Afternoon Panel

The afternoon started with the speakers for the afternoon breakout sessions giving brief overviews/introductions of their presentations in Krutch auditorium. The theme of the afternoon panel was “Innovative Services & Tools.”

Mary Linn Bergstrom & Susan Shepherd spoke on “Undergraduates in a Science & Engineering Library.”

7 core traits of “millennials” (those born between 1980 and 1995):
achieving, specialness, confidence, team-oriented, conventional, sheltered, pressured

Millennial spaces in the library — should be comfortable, relaxed; celebrate technology; invite users to communicate

These qualities are reflected in the physical spaces at the UCSD S&E library; features there include:

  • fully technologcially enabled
  • wireless with wired tables
  • 743 seats & large proportion are wired
  • students come with own equipment
  • relaxed food & drink policy
  • first-come, first-served study room
  • furniture moved around all the time

Social activities @ USCD S&E:

  • toys, checkers, chess, puzzles, Jenga
  • Great Campus Race (ala Amazing Race) developed by engineering librarian
  • Pictures with Albert Einstein cutout on his birthday

Examples of science-focused activities:

  • display student work
  • junkyard derby
  • Steelbridge competition (reconstructed in library)
  • peer to peer learning
  • exhibits of women faculty
  • lectures on cutting edge technology
  • chameleon jumpsuit (from “Legacy of Time” game) designed by UCSD alum displayed in lobby


Next up: Char Booth talking about “Informing Innovation with Local User Research”

Char’s report — Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies — is available at:
her blog:

Char emphasized the importance of using “locally informed, culturally contextual research” about users to inform choices about technology and services.

We as librarians have an “us vs them” mentality with users; and we tend to inform ourselves about users’ perceptions by reading national and international reports. e.g., this one (cover superimposed with image of evil child). This is wrong.

“Library 2.0” is a forced attempt to bring us and them together, and it’s created a one-size-fits-all approach to technology environments.

We have to ask, “what motivates users to integrate libraries into their personal learning environment?” Surveying users locally can give you this information. Char’s survey (see links above) is a starting point for this, but it’s important to customize/modify the survey to your own institution.

Choose technology that gets you somewhere — technology with demonstrated value. “Technolust” is a poor way to use resources; through research you can decide what you want to understand about your local user community. Understanding local patron cultures is what makes your library valuable — an environmental scan is a scalable means of investigating needs and perceptions.


Finally, Jeff Rosen and Thoreau previewed their presentation, “Gaining a Foothold in Theirspace.”

The major expansion and renovation of the Leonard library at SFSU has been a catalyst to see how things can be done differently. The “library annex” being used while construction is underway is a “tent” with concrete floor 60 foot ceilings. It’s been popular with the students.

Emphasis on small changes with big impacts — not trying to invent next cool tool; strategically making changes to put services in line with what students want.

Services: — library is now on its 3rd iteration of virtual reference. Trying to stay open 24 hours — a lot of students want to study in middle of the night  — peak hours now are 11-midnight. Laptop checkout, more ebooks, more full-text databases.

When looking at implementation of tech issues, asking “how we can build better collaboration between geeks and book freaks?”


Everyone Else, Please Stop Chanting…

I will graduate from library school in May, and have had a wonderful experience at San Jose State’s School of Library and Information Science. Over the course of my studies I’ve read many journal articles, attended a few conferences, and participated in several organizations. Here’s my request and advice; those who don’t agree can simply observe that I am not yet actually a librarian.

Please. Take your cue from the leaders who spoke at the October conference of the Librarians Association of the University of California. No more hyper-focusing on “Web 2.0” and “Library 2.0.” No more chanting, “Podcasts and Wikis and Blogs, Oh My!” No more identifying each new technology, and then constructing a discreet library-branded example in response. It’s no longer impressive to say, “Our library now has a wiki. And, we also have a blog.”

The LAUC  conference had an organic focus that can better serve education, and libraries, and users. Everything began with the students — the users.  Everything started by studying what the users did; what they preferred; how they learn, and think, and play. And not one of the speakers suggested that a library “set up a blog” in order to reach these users.


What in the World is “Digital Media?”

Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out dealt, in part, with the devices, technologies, and worldviews  experienced by the “digital generation.” Although my teenagers live under the same roof, their world is different from mine. I’ve long suspected…

What is meant by the term “digital media?” Why, it’s just all the new stuff that young people clamor for at gift-giving occasions. It explains why they weren’t really very interested when you invested in that beautiful, historically-accurate American Girl doll for their sixth birthday.

Today’s youth interact with digital media as they play, socialize, and study. Digital-plus-media includes  and involves

  • devices like cell phones, iPhones, Blackberries, PDAs, MP3 Players, iPods, the Xbox, and digital cameras:
  • computer software such as Photoshop, and Machinima;
  • platforms such as Facebook;
  • applications that enable texting and chatting;
  • digital audio, digital radio, Pandora, and podcasts;
  • procurement — legal and questionable — via Internet vendors, iTunes, and downloading;
  • digital video and television,  webcasts ,,, video-on-demand, Vimeo, and Comcast Season Passes;
  • digital photography, YouTube, Photoshop, and Flickr;
  • video games, anime, and massively multiplayer online roleplaying games like World of Warcraft.

Undoubtedly, I think of many more after publishing this post, but that’s a start.

Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: notes

Hanging Out, Messing Around & Geeking Out: Genres of Participation in the New Media Ecology: Heather Horst, UC Humanities Research Institute, UC-Irvine


Major trends in new media for kids & young people:

–          Increasing accessibility of tools for digital production. Part of everyday life and taken for granted.

–          Distribute new media through networks: other people review and comment on their work

Kids often have 2 primary motivations for using digital media

  1. Friendship-driven participation (facebook, MySpace, IM, texts)
  2. Interest-driven participation (“hobbies” are important in deep, engaged learning)

Genres of Participation:  Kids move through these genres all the time.

  1. Hanging Out: a space that we know, really.   Social space.  Chat, etc.
  2. Messing Around: looking around for information. Experimentation and play (not necessarily serious). Learning about resources and different media ecologies.  Using new media for a specific purpose.  Trial and error; non-consequential use of new media.  *Know that the library has a space where you can access/create new media.
  3. Geeking Out: deep-dive into specialized interest or topic.  Development of expertise and credibility in a specific domain.  Use new media in the pursuit of specialized knowledge. Alternative models of status and credibility.  Bend or break social/technological rules in pursuit of interests.  Get feedback and recognition for work.

What can we do to create spaces that support the diverse modes of participation and the learning that happens within them?

YouMedia space in Chicago PL:

Notes on Joan Lippincott’s keynote

Nothing originally mine– these are just my notes from Joan Lippincott’s great presentation.

Joan K. Lippincott – Keynote Address   “Reorienting Libraries for Today’s Students”

There are many ways that students use library spaces: group study, quiet study, taking a break with video games or on a couch.  One student will have different needs at different times of day depending on coursework or social interaction.

What if we call students “learners” or “knowledge seekers” instead of “library users”?  There are students that are not currently library users.  We want to encourage all students to take advantage of the library services even if they haven’t been in the habit.  Informal learning space where active, engaged learning is taking place.

What if we focused on developing physical and virtual learning environments?  We know how to provide libraries; we mostly provide good library spaces for the books and traditional usage.  What we don’t necessarily have covered yet are “learning environments.”

Some faculty are re-orienting their thinking around teaching: from “teaching” to “learning.”  In a UMN Biology intro course, Professor Robin Wright assigns her lectures as homework.  Instead of sitting at a lecture, students watch them at home and come into a classroom with round tables, appropriate technologies, and they do “problem-based learning”—an entire reorientation of the common wisdom.

Problem-based learning for freshmen engineering students (Wendy Newstetter, Georgia Tech). Professor does not “cover content;” instead, students learn the practice of the discipline.

Traditional libraries are set up for knowledge seekers—now we need to reconfigure to accommodate knowledge creators too.  Provide environment for doing *and displaying* creative work as well.  Most students (even some Ph.D.s) will be outside academe in jobs where they will produce some kind of digital content every day.

Inviting learners to connect.  Inviting students to partner on information literacy materials.  Collaborate with students on library guides.  New type of engagement in curriculum: co-creators.  Students as open access advocates and partners.  Working with grad students as TAs for info literacy classes.

Revitalizing our facilities.  How to provide new collaborative learning spaces?  Practice presentation rooms, multimedia production areas, etc.  Can we promote a sense of the library as a cultural center?

Closing Keynote — Sarah Houghton-Jan

One of the main themes in this presentation was one I heard a lot throughout the conference — Experiment and Evaluate.

Sarah started by saying that public libraries have been working on a shoestring for a long time; with the budget crisis, many more libraries need to learn how to provide services with free or low-cost tools.

Library users today (Venn diagram)
– brick & mortar users (shrinking)
– dig lib users (growing)
– power users intersect both (growing)

Digital library usage is still very low per capita …Various reasons for low usage — in San Jose bandwidth problems present a barrier; people don’t want to wait for downloads.

Necessary library services (and how it’s done online):
*book and media
– ebooks : libraries should promote free ebook sites
– emusic, emovies, egaming, instructional videos — free and CC licensed
– digital special collections. scanner + wordpress = special collection

Concerns: DRM, formats, platforms, devices, ADA-compliance (many vendors – including OCLC – are not ADA-compliant. If it’s a concern for your community, you should test.)

*periodicals (free article sites & other resources work for undergraduate research) and ejournals (open access).
Concerns: DRM, formats, open access, sustainability of subscription model

*databases (free databases)
also: free language learning sites, free practice test sites etc.

*reference and research
Instant Messaging (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, GoogleTalk), web chat and widgets (meebo, plugoo), VOIP (Skype, AOL, video chats and  Twitter), free
text messaging (be careful not to get blocked by wireless carrier)
Concerns: staffing models, co-ops

*information literacy
screencasts: Wink, CamStudio
podcasts: Audacity, OurMedia
video class recordings: avidemux, YouTube,
class websites: WordPressBlogger
live office hours: freeconferencecall (good regardless of equipment & bandwidth)
Concerns: use– will users even touch this?, learning models

free and low cost hardware on free after rebate

*special events
podcasts: Audacity, Ourmedia
vidcasts: Avidemux, YouTube or
live webcasts:
event websites for comments and questions before and after — WordPress, Blogger, Google sites
Concerns: use, access

everyzing ($ based on hours/words you’re transcribing) audio & video to text
textaloud ($) text to audio eg class notes to podcast

*Marketing tools
social networks (FaceBook flyer — $10 = 5k FaceBook flyers to targeted audience )
event sites
concerns: going where your users go, where to distribute staff time

1) interacting
welcome comments on everything
respond quickly
respond like a human being
tools: google groups, google wave, WordPress PBworks

2) use cheap services
have a contingency plan — be able to re-purpose equipment

3) free web hosting, statistics and web gadgets

tinypics, Google apps, WordPress, statcounter, bravenet, google analytics, gimp, yousendit, survey monkey, openphoto, programmable web, zoomerang
(there were a lot more — see slides)

4) use LibraryThing

5) Project planning is very important but we often don’t give enough attention to planning and following up.

tools: MS project, Excel table
What we most often fail to do is evaluate projects after they’re done. e.g. blogging — analyze usage
It’s better to move on than continue to spend money supporting a service that no one is using

6) Getting staff buy-in:
– Let staff know about the project early
– Ask staff for their input and use it
– Keep everyone informed at all stages
– Managers must consistently support the new project or service

7) Evaluate!
– survey users and staff 6 months after the launch. Simply ask: would you recommend this service to a friend? Why or why not?

Evaluate statistics
– how much time is being used?
– how much is the service being accessed?

Evaluate the library’s follow through
– has adequate marketing and training been done?

Different type of statistics for different type  of projects
– assess the usage you’re getting against how much money you’re putting into it
– analyze monthly usage

Evaluate results and then take the next step…

– continue service
– discontinue service
– extend pilot
– change aspect of the service
– do more promotion or training

“Failing to discontinue an unsuccessful service is failing”

8 ) Push for change
– Try new things
– Push administrators (they like 24/7 nature of web services, minmal staffing and cheap costs, highest ROI in library)

Rejoice in failures (it means you’re pushing boundaries)!

Regardless of what kind of library we work in, we democratize  information and expertise — and we should applaud ourselves for this.

contact info:

Sarah Houghton-Jan
im: LibrarianInBlack
skype: LibrarianInBlack

A lesson learned at the LAUC-B October Conference

 I.  Lots to take in…

                I am still taking time to digest it all.  Going to the conference allowed me to become more aware–if I wasn’t already–about the attitudes, preferences and behaviors of current college students in the UC system. 

 II.  Interesting speakers, great findings…

                The afternoon panel discussions by Mary Linn Bergstrom and Susan Shepherd’s Undergraduate in a Science and Engineering Library; Char Booth’s Informing Innovation with Local User Research and Jeff Rosen and Thoreau Lovell’s Gaining a Foothold in Theirspace were excellent primers for what all the stuff I was going to miss.  For me, choosing one breakout session over the other was difficult because each of the presenter’s work had something juicy. 

For instance:

  • Rosen and Lovell’s philosophy of “small changes, big impacts” felt like such a sound practice.
  • Booth’s main message of utilizing user research and applying it to your own [college library] environment. And,
  • Bergstrom and Shepherd’s seemingly nuturing practices of a relaxed food and drink policy with smatterings of great candy and brainy-like Jenga games all seem to fit into a best practices model for catering to college students.  In essence, all of the presenters had solutions that were working

III.  Lesson learned:  I need time away from all this and I’m not like the generation ahead of me…

                In between drafting a blog about this and editing the pictures in my previous post, I really got the sense that people in younger generations are changing and adapting to different technologies.  It’s the thing we must continue to learn from them.  However, much can be learned from us.  At least, I come from this school of silent spaces.  You know spaces in libraries that are untouched by technology?  No wires, no whirring of hard drives and no streaming media dancing off screens.  I’m relieved that college libraries still have the “shuuuush” zones.  Although, maybe the practice isn’t shushing as it were in my undergrad days.

                Ironically, I read in the New York Times Magazine and interesting article on “self-binding” <> in which Peggy Orenstein practices the non-use of Internet in order to find freedom (also a Mac program) from the hustle and bustle of banner ads, Google searches and unexpected trips to sordid videos on YouTube.  Refreshingly, she interviews Fred Stutzman–a grad student in information and library science–who “writ[es] at a café without Internet access,” but sadly fails when the café adopts wireless access.   Orenstein argues that the whole pursuit of information seeking online is akin to falling prey to a Siren’s song.

                For me?  My library and information science program increasingly demands that I hunt for relevant sources to do my projects and papers.  However, deliverables I produce are somtimes hinged on Internet searches by using a variety of search tools from Bing to Resfseek.  I even cull the restricted materials online at the King Library as much as I can.  Mostly, I use the library–the (quiet) books part of it–because lots of time can be sucked up from lack of online self-discipline.  So, instead of using a smart program like Mac’s Freedom, I have a more analog solution:  I use an egg timer (setting it to a targeted amount of time to find something online).  Once the alarm goes off, I jump on my yoga mat and do downward facing dog–holding the pose for several breaths until I get my sanity back.  Too bad you can’t check out a zazen pillow or a yoga mat at a library for a little piece of self-reflection before studies, right?

                I’ll close for now–my alarm just went off and it’s back on the mat for me.