Category Archives: Assessment&Evaluation

July 24, 2014, 10:42 am

LIBRARIAN AS FUTURIST: Changing the Way Libraries Think About the Future

I recently published an essay in portal. It explores the mindset (and toolkit) of futurists and attempts to connect that to libraries. I blogged about it earlier with the idea of “change literacy”—which I still think is a fascinating concept.

Librarian_as_Futurist_preview_imageThe portal version is fine, but I can’t legally post their PDF – so I made my own. Besides that, academic publisher prints always look a little stodgy and grayish to me, no offense. I prefer a more uplifting wrapper for my words. Design is a vital part of the communications process and I  like to have some control over how my ideas are presented.

Here is a snippet:

Librarians could discuss ad infinitum the predictions, proclamations, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams about what libraries are becoming. In fact, as a profession librarians are obsessed with talking about our future. Books, articles, blog posts, conference sessions, an…

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June 5, 2014, 5:44 pm

IMPRINTEDNESS: shifting from a service to partnership mindset

I’ve been thinking about the phrase organizational imprinting a lot. The idea goes that organizations are formed around the economic, political, social, and technological realities of their time and that it is challenging to move on from the starting premise. It’s another way of saying “but we’ve always done it this way.”

This imprinting concept appears frequently in the retail literature: “the lens through which an organization views the world can be so badly obscured by its founding context that the organization becomes unable to change.”

Doug Stephens (consumer futurist) offers these examples:

  • Best Buy, founded in a world without the Internet, struggles today to find relevance now that online retail is ubiquitous and product selection has been redefined.
  • Blockbuster video was born during a time without streaming digital content, and became victim of web-based…

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December 3, 2013, 5:33 pm

What If I Paid You To Study In The Library?

teamwork2If I paid you to study in the library you would likely take me up on the offer. And if I paid you and your group to study there together, then you would definitely use the library more often.

That’s the gist of a recent economics study: Letting Down the Team? Social Effects of Team Incentives

This research was conducted while I was at UCSB. I gave the faculty access to a large group study space (50+ chairs) in order to conduct their experiment. They tested incentive reactions in two environments: a library and a gym.

They found that while individuals took advantage of the pay to study here opportunity, incentives tied to team performance resulted in strikingly greater participation:

“People in two real-world settings raising their effort level because a teammate’s payoff is at stake. Findings indicate that the magnitude of this effect can be considerably larger than that …

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November 15, 2013, 7:31 pm

Further Thoughts on GLASS

I just gave a campus interview about our GLASS project. Here is the gist of my answers in long form.

glass_interview

Giving a campus interview. I’ll link out once the video is online.

I’m really excited to be involved with GLASS. It’s an interesting technology and wearable computing seems to be one of the next big things.

I love what Virginia Tech is doing by building a cohort of faculty who are using GLASS in different ways and representing different disciplines. Arts, sciences, building construction, public policy, it’s a wide mix.

And it is exciting for me to represent the library in that effort because I get to work hand in hand with faculty on rethinking their teaching and research practices. We want to build new apps together, new software together, new pedagogies, new capabilities. So it is valuable for me …

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November 13, 2013, 9:29 pm

Slayer & benchmarking of library collections

A friend of mine once remarked that Jack Kerouac judged diners solely on the quality of their apple pie. Apparently you can infer a lot about an establishment based upon the size, presentation, and taste of this classic dessert.

When it comes to libraries and bookstores I’ve always used a similar measuring device: Hermann Hesse. Most libraries have the classics (Steppenwolf, Siddhartha) but what really impresses me is seeing lesser-known (and in my opinion better) novels like Beneath the Wheel and Demian. And the pinnacle for me is Narcissus and Goldmund. To me this is his masterpiece.

As superficial as it sounds, I use to think that I could tell a lot about a library’s collection based upon these works. I liked to think that it revealed something about the library’s intellectual curiosity and that it suggested something about what else might be found in the stacks. I guess…

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September 18, 2013, 5:09 pm

Moving From Data-Driven to Design-Driven Innovation

I was tweeted into a conversation about assessment and I wanted to take a minute to comment. Elliott Shore (ARL) recently called for a radical change in library assessment—with the gist being a move from descriptive to predictive. I’d like to push it further into the realm of innovation-generation.

I tried to contribute my part to that conversation at last year’s Library Assessment Conference with a paper Too Much Assessment, Not Enough Innovation. I wasn’t booed off the stage, but I definitely felt avant-garde compared to the mainstream assessment crowd. But of all the papers I’ve written recently that’s my favorite one because I enjoyed digging deeply into places like PARC and Bell Labs.

Anyway, twitter isn’t ideal for long-thought sharing so I’m dashing this off over lunch. I’ve been reading the October 2012 issue of Fast Company (yes, I’m a bit behind) and…

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January 14, 2013, 3:17 pm

FOCUSING YOUR FOCUS GROUPS: Ten Ways They Can Enhance Discovery

I saw that there was a session at midwinter talking about focus groups. Since I won’t be there I wanted to take a few minutes and share my thoughts. I don’t have the original announcement, but I was disappointed with the phrasing. It asked something like are focus groups effective? I would prefer a conversation around how to use focus groups effectively.

 

I have found thematic conversations with various user (and non-user) segments to be an important component of my discovery strategy. Focus groups often get knocked because of three main things: loud people dominate the discussion, people tend to tell you what they think you want to hear, and people can’t imagine breakthrough change. Those are all legit criticisms, however, if you plan according you can neutralize those issues.

 

Students working through an…

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October 22, 2012, 1:08 pm

Containers for Information or Platforms for Scholarship? R&D and the Networked Perspective

In seven days I’ll be giving a talk on R&D for academic libraries but here is the enhanced version of the conference paper. This is a follow-up (actually a sequel) to Think Like A Startup. I described the intentions of this paper last month so I’ll save us all from repetition. The key point is that assessment programs should be engines for change seeking progress not sustainment.

I reread the paper on Saturday and the thing that stood out was how much content I had to cut in order to get it into the ballpark of the conference’s word limitations.

If this paper is too long for you (or if you think assessment is boring) then at least go watch Dan Pink’s Ted Talk. The part about “functional fixedness” is critical and it highlights the potential tunnel vision we can develop preventing us from empowering the evolution of libraries.

Another key point is the need to…

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September 26, 2012, 2:43 pm

Too much assessment…

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you’ve heard me talk about the paper I was writing over the summer. It’s for ARL’s Assessment Conference and at one point it was over 14,000 words.

 

It was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve written because of time (3 months) and space (5,000 word max) limitations. The background reading was amazing; I skimmed 30 books and read nearly 50 articles, blog posts, and reports. I immersed myself into R&D culture. And sadly there was so much material I couldn’t use and even worse, so much material that I just didn’t have time to read.

 

I had two objectives with this paper:

 

  1. I wanted it to be a follow-up or sequel to Think Like a Startup. That paper resonated with a lot of people, so my working title was “operate like an R&D lab.” I took the section about assessment and gave it it’s own platform. I…

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July 23, 2012, 3:48 pm

Data-Driven Decision-Making vs. Discovery-Driven Planning (don’t measure a butterfly using the metrics of a caterpillar)

I’ve been thinking a lot about caterpillars lately. I read the Very Hungry Caterpillar to my son every night and it always makes me think of organizations going through transformative change.

What’s fascinating to me isn’t just the physical transformation that occurs. Obviously sprouting wings and becoming more colorful is amazing, but the internal composition changes too. Their appetites change. Their digestive systems change. But what really gets me is the perception-shifting that must occur. Imagine you’re stuck crawling on the ground and slowly climbing trees, flowers and bushes then suddenly you’re able to fly–to move nimbly. Imagine the cognitive transformation that first day when life is about exploring a much wider universe.

You think ARL will be ok with me citing a children’s book? I also want to pitch Willy Wonka as the role model for R&D. That’s for another …

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