This morning I was saddened to learn that John Berry, III, longtime editor at Library Journal, passed away at the age of 87. I first met Berry 11 years ago, when I began library school at Pratt Institute. He was my first professor in the program, teaching the core Introduction to the Information Professions course. As someone who had just committed to a career shift, moving into libraries from bookselling, I remember feeling overwhelmed that there existed such an expansive field and I struggled to catch up with the acronyms and shorthand, having never actually worked in a library before. Some of the students inRead More →

Last semester I taught a master’s level introduction to digital humanities at Pratt’s School of Information. You know, the one where the pandemic interrupted everything and we all suddenly had to move online? Listen. It was a lot. Now that the dust has settled (has it?), and folks are developing their online classes for the fall, I thought I’d share an online discussion assignment using Slack that worked surprisingly well. The course functions a bit like a seminar, and each week a student was tasked with leading a group discussion on the week’s readings. I found the materials produced by Pratt’s Teaching and Learning CenterRead More →

Lately I’ve been tasked with giving an introduction to library research. This is common enough for instruction librarians, but since I primarily work with graduating students at the point of dissertation or thesis deposit (with instruction on the side), the shift towards orienting new students to library research has been interesting, for a number of reasons. But primarily it’s the emphasis on library research. Because these days merely existing online has become a kind of research exercise. “Just search up burgers in Astoria,” as my kids like to say; the most mundane decisions now rely on one’s research prowess, the ability to “search up” theRead More →

This morning, this popped into my twitter timeline: “Digits: A New Unit of Publication.” It’s an interesting presentation, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of this work. This is not necessarily a response to the specifics of that piece, but it got me thinking. For a long time I have felt that what we are missing in digital humanities scholarship vis à vis “digital projects” is not just the curatorial apparatus—indicated in these conversations by talk of prestige conferred through a publication—but an infrastructure of scholarly critique. Why? In the absence of purchasing/distributing mechanisms for digital projects, libraries don’t have the usualRead More →

Last month Shannon Mattern tweeted about academics and the politics of publishing venues: I sometimes wish we academics gave a bit more thought to whether the politics of our publishing *venues* match the politics we're arguing for. Like, why write about radical politics/decolonization/the_commons/whatever for journals that charge readers $150 for a 30-day rental? — Shannon Mattern (@shannonmattern) March 2, 2018 It got a lot of attention, partly because it revived the debate over who is to blame for the mess that is scholarly publishing these days. That tweet is on my mind now because of a new publication that’s making the rounds: Digital Humanities, Libraries,Read More →

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 →