Sunday, January 25, 2009

Favorite Commons Photos

Studying in the Hub
Originally uploaded by thehubatwts
This may be my favorite image of the Hub as it captures so many elements of the space: a group of students working comfortably and casually in an area they configured, our signature help desks/sign, the hub-like architecture of our space, and you can even see a video window exhibit peeking around one of the walls. It's hard to effectively represent such a large, vibrant space, but this comes close. Nice job, Alice!

What is your favorite image of your commons space?

More Blog Tinkering

On a cold and dreary Sunday morning, I have once again felt the urge to tinker with this blog's layout. This time I have added and rearranged some sidebar items. I added some links to make subscribing easier, including subscribing to the comments feed. I also added the option to subscribe via email. While this option does not appeal to me personally, I thought it might be useful for those of you who aren't into RSS yet (you're welcome, James).

In addition, I've listed other blogs where I contribute occasionally, including the recently launched Translational Technologies. I expect that list of blogs will grow, as the new Academic Division of SLA will be blogging soon, among other exciting things (contact me if you want to learn more about what's happening with SLA Academic).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wall-Mounted Displays in the Commons

Many commons environments have TVs or flat panel displays mounted on the walls to provide information and entertainment. The Hub is no exception, as we have two--one in our "Grub at the Hub" vending area and the other at our entrance.

The "Grub at the Hub" display typically shows CNN, though we change it for special events as appropriate.

The entrance display typically shows a PowerPoint presentation directing visitors to different areas of the space as well as providing hours and basic information about what we can do to help you. Pictured is one of my more eye-catching attempts at relaying this information, a video of a Second Life avatar directing users around the space. I used pictures as backgrounds in Second Life, so it appears like the avatar is walking around the Hub. Pretty neat, huh. This video and our PowerPoint shows look nice and seem to be somewhat effective, but I can tell you that it is extremely time-consuming to keep the information updated, even if you have created a very simple show. One of my "if we had it to do over again" thoughts: we probably could have skipped the displays.

I do have to say the displays came in extremely handy today, as we had a huge crowd in the Hub to watch the Inauguration. What a moment!

2009 Horizon Report Now Available

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 Horizon Report is now available online. I immediately hit File -> Print and am looking forward to reading and discussing this year's findings.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Projected Floor Signs

Projected floor sign
Originally uploaded by thehubatwts
I've had a number of inquiries about our floor sign, so I thought it might be time to write about it. When we first opened the Hub, we made some significant changes to the AV lab area (added Macs, set up the Windows machines to require a logon, etc.). To help ease patrons through the transition, we posted a number of useful facts on a whiteboard just inside the lab: here's how to get a Mac account, here's where you can use a computer if you don't have an account to access the Windows machines, go straight ahead to this desk to check out a laptop, and so forth. It was a lot of clutter, and the whiteboard got erased a few times. We'd considered making a permanent sign, but the information changed too often.

James, one of our AV technicians, had this terrific idea to take an old projector and laptop which were both bound for surplus and turn them into a creative, flexible signage system. The only cost was a wireless card for the projector. Another cost would be a permanent mounting system, but we've found that an old wire-framed desk inbox works pretty well to hold the projector against the wall. Surprisingly it doesn't look that bad, either--I'll have to add a picture to our flickr account.

Once we got the laptop talking to the projector via wireless, all we had to do was create a PowerPoint which incorporated all the information we needed to share about the Mac lab, Windows lab, and AV desk. While I am not usually a fan of animated PowerPoint shows, we incorporated some animation in the sign to make it more eye-catching. I've experimented with several kinds of files, even showing a video of a Second Life avatar in the lab pointing at different features with a dialogue bubble providing the information, but I found that was too hard to read on the carpet. It was probably overkill, too, since people just need the basic information, but it did look really cool. I've found that the best sign is a black PowerPoint with white letters and animated arrows.

So go check out your surplus area and see if you have 6-7 year old laptop in need of a purpose. You'd be surprised how easy it is to put together such a flexible, attractive signage system.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Library iPhone Application

This is seriously cool! The DCPL has just launched an iPhone application for their library catalog. Users can search for items, view book covers and summaries, as well as place holds. Users also have quick access to DC library locations, hours, and contact information. More information can be found on the Walking Paper blog.

If anyone knows about a Voyager iPhone app in development, I would love to hear about it. Please comment if you are aware of other library-related applications that may be out there already or that are in development. This is a great direction for libraries, and I look forward to seeing more applications like this in the future.

UPDATE from Chris Tonjes, DCPL CIO: The app can be easily modified to work with any ils. We will release the code (in accordance with Apple's policies) after version 1.1 is released.

Great news! I can't wait to check it out.

New Blog on IT in Higher Education

Since I moved from an IT support position into the commons, I have continued to remain engaged with IT issues in higher education. I post about some of those issues here, particularly as they pertain to the commons, and I will continue to do so.

Recently I have been working with a colleague on a couple of presentations and an article focused on the drastic changes ahead for IT on campus. As this is such a significant and important discussion, we decided to launch a blog related to these issues. From funding to consumer technologies to cloud computing to changing student needs and attitudes, we know that the IT organization will evolve into something different. We are already seeing it with partnerships such as the information commons and the merging of library and IT support into one integrated service to better meet student needs. We see these changes and many more ahead and plan to share our observations as well as important reading. If higher education IT is of interest to you, consider subscribing to our blog, Translational Technologies.

Friday, January 09, 2009

More on the Library/IT Relationship

As a followup to the Tech Therapy podcast on libraries and IT, the Chronicle's Wired Campus blog published this letter to the editor about the library/IT relationship. The authors, the Dean of Libraries and the CIO of Indiana University, describe the essential nature of our partnerships:
As traditional boundaries of the two groups blur and we act jointly to address common needs of our communities, we must also strengthen our relationships with each other and our institutions. The result will be revealed in bigger and greater actions to the benefit of not only the users on our own campuses, but also the academic and scholarly communities worldwide.
It's interesting to note that for the first time, this year ARL has a metric for collaboration. So in addition to measuring collections and budgets and other typical things in our statistics, we are now looking at collaborative relationships as well. How wonderful (and how necessary) that we are recognizing the importance of partnerships in building successful campus services.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Desk and Beyond

Previously I mentioned The Desk and Beyond: Next Generation Reference Services. Here is your opportunity to listen to the editors and three of the contributors discuss the book and the future of reference services in general in this 30 minute podcast from ACRL.

SLA Academic Division is Official

I'm so pleased that the official announcement of the new Academic Division of SLA went out this week. What better time to launch a new division of an association than in the first week of its centennial year. I'm excited about leading this new division and will be working with a great team to get us off the ground. We still need more volunteers, so contact me if you are interested.

You might wonder why a "special" association needs an "academic" division. There are many reasons; one is that this will give all academic librarian members, regardless of subject discipline or specialty, an opportunity for networking and programming that is of a broader nature. We'll provide a forum for discussing topics such as building faculty relationships, supporting student retention goals, developing information literacy programs, re-evaluating the reference desk model, navigating the promotion/tenure path, and more.

While I belong to ALA and have attended a number of those conferences, I see my professional home as SLA. I started out in a non-traditional IT role and found SLA to be a good fit. In SLA, I continue find the very subject-specific programming valuable and the incredible networking and leadership opportunities essential. From my chapter to my primary division to the entire association, I find being involved in SLA rewarding and feel it has greatly benefitted my career. Academic librarians out there, I encourage you to take a second look at SLA. Even though you may not consider yourself or your environment to be "special," I bet SLA still has something to offer you.

If Facebook were a country...

On the Facebook blog today, Mark Zuckerberg writes:
If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.
Facebook now has over 150 million users from every continent, including Antarctica. Almost half of those 150 million users log on every day. Wow. It seemed like more and more people I know have started Facebooking (and yes, I'm one of those who takes pride in having a profile long before it was popular, back in the days of academics only). Still, it's incredible to think of Facebook in terms of being larger than most countries. Read more on the Facebook blog.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Appear Smarter to Your Patrons

I've enjoyed reading about the neat things Brian has been doing with ARL statistics and LibQUAL+ data. Recently he took the LibQUAL+ data and correlated student perceptions of customer service between "knowledgeable" and "caring/courteous." Basically, does being friendly in your patron interactions make you appear more knowledgeable to a student than if you are old grump? Yes, this does appear to be the case. So maybe we should add to our resolutions this year: genuinely care about student needs, spend the time to understand what it is they need, be more considerate of students in general (but hopefully we were doing these things already).

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2009. Like many of you, I'm excited at the start of the new year, plotting and planning things yet to come.

I'm expecting we'll have an even bigger and better year in the Hub as we approach our second birthday. The library staff position in the Hub will be filled next week on a temporary basis. In addition to solving desk coverage problems, this will allow us to get back on track with some of our special projects like the video windows, new videos and orientation materials, other new projects in the works, as well as begin planning Hubbub 2009.

On a personal level, I'm pretty excited about 2009. I already have several speaking engagements planned. I have an exciting year ahead in SLA with the Centennial Celebration as well as the launch of the new Academic Division (more on that later). And finally, I've decided to go back to school to work on a doctoral degree in higher education. It will be slow going, but it will give me the opportunity to build on some areas of interest as well as open up a number of new possibilities.

Here's to 2009!