Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Great points!

The following is posted at the request of the author. Many thanks to her for her contribution to the discussion as follows:

I had to voice my sadness over hearing that Wasserman will close. The library, its resources, and staff have been an invaluable part of my experience at CLIS. I was very surprised after hearing the news, especially after learning in classes about budget cuts and the closing of libraries. Our own program seems to have fallen victim to this same event.

I just couldn't let this move happen without saying exactly how Wasserman has helped me.

1) Study space. With the many group projects required in classes this is a great space to meet. Not only because it is in the builiding but the library also provides access to computers and print resources-whatever is needed for the group project. It is also a good place for studying for exams or working on class projects.

2) Print resources. As I've learned time and time again, not all resources are online. Not all databases provide full-text access and not having the print resources would make finding information difficult if not impossible. Besides the fact that many print resources can sometimes be much easier to use than online ones. I have copied journal articles here as well as checked out books.

3)Electronic resources. Electronic resources are critical and having our computer lab (as well as having the WAM lab was valuable for when classes were held in our computer lab thus making it unavailable to students) was very beneficial.

4) The staff. Tim, Karen, and the rest of the staff have been invaluable source of information. Quite frankly, I can't imagine Wasserman without them. They are friendly, professional, and efficient. In particular, Karen's current awareness service has proved very helpful. One article title she posted on the list serv was exactly on topic for a semester project in one of my classes. I came to the library and copied it.

5) Access. Have I used other libraries on campus? Yes. The interdisciplinary nature of the program makes it a necessity. But it is extremly helpful to have our library right in the same buidling where classes are held. It can be used before, between, and after classes without leaving the builiding and walking as far as McKeldin.

5) Wasserman-the heart of CLIS. Yes I go to the CLIS lounge when there is an event but when I think of CLIS I think of Wasserman. It is where I come back to each semester to see my classmates and friends and speak to the staff about problems or questions. It just makes me sad to think of all of this gone.

I feel that this move will be more of a hinderance than a help to CLIS students.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

PWL - Now or Never

At risk of continuing the conversation solo, I'll present some ideas about the mid- and long-range possibilities that turning PWL into reasearch cubicles will prevent. Admittedly, these possibilities are reachable in multiple ways, and that means to me CLIS regardless of its retaining PWL or not needs to consider team-based approaches rather than unilateral action that will divide with or without pesky graduate students like myself.

A second floor of more office space will prevent the actualization of the work of the College's founder and followers over the last 40 years. That the PWL couldn't stand some serious improving goes without saying, but closure is at odds with student wishes and faculty and staff identified recommendations, as I understand results of past student surveys and internal CLIS documents. Current student leadership is working hard to discern what the will of the student body is, and I'm eager to learn it myself.

So, Jenny Preece wants CLIS to grow nationally and internationally as a research center in the academic area of information studies, for the College to reflect the wave of technology-driven changes to a profession turning its back on the library model and embracing the temple of the personal computer and web server? OK. Those issues can not be ignored, and there's obviously an important place for those possibilities at CLIS. Technology is the cool tool, certainly.

Nonetheless, technology is not the only tool, and it is not a substitute for other skills and experiences, those that can not be transmitted in binary code, those that have justified the building of brick and mortar Universities for hundreds of years.

For technology in the real or in the abstract to displace and distribute what is already distributed by the Internet and fragmented in the black box of your central processing unit (CPU), is to reduce not increase the production potential of your human resources. You can disassemble the production process with technology at many points, but the task of reassembling the whole into a "new and improved" widget becomes a Frankenstien-like task controllable by only a few and subject to the weaknesses and sutures of thought of a closed system.

The crux of my point simply put is that instead of a College mobilizing its intellectual (and other) resources to face and solve a range of very challenging and interesting problems in the science of leveraging information in a competitive marketplace, we're taking the creative space away from each user and placing it behind the doors of a closed laboratory that is by invitation only. That very abstract thing is what is lost mid- and long-range and what CLIS supporters must unfortunately now struggle for the chance to have a say in its resolution, now or never [long live, Roy Orbeson].

Mid- and long-range, I'd rather see PWL become a place that openly invites business (carefully), professional organizations, individual alumni, current students from the other information-related disciplines, current students from non-information-related disciplines (what would those be, I wonder?) to be given the tools for problem solving issues in archives and library management. Faculty have tons of resources and competitive structures inside and outside the university to work for their laboratories. Let library students have theirs.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Vision Thing

So what's your ideal use of the second floor of Hornbake's South Wing? How can students, staff, faculty, alumni contribute to CLIS' vision thing?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Issues

It's amazing to me that people are willing to just accept this decision and the process for reaching it - but that aside I think the conversation should continue about the many inter-related issues this flap has brought to the surface. Please feel free to disagree, add, comment, modify, ammend any of the following items.

  • the use of existing (or not existing, meaning create one) university educational technologies to offer a beta test for iSchool research and distance learning infrastrucutre. Why not use WEBCT or WebIQ as tools to support the town hall meetings in the fall?
  • iSchools and/or/vs. distance learning and/or/vs. other growth engines for CLIS
  • The loss of PWL is not about convenience or other library school libraries, though they are interesting and related questions
  • The loss of PWL is not about saving the old at the expense of the new
  • The loss of PWL is not about a Wasserman v. McKeldin (spy v. spy) landscape/intellectual geography
I would like to suggest that the decision to close PWL is an example of leadership techniques that are bad for morale (not isolated to CLIS or Jenny Preece), exclusionary, non-data driven (at least to this point) and political at the expense of the quality of knowledge products possible (including Ph.D. candidates and faculty), student input was not considered in the decision (that's just fact) but used after to provide a defacto rubber stamp support.

The loss of PWL is about institutionalized response to perceived external and internal forces that relate to individual jobs more than CLIS as a college, or CLIS as a college would have been given the time and space and support to problem solve and team-build. The loss of PWL is about institutionalized competition in the information age, and is a stark contrast to myths the the information age is more democratic, more transparent, more efficient than the days....of yore....

Let's discuss these and other topics in general and in specifics....

Friday, July 15, 2005

Thank You!

Just a quick nod of thanks to the student and alumni leaders who took the time to meet with Jenny face to face and discuss the plans for CLIS and PWL. They deserve many kudos and thanks, I think.

Open Letter to Dean Preece

While posted this morning, I didn't see my message on the CLIS list, so here it is. I'll have other posts on this.....

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Note to Students and Alumni
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 07:38:36 -0400
From: Kevin Stone Fries
To: Jenny Preece
References: <200507150108.j6EChBfr010327@listserv.umd.edu>

Open Letter to Dean Preece

Dear Jenny:

Thank you for your community message. It's certainly not where I
personally wanted this flurry of dialogue to go in process or in
content. We not only had different hopes for the process or
methodology, but a different end-result in mind. iSchools and distance
education are going to be a dime a dozen, over the next couple of years
as the barriers to industry (captial equipment, like servers etc.)
continue to drop in price (and skilled labor gets harder to find???),
and no matter how good technology gets it will never equal human to
human real-time communication, probably. [I certainly was *not*
shopping for an iSchool or distance program, though looked at them when
I applied, though in other disciplines.] But communicators and
researchers have always had different skills and different careers as a
result. While skeptical about iSchools and distance education (not in
themselves but) as the engine to drive CLIS' competition with its peers
or desired peers, I hope you will take the teacher's role in this and
work to convince with the power of information, the benefits of your and
your group of colleagues vision for the future. It's no easy task.
The topical clusters (leadership, archives, egov) seemed like a good
model on which to found CLIS' future, and I hope the work on exploring
those possibilities can be salvaged in some way. I look forward to the
town hall meetings in the fall, and hope my work and school schedule
will enable my participation, and those of many many others. May I
suggest you establish a part of the CLIS website not as a subsitute for
human interaction, but as an aid to human interaction, to market your
idea and foster the interaction you hope to include students and alumni
in. The administration in the past has chosen not to use the website to
communicate the work of the College as an administrative unit to
students. I believe that the lack of an applicable infrastructure
greatly contributed to the outcome of this decision at every level, from
Dr. Destler to whomever you choose to end that list with..... :)

Please accept by best wishes for the College of Information Studies.

Kevin Fries

Having read the Dean's open letter, there are things that just don't add up for me like

* if we have so much support, why does the repetition of the threat to CLIS' existence always get mentioned in strategic places, and why was the decision to secret, and the options so narrow?

* too little research???? What about each Ph.D. student?

Obviously, this decision has been taken, but boy does it disappoint. Hopefully the communication served some purpose.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Your Action Required

This is just an idea. If people really want to build such a community action committee, they should communicate that to the official leaders of their student, alumni, or community professional organizaiton.
[The original text of this was drafted several days ago or more, so my revisions for this posting may not be finished. This is simply for discussion.]

Community Action Committee to Save Paul Wasserman Library

Situation Statement:

Right on our own University of Maryland campus we face a grave risk of loosing one of the most valuable educational resources for current and future information professionals to an unknown, secretive, administrative agenda. The plan, its intended objectives, and ultimate consequences need to be considered and made clear to all parties in a transparent way.

While this country faces a political and social environment that does not understand important issues of information management, it is not the time for one of the nation’s leading conferrers of credentials to information professionals to be closing its own library.

Mission Statement:

The Community Action Committee to Save Paul Wasserman Library works to ally current students, staff, faculty, and administration with alumni and community and professional leaders to address questions regarding the protection of the Paul Wasserman Library as a mission-critical resource in each party’s production of educational services, resources, and other knowledge products.


A public meeting with Collegium President Marilyn White, Dean Jenny Preece, Dean Charles Lowry, Provost Destler, official alumni and current student leaders to educate each other about this pending and currently secretive plan that does not appear to be at all in line with an educational mission.

Assurance that PWL will be retained and work publicly begun to identify, evaluate, and execute managerial solutions other than closure.

Apology to the CLIS community for the secretive nature of these proceedings that affect everyone.

A press release to the wider community explaining the situation in a positive light and enumerating the steps to identify, evaluate, and execute managerial solutions other than closure.

Organizing Opportunities:

  • Phone and Email campaign to current student leaders, alumni, and faculty

  • Create a website using non-University Resources (more than a blog)

  • Write letters of protest to administrators including Jenny Preece
  • Gather data to help make an informed recommendation


Does this mean you?

Open Letter to Destler, Preece, Lowry

I sent the following letter to University administration, copying those who I thought may or may not also be interested.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Closing Paul Wasserman Library
Date: Sat, 09 Jul 2005 08:14:45 -0400
From: Kevin Stone Fries
To: preece@umd.edu
CC: dbarlow@umd.edu, wdestler@deans.umd.edu, clowry@umd.edu

Dear Jenny,

It has come to my attention that more than just administrative changes
are expected in Wasserman Library at your request, and up to this point
with no community discussion. While no doubt you have the authority as
dean to make executive decisions, as a currently enrolled graduate
student who intends to use Wasserman Library over the next couple of
years, as a former student group leader in CLIS, and a self-styled
student activist, I have to say that I find this decision and the
process for reaching it alarming, with all due respect.

It is my intention to urge my graduate student colleagues, alumni, and
community members interested in CLIS to actively encourage open debate
on this topic because I think it goes to the heart of many complicated
and inter-related issues, including the university’s mission of
excellence in teaching, research, and service.

The communications from Dean Lowry’s office in my possession indicate
that CLIS administration has not and does not in the future intend to
include students in this administrative fait accompli. I find this
seriously disappointing, even while I think I understand in part your
difficult position.

Among the most important reasons that I feel that requesting reversal of
the decision as well as the inclusion of students and alumni in ways
more substantive than have been realized to date are that the physical
dismantling of Wasserman will likely seriously undermine your ability to
convince current and future alumni to support your fundraising
objectives and build an even more impressive CLIS-community. Schools
raise money from individual alumni not because of the existence of a
small number of unknown advanced researchers (no matter how laurelled in
academia) on the faculty, but because the school (which is different
from the extraordinary talent of individual teachers) genuinely reaches
out to them as people. Closing Wasserman Library, in my personal
opinion, compromises the ability of the College to demonstrate student
presence is valued, as well as the College’s ability to find the right
balance among excellence in research, teaching, and service.

My letter and my future activism are done intended to encourage a
detailed, respectful difference of opinion. As a recent graduate, I am
intimately familiar with the treasures of the CLIS and McKeldin
community, and as SAM President I took every opportunity to showcase
those while also encouraging my classmates to work to add what they see
as improvements in student life at CLIS.

Please reverse your decision, for the sake of current and future
students, as well as for the life of the College. I am more than happy
to discuss this with you, but as my current student status does not
include any student office, I am not sure how that would be most


Kevin Stone Fries

Copies to:

Provost William Destler

Dean Charles Lowry

CLIS Alumni President M. Marie Maxwell

SAM President Megan Smith

Collegium Representatives Viva Weinraub and Rob Jensen

Numerous professional contacts who may or may not share my opinions

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bye-bye Wasserman

The university administration continues to move agressively to close the Paul Wasserman Library. Below is the text of the latest memo.

Wasserman Announcement
Charles Lowry
Thu, 07 Jul 2005 16:59:17 -0400


I am pleased to provide this initial information for CLIS and Libraries faculty and staff concerning the transfer of services and responsibilities for the Wasserman Library to the Administration of the Dean of Libraries. This is a joing announcement that is concurrently being made in CLIS. It has been arrived at after discussions between myself, Dean Preece, and the Provost. Dean Preece has consulted with her facult and staff and I with the LEC.

The first consideration of this change occurred over a year ago with a report from a committee appointed by Dean Dearstyne that recommended administrative relocation. More recently, discussions between Deans Preece and Lowry and Provost Destler have focused on achieving additional goals of centralizing library resources to provide improved services and releasing space in CLIS for research and student projects.

There are many details to be worked out in order to continue providing robust library information services to CLIS faculty and students. This will remain the primary goal of the planning and implementation process. What follows is not a plan, but the outline of the basic framework within which the planning groups will work. The key points are as follows:

* A planning group, comprising CLIS and Libraries faculty and staff,
will be put together to work out the details of the transfer of
collections from their present location in Hornbake to McKeldin
Library. Karen Patterson and Tim Hackman will be members of the
planning group and will work throughout the planning process with
Dean Preece and the CLIS faculty to be certain that the planning
process has optimal results for CLIS faculty and students.
Coincidentally, work is already underway to measure shelf
availability in McKeldin Library and this will support the work of
the planning group, which will be appointed and charged in August.
* These general guidelines will be used in planning for the merger
of collections
o Until planning is completed we will not know precisely when
the collection merger will occur. Given the challenges of
moving a collection that is equal to a full year's growth in
McKeldin’s holdings, the planning group will have to work on
at least two potential dates when such a move may
occur-January or June 2006. However, the target date will be
o Some weeding of duplicates will take place.
o Some materials will be put in off-site shelving where they
are retrievable on a 48 hour basis.
o A few materials may be kept in CLIS for purposes of instruction.
o Most of the Wasserman collection should go to McKeldin and
will be interfiled based on the LC classification scheme.
o The Children’s collection may be kept in the Dewey Decimal
Classification as a separate collection in McKeldin.
o Collection development resources provided by CLIS and UML
will be combined and over time the acquisition funds
supporting CLIS programs will grow with the aim of providing
better service to CLIS.
o The one-time cost of the move will be provided the Provost.
o There will be some funds for refurbishment in CLIS.
* Karen Patterson and Tim Hackman will be transferred to the Library
Faculty, where they will benefit from the Libraries promotion and
permanent status system. Both will remain physically located in
the Wasserman Library until the collections are merged.
* Karen's position will be assigned to the Libraries Social Sciences
Team for the specific support of CLIS students and faculty. Some
collaborative work has already occurred between Wasserman and the
Social Sciences Team. During the transition of collections and
services, Karen's time will be devoted solely to the UML support
mission for CLIS and general CLIS support.
* Tim’s assignment is not yet settled. His work responsibilities may
be distributed in several Public Services units that can provide
support to CLIS until a permanent assignment is identified. Once
Tim has a permanent assignment, his current position will be
reallocated for a different function within CLIS.

Throughout this process the aim will be to provide improved library support to CLIS by keeping the collection more up to date. Those functions which don’t transfer to McKeldin, such as overseeing technical support in classrooms, will be supported in other ways within CLIS (e.g., by newly appointed technical support staff).

In this initial memo we have focused on issues of concern to both CLIS and Library faculty and staff. Separate discussions will also be needed for each group as we move forward with the planning process.