed me to attend this year, and I was thrilled to see that Soren was teaching his class again. You see, my great-grandfather was a great many things in his life—aviator, decorator, all-around tinkerer and craftsman (he could turn any object into a lamp, apparently)—but he was also a publisher, bookseller, and collector of East Asian books and artifacts who fancied himself as a kind of sinologist.* His collection remainsRead More →

Today I attended The Scholar & Feminist XL: Action on Education conference at Barnard College. One of the workshops, led by Karen Gregory and Elizabeth Losh, used a “Long Table” format to explore what a “life support system” for the precariat in the academy could look like. In it, we were asked to rapid prototype a labor-saving device based on our own experience with and relationship to precarity. Thinking about the labor we do in our lives, what kind of feminist technology could we imagine to lessen our burden? I had to run out after the session, but I was so moved by some ofRead More →