As someone on the younger side of library leadership, I sometimes worry about my role over the next few decades. Will it involve dismantling the print collections that librarians have invested the last century building? Will budget cuts greatly reduce staffing levels? Will we be constantly justifying our existence since everything is online?
There is a general bleakness about the future of higher education itself so it is easy to worry about the long-term stewardship of our organizations. That’s what I appreciate about this document from the ARL sessions — it presents an optimistic and opportunistic, bold vision for the future. Thanks ARL.
I’ve been thinking about the phrase organizational imprinting a lot. The idea goes that organizations are formed around the economic, political, social, and technological realities of their time and that it is challenging to move on from the starting premise. It’s another way of saying “but we’ve always done it this way.”
This imprinting concept appears frequently in the retail literature: “the lens through which an organization views the world can be so badly obscured by its founding context that the organization becomes unable to change.”
I’ve enjoyed using Google Glass. It connected me with faculty in new ways—from pedagogical experiments and brainstorming about research and instructional needs, to serving on panel discussions and informal talks about applying technology in new ways.
Faculty panel @ Virginia Tech talking about Glass.
I has been interesting watching Ralph Hall (Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs & Planning) build a Glass Community at Virginia Tech. As new invitations to purchase the hardware become available, this group actively recruits faculty and staff from around campus to join the team.
Finals kicked off today at Virginia Tech. I have to admit that I actually like this time of the semester because of the intensity that students bring. I love being surrounded by mass-productivity!
I was looking through our school newspaper this morning and found a library-themed bingo card. There are a lot of tongue-and-cheek elements, but it was nice to see this unexpected and unsolicited shout-out for the library. I think they could have done some more unusual things (like someone spinning) but we’ll take the free publicity. Enjoy:
Blog Break: I have a handful of posts in the works but I’m planning to take a short hiatus. I hope to get back to blogging on June 1… if not sooner.
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.
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 &…
What if Obama paid for your Elsevier subscription? Or rather—what if the federal government covered the expense? Package it as a STEM or innovation initiative– something along those lines.
This is a hypothetical question, but obviously the free thinking from last week has carried over.
The short of it: there is a lot of conversation around open access and federal mandates for data and publications, but that feels like a slow road. The prestige of commercial journals is too ingrained—so how about a different approach?
What if we changed the scale? Instead of individual libraries (or consortiums) battling it out with the likes of Elsevier and other academic publishers (I’ll never forget the audacity of Nature’s 400% increase!) — what if the government purchased access to major academic journals (and eBook packages?) for all citizens. Or all households? Or for anyone…
I’m serving on a “Student Experience Task Force”— which among other things is exploring the relationship between residence halls, classrooms, laboratories, dining facilities, student centers, libraries, gyms, and outdoor spaces across my campus—with an eye toward long-term strategies. This is a yearlong process.
Our first assignment was to “free think” one possibility twenty to thirty years from now. These ideas were not expected to be grounded in reality— but to intentionally be provocative, disruptive, or transformative.
Virginia Tech: Burchard Hall. A desk for every student
Mine was to do away with classrooms. Instead of lecture halls I would give every student their own desk or workbench—similar to what you find in architecture departments. There is an amazing community that forms around…
Jer Thorp talking with the Honors Residential Community @ Virginia Tech
Last week we hosted data artist Jer Thorp for several days. As part of our Distinguished Innovator in Residence Program (a partnership between University Libraries and TLOS with others contributing as well) we bring in creative thinkers to meet with students, brainstorm with faculty, give a public lecture, and essentially spark new conversations across campus. I highly recommend his Ted Talk.
I was fortunate to hear Jer speak four different times to diverse audiences. A theme that surfaced and resonated with us was the notion of Data Across the Curriculum, which is analogous to Writing Across the Curriculum. Our CIO added, “what if we had a common data set?” similar to the Common Book concept. Imagine the interdisciplinary possibilities …
ACRL is working to redefine Information Literacy: draft. I’m very happy to see that Threshold Concepts are making it into the conversation. I would like to offer one suggestion: change literacy. I have a forthcoming essay in portal that will hopefully be out this summer, but here is an unedited snippet that touches in the concept. In short, I view the ability to anticipate, create, adapt, and deal with change (in the broadest since) as a vital fluency for people today. If we treat change as a literary then we can better prepare students for the challenges they will face tomorrow.
Forthcoming in portal (July 2014):
Librarians have long been invested in literacy. Historically this involved advocating for reading, and several decades ago information literacy emerged as a focal point for academic libraries. Today new literacies such as data, visual, digital, health…
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is Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech. This blog is about designing better user experiences and the pursuit of use-sensitive libraries.
In his new book, Brian Mathews speaks directly to the academic library practitioner. The guiding principle, that marketing should focus on the lifestyle of the user, showcases how the library fits within the daily life of students.