February 10, 2012, 6:59 pm
Software. I’ve been hearing a lot about visualization lately. Obviously it’s been around a awhile, but it’s gathering new interest from more popular audiences. As these tools/techniques become more readily available and easier to use, visualization will likely become a prominent communications outlet. I will not only read an article but also be able to manipulate the adjoining data. Aspiring librarians should invest in developing visualization and visual literacy skills. This is a logical extension of multimedia and new media and it applies to both scholarly and popular contexts. Here’s an app to get you started.
Research libraries have long been building infrastructure to support data management and the UC has even recently launched a data plan generation tool. It seems to next step is the development of an open-source, user-friendly, discipline scalable visualization tool. …
February 3, 2012, 6:01 pm
I’ve been talking with students about their preferred work/study spaces around campus. The Math Emporium, aka The Empo is one that gets mentioned often. In short: located in strip mall across from campus, bus service, dining and gym in the same complex, 500+ Macs, lots of software, open 24/7, and it has an app. Here is a good descriptive chapter via Educause.
The thing that struck me during the conversation is the assistance service model. Students who encounter a challenging math problem or who have software issues can place a red cup on top of their computer to indicate that they need help. A graduate student or instructor will then approach and provide assistance.
I instantly thought of Fogo de Chão, a great Brazilian restaurant in Buckhead, with tableside service. It works like this: You have a token beside your plate. Flip it to green and your table is swarmed…
January 26, 2012, 5:59 pm
I’m fascinated with how memory (experience) influences habits (behaviors) within a particular space.
When I moved to Blacksburg I discovered Firehouse Subs and now I go there every weekend for lunch. During the workweek I typically bring my lunch, but my go-to lunch spot is Jimmy John’s. Besides my obsession with sandwiches there is something else going on here, cognitively speaking.
There are other places with more convenient and aesthetically pleasing locations, larger and more diverse menus, and possibly better prices or deals. So why am I loyal to those restaurants?
It has something to do with the psychology of place and the whole habit-forming mechanism in our brains. We’re comfortable with the known—and so we keep coming back to it. Also, when it comes to food, I’m not very adventurous. When I find something that works I tend to stick with it. I or…
January 17, 2012, 6:59 pm
Wikipedia and several other web services are going dark tomorrow. They are shutting down– largely to make a political statement, but I can’t help but feel they are also trying to make a point about their cultural value. College students everywhere are lucky it’s not during prime paper-writing season or else they might be forced to actually use their library’s website.
The blackout scenario is something that has playfully come up everywhere I’ve ever worked. The conversation (usually at dinner, in bar, or at the end of an outreach planning meeting late in the afternoon) goes something like this:
People (faculty) don’t appreciate the library. I bet if we turned off our proxy (access to all digital content) for a hour then we’d get their attention. Then they’d see just how important the library is to their research.
Inferiority complex, maybe…
January 11, 2012, 2:51 pm
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…
December 15, 2011, 7:55 pm
I saw an ad in Virginia Tech’s sarcastic newspaper for TechPad, an office space located across the street from campus above a busy restaurant. This is how it’s described online:
An open co-working space with common areas for lounging and two conference rooms. Located above PK’s restaurant in Blacksburg, Virginia, is convenient to downtown shops, restaurants and Virginia Tech’s main campus. Over 10 companies currently work in TechPad.
Amenities include: dual wan broadband, month-to-month flexibility, printer/fax, wifi, 10% off PK’s, on-site mentoring, $3,000 of cloud hosting.
I was fascinated by this concept of a 24 hour, co-working, commons environment, which obviously has some library parallels. And if you know me, then you know that I’ve been obsessed with startup culture lately, so I had to go check it out. At VT we are in the initial stages of renovation planning and…
December 9, 2011, 4:11 pm
Note: this might be a good time for everyone to dust off their emergency planning protocol.
Yesterday was a wild, scary, sad day. My brother is a police officer in Florida so whenever stories like this happen it hits a sensitive spot. My sympathy to the Crouse family. It’s very quiet on campus this morning, but I’ve seen most students wearing VT clothing (it’s actually like that everyday) —so it’s good to see the school pride on display after what happened.
Reflecting on the events yesterday there were three distinct phases:
- The “Probably A False Alarm” aka Waiting Stage
- The “Oh, It’s Real, People Are Shot, Manhunt Is On” aka Chaos Stage
- The “Now What?” aka Quietly, Waiting, Wondering Stage
The campus buildings went on lockdown shortly after the officer was shot. Our staff responded efficiently and professionally securing the library…
December 7, 2011, 5:23 pm
Over Thanksgiving a conversation thread opened along the lines of “are some Universities too big to fail?” With budgets what they are and the doom and gloom prospects looking ahead, combined with a seemingly growing public distrust of higher education—it’s likely we’ll see some schools close, merge, downsize, or even implode over the next few decades.
Leaving that aside—what about libraries? In the ARL world you hear conversations about branch libraries closing or merging all the time—it’s largely economics. But what about academic libraries in general? Specifically the concept of the central/main unified library? Is the library too big (valuable) of an organization to fail? I’m looking at the next 30 years and have to consider what happens when/if budgets are not only cut to the bone, but even to the point where we might have to lose a few bones and some…
November 29, 2011, 8:36 pm
Stewardship. This is a word that gets thrown around all the time. The concept being—we (library employees) don’t own the spaces, collections, processes, or technologies—we’re just stewards of the institution’s investment.
It wasn’t until this year that I started to get that. (more on that later) Previously I viewed things very personally: my reference desk, my online chat service, my collection, my learning commons, my website, etc. Well, maybe not mine, but ours, as in those of us who worked in the library owned these assets.
And sure there is a user-centered movement—we want to strive to involve users in design or design with users in mind—but ultimately it is library employees who make decisions and who make changes happen. This is our thing.
Along these lines I was struck by a passage in Nickel & Dimed where the author reflects on her…
November 2, 2011, 5:26 pm
Today is my last day at UC Santa Barbara. It has been an interesting few years and I’m grateful for the time I spent here. I learned a lot about administration and project management. If I had to pick one thing I enjoyed the most it would probably be our Three Millionth Volume Celebration. There were a lot of intricate parts and it was rewarding experience putting all the pieces together. I gave a short talk at the reception and I remember saying something like “The University loves to celebrate its athletes, but tonight we’re celebrating its artists.” That played well to the artsy/intellectual community.
I enjoyed working with my team and I wish them the best of luck going forward.
I was also very fortunate to meet Don Lubach who has become a great mentor to me. He taught me a lot about Student Affairs and email inbox management.
Next Up: Virginia Tech