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.

Friday, July 06, 2007

My Avatar Visits the Hub

Earlier this week, we did a first pass at "filming" our freshman tutorial using Second Life. We had been using a PowerPoint presentation for several years but decided to attempt something different this year.

I'm pretty pleased with how things look so far. I took this shot in between takes, as my avatar hung out in front of this "real world" set of the Hub we created. I particularly like this shot because if you look really close, you'll see a librarian in the background (a former IL librarian here).

Our tutorial is shot in two locations--in a dorm room we built in world, as well as this Hub set. We still need to record the audio portion of the script and have a great deal of editing yet to do. I'm anxious to get started but we really need all of the content before we get down to editing. At the very least, this has been quite a learning experience (and a lot of fun) for everyone involved.

We wear buttons in the Hub as a way to identify staff. We created the button as a Second Life clothing item (thanks, Beth!), so that my avatar could wear one in this scene. How cool is that!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Flickr Group for Learning Commons

Check out the increasing number of photos tagged Learning Commons on flickr (full disclosure, a number of those are from my library). What a great idea, sharing photos of our spaces. I've found lots of lust-worthy furniture there as well as some inspiring examples of friendlier signage.

Keep sharing!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy New Year!

It's a new fiscal year for many of us academia, so why shouldn't we celebrate it? Consider it a time for a fresh start and some resolutions. Lose weight, read more, stress less--those all sound great. But I'm particularly focused on new resolutions for our information commons at UK--The Hub. What can we do to have a really successful rest-of-2007?

A few easy things I'm thinking of:

Start a flickr 365 for what's on our whiteboards. There's hilarious and creative stuff there. Who knows, maybe we can get a conversation going.

Create a few Facebook tips posters for our tackboards. Don't do stupid things on Facebook--it's amazing how many students don't think about this. If at least one student pays attention to my poster, it will be worth it.

Actually attempt to use more social software to work with our patrons. IM is just the beginning. I've been preaching all these things for years (blogs, wikis, blah blah blah) but now it's time to really put them into action--at work, not just for SLA.

I've had this blog since the Christmas before I went to Ecuador (um, that was over two years ago) and I have yet to post anything substantive here. That probably instills little confidence, but I hope you'll still add me to your aggregator anyway--I am going to do better this time.

Here's to a Happy New Year and actually sticking to those resolutions!