Category Archives: FutureSpec

February 10, 2012, 6:59 pm

Someday [soon] you’ll help patrons with tactile scholarship: Visualization & 3D Printing

Software. I’ve been hearing a lot about visualization lately. Obviously it’s been around a awhile, but it’s gathering new interest from more popular audiences. As these tools/techniques become more readily available and easier to use, visualization will likely become a prominent communications outlet. I will not only read an article but also be able to manipulate the adjoining data. Aspiring librarians should invest in developing visualization and visual literacy skills. This is a logical extension of multimedia and new media and it applies to both scholarly and popular contexts. Here’s an app to get you started.

Research libraries have long been building infrastructure to support data management and the UC has even recently launched a data plan generation tool. It seems to next step is the development of an open-source, user-friendly, discipline scalable visualization tool. …

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January 11, 2012, 2:51 pm

The Rise of the Learner Experience Librarian

I’m excited to finally be collaborating with Char Booth. We’ve been seeking a project for several years now and finally found one in the form of an invited paper and co-presentation at CARL 2012.

This is our venture:

Understanding the Learner Experience: Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Mapping
In order to improve library instruction, we need to develop a richer understanding of the holistic learning and teaching experience of our institutions. Threshold concepts are core ideas in a particular area or discipline that, once understood, transform perceptions of that subject. Curriculum mapping is a method of visualizing insight into the courses, requirements, and progressions a learner negotiates as they pass through a particular department or degree. When understood and applied in tandem, these strategies provide a powerful means of developing actionable insight into the learner…

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December 7, 2011, 5:23 pm

Are Academic Libraries Too Big To Fail? (What if the answer is no?)

Over Thanksgiving a conversation thread opened along the lines of “are some Universities too big to fail?” With budgets what they are and the doom and gloom prospects looking ahead, combined with a seemingly growing public distrust of higher education—it’s likely we’ll see some schools close, merge, downsize, or even implode over the next few decades.


Leaving that aside—what about libraries? In the ARL world you hear conversations about branch libraries closing or merging all the time—it’s largely economics. But what about academic libraries in general? Specifically the concept of the central/main unified library? Is the library too big (valuable) of an organization to fail? I’m looking at the next 30 years and have to consider what happens when/if budgets are not only cut to the bone, but even to the point where we might have to lose a few bones and some…

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October 7, 2011, 8:07 pm

The New English Major; some thoughts about post-text scholarship

UCSB Film Students


I was at a reception this week and one of the presenters made a comment about Film & Media becoming the new English major. This was in relation to the growth of our program with over 500 undergrads. Now instead of aspirations of writing the Great American Novel I guess the goal is to develop the next great viral video series.


I let this simmer for a few days and have to admit that it’s an intriguing notion. If this is true, what does it mean for communications over the next decade? Are we seeing a shift from text to video as a primary form of expression? Perhaps in pop culture this has already happened with television, movies, youtube, and the web—but what if it stretches into academia? In fact, we’re already seeing this with math.


From a library point of view,…

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September 7, 2011, 7:10 pm

Just don’t call it a Commons: building the learning boutique model

Back in April I posted this on Twitter:

“Working on addition and renovation I am hoping to avoid using the term Commons– it’s a library, KISS! BTW, Commons is so last decade!”

Several people retweeted this so it seems like there is interest. Let me explain a bit of the back-story. A friend posted images on facebook of a library she visited that had just refurbished their Research Commons. In fact, this Commons 2.0 concept seems to be growing. Academic libraries that had developed these spaces five, six, or ten years ago are now rethinking them. This varies from simple refreshment of the furniture to totally redeveloping the concept.

What bothers me is the use of the term “commons” and how it caught on like wildfire. Over the last decade every modern library had to have a commons. Toss in the descriptor of your choice: information, learning, research, knowledge, scholarly,…

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January 18, 2011, 9:53 am

Are people really ready for eBooks? My attempt to give away 100 of them

Like many campuses we do a “one book” program every year. We purchase a ton of print copies, host a variety events, activities, and exhibits, and bring in the author for a public lecture. We also work with our local public library system and schools (including high schools) to push a common reading experience and dialogue around a thought-provoking interdisciplinary topic. (campus press release)


 Last week we kicked off our event by giving away 2,000+ plus print copies. In less than 3 hours we gave away 1,700 books. Before we started there were several hundred students (and some faculty) waiting in line. This is the fifth year of the program and it is great to see people get excited about receiving a book. I’ve enjoyed walking around campus and seeing those bright orange book covers everywhere I look.


This time around I wanted to dabble with something a little different and so…

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June 27, 2010, 11:14 am

FIT, MOVEMENT, & STORAGE: More on the Steelcase NODE (Interview with Sean Corcorran, Part 2)

Someone commented on the previous post asking how
different body shapes would fit in the Node. I recommend viewing this
because it shows real students using the chairs. You’re able
to get a sense of spacing. The nice thing about the tablet workspace is that
you can adjust it accordingly– it is fairly accommodating to each person.


 I was in a classroom last week for a faculty training
session and these were the chairs we had to work with. If you want to talk
about limited space for Big & Tall take a look at the current era of chairs
on your campus.



Continuing my interview wit Sean
Corcorran, Director, Product Development & Marketing @ Steelcase

  • The big aspiration was to support active learning. That was
    the core theme they wanted to explore. As students and technology and teaching
    styles have changed, there has been a widening gap between classroom…

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June 13, 2010, 9:43 pm

A glimpse into the future of the classroom: how the Steelcase node will change the way we teach


This week is NeoCon,
the big show in the furniture world. I really hope to make it out there someday
because I want to experience what’s new in the world of design. It would be
cool to check out Stride
and the Vox
this year.


One new product that I am really excited about is the Steelcase
. I hinted about this back
in March
but wasn’t able to reveal anything more at that time. Steelcase
has been really cool about it though and granted me an interview with
Sean Corcorran, Director, Product Development & Marketing,
Education Solutions (and former
IDEO guy.) They also gave me some prototypes and sketches that I can
share. I’m planning to do several posts this week about the node, but for now
let’s take a look at what it’s all about:



My initial reaction was that it
looked kinda cool, but so what. It has the tablet-like arm, which they refer…

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May 19, 2010, 12:39 pm

Redesigning your website? Why not use LibGuides as your Content Management System?

Lately… I’ve been thinking about Steven Bell’s piece
regarding the demise of the academic library website… or rather, its evolution. I
can’t prove it, but I’m pretty certain he told me once that he envisioned
library websites becoming “just libguides.”


At first I was dismissive. I imagined a homepage with a long
list of subjects or courses that would filter the user into the appropriate guide.
But now I’m thinking maybe this is the right path for us to take. My staff (and probably yours
too) spends an enormous amount of time and energy working
on our web presence
. But what if we chucked it all and just used LibGuides?


0% chance of that actually happening and I’m not entirely serious
about it just yet. But ask me in two years and my perspective could be


What’s interesting is the
artistry of our websites. While we all pretty much offer the same…

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April 28, 2010, 1:32 pm

Introducing the post-library commons world: wild speculation on the future of computing and what it means for the learning environment

I’ve been thinking a lot about computers in libraries
lately.  I’m talking about
hardware, not web 2,0 stuff. I’m really hopeful that my library is able to
upgrade its public computers and move to
thin clients this summer,
but enough systems talk. 

The topic of computer access comes up regularly in my
Next Steps
interviews. Directors in all types of libraries seem to be pondering the same
thing: reducing the number of desktops and move to something else. Interest in
mobile devices continues to rise and it is very possible that we’ll move to
purely wireless machines such as laptops and iPads.
that people don’t typically carry their laptops around with them, so
it seems logical that libraries will need to beef up the lending of these devices. This appears to be the natural progression ahead of us. It also allows
patrons more flexibility in terms of where they can work…

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