Final thoughts

How to capture the value of this course? This graphic is perfect because while the class was spectacular, and I learned a lot, I also feel like my head is spinning with all the possibilities and techniques and tools that I still need to absorb.

My fellow students are so amazing – just radiating wonderful ideas, and prodigious understanding, and tremendous potential to change and expand the meaning of the word “librarian.”

Professor Stephens has crafted a really useful course, with so many excellent resources that I will use again and again as I finish school and move into my professional career. Perhaps even more valuable is his genuine interest in and concern about students and their learning. I have only had one other professor in my entire educational experience who demonstrated such a palpable love of teaching. I am reassured that such people exist in the world, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be in this course.

 

Course Symposium

I submitted a proposal for a poster to the regional ACRL conference based on the work I did in this class for my book report on Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment. My proposal was accepted, so I decided to create my poster for my symposium presentation (as well as a handout [link below], since it’s way too big a topic to cover in a poster).

I had made a poster last year using PPT, which is what I always hear recommended as the best software for designing posters. However, I didn’t really like the way that it came out. So I used Piktochart for this poster, and I think it’s much more vibrant. I also found Piktochart very easy to use.

I would love to get feedback on this from my very smart and savvy fellow students: please be completely honest in your comments. Thank you!

Please click the link above to see a larger and clearer version.

 

Here is the handout that goes with the poster, so that I can explain a bit more about the items I am suggesting.

WIN SOCIAL MEDIA HANDOUT

Director’s Brief – Institutional Repository

While the Syracuse University Library has hosted an institutional repository since 2010, participation could be greatly increased by implementing some of the principles we learned in the hyperlinked library course about connecting our users to technological innovations. Read my director’s brief for details: Masursky Directors Brief

Emojis & LOL

 

I recently joined the wonderful world of podcasts and I mostly listen to the ones recommended to me by NPR One, since they tend to be the length of the average dog walk, which is when I listen.

In a column for Library Journal last year, titled Library Emoji, Michael Stephens discusses the rich language of the emoji and how it has, and might continue to, enhance our patrons’ library experience.

Strangely, or perhaps not, I listened to not one, but two relevant podcasts recently, that have something interesting to add to this conversation.

The first was from my favorite podcast, Hidden Brain with Shankar Vendantam. In this episode, called Slanguage, he interviews the author of a new book on the way language changes, linguist John McWhorter , called Words on the Move: Why English Won’t and Can’t Sit Still (Like Literally). Among the wonderful illuminating comments of Mr McWhorter, I vividly remember him talking to students about the use of LOL, and how it has changed from its literal meaning, “laugh out loud,” to something more like a social smoother, like “heh heh heh” – one student gave the example of texting her roommate that she couldn’t have a guest in the room because she had to study, LOL. Michael mentions in his column how “LOL” (in its original meaning) is now represented by various gradations of emojis, from full laughter to sly smile. I wonder if the evolving use of LOL is at least partly in response to the rise of (and perhaps replacement by) emojis.

The second was from the Burnt Toast podcast, called “Why is there no pie emoji?” In the podcast, the host researches the process by which emojis are added by actually proposing a new emoji to the Unicode Consortium which chooses them. You can read more about the process here and here. In his column, Michael asks why there is no library emoji, and that is a very good question. I plan to propose to Unicode that this oversight be corrected!

Kindness wins

In his most recent column for Library Journal, titled Libraries in Balance, Michael Stephens makes several important points about libraries’ role in connecting patrons with technology, including the need for librarians to serve the technology literacy needs of all patrons, those who are less sophisticated as well as those who are on the cutting edge.

He closes his valuable column with the admonishment to “consider our user through a lens of compassion.” I truly wish that this principle was more central in the training of future librarians, and was part of the continuing education of current library staff. Almost daily I find myself cringing at some staff behavior, such as literally shushing pre-teens in a public branch, or curtly answering the question of a student at the university library.

Many of the patrons in libraries are privileged and exude an air of entitlement. This can be wearing and it seems that it can color the response of library staff. Also being asked the same questions every day gets old, and it can be a challenge to bring enthusiasm to the umpteenth reply.

However, if we would just bring that compassionate lens to our interactions, I believe that we would serve our users more effectively and we ourselves would enjoy our interactions more.

Recently I was working the closing shift at the university library service desk. The library is open 24 hours, but the service desk closes at midnight. I had been helping a student to set up the printing of a large poster to the plotter. I could see that the paper was running low and I wanted to wait until her poster was complete, because if the paper ran out, she would have to return the next day to reprint it. My co-worker prepared to leave and told me that I was under no obligation to stay past the end time of my shift. I bit my tongue so that I would not make a sharp retort. What difference would 5 or 6 minutes make to me, especially since I was being paid for them? But the inconvenience for the student, if the paper ran out, would be substantial. Leaving was not even a consideration for me. But I wondered about the training that this staff person had received. I know that she meant well, and thought she was relieving me of a troubling situation. But the fact that she cared more for my comfort than the student’s left a bad taste in my mouth.

When I look for a permanent library position, I want to work for an organization where the culture is suffused with kindness, where the staff wouldn’t dream of leaving a patron hanging in order to avoid a tiny inconvenience to themselves.

Mobile Information Environments

This is my final year of Library School (I’m attending part-time), and this is the year of the CONFERENCE for me – I have been trying to attend more since last year, and am finally venturing into presenting as well.

I don’t know if New York is typical, but there are a LOT of regional and state-wide library conferences here, which seems like the right place to stick in a toe, so to speak.

Based on the positive response to my Enchantment slide show for this course, and a general interest in using social media in libraries (especially academic ones), I proposed a poster for a local library conference next month highlighting the best uses of social media in libraries.

I wish I had seen some of the advice from the #23mobilethings course site when I was venturing into Twitter, at the strong suggestion of the professor in my first Library School class, in the fall of 2014. (I’m pretty much the opposite of an Early Adopter, so I was late to this party, as I have been to most.)

I had all the objections to Twitter covered in Ned Potter’s slideshow, namely that it’s pointless, you can’t say anything in 140 characters, and I don’t know anyone who is using it. But as Ned says, “it’s a conversation,” and a mighty fun and powerful one, I discovered, once I got on board. I have been completely blown away by just how clever and edifying 140 characters can be, in the right hands.

Even more important was coming to understand how essential Twitter and other apps are to people of all ages, but especially young people (college age people) for obtaining information and managing their lives. A recent survey by Deloitte finds that young people (age 18-24) use mobile devices even more than other age groups, and for a wider variety of purposes. As Professor Stephens has pointed out again and again, it is so essential that libraries employ these tools to connect with our users and patrons, by creating interesting content and by ensuring that the content is mobile friendly (that is, easily utilized on a mobile device). This requires going beyond staying informed of new technologies and actually becoming comfortable using them.

Emerging Technology Plan

Plan for a University Library Podcast

Bird Library at Syracuse University is typical of a large research university, with holdings of over 4 million items and an annual budget of more than $9 million. The Library serves a University community of over 20,000 students and over 1500 faculty. Bird is typical in another way, in that it serves its existing clientele very well, and tries to stay abreast of digital advances, but there is room for improvement in the area of patron engagement. Rather than developing additional services, this proposal focuses on a method for enhancing engagement, especially with community members who may not yet have accessed the Library.

Goals/Objectives

Instituting a podcast from the Library provides several simultaneous and concrete benefits:

  • engages university scholars and other community members
  • creates a new avenue for communication with Library users and potential users
  • raises the profile of the Library
  • increases the credibility of the Library by highlighting the Library’s use of current technology

An important purpose of the podcast is to communicate from the Library to the community, but an even more important purpose is to engage the community in creating it. Once the logistical and technical aspects are addressed, students and scholars within the University community will have a substantial role as the subjects of the podcasts. While the Library’s people and collections can be sources for interesting casts, mining the community for their stories and experiences will be a vital aspect of the project.

Community to Engage

All users and potential users of the Syracuse University Library System

Action Brief Statement

Convince the Library Director that by supporting a weekly Library podcast, we will engage University scholars and other community members, which will raise the profile and the credibility of the Library because it will reach users in a different way and will highlight the Library’s utilization of current technology.

Evidence and Resources

Podcasts are a popular and inexpensive method of raising the profile of the Library and connecting with users through a different modality. They also create the opportunity to highlight special and unique features of the Library and the University community.

Some of the benefits of podcasting, such as quick and low-cost communication, ability to personalize information, and potential to deepen relationships are noted by Learning Times.

LifeHacker offers a clear step-by-step guide for creating your first podcast.

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy

The primary mission of the project is to communicate with and engage the University community.

The first step would be to form a Technology Committee or New Technology Subcommittee with interested staff and student workers/interns, and with appropriate IT support staff. The Committee would research the experiences of other universities and libraries to design the scope and the operation of the podcasting project.

In addition, the library would want to solicit advice from other organizations within the University which have experience with podcasting, including the law school  and the athletics department.

A key function in the initial stages is to compile suggestions, “best practices,” and especially what pitfalls to avoid.

The Committee would need to decide how often to present the broadcasts (once a week is the proposed frequency), and the scope of the topics (would certain topics or guests be considered too controversial, at least initially?)

The Committee would need to seek counsel from the University legal department and from whatever office oversees the University’s social media policy.

The Committee needs to design a mechanism for soliciting suggestions for topics and guests to be included in podcasts from the larger University community, perhaps by establishing a Community Advisory Committee. The Technology Committee and the Advisory Committee would have to determine guidelines for community participation.

Funding Considerations

The most important partner in this enterprise would be the broadcasting program at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. They have produced their own podcasts already, including for their annual Audio Summit. They would be able to provide both guidance and equipment to professionalize the effort.

It would also be worthwhile to investigate some grant money, to help defray costs, assist with upgrades as the program develops and evolves, market the project, and to pay student interns or fellows.

Action Steps & Timeline

Once the Library Director has approved the project, a Planning Committee must be created, which should include the Outreach Librarian, the Digital Services Librarian, and at least one member of the IT staff. Other members would be included if they showed an interest and appropriate level of commitment.

  • Researching podcasting by other organizations and meeting with current podcasters would take 2-3 months.
  • Assembling the equipment, learning the Audacity software, and choosing a site to host the podcast (SoundCloud is a good free option, which also offers upgrades, for later) could happen simultaneously, but would probably add another month to the planning process.
  • During this time, hold contests to determine the podcast name and logo.
  • It is recommended to complete at least 3 podcasts prior to launching, so planning and preparing those would be another 2 months. At the same time, the Launch Party must be planned, and marketing needs to be done.

The podcast could be reasonably expected to launch about 6 months after the project is approved.

Staffing

Ideally, student interns can be engaged to do a bulk of the work on this project, with oversight and assistance from Library and IT staff. The initial set-up might require a contract with knowledgeable outside personnel, but that would be a one-time expense, and might not be necessary if there is sufficient commitment from existing staff and students.

One of the frequently mentioned keys to successfully podcasting is consistency. The people involved must be willing to commit to the project, and to devote the time necessary, especially after the project has launched. Getting the right people, with the necessary level of enthusiasm, will be a major key to the project’s success.

Training

Again, student interns should be engaged to learn and apply this technology. The initial training would be designed by a Technology Committee, with appropriate IT support and interested staff members. Audacity is a free online software, easy to install and learn, that could be employed initially. If the project is successful, the Committee could consider upgrades, which might require additional training.

Promotion & Marketing

This new program can be promoted through the Library’s existing social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and the planning and set-up can be documented on Instagram.

The project should also be promoted through standard marketing methods, such as the Library’s website and monthly bulletin, on bulletin boards in the Library and other campus buildings, and through alumni newsletters and other information methods employed by the University.

Buffer listed a number of excellent marketing ideas drawn from their own experience:

  • Have student contests to choose the podcast name and design the podcast logo.
  • Plan a Launch Party and maybe smaller events on the following 2 or 3 weeks, so that the podcasts get a lot of fanfare and also stay on the community’s radar.
  • Encourage listeners to rate the show on the library’s website and have a drawing for a prize each week for reviewers, such a mug or tshirt with the podcast’s logo. If there is no budget for prizes, have the weekly winner be a guest on the following week’s podcast, introducing the show or making announcements.
  • If possible, start a companion YouTube channel – videotape the podcasts as you are recording them, and upload the videos to YouTube at the same time as the podcast for cross marketing and additional exposure.

Evaluation

The Library should use their website and social media to solicit feedback about the podcasts, as well as having feedback stations within the library and other campus buildings, such as the student center.

Those involved should be open to the project evolving and changing, based on the response. Which topics evoke a strong reaction? Which topics lead to greater engagement? What methods best incorporate the community into the project?

The Global University

I have been making my way through the many interesting articles in the Academic Library Adventure, and I hadn’t paid excessive attention to the Global Universities one, until I attended a forum this week for students to provide feedback to the search committee for the next VP of Research at Syracuse University.

We covered a lot of vital topics in the forum, including the pressing need to facilitate collaboration and reduce the tendency for researchers to work inside their silos.

Then, toward the end of our time together, one of the search committee members mentioned that they wanted to ensure that the chosen candidate had the appropriate focus on connecting Syracuse researchers with those at universities throughout the US and the world.

I felt like the proverbial light bulb went off in my head. That is such a vital part of the mission of any university, and it is something that the university library must incorporate into its mission as well.

Kinney and Li note several ways that libraries can contribute to building those bridges, including providing remote access to their scholars working abroad and providing thoughtfully designed direct services to international students at their universities.

They also note that US universities lead the world in establishing branch campuses in other countries, with at least 75 accredited, degree-granting campuses abroad, run by over 50 American educational institutions. Forward-thinking schools ensure that their branch campuses are supported by well-trained and culturally sensitive library staff, as well as employing the latest technology tools, making sure that they have been carefully tested to be functional for foreign learning environments.

How exciting to be responsible for supporting these scholars and these programs – opening your own mind while you open the world to audacious learners.

What Kind of World Are We Building?

In her hard hitting essay What World Are We Building, danah boyd notes that technology is “almost always empowering to the privileged at the expense of the those who are not” [p.4]. She provides several stunning examples, including the way that search algorithms learn and reflect the racist tendencies of their users.

I would have been suicidal by the time I finished reading, if the next article in the module list had not been about the healing power of the library, with a moving account of how the Ferguson, Missouri Library served it community well during a difficult time and was rewarded with generous donations of books and money. And the next article was a truly inspiring account of how a library in Ghana used texting to connect midwives with pregnant women, and simultaneously develop a stronger community relationship between the library and the women.

I think danah is correct, but at the same time, it’s clear from other examples that technology can serve our more altruistic tendencies as well. It’s important to be aware of both, to actively guard against the one, and embrace and celebrate the other.

Hyperlinked Communities

As I was reading “The Rise of Personal Networks” by Andy Havens in Next Space, I was really struck by his descriptions of each member of the “Gang of Four” and the evolution of their functionality – both because I have witnessed those changes and because I have directly benefited from them.

For example, Andy notes that Facebook increased it’s usefulness by providing its apps for other sites to use, the “most important” being the sign-on service, allowing users to authenticate themselves with their Facebook identity. I have used this extensively and I love it, because it reduces the number of passwords I need to remember, and it speeds up my connection to related sites: I link to Goodreads, where I catalog the books I have read and want to read, and I link to MeetUp, the site that hosts my book club.

 

I immediately saw how the facility that I experienced should be leveraged by libraries to increase their value to users, both by informing them of this type of feature, but also by creating similar connectedness that would make related features more convenient to use.

For example, I would love to be able to look up a book on the library website and then add it immediately and directly to my Goodreads list, by having both the connection between the sites and the ability to login to one from my identity at the other.

 

Syracuse University, where I attend, offers a form of this connectedness between MySlice, where we sign up for classes, Blackboard, where our course syllabi reside, and the campus bookstore, to which you can navigate from either, to purchase books and other materials for classes.

The possibilities seem almost endless, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we saw any number of them in the near future.