Feeds:
Posts
Comments

In no way do I consider myself capable of doing an official book review. Other librarians are gifted in reading several books a week, comparing nuances, remembering details and characters, and can carry a conversation about it. That’s not me. I am slow and prodding, miss most of what I read, never remember which character did what, when or how, and couldn’t tell anyone more than 1 or 2 details I remember about the book. So, I read non-fiction, since that is all that really connects with me. I take forever to get through some books because I spend time looking up the names and details of history that I know nothing about. It’s a wonder I finish anything at all. Fiction just doesn’t do it for me, although I do give it a try now and then.

Earlier this month I read John Sexton’s interesting Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing beyond the game. I remember seeing Sexton interviewed by Bill Moyers a few years back, discussing the course by the same name that Sexton teaches at NYU. I would love to take…no…I don’t want to take any more classes. But if I did, this would be truly refreshing.

I can chart much of my life through what was happening in baseball at the time. As a kid, football and basketball had their place and their great memories, but only baseball was 24/7. One of the most impressionable events in my young life was seeing the movie “Field of Dreams.” You could very well call this a “spiritual” moment, and the specific moment was the James Earl Jones reflection on the legacy of the game:

Even as a 15-year-old I was starting to learn American history through the eyes of baseball. My uncle got me the Ultimate Baseball Book as a kid, and I was transformed by the stories and pictures of seasons finished long before I was born. I never realized at the time that baseball history and the annual traditions, remembering the legends, are similar to ceremonies celebrating the saints. We respect and celebrate what has gone on before. For me, I could learn a lot about life by learning through baseball history. Jones’ quote “The one constant through all the years is baseball” helped me to study US history, and gave me a sense of a bigger picture.

A year or so later when the movie was showing on TV, I mentioned to my high school coach and Bible teacher at my religious K-12 school how much I liked the movie. His response was a warning because the film was “full of ‘New Age’ doctrine.” I struggled with how something could be so meaningful, yet apparently so contrary to God. My heartwarming experience was now hardened as I worried I had been led astray. Later in life I realized that being nurtured in Fundamentalistville meant anything that makes you think must be “New Age.” In a year or so I would feel “called” to the ministry, rejecting what I thought I wanted to be when I grew up, (since maybe the age of 10): a baseball announcer.

As a kid I would copy the calls of Ned Martin broadcasting the Red Sox games. I couldn’t imagine a better job than going to every baseball game. I had a huge collection of baseball cards I referred to frequently, and tried to keep current rosters of every team on a clipboard as I tracked the transactions in the sports pages. Completely impossible task. When all we had was a black and white TV with no cable, I would listen to most of the games on the radio.

Our church had a “Bible Quizzing Team.” Every church would have a team and you would be expected to memorize entire passages of the Bible to be ready for the big state meet and answer any question or quote any verse on a whim in front of judges. This would distinguish you from the other church kids who couldn’t quote Luke or John and simply weren’t as spiritual.

This next meet was on a given Saturday, and since we had no car, we had to get a ride from the lady who was the church quiz director. On this particular Saturday, October 1, 1983, the Red Sox were having “Yaz Day” at Fenway Park, honoring player Carl Yastrzemski as he retired after 23 years. This historic event was going to be on the local TV station, of which we may have seen 20 games a year. I was determined to stay home and watch Yaz Day, telling my mother I would remember this for the rest of my life and wouldn’t remember a thing from a useless quiz meet. When my ride showed up, I refused to go, and have never regretted it. I can still remember seeing Yaz trot around the field, high-fiving the fans. I went to many quiz meets but couldn’t tell you anything significant about any of them. But I remember Yaz Day.

A moment like Yaz Day was something that was meaningful to me as it represented not only a game I loved to play, but also that there was a big city I had never been to, of people who went to baseball games, and who lived far away from the most dilapidated house in the city…ours. I had the hope that there was something beyond the pathetic childhood I was living out, and somewhere people enjoyed life.

It was about 10 years later I finally made it to Fenway in person, made easier by going to college in Boston. But the majority of my life has been watching the games from home. I remember watching every World Series, and the times in college I missed, particularly Joe Carter’s game winning home run for Toronto to win the World Series in ’93. Baseball has marked the time.

Much like James Earl Jones’ quote, my life seems to have been “erased like a blackboard.” At one time, church was the continuity of my life, both in growing up years and the ministry era. When that changed, I still saw faith as a continuity, but then that seemed to disappear. Then the last thing, marriage, ended in divorce, and when you add these three things together, it can be considered an erasing. Some would value such a fresh start, and it should be considered that, but it seems a difficult process to get there. That’s when I realized it is sports in general and baseball in particular which has been the continuity of my life after family and faith lost their prominence.

Perhaps Thexton is on to something. For some of us, baseball replaces love that is lost, family who have passed, hopes that have been dashed, and dreams shattered. He lays out how we find all of the spiritual themes in baseball, and not simply a shallow grass, field, sanctuary analogy. There is mystery of origins. There are miracles we can’t explain, faith, doubt, and tragedy. There is perseverance, work, and luck. There are saints and sinners, blessings and curses, regrets and forgiveness. Awful, mediocre, and great seasons. The winter of darkness, the light resurrection in spring. We can find ourselves becoming part of the story because its metaphors define us.

I find a significance in that 2012 when divorce happened, the Red Sox were having their worst season in my lifetime. Students in the library pitched in to get me tickets for a game at Fenway in September, expressing their care for my situation. A buddy and I had seats under the center field scoreboard, with less than 5 rows of seats between us and the very back wall of the stadium. If I had good pipes and aim, I could have spit out of Fenway Park. I didn’t try. But despite the bad team, which symbolized my season as much as theirs, we were there to suffer together. Then, in a way which couldn’t be explained, in 2013 they went from worst to first, and won the World Series with a bunch of “lesser money” players who grew beards to symbolize togetherness. Although I have yet to feel I have experienced such, I am reminded hope rises out of sorrow, and life can begin anew.

Sexton makes it clear this is just a road to God, not the road, and I would say a road that could be called understanding/identity/growth etc. Anything could be such a road, but for me at this moment, baseball is a good place. I have recently become a member of the Society of American Baseball Research, something I thought about doing for years. Realizing classes will be over soon and I’ll have another Masters to put on a shelf, I am looking for things to do for the next adventure. Members of SABR research, write, and discuss baseball, even publishing books, such as this latest example. Right now, this seems like a place I should be, and a place where I can invest myself in a hobby.

Happy Holidays to everybody.

Everyone loves a holiday tale that inspires, so why shouldn’t I write one?

Sitting here watching the news and ESPN, I have to wonder if sappy, inspirational stories of people overcoming adversity happen at other times of the year and not just late December. They all seem to show up now as filler because there is no hard news or sports to talk about. But no one will ever come to do a profile on what I’ve had to overcome in the past few weeks. It is nothing short of heroic and will bring a tear to your eye.

A few weeks back my toilet just decided to start randomly flushing whenever it felt like it. After trying to find the right keywords for this problem, I realized a “phantom flush” is the term they use, whoever “they” are, “they” know much more than I do. Water was leaking from the tank, not externally fortunately, causing the water to recede, causing the fill process to start over again, then stop with a thump. Not being educated in commode hydraulics, I tried to shine the flashlight in when it happened so maybe I could see what was happening. This is the equivalent to raising the hood of your car to “see what’s happening to make that clunking noise.” No idea what I’m even looking at, but it’s a fascinating observation in any event.

But I never could ever plan the observation at the exact right moment. So I was left befuddled on how to do this. So I of course turned to Google with search queries (and this is where all the Library and Information Science coursework comes in handy) of “toilet flushing when it feels like it,” “Toilet runs and then stops for about 10 seconds,” or to use Boolean logic “Toilet and bubbler or flush and spontaneous or intermittent or random.” Those didn’t find many results, so I just waited for Google to suggest things for me, so I queried something like “Toilet flushes then…” and Google suggested “stops.” But wait. Doesn’t every toilet do that? How does that explain anything? So then I tried “Toilet flushes on…” and Google suggested “its own.” And then I was led to the phantom flushing discussion. Damn, why didn’t I think of that?

This was an example of overcoming great obstacles. But the story goes on.

Now, what do I do? I came to realize it must be the seal has gone bad, and finding a frayed rubber ring, I decided that must be it. I moved the old thing around and made it worse. Now water didn’t stay in the tank at all unless I pressed down on the valve. So, now I went out to Home Depot to get a valve which didn’t fit. It was too wide. So I needed to go back. But then I wondered if I should fix the two other problems in the tank: the handle and the missing chain.

Like any sappy overcoming-the-odds story, we need a flashback:

This story goes back years. The ex and I couldn’t figure out how to fix the chain that had broken. If memory serves (where does that phrase come from anyway? It means I probably don’t remember anything the way it really happened), we could not re-attach a new chain. The problem is, this must be an old tank. The valve and flapper dapper are one piece- there is no rubber stopper. The valve has two looped openings which I guess is meant to hook the chain, but only one end of the chain has a hook- the other end…well…the other end is usually embedded into the rubber flapper. So how the hell was this to connect?

Commercial break to build suspense.

So we tried squeezing the end of that chain to get it connected to the handlebar, but it never could connect. So we gave up on the chain.

Tugs at your heart, doesn’t it?

The other problem was a loose handle which would not get bolted in no matter what the wrench did. We could get it just enough to be reasonable, but it wobbled. Then I realized I could take the arm from the handle, put it through the larger loop on the top of the valve, and bypass the chain altogether. This worked for a while until it would come out of the loop, after so many flushes. This lasted for years.

End of flashback.

Times have changed and now there is the problem of the seal, chain, flapper, and handle. And now, post-divorce, I am left on my own to deal with this adversity.

(Camera pans to a wide shot of a silhouette of me with a sunset in the background).

So another trip to Home Depot and a discussion with a nice gentleman, whose questions I could not answer, such as model type, whether it was a 2 inch or whatever. I just told him what things looked like, sort of like making grunts to your mechanic of what the car sounds like. So I came away with a new seal on the bottom, handle with arm, and flapper. Faced with these many challenges, I did one task at a time.

(Reporter is choking up as he narrates the piece).

I got the seal, and now water would stay in the tank. Basking in the glow of this major accomplishment, I took a few days off. I still had to manually operate this from the tank. So now I took out the new flapper and chain, and realized this was not going to be compatible with this design. So then I took the previously purchased chain that I couldn’t connect to the smaller loop at the bottom of the valve. (I tell you, I am getting this lingo down as I go). I thought maybe if I got a loop from a key chain, I should be able to connect the chain and the valve. It worked, but now the chain was too long, so I adjusted it at the top, then tightened the handle as much as I could.

And it worked. And several times more it still did. The handle is still a little loose, but it builds character, and was a reminder to the audience that despite these disabilities, we can never lose that winning, triumphant attitude, and as long as we don’t give up…blah blah blah blah.

So there is your holiday tale to warm your heart and inspire you to never give up. Tales like this should be shared all year round and not just at Christmas time. But then again, this did happen in December.

I may have a New Year’s inspiring story as well. The pilot light in the stove went out last week.

Happy Holidays.

Imported blog

I have just imported a blog I have been doing this semester for “The Hyperlinked Library” course for fall 2013. That blog was course-specific and housed on a class WordPress.com blog. They make it easy to export and import to another blog, which is pretty cool. If you follow this blog, I’m not sure if you got a “30 new messages” notice or what, but anyway, that’s what this is.

Continue Reading »

This is to be a “best of” my blog entries, but it’s always good to close out the semester checking in with tech news from The Onion:
 

To me, this is what technology is all about: finding someone to talk to who actually understands.

This semester, I’ve been talking a lot to myself and anyone who reads this blog. What I now have is a fine display of many blog entries labeled as “uncategorized,” a terrible thing for librarians. We categorize everything, and no matter what a thing is, we can’t wait to stick a subject heading or two on it. In previous library classes I took in another institution and wound up with a different Masters degree (proving what others have theorized that I am not only insane by also enjoy pain and suffering way too much), I had a professor who said we should even be barcoding and cataloging our mops and buckets. After all, they could be checked out and we wouldn’t know who has them.  I suppose the subject heading in the catalog would read:

Mops–United States–21st Century–Biography

I think it’s a matter of comfort for people to organize things in their own place so they know what they are called. People like their clutter because it makes them feel secure in their stuff and wouldn’t know what to do without it.  It’s a threat to say everything is miscellaneous, chaos, or uncategorized. It means you’ve got to make things up as you go along…that there is no ultimate meaning or reality you have to follow but that you create what you want. But many, including catalogers, would be greatly disappointed  to learn there are more questions than simple answers, and ultimate truth just isn’t there, so we may as well get used to things that are uncategorized:

This for me is why the hyperlinked library is such a fascinating thing to explore.  There is no real model of what “hyperlinked” means because it is a fluid understanding of what the library is becoming. Once you define it, you stomp it down and  destroy what it could be. It avoids definition because once you think you know what it is, it has already changed. Probably the most redeeming thing to happen in my life was when the concept of postmodernism (as a philosophy), clicked on a lightbulb in my head and I realized there cannot be one big mega daddy meta narrative to explain all of life and instead we are surrounded by many mini narratives we use to make sense of the world.

We can say the hyperlinked library is not one meta narrative, but a collection of many mini narratives that focus on user experience, participation, community, engagement of the user, transparency, mobility, creating things, and reflection. There are many ways to do this through a storytime with kids, video with teens, Twitter feed with the public, Idea Box for anyone, or e-book instructional class for senior citizens. Hyperlinks keep going and take us to many places we would never have known.

Much of my reflections and ponderings have dealt with the big, ultimate questions of life and how I fit in it and the library world. Others made no sense at all. That’s life. But here are some highlights:

* At the beginning of my high school library school year, we had a guest speaker with many probing ideas to explore. One video he shared was one I related to our course:

I remarked then:

Much like the above people on the escalator, so teachers, and librarians tend to be. But our jargon is great. We talk 21st Century, web 2.0, technology, social networking, and all kinds of techie words, but we have no idea how to really implement them. So we make a blog that is updated every two years, a Facebook page with few followers, or other tools which are never utilized. Our speaker on that Friday also asked how many of us are truly prepared for students wearing Google glasses and accessing the web through their voice (soon to be available in contacts), or having a hologram-type keyboard emanating from their watch as they access the web. I can barely push the buttons now…no idea how I’d do that.

(the entire post is found here).

* I have shared a struggle I have with constant computing:

The constant computing thing though has me baffled. I have a Facebook page but little interaction. Many are former students. I have a Twitter I see no reason to tweet about. I follow library blogs, and have my own blog. I still have a flip phone because (and I have looked into this for a long while) I see no need to pay a ridiculous price for something I don’t even use now. If I use 300 of 1500 minutes for $30 month, that is rare. I know how to use smartphones, but see no need for one. Emails are mostly professional.

I seem to be missing something when it comes to this networking thing. There is a blurring now of personal and professional. I still have found teachers at school who don’t own any electronic devices or even have a computer or home email. How can you be effective? I am certainly not like that, yet in a constantly connected world feel disconnected often.

The personal and professional is a big struggle for me, conceptually if nothing else. But we have to “take it personally” because a separation of public and private life no longer exists for many people. That doesn’t mean we have no privacy at all or are transparent about everything, but it recognizes we can’t keep up with a job that is only a job. It’s nice to turn technology off regularly so we can unwind, but to separate completely keeps us out of touch. I still work with teachers who don’t use their computer at home or have a personal email address. How can someone be effective in their job like that? We live in a hyper-connected world that never turns off, so we have to somehow connect our lives to it.

You can read of my continuous computing rambles here.

* I rambled on about a typical day in my librarian life in which nothing works I find workarounds: everything from computers to TV’s and copiers. Not much of the “convenience and relevance” Dempsey wrote about. But this ramble is here.

* Oh yeah, I did a podcast book review of Daniel Pink’s book Drive: the surprising truth of what motivates us. What is significant is not the brilliance and intellect of my review. Actually it didn’t have those qualities anyway. But what it did have was me trying to get through the podcast with a string dangling from my tongue. This was on a Friday night. On the previous Monday I had a biopsy done on my tongue and it was now sown up with stitches. Do you know how hard it is to keep your tongue from playing with those stitches? Anyway, I should bite my tongue more, but on that night it hurt like hell. You can hear the podcast here.

* In dealing with technology being a connection, I posted this:

So I am thinking not only of my own identity, but also of the library as an institution and what the Hyperlinked Library means. I personally find all the trinkets and toys we call “participation” shallow and watered down. I have a Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc etc., but find little connecting or stimulation from them. Godin talks about how we can link ourselves to any possible group in the world. I must be doing something wrong.

It is indeed true technology is making us antisocial with our phones, tweets, things sticking out of our ears, and now Google glasses. But this has happened before, and people of an earlier age complained about this:

What’s the matter with these people, anyway? It’s not like the good old days when people talked to each other more.

* I made a post that pokes fun of people I used to work with because they illustrate perfectly why we need this class. THEY are still out there somewhere. Here is that post.

* YouTube is a great example of Seth Godin’s discussion of tribes. YouTube Channels are another social networking place people connect, so I did this for one of the assignments as an example of going where the users are.  I wanted to show how academic libraries can use YouTube Channels to showcase their stuff. I may have spent just as much time running around YouTube, however, looking for examples of college library channels and getting sucked in to retro 80’s junk I remember. But that was part of the point for me: other people like 80’s retro junk too, so someone out there understands me. Well, they follow a channel too. This YouTubing assignment was fun, and it can be read here.

* I examined a little more about privacy and online and offline tracks. We need to be transparent and authentic, which is something a lot of people are not doing, even though they expose a lot of their life online. It is still hard to find people being honest or authentic about things. We still, however, need to be mindful of people watching what we say and do online and in the sense of organizations, who we represent. Someone is always watching.

* I pondered how users are really just people with needs, including introverts and non-mobile people who feel out of place in society. This was further expressed in my post reflecting on technology & society in which all of this stuff is critiqued. This tech age shows our longing for connection, yet fear of true intimacy. Since the web is open to everybody, anybody can contribute (the “cult of the amateur”), and we find some amazing stuff but also some junk. Just like physical life, actually.

Social networking can be enriching or shallow, depending on the user. But no matter what we see, we can pretty much all agree that we have a longing for connection and community. This is where libraries do not change. We are here to serve the patron, the user, the human beings with needs who come to us. They need more than just a book, a half-hour on the computer, or a glance at the paper. They need to know they are welcomed and valued by someone, somewhere, and may only get it in the library. The younger generation uses technology to do that, but still the seeking is the same. Libraries cannot be measured by what we have or give out, but the community we build.

Based on the idea of the “Idea Box,” I suddenly realized the bulletin board in the children’s room at the public library I work at could have some potential. So I created a “Story Wall” that encourages kids and parents to write stories and draw pictures on different themes, which in this case is holidays:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=611081148951738&set=a.228399223886601.57291.130949140298277&type=1

So I guess you have to start somewhere.

* This was supposed to be a “best of” my blog but I’m not sure what it really is. But as a final thought: as classes come and go and assignments done, I find myself more reflective of the whole process. We come together and learn together, then go our separate ways to try and make libraries and communities better wherever we are. The people we meet and help are as varied as the communities we live in. We learn from each, and are better for the experience. It reminds me of the best final TV episode ever made: the final episode of M*A*S*H*, now thirty years ago.

Goodbye, farewell, and amen.

The following is a fictitious proposal recommending the use of the LibGuides content management system for a college library. While budgeting would be a major consideration in any proposal, it has been left out here since exact pricing is not available publicly.

Director’s Brief  11/24/2013
To: Dr. Stuffee, Library Director
From: Bob Dreeming, Reference Librarian
RE: Implementing LibGuides into our library

Introduction:

I am submitting the following proposal for the purchase of the LibGuides content management service for our library as it will better serve the needs of our students and faculty.

LibGuides, used by many other libraries similar to ours, have found success using this platform. It is my intent to show you how LibGuides would work in our university library in an era of financial discomfort and constraint. While we have had numerous conversations over the past year on how to utilize web 2.0 tools (such as mentioned above), we have not yet discussed how a platform such as LibGuides can help us organize all of these other tools in one location.

What are LibGuides and what do they do?

LibGuides are the solution to the problems we reference librarians have been having. We know our print subject guides are not only outdated, difficult to maintain, and often incomplete, but also they are based on an obsolete model.

Over 1,700 libraries use LibGuides not just for content management but also knowledge dissemination. LibGuides can gather our research tutorials, connect with web 2.0 applications, and serve as what we once termed a “pathfinder.” (Roberts & Hunter, 2011, 68). LibGuides is tab-based with a variety of boxes and columns (Gonzalez and Westbrock, 2010, 642). RSS feeds, chat widgets, embedded videos, and pictures are just a few of the resources which can be places in those boxes. Everything can be shared with the social networking bar  to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Since we will always have staff not proficient in html code and web design, LibGuides does all the work for us with a simple interface. Also, by creating a template, we create consistency and can be more efficient with time (Gonzalez and Westbrock, 644), while also having the option of not using the template and creating a guide from scratch according to class needs.

Roberts and Hunter also break down the need for LibGuides in three areas: New Library; New Librarian; New Student. “The new library goes where the student is. The new student is on the computer. Librarians are aware of this and are working towards a better, more versatile library” (Roberts and Hunter, 70).  The breath of new life for the library is actually found in what we have always done: provide whatever the patrons need. As we seek to be an emerging library meeting patrons where they are, we can find a willing in ally in LibGuides to help us organize and distribute our content.

Ultimately the new library is adaptable. The library is not a lone silo relying on its internal staff to be experts in various fields. The new library allows for more collaboration amongst teaching faculty, students and librarians.                                                                                                       (Roberts & Hunter, 70).

LibGuides take us to where the college student of today is. We will continue our role of providing information in an organized fashion. Students need well-organized, easy-to-find guides for doing research. We need to connect with the user as they connect to everything else, mainly web 2.0 tools. LibGuides is designed to take us there. LibGuides is a system:

where students can submit links for classmates to review…Students can rate items and comment on boxes on any guide… Students appreciate this type of social networking where they can add to the discussion in a meaningful way…This creates a new type of online classroom where learning has no boundaries to a time and place. (Roberts & Hunter, 72)

LibGuides are a user-centered tool. They can be viewed on a phone or tablet, so students have access wherever they are.  Librarians have the ability to belong to the LibGuides community whereby we can copy (with permission) a box or page from another contributor and others can do the same with ours. We can also reuse our own boxes so that a box with “History databases” could be simply copied from one guide to another so that we don’t have to duplicate the same material.

What else can we do with it?

Indiana State University has a LibGuide designed specifically for distance learners: http://libguides.indstate.edu/distancelearning

Their page is a model we could use. They have several tabs which function as a library orientation for students who are not physically visiting the campus or library. The home page gives valuable information for getting students started and how to contact the library staff. Their purpose was to provide the same quality of information services to distance learners as on-campus students received (Arvin, 2009, 26).

screenshot1

 Gonzalez and Westbrock (2010) describe the influence LibGuides has had at New Mexico State University:

Using the LibGuides platform, guides can be created, updated, and changed relatively quickly. Since creating guides was becoming much less burdensome for librarians, they are able to create guides to meet specific, and often changing , needs of students and faculty. Without any input from faculty besides a syllabus or assignment, course/assignment guides can be created, shared, and used to open the door to future partnerships. These guides provide faculty with a vetted, organized set of tools to provide to their students (Gonzalez and Westbrock, 2010, 649).

The value here is obvious: we would not only assist the student-user but also the faculty-user who would see the value of the library staff and seek us out for further help.

screenshot2

Understanding how to reach our users is not as intimidating as we make it out to be.  Wayne Bivens-Tatum (2010) says all we really need is imagination and sympathy. “How many studies do we need to tell us people like ease, familiarity, simplicity, and quality and in that order?…Users want simplicity, ease of use, and quality resources. Well, guess what? So do I.” (Bivens-Tatum, 2010, 8). So don’t we all.  LibGuides can do a lot for us with simplicity and quality.

Schmidt (2010) uses “UX” to abbreviate the user experience, saying “UX is about arranging the elements of a product or service to optimize how people will interact with it. ” This is why our print guides need to be replaced with a more user-active system.

What do we need to talk about?

One issue we will need to discuss is who will have administrator rights.  Indiana State also cited this as an issue which needs to be decided upon before activation (Arvin, 2009, 24). Whether professors and/or students will have access to add boxes, comments, or other features will also need to be discussed.

Gonzalez and Westbrock (2010, 640) describe several practical issues that could make or break how effective LibGuides could be. The LibGuides must be easy to find on the library website and be findable to the user through several points of access. If LibGuides are buried, then we are wasting our time.

Gonzalez and Westbrock also found that course related guides were much more effective than general ones (Gonzalez and Westbrock, 640). Building a U.S. History LibGuide with several tabs and boxes would overwhelm users doing a specific project on the 1890’s. Not only should the LibGuides be course-specific but even some cases assignment-based. The user needs to see an immediate help and application.

To avoid confusion we would need to be consistent in what we call LibGuides, as some libraries choose “subject guides” “reference guides” or other various names. We would need to set a name and stay consistent (Gonzalez and Westbrook, 648).

McMullin and Hutton (2010, 795) describe their experiences with LibGuides at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. To get faculty involvement requires communication and collaboration, not to mention their individual personalities and your past relationship with them.  One way to do this is a “tips for faculty” page including screencast tutorials on how to embed the LibGuide into their own class website. An example is found here:

McMullin and Hutton (2010) go on to conclude that LibGuides “have allowed us to sort through and repackage our resources to suit the immediate needs of a group on our campus, and do so very quickly. They support the personalization of the research process and will help us to serve the new influx of distance education students” (McMullin and Hutton, 2010, 797).

Conclusion

LibGuides can greatly assist us in connecting with the user, especially the distance-learning user. We have great resources to offer but need a more attractive format with which to organize and allow them to be found by the student. LibGuides are exactly what we need.

Schmidt (2010) gives us a good concluding thought of users being people who have needs and are trying to accomplish goals:

People will notice, though not necessarily consciously, if we take the time to think about them when we’re developing our services. The secret here is not to think of library patrons, users, or customers: we need to think of people. We need to consider their lives and what they’re trying to accomplish. This act, which can only be done by cultivating the skill of empathy, is the most important—and perhaps the most difficult—part of user experience design.

As an institution which focuses almost exclusively on the needs of distant learners at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, LibGuides can serve us immensely, both in organization of library and subject content, and also as a platform for promoting our other web 2.0 services, such as embedded YouTube and other videos, numerous hyperlinks to other sources, RSS feeds, tagging, polls, surveys, sharing via social networking sites, as well as annotated bibliographies. LibGuides will help us utilize all these other tools.

I hope we can purchase LibGuides for our library and college community so we can do a better job connecting with our users.  I believe we would find success and higher usage statistics of our resources by having them linked on LibGuides. Other colleges such as ours have found similar success.  As we have watched the classroom change as more students are taking hybrid classes or even classes fully online, so the library needs to adapt. The classroom is emerging, so must the library (Roberts & Hunter, 2011, 69).

I hope we can consider the purchase of LibGuides and train our staff in delivering this content to our college community.

Bibliography

This has actually been my favorite week of assignments for this class so far this semester. No, that’s not because there were no assigned readings. If anything, the four books Kyle discussed in the lecture have burdened my life because I now have 4 more books to try and read because they sound very thought provoking.  Somewhere down the line maybe I’ll read all the stuff I hope to read…as long as I don’t read their bibliographies. One book leads to another and to another…

I like doing this critical theory stuff, postmodern stuff, or whatever label you put on it. Critically analyzing the field is where I find myself at home. Having lost my faith and previous identity, my mom to breast cancer, and then my marriage, all within a few years time, the LIS world may actually be more of a refuge for me than a career. In many aspects, it is all I have left at this moment in time. And it is a world in which you are encouraged to read, think, discuss, and when you do that go back and do it some more. I like thinking big picture about whom we are and why we do what we do as it helps me do some of the same for myself.

So these thinkers have given me some things to think about and the way they have expressed these thoughts are unique ones I’ve never thunked before.

Sherry Turkle:

Some of her thoughts include:

The illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.” I thought about this when I “unfriended” (a great word and idea someone should write a dissertation on) someone on Facebook who had over 1,000 friends. I’m sure he’ll never miss me. We go back to our college years and were one time colleagues in the religious world. How do you have a 1,000 “friends”? Social networking easily becomes a fraud or status symbol. Ironically, in the ministry we were encouraged to have such behavior because we the emphasis wasn’t on depth but gimmick. Bring people in, keep them entertained, and get them to be members and contributors. That’s how you build community, so the thought was. Mega church pastors from the Midwest were always the examples: “He preaches to 5,000 each week. What’s the matter with you?” So we were given the “add water and stir” instructions for how to do that in our church. It was soon apparent I would never be able to do this because I was not a cult leader who would draw people by my charisma and entertainment value. I wanted to ask questions and make people question and think. You don’t gain many “friends” that way, but the few you do are greatly enriching.

I think she is on to something. True friendship requires commitment and trust, and surely you can’t do that with 1,000, or even 300 people. But it seems maybe everyone is so alone because in society we are Bowling alone (to cite another book title I’ve never gotten to) that we have to have so many “friends” online to convince ourselves we are connected, or have “followers” so we feel someone is listening when we don’t have anyone in real life who actually will.

Social networking can be just the opposite. We can have fuller relationships we physically couldn’t have in real life, and more contacts than ever before. The strong relationships we have can be stronger because no matter how far apart we can still connect. But I wonder if this is the exception rather than the rule.

* “Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved.”

We are so used to the instant and the loud we don’t even feel comfortable in the alone, quiet, and reflective. Yet, it is hard to appreciate relationships and connections without realizing the opposite, and being alone makes us appreciate company. But our devices attempt to “solve this problem” and give us constant, continual noise, dribble, and nonsense.

Well, connection if you look at it positively.

But unless used properly, we can become a slave to our devices and feel we cannot live without a constant tweet or text.

* “We are using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self.”

This is pretty true. When we don’t have a sense of who we are, we let machines do it for us. About a year I dabbled into the world of online dating. The biggest struggle for me was in writing my profile so I didn’t sound like a stiff, although I most likely am one, and trying to sound real without really being real. I was depending on a machine with all of its algorithms (how exactly does someone who is a 30% “match” get recommended to me anyway?), swarming with other people playing the same game. Friends have told stories of others they know playing this game, never taking it seriously, but doing it for something to make them feel good. I probably spent more time playing with filters and seeing what resulted, fascinated by how the whole thing works. I have a disabled account now. Not good at playing games. But yet, here we are as living examples of letting machines support our fragile sense of self.

People often feel that no one is listening, really listening to them and who they are. So, Facebook and Twitter create automatic listeners to make us feel there is someone who cares.

*”Human relationships are rich and they’re messy, and they’re demanding, and we clean them up with technology.”

How true. Take the pic down, delete the posting. If only real life were that easy to manipulate. Why can’t I just create a different screen name for the rest of my life? Maybe I can go through life making anonymous comments. That’s much easier than taking responsibility, having commitment, or investing in someone or something.

Then there were the thoughts from Keen:

I found myself agreeing with what he was saying. Then I realized he is part of the problem because he is using YouTube and participating in the same “Cult of the amateur” society we all do. I know he would say he is giving content rather than dog’s farting, but it is the same freebie audience that is getting information and entertainment for free that he is attracting on YouTube.

One of my realizations in moving from the right wing of my birth to a more center, then to the far left, and now whatever I am, is that there are obnoxious fundamentalists on both sides who simply state their opinion as the unfettered truth. Keen is one of these. I instead lean towards the Robert Frost quote: “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.” We all have opinions and biases, but to present those in a superior way, is in Kyle’s words from the lecture when he said Keen is a jerk. I agree. If he wanted to, Keen could have demanded this video be available for a fee so pitiful folks such as ourselves won’t be stealing something.

Keen does raise good points, though. Imagine Cronkite saying “Let’s read some of the tweets that have come in about the moon landing…”

CNN has been broadsided reporting such things as “fact” and realizing it is some misguided fool. But these things happened in the old days too, despite Keen referring to the great institutions and establishments of old as guarding against such things. They were full of crap too, but you would never know it unless you were on the inside, and you didn’t have the luxury of it forever living on YouTube.

Meritocracy.

Today everybody is a doctor on the web, and Yahoo answers will help you diagnose your sickness. But who’s going to trust a government healthcare site that wreaks havoc on users, or what a politician says, or a company that makes its profit by destroying the environment? People are skeptical of the “grand institutions” he describes. While the great stuff does get “lost in the ocean of garbage,” we have access to great things we would not have before.

In a church history class in college, one of the few things I remember the professor saying was “Cream rises to the top, but so does scum.” He was referring to “cults” or erroneous teachings according to the established doctrine. I’m not even going there. But the key I remember was that because of so much other “stuff” out there, it helped re-define what it was they did believe. They hear a false teaching and say “That’s not right…but how do I respond?” Kyle said this well in that hearing these criticisms helps us in better articulating what we are presenting, and also helps us re-evaluate what we are teaching.

I think of an interview I heard on NPR this week with the author of the blog “Hyperbole and a half.” This was a great interview with a lady who shares her struggles through drawings, including describing her bouts with depression. Having had those same thoughts and feelings as her in a struggle with depression I’ve had, I found this interview and blog comforting. This is an “amateur” not a professional like Keen expects. The Idea Box is another example. But because of the free democracy of the web, this message can be sent out for free.

Our Game

Official Blog of MLB Historian John Thorn

lyndamk's reads

mmm...words...yum.

Baseball History Daily

Heroes, Villains, Oddities and Minutia--The Forgotten History of the National Pastime

Misc. Baseball

Gathering Assorted Items of Baseball History and Trivia

MOD LIBRARIAN

topics for the modern library: digitization, metadata, taxonomy, social media, cataloging, technology and sometimes just books...

the PLG

Progressive Librarians Guild - Simmons Chapter | Boston, MA

Hypermarc

My site for LIBR287 - Hyperlinked Libraries

fragilemuse

Youth Services

sermonizing

musings of a would-be theologian

A few thoughts on libraries, technology, education, religion, philosophy, politics, current events, sports, media, or whatever else pops up

Pam Librarian

transforming traditional libraries into thriving learning commons

WCUI library

Tips&Tools to help you along your way.

Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries

A Sweet Complainer's Book Blog!

Just another WordPress.com site

hls

...how would you Hack Library School?

Academic Librarian

A few thoughts on libraries, technology, education, religion, philosophy, politics, current events, sports, media, or whatever else pops up

Ideas

A few thoughts on libraries, technology, education, religion, philosophy, politics, current events, sports, media, or whatever else pops up

More Notes from Aboveground

A webpage dedicated to reviews of books new and old, and to essays on a variety of topics in psychology, religion, politics, science, literature, and philosophy.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.