Deepening the Conversation

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


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Revisiting the definition of the Commons

On Friday I went to hear Richard Arum speak about the findings and updated info from his book Academically Adrift. The book generated a lot of buzz when it came out, and has received some criticism on its methodology. I’m not going to dive into that here (reading the book and it’s criticism is on the to do list), that’s not what this post is about.

Here’s what Arum has to do with this post: The Commons movement has defined itself on the positive benefits of libraries as collaborative spaces. Arum’s findings indicate that group study is not a positive and in fact has a negative impact on learning.

Valid or not, it’s a provocative claim. And makes me wonder: Is collaborative space the central defining feature of Commons spaces in/as Library? Or is the Commons a more radical movement that can withstand the ebbs and flows and onslaughts of fashion and continue to grow into the assertion I make for it that the Commons movement is the future of Library?

I think it can, but I’m no longer sure if I’m alone in this or standing in the midst of the pack.

My understanding of the Commons is this:

The Commons (be it Information, Learning, Knowledge, or Scholarly) is the explicit claim that Libraries are no longer about consuming static information. The Common movement is the combination of information in all it’s myriad forms (audio, video, physical, digital, narrative, data, code, fiction, nonfiction, you name it) and the equipment, spaces, and assistance needed to assist learners in their consumption and construction of information and knowledge.

The Commons can hold books and carrels, group spaces, white boards, presentation practice rooms, maker labs, media production labs, media viewing spaces, gaming stations, computer simulators, 3D immersive environments, learning technology that hasn’t been invented yet.

In the most radical reading of this, the Commons moves Library beyond the static scholar alone reading narrative material. The Commons redefines the Library to explicitly support (constantly? exponentially?) changing knowledge consumption and production models. It changes what it means to be a Library, a Librarian, and a library resource.

Am I out here on the edge alone in this thinking? Is this common thought? Maybe an agreed goal we are all striving for?


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Desperately seeking a re-entry strategy!

First day back after a week out, and I’m spinning madly trying to figure where to start. Usually when I’m out this long, so is everybody else (I’m usually gone this long for ALA or int he dead of summer). This time, I was at Internet Librarian, and in addition to be going gone a week int he heart of the semester, I am ridiculously inspired and motivated in 6 different directions (there are 4 blog posts trying to write themselves in my brain right now, not including this one!), I am doing an IL wrap up next week, and giving a paper at Library 2.011 the following week. I made an18 point to-do list while waiting for my computer to boot, and and writing this post in hopes that it will help me figure out where to begin. Alas, no luck.

Do you have a re-entry strategy? I really want to harvest the energy I’ve got swirling and inspiring me, but I feel like the most important things to knock off are the administrative details which by nature will kill all that marvelous energy.

I feel a bit like the White Rabbit, running mad. Advice?


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Internet librarian, arriv’e!

I’m sitting on the couch at one of my favorite hotels, in one of my favorite seaside towns, at one of my favorite conferences. I’m in Monterey, at Internet Librarian, and even though I know I love this conference, it was really nice this evening to be reminded why.

First, it’s a smallish conference. I don’t know the numbers offhand, but somewhere between LOEX and ACRL, and like those it’s focused, but with reach. Technology and Public Services, talking together. And learning from each other.

One of the things I love most about the conference is the people. These are smart, funny, engaged, innovative folks. And the conversations outside of sessions are unbelievably valuable. Today, i attended the Gaming and Te enology Zoo, where I played a fascinating cooperative board game, but I learned so much outside of that one conference event! I played with a Motorola Bionic webtop computer/ phone with its owner, and we miraculously resolved a full screen issue–while sitting on a bench enjoying the sun. I went to dinner with a former SUNY colleague and she convinced me that I really can build yahoo pipes to do what I want, and turned me on to a resource for finding the answer to my need for a platform agnostic PDF annotation tool. And, who knew? Evernote has competitors! I shared some info about Google Bundles, we talked about a tutorial tool I’ve been investigating, and joked about turning that conversation in to a web series (wouldn’t you want to watch two geeky library gals discuss their favorite collaborative web tools!?!?)

Tomorrow, the conference starts in earnest, and I’m really looking forward to my chosen sessions. I’ll blog some about them, but I’ll also be reporting out at the free ACRL-ULS post-Internet Librarian webinar on October 24. Most likely this week, the blog will be full of insights and new tools to explore that come up in out-of-conference conversations.


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IL2011 Cybertour: Web 2.0 Resources andTools #IL2011

I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting on the Cybertour at Internet Librarian next month. It’s a fantastic conference, with the best location (I really miss the ocean!). If you’ve never been, I’d recommend adding it to your list of must-do conferences.  Really. How often do the tech experimenters and the public service folks get to sit down together and drive the conversation?  It’s not just me, either — here’s a list of reasons to attend.

I’ll be talking about:

Web 2.0 Resources & Tools

Hear about one tech librarian’s cool tool picks as she shares her experimentation and thoughts on their possible use in libraries.  She has been playing with tools for easily creating tutorials, with “mother blogs” using Posterious, and getting deep into sharing and bundling features for info dissemination on Google Reader.  Hear her tips and opinions!

I’d love to hear your suggestions and ideas — are they easy tutorial tools you love, or want to know more about? Have you played with a new tool for information dissemination but want to get me to dig deeper into it? Leave a comment, let me know; I’ll be working on this presentation next week.


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Leadership Discussion Group forms submitted

I am so pleased with how many people supported the creation of a Leadership discussion group within ACRL. The petition has been submitted, and the ACRL Board will discuss it next month at their meeting. I’ll let folks know what I hear!

In case you’re interested, here’s what I submitted to the Board, in addition to the text on the petition itself (now closed)

Developing and supporting Leadership in Academic libraries is an area of strategic importance for ACRL, but is a community gap that ACRL does not structurally fill at this time. Academic libraries pose different paths, challenges and opportunities for leadership and management than other types of libraries, and these qualities deserve the focused attention that an ACRL group can afford. There are sections within ACRL with leadership/management committees; the existence of these can be read to support a need for a leadership forum for all types of groups within ACRL. Acquiring 58 signatures in 24 hours on the Petition to create a Leadership Discussion group within ACRL also speaks to the demand.

While ‘management’ frequently refers to a position with authority, ‘leadership’ refers to a set of skills, abilities, and actions that can be exercised by people in any job category within an academic library. Leadership skills are desirable in working with peers, as well as with people in different employment categories, regardless of whether they fall laterally or above or below a leader on an org chart. Leadership skills are also essential in working within professional organizations at committee level as well as working within the overarching organizational structures; ACRL’s (laudable) movement towards virtual meetings complicates communication and community building, and multiplies the need for developing leadership abilities in ACRL members.

There is a special need for ACRL to focus on leadership skills: academic libraries staffs are frequently (and uniquely) constituted of faculty and civil service members. These categories of colleagues cannot be managed in the most common sense, as the structures of those categories lack many incentive and disincentive options. ‘Managing’ faculty and civil service requires leadership skills, and addressing the needs of ACRL members in organizations with these populations can best be accomplished in undiluted conversations and fora.


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LLAMA webinar on Academic libraries

Owning and communicating the value of academic libraries is a major initiative in ACRL right now (see the Oakleaf report).  It looks like LLAMA is also taking an interest in the topic.

I’ve just received an email about a LLAMA webinar pertinent to academic libraries. It’s a webcast of a session LLAMA held at ALA NOLA, “Return on Investment in a Tough Economy: Defining the Value of the Academic Library”.

This webinar will highlight two projects to help academic libraries apply return on investment (ROI) principles to demonstrate their value and impact on users and justify the expense during challenging economic times. Presenters Jon Cawthorne and Irene Herold will explain the application of Triple (people, planet and profit) Bottom Line Accounting (TBLA) to ROI.

The webinar will be held Wednesday, September 14, 2011, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Central Time.

Fees: LLAMA member: $49
Non-LLAMA member $59
Register online at  http://tinyurl.com/3zhtecm

ROI isn’t something I know much about, and I’m not sure if I’ll attend this. If you attended at ALA, or plan on attending this webinar, let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the LLAMA session, and how it intersects with ACRL’s Values report (perhaps as a guest blogger?)


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Help me create an ACRL Leadership Discussion group?

I have put together a petition (with assistance from the always awesome Beth DuPuis!) for the creation of a Leadership Discussion group within ACRL.

I envision this group having 2 sessions at each ALA, one discussion group and one program.

Creating a Discussion Group requires 10 signatures from ACRL personal members, so, if you meet those qualifications, please sign the petition!

The text of the petition is as follows:

The Leadership Discussion Group provides a forum for conversation, communication and collaboration about leadership and management issues important to academic librarians. Leadership and management challenges in the higher education environment are unique in many ways from other non-profits or corporate arenas. Developing a platform for sharing our experiences, insights and challenges is important for enhancing librarians’ skills and developing future leaders and managers. This group embraces leadership in the broadest sense including topics such as leading from the middle, leading project teams and informal groups, leading within professional organizations, career paths for leaders.

 

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