Category Archives: FutureSpec

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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March 10, 2014, 3:16 pm

ACRL: if we are putting everything on the table — how about “change literacy” too?

ACRL is working to redefine Information Literacy: draft. I’m very happy to see that Threshold Concepts are making it into the conversation. I would like to offer one suggestion: change literacy. I have a forthcoming essay in portal that will hopefully be out this summer, but here is an unedited snippet that touches in the concept. In short, I view the ability to anticipate, create, adapt, and deal with change (in the broadest since) as a vital fluency for people today. If we treat change as a literary then we can better prepare students for the challenges they will face tomorrow.

Forthcoming in portal (July 2014):

CHANGE LITERACY

Librarians have long been invested in literacy. Historically this involved advocating for reading, and several decades ago information literacy emerged as a focal point for academic libraries. Today new literacies such as data, visual, digital, health…

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January 6, 2014, 3:41 pm

THE HARM OF BOOKLESSNESS

bookless1

The future of libraries… actually looks like an Info Commons from 10 years ago?

You’ve probably seen the press about BiblioTech, the first bookless public library system in the country. It is being hailed as a “big success” and “the future of libraries.”

While I can appreciate the marketing tactic they are using, I actually think they are doing more harm than good. This library has been hyping the “bookless” concept for a while now. In fact, I’ve had faculty and administrators on my campus forward me renderings/press and suggest that we move in a similar direction.

My primary concern is that this might (or already has?) create false expectations of what “all libraries” should become. It’s setting a precedent. The key issue for me is funding. Why do we need a library anymore? Let’s…

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November 21, 2013, 3:29 pm

A MONITOR ON EVERY TABLE? Rising student expectations

The aspiration was once a power outlet for every table– but the stakes are rising. Are we entering an era where students need (and expect) a monitor on every table?

monitors

Virginia Tech students bring their own monitor to the library for collaboration.

Earlier this week I heard about a group of students who brought their own monitor into the library. They were coding together and required a shared display to collaborative effectively. We do provide group monitors, but they are always in high demand… so they used their own.

While I appreciate the ingenuity of this group to improvise on a solution, I also feel like I let them down. As soon as some funding opens up in January I’m going to purchase a handful of monitors and have them installed at group tables. This has been in our renovation documents for a while…

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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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