Deepening the Conversation

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


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ALA. New Orleans. Crazy town

ALA is coming up fast, and I really need to get my schedule in order. Actually, I think this is a desperate plea for ALA to extend back to a full 5 day conference. Why do I think that’s the way to go? Um, well, see for yourself (for best effect, scroll to 6/25):

Um, pretty please? An extra night or two in the hotel would make me so much happier than spending all this money and not getting to participate in fully 2/3 of the programs I want to attend. ALA is a great conference,  and I for one would rather spend more time there than have a schedule and set of choices like the one above.

If anyone is interested in coordinating sessions and notes for any of my quadruple booked sessions, let me know. Training, transliteracy, technology & learning, and Commons development & evolution are the general topics in conflict. Well, that and amazing speakers, great film opportunities, and Guy Gavriel Kay!!!


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Outreach Technology

One of the things that carries through from developing the Learning Commons connections to being a Staff Technology trainer is the outreach, and the exploration of the most fit tool for the job. Any tool. Any job.

It’s really all about knowing your audience, your clientele, your users. How do they use information resources? How do they manage their information workflow? And what tools best match those uses, as well as their interests and your goals?

In the Learning Commons, the answer for many things was Twitter, with minor side forays into Facebook and blogging. For Training, I’ve decided the answer was a blog, and specifically a WordPress.com blog instead of the campus hosted and inflexible install of Moveable Type.

Why? Some of those answers are in my latest post there. Go check it out! And if you’re a trainer, come back and talk to em some — are you using technology for outreach and training with your users? what are you using? How are you assessing?

 


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The Technology Trainer is in

Today marks the start of my 2nd week as Technology Trainer.  Although I still have no furniture (beyond the desk) and it took 3 days to get a working computer, last week was just out-of-the-park productive. I facilitated 6 hours of Excel training (this week is Access, which may well cause my brain to melt!) and set (and made progress on) a few priorities.

I now chair the Technology Training subcommittee, and I hope those poor souls won’t revolt when they see the agenda in their inbox this morning! In the past, this group has been advisory to the Coordinator of Staff Training, and responsible primarily for putting on our 23 Things program. That’s a lot of work, in a compressed time. But since Tech Training is now a full time gig for someone (me! me!) obviously there’s going to be more going on. Part of that is deciding the role of the committee.

Essentially, last week I set my priorities for the next 3 months. These include:

  1. Outreach. Creating (and then maintaining) a blog to gather training opportunities, in-house and from outside, and raise awareness of the training resources we already provide. Weekly news blasts. Office hours-on-the-go (your office, not mine)
  2. Clarifying (and then updating) our in-house experts list
  3. Planning & implementing staff management and training for 4 major software updates this summer
  4. Creating an eBooks task force to bring public services and technical services into closer communication and improving the finadability of ebooks on our campus
  5. Developing Technology Proficiency baselines
  6. Determining essential trainings, currently only password management (with all the changes this summer, I’m afraid to push much more)
  7. Start more conversations among staff and librarians around technology via social media brownbags  and a tech toy petting zoo
  8. Investigate options for incentivizing training
  9. Work with IT to compile a list of approved and forbidden software license click-throughs (this is a huge problem here. We aren’t supposed to ever click OK on a download, because that constitutes signing a license for the state. But someone somewhere must know whether or not it’s OK to click through on Dropbox, iTunes, Evernote, Mendeley, Firefox & Chrome extensions….)
  10. Including as many webinar platforms as possible on the above list
One of my ongoing problems is never knowing what “enough” looks like. What do you think? Is this insanely optimistic for three months? Or is this just the first half of my summer?
Have you done any of these things? Do you have any tips to offer, or documents or websites to recommend (especially for points 5, 7, and 8)?


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Finally!

Finally indeed! After many many weeks in process, I am finally able to announce that I am now UIUC’s Technology Training Librarian, in Staff Training and Development, working for the marvelous Beth Woodard.

I enjoyed my work in the Learning Commons, and hope to have the opportunity to do more in the future. I love the Commons movement, and think it is truly the future of Library.

The Undergraduate Library Learning Commons has now been operationalized into the daily flow of the Undergraduate Library, under the direct administration of the UGL Head. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish in that position (even though I still have a growing wish list of things to develop and implement there!), and happy that most of it has been refined to the point that it no longer requires my hand on the till.

We have big big changes coming the technology pike this summer, and I am looking forward to helping it all unroll as smoothly as possible. I’ve spent the last 4-6 weeks preparing for this move, and have been immersing myself in leadership, facilitation, and change management literature (as much new software as we’re expecting this summer, I see myself doing as much or more anxiety management as skill training). Beth and I have been brainstorming and I have just been chomping at the bit to get started.

In additional to meeting the immediate operational needs (we’re moving to Lync, Win7, Exchange 2010, and Office 2010 this summer, all at once, yikes!), I’m especially looking forward to some specific things:

  • Working more closely with staff, getting to know their needs, and the ways that technology impacts their work. I’m also oddly looking forward to studying the civil service rules, and identifying  room in them to incentivize training for civil service staff.
  • Working in explicit and defined partnership with IT, in some sense becoming an outreach member of the IT team
  • Trying to implement emerging technology, developing digital branch tools, and trying to make sure we remain relevant and useful are still core goals for me.

This last point is especially important to me.  I’ve become very aware that we (the Library)  can’t evolve and grow into robust providers of the digital infrastructure and outreach environment incoming students will increasingly expect unless all members of the library staff are comfortable in a technologically changeable environment. I don’t know how long I’ll be doing this work, but one of my strongest hopes is that I will be able to work out a way to train for change. Really, I’m just talking information literacy here, or transliteracy, or 21st century skills (whatever you want to call it!). Aimed at adult learners who may see little in it for them, but that’s just a node on the digital divide, and I am so excited to see what I can spin from it!

I’m new to training, and both excited and looking forward to the challenges and opportunities moving ahead. there will be much more in this space as I move into it!


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Post-ACRL resolutions

I find conferences invigorating. I’m a true extrovert (and an intellectual), and very little recharges my batteries like a 3 or 4 day stint of seeing old friends, making new friends, and absorbing new ideas and new takes on old ones. Throw in a change of locale, an excuse to indulge my inner foodie, and the escapist novel I allow myself when traveling, and I’m in bliss. Pure bliss I tell you!

It’s like New Year’s Day.

In honor if that feeling, I’m going to make some post-con resolutions

  1. More blogging! I mean it. I miss my blog. I miss the daily writing. I miss the opportunity to speak and be heard.
  2. More blog reading. (Commenting on same may constitute more blogging…). I don’t need to travel to listen to wonderful marvelous brilliant you. I can read your blog. So I’m going to.
  3. More TED talks. I just bought myself a Roku, and it has a TED channel. I’m not just going to bury myself in your brilliant words, but I’m also going to dive deep into the random and magnificent thoughts that stream out of TED. (and blog about it…)
  4. I am going to read more. Not just stuff for my research, but that ginormous list of tangentially-relevant non-fiction? gonna read it. All those books about libraryness that I want to read and never do? gonna read ‘em. Um, and blog about them.

Some things on that list:


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On Eeyores

I just read Gretchen Rubin’s (The Positivity Project) Tigger/Eeyore post, and I think the article, the concept, the insight, is fascinating, but there is one (central) point that rubs me wrong. Rubs me so wrong that I think it may make the whole scenario miss the point, and certainly it gave me enough pause to prevent me from sending it to my colleagues (oh boy are we ever in a Tigger/Eeyore scenario at MPOW! And we could certainly use some help thinking through our dynamics). What do you think? Does this resonate – either my read or Gretchen’s?

There is no doubt in this scenario Gretchen draws that I am an Eeyore. But here’s the thing: I’m not negative. Let me finish please! I’m critical, in the sense of ‘a critic’, performing critiques. When presented with something, I start tugging at it, holding it up to the light. Does it stand up? Where are the weak points? What needs strengthening? How can we tighten it up and make it better?

This is NOT negativity. This is me being invested in the project. If I think your project is irrelevant, unnecessary, or irredeemable, I won’t put my energy into it. This is my being supportive — and I want and expect the same from you. In fact, I find it deeply irritating and uncollegial if, when asked to be a stakeholder, you nod and smile and say it looks great. I need you and your stake, or I wouldn’t have asked. When I’m asked for input, I am showing you respect, support, and enthusiasm by giving feedback and adding my knowledge to your mix. Because you asked me.

I find the absence of this critical approach to be not ‘positive’ but ‘cheerleading’. Are any or all of these three dyads accurate? Tigger/Eeyore, Positive/Negative, Cheerleader/Critic? Do any more accurate phrases occur to you? Am I full of it?


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desperately seeking easy answer to impossible web design wish

My web skills are stuck in 4.01 transitional, so my desire to have a dynamic version of the below as my learning commons homepage graphic is quite frustrating. Do any of you dear readers have any idea how I might be able to make it so? And have the nodes rotate, so the one I select would move to center and throb slightly? and the smallish label that I have not typed into each node would enbiggen and hover out a description of what lies behind that node (ie, the linked to page)?

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