Friday, December 19, 2008

Most Popular Tech Therapy Episodes of 2008

Continuing in the grand tradition of "best of 2008" lists, the Chronicle has posted a list of the most popular Tech Therapy episodes of 2008. These are well worth a listen over what I hope is a long and relaxing holiday break for you. I mentioned two of the podcasts previously: Libraries vs. IT and The Future of the College Library, among the most popular episodes this year.

New Blog Design

Probably 99% of you never look at my blog directly but read my posts through your RSS aggregator of choice. I don't blame you--I do the same, and certainly my little Blogger blog design isn't worth writing home about. After what shall be known as the my blog fiasco of 2008, I decided to tinker with Blogger templates a bit and just put together this new look. Go ahead, look now. I'll wait. Seriously, if you have any comments I'd appreciate them (other than the obvious "get with the program and design your own template"). Maybe one of these days...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Learning Commons in a High School Library

Since I began preparing for a talk I gave at the SLA annual conference, I have been collecting examples of commons spaces, particularly looking for those outside of academic libraries. I was excited to see this post on Michael Stephens' blog sharing an article about a new commons in a high school library.

The Chelmsford (MA) High School Library has been transformed into a comfortable, attractive space where students "discussions are spirited." And thankfully the new commons space is nothing like the "gross" library of before:
In the place formerly known as the library, students perch on long-legged chairs and huddle in purple and black booths. Once a week, they drink coffee and discuss books in the Java Room. They watch a history lesson, school news, and CNN on a 58-inch flat-panel "digital kiosk."
Read the entire article.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Graduate Student and Faculty Spaces and Services

I haven't seen the new ARL Spec Kit on Graduate Student and Faculty Spaces and Services yet, but I am really looking forward to it as we begin thinking about a research commons here focused on faculty and graduate student needs. It looks like the full kit includes a number of documents describing specific services and spaces, as well as marketing and outreach materials. This is definitely a must-read for me.

View the exective summary.

I'm aware that it is a growing trend for university libraries that started with a heavily-trafficked information/ learning commons focused on undergraduate needs to build on that success by looking at a similar collaborative project for graduate student and faculty needs. Last year as we began our research, I compiled a list of institutions with a "research commons" or a "scholarly commons" and I expect that number has increased. I'd be interested in hearing from others who are involved in similar projects.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Top 10 Everything of 2008

It's that time of year again, with Top 10 lists sprouting up at every turn. To fill your Top 10 list cravings, Time Magazine has collected the Top 10 Everything of 2008. From campaign moments and financial collapses to scandals and fashion faux pas, this list has you covered.

Why should we care in the information commons? Well you have to have a little fun sometimes. And it is interesting to look at consumer technology trends: iPhone apps, gadgets, and video games, for example.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Pew Report on Future of the Internet

The third in a series of Pew reports on the future of the Internet was just released yesterday. For this report, over 1000 technology leaders/commentators were surveyed regarding the impact networked technologies will have on society by 2010. Key findings from the report:
The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.

The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.

Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.

Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.

The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.

Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch.
As librarians/information professionals, it is so important for us be familiar with trends and predictions for the future of information access. Even for our own personal needs, how will networked technologies change our own relationships--with families, with work, with future co-workers and students?

View the project page which outlines the methodology and key findings or read the entire report.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Improving Laptop Support in the Commons

I enjoyed reading this post from Brian Mathews about what we might offer students to enhance library laptop use. When we think of support, most of us typically think in terms of desktop support/customer service/help desk: "I can't get on the wireless network!" or "My laptop won't power on!" While that is important (we too offer that kind of support in the Hub), he moves beyond that by asking students what else they need, such as:
  • Specific kinds of furniture, like ottomans, desk chairs, etc.
  • Extension cords
  • Flash drives
  • Wireless keyboards and mice
  • Docking stations
  • And so on...
He includes many other things on the list, some of which had never occurred to me but are terrific ideas. I like their idea of packaging some of these items together and offering a sort of "laptop kit" for checkout.

We offer laptops for checkout at the Hub but haven't moved much beyond that yet. Our labs offer headphones and a "power bar" of sorts (various power adapters available for checkout). I've mentioned previously that I'd like to see us offer more. We certainly get the requests from students, though I suspect it's unlikely we'll expand our offerings in the current budget climate. Still, it's vital to keep asking the questions and have some ideas and proposals ready should a funding opportunity arise.

Photos courtesy UK IT

2009 Horizon Report

The Horizon Report, a project co-published by the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, is one of those must-read reports that I look forward to each year (view past reports). The report focuses on emerging technologies for teaching and learning and identifies a timeline for mainstream adoption. The report includes specific examples and challenges, as well as key trends. The 2009 report should be released in late January 2009. I've just seen a short preview of the 2009 report and there are no big surprises here:
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
Cloud Computing

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
The Personal Web

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
Semantic-Aware Applications
Smart Objects
I'm really looking forward to reading and discussing the full report.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Building on the Library/IT Relationship

The latest "Dear Ulla" column from the SLA Leadership and Management Division focuses on fostering a successful relationship between the IT department and the library. While this is special library focused, Ulla's suggestions could easily be applied to any library type. What particularly caught my attention was her third suggestion, which is basically to frame all requests as patron/customer requests which meet a specific goal, not simply as something that is wanted by the library:
Job 3 is to cast any request for support into an enterprise business case: The knowledge workers are asking for X and we have done Y but now need the support of IT to accomplish Z. Under no circumstances should a request for support be interpretable as a "request from the library". Under all circumstances should such a request be presented (for example) as "employees are in need of ... so they can perform their jobs to meet [organizational goals]; while the required content is indeed available, IT support is required to now present it to the desktop".
This is an excellent way to help us get away from the us vs. them mentality ("oh, what does the library want now?" or "gosh, why do they never do what we need them to do?"). This kind of thinking encourages us to work together to meet a common goal which is becoming even more important as budgets shrink and staff positions are cut. As she concludes:
The bottom line is ... make the case with a view to organizational gain. It's not about what the library wants (do discard any library lingo). It's about what the organization needs in order to succeed.
I encourage you to read the entire post.

SLA Centennial Video Contest

While the majority of my posts are commons-focused, I do post from time to time about my primary professional organization, SLA. This is a particularly exciting time as SLA will be celebrating its centennial celebration in 2009. I've been fortunate to serve on SLA's Centennial Commission and may share announcements about some of our activities in the coming year, particularly those with a technology focus.

One of the activities we recently launched is the SLA Video Contest. This is a great opportunity for SLA members (including student members) to submit a video focused on "the information professional of the future." What a great excuse to experiment with video, have a little fun, and maybe win a very nice cash prize. The winning entry in each category (Student and Professional) will be awarded:
* $1,500 cash
* Up to $1,500 to attend the Centennial conference in Washington, DC, 14-17 June 2009
* Up to $1,000 for Chapter programming
* Up to $1,000 for Division programming
If you are a member of SLA, you really should consider submitting a video to this contest. The deadline for entries is January 23, 2009. Visit the SLA Centennial website for complete rules and entry information.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Second Life Video Windows Exhibit

The Hub's newest video windows exhibit is up and running through January 2009. "Educational Uses of Second Life" includes a tour of the University of Kentucky island, a video displaying a recent exhibit focused on the island, as well as videos focused on other activities and educational uses of the space.

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world which is primarily focused on social interaction, including education. The University of Kentucky has been actively involved in Second Life for nearly a year. This exhibit includes video from some of the year's activities. For more information on UK's participation Second Life, check out our island blog.

The next exhibit in the Hub (February 2009) will be "Views of Diversity."

Best.Erasers.Ever, Part II

Long-time followers of this blog may remember when I proclaimed I had found the best whiteboard eraser ever. I realize this may seem trivial, but for those of us surrounded by whiteboards in a busy commons environment, the perfect eraser is so very important.

Last week I learned that the aforementioned "best eraser ever" was no longer available from our office supplier. This news was mildly devastating, as we are now entering dead week, easily our busiest time of year. Thankfully we called around and found another magnetic whiteboard eraser.

While the new erasers have only seen a weekend's worth of use (and a very busy weekend at that), I think they could easily deserve the title "best eraser ever." My criteria are pretty simple--magnetic, lots of fuzzy stuff, nice ergonomic design. What really sets these erasers apart though is that they have the ability to store two markers. This is fabulous for something like our student message board, where magnetic markers are essential.

Sparco Magnetic Jumbo Eraser, 97250

Friday, November 28, 2008

Flip Camcorders in the Commons

I just read the EDUCAUSE "7 things you should know about" report on flip camcorders. If you haven't looked at the "7 things" reports before, they are excellent at giving you a very quick overview of a hot topic or technology. Basically the flip camcorder is a very portable, inexpensive video camera that opens up capturing video to anyone, not just experts or those with pricey equipment.

Imagine the possibilities for your students--or even for us, as we develop more creative projects in the library. I know we couldn't have done this video with a flip camcorder, but it does make creating similar projects much simpler, especially if you aren't fortunate to have the support of a creative team of experts.

About a year ago, at the Hub we investigated types of equipment that circulate at other information commons. Alice compiled some interesting findings--from the more predictable (headphones, cameras, graphing calculators, and so on) to the more unusual (GPS devices, video game consoles, webcams.) In an excellent webcast last week on the commons (it is archived), Crit Stewart mentioned students at Georgia Tech might check out a webcam in order to host a virtual tutoring session in the library. A specific example was a student who checked out a webcam and used it, a commons computer, and a whiteboard to tutor one student on site and another via the web. What a clever and relatively simple item to offer for checkout.

I know I would like to see us offer more technology items for checkout. I see so many possibilities with flip camcorders, webcams, and more.

Students Enjoying New Lab Furniture

2008 October Hub 031
Originally uploaded by thehubatwts
I wrote a bit about the new furniture in the Hub's computer lab area when it arrived in October. I've been observing its use since then and have been delighted to see how much use these "booths" are getting. While they aren't wheeled (my mantra is usually "everything on wheels!"), they are still enormously popular. (I'm not sure if a wheeled couch is the best idea anyway.) Even on a quiet morning, someone is usually cozied up in one of these "booths" in the lab. Now that's good furniture.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blogging Woes

So I pay attention to my blog's stats regularly via Stat Counter and Google Analytics. I occasionally check out my Technorati rating. But for some reason, it did not occur to me to periodically search for my blog. I happened to search for it last night and realized it wasn't indexed by Google. At all.

OK, that's pretty strange. So I started looking in my code and found some meta tags that were set to no indexing. Huh? Why would anyone have a blog and not want it indexed? What would be the point?

Best I can figure, the bad code came from a free third-party template I had been using. So I quickly chucked the whole template to be safe and went back to one of the simple Blogger templates. I figure I'll stay with that until I have more time to devote to the project.

Now I know that the real answer here should be to abandon Blogger entirely, set up WordPress, and actually host the blog from my domain ( instead of simply redirecting. I also know I should invest in a real template, something more professional looking. I know enough about style sheets that I could probably design something myself that didn't look too terrible. I'm not sure when I will have time for all of that.

In the meantime, dear readers, I'm glad you found me. You probably didn't via a search engine! And if you weren't already, do a search periodically for your blog/website. Otherwise you might be as lost as I was.

I'd better wrap this up. My husband has pointed out that I have spent entirely too much time on my blog today. The parade is still sitting on the Tivo, unwatched, and I have sweet potatoes to peel. But I did want to share this with you, dear readers, so that such a thing might never happen to you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Get your study on . . . SOON!

It's likely that your library is as quiet as mine is today. Our students start fall break tomorrow to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday, so many have already left campus for the week. Unbelievably finals are less than three weeks away. Where did the semester go? Here is a previous semester photo of the student whiteboard--someone reminds her fellow students that it's time to get your study on...soon! Indeed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's in a Name?

Recently the information commons/learning commons discussion came up again on a commons-related discussion list. I understand both terms and sort of see the nuances that distinguish one from the other, but I personally see it as hair-splitting and don't find it all that important to attempt to differentiate between the two. My commons is labeled an information commons, but we are concerned with learning outcomes and we partner with learning-focused campus groups. So then we should be a learning commons instead?

And actually (this is the part I find much more interesting), on campus we aren't labeled information commons or learning commons at all. From reading this blog, you are probably well aware that we are the Hub.

We did this for several reasons. One was that we knew we'd have to market and explain any name we gave the space. What really does information commons or learning commons mean to a first year student? Another reason is that we wouldn't be the only Commons on campus. The food court near our residence halls is called The Commons. One of the large apartment complexes near campus is named The Commons. If we went with a "commons" name, we'd already be competing with two well-known entities. So as a result, we knew it would be best to avoid "commons" entirely.

We conducted some student focus groups to help us select a name. Ultimately we weren't able to use our first choice of name (ask me sometime), but we did choose "the Hub" based on student comments. The name fits us very well: our service desk resides at the center of the building in a rotunda--literally "the hub." We are striving for a hub of excitement, activity, and engagement. There is the obvious networking hardware connection. It's easy to riff on the name--our vending space is "Grub @ the Hub," our big freshman party was called "the Hubbub," and so on. And of course, the name is short and easy to remember.

I do find that when talking with library colleagues, I refer our space as an "information commons" as "the Hub" really has no meaning off campus. But the exciting part, and the part I've been working on for nearly two years, is that "the Hub" has a great deal of meaning on campus. Increasingly the campus community refers to the entire basement of the Young Library as the Hub, so it is definitely catching on. More and more students on campus recognize the Hub as the cool new place in the library. To me, that's when the name says it all.

Photo by Alice Wasielewski

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Learning Spaces Conversation

This conversation about learning spaces from the 2008 EDUCAUSE Conference is well worth a listen. Participants in this 35 minute podcast:
  • Joan Lippincott, Associate Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information
  • Clare C. van den Blink, Assistant Director, Academic Technology Services & User Support, CIT, Cornell University
  • Martin Lewis, Director of Library Services & University Librarian, Sheffield University, UK
  • Crit Stuart, Director, Research Teaching and Learning, Association of Research Libraries
  • Lauren Brady, IT Space Coordinator, Missouri University of Science and Technology
The speakers discuss some common issues that are familiar to many of us, but they also offer new ideas and left me with more things to think on further. I've summarized a few themes from the podcast with my own comments:

Beautiful spaces alone won't do it. We should know this already. Pretty furniture and new paint don't make the commons. Services do, people do.

Beautiful spaces are nonetheless an important part of it. This includes aspects like a good location, a view (thank goodness we have video windows), food, comfortable furniture that can easily be rearranged. We hear this often, I say this often, and it's true: everything should be on wheels. More importantly, we should not create a space based solely on our experience or our desires--to be successful, you have to involve students in your ongoing design process. This leads into my next point...

Big people don't necessarily know what students need or how they work. (Some of my colleagues refer to ourselves as "the big people." I suppose there are worse ways to generalize the non-student population.) Anyway, "the big people" need to get out more often and talk to students. Talk to front line staff, particularly student assistants. Student assistants can give you two perspectives: as an employee but also as a student user of the space. Listen to what they say, consider their suggestions. In addition to talking with students, simply observe the space in use. And don't observe 8 am - 5 pm. Too often "the big people" make that mistake. I cover night shifts here and there during the semester, but I also make it a point to visit at night during dead week/finals week to see how things are working during peak usage.

These are just a few of the things I've been thinking about since listening to the podcast. So go ahead, check it out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Millennials Relying Less on Traditional IT Support

ReadWriteWeb reports on a study of millennials and their technology support preferences. The study finds that millennials are increasingly supporting their own technology needs at work, in fact often going around the IT department. More than one third of those surveyed indicated that they were dissatisfied with workplace technology offerings. This is particularly true of millennial employees using social software applications, and over 25% of those surveyed use these technolgies without support and even against company policy. And as far as IT policy:
A staggering 60% of the employees surveyed by Accenture argue that they are unaware of their companies' IT policies or that they are simply not interested in following them.
We're already seeing this on our campuses as students turn to Gmail over campus systems (or even avoid email altogether in favor of texting or Facebooking). What we support and how we support it will have to change in order to better meet student desires.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Student Input on Library Workspaces

The current issue of EDUCAUSE Quarterly includes an article about student input in developing learning commons spaces, Learning Curve: Adapting Library Workspaces, by James C. Haug. I think student input is essential--after all, why else are we here? Haug writes about Longwood University which sought input from students regarding their new information commons space, focusing on two themes:
Do students like the new learning spaces? Do students view the changes as positive or negative, as evidenced by survey results and increased usage?

What other changes would maximize learning in the new library spaces? Would additional strategies, logistical arrangements, or other amenities improve learning in the new information commons/collaborative workstation areas?
He implemented a five-phase research process consisting of a focus group and a survey. Their students must be pretty happy, as over 75% of those surveyed were satisfited with privacy/noise, lighting levels, screen size, table work space, and chair comfort. Interestingly, they were most dissatisfied (63%) with the color of the fabric coverings on partitions. Perhaps this is a lesson to include students in future interior design discussions!

In analyzing the survey data, the library developed some recommendations based on the student input, including acquiring additional whiteboards, monitors, and chairs as budget permits. Other recommendations involved addressing noise issues, food policy, and signage.

Read the entire article from EDUCAUSE Quarterly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

How do you know if your commons is a campus hot spot?

I've been struggling with this for awhile. I've always said I want the Hub to be like K-Lair or POT or any number of things on campus that people clearly recognize by name. I would like every student on campus to at least know what the Hub is and what we can do for them. A lofty goal, I know.

Occasionally I'll chat with a student in a restaurant or at the mall and mention the Hub. Nearly always, they say "oh yeah, I've been there" or "I like working down there" or at least "yeah, I saw it on a tour." But at least they know what it is.

Last weekend I decided I must be doing something right. I hosted the UK Parents Advisory Council meeting in the Hub. Some of the parents commented that they already knew what the Hub was as their students had mentioned it to them. Wow. For a number of reasons, I am so glad I hosted the parents in the Hub. I've mentioned it on several occasions, and I'll say it again: it is so important to work with your Student Affairs office on campus. Work together on an joint event, promote their events, do whatever you can to help them and you'll be better for it.

Images are from the 2008 Hubbub.

Five Benefits of the Information Commons

Most of you have probably already seen today's post from Michael Stephens on the ALA TechSource blog, A "Commons" Experience: Five Benefits of the Information Commons. I couldn't agree more with these statements:
The Commons puts students at the center.
The Commons is built with student involvement.
The Commons is a welcoming, useful gathering place.
The Commons makes connections.
The Commons is a relevant, required space on campus.
Even if we aren't entirely there yet, these are certainly worthy goals. Read the entire post on the ALA TechSource blog.

Commons-Related Webcast Friday

Friday's EDUCAUSE Live webcast will feature Crit Stewart discussing A Space of One’s Own: Learning Environments Derived from User-Centered Discovery Techniques. From the summary:

Academic libraries are committed to delivering new or improved learning spaces for students. Information/learning commons are de rigueur for libraries seeking to refresh and deepen their engagements with undergraduate learners. The most noteworthy learning environments provide enhanced productivity capacities; exposure to collections and digital information; skills training for knowledge creation; and development of information, verbal, written, and multimedia fluencies.

Link to register now for this free professional development opportunity.

Kentucky Librarians Blogging

Last week I attended the Kentucky Convergence Conference. This has become one of my favorite area conferences as it is focused on higher education IT, instructional technologies, and libraries. The programming is similar to what yo might find at an EDUCAUSE conference, albeit on a much smaller scale. I think Convergence is one of the best conferences for higher ed in the state and would like to see more librarians participate.

Anyway, at the conference I was talking with a few librarians from another institution and realized that I have no idea who blogs at other Kentucky schools. I'd be interested in following all the blogs of my higher ed or library colleagues. But since we really aren't well-known bloggers, it can be hard to find us. I realized that I could only name a few Kentucky bloggers, but I know there must be many of us.

So with that in mind, I've created a wiki of Kentucky Library-Related Blogs. Please add to the wiki and encourage others to do so. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Commons-Related EDUCAUSE Conference Presentations

For those who may have missed the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference last month, presentation materials are being posted daily to the EDUCAUSE Connect library. I attended the conference in 2003 and have been trying to return ever since. Of all the conferences I've attended, it was probably the best fit for me--then as the manager of desktop support services for the library system and now as the head of our campus information commons. Here's just a sampling of this year's presentations:
A Planning Process for Successful Learning/Information Commons. When we were planning our commons, it would have been so helpful to have this information from Crit Stewart, Joan Lippincott, and Malcom Brown. Thinking about Phase II of our project, I did find several takeaways from the Involving the Campus Community document in particular.

Emerging Learning Spaces. Presentation from Crit Stewart, AJ Kelton, and Joan Lippincott. Slides are pretty informative and are complemented with lots of images. Interesting to note that Second Life is one of the examples of an emerging learning space.

Bringing the Information Commons Home. Excellent overview of the commons at the University of Sheffield. Slides are full of vivid images--fun and interesting and definitely worth a look.

Library Lightning Round. I haven't read all of these materials yet but looks like there is some good stuff here, particularly the presentation on building a research commons. We've been increasingly talking about a research commons here at UK, and I suspect that IU will be one of our models, as they were when we began planning our undergraduate information commons.

Have MLS, Will Travel: How We Got Out of the Library and into Academic IT. This isn't really commons-related but I threw it in because it caught my eye (I've repeatedly been accused of wanting to defect to "the other side") I wish the slides had more information--it really looked like a fun and interesting presentation.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What is Common about Learning Commons?

In addition to reading The Tower and the Cloud, I've been looking at The Desk and Beyond: Next Generation Reference Services. The first essay by Tim Daniels and Caroline Cason Barratt, "What is Common about Learning Commons," discusses a survey the authors conducted. They received 147 responses to the survey which consisted of seventeen commons-related questions.

I encourage you to check out the full article as I shouldn't summarize all of their interesting findings here. Thinking about my own experience, I had to comment on at least a couple of things. Several of the responses surprised me a bit, particularly in the response to the challenges facing the learning commons. Respondents could indicate more than one category in this area:
Challenges in the Learning Commons
27.7% Clashing philosophies among partners
19.7% Increased noise
16.1% Funding facility/training
13.9% Increased traffic
7.3% Loss of library identity
6.6% Clashing philosophies among librarians
My first impression is that I once again realize how fortunate we are to have a friendly, productive relationship with IT. I know I've said it on this blog and you've probably heard me say it a dozen times if you've seen me give a presentation, but effective collaborations are key to a successful commons. Seeing that 27.7% of the respondents cite clashing philosophies with partners (and I'm guessing more often than not, partners like IT), reminds me how lucky we are that both groups here feel comfortable communicating and even criticizing constructively when needed.

I have to wonder how increased traffic could be considered a challenge. Yes I realize that respondents were probably thinking in terms of lines of people waiting for help, computers, chairs, and other resources. That is a challenge. I still think that's in the "good problem to have" category. I also think that about noise, but I suspect I'm in a minority there.

Funding and training are rather obvious issues. What surprises me here is that 100% of us didn't check that box.

All of these issues center around change, but I think loss of identity and a clash of philosophies among librarians could particularly be attributed to a fear of change. I realize that's not always the case, but it does concern me to hear about resistance to bringing in campus partners like IT (there's that loss of identity) and fighting internally over losing battles like food policy (there's those clashing philosophies among librarians).

What other challenges are we facing in the commons environment?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Popular Posts on the Information Commons

I've picked up some new readers, and I know I haven't been as focused on commons-specific items lately. I thought this would be a good opportunity to recap some of my commons-related posts. Most all of these are focused on the Hub, the information commons at the University of Kentucky.

The Hubbub
This is our big party to welcome students to campus and introduce students to the library and to the Hub.
2008 Hubbub, Our Biggest Party Yet

I did three separate posts on 2007 Hubbub:
Part One: Planning Activities

Part Two: Publicity
Part Three: Staffing
Video Windows
One of the most visually striking things about our space is our video windows art display. My post on the video windows includes a number of elements: our design process, early exhibits, staffing, publicity, future plans. (Incidentally, the blog companion to one of our first video windows exhibits was featured on BoingBoing last year and was even in the UK student newspaper, the Kernel, yesterday.)

Unusual Service Desks
Our service desks have gotten a fair amount of attention. I've answered a number of emails from colleagues around the world about the desks, so I thought it might be a good idea to create a post focused on the desks: why we chose them, how they've worked for us, future plans.

The Hub, The Video
Here's more about the video sensation sweeping the nation. Well, not quite. Maybe around campus for a few weeks there.

As always, if you want to know more about the Hub, feel free to contact me. Those who know me know that I could talk about the Hub all day long, and I'm not really exaggerating.

Tech Therapy: Libraries vs. IT

Tech Therapy is a regular podcast series from the Chronicle which examines important IT issues on campus. This particular Tech Therapy title caught my eye a few weeks ago. Libraries vs. IT? Wow, I definitely had to check that one out, as I've always seen myself in both camps or in the middle--never only a librarian or only an IT professional.

The hosts do a good job of identifying differences in our cultures but at the same time highlighting similarities of our missions. Are we really Mars and Venus? I encourage you to give it a listen.

Rethinking Research Libraries in the 21st Century

As vice chair of the libraries' faculty council, one of the exciting projects I've assisted in planning is a year-long conversation with our library faculty, "Rethinking Research Libraries in the 21st Century." Each month the Director or Associate Dean for a service area will give a presentation and lead a discussion about his/her area of expertise. Today we kicked off the series with a presentation from our Medical Center Library director about the future of academic health center libraries. It's pretty exciting stuff, and I know I'm interested in following this more closely. If you've seen the UK campus, it's very apparent that the medical center is where we are seeing tremendous growth.

I'm posting this here because we do plan to continue our discussions and post presentation materials on our Rethinking Research Libraries blog. Feel free to follow along!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Best Intentions

I attended two conferences this month. Since that time, I've been ignoring the folder on my desktop labeled "things to blog." If I learned one thing this year, it is that taking a small laptop to conferences encourages me to take a lot of notes in every session I attend. I'm not one who can blog live, nor do I want to devote valuable conference time on my laptop constructing readable blog posts. So the folder lingers on my desktop--day after day I think I'll look through the notes and start putting together some posts.

I've finally reached the point that I know it's not going to happen. So let me just say that both the KLA/KSMA/SELA/ARL NDLC Conference and the Internet2 Fall Member Meeting were excellent. I took notes on a number of sessions and had planned to blog several of them, but I've finally accepted that I really don't have time to blog any of them. Here are two I had to at least say something about:

Gaming and Learning: While Screen Time Can Be Well Spent with Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor Library District. Outstanding session, would love to see him back in Kentucky for another. Even though I'm not blogging this, here are a few notes I just had to share anyway:
  • Average age of gamers is 34
  • 25% of gamers are over 50
  • Games outsold DVDs and music in 2007 media sales. Interesting note: books 27%, games 26% of media sales.
  • Learning to read with Pokemon is not a bad idea: game contains 20,000 lines of text which is a huge motivator for learning to read!
  • Study of surgeons at Beth Israel hospital: surgeons who are gamers had 37% fewer mistakes and performed procedures 27% faster than non-gaming surgeons
An Uncommon Learning Space with Rae Helton, University of Louisville.
This was of course a must-attend for me. While Kentucky is a small state and I knew a little about their commons project already, I enjoyed learning about U of L's planning process. I was particularly interested in their Digital Media Suite, the latest addition to the U of L Learning Commons (literally--it had just opened that Tuesday). The Digital Media Suite is a collaborative effort by multiple campus partners which offers support and equipment to create and edit audio and video files. In the presentation, she even showed us a promotional video created by students who work in the Digital Media Suite. Very cool!

Social Software in Libraries

The ARL Spec Kit, Social Software in Libraries, came out in July but I've just now had a moment to spend a little time with it. Beth and I answered the survey for the University of Kentucky. Imagine our delight to find that both the UK Second Life presence and our Blue 2.0 page were both chosen as examples in the report.

UK Libraries have been early adopters in many areas. To be good neighbors in a cubicle environment, many staff began using chat when the Young Library opened in 1998. Beth created a wiki for a conference way back in 2004. In the olden days of campus-only Facebook, we had one of the first Facebook profiles that got shut down. Then I created one of the first Facebook pages for a library. It's been cool to have the support to be able to experiment so much with social networking software.

As for the report, a few findings from my notes:
  • 64 of 123 ARL member libraries completed the survey (tends to be such a small group, which is unfortunate)
  • 95% of respondents indicate that they use social software in some fashion
  • 94% provide user assistance via chat or IM
  • 86% use wikis in some fashion
  • 84% use RSS feeds to disseminate information to library users
  • 82% blog
  • 71% use widgets (example: Meebo)
  • 70% participate in networking sites such as Facebook
  • 62% share media on sites such as YouTube or Flickr
  • 55% use tagging
  • 80% of respondents reported they began using social software through a grassroots effort of individual librarians
  • 92% said they use social software in hope that it will increase user awareness of library collections and services
  • 60% hope to support faculty teaching and learning through use of social software
There's much, much more here. For more information, see the PDF Table of Contents and Executive Summary

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Tower and the Cloud

Most of my reading lately has been cloud-focused due to a recent presentation. This week Educause is launching a (free) e-book, The Tower and the Cloud, focused on the impact of the cloud in higher education. I got a copy last week and just started reading. The Chronicle posted a piece on their blog earlier today. This is definitely one that everyone will be talking about in the next few weeks. Check it out!

Undergraduate Student Use of IT

I've just been reading the key findings of the 2008 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology. I read this one every year as I often cite numbers from this report in some of my presentations. I like that the response group is pretty large (27, 217 students from 98 U.S. institutions), and I really like the year-to-year comparisions as well as the new questions that are added each year. Some of my notes:
  • More than 80% of students bring a laptop to campus. This is up again--not surprisingly. In 2006, 65.9% brought a laptop compared to 82.2% this year.
  • Those laptops aren't all old clunkers, either: 71.1% of freshmen have a laptop less than one year old.
  • 66% of respondents have Internet-capable phones, though they still aren't surfing regularly due to a variety of factors: 25% use the Internet from a phone at least monthly, 17.5% weekly.
  • These students are spending an average of 19.6 hours per week online.
  • This year offered even more questions on social networking software (SNS). A few highlighsts: 58.5% use SNS daily; of those respondents 18-24 years old, about 95% are SNS users; nearly 50% of SNS users are making it part of their academic lives by using it for course-related purposes.
  • This year included a question on information literacy. Disturbingly, but not surprisingly, 79.5% of respondents consider themselves able to effectively use the Internet to find information. Half of those rated themselves as "very skilled" and one third considered themselves "expert."
There's much more here. Even if you don't have time for the full report, at least take a minute to scan the key findings.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Furniture in the Computer Lab

One of the computer labs in the Hub has been getting a makeover to better meet student needs and to look more like the rest of the Hub. UK IT, our partner in the Hub project, recently rearranged the lab space and added more comfortable seating as well as the ever-popular "power towers" for plugging in laptops. Students have been excited to see couches in the lab--I expect they'll be especially popular during finals week.

I watched the furniture getting unpacked, and within an hour, we already had a student using one of the tables with a laptop--no staging necessary!

The next phase of the hub-lification of the lab includes some original artwork, as well as better signs and the addition of a "power bar" for plugging in mobile devices. More ideas are always in the works--today Student Government and UK IT are hosting an open forum to get more feedback on student technology needs.

Photos by Alice Wasielewski

No, I didn't put a student up to this

Students have a lot of fun with our whiteboards. Alice has captured many of the creative, beautiful, or just plain weird things we've seen on the boards (check out the Hub's flickr). This is the best we've seen yet on our Student Message Board:

Here's a closer look at the things one can enjoy in the Hub (private computer areas and TWO computer labs).

More things that one can enjoy, though "please obey the rules and throw away your trash!"

Of course we all need to "remember to have fun, smile and say hello to people so people will say students at UK are the best students I have ever met on any campus!!"

After all, the Hub is THE PLACE TO BE!

Wow, this is priceless. I'd love to meet the student who did this. How very cool.

Photos by Alice Wasielewski

Monday, October 06, 2008

Can it get any better?

Last week the Kernel, the UK student newspaper, ran a very complimentary article on the Hub, amid student protests for the Young Library building hours to be reinstated. Today the newspaper's editorial focuses on what a valuable resource the library is--the Hub in particular--and how students need to use it! We librarians can talk and talk to students about the importance of using the library, but when they hear it from their peers in the student

Saturday, October 04, 2008

UK Students Love their Library

It's been a great couple of weeks for the Hub. First we launched our promotional video which was mentioned in American Libraries Direct. Then I was interviewed by Michael Stephens about the Hub on the ALA Tech Source blog.

Those were all wonderful things, and we're very proud of them. But I have to say that what excites me most is this terrific article the student newspaper ran about the Hub this week, amid student protests for the library to return to 24/5 hours which has thankfully been resolved. It is so wonderful to see students expressing such strong feelings in support of the library. I'm glad the building hours have been reinstated, and I hope many of these students will continue taking advantage of all the great services available in the Hub.

Job Opening: Director of Desktop Support

I don't usually post job ads, but considering this is my old job, I thought I'd make an exception. The University of Kentucky Libraries are looking for a new Director of Desktop Support. Deadline to apply is October 31.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New Ways to Reach Students

The University of Kentucky Libraries have completely revised the way we do library orientation (part of UK101). Last year, we created an orientation video, "Saving Student Brian," to replace an orientation PowerPoint. It was well-received by students and even recognized by librarians. This year we're launching three new elements to the program:

Question of the Week
Each week students are encouraged to answer the Question of the Week (the first one's a gimme) in order to be eligible for some terrific prize drawings. The first drawing, on September 29, is for 8 GB flash drives. Drawings later in the semester will include a Nintendo DS Lite and a Wii. We're hoping this will be plenty of incentive for students to stick it out and hopefully learn a few things about using library resources in the process.

To encourage students to visit various library service points across campus, the Passport game requires students to visit five service points in the Young Library and a choice of three branch locations. Students who return a completed Passport by October 30 are eligible for a drawing for a Sony PSP.

Your Research Tool Box
Finally, the biggest project: we moved from our version of the TILT tutorial (FindIT!) which we had been using for several years to a completely new tutorial we created in-house called "Your Research Tool Box." The tutorial consists of four parts:

tool box
Getting Started
What's a Research Strategy?

print version (pdf)
tool box
Beyond Google
InfoKat: The Library Catalog

print version (pdf)
tool box
Beyond Google
Periodicals Databases

print version (pdf)
tool box
Choosing the Winners
The Best Information Sources

print version (pdf)

The first part of the tutorial is a combination of video and narrated PowerPoint. The other three parts are all PowerPoint with voice-over. I think all four balance information and humor pretty well--it's hard to be funny when talking about your library catalog, but I think our writers succeeded!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Creative Recycling at the Hubbub

So what do you do with 200 cutouts of the William T. Young Library that are invitations for an event held earlier this year?

Why you make hats out of them, a la Burger King or Long John Silver's. Shawn, you are brilliant. Here's an example of these fine hats being worn at the Hubbub.

The Hub: the Video (full version)

Here's the full length Hub video:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Hub: the Video

At the University of Kentucky, we just launched a video about our information commons, the Hub. As part of a group focused on student and faculty support, the video was a collaboration between the library and the teaching and academic support center. The video takes a humorous look at what the Hub has to offer students. We worked with student actors over the summer (I paid them in vending machine snacks--also made great props). It was so much fun to film!

We're planning to show the video on UKTV as well as in the Hub and on the web. We ended up with two versions:

30 second version (which you'll see below)

Full 3 minute version

I'm so pleased with the final result. Thank you so much, Kirk and Patsy!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hubbub 2008 Recap: Our Biggest Party Yet

Despite a torrential downpour about an hour before the event as well a few competing events (fraternity open houses and a Grease sing-along--pretty tough competition!), Hubbub 2008 shattered our attendance record by nearly double. We took a very conservative estimate on the door counters and door prize drawing slips and still came up with over 750 students visiting the Hub in a two-hour period. (I love the stuff they do at Georgia Tech, but sorry Brian--I think the Hubbub was the biggest library party in the nation.)

What Rocked

Advertising/Promotion. Clearly we couldn't have been more pleased to see such a large, enthusiastic crowd. We owe a large part of that to the terrific staff at UK's New Student and Parent Programs office for highlighting the Hubbub on a large poster of key K Week activities. We were also designated a rally point for the night--basically a recommended place to go to meet people. I said it last year, and I'll say it again--to have a successful event, it is essential to work with staff who coordinate new student events on campus.

Advertising an event geared at new students is challenging--most do not arrive on campus until the Friday before our Monday event. If you try to catch new students at summer advising conferences, they won't care (understandably so) as they are thinking about financial aid and housing and all the big stuff--who cares about some library party. So basically we have to wait until a few days before the event to really push the advertising which we do through being an official K Week activity, but also through Facebook and lots of paper flyers and posters on campus.

Another success in advertising this year was participating in the Resident Advisor Resource Fair again. What particularly delighted me this year was that repeatedly RAs would tell me that they remembered the Hubbub from last year or that they loved the Hub in general, and you bet they would be sure to tell all their advisees what a must-attend party this was. Clearly those RAs must have gotten the message across! If you have a similar event on your campus, be sure to get involved with it. What better advertising than to come from peers (plus this saves you the trouble of going to every hall to tack up flyers--many of the RAs will gladly do that for you).

Photo Booth. The photo booth was a killer activity, and something we definitely plan to do again in the future (thank you Beth, Crystal, and Shawn!). Who knew how much fun students (and um, staff and administrators) would have mugging at the camera dressed in silly hats. We of course got releases on these photos, so we plan to use them for various promotional materials in the coming year. The setup wasn't incredibly difficult--a green screen, lights, tripod/good camera, and a Photoshop expert with her laptop nearby. Staff lent us hats, books, and other props which students could choose for their picture. Once Beth Photoshopped the image a bit, we displayed them in a slideshow on two of the Hub's video window projectors for all to enjoy during the event. It was really a lot of fun--we have the pictures to prove it!

Runaway Surprise Hits. Last year's event should have prepared me for the unexpected surprises in dealing with first year students. Who knew they'd love the Amazing Palm Reading Librarian so much? This year in an attempt to expand our offerings (and give Jo a bit of a hand with the long lines!) we added two Tarot readers. Even then, we still had three pretty long, definitely non-stop lines.

By the same token, things that seem easy or even borderline hokey end can end up being hugely popular. We simply put out some board games--my thought was "play the real deal now that Scrabulous is gone"--and they were a hit. We thought balloon animals would be kind of fun, but who knew we'd have a neverending line for two hours. It helped I'm sure that we had an outstanding balloon artist (thanks, Peggy P!).

Now I'm really wishing I'd put more effort into getting pony rides.

One of the best things about putting on a major event like this (aside from the fuzzy feeling of seeing students so happy in the library, and even better when they keep coming back to the library for the important stuff) is working with a great bunch of people to make it happen. I couldn't have done this without our staff volunteers and our planning crew (Alice, Krista, Peggy P, Peggy A, Gail, Debbie). We had so much fun working together, and it was terrific to see the event come together with relatively few problems. Thanks you all!

What Didn't Work So Well

Along with record-breaking crowds come some problems, however. We never expected so many students there, so even though we'd increased the number of pizzas and added 600 cupcakes to our food offerings (this year's Hubbub was birthday-themed to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the William T. Young Library), we ran out of food in 30 minutes as opposed to my planned one hour. Even worse was the fact that we ran out of drinks and had to make a quick run to the store (thanks, Debbie!). Now that we've scaled up the party to a new level, I'm preparing for next year by planning on several things:
  • Increasing the pizza and drink order by 50%
  • Serving one or two slices per plate (Hate to be that way but we saw one too many eight-slice heaps at the party)
  • Creating a separate drink station with drinks labeled in rows and pre-poured

In addition to food issues, we had some issues with lines and basic crowd control. We've been very careful these last two years to move the furniture to maximize walkways and place the activities so that lines will wrap fairly neatly. We also staff at least 1-2 people per zone to help keep things moving. Still, with several hundred students in the space at one time, it was next to impossible to keep a handle on the lines and make sure things moved smoothly. The students didn't mind, but I think we could do it better next time by:

  • Increasing the number of staff to coordinate lines. This year we'd also planned to have staff distribute snacks to those waiting in line, but we didn't do that as we ran out of food more quickly than anticipated.
  • Give more space to the most popular activities. Who knew balloon animals would be such a runaway hit? The balloon animal line unfortunately kept getting tangled up in the makeover space, which didn't get the attention it deserved due to the sprawling balloon crowd.
  • Consider reducing the number of activities. I look at the activity map for the event, and I wonder if maybe we had too much going on. Some students simply wanted to gather round a game of Monopoly on the floor, but that was challenging with so many competing interests in the same space.
  • Along the same lines, consider cutting back the video games. The most popular were Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Mario Kart for Wii, and surprisingly, Super Mario World on Wii virtual console. It was difficult to do much with the Wii because of students cutting through the space--we had issues with the sensor bar being knocked down even though we put up lots of caution tape. The virtual console idea was inspired (thanks, Jason!) and we drew quite a crowd when we started kicking it old school Mario.
We've come a long way since our first Hubbub, which was only one year ago. This year was a great experience, and we're already thinking about 2009.

Non-photobooth photos by Kopana Terry.

See the Hub Groupies for more photos.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hubbub Photo Booth Images

I'm hoping to work on a recap of the Hubbub over the weekend. Until then, enjoy some pictures from our photo booth (thanks for the video, Patsy!):

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Hubbub is Almost Here

The Hub's big K Week event is less than two weeks away! We've planned a number of fun new activities this year, including a makeover counter from Sephora. I'll be sure to do a lengthy write-up after the event.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Getting Ready for the Hubbub

On Friday, Shawn, Beth, and I did a test run of the "photo booth" planned for the Hubbub, our big student party on Monday, August 25, 6-8 pm. The photo booth is one of many activities scheduled for the evening. Our plan is for students to put on silly hats and other props if they wish (or even hold a book!) and get a picture made in our studio. Upon signing the standard university release, we'll do a bit of Photoshopping and post to flickr. Should be lots of fun! Here's my test shot from the photo booth.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Do you look like a librarian?

Whether you do or not, consider taking this survey about the perception of librarians. Ruth Kneale (of You Don't Look Like a Librarian fame) conducted research in 2002 on the perceived image of librarians and is doing the survey again to see if things have changed in the past few years. Should be interesting!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Using Facebook to Promote Your Blog

A week or so ago, I installed the Blog Networks Facebook application and set up a page for this blog. The setup is pretty simple and relies somewhat on input from others. For example, I had to get ten people to confirm that I was the owner of this blog before I could be listed as the author. After I got fifteen fans, the page started pulling my blog's RSS feed. Once I get twenty fans, I'll start seeing statistics as to where my blog is most popular, etc. It's a neat little app, I suppose--just one more way to promote your blog. I like that I can use it to explore other blogs, particularly blogs that friends or "fans" write which might be new to me.

As a second way to promote my blog on Facebook, today I set up a Facebook Page for this blog. I have no idea how useful that might be, but I thought it would be interesting to compare the Blog Networks page and the Facebook Page. I'll watch for a few weeks and write up my observations.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Potential Academic Division of SLA

For the past few years, I've talked with colleagues at SLA conference about how great it would be if the conference had programming focused on academic library/campus issues. SLA is great because of its subject-specialized programming. I know I personally have learned a great deal from sessions on science resources, competitive intelligence tools, advanced searching techniques, and so forth. Wouldn't SLA be the perfect conference if in addition to the already excellent programming, leadership, and networking opportunities, academic librarians could also get those things we need about marketing our services more effectively to faculty, creating better instruction sessions for undergraduates, navigating the promotion/tenure process, building partnerships on campus, developing a learning commons, and so on. The possibilities are endless!

After talking with a few more people at the leadership summit earlier this year, I decided to pursue the idea of launching a new division and began the process shortly before the SLA Annual Conference in Seattle. I spent much of my time in Seattle in meetings, but I did manage to pull together 62 signatures very quickly at the conference. This afternoon, with the support and assistance of the division cabinet chairs and SLA HQ, I launched an online petition to gain the needed 100 total signatures. I'm delighted that within less than two hours, 24 more members have signed the petition. Even more exciting, 16 of the 24 indicated an interest in serving in an officer or committee capacity.

If you are willing to pay $18 to join an Academic Division of SLA and you are a current SLA member, you can sign the petition. I know there are some SLA members who are concerned about the formation of such a division, and I also know there are many who support it. I've already received multiple letters of support this afternoon. The Academic Division will bring more value to SLA membership, and it will be an excellent second (or third or fourth...) division for many of us. This is a great opportunity to build a new division, one that many of us feel SLA members need. Contact me if you are interested in getting involved.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Projects: Hubbub, New Tutorial, etc.

As with last summer, I've been too busy to post much to the blog. I've picked up a few readers so I thought it might be nice to summarize a few of the big summer projects I'm currently working on. As time permits, I'll write up much longer posts on each of these projects--the usual what worked, what didn't, what I'd do differently next time. Whoever said summer was quiet on a university campus?

The Hubbub/10th Birthday of Young Library
Last year we launched our Information Commons (the Hub) to students with a big party (The Hubbub) during freshmen orientation week (K Week). Our second annual Hubbub (Monday, August 25, 6-8 pm) conveniently coincides with the 10th anniversary of the William T Young Library, so what better idea than to make this year's Hubbub birthday-party themed? Some of the fun stuff on tap:

Video games. This year I've been more focused on my backup plan more than on anything--some of you may recall that our video game provider failed to show up for last year's party. Thankfully free pizza kept the crowd calm.

The Palm Reading Librarian. This was a wildly popular activity last year which we definitely plan to bring back for the Hubbub, Part Two.

Zumba dancing. We've got to keep it fresh, so we're trying a Zumba demo/instruction/dance class rather than bellydancing this year. Some of you may know that I'm a Zumba freak so it seemed appropriate.

Photo booth. We considered this last year but just ran out of time to get it together. Basically we're planning a blue screen setup where students can get their pictures made with various silly props and then we'll Photoshop 'em like crazy. Upon signing a release, we'll post to a photo gallery online.

Pimp my Avatar. We did this last year and I expect we'll have an even bigger audience now that UK has its own island. Two UK library staff are also Second Life fashionistas who will help students with the hottest new avatar looks.

Cariacature artist. An art student is going to draw cariacatures for us (one of many birthday party-inspired ideas).

Balloon artist. Who wouldn't want to take a cute little Kentucky wildcat back to the dorm? Everyone loves balloon animals!

Board games, cornhole, ladder golf. These are all easy things to throw together pretty quickly thanks to staff lending us games, and I plan to have them spread around the area. I have a feeling that Scrabulous mania might translate over to the real deal.

Whiteboard art. When you prepare your information commmons for at least 500 students, the furniture has to go somewhere. Even if you use a bunch of the whiteboards for signs, what do you do with the rest? Have a silly whiteboard art contest, of course!

Makeover counter. I really wanted to do this last time, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the opening of a new cosmetics store in the mall will give us the opportunity to do this. So far, they are interested but not yet committed. Can you imagine how exciting a free makeover would be to the average 18 year old (or any woman, really--I've already had staff asking me if they could partake!). Wish me luck on this one.

Free pizza, cupcakes, snacks, and prize drawings. This is a lot of work to coordinate, let me tell you, especially trying to get prizes for the drawings (thank you, Krista!).

With that many activities, you can imagine all the planning going into it. I haven't even mentioned staffing or publicity yet. I'll save that for a series of lengthy posts after the event.

New Library Tutorial
You might recall last year that we redesigned our library orienation PowerPoint to a video, "Saving Student Brian," filmed partly in Second Life (more about this project). This year we decided to tackle our library tutorial and do something different.

Basically we're taking a series of PowerPoints and video clips and editing them in Camtasia to create a series of videos. How's it going? Ask me again in a week.

New Video Content for Welcoming/Orienting Students
The Hub's video windows are a perfect venue for orienation information, at least for the first few weeks of class before our art exhibits begin. Where are the vending machines? How do I put money on my account for printing? What the heck is a core? It's also a good opportunity to remind students what exactly librarians and IT staff can help with, since we still get that "help with what?" question at our library/IT desk in the Hub. Several of us will be working on this and I hope we'll have the new displays up a week before classes begin.

Speaking Engagements
I was a little crazy busy this spring with a state conference, AISTI, LOEX, and SLA within just a few weeks of each other. That will pick up to a lesser extent this fall as I already have a few things lined up or in the works on various topics: cloud computing, information commons, technology planning, and Second Life.

So that's a little bit of my summer so far and a preview of what's to come. I expect the next few weeks are going to be far from leisurely. Hope everyone out there is having a good summer!