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.