Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

how to print at my library

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Inspired by a lot of recent reading, particularly trying to get through this report (Leveraging Service Blueprinting to Rethink Higher Education: When Students Become ‘Valued Customers,’ Everybody Wins), I decided to make a very rudimentary attempt at documenting the process our students have to go through to print something in the library.  This is assuming that the person IS a student and knows how to access the thing they want to print.  Green indicates an end point, starts in upper left with “find library”.  I’ve definitely left some things and connections out, but even this “ideal” starting point is kind of depressing.  I suppose any part of this could have a “see librarian” offshoot.


weekly linkorama

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012


Still in beta, but an interesting concept.  Students can provide immediate feedback to professor’s on their understanding of class content through mobile devices and “computers” (what does that word mean anymore?).  Teachers can see real-time results of “confusometer” and “understandometer”, presumably allowing for brevity in the case of understanding and clarification for confusion.  Though it was designed with large college lecture halls in mind (to aid the poor afraid to speech undergrads), I can definitely see this being useful in a variety of educational settings (library instruction, anyone?).


5 Ways Microsoft’s Surface May Be Better than an iPad

Definitely a believe-it-when-I-see-it situation, but the inclusion of a keyboard into the cover (with a choice of flat keys or raised keys even!) must have Jobs rolling in his grave.  The addition of a USB port makes it a competitor, but I’ll be most curious to see if yet another ebook platform evolves out of this thing or if Microsoft with pair with something pre-existing.


Drunk Texts from Famous Authors

I would like more of these and I’m disappointed I didn’t think of this idea first.


Library Test Kitchen

What happens when you ask design school graduate students to create the library of the future?  A funky chair, WiFi cold spots, and an exploration of the library as interactive space.  The idea of making behind the scenes activities public is interesting for some positions, but do people really want to see me enhance MARC 505 fields?


ed2go: Gale’s new online education program for public library patons

Gale announced ed2go, a sort of online course that promises to deliver “access to hundreds of instructor-led online courses covering everything from health and wellness to digital photography, computer programming, GED test preparation and much more”.  Librarians are assured that they “in turn get robust product administration and usage reporting capabilities enabling the easy tracking of successful patron outcomes”, which doesn’t sound all that exciting a trade-off for me.  Knowing the typical public library patrons, I wonder how much troubleshooting will be involved.  I’m also assuming this is an individual type thing, but wonder if getting a group to take the same class would be a good way to bring together community members (and get a discount???).


Quick links and short thinks

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Public Library Computer Waiting Queues: Alternatives to the First-Come-First-Served Strategy – Stuart Williamson

If you like your library a bit math-y, you’ll love this article.  I love it because it uses pre-existing data in a new way.  My super-quick summary: while it may be tempting to dedicate several computers to 15-minute express stations, depending on your demand, this can seriously effect your wait time for regular computers.  “Losing just one of the eighteen available computers nearly doubles the average wait for the remaining 6,884 users in the other priority classes.”  Ouch!  Individual libraries should run their numbers, since the findings aren’t necessarily universal.

L-Schools and I-Schools Should Take a Closer Look at D-Schools

As a casual design junkie, I totally agree.  The appeal of good design is something that libraries need to harness and use to empower their organizations.  Anythink Libraries definitely come to mind as a success story, reimagining their entire services using design thinking skills.  Even just applying design principles to library websites would do worlds of good, in terms of ease of access and attractiveness (I hate to point it out, but the Designing Better Libraries blog that this post came from could use a little d-help in that respect).

The Library Box

I’ll be honest.  I’m techy, but not I’m not quite techy enough to fully get The Library Box.  I get it, in a vague, “I know it has immense potential” sort of way.  That “it could be part of a major shift in the interaction between libraries, patrons, and content”, kind of way.  Some part of my brain wants to smash The Library Box with the Iowa City Public Library’s Local Music Project.  And maybe a bookmobile.  Ideas are murky, but forming.

Last but not least…

Putting my education to good use.

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Last week I had the pleasure of voting to throw away this sign at my library.  Let’s call it weeding.  Don’t worry, I weeded carefully, using the ever-trusty MUSTIE acronym that I vaguely remember hearing in my collection development class.

I like that’s it’s “a” library, not even “the” Library

So back to MUSTIE.  Let me spell it out for you: Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, Trivial, Irrelevant, and the less obvious Elsewhere.

Misleading?  Definitely.  Taking the sort of alarmist “everyone on the internet is a pedophile” approach, this sign assumes the absolute worst without any real acknowledgement of any other scenario.  Anything with the lines “NOT! We all want to save money but this isn’t the way.” as a full explanation of a complicated topic is highly suspect.  Plus, there is some fuzzy math – I’ll trust the Boing Boingers who estimate that at a cost of a billion dollars, digitizing half a million books comes out to about $2000/item.

Ugly?  Well, it’s not in Comic Sans, but it does make liberal use of clip art.  Was ours in terrible condition?  No.  Poster, you win this letter.

Superseded?  Oh hell yes.  Created from an article published in 2001 in ALA’s American Libraries (available here via cache), the original poster is dated.  Even the update is a little dated at this point: “Try reading an e-book reader for more than a half-hour. Headaches and eyestrain are the best results. Moreover, the cost of readers runs from $200 to $2,000, the cheaper ones being harder on the eyes. ”

Trivial?  I say yes.  The idea that the internet is here to ruin libraries is not really the general view of librarians.  In fact, you’ll find us alllll over the internet, often in places you don’t need or want us.  The overall idea of this poster is one that someone’s grandmother might muse about over brunch, along with other topics like “People are trying to steal your PIN at ATMs”, “When I type my email address into the bar at the top, I can’t get to my email”, and “No, why should I know my password?”.

Irrelevant?  Is addressing the interaction between libraries and the internet irrelevant?  Absolutely not.  Is most of the “information” contained in this poster highly irrelevant?  Absolutely.  If you want to compare and contrast libraries, why not highlight the revitalization of community space?  Or the free resources provided in person and online?

And the vague Elsewhere?  Is this information duplicated in our collection?  I really hope not.  Is it elsewhere in the world?  Yes, definitely, yes.  Whichever view you take, the idea that the internet is impacting the library is pretty well covered.

There you have it.  MSTIE at least, if not MUSTIE.  What kind of poster would I like to see replace it?  Something like 10 ways libraries matter in a digital age, published in response to the original poster, I suppose.  But with less clip art.

The internet of things vs. the “tyranny of the social”

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

I recently “attended” EduCAUSE’s webinar on the 2012 Horizon Report (Higher Education Edition) (archived and still viewable).  Released annually by the New Media Consortium, the Horizon Report details new and upcoming technology trends that could or should have an impact on higher education in the next one to five years.  Here are the technologies featured in the 2012 report:

  • First horizon technologies (mainstream impact in one year or less)
    • Mobile apps
    • Tablet computers
  • Second horizon technologies (mainstream in two to three years)
    • Game-based learning
    • Learning analytics
  • Third horizon technologies (mainstream impact in four to five years)
    • Gesture-based computing
    • the Internet of Things

I was pretty familiar with the majority of these trends except for the Internet of Things.  As I understand it, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the idea that any physical object can be linked to a network (like the internet).  Each thing would have its own individual identification, allowing it to uniquely interact with the network.  Thinking about it in general terms made my brain a little fuzzy so I went in search of more information.  Cisco has a number-filled infographic about the current state and future state of the IoT.

After some more reading and searching, I came across an interesting representation of the possibilities of the IoT – a comic book called “Inspiring the Internet of Things”.  An illustrated exploration of 15 scenarios of over 25 IoT applications that could effect various aspects of our lives (including transportation, shopping, and medical) paired with expert commentary and current uses, the content and format sent my mind reeling with future thoughts.

The idea of an even more interconnected world of people, objects, and information is thrilling and terrifying to me.  The possibility of increased efficiency and (eventual) lowered cost of commodities and services could be the foundation for reinvigorating the economy and the workforce.  In theory.  In practice, would the IoT allow for the obliteration of privacy and autonomy?  Recent revelations of Target’s customer tracking abilities would be small change compared to what could be possible with a fully realized IoT.  Can the world be too interconnected?

Granted, this sort of extreme thinking is more the stuff of great (or truly bad) scifi movies where individuals are barcoded and try to live off the grid (actually, Idiocracy comes to mind as well).  But when we are increasingly facing new and constantly changing privacy issues (online in the form of sites and companies fluctuating policies – mostly recently Google, and offline in the form of attempts to access and control individual info – with schools and employers forcing students and applicants to give access to their online personas), how far away are these “extremes”?

While contemplating an IoT future it is hard to ignore the current social pressure growing almost everywhere on the internet.  With the ability to share, connect, and comment on basically anything anywhere online, from posting your ultrasound photos on Facebook to adding tags for a pair of sandals on Urban Outfitters, the idea that the internet is or should be a social experience is becoming commonplace.  This was not always the case.  In the early days, the internet was imagined and perhaps aggrandized as a place of anonymity and exploration, a place where individuals could browse and dabble without worry of social stigma or even the awareness of society.  Evgeny Morozov’s (highly recommended) article The Death of the Cyberflâneur recounts the early hopes for the internet as a rebirth of flânerie and examines its evolution into its current task-oriented state.  The internet is seen more and more as a place with a purpose – evident in the growth of apps dedicated to one service and individual site attempts to become an all-in-one resource (Facebook adding chat, video, messaging, and most recently attempting to chronicle your whole existence with Timeline, and as of today, desktop chat!).  What results is what Morozov calls the “tyranny of the social”, “this idea that the individual experience is somehow inferior to the collective”.


The “frictionless sharing” inherent in Facebook and other sites/apps/the internet validates your individual experience by giving others immediate access to it.  It seems the internet is constantly evolving from a state of selective sharing to selective censoring.  This transition is why privacy is such an issue – since the services we use are now using us it’s more of a backtracking to regain or retain the information we have already shared, without having been given full knowledge or our full consent to how it is being currently used.

While  I don’t consider myself a digital native, I guess I am a millennial (are you?).  I remember the excitement of the early internet, and I remember learning about viruses, sketchy pedophiles in AOL chat rooms, and the “bad” parts of the WWW.  I also remember the excitement of Facebook’s launch, and I remember the many, many upsets and issues that soon followed, and continue to pop up.  So while I am excited about the practicality and potential of the IoT, it’s a cautious and curious excitement.