And The Semester Starts Tomorrow . . .

January 21, 2007

Although I had intended to spend my last weekend before school started doing any that wasn’t school related, I spent most of today going over information for both classes. My professor for ILS656-Information Architecture had already posted the syllabus and class readings. I noticed that the professor for ILS560-College & University Libraries (or Academic Libraries as called by the professor) opened up this class today. I printed the syllabus early this afternoon along with the readings for this week. And, so of course, I started doing the readings.

Anyway, both classes look great. I guess I’m a bit more excited about ILS656-Information Architecture because it is something I haven’t studied. I work in an academic library – and while I certainly have more to learn about them, I’m very familiar with them. Last semester, I found ILS565-Library Management to be a bit painful because the subject matter was too real. I’m thinking the same might be true for ILS560-College & University Libraries. The good news is that although I expect both classes to be challenging, I think the workload will be manageable (famous last words, huh?).

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I’m Not Sure What This Might Mean, But I’m Afraid

January 17, 2007

For some reason, this week I have been having the most bizarre and vivid dreams. They wake me up – and then I lay in bed unable to get back to sleep. They aren’t really nightmares – they are just extremely odd. I don’t remember most of them when I wake up in the morning. Well, last night at about 12:35AM I woke up from a deep sleep – a bit disoriented. I had been dreaming. While I do not remember the entirety of the odd dream, I do remember a particularly wacky detail. I was telling a family member a story about one of our second cousins who had just been picked to be on a new reality tv show. This reality show was going to be a joint effort by the Discovery Health channel and the Food Network (I guarantee you won’t guess where this is headed). First, the stars would have surgery to remove some organ. The surgeries would be documented on one tv show. Once recovered, the person would then do his/her own cooking show where they would cook the organ that had been removed with some special, fancy recipe. The best recipe would win the overall prize. Hmmm. . . . . . . What could that possibly mean? I think I might be scared. Prior to this, the oddest dream that I remember was one in which my best friend and I were going to a party. I was at her house waiting for her to get ready (which took a long time). When she finally came down the stairs – several hours late, she was dressed as Hamlet. It wasn’t a costume party. Hopefully, my dreams will go back to normal now.

On an unrelated (and less odd) note, Mythbusters is doing a show about pirate myths tonight. I can’t wait! Ahoy, Matey!!!


I’m Looking Forward To This Semester

January 17, 2007

Yesterday, my ILS656-Information Architecture professor sent a general email letting us know that classes start on the 22nd of January – and giving us instructions for logging onto the class. It seems that SCSU made some changes in its policies for accessing online course material over break. From what I understand, all schools in the Connecticut State University system shared one course management for distance education programs (at one time called OnlineCSU). Each university also had an additional CMS portal for traditional and hybrid classes. I always wondered why there seemed to be so much confusion among students accessing online classes. However, I can see how students taking both traditional and online classes at the same time would get confused by having two separate systems with different usernames. I guess the CSU system decided to disband the OnlineCSU system – and now we all log into SCSU’s WebCT portal. The big difference is that we no longer log in with some 8 digit number, but use another log in (a more traditional username that is some combination of our names). It took a while to figure this out – but fortunately, I was able to figure it out with some help from fellow graduate students via the ILS listserv.

Once I finally logged onto the system successfully, I was able to poke around in the course site for ILS656-Information Architecture. The professor has already posted all sorts of material. I probably should not have been surprised. This professor has her own web site with information about the courses she teaches, projected courses with tentative schedules and syllabi. She also includes the texts for these classes. I can’t stress how wonderful it is to have this information when registering for classes. I so wish other professors would do the same. Anyway, this all makes me very excited about this class. I think it will be a wonderful learning experience -albeit a challenging one. I’m also looking forward to ILS560-College & University Libraries. I have already taken two classes with the professor teaching this class – and so far he has been my favorite professor.


Academia & Library 2.0

January 16, 2007

Laura Cohen from Library 2.0: An Academic’s Perspective had two great posts this week: Academic Libraries, Captive Audiences and Transformation and 2.0 Projects and Scalability. In the first post, the author discusses the fact that many academic libraries see themselves as a monopoly on campuses. Because of this, academic libraries are slow to see the need to transform. After all, they have a captive audience – and don’t tend to see the need to court their clientele. I think Laura Cohen has a real point about why academic libraries may be slow to adopt 2.0 technologies. From the post:

Do academic libraries have a captive audience? Yes, but this audience is being drawn away from us and the situation will probably get worse. If things keep on going as they are, in ten years’ time we’ll still have users, but the disjunction between our information culture and theirs will be vast. We’ll have a captive audience, all right, but one that will use us grudgingly, that will not enjoy dealing with our off-putting, complex, rigid information systems that are light years behind the interactive, participatory, open systems that define their information culture.

Honestly, I think that some of these predictions may actually already be the reality for many of our constituents.

In the second post, Laura Cohen pointed me to Karen A. Coomb’s January 2007 article from Computers in Libraries, Building a Library Web Site on the Pillars of Web 2.0. In the article, Karen Coombs describes the process of rebuilding her library’s web site based on web 2.0 technologies – which makes Laura Cohen think about ways that we can make this easier. She hopes that “we can develop a culture of sharing successful projects across libraries.” I agree. I doubt that we can succeed at transforming libraries without serious collaboration.


File It Under Things You Don’t Know About Me

January 15, 2007

I am a rabid football fan – but games can make me sick to my stomach. As a child, I adored the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys – I think because they won. I also think that I had crushes on Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach – or maybe it was just to irritate my Dad. Anyway, it was pretty painful to be a New England Patriots fan in the 1980s – although Steve Grogan is a local legend. I actually own an authentic throwback Terry Bradshaw NFL jersey – a prized possession given to be me by my Mom & Dad for Christmas one year. Of course, being a Patriots fan of late has been a fairly easy thing to be – given the success that they have had of late. This Christmas I finally got an authentic Tom Brady jersey – which makes me very happy.

Anyway, playoff games definitely tend to give me angst – today’s game versus the San Diego Chargers was excruciating to watch. Fortunately, the Patriots prevailed – and I can actually breathe again. Of course, the bad news is that I will have to go through this all again next weekend when the Patriots travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. Losing would have been easier – but I guess not as much fun.


Why Do I Blog?

January 14, 2007

In one of the most commented posts in the world of library blogs last week (Keeping it real), Meredith Farkas asked “For those of you who blog, why do you do it?” As many of Meredith’s posts do, this question really made me think. Ostensibly, I started this blog as a way to document my progress through my MLS program. I thought it would be a great way to document my progress through school – and would be a place where I could reflect on my education. Because I have a professional librarian position, my thoughts and experiences in school and at work sometimes overlap – although I deliberately try and refrain from specific references to my place of work. When I started blogging in September 2005, I thought the process would be fairly straightforward. I remember an email exchange with my advisor at SCSU: I sent him an email link to my blog because I had annotated some of my projects for my first class in the MLS program on it – he responded that he thought I would probably find other topics to write about. I was skeptical at the time, but he obviously was correct. Thus, over time blogging has become much more than a simple way to document my experiences in grad school. It has become THE place where I work through the issues that have become central to both my school work and my own conceptions of what it means to me to be a librarian – or more accurately what it means to be the best librarian that I can be.

The bottom line, you ask? I blog primarily for myself. It is an online venue that I can use to think through important topics that I am studying (and ok, let’s face it, some topics that I find less important), document projects, discuss current events in the library world and keep track of important blog posts. Ultimately, I don’t blog for the people who may or may not read this blog. I am truly amazed that people do read it. It has been an unexpected benefit – comments and support from people around the library blogosphere has really transformed my blogging experience. As such, I do not worry about whether a post falls into the category of mindless “me-tooism” or not. If there is a topic or another blog post that I think is important, then I will write something about it – sometimes with original commentary, but sometimes not. Generally speaking, I have links within my blog to almost all of the blog posts that have meant something to me on some level. I have used social bookmarking sites, bibliographic citation tools that allow one to keep URLs, and other social software sites. However, as of today, I use very few of the sites that I created accounts for. In some ways, I have total social software overload – blogging is really the only tool that I have really found useful in the scheme of my online needs. I am not making any specific comment about the usefulness of such tools like del.ico.us. If they work for people, then they are useful. I just can’t honestly remember my usernames to so many different sites. So, I use my blog to keep track of things that I find interesting, informative or noteworthy. It works best for me.

I can honestly say that blogging has been one of the best parts of my educational experience – even though it isn’t an official part of my education. This is highly ironic, I know. I would venture to guess that my blog and its focus will continue to evolve. As my educational experience evolves – as my work life evolves, my views on the library world will evolve. I suppose that is a good thing!


The Plight Of The OPAC

January 11, 2007

The poor, sad OPAC is certainly suffering from a massive identity crisis currently. OPACs have taken quite a bit of heat and have many in the library world chanting the mantra “OPACs sucks” repeatedly. Personally, I think the discussion has been wonderful – and is the first step in what will probably be a long and drawn out process to overhaul our library systems. Today, Peter Bromberg joined in the recent discussions about how maybe it isn’t just the OPACs that we have problems with in a post comically titled Get your head out of your OPAC. In the post, he writes: “How does the quality of the OPAC ultimately affect the total quality of customer experience and customer satisfaction?” Important question. My thoughts – our users are not judging our services based upon our OPACs – not at all. I seriously doubt most patrons waste their time thinking about our OPACs. They reside in the background; people use them when they need to find physical items on the shelf – and they probably have no clue about what a better designed system could actually do. Fixing the OPAC will not make people use the library and its services. Libraries should be focusing on how to improve the overall experience. Improving the OPAC might be one way to help achieve this – but it will only be one part of a much larger initiative.