Category Archives: FutureSpec

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.


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, 8:54 pm

The Library Renewal @ Georgia Tech. Interview with Ameet Doshi

I started this blog when I worked at Georgia Tech so perhaps it is fitting that one of my final posts is about that library.

Here is an interview with Ameet Doshi, Director, Service Experience & Program Design. He talks about moving the collection off-campus and the new types of spaces and services they are developing. It’s a very ambitious plan and I would expect nothing less from that library.

Here is a snippet from their white paper that sets up the transformation:

A majority of the Library’s physical collection — the very core of all preconceived notions of what a research library is and how librarians serve — is leaving the Georgia Tech Library space. Even without these books, we are still a research library.

And here is a promo video that outlines the concept:

Tell me about the renewal. What’s the goal?

AD: The goal is to become…

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July 12, 2015, 6:45 pm

The Library Research Building

You’re probably familiar with the concept of the dedicated Research Library — UCLA has a nice one. My dean and I have been soft pitching a new variation, which we call the Library Research Building.

Hunt Library’s Creativity Studio, a high-tech “white box” space that runs the most advanced version of the Navy’s Mariner Skills Simulator.

The idea came to me when visiting Hunt Library and seeing the Naval simulator space along with the Institute for Emerging Issues.

What if we could develop building focused on spaces and services for researchers? Just as you can check out a book or a laptop – what if you could check out a workspace for you and your team (center, institute, lab, etc) for an extended period of time?

We imagine that the majority of such a building would be designated for limited-term grant project…

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July 9, 2015, 12:12 pm

The Winnower: a “radical” publishing platform that encourages debate. Interview with Josh Nicholson

Josh Nicholson

Josh Nicholson

I discovered The Winnower at an open access event at Virginia Tech several years ago. Josh Nicholson, a PhD candidate at the time, was on a panel session discussing the merits of OA. He recently earned his degree (cell biology) and is focused on building a publishing platform.

I admire the DIY aspect of his work and the founding principle that all ideas in should be discussed and debated. Our correspondence highlights what he is developing and how it is different from the intuitional repository movement.

Tell me about your academic background and your work at Virginia Tech. 

JN: I finished my BS in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental biology in 2008 at UC Santa Cruz.  While there I worked in a lab for a few years and also wrote for the health and science section for the student run newspaper,…

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June 22, 2015, 2:03 pm

WHAT DID LIBRARIANS WANT IN 1945? Many of the same things we want today.

Photograph of check out counter of the East Branch on Jane Street of the Bridgeport Public Library ca. 1945 copyright Bridgeport Public Library Historical Collections.

I’m going to post these quotes without any commentary; I think they hold up well on their own. Some background: 70 years ago at an ALA Executive Board Meeting (October 1945) they devoted a morning to discussing the future of librarianship. The conversation was summarized and published in the A.L.A. BULLETIN from February 1946. Here are a few notes that I found interesting and still relevant today:

If the profession seems to lack dynamism some of the responsibility rests with administrators. All too many still hold professional members to routine work and give what seem valid reasons why all must take their turn at essential clerical tasks.

Any dynamic…

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June 17, 2015, 8:45 pm

Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research

I had hoped to do a full interview on this but that’s not going to happen: running out of time.

Short version, Brian Nosek (Center for Open Science & UVA) spoke at our Open Access Week event last year. He outlined the Open Science Framework (OSF)—it aims to help the way research is conducted. Main theme: there are many different tools and services that address certain niches of the workflow, but OSF tackles the entire lifecycle: planning, execution, reporting, archiving, and discovery.

Here is the talk:


Brian Nosek: Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research (link to video)

Lots of great content, but check out:

27 minutes in… talks about incentives for openness and how researchers can be cited for particular elements, such as tools or code they develop. This…

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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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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.


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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