Author Archives: Brian Mathews

July 2, 2015, 12:55 pm

Hip Hop Librarian Spins Info Lit. An Interview With Craig Arthur

Craig Arthur

Craig Arthur (Radford)

Earlier I wrote about Carrie Donovan’s Keynote at the The Innovative Library Classroom Conference. There was another presentation that I found inspiring: Can You Kick It?  Bringing Hip Hop Pedagogy To The Library Classroom by Craig Arthur, Instruction Librarian at Radford University.

During the session Craig used two turntables to lead a discussion on plagiarism. He was kind enough to answer a few questions.

How did you get into hip hop?
I started buying music just as Hip Hop became “popular music.” The earliest memory I have of listening to hip hop music was riding the bus on a field trip seated next to an elementary school friend. He had a copy of a Too Short tape and one of those mind-blowingly fresh yellow Sony Walkmans. He must have owed me a favor because I remember…

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June 29, 2015, 4:05 pm

Football, Leadership, & Libraries: an interview with Scotty Walden

Scotty Walden, offensive coordinator at East Texas Baptist University,

I read an article last fall about Scotty Walden – a young and exciting football coach at East Texas Baptist University.

Here is the gist of piece:

In the summer of 2012, Sul Ross State football coach Wayne Schroeder wanted to shake things up for a sluggish offense that averaged 207.5 yards per game the previous season. So he handed over the keys to a 22-year-old graduate assistant. The results were immediate and dramatic. The reenergized Lobos offense would go on to lead the NCAA with 581.9 yards per game and 48.8 points per game. Scotty Walden, now 24, has since moved on and is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at East Texas Baptist University, a small Division III program in the East Texas town of Marshall. (bleacher report)

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June 22, 2015, 2:03 pm

WHAT DID LIBRARIANS WANT IN 1945? Many of the same things we want today.

Photograph of check out counter of the East Branch on Jane Street of the Bridgeport Public Library ca. 1945 copyright Bridgeport Public Library Historical Collections.

I’m going to post these quotes without any commentary; I think they hold up well on their own. Some background: 70 years ago at an ALA Executive Board Meeting (October 1945) they devoted a morning to discussing the future of librarianship. The conversation was summarized and published in the A.L.A. BULLETIN from February 1946. Here are a few notes that I found interesting and still relevant today:

If the profession seems to lack dynamism some of the responsibility rests with administrators. All too many still hold professional members to routine work and give what seem valid reasons why all must take their turn at essential clerical tasks.

Any dynamic…

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June 19, 2015, 2:18 pm

Could Your Library Answer 1 Million Reference Questions A Year?

In 1995 the Association of Research Libraries started collecting stats on references queries. The top five that year handled over 500,000 questions each. I’m sure in those early days there were some interesting approaches to collecting the data as well as different interpretations of a reference query.


via ARL (reference queries ranking, 1995)

Here is what the Top 10 looks like today:


via ARL (reference queries ranking, 2014)

 I mentioned this steady decline in an earlier post, but here is what that looks like in a table:


What’s “good” now?

via @gloriousnoise

When I look at these numbers I think of the music industry. Back in the 90’s if you sold 500,000 units the…

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June 17, 2015, 8:45 pm

Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research

I had hoped to do a full interview on this but that’s not going to happen: running out of time.

Short version, Brian Nosek (Center for Open Science & UVA) spoke at our Open Access Week event last year. He outlined the Open Science Framework (OSF)—it aims to help the way research is conducted. Main theme: there are many different tools and services that address certain niches of the workflow, but OSF tackles the entire lifecycle: planning, execution, reporting, archiving, and discovery.

Here is the talk:


Brian Nosek: Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research (link to video)

Lots of great content, but check out:

27 minutes in… talks about incentives for openness and how researchers can be cited for particular elements, such as tools or code they develop. This…

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June 10, 2015, 1:56 pm

Practicing Critical Information Literacy. Interview with Troy Swanson.


Troy Swanson

Troy Swanson is the teaching and learning librarian and Library department chair at Moraine Valley Community College. His article A Radical Step: Implementing A Critical Information Literacy Model (published in 2004) was my first exposure to critical theory in librarianship.

Let’s keep these critical interviews rolling before they pull the plug on this blog.

You have stated that librarians have long been champions of intellectual freedom and that you see critical information literacy as an extension of this value. Could you tell me more about that?

TS: I have always felt that the value of critical information literacy (applying critical pedagogy to information literacy) is as a lens through which to view the cycle of information production within society. Information products (whether online or in a…

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June 8, 2015, 1:55 pm

From Teaching To Consulting: Librarians as Information Literacy Designers. An Interview with Carrie Donovan.


Carrie Donovan

A few weeks ago I heard Carrie Donovan (Head of Teaching and Learning, Indiana University Libraries ) give a keynote address at The Innovative Library Classroom Conference.

Here are the slides from her talk: Shaking up the Sediment:  Re-energizing Pedagogical Practice while Avoiding Bottle Shock. And here are  slides from the other presentations at the conference.

My main takeaway was the transition that Carrie is experiencing from teaching to consulting. This is a theme that seems to be gaining momentum; I’m seeing fragments of this concept appear more frequently. It seems we are at the doorstep (threshold?) of an evolutionary leap in terms of information literacy and library instruction. I asked Carrie a few questions about this transformation.

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June 5, 2015, 2:53 am

Should librarians challenge the status quo? An interview with Laura Saunders

Should librarians challenge the status quo?

I decided to ask a professor. Laura Saunders is an Assistant Professor at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where she teaches and conducts research in the areas of reference and instruction, intellectual freedom, and academic libraries. She also has a strong interest in social justice issues related to libraries.

You’ve mentioned online that libraries should challenge the status quo. Tell me about that.
I think there are a lot of issues and challenges that libraries could weigh in on and hopefully influence for the better.  Perhaps most important is thinking about our communities and the ways in which we serve (and fail to serve) them. While the mission and ethics of libraries center on equitable services, in reality the research shows that certain demographics use our services much more heavily than …

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June 3, 2015, 10:21 am

Conformity vs. Scrutiny: Radical Information Literacy. An interview with Andrew Whitworth

Here is a quick interview with Andrew Whitworth, Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Manchester and Programme Director of the MA: Digital Technologies, Communication and Education. He published Radical Information Literacy: Reclaiming the Political Heart of the IL Movement.

What is radical information literacy?

Well, I did try at points to give clear definitions of key terms. Page 167 is as succinct as I ever get:

“IL, or more precisely, information literate behaviour, can be defined as practices that sustain learning and the potential for transformation within communities and their [information] landscapes. Radical IL is the subset of these practices which lift those potentials up into practice, transforming information landscapes through scrutiny and review of the cognitive authorities that penetrate them.”

Mainstream IL – competency-based,…

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June 1, 2015, 3:16 pm

Shaping Radical Librarianship: (brief) Interview with Rory Litwin

I was in grad school when I first encountered Library Juice – an email-based zine filled with socially progressive essays and other reflections. It was dramatically different than the esoteric journals we were using in class.

The spirit of the work was inspiring. This was pre-blogs — Library Juice demonstrated that you could develop a voice and audience using non-traditional formats. It had a strong DYI ethos and expanded my perspective on librarianship.

Rory Litwin
Photo courtesy of INALJ

Rory Litwin was the creative force behind the project. He went on to start Library Juice Press focusing on theoretical and practical issues in librarianship from a critical perspective.

The infusion of critical theory within librarianship has been gaining momentum. And Rory’s efforts have helped shape many of those conversations…

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