Thursday, April 30, 2009

BIG Commons Event

For any commons afficionados in the Carrollton, GA area (about 60 miles west of Atlanta) on Friday, May 29, you won't want to miss The Learning Commons: New Frontiers in Instruction, an event from the Atlanta-area BIG (Bibliographic Instruction Group). This event includes a keynote from Dr. D. Russell Bailey as well as some concurrent sessions. It's interesting to note that one session focuses on a commons in a school media center. More school media specialists must be interested in the commons concept as I've gotten several questions lately about examples of a commons in a school library. Anyway, check out this event!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't Creep--It's Taken!

While the Hub cubbies are popular at all hours, they are especially in demand during Dead Week. Apparently this student had grown weary of others repeatedly peering around the whiteboard to see if the space was available.

With the opening of the Hub in March 2007, we added rolling chairs, a desktop computer, and a whiteboard to each of the study carrels in the basement of the Young Library. The addition of these few items made all the difference--from run-of-the-mill study carrel to much-sought-after Hub cubby!

Monday, April 27, 2009

If you can type, you can make movies

When our writers behind Saving Student Brian first described their vision for the video, they imagined software that would easily animate cartoon-like characters. We'd be able to manipulate the characters within an environment and maybe just add a voice track over the top.

Imagine my delight today when I saw a library promotional video produced using xtranormal. While the computer-generated audio track is a little creepy, the Playmobil-like characters are pretty cute. This is definitely a technology I plan on following. When I think of the hours and hours it took to create two minutes of animated video, I am really excited about the future of services like xtranormal.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

SMART Learning Commons

I am familiar with the University of Minnesota Libraries' helpful assignment calculator as well as the campus leadership role they took with launching the UThink blogging service open to all U of M's faculty, staff, and students. I have been a fan of stealing both ideas for quite some time. What I did not realize (and I feel pretty silly about this, considering I was at a conference in the Twin Cities last month) is what a strong learning commons they have developed.
Students can drop in on a SMART Learning Commons, a one-stop study/research/learning spot offering help in finding material, honing writing skills, learning to edit video, getting help with math, or whatever they need. Located in University Libraries, SMART is part of the Office of the Vice-provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Education.
Check out their website. It's clean and simple but full of useful resources for students. Among other resources, students can easily make appointments with a consultant or reserve equipment. Plus students are made aware of the popcorn and cookie breaks offered in some locations. What a nice touch.

U of M Libraries richly deserve the Excellence in Libraries Award they have just received. Congrats!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Commons Event in New York

Will you be in the Hyde Park, NY area on Thursday, May 7? If so, you should check out this one day conference, "Information Commons 2.0 – Lessons Learned and Moving Forward." Speakers include:
  • Dr. D. Russell Bailey, Library Director, Providence College, Providence, RI, keynote speaker
  • David Murray, Executive Director, Bankier Library, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ
  • Gail Wood, Director of Libraries, Memorial Library, SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY
  • Randall L. Ericson, Couper Librarian, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
These library directors will share lessons learned from the process of implementing an information commons in their respective libraries. There will be ample time for audience members to ask questions. We are in the process of inviting a select number of architect firms and space designer experts to showcase their concepts during the breaks.
I would love to see more events like these around the country. Perhaps some of us in my area (Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee) could put together something similar. While I love virtual communication and unconferencing and such, there much to be said for in-person events such as this. Neighbors, let me know if you might be interested in doing something like this in the future.

Why you should elect me to the SLA Board of Directors

I am delighted to be running for the SLA Board of Directors position of Division Cabinet Chair-Elect. While I am also an ALA member like most of my commons colleagues, I have considered SLA my professional home since getting involved in 2001. Getting involved is one way of putting it; when I attended my very first Kentucky Chapter event (I will never forget it as they served mimosas--what a classy organization, I thought) I was immediately tasked with editing the chapter Bulletin. At my first Information Technology Division meeting, I took on the responsibility of Membership and Awards Chair for one of SLA's largest divisions.

From there, I have served in numerous leadership roles, mostly division or Annual Conference-focused:
2009, Candidate for Board of Directors, Division Cabinet Chair-Elect
2009, Inducted into the Fellows of SLA
2009-10, Member, 2010 Annual Conference Advisory Council
2009, Chair, Academic Division
2009, Co-Chair, Centennial Commission Website Subcommittee
2007-09, Member, Centennial Commission and Annual Conference Advisory Council
2008, Member, Second Life Task Force
2008, Past Chair, Information Technology Division
2008, Award Recpient, Outstanding Chapter Member Award, Kentucky Chapter
2007, Chair, Information Technology Division
2007-08, Chair, Virtual Presence, Kentucky Chapter
2006, Chair-Elect, Information Technology Division
2006, Award Recipient, Professional Award, Kentucky Chapter
2005-06, Member, Technology Review Advisory Group
2004-05, Secretary, Kentucky Chapter
2004-05, Program Planner, Information Technology Division
2002-04, Chair, Membership Services and Awards, Information Technology Division
2002-04, Editor, Chapter Bulletin, Kentucky Chapter
So why should you vote for me for SLA Division Cabinet Chair-Elect?

I have participated in annual conference planning on some level since 2004. For those of you who are familiar with the legendary IT Division Dance Party, I helped IT program planner Heather Kotula with the division's first dance party back at the Nashville conference. Truly I learned from the master of conference planning as we had an excellent conference in Toronto in 2005 when I took the lead. As Chair of the IT Division, I had the opportunity to mentor several program planners over the next few years. From there I became involved in annual conference planning at the association level, serving on two conference committees back-to-back. Some of the SLA staff have joked that I could probably recite what is said at the planners meetings as I've attended them for the last five years.

I took on the task of launching a new division focused on those who work in academic libraries. For many of us, it is impossible to attend multiple conferences to get all of the information we need. SLA excels in subject-specific programming and is an outstanding organization for networking and building leadership skills. Several of us realized that we could create a division of SLA which would welcome academics from all subject specialties and focus on issues that affect us all: information literacy, working with faculty, promotion/tenure, and so forth. The process of launching this division was not without controversy and became downright unpleasant at times. Despite that, we succeeded and this year I am serving as SLA Academic's first Chair.

I am your go-to technology person. Whether I am pulled from a conference session to fix someone's malfunctioning laptop or I get a phone call to advise on a blog-or-wiki dilemma, I am frequently asked to advise on technology issues. I launched SLA's original Facebook presence back in summer 2006. At that time, it was a novelty to find a colleague on Facebook; there certainly weren't many of us there, and there certainly weren't many (any?) library organizations using Facebook. For any group I work with, I am often the blog/wiki/web/Google Docs/IM/Facebook/Second Life/you-get-the-idea expert tasked with developing and maintating a presence for the group. For those of you who have met me in person, you know that what comes with that is great enthusiasm and encouragement and a desire to help you learn how to use that particular technology tool. In fact, helping people learn how to use technology has been my job for many years.

I continue learning and building my leadership skills. In 2005 I was chosen to participate in Circles of Power, a year-long leadership program for women faculty at the University of Kentucky. This was a somewhat intimidating experience for me as I was an untenured librarian working with a bunch of tentured teaching faculty and researchers. I learned a great deal about myself that year and have moved on to take a number of leadership roles on campus. This year I was awarded the Lorie Edwards Scholarship to participate in the Frye Leadership Institute, an intensive leadership program for aspiring library and technology leaders in higher education. I will literally be returning from my two week residency experience before heading out to the SLA Annual Conference. These leadership training opportunities must be worthwhile, as just yesterday I learned that I am the recipient of the NextGen Librarian Award for Leadership.

I want to give back to this association which has given me so much. I have learned so much from my time in SLA. I have developed new skills and gained life-long friendships. I have access to an incredibly talented network of experts who are just a phone call away. From the Centennial Celebration to the alignment project, this is such an exciting time to be involved in SLA. With the alignment, SLA has the opportunity to develop our vision for the future, and I want to be a part of that. Let me work for you as we create the future of SLA.

UPDATE: Read Q&A with the candidates on SLA's Candidates Corner.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Talking about the Hubbub

I do enjoy talking about the Hubbub, our welcome party in the Hub during fall orientation week, so much so that my Facebook friends who know nothing about my job know all about the party by August each year. This year should be even bigger, as the Hubbub is now one of the major events during K Week. I'll start planning next month and will likely share some of those ideas here throughout the planning process.

Anyway, as much as I like writing about the Hubbub and talking about the Hubbub on Facebook, I really like talking about the party in person. Earlier this month I did just that, along with former colleague Alice Wasielewski, at the Kentucky Library Association Academic and Special Sections and the Kentucky Chapter of the Special Libraries Association Joint Spring Conference. To create a more party-like atmosphere in our post-lunch time slot, we distributed leis to session attendees (good idea, Alice!). Later that afternoon I heard a few people asking where they got the leis--should have attended our session!

We will be sharing our Hubbub story again at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago on July 12 at 1 pm in our poster session, "Causing a Hubbub: Hosting a Freshmen Orientation Extravaganza at the Library." I am not sure yet if I will be attending the conference, but I know Alice will be there at Table 1 ready to share lots of information and advice about throwing a party for your students.

Photo by Beth Kraemer

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Help Desk: One Call Does It All

From the creative team who brought you The Hub: The Video, I'm delighted to announce a new production advertising our campus help desk:

The video is to further promote the Help Desk (IT Customer Service Center), particularly as that group takes over support of Blackboard. IT, TASC, and the Libraries have been partnering together more frequently over the last two years. This is another example of collaboration between these groups, in this case IT and TASC, as they work more closely together on providing Blackboard support.

KY SLA is the Best!

I tend to avoid personal posts on this blog as I don't want to run off my readers interested in the commons environment. I am fairly sure this blog is one of very few focused on information commons/learning commons. So that said, if you aren't interested in SLA or me, just keep on scrolling this morning.

Last week I attended the Kentucky Library Association Academic and Special Sections and the Kentucky Chapter of the Special Libraries Association Joint Spring Conference. This is the annual meeting of both groups, held in a different Kentucky state park each year. A number of us stay in cabins, which gives us the opportunity to spend hours catching up and talking while enjoying the Kentucky springtime on a scenic patio. This is one of my favorite conferences, and no matter how busy my schedule, I try to not miss this one.

How could my favorite conference get better? Well by having a surprise party thrown in my honor, of course. I'm talking about a lights off, room full of people jumping out from behind the furniture kind of surprise party. I'm talking about a redecorated cabin with streamers, campaign signs, cake, and even a tiara and sash for the honoree. It was really amazing that what seemed like half the conference attendees pulled off such a celebration without me knowing about it.

When they demanded a speech, for once I was too overwhelmed to say anything at all.

The party was to celebrate that I am only the third Kentucky Chapter member ever to be nominated to run for SLA Board of Directors. While we enjoyed good cake and good times, my "campaign team" got down to business right away, developing strategies right there for my run for SLA Division Cabinet Chair-Elect. I very quickly realized what a serious bunch they can be sometimes, and indeed, we are in it to win it!

To all my dear friends and colleagues in Kentucky, thank you for the party and for your continued support. I hesitate to name names, as it took some wrangling to find out who any of the responsible parties were. I do know that Abby Thorne and Valerie Perry were key conspirators--Abby, I think you need an upgrade from "water wench" to "cake wench." Thank you! As soon as I saw the fine Photoshopping done for my campaign signs (sorry, most aren't suitable for sharing in this forum), I knew only Beth Kraemer could be behind it. I also have to thank my perennial cabin-mates from the infamous "Cabin of Impropriety": James Manasco, Jo Staggs-Neel, and Susan Brown. I suspect that these folks were involved in some way as well: Leoma Dunn, Jan Berry, Liz Smith, Alex Grigg, Shawn Livingston, Constance Ard, Debbie Sharp, Sue Smith, and Alice Wasielewski. If I missed anyone, you should have fessed up. Thank you all.

Photos by Jan Berry

Monday, April 06, 2009

Microsoft DreamSpark

Have you heard of Microsoft DreamSpark? Basically any high school or college student can download professional Microsoft developer, designer, and gaming software through DreamSpark at no charge. Titles currently include:
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Expression Studio 1.0
  • Microsoft Expression Studio 2 Trial Edition (includes Web, Blend, Media, and Design)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition
  • IT Academy Student Pass
The idea is to encourage student creativity and hopefully foster student interest in science, mathematics, programming, etc. Universities can learn more through the University Administrator FAQ. (Thanks for the tip, Peggy!)

The Month for Learning Spaces

In addition to this month's EDUCAUSE Review, EDUCAUSE Quarterly also focuses this issue on learning spaces. I have not done more than mark the articles I want to read, but even if you don't have time for that, at least scroll to the bottom of the current EDUCAUSE Quarterly and check out that issue's photo gallery of innovative learning spaces. I am excited that the Hub will be featured in this collection of images; due to a minor technical snafu it is not there yet but should be later today. The images show a variety of collaborative workspace arrangements as well as multiple uses of technology in learning environments.

New Learning Commons Opening This Week

The Learning Commons at the University of Houston Libraries is celebrating its opening on Wednesday, April 8. From their website:
The M.D. Anderson Library is now home to the Learning Commons, a new unit that caters to the high-end multimedia and collaborative needs of students, staff, and faculty of the University of Houston. This space not only provides a wide array of digital media creation resources, but also affords patrons an opportunity to learn about new technology, receive training on specialized research software, and collaborate on projects with one another in a space conducive to cooperative work.
A nice touch is that all of the computers in the Learning Commons and their presentation practice room may be reserved up to one week in advance. I looked around briefly but did not find any images of their commons; if you know of some, please post the link in the comments. Thanks!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Library Technology Conference

I had such a great time talking about information commons during the opening session of the Library Technology Conference at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN on March 18. The crowd had a lot of questions, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with attendees afterward about their own commons plans and experiences. Special thanks to Ron Joslin for inviting me to speak and to Jeanine Gatzke for being such an excellent guide during my stay.

If you are not familiar with this conference, take a look at the outstanding sessions they offered. The mix of presentations and hands-on sessions are ideal, and the range of topics is excellent. I heard more than once from attendees who had just returned from ACRL the week before that this conference was better. I was not able to stay for the entire conference, but for what I did attend, it was difficult to choose among such interesting sessions. I have already talked to a few of my colleagues here about looking at this conference for ideas for a future Kentucky event. Thank you, Minnesota!

Photo by Jeanine Gatzke