The Hyde Park Debate 2014

In my last LJ column I mentioned a couple of presentations I enjoyed at the Charleston Conference last month. Another session I enjoyed was the Hyde Park Debate between Rick Anderson (U. of Utah) and David Magier (Princeton U.). The proposition debated this year was “Wherever possible, library collections should be shaped by patrons, instead of by librarians,” with Anderson arguing the pro side and Magier the con side. In the debate format, there’s an audience vote on the proposition before the debate begins and a vote after, and the winner is whoever swings the most votes. It was a close debate, but Magier swung the most votes and won. I often disagree with Anderson about collections issues and generally agree with Magier (which is convenient, since he’s my AUL for Collection Development), so I enjoyed both the verbal sparring and the outcome. My favorite part of the debate starts with the “Response from David Magier”, which begins:

“Without identifying a single good thing about PDA, Rick devotes himself instead to a new low of dismissive stereotyping and character assassination, a completely fictionalized librarian straw-man to shoot down. He trivializes and slanders the work of librarians, calling us childish (“a collection is to collect”), vain and self-centered (“monuments to our own wisdom”), assured and delusional (tilting towards “comprehensive” collections for the distant future), and wasteful and self-interested (valuing our own jobs over the interests of patrons). This cartoon character villain doesn’t actually exist: no library would tolerate it. So let’s dispose of these distractions and hot air and look at the real world. We librarians are patron-driven: engaging closely with faculty and students every day. We engage in collection-shaping with and on behalf of our patrons, because failing to do so produces negative impacts right here and now, not 40 years in the future!”

It was certainly a change from the typical staid library presentation.

You can see the full text of the opening statements, rebuttals and opening and closing polling results here:
You can view the raw video of the entire debate itself, as well as the Q&A session, on YouTube, here:

2 thoughts on “The Hyde Park Debate 2014

  1. Thank you for the summary, Wayne. Readers should note that the underlined words in the quote are Magier’s and represent his emotional interpretation of Anderson’s PDA discussions.

    What made the debate even more interesting was hearing the three professors who followed. They each discussed in detail their own very active work to develop their own research and data needs — in contrast to the generalized characterization of research behavior presented in the debate. I wrote a bit more about that in (about half-way down).

    • Yes, the presentations by the professors was good as well. I enjoyed a lot of this conference.

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