Category Archives: Assessment&Evaluation

July 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

My Final Blog Post

May 22, 2006. That’s when I started The Ubiquitous Librarian Blog. I wrote before at Alt-Ref where I explored new approaches for reference and instruction. But I felt too boxed in. Ubiquitous gave me freedom to roam.

It ends today. Right here.

 407 posts

9 years  1 month  23 days

When the Chronicle of Higher Education informed me that they were dropping the Blog Network I was sad. But after a few days I got over it, mostly. I realized they had given me a gift. This was a chance to move on and do other things.

I’ve probably written and presented too much over the last decade. I’m looking forward to letting that taper off. I want to focus on Virginia Tech and the great people, projects, and programs we have here.

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Me as a soldier in the name of greater library experiences.

Rick Anderson says we…

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July 15, 2015, 7:25 pm

Value Proposition Design For Librarians (a quick overview)

Of course I have to dip back into the business literature one more time.

I really like the value proposition design tool. Stephen Abrams blogged about it a few months ago and it’s something we’ve been working on here at Virginia Tech. Slowly. It’s a low priority. But the value to me is less about the output (a nice fancy report) and more about the process of having these conversations and thinking differently (more broadly) about how libraries can engage more fully.

Here is the 5-minute version. Please see Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want for full version.

My advice. Make this about individuals, not broad categories (ie: all undergrad students or all faculty.) Talk with a few assistant professors working on tenure. What’s different and what’s the same between them? How are their experiences and expectations different?…

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July 12, 2015, 10:39 pm

Library Engagement with First Year Writing: 4 strategies. An interview with Julia Feerrar

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Julia Feerrar

Here is an interview with Julia Feerrar, Learning Services Librarian at Virginia Tech. She joined our team last summer and spent the past year experimenting with first-year writing courses.

The team tested some new approaches and focused on relationship building in order to become better partners with the writing program.

Tell me a little about your work with English 1106 this year. What did you do differently?

JF: English 1106 and 1204 (honors) are first year writing classes at Virginia Tech that focus on writing from research. Traditionally (and not too surprisingly), these classes have been a high-volume instruction area for us and an opportunity to reach many students at a critical point in their college experience.

This past spring semester our teaching team tried some new things in our…

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July 10, 2015, 2:03 pm

Two UX Tables

Final few days around here–  blog ends Wednesday (July 15)

I wanted to share two tables from a talk I gave with Steven Bell and Paul Zenke at ACRL 2013.

Experience is Everything: Making the Case for Moving Beyond Usability to Totality

This first one was assembled by Paul who is now the Director of Academic Technology in the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning at Stanford. The term “user experience” was being used to mean a lot of different things and so we tried to shape the context a little.

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Paul Zenke, 2013

And Marie Mosman – Project Designer at FOX Architects, assembled this one. She was an architecture student at Virginia Tech when we worked together. I’ve often heard people talk about individual work and group work — we aimed to challenge that a bit and tried to…

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June 19, 2015, 2:18 pm

Could Your Library Answer 1 Million Reference Questions A Year?

In 1995 the Association of Research Libraries started collecting stats on references queries. The top five that year handled over 500,000 questions each. I’m sure in those early days there were some interesting approaches to collecting the data as well as different interpretations of a reference query.

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via ARL (reference queries ranking, 1995)

Here is what the Top 10 looks like today:

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via ARL (reference queries ranking, 2014)

 I mentioned this steady decline in an earlier post, but here is what that looks like in a table:

arl_list_ref

What’s “good” now?

via @gloriousnoise

When I look at these numbers I think of the music industry. Back in the 90’s if you sold 500,000 units the…

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December 18, 2014, 3:56 pm

Digital Ephemera During Finals: a photo essay

I always like finals because the campus has a heightened sense of purpose. This semester I came down with a bad cold and had to miss most of the excitement. Fortunately social media enabled me to follow along from home.

catstudy2brokechairgymjump2chair_rollingspunchairsred_bull_libdrinksredbull_deskcheese2grill_cheese_at_libtara_grill_cheesecheesesandsdefeatednapssleepbagmathbrainlearningflirtycrysmartiesbeatsosufutureapple_treeleaving_libsunrise

BTW: Six years ago I posted on the Anatomy of the All-Nighter. It’s interesting to see how much social technology has advanced since then.

Happy Holidays everyone.

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November 5, 2014, 2:58 pm

Can instructors become unenrollable?

Our Dean’s Advisory Council meetings are always enlightening. On Monday we held small group discussions on teaching and research practices. (Ralph Hall blogged about his experience.) I have enough material for several posts but today I am reflecting on the concept of faculty who could become unenrollable.

 

Rob Stephens (Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and Professor of History at Virginia Tech) shared this concept with me. He feels that websites like Koofers and RateMyProfessors are having an impact on course enrollment. Rob believes that there is a correlation between low headcount and faculty reviews online. (Translation: students avoid difficult professors whenever possible.)

“Frightening, threatening, and inevitable,” were the words Rob used to describe the situation. But he isn’t necessarily against…

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September 19, 2014, 2:15 pm

Why do people who love libraries love libraries?

Why do people who love libraries love libraries? This has been on my mind a lot lately. Whenever I find a patron who is passionate about their library I try to decode those tangible and intangible qualities that made the experience so powerful for them.

Our library’s feedback form a great source of insight. Each semester we have a handful of students point out customer service problems, confusing policies, or facilities issues. They are telling us these things because they care and want us to improve. We address matters when we can. For example, one student suggested a new software configuration in our scale-up classroom that we enacted and it greatly improved usability.

This week I had a student share an opinion about our bathrooms. She was frustrated because while we are renovating some parts of our library we are not upgrading the restrooms. Our original building is from the 1…

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September 10, 2014, 4:04 pm

Wait. Stop. What is a photocopy? Three insights from our Library Student Advisory Board

The mission of our Library Student Advisory Board is to help us gain a better understanding of the student experience at our university. We talk about a lot of different ideas and issues. I want to share three that surprised me.

Photocopying? We were talking about printing and I asked the students if they ever photocopied (we have all-in-one machines that do printing, copying, and scanning) and the students were silent. After some strange looks someone finally asked what’s a photocopy?

Apparently everything is a print these days. Reproduction of a page of paper doesn’t seem to be a very common activity. I explained what it was and felt like I was describing a telegraph. I guess with journals migrating to predominately digital formats that most undergrads do not need to photocopy articles. Most of their own content is digital as well — so there is no copying notes, forms, or…

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September 3, 2014, 8:59 pm

The Distance to Ideal? That’s what I need to know

A glimpse at my whiteboard:

distance_to_ideal

This is a tool concept that I want to explore. The blue line represents “everything we want to do” in our ideal state. This requires looking across all services and removing (or sunsetting) the ones that are no longer essential. The objective is to gather everything that represents what we should be doing.

The red line then indicates what we can do – this is our current state.

If we can quantify these two elements it helps us frame new conversations.

For this example I set us at about 25% capacity or basically we are only able to do about ¼ of what we should be doing based on current practices and priorities. I have no idea where my group actually is at yet — this is just an illustration of the concept.  This opens discussions around where we are today and why vs. where we want or need to be. It provides a visual indicator that is easy …

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