Category Archives: Spaces&Places

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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September 10, 2014, 4:04 pm

Wait. Stop. What is a photocopy? Three insights from our Library Student Advisory Board

The mission of our Library Student Advisory Board is to help us gain a better understanding of the student experience at our university. We talk about a lot of different ideas and issues. I want to share three that surprised me.

Photocopying? We were talking about printing and I asked the students if they ever photocopied (we have all-in-one machines that do printing, copying, and scanning) and the students were silent. After some strange looks someone finally asked what’s a photocopy?

Apparently everything is a print these days. Reproduction of a page of paper doesn’t seem to be a very common activity. I explained what it was and felt like I was describing a telegraph. I guess with journals migrating to predominately digital formats that most undergrads do not need to photocopy articles. Most of their own content is digital as well — so there is no copying notes, forms, or…

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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 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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April 28, 2014, 1:45 am

Are Hackathons The Classrooms Of Tomorrow? My journey to the frontier of education

VT Hacks, 2014.

Last weekend I unexpectedly stumbled into a learning community. It was at a hackathon on my campus called VT Hacks. I was familiar with these types of events at places like Facebook and even in academic libraries, but this was my first opportunity to attend one.

I knew people would be writing code, but I didn’t anticipate the wide range of hardware that they would be programing: quadcopters, glass, Kinect, iBeacons, 3D printers, leap motion, Pebble watches, Fitbits, oculus Rifts, and Raspberry pi. It was eye opening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent a total of ten hours across three days observing and interviewing participants. I knew I wanted to blog about it, but I wasn’t exactly sure what my angle would be.

VT Hacks (which happened over Easter Weekend) drew together over 400…

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April 18, 2014, 2:37 pm

Google as Place – two years later

Two years ago this week I visited the Googleplex. It was a mind-stretching experience. I also went to PARC, d school, the lobby of IDEO, Facebook, a handful of startups, and a few accelerators. It was a fantastic and exhausting journey. Google stood out for its blend of hospitality and the sheer shock-and-awesomeness of the place.

As I reflect back– these are the things that stuck with me:

Everything you’ve read is true! Google consistently ranks highly in the best places to work listings. Nap pods. Yoga studios. Meditation spots. Childcare. Laundry. Free shuttles. The bikes. It’s all there. I knew that it would be but seeing it live is unbelievable—in a positive sense. It was like being on a movie set. It was the most amazing and comforting place I could ever imagine.

Diverse spaces. I was able to visit four different buildings. While they each had “the Google look &…

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February 12, 2014, 6:35 pm

DO LIBRARIES NEED A USER MANIFESTO? Policies that inspire rather than prohibit

nuspark2Last week was the opening of NuSpark in Blacksburg.  It’s a pre-incubator for startups—I guess that makes it a conception center? Basically people who have business or project ideas can gather and hack at it. Teams can apply for (reserved) workspace but there is also an open commons area for anyone to drop in.

nuspark1

I’m planning to do a full post on their story and philosophy sometime in April. Co-working environments have been a great inspiration to me for library renovations; we can learn by watching groups build ideas. This space is ideal for students and I want to explore that theme a bit further.

This is something that caught my eye:

user_manifesto

 

 

 

 

 User Manifesto

  • Create and innovate
  • Always add value
  • Encourage others to express their thoughts and opinions
  • Actively listen to feedback
  • Hold information of others in confidence
  • Validate ideas with…

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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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