Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Now that we have some information about the Town Hall meetings, and after our meetings, I thought a short post to refocus the conversation might not be bad.

Now that we know that reconfiguration really does mean close, that moving materials out of the space has already begun, and that University administrators have no intention of changing their minds in giving their plans a more collaborative and compromise-driven shape, and there is not interest in any sector of the student or alumni community to bring to bear the elements on and off campus (for better or worse, the community made this decision collectively, at times intentionally, at time s not) to try to convince University administrators differently - where do we go from here?

We continue, it seems, to participate in a system in a way that will discourage these kinds of unilateral working methods in the future.

On-going needs present in the Old Wasserman or the New Wasserman Regime include:

1. the better public and for-student collaboration of the different niches or communities within the College (so archivists know what school librarianship is, and that administrators, staff, faculty, Ph.D. students, and MIM, and MLS folk really do know what the other does on a day to day basis so no one can say "What's that about anyway?") The dean needs to incentivize and support this by integrating teaching and research methods. What ever happened to those evaluations of core courses? Was any report ever made public on that? The management course was re-evaluated, but I never saw narrative explaining that or other things....my hunch is that this Wasserman decision was reached because no concensus exists in places where it would be useful.

2. We need to increase the channels of communication to targeted partners by being articluate advocates and marketers of ourselves off campus. Students should have a role in this to encourage the competing interests of the College to find common ground. This should not simply be a MIM or an HCIL duty. CLIS may have let itself become too self-interested.

3. We need to create opportunities for professional and community development in student and professional organizations hosted at CLIS, and we need to participate in the collaboration opportunities when the administration chooses to offer them (Tech committees, Collegium representatives, Wasserman transition committees). Speak up loadly and often. Archivists need to fund the creation of another full-time faculty member, for example. I'm sure other groups have similar interests.

Indeed, many of these goals are achievable in multiple ways and the destruction of the much-loved and possibility-rich public space of the Paul Wasserman Library does not preclude the achievement of these goals, but its destruction certainly shapes the diffusion of their achievement and perhaps even frames them in the Internet browsers of everyone's PCs (hence my attempt to include I-schools/distance ed in the discussion), even if we live in a world where browsers present rose colored and non-portable/tranferable views of reality--they are easier to control in other ways.

I hope to see you at the Town Hall meetings.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Date for Town Hall Meeting

This was part of a larger email message from Dean Preece posted at the end of the day yesterday:

Mon., Sept. 12, 4.30–5.30 p.m. Townhall Meeting for CLIS
students with
Deans Preece and Lowry in the CLIS Commons, 4114 Hornbake,
South Wing.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

September I-Schools Conference

Penn State is hosting an I-School Conference
September 28-30, 2005

From the Web Site
This conference is the first of an annual celebration of our field — its accomplishments, its potential, and its challenges. It brings together administrators, faculty members, and graduate students to share our best practices of research, education, and i-school life. It is an ongoing effort to build our sense of community, purpose, partnership, and identify as well as to foster an understanding of the grand challenges we attack (and the contributions we make) as a result of our inter- and multi-disciplinary perspectives.


I-School Links

The School for Information Studies at Syracuse University

University of Michigan School of Information

School of Information Sciences and Technology

Friday, August 19, 2005

Date for Pre-Town-Hall Wasserman Meeting

A small group of us will be meeting to discuss Wasserman (before the Town Hall) at 8pm this Tuesday, August 23rd. We will meet at a private home, very near UMD campus. If you are interested in joining us, let Mara or Kevin know, and we will give you directions.

Aside from that, please DO attend the Town Hall meeting (once it is announced), and bring friends! It will be important to show our interest there, simply by being present. And the greater our presence, the greater the statement we will make.

Mara and Kevin

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Pre-Town-Hall Meeting on Wasserman

Dear fellow CLIS’ers, both current and past –

Several of us have been discussing Wasserman’s move/closure, both online and off, and that has been a fabulous testimony to our concern about the issue. Twenty-six different individuals have posted to the CLISlist alone, and numerous others have entered their opinions in the Wasserman blog. We have not been silent!

Kevin Fries and I (CLIS 2005) have been brainstorming this a bit, and we thought it might be helpful for folks to come together and solidify their thoughts before the Town Hall meetings with Dean Preece. The Town Hall might be our only chance to speak directly to her, and a prior face-to-face discussion might help us come up with better ideas or solutions to the problem. Plus a prior discussion might lead us to present a more solid and professional front – one the administration might respect more, and dismiss less lightly.

The issues that we think are worth discussing beforehand are:

Wasserman Issue

• If we believe that the administration is UNLIKELY to reverse this decision:
o What our best response is.
o What important/irreplaceable Wasserman services we would like to see preserved in the new space.
o What new services/uses we think should be provided by the new space.
o How our suggestions would further the mission of CLIS as we know it, and as the administration appears to see it in the future.
o How we would suggest that the “success” of Wasserman’s replacement be evaluated.
o How we can best have a voice in the reconfiguration of the space.

• If we believe that the administration MIGHT reverse this decision:
o How best to present our grassroots movement, so that we have sufficient influence in the issue.
o Whether there are other areas of influence that could be leveraged.
o How to leverage those other areas of power.
o What the best arguments are for keeping Wasserman.

Involvement in Decisions Issue

o Whether we want to be more involved/consulted in future decisions affecting CLIS.
o How we can be constructively involved.

Our question to you is: would you be interested in gathering before the Town Hall meeting? If so, which day/time would you prefer?

Sunday, August 21st, 6pm
Sunday, August 21st, 8pm

Tuesday, August 23rd, 6pm
Tuesday, August 23rd, 8pm

Please let Mara know at by using the hotlink here or by writing to mdhemmi@umd.edu by 5pm Wednesday, August 17th, if you are able to attend.

Mara Hemminger and Kevin Fries
CLIS, 2005

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Libraries and Archives: Complex Temples of Ideology

In the last two days, we have seen stories that show how important libraries and archives are to maintaining mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual landscapes - sites of intersection for powerful ideologies and cultural traditions.

The 9/11 Archives and the Counter-Clinton Library news stories are conflict-ridden examples of this political nature of building and/or maintaining respositories.

Vast Archive Yields New View of 9/11

This article was reported by Jim Dwyer, Kevin Flynn and Ian Urbina and written by Mr. Dwyer.

Faced with a court order and unyielding demands from the families of victims, the city of New York yesterday opened part of its archive of records from Sept. 11, releasing a digital avalanche of oral histories, dispatchers' tapes and phone logs so vast that they took up 23 compact discs.

And then....

Counter - Clinton Library Group Folds

Published: August 13, 2005

Filed at 5:18 a.m. ET

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A group that had hoped to build two museums to rebut the displays at the Clinton Presidential Library is folding.

''I'm giving up,'' said Houston businessman Richard Erickson, who established nonprofit Counterlibe Inc. last year to fund construction of a Counter Clinton Library in Little Rock and another in Washington.

Erickson said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he had been naive about fundraising procedures. He said the project's Web site also would be shut down soon.

In a separate e-mail Wednesday, Erickson informed one of his key supporters, former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., that he couldn't raise enough money to continue.

''Nearly every dime raised has gone to professional fundraisers and lawyers,'' he said.

Erickson partnered with former U.S. Rep. John LeBoutillier of New York to start planning the response library idea three years ago.

Skip Rutherford, president of the foundation that built the $165 million presidential library in Little Rock, said he was ''not surprised'' by Erickson's announcement but declined to comment further.

The closing of any library, including PWL, changes the channels of communication, thought, and availability of free and open information. Perhaps PWL was not the best temple to the M.L.S.-world it could have been, but "office space" is in its very structure going to produce different results that I hope will be as carefully watched and scrutinized as PWLs use statistics, budgets, and other monitoring devices.

Wasserman statistics were once posted outside on a bulletin board. Will the same transparency be available when the competition of researchers plays a new role in the justification for space? Will students benefit equally? These are each questions that could contribute to a substantive, educational, team-building dialogue.

Friday, August 05, 2005

GO to the Town Hall Meetings - Alumni Meeting Recap

I am very proud of Marie and Glenn, and Vicky, and Bill and others who have kept this CLIS alumni group together for so long (http://www.clis.umd.edu/alumni/index.html). At this week's meeting, they did all they could to support their colleagues and CLIS students earnestly working to make a better world for archives and library professionals in Maryland --all in an environment that is very very challenging, where communication and problem solving tools and practices are less than ideal from all perspectives.

It was a very instructive for me, someone who's trying to be as practical in life as I am curious in my dreams. Perhaps CLIS' mission and future will be taken up and helpfully separated from this unfortunate turn of events (by that I mean this Wasserman flap) and a productive public dialogue will result and include a larger group of people.

We need people to attend the town hall meetings about Wasserman, even if attendees don't say a word. The presence of people will speak all that needs to be said. Go, even if you think the Wasserman issue is closed. It may indeed be, but it's linked to questions that will never be "solved". CLIS is going to need a lot of help if it's going to improve. It's administration has chosen not to improve just the library but the whole mission of the school it seems, as I understand what's being offered instead (in its place) and what is really behind this "money generating research." That's a tall order for CLIS. Improving Wasserman would've been easier, I would think.

Anyway. Some thoughts of my own as a result of the meeting:
Archives, library, and information professionals at CLIS (and beyond) would love to know:

  • what about the profession would move you to participate in addressing the challenges we face in a University-based community of alumni? As a student group leader, as one involved in regional archives issues, I am very interested in how to make a more dynamic community (not that what's now is bad)
  • how to produce more rigourous dialogue reflected in our regional and national professional literature, oral debate of the culture of information and the challenges the new Internet-driven flexibility creates (other professions have ways of dealing with the apparent unique and precious nature of each task)
  • when will we collectively end the culture of oppression at CLIS and beyond that drives us to say, "I and other librarians and archivists can't raise money", "I can't negotiate for a higher salary," "I can't make informed contributions to the profession," "I'm just an alumnus," "I'm just a student." While UMCP will never be a small private, some communities actually "value" the alumni over the current students when it comes to building community and connections to industry (two issues I link to Wasserman, though perhaps I'm alone in that)
  • how do we rethink the financial infrastructure of the information profession? The periodicals question is a great example in the library community, and the archives world has its own challenges. The business model of information is imploding, and we need to know how that's going to leave us when the dust settles (15 years from now...)

Ok, these are multiple and murky questions. If not in the Wasserman debate, then perhaps in other fora CLIS can support a community of professionals who will lead these answers not accept the closure of library after library.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

i-schools are....

I sent the following email this morning. It's my hope that the CLIS administration truly engages the CLIS community's questions. For the town hall meetings to be most productive, I think some prepatory dialogue makes sense--and a definition for i-schools would seem to be an important part of the explanation of what we're supposedly gaining in the "reconfiguration" of PWL.

Dear Jenny:

I may be jumping the gun here, but I wondered if you or Diane were planning on responding to Lynne's question on the CLIS List about i-schools? I found Diane's jumping in about the accreditation question very helpful and was hoping administration would take this chance to perhaps share a little more of its thinking with the broader community, help students get a better handle on the trends in education, and perhaps even continue a fertile dialogue regarding CLIS's mission, though I realize a response that would include efforts at all of those objectives may not be best for the list all at once.

It's my hope that all the issues surrounding the PWL closure will produce better community interaction than exists, and this seems to be a great chance to keep the dialogue educational and professional.

Kevin Fries

Monday, August 01, 2005

Responses Still Coming In

Believe it or not, alumni are still writing me about the PWL closure - and I think that's great. I'm still going through some of their letters. Even so, we still have not reached a blog-driven discussion about broader(and in my mind related) community questions that the PWL closure raises. Perhaps it's best to leave those for in-person meetings with alumni officers, but I also think blogs can be a place to experiement with ideas.

Lynne M.'s question last night to the CLIS list asking about what the i-school movement is, is a great start. I hope the CLIS administration takes the opportunity today, tomorrow, soon, to answer that question, not only about what the different parts of the i-school movement are, but also how it relates short- and long-term to CLIS' mission.

Best to Lynne for "taking the bait," as she writes, and asking.