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School of Informatics, express your concerns July 14, 2006

Posted by jennimi in Informatics, Library School.
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Several School of Informatics students and alums have reached out to me with concerns about the changes taking place at the University at Buffalo. While I am touched that they would trust me to bring their concerns to light I also want to empower folks to speak out about issues that concern them. Themes I have heard over and over are a reticence to speak out because the person is looking for work, or fear of reprisal at the person’s current place of employment (which in some cases is UB). It saddens me to hear these things. Libraries, of all places, should be places that recognize the value moral imperative of sharing information and advocating for our and our users’ interests. Universities should also be such places.

Student representatives will be meeting with the provost (tentatively scheduled for July 24th) and are seeking input from all concerned. I have forwarded my own concerns regarding these changes to Ben Hockenberry (benhockenberry [at] gmail [dot] com) and I encourage others to do the same. There is power in numbers.

The recent ALA conditional accreditation (2 years) has many students worried (link to Buffalo Business First article here), and I do not blame them. The status of our degrees may be an issue in the future as we seek employment in this extremely competitive market. My question to the provost, then, is how will the LIS program be supported in meeting the requirements for securing and retaining full ALA accreditation?

I have made a conscious decision not to blog or otherwise participate anonymously online. I also have required a WordPress account in order to comment on Library Matters, in an attempt to decrease splog comments. This has frustrated a few folks who wanted to comment here, and for that I apologize. One could consider creating an account in order to participate in online discussions. It only takes a few moments, and you can create an account without having to create a blog.

Finally, I want to personally extend a heartfelt thank you to LM readers and commenters, particularly on the issue of the dissolution of SOI. The day I posted the dissolution podcast summary, LM was the 82nd most read WordPress blog in the world. This IS a serious issue and people are paying attention.

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Comments

1. ladyofthelake - July 15, 2006

It is unfortunate that students and some faculty are afraid to say what they really think. Even those of us with relatively stable positions at UB must resort to using pseudonyms because of a fear of reprisal. But if you believe in something, even while recognizing the need for improvement, it is difficult to just sit and watch as other simply “discard” it rather than working to improve it.

Of course, we ARE a “throw-away society.” Everything is disposable–cleaning products, food containers, pets, … even people. SOI is being discarded because it is far easier and cost effective to dissolve it than it is to work to improve it. Never mind its potential or the obvious passion among its supporters.

I am passionate about UB, even with its problems. I love WNY and its people–especially after having lived elsewhere–and I recognize that UB can excel in informatics which I see as the study of the social/business/political implications of communication and information technologies. It can continue to train 21st century librarians–(it’s hard to believe, but Google can’t manage everything.) I know that SOI could take a leadership role in these areas if given the chance AND the resources to prove it.

Yet with all of this passion and the belief that taking a stand for what you believe in is the only way to live with one’s conscience, why must I post to these blogs using a pseudonym. Simple. Everywhere I turn, my colleagues and friends are reminding me…. “be careful”

UB seems to have transformed into a oligarchy. This isn’t surprising. But at what point did speaking one’s mind become dangerous? Or covering one’s a– a requirement for professional survival? Even standing up for one’s beliefs is viewed by some as a sign of “poor judgement.” It seems that such actions make you “disposable.”

2. Jenn Graham - July 15, 2006

LOTL: As always, poignant and wise. I certainly understand and respect your pseudonymity and I should have added in my post that anyone is welcome to post here under a pseudonym to discuss this situation.

I have been told “be careful” and “watch what you say, you are job searching” very often in the past couple of weeks. By librarians, a few library students, and library affiliates. As you can all see, I have made my choice.

We are in an Era of Fear. Part of my decision to become a librarian was based upon the fact that librarians have traditionally defended intellectual freedom. (I link to ALA’s Intellectual Freedom statement in the right side bar of this blog). It would be incredibly hilariously ironic if I were shut out for speaking out on behalf of librar* issues.

3. Jim - July 15, 2006

Alumni should not be afraid of their universities; universities should be afraid of their alumni.

4. Jim - July 15, 2006

Which is to say: Jenn, you should not be afraid. You’ve graduated, you have your diploma, UB has no hold over you. You, on the other hand, have a blog and lots of friends with other blogs.

5. Jenn Graham - July 15, 2006

Jim: Thanks so much for the good wisdoms. I guess I should clarify: we are in an era of fear, but I am not afraid.

ps, they haven’t sent my diploma yet!

6. ladyofthelake - July 16, 2006

“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
-Mark Twain.

πŸ™‚

7. Jenn Graham - July 16, 2006

DA MAYOR (Ossie Davis): “Always do the right thing.”
MOOKIE (Spike Lee): “That’s it?”
DA MAYOR: “That’s it.”
MOOKIE: “I got it, I’m gone.”

DO THE RIGHT THING, Universal, 1989

πŸ™‚


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