Category Archives: R&D

November 24, 2014, 2:58 pm

Libraries as Problem Shapers: some thoughts sparked by Brian Croxall (five things that we mean when we say digital humanities)

A few weeks ago I met Brian Croxall and learned about Emory’s Center for Digital Scholarship. I thought it was interesting that it began as a research commons for faculty and graduate students… but that it went underutilized. They re-worked the concept and built a co-working environment filled with experts in data, gis, digital humanities, pedagogy, educational technology, and other specialties. The team works together in shared space, but also offers open work areas for faculty to come in and collaborate with them.

Increasingly I’m hearing more about librarians-as-consultants: how we can help guide your teaching and research activities in new directions. Here is a snippet from the Center’s website:

 “…provides consultation and support for digital teaching, research, publishing, and preservation. We offer faculty and students the space, expertise, and project…

Read More

September 18, 2013, 5:09 pm

Moving From Data-Driven to Design-Driven Innovation

I was tweeted into a conversation about assessment and I wanted to take a minute to comment. Elliott Shore (ARL) recently called for a radical change in library assessment—with the gist being a move from descriptive to predictive. I’d like to push it further into the realm of innovation-generation.

I tried to contribute my part to that conversation at last year’s Library Assessment Conference with a paper Too Much Assessment, Not Enough Innovation. I wasn’t booed off the stage, but I definitely felt avant-garde compared to the mainstream assessment crowd. But of all the papers I’ve written recently that’s my favorite one because I enjoyed digging deeply into places like PARC and Bell Labs.

Anyway, twitter isn’t ideal for long-thought sharing so I’m dashing this off over lunch. I’ve been reading the October 2012 issue of Fast Company (yes, I’m a bit behind) and…

Read More

May 29, 2013, 7:02 pm

How Embedded Are You?

What does it mean to be embedded? We have workshops, blogs, and books, but I’m not sure that we have a common definition. Perhaps it circles around the act of taking content or services outside of our traditional framework (spaces, websites) and integrating them into the natural habitat of our users?

 

But that feels too vague. If I provide office hours in a classroom building or if I interact with a class via the course management system— am I embedded? Technically, yes, but this is a gray area to me. There are different degrees of experiences.

 

roleThe more I think about embedded librarianship, and I will confess I have not read much of the emerging conversation, the question I’m having is with depth. How engaged are we? Are we simply serving a traditional librarian role in an nontraditional environment or is there something else to it? Are we changing our context or are…

Read More

April 23, 2013, 3:37 pm

Hubs and Centers as a Transitional Strategy

We’re still in the early stages of reshaping the role of our library but I wanted to share a document that outlines some of our thinking. Julie Speer, Tyler Walters, and I co-wrote a paper for the International Association of Technological University Libraries (IATUL) Conference.

 

Here is a piece from the intro:

Libraries of science and technology universities worldwide are adapting to a changing environment where cyberinfrastructure, eResearch, and new technology-intensive approaches to teaching and learning are transforming the very nature of universities. While many have adopted new technologies and the resources and expertise to manage them, this is only an initial step. Libraries are experimenting with organizational models that will transform their work capacity and expertise. The goal of these libraries is being an entity that feeds and produces collaborative synergies…

Read More

April 2, 2013, 2:56 pm

The Art of Problem Discovery (Invited Paper, ACRL 2013)

banner_problem_discovery

I was invited to present a paper at ACRL based upon my entrepreneurial writings. I decided to write about the pursuit of good problems, which has become a guiding philosophy in my work. I think it’s going to be a good talk. I’m having fun putting the content together and it addresses a different piece of the innovation discussion.

 

Friday, April 12, 1:30PM, Wabash 2-3, Indianapolis Convention Center

 

Here is the closing thought that sums it all up:

Our intention should never be to give people what they want. Rather, through the art of problem discovery, we can design and develop the capacities, service models, and solutions necessary to deliver what people need in order to accomplish the outcomes they desire.  (more)

 

 

January 28, 2013, 3:34 pm

Dear Mark Cuban… some thoughts I’d like to share about libraries

 

This is an actual note that I sent:

Dear Mr. Cuban,

I’m a fan of Shark Tank. I’ve learned a lot from watching the panel evaluate business prospects. Thanks for making the show exciting and educational.

 

I wanted to share a note regarding your recent post Will Your College Go Out Of Business Before Your Graduate? There are a lot of conversations right now about where higher education is heading. I appreciate your focus on the business model aspect. As a father myself, the affordability of education is definitely on my mind too.

 

I’m writing because of a comment you made questioning why anyone would construct new libraries. Today, libraries are some of the busiest buildings on campuses across the country. As more and more information migrates to online platforms, library spaces are transforming into knowledge or content creation centers. They are hubs for…

Read More

January 14, 2013, 3:17 pm

FOCUSING YOUR FOCUS GROUPS: Ten Ways They Can Enhance Discovery

I saw that there was a session at midwinter talking about focus groups. Since I won’t be there I wanted to take a few minutes and share my thoughts. I don’t have the original announcement, but I was disappointed with the phrasing. It asked something like are focus groups effective? I would prefer a conversation around how to use focus groups effectively.

 

I have found thematic conversations with various user (and non-user) segments to be an important component of my discovery strategy. Focus groups often get knocked because of three main things: loud people dominate the discussion, people tend to tell you what they think you want to hear, and people can’t imagine breakthrough change. Those are all legit criticisms, however, if you plan according you can neutralize those issues.

 

Students working through an…

Read More

January 4, 2013, 3:53 pm

SEARCH MORE, PLAN LESS: in defense of 3D printing

Happy 2013. I’ve been intrigued by William Easterly’s searchers/planners philosophy. Here is a good summary:

 

The searcher admits that he or she doesn’t have the answer in advance and he or she takes responsibility for decisions that are made. The searcher conforms to local conditions and searches for local solutions. (UUB)

 

The planner tends to overgeneralize and makes assumptions about how things should be before taking unique conditions into account.

 

I was struck by a dissenting view on the value of 3D printers in libraries. Anytime someone use phrases like mission creep or mission critical to try and squash new ideas then I know they are stuck in functional fixedness. In this view, the role and operation of libraries fits into a nicely defined box and trying to rearrange (or introduce new) components in the box is a challenge because it doesn’t match…

Read More

October 30, 2012, 9:39 pm

R&D @ VT — a quick glance @ LearnHUB

Yesterday at the Library Assessment Conference I presented my paper about R&D. I wanted to share a bit on how we’re actualizing this philosophy and combining it with startup thinking at Virginia Tech.

 

We’re working on outlining a CORE & HUB model:

 

CORE functions and services are foundational programs, processes, and services that are executed by library faculty and staff. They currently exist as mature program offerings. Examples are: reference, circulation, instruction, cataloging, etc. Core functions and services are managed and carried out by existing library departments.

 

HUBS are organizational units consisting of library faculty and staff working together on emerging themes of strategic importance.

Hubs work in a number of ways:

1) as an ‘R&D lab’ to explore, imagine, and brainstorm new roles and activities for the Libraries and deeper…

Read More

October 22, 2012, 1:08 pm

Containers for Information or Platforms for Scholarship? R&D and the Networked Perspective

In seven days I’ll be giving a talk on R&D for academic libraries but here is the enhanced version of the conference paper. This is a follow-up (actually a sequel) to Think Like A Startup. I described the intentions of this paper last month so I’ll save us all from repetition. The key point is that assessment programs should be engines for change seeking progress not sustainment.

I reread the paper on Saturday and the thing that stood out was how much content I had to cut in order to get it into the ballpark of the conference’s word limitations.

If this paper is too long for you (or if you think assessment is boring) then at least go watch Dan Pink’s Ted Talk. The part about “functional fixedness” is critical and it highlights the potential tunnel vision we can develop preventing us from empowering the evolution of libraries.

Another key point is the need to…

Read More