In this issue:
Chronicle of Higher Education • October 17, 2010
Stop the madness. Academic libraries have drifted into an unhealthy relationship with publishers, says University of California, Davis librarian Daniel Goldstein, as individual journal selection increasingly is subjugated to publishers' "big bundle" offerings. "By outsourcing ownership to mega-vendors, libraries have introduced the commercial interests of the journal providers into what had been an internal academic transaction between a library and its patrons." Goldstein's urgent calls for a realignment of library values are driven by fears that the fledgling e-monographic publishing market will follow the same pattern, and he suggests opting out of the e-book market altogether until it "conforms itself to the values, needs and wallets of academe."
Ah, for the good old days when men were men, women were women, library patrons were users instead of customers, librarians knew how to catalog and—most importantly—when libraries didn't buy things from big companies. Daniel Goldstein laments the passing of those good old days and the domination of the e-journal market by a few companies and fears that the same thing will happen with e-books. He has no plan, but calls us to action. ( Levan)
Museum 2.0 • October 18, 2010
First impressions count. Museum and library folks could learn a few things about outside appearances from the retail sector—sparkling windows and doors, shiny hardware, lots of downlighting, and displays that signal what's inside can help visitors conquer their "threshold fear."
Nina Simon applies the wisdom of Bob Gibbs, an urban planner, to museums. It also applies to archives and libraries. Cultural institutions are pretty good at welcoming and helping patrons after they've entered the building, but could we do more to make the building more welcoming? Instead of passively waiting behind the heavy door of an imposing building for the next person to take the plunge, we could think about how inviting our entrance, lighting, window displays might be. Maybe we could even attract some impulse browsers/readers/researchers. ( Erway)
MIT Sloan Management Review • August 22, 2010
The tyranny of choice. Libraries are all about choice, but poor spatial organization and signage can result in visitors leaving empty-handed. This article is written for the corporate manufacturing world, but some of its suggestions, like product-pruning teams, can be applied to any organization (substitute "service" for "product" and think about reviewing core activities).
Including this article in a set of pieces selected for information science professionals may be a bit of a reach. But anyone who has tried to navigate the minefield of cutting services without riling key constituents will find resonance in such ideas as "depend upon data, not consumer emotion" and "classify your offerings into tiers based on consumer behavior, such as core, niche, [etc.]" and prune from there. The manufacturing-product-array metaphor works, to a point. ( Massie)
Cult of Mac • October 14, 2010
Designer vs. marketer. For Mac fans, this interview with former Apple CEO John Sculley lifts the veil on the Steve Jobs mystique and reveals the inner workings of one of the most reclusive companies in the U.S. A good read, even if you use a PC.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that this piece is about Steve Jobs, or Apple, or (gasp) being an Apple fanboy. It's about what a laser-like focus on the user experience can achieve. It's about looking at the entire end-to-end system with an eye toward creating the best possible experience for the user. It's about managing for excellence using focus, a minimalist approach, calculated risk-taking, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. These are lessons appropriate for any organization seeking to be successful through creating either compelling products or engaging and effective services. Lessons, in other words, we would all do well to heed. ( Tennant)
Slate • October 15, 2010
All postings are not equal. Slate columnist Farhad Manjoo emphasizes the distinction between blog posts and online magazine articles, noting "While blogs aren't treated so dismissively these days, perceived misuse of the terms 'blog post' and 'article' can still inflame journalistic class consciousness." But from a reader's perspective, the real distinction is the degree of reporting and editorial oversight associated with different types of online news content, and Manjoo suggests that although blogs are gaining credibility, articles still tend to be a more reliable source of information.
Where you stand depends on where you sit. The author interviewed those on the content production side about differences between blogs and articles, which largely boils down to opinion and not fact. More interesting to me would have been a thoughtful analysis of content production and presentation, as well as identification of what elements are most valued by readers. Such a piece would still represent opinion, but would tell the story from a more interesting and meaningful angle. As it is, this is about as instructive as a comparison between tabloid and broadside formats in the print world—which is to say, about as interesting as yesterday's news. ( Proffitt)