The Staff Book Club joins the digital age!!!

Posted on behalf of Cheryl Colson.

Coma The Staff Book Club joins the digital age!!!

At one time or another we have all found ourselves reading a review on Facebook, Amazon or Twitter. So to keep up with the trend the staff book club will be posting reviews via a social media network better known as blogging.

Want to blog about your favorite book?
Want to submit a movie review?
Want to read the book of the month?

How about sharing your comments on a book or movie review?
Check out the review for October’s book selection, Notes on a Coma by Mike McCormack.

We want to hear from you, so visit us at the Staff Recommends blog.

Happy posting!


You’ve Been Served

Nope, not that world-renowned SMCM Library service.  I mean the legal kind.

What would happen if didn’t think that our service, or anything about us, was that great?  And what if you posted in your blog that you thought the SMCM Library sucked because we had hardly any books, or you didn’t like the candy choices. I’m not sure there would be much we could do about it.  We might not like it, but you have a right to your opinion.

But take the situation of Dale Askey, Associate University Librarian at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.  In 2010, when he was a librarian at Kansas State University, Askey wrote a blog post that criticized Edwin Mellen Press, a publisher of scholarly books which it sells to libraries.  He did not say they sucked.  But he did write some things about their prices and the types of books they publish, and he offered his professional opinion about the value of books from this publisher compared with others.

You can’t find the blog post very easily any more.  Can you guess why?  Because Edwin Mellen Press is suing Askey for more than $1 million in damages, and suing Askey and his current university for $3.5 million for libel and damages.

Exactly what is libel?  Libel is a method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures, signs, effigies, or any communication embodied in physical form that is injurious to a person’s reputation, exposes a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or injures a person in his/her business or profession.

So – if you buy a product or services from a company and you aren’t happy with them, AND your write a blog post telling people why you think that company’s products are substandard (and you use some data, not just a rant), can you get sued?  Maybe.  Is that fair?  What about your right to free speech?

What is likely to happen in this case?  Mellen lost a similar case in 1993.  This one will be argued in a Canadian court.  Librarians, publishers, and universities will be watching carefully.  And even if Mellen loses librarians and authors may be more reluctant in the future to express their views (lawsuits are really expensive even if you win).

Do you express your views and ideas on a blog?  Could your words drive someone to sue you?  Would that stop you?  Think about it.  And if you’d like to read Dale Askey’s original blog post, here it is (and if you don’t know about the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine, check it out).

Blog Post

Is Anybody Out There?

With props to Pink Floyd , we want to know . . . is anyone out there? Is anyone out there? We tried a blog a few years ago and quickly discovered that no one was reading it. So we abandoned it. The work on our new website got us thinking more about how to connect with our students, our faculty, and even with librarians at other colleges and universities. And that brought us to “Beyond the Bookshelves.”

Most of us are reading blogs these days. Lots of blogs. Thanks to Google Reader following blogs is easy.  So we decided to go for it and try again. This fall there has been a lot to write about.  The new library website, digital access to The Point News, Kindles, chat reference, and so much more. But is a library blog just for announcements?

I have questions, and ideas, and opinions (lots of opinions) about what is happening to libraries and all of us who love them and use them.  Why does the full-text of journal articles seem to appear and disappear from those databases we all love?  What is the future of printed anything?  The online version of a journal often costs as much (or sometimes more) than the printed version – what’s up with that?  And why isn’t this stuff all free anyway?

These are the questions that keep me up at night – that and whether the NY Mets will ever get their act together.

Is anybody out there? Give us a sign.  Leave a comment, start a conversation, ask questions. If you have an idea for a blog post, let us know. If you have been reading but not commenting, let us know.

I’m not above offering a shameless promotion. The first student to email me, call me (x4267), or come by my office
(LI 236) to tell me you have read this blog post gets the beverage of their choice at the Grind.  This offer expires on Monday, September 24, 2012.

Don’t turn us into another brick in the wall.