Category Archives: FutureSpec

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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January 12, 2015, 3:29 pm

Millions of Sources: the disruption of history and the humanities?

Last week I mentioned a tweet on critical pedagogy that stuck with me. Here is another item from 2014 that really got me thinking.

Mandel_Tweets

This was from an ARL meeting on the future of scholarly monographs. I blogged about it back in October 2014 but I wanted to go deeper. I spoke with Laura Mandell (Professor of English & Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M) just before winter break. Here are some highlights from that conversation:

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.

While many people feel an emotional attachment…

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October 28, 2014, 8:50 pm

Beyond books… thinking about the “living tradition” and the “virtual research environment” of scholarly discourse

I met with a group of students earlier this month and the topic of eBooks came up. They unanimously expressed a preference for print. I was curious. What I found was that none of them had read a book on an eBook Reader. Their exposure was limited to viewing content via a web browser on a laptop. I don’t consider that reading an eBook.

Here’s the thing: it’s been a few weeks now and I’m still thinking about those students. Somehow I feel responsible for their development. I don’t necessarily want to convert them all into Kindle customers but I’m thinking about their careers. The question that is nagging me:

In ten years will students be at a disadvantage if they are not proficient with various forms of digital content?

It’s one thing to prefer print, but if you are completely uncomfortable and absent in the digital ecosystem, does that hurt your prospects?

While I…

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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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July 18, 2014, 8:51 pm

DID AMAZON JUST CHANGE THE WORLD? Unlimited Kindle Books is a Game Changer (if they can license everything)

Amazon just announced an All-You-Can-Read service: Unlimited Kindle. It offers a collection of over 600,000 eBook titles for a low price of $9.99 per month. If this truly includes all Kindle books—it is a game changer.

book1Take this Elsevier title for example. It sells for $102. Under the new model I could access this and hundreds of similar high quality titles for just $10 per month.

 

book2Or textbooks. Why pay nearly $200 each when you can probably get all your books for the entire semester for just $30. (3 months of access)

I did some quick math and it would cost us about $300,000 per month to offer this service to our campus community. Or about $3.8 million annually—perhaps less depending on how summer enrollment is configured. Obviously Amazon will want to sell to individuals and not offer an institutional rate, but hypothetically that’s the ballpark.

It will be…

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July 17, 2014, 2:36 pm

A Liaison for a Classroom Building? Curating a Learning ecosystem.

It is very common for librarians to serve as liaisons to academic departments. They teach classes, purchase materials, answer reference questions, assist with research endeavors, and generally get involved with the odds-and-ends of those units. Some librarians also liaise with defined user communities such as first-year students, international students, or students associated with particular residence halls.

This classic approach enables librarians to connect their expertise with different user segments that likely share similar needs, interests, or perspectives. In short, these librarians serve as the human interface of the library.

But things are changing. I think we are in the initial phase of the next evolutionary step of the librarian as liaison. I touched upon this in my last post about the shift from “knowledge service provider to collaborative partner.” ARL is also…

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July 7, 2014, 5:59 pm

SHIFTING FROM A KNOWLEDGE SERVICE PROVIDER TO A COLLABORATIVE PARTNER: notes from an ARL strategic thinking session

I highly recommend reading:  “ARL STRATEGIC THINKING & DESIGN – membership meeting Columbus May 5–8, 2014.” It is one of the most thought-provoking items I’ve seen from library-land in quite a while.

As someone on the younger side of library leadership, I sometimes worry about my role over the next few decades. Will it involve dismantling the print collections that librarians have invested the last century building? Will budget cuts greatly reduce staffing levels? Will we be constantly justifying our existence since everything is online?

arl_listThere is a general bleakness about the future of higher education itself so it is easy to worry about the long-term stewardship of our organizations. That’s what I appreciate about this document from the ARL sessions —  it presents an optimistic and opportunistic, bold vision for the future. Thanks ARL.

Here are some highlights:

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April 9, 2014, 4:56 pm

NO CLASSROOMS, JUST EXPERIENCES: “free thinking” the future of higher ed

I’m serving on a “Student Experience Task Force”— which among other things is exploring the relationship between residence halls, classrooms, laboratories, dining facilities, student centers, libraries, gyms, and outdoor spaces across my campus—with an eye toward long-term strategies. This is a yearlong process.

Our first assignment was to “free think” one possibility twenty to thirty years from now. These ideas were not expected to be grounded in reality— but to intentionally be provocative, disruptive, or transformative.

a_desk_for_every_student

Virginia Tech: Burchard Hall. A desk for every student

Mine was to do away with classrooms. Instead of lecture halls I would give every student their own desk or workbench—similar to what you find in architecture departments. There is an amazing community that forms around…

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March 24, 2014, 3:31 pm

DATA ACROSS THE CURRICULUM: is personal data the key?

Jer_Tea

Jer Thorp talking with the Honors Residential Community @ Virginia Tech

Last week we hosted data artist Jer Thorp for several days. As part of our Distinguished Innovator in Residence Program (a partnership between University Libraries and TLOS with others contributing as well) we bring in creative thinkers to meet with students, brainstorm with faculty, give a public lecture, and essentially spark new conversations across campus. I highly recommend his Ted Talk.

I was fortunate to hear Jer speak four different times to diverse audiences. A theme that surfaced and resonated with us was the notion of Data Across the Curriculum, which is analogous to Writing Across the Curriculum. Our CIO added, “what if we had a common data set?” similar to the Common Book concept. Imagine the interdisciplinary possibilities …

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