The Dewey, Dewey fog
Doreen Tomelty, our Deputy Director of Advanced Technological Retrieval Systems (formerly Assistant Librarian), has objected “in the strongest possible terms” to the idea that university librarians are no longer available to provide rapid and effective answers to readers’ queries.
Although she recognised that this complaint, made by G. R. Evans in a letter to Times Higher Education, had referred explicitly to the University of Oxford libraries, she vigorously resented any idea that this criticism might apply to the library services presently on offer at Poppleton.
Ms Tomelty told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that “only the other day” she had been distracted from her computer by an undergraduate who had asked her where he might find “a good book on the Russian Revolution”. She’d instantly referred the student to Ms Trimbling, the library’s newly appointed Document Delivery Liaison Coordinator, who was a specialist in user-focused service delivery and collaborative metadata management.
This expertise immediately allowed Ms Trimbling to introduce the student in question to the library’s intuitive graphical user interface, with its unique capacity for leveraging the expertise of the networked scholarly community.
Ms Tomelty described Keith Ponting’s suggestion that matters might have been even further expedited if a librarian had directed the student to the appropriate shelf as “deeply flawed”.
Not only was the material word “shelf” now anachronistic in an age committed to a cloud-based infrastructure, but there were also serious concerns about the continued use of the term “librarian”, with what Ms Tomelty described as “its unfortunate historical connotations of reader services”.
Always look on the bright side
“I’m very much afraid that this account totally fails to do justice to the very positive aspects of graduates undertaking teaching duties.”
That was how Professor Gordon Lapping of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies responded to the anonymous temporary lecturer who claimed in Times Higher Education that “undergraduates are [now] taught by reserve troops of impoverished graduates” who “may not have experience in the courses they teach”.
Lapping pointed out that the writer of these words had completely failed to appreciate the “positive collaborative ethos” that was engendered by this state of affairs. In his experience, students who were taught by poorly dressed, malnourished, deeply impoverished graduates who knew little or nothing about the subject under discussion felt “positively empowered” compared with the bad old hierarchical days before the research excellence framework, when they were taught by know-it-all people with such grand titles as “Lecturer” or “Reader” or “Professor”.
Lapping did, however, agree that his views on the value of temporary, underpaid, underqualified graduate teaching were not based on direct evidence, as “what with one thing and another” it was some considerable time since he had “had the pleasure” of actually meeting an undergraduate.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Following the news from an Oxford psychologist that having a regular gossip will do more to ensure a long life than dieting or exercising, we are now initiating a weekly gossiping session in the Development Suite.
Apply for a place in the usual manner, marking your application “Vice-Chancellor’s floozy”.