January 2008 Archives

The 2008 Horizon Report is out from Educause.  (This is the report I referenced at Loanne's Knowledge Commons presentation, if you were there.)

This report identifies and describes emerging technologies that will have an impact on teaching, learning and creative expression in higher education.  It's definitely worth a read.

Two major points that I took from it:

1)  The nature of collaborative work is changing. 

From p. 4 of the report: 
"Collaboration no longer calls for expensive equipment and specialized expertise. The newest tools for collaborative work are small, flexible, and free, and require no installation. Colleagues simply open their web browsers and they are able to edit group documents, hold online meetings, swap information and data, and collaborate in any number of ways without ever leaving their desks."

This has implications for how we plan future facilities and technology spaces in libraries.  If we build expensive, dedicated spaces for group work, will our students come?  I think that perhaps individual learning styles and group dynamics also will play into students' preferences and usage patterns, but it is a good reminder to keep things (as Henry pointed out) very flexible in the future.

2) Visual, technological and information literacy retain continued (and perhaps redefined) importance.

This portion of the Report especially resonated with me:
"We need new and expanded definitions of these literacies that are based on mastering underlying concepts rather than on specialized skill sets, and we need to develop and establish methods for teaching and
evaluating these critical literacies at all levels of education." (p. 6)
Systematically embedding the explicit teaching of these skills into the curriculum is perhaps the only way to ensure that students have the successfully developed information literacy and technology skills they need.  And libraries (especially instruction librarians) have to integrate the teaching of information literacy and technology skills even more so in the future.

Oh sweet, sweet blog, I am so glad that you're back!

And now that you are here once again, it's straight down to business.  Did you know that we began testing handhelds in the library today?   Our group's goal is to identify devices that are effective for roving reference, usage in instructional situations, and more.

The four lucky handhelds are:
--The Fujitsu Lifebook U810 (aka my Midwinter companion)

the Sony VAIO UX-490! (this is like the Miss America pageant, isn't it?)

-- The Nokia N-810 Tablet

and the OQO Model 2!

Library Learning Services and the Business Library / Social Sciences Library will test these four devices over the next two weeks.  Then Arts & Humanities and PAMS will try them out for a week. 

If you're interested in learning more about the handheld pilot, visit the Test Group Wiki.  If you're interested in helping test a device or two, just ask.

Images from: laptoplogic.com, thegadgetblog.com, www.mobilewhack.com, blogs.zdnet.com

Hello friends!  You can see from the cheery plum surroundings we're in that the inevitable has happened---I've migrated over to MT4.  In the process of doing that, I screwed up my blog a half-dozen ways, almost deleted all of my entries to date (that was a nice feeling) and came to the realization that you should never put capital letters in your blog URL.  Never.

Never fear, I did almost exactly the same thing to my old blog when I had just started it last year.  and I somehow managed to drag that one back to life too.  It is always nice to revisit the wonderfully un-user friendly PASS Explorer (always reminds me of the old days on the telnet version of ISCABBS) and confront the tattered remains of my blog files.

That said, let's all hope I never have direct access to a server maintaining critical data.

I'm still having issues with my feed, but hopefully that will go away soon.

Thanks for following me here!

The Shifted Librarian revealed that ProQuest has debuted new search widgets.

Take a look over to your right at my sidebar---voila, widget! Give it a try, and see what you think.

This is a terrific idea, yes? In theory, perhaps. In practice, not so much. The idea behind these widgets (which appear to have been primarily created for librarians) is that you can develop a custom search tool for a specific subject, and then place the search widget on your subject guide page. Here are some examples of it in play.

Some observations on why this idea, while noble, is implemented in a pretty impossible manner:

1) You have to know html code to use this. Isn't that enough of a barrier in itself? Take a look at any widget available through widgetbox or igoogle. No code needed, except perhaps to define the size and color of the widget. As it should be.

2) The widget is designed so that you enter search terms (like 'information literacy') when you are creating it, but the search terms you have identified don't show up in the search box! I think what they were going for was making the widgets subject-specialized (i.e., a PQ widget on an advertising guide page would conduct a search with the word 'Advertising' automatically added on to the search) the user adds their additional terms to further focus the search.

This is an idea that does not work. To the user, a blank search box is just that--a canvas to be filled. Putting in additional terms that aren't visible to the user is simply going to increase frustration. (Incidentally, my widget does not include search terms, but I had to work pretty hard to make it function without them.)

3) You have to know your EZProxy server. Not impossible, but that, combined with the other two issues I identified, closes out this tool for librarian use only.

You might ask yourself, why would I use Proquest's widget when I could simply use the existing ProQuest widget for Penn State? (which is much easier, and already optimized for use in places like iGoogle and Netvibes.)

Good question.

A new report on the 'Google Generation' is out, titled, "Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future." The report contains the results of a study commissioned by the JISC and the British Library on how children and young adults will interact with information resources over the next five to ten years.

It is hard to take any definitive research results from this paper, because it is a melding of a massive literature review focused on several different areas of information literacy and information use over the last fifty years, combined with a '"deep log analysis" (their words) of BL Learning. (And the research that is there is cited in an odd manner, not actually referencing specific data.) In other words, there is not much original research here on the order of what you would find in the most recent OCLC reports or the Pew reports. That said, there are some interesting conclusions and projections at the end of the report (mostly based on their wide-ranging review of the existing literature, it seems.)

The report brings forth the following recommendations for maintaining academic libraries' future online relevance:

--They (libraries) need to make their sites more highly visible in cyberspace by opening them up to search engines.

They should abandon any hope of being a one-stop shop.

They should accept that much content will seldom or never be used, other than perhaps a place from which to bounce.

Possibly the most compelling part of the report came on the last page:

The library profession desperately needs leadership to develop a new vision for the 21st century and reverse its declining profile and influence. This should start with effecting that shift from a content-orientation to a user-facing perspective and then on to an outcome focus.

This idea was recently echoed in the ACRL Environmental Scan, which discussed moving from "the creation and management of large on-site library collections to the design and delivery of library services." (p. 5)

This also supports the notion of the library's primary role as campus partner in developing and implementing information literacy learning outcomes in University curriculum and graduation requirements.

Like Science Librarian, I am testing a handheld at Midwinter--the Fujitsu Lifebook U810 (I think). My golly, but typing on this tiny screen makes me tired.

In lieu of a lengthy entry, here is a web cam pic (taken by the lifebook) of me in my swanky hotel room.

I just finished drafting a set of recommendations for 2.0 library marketing--that is, increasing users' awareness of our new 2.0 resources (like the Libraries' Facebook app) and utilizing 2.0 technologies to better market our many resources, services and events.

I'm pasting in below the text of my general recommendations. If you have additional thoughts or ideas on this, I'd love to hear them!

General Recommendations:

--Market at the point of need in the native environment. Example: Facebook Social Ads and Pages.

--Strategically market and place content (collections, events, services) on sites like Flickr, LibraryThing, Youtube and Wikipedia. Examples: The University of Washington’s paper, Using Wikipedia to Market Digital Collections. (and see my earlier post on this topic.) The Social Sciences Library, The Penn State Mont Alto Library, The leisure reading collection and the Business Library are using LibraryThing in great ways--perhaps we need to think even more broadly about how we can use this Libraries-wide.

--Adapt mechanisms on the Libraries’ web pages for users to bookmark and easily share content with others. Example: The New York Times provides this service to their readers on individual article pages (see the ‘Share’ menu on this sample article page.) (An interesting side note--It is really hard to find Libraries who are doing this outside of their catalog. I wonder why?)

--Syndicate (via RSS feeds) Libraries’ related content, including new books, subject-specific CAT searches, Libraries’ events and news, etc… Make these feeds visible (and easily taken away for use elsewhere) in visible, appropriate places (within the CAT, on the Libraries home page, on the Tools and Widgets page etc…) Example: The Hennepin County Library provides a variety of customizable RSS feeds.

--Develop a Libraries’ toolbar for Firefox, integrating library resources, links and news into the user’s browser. Example: UMN Libraries Toolbar.

--Utilize and leverage the power of logos that are already familiar to and resonate with our users. Facebook, Google, AOL IM all have graphics and logos that are highly familiar to patrons. Some libraries are using the attractive familiarity of these images to help promote the Libraries’ presence and added utility in these resources. Examples: University of Texas Libraries home page, or NC State University’s ASK! Logo.

--Create a top-level linked ‘Tools and Widgets’ page, to promote new Libraries technology tools. Example: UMN Libraries Tools & Widgets page; University of Texas Libraries’ Tools & Widgets page.

Additional recommendations specifically for publicizing our new 2.0 tools include:

--Advertise new technologies via plasma screens, vertical banners throughout campus (in the HUB, in dorm common areas)

--Purchase low-cost, fun cards advertising new online resources (such as Moo cards)

--Implement consistent coverage of new technologies and tools locally and nationally (via outlets such as the Chronicle Wired Campus.)

People (especially young adults) are still using libraries. (great analysis from the FRL, Lorcan, Stephen, ACRLog and more)

The Firefox Facebook toolbar completely rocks. Try it out!

Stephen Abram's 30 Library Technology Predictions for 2008. I especially loved his thoughts on Google Docs and the demise of Blockbuster.

Avatars are everywhere among young users. My five year old daughter received her first WebKinz over the holidays (we didn't activate it) and watched her first online video at Cute Overload. I can't help but feel that she is poised at the top of a huge precipice, and I don't want her to jump off.