Category Archives: Spaces&Places

January 6, 2014, 3:41 pm

THE HARM OF BOOKLESSNESS

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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?

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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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October 10, 2013, 2:50 pm

Libraries and GLASS: 7 things to think about as wearable computing emerges

glass_officeI joined the Google Glass community last week. A Glass Explorer at Virginia Tech invited me in and it has been an interesting experience so far. We are forming a cohort of Glass Explorers on our campus. This is an effort to apply the technology to both teaching and research situations.

Together the four of us will be exploring new practices and we also want to develop applications that could benefit higher ed. I’m glad that the library was invited in the mix; it’s interesting to observe the way faculty think and to contribute to the venture.

I’ll post more about our progress in the coming months but today I wanted to share a few quick observations about Glass and libraries:

1. QR codes mean something now
I’ve never liked QR codes. They’ve always felt desperate to me. It is very awkward to hold up a phone or tablet and to click an app or button. Glass changes that and …

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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…

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May 8, 2013, 4:31 pm

Adobe and the end of the world… of local software?

I’m still pondering the news that Adobe is dropping Creative Suite and betting it all on Creative Cloud. They are turning away from locally installed client software and moving fully to an online platform. It feels like a radical departure and I’m still trying to understand the business model. I’m also bummed that they are killing Fireworks, but maybe I’m showing my age?

 

We are working on a library renovation and a topic that comes up is desktops. A number of these are necessary for specialized software, but what if all software applications flow to the cloud? Maybe what we really need to plan is for really nice monitors and a fast data connection?

 

Thinking beyond hardware… does software become similar to journal subscriptions in which users authenticate and proxy in? Will we provide campus-wide subscriptions to everyone or perhaps on-demand (use as you go)…

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March 18, 2013, 5:41 pm

Merchandising the Circ Desk: the importance of visual cues

As part of an upcoming renovation we’re spending a lot of time thinking about engagement and how to stage positive and productive user experiences. I met with members of our team last week to talk about current and anticipated interactions and touch points within our library.

 

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What’s the visual cue here?

Lauren got me thinking about visual cues. For example, does your reference desk invite people to linger-and-learn or does it promote short discussions? At VT we’re seeing fewer questions overall, but we’re investing more time per person on instructional topics. So the issue becomes: how might we reshape the “getting help experience” to signify and accommodate long conversations?

 

This applies to circulation too. Much of their activity consists of quick transactions: grab-and-go. But consider…

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February 23, 2013, 8:51 pm

ARCHITECTS ARE DISRUPTERS: building frameworks for change

I had a strange strong emotional response yesterday. It has subsided but still lingers slightly.

 

Let’s back up. When I interviewed at Virginia Tech one of the duties presented was to lead massive renovations. Unlike others, we don’t have $105$115 million in the bank. The libraries that win design awards are always grand new constructions or sizeable renovations. There should be award for lean libraries, not just landmark ones. Our approach is pure bootstrapping, entrepreneurial, and startup: ideate a need, design a program, hustle the cash, implement, iterate, iterate, iterate.

 

The past year has been about ideation and program development around our second floor. We’re shaping and funding it bit by bit. The generosity of an alumnus has already given us a start but our students haven’t seen anything yet.

 

I’ve spoken about the concept with over 300…

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February 19, 2013, 2:40 pm

SCALING UP THE LIBRARY

We’re opening our SCALE-UP classroom today. This is a joint venture between the Library and the College of Science. It was one of the first projects that my Dean gave me upon arrival. We already have two classrooms that are computer lab-based models, but like a lot of libraries, our instructional demands are increasing and we not only needed more space—but a different type of space. The College of Science was also looking for more instructional space so it was mutually beneficial. They already have a successful SCALE-UP classroom – so this is an extension of that effort.

 

I had my first meeting with them in January 2012—and now thirteen months later we have a great classroom. Not quite startup speed, but it was a complex project. Many people were involved with this—from financing (thanks Provost & COS) to collection reviews and shifting. Our facilities team also kept…

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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…

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September 5, 2012, 1:33 pm

What if you’re the Laggard? The story of the SPUN chair

Quick post to get this blog rolling again.

 

Last week our Herman Miller rep dropped off a SPUN chair for us to try out. As soon as I saw it I had a negative reaction. It was just too silly and impractical. When you spin around in it you feel like you’re going to fall off.

 

The story could have ended there.

 

The next day I heard library staff talking about it. They had seen it in the mailroom when it arrived and in the lobby of the Dean’s Office. It was mysterious. It was unusual. It was cool. Had I missed the point?

 

Like any good startup I knew that we had to test the concept with potential users. We put it out on the main floor and invited students to share their thoughts on Facebook and to tag the library.

 

Last night we had eight students offer comments, two included photos of themselves in the chair. That’s pretty good for the second week of …

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