Category Archives: Assessment&Evaluation

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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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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