Rory Litwin responds to LISNews criticism

Litwin has written a long essay in the latest issue of Library Juice, intended to more clearly explain his perspective. He has some valid criticisms of the LISNews community's response to his earlier critiques that are well worth reading.


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Re:Womens & ethnic studies

Lots of people disagree with me. You should all get together and have a luncheon or something.

To respond a bit to Blake's post as well. I don't think there is anything wrong with a good liberal arts degree, and Womens and ethnic studies are probably good liberal arts degrees, but they really don't prepare one for anything other than graduate study, or things that don't require a degree.

One of the links Blake posted had a list of professions for women's studies majors:
self employed artist
small-business owner
sheet metal apprentice
Things like this require no degree, not that a degree couldn't help but perhaps a degree in art, or creative writing, accounting or engineering would have better served these women's studies grads.

Certified Nurse Midwife, Chiroprator, family practice medicine, Social worker, are othe professions listed. A degree in womens studies most certainly does not qualify anyone for any of those professions, graduate study does.

I think students would be better served by an English degree, or Chemistry, Biology, or Spanish- things for which I see ads.

If someone found that their degree in what I call 'feel good' majors worthwhile for them then that is fantastic. Really I mean that, I hope everyone finds the career they want, and I certainly would not discourage a student from studying what they wished (unless asked my opinion or if it were one of my relatives -they get my opinions w/o asking).

So tangognat, if Womens studies worked for you, thats great. I think they are simply feel good majors, but I have been wrong before- Next week's Chronicle may be full of openings for Womens studies grads.

No Students of History

About this "anonymous" business.

tomeboy gently suggests that Kathleen de la Pena McCook and Rory Litwin revisit the documents that gave birth to our nation and from which our Constitution is based. The Federalist Papers.

If anonymity was good enough for Hamilton, Madison and Jay, then it is certainly good enough for a bunch of book minders with web access.


Re:Womens & ethnic studies

I wish we could link to articles in Chronicle of Higher Education here, but we cannot. I do not have access too readily to any print copies, but I recall within the past few weeks an opinion piece relative to one of the few NPR shows I enjoy CarTalk. The point made in the piece was that although Tom & Ray Magliozzi bash liberal arts left and right they both are key role models for the idea of transferable skills. As one of the two brothers holds a PhD from MIT in Business, I think they do act as living examples. The hiring field in librarianship is not all that great right now either. Even though I will hopefully finish up in August with an ALA-accredited master's degree in library science, I am also looking into other things. Since I have also had occasion to preach from the pulpit, I have looked into Christian Education jobs, especially in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Although those jobs focus mostly on running Sunday School and handling other aspects, there can also be a library attached to the job that you have to take care of as well. In research for a position I am going into interview concerning I have found how cataloging and reference skills are actually things that would be assets in such a job. Transferable skills are a survival method of hunting down jobs in this economy, whether in the liberal arts or otherwise. Folks in "Library School" with me have degrees in religion, theology/greek, music, business administration, education (all sorts of levels), biology with geology minor, and electronic engineering technology. The job market is rough overall.

Ads for English majors?

Where? That's the classic useless undergrad degree. (Well, next to my undergrad, anthropology.) Why do you think so many people have to go to library school?

I've advised several young people to get an undergrad in whatever pleases them, without worrying about marketability. A young man I've been mentoring for a couple years just graduated with a B.S. in computer science, having signed on 4 years ago during the big dot com boom. Now he's bummed out he didn't take something with a bit more breadth. Solid liberal arts programs are probably the safest bet for anyone who isn't set on engineering, agriculture or hard or applied science. Women's and ethnic studies, are just multidisciplinary humanities-based programs. I can't imagine that they are any less practical than say, non-teaching degrees in history, English, studio art or cultural anthropology.

But what I'd really like is a bit more clarification on what a "feel good" major is. Seems like that would be a bonus!

Re:No Students of History

I did my undergraduate degree in history, focusing on the colonial era. I also had 18 hours of religion coursework that I took as part of my BA (I went to a church-related institution). The attributions of the Federalist Papers were done for a specific reason in a specific place at a specific time. Whether that reasoning applies now is something that will be judged in history to be written well to the future of where we stand right now.

no women's studies major for me!

I was an English major, and I minored in Japanese. I just appreciated a Women's studies perspective in a couple of my English classes (crosslisted in both departments), so because of that experience I'm not inclined to think that as a major women's studies is a feel good degree.

I don't think I'd have wanted to major in Women's Studies, I had too much fun reading weird gothic novels and Henry Fielding.

Re:Reply to two comments of Rorys in his new artic

This is how I have considered these in moderation:

Normal: It is what it is
Off-Topic: Talking about one's gerbil's medical problems in the middle of a thread earnestly discussing the joys of cataloging MP3 files and the concerns the current state of Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules 2 Revised 2003 and the relevant Library of Congress Rules Interpretations present
Flamebait: Deliberately and maliciously trying to get a fight started
Troll: Lurking just to maliciously cause trouble
Redundant: It is what it is
Insightful: The post sparks sober reflection or presents a different view that I had not considered prior
Interesting: The post keeps the discussion going and adds points to keep the discussion live
Informative: The post would have been moderated "Interesting" but it also has links to supporting material and perhaps thick description of points of discussion
Funny: It is what it is
Overrated: Seeing a post already moderated and disagreeing with that moderation
Underrated: Seeing a post already moderated and disagreeing with that moderation. This is used when I see somebody got "Troll" and I disagree A moderator only gets to moderate a comment once. There are some comments I have seen that should have had a level 4 to be in the foreground. Alas the comment might have been anywhere from 0-2 and I would have had but one point to give. It happens. A change to one's settings if one is logged in can allow one to see all posts if thresholds are lowered. Moderation focuses on building up, not tearing apart.

Re:No Students of History

I too have an undergraduate degree in history, and economics for that matter. As the adage goes, this and 50 cents will buy you .....

Anonymity affords freedom of expression. Simple stuff. You may remember that Governor Clinton (no not William J), but the other guy from New York who disliked the idea of a constitution wrote under the pseudonym of Cato. Hamilton responded to Clinton's attack first as Caesar and the rest is history (no pun intended). Again, freedom of expression.

I say nothing has changed between those early years of our nation and our key thumping here today at LISNews. Kathleen de la Pena McCook, Rory Litwin and all freedom loving folks should embrace this option to conceal an identity. Not lament it.

Re:Ads for English majors?

A young man I've been mentoring for a couple years just graduated with a B.S. in computer science, having signed on 4 years ago during the big dot com boom. Now he's bummed out he didn't take something with a bit more breadth. I must admit that I started out working towards the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Just as it was starting to no longer be "fun" but rather a pain, I switched over to history and took religion classes (Old and New Testament surveys as well as a textual class on Acts as well as church history classes and a sociology of christianity class). Looking back, I am kinda glad I got out of computer science when I did before the bottom fell out. I can still use such knowledge in library science (which is why I think I gravitate towards cataloging) and it allows for increased ease in handling things other colleagues might have trouble with.

Re:No Students of History

I will clarify what I meant. I meant that we do not necessarily have the final say on how this will all be judged eventually. Future editions of Foundations of Library and Information Science by Dr. Richard Rubin or any eventual succesor as well as other texts will judge this debate. Foundations already offers some historical judgments as to values issues that occured historically in the profession as it is. Even The Federalist Papers still are subject to new discussion and analysis being over 200 years removed, it should be remembered...

Re:FSU is a OK university.

Dr McCook,

I don't think I made comments about FSU or said that you went there (if I did it was a typo FSU vs. USF error). My post related to USF. I know you teach there, and I received my first undergrad degree from there. I did go to FSU for another undergrad degree and my MLIS is from FSU.

I don't think my reply was an attack on anyone personally, either yourself or anyone at the university. I would love to attend a university where there were not accused terrorists and sex offenders on staff, I'm not sure that academic Utopia exists. However the lack of a unified front against the acts with which these people were charged, not necessarily the people themselves, was not forthcoming from the university. In fact the divisiveness of the university and faculty regarding the Al-Arian case troubles me.

I do think the liberal climate on colleges (an by extension in academic libraries) is leading to a decline in the quality of graduates produced. I don't care if students graduates as liberals or conservatives politically, but they need to be able to find jobs, and be productive members of society.

I don't hate civil liberties, in fact I am quite the fan of them but civil liberties are trumped by human rights. Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of freedom, but to not be murdered, starved, or beaten are so much more important. Only when our human rights have been guaranteed can our civil rights be exercised.

Prim sense of rectitude, now that part of your response has made me think more than any other. You're probably correct about that, my moral compass offers little margin for error. I always looked at that as a good thing, perhaps it could use a little flexibility. Irish Catholicism does tend to make me see things in black and white.

Oh no,

I think I inadvertently changed the course of this thread. Can we please go back to mudslinging about one another's political leanings.

Re:My take on this

I made some thoughtful criticisms of this website that were based on established perspectives that I am surprised to find that NO commenters on this site seem to share with me.You are claiming that the responses to my arguments were intellectual, but I did not find any responses that actually dealt with my arguments as I expressed them. Even the most articulate posters focused on tearing me down and attacking my personal character. Disagree with me if you want - I welcome it - but please address my arguments.It has been pointed out that I originally called Blake "batty" and started the whole problem with that. This ignores the fact that when I came here and laid out my arguments I acknowledged that I shouldn't have used that sort of a tone in making my criticisms (and you have to admit, it was very mild compared to the invective of the people who responded the loudest).From my perspective, devoted users of this site are so emotionally attached to it that they can't respond to criticism rationally, and the less devoted don't care enough to respond at all.Rory Litwin

Re:No Students of History

Ashtabula - respectfully, and I do mean respectfully, any future judgements given by Dr. Rubin are worth no more than your thoughts now. And mine.

I believe you said somewhere you are conservative? I too am guilty of this ideology.

Rather than deferring to someone who is considered an expert, one I don't even happen to know (sorry if I should) can't we observe the moment we are both in and judge its worthiness now? Two conservative librarians, chatting under pseudonyms, who otherwise would never have likely crossed paths. (At least not mine without my "tomeboy" handle here)

Just look at this place, LISNews. Should we wait for Dr. Rubin to tell us if this forum works? Of course it works. Here and now. Make sense?

As for the Federalist Papers. Yes they are still discussed and always will be. But their role is indisputable.

Re:not anon, really.

If you only use a nickname, you are anonymous in terms of the real world and are identifiable only in terms of "cyberspace." That may be good enough for you, but for me the web is an adjuct to the real world and not a world of its own. Maybe I want to know who somebody is if I run into them at a conference? It might not matter to you, but I regard it as a feature of reality that's important.If I don't know what a person's place is in the real world when they address me - where they are geographically, what kind of a job they have, what their associations are in the real world and where they are coming from - then what they say is really next to meaningless.Rory Litwin

Re:No Students of History

Points well taken and accepted. I dug through too much literature in the past months that I sometimes forget that not everybody knows who is the Director of Kent State University's School of Library and Information Science (which is where I am not a student at all, I must note). I just have read quite a bit of his work in addition to those of his colleagues (i.e. Dr. Greg Byerly, Dr. Mary Stansbury, Dr. Jason Holmes, and others) through all the research I have had to do as of late. There is one key thing that I note that runs in parallel between this thread and Federalist. Diversity of thought is being recognized as being existing and both sides are duking it out (which happened at the time of Federalist too). I enjoy days when frankly some evidence is being collected on the web for folks like John Derbyshire and Jonah Goldberg to see that shows that "librarians" are not some monolithic social entity that marches in lock step with a single view on issues. We have a wide diversity of views on issues. It just seems so much like we do not want to admit it. Of course, nobody likes to admit that there were some wide-ranging views held upon the US Constitution when it was adopted. Most public school textbooks paint such proceedings as being quite easy for all involved. Reading transcripts of ratification debates shows how sharply divided folks were then. Federalist helped articulate the views of both sides. Considering things now, can it be said just as much that librarians can be as sharply divided now? Michael Gorman's recent speech to the Association for Library and Information Science Education shows that diversity of thought that exists currently quite nicely, I think.

Re:My take on this

From my perspective, devoted users of this site are so emotionally attached to it that they can't respond to criticism rationally, [...]

Look, Litwin, we are not operating in a vacuum, here. You keep bitching about us but you never stop to consider your own contributions. From the perspective of most LISNewsterz, you are so antipathetic to LISNews that you cannot criticize it rationally. From my point of view, your criticisms and "conclusions" about this site and its members stem from a fundamental lack of understanding about the issues upon which you pontificate, and furthermore, you are driven by a double standard morality.

You can't say anything to support your position, but you won't stop dropping into this board you villify so cavalierly, you continue to spout nonsense, then you don't understand why we don't kiss your ass in worshipful ecstasy. Pfah!

Here's another clue: We have not been attacking you to any greater degree than you have been attacking us and LISNews. It's simply that you are outnumbered. Seems to me that point alone should refute your asinine contention that LISNews is top heavy with conservatives, but you've written your "criticisms" in such a sloppy and cack-handed fashion that you've even managed to piss off some of them.

Kindly do us all a favour: Get an account or fuck off.

rest my case

Let's have besmirched the reputation of people, maligned universities, made fun of students and graduates, derided courses of study that are innovative and examine issues of sexism and racism. SO, now you say.."oops, never mind" after the bile has been spilled.
I don't expect you would ever acknowledge this sort of clumsy rhetorical tactic...but it is old, familiar and it doesn't work.

Re:Politics ain't beanbag

The whole quote was:

"I am a conservative and I am dealing with the issues that are important to me and my profession. If you don't like the topics I'm bringing up, or for that matter can't offer a legitimate argument against them, too bad. You're in SHUSH country now."

Though its nice to know you're reading recent posts. :) The main point of that arguement was my site was not created for their agenda. I think I made a pretty decent response to his orginal query.

A couple points -

1. Childish? yeah sometimes. You'd better learn to relax and enjoy some of this otherwise its going to become very bitter very quickly. Look at all the posts created by just these couple of Litwin postings. This is serious stuff, but you have to have a little fun with it too.

2. Links and research and such - when necessary I do link but the posting is about what I believe not what great philosopher I can get the best quotes from. I prefer to get to the point. If you think I'm not making sense call me on it but most complaints I've gotten so far are about content, not quality. I take that as a good sign.

3.I don't have all the time in the world. The goal is not just the posting. The goal is to gradually start a conservative movement in the library world to try and balance what has been happening to ALA and libraries in general. To that end its necessary to be very vocal and very active. Its not just about making arguments but actual recruitment. If that means I'm going to be acting like a hopped up cheerleader on occasion then thats the way it is.

Re:No Students of History

I think we agree!

Better, proof that anonymous "right" wingers here at LISNews engage in the same thoughtful discussion as our non-anon colleagues.


You are right that I was a little provocative in my articles. But when I came onto this forum to debate my arguments, I toned it way down, and the response to me was much more uncivil than I was initially. I think the problem wasn't so much that my initial tone was harsh but that this is a medium of communication that brings the level of discussion down to the lowest common denominator, both in terms of civility and the rationality of the debate. Complex arguments only get buried, and people get riled up in a way that they wouldn't in person or even in print.Rory Litwin


I think the problem is that many people were reacting to the tone of the initial article, and then taking that tone further. And then people were reacting to that reaction and a big part of the discussion degenerated into a flamewar.
I'll agree that some people were uncivil to you, because people were bringing up stuff that seemed totally irrelevent to the article (how SSRT meetings are run, etc). However I think that some of us here have attempted to address your arguments in a civil manner.

I also disagree with the comment you made "that the conservative voices on have become so dominant that dissenters have been drowned out and driven out, with rare exceptions now posting only to agree with the conservatives who have taken command of the culture,(with Blake Carver's deliberate help)," because it seems like you are portraying the whole lisnews news community as being conservative yesmen. I honestly don't think this is the case, I think that LISNews has maybe 8-12 really vocal conservative posters, with the rest being liberal or moderate or libertarian, etc. I wonder if you would think that if you were to look at some of the other threads on LISNews that had nothing to do with you.


I used to be a regular visitor of LISNews but rarely come here anymore. There are two reasons for that:1) The content on the site seems to be more and more diverging from the intent of the site which is/was to provide highlights on news relevant to Librarians and Information Science. I recognize that not every posting is going to be relevant to me or of interest to me. But the goal now seems to be quantity over quality. And too many of the postings, IMO, seem to have little to do with libraries except in the mind of the person who posted it.2) More importantly to me, the commentary from the handful of conservative-types here is a real turn-off. They appear to have nothing better to do with their time than to comment in volume on every hot-button issue. The volume of their commentary seems to be inversely proportional to their presence in the profession. So maybe they are trying to make up for their small numbers. But it gets old quick and do they really think they are convincing anyone of their positions? Maybe I just find the whole commentary part of the site to be annoying and irrelevant. It seems like the same 10 people comment to each other on every issue. I could do without all of the clutter.

Fangface is a nitwit

To wit: "Kindly do us all a favour: Get an account or fuck off." The sophistry about anonymity continues, both through this posting and the Tome-deaf one (superciliously) referring to the "historical" context of the Federalist papers.First of all, an account with an anonymous (and stupid) nickname and an identity are two different things TangBrain. Second, is Tomeliness *actually* comparing himself to Hamilton, et. al.? I mean, come on, is the world's foremost superpower going to come a-hunting for him if he posts (or his Fangliness posts) some insipid comment on how its really, really, really a good thing to make something unavailable for a whole community because somebody got their knickers in a twist over seeing a picture in a library book of somebody's winky or hoo-has? Get real. The Founders (whatever we think of them) risked their honor (a real thing back then - and they weren't as anonymous as you think either) and their livelihoods and lives. You twinkies risk being snubbed at ALA or being exposed for who you really are at your "jobs" (that is, if you actually work in libraries - but then we don't know because you're ANONYMOUS COWARDS!).Academic and intellectual freedom (which y'all beat your chests about so much) exist to be practiced. How can you pretent to protect what you won't exercise?Y'all have proven that you can dish it out, but can't take it in the previous exchange over Rory's initial posting. Rory's points, Kathleen McCook's points, and my points all stand - all unanswered.I'm still: John Buschman, leaver of no conservative child behi

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