Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Primer on Open Access to Research

‘How much do you really know about open access publishing? What about other research resources like open data?’ These questions opened Robyn Hall’s recent presentation at the 2014 NEOS Miniconference, held on June 6 at MacEwan University.

The origins of the session lay in Robyn’s preparations last fall, as Scholarly Communications Librarian, to enthusiastically promote Open Access Week across MacEwan. After handing out “Ask me about open access!” buttons to colleagues, she quickly realized the value of also making available to them a toolkit of need-to-know resources and strategies for helping users to access publicly available research findings on the Internet.

Similarly, Robyn walked session attendees through pertinent definitions of open access, some of the many payment schemes underpinning it, various sources of open access articles and data, the benefits and challenges of participating in the open access movement, and future directions. Those interested in specifics can access this and other presentations by Robyn Hall on SlideShare.

Where’s the Critical Theory in LIS Programs?

A few weeks ago, British PhD student Lauren Smith wrote a summary of an interesting talk on the lack of critical theory in LIS programs. The talk, which was given by librarian Kevin Sanders at a event hosted by the Radical Librarians’ Collective in London, England, looked at the importance of using critical theory to educate future information workers and makes some suggestions as to why such theories are not discussed in LIS programs.

“Kevin suggested that there isn’t much by way of critical theory present on reading lists and within modules on courses relating to LIS, and that perhaps this might be a by design rather than accident on the part of departments to ensure that students of LIS remain what Foucault described as ‘docile bodies’; that is…kind of…workers who are easy to control and unlikely to challenge authority, as a result of how academic institutions and wider society act to make people submissive.”

The full blog post, which also contains a living bibliography of LIS critical theory readings, is available here: http://laurensmith.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/radical-librarians-collective-part-three/

As well, Lauren’s blog contains three other summaries of sessions that took place during this event.

Professional Decline and Resistance: The Case of Library and Archives Canada

The most recent issue of Radical Teacher (Vol. 99, availalbe: http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/radicalteacher/issue/view/4/showToc) contains a range of articles examining the topic of deprofessionalization.  The issue covers issues affecting a number of professions including doctors, teachers and journalists.

While the topic of deprofessionalization may be of general  interest  to members of the library and archival community as we resist attempts to deprofessionalize our work, one article is particularly germane.  In “Professional Decline and Resistance: The Case of Library and Archives Canada,” Oliphant and McNally examine recent problems at LAC including the Code of Conduct.

The article provides a brief background on several LAC controversies before examining the LAC Code of Conduct (unfortunately the article does not comment on the revised Code).  The authors note, “[n]ot only does the Code prevent employees from engaging in scholarly discourse and professional engagement, it permeates employees’ personal lives and infringes upon their freedom of expression by advocating self-censorship.”  The authors also provide some insightful comments from Caron on the the library and archival professions, including noting his 2010 comment that the two professions should merge and completely reinvent themselves.  Taken collectively, the Code, Caron’s dismal leadership, and the range of other problems at LAC causes the authors to suggest that not only are LAC staff being deprofessionalized, but that the institutional weakening reverberates throughout the profession.

After documenting several of the recent LAC controversies Oliphant and McNally contrast the responses of the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).  In contrasting the CLA’s advocacy model with CAUT’s advocacy and activism, the conclusion is made that, “CAUT fulfilled its mandate by strongly advocating for labor, for the profession, and for researchers. The CLA distanced itself from that strategy, and opted for a less confrontational approach,” but concludes that neither was effective in resisting deprofessionalization at the federal civil service.

The article concludes by noting, “[l]ate capitalism has put government workers in especially precarious positions as free-market ideology and the rhetoric of small government and efficiency are mobilized in attacks on professional public workers and the public sphere.”

Although LAC has taken steps to revise its Code of Conduct, this article still proves useful in contrasting and comparing the effectiveness of the CLA and CAUT and their approaches to advocacy and activism.