Friday, December 21, 2007

More Technology Vendors at ALA Conference?

LITA/ALA recently sent out a survey to learn which technology vendors librarians want to see in the exhibit hall at ALA Conference. Survey respondents are asked about specific hardware and software vendors--have you recently purchased from one of these companies, plan to purchase in the future, or would simply like more information. All the big vendors are listed, of course--Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Adobe, and so forth.

This is pretty exciting news to me. I feel like I need to attend multiple conferences to get the programming, networking opportunities, and vendor contacts I need. That gets expensive and it is a lot of time away from the office.

While I haven't attended an ALA conference in a few years (I'm much more active in SLA), the opportunity to see "my vendors" in the ALA exhibit hall would likely influence me to attend. These companies don't come to SLA, either--though we've been working on that. Ask me about our Technology Petting Zoo sometime.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Three Cheers for Progressive Librarians!

I am positively delighted at this post from Leah, a library science student at Dominican. Here's a snippet:

Here is a picture of University of Kentucky’s library.

That is their information commons. Isn’t it awesome? I know. Check that signage. I totally want to staff that desk. Three cheers for progressive librarians! This is one of my suggestions in the paper. Creating an information commons and hopefully having this be the first thing a patron sees when they enter the library.

The reaction to the Hub from students has been positive so far. We've been featured in the student newspaper, the student-authored campus guide, as well as a few other places. It's wonderful to see other librarians/librarians-to-be recognizing our terrific space, too!

Thanks, Michael, for the link!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The New Horizon Report?

A number of bloggers have mentioned the 2007 Horizon Report in the last week. I eagerly printed my copy and started reading last night. The content seemed familiar to me, and then I noticed the links for further reading were all articles from 2006. What really stopped me was when I came across this in the report:
As the 2007 Horizon Report was going to
press, Apple, Inc. announced what appears to
be a breakthrough product in the mobile phone
market, the iPhone. The device, which has but
one button, uses an interactive touch screen
and combines the functions of an iPod, a phone,
a web browser, and a messaging device.
I did some investigating, and it seems the 2008 Horizon report will be released January 29, 2008.

So stay tuned for the new report...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Keeping Hash Marks

Still keeping your statistics as hash marks on a sheet of paper? Have you considered upgrading to a database? Not only can you generate a variety of detailed reports quickly, you and your staff can search your knowledge base of sorts to examine frequently asked questions and other patterns.

We started using Library Stats at the Hub on July 1. Library Stats was created at Wisconsin and is freely available through the developer's project site. Library Stats is a database which allows service desk personnel to record questions for statistical purposes and create a simple, searchable knowledge base. Library Stats includes canned reports as well as the ability to download all data which can be manipulated using pivot tables in Excel. Check out their demo database to give it a test drive.

We've been so pleased with the results of using Library Stats in the Hub that all our subject libraries on campus will start using it in January. I just finished setting up a database for each location. It was a simple procedure, and I found things easy to customize as needed.

At this point, you must be thinking--what's the downside? The most obvious one is that it does take longer to record your statistics. I have encouraged Hub staff in a rush to only fill out the minimum amount of information required for our statistical reporting (or in a pinch--use paper and enter the stats later). I've found that they still tend to enter the details anyway, so I can only assume that the extra time it takes to use the database is not too burdensome.

Some tips:
  • Make launching the database and logging in part of your opening desk procedure. Make sure any written instructions and the username/password are easily accessible by anyone working your desk.
  • Create a desktop shortcut and clearly marked bookmark to your database's URL on all desk computers. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the day, the database window can inadvertently get closed.
  • Keep paper statistics forms handy for those unexpected network or power outages. So far, we've not needed them.
Once you've collected some data for awhile, the fun begins--creating your reports! More on that in a future post.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Writing about Facebook

I enjoy writing for my state association’s journal and have done so on several occasions. Like any print publication though, I find it frustrating that what I write is often out of date by the time it sees print.

In summer 2006, a colleague and I wrote one of the early articles about using Facebook and MySpace in libraries:

Greenwell, Stacey and Beth Kraemer. “Social Networking Software: Facebook and MySpace.” Kentucky Libraries. 2006. 70(4). 12-16.

The article provides an overview of both Facebook and MySpace and gives instructions and tips on creating a Facebook profile for your library. As many of you know, Facebook starting shutting down library profiles in fall 2006. We at least had time to publish an author’s note in the front of the article, but basically a good chunk of the article was out of date and not entirely useful.

That article was cited several times, and I became a little embarrassed at how outdated it had become. So in summer 2007 we thought: let's write a follow-up article that will be slightly more relevant. We wrote the second article in August 2007. This time we were more general but did cover creating a Facebook group for your library. We discussed the things we didn’t like about Facebook groups but also tips for creating a better group.

Now those of you who are following Facebook will know that Facebook launched Facebook Pages in October 2007. Facebook pages are the ideal home for a library presence—much better than the Facebook groups covered in our article. Unfortunately we weren't able to publish an author's note this time, so once again, we have an article out there that's brand new (my issue arrived on Monday) and already out of date:

Greenwell, Stacey and Beth Kraemer. “Update on Social Networking Software.” Kentucky Libraries. 2007. 71(4). 11-15.

I know it's inevitable when dealing with rapidly changing technology and that it's important to have those articles on my vita (and I certainly enjoy doing them) but I'm starting to wonder--what's the point? Who wants to create a Facebook Group for their library when they can now create a Facebook Page? How useful is this article actually going to be?

What’s interesting to me is that my first impulse was to post something to my blog. I immediately wanted to attempt to communicate with the person who might read the article and think: “why would they create a Facebook group? How silly when you can create a Facebook page now. These authors sure must not know much about Facebook.”

I’m thinking that if we do another article, we won’t focus on the mechanics of Facebook at all. What I’d really like to consider is the effectiveness of communicating in this fashion in the first place. With the new Facebook Pages, I am tickled that we have 46 fans and growing. However as I look through our fans, I see that they are mostly librarians. I have always said that Facebook is a great tool for keeping up with your librarian colleagues and discussing library issues. But how much is Facebook really helping us communicate with students? We touch on a few examples of reaching students with Facebook in our article (wall posts on student groups, ads for special events, etc.) but what will Facebook pages actually do for us?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Windows in the Basement

I've mentioned the Hub's video windows on a few occasions so it seemed time to do a longer post on the topic.

Planning Process and Technical Details

Early in our year-long process planning the Hub, one of our workgroup committee members (the director of our Fine Arts Library) envisioned dynamic art displays on the six large, bare white walls that form the rotunda where the Hub service desk is now located. The walls are recessed between structural marble columns, and in our planning process, many of us could imagine each of these displays as sort of a "window." Gail worked closely with a faculty member focused on new media in the art department to develop a proposal for these "video windows" and secure funding via a grant.

Running since we opened in March 2007, the video windows consist of six ceiling-mounted Epson projectors. The projectors are linked via conduit in the ceiling to six Panasonic DVD players located back in our office area. We run some software on a computer which allows us to quickly and easily change the signal for each projector (like magic, there's the UK game!). If you want more technical details, I'm glad to share them.

It sounds simple, but as things go, it was very challenging to install the conduit and run the cable. Much of the 20,000 square foot area is hard ceiling which requires access panels to be cut every so often in order to run cable. While we reside in one of the most beautiful and magnificent libraries in the country, it's not always easy to mess with the original architectural intentions.

At one point we considered HD TVs to minimize running cable, but our faculty consultant felt strongly about the artistic effect of the projected images. Like an exhibit in a gallery, she selected the projectors and the placement for maximum effect. After having lived with these projectors for nine months, I have to say I think the HD TVs would have been an awful choice.

Staff Time and Ongoing Maintenance

As far as initial staff time, there was a fair amount of setup even though a contractor did the actual installation of the equipment. Certainly we spent a lot of time discussing the placement and the specific equipment we'd use. We had to learn how to use the equipment. We also had to create our policy and put together a year's worth of ideas up front.

As far as ongoing maintenance, one of our audiovisual staff turns the projectors off at closing time and back on again when we open. Bulb replacement will be part of that maintenance, though we've been running on the same bulbs since March. We are also aware that the projectors will have to be replaced at some point and are planning for that.

Our exhibit calendar is set for the school year, though I follow up with future exhibitors a couple of months in advance and work with them to get the DVDs and descriptions of each display. For PowerPoint presentations, we burn them in house using PPT2DVD.


And on to the fun part--what to show? Our inaugural exhibit was created by the new media faculty member who assisted us through the planning process. The exhibit was six short films of day-to-day life in Turkey: a beauty parlor, a cafe, the fish market, and three other locations. It was a fascinating slice of life in what is an unfamiliar setting to many of us.

While running that exhibit during our opening months, we formed a Video Windows Committee to select exhibits for the coming year. The initial Video Windows Committee was composed of four library staff (Fine Arts, Hub, and Archives), two art/new media faculty, and the leader of the student art studio majors organization. In addition to selecting the content, the Video Windows Committee finalized our Video Windows Policy.

We display something different each month. So far we've typically displayed student or faculty work or material from our archives. We do display ballgames as appropriate (we are UK!) as well as short-term displays (horror movies on Halloween for example). A few examples of past exhibits:

August -- "This is Kentucky" focused on university and Lexington archives

September -- "Italy Through our Lenses" student images from a study abroad photography course

October -- "Curiosities and Wonders of the Archives" in celebration of National Archives Month (the mustache blog accompanied one of the windows in this exhibit)

November -- "Data Visualization at UK" video of cutting-edge visualization projects on campus

We've gotten a number of positive comments at the desk about different exhibits. The October exhibit was mentioned in the local paper so we had several visitors in specifically to see the exhibit.

Future Plans

I've worked directly with the art studio majors on one exhibit, and we have a couple more in the works. Next year, I'd like to see more student work (this year will be about 30%). One thing I'd like to do is display the BFA and MFA portfolio slides for graduating art studio students at the end of each semester. I also see the windows as a great opportunity for showcasing some of our compelling archival materials that are likely unfamiliar to our students. The few archival exhibits we've done so far have certainly caught the eye of passers-by and I think we could do much more with this--maybe working with a class on a project using some of our primary source materials and then display the results. Finally, I do plan to implement one of our very first video window ideas--actually point one of them to an on-campus web cam so that we can know if it's raining or snowing or sunny (with good reason, as in Kentucky you'll often hear: "if you don't like the weather, wait 20 minutes.")

I'm almost embarrassed to say it now, but initially I was somewhat skeptical of the project. To me, it seemed like (pardon this) window dressing. We had so many other needs in planning our information commons and yet we were spending so much time planning something decorative. In the past nine months we've been open though, I've found the windows to be an compelling and useful element at the Hub. As a showcase for student art, a venue to work more closely with students and faculty, to simply an attractive feature in the space and a convenient place to show ball games or play video games, I have to say the video windows are one of the most striking features of the Hub. They really add to the space and I do feel they generate an energetic, creative vibe to the basement.

I'm so glad we included the video windows in our original design, and I am continually looking for new content and new ways to use the video windows, even though we are booked through May 2007. Suggestions?

(Photos by Alice Wasielewski)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is Your Commons 2.0?

The new issue of Educause Quarterly includes an article about Commons 2.0. The five guiding principles behind commons 2.0:
it is open, free, comfortable, inspiring, and practical [my emphasis]
Defining features of a commons typically include floor plan design, furniture, and equipment that are ideal for collaborative multimedia projects. Adequate wireless coverage, plenty of electrical outlets, and comfortable furniture are also routinely mentioned as essential features of a commons.

I'm pleased to see that an inspiring space is one of the principles of this Commons 2.0 model. It's something that I haven't seen addressed much yet, but I think it's important to develop a space that encourages artistic and creative impulses. At the Hub, we feature video art projected on six large walls in the space. We display a different exhibit each month and try to incorporate student work as much as possible. I'd like to do more with student art in the coming year, and I know there are other ways we can foster creativity as well. Any suggestions?

Redesigning the Service Desk

One of the things I greatly enjoy is being contacted by librarians from other schools. If it isn't already obvious from this blog, I love sharing stories about what we do at the Hub.

When I am contacted by another librarian, it's usually about services or furniture or our big Hubbub party or something along those lines. But by far the question I get most frequently is about our service desks:
  • How do you like those desks/kiosks/whatever you want to call them?
  • How are you using them?
  • What do the staff think of them?
  • How do students react to them?
  • Where do you put your "stuff"?
  • Can you take those off-road? (to be fair though, only one librarian asked me that)

In our planning process, the Information Commons Work Group decided early on to drop the idea of the formal, permanent service desk. A few of us on the group (admittedly, myself included) were initially unsure of this plan. After all, we were plunking down two mall kiosks (let's face it--that's what they are) in the center of the room. Would it be obvious that it was a service desk? How comfortable would it be to work there for an extended period? And yes, where do we put our "stuff"?

I have to say that these desks have worked better than expected. They serve well as the help desk for IT and library staff. The desks are easy to approach, and it's easy to see much of the basement from the desk. The enormous "help help help" sign on both sides makes it pretty obvious that we are a service desk, though we occasionally get:

"Help with what?"

And less frequently, thankfully:

"Do you work here?"

We do continue to improve our signs, though I think some of the "help with what" questions will be inevitable. Our best answer to "help with what" is on several of our signs (thanks, Alice!):

"If we can't answer your question, we will refer you to someone who can."

It's funny though how ingrained we are to look for a very official service desk and approach it from the front. In addition to those people who ask "do you work here?" or "what kind of help?" we get those people who will walk around to the "front" of the desk to speak to us. Even as they are talking or we are talking, they will trek around to the "front" for service. Interesting.

As far as staff, early on some were apprehensive about the desks but as far as I know, everyone seems pretty comfortable there now. Some staff choose to roll the awning up, others choose to move the monitor, rearrange the chairs, etc. That's the great thing about the Hub--practically everything is on wheels and can easily be reconfigured. We solved the "where do I put my stuff" problem early on by purchasing a couple of large plastic bins to store under the desks. These contain paper clips, paper, forms, extra pens and pencils and such. We've all found though that when you work at such a minimalist desk, you rarely have the need for the "stuff" in the bins. Funny how that works.

The desks are a bit cumbersome to move (you have to unplug everything of course first) but they can be rolled to a different location. We really don't do that much, other than occasionally change the angle of the desks or roll them slightly forward or back. We did move them slightly the night we had the Palm Reading Librarian at the desk, but for the most part, they stay where they are. We have learned the hard way that they barely fit in the freight elevator when assembled. But that's a story for another time. For now, no off-roading for us.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Hub is an Orange Property!

This year's homecoming theme was Catopoly, a play on Monopoly. The Farmhouse fraternity's float featured a number of campus entities, including the Hub (thanks for the pictures, Shawn!).

The Hub ranks up there with the Johnson Center (our fine new student gym) and Ovid's (easily the best place to eat on campus). Sure, we're next to the Go To Jail space, but we're worth $120--$10 more than the Johnson Center. Thanks, guys!

What Kind of Rooms?

Seems that someone had some fun with the AV Service Desk sign recently:

Kentucky Chapter Second Life Event

Attending a Kentucky Chapter of SLA event is always a pleasure, and Friday's meeting about the virtual world Second Life was no exception. After a pleasing lunch at Ramsey's (with pie!) and perhaps the shortest business meeting ever (34 minutes, thank you, Susan!), we met back at Young Library for a hands-on workshop about Second Life.

Local expert Beth Kraemer provided an overview of Second Life and graciously invited us to her "home" for multiple examples of online exhibits, educational uses, and of course some drinks, dancing, and other freebies. For a few of us, the session became more about a clothing swap but others learned the basics of moving around and interacting with other avatars.

The IT division of SLA held a meeting in Second Life back in the fall. While there are still technological obstacles to doing this on a regular basis, I think it's useful to try different methods for meeting. Even though I immensely enjoy the company of my SLA colleagues, who says we have to meet face-to-face every time?

Friday, November 09, 2007

UK Libraries Orientation Video

In summer 2007, three librarians and I embarked on a project to revamp the freshman library orientation experience. In previous years, freshmen taking the university orientation course (UK101, which at this time is not mandatory) spent one class session at the library. The class was split into half PowerPoint presentation from a librarian, half tour of the library.

We were happy with the tour portion of the class but knew that the PowerPoint presentation was in need of updates. Several of us felt it might be lost in a sea of other introductory PowerPoints from other campus entities. How many orientation spiels are first year students treated to in their first three weeks of classes?

For a number of reasons, we thought it might be interesting to try a short video using Second Life avatars for at least a portion of the video. Each of us had some experience or skills to contribute to the project: library instruction experience, script writing abilities, Second Life building skills, a sense of humor, some editing skills, and a desire to see what's possible. We shot half of the film "on location" in Second Life and the other half on campus (with an albeit shaky hand camera). The acting (real and virtual) was done by students or library staff.

UK101 students either laughed at the right times or rolled their eyes--a reaction I was expecting, but figured was satisfactory nonetheless. After all, how much can you really cover in a short orientation in those first critical weeks? Our goal is to simply offer up the library as a friendly, convenient place to go to get help. At this stage, there's no time for database searching demos or the like. Just show that all our libraries are full of helpful librarians, computers, writing help, and other services. And by showing them a video, our hope is that it will be memorable, not lost in a sea of PowerPoints.

I have a great deal more to say about each step of our process, particularly how I edited the video and how I would do things differently next time (steady cam for sure!). The four of us are working on a presentation proposal about the entire experience so I'll likely save many of the details for that. In the meantime, take a look at the finished product.

Facebook Pages Update #3

As I suspected, Facebook is still fine-tuning the Pages feature. Today when you choose Edit Page, under Applications you can click on Browse More. This will bring up a list of applications that will work with the new Facebook Pages. Unfortunately the choices are still few--less than 300 in each category. Favorites like Meebo aren't there either (which by the way, is anyone else having trouble with Meebo via profile?). I suspect this is still a work-in-progress. In the meantime, you could offer Movie Quiz or Super Wall on your Page. Or the where's the closest Starbucks app--that might actually be useful for some libraries.

This morning's search of Facebook Pages yields 36 "library" and 6 "libraries." The few I looked at this morning are populated with librarian fans--relatively few users at this point. That's a concern I mentioned in an earlier post. It's still early though. We'll need to offer something compelling on our pages...what are your ideas?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

More on Facebook Pages

In yesterday's post I wondered if Facebook Pages would be available via search. It seems that's true today. If you do a search in Facebook, Pages now shows up as a tab like People, Groups, Events, or Applications. I have noticed that it seems to be searching the page name only, so perhaps my naming us "University of Kentucky Libraries" wasn't too wise. Who's actually going to look for "Libraries"?

So I created an additional page today, loaded with keywords in the title, and more focused on the Hub: The Hub @ Young Library (UK Libraries). We'll keep them both updated as we did with our Facebook groups. I spend much less time on that than whipping through my email every morning.

Perhaps the search thing is something that will be modified down the road. I also wonder about Facebook apps and how they can be used with Facebook pages. Obviously this is still a work in progress for Facebook. Certainly they are going to make it easier for advertisers to reach users--we librarians just happen to be benefitting from this. As a Facebook user, I do wonder about these Social Ads and how in-your-face they may become. Like many Facebook users, I don't want it to become MySpace. Ugh.

I have created a Facebook group to discuss applications of Facebook pages further: Libraries Using Facebook Pages.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Facebook Pages are Here

The Facebook blog had some exciting news for us this morning. As you are likely aware, in Fall 2006 Facebook began shutting down library profiles. Their reasoning was that library profiles were "fake"--i.e., profiles can only represent individual people, not organizations or other entities.

This morning Facebook has launched a new advertising mechanism that will allow organizations and other entities Facebook pages which are:
distinct, customized profiles designed for businesses, bands, celebrities and more to represent themselves on Facebook.
So cool--we can now build an official page for the library. When creating a page, one of the categories for the page is "Library/Public Building." I'm pleased that somebody at Facebook recognizes library interest in Facebook. The Facebook Page allows you to post your hours, as well as upload video, organize photos into albums (something sorely lacking in Facebook Groups), as well as take advantage of the wall, discussion board, events, and all the usual stuff. The cutesy thing is that friends of your page are "fans."

I'm excited at the prospect of creating a page for the library (in fact, I did so almost immediately). I realize the page may not have a great deal of impact (after all, how many students really look to Facebook when they've got a library question) but it was easy enough to create and it's always a good idea to spread the word about the library. I often describe our Facebook presence (we still have a couple of Facebook groups) as just another way to contact us. UK's Facebook profile which lived June-September 2006 yielded three chat reference questions plus several wall posts resulting in a conversation about library hours and some other general queries. For the minimal amount of effort it took to create and maintain our presence, I think it was definitely worth it.

I do wonder who will see our new Facebook Page. It's unlikely that I will buy an ad any time soon (we have bought ads for big events though it's difficult to assess how effective they are). Since I'm not advertising the Facebook Page, who will see it other than my friends who noticed it in my News Feed? Or colleagues who read about it on my blog or in the comments on Michael's blog? Facebook indicates that the pages will spread virally so I suppose the question is--how can I get the library page going virally? (Other than posting videos like this, of course.)

Will this just be another library entity on Facebook that is full of librarians and virtually no library users?

Time will tell, but I remain excited about this.

Update TWO

Update THREE

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mustaches Continue to Inspire

I just replaced the National Archives Month exhibit in the Hub on Thursday. One part of the exhibit was that notorious "Mustaches of the 19th Century" display with accompanying blog that was noted on BoingBoing and many other places at this point. Imagine my delight when a staff member called me, disappointed that the mustache exhibit had been taken down. Apparently the exhibit/blog inspired some staff members to have a mustache contest. Pictured are a couple of the staff who were inspired (impressive 'staches, Josh and Jesse!)

Now this was a fun way to celebrate National Archives Month. What could we possibly do next year to top this?

(Photo by Cheri Daniels)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween from the Hub

We're having fun today at the Young Library--in the Hub, at the second floor reference desk, in the stacks, and around the building.

Our graduate assistants are roving reference librarians today--offering candy and greetings and an offer of help if needed. I figured this was as good a day as any to give it a try--who's going to be bothered by a friendly person offering you candy? So far they've directed a few people. They also talked up library services over at the Starbucks. It will be interesting to see how it progresses (and if we'd want to consider a more formal roving program in the future).

The second floor reference desk is decorated, as is the Hub. Today in the Hub we're featuring several horror movies as well as a nifty PowerPoint show filled with facts, trivia, and related Halloween movie stills (thanks, Krista!). At the moment we're showing Carrie, Christine, and Psycho. We of course have lots of candy at the desk. Hooray for a liberal food policy at the Hub!

Several of us are dressed up as well. Pirates , Potter, and more. Yes, that's me slaying ignorance at the library (why can't I find an image of that poster anywhere? should have taken one of my own). I'm surprised that more librarians haven't seen the show. Good grief, their headquarters was a library!

At least the wig (bad as it is for Buffy--way too blonde) can be re-used--maybe as a Laura Palmer next year. Me and the obscure costumes--it all started when my husband and I went as the Prisoner and a Villager. I think three people knew who we were. Oh well.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Student Message Board

The Hub's entrance features a large whiteboard with a big sign designating it the "Student Message Board." We've taken pictures of fun messages from time to time--sometimes the messages are intended for one person meeting another (our idea behind the board) but we also get a lot of fun sports-related and other humorous graffiti. I enjoy watching the board and do occasionally add my own sentiments to it.

Pictured is an example of yet another way we use the board--to have a conversation with students. With 25 whiteboards at the Hub, you can imagine that we run through a fair number of markers. A student expressed concern about the situation and we responded (thank you, Alice!).

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Know That Avatar!

I was delighted to recognize a UK colleague in this Chronicle blog post about the Second Life Teen Grid College Fair this weekend. Way to go, Beth! Along with UK, Penn State, Oxford, and Vassar are participating in this event which is much like a real world college fair (talk to admissions representatives, get help filling out forms, etc.) Who knows how many prospective students they'll actually reach, but it's an interesting concept. I've got a lot more to say about Second Life but I'll save it for a series of future posts.

On a related note, it's so cool to see UK blue everywhere this weekend. As I type this, ESPN is setting up for GameDay coverage right outside my library.

Go Cats!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Hubbub recap, part three

See parts one and two for background.

Staffing is of course the most important thing to make such a large event successful. From the very beginning, we involved as many library staff as possible.

All Library Staff

Once I got approval from administration and set a tentative date with our K Week folks, I sent all library staff a "save the date" and asked for volunteers to help plan. We notified staff as we got closer to the event and encouraged them to volunteer to work at the event as well as to attend. After the event, we sent images and a recap out to all staff via email and through the library staff newsletter. We tried to communicate about the event as much as possible and get everyone involved. I thought it was very important to make it a library-wide event that we could all be proud of--not just a Hub thing or a Young Library thing.

Planning Committee

The Planning Committee was the genius behind the operation. Gail, Debbie, Reinette, and Alice did a fabulous job with brainstorming ideas and putting them into action. It is essential to have a strong committee that can be really "out there" with ideas (some that didn't make the cut this year: a makeover counter, knitting, pony rides, a live band, a Money Machine or dunking booth...and that's just a few). At the same time, that committee has to have follow-through in actually getting these things accomplished--obtaining estimates, making reservations, communicating regularly with vendors, following up as needed. This committee did a stellar job with both.

One of the very time consuming things we did (that Reinette did--thank you!) was contacting local businesses for possible giveaways in our grand prize drawing. She contacted salons, CD shops, gift stores, clothing stores, coffee shops--all kinds of local businesses that might appeal to students--and the response was overwhelming. It was practically a full-time job for a few days as she went around town picking up the various donated items. The students loved the prize drawing at the event--it was definitely a highlight. Even the young man who won a "Pilates Hottie" tank top seemed to be happy.

Volunteers for Decorating

I'd never bought a helium balloon kit so I had no idea how long it would take to blow up all those balloons (50 per kit). Plus I had several thousand feet of streamers and lots of colorful stuff to hang on the walls. I was worried about trying to balance decorating with dealing with the caterers and the other vendors as well as generally preparing for the evening. When I put out the call for volunteers, Mary graciously volunteered the ENTIRE STAFF of Preservation and Digital Programs. She planned to have everyone decorate instead of holding their weekly staff meeting. Wow, I can't begin to describe how helpful that was. Thank you all!

If you are lucky enough to have 14 volunteers to help decorate, it's likely that the decorating will go quickly (and it will be loads of fun).

Volunteers to Work the Hubbub

The event was 6-8 pm so I was a little concerned we might not have enough staff and student employees to cover the event adequately. I also had to factor in all the other activities of the week (many of us were already tired, tired, tired from other K Week and move-in activities). I did my best to make it sound like the best job ever, and thankfully 19 people volunteered.

That was enough to work my plan:
  • Three people at the entrance to greet and help with registering for the drawing
  • Two people staffing the bellydance area (bellydancing was optional)
  • Two people on Pop A Shot Basketball (we ended up needing more since the score mechanism was so lame on the machines)
  • Two people to watch the pizza tables (unfortunately food service staff were overwhelmed and the library staff did most of the serving of the pizza--THANK YOU Sherree and Mary!!)
  • One person on Pimp My Avatar
  • One person on Palm Reading Librarian (Jo could have really used some help as busy as she was though none of us have her awesome skills. Thanks, Jo!)
  • One person at the Mac Lab to greet and direct
  • One person at the Windows lab to greet and direct
  • The rest were to help staff the non-existent video games and float around to answer questions, direct, and trade up with people who wanted to work multiple posts
I did have quite a plan. Looking back at it, it's really kind of scary--a big floor map with names and hash marks and arrows all over the place. If anything, I probably over-planned it but I had no idea what to expect the first go-around.

Clean-Up Crew

One of the things I neglected in all my overplanning was dealing with cleanup. Granted, we have a very fine custodial staff and that technically is their job. There was no way I was going to leave that kind of mess for them though, and I'd been working and communicating with them about the event all along. We were all exhausted, so I sent as many people home as I could. Alice, James, my husband, and I had the fun of fishing ~100 soft drinks out of freezing cold water and ice. Now that's definitely an activity to consider for next year's Hubbub.

Final Thank Yous

You really can't thank people enough. Thanks to everyone who helped in any way with the Hubbub. There are too many to name here but I appreciate all of you. I especially want to thank Alice who works with me at the Hub. I also want to thank Krista, who was our brand-new graduate assistant at the time. Both of them are full of great ideas and initiative, and it's truly a pleasure working with them. I also want to thank the Dean of Libraries who allowed me to do this in the first place (she even worked at the event which is really quite cool).

If you've managed to read through all these credits, let me just add that I'll continue to write about the Hubbub as I think of things that are relevant or might be useful to others. I'll also start documenting the planning of the next one. Right now the event I'm consumed with planning is the Young Library Anniversary Party (and yes, I am actually approaching the student event in the Hub as a real birthday party--cake, hats, balloons, clown, and all). I'll post about that as things become a little more concrete.

More pictures of the Hubbub and other fun things at the Hub are available on flickr.

(Photos by Jacob Davis)

Monday, October 08, 2007

In the News

The Hub was featured in a piece on the local news Thursday night. I'm very pleased with the coverage. Several different areas of the Hub are shown and I like what the students had to say. I am a little surprised at the reporter questioning why exams were scheduled the day after a big game. Come on, everything doesn't revolve around football here. Basketball, maybe, but now football too?

We do usually show games on the TVs in our two lounge spaces at the Hub. The volume stays fairly low so you can get away from the game in the Hub when you need to do so. And of course, the quiet study areas on the third and fifth floors of the library are always an option. I'm thinking about making it more official this semester: "Hoops at the Hub." Now that we're doing so well in football, I guess I'll need to think of something catchy for that, too.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fleeting Internet Fame

For some time I have been fascinated by how quickly an idea or site can spread across the Internet. Over the last 48 hours, I've had the opportunity to see the phenomenon first-hand as my husband's Mustaches of the 19th Century blog has spread.

Jason has pointed out that BoingBoing is like the Today Show of the Internet. It's true that since his "appearance" he has gone from two to at least 30 readers and counting. And keep in mind that the blog is just about mustaches--19th century ones at that. He's been contacted directly by archivists at other schools, congratulating him on celebrating National Archives Month in a fun and creative way. The blog has been saved, linked to, commented upon, and shared by hundreds and that number continues to grow with each hour (including participants on the Beard Community Bulletin Board and students celebrating Octobeard).

I'm pleased about all this attention for several reasons. In addition to the obvious ones, "Mustaches of the 19th Century" will be one of six exhibits displayed on the video windows at the Hub starting Monday. All six exhibits are from our AV and University Archives and focus on the theme of leisure. In addition to mustaches, we'll have exhibits focused on movie theaters, the circus, campus recreation, yearbook cartoons, as well as "curiosities and wonders" from the local paper throughout the 20th century. I'll plan to post a few images next week. Thanks to Jason and Deirdre for putting together the exhibit.

UPDATE: The press release for the exhibit which is now on display.

(Photos by Alice Wasielewski)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My Husband Just Got Boing-Boinged

Another silly post but I had share the Boing-Boing post recognizing one of the family blogs.

I've nearly finished the Hubbub recap part three so hopefully that will be up later this week. In the meantime, enjoy some mustaches.

Word of the day

Word of the day
Originally uploaded by thehubatwts

I'm testing the flickr "blog this" option. I also wanted to share the quote of the day in the Hub. I too love lamp (and Steve Carell, but don't tell my husband).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Hubbub recap continued

Continuing my recap of our first Hubbub experience, I'm next going to share my thoughts on publicity.

Number one, as I mentioned in my earlier post, work with the campus entity that plans the official freshman welcome events. In my case, not only did I get to develop a new relationship with some terrific people on campus, we also got loads of publicity for our event. We were featured on the official schedule of events, and we were specifically mentioned in a number of orientation sessions. The K Week staff used the approach: "Want to bellydance in the library? Then go to the Hubbub party!" Of course they mentioned the free pizza and games and other activities for the shimmy-shy, but the bellydancing really seemed to stick with students. There is no way I could have generated this kind of buzz without the help of the K Week staff.

Since our target audience was freshman students (though any students were welcome, of course), we really couldn't do much advertising on campus until three days before the event. Move-in day was a Friday and our event was on Monday. On that Friday though, we hung a bunch of flyers in student hangouts on campus. The residence halls were covered thankfully as I attended the resident advisor resource fair earlier that week and distributed loads of flyers to the RAs. Many of the RAs were excited about the event (perhaps even a little jealous that we didn't do something like this their freshman year) and I invited them all and encouraged them to invite their advisees.

I also relied on our Hub partners to help spread the word. I really can't say enough nice things about my friends in campus IT. I know I'm lucky in that regard as the library-IT relationship at other schools isn't necessarily as good. The IT folks mentioned the Hubbub at all their orientation events and distributed flyers in the student computing labs. They were also a big help at the actual event (more on that in the future "staffing" post).

As far as electronic means of publicity, we did the standard press release which was posted to the main UK website. Though this probably didn't catch the attention of many students, perhaps it made faculty and staff more aware of the event. Along the same lines, we posted a library news item as well. I worked with our official UK PR contact to distribute the press release. We did in fact have several photographers covering the event as a result of this.

The student newspaper didn't cover the Hubbub, but to my delight, they featured us in a special insert guide for students the following week. When we opened the Hub in the middle of the spring semester, they wrote a very nice piece about the Hub. I wish we'd gotten a little Hubbub mention, but there are so many events going on that week, and the other coverage they've done has been good so I can't complain.

I had used Facebook before for advertising and decided to use it again for the Hubbub. Like any of our other methods though, it was difficult to judge how effective it was. We used Facebook in several ways:

Facebook flyer. This is probably the most common way campus groups advertise on Facebook. Buy a flyer and Facebook displays it to your audience. I'd bought a flyer last year and since then I was pleased to see that you could further tailor your audience. Since I only ran the ad Sat-Mon and didn't buy very many flyers, it was pretty inexpensive.

Facebook event. I created an event in Facebook and then invited my student and UK campus friends, had them invite their friends, and so on. I got a few questions from students as a result, so it was worth doing. In the end, this reached over a hundred people and didn't cost anything.

Facebook groups. K Week had an official group with several hundred student members so I posted to its wall a couple of times. I also posted to the wall of several unofficial student groups (and happened to answer a few questions about the semester schedule, designated safety paths on campus, library hours, campus mailing addresses). This is a little tricky as I imagine it is easy to cross the line from "helpful librarian" to "nosy old person lurking on Facebook." I didn't do very much of this but what little I did seemed appreciated. At least no one wrote anything nasty about me or told me to go away.

What would I have done differently? Next time I'd like to look into those campus "yard signs." Those are a real attention getter in my opinion, but I haven't investigated the cost or if approval is needed (likely) in order to display them on university lawns.

In the next post I'll talk about staffing. The team that makes it all happen is the most important part of throwing an event like this.

UPDATE: Hubbub recap part three

(Photos by Alice Wasielewski)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fun with Signs

I suppose it's a requirement to do something for Talk Like a Pirate Day. One of my former student workers shares his birthday with this ar-wesome holiday. Let's just say the "walk the plank" jokes are wearing a little thin on him (happy 23, Podge!). Anyway, in keeping with our fun atmosphere at the Hub, I did a little something at the desk.

In general, I'm surprised at the number of students who pay attention to our signs. The "No Shushing" sign really gets a lot of attention, especially from a few student groups who meet regularly at the Hub. The intent of the sign was to direct people who want a quiet space away from the basement (designated quiet study areas are on the third and fifth floors). Several students seem continually amused with the sign--in fact, I've even spotted "No Shushing" graffiti on our whiteboards that no library staff fess up to writing! On rare occasions we have had to ask some students to keep it down just a little, but we certainly didn't shush them.

In general, the whiteboards are a continual source of education and amusement for me. It's very rare that I have to erase something (phone numbers or things that *really* aren't fit to print). For the most part, the boards are used for student work--equations, debate lists, vocabulary words, sentence diagramming, anatomy drawings--really interesting academic work. Then there are the "Chemistry/Math/Louisville sucks" sentiments or the "I Love the Hub" sentiments (I promise I'm not the one writing those!). And that's just the beginning--I've seen more neat little drawings, odd haiku, and random expressions....We're going to start posting a regular whiteboard photo to our flickr set. I think you'll be amused as well.

(Photos by Alice Wasielewski)

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Hubbub recap, part one

On Monday, August 20, 2007, we invited all UK freshmen to our information commons, the Hub, for food and fun at The Hubbub. I'm thrilled to report we reached around 400 students in that two hour period.

I began planning in April by getting approval for the event and putting together a workgroup of interested staff to help plan. The five of us met a few times but conducted most of our business via email. I met early on with the head of New Student and Parent Programs, the group that coordinates the official freshman welcome activities. We set a date and time that worked nicely with the rest of the "K Week" schedule. Being part of K Week gave us a great deal of exposure: we were mentioned at a number of orientation sessions, we had easy access to the resident advisors for sharing flyers, plus we were front and center on all the official K Week schedule material in print and online. The people in New Student and Parent Programs were outstanding to work with, and our staff even got cool K Week t-shirts to easily identify us at the Hubbub and other K Week events. Bottom line: it is essential to work your event into the official schedule (Brian from Georgia Tech, home of a particularly outstanding freshman event, agrees).

As far as planning activities, our group had a lot of fun with this. We decided that the sky was the limit and came up with lots of fun, wacky ideas. At one point we considered setting up a makeover counter (I still think this is a good idea). We looked at renting a Money Machine for coupons and prizes but decided it was too expensive and labor-intensive. We considered a live band, but realized this might be a *little* too loud for the rest of the library. I'm envious of the wonderful things they do at Georgia Tech but realized that laser tag might be pushing it a bit for the first event--there's always Hubbub 2008! We settled on video games, Pop A Shot basketball, bellydancing, a Second Life activity, and the Palm Reading Librarian. We also utilized our whiteboards by hosting a Whiteboard Art Contest. Surprisingly the most successful event of the evening was the Palm Reading Librarian though we had a good number of bellydancers, too. Bottom line: it's okay to be far out and creative with your activities. Often those are the most successful.

You may be wondering how a Palm Reading Librarian could possibly be more popular than videogames played on wall projection. Well, the only snag of the entire event was that our video game vendor did not show up. I know. You'd think that we would have had a riot on our hands, but surprisingly, we made it through the evening without too much of a problem. I suppose copious amounts of free pizza can heal all wounds. We had considered having staff bring in video game consoles, but I was really nervous about the possibility of damage. What if someone flings your Wiimote across the room and it hits one of our lovely marble pillars? What if in the chaos of hundreds of students in the basement someone disappears with your Reaper? This was probably me being overly conservative on our first go at the Hubbub, but we all agreed that it was better to get equipment from somewhere. A couple of our video game stores in town bring equipment and games in for demos--they do it for parties, schools, church groups and the like, and were happy to do this for us. We scheduled months in advance, everything seemed to be in order when we checked in with them before the event, but then they failed to show up. The store manager kept assuring us that the staff were "on their way" but they never showed. Possibly they ended up gaming over at one of the frats as it was during Rush week. Bottom line: have more control over your game equipment. I've gone so far as to submit a proposal to purchase a few consoles for the library. Students could bring in games for a game night once or twice each semester.

Next post, I'll talk about publicity.

UPDATE: Hubbub recap part two

UPDATE: Hubbub recap part three

(Photos by Jacob Davis)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Research Advice for Students

This post offers tips to help students get started on a research project. How nice to see librarians described as "the best people on Earth!"

Friday, August 17, 2007

All that Hubbub

Sweet! The press release just posted to the main UK website. Right now we're one of the top stories on the main page.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Where Have I Been?

As many of you know, this is the busiest time of year for academic librarians. I'm still here, still excited about blogging, but I had to set it aside for awhile. I'll be posting at length on a few major projects that have consumed me in the past month:

New library introductory video which replaced a PowerPoint presentation
Shot partially in Second Life and partially in the real world, this video shows why it's important to use the library. The video is fun and shows librarians around campus as friendly, approachable people. I edited the whole thing and am very proud of the result.

The Hubbub
To welcome students to campus and to the Libraries, we're having a big event at our Information Commons (the Hub). Free food, video games on projection, Second Life, Pop A Shot basketball, bellydancing are just some of the things students can enjoy. It's scheduled for Monday evening, so needless to say there is still much to be done.

Other K Week activities
The Libraries are participating in several Welcome Back activities over the next week (UK calls it K Week). A colleague and I will be presenting a session, "Get Your Google On," in which we'll share smart searching strategies. While we're focused on Google, these strategies certainly apply to library resources (which as you can imagine, we'll be sure to mention as well). We'll also be participating in the ubiquitous "Welcome Back" tables, including one for resident advisors today.

People Counters
In my spare time, I've been helping with the setup of some door counters at the entrances to the Hub. These transmit data wirelessly to a central "server" for easy statistics retrieval and analysis.

Once I get past the next 12 days (and my high school class reunion is wedged in there, too!), I'll be sure to post more about these exciting projects. With a colleague, I'm also finishing up a followup article on social networking software and libraries (see Kentucky Libraries, 2006, v70 n4 for part one). As always, lots of exciting things going on here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I've seen few posts comparing whiteboard markers and erasers. Sure, it seems rather mundane, but most commons environments have lots of whiteboards. At the Hub, we have 20 rolling easel whiteboards, five whiteboard "cubicle walls," a giant student message board, and a cafe sign. As a result, markers and erasers are not a trivial matter.

We tried an assortment of markers in our first semester (Spring 2007). Thanks to our Student Computing Labs Manager, we found the perfect markers and erasers. Perfect, in that both are magnetic. The markers include teeny erasers on the cap. While the markers are expensive, they seem to last pretty well and we keep the eraser caps as spares once the markers are spent. The erasers are a simple ergonomic design and are surprisingly inexpensive. Plus they have the added bonus of looking like mice. How cute.

TUL Dry Erase Markers, 12 pack
Office Max Brand Magnetic Marker Board Erasers

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Disc Golf and Librarianship

What does disc golf have to do with librarianship? I was thinking that today as I was out at Shillito Park. Every weekend, that's where you'll usually find me unless it's raining or unusually hot (and today was pretty close to being too hot). If the weather's good enough, we'll head to another course in the area.

For the uninitiated, disc golf is much like "ball and stick" golf, as we like to call it. You drive, putt, and approach to a hole, in this case, to a basket. Courses typically include 18 holes, and you try to keep your score as low as possible. That's where perfectionism comes in. "I've got to shoot at least a 54 or it won't be as good as last week's game." "I always shoot a two on the first hole. If I don't shoot a two there, I might as well go home." "If I drive to the left of that tree, there's no way I can par this hole. I've completely ruined this hole!" And on and on.

We do the same thing in our libraries sometimes. "We can't start blogging/IMing/Facebooking/ (fill in the blank-ing) until we have a comprehensive written policy in place." "We can't go live with this website/brochure/PowerPoint/(fill in the blank) until we have the right logo, the right graphics, the right colors, the right look and feel." And on and on.

Like my golf game, sometimes we are victims of perfectionism. We want things to be just right. If they aren't just right, we don't want to do them. I admit to that myself. Much of the time, I want things to be just right before I do them. Why did it take me over two years to start blogging? -- "What's the right name for my blog? The right color scheme? The right focus?" Ah, perfectionism.

At some point you've just got to set aside those concerns and move forward. Thankfully we can be pretty good about that at my library. Last summer, a colleague and I asked about creating a Facebook presence for our library. We got the green light almost immediately. No policy, no committee, no deliberating and fretting. We just did it. (Granted, we ended up being one of the first institutional profiles to be shut down, but at least we gave it a shot).

My point is simply: sometimes it really does not pay to be a perfectionist. Yeah, I may not two the first hole. Yeah, maybe the black background looks better than the white background I used on the PowerPoint. I may still end up with a good score at the end of the day. I may still engage a group of students with my presentation and teach them a few things.

Sometimes you've just got to set perfectionism aside.

Now I'm ready to get back out to Shillito tomorrow.