The Humble Dust Jacket

Dust jackets: what are they good for? Some libraries cover them with plastic and use them as extra protection. Some discard them entirely.

But what about your personal collection? What do YOU do with dust jackets?

Reader Michelle Dean over at Flavorwire posted a full-on rant disparaging the humble dust jacket. She says that: dust jackets do not, in fact, repel dust; are no harder or easier to clean than fabric hardcovers; and are generally a pain-in-the-you-know and a scourge against reader-kind.

Who knew book lovers could be driven to displays of great passion over the humble dust jacket?

I, for-one, can’t stand them either! If I end up with a hardcover with a jacket, I throw it away as soon as I get home. I can’t stand the thought of having to be careful with it, lest it rips or wrinkles, and my minimalism tendencies demand an instant discard.

The Times Literary Supplement, however, argues that dust jackets do have an important function.

The Victoria and Albert Museum gives a History of the Dust Jacket.

Dust jackets can be quite beautiful; works of art unto themselves. The New York Public Library has an online collection of vintage dust jackets.

Finally, check out this poll of devoted readers over at GoodReads. One GoodReads user calls them “a crime against humanity.” The sheer variety of impassioned opinions is incredible!

Flip Your Classroom

What does your library instruction session look like? Most academic library instruction sessions are a one-shot deal: usually an hour, hour and a half at the most, to give college students a quick crash course in basic research skills.

Your time with students is so limited. How do you know if they “got it” with little-to-no hands-on time? There might be a better way!










Many instructors, in libraries and out, are trying a “flipped classroom” model to make the most of their time with students:

A flipped classroom inverts the traditional educational model so that the content is delivered outside of class, while class time is spent on activities normally considered “homework.” For example, students may access instructional material through videos, podcasts or online tutorials before the class meeting. Then during class time, students work on activities which force them to apply what they have learned. (

I spend a lot of time in my instruction sessions demonstrating database use and citation shortcuts. If I’m lucky, there’s time at the end for students to do some searching on their own. Why not have students watch my lecture/do tutorials on their own time, and then dedicate class to hands-on practice?

Now, this teaching model does mean a potentially greater time investment for the instructor. For one-shot library workshops, the library instructor has to work closely with the class instructor to make sure students are prepared beforehand. Also, the library has to prep the tutorials and screencasts for students to watch, and has to maintain these materials to keep them current.

But the dividends can be great! Imagine doing no lecturing during the class-time you have with students, and being able to work one-on-one or in groups to help students “get it.” Something to think about as we move into a new school year!

Check out the original post “Keep Up With…Flipped Classrooms” over at ALA. More resources below!

Make the Most of your Monday!

It’s Monday! Are you ready to start the week with a bang? Right now you’ve got the unique chance (only happens once a week ; ) to chart your course for the next five days. What should you accomplish this week to make yourself proud come Friday afternoon?


The unclutterer blog suggests starting your Monday with a planning session to map out your week for max productivity.

The PassiveProductive blog asks you to consider turning Monday into elimination day – clean up your workspace (physical and digital) to make your work more efficient.

Career Cafe tells you how to beat the Monday Morning Blues gives you 14 Simple Ways to Get Considerably More Done.

MITSloan reminds you that multitasking actually makes you LESS productive.

Finally, The Minimalists offer a study on being busy – but not focused. Something to think about!

Have a great week!


Banned Books in Academic Libraries

I read a great article by Scott DiMarco over at ACRL News – “Why I banned a book.”

Yes, I banned a book. I am a seasoned librarian and academic library director and a supporter of free speech and democracy, but I banned a book. The term heresy quickly comes to mind in the world of librarianship, but the story is much deeper than it first appears. The very temporary banning was simply an object lesson to our campus community on the arbitrary and capricious nature of censorship, as well as providing an interesting take on the nature of social media. Read the full article

Yes, academic librarian Scott of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania banned a book – but not for the reasons you think. He banned a book to stir up emotions on a campus that showed no interest in attending Banned Books Week events. And it worked, too! Thousands of people responded with outrage – to what they found out was a hoax.

Are these desperate times for library events?

I’m sure you’ve experienced similar frustrations at your library. You plan an event months in advance, hire a speaker or come up with what you think is a brilliant presentation, and then four people show up. All of whom are colleagues.

What would you do? Would you merely cope with disappointment or would you vow to boost attendance next time?

How far would YOU go to get the academic community interested in the issues that your library is promoting?

Read the rest of Scott’s article over at ACRL News, and chime in with your thoughts below!

Google Reader dies today. Don’t lose your favorite feeds!

If you use Google Reader and you haven’t switched, you’re down to the wire! The Google service ends today. But fear not – I offer up a collection of links with alternatives below!

If you have no idea what Google Reader is – it might be time for you to read up on feed aggregators! If you visit a lot of sites daily just to see what’s new – you might want to switch to an aggregator, which will collect all of your sites’ updates for you in one place. Aggregators put all your new blog posts and news articles in one page for easy viewing. (Or, anything with an RSS feed, at least, like this blog! ; ) Here’s an overview of RSS feeds for newbies.

From Lifehacker:

Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives


10 Google Reader Alternatives That Will Ease Your RSS Pain

Redmond Pie:

Top 5 Google Reader Alternatives | Redmond Pie

Microsoft Outlook can also collect new posts for you. Here are instructions on

How to add RSS feeds to Outlook

What are blogs, anyway?

Blogs are a great way to keep up-to-date on what’s going on in Library Land and beyond! Here’s some blogs I recommend following:

Ask A ManagerAll of your work and job searching questions answered!

Rapid e-Learning Blog: Designing online courses? All the tips you need! (From

iLibrarian Blog from Lots of tech tips for library-types!

And, of course, you should follow this blog! ; )

What blogs do you follow?