The Elephant Roundup (October 2021)

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A monthly newsletter from Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications.

Conferences After COVID-19

  • Dylan Ruediger and Danielle Cooper, COVID-19 and the Future of the Annual Meeting, Ithaka S+R, October 18, 2021.

    • “Our landscape view of COVID-era virtual meetings suggests significant continuities with in-person meetings. ... The pivot to virtual engagements required considerable creativity and labor from society staff, and the stresses of doing so on short notice during a global pandemic encouraged “good enough” planning... Underneath the surface, however, there were two areas of significant innovation: lengthening of schedules, in some cases well beyond the standard long-weekend format, and experimentation with circulating recorded content in place of, or as a supplement to, live broadcast of events. Both practices have the potential to significantly change the familiar temporal experience of conferences as dense and clearly-bounded events to something more elastic and less-differentiated—spatially and temporally—from everyday life. They also raise questions about whether we may see conferences morph into something that more closely resembles a content stream, a trend that seems emergent.”

  • Colleen Flaherty, Reimagining the Scholarly Meeting, Inside Higher Ed, October 20, 2021.

    • “Ithaka’s report announces the creation of a cohort of scholarly societies that will explore and help shape the scholarly meeting's future, through traditional, hybrid and fully online modes. The cohort, which will be co-organized by JSTOR Labs and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will engage in research, collaboration and design thinking to address the various challenges associations face in long-term planning for multimodal conferences. While that effort is just beginning, Ithaka’s report offers insight into how associations planned for and executed conferences from March 2020 to last month.”




  • Controlled Digital Lending Co-op, Statement on Using Controlled Digital Lending as a Mechanism for Interlibrary Loan, October 2021.

    • “Many libraries and consortia practicing interlibrary loan (ILL) are unsure how and when controlled digital lending (CDL) can be applied in the context of resource sharing. Libraries want to ensure their practices are aligned with both their mission and the law. This Statement was developed to 1) increase awareness of CDL controlled digital lending in this context, 2) affirm libraries’ rights to use CDL, and 3) to improve services provided by the library resource sharing community by ensuring libraries and consortia are operating with the same set of assumptions and principles.”

  • Violet B. Fox, Disorientation Guide to Librarianship, October 2021.

    • Disorientation Guide to Librarianship is a compilation zine created by 23 contributors and published in October 2021. The zine is designed to be an accessible resource for people who are unfamiliar with structural oppression and injustice in librarianship. It is intended to be a critique of library values and a guide for people fighting injustice in librarianship. The target audience is LIS students and those new to librarianship, with or without degrees, but all are welcome to the conversation.”


Open Access

  • Tim Elfenbein, “It's great to see critical discussions of OA, but they can devolve into simplistic pro- or anti- positions...,” Twitter thread, October 5, 2021,

    • “...OA isn't one thing, the questioning for any publication has to be deeper than subscription or OA: What is the purpose of your pub. & what are the ways of pursuing it? There are many possible arrangements of funding, labor, community, licensing, access, obligation.”


The Future of the University

  • Ethan Shrum, The Prophet of Academic Doom, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 19, 2021.

    • “Robert Nisbet’s 1971 classic, [The Degradation of the Academic Dogma,] in its 50th anniversary year, has much to teach us about the plight of the contemporary American university. Nisbet (1913-1996), who was a prominent communitarian social theorist, helps us see that our quandaries about issues such as funding, bureaucracy, social activism, and faculty workload often have much deeper sources in the university’s social structure, in its role in history, and in longstanding confusions about its purpose. He shows us that we need to think fundamentally about the university as an institution in order to address our specific concerns most fruitfully.”


Pay Equity

  • Katharine Mangan, A University Tried to Correct Its Pay Gaps. Some Professors Feel Shortchanged, Chronicle of HIgher Education, September 30, 2021.

    • “The process called for faculty members who felt they were underpaid to identify higher-paid peers, or ‘comparables’ across the university, and even outside the university. But nearly two years after those requests were submitted, the initial batch of recommendations from the university reflected continuing inequities, union officials said. In some cases, the university changed the ‘comparables’ to include different faculty members of lower rank, or two faculty members from the Camden campus, where the union says salaries tend to be lower.”


Generous Thinking

  • Ashon Crawley, “rare for me to do advice tweets but i will say: writing a book teaches you, maybe perhaps, a bit of humility,” Twitter thread, October 2, 2021,

    • “being charitable isn’t about politesse. it’s about generosity. and it’s about an ethic of care.”


Scholarly Reflections

  • Ashrar H.A. Rushdy, Reflections on Indexing My Lynching Book, Michigan Quarterly Review, 53, no. 2 (Spring 2014).

    • “I now know what pain might have attended the writing of each name, the weariness that might have moved the author listing each city and county and site of horror, the anger incited at each recording of the alleged crime, the size of the mob, and the mode of killing. These lists at the backs of lynching books are not just serial or alphabetical chronologies, not just data ready for plumbing and formulating into statistics. They are rife with all the humane emotions of those of us who could not express elsewhere in the book just how hard it was, just how much it hurt.”


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