Author Archives: Brian Mathews

May 4, 2015, 2:48 pm

FORENSIC BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECONSTRUCTION: tracking down troublesome citations and the problem of lost knowledge

I’ve been reading Applied Ontology (Munn & Smith) and really connect with this idea:

 “…goal of increasing our knowledge about the world, and improving the quality of the information we already have. Knowledge, when handled properly, is to a great extent cumulative. Once we have it, we can use it to secure a wider and deeper array of further knowledge, and also to correct the errors we make as we go along. In this way, knowledge contributes to its own expansion and refinement. But this is only possible if what we know is recorded in such a way that it can quickly and easily be retrieved, and understood, by those who need it.”

Do we have a professional responsibility to not only collect, describe, evaluate, store, preserve, and share information—but to also improve it? I was thinking about this when my friend Tara was telling me about her interlibrary loan (ILL) work.

Here…

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April 20, 2015, 6:00 am

An Early Look At BRODY: Steelcase’s new personal study pod

I’m probably going to get in trouble for this post. Last time I wrote about an emerging product they called and said I revealed too much. This time they made me sign a non-disclosure agreement. Today I was informed that I could share… but I’m not sure how much. Here we go. 

Update March 20: I seems that the Steelcase sales group got ahead of the official marketing release. They asked me to delay this post for a few days–sorry for the confusion. 

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Study carrels at Virginia Tech’s Newman Library

Study carrels have not evolved much. Most libraries have focused on collaborative environments, modular furniture, technology integration, and soft flexible seating.  But sometimes people want to hide. They come to the library to focus. Quiet Space: that rare precious commodity that’s increasingly harder …

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April 14, 2015, 3:20 pm

Your Assignment: Host A Campus Wide Event (libraries and active learning)

eventAs a follow-up to my post last week about our seven classrooms, I wanted to quickly share an example of how we are impacting teaching and learning.

We’re hosting a Financial Literacy Event today that is part of a class project. It is a digital showcase bringing together students from a Financial Counseling course to offer educational engagement with students in a Financial Management course. Both courses are taught by Oscar Solis.

Here are the topics:

topics

There are many things I like about this.

  • It brings two courses together—this is one of my constant aspirations.
  • It encourages peer-to-peer mentoring.
  • It promotes financial literacy.
  • It fosters active learning. This could have just been traditional talks at the front of a classroom where everyone speaks for a few minutes and where most students are distracted and nervous about their own presentation. Instead we…

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April 10, 2015, 2:15 pm

7 Classrooms: library as pedagogical incubator

Three years ago we had two classrooms in our library. They looked like this:

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The former “training-based” classrooms at VT Library. Photo: R. Miller

These were suitable for training-based instruction but our program has evolved. Librarians wanted to be able to reach more students (larger class sizes) as well as utilize many different teaching methods. We’re upgrading both rooms this summer.

One is based on Steelcase Verb:

The other will be a Node classroom:

This all started with a partnership between the Library and VT’s College of Science when we built a SCALE-UP classroom together.

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Scale-Up – VT Library

Shortly after that we introduced a Multipurpose Room….

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April 6, 2015, 5:01 pm

Think Like A Startup: 3 Years Later

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Three years ago I published a white paper: Think Like A Startup. A lot of people downloaded it.

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Over the weekend I reflected on the essay and I’d like to share a few thoughts:

Mental Model
“Thinking like a startup” is meant to be a mental model, not a business model. This confuses people who didn’t read the paper. I had been hearing from administrators around the county who were frustrated because they could not motivate their employees to embrace new directions. I wanted my paper to help with strategic planning and related conversations. It’s a chance to say—ok, for this afternoon let’s change our lens. Instead of thinking like a library, let’s consider how a startup might approach this service. What are we not doing? How would they operate? I viewed the paper as an invitation to brainstorm and a process that provides safety while encouraging experimentation and team …

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March 31, 2015, 3:37 pm

TOOLS FOR LEADERS: 5 Tables To Expand Your Thinking

I have an assortment of tables, graphs, and charts that I have been collecting related to leadership and problem solving. Here are a few that I have found particularly useful:

1. An organizational hierarchy of IT needs

Table1_needs

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…

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March 25, 2015, 8:52 pm

IMPROVING THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE (scaling the commons beyond the library)

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.

Here is the final report.

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…

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March 17, 2015, 6:39 pm

TALKING ACROSS THE GLOBE: Tinder as a prototype for intercontinental serendipity

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.

There was much enthusiasm and a great optimism.

poem_tech via…

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March 4, 2015, 4:13 am

Confronting the Unexpected: Pink Time & Intrinsic Learning

Tim_Headshot

@tbaird007

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.

Here is a table outlining the students’ Pink Time activities: (from Journal of Geography, 2015)

PinkTime_Table

 The Element of…

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February 10, 2015, 2:45 pm

Are We Teaching Spatial Agency? The subliminal message of flexible furniture

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.

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Georgia Tech Library, courtesy of Dottie Hunt

My thoughts were recently augmented by Frank Shushok, Senior Associate Vice…

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