Current Cites

November 2013

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Alison Cody, Peter Hirtle, Leo Robert Klein, Nancy Nyland, Roy Tennant

Band, Jonathan. "The Changing Textbook IndustryDisCo (Disruptive Competition) Project  (21 November 2013)( - Do you need an introduction to open textbooks, especially in light of the introduction in Congress this month of the Affordable College Textbook Act? Library lawyer extraordinaire Jonathan Band provides one in this longish blog post. The price of textbooks, he reveals, has increased more than 800% over the last 30 years. College students today each spend on average over $900 a year on textbooks. Not surprisingly, the business is very profitable, with the big 3 textbook publishers earning anywhere from 10%-25% a year in profits. But the Internet, according to Band, has enabled alternative approaches to the sale and dissemination of textbooks that threaten the traditional lucrative model. He lists a number of competing low-cost or free initiatives. Libraries may want to think about how they can assist in the identification and preservation of non-traditional textbooks. - PH

Bryan, Jacalyn E., and Elana  Karshmer. "Assessment in the One-Shot Session: Using Pre- and Post-tests to Measure Innovative Instructional Strategies among First-Year StudentsCollege & Research Libraries  74(6)(November 2013): 574-586. ( - In this article, the authors report on a study that looks at the efficacy of "nonlinguistic representations" in one-shot library instruction sessions for a course that all freshman take. Half of the sections received the standard lecture-based library session, and the other half attended a session that incorporated three nonlinguistic components: a simple active learning exercise for Boolean connectors, a physical model of the card catalog, and a visual for evaluating websites. By assigning a pre- and post-test, the authors found that students in the sessions that included these additional aids learned more than those in the standard, lecture-based instruction session. For those who want to break away from the straight lecture model, but aren't ready to dive into active learning techniques, this provides a model of exercises that are quick and easy to incorporate, and clearly have a positive impact on student success. - AC

Dahlstrom, Eden, J.D.  Walker, and Charles  Dziuban. ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013  Louisville, CO: Educause Center for Analysis and Research, September 2013.( - This tenth ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology since 2004 is about technology, but it found that, for many purposes, students prefer face-to-face interaction with their professors. One of the four primary conclusions was that students are not necessarily amenable to having their devices and social media taken over for pedagogy. "Students value their privacy, and using technology to connect with them has its limits." (p. 41) Rumors of the demise of the brick-and-mortar classroom have been greatly exaggerated. Three-quarters of undergraduates have not enrolled in a MOOC, a massive online open course, perhaps because they do not know what a MOOC is. (p. 18) But they do want "more mobile connectivity, mobile-friendly apps, and mobile-friendly websites." (p. 31) There are many interesting findings, such as what percentage of various devices are owned more frequently or less frequently by undergraduates than among the general population, and data reflecting the conflict between using personal devices in the classroom for instructional purposes, and banning them as a distraction. It is not surprising to hear that, "[f]or the third year in a row, Google was the most frequently cited online resource to go to first to learn about a new topic." (p. 29) - NN

Kendrick, Curtis, and Irene  Gashurov. "Libraries in the Time of MOOCsEDUCAUSE Review Online  (4 November 2013)( - If you are in higher education and you don't know about MOOCs you must really like it under that rock. But whether you are blinking in the sunlight for the first time, or are well versed in MOOCs and how they may be transforming higher education, this piece will likely be instructive and thought-provoking. Ranging over a wide territory that includes a brief survey of the various course providers, the authors quickly turn to some implications and opportunities for libraries. "The MOOC frontier offers new opportunities for librarians to provide leadership and guidance in advising administration, faculty, and students about changes in higher education," the authors assert, "But first, we must study and analyze the MOOCs landscape so that we can shape the conversation about MOOCs and their successors in a more purposeful and organized way." If you agree, this piece is a credible place to begin your study. - RT

Khurshid, Zahiruddin. "Non-librarians As Managers : The Case of State University Libraries in Saudi ArabiaIFLA Journal  39(3)(October 2013): 214-220. ( - Impassioned argument on the perils of appointing non-librarians to head up academic libraries in Saudi Arabia. The author, now apparently living in Texas, is clearly speaking from first-hand experience. Half the deans at public university libraries in Saudi Arabia, he tells us, are 'non-librarians'. This is not a good thing and he attributes it to a lack of graduates with PhD's in library science. What's the solution? Why, send more people to library schools in North America or Europe. Enough with non-professionals running academic libraries, he declares. "It is like appointing a political science graduate as petroleum engineer." And in Saudi Arabia, they know their petroleum engineers. - LRK

Redwine, Gabriela, Megan  Barnard, and Kate  Donovan, et. al.Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories  Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, October 2013.( - Contributing a large set of digital materials to a library or archives still feels like an unnatural act. This useful introduction to the process from a group of international experts on born digital cultural resources goes far in removing much of the mystery. I was struck by how many of the acquisition functions associated with analog material still apply in the born digital realm, albeit with special handling techniques required because of the digital nature of the material. I wish there had been more attention paid to the role for dealers and the monetary value they may wish to assign to born digital materials. How do you evaluate the market for files that can be perfectly replicated and distributed? Perhaps the price of born digital materials offered by dealers will be based on the services that the dealers offer in processing and transferring digital files and not on the value of the content contained in them. Nevertheless, this is an essential manual for anyone beginning to acquire and manage born digital materials. - PH

Ruschoff, Carlen. "Reality Check: A New Framework for Technical Services: Interview With New York University's Carol A. Mandel and Martin Kurth."  Technicalities  33(5)(September/October 2013) - In an increasingly digital age, libraries have struggled to manage change largely within existing organizational constructs. In this first of two parts, Ruschoff interviews Dean Carol A. Mandel and Martin Kurth of the NYU Libraries about their recent major reorganization of technical services to address the challenges and opportunities presented by this changing environment. While it is unlikely that one model will work for all, it can be instructive to hear about what they did and how they did it. As a teaser, one strategy Dean Mandel used was to keep some open positions on ice until a new director could be hired (Kurth) to allow the new leader flexibility in bringing on the staff he needed to make the changes required to make the plan a reality. Recommended for any library (particularly large research libraries) considering reorganizing technical services. - RT