plannedObsolescence_smallEach fall, the OSU Libraries undertakes a book plating program to recognize newly tenured or promoted OSU faculty. Run by the Acquisitions Department, the program allows each faculty member to select a book that will be purchased and added to the collection with a name plate recognizing their achievement. On September 1st, I became an Associate Professor with tenure, and, while it took me a while to get around to filling out the form, it took all of five seconds to settle on a title. My book selection is Planned Obsolescence, by Kathleen Fitzpatrick.

In addition to the book itself, the Libraries creates a commemorative program that includes the list of the year’s honorees, the books selected, and a personal statement about each one. When asked to finish the sentence, “I selected this book because…” in less than 150 words, this is what I wrote:

No one writes more clearly or persuasively about the changing landscape of scholarly publishing than Kathleen Fitzpatrick, now the Director of Scholarly Communications for the Modern Language Association. Planned Obsolescence was at once a clarion call for much-needed reform, an experiment in alternative publishing methods, and a focusing of the tools of humanistic inquiry on the process and products of humanities scholarship. In it, Fitzpatrick dissects the history of authorship and peer review, examines the nature of texts in the digital environment, explores the difficulties of preserving new forms of scholarship, and lays out a possible model for the future of publishing. As a librarian working in scholarly communications, this book and the accompanying blog have been a source of inspiration and a roadmap for understanding the challenging terrain of scholarly production in the humanities. It should be required reading for academic librarians, humanities faculty and students, administrators, and publishers.

My heartfelt thanks to my colleagues for granting me tenure, to Dracine Hodges and the Acquisitions Department for their yeoman’s work on the book plating program, and to Kathleen Fitzpatrick, for the inspiration she continues to provide. This book plate’s for all of you.