Category Archives: New Roles

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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October 9, 2014, 5:33 pm

Residual Learning Environments: “Students never leave my course”

RH2I’ve worked with Ralph Hall (Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs & Planning, Virginia Tech) related to Google Glass in the past. He has explored different ways of incorporating the hardware into his teaching practices. See: Teaching Using Google Glass and Apps.

RH3_communityWhile Glass inspired him to think differently the game-changer seems to be the portfolio of Google Apps. Ralph recently remarked that students stayed connected to his course even after the semester is finished.

This is a powerful idea. I keep thinking of residual value or appreciation. Your primary value is taking the course, but afterwards—after the grading is done – students continue to gain value as evidenced though continued use or contribution. Just as you might watch a TV show or a game and then go back later to enjoy episodes or highlights. The value extends beyond the original occurrence—beyond the prescribed…

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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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August 7, 2014, 2:14 pm

Is your org changing? Two book recommendations (and some new directions at Virginia Tech)

This summer my library went through a strategic realignment. We had the convergence of numerous retirements and other departures that presented us with an opportunity to look across the entire organization and consider some adjustments.

The driving factor behind this effort was to better align the library with the University’s strategic directions. New priorities are emerging across campus and we needed to position ourselves to participate and partner more fully. And yes, I’m aware that’s admin-speak.

One theme we focused on was research. Previously we had two areas that shared this same word:

Research and Instruction Services
Research and Informatics

We decided to define our concept of research around activities such as data curation, scholarly communication, publishing services, repositories, and technology development. This is very different from the traditional…

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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 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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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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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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