Tag Archives: libraries

April 7, 2011, 12:22 pm

Reframing the Concept of Plagiarism, Or What I Learned From Banksy

I really enjoyed the Banksy movie. The first half was especially fascinating, chronicling the rise of street art. The second half seemed a bit fantastical, but I’ll suspend my disbelief for the sake of entertainment.


The film made me think of a recent project that we had in our library. It was titled Motivational Reflections and brought a street art vibe into some of our bathrooms.


The short version of the story: An enthusiastic student ends up in my office. She pitches an idea for a class project involving bathroom mirrors. Right away I was worried.


She goes on to outline a creative and inspiring idea. I’ve encountered numerous students with crazy ideas, but I must commend this one for being very organized. She had drawings, a timeline, a statement of purpose, descriptions, etc. It was well thought out. How could I refuse?


Basically her goal was to create a serendipitously…

Read More

July 28, 2010, 12:01 pm

More Thoughts On Mobile Presence: some ideas for libraries

In recent months I’ve
noticed numerous people finding my blog by searching for things like “library
iphone app.” They are finding my post:
Apps and the Library (if you can’t build one, join one)
What I found admirable about that
project was that it was student driven. The students, rather than the campus,
saw a need and filled it.


Here at
UCSB we don’t have that option. Our library mobile presence has been on the
backburner for a while, but let me share our story so far—


Through a chance
conversation I heard a rumor that someone was exploring a campus-wide iPhone
app. I asked around and got a lot of “no idea what you’re talking about” but finally
pinned it down to a programmer in Student Affairs who was working on a


I met with him in April and we
had a very inspiring talk. He shared that 30% of the web traffic they get to
the course registration …

Read More

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…

Read More

July 12, 2010, 4:03 pm

Even Overdue Fine Notices Should Show Some Personality: Branded Messages & The Little Cloud Concept

So we’re gearing up for the
next academic year. Time to get all the messaging together and figure out what
we want to say to our different audiences. I’ve been doing a bit of an
inventory on all of our touch points—all the unique spots in which we interact
with our users via various formats, and wondering if we are consistently on


Big picture… what I mean is,
we are working to build the brand identity of the library as a welcoming, productive
and scholarly entity… but does that transfer throughout the entire user
experience? And I’m thinking more globally here, not just at UCSB.


This brings me back to an
idea I had about two years ago involving email notifications regarding book
requests: The Little Cloud Concept. I tend to borrow a lot of books from other
libraries. It’s always cool to get that email letting you know that an item has


On one…

Read More

June 13, 2010, 9:43 pm

A glimpse into the future of the classroom: how the Steelcase node will change the way we teach


This week is NeoCon,
the big show in the furniture world. I really hope to make it out there someday
because I want to experience what’s new in the world of design. It would be
cool to check out Stride
and the Vox
this year.


One new product that I am really excited about is the Steelcase
. I hinted about this back
in March
but wasn’t able to reveal anything more at that time. Steelcase
has been really cool about it though and granted me an interview with
Sean Corcorran, Director, Product Development & Marketing,
Education Solutions (and former
IDEO guy.) They also gave me some prototypes and sketches that I can
share. I’m planning to do several posts this week about the node, but for now
let’s take a look at what it’s all about:



My initial reaction was that it
looked kinda cool, but so what. It has the tablet-like arm, which they refer…

Read More

May 5, 2010, 11:38 am

Assessing Your Greenness: a serendipitous stroll toward sustainability

Last week a student walked
into the admin office with an idea. He was very excited and enthusiastic. He
suggested that we get rid of the paper towel dispensers and install the new quick
dry systems like they have in McDonalds. Apparently there are newer models that
are much improved over the older style. I’ve discovered that there is much debate on this topic.


The student and I talked for
a good 15 minutes: the environmental impact, workload, sanitation, noise,
costs, etc. It was good to go through the process. To me the conversation
wasn’t necessarily about hand dryers, but about brainstorming and encouraging
this student to ponder the outcomes. I’m not opposed to the idea but the two
concerns I have are the sanitation of the “activate” button, and the noise that
the machines might make in our quiet study zones.


All and all it was a good
talk. I told him I was exploring a …

Read More

April 8, 2010, 12:02 pm

Think Like The Beatles: tapping into the expressive nature of web redesigns

One of the projects I’m working on right now is a web redesign. Actually I’m calling it a renovation because we’ve pretty much demolished everything and are rebuilding from scratch. This has been a very long process but I think I can see some light around the bend. Pushing for an August launch.

We’re moving into Drupal. This will give us a new look—a more modular flavor. It will change the workflow of managing our site and content, hopefully for the better. But regardless of the site’s architecture we’ve had some good conversations about what a library website should be. The trend (which I’m guilty of myself) has been to talk about features, rather than functions. We’re trying to make our site extremely useable, not in the sense of ease-of-use (although I hope for that too!) but rather as a core utility in the learning experience. There are some 2.0 elements, but…

Read More

March 26, 2010, 1:48 pm

If you have a serious question don’t turn to KGB: the story of how this for-profit text ref service fails

A few years ago during the
NCAA Basketball Tournament Questia
was dropping a lot of cash on commercials, essentially trying to lure college
kids (or their parents) into monthly subscriptions for materials that most of
them probably already had access to. The real product though wasn’t the books
and articles per se, but the idea of getting information via an easy-to-use
centralized interface. A dream that academic libraries have failed to provide
(although we’re getting closer with products like SUMMON.)

This year I’ve been seeing
ads for the text service KGB. They are
not a new company, in fact I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time but
it took a
state holiday
to free up the time. Anyway KGB purports to offer “high-quality
answers on the go” for 99 cents. They are appealing to mobile users everywhere
who just want answers. Looking at their sample questions online the…

Read More

January 22, 2010, 11:38 am

In the Scene: highlighting creativity on campus

How about a fun post for a rainy Friday…

At most universities the athletes get a lot of attention. So do the people who win scholarly awards and whatnot… but what about the creative types? I’m not talking about the guy who ends up on American Idol or the grad student who publishes a book. I’m talking about the person studying in your library right now. The girl who plays her guitar at the local coffee shop and has some tracks on iTunes. Or the guy who writes existential poetry and is directing a black and white film on the weekends. These are the people who fascinate me. These are the people who add character to the college experience… and these are the people that I want to help.

One of my guiding principles is that academic libraries should highlight the scholarly, cultural, creative, and service contributions of the community. Not only highlight, but strive to make them…

Read More

January 21, 2010, 4:37 pm

The spirit of angst lives strong in Seattle

When I publish my next book I’ll be sure to add “blowjobby” author of Next Steps to the promotional packet. That’s what a writer for The Stranger, Seattle’s alt newspaper, labeled me. I guess it is better than crickets chirping, but still—librarians get no respect.  And people wonder why newspapers are dying? Looking back at the writer’s archive of work he seems like he has a chip on his shoulder and is channeling the spirit of talk radio by taking things out of context and then trying to cause problems—while simultaneously posturing his angsty hipster image. I could be wrong but that’s how it looks to me. We’ll get to that.

First the column. The idea sprouted on a trip to UW-Madison. I wanted to write a follow-up book about the inspiring qualities of libraries. My foray into marketing left an impression on me about building a brand. It was fascinating to hear from…

Read More