Thursday, November 11, 2010

Web Improvement Team Projects

Fall Projects
  • Library Nugget for ANGEL (see screenshot below)

  • LINKS Tutorial - update links to reflect new website & video tutorials

  • LibX Toolbar - install in computer lab in TLC and beyond

  • Google Analytics - use results from site search to improve website

  • Full-Text Options - make interface more user-friendly

Spring Projects
  • Library Catalog

  • Improving Forms on Website

  • Developing New Content - new LibGuides/webpages

  • Customized Nugget for ANGEL

If you have ideas or suggestions for future WIT projects, contact Suzanne B.

Online Students and the Library?

Last week I worked with James Bender's CJUS 101 students to do a library instruction session in Second Life. You can the four students who attended here. The session went well and was a good exercise in thinking about how we can better serve our online students.

One idea I had after the session was to develop a brief tour of the library website in Camtasia highlighting resources for students such as the databases, our catalog, the citing sources guide... Kim and I also talked about inviting some online instructors to our IST meeting next semester to get their ideas. What other ideas do you have for better serving our online students?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LibGuides for Information Literacy Tutorial?

I just read Rachel's post from this summer (oops, I'm a bit behind on my reading) about Bloomberg University of Pennsylvania librarians using LibGuides to create an information literacy tutorial. You can see the tutorial, as well as the article Rachel mentioned in College & Research Libraries News.

Just this week I was thinking about adding an assessment portion to the Writing 121 guide because one type of box that can be added to the guides is a quiz box. I hadn't thought about an entire tutorial in LibGuides, but that sounds like an exciting possibility. What do you all think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Subject vs. Keyword Searching

I was looking at my quiz results from my Writing 121 sessions and I noticed that more students missed the question about the difference between subject vs. keyword searching than any other question. I was talking with Rachel about this at the Reference Desk last night and she gave me a good idea for explaining the concept. She mentioned that she asks the class how can you tell what an article is about without reading it? I thought this was a great idea, so I wanted to ask for other ideas from my colleagues. How do you explain subject vs. keyword?

Monday, October 11, 2010

LITA Conference Report Part 2

For my reference and instruction colleagues, I’ve attended a session on “What can the cloud do for your teaching: using cloud technologies in library instruction” by Chanitra Bishop of Indiana University. In her presentation, she talked about free cloud applications that we can use to spice up our instruction sessions. Among the reasons she gave for why we should use these applications are: it’s accessible anywhere, facilitates sharing, free, no storage issues, and it’s easy to use. I think that the most important reason for using cloud computing applications is that it allows us to engage and introduce our students to new technology. Here are the tools she showed us:


It allows participants to turn in their response to a question so library instructors can have a live poll inside the instruction room. This is good for icebreaker questions like “have you gone to an instruction class before?” or “what do you think should be the answer to…”


This can be used for photo and video creation and sharing. For example, students can create a library video tour to get themselves familiarized with the library. Aside from being fun, it also allows students to take ownership of the project because they’ve made it themselves.

Screenjelly and Screentoaster

Screenjelly is a screencasting tool that allows recording of your screen activity with voice which you can then spread via Twitter or email. Screentoaster is also an online screencasting tool that allows you to capture videos of onscreen action and embed them on blogs or webpages. There’s a lot of ways we can use but for instruction, it’s a good way for students to practice using a database. Instruction librarians can see what the students have learned in terms of searching databases. The students can then view the tutorials at a later time if they want to.

Google forms

This is also a good tool for creating free forms that we can use for workshop and library instruction attendance and even assessment of what the students learned.

Awesome Highlighter

This allows you to highlight text in a webpage to show others an important part of a webpage that you want to highlight. It’s a great tool for website evaluation. It’s easy to use and you don’t need to sign up and create an account.

LITA Conference Report Part 1

I attended the 2010 LITA (Library and Information Technology Association) National Forum in Atlanta last October 1-3, 2010. The theme for this year’s conference was using cloud computing and other cloud services to provide, enhance, and host library services. Cloud computing is an “Internet-based computing whereby shared resource, software, and information are provided to computers and other devises on demand.” Cloud computing and virtualization has been one of the top technology trends in the last two years and it is only now where we are seeing “maturity” and real-life implementation of libraries that decided to take this route.

Among the sessions I’ve attended is “Making your IT Skills Virtual: Tools for Learning How to Implement and Administer Cloud-based Systems” by the systems librarians at Wake Forest University (WFU). In this session, they talked about their experience in moving their library system and infrastructure to the cloud. Essentially, they’ve gotten rid of their university IT and in so doing freed their IT folks the responsibility of hosting their library server, software, and network configuration. They utilized Amazon EC2, a service by Amazon that provides elastic computing capacity in the cloud and allows you to run and configure server instances in a snap. They also used Amazon EBS for to create storage volumes for their servers from 1 GB to 1 TB. Essentially, what Amazon now does is to provide Infrastructure As a Service (IAaS) to libraries and other institutions looking to save money and technical staff time maintaining these servers and storage devises. There are a lot of advantages of going to this route and among them are:

· Lower initial costsà you only pay for what you own

· Flexible and scalable as needed

· Solutions are tailored to fit specific service needs

In addition, they also changed their search interface to VuFind which is an open-source discovery tool designed by Villanova University that allows users to browse and search through resources available in the library by replacing the traditional OPAC. It takes a lot of programming and customization to implement VuFind and I was amazed at how these 4 librarians managed to undertake the scale and complexity that this project entailed. I think that if there’s anybody that can do it, it is them since not only are they librarians but they are also IT experts as well.

One of the keynote speakers in the conference was Roy Tennant where he delivered his presentation “Using the Cloud to Please the Crowd.” He got me on his first slide when he said “Shift Happens!” which is really true because cloud computing has the potential to change the way we manage services and resources in the library. What is good about the cloud is that is is on demand much like electricity. You pay for what you use and if you don’t use it, you don’t pay anything. Cloud computing provides infinite immediately available computer power that is:

· Inexhaustible

· No more RFP for vendors (yehey!)

· No installation and configuration

· Infrastructure becomes somebody else’ headache

· No server support requirements (good riddance college IT!)

· No upgrades to worry about (again good riddance IT!)

· No more dealing with system downtime because vendors take care of this for you.

Essentially, computing power has become a commodity which is good because then we don’t have to get stuck with an annual bill and worry about all those budget drama.

I’d like to illustrate an example that Roy used. If you are a small library, you can put your server infrastructure in the cloud to host your data and it would only cost you about $300 a year to do so. I was shocked at how cheap it is considering that servers cost thousands of dollars and has a very limited life span (5 years and you have to replace it again).

Of course this service also has its drawbacks but you may be surprised that security is not one of them. All the presenters pointed out that since they’ve put their services in the cloud, they felt more secure than they had before when their data is hosted in physical servers. Security is one area that cloud-based vendors have perfected because it is the number one concern.

Another interesting session I attended was “Cloudy With a Chance for Cooperation: Cloud-based Library Management.” This presentation was an opportunity for libraries that have migrated to OCLC Web-Scale Management Services (WMS). If you haven’t heard it yet, WMS is a new service by OCLC wherein they essentially created an integrated library system (ILS) in the cloud. The libraries that have migrated all their services to the cloud were Pepperdine University, University of Tennessee, Idaho Commission for Libraries (representing all academic, public and school libraries in the Idaho state), and the ORBIS Cascade Alliance. The WMS from OCLC essentially puts these library’s cataloging, acquisitions, and circulation functions via the Web with an interface similar to what you would normally see by using Amazon or Google but only better and more “intelligent.” They showed a lot of cool features and I was blown away at how much better we can do our job both at the technical and public services levels. Also, the way in which users can now discover and interact with resources available in the library is revolutionary. I guess the main thing that summarizes all their experiences was “we want to manage information, not technology.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Second Life and Library Instruction?

Next week I'll be trying out an instruction session in Second Life for James Bender's online criminal justice class. You can see a screenshot of our practice session. There is basically a big screen which you can type URLs into and give a presentation. I was able to get into ProQuest to search and also chatted with the RefDesk librarians with our chat widget on our Ask a Librarian webpage. I'll let you all know how it goes ...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Taxonomy of Collaboration

I just read this article about intruction in libraries and attitudes of faculty regarding this. I hope most of our faculty belong to the "enthusiastic partners" category. here's the link to the article:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Interesting book vs. ebook graphic

Recently ran across this very interesting graphic that was produced for Newsweek. It draws out some interesting points about books and ebooks. Give it a look and tell me what you think.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MCLS Inaugural Event

MCLS put on a very nice inaugural event in the Southwest end of Indianapolis. I am so grateful I was able to attend! In this post I will focus on the keynote address by former State of Michigan Librarian George Needham. His presentation content and style were just excellent. His talk revolved around 5 assumptions, or myths about libraries.

1. Libraries are the "go-to" place for information

Anyone familiar with Project Information Literacy will be acutely aware of the fallacy of this assumption. Mr. Needham offered up a few suggestions that I think are valuable:
  • Eliminate barriers - make it easy to find the "good stuff"
  • Don't hide behind a firewall - our pages need to crawled
  • We need to "feed out" to bring our students in to our site and our building
2. Libraries are not all about books

This one threw me for a loop at first, but as he went on, I understood better:
  • When people think library they think books - we should capitalize on this not downplay it
  • Emphasize the "ing of the thing" - reading, learning, experiencing
  • Talk about results not commodities
  • Books are beautiful! Show off unique holdings.
  • Embrace new forms and formats - electronic publishing now permits the release of timely topics in book length
  • Emphasize abundance - not just the abundance of our own collections, but the incredible access we all have to so much information
3. People won't find the "good stuff" on their own

While we do need to continue our emphasis on teaching information literacy, Mr. Needham had some very good points:
  • Make our finding tools seamless and elegant - doing so is not "dumbing down" its making is smarter
  • Simplified way-finding - I think our tabbed search box on our homepage is a good example of this. It quickly gives students access to books, articles (from General OneFile), and textbooks (and other items) on reserve.
  • Redeployed reference - embed librarians in other departments to quickly show how great the library is and to provide valuable teaching and researching skills at the point of need.
4. Civilians Value library confidentiality
  • Librarians value confidentiality - most others do not understand our philosophies and practices in this regard
  • Patrons should be allowed to "opt in" to services
5. We need to educate these people

Once again, Mr Needham was not suggesting that we should give up on teaching, but he was suggesting that:
  • Our interactions with patrons should build relationships - they are not transactions
  • Only human beings convey meaning, only humans put context around information
To illustrate this last point we were asked to participate in an interactive exercise as follows:
  • Think of a favorite book, poem, song or piece of music, movie, website, etc.
  • Take two minutes to talk to your neighbor, then two minutes to listen to them about:
- What it is
- Why it is important to you
- How has it influenced your life

It quickly becomes apparent that the meaning, the context of these bits of information in our lives, this uniquely human characteristic invokes passion! It is this passion that we need to remember, to connect with when we are doing our jobs, when we work with our customers, when we think about our libraries, when we imagine our library's future.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Information Literacy Game

Don't ask me how I happened to stumble upon this, but I had fun playing and thought I'd share:

The Information Literacy Game by Sharon Griffith, Librarian at Ivy Tech--a statewide Community College system in Indiana.
Note: the results page seems to be broken, so that was a bit anti-climactic, but still worth a look overall. Plus, maybe the problem is on my own browser/security settings.

I missed 2 - mostly because of the pesky timer ticking down on me!

She's also got a link to Library Jeopardy, which I'm going to go try out next! :)

[Update: Sharon says, "Thank you, but I’m afraid it was just up to test it—-and I never really got it working right. It is actually adapted from this site: so you may have more luck getting it from them. I left my library position a year ago and am just teaching now, so am not likely to work on it any more. But I wish you well!"]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ahead of the Curve

Surfing through this month's C&RL News and found a lovely article entitled, Using LibGuides for an information literacy tutorial: Tutorial 2.0. The article itself tells us nothing we don't already know: LibGuides are easy to populate, easy for students to use, excellent customer service on LibGuide support...

What's interesting is that these authors, all at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, also added a library assessment. In a sense, they've turned out LINKS tutorial into a LibGuide.

Now, we already have content in LINKS. We already have a fondness for all things LibGuides. Do we want to combine the two? Or have a presence in two different formats?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Patron Driven Acquisition

Look what I just ran across on the Collection Development listserv I follow...Free access to an issue of Collection Management, Patron Driven Acquisitions: Current Successes and Future Directions. I was just mentioning this topic this morning and up pops some excellent professional literature to help us explore the topic further!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Let's Get Sticky!

a.k.a. Natalee's LOEX entry #1

Making Information Literacy "Stick": Finding SUCCESS in Library Instruction
presented by Dunstan McNutt (SUNY Delhi)

Based on the ideas & concepts in Chip & Dan Heath's Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007).

The best & most memorable ideas are:


The Curse of Knowledge: Once we know something, we find it really difficult to remember what it was like not to know it.

  • Core & compact.
  • "Proverbs: a short sentence with a long education"
  • Break a pattern & create a mystery.
  • Gap theory of curiosity: highlight a knowledge gap.
  • Use imagery
  • Avoid/remove abstraction; make it real.
  • Illustrate key information skills
  • Telling someone, "Don't accept drinks from a stranger," vs. 'Kidney Heist' story/urban legend.
  • Velcro theory of memory: the more hooks the better = sticks better in the brain "loops."
  • External credibility--cite authorities. (Anti-authorities can be more effective - ?)
  • Internal credibility: Details and stats on a human scale. Numbers don't stick.
    • ex. BBs in a bucket to illustrate nuclear warheads:
      • 1 = Hiroshima
      • 5 = nuclear sub
      • 300,000 = worldwide.
  • Make people care
    • 3 million children affected by food shortage vs. 1 child's story
  • Make people act
    • WIIFY: What's In It For You
    • Appeal to people's sense of identity
How do we get students invested in the goals of information literacy? ...

  • As simulation - tell people how to act
    • Stories act as "flight simulators for the brain"
  • As inspiration - give people energy/motivation to act
    • Subway's "Jarrod" story of weight loss
Sticky ideas from Critical Information Literacy:
  • Curse of Knowledge - flattening the hierarchy
  • Emotional topics
  • Stories can highlight gaps & stimulate information needs

Dunstan's Wiki on this session/topic.

Also, here's Dunstan's Library Instruction follow-up eval form, just FYI. I don't know the inner-workings of Google spreadsheet-hosted forms/surveys, but I wonder if it's easier for students to access than Angel quizzes?

Finally, I found an article online the other day that, while not specific to library instruction, speaks to the idea of of "stickiness" in the library. Specifically, the author offers suggestions for how to go back to that point of "not knowing" to experience what a patron or student who is not well-versed in library lingo or "the way things are done around here," might experience the library: How to See the Library with Fresh Eyes

Thursday, June 10, 2010

3 words - Lifesize cardboard cutouts

I'm telling you, colleagues, this is the wave of the future. If you can't make it to homecoming, maybe Cardboard You could!

I met Lee at LOEX back in May at her session on library promotion and Lee's got a lifesize cardboard cutout of herself that has been sort of "adopted" by her business students. Fantastic!

Cardboard Lee is regularly kidnapped, shows up at school wide events, promotes NON library events and occasionally attends classes. Granted, Cardboard Lee was initially an in house promotion for drop in library sessions but wow, kidnapped Cardboard Lee is doing better library promotion then most flesh and blood librarians (myself included)!

As much as I would love a for all of us to be represented in cardboard form, I know this might be a bit out of our budgetary range. I had heard rumors when Natalee and I first started of possible Librarian trading cards... could we revisit this idea?

I'd love to hear about your creative promotion ideas.. even the ones that didn't work. Who knows, maybe it's time to revisit some of them!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Librarians do Gaga

Instruction Session Icebreaker, anyone? ;)

"Students and faculty from the University of Washington's Information School get their groove on."
[The video won't embed properly, so here's the link.]

Monday, May 24, 2010

MLA/Academic Libraries May 2010 Session

Some notes from a session I attended at MLA /Academic Libraries 2010

“Beyond the Homepage: Expand Your Library’s Presence through the Social Web” / Natalie Zebula/Lawrence Tech U

Ms. Zebula, a reference librarian, at Lawrence Tech was a very energetic presenter with a rapid fire delivery. She has devoted a lot of time/energy exploring dynamic social websites for students & faculty to use at the LTU library. She said that she tries to spend 2 hrs/day posting, updating posts and trying new enhancemts of different social network sites that LTU library subscribe to. What follows is a short compilation of some ideas that Natalie shared . See if there’s anything here that’s new to you.

Flickr- can be time-consuming to take pics, add tags, info, etc. but can have good stock photos of your library with fun current photos; can load historical photos too. Use and a scanner to build a nice library yearbook! Can use pics of library event signs & link those on Facebook. Can collect photos of LCC alum. Use photos with tags & info to promote library events.

Facebook- use it to share trivia, news, events, lite-weight discussion. Can put a Chat box on FB as we have on ours.

Meebo for Chat and IM- can use” Meebo Cleaner” in Google Chrome to clear ads! Other idea regarding Chat or IM software- consider using Google Docs to track Reference stats (in person, IM, phone, Chat )

Blogs- set up a library blog; have a link from library homepage to blog; use for polls and surveys

Twitter- updates from Google RSS Reader can be used via Twitter; can set up feeds for research at libraries with a 10 mi radius- experimental for now;
Lawrence Tech’s Twitter policy: “Be professional, kind, discreet, authentic. Represent us well. Remember that you can’t control it once you hit “update” since every post is live and public.”
Natalie's last suggestion- try to use different tags on FB and Twitter like wifi instead of books and databases.

Monday, May 17, 2010

LOEX - a sampling of ideas to try...

Ask This Librarian
This presentation was about a pilot project where librarians developed a widget that could be embedded by faculty into a course management system. The widget included an Ask a Librarian chat widget, search boxes for articles and books, as well as links to an appropriate research guide.

Each faculty member created their widget by filling out a web based form and then cutting and pasting the code in a course management system. The librarians were even willing to share the code used to create these widgets to be adapted for use by other libraries. I will definitely look into this further in the fall as it could be used by our faculty in Angel. The advantage of this method of creating a widget (as opposed to using something like our Google Gadget) is that it is customizable by faculty, they can select which parts of the widget to include in their version. The librarians did mention that some faculty had difficulty adding the widget to Angel, but this could be helped by a brief Camtasia tutorial explaining the process.

The Learning Cycle: Why Library Instruction Fails to Stick
This session talked about how the teacher’s role in the learning cycle is to figure out scenarios which will lead to disequilibrium. Disequilibrium makes us uncomfortable and forces us to come to a new understanding. The speaker explained that rather than defining library lingo for students, you should instead give them scenarios which will lead them to explain a concept in their own words. He argued that you should only give students technical words only AFTER they have invented a concept.

The example concept he gave was peer review. So, instead of defining peer review for students, you give them a scenario and have them figure out for themselves why peer review is necessary. Tell your students that they will be responsible for publishing in a magazine where they need to find only top quality articles to publish and they want readers to recognize that it is the best journal in the field. How will students decide what to publish? Working through this scenario will allow students to come to a definition of peer-review themselves, then you give students the technical term for this concept and it will "stick" because they came to the answer themselves. I might give this a try in Writing 122...

From Pre-Defined Topics to Research Questions: An Inquiry-Based Approach to Knowledge
Some fellow instruction librarians from MSU shared their approach to teaching introductory composition classes. They use a brief video to start the session and have students come up with research questions after watching the video. The example they shared was a video about global warming. Then the class selects a question to focus on and uses this as a basis of generating keywords and a search strategy. This could work really well in any of our classes at LCC, but especially Writing 121 and 122. I look forward to trying it. In the past, I have given the students a question to research and come up with search terms for, but this way is much more interesting and interactive.

Also, they assign each group to find books, articles, websites, etc. with no instruction about how to find these resources through the library. Then when students are presenting, they add to each group's presentation if library resources are not mentioned. They build on what students already know and add new information.

During the discussion, a member of the audience mentioned that she uses Google documents for group brainstorming of keywords. I was so excited to hear this because I have been searching for some online way to brainstorm together. I checked it out and in Google Docs there is a link to Share in the upper right hand corner, so you could add the link to your "online whiteboard" to your teaching blog for students to easily get to.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Break the Ice, Build Momentum - LOEX2010

One of my favorite sessions, Break the Ice, Build the Momentum: Successful Strategies for beginning a library Instruction Session, presented by Carrie Donovan and Rachel Slough of Indiana University, was high energy, interactive, caused us (the attendees) to think and to think playfully!

While the presenters did provide a long bibliography of professional reading on the topic, they spent the majority of their time getting us to think creatively about the value of a warm-up activity and how to go about creating our own. They asked, for instance, "can you create a warm-up activity out of a teachable moment?"

Carrie and Rachel had us interacting in groups on several occasions, but the time I enjoyed most was where we had to design a warm-up activity based on a student "persona" and a particular class assignment. After some brainstorming our group happened upon a brilliant idea for our class with Karlie, a first-year student who has had a basic introduction to the library during freshman orientation, but beyond that, has little knowledge of the libraries' resources or services. Her research experience includes term papers for her high school classes and searching online to satisfy her own personal (e.g. non-academic) information needs. Karlie's introductory writing/composition course is expected to turn in a final paper that is a comparative analysis of two films of her choosing. So, for the warm-up we decided that each student would try to come up with a famous quote from a film and then the could read, or act it out for the class (or the instructor could too!) and everyone has to try to guess what film it's from, or who the actor is, and does anyone know who directed that movie. You could then relate how all those layers of information relate to the world of academic research.

Maybe not a perfect warm-up, but the idea is to quickly grab the students attention, get them thinking about something that they connect with, then stealthily add in (add value) to what they already know about finding information. All the ideas generated at the conference session will eventually be posted to a LOEX librarywarmups wiki.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Let's get going!

C'mon people... post some LOEX insights! I want, nay need, to comment!

Otherwise, it's just going to be Kim and Rachel commenting on Kim and Rachel... and really, who wants that?


p.s. Hop to it!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

For this I needed an hour long session?

Lest you think I'm bellyaching, let me cut to the chase: I did need an hour long session!

Working Together for Students' Success: Collaboration among Faculty, the Library, and the Office of Learning Support Services - long title but worthy topic, don't you think? Of course. And as I sat in that little tiny room listening to Irene Ke of the University of Houston, I thought to myself, "Well I for one am all for it!" And I felt a little smug about it too. "Yes, I share the viewpoint of the speaker!" I nodded knowingly as she described her interactions with faculty; I laughed with the rest when she said she was too embarrassed to tell an instructor that he talked to much.

But at about the half way mark, I realized that I have created this total fantasy library world in my head. Because really, what collaboration do I do? And what do I do to foster collaboration? Not much, friends and colleagues, not much.

All is not lost... for myself OR for you, Dear Colleagues. Some of you are great at collaboration with faculty, but for the rest of us who just want to get started:

  • Mingle at school functions-introduce yourself! Luncheons, forums, etc.
  • Be able to explain clearly what you and the library can do for that instructor's class
  • Market your colleagues- maybe they're a better fit!
  • Meet a likely collaborator? Go to coffee or even lunch together! (They have to eat at some point!)
  • Follow up - don't let weeks go by without contacting a potential collaborator!

For this, I needed an hour long session.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Greetings LOEX 2010 Conference attendees and fellow library staff!

If you know that you will need to teach what you are learning, you will learn it better from the start – Dr. Brian Coppola, U of M Professor of Chemistry.

How true! I know this certainly applies to me – case in point – the process I went through to learn about the nursing department’s evidence-based literature approach to research last year. I knew it was necessary for me to learn and understand PICO’s, levels of research, systematic reviews, etc. in order to teach nursing faculty and students, and librarians.

Dr. Coppola suggested having students generate the content and use rubrics to review others work. Also, have students explain how they came up with the answers. Have I done this? I’d like to say yes, but in reality I may have done a variation in past library instruction sessions.

As I was listening to this speaker I began thinking about how I might try this in my instruction sessions. I thought about using this approach in WRIT 122 with the topic of “vetted articles”. I might have students read about this topic and prepare to teach their co-students. To take it a step further, students could record their ideas as a podcast and we could post a representative podcast in the WRIT Libguides or on our library website.

This concept is applicable to both student and staff training, and library instruction. What do you think?

Conference attendees please contribute a post for at least two sessions you attended and include ideas that you might experiment with in future instruction sessions. Also, please be sure to respond to at least two other posts. Thanks, Kim

Great Conference!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

LibGuides - RSS feed ideas?

Hello everyone,

Today I have been working on my Career LibGuide and thought I would share an idea for using an RSS feed. I added a box (Career Trends) to the Career Guide based on a search in General OneFile. I did a subject search for Occupations and narrowed by subdivision to Forecasts and Trends. I took this RSS feed and added it to my guide. It will automatically update daily with the three most recent titles that match this search.

Other Ideas for RSS feeds
  • Government agency rss feeds
  • Links to recent issues of a specific journal.
  • Explore feeds used by other LibGuide creators. When you are adding a feed, instead of typing the URL, you can search for any existing RSS feeds in the system (including the Community site), to include. You just start typing the feed title (i.e. history) and the system will return the matching entries and pre-populate the Feed URL field for you.
For complete instructions for adding an RSS feed to your guide, see LibGuides for Librarians or ask Suzanne B for help.

What kinds of RSS feeds have you added to your guides? I'll add your ideas to our LibGuides for Librarians page to keep a running list of ideas...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More Folk Have Been Googlized than Baptised

This kind of piggy-backs on Natalie's post, "The Cost of Google" (Mar 15).

As I browsed our New Books display today, I picked up and started to read, Googled: the end of the world as we know it / Ken Auletta. I can't say that I'll read all 384 pages of it, but 2-3 chapters of it will keep my interest.

Auletta, media writer/critic, explains the story of "Google's rise, its inner workings, success, massive growth, . . ."

So, even in Google's "adolescence" (2007-2008) Auletta cites that Google is too big (hiring 150 new employees/wk), it's lost its focus, and is going in 8 directions- images, Scholar, maps, iGoogle, YouTube, etc. etc.

Here's my example of Google trying to Googlize whole communities and moving in yet another direction: "Cities Try Silly antics to Grab Google's 'Golden Ticket' ".

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chronicle article:

I've never personally liked the idea--nor the experience--of e-books or other forms of extended on-screen reading. Perhaps others really like it, but I don't. I figured it was some sort of repressed-Luddite character flaw in me. The headline alone of this article above made me feel just a little bit vindicated!A study at Arizona State University has found that students had lower reading comprehension of scrolling online material than they did of print-like versions.

Students Retain Information in Print-Like Formats Better
The report, "To Scroll or Not to Scroll: Scrolling, Working Memory Capacity, and Comprehending Complex Texts," described how two groups, of 20 students each, wrote essays after reading materials in either in print-like or scrolling formats. Those given the scrolling versions to read had poorer comprehension of the material.

It is harder to keep track of where information is located within an online document versus the more-apparent page markers in a print-style text, said Christopher A. Sanchez, a co-author of the study. He is an assistant professor of applied psychology at Arizona State.

But the scrolling interface of online documents had little impact on the students in the study with high working-memory capacity, or a good ability to process and retrieve information. Mr. Sanchez said such people could have more cognitive resources able to remember static locations within an online text.

More study is needed on the impact that scrolling has on learning, he said, especially given the prevalence of online tools in the classroom and in distance learning.

"What it could do is give us recognition of how to better design materials so all people learn well, so we don't have this group of low-working-memory-capacity individuals who are behind the curve and are for some reason failing to learn when this material is in this scrolling form," he said.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Cost of Google

Olivia Nellums is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at a community college in southern New Jersey. She blogs at The Librarian's Commute, and recently posited some interesting observations on Google that I thought I'd share here:

The Cost of Google
For the record, I think life with Google surpasses life with no Google.

But when reading The Case for Books by Robert Darnton last week, I had this tangential thought:

Google is not free. We act as though it is, because it certainly seems free (and fast, and easy), but there is a price nonetheless.


, when we search using Google, a commercial interest is deciding how information is shown to us. ... inevitably Google's ranking is strongly related to majority opinion, and situations are often more complex than the crisp results page implies. Digressing slightly, I think this is where librarians and other information professionals are still relevant.


, I'm sure lots of people, like me, are logged into iGoogle all day, and so our web searches and online activities are neatly tied to our names and other Google services. This is a goldmine! Think of all the data that is precisely harvested with this set-up! In exchange for using Google's services, I blithely give all this information away.


For a while, I have been wondering whether Google will ever get too big. I worry that what it started out as (web indexer, page ranker, data miner) is fast becoming confused with something else (Truth Teller, oracle, gatekeeper). ... Even if we wanted to, I don't think there is a way to stop or slow much of this, but I hope the more we understand, the more we can choose to be willing participants (or not). I hope that is what Google ultimately wants, too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Best Single Tech Idea of 2009"

You may not agree with the title of this post once you read on, but I applied this little Web ap and really liked it.

"The single best tech idea of 2009, though, the real life-changer, has got to be Readability. It’s a free button for your Web browser’s toolbar (get it at When you click it, Readability eliminates everything from the Web page you’re reading except the text and photos. No ads, blinking, links, banners, promos or anything else. Times Square just goes away."

"Readability is a simple tool that makes reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you're reading."

You can pick/choose the style (novel, ebook, newspaper) to transform your Web reading and remove ads, banners, promos, etc. as the quote above explains.

Learn about Readability and other Best Tech ideas of 2009 from David Pogue's NY Times (Personal Tech) column.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Academic Libraries- Collaborative Learning Spaces

Several photos are here of collaborative learning spaces in several different academic libraries.

Do you see any that might work for our students/our space?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Socialnomics Video

Until recently I was unfamiliar with the term/concept of "socialnomics".

I was reading a post on the "America's Best Business Practices" blog today, however, and came across a recommended video about how crucial the current social media is to marketing. As I watched this video I was thinking of the article that Karl had asked RST members to read- "The Millennial Muddle" in the Oct 11, 2009 issue of Chronicle of Higher Education and his Next Chapter post, "Text a Librarian . .. ".

While this video's message is geared more for small businesses I'd say it has a message or 2 for us as well. You be the judge. There's a longer & shorter version of the video.

Sentences in the longer video include:
  • Generation Y & Z consider e-mail passe. In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing email addresses to incoming freshmen.
  • Gen Y & Z value "word of mouth" communication b/c they thrive in a "world of mouth" environment
  • Soon we will no longer search for products & services, they will find us via social media.

Short or long version of these videos ask- do we like what our customers are saying about us?

"Social Media Revolution" - shorter version

"Social Media Revolution" - longer version

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Showing Patrons the Door?

Ok, two posts in one day? Lookout!

But seriously, I came across another good one I wanted to share:

Showing Patrons the Door
by David Lee King
Showing patrons the door? Yikes – we’d never do that (under normal circumstances, anyway)! ... [L]ibrarians would never consciously walk up to a patron and tell them to leave if that patron was having trouble using something in the library … right?

I think we DO sometimes tell our patrons to leave when we make things difficult for them. We might as well be saying "here’s the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out."


Is your website confusing? Do customers have to puzzle out what they need to do next while on your site? If so … your website is showing patrons the door. Same with our catalogs – a confusing catalog might just steer customers away from checking stuff out – and that’s one of our major, must-have services!


Other ways to show patrons the door might include hard to find stuff on your website, hidden content, or even library services that aren’t mentioned anywhere on your website.

So – what do you think? What else shows patrons the door, and how can we fix that?

"Back-channel ILL"

One of the Librarians I follow on Twitter (sorry, I don't remember who), tweeted the following blog post from Jessamyn West's blog

When Good Librarians Go Bad: Genuine Options in Librarianship

Here's an excerpt from the final paragraph that sums it up pretty well:
...I often came across content that I didn’t have access to. I was also confronted with, in many cases, unreasonable fees requested [$9.95 for 100 words, really?]. Me being me, I could always find a librarian with access to, say the Times Online archive, or old articles in JSTOR. But I also felt it was cheating. But I was also annoyed that being resourceful is also somehow cheating. And I knew that many of my patrons with fewer resources would just pony up. Where do we draw the line between enforcing other people’s rules and solving problems with our patrons? Now that we’re getting more and more networked, this whole idea of local content works for some things [historical photos, town history] and not for others [journal articles that are held in thousands of libraries worldwide]. Do we have a plan for moving forward?
Well, do we? Just a little food for thought...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Text a Librarian - A convergence of sorts

I recently began reading with interest the newest Horizon Report that was forwarded to us from Elenka and was caught right away in the table of contents by this, "Time to Adoption: One Year or Less - Mobile Computing," and by the following in the Executive Summary, "people expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to." This immediately brought to mind the need to incorporate a texting function in our reference services.

I knew that QuestionPoint was beginning to make some moves towards adding this to their service and so I checked their blog and what do you know, they just posted an update about it the other day. We will keep a close eye on this for sure, no? Will they make the one year or less to adoption deadline? Who knows? But, I do know that without their services it would take some real ingenuity to come up with an alternate solution (and we could do it).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

10 Librarian Blogs to Read in 2010

If reading The Next Chapter isn't enough for you then LISNews has some wonderful examples of librarian blogs to read in the new year. Yay!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy New Year....

... let's fire up some new discussions!

2 Questions (gleaned from the ATLANTIS listserv)