Category Archives: Writing&Talking

July 23, 2012, 3:48 pm

Data-Driven Decision-Making vs. Discovery-Driven Planning (don’t measure a butterfly using the metrics of a caterpillar)

I’ve been thinking a lot about caterpillars lately. I read the Very Hungry Caterpillar to my son every night and it always makes me think of organizations going through transformative change.

What’s fascinating to me isn’t just the physical transformation that occurs. Obviously sprouting wings and becoming more colorful is amazing, but the internal composition changes too. Their appetites change. Their digestive systems change. But what really gets me is the perception-shifting that must occur. Imagine you’re stuck crawling on the ground and slowly climbing trees, flowers and bushes then suddenly you’re able to fly–to move nimbly. Imagine the cognitive transformation that first day when life is about exploring a much wider universe.

You think ARL will be ok with me citing a children’s book? I also want to pitch Willy Wonka as the role model for R&D. That’s for another …

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June 6, 2012, 4:04 pm

Hack the Learner Experience, or Get Yourself Some Pedagogical Perspective

Let’s keep this rolling for all the ubiquitous librarians out there. I want to post more but the tradeoff is that I need to write less. You know, only so much time in the day/night…

I mentioned back in January that Char Booth and I were working on a project together. That’s finally wrapped up and we packaged it all together:

Understanding the Learner Experience: Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Mapping


There is a paper along with links to a video of our presentation and some slides. I’ll let the content speak for itself, but I wanted to highlight a few things:


  • It was great working with Char. I tend to push things a bit far sometimes and she pushes ideas even further. Not only is she a good designer but is also skilled at the art of rhetoric too. Char and I are interested in working together again in late 2013 or 2014, so if someone has an interesting…

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January 11, 2012, 2:51 pm

The Rise of the Learner Experience Librarian

I’m excited to finally be collaborating with Char Booth. We’ve been seeking a project for several years now and finally found one in the form of an invited paper and co-presentation at CARL 2012.

This is our venture:

Understanding the Learner Experience: Threshold Concepts and Curriculum Mapping
In order to improve library instruction, we need to develop a richer understanding of the holistic learning and teaching experience of our institutions. Threshold concepts are core ideas in a particular area or discipline that, once understood, transform perceptions of that subject. Curriculum mapping is a method of visualizing insight into the courses, requirements, and progressions a learner negotiates as they pass through a particular department or degree. When understood and applied in tandem, these strategies provide a powerful means of developing actionable insight into the learner…

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October 31, 2011, 5:16 pm

Last Column for American Libraries (and other writing projects)

My last column for American Libraries is out. I pitched the column together with a book back in summer 2009. I remember drafting the email on my phone in an airport during a layover. I’m grateful that ALA took a chance on it.


The series was intended to run three years, but I felt it was hard to sustain after two. You can only profile so many “inspiring” libraries before it becomes mundane.  That’s sort of how I feel about Movers & Shakers but that’s more of a dinner conversation at ALA. I’ve very happy with the diversity of the libraries that I interviewed, but this was a good place to stop.


The book and column were intended to support each other, however, the book drifted in a different direction and hit all types of snags. The column has been fun, but it started to feel like a chore rather than an expression and so I knew I had to let it go. Before American …

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July 21, 2010, 8:42 am

Book and a Baby: life update

I’ve hinted at writing another book. Now it’s official. I
signed a contract with ALA Editions. The manuscript is due to them in January
2012. The first one
was a growth experience because it really pushed me to think differently on how
I viewed my job and the library profession.


In terms of size and commitment… obviously there is a big
difference between writing a 5,000-word article and a 55,000-word book. But
it’s more than length—it’s sustaining a concept, building a story, and
hopefully leaving people with positive ideas. I really wanted to capture a
particular emotion (excitement) and for the most part I think that worked out.


Contractually, it was a marketing book, but I wanted to
project my public service orientation, especially in the epilogue. To me– that
book was more about interacting with students rather than “marketing” advice.


The new book has been…

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