Deepening the Conversation

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


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Thursday afternoon food for thought

I’m rereading John Seely Brown in preparation for a talk this weekend at ALA, thinking about how the library as a workplace fits into the learning environments he describes. Knowledge workers must be information fluent, and poised to dive into always changing interfaces and the steady flow of new, world-changing gadgets and tools. The same 21st century skills we talk about infusing into our students must also be infused into these workers who are not in school, perhaps not terribly engaged with or passionate about the work they do (or more tragically, would like to be engaged and passionate but are thwarted by 20th century understandings of knowledge work)

these quotes are discussing the play and learning modes of MMOGs, but i believe the content should be equally applicable to the world of library work.

Play amounts to assembling and combining whatever tools and resources [available] will best help,the learn. The reward is converting new knowledge into action and recognizing that current successes as well as failures are resources for solving future problems

Can you imagine the strength of a knowledge-based workforce allowed to engage their jobs in this way?

Game worlds are meritocracies–leaders and players are subject to the same kinds of assessment–and after-action reviews are meaningful only as ways of enhancing performance

I especially love this one. Past happenings are only relevant to the degree that they allow us to improve and move forward. Punishment is not the goal, only learning from the past in order to keep creating a better future. And all employees would be subject to the same feedback processes, and all employees would be equally accountable to their teams.


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Spring talks

Things are super busy in The Life of Rudy right now. A lot of important paperwork has been signed, my house is on the market and has to be packed and lived in while still looking “staged”, and I have about 5 weeks to tie up all the loose ends at work and make the move west.

While that’s going on, I have a few projects coming up that I’m pretty excited about.  Next week, the ACRL InfoCommons Discussion Group (I’m co-chair) will be holding it’s first virtual meeting (info on joining the virtual session is at the end of this post). Donald Beagle will be talking about his recent ECAR paper “From Learning Commons to Learning Outcomes” (subscription required). I’ve worked hard on trying to take advantage of the opportunities virtual offers for interaction. Despite a great program, great speaker, and a great group of usual attendees, I’m nervous. The physical meetings are well attended, and have great discussion, and I really want to  capture that same energy. I’ve also long wanted to carry that energy through the time-between ALA meetings, and this virtual meeting offers a chance to see how we might make that work (and will provide some pointers for midwinter meetings for the new ACRL Leadership Discussion Group, which I hope I can arrange to meet virtually in Spring).

I hadn’t planned on attending MidWinter this year, but Elsevier invited me to be on a panel at their Digital Libraries Symposium (Beyond the Database: Digital Services Enabling Patron Success). I’m on a panel with Jason Casden and Steven Smith , but I’ve got 25 minutes all to myself (that’s a light year at ALA!), and will be speaking about staff skill development and training to support effective development & use of digital services, as well as the importance of staff skills in supporting researcher needs. Expect lots of discussion of play, of creating affordances and mentoring dispositions, constructivism and John Seeley Brown

I start at UNReno March 1, but I’ll be heading MidWest almost as soon as I’m unpacked, for the Minneapolis-St. Paul-based Library Technology Conference. I love this conference (not just because it’s on my birthday and gives me an excuse to visit some of my favorite people). Smaller conferences always make me happy. This one has great people, good organizers, and could use another day or so! I’ll be speaking on Breaking Down the Silos: Technology, Socialization, and Culture Change.

That’s all that’s currently scheduled :) I hope I’ll be speaking in May at the Canadian Learning Commons Conference in Calgary, and am planning something to present on Outreach and relationship building at Anaheim in June (in addition to chairing two discussion groups and doing some program planning….). I guess the call for Internet Librarian in October will be out some time soon, too…

It’s good that I consider work a close relation to play, right?It’s the only way around the truth behind “all work and no play….” :)


InfoCommons Discussion Group Meeting Details:
Add this meeting to your calendar: https://ala.ilinc.com/calendar/zwfwpkm/rzbswbf
Title: ACRL Info Lit Commons Virtual Midwinter Meeting
Date & Time: 01/11/2012 at 11:00 AM Central Time
Duration: 3 hour(s) and 30 minutes
Leader: Rudy Leon

Join this meeting:
Let us see who you are! Upload your picture: https://ala.ilinc.com/picture/rzbswbfnpxpymcv

Want to prepare your system ahead of time? https://ala.ilinc.com/systest/zwfwpkm

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Participant Quick Reference Card for joining and attending an iLinc session: http://www.ilinc.com/pdf/documentation/Participant-Reference-QuickStart.pdf

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Learn More about iLinc Web Conferencing at www.ilinc.com


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Westward! Oh!

I am so excited to finally announce that I will be joining the great folks at the University of Nevada Reno’s  Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center in March.

I will be joining this team as a Reference & Instruction Librarian, and am really looking forward to working with this innovative, collegial, and generous group of folks.

My interview with the folks at UNR was so wonderful (it felt like a 14 hour brainstorming session!) I know I’m going to love working with such and engaged, curious, probing, kind, generous, and collegial team. I don’t know my departments yet, but I do know that I’ll be spending time on instruction, reference, and collection development (I miss instruction and collection development!), as well as on strengthening liaison relationships to departments and student groups.

The Knowledge Center is an exciting place. The space was built three years ago, with a goal of being “at the intersection of knowledge and innovation” (I know right? It’s a dream come true for me!). It’s a gorgeous space (exterior shots here, interior ones here), technologically rich, heavily used, and completely student-centered. Their @1 technology floor is amazing, supporting data services, visualization, poster printing, media production, and with an integrated gaming space. I love that the building was built with robotic storage attached, and even more that there’s a video loop playing near the request desk  about the robotic storage. They take their students seriously, and they visibly assume intelligence, curiosity and creativity all across the building.

Have I mentioned they have all the cool toys too? How can I not be looking forward to working with a group of folks who built a building like that, have a Surface, have a Kinect going at all times, and also painted the walls of the science library whiteboard? And are seriously engaging with the possibilities having a couple of 3D printers will afford? They have a button maker, and made the news for their holiday tree made from weeded bound periodicals.  While still remaining completely engaged with the academic processes of research and information literacy? In a beautiful space where students can feel like serious people or playful people, as they choose?

In addition to all the wonderful things I know about the folks I’ll ge to work with at the Knowledge Center, I’m also really looking forward to living in Reno. It turns out to be a surprisingly exciting place — and I don’t meant he casinos! Although, they definitely help the economy, and will ensure that I’ll finally get to see Cirque De Soliel. But Reno has mountains. MOUNTAINS! Oh, how I miss the mountains! On three sides no less! It’s 40 minutes from Tahoe, 4 hours from SF. Reno has a pretty strong arts community (the whole month of July is an arts festival) and some really nice independent restaurants. Including several vegetarian and vegan places, as well as a place owned by someone who used to chef at the French laundry. They also have the important things: a robust co-op, a bunch of farmer’s markets. a Trader Joes, and a Whole Foods. Ethiopian, Thai, and Indian restaurants.  The cost of living is comparable to Urbana and yet it’s right on the California border. It’s climate is great, high desert, no  humidity, the Truckee River runs through town, and did I mention the mountains?? Plus, it’s The West. Big West. Open West. A state I know almost nothing about but am already developing a romantic attachment to — gold mines, great history, Burning Man, legal prostitution is just so strange, and wide open spaces! I may finally take up horseback riding. And alpaca farming and weaving :)

Things may be a little quiet here the next few weeks, as I put my house on the market and pack and clean all the things and head West. I’ll pop in later this week with details about some exciting speaking engagements and programs on my travel horizon, but other than that, I’ll be busily packing, sorting, tossing, and dreaming of mountains.

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