This comes from John Borwick, Director of IT Services at the Virginia Tech Libraries. He adapted Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs into an IT context. The gist is that if you want to get involved with strategic conversations then you must ensure that basic needs are met first. “If IT cannot deliver a reliable production environment, no one is going to want to talk with IT about anything else.”
This applies elsewhere. If I want to talk with faculty about new services or their pedagogical practices, I need to ensure that their basic library needs are covered. If an instructor is upset because of something we are doing (or not doing) then she will be less open to…
I wrote earlier about serving on a Student Experience Task Force. This was a yearlong project that brought together students and faculty with people from the budget office, facilities, student affairs, the Provost’s Office, and other units. It was an eclectic mix resulting in many diverse conversations. Personally, it was a perception-shifting experience and I learned to appreciate different challenges across campus.
The most glaring aspect we encouraged was a spectrum of disparity. Students in a living learning community had different encounters than those in older residential halls. Students attending classes in upgraded facilities had completely different experiences than those in older rooms. It was interesting to witness how a sense of place directly impacted emotional connections and output. Our charge was to consider ways to reduce the existing…
I’ve been experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon lately. This is when you discover a new word, concept, song, book, product or whatever and then it seemingly appears everywhere. In my case this has been related to maps and global communications.
After reading The Victorian Internet and it opened my eyes to just how transformative the telegraph was. Pre-telegraph, it took a full day on horseback to deliver a message one hundred miles. The telegraph reduced that to a matter of seconds.
When Samuel Morse and others began building the network (around 1844) it took ten weeks to send a letter and a response between London to Bombay. Thirty years later, with over 650,000 miles of wire, messages could be exchanged between those two cities in less than four minutes.
A few weeks ago I met up with Tim Baird (Geography, Virginia Tech) to tour the library and talk about pedagogy. We discussed a handful of topics and I tried to capture the spirit of our conversation in this post. Tim has received a lot of attention across campus (here and here) for his Pink Time concept. Let’s start with that.
The short version: he encourages students to skip class three times a semester and to invest that time learning whatever they want. Students then report on what they did and assign themselves a grade based on the experience. The impetus for this approach was inspired by Daniel Pink, hence the name—Pink Time.
Does space matter? Does the selection and arrangement of furniture and technology impact behavior? I think so. The tools around us impact what we can build. So if we follow this line of thought: can we design spaces that enable students to be more creative, more collaborative, or more innovative? Can we offer environments that encourage concentration, curiosity, or confidence?
I’ve been chasing these questions for the past ten years. It started at Georgia Tech where we experimented with atmospheric elements like sound, shape, and lighting. We could quickly recalibrate a room and completely change its mood and functionality. This is where I began thinking about the psychology of place.
Georgia Tech Library, courtesy of Dottie Hunt
My thoughts were recently augmented by Frank Shushok, Senior Associate Vice…
Last month I saw a presentation by Robert Sumichrast, Dean of the Pamplin College of Business here at Virginia Tech. He shared his vision for a series of new buildings that would comprise the Business Learning Community. The concept is still coming together but it includes several interconnected structures: offices, classrooms, and residential spaces. The centerpiece is an experiential learning commons.
Early concept of the Business Learning Community at Virginia Tech.
Several aspects are informing the design. First is Innovate, a residential living learning community that fosters the startup spirit. It brings together students from different disciplines and surrounds them with a curriculum and mentorship that encourages entrepreneurship.
During the presentation he mentions the history of scientific journals and how they evolved from handwritten letters describing observations into aggregated print volumes for a larger audience. Philosophical Transactionswas the first one. I was curious about the composition of science articles in 1665 so I clicked around. Here is a partial listing from the inaugural issue:
What grabbed your attention? For me it was the calf. A very odd monstrous calf!
Print Humanities The humanities as we know them should be called the print humanities. They began with the rise of print materials and the practices and methodologies associated with them are bound to that format. Right now we have print humanities and digital humanities but eventually all humanities will be digital humanities. We’re in an evolutionary stage.
A few months ago this PowerPoint slide appeared in my Twitter stream:
It lingered with me for weeks.
I had never considered a library instruction program taking on matters such as dehumanization, colonizing media, or the economic contradictions in our environment. In all the libraries I’ve worked we struggled to have enough people to cover the core instructional load and I could not have imagined a program focused instead on a social agenda.
My view of information literacy has always been pragmatic and conservative: find, access, evaluate, and use a variety of materials. When I was an instruction librarian at George Washington and Georgia Tech my emphasis was on serving engineering disciplines where the focus was on journals, patents, industry standards, and handbooks.
Typical reference questions were about identifying suitable alloys for high temperatures. The type of…
This is my ninth year blogging. When I started The Ubiquitous Librarian my intention was to explore engagement techniques—new ways of connecting with the community I served. The blog helped document some of these efforts and provided a conversation channel with others doing similar work.
Every so often I contemplate walking away from the blog. Sometimes it feels more like a chore rather than a creative outlet. The Chronicle doesn’t pay me, but they do amplify my message. When I hear from software developers, architects, faculty, CIOs, or…
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is Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech. This blog is about designing better user experiences and the pursuit of use-sensitive libraries.
In his new book, Brian Mathews speaks directly to the academic library practitioner. The guiding principle, that marketing should focus on the lifestyle of the user, showcases how the library fits within the daily life of students.