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!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Birthday, Uncommon Commons!

So it's hard to believe I launched this blog one year ago. So much has happened in the past year, and it has gone by so quickly. I am glad I started this blog--for a few years prior, I was a regular contributor on some SLA blogs, but it's not the same as having your own space to share ideas.

Thinking of starting your own blog? What better time than now.

What's with the cake, you might ask. I bake and decorate a cake for my sister's birthday every year, some quite elaborate. This one was a simple one: Yoshi from Mario Kart.

Thanks for reading for the past year. I've got many more posts planned, such as an update on our next Hubbub party, an account of how we are creating a new online tutorial, and much more.