Posted by effervescentlibrarian on April 4, 2013
It has been an interesting day. I got to listen to the ARL Executive Director, Elliott Shore, talk this morning at a town hall meeting at my library. And, then I rushed off to hear the President of Rice University talk at his town meeting on campus. It was amazing–because they were talking about the same thing! Dr. Shore is very interested in getting input from member institutions about how to adapt, change, and thrive in this new world of higher education. He’s wondering if we should have a Librarian MOOC, and what training institutes ARL should offer to help librarians develop skills that are necessary.
President Leebron opened his talk by stating that he felt many of us were anxious about the changing world of higher education, but that he thought that anxiety was a good thing. I do too! I am a worrier from way back!
Dr. Shore implored our library staff to not be defensive about users not wanting to learn the way or the material that many of us want to teach. Great lesson! Instead, let’s partner with our users. Form teams.
When we are defensive, we shut down more than a few paths to communication. What if we overcome our defensiveness? What if we remained opened and focused on the real issues confronting us in librarianship? I think we are at a truly transformative place in librarianship, and if we can really partner with our users, and understand their needs through usability and ethnography, we will be in a wonderful place to succeed at a new librarianship level. And, yes, everyone is feeling anxious right now! I had written a blog post a couple of years ago over on the ACRL space; I remain grateful for those in other disciplines, specifically anthropology and the sciences, that put their brain and soul into helping find sustainable solutions to issues of usability, open access, data management, and the list goes on.
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Posted by effervescentlibrarian on August 23, 2011
1) Sakai, multi-institutional project (Spring 2009-Spring 2010)
- Conducted two interview and observation sessions with instructors at Rice (December 2009), in order to understand why and how they use scholarly resources to prepare and conduct their courses.
- Interviews were not transcribed, nor coded, but rather blended into personas for the project.
- Rice participants filled out a confidentiality & consent form.
Project Website: https://confluence.sakaiproject.org/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=9895999 Consists of the process timeline, interview protocol, interviewee summary, and final report.
Download the report: Why and How do Instructors Use Scholarly Resources in Preparing and Conducting Their Courses? Multi-Institutional Research Findings Library and Sakai 3 Integration Project
2) Mobile Devices as a Research Tool study (April 2010- July 2010)(Fondren Mobile CREL group)
3) Establishing fondren@brc: Insights from a User Study (June 2010-August 2010)
- Interviewed 3 faculty members, 4 graduate students, and a library liaison to inform service decisions at a new library location.
- Report available online.
- This was also included in the recently published ARL Spec Kit on Library User Experience.
- A great deal of citation analysis was also done as a part of the study, analyzing if Fondren owned the journals that faculty publish in at the BRC. Additionally, some cost/benefit analysis was done to determine if it was better to ILL journals not owned by Fondren, or to purchase the journals. At the time of the report, ILL services were determined to be cheaper, but did have some research slow-down implications.
4) Usability testing on the new Fondren website (April 2011)
- Semi-structured testing was conducted on two undergraduates, two graduate students, one postdoc, and three library staff members.
- Problems were identified most especially with the ejournal portal.
- Interviews were transcribed, and a new innovation, color-coding, was incorporated in the coding process. The color codes were: Pink (Good kudos), Red (Tabbed Searching), Green (Service implications), Yellow (Problems), and Light Blue (User Suggestions).
5) Discovering Discovery: How Researchers Find the Sources They Need (April-May 2011)
- Research Team: Debra Kolah, Marcel LaFlamme, Jane Segal, and Leah Krevit.
- Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 2 faculty members, 4 members of a nondepartmental academic team, 1 postdoc, and 5 research analysts.
- This project was conducted on a tight time constraint: the research instrument was approved on April 5th, the interviews were from April 18-28, transcription and coding took place from May 2-13, and the final report was submitted to the Fondren Library Resource Discovery Tools Working Group on May 18th. This led to the term “Bootstrap UX.”
- A brief summary report was generated before the report was completed to help the research team start to group findings. The broad categories were: One interface to search for everything, Interdisciplinarity, andSpecific/Targeted Searching.
6) Research Flow (July-September 2011)
- Guided research team consists of 10 librarians, all of whom had participated in Nancy Foster’s training session at Rice in January of 2011.
- More videotaping of interviewees was achieved.
- IRB Protocol approved on 6/9/2011. Research project currently in progress. 14 interviews have been conducted.
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Posted by effervescentlibrarian on February 1, 2011
Thanks to the wonderful folks over at ACRL; they published my short post today: As We May Evolve. This is the backstory. Last year, in the Spring, I got to take a great History of Science class from Dr. Cyrus Mody. His class was fantastic, and introduced me to several great history of science writers, including David Kaiser. We had to write a 15 page paper, and I found myself wanting to do a history of science librarianship, focusing on the importance of physics librarians. But, that wasn’t what happened. Early on in the process, I found the great paper by Mark Bowles, and David Kaiser sent me a chapter of his forthcoming book: American Physics and the Cold War Bubble. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.) And, I learned about the chemists. Also, I learned about Dr. Vannevar Bush, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. He had issued a report in 1945 to President Roosevelt, entitled “Science – The Endless Frontier.” His views also appeared in a paper called “As We May Think” in the July 1945 Atlantic Monthly. He called for scientists to make more accessible the vast store of knowledge and thus extend man’s physical and mental powers. Reading between the lines, you can hear his call: libraries, and librarianship, is overwhelmed; scientists, move to action! From his experience working with some six thousand leading American scientists in the application of science to warfare, he observed their information and communication needs. He saw great potential for focusing their knowledge in a new direction and developing instruments to give command over information. Dr. Bush called for a new relationship between thinking man and our knowledge.
The legacy of Bush lingered in the air for many years. In 1965, J.C.R. Linklider had been sponsored by the Council on Library Resources, Inc to write a book, Libraries of the Future. He admits in his forward that he had hoped that this book would be a small step in the direction to which Bush had pointed in his pioneer article, but that he had not actually read the article until he finished the book. His omission of Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think” from his bibliography was noticed, and when he was advised to read it, he added to the forward, “Now that I have read it, I should like to dedicate this book, however unworthy it may be, to Dr. Bush. (Linklider, viii). Future Libraries details much about a future of libraries where access is easy, and computer systems enable greater information storage, organization and retrieval. In the years after World War II, science and technology prospered, and the era of big science grew exponentially.
I didn’t learn any library history in grad school, so I have to say I am forever grateful to Dr. Mody. I still am looking for stories about early physics library history too!
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Posted by effervescentlibrarian on November 29, 2010
Two weeks ago I facilitated one of the scenarios from ARL. I think a few folks were nervous about these scenarios–and even questioned why we would find value in envisioning the future. But, oh, how it important it is to do so! The scenarios do a great job of opening up possibilities. None of us know what the future will bring, but THINKING about the future is one of the best things that we can do to prepare for it.
The outcome of the retreat is still forming–but it is fair to say that it turned out better than any of us imagined. We formulated our draft high-level goals from this work; and they ooze with having gotten a glimpse of the future while forming our thoughts.
I have the great luck to work with a talented science fiction writer, Alexis Latner, and I took the opportunity to ask her for a quote about why thinking about the future is important. Her perspective was brilliant:
Why envision the future? It won’t be what you (or I or anyone else) imagine. It will shape up as a mix and match of different imaginings, plus the impact of one or more metaphorical meteors that no one saw coming. What we can be sure of is that the future will happen, we will be living there, and it will be different from today, because societal change happens, and technological change happens ever faster. If we envision the future, we may be able to steer – not the rushing river of futurity itself, but our own boat in the flux of it. One thing about canoeing in a current is this: you must paddle to keep the canoe moving relative to the water, because otherwise you can’t steer. Another thing: you must read the river, looking for hidden rocks and strainers and standing waves and holes, and steer away from them.
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Posted by effervescentlibrarian on August 30, 2010
Lisa Spiro and I have worked for the last couple of months on an ethnographic study of a new building at Rice, the BioScience Research Collaborative, or BRC. Libraries have been closing branch libraries for years, but this month, Fondren Library opened fondren@brc. Ethnographic study, ala Nancy Foster, allows librarians to get out into the field, and actually find out what users are doing and thinking. Fantastic approach! There was a bit of paperwork to do–we had to file for IRB approval at our institution. Not entirely necessary, but since we thought we might publish something about this at some point, it is a good way to cover your bases.
We identified a number of researchers, postdocs, staff and graduate students in the BRC that we wanted to interview. I kept a spreadsheet in Googledocs, with their information, links to their c.v. and date for their interview.
We had a script of questions that we asked and we were able to understand their work in their new environment much more clearly than we had previously. In some instances we recorded with an mp3 recorder, and in some instances, we just took notes. The process was entirely dependant on what the interviewees would agree to do.
So, the bottom line? We completed a report and submitted it last week to the executive team of our library. In it, we give an overview of life in the BRC, and recommendations of services that the library could offer to them. Were we surprised by some of what came out of the study? Absolutely! They requested some services that we had no idea would come up, and some of them very easy to accomplish, what we call low-hanging apples here at Fondren.
Ethnographic study is gaining in popularity in the library context. For me, as a user experience librarian, it is an invaluable process to gain insight, not only for understanding the current experiences that our users are having, but to start to see the future a bit, and design experiences that will be fantastic for the users tomorrow, and next year.
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Posted by effervescentlibrarian on December 3, 2009
Dave Winer (father of the RSS feed), wrote over on Rebooting the News “In the future everyone can be a journalist, and the people who will be most valuable are those who are experts in areas outside journalism. That means, to me, that everyone should get a basic journalism education, in the same way it’s a good idea for us to take a semester of math, English lit, chemistry or physics. ”
I was the editor of my school paper long ago, and that taught me to be able to go to the school principal and ask him questions, and expect answers. Students and faculty need to nurture their inner librarian: Understand the role of information in a society. Organize and tag information in such a way that retrieval for you and others is easy in the future. Understand how to find, evaluate and use information effectively.
I do think higher education is going through a huge assessment period right now–I can’t wait to see how it evolves on a global scale.
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Posted by effervescentlibrarian on May 8, 2009
I have to be honest and say that my copy of the Horizon Report has been on my desk for months, and months, and I have just read it. Partly because I knew mostly what was being predicted from conversations with Lisa Spiro, and Rachel Smith(NMC), and partly because, well, I'm overwhelmed with futurist predictions. Which I love, but have to temper. So…what's there…of course, cloud computing; I'm interested in Science Clouds,
a "project that aims to provide cloud computing resources to members of
the science community for limited amounts of time in support of
specific projects." AND, I'm going to read this over the weekend:
The Tower and the Cloud: an EDUCAUSE eBookhttp://www.educause.edu/thetowerandthecloud/133998(Richard N. Katz, ed., EDUCAUSE, 2008.) This book, freely
available as a PDF document, includes chapters by leading educators and
technologists on all aspects of cloud computing and education,
including accountability, implementation, social networking, and
The other thing that really interests me is semantic-aware applications, probably because I don't really understand all that it might create. One statement in the report describes two approaches to creating a semantic web: "One, the bottom-up approach, is problematic in that it assumes metadata
will be added to each piece of content to include information about its
context; tagging at the concept level, if you will. The top-down
approach appears to have a far greater likelihood of success, as it
focuses on developing natural language search capability that can make
those same kinds of determinations without any special metadata." I like the idea of automation–especially in areas of metadata, where most of the work is done by programming, and allowing the program to creatively link ideas and concepts between information, creating a true web of knowledge.
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