Category Archives: Uncategorized

October 24, 2009, 6:41 pm

Nobel Laureate Envisions Data Curated Future

Well, look who has returned to his blog. I know… it has been awhile. Too long in fact, but I have not had a lot of time for reflection. I’m finally finding my place here and I’m excited about several projects in the works. More to share as things come together.

Last week was open access week. The big news over here was the UC’s launch of the new eScholarship. In a nutshell, they seem to be rebranding themselves from an institutional repository into a scholarly publishing service. The new interface is more intuitive and there are lots of great new bells and whistles, but… it is PDF-focused, which is too limiting for my tastes. As we head into the second decade of the 21st century we need be archiving multimedia and data, not just docs. And I’m not alone—

Two weeks ago, I spoke with recent Nobel Laureate Carol W. Greider. She was gracious enough to fit The Ubiquitous…

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August 26, 2009, 12:41 pm

A plea to the ACRL 2011 planners

It’s time to dust off this blog again. I have
lots to share, but no time to write— so this will be a quick one.
I’ll hopefully have some interesting (or at least new) content in the upcoming weeks—deep into the planning process
right now.

I have to say that I would be extremely
displeased with ACRL if they brought in
Mark Bauerlein. If you are going that
direction why not go all the way and bring in Glen Beck, Limbaugh, or someone
else from that “hate economy”? Actually, what would be really cool is having
Colbert debate Bauerlein. Seriously though, negativity is not the way to go,
especially in a horrendous economy. I suggest someone with a positive upbeat
message that is actually practical. A person who can talk about heading into
the future instead of someone stuck in the past.

Van Jones perhaps? I’m totally digging his Green

Or Wired columnist Clive…

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July 16, 2009, 8:26 pm

Furloughs and the spirit of generosity 

So you might have heard, the ten campuses of the University of California are going to be furloughed. Great time to move here, huh? There are still a lot of details to be worked out but the bottom-line comes down to around 16-18 unpaid days off. We've known this might be coming for several weeks now. At first I thought I'd use this time to tour around California; I really want to visit San Francisco. Then I thought maybe I'll use the time for various writing projects. However a new plan has emerged.

While I was at ALA last week I met with Leonard Kniffel, Editor of American Libraries. In passing he mentioned that during his furlough week he taught at UW-Madison. I really liked this idea. It is a great way to turn a negative situation into a positive and productive encounter. I plan to adopt a similar approach. Any library school that is interested– I'll happily donate some of my…

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June 15, 2009, 9:49 am

The Ubiquitous Librarian Returns: things I’ve been working on

Do I miss Atlanta?


Nah, not really. After living in Orlando, Washington DC, and Atlanta I was ready to move to a quieter part of the country. Coastal California suites me fine.

I am starting Week 3 here at UCSB. There are already several projects underway. I’ll post about those further down the road, but in the meantime here are a few things you might be interested in.

I have an editorial in the current issue of Library Journal titled “Libraries & the Inspiration Business.” I tried to build a case for libraries as a transformative experience. That is hard to do with just 800 words, so here is the hour-long version I did at Simmons College a few months ago.

If you want to hear me blabber some more, check out this 15 minute interview about the user experience stuff at Georgia Tech. Erin Dorney also wrote a very kind piece in the current issue of CRL News. Thanks Erin. A lot of …

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May 13, 2009, 6:14 am

Goodbye Georgia Tech Library

So this is it—today is my last day. I’m excited about the work ahead, but I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the past four and a half years.  The Georgia Tech Library has been very good to me. The culture is well suited for someone with big crazy empathic ideas. Thanks to the Information Services Department for hiring me and to Admin for trusting me with this whole “user experience” thing. I was definitely in the right place at the right time, and I appreciate it.

Looking back there is only one project that stands out as a disappointment: The Library Blimp. I was talking with a robotics professor about using a roomba as a mobile advertising-bot. He shunned the idea and instead suggested using a blimp. This moved forward and he had a class working on the project. (He used his budget which was nice!) Essentially, the plan was to have a small blimp with a webcam floating around…

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May 1, 2009, 1:21 pm

5 next-gen library catalogs and 5 students: their initial impressions

This is something I’ve been sitting on for awhile now, sorry for my lack of blog time. It was a very quick and dirty study, but it gives you something to think about.

Ok, so there has been a lot of hype in recent years about building the Next-Generation Catalog. Here at GT we launched ours based on VuFind. I didn’t want to test our implementation but rather I wanted to hear what my students thought about other so-called Next Gen Cats. So I asked them.

I invited five Georgia Tech students (various majors) to volunteer (damn, the price of coffee isn’t what it used to be) to conduct a basic keyword search on five next-gen library catalogs. Basically, I told them that I wanted their first impressions, whatever came to mind. I told them to think about it as if I were designing a new catalog, tell me what they liked and disliked. Granted, it’s not very scholarly, I admit it, but I wanted…

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April 24, 2009, 8:45 am

just a grab-bag of stuff

I’ve been on the road for what feels like forever— here is a quick grab-bag post to get things rolling again.

They take trash seriously UW-Madison: a garbage receptacle at every desk!

Print1 Print2
We often seem to have hiccups with our print system. Perhaps this is a novel approach we should consider:  the honor system. (I was actually shocked to see students putting money it the cup—oh those quaint liberal arts college students.)

Always consider your audience. During semester breaks we have a surge in Chinese students, and so we try to speak with them as directly as possible.

A few weeks ago I was walking to the parking deck when I came across this sign.
I was mildly interested but kept on walking. A few yards further I saw another sign.

And then another and another—and decided to alter my path. What was this mysterious “culture”? Long story short, it directed me to a room that…

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March 26, 2009, 11:37 am

Who else is using Twitter? Championing Social Media Around Campus.

There has been a growing interest in Twitter by librarians—actually by people in general. Over the past two months I’ve noticed a surge in new people joining the service.

It was reported at ACRL 2009 that “only librarians are using Twitter” in the context that students were not. I must humbly disagree. This is a perfect example of the problem of over generalization (which I am guilty of all the time!) and the need to keep it local. I counted over two hundred GT student accounts. Perhaps that is considered small compared to a population of 18,000 but 200+ people using a still-emerging technology is huge. There are far more students than librarians using Twitter at my institution. I would assume that with the proliferation of iPhones and iPhone-wannabe’s that mobile-focused websites will continue to grow rapidly.

Libraries & Twitter:  that’s an old conversation. (I wrote a column…

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March 23, 2009, 9:36 am

Marketing Today’s Academic Library – available today


ALA sent me ten complimentary copies of my book this weekend. I read it on Saturday and it was strange—it was like reading someone else’s book. The original manuscript was finished in September, so it’s been a while. I wish I had worked just a little faster so that I could have had a chance to sell a few copies at ACRL, but that’s how it goes.

I really have to thank ALA Editions, particularly Laura Pelehach, for taking a risk on me. I have not always shared the most popular views of our profession and people look at me strange whenever I talk about things like need states, psychodemographics, coolhunting, recall, and permission marketing; this book will probably confuse them even more. Thanks to J. Michael Jeffers for helping me down the home stretch. Tara Patterson and Dottie Hunt were also immensely helpful, and I addressed them in the acknowledgments. Thanks to Del Ross for a…

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March 11, 2009, 11:48 am

Is there a librarian in the vicinity? Geosocial Reference Services

I have been dabbling with two apps on my phone: Loopt and WhosHere. These programs allow you to create a profile and then see other people who are nearby and have the software installed on their phones too. I created a very librarian-centric profile and put it out there to see what would happen.

In two weeks I received four messages:

  1. One was from someone unaffiliated with the school asking me to explain the Dewey System. He was joking around. DDS seems to be a favorite comedic theme for non-librarians. We then spoke (texted) about the “death” of print newspapers for about 15 minutes.
  2. One was from a student asking me why the library closed on Saturday night.
  3. One was from a student asking why he had to log-in all the time to get eJournals, even though he was on the campus wireless connection.
  4. One was from a random person asking me “what’s up?”

All and all, not terribly…

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