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Archive for the ‘Thinking Long Term’ Category

Digital Magic Preservation for a New Era

Posted by Editor on March 13, 2012

By Matthew Kirschenbaum

You don’t get to play with a whole lot of cool tools or toys when you’re an English professor. Fountain pens and Moleskine notebooks maybe, or a book light or fancy e-reader. Bibliographers—those savants who analyze the unique physical characteristics of manuscripts and printed books—get the best stuff: illuminated magnifying glasses and book weights, white gloves and padded forceps, and more exotic assemblages, such as the original Hinman collator, a contraption the size of a refrigerator whose flashing lights were reportedly capable of inducing epileptic seizure. (Newer collators fold and collapse into a briefcase for transport to distant libraries, and while they may induce headaches, are seizure-free.)

But now that literary materials are often stored and accessible only in electronic formats—manuscript drafts written with word processors, e-mail correspondence buried in hard drives—we may be able to get our hands on some nifty techno-biblio accessories that make data retrieval easier.

One such device is the inelegantly named FC5025 floppy controller card, 1 1/4-by- 3 3/4 inches and silicon-wafer thin. If you grew up in the 1980s when I did, and if your first computer was an Apple, Commodore, Atari, or TRS “Trash” 80, the FC5025 (or one of several gizmos like it) is the link to whatever frail trellises of data may still remain magnetically etched on the surface of the antique “floppies” that went with those machines. One end of the device anchors an old-school gray ribbon cable that connects to an actual 5 1/4-inch drive, scrounged from eBay or a friend (I got mine from a supply closet). The other end holds the familiar, comforting shape of a USB terminus. Sandwiched in between, embedded in the FC5025 controller board, is the software necessary to bridge the gap between a wheezing, groaning disk drive and any modern operating system.

The FC5025 allows me to move data off my old floppy disks in the form of a so-called image file, a virtual simulacrum of the original diskette. With the disk image, I can extract individual files or run it through an “emulator” (more on this later), where I can examine individual bytes and verify that not a single one has been altered in the transition. Read the rest of this entry »

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10 ways to make yourself indispensable at your workplace, Stephen Abram

Posted by Editor on January 31, 2012

From:  Information Outlook Column (Jan/Feb. issue), Due Dec. 28, 2011

By Stephen Abram

It doesn’t work 100% of the time but you’ve probably noticed that there are some people that seem to survive every organizational restructuring.  In this latest economic downturn we’re seeing layoffs and downsizing on a scale in all sectors that most of us have never seen.  As for me, I’ve been through too many to count – survived some and didn’t make it out the other side on others.  By some counts there have been over 14 downturns in my professional career since 1978.  These swings in the economy have burnished me and, ironically, made me less dependent on employers for my self-worth or finances.  The private sector reacts to protect the whole enterprise during the business cycle and, although we shouldn’t take downsizing personally, it’s hard not to!  The public sector is arguably experiencing a major downturn with extensive layoffs for the first time in memory for many.  I was inspired recently by an article that was shared with me (from Black Enterprise: “10 ways to make yourself indispensable at work”), so I’ve adapted its 10 points for library land, but the original can be read without translation too.

Is the grapevine working overtime in your business, industry, community library, school board or institution?  What do the water cooler conversations resemble in your sector – excitement about the future or doom and gloom?  Are you seeing terrible budget debates, revenue shortfalls, business disappointments, investment or trust fund losses, or shortfalls in taxation support?  What can you do to reduce your chances of layoff?  Barring situations of collective bargaining where the rules can be prescribed, there are things you can do and should do precisely when you don’t need it right away.

Make a plan.  Assess your strengths.  Define your value, and, most importantly tend to your personal and professional network.

What tactics can you accomplish that will reduce your personal chances of layoff or prepare you better to shorten your period of unemployment?  Remember that this isn’t about protecting the ‘library’ but of communicating your value as a “librarian.”   There is a big difference!  Here are ten:

1. Take ownership of all your responsibilities by seeing your role in the context of the entire enterprise and community.  What would you increase as an activity and what would you decrease?  Employees that think strategically are more valuable than one-trick ponies.

2. Take personal responsibility for your professional development and career preparedness.  In difficult economic times no one else will quickly step up to protect you or guide your career. In times of transition, individuals must be proactive and not look to an employer to prepare them for their next job.  Indeed training and development budgets are usually one of the first to be reduced or eliminated. You might have to invest your own dollars and time in yourself for e-learning courses, training, association memberships and conferences but, still, fight to get your promised education reimbursements.  The enterprise is not your mother and bears no responsibility to your progress.   What key specific competency would make your more valuable to your current and prospective employers?   Develop it.

3. Maintain a visibly positive attitude while protecting your job.  It’s far easier for decision-makers to cut a Negative Nellie.  You aren’t the only one who’s stressed by the economy.  If you see others handling it better, model their behaviours.  No one wants to be constantly reminded of the fact that everyone is now doing 2 or 3 jobs and extended effort. . When things seem to pile up and you’re feeling stressed, take a deep breath and think that this is better for your personal physical and mental health.  It’ll also allow you to keep wok relationships friendly and positive. Be the colleague people want to have lunch or a coffee with rather than avoid.

4. Become a Renaissance person.  Yes, this means taking on extra tasks or spending personal time on events that can be great for the office culture – parties, birthdays, charity events, etc.  Learn to do new things as other people leave.  You gain new skills and you clearly increase your long-term value.  You also gain a story about how you learn and adapt for interviews. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Public Library as an Incubator for the Arts

Posted by Editor on January 17, 2012

January 17, 2012 | 9:58 AM | By 

Arguably, those who believe a public library is simply a repository of print books haven’t been to a public library lately. Here at MindShift, we’ve been covering the ways in which the library is evolving to change the demands of digital technologies and of its patrons: libraries are becoming learning labsinnovation centers, and makerspaces.

Of course, the public library has always been a community center as much as a place to go to check out books to read, so the new extensions of the library’s service may not be so far afield from the institution’s mission to provide access to information. Even so, much of the emphasis has been on literacy — reading and writing, digital and analog — and not on other forms of creativity.

But three graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies have launched a project that points to another important way in which libraries play a key role in their communities. The Library as Incubator Project highlights some of the ways in which libraries and local artists can work together.

I spoke with Erinn Batykefer, Laura Damon-Moore, and Christina Endres about the project.

Q. What was the inspiration for the Library as Incubator Project? Read the rest of this entry »

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Be a solutions provider not just an ingredients supplier

Posted by Editor on January 6, 2012

Recommending that librarians should provide different levels of service to community members is right up there with advocating for the end of reference desks or a future dominated by bookless libraries. It can be volatile subject matter for discussion. The library is a commons that is owned by each community member, and each of those members is equally eligible to receive all the benefits and services and access all the resources to which he or she is entitled. In an age of heightened customer expectations, does the “everyone is equal” approach still work or should librarians be more customer centric.

What does it mean to be customer centric? That is the subject of a new book by Peter Fader, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In this new book titled Customer Centricity, Fader promotes the idea that successful organizations will wisely segment their customers, and create special services for the most valued customers – services that might be unavailable to other customers. Being customer centric means more than just giving community members everything they want. As he explains in an interview:

Too many people think that being customer centric means doing everything that your customers want, and that’s not the case. Being friendly and offering good service are a part of customer centricity, but they are not the whole thing. Customer centricity means that you’re going to be friendly, provide good service and develop new products and services for the special focal customers — the ones who provide a lot of value for you — but not necessarily for the other ones. You need to pick and choose. Some customers deserve the special treatment, and if others want to buy from you, that’s great, but they are not going to be treated the same.

While the goal of customer centricity may be unthinkable to some librarians, when we honestly assess how we treat community members, we already make distinctions between them and offer special treatment to some and not others. In academic libraries we certainly treat faculty members differently than students. We may offer faculty a book delivery service while everyone else has to come to the library. A faculty member’s research question is typically prioritized. Not fair perhaps, but it’s critical to build a good relationship with the faculty. It’s part of what we do to keep them satisfied; our funding might depend on it. Read the rest of this entry »

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New InfoGraphic – Top Technology Trends

Posted by Editor on January 4, 2012

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Taiga Forum 2011 Provocative Statements

Posted by Editor on November 11, 2011

On 11/1/2010, Taiga Forum6 met in Palo Alto to begin developing a new set of provocative statements regarding some future challenges to academic libraries. Another group discussed the draft statements at ALA Midwinter in San Diego in January, 2011.
The Taiga Forum Steering Committee has taken that input and created this third round of Taiga Forum Provocative Statements. As before, the statements are intended to provoke conversation rather than attempt to predict the future. Taiga Forum participants write these statements in recognition of the value of considering potential medium-term futures in planning and decision making.
These statements are not intended to comprehensively cover all issues; they simply represent some of the topics that arose in our discussions. We welcome and encourage comments.
Within five years, the current university organizational structures will have been forced to dissolve, finally flattening the organization. Libraries will have less autonomy and librarian roles will have been subsumed into other parts of the university.
Within five years, campus administrators will expect research libraries to significantly reduce library budgets by engaging in radical cooperation among competing universities: jointly-owned collections, deep outsourcing, shared staffing, and shared services.

3. collaborative space partners

Within five years, academic libraries will either choose collaborative space partners or have them chosen for them. Librarians will not be able to play the “library as place” card without opening up their spaces to complementary programs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Information Literacy For The Mythical Digital Natives

Posted by Editor on October 5, 2011

October 5, 2011 – 7:27am — Blake In LIS News

I wish I could’ve used this as the title for this post: “Designing information literacy instruction without understanding that feral place where many library users reside is about as effective as taming a wolf. We can do it, but what good does that do for the wolf?”

GREAT post from Joe Grobelny: Feral “Information Literacy”

“Digital native is a fantasy invented by the fans of silicon valley to pigeonhole a generation for the sake of selling technology, but the truth is far less convenient. Not only the digital natives, but many people take on a feral state in their interactions with the internet, as it constantly shifts its boundaries, its cities and deserts. Likewise, the library is a place where we ought to allow for the feral. The ACRL information literacy standards are only useful to the domesticated to promote their efficient and purposeful use of the library. The truth is that most people do not experience the library as a city, but rather as a wilderness on the edge of civilization.

See Also: Matthew Battles, The Call of the Feral.

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Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age

Posted by Editor on September 1, 2011

By Cathy N. Davidson 

Five or six years ago, I attended a lecture on the science of attention. A philosopher who conducts research over in the medical school was talking about attention blindness, the basic feature of the human brain that, when we concentrate intensely on one task, causes us to miss just about everything else. Because we can’t see what we can’t see, our lecturer was determined to catch us in the act. He had us watch a video of six people tossing basketballs back and forth, three in white shirts and three in black, and our task was to keep track only of the tosses among the people in white. I hadn’t seen the video back then, although it’s now a classic, featured on punk-style TV shows or YouTube versions enacted at frat houses under less than lucid conditions. The tape rolled, and everyone began counting.

Everyone except me. I’m dyslexic, and the moment I saw that grainy tape with the confusing basketball tossers, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep track of their movements, so I let my mind wander. My curiosity was piqued, though, when about 30 seconds into the tape, a gorilla sauntered in among the players. She (we later learned a female student was in the gorilla suit) stared at the camera, thumped her chest, and then strode away while they continued passing the balls.

When the tape stopped, the philosopher asked how many people had counted at least a dozen basketball tosses. Hands went up all over. He then asked who had counted 13, 14, and congratulated those who’d scored the perfect 15. Then he asked, “And who saw the gorilla?”

I raised my hand and was surprised to discover I was the only person at my table and one of only three or four in the large room to do so. He’d set us up, trapping us in our own attention blindness. Yes, there had been a trick, but he wasn’t the one who had played it on us. By concentrating so hard on counting, we had managed to miss the gorilla in the midst. Read the rest of this entry »

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On academic leadership, from Confessions of a Science Librarian

Posted by Editor on August 10, 2011

by John Dupuis, here.

No, the purpose of this post isn’t to reveal the secrets of successful academic leadership. If I had those, believe you me I’d be writing this from my villa on the French Riviera.

However, I am heading off to the Harvard Graduate School of Education‘s Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians in Boston next week where I hope to be a least a little more enlightened and educated along that path.

Not surprisingly I’ve been watching the blogosphere these last few months for insightful posts and articles about academic leadership, in particular academic library leadership. I’ve found a few and I thought I’d share them with you.

First of all, though, I’d like to mention what the course textbook is. It’s Reframing Academic Leadership by Lee G. Bolman and Joan V. Gallos. It a very good book with both practical and theoretical approaches to leadership that I find quite interesting. What’s really useful is that is situates the challenges of leadership within the unique environment of collegial governance, the demands of research/teaching/service and a tenured professoriat/librarian complement. It’s well worth reading. I hope to get around to a more detailed review later in the summer.

Anyways, here’s some of the things I’ve found over the last little while. It’s all on the open web so I’m sure there’s lots of books and articles that would be useful that I haven’t linked to. It’s worth noting that I didn’t only look for stuff on leadership but also ideas that are useful for leaders or potential leaders. Read the rest of this entry »

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What People Don’t Get About Working in a Library

Posted by Editor on August 10, 2011

By Derek Thompson here
The Librarian #1
“We are not mere cart pushers. This job requires a Masters degree for a reason.”

People have made an extremely strong link between librarians, libraries and books. This is only natural, but it really sells short the full value of libraries and the full scope of librarian work. Libraries offer so much more than moldy old books. There’s also music, movies, tv shows, video games, and electronic databases that span a whole galaxy of scholarly and practical information unavailable to any level of googling. Additionally, libraries offer free internet access that is utterly vital in many poor and rural communities. As government services migrate online, good citizenship almost requires an internet connection. Libraries also provide a free space for local groups and communities and have been at the forefront of job search training and computer instruction. Coordinating all of this are the humble librarians. We are not mere cart pushers, let me assure you. This job requires a Masters degree for a reason.

The Librarian #2
“I am an aggregator, a citation machine, a curator, a specialist.”

I am a librarian.  People do not understand that I do more than check out books.  They do not understand that my job requires a master’s degree and optimally, some other post-graduate work. No one understands what I do all day. I do research, I teach classes, I catalog, I develop our collection, I work on our website, I fix computers.  I am an aggregator, a citation machine, a curator, a specialist in whatever it is you want to know about. Read the rest of this entry »

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