My Brain Is Turning Into Mush

July 31, 2007

. . . which isn’t good because I still have to finish my final for ILS566-Library Personnel Management. I have some outlines, but still have to write the answers to the two questions. Beyond that, WebCT Vista was down for most of today. It just came back up – and I’m betting there are lots of frustrated students out there. I’m so glad that my digital library final project was due yesterday! As a system administrator, I feel for those in the IT department at SCSU – it had to have been a rough day. Of course, as a student, I really believe that Southern needs to find a way to inform people of such a system outage. For a majority of the distance students, WebCT is the only interface to the school.

On an entirely unrelated note, I’m fascinated to see that large chunks of people search the web routinely for the phrases “I hate school” and “Happy Birthday, Dad.” It is odd that if one were to search Google for either of these phrases (exactly), links to two of my posts (titled I Hate School and Happy Birthday, Dad of course) would show up within the top ten results. Not necessarily what I intended, but interesting nonetheless.

Lastly, this is my 31st post during the month of July – and, yes, I felt compelled to post tonight to make it so.


One Class Complete

July 30, 2007

I just finished the three reviews of my classmates projects – two were digital libraries and one was a paper looking at how some academic digital library initiatives are emulating Google. So, I am officially done with ILS655-Digital Libraries. Yeah! And now, I need to get some sleep. I have 48 hours to complete my final.

I’m almost done!!!


The Survey

July 30, 2007

I’m not sure that I can spread the word any further than it has already spread. Meredith Farkas is conducting a survey of the biblioblogosphere. It doesn’t take long at all to complete. If you are a library blogger or a library student bloggers and haven’t taken it yet, why not?


I’m Suffering From PPAD

July 30, 2007

 . . . otherwise known as post-project affective disorder. I just turned in my final project of ILS655-Digital Libraries – and I’m feeling rather depressed about it. Of course, this seems to be the case after every project (or at least the vast majority of them) that I do. As soon as I submit it, I start to question everything, second guess every decision and wish that I had spent more time working on the project. I usually need several days for my mental state to return to normal – hence the PPAD. I think it is worse with this project because they are going to be reviewed by others in the class. While I understand the value of this technique, it is always nervewracking to read what others have to say about one’s project. Also, the digital library that I chose to create was one containing technical support resources for library staff. It is a much larger project than I could have possibly completed for this class, so I could only do a small portion. This generally means the project has a not-quite-done feel to it.

I guess I need to focus on the positive. I just finished the bulk of my work for the semester. I do have a final that is due late on August 1st (for ILS566-Library Personnel Management) and the three reviews of classmates’ digital library projects. The end of the semester is in sight. By this weekend, I will be done. And then, only two more classes to go. Can you believe it? I can’t quite wrap my head around it all.


I Am Drowning In A Sea of Metadata

July 25, 2007

I am working almost exclusively on my digital library project which is due on Monday, July 30th (for ILS 655-Digital Libraries). Currently, I am adding metadata to all of my resources, making sure my metadata is consistent, and going back and forth and back and forth fixing things. While I am enjoying the project overall, I am not having much fun with this metadata stuff. Well, actually that isn’t accurate. I am quite keen on coming up the overall metadata scheme – categorizing and classifying my resources. However, the brute force need to put metadata page on every page is testing my patience. I wouldn’t want to do this for a living.

I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of good metadata. However, I’m sure it will be a long time before I go near it again. Metadata on web resources – you are not my friend!


The Technology Our Users Want

July 24, 2007

I’ve been pondering the question that Jessamyn West asked last week, do library users care about our new initiatives? There is quite a bit going on in this post – and in the survey done by the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium. Rochelle Hartman comments with Tech Apps in Libraries? WI users valuse them, but don’t use much – and Jeff Scott ponders The future of libraries or getting them what they want. Without doubt, trying to actually determine what our patrons want is quite a challenge. Trying to figure out if they care about technology initiatives, let alone 2.0 initiatives, is probably even more complicated.

I’ve mentioned in the past that in my experience, patrons (the majority of whom are 18-22 year olds) are not clamoring for 2.0 technologies – they are not pushing for the library to be on the “cutting edge.” As I have been thinking about what the aformentioned blog posts might mean for my library, I’ve been trying to think about how our patrons currently use technology, what technologies they use most and what both might mean in terms of identifying which new technologies would make the most sense to implement.

Students primarily come into the library to use the computers – and to study. When studying, a large number bring their own laptop to use. Most of the computers that we have for student use have college-owned software that students must use for class assignments. Sure, they use library resources in addition to their use of productivity software, etc. However, students actually use more non-library-related technology in the library than library-related technology. Questions about printing, about scanning, about managing files, about using laptops, about using wireless, about using Microsoft Office, about making presentations, etc. certainly outnumber questions about the OPAC, electronic resources, electronic reserves or other library technologies. Currently, decent and knowledgeable technical support on all technologies that are available within the library seems to be much more important than adding dynamic content to our catalog or implementing virtual reference.

My impression is that the majority of students could care less about Library 2.0 initiatives. Our experience mirrors that of Jeff Scott in that when asked about improving library services, the most common request is to extend the hours that the library is open. Extended hours, social spaces, cafes seem to be the things that draw today’s students – not virtual reference, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis or interactive OPACs. Overall, this leads me to conclude that students aren’t overly concerned about technology in the library. This makes it difficult for me to try and figure out how to plan for future technology initiatives. What to do, what to do?


The Value of Library Blogs

July 23, 2007

In the August 2007 issue of Cites and Insights, Walt Crawford writes that “I’ve grown to rely on liblogs as my primary sources for contemporary library issues over the last two or three years(p.1).” In this article, Crawford muses about the place of liblogs in library literature. I have to say that library blogs are also my primary source of information about library issues as well as my primary means of discussing said issues. To me, liblogs are an invaluable resource. If I don’t read about something via one of the hundreds of blogs to which I subscribe, chances are that I will not hear about it at all.

In all honesty, identifying relevant titles and articles and wading through scholarly journals has absolutely no appeal. I don’t mean in any way to imply that they aren’t important or vital to the library field. However, unless I’m doing research on something for school or work, flipping through peer-reviewed journals is something that I am extremely unlikely to even pretend to do. When I do use such sources of information, I’m likely to read the introduction and the conclusion and then quickly skim the rest of the article to find relevant points. Scholarly articles aren’t always the most exciting things to read. Blogs actually make it easier to identify articles of importance – and bloggers often give overviews of an article’s content. I have found that blogs have much more impact on my day-to-day life as a librarian than scholarly journals ever could – which makes them more critical to my own professional development.

What does all of this mean to me? It means that I am not particularly interested in writing scholarly or peer-reviewed articles, especially at this point in my career and my life. In the institution where I work, librarians do not have tenure. As such, I’m not required to publish for tenure, nor would publishing result in any added compensation. I’m currently forced to write scholarly papers for school, and I am looking forward to having some time where I am not required to do this. Interestingly, I find writing for my blog to be anything but a burden. I have become very comfortable with the blog medium. It suits me. I can explore my ideas and think about issues in more creative ways. The ideas and thoughts of other library bloggers challenge me and force me to think about things in new ways. I find it rather edifying.

The world of library blogs adds a wonderful and dynamic element to the ways in which librarians talk about their craft. Blogs create an atmosphere that is conducive to meaningful conversation. Should more people take blogs and the discussions that take place in the liblog world seriously? Definitely!