Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mentoring Meeting

The week before Christmas I met with my ILA/ACRL mentor, Rebecca Funke (Director of the DMACC libraries). This was our first meeting. I was able to see the Ankeny campus library, learn more about their collection, meet some of the other library staff, hear about their policies & procedures, and ask tons of questions (like the new librarian I am). It was interesting to hear about their set-up, and hear the similarities between what we are doing at as a university & what they are doing as a community college. I shared a bit about what we are doing with the embedded librarian program & how we structure our instruction sessions. There were several take-aways from the day spent in Ankeny, but one that I'd like to take steps toward implementing within the next year is to have an all-campus reads program. (It all depends on administrative approval, collaboration between other areas on campus, effective marketing, and overall interest.) The Iowa Center for the Book chooses one book each year to be the All Iowa Reads selection; this year's selection is Tracy Kidder's Strength in What Remains.I have been brainstorming about marketing and programming related to a campus-wide program.  Possibilities include:

  • a read-in
  • collaboration with student groups
  • collaboration with faculty & departments on campus
  • perhaps a raffle with book give-aways
  • utilizing the existing book trailer to increase interest 

Creating marketing materials, talking to the on-campus radio and television production groups as well as the student newspaper to help get the word out & to cover events held throughout the year (semester?) is going to be a big part of getting this program started.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Article Discussion: Using Google Forms to Schedule Classes in Your Library

Kenney, J. (2011). Using Google Forms to schedule classes in your library. Journal of Library Innovation 2(2). Retrieved December 1, 2011 from

What is awesome about no longer being in grad school (besides having a job with health insurance, having my own apartment, sleeping on a regular basis instead of pulling all-nighters, and actually getting to see my friends and family) is that I don't have to read articles I find boring. I get to choose the articles I get to read! (Believe me, this is pretty darn luxurious! I love practical articles where I find something in it that I can actually apply right away!) I was really excited when I began browsing the Directory of Open Access Journals ( and came across the Journal of Library Innovation. One: because, let's face it—I'm frugal and the fact that it's open access (free!) makes me feel like I'm getting a great deal; two: because the articles are remarkably readable and practical; three: because I drink the Google Kool-Aid, and what did appear before me but an article about using Google tools to make life easier! I'm sold!

So, let’s talk about this wonderfully practical article that uses Google magic, shall we? Kenney is a high school librarian who uses Google Forms (GF) to schedule classes in the library. Though our institution is a university, we have a similar break-down with our number of students (Grand View serves about 2,000 students; Bristol Eastern High School has 1,300) and types of facilities available (both BEHS and GV have one computer lab devoted to library instruction).

When I arrived this summer I visited with my colleagues about using GF as a replacement to paper stats. During my internship at University of Dubuque (UD), we used GF for this purpose and it worked fantastically, so we revised the UD form to make it simpler and began implementing the new statistics procedures. In the past, as a student leader in SLIS at Indiana University (IU), I had used GF to coordinate events, gather RSVP information, help with officer elections, etc., so I was already comfortable with the format. Kenney took it a step further and uses it for scheduling instruction (love this!).

As an Instruction Assistant at IU, course instructors scheduled library instruction sessions using a PHP form. This is a similar concept, but could be more difficult to implement depending on access to server space and coding experience. GF allows librarians to easily make and modify a form that meets their instruction scheduling needs, and all of the information is kept in a central location (not to mention automatically organized in a rockin' spreadsheet).

Prior to using GF, Kenney's procedure was to have teachers email back and forth with her to line up not only the times/dates, but also exchange several emails about what was to be included in the session, assignment expectations, etc. Though I am not our official scheduler, I have visited with our librarian about the (sometimes…) lack of information we receive from instructors regarding what they want their students to learn during the library instruction sessions, resulting in a situations and email exchanges similar to those Kenney experienced. Implementing the form would simplify this experience for all involved. Also, Kenney's form included a detailed list of the services and types of instruction the library provides. This allowed her to highlight specific resources and technologies that instructors might not have otherwise thought to include in their requested instruction session. She then transferred the submitted information from the Google spreadsheet into a calendar item. The calendar was available for classroom instructors to see (so they would know when instruction was/was not available).

I think it's a fantastic solution using resources that are freely available to simplify a process (and keep your email inbox tidier)! There are a few caveats that we need to consider, should we decide to implement this new method. I think educating faculty about the new procedure and form is the top consideration. Some professors may not be comfortable with electronic forms, so some training may be necessary. Populating the calendar with instruction sessions/information may be a bit clunky, but it is no clunkier than what we are currently doing—and this procedure would eliminate excessive email exchanges. Another consideration is that, even though Google works to make many things customizable, we still can't accept attachments via the forms; we could add a mailto link to the form so they automatically send it to the right person (so it can be added to the right calendar item).

I've shared this with my colleague, who sounds keen on making this work for our library. Fingers crossed for a simpler instruction scheduling process for all involved!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Article Discussion: Searching Where for What: A Comparison of use of the Library Catalogue, Google and Wikipedia

Waller, V. (2011). Searching where for what: A comparison of use of the library catalogue, Google and Wikipedia. Library and Information Research 35(110). Retrieved November 28, 2011 from Freely Accessible Science Journals.

I’m pretty sure every instruction librarian has struggled with students who simply want to Google or search Wikipedia to find “research” for their course assignments. This is nothing new. Students tend to gravitate toward the familiar, and toward what they think is the easiest route. In fact, I received an email from a student that said “I just ended up looking it up on Google. Google knows all.” (Granted it was very early in the semester, before I had gotten into their class to do any IL instruction, but still). So when I saw “Searching where for what: A comparison of use of the library catalogue, Google and Wikipedia” I was intrigued. We all turn to different resources for different research needs. Let’s be honest, I won’t turn to the library’s catalog or databases to figure out when Beyonce announced her pregnancy (2011 VMAs, Aug. 28th) or whether Jason Segel is married (Single! But I knew that from a Letterman interview...I digress); Wikipedia is just fine for that. But, if I’m looking to write a paper for a grade (hint hint, students), I should use something more credible. So as part of my instruction, we discuss web quality. I share fun examples of less-than-stellar websites, and then have the “Come to Jesus” moment when it comes to using Wikipedia. (See slide four below.)

I don’t know if you can see it, but the Wikipedia entry for Newton, IA shows the nickname to be “The Armpit of America,” the motto as “Too lazy to commute. Let’s go on title 19,” and the population is made up of “15,579 Smiling toothless methheads” (keepin’ it classy, Wikipedia). That usually gets a chuckle out of the students, and opens their eyes to just how easily this information can be manipulated. I tell them that I went back just one hour after I took the screenshot, and the information had been changed back to something less controversial—so not only can Wikipedia be ridiculously incorrect, it’s also not a stable, constant resource.

While reading the article “Searching where for what: A comparison of use of the library catalogue, Google and Wikipedia” I was interested in seeing what might be implied about user behaviors and the reasoning behind it. Waller examines the catalogue (yes, spelled the British way) searches in the State Library of Victoria (Australia) as compared to the searches done in Google and Wikipedia. The researcher looked at the following categories: popular culture, ecommerce, business-related, cultural practice, computing/web, health, history, science (including math), place/building, contemporary issues (news, government information), books/authors, high culture, adult (XXX or dating sites), genealogy, unknown, and other. Waller used transaction logs to gather data from the library/internet users without impacting their behavior. The findings showed that 20% of catalogue users were researching contemporary issues, wherein only 5% of Google searches were seeking information on contemporary issues. Quite the opposite was the case when researchers examined the results for pop culture; 29% of Google queries and 40% of searches that took users to Wikipedia. The article contains more information about the nitty-gritty results, but in the end, I wasn’t surprised by the user behaviors.

While not Earth-shattering, it was eye-opening to hear concrete numbers regarding Google use versus library catalog use. According to Waller, “Google is used approximately one hundred times more often than the State Library catalogue to look up information on contemporary issues. Similarly for every five library catalogue searches, there are in the order of 500 searches conducted in Victoria using Wikipedia…Wikipedia is used approximately twenty five times more often than the State Library catalogue to look up information on contemporary issues.”

I encourage my students who are working on research papers to ask “So what?” or “What’s the big deal; why should I care?” Waller’s “so what?” suggests that libraries should monitor the catalogue query subjects to better understand how their collections are being used (or where there are gaps in the collection that should be filled with new purchases). This approach would still leave gaps in the data, not allowing researchers to understand users’ reasoning behind their searching habits. Perhaps patrons are simply unaware of the depth of the library’s collection regarding their topic so, instead of searching the library catalog, they search online elsewhere. The issue then becomes educating library users about the collection, as opposed to modifying holdings. I like that Waller points out the advantages of using library resources over (possibly sketchy) web resources: difficult to find “authentic meaning when using a search engine,” most users don’t dig deeply enough into the search results (past the first page of results), you get all of the bibliographic information you need to properly cite your sources when using library resources, and information on like topics is grouped together (making students’ research easier). Waller failed to mention that when you use library resources, you’re likely to have at least one librarian you can contact when you have questions, need help sifting through and interpreting information, or need help remembering to breathe because your paper is due tomorrow and you know you should have started it sooner but you didn’t and you realize now that you kind of screwed yourself over but really you just need to get it done and just survive until the end of the semester (where’s the closest cup of coffee?). (Not that I’ve seen students do this or anything…)

In the end, the article didn’t necessarily address user motivations, but it did reinforce that, as an instruction librarian, I need to continue to educate my students about the need to dig deeper—especially when they think they already know how to search and find quality information.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I attended a conference/festival this past weekend (Iowa Music Educators Association Conference held in conjunction with the Iowa All-State Festival). Though it was not a library conference, it did help remind me of why I do what I do. Being surrounded by people who are passionate about teaching and passionate about "growing students" continues to nurture my enthusiasm to teach. Making the switch from being an orchestra teacher to a librarian was a scary thing for me. Seemingly abandoning what I spent so long music, my idea of who I was... But, in the end this switch helped me realize that I didn't become a music teacher because I loved music (though music is definitely something I love). I became a music teacher because I loved teaching, nurturing students, and serving those around me. When I switched to librarianship, I was able to keep all of those things and just apply my skills and passion for service in a new context. This week is Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that I am able to connect with wonderful people; I am thankful that I get to help people every day; I am thankful that I smile when I wake up in the morning and go to work; and I am thankful for the knowledge that I am on the right path. (I am also thankful that music is something I will always have and be able to share.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blackboard and the Library

This week and last week I hosted another set of "Conversations on Information Literacy" sessions. As Faculty Development and Instruction Librarian, I host a series of events throughout each semester highlighting library resources and how the library can help support faculty teaching and student learning. Thus far I have been following a template of what has been done in the past, for several reasons. I am new to this community and understand it takes time for everyone to get used to "the new girl's approach." I also understand that too much change too soon can be a plan for disaster. I want to approach this first year as an opportunity to learn from those around me. That doesn't mean I don't have ideas (and it doesn't mean I don't keep a running list of said ideas); what it does mean is that I am listening, observing, and working to learn more about the community I serve, which will help me craft my faculty development sessions around user needs.

For this pair of sessions we discussed how the library can help support faculty and students through having a presence on Blackboard. (Blackboard, Your Courses, and the Library) We recently migrated to Blackboard 9.1, and with technology change comes some anxiety from faculty. In this session we discussed the different levels of embedded librarianship, types of resources we can link to from Blackboard, and larger lesson-oriented concepts. Though we would like to believe all students come to us with a strong background in technology, that is not necessarily the case. Also, those students who do have background using technologies don't necessarily transfer those skills to other mediums, such as Blackboard. It is up to us to introduce those concepts and build those connections, just as we had to learn these new tools. One thing that I cannot emphasize enough is the inclusion of a lesson (or even just a part of a lesson) that concentrates on the professor's expectations for using Blackboard. Showing students the tools you expect them to use, having in-class activities where students demonstrate proficiency with using Blackboard (prior to looming, important, and intimidating deadlines) will help ease student anxiety when it comes to assignment or discussion post submission. For more information on the Blackboard session, click the link above.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

SLIS CareerCon - Networking, Conferences, Professional Organizations, & Personal Branding

Earlier this fall I was contacted by a friend and current SLIS student and asked to return to Bloomington to speak at the first SLIS CareerCon. Several student organizations collaborated to put on this convention. According to their website, "CareerCon is the first career exploration and preparation conference designed specifically for library and information science students at Indiana University. CareerCon offers presentations and workshops from library and information science professionals in the Bloomington area to help you land your dream job." I was excited to be on a panel discussing Networking, Conferences, Professional Organizations, & Personal Branding. Though it took a lot of behind the scenes work (various emails back and forth between the session organizer and myself, making sure I could have the time off, figuring out travel and lodging for the weekend), I was glad to return to visit with new SLIS students and old friends about my experiences since I left Bloomington at the end of last December (to complete my last semester of SLIS as an intern at University of Dubuque).

I was only able to attend Friday and Saturday's sessions, as Thursday was a full day of travel across "the I states" as I like to call them (Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana). I attended all of the sessions I could and caught up on tweeting my notes from the sessions in the evenings (#SLISCareerCon). Much of what I talked about during my session I have discussed in previous posts on this blog, but I also explained how I laid the groundwork for my internship. Beyond the typical messages encouraging students to carefully proofread job application materials, and the rest of the pointers they can find on any generic website related to job hunting and success, this panel focused on what it is like in libraries. Librarians have high expectations (not that we're type A or anything...oh, wait...)--Not only do we hold ourselves up to these high expectations, but (especially in this rough job market) we hold others, especially job applicants, to a high level of accountability as well. I encouraged students to step out of their comfort level and put themselves out there as a professional.

Below are the pointers I touched on:

Networking, Conferences, Professional Organizations, and Personal Branding

Indiana University SLIS Career Con
3-4 p.m. 10/21/11 E174

Personal Branding:
  • Evaluate your professional goals
  • Craft materials that reflect your philosophy of librarianship, your goals, and that present you as a professional (make use of technology)
  • Have a strong online presence
    • Personal website (you may want to utilize the space available to you through IU; use free websites like Weebly, Blogger, Google; or you can purchase a URL and server space pretty reasonably)
    • Have profiles on Linked In,, Twitter, and maintain a blog discussing current topics in librarianship or projects you are working on
    • Be aware of how what you put online may be interpreted by others; remember things like online privacy and security (Facebook)

Professional Organizations:
  • Be a member of national, regional, and student organizations
  • Be active within those organizations (volunteer to serve on committees or assume leadership roles)
  • Take advantage of lower student rates and test out different divisions and/or roundtables within larger organizations, receive professional publications

  • Take advantage of reduced registration rates for students
  • Determine, based on your employment goals, which conferences will benefit you the most (consider both the information presented in sessions as well as the networking you can do)
  • Ask those around you for recommendations of conferences to attend
  • Bring business cards with you (,, etc.)
  • Examples of conferences I’ve attended: Iowa Library Association Conference, Iowa Library Association/ACRL Conference, Brick & Click Libraries Symposium (North West Missouri State University), Library Technology Conference (Macalester College), LOEX Conference (current students should seriously consider doing a poster presentation!), ALA Annual Conference
  • Others I’ve heard wonderful things about: ALA Midwinter, ACRL

  • Take advantage of every networking opportunity you can (both in person and virtually, utilize technology to build and maintain connections)
  • Volunteer to help at conferences (things like working on the registration committee, being willing to introduce presenters at sessions, and even submitting proposals to present a session or poster yourself will help get your face and name better known)
  • Attend conferences and be outgoing (even if you’re not a naturally outgoing person)
  • At conferences and meetings, make it a point to sit among those you don’t know; be sure you are projecting and open and inviting attitude
  • Take advantage of those few minutes before and after sessions or lunch to chat with those around you, the conference presenters, and those who are hosting/organizing the conference
  • Have something to say (read or glance through professional journals and blogs to have go-to conversation starters)
  • At conferences you will see a wide variety of attire ranging from very casual to business formal; I have found it’s best to dress professionally but comfortably (especially your shoes as you will be walking a lot at conferences)
  • Remember, librarians are the friendliest people ever

Here's a link to a printer-friendly version.
Here's a link to my tweets (which served as notes) from the other sessions I attended.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Faculty Development and Instruction Librarian (and Nursing Department Liaison)

After a whirlwind summer, the school year got off to a great start! The library is quite a bit quieter in the summer, which gave me a good chance to learn about which resources we have (I made some tutorial videos using Camtasia and step-by-step PDF handouts, which helped me learn by doing). I was thankful for the opportunity to ease into my responsibilities, but thankful when more of the students arrived back on campus. They bring an energy, excitement, and unpredictability that was lacking in the summer. Plus, their return brought more opportunities for me to do what I love best, help & teach!

I am embedded in 3 1/2 English classes, and have been working with a wide range of classes for one- or two-shot sessions (ranging from Biology to Business to Speech and Nursing). I love getting to work with students and, because of the smaller size of the University, I get the chance to learn names and really connect with students in many of the classes I work with.

I also get to work closely with faculty, particularly those leading the classes with me as their embedded librarian, but also through my Conversations on Information Literacy sessions. This semester I have already led one, and am preparing to lead the second, faculty development session with faculty that exposes them to library resources and services that will (hopefully) help make their lives a little simpler and more connected to the library. Our last session was entitled "Saving Time and Stopping Plagiarism." In the next session, I plan to cover how the library can support faculty work and student learning through Blackboard.

I can't emphasize how lucky I am to a) have found a job, b) that I love, c) that allows me to wear many hats and, d) connect with fantastic students and faculty through, e) instruction and reference work and f) (and this is a big deal, friends) no cataloging!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Return from Blog Hiatus

As you may have gathered, I was on a brief hiatus from professional blogging. The next few posts will likely give you the "Reader's Digest" version of what's happened between my last post and now. This summer was a whirlwind of adventures, both professionally and personally. Here's a brief laundry list: presenting at LOEX and ILA/ACRL, applying for jobs and eventually juggling different interviews and offers, supporting my family as my dad recovered from major heart surgery, working at my favorite summer camp (Dorian Summer Music Camps), attending ALA Annual, starting a new job, living in 5 places over the span of about 8 months... Let's just say life kept me on my toes during my last semester of graduate school, and I wouldn't have had it any other way!

My internship at University of Dubuque concluded in May and Anne Marie Gruber and I presented at LOEX on the morning I would have walked in my MLS graduation ceremony. We had a fantastic time at LOEX, met some wonderful folks at various sessions and dine-arounds, took away tons of great ideas, and caught up with old friends! Those who attended our session were engaged we were excited to share ideas about mentoring and MLS-level internships. I would highly recommend LOEX to anyone interested in instruction and would love to attend (and possibly present) again in the future! After that, we returned to Dubuque where I continued to work in my intern capacity as well as at the reference desk (to finish out the semester).

I took about a week to be at home with my family as my dad recovered from heart surgery, and then hit the road for various job interviews. After that, I juggled accepting a wonderful job, working at camp (for 2 1/2 weeks in June), and figuring out how I would find a place to live between the end of camp, heading to ALA, and starting my job in early July.

ALA was an adventure, that's for sure, but it was good to go and see what it was all about. The convention center was huge. What an excellent set up for this large conference! Many of the events were held within the conference center itself, with various receptions held in nearby hotels or art galleries. I enjoyed seeing colleagues I hadn't seen in a while, networking with new acquaintances, visiting with vendors, and exploring New Orleans. I met some fun ALA people who were staying in the same hostel as I; we explored Bourbon Street together and listened to some great jazz and dixieland groups. When it got down to the sessions, though, those I attended were interesting enough, but I found them to be "just alright." For me, the best types of sessions engage attendees and provide take-aways beyond just "here's what we did"--they allow for an exchange of relevant and timely ideas. Perhaps it was because I missed the pre-conference sessions and the first day or so, but the sessions at the tail end of the conference didn't necessarily impress me as much as other presentations I've seen at smaller conferences like LOEX, Brick & Click, and state conferences. I would be interested in seeing if it was just a fluke with this years presentation lineup, or if it is just the way the larger, national conferences are. The execution and organization of the details it takes to put on a conference of this size was exceptional, however. Wherever you turned there was someone willing to answer questions (because librarians are the friendliest people, of course!), the transportation between hotels, tours, and other events was well coordinated--and understanding the logistics of coordinating such things for smaller conferences, I appreciate the effort that went into the local arrangements.

After ALA I had 1 week to move my belongings from Dubuque to my parents' place (what wound up being a temporary solution), find a place to live, and get ready to jump in with my new work responsibilities as Faculty Development and Instruction Librarian at Grand View. It all worked out--I found a place to live after looking at 12 apartments in about 6 hours and signed my lease by the end of the week; I was able to commute from my folks' place to Grand View for the couple of weeks before I could move into my apartment, and then moved closer to Des Moines in August. I was very glad to finally be settled somewhere, not be living out of a suitcase (after having done that for the last 2 1/2 months), and starting a new career as a full-fledged librarian!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Job Update

This post will be brief, as I am currently working at Dorian Summer Music Camp (my favorite adventure every summer). I have had the privilege of being offered a position near my family and many friends in a place that aligns with my philosophy. I am so excited to return to the Des Moines area to serve the students and faculty at Grand View University where I will be working as Faculty Development and Instruction Librarian.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Diigo... Delicious... What's the Big Deal?

Social bookmarking has been around for a while now, and is really starting to take off. Why? It's convenient (always having your favorite websites at your fingertips) and allows for easy sharing with friends (interesting articles, professional information, and, of course, this week's must-see viral YouTube video).

Roush, W. (2005). Tagging is it. Technology Review, 108(6), 21-22. Retrieved January 15, 2011 from EBSCOhost.

Why social bookmarking? It allows you to share things you find interesting, and creates an organized "list" of the things you share so you can easily access them from anywhere (so long as you have an internet connection). You "tag" the websites you save (add keywords you can use to search) and can see websites others are posting. Just as is the case with conversation, different people use different words for the same things so, while tagging isn't perfect, it can still be helpful. "But a bunch of people doing 'okay' tagging may actually have a higher net value than an authoritative organization telling you how information should be organized," says Joshua Schachter, the creator of Delicious (Roush, 22).

Gilmour, R., & Stickland, J. (2009). Social bookmarking for library services: Bibliographic access through Delicious. College & Research Libraries News, 70(4), 234-7. Retrieved January 15, 2011 from Education Full Text database

How does this impact libraries? Your patrons now have their bookmarks wherever they go, including the library. Traditional browser-based bookmarking tools were specific to one computer and were difficult to share. Tagging helps users create connections between different bookmarks and share with other users things they find interesting. It is the opposite of the traditional "top down" subject heading approach to information management. Lists can be shared with library users by embedding code in existing public webpages.


How can this be used in the classroom? One, it helps you as instructor librarian stay organized, wherever you are. Two, have you ever had students researching something fairly new or doing website assessment? Bingo! You've got great tools at your disposal: tagging and sharing. Coming up with a unique course tag (i.e. UDSoc112) can help students search and see what sorts of things their classmates are finding. For one of my graduate-level courses I used others' tags in Goodreads to find new-to-me reading materials.


Which social bookmarking tool should you use? It depends on what you are interested in doing. I will discuss two, Delicious and Diigo. The fate of Delicious has been up in the air for quite some time with the latest announcement that the creators of YouTube have acquired Delicious and is becoming part of AVOS, a new internet company. With this change, current Delicious users need to transfer their bookmarks sometime before July 2011. The transfer process is pretty simple (entering in name, contact information, and agreeing to the new AVOS terms of use). The benefits outlined above for social bookmarking are what make Delicious such a great tool--that and it's one of the (if not the) top bookmarking tools today, so if your main interest is sharing with friends, Delicious is a great tool for you to use. Other features include the ability to post to Facebook and Twitter.

Let's talk Diigo. Diigo gives you a toolbox allowing you to bookmark, highlight, add sticky notes, images, notes, and documents. All of the annotations are stored in the cloud and can be seen by you from anywhere, as long as you've logged in. You add tags, just like Delicious, but you can also upload the entire webpage (saved as HTML and an image) to make sure you have it later (should it change online). The annotation tools are simple and also allow you to capture and mark up screen shots to share with others in your library. You can also mark things to read later. iPhone's offline reader downloads pages to read later. Diigo seems to have all the bells and whistles beyond Delicious's current offerings. For new users, that may be a barrier.


Tucker, Christy. (2008, March 29). Diigo or Delicious for Beginners? Retrieved from

According to Christy Tucker, the features that make Delicious approachable are that it is so basic, lots of tutorials are available, and it can be a gateway to Diigo (easily import bookmarks). As I mentioned before, Diigo has a lot going for it, and it's visually more appealing than Delicious. You don't have to use all of the features Diigo offers, but it is nice having them there.


Over the years Diigo has added helpful (albeit a little bland) tutorials that nicely explain the features and how to best use them). For me the real difference is the ability to annotate (and share annotations) and save entire pages to be viewed offline. I was one who started with Delicious but have decided to embrace the other features Diigo offers.


Also consulted:

Pierce, David. (2008, November 8). 7 reasons Diigo tastes better than Delicious. Retrieved April 25, 2011 from

Stolley, K. (2009). Integrating social media Into existing work environments: The case of Delicious. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 23(3). 350-371. DOI: 10.1177/1050651909333260

What’s next for Delicious? (2010). Delicious Blog. Retrieved January 16, 2011 from

Tech Blog Discussion: How To: Start Marketing [Your Library] on Foursquare (Part 2)

Fighter, D., & Wisniewski, J. (2010). Incentives, loyalty, and recommendations: Learning From social media. Online, 34(6), 54-57. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

So, you're interested in exploring the possibilities of using Foursquare to market your library and it's services. Now what?

Fighter and Wisniweski talk about many of the features in my first Foursquare post and move on to it's potential for libraries. Libraries have sometimes been hesitant to use incentive programs with their patrons (perhaps it is a cost concern, or a perceived conflict with their mission). Whatever the case, some libraries are seeing the value in rewarding their patrons. Rewards don't have to mean items (which do cost money); they can also mean earning a title, recognition, or being provided with a fun bit of information. Loyalty programs help to create a sense of community (different from "Friends of the Library" type programs that are primarily about fundraising) and can partner well with things like already established summer reading programs. Another example the authors gave was to have a library badge Easter egg hunt, "finding" different "Easter eggs" (badges) around the library (or libraries) or around campus. This idea was modified from a highly effective Old Navy marketing campaign.

Ekart, D. (2010). Tech tips for every librarian. Location, location, location: Making Foursquare work for your library. Computers in Libraries, 30(9), 42-43. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ekart expands on Fighter and Wisniweski's ideas, focusing more on the communication Foursquare helps facilitate. The comments users can leave (whether via smartphone or via the program's web interface) allows libraries to better serve their patrons--It is a direct connection to what library users (in this population) are thinking. Ekart suggested claiming your venue so you can add more tags, which make it easier for users to find your library and take advantage of the services and resources you offer. Also sharing tips about your services, or using it as an orientation tool in academic libraries (i.e. tours where students may unlock badges) are discussed. Providing prizes in regards to gaming rewards is also mentioned.

New York Public Library. (2011, March 30). The New York Public Library partners with foursquare to Unveil a new "badge". Retrieved from

The NYPL began using Foursquare at 90 different locations which will help promote physical visits where users can earn badges, and "Mayors" may be entered into a drawing for tickets to NYPL Live events, special library tours.

Public Library Association. (2010). Foursquare for libraries. Public Libraries Online, 49(2).

Foursquare helps you track your users, seeing who they are and what their other interests are (based on their Twitter or other online activities). As a venue owner you can add tags to help promote your library, and you can also use it to give helpful tips when users check in. Things like "Make sure to get a library card!" or "Use one of our databases--get full-text magazine articles!" Users can create to-do lists and suggest venues to their friends. Adding big events to your Foursquare page helps get the word out. Also, responding to user feedback through Foursquare will not only build stronger patron relationships with the library, it will also promote what you do to that patron's friends. Using it for special programs (like summer reading programs) can also help reach a new, active patron group.

What are my personal ideas on Foursquare in libraries, particularly academic libraries? I think it has potential and, with pretty minimal effort, library can utilize some of the services Foursquare provides to start promoting their library at a whole new level. With a little more investment and effort to incorporate Foursquare into programming, I think it could really target tech-savvy students. On a campus-wide scale, libraries could help facilitate campus tours via Foursquare. Not only could students check-in at a building on campus, but the library might provide a "tip" about departments housed within that building, some history, and/or information about how the library supports those areas of study (i.e. helpful resources, name/contact info. of the liaison librarian for that area, etc.). I think students would be interested in becoming "Mayor" of one or more buildings around campus, using Foursquare's element of friendly competition. One of the tips that could be included with the check-in at the library's physical location could be the ask-a-librarian, or a reference-desk visit badge they could earn. All in all, it has potential and is one more (easy) tool to use to market your library. I'm sure having a brainstorming session with colleagues would produce even more great ideas for developing programs using Foursquare.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weeks 14, 15, and 16: Whirlwind End of the Semester!

It is hard for me to believe we are already at the end of the semester! I've continued to assume additional responsibilities as the semester has gone on, putting in extra hours to attend committee meetings, observe and assist with unique info lit sessions, and prepare for our upcoming LOEX presentation. Here's a quick rundown of some of the highlights:
    University of Dubuque, Charles C. Myers Library 
  • After having life-sized cut-outs of people in the library for April's abuse/assault awareness, we spent one morning dismantling the display so it could travel to its next destination (quite a moving display showing the names, ages, and the story of how they died as a result of domestic abuse).
  • LOEX prep, LOEX prep, LOEX prep. (Did I mention LOEX prep?) Anne Marie and I have worked hard to complete both the paper and presentation, sharing our experiences from our internship/mentorship semester, as well as recommendations from the literature. See you in Fort Worth in just a few days! (Here's a sneak-peak at our Prezi:
  • Crafts (not just for elementary teachers, dear friends)! Between helping prep multicolored note card packets (complete with stickers) for the Great American Poetry Race (more on that in a bit) and transcribing colorful handwritten concept maps into electronic form, I was all about being crafty and creative!
  • We had a master's student studying communication host a workshop for the library staff. We talked about effective communication, our habits as a staff, effective leadership, diversity of views & how that helps groups come up with new ideas.
  • Web meeting: What do we like about what we have? What would we like to change? What new technologies would we like to incorporate into our library services and how would that be reflected in our website?
  • Ref desk coverage for a colleague and my regular shifts--always something new there!
  • The Great American Poetry Race: Students work in small groups, racing through a set of cards to find critical sources on their chosen poems. After a brief refresher on library resources, particularly those they'd likely use for this task, the students are on their own to find quality resources (with one "help card" they can cash in for librarian assistance). Progress is charted on the wall and the first group to complete all of their cards receives an awesome prize! The students were really involved with this activity and, while it was competitive, the competition didn't overshadow the learning objectives.
  • Evaluation time! Anne Marie and I scheduled some time to go over the evaluation forms from IU as well as just discuss the internship experience. I won't go into too much detail here, but I am so thankful to have found a place for my internship that matches my student-first philosophy, one that has given me an abundance of opportunities and realistic experience that I can take with me anywhere, not to mention the new friends I have made!
  • Jenny Parker and I prepared and led a book discussion over Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach. The meeting at the end of last week went really well, and reminded me that despite my colleagues having more experience than me, they continue to face the same challenges in and out of the classroom. By opening a dialog and sharing successes and frustrations, I think we were able to better understand each other as librarians and educators. At the end of the discussion, Mary Anne expressed an interest in regularly scheduling other discussion times to continue the professional sharing that happened during our meeting. 
  • OCLC visit day! We hosted a meeting with the Iowa OCLC rep and invited the Loras library folks to join us as we learned about what is available through OCLC's Web-Scale Management Services, what will be available in the near future, and offered suggestions regarding features we like with the current system that aren't readily available through OCLC's product.
Anne Marie Gruber & Cara Stone

It has been a fantastic semester, and I would recommend this experience to anyone interested in librarianship! Many thanks to those who helped coordinate details between Bloomington and Dubuque, and to the UD faculty and staff for helping to develop me as a librarian!

Tech Blog Discussion: How To: Start Marketing [Your Library] on Foursquare (Part 1)

Drell, L. (2011, April 27). How to: Start marketing on Foursquare. Mashable. Retrieved April 27, 2011, from

Foursquare has really taken off in the last year or so, with more than eight million users. Companies, both large and small, have used Foursquare to reach out to their customers, increase business, and promote special programs. This free (yes, FREE) service connects businesses with their customers who have smart phones or other mobile devices.

How do businesses get started with Foursquare?
  • If you are a business with a physical space customers can visit, you would first claim your venue or create a venue using the Merchant Platform. The information you will need to claim or add your venue is:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Cross Street
    • City
    • State
    • Postal Code
    • Country
    • Twitter Handle
    • Phone Number
    • Category
  • After entering in your information and "claiming" the venue, Foursquare will ask you about your business and confirm you are someone who is authorized to claim the venue. You can verify ownership either by phone or postal mail; you'll receive a four-digit pin, a window cling, and can start creating specials to bring the customers through your doors. The specials are:
    • Swarm Special: a special happens only when a certain number of Foursquare users have checked in simultaneously
    • Friends Special: rewards friends when they check in together
    • Flash Special: kind of like the bank deals for those opening up new savings or checking accounts where "the first 500 customers get a free koozie" but better
    • Newbie Special: offers for those checking in for the first time ever
    • Check-In Special: every time someone checks in they get a reward
    • Loyalty Special: rewards given for various checkins, similar to the old punch cards kids used to sell as fundraisers (fill the card, get a deal)
    • Mayor Special: whoever checks in the most (becomes the mayor) and gets a special reward
  • There are short sheets to print out which explain how Foursquare works (for employees, customers).
  • Foursquare is flexible, and updates in real-time.
So, you've signed up. Now what?
  • Analytics. Analytics shows you who is coming through your doors and helps you understand how to best reach them by providing the following information:
    • Number of check-ins
    • Time of each check-in
    • Genders of customers
    • Ages of customers
    • Lists of customers: most recent customers (and their Twitter handles), and your most loyal customers

In addition to getting information from your users who are Foursquare enthusiasts, they also help you by posting their check-ins to Facebook and/or Twitter; you also can follow up with them to learn about their experience, adding a personal touch. Personal touches lead to awesome word of mouth!

But what happens if you don't have a traditional physical location? There are also Brand Pages, which allow you to still interact with customers through Foursquare. The process to set up a Brand Page is similar to other sign-up processes (with a wizard guiding you along the way). The approval process takes about two weeks. This page is customizable and you can add your own logo and redirect users to your website. This functions in a different way than the physical-location check-in. A great example is the History Channel, which has facts about places all over the country, so when users are on vacation they have a tour guide in their pocket! Tips may also be geared toward promoting an upcoming event as well.

Brands can also offer badges to users. Foursquare has their own badges that must be unlocked by completing a series of tasks (kind of like Boy Scouts, you earn them). Brand badges are more specific to the business and are unlocked when users complete tasks relevant to business services or products. Examples include: MOMA's Art Addict badge, and Arizona State University's series of badges (and if you're really curious about badges, you can check out the extensive list on

So, what do the Foursquare experts say about how to best use their services?
  • Make your users feel special! It's not always about discounts and fancy products; it's about the way your users feel when they walk in the door or interact with your services.
  • Target your Foursquare promotions to help your business during those "slower times" of the day/week.
  • Keep staff informed about how to use Foursquare and how to serve Foursquare users.
  • Know your time limitations and be clear about when promotions begin/end.

Ok, that is all good and fine, but how can we incorporate this into a library setting? Check out my next blog post, part 2 of "How To: Start Marketing [Your Library] on Foursquare."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tech Article Discussion: Web Accessibility, Libraries, and the Law

Fulton, C. (2011). Web accessibility, libraries, and the law. Information Technology & Libraries, 30(1), 34-43. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Last semester I took a course, Information Architecture for the Web, in which we spent a significant amount of time working to identify accessibility barriers on various websites and improve the accessibility of those websites we designed. We used a variety of resources to identify potential areas of weakness in our websites, and were able to meet with employees from the IU Adaptive Technology and Accessibility Centers (ATAC). They offer extensive services to those with disabilities as well as to those working with individuals with challenges. For our class, we discussed the obstacles various elements of web design might present as well as how the ATAC can help test and evaluate client websites to improve accessibility.

Fulton's article takes this one step further, examining federal laws and state statutes for web accessibility. She examines three assumptions:
  • Although the federal government has no web accessibility laws in place for the general public, most states legalized web accessibility for their respective agencies.
  • Most state statutes do not mention Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or acknowledge World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards.
  • Most libraries are not included as entities that must comply with state web accessibility statutes.
While the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does require schools and colleges to provide access to education resources, it does not require libraries to support this with their web presence. Issues of accessibility will continue to rise as library web services continue to grow and replace "traditional" print resources. It has fallen to individual states to define when and how accessibility standards should be implemented and enforced. Section 504 prevents the exclusion of those with disabilities "from programs or activities that are funded by federal dollars" and notes specific examples; because web accessibility is not addressed, state employees must analyze and interpret the law.

After examining each state's government websites for web accessibility standards (as opposed to building accessibility), Fulton compiled a list and addressed the three assumptions listed above. The first discussed state web accessibility standards; Fulton found 17 states have laws about web accessibility with only four with coverage including institutions receiving state funds. Others have established guidelines another way (except for Alaska and Wyoming, which had no accessibility standards available online). The second assumption was found to be true; Fulton found only seven states which directly address Section 508 or the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (with only Minnesota referencing the more recent W3C WCAG 2.0). The last assumption, regarding libraries not being required to comply to state web accessibility standards, was also found to be true. Only Arkansas, California, Kentucky, and Montana require accessibility compliance in order to receive state funds; university libraries in Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia are required to have their websites at the same level as their state agency websites.

There are many barriers related to the time and finances it takes to make websites accessible; however, by not following accessibility standards approximately 24.5 million people around the United States have difficulties accessing the information they need. Reaching and serving patrons with disabilities should be approached as embracing a new way of thinking, not as a hassle. Accommodating those with special needs is more than just providing accessible physical spaces. The author notes, "Lack of statutes or federal laws should not exempt libraries from providing equivalent access to all; it should drive libraries toward it."

Additional resources:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 13: More LOEX Paper Writing, English 101, and a Fun Surprise!

Though it may not sound jam-packed, this week certainly was. Between juggling LOEX writing, teaching, and assisting patrons at the reference desk, I was definitely kept on my toes! Anne Marie and I have spent several hours fine tuning the LOEX paper, working from a modified outline I used for my presentation at the Iowa Library Association/ACRL conference. Originally we were concerned about being too long-winded, but between the two of us we have been able to be clear and concise (and stay within the required word count limit).

We also continued our work with English 101, finishing up the unit about scholarly research in preparation for their paper deadline. What is unique about this class is that essentially, the entire class writes the "same" paper. They create the same research question, analyze the same resources, take the same notes, and craft their thesis statement together. Even their bibliography is provided from the start. What is left is the writing of the paper. By extracting these elements and doing them together the students really learn the process before jumping in and trying to start from scratch on their own. By giving students this foundation, they are better prepared for assignments later in the semester, and later in their college careers, as they advance to the next level of research writing. In this last class period with the students and librarians together, we explicitly defined the connections between the different articles they dissected before. In making a chart and examining the similar factors and measures of success (factors: student engagement/involvement, metacognitive skills, locus of control, action behaviors, relationships with faculty, relationships with peers; measures of success: degree attainment and the amount of time it takes to earn the degree, cumulative grade point average), students noticed much overlap between the articles. We also worked together to define unfamiliar terms, and crafted a thesis statement together ("Engagement, internal factors, and relationships positively influence college students’ success as measured by cumulative GPA, and timeliness to graduation .").

This week I also received a fun surprise in my email inbox. I was very excited to hear that the American Library Association, New Members Round Table selected Indiana University’s IU ALA-SC as Student Chapter of the Year for our work in 2010. Having served as president in 2010 I was very excited that the efforts and activities of the membership and board were recognized. I, along with the current President, am looking forward to heading to the Annual conference in New Orleans to accept the award and represent Indiana University and the IU School of Library and Information Science!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Week 12: Scholarly Article Dissection, LOEX Preparation, and Reference Work

For the most recent unit in English 101, the students learn to dissect scholarly articles, finding information to answer their research question and guide them in writing their thesis. The process is designed to introduce them to this type of writing and set them up for success in future classes. As this is likely the first time students have had to work with scholarly research, the approach for this unit may feel "backwards" to some. Anne Marie compiled resources that compliment each other. The topic the classes were examining was: student success in college. She compiled three scholarly articles, as well as chapters from their required text, The Naked Roommate, and an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education. Throughout the week the class examined the articles together, identifying the pieces that helped answer their research question, "How do various factors influence college student success?" Students were to have read each of the articles prior to class (and were to have printed them to bring to class, to annotate as we discussed the important factors and results). The first day, Anne Marie popped in at the end of class to give students an idea of what to expect for the next class. On Wednesday the entire class dissected the first scholarly article all together, extracting factors and measures of success. That Friday I helped facilitate small group discussions (we broke into two groups, each discussing a different article). I was impressed with my students' abilities to see past the "fancy-author-talk" and interpret the article to get to the meat of what we were looking for. The next week we discussed both break-out articles as a class.

In addition to teaching, I assisted patrons at the reference desk, and Anne Marie and I spent quite a bit of time preparing our paper for LOEX--It will be here before we know it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week 11: Going Abroad (Resources), New Print System, and Added Responsibilities

The week began with a new project. Trina from the Career Services Office was working on a program to assist those thinking of going abroad to work or study. She contacted me about compiling some resources patrons might consult that would help them be successful, whether it is in the application, interview, or moving/living process. Throughout the week I pulled together a list of print resources we have in our collection (as she already had access to the joint Library/Career Services sponsored Career Insider, powered by Vault). Anne Marie was also a bit swamped and was working on an IL session with the LIFE program. She sent an email out asking for suggestions on how to approach helping students with an assignment. I saw she needed a list made of resources, primarily print magazines, with examples of ads the students could use for a project (where they evaluated how the visual aspects conveyed the message of the ad). After wandering the periodicals section of the library I was able to get the list to Anne Marie in time to help her prepare for her IL session.

This week was also the week we began the new print release system. Over spring break, the Office of Technology installed a new program to help both the university and students save paper. Now, after selecting print on their individual computer workstation, students must go to the print release station, select their username, enter their password, select the print jobs they have sent and would like to release, select the printer (they have the option to switch printers if there is a back-up of print jobs at the original station they chose), and click "print." It sounds more complicated than it actually is. The library is trying to "go green" in many areas, particularly paper waste. The library has already seen a significant decrease in print jobs forgotten, and it also helps students keep their print quota points (instead of losing them if they forget to pick up a print job before they leave). Much of my reference desk time, particularly early in the week, was spent orienting students to this new system. As with any new program, there were some bugs to work out (at first documents arranged in a landscape format would not print).

In addition to the new printer system, and the collaborative work with the Career Services Office, we conducted the post-test assessments for students in WV2. Students were given directions as to how to access the TRAILS tests, and submitted them in the first part of their usual class period. Later in the semester we will examine the results.

In preparation for some shifted responsibilities within the library staff, I was offered a part-time, temporary position working as a Reference Assistant, to allow some extra time for others to train for their shifted roles. This week we took care of the paperwork and I began working a few hours as a paid employee at Myers Library. I was excited to have been approached about this opportunity and look forward to gaining added experience. Also, Jenny Parker (the other MLS intern) and I began preparing for an upcoming book discussion of Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach with the UD librarians. The discussion will be held April 29. I'm looking forward to reading more of the book and working with Jenny to facilitate meaningful discussion!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Top Ten List: Number One (LibTech Keynote)

For those who may be just now bumping into my blog, I'll fill you in: my most recent posts have been recapping two conferences I attended in March, the Iowa Library Association/ACRL Conference and the Library Technology Conference (hosted by Macalester College in the Twin Cities). I decided, since I attended ten sessions between the two conferences, to do my own top ten list of Library-Related Conference Sessions (a la The Late Show with David Letterman)! Here's the last post of my list!

From the Library Technology Conference, in reverse chronological order:

1. "The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry)" by Siva Vaidhyanathan, University of Virginia
  • What does Google do in our society? Google's mission is to organize information and make it universally accessible; however, inherent in the organization of information is the (unintended or intended) hiding of some information and revelation of others. This can be easily seen in the "Google Bombing" process where an organized campaign to raise the page rank of a website is implemented.
  • Why do we (I) love Google so much (and I really do), if it is hiding information from us? Consumers tend to have blind faith in Google. It provides some pretty amazing services, but are we receiving this speed, power, and convenience at the cost of something greater? At times the question of regulating Google has arisen. What once began with strict regulations (attached to the use of NSF grant funds, copyright, and imposed by the FCC) has shifted, in part due to the increasing size and influence of Google.
  • The first model of content delivery: Google began as a rank-and-link search engine wherein the material lived beyond Google's control, and were not responsible for content. The service they provided was that of connecting two points.
  • The second model of content delivery: Google expanded to host and deliver information providing users with information storage via YouTube, Blogger, Google Buzz, etc. The information is integrated within Google's search results and requires registration to upload content. Consumers are the ones who monitor appropriate use (i.e. reporting copyright violations).
  • The third model is to capture and serve: With advances in Google Maps' street view, Google Earth, and the Books project (all stored on a Google-owned server, and integrated into search results), is there a greater level of responsibility for Google to adhere to copyright and fair use laws? Vaidhyanathan noted that, for the most part, Google uploads whatever content they think is part of their mission to make available, and those not wishing to have their content freely available must "opt out" in order for Google to remove it. (This can also be said for social networking privacy issues, i.e. Facebook, where information must be made private as opposed to choosing to make certain information public.) In this, the third model, Google is no longer a conduit for knowledge, but rather plays a greater role.
  • Going back to the management of information, whenever information is managed, editorial (value) decisions are made by people. According to Vaidhyanathan, Google seems to not care that "Jew Watch News" is employing Google bombing techniques, but in Germany such sites would not be displayed because of strict laws against distributing hate speech. There has to have been a modification in the algorithm. In the instance of Vaidhyanathan's example, "Jew Watch News," he asserted that Google chooses this morn hands-off approach. He continued saying Google states their ranking is determined by their algorithm but don't reflect the "beliefs and practices of those who work at Google. But, the ethical question is not whether they agree with the content, but rather, is that Google's responsibility here in the United States to not only allow this page to be searchable using their site, but also to be promoted as a result of their code? Google recently reworked their algorithm which lowered the rankings of websites considered "low quality" (i.e. and yet the website Martin Luther King Jr. - A True Historical Examination remained in the top five results when I searched "Martin Luther King Junior."
  • Google continues to add personalization, localization, user satisfaction, and speed to their services, but do we as consumers have to hold them to higher standards when it comes to corporate social responsibility? This was one of many ethical questions Vaidhyanathan put forth, questioning not only Google's responsibility, but also our responsibility as consumers. At this point the solution is to remind ourselves of corporate weaknesses (and our own weaknesses as consumers) and diversify our searching in order to diversify our results.

Top Ten List: Number Two

From the Library Technology Conference:

Getting Back into the Library Business: Moving Library IT to the Cloud, Marc Davis, Drake University
  • Marc Davis began by noting there can be a resistance to completely dismantling the server systems we have depended on and invested money in. The goal with cloud computing is to refocus our attention away from the hardware and back onto service. The assumption is that cloud computing is inevitable, at least to some extent, as the "old" server infrastructure is inefficient to sustain in the long run. By sharing on an extremely large-scale resulting electricity costs, network bandwidth, operations, software, and hardware costs were dramatically decreased as compared to providing similar results via local servers. Other benefits include elasticity and transference of risk. Cloud computing is not necessarily web based, rather services outside of the campus firewall. This may include using software and storing data outside of the library.
  • Three terms to know:
    • SAAS: Software as a Service: use of hosted services, i.e. Springshare Libguides; though you have no access to the underlying infrastructure, you are also not responsible for managing the underlying software
    • Infrastructure as a Service: is "Utilizing a provided server environment but retaining responsibility for configuration and operation" i.e. Amazon Web Services
    • PAAS: Platform as a Service is an environment that supports "building, testing, and deploying (Web-based) applications" i.e. Windows Azure, twilio, and Boopsie (discussed in this post)
  • Moving IT infrastructure elsewhere, to vendors or others out-of-house (i.e. centralized campus IT) is one characteristic of Library Cloud migration. Of course, you need to make sure that what your doing meets your needs, both financially and in terms of your goals and priorities). At Drake, they moved the information they supported on their servers from the library to a centralized IT location.
  • An interesting question Marc Davis brought up was: are libraries uniquely positioned to migrate from on-site to cloud IT? While libraries do have expertise with hosted solutions, contracts, and discovery layer services, and are part of a service-rich environment, they may not necessarily be uniquely positioned because such services must be considered with local needs/conditions, sustainability, organizational culture, and other factors specific to the users you serve in mind. If there is extreme resistance based on campus culture, or concerns over information security, cloud computing may be dismissed as an IT possibility for where you are.
  • Benefits of Cloud Migration
    • Experience vs. Hype: cost effectiveness, keeping in mind availability, data integrity (continuous back-up), provisioning, capacity (bandwidth); cloud costs tend to be more predictable, identifiable, and incrementally adjustable (to align with actual usage amounts)
    • Flexibility: quick service without infrastructure costs or system administrator duties, the focus is moved from hardware/operating systems to service
    • Innovation: service effectiveness, budgeting and planning, partnerships develop into collaborations
    • IT Skills: IT professionals develop managerial, project management, and budgeting/contract skills
  • Services:
  • Drake is looking to continuing the transfer of resources from on-site IT to the cloud over the next several years (with a select few pieces remaining on-site for security or licensing reasons). While some of their data is processed through on-campus, centralized servers, other is done off-campus. You may learn more about the details of this transition in the presentation found here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Top Ten List: Number Three

From the Library Technology Conference, in reverse chronological order:

3. Go Mobile with Your Library Website, Meghan Weeks, Loyola Marymount University
  • Why go mobile? Many reports indicate the increase in the use of mobile technologies is on the rise and here to stay (the presenter noted studies by the Pew Research Center, Horizon Report 2011, and the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010). Mobile technologies are increasingly becoming a student's first choice.
  • Things to consider: Is your library website ready? What do your users want? Surveys may be an effective way to determine which features you need to include in your mobile website, though the speaker did not mention focus groups (which could be quite helpful, as was the case of the Kent State library).
  • Features to consider:
    • Direct link to call
    • Link to text message ("Ask Me" instant messaging)
    • A customizable mobile environment--What are the tools/resources each individual patron uses most frequently? Can they add that to their customized mobile library page?
    • LibGuides mobile interface
    • Ebsco and other mobile databases
    • The ability to reserve spaces (i.e. group study rooms, computers with specialized software, scanners, etc.)
    • Perhaps a library QR code tour or podcast
    • Encourage interaction with the library's social media presence
    • Easy access to e-books, streaming videos/music on demand
  • Programming considerations from the library's end:
    • Are you willing to write native apps (specific to each type of device: Android, Blackberry, iPhone)? The benefits of this are that it is easier for users to navigate, faster than mobile web, and the app can capitalize on device features (i.e. GPS). Having an internet connection may or may not be necessary (bandwidth), and the apps are usually written in Objective-C or Java. Updates do need to be installed, and the program does need to be marketed in app stores (which means it is up to users to download).
    • Would you rather scale down your website to be accessed using a smaller browser, taking a mobile web approach? Things to keep in mind when using this approach are that the page needs to be optimized for use on a smaller, mobile device. Also, there is the need to connect to the server. Usability tends to be lower because of the many steps it takes to navigate the links and time it may take to connect via a server. Programming is typically HTML, with CSS and Java. While mobile web sites tend to be designed with simplicity in mind, they are not targeted at one specific platform, making the user experience less customizable. The benefits include the ease with which such websites are created and maintained, and that the user does not need to install updates as they might with apps.
    • The hybrid approach (combining apps and mobile web) may work best for some libraries. The app is installed on the mobile device, is platform specific, and can utilize device features, but some of the areas accessed may be mobile web. Some features may need to be periodically updated (app) but some will be instant (and require network access).
  • Names to know when it comes to integrating a mobile version of your website into your offerings:
    • MOPAC: Mobile OPAC is a customized catalog for mobile devices. AirPAC, by Innovative Interfaces, is one example. Another is the Mobile PAC by Polaris Library Systems.
    • BookMyne from Sirsi Dynix offers library users with iPhones the ability to scan bar codes (to see if the item in the store or at a friend's house is available via the library), social recommendations powered by Goodreads, the ability to cross-reference books in the library with the New York Times best sellers, and the ability to view their account information (i.e. fines, fees, current holds, checked out items). Libraries running SirsiDynix Symphony 3.3, Horizon 7.5 or higher may use BookMyne.
    • Discovery services include: Primo by Ex Libris, Serials Solutions Summon, and EBSCOhost Mobile.
    • Third party vendors include Blackboard Mobile Central (an app with a library portion to it, very limited, just one page of information and no access to user library account information), Boopsie for libraries (users can log in, place holds, renew items, and the app utilizes phone model features), Library Anywhere (by Library Thing), and Mobile Bridge (by Quipu Group).
    • Open Source options include the Washington D.C. Public Library iPhone app, Molly (the opens source mobile portal from Oxford University), or librarians may develop their own apps.
  • Usability considerations: Just as we consider those with disabilities in designing standard HTML websites, we must also do so with mobile pages. Issues with typing, viewing, etc. occur. The W3C has released their Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0; their aim "is to improve the user experience of the Web when accessed from such [mobile] devices." Other testing tools include EvalAccess 2.0, and Mobi Ready.
  • Analytic tools: chartbeat, Clicky, Google Analytics for mobile, Piwik, and Sitemeter.
  • App development tools: Appcelerator, Mother App, Netbiscuits, PhoneGap, and Rhomobile.

  • Mobile helper utilities:, Mobile Site Generator, iWebkit, Google App Engine, and JQTouch.

Top Ten List: Number Four

From the Library Technology Conference, in reverse chronological order:

4. Things in a Flash: The Latest Web 2.0 Tools, Amy Springer, St. John's University/College of St. Benedict; Jenny Sippel, Minneapolis Community and Technical College; Martha Hardy, Metropolitan State University; Diana Symons, St. John's University/College of St. Benedict; LeAnn Suchy, Metronet

This session gave an overview of six Web 2.0 technologies that may be used in libraries.

  • Prezi was presented by Amy Springer. While I was glad this technology was included, and some great points did come up when attendees were asking questions, the presentation of Prezi was somewhat lacking. Prezi, like any presentation software, is just a tool. The important message you are trying to convey is that of your lesson content. Some are hesitant to use Prezi because of the "sea sick" factor. When presenters get lost in the excitement of flipping, turning, outlining, and the seemingly infinite zoom, the audience looses the message and is concentrating instead on keeping their lunch down. I think Becky Canovan describes it well--Prezi should tell a story. As I mentioned earlier, there were some good questions that came out of the attendees. Prezi can be embedded into another webpage, downloaded as a flash file (should you need to present somewhere where internet is not accessible, and the flash file is only editable if you purchase Prezi Pro or Edu Pro licenses), and the recent upgrades make embedding a YouTube video a snap!
  • QR Codes, presented by Jenny Sippel, was a great introduction for those unfamiliar with QR codes. QR codes originated in Japan and are the trademarked name for a 2D barcode. The codes are scanned with a device (usually a smart phone with a camera and scanner app). This can be very useful for connecting users with polls (i.e. Google Forms), facilitating library tours, linking to electronic versions of handouts or slides (making information accessible in a variety of formats), instant ask a librarian link, and when you use to create the QR code (by adding ".qr" after the created short link) allows for analytics when you add "+" to the end of the shortened link.
  • Dropbox, presented by Martha Hardy, is a user-friendly cloud storage account that comes with a desktop client. It not only provides cloud storage, but also performs auto back-up and version control for your files. Any file type can be stored, including photos and music, and you can easily share work (it syncs documents through multiple computers for those files in your shared folder). I have been using Dropbox since the conference and LOVE it--especially since now I no longer have to carry around a flash drive (and/or lose said flash drive). Currently storage for the free account is limited to 2 GB, with expansion possible when you invite new users or when you purchase additional storage (up to 100 GB). Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.
  • Diana Symons spoke about Diigo, a bookmarking/annotating tool with social networking possibilities. It allows you to highlight, add sticky note comments, choose whether your content is public or private, download the Diigo toolbar, and tag websites. You can take screenshots of just the content you would like to share. The annotations stay every time you return to the same page. You can upload a snapshot (to make sure you have the information, even if the site disappears in the future) and it is saved as html and as an image. A great tool for those who do a lot of online reading or for those just wanting to keep track of information they find online.
  • Posterous is one of the easiest blogging tools around today, and was presented by LeAnn Suchy. You set up your account (it can be either a group or individual blog), add the email accounts that can update the blog, and ready, set, blog! Just send an email to, or you can use the web interface. If posting via email, the subject line is the post title and the body is the text. If you send an attachment, the file becomes embedded within the blog; you can even attach mp3 files. You can set up your account so you have to click to approve a blog post (particularly helpful when having a class post to a group blog, as it gives you a chance to proof the post to make sure it is appropriate).
  • Last, but not least, is Topicmarks, also presented by LeAnn Suchy. Topicmarks allows you to log in using an existing account (i.e. Yahoo or Google) or you may create an account specific to Topicmarks. New since the end of 2010, this program summarizes documents you upload (i.e. Word documents, PDFs), text you paste into the box for analysis, or web links (and there is a bookmarklet you can use to have Topicmarks analyze the website with one click instead of copying and pasting the link url). Your uploads are automatically visible to "friends" you have added on Topicmarks, but keep in mind when you upload a copyrighted document you have to remember to change the security settings to "private." While this tool is still very much in the beta stage, it can be a helpful tool for analyzing your own writing, and for identifying key words and basic facts (though, keep in mind, just as is the case with citation tools, the final result may be far from perfect so users have to keep in mind this is a tool to help them understand the item they uploaded, not an authority or necessarily accurate interpretation of the work).

More information may be found here:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Article 9: Students' Academic Success and its Association to Student Involvement with Learning and Relationships with Faculty and Peers

Ullah, H., & Wilson, M. A. (2007). Students' academic success and its association to student involvement with learning and relationships with faculty and peers. College Student Journal, 41(4), 1192-1202. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Many factors are associated with student success at the collegiate level. Some the student may be able to control. Ullah and Wilson used the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to examine the academic achievement and level of involvement (student engagement with learning activities and institutional environment that supports learning) of students at a Midwestern public university over a span of three years. Factors noted were: student involvement, student relationships with faculty, student relationships with peers, gender, ACT scores, and age. All were examined in relation to academic achievement as measured by cumulative grade point average (GPA). The student sample was randomly drawn for each of the three years and included students ranging from first-years through seniors. The study found a significant positive correlation between students' relationships with faculty members and GPA, class involvement and GPA, and relationships with peers and GPA. There were also positive correlations between student academic achievement and ACT scores, and GPA and students' age. However, since age and ACT cannot be controlled by students currently enrolled (meaning, those things happened in the past or cannot be changed), their importance is less significant than the other factors mentioned. Female peer relationships had a positive effect on GPA and male peer relationships had a less significant positive effect on GPA. While not the focus of the study, it is something to note. Creating a learning environment in which students are actively engaged and relationships with faculty are developed will help students better succeed at the collegiate level (as measured by cumulative GPA).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Top Ten List: Number Five (LibTech Keynote)

From the Library Technology Conference, in reverse chronological order:

5. TechSoup for Libraries Sarah Washburn, Library Program Manager, TechSoup for Libraries

Simple sharing that makes a big difference.

  • Sarah Washburn began by giving a brief introduction to the services TechSoup for Libraries offers, and the types of institutions they support (public libraries that are listed in the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) database or have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status). Basically, they provide support and training, regular newsletters, their "Cookbooks" for IT maintenance, help connect libraries to donated products (facilitate product partnerships), and promote & assist with advocacy. How are they so successful in helping libraries? Simply put, they listen to the needs of the institutions they serve, and share wisdom from past experiences to help other libraries. Stories are powerful tools that can not only help bring about innovation, but also reach individuals. By sharing these experiences, knowledge is passed, creating a network of experts with experience (particularly with open-source technologies). Washburn also emphasized aspects that make a tech story one they want to share: story/solution is outcome based, solving a problem from the "daily grind." Something that is tricky about finding these stories is that librarians tend to be (too) humble, thinking "what I do is just part of the way things work; others are probably doing the same things elsewhere." This isn't necessarily the case, so share what you are doing--you never know who you is looking for the exact solution you may provide.
Examples of success stories include:
  • Ankeny, Iowa: Created a freeware self-check system, reconfigured existing hardware and only had to purchase a monitor and scanner.
  • Adopt a Computer Program: Library patrons can pledge one dollar per day to support computer purchases. They receive an adoption certificate, quarterly updates (a letter of how the computers are doing, how they are being used), and signage recognizing donors.
  • Radom Hacks of Kindness (RHoK): Hacking for humanity done by Google, NASA, World Bank, Microsoft, and Yahoo! (and a long list of others). Technology companies work together "to make the world a better place by building a community of innovation. RHoK brings software engineers together with disaster relief experts to identify critical global challenges, and develop software to support them."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top Ten List: Number Six

From the Library Technology Conference, in reverse chronological order:

6. E-learning: Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade, Susan Kane, Harvard Office of Information Systems
  • Susan Kane presented a wide range of tools and approaches to online instruction. She began with a brief introduction, asking which tools attendees had used in the past (see list below), to get a sense of our backgrounds/levels of experience. Then she dove into the "why?" questions. While there is nothing wrong with teaching face-to-face, particularly if instruction is an accepted and promoted part of your institution's culture, there are sometimes barriers to instruction delivery. They include scheduling conflicts, poor attendance at sessions when offered independent from a class (particularly when not tied to grades), and users may prefer to have things available online to be viewed and reviewed at their convenience. The benefits of online instruction are the flexibility of when the content is delivered (at user's convenience), reusability of tutorials when applicable, users may go a their own pace (supporting multiple learning styles when well done), instructor consistency (when delivering in-person instruction to multiple sections, some information may be accidentally excluded, creating inconsistency), and ease of standardized scoring, and that these technologies and the way information is presented is becoming more and more native to today's users. Drawbacks include a disconnect between students and librarian, potential for learner distraction (i.e. checking other web pages or doing other things while the instruction session is happening), watching tutorials can be boring, high-speed internet is usually required to successfully run online tutorials, computer proficiency, software updates "fix" or cement content (making it harder to update content). There is a trade-off between face-to-face instruction and online instruction. Face-to-face may require complex scheduling, man power, and cooperation from faculty, etc. Online instruction may be perceived as time-saving; however, production and maintenance is quite costly when examining the staff time it takes. An interesting figure presented was, for every hour of training you are trying to convert to online presentation/format you will spend between 49-127 hours in production. 49-127 production hours/1 hour of product. Making content reusable can help alleviate some of this strain, but then you risk lowering the relevance or context which may make it less valuable to the user. Kane recommends being as specific as possible within your goals for reusability. By determining what does and does not need to be taught in context, you are allowing for the potential of greater reusability.
Planning and Pre-production
  • Determine what you are starting with. Notes from an in-person lecture? PowerPoint slides? A website or other documents? Nothing?
  • Determine your goals. Does everyone agree (what are others' expectations)? What are your limitations on staff time or policy objectives? Service objectives? How much content is presented and how interactive will it be? What are the key objectives (choose one or two).
  • Do you have the tools to accomplish what you want? The hardware, software, staff time (assumption is that this will save time, but people often forget about the behind-the-scenes work in producing the content), expertise, and delivery platform?

Other helpful things to keep in mind when producing online instruction content
  • Will you need to convert the files to another format in order to deliver the content (i.e. post to Moodle, etc.)?
  • Why reinvent the wheel? Will some of your older content work with your new software (i.e. pulling in PowerPoint slides)?
  • How easy is it to add audio, what is the quality like, and how can you edit as necessary?
  • What are the costs associated with what you are using? Several options are free or quite reasonable, but do the free products offer you the flexibility you need? Are the more complex programs too complicated and clunky? Find that balance.
Resources mentioned throughout: