I Have An Excel-Strength Headache

March 26, 2008

I am currently knee deep in data analysis for my research project  – and feel as if I am drowning in a sea of data. With 167 complete responses to my survey and, essentially 16 different points to which I could compare results, I am having a difficult time making sense of it all. I have about 100 different spreadsheets  – many that I have abandoned because something wasn’t quite right. I do feel as if I might be starting to see some patterns, but am still a long way from where I need to be. I’ve never been very good at dealing with statistics and probably won’t be in a hurry to do this type of research again.

Beyond my Excel-strength headache, I’m starting to realize that the end of the semester is approaching. I have HUGE amounts of work left to do for my paper and am starting to slip into full-blown panic mode, the likes of which I haven’t experienced in many, many years. I have to keep reminding myself that students pass this course all of the time and that it is doable. And now, I need to get back to work. It might be a good, long while before I actually see the light of day again.

My New Work Space

March 22, 2008

My Work Space
Originally uploaded by ScruffyNerf.

This is currently the space that I am using to do my homework – and other computer-based stuff. My husband and I threw out our living room furniture this morning. We successfully purchased a new sofa and over-sized chair (with two ottomans). I am sitting on the old, orange ottoman that you see in the picture doing homework waiting for the delivery. I am a bit amazed that we actually bought new furniture today at around 2:50PM and that it will be delivered sometime tonight. It could be as late as midnight, but it will come. Wow!

Meanwhile, I can say that this set up is not optimal. My back is killing me. Did you notice my laundry basket full of school work? This is the sacred repository for all of my paperwork relating to my research project. I’m not really sure how it ended up in this basket, but am pleasantly surprised by how well it works to contain my supporting documents. Hopefully, the new furniture will help to conceal the laundry basket from general view.

The Cutest Library-Theft Story Ever

March 18, 2008

What ever happened to the check-out cards left in the back of your books when the library automated? Did they become an “Object of Desire”? Check out this story of a library where these cards became something of interest to some 2nd and 3rd graders and the theft ring that formed around these cards. Warning – this story made me chuckle.

The Library Website: More Than A Conundrum

March 18, 2008

After several years of working in library systems, I have come to the conclusion that the most challenging, difficult and frustrating part of my job comes from the fact that I am responsible for my library’s website – and assorted web-based systems. Currently, the college where I work is in the midst of both a website redesign and a migration to a content management system. Because of this, the usual love/hate relationship that I have with this part of my job responsibilities is more of a hate/hate relationship – which has created vast amounts of stress, some questioning of my career choice and eye strain from spending too much time looking at code. This is all a rather large headache that is consuming almost every waking moment of my life (except for that which is being consumed by my ILS680-Evaluation & Research project). I have been spending an exorbitant amount of time and effort on producing something that may well be inherently flawed.

After all, how can we build effective library websites when we have little understanding of what this even entails? Can we ever have effective online presences when we piece together disparate systems and fit them into existing architectures? Do we know what our goal is? I have been wrestling with these questions for a long time, and it scares me to admit that I don’t have a good idea of how to start answering them. For me, website design, creation and management seem like add-ons or secondary responsibilities. I do general maintenance on a regular basis and spend more time doing design or creation when we add new systems or services. However, it isn’t until outside forces converge in the form of a college-wide-website-redesign project that I spend any significant time on the library website. And even then, this process seems to be one where I try desperately to carve out a niche for the library website from a project that is driven by forces with vastly different needs and goals. Thus, the end result is flawed before it even comes to fruition.

So, this is where my head is at right now. I’m immersed in carving out a niche from a market-driven redesign project with templates that were not created with the library in mind. I’ve been trying to figure out where to go from here – how to figure out the right way to move forward. Fortunately, a post from Lorcan Dempsey’s weblog, An effective web presence?, offered some insight. There is a link in this post to a Library Web Consultancy document prepared by the University College Dublin Library. The library wants to get a sense of the context into which the library website should fit. This is a step they are taking in advance of even thinking about a redesign project. They are hoping to understand their entire online environment and how the library fits into it. They are also trying to figure out how they want their website to work for 2-3 years into any redesign. This seems like a very well thought out project that aims to truly figure out how to design an effective online presence. I can only hope that the people at the University College Dublin continue to post information about the process. I know that I could learn quite a bit from what they find out – and maybe, in time, come to embrace my website job responsibilities.

The Survey – An Update

March 6, 2008

So far, I’ve had about 140 responses to my survey. How cool is that? Honestly, I am so, so surprised – and very pleased – with the response. I was hoping for 50 responses. So, I have to say thanks to all of you who were generous enough with your time to take the survey. I really, really appreciate your help – and your comments. I also want to make sure that I give HUGE thanks to Meredith Farkas for linking (without being asked) to my survey on her blog. I have no doubt that this mention helped to increase the number of respondents.

Now comes the question about how long to make the survey available. I definitely don’t expect that I will receive the roughly 40 responses per day that I got earlier this week. However, I definitely want to leave it up for a couple of weeks at least. I have started to look at the data, but haven’t really analyzed it in any depth yet. I think that I need to get an in depth sense of the results this weekend. Hopefully, this will give me a sense of how much longer I should allow people to take the survey.

Now, I Will Beg You!

March 1, 2008

A big thank you to those of you who helped my complete the pilot of my survey on computer self-efficacy among academic library employees. I had several people review the survey – and so far, 9 people have completed it. I did not get any comments about problems or issues, so I am now ready to move out of pilot mode. So, now I will beg. If you work in an academic library and have some time to spare, please think about taking the my survey.

The main portion of the survey contains questions that are intended to calculate people’s level of computer self-efficacy. There have been several studies which look at worker’s attitudes towards computers and technologies, but none have been done on library workers. In order to limit the scope of the survey, I chose to limit my research to academic library workers. I work in an academic library, so it made the most sense to me to study this group of people. I’m hoping to see if there is a difference in the mean level of self-efficacy dependent on the type of technical support offered to the respondents.

Anyway, I will apologize in advance for the fact that readers will probably be bombarded with my pleas over the next several weeks.

Thank you!