Pascal’s place


Views on technology and libraries

Credentialing information professionals: the context of technology professionals in academic research libraries

I’m going to be leading a discussion on the formal and informal education of systems librarians later today when we visit the College of Information and Library Science at Beijing Normal University, and I’ve been thinking about what the crux of the main issues are to try to really focus discussion on areas that really invite collaborative thinking and work on this.

We touched very briefly on the issue of credentialling yesterday at our meeting at the National Science Library of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and there is interest from our Chinese colleagues in looking more closely at competency standards that have been established by Special Libraries Association, ALA and others.

The issue from my standpoint is that I think we are nearing a crossroads in the utility of the traditional MLS in providing a solid foundation for information professionals who are responsible for library technology systems and services in research libraries. I am very fortunate to have a very talented staff of 9 others in our Library Information Systems department, with only myself and one other librarian. These talented computer science-educated staff add huge value every day with building, assessing, implementing, upgrading, maintaining, key information systems and services that further the mission of the library and the academy in which we serve. They do remarkably well in learning about libraries, our standards, mission and values, and act in concert with these with some context setting and occasional guidance from myself and our other systems librarian. What value would be added for some of these folks to get MLS degrees? Would it help them “go to the next level” in their work?

In libraries we are very concerned about the socialization process of bringing people into the library profession, and in some cases, I think this is to the detriment of the capability of the people we are able to attract to given positions. It was quite striking for me yesterday with the CAS library and the focus on advanced subject degrees and immersion in the research process, but without formal library credentials. These people are acting as subject librarians and information analysts for their own areas, and bringing a lot of credibility to the scientists and graduate students in which they serve. An interesting comment from the Executive Director in terms of outcomes: we are successful to the extent we provide satisfying (also implying strong outcomes) services to the scientists, graduate students, and scientific institutions which we serve. I can’t think of a more user-focused statement than that, and I was impressed.

I am optimistic in some of the new so-called iSchools programs, such as the University of Toronto’s ALA-accredited Master of Information, which offers course content of “information-focused fields of study from various disciplinary and professional viewpoints”. There is an approved track “Information Systems and Design” with core required courses in database modelling and design, systems requirements and architecture design and such, which is positive in adding technical capacity.

One area I am particularly interested in is the process of decisioning ongoing professional education and skill enhancement for information professionals here in China. In libraries in the US and Canada, the individual has to take a lot of personal responsibility in keeping their skills honed and identify areas to develop new skills that further the goals of their organization. To a large degree, most libraries are able to provide a modest level of financial support in these endeavours, with individuals having to contribute some themselves. I don’t know if the individual as as much responsibility for these here in China, which is something I’d like to explore in today’s discussion.


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Found my Beijing soul kitchen

When I travel to new places, I always try to find places to eat off the beaten path that are authentic. Simple, good food, unpretentious, I’m looking for a soul kitchen!

Well, we found one of those last evening. About a ten minute walk from our hotel down a side street, this place was packed, which is usually a good indication of excellent food and value. I’ll call it “Cafe of Chairman Mao.” A tiny place with seating for perhaps 20-25, this place had wonderful Sichuan dishes and many, many posters of the Chairman from his young days as a Communist guerilla leader in the late 1920s and 1930s while fighting the Kuomintang, through a photograph of him speaking at a rally during 1949, the year the People’s Republic of China was established, and then Cultural Revolution period of the late 1960s. They even has a gold-colored statue of Chairman Mao with his hand outstretched and smiling by the front counter. Anyhow, this place was it. Filled with locals, we ordered two litre bottles of Tsingtao beer, a deal at 4RMB each (US$0.50), and then started going through the menu. There was some confusion on our part at the beginning as our waitress brought two bottles and wanted us to choose from them for some reason. I think she wanted to know whether we wanted chilled or non-chilled beer, but we just smiled and indicated these were fine. No English in there, but lots of pictures in the menu and prices clearly marked. We chose a hotpot of what looked to be squid (RMB48/$US5.75), although with cartilage still attached we couldn’t actually verify what it was, but it was delicious nonetheless. Also two bowls of white rice (1RMB/US$0.12), and another Sichuan dish that was finely ground beef (RMB18/US$2.25), ginger, bamboo shoots, leek, and lots of 1cm pieces of hot peppers in both of these. Absolutely wonderful food, and a deal at 76RMB/US$9.50 for the both of us. We left a tip of 10RMB/US$1.25 and left completely happy with the experience.

We have one more meal in Beijing that is on our own for Wednesday’s dinner and I’ll try to get some other adventurous delegates to make a return trip with me, and will take photos this time!

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Classical Cafe, 2/17/10 noon-1:00 pm WSND 88.9 FM Notre Dame, IN

Dmitry Shostakovich
Jazz Suite no.1
Russian State Symphony Orchestra; cond.: Dmitry Yablonsky
Naxos Classics (2002) 8.555949

Jacques Ibert
Piece romantique
Francaise: ‘Guitarre’ pour le piano
Le vents dans les ruines
Hae-won Chang, piano
Naxos Classics (1992) 8.554720

Leopold Hoffman
Flute Concerto in G major
Nicholaus Esterhazy Sinfonia; cond.: Bela Drahos
Naxos Classics (2000) 8.554748

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Jazz Traditions 2/15/2010 10pm – midnight 88.9FM WSND Notre Dame, IN

Patricia Barber
Live A Fortnight in France (2004)
Blue Note 78213
Dansons La Gigue!
Blue Prelude
Norwegian Wood
Call Me

Ron Carter
When Skies Are Gray (2000)
Blue Note 30754
Loose Change
Besame Mucho
Que Pasa
Cubano Chant
Mi Tiempo

Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke (1974)
Nemperor NE431, Atlantic (Eu)W50485
Vulcan Princess
Yesterday Princess
Lopsy Lu
Spanish Phases for Strings and Bass
Life Suite

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Fedora 10 -> 11 upgrade experiences

Fedora 11 came out two weeks ago, and last Friday I decided to run
through the upgrade process to Fedora 11, after backing up local files
to external disk, of course. Prior to this version, I have always done
clean installs, not using the upgrade packages.

In Fedora 9 they introduced a preupgrade kit that basically updates all
of the RPM packages on the system, leaving the system to be up and
running. Since this has been in the distro for a few versions I decided
I would try it out with my Fedora 10 to 11.

On my Lenovo Thinkpad this actually worked flawlessly. It took about 45
minutes to download and update 1915 packages at which point the system
rebooted nicely into F11. The only thing I have found that doesn’t work
as expected so far were the ALSA plugins for pulseaudio, which were
preventing my Skype audio working properly; this is a known issue on the
ALSA side. Once I removed the ALSA-pulseaudio-plugin and related
packages, all was well.

Next I tried this at home with my Fedora 9 system. Here this wasn’t so
successful. There is a known bug in anaconda (the graphical boot loader
for Fedora, which was completely rewritten for this version), and I
apparently stumbled on one of the scenarios where anaconda didn’t handle
the drive setup very well. I tried to resize the partition sizes during
the install, and hadn’t done my homework to see that this is a known issue
The install failed and when I rebooted I found that my bootloader was
gone, throwing a grub error 17 (partition is there, but I don’t know
what kind it is).

I do have this machine dual boot with Windows Vista Business on the
second hard drive, so to fix this I just had to go into the BIOS, change
the boot drive priority order, and then run the Windows Rescue disk to
fix the bootloader. I did all this and was back up and running after a
bit of time.

So, overall, a pretty nice experience, certainly with less downtime than
in the past, but I encourage everyone to first look at the known issues
wiki page to see if you might run into anything:

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