November 24, 2008
Is Higher Education Ready to Switch to Digital Course Materials?
The Cost of Textbooks Is Driving Electronic Solutions
Chronicle Commentary (11/24/08) by
Mark R. Nelson: Are Colleges Ready for Digital Textbooks?
When I was an undergraduate, one of my favorite professors posted a cartoon from The Chronicle on the bulletin board outside his office. It was labeled "Library of the Future" and showed a librarian, near a row of computers, unpacking boxes containing spray cans with fragrances like "Odor of Old Books" and "Scent of Paper." Less than two decades later, I see there is probably room for a product like that. And, more surprising to me, I am part of the move toward digital and away from traditional print.
November 21, 2008
Social Protest in 1968, Panel on
Talk about being a part of history, albeit in a relatively low-key, retiring role---I could identify with most of the personal anecdotes told by the various panel members at the Social Protest in 1968 discussion held at the Gallery of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library on November 13, 2008. We moved to a house in a new development in Ann Arbor in 1966, and one of my first clear memories of my neighbors was when I went door to door to petition against the Vietnam War, and they more or less literally slammed their respective doors in my face. Talk about neighborliness! However, I should have known better, I suppose, because even then it was all about "protecting the troops" and thus being fearful about speaking out against the war, whether one was in favor of it or not. I remember Sheriff Harvey and his brutal men first beating the students bloody and throwing them in jail afterwards. The narrative by Dean Emeritus Harold Johnson about then- UM President Robben Fleming putting his body between the Sheriff and the students, was poignant even after all these years. I remember feeling so close to the students, the only ones courageous enough to take a stand (well, my neighbors took a stand, too, I suppose, but one that I could not admire in the least). One week, the Today Show came to the Diag to televise from campus in an attempt to convey the atmosphere at UM, so I arrived to watch early in the morning and stayed as long as I could. Another memory was evoked by the mention of Mark's Coffee shop in the alley off Maynard Street, the first in town, a friendly and interesting if somewhat messy and dirty location that did not even offer very good coffee, but it set the precedent for our current coffee shop culture. Also, I loved the tales that Cynthia Diane Stephens told about BAM and other student protest movements. I recall that in our library classes BAM made little or no impression; we did not close down in support, which was disappointing. And despite Daniel Zwerdling's comment about the importance of protests about all the minor causes that took up space in the pages of "The Michigan Daily," the really BIG cause, to my mind, was the WAR!
November 17, 2008
People and Events
There was a wonderful celebration of Jim Toy's many years' incumbency at the University of Michigan, held on November 12th at Rackham Auditorium. Jim is retiring after years and years of gently and courageously helping people who had been discriminated against for reasons of sexual preference or who were afraid to live in the roles that they were most comfortable in. Present were literally hundreds of people of all ages, genders, persuasions, academic and social levels--all mixing and mingling to sing Jim's praise, praise that he completely and richly deserves. I was proud to be a part of that celebration.