Deepening the Conversation

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


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)?


A Vision, articulated

In my last post I mentioned that I had written up a version of my Vision for my job, for my Learning Commons. My Dean had asked me for this, and I was thrilled to provide it to her.  I’ve spent a few days on various versions, and ultimately wrote up this quick and dirty, dense, management-ese version. There’s so much in here–each bullet could be a several page section of a larger article (and hopefully will be, but it’s hard to write about something  so dear to the heart).  I’d love feedback on this ; does anything about it inspire you? What parts are unclear, or make you want to call bullshit? What do you think?

Learning Commons Vision

Creating library spaces that evolve to remain relevant to undergraduate student research & study modes, while applying emerging and mature technology as useful, and leveraging the unique role of the library as a non-disciplinary academic space on campus.

Doing this requires not only maintaining and growing student services partners, but developing & strengthening relationships with academic units on campus and with subject librarians

  • Addressing study space needs of undergraduate students – collaborative & single, quiet and dynamic, late night
  • Explicitly acknowledging & supporting the truth that knowledge does not just sit on library shelves, but is actively created in libraries, and providing the software and support required to create students’ chosen final form of knowledge creation
  • Tracking the need for, and implementing as needed, changes in technological support for student coursework & intellectual engagement
  • Engaging the intellectual curiosity of students and growing their awareness of the potential for intellectual engagement of a wide variety of subjects
  • Helping orient students to the overwhelming array of library resources available to them
  • Leveraging the innovative impulses of the Undergraduate Library for technology and other areas to other libraries as suitable for their populations
  • Choosing Commons Partners with potential synergy for intellectual engagement, and supporting these partnerships through programming and collections support.

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An interesting day

Today was an oddly librarianly day. Which is to say, that most of my days don’t look like I’m a librarian, I could be any manager. Like, yesterday I had a meeting about personnel issues, a meeting with my boss, and 3 hours of reference work. And I checked email and managed a to-do list. Could have been any job

  • Today though. today I felt like a librarian, and a manager.  I had a meeting about faculty status and collegial behavior,
  • a meeting wherein the webguy & I may have found a way for me to build the flash-heavy website I (flash skills free…) want while also meeting accessibility needs.
  • I attended a TED Talk my committee hosted at the library school, and had lovely conversation about choices, and the differences between network design and hierarchy in organizational design. The Talk met the committee goals of drawing in students, faculty and staff from a wide range of departments, and was so well attended I thought the room had been double-booked!
  • I worked 1 hour on the reference desk, and answered a whole lot of actual reference questions. Two in particular: a class of 100 Chicago 7th graders wanted to see the library. (They stood in front of me while they asked this. ) And one of our students asked me to pull this month’s issue of Vanity Fair because it included an indecent photo, a nude of Marilyn Monroe.
  • An informatics minor interviewed me for his library school application. His initial contact to me came  over Twitter 🙂
  • I wrote a very dense version of my vision for the Learning Commons here and sent it off to my Dean.  It’s wonderfully management-ese, but still says what i want it to say. And pulling it out of management-ese would be a fantastic article!
  • Had an IM discussion about my Library’s crime rash, which has finally made the local news. Trust is really an important part of running a library, but you don’t realize that until it’s broken,
  • there was very little email today, but most of it was action oriented — I added 6 meetings to my next week

Is it weird that a day like this makes me feel more like a librarian than yesterday did?

So, do you want to see my Vision?Ii’m gonna give it it’s own post.