At Internet Librarian as a Student

otterThis week I’ve been at Internet Librarian in Monterey California.  I have been to this conference many times but this is the first time as a SJSU student.  I’ve been learning a lot these few days.  Going back to work with plans to redesign the website, becoming more social media active and telling stories to guide users.  Too bad I missed the MOOC session with former professor Michael Stephenson.  I am thinking about an email I received them SJSU for a new upcoming class with Michael on WordPress for CMS.  I just hope that it is not too hard or would demand too much of my time.

Meanwhile, I am a little over halfway done with this semester classwork.  Finding time is definitely a factor and I have missed a few discussion questions during the semester.  But all in all the classes are going well.  I am glad that I have taken the cataloging class.

Rethinking Library Space, How About a Slide? [Revised]

original
(via Home Designing),

So, I thought I would expand more one this subject as part of my Reflections post.  I saw this article on i09 about houses with slides.  How about a library with a slide?  Here’s the LEGO office building in Denmark.

ph_150413_21-940x616-600x393
(via Architizer Blog)

Michael Weidlich asked if there were any libraries with slides now.  I found a blog article about the Panorama House which has a slide/staircase combination for a home library.

boat
(via childrensministryonline.com)

Not exactly a slide but Googling around I found this neat boat for a children’s check in area.

These are some neat ideas especially for public library settings but what about an academic library.  The Information Commons idea has been in the academic library community for some time now.  I remember my work library wanting to create a common’s area for over ten years now.  What has happened?  Why don’t we have one?  Well, the biggest problem is the ability to generate interest within the university administration then to convert that interest into a plan and a funding source.  Our library got the attention of the university president.  We were given the go ahead to consult with an architect to re-envision the library space as a commons.  Together we planned to move the computer area to the entry level rather than the 3rd floor where it is now.   We planned to add study areas with smart boards and technology focused learning areas.  We planned to rethink reference, technical services, serials and basically how all library service are delivered.  We had a good plan.

Then the economy dropped out in 2008 and our plans and funding were put on hold.  Our spirits were broken as we came close to archiving a real change in the library services and everything was put on hold.  After an initial phase of disappointment, our library has been making small changes that ultimately will re-envision the library.  Our heritage/archive room was completely redesigned to be more inviting.  We incorporated opening the heritage room as a new entry into the library as per the original redesign plans.  Our library’s 4th floor is being remolded now with plans to be reopened by the summer.  It will have a fresh look and powered study tables (the 4th floor is designated as a quite study area so no radical changes in the workspace).

k-bigpic
(via lifehacker.com)

Finally, my thoughts drift to MakerSpaces.  I wish there were MakerSpaces at my public library when I was growing up.  That would have been awesome.  But again, I see MakerSpaces being more for public libraries than for academic.  Throw in a school of medical students and there is even less room for technical spaces.  There are already medical simulators on campus and not a need for the library to house their own (plus they are expensive).  The closest thing that I think we can do is to make available to the students for checkout the latest gadgets.  For example, the library can stock the five best eBook readers either for checkout or to create a permanent kiosk to display the eReaders and let patrons touch and feel the technology.  Drexel University has an automatic laptop checkout machine available 24/7 for students that need a laptop at anytime.

20130114_inq_rrxdrexel14z-a1
(via the-digital-reader.com)

Tumbled into Tumblr

jernejk - flickrIn a previous blog post, I was debating if I should join Tumblr and in a broader sense, whether it was good or bad to sign up for every social network that’s out there (well maybe not every one).  Thoughts of wasting my time and security fill my doubts about the usefulness of spreading oneself too thin in the social soup.

Then Henry Mensch commented that it might be advisable to create an account even if it is just to claim it so no one else can come along and claim to be you.  This makes sense to me.  If I tried Tumblr and did not like it, I could put a message in Tumblr that says,  “Connect with me on Facebook.”  At least I am more findable.  (FYI – Don’t delete your Instagram account and try to re-enable it. Instagram clearly states that this is impossible and it is.  Just create a new account with a different username.)

exploreIn this week’s lecture, one of Michael’s slides and comments struck a chord.  “Willing to explore.”  This is a good manta.  It sparked me to at least giving Tumblr a look-see.  So without further ado, my Tumblr page: http://starnight71.tumblr.com.  So far I am just trying to learn what’s the big deal with Tumblr.  It’s a blogging site, like WordPress, but more stylized.  It looks more modern than WordPress.  Tumblr seems to connect with other social services easier.  The biggest difference is that Tumblr is a blog reader as well as a blog creator.  It’s like Instagram, Facebook and WordPress rolled into one.

EDIT NOTE:  Looking at WordPress.com’s admin bar, the “New Post” link takes me to a page that displays simplified options very much like Tumblr: Text, Images, Quotes, etc.  From that navigation, there is a “Reader” link where you can follow your favorite blogs.  It just doesn’t seem as obvious in WordPress than Tumblr.

So, I will continue to explore.  I recreated an Instagram account even though I still don’t see the big deal either.  I’ll probably create a Pinterest account next.   As a future librarian, it will be my duty to be able to connect with people where the people are at.  This takes learning new communication methods and enviably driving into new social media waters.

Tumblr and Soundcloud … Spreading too thin

tumblrI’ve been thinking that I should join Tumblr.  It seems to be the up-and-coming social network service.  A blogging spinoff that does blogging with style.  And having listen to the “How to Fail at Social Networking” webinar the other day, it was mentioned that Tumblr is where all the teenagers are after the grownups took over Facebook.  Not that I am staking teenagers, it’s just that trying to stay up-to-date with the younger crowd technologically.

soundcloudThen there is another interesting social site, Soundcloud, where people share music, or sounds, that they create.  I wonder what the copyright liability is in this if an artist samples a clips from a Soundcloud post?  I like music and have a desire to compose and post music someday when I have time.

Should I connect to these sites, create accounts that might just linger without use? I have a MySpace account that I never check.  I cancelled my Instagram account thinking that I rather just post images into Facebook.  Are we spreading ourselves too thin signing up for multiple accounts in these services just to have them grow digital cobwebs?  From a security perspective, keeping too many accounts just creates more targets to be hacked.

jolidriveThis started with another social media tool that I discovered today, JoliDrive. JoliDrive connects all your social cloud storage application into one interface.  This looks promising so I signed up.  I’ve known about JoliCloud for a while ever since they released a Cloud-based Operating Systems, Joli OS, that is similar and competes with Google Chromebooks. Except this OS will install on any modern laptop/netbook.

How to Fail at Social Media Webinar

Hello everyone,

First of all, thanks Henry Mensch for posting a tweet about this webinar a while back.   I signed up for a webinar entitled: “How to Fail at Social Media (And How to Get it Right)” and it really gave me food-for-thought related to my planning assignment and the Hyperlinked Library.  Besides the intriguing title, the topic spoke to me because my library has been slow to engage in the social network space.  I would highly recommend watching the archive of this presentation as it lends itself to many topics that we have been addressing in the Hyperlinked library.  Briefly summarizing some of the presentation:

• Social networking should be about engaging in conversations with patrons and not so much broadcasting information but also listening.  An example from the presentation is a library which asks their Facebook followers what they are reading, they receive lots of responses but the library does not answer any of those responses.  This is pretty much a one-way conversation and  a road map to disengage with those users who took the time to respond.

• Credibility on the web is questionable when anyone can create a Twitter or Facebook account claiming to represent the library.  Make sure to fully fill out your library’s social media profile and include relevant, meaningful information that the patron can identify as coming from the library.

• Develop a social media policy, preferably before creating a social media account and stick to it.

• Don’t be like a prairie dog and stick your head into and out of social media like a prairie dog sticks its head in and out of its hole.   Be prepared to engage in social media and commit to it.

• Encourage posts to social media that engage a conversation rather than announce a service.  For example, instead of commanding patrons with, “Come use our reference database for your answers”  try something like, “Tired of your Wikipedia references being rejected?  The library has many scholarly resources to improve your next writing assignment.”

The archive listed below asks for some basic information to view the presentation.  The presentation is about an hour.  There was a time in the middle of the live broadcast this afternoon when the presenter lost her connection, just so that you are aware.  I don’t know if they edited the situation out.

http://www.infopeople.org/training/how_to_failNotFail

Reaching All Users

Retrieved from: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/08/want-to-connect-your-students-this.html

I work in an academic library so this is my experience.  Students in academic libraries are constantly evolving in their use of the library and technology.  When I first started, databases were published on series of multiple CD-ROMs housed in CD towers and our students had to come to the library to access them via a network file share available from computers in the library.   Our library had 7 photocopy machines because students needed to make copies of articles found in journals in the stacks.  Today  the copiers in the library have be reduced to 2 as most journal articles are available electronically (although they still like to print them).  Students are not tied to the library computers anymore.  The databases that they need are accessible over the Internet provided by the library through various subscription agreements with publishers.   So it comes as no surprise that the way students interact with librarians has to change.

Librarians need to go where the students are.  Where are they?  They can be anywhere as long as they have an Internet connection and access to the library resources via authenticated access.  So how do we provide help to students who could be accessing from anywhere?  That is the goal in order to reach all users.

askalibrarianOne of the current solutions is the venerable “Ask-a-Librarian” link.   The link can simply be to a librarian email address or more sophisticatedly to a librarian chat interface.  Having access to a librarian via a chat can be a valuable tool but it does have some drawbacks.  First,  staffing a librarian or group of librarians for 24/7 chat access would typically be cost prohibited for libraries.  Second, the Ask-a-Librarian link is user initiated.  If the student feels as though they shouldn’t need help and are either afraid or to proud to ask, then they will not use the link.  Third, the Ask-a-Librarian link is usually found on the library’s homepage and maybe a few other select locations but not available once the student starts navigating a search and moves onto various publisher sites.  Fourth,  chatting works as long as the student can explain the problem in words.  What if they can not?

So, I think a solution or collection of technologies can be useful here so that the student’s research needs are met if they run into a problems and need help.  The Ask-a-Librarian idea is good but I think it needs to be expanded to reach all users.  First, libraries and librarians will need to pool their resources to create a 24/7 user experience.  From a quick Google search, this appears to be a direction that some libraries have taken.

SearsPartsNext, let’s expand on the Ask-a-Librarian link by providing a librarian’s assistance even if not prompted.  Recently I was looking for a part to my microwave.  As I was searching on Sear’s site and I paused or stayed on the page for a while; a chat popup soon appeared to offer me assistance.  I am sure that you have seen similar non-prompted popup appears on other retail or financial sites.  I think the library could deploy a similar technology for live chat with a librarian.  If the student is struggling on a search and doesn’t feel like they need help or does know how to get help, this could be beneficial.  There are some guidelines to consider.  Don’t be too pesky and prompt repeatedly or too quickly; students will definitely get annoyed quickly.  Don’t be invasive.  No one likes someone looking over their shoulders while searching neither should the online librarian be a virtual hanger-oner.

The library assistant can prompt automatically for help but if it is dismissed and later the student needs help, what will the student do?  There still needs to be a means for the student to contact a librarian without leaving their point of issue.  One solution are various library toolbars as is pointed out in this Library Journal article.  We use LibX  but frankly, we do not prompt its use as much as we could.   Thinking a little more about what most academic libraries do.   Most academic library resources are restricted based on a license.  Libraries develop means to authenticate patrons to these gated resources.  Some librarians use Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions to seamlessly provide access to multiple authenticated resources as the student moves through them.  The next step I think is to capitalize on SSO’s means of tracking authenticated access and through the same technology provide assistance services to the patrons.  In other words, the Ask-a-Librarian link or automatic chat would follow the student as they moved from one library resource to another.  When assistance is needed, the librarian would know which resource the student is currently accessing and how they arrived at that resource.  This information can be valuable when answering research questions and not duplicate searches that have already be done or when tackling technical issues.   The main concern for this type of technology is again a loss of privacy.  Perhaps when assistance is requested, the librarian will need to ask if they can access the patron’s research history.

Lastly, the case of when words fail.  Remote access / viewing / control is already in use.  I think that some libraries already have the means to ask for remote access to a student’s computer using today’s chat technology.  I think that this technology has to continue and grow in the future.  Through the above mentioned, SSO like, session tracking, remote viewing could be initiated in a more direct and concentrated manner.  The technology to view remotely also needs to be easy and clientless; the patron shouldn’t have to go through difficulties to establish a remote session with a librarian.  Thinking more into the future, will there be a means to remotely view a student’s iPad screen or Android smartphone? Reflector seems to be a possibility now to view an iOS device from an Mac.  Or maybe the solution is more low-tech; someone mentioned in a forum using Skype with mirrors.

A Collective Mind or the Borg are Coming

A rat with a brain-to-brain implant
Photograph: Scientific Reports via The Guardian article

I’ve been searching for something to blog about this week and I hadn’t come up with anything that spoke to me, until today. Researchers have successfully connected the brains of two rats together and allowing them to share sensory information over the Internet.   In the experiments, the rats were connected so that when one rat correctly pressed a level for a reward, the signal was sent to the second rat who then responded correctly and got the reward as well.  At first the experiments were conducted locally but then the Internet was used to connect a rat in the U.S. to one in Brazil.

So what does this bring to humanity or more focused, to librarianship?  Well the first thing that I thought when reading this article was . . . The Borg!  Resistance is Futile!

borg
Star Trek

So will humanity become a collective mind sharing knowledge from around the globed.  This ties into another blog post I read earlier in the week and invokes another movie reference: In Japan, The Matrix Is Now Reality As Humans Are Used As Living Batteries.

OK, so despite the fact that a functional human mind-melding  global humanity is decades away, what would be the potential of this technology to librarianship?

foilhat
Movie “Signs”

When attempting to demonstrate how to search for an item to a student, especially when that student is remotely connected, it can be a trying  task with deadends and missed directions.  Even with remote viewing capabilities, sometimes the understanding of the process can be lost.  Now bring in direct mind-to-mind connectivity.  The librarian could transmit his/her thoughts to the patron and connect at a deep level of understanding.  Google would love to connect librarians to their collective so that searchers would be able to directly connect to subject experts.  If searches take milliseconds now, imagine direct mind-conducted searches.  “I already know the answer before I even thought about the question.”  Would we stop there?  What about connecting to the mind of an expert in a scientific field to gather access for a book report?  How would you cite that information?  Would there be controls (well most definitely) to allow guarded access?  Would foil hats come into style?

This is a lighthearted exploration of “What-if’s?”  But as technology continues to create new ways to gather, collect and access information.  Librarians will need to be at the forefront to make sense of these tools, less they overwhelm us (Skynet).

For a more scientific reference to the Brain-to-Brain research see the following article:

Pais-Vieira, M., Lebedev, M., Kunicki, C., Wang, J., & Nicolelis, M. A. L. (2013). A brain-to-brain interface for real-time sharing of sensorimotor information. Scientific Reports, 3. doi: 10.1038/srep01319