Showing posts from February, 2008

Badass Librarian, At Your Service

Today I taught a mixed-bag class of repeat English class offenders. And I had the most fabulous time teaching them how to evaluate information sources, break their topics into keywords, and e-mail themselves their articles - complete with MLA-style citation - to their Gmail accounts (because we all know that our university e-mail is not to be trusted). The usual fare, but I made it extremely informal - they'd already been through the library session once, the last time they took the class.
Among others, one topic that came up when discussing the importance of scholarly articles' bibliographies included: the G-Spot and recent reports that some women don't have it. (comment from student: "Aw, hell no, I'd want to see that bitch's citation for sure! You can't go sayin' that with no data.")
These are the days when I love my frickin' job.
Now I am left to wonder it means, that I am apparently in tune with the academically challenged demographic, and t…

Down and Dirty: Plagiarism

Let's talk about plagiarism, folks. It's a topic that seems to be all the rage lately, both in politics and in academia, and it's one that dearly needs to be addressed.
CNN has the latest on a Columbia professor who has been caught plagiarizing. That's right, plagiarizing, the bugaboo of librarians and professors everywhere who are attempting to educate students on the proper way to give credit to others for their hard work and original ideas. The law firm report states that "in two dozen cases, Constantine's published works contained language similar to passages in papers written by others, including a former teacher at the school and two of Constantine's former students." (See how I did that, made a note of the article, linked to it, and stuck quotes around the phrase I took that someone else wrote? Yes, we'll come back to that.) So, not only is she stealing from her colleagues, she's also cherry-picking from her (likely) best and brightest…

The Much-Exaggerated Death of the Liberal Arts

Today, an article at attempts to address the death of liberal arts in the American higher education system.
I call shenanegans.
Proportionately, liberal arts colleges graduate more students who attend graduate school, receive higher degrees, and become part of a skilled labor force as doctors, lawyers, PhDs, and various other professions. The universities churning out "vocational" students, as referred to in the article, are doing a poorer job at this.
Small liberal arts schools have far better records of alumni giving. They are also less beholden to state funds, and so don’t suffer nearly as much in quality when the state slices the budget. For instance, Centre and Transy will be less devastated than UK by the Kentucky governor's plan to make a 12% across the board budget cut to institutions of higher ed.
Of course fewer people know what liberal arts means — the larger universities are churning out diplomas to people who can barely read. (Heard more tha…

Universities, McDonald's, and Suck-It-Up-Atine nutrition

A university is not McDonald's.
I should clarify that.
Some of you will think that's a ridiculous statement. Of course we're not McDonald's. We are, indeed, in the business of training people to be on the other side of the counter than the one they might occupy without the university in their lives. McDonald's is an un-nutritious, quick-fix, fast-stop solution bound to lead to obesity, heart disease, and intestinal distress.
Some others are likely saying that the university is indeed like McDonald's. Our kids drive through, pick a major from our menu, and try to get in and out as quickly as possible without laying out much effort (or cash) for something that is "good enough." understandably, most want a college education because of the career paths it opens, and that's a fine enough reason.
Both camps have a point. I'd like to make mine: administrators and educators who encourage this fast-food approach in the name of "incorporating business …

A Note to Teaching Faculty

I work for a living, just like you do. Not exactly like you do, since I don't have the venerable onus of grading 300 terribly written exams on ancient history, but I promise I'm busy. I'm busy making sure you have the resources you need, and checking for the software programs your students need when you tell them to come to the library and use Photoshop (better check with us before assigning that, plz). I am planning lessons to teach your classes how to do actual research, since you feel they already know what they need to and don't much care how they get the right information so long as it's valid. I am reviewing books, reading reviews and making purchases for your curriculum, attending department committee meetings, attend university committee meetings, and serve on the faculty senate. I am informing you about database trials, trying to wrangle an invitation to your department meetings to keep you updated, attending job candidate talks all over campus (because ev…