Thursday, December 4, 2008

Another Book Meme

via the Baby Boomer Librarian:

* Get the book nearest to you. Right now.
* Go to page 56.
* Find the 5th sentence.
* Write this sentence - either here (in comments) or on your blog.
* Copy these instructions as commentary of your sentence.
* Don't look for your favorite book or your coolest but really the nearest.
* [mine own suggestion]: don't include book details - see if you can figure out where others' posts are taken from


"I turned my back to her and concentrated on calming myself."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Twitter role play exercises?

I was contemplating today the idea of using twitter as a role playing environment for education. In this scenario, which I'm sure others have talked about (but right now I'm too lazy to search for), you would assign students take on say, historical or fictional figures in twitter, based around some event such as Watergate or the Battle of Waterloo or Shakespeare. Each student would then be responsible for researching the time line for that event and how their assigned persona fits into it. They would then each tweet imaginatively about their view of that event as it unfolds around them; as how they imagine that person might view things.

An example of this, although based around a fictional television-based world, are those who tweet as various Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters.

I have no idea if such an exercise would work, but I'm intrigued by the possibility.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time Mismanagementitis?

For a while there, I was operating in full-on professional overdrive, at least overdrive for me. I was blogging and vlogging regularly, going and presenting at conferences, creating and delivering a virtual info lit program from scratch, and keeping up to date on my blog subscriptions. But that all seemed to fall apart over the summer as my 2 week, end-of-August beach vacation found me, upon my return, far too buried to keep up with it all. First the blog posts and blog reading fell by the wayside. Then I found myself seriously having to stop myself from putting in presentation proposals. Even my twitter posts have fallen off! Spare time was simply not there.

The demands of the virtual workshops (2 hour, hands-on workshops via Elluminate - I've done about a dozen this term so far) - prepping, scheduling, tweaking, delivering and assessing have eaten up about 75% of my workload this term. And teaching, while I'm decent at it, does not come naturally to me (at least, not yet). It stresses me out, even when I find the time to prep and plan enough to satisfy my own over worrying brain. And it has been such a delicate balancing act - requiring collaboration and coordination among a large group of geographically dispersed people. This plus my regular reference, technical and committee work chewed up the last of my energy reserves now that we've hit November. It has taken a toll. I'm now feeling wholly burned-out and in need of some serious brain downtime. That was part of the reason I recently purchased an HDTV and PlayStation 3, despite the financial crap going on. For me, video games are good 'ol brain relaxation/stress relievers.

I guess I've always operated on cycles of creativity and burn-out. When I see all the work that so many brilliant librarians are doing out there, I find myself amazed at how they do it day in and day out. How do you guys keep up the blistering pace? I'm in a serious trough right now creative-wise, but hopefully I'll come out of it soon. Until then, my posts on here may be light, but I'll keep trying. And when no words come, you'll probably find me playing Rock Band 2 or Fallout 3...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Real-time, web-based gaming for distance learners?

I was thinking it would be great if we could somehow rig up a web-based, real-time, lock-out buzzer system so that our students from all over could participate in a virtual Jeopardy tournament. In other words, I could send a url and perhaps password to each participating student and the page would then display a simple button that acts as a buzzer in real time.

We could then display the categories and scores and the first student to buzz could speak answers using our Elluminate virtual classroom software.

Could even do a tournament on info lit skills and knowledge, for example.

I did a 2 second search for such web buzzer tech but didn't find anything - will have to check further into it. Anyone doing anything like that out there? Are the logistics possible?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Information Evaluation as Patriotic Duty?

I've been arguing with (they might say pestering!) my friends and family for a while now that information literacy and the ability to evaluate and think critically about sources of information is an essential skill not only for college students, but for our democracy as a whole. A lack of such skills are what I point to as a big reason for the sorry state of our politics and the mass media. In other words: if people by default were skeptical and did a little research on what our leaders and those in power and in the media are saying, perhaps we might have leaders and mass media organizations who were a little more honest (because they had to be).

So now I'm starting to explore ways to make the sale (to students) that embracing information evaluation is not only essential to academic success, but that in many ways it's an essential duty of any citizen. Mastering the art of critical evaluation as patriotic duty?

What I don't know yet is how to make this argument, especially in my own environment, where I only do one-shot virtual workshops. I really want to have a workshop just around this issue, and perhaps integrate resources like iCue and or Ameritocracy. Anyone have any ideas? Would students even sign up for this kind of thing? Or perhaps I need to find some faculty willing to work with me to integrate as an assignment or project in their curriculum?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

LibraryThing meme

via Rudibrarian and others; a reading meme:

This is a list of the top 106 books most often marked “unread” by LibraryThing users. The rules: bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish. Pop a note in the comments if you’ve done this one (and help me keep the dream alive).

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre

The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels

Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day in the Life of a "Virtual Librarian": Wednesday

On most Wednesdays, I have the privilege of working from home in my pjs. Yay! These days allow me to get away from the bustle and interruptions at the office and concentrate on what I'm doing for longer periods (usually - home has it's own distractions, of course). I don't think I could work from home any more than 1 day a week most weeks simply because I don't have the discipline.

6:30 am: arise, walk dog, check emails, friendfeed, twitter, blogs
7 am: sign up and record my 1st two 12second videos
7:15 am: clear work email and voice mail, respond to a couple emails
8 am: check remote access and explore functionality of new database content (ACLS, Alexander SP) and CQ Public Affairs db that CQ mistakenly dropped access for.
9 am: further flesh out nursing 1 hr virtual workshops content
10:30 am break: finish fixing J's elliptical machine
11 am: LibGuides
12 pm: treadmill for 30 min, shower
12:45: lunch
1:10 pm: LibGuides, play more w/Elluminate V-room, look over Elluminate moderator documentation and recorded sessions
4 pm: work day done! friendfeed, twitter, etc.
5 pm: record a bunch more 12second videos, dinner, family guy (one of best x-mas comedy episodes ever: Kiss Saves Santa), watch movie, sleep

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day in the life of a "Virtual Librarian": Tuesday

  • 7:20 am arrival: pop-tart, emails, friendfeed
  • 7:30 am: reference duty all day, switch ref number over to my phone, answer 3 non-library-related "Ask a Librarian" emails redirecting them to Student Info Call Center + 1 actual research question
  • 8:30: LibGuides work
  • 11 am: Elluminate for Moderators pt.2 webinar
  • 12 pm: lunch break (pop-tart and chips) @ park w/ Gibson's Spook Country
  • 12:30: straightened out CQ access issue: they dropped ball on our renewal but were very fast to respond and fix + couple ref phone calls
  • 1 pm: investigating problems with EBSCOHost RSS feeds not working properly, colleague at CUNY (via Twitter) reports even more EBSCO problems on their end and possible issue w/ EZProxy intersection + LibGuides work (finishing up 1st draft Law & Criminal Justice Guide)
  • 1:30: weekly dept-wide staff meeting - thankfully no major issues - only 10 min
  • 1:45 pm: composed and sent email explaining to my colleagues how to create/edit subject or database specific PQ, JSTOR and EBSCOHost search widgets, and where to copy existing search widgets for our catalog, WorldCat and Credo Reference + reference
  • 3 pm: weekly library staff meeting
  • 4 pm: day is done

Monday, August 4, 2008

Day in the Life of a "Virtual Librarian": Monday

  • 7:20 am: arrive, eat cereal bar, check email, Bloglines
  • 7:45 am: talk to boss re: why I disagree with push to have me be guinea pig and immediately switch to using Elluminate virtual classroom (currently using Wimba) for my 3 nursing library orientation workshops on Sept. 4. Not enough time to prepare, not ready, plus my upcoming vacation all factors.
  • 7:50 am: per boss req: sent email with my arguments written down so she can take it up chain of command.
  • 8 am: compile new week's To Do list
  • 8:30: compose draft of feedback on College's new draft top navigation bar which removes any mention of "library" - relegates it to drop-down "quick list" - struggling to be diplomatic about it...
  • 9:00 am: complete list of IT-requested social networking tools I'm using or thinking of using - sent to boss (list will be posted here)
  • 10:00 am: Lib Guides work (tweak 2 published guides and revamp Nursing guide)
  • 11:00 am: Elluminate for Moderators: part 1, webinar
  • 12:00 pm: lunch and twitter/blogs break
  • 1:00 pm: back to LibGuides work: Law and Criminal Justice
  • 2:10 pm: break w/twitter and friendfeed
  • 2:20 pm: notice that our CQ Public Affairs collection is saying subscription expired - verify status w/boss and submit help ticket to CQ.
  • 2:30 pm: back to wrestling with LibGuides and locating more quality legal and criminal justice resources
  • 4 pm: day is done! Off to free Lez Zeppelin show in Washington Park.

List of my Social Networking Tools?

I recently received a request from my boss and our IT dept for a list of "social networking tools and other technologies" I'm currently using or investigating. I have no idea what they will use this list for except for the vague mention of "proactively assessing" these tools, I assume for security purposes. Hopefully this won't lead to a culture of restrictions and red tape. To me, that would all but kill the lifeblood of a major part of my job and our library: innovating and experimenting with new and emerging technologies to improve library services.

Anyways, a got a couple requests for the list, so here it is...

Note: I'm not clear on how they're defining "social networking tools", so I've included below (which is basically what I sent to my boss) just about anything that has any sort of social/networking component that I use in any work or professional development way, or have bookmarked for future assessment in those areas:

Tools with potential use for library services to faculty/students/staff (note: many of these have uses for prof dev/networking as well):

Tools currently used for library services and or internal communication (note: many of these have potential useful applications for student/faculty use as well):
  • Bloglines (RSS feed reader)
  • Doodle (scheduling)
  • Facebook
  • Feedburner (RSS feeds and blog subscription mgt)
  • flickr (pics)
  • Google Sites
  • Google Docs
  • LibraryThing
  • pbwiki
  • Technorati (RSS feed reader and blog mgt)
  • (video creation/sharing)

Tools I use or may want to use for professional development, networking and idea sharing, and keeping up with technology, info lit and library process developments (many of these have potential use for students/faculty as well):

Friday, August 1, 2008

Day in the Life of a "Virtual Librarian": Friday

Hmm...well actually, my official title is "Lead Information Resources Coordinator." But I do work in a library that has no books, no walls, etc. I have an office in an office building and our collections are completely online.

So the first thing people always ask is what I do all day. How can I possibly fill an 8 hour work day every day in that environment? Lemmie tell ya, it's easy when I get to get my hands dirty in just about every aspect of the biz here! And since I've been observing the "A Day in the Life of a Library" meme grow recently, I thought I'd kill 2 birds so to speak and add my 2 cents. I'm starting with a Friday, because Mondays are real iffy as far as free time to do stuff like this and besides I'll forget by then...

Here's what I did today and it's fairly typical for a Friday:
  • 5:30am: wake, walk dog, wash-up, etc.
  • 6:45 am: 40 min commute
  • 7:30 am: arrive @ office, eat a breakfast-ish snack (pop-tart, cereal bar, fruit, chocolate?), check e-mail, review reference responses from last couple days, quick twitter/friendfeed check
  • 8:00 am respond to e-mails
  • 8:30 am: register for Elluminate V Room and begin testing it out to see how existing Wimba workshop content and activities might work with it. Some functions are improvements over Wimba, others not so much. Conclude it will be a bit of work to get it running smooth on new platform, regardless. Look at my calendar frantically and fear not enough time to do this.
  • 9:30 am: Bloglines prof dev break - catch up on library and tech stuff, explore couple cool new (at least to me) tools: (online desktop) and Also revisit Zoho for 1st time in ages. It looks like it's improved.
  • 10:30 am: Work on outline and hands-on plans for 1 hr Library Intro workshop for new nursing students via Elluminate - keep it simple, Dana!
  • 11:30am: working lunch at desk: crappy bag o' microwave mac'n cheese
  • Noon: more 2.0 exploration: Finding Dulcinea, Learning Interactives and Gliffy
  • 12:15 pm: more Elluminate work
  • 1 pm: reading break at park across street: Gibson's brilliant "Spook Country"
  • 1:30: edit EZProxy cfg file for new ACLS Humanities e-book collection, add that + 2 Alexander St. Press resources to our web site
  • 2:30 pm: provide feedback to nursing faculty whose 401 course I'm embedding in about possible research assignment adjustments and how I can best help students.
  • 3 pm: draft long list of social networking tools/apps/sites I use or am thinking of using for any purpose at request of IT dep, via my boss + LibGuides tweaking
  • 4 pm: weekend is here after commute home!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Project Time Tracker Software?

Does anyone know of a program out there that you can install on your computer and have it track your active usage of specific software programs and databases? For example, there is a tool called Klok, but it requires manual entry of time spent on a project. Which makes it of little practical use in my estimation. Specifically, I'd like an easy tool to track how long I actually spend doing web design and Lotus application development projects. So say for example, I'm doing some work on our library home page (I know, I know, but don't laugh - yes, we use the decrepit Lotus to manage our website!), I would set it to track that template and it would automatically log when and how long I had it open and could then just spit out totals for me showing how much time I worked on it whenever I wanted it, and with virtually no conscious effort or forethought on my part. Even better would be the ability to log how much time was spent working on individual documents, like word docs and excel.

Does such a program exist? Any chance there is a free or cheap version out there?

Short-Attention Spanization Syndrome (SASS)

This blog, like many out there in the interwebs, has been dying a slow death due to one factor: I've joined the hoards of active Twitterers. The simple truth is that microblogging in abbreviated sentences of less than 140 characters and getting instant feedback is just so much easier than writing fully coherent, well-thought out blog posts that few ever read or comment on anyways. It's also a bit more fun and allows me to keep up with friends and colleagues in a far more interactive and effective way.

This is especially true since my work schedule has been beyond hectic for a while now and I don't even find myself with time to write up posts during my lunch break. But having said that, there is still a need for active blogs and I'm thankful so many smart librarians and other people with sharp wits and senses of humor and inquisitive minds continue to feed my ever-growing list of Bloglines subscriptions.

And despite my obvious shortcomings as a true library blogger, I'll continue to post to this blog those ideas and issues and thoughts about the world of distance librarianship that I deem of value or that may not be discussed in depth elsewhere by people far smarter than myself. I've always been short-attention span afflicted (SASA?) and Twitter feeds right into those inclinations, but I can occasionally crank out a few coherent sentences in a row.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Current 2.0 Toys

Some promising 2.0 toys I'm currently playing with but have yet to figure out a real-life academic application for:
  • Ameritocracy - uses a reputation and source citation system to create intelligent dialogue/discussion around public policy/political issues. Potential use in info lit to teach critical source evaluation and proper source citing?
  • iSpring - converts Powerpoint slides, including animations to flash (possible use in our virtual workshops)
  • MeGlobe - IM with instant language translation for possible use with our overseas students.
  • Timetoast - create online timelines with photos and links to content easily.
  • uTipu - easily create video tutorials with audio overlay and publish to web - far easier (and free!) than Camtasia, but obviously without most of the advanced features. Here is one I did (there is audio, but it's low volume, so turn up your speakers!):
  • Yahoo! Pipes - create, aggregate and filter RSS feeds. This is easier to use than I thought - no programming skills needed for the basics. We want to start offering RSS feed services that incorporate our subscription databases to course developers especially.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More Wordle Usage

As luck would have it, I found another possible use for Wordle - as a quick way of generating promotional art! I serve on the planning committee for our upcoming Student Academic Conference, where students get the chance to meet each other and present their research, etc. Well, we were thinking of sending out a postcard and so I created a Wordle using terms that I picked out from the testimonials from past conference attendees:

Whether it will be used, I don't know, but it was easy to do and the committee has given me positive feedback on it so far.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wordle as Jargon Assessment Tool?

Got this tool from LibraRonin:
Wordle - create a customizable word cloud from any pasted text.

Example: text from 20 of my recent Tweets

Might this tool be useful as an ad hoc way to analyze use of terminology/jargon/keywords within library websites? In other words: an easy, visual way to determine if, for example, a tutorial focuses on the concepts we want it to focus on?

Here are some examples showing the top 100 or 150 words on a couple pages from within our site:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Two random ideas: virtual info lit and Wikipedia

Wanted to put down a couple of ideas floating about in the mostly vacuum of space between my ears...
  1. My guess is that this may never be politically viable, but...a SUNY-wide implementation of Elluminate virtual classroom. This could be used for many things: by language faculty for distance or blended courses to hold speaking practice sessions/lessons, librarians could offer info lit workshops as supplement to one-shot in-class sessions, librarians and beyond could use it for committee work, collaborative meetings, etc. I especially would be interested, of course, in the info lit part. Wouldn't it be wonderful to create a collaborative set of virtual information literacy workshops? With all the talented and creative teacher-librarians across SUNY participating, the content could be great and the number of offerings could go way up, giving students the most choices for convenience within their schedule, with some sessions, for example, focusing on basic research skills using SUNYConnect resources, being offered across campuses.
  2. Display RSS feed of Wikipedia's "On this Day" entry on the website or library blog. Would this have negative consequences, given that many faculty and librarians still view this resource as off-limits in an academic environment? I think if the presentation is framed right, with an eye to evaluation skills, it could be a great way to bring some constantly changing general interest history content onto the library site. Is anyone doing this already?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Web 2.0 Tools Stability Assessment Checklist?

Recent problems with Twitter, Muxtape and even a giant like Blogger highlight, I think, a central conundrum to successfully adopting any of the widely interesting and potentially useful web 2.0 technologies out there for free use: there is no guarantee that the mostly start-up companies (and sometimes even single individuals) creating and maintaining these often innovative tools are stable, long-lasting, or have the capacity to handle widespread growth in the use of their applications. Upgrading servers and maintaining increasingly complex code requires increasing expenditures of time, technical skills and money that many of these start-ups simply can't maintain in the long run. On our side, the risk isn't as great since most of these tools are free, but there can be a significant cost in time and effort in adapting them to our needs.

How then can we effectively gauge what tools have a better chance of weathering long-term growth spurts and monetary crunches? Does anyone know of a good assessment rubric/checklist/worksheet out there for this? What factors should be considered before adopting a 2.0 tool? Are there factors to weigh that are different, for example, from assessing a product or hardware package?

Things that come to my mind, but I'm sure I'm missing a ton of considerations (it's Friday afternoon, so my mind is mushy!):
  • weighing development/adoption time against record of stability (in other words, if it's a smaller-scale project, you might be able to chance using a tool that is less time/stablity-tested).
  • look at creator/company specifics and mission plan
  • look for reviews of tool
  • inquire about server specs and biz plan for growth
  • look at stability of other products, if any, of developers

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Confluence of Transgender and Distance Ed?

An excellent trans-inclusion discussion panel I attended last night got me thinking about transgender and gender conformity issues at my own institution and within the library profession. Most certainly, my college has been super supportive in regards to my own transition and working environment.

But then I got to wondering if anyone has looked into the possibility that distance learning programs have a higher percentage of trans-identified/gender-questioning students than regular brick-and mortar ones. I think the environmental factors are there that might draw more gender non-conforming students than traditional higher ed environments:
  • Less safety concerns: in a distance learning environment, you can do your academic work relatively anonymously online, where gender expression and "fitting-in" would not be an issue or a possible weapon to be used against you in face-to-face social situations. You don't have to worry about walking across campus and being harassed or worse by drunken frat boys, etc.
  • Distance learning inherently draws older students and older trans-identified individuals are perhaps more likely to have grappled with gender expression issues and "come out."
  • You don't have to worry about bathroom usage issues as much.
  • You don't have to worry as much about your voice "outing" you to your classmates or causing confusion among your classmates.
  • You don't have to worry as much about generalized discrimination, because gender cues are not as important in online communications.
If it is the case, as I suspect, that institutions of higher ed with distance learning programs have higher transgender-identified student enrollments, this could have implications for service delivery and diversity training. Certainly, I think there might be opportunities to have a discussion or provide some form of training with faculty and library and support staff about awareness and issues that are involved in making the learning and administrative environments more trans-inclusive. Issues such as sensitivity to the use of pronouns, privacy, and awareness of activities and learning content that is traditionally gender-segregated/specific that doesn't have to be, might be addressed.

Anyone know of any research out there on this front? I did a very prelim search and didn't find anything...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some random reference stats

Interesting chart of time of incoming reference questions (mostly via our online Ask-a-Librarian web form or e-mail) on Wednesdays of this year (1/1/08 - 5/22/08):

I find it somewhat strange that there is a large number of incoming emails from 7-8 AM and from 9-10 PM, despite our official Wed. hours being from 9AM to 9PM.

Although the working adult nature of our students does help explain it a bit (i.e., they do their school work before and or after the regular working day).

Now onto the rest of the stats...

Librarian Viral Posts? Cover Letters

Via Pegasus Librarian, there's an idea going around as follows:
Post a cover letter that you wrote. It can be terrible, it can be wonderful, it can be the one that got you a job. But post it with the idea that other librarians (new, old, and not-yet-to-be) can learn something from it.
Not that many, if any, librarians read this blog, but here's my own overly worded, badly organized cover letter from a few years ago for an electronic resources librarian position. It did get me an interview (and I was subsequently invited to a second one, but the job wasn't for me, so I declined):

Dear #######:

Please accept the attached resume as application for the position of ##### that appeared on the university's job openings site recently. I believe that my skills, experience and work ethic would be a great fit for this position, the library team, and the institution as a whole.

I have seven years of professional experience in academic library settings. In my current position at #######, I coordinate and participate in all reference services and gather and analyze usage and overlap data for our team's continual evaluation of resources. I also design and deliver information literacy workshops and self-directed tutorials, and maintain our fully online library presence. I work extensively with and teach the use of our online resources, consisting of more than 100 research databases including ProQuest, EBSCO, Gale, JSTOR, ABC-CLIO, FirstSearch, Project Muse, CIAO, Westlaw and more.

Being part of a small library team working closely with faculty to proactively provide services to a geographically dispersed student body has provided me with many opportunities to think creatively about a wide variety of library service delivery models and technologies and use those parts that best serve our unique institutional needs. The drive to meet these unique needs has also provided me with a solid grasp of the wide variety of currently available and emerging research resources and learning technologies.

I would truly appreciate the opportunity to speak with you in person about the skills, experience, creative and proactive thinking, and enthusiasm I would bring to this position. Thank you for your time and consideration,


Nancy Pearl vs the world

A Flickr photo set: Nancy Pearl vs the World...

Sample: vs. Humungus from the Road Warrior

Thursday, May 15, 2008

PMOG continued: a mission!

I went ahead and created a very brief proof-of-concept "mission" via PMOG for finding e-books via our online library. For those who have or will join in the PMOG fun, you can find the mission here:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

PMOG Uses in Academic Libs?

People have probably already heard of PMOG, but are any academic libraries using this for educational/information literacy purposes? Some possibilities are laid out nicely here:

It seems like a cool way to merge gaming and concepts of information evaluation; creating a mission for students to follow, learn, and hopefully have some fun, too.

I'm off to explore it some more and will report back at a later date on this.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Library-2-LMS Conference

A report from the recent conference I attended at the gorgeous SUNY Brockport campus: Integrating Library Services into a Learning Management System

Overall: I enjoyed it and met some great people, but must admit to being a little disappointed in the keynote and session content. While the sessions I attended were informative and for the most part, well presented, I was surprised that no one seemed to be that far ahead of us as far as innovation in this area. For example, there wasn't one mention in the sessions or discussions I sat in on of integrating RSS feeds or podcasting or synchronous software such as Wimba or Elluminate or Angel Live.

But the discussions did help stimulate some ideas for our own integration in ANGEL and that is invaluable in my opinion and keeps me coming back to these smaller, more intimate conferences (besides the super-affordable registration fees).

"Putting the Library into the Student's Hands" - Elizabeth Pyatt and Loanne Snavely, Penn State U
  • they have an "Ask!" module/nugget embedded in every Angel course - includes e-mail, IM, co-browse and phone modes of communication
  • Subject guides embedded into LOR (guides created for college/dept/course levels)
    • created in-house template to create guides (crude process in my opinion) and share across depts/courses, etc.
    • auto/batch link checking? appears not...
  • they have single sign-on! (we need this functionality desperately!)
  • created new Angel person category: librarian - separate authorization and access levels?
Using WebCT for Teaching and Building Information Literacy Skills - Mona Florea, Univ. of Rhode Island
  • she created a modular library learning module that faculty could embed directly into their courses
Library Research Tutorials: Right at Home in Angel LORs - Lisa Forrest and Meghan Pereira, Buffalo State College
  • created a critical thinking skills module/component that stresses reasoning, argument (analysis and eval), and constructing written assignments
  • titled module w/scholarly title for faculty buy-in" Foundations of Research" [great idea]
  • includes an information literacy assessment piece
Custom Library Services and Resources within Angel Courses - Pauline Shostack, SUNY Onondaga CC
  • they renamed the "Resources" tab to "Library Resources" [this seems like a no brainer to me, yet other presenter Angel versions had not done this and we are meeting with admin resistance to such a move for some reason]
  • using an online reference appointment tool (Angel tool or outside widget?)
  • have added search boxes to Angel (EBSCO, PQ, etc. - code will be posted?)
  • some of the widgets can add to the library nugget without admin authorization (Edit nugget > HTML editor > add code)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

2.0 addiction?

If, like me, you follow lots of the leading web 2.0 and library 2.0 bloggers, and read their conference entries and Tweets, your head is constantly swimming with all the cool applications and possible uses for them in providing lib services and organizing your life and just plain having fun. It's also great that this allows me to get something out of conferences (like the recent CIL) that I couldn't attend (because I'm going to the Off Campus Lib Services Conf in UT in 2 weeks!).

But in reading all about CIL presentations the last few days and how 2.0 issues seem to dominate, it got me thinking: is it possible that because 2.0 (and beyond) is the cutting edge and conference presenters, of course, always want to be perceived as on that edge, that we're making a bit too much out of it? Are non-2.0 presentations being ignored or just not even thought of? In other words, is the fact that our conferences are now totally dominated by 2.0 gadgetry and lists of free apps, and ways to use these apps, making us put too many of our eggs into the 2.0 basket? Is it making us spend more of our time and resources than might normally be prudent in such a fast-changing and unstable technical environment?

I certainly don't have any answers, but I like pondering such questions on occasion, even if I am neck deep in 2.0 apps myself...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Yet another list of library-useful web 2.0 tools?!!

Why not? Here is my own "Top 15" list of web 2.0 (and other) tools we are using or looking into using at my library, as well as a couple tools I use personally to help me do my job (this doesn't include my fave FireFox extensions - perhaps I'll add that at a later date):
  1. AwesomeHighlighter (starting to use this for certain reference situations)
  2. BlogLines (I use this to share my extensive lib blogs w/my coworkers)
  3. Blogger - to me, still the easiest to use full-featured blog platform out there (our library blog is on this as well as an internal library blog for sharing ideas)
  4. (working on using this to display librarian-selected, academic-quality web resources) - my tags - a bit outdated tho)
  5. Feedburner - use this to track subscriptions
  6. Google Analytics (we use this as our main source of usage stats for our public web site)
  7. Google Calendar (since our college still uses the virtually useless Lotus Notes calendar tool, I use Google Calendar to track just our library staff schedules, ref coverage, conferences, etc.).
  8. GoogleDocs (us this for putting together collaborative projects, presentations, etc.)
  9. LibGuides (proof of concept Nursing Guide I put together)
  10. LibraryThing (and LibraryThing for Libraries) - which I use to promote new book titles
  11. NetVibes (great way to bring together most of these other tools into one place)
  12. PbWiki (I used this for a presentation, too)
  13. TopCited - Scopus' useful site - I'm pushing to integrate these into our subject guides
  14. Widgetbox - great place to find widgets and not re-invent the wheel (e.g., linkroll)
  15. Wimba Virtual Classroom - we are using this more heavily now for info lit instruction for remotely located classrooms and eventually directly to students at home

Getting in on the Facebook action

So it appears I've convinced my boss to allow us to explore putting a library presence on Facebook. I am excited to get started on this, but the big issue I'm concerned about is promotion. How have others gotten students and faculty to buy into a library-Facebook resource? Our college has a community of several hundred, but I'm not sure how to tap into that community and help grow it without coming off like an intruder into student/personal space...

But hopefully I'll be able to put together a site for us that will offer enough incentive for some to become fans, etc. Widgets to search library databases (our Multi-database Search, WorldCat, ebook our catalog, ProQuest, Credo, etc.), new book title widgets, and more may go part of that distance, I'm not sure. Perhaps we could also eventually build a tie-in to our Wimba virtual classroom info lit workshops as well.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

ebrary API?

Is anyone out there using this ebrary API? On their site (including our admin page within ebrary), they have nothing at all about it that I can find beyond brief mention at the bottom of this page. Since ebrary represents the lion's share of our large eBook collection, I am eager to use it to promote new books and work content into subject-specific places on our site and hopefully eventually on Angel as well. I had requested a few months ago that they make a simple "New Books" widget tool available for their subscribers as well, but am not holding my breath on that. As a non-programmer I'd especially be interested in seeing examples or even just ideas of how this is being used and perhaps the code behind it so that I might adapt some for our own uses without starting from scratch...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

social networking and the distance learner

There is a great post from PHM3 that really got me thinking: his notion (and there are many others out there in traditional learning environments already doing so) of using social software to provide a way for students with similar interests/majors etc. to find each other, I think, could be a very useful tool for our working adult, distance learners. In many cases, these students are working through their degree in isolation, with their only contact being with their mentor. I would guess that many students might find it advantageous to find others within the college who have similar personal or research interests, hobbies, areas of concentration, locales, or even professions.

At present, we have no significant college presence in Facebook or any other social network system that I know of, but I've been pondering putting forth a proposal to my bosses to set one up and promote it to our students and faculty (the hardest part: getting buy in) so that we can foster a better sense of community, which I think is so hard to build in the distance learning environment. But I think it has vast potential if we can put in place enough tools and services so that the incentive to join would be there. Putting the library front and center of that community would also be a plus for us and the college as a whole.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

my zen presenter place

I gave a workshop and a presentation in the last 2 weeks and both appear to have gone well. I got all positive feedback and I think I'm finally becoming comfortable talking off the cuff about things I know a good deal about.

The first was a 90 min. hands-on virtual workshop for students gathered together in 2 remote classroom locations - basically an intro to library resources, but with an emphasis on information evaluation and basic search techniques that work across databases. It's the first of a series of virtual workshops I'm working hard on putting together (the second is a more advanced research and search techniques session). We use the Wimba virtual classroom platform and everything went smoothly, both technically and content-wise, and based on the feedback and the distant classroom facilitator's impressions, the students really got something out of it. Makes all the effort I put into it worth while! The real challenge will be making these kinds of sessions available directly to students at home.

The second was a 45 min. conference presentation on using blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, and RSS for group/team collaboration and productivity. The audience was all professional staff at the college and I emphasized basic, free tools and how they might be used by those collaborating, especially in groups composed of members spread across the state (our college has offices all over the state and even overseas). I also emphasized how all these tools are merging and mixing function-and form-wise, similar to cameras, phones, mp3 players and web access in tools like the iPhone. Much to my surprise, the room was filled to capacity. Instead of a stale slide show, I used PBWiki to present my information and show off examples of how these tools could be used. Luckily after some initial struggle, I got the wireless internet connection to work and everything flowed smoothly (which was very lucky because I hadn't had time to create a back-up version in PP!). I had been sick the entire week prior to this presentation so my prep time was less than I am normally comfortable with, but again, everything went smoothly and I got great feedback from attendees.

I think I'm finally in a place, both personally and professionally, where my self-confidence and experience make me a decent teacher/presenter...

Monday, January 14, 2008

RSS creation service for faculty?

Is any library out there offering anything like this?: a service to work with faculty/instructional designers to create custom RSS feeds, based on the specific needs of a class or even assignment. Say a faculty member approached us and said they wanted a way to keep their students appraised of current events, research and opinions in, for example, nursing. We could then work with them to identify and aggregate RSS feeds from various sources (a custom EBSCOhost CINAHL search, prominent nursing professional blogs, news sites, and others, for example). We could then either display those feeds in a web page within the library or, ideally (although at present there are security issues involved in this) directly into one or more RSS feeds within the Angel course (for example as a scrolling feed on the course home page).

My biggest concern would be longer-term maintenance of these feeds. I could easily see these resources being reused semester to semester and eventually some of the feeds would become inactive or just disappear. For example, I believe either EBSCO or ProQuest feeds get deleted if they haven't been accessed for several weeks, which might pose a problem if the feeds only are used at a certain point in the term. How could that be combated on larger and longer-term scales? Would it be more advisable and scalable, for example, for we librarians to simply suggest feed sources and perhaps tools to build/aggregate/display those feeds than to build the resource ourselves? Of course, doing that would cut off a lot of our less tech-savvy faculty (which would be a majority) from using it.