Day One

I’m challenging myself to do a photo a day. Here’s my view of the Bay – blocked by Warren Hall. It’s a gorgeous view and will be better soon. I like the lines present in this shot. I’m a dork.


I miss #il2012 already!

Internet Librarian (#il2012) is easily my most favorite conference. I always learn something new, meet someone new, and get the chance to share new things going on with me with the library community. It was a crazy, whirlwind week, with two conferences within two weeks. I’ll use that as an excuse for the delay in my rundown of #il2012. My review process is as follows: look over my Twitter stream, and retype anything with the hashtag #internetlibrarian or #il2012. I didn’t attend as many sessions on Tuesday, but that’s mainly because I was preparing for mine. I’ll write up a separate post for it when I get the chance.

The bad thing about doing that, is that I don’t quite capture everything. However, for me, #internetlibrarian isn’t about writing down notes, but about being inspired. I’ve organized the notes as follows: web services stuff, ebooks stuff, everything else

Web Services:

Usability and the development of a mobile site for a university library by Danielle Becker of Hunter College.
1) Five guiding principles for usability: solid information architecture, clear navigation systems, strong visual appeal, understandable terminology, user-centered design.
2) Use a think-aloud process when usability testing – allows you to figure out what the user is thinking as they are navigating in real time.
3) It is important to cross link and have multiple access points
4) Design the mobile site to include what the students will use/ask for – database access, catalog access, etc. All depending on survey results

Web Analytics session
1) Eight principles of Information Architecture: Brown.pdf
2) Google Analytics has a lot of power behind it – I should look into it more.
3) Look into click analytics/heatmaps to figure out how best to improve the Library experience

Mobile UX with Roy Degler
1) Students prefer a web interface over a native app when it comes to Library information
2) Look into Foundation and Bootstrap as two frameworks for responsive design

User Research on user research:
1) Amanda Etches looked into how researchers at her university used the tools that were available to them for their research
2) Observation, rather than asking, a better way to gather data when it comes to researching researchers.
3) Sample question: tell us about a research collaboration that was conducted online
4) Another question: Tell us about the tools you use
5) Look into what Virtual Research Environment CSUEB has for it’s researchers

Cross Platform Linking
1) Using an XML file to update hours across all Library websites
2) Look into using Xibo as our digital signage platform
3) Think about using the mTouch table as our digital wayfinding device – interactive maps???

eBooks and Devices:

eBook session from Seattle Public Library
1) Know the target audience for whom you are implementing eBooks
2) Four levels of training for eBooks: getting started guides for patrons, classes for patrons, trainings for staff, practice for staff
3) Getting Started Guides live online – able to update them quickly
4) Provide staff with enough training to answer basic questions for patrons

eReader/Tablet devices in the Library session by CSU Northridge (I need to contact them about this – this was a very informative session
1) There is funding/interest in provide etextbooks in California (we know this as part of CSUEB)
2) Out of the top 13 activities that people do on their Tablet device, 5 of them are school related
3) There are a lot of challenges out there – like technological challenges, market challenges, content challenges, etc.
4) Future problems: Figure out why students aren’t using tablets and ereaders more (beyond the cost of the devices)

Everything else:

Big Data – I wanted to learn more about Big Data and this was a good introductory session on it
1) Five Characteristics of Big Data: Volume, Velocity, Variety, Verification, Value. Librarians have a chance to work with the last two.
2) Cool Big Data Tools to play around with:

Academic Makerspaces with Tod Colegrove
1) Makerspaces as collaborative spaces for work
2) Make incremental chances to increase buy-in
3) The Library has to be open to collaboration with different groups to create pride in ones library

Twitter Backchannel conversations:
1) Why doesn’t our online presence get as much attention as our physical presence?
2) UX is about desire and emotion, Usability is about “does it work right?”
3) Embrace the fact that libraries are hyper-local, yet connected to a shared network

Can’t wait for next year! See you all on the flip side…

On the need for a conversation

These past two weeks, I’ve spent them considering what to do for some conference/paper proposals.

As an exercise in becoming a better, more proficient writer, I figured I should start to write down my ideas and see if I can get a conversation started about them.

There’s a call out for the gameRT for proposals for ALA Midwinter and I figured the best proposal would be one that I’m familiar with: hosting the first International Gaming Day @ Your Library event here at Cal State East Bay. I’ll talk about proposing it, the setup, the advertising, the actual event. Then discuss successes, failures and future possibilities for gaming events. I’d also like to see how many other academic libraries hosted such an event – maybe there could be a network of us!

One more is a call for papers for a journal called Library Hi Tech. The theme of the issue is smart spaces, and I was considering modifying one of my presentations on personal learning networks and talking about how learning networks have changed in virtual space, and how we need to be malleable with our spaces. This one isn’t as fully fleshed out thought.

Not for a proposal, but I am interested in editing some previous papers that I wrote in college and updating them to include new research and maybe submitting them to a journal, specially the ones I wrote about World of Warcraft, and some other ones I wrote about celebrity theory.

Oh! Actually! Speaking of celebrity theory, how does this sound – I’m thinking of a PCA/ACA proposal, in which I examine Hallyu and the perfection of the celebrity industry within it? It would consider celebrity theory, pop culture theory and psychology. It’s very in-vogue, and totally within my realm of interest.

There are a few more sitting in the back burner, but I’m not yet ready to reveal them. All in due time…

On programming, and picking up skills that I should have developed before…

Ever since I started this job, I’ve been thinking in the back of my head that I’ll have to end up doing a bunch of programming – just for my own benefit.

It’s now come to this – I’ll have to step up my game with Processing.

Reason: I have a touch table in my room now and, while it runs Windows 7, I’d like to be able to create some applications that are specifically touch related. It looks as though there is a way to use a library of code called TouchLib that will allow touch interaction, but to get beyond the simple demos I’ll have to make my own applications. It said I needed to use C++.

Thank god that’s not actually true – I can use Processing – which I have been learning on my own anyway! Perfect!

A lot of my time has now been dedicated to doing something awesome – I’m pretty excited about this project, and any other web projects I may have. I’ll for sure be updating the blog with more of my shenanigans…heh

When teaching your first class, talk slower!

I taught my first infolit class a week or two ago. I think it went well. As well as it could have gone considering it was the first college class I’ve ever taught!

Yup. I’m an academic librarian. So excited.

One thing I learned while I was teaching that class was that I talk really fast. I figured that all of my presentation experience would have taught me to speak slower when in front of people. Apparently not.

Another thing is to not really put too much trust on untested tech. I tried to use my iPad as my presentation platform – it worked fine for the first demo but when it was time to present a website, oh man. The app I used broke down. I had to quickly switch to the desktop.

I mean, for the first class, it wasn’t bad. Im looking forward to teaching my full fledged class this fall!

T-minus a few weeks left!

A lesson in collective nostalgic hysteria

I started this post on BART on my way home from a Jeff Mangum concert and it was definitely an experience.

The concert itself was good. Honestly, having never heard Jeff Mangum/Neutral Milk Hotel before I started dating B, it wasn’t on my radar. The band is good, not necessarily my cup of tea though…

What I was more interested in was the fact that there was such hysteria over this concert. Apparently, Jeff Mangum is notoriously reclusive, so he rarely goes out and does promos/concerts/tours. To have him do a tour, especially years after the band broke up, was a big deal.

I started reading some stuff about the shows, and lots of people were discussing how emotional it was and how they or others at the show, started crying. I was shocked…I don’t think I’ve ever been this emotionally invested in one band/musician….EVER. Maybe I’m just not the right person to enjoy this music. Maybe it just never hit an emotional note for me.

Whatever it is, it was definitely some sort of nostalgic hysteria going on. The people around me, more than at any other concert I have been to, where in a state of ecstasy, singing along to songs I’ve never heard, and songs that probably they have never heard before in person, and writhing and dancing to a melody I wasn’t familiar with.

I felt like an impostor, attending because I could. If anything, it was kind of a great sociological experience – witnessing these people listen enraptured by this musician they haven’t seen live before, listening to songs from the late 90s.

Nostalgia has always been one of those things that I’ve been fascinated by, maybe I’ll work on a project related to it sometime…

Until then, I’ll look back 40 years past to see if anything inspires me.


(Lesson) Planning for the Future

I sometimes like to sit here and fantasize about what I’ll be doing in the future.

I’d love to teach again, and not just literacy/library/research related courses. Like actual, random, curricular courses. Much like how UCLA had the Fiat Lux program, I’d love the opportunity to propose a class and teach it.

One class I’m dying to teach is a sociology of celebrity class, doing a comparison of the lives/fame of a variety of celebrities to build a framework on celebrity. In reality, it’s just an excuse for me to finally create that Kanye West-inspired class that I’ve been thinking about lately. One of the required books would be Kanye’s Thank You and You’re Welcome – a collection of his thoughts on celebrity, fame, and culture.

Another class is inspired by a presentation I was just working on regarding statistical literacy. In this course, we discuss bias through statistics, create our own datasets, and work on creating visualizations. It will heavily rely on visualizations and infographics, and would encourage students to be as creative as they could with their work.

I guess in the near future, I should start/finish planning my lessons for my web design class, since I lost most of my lesson plans when my hard drive died…

Gaming and the search for perfect information

Lately, I’ve gotten into the concept of gaming. In this case, I don’t mean playing video games (although you wouldn’t know it by my World of Warcraft account…). I mean, video games are fun and all, but I don’t find them appealing mainly because I’ve lost the social aspect of it. Despite being an MMORPG, I so rarely interact with others in the game that i’s become a moot point. I quest by myself, I level up by myself. I occasionally run dungeons with others, but so rarely and the dungeons don’t encourage much downtime for socialization.

No. Not video games…but board games. I’m kind of glad I added GAMERT as one of my round tables for ALA. I’m curious to see what other games librarians like to play. So far, I’ve played the following games:

  • Lost Cities
  • Ascension
  • Citadels
  • Hive
  • Carcasonne

Of all these games, I wasn’t a fan of Citadels. Although it was playable with two people, it was too easy to figure out what cards the other player had chosen and then choose the proper response. I grew so frustrated with it, I had to stop playing!

My favorite has to be Lost Cities! Simple, easy to play, quick and has really high replay value. Right now, I’m playing Carcasonne and it’s pretty fun. Especially since I can play it on my iPad/iPhone! Fun times!

As much as this post is about gaming, it’s also about the idea of perfect information. To me, perfect information is knowing what your opponent has to play, what their strategy could be, and anything that can affect how you play and your likelihood of winning.

In (two player) Citadels, the players have nearly perfect information about their opponents. This makes it so frustrating, especially when the game isn’t collaborative. In a game that’s mainly random and luck based, there is little that having perfect information affects. For example, when I look at Lost Cities, I don’t think knowing what your opponent is trying to do will necessary affect your decision – this could be a result of the fact that interaction between players is at a minimum.

I guess, really, this is where the divergence between the need for perfect information and it’s irrelevance occurs: when the game is collaborative, or one in which interaction between players is kept to a minimum, then perfect information doesn’t change decisions or play style. However, when competition is an inherent part of a game, having perfect information plays a more important role.

I’m more a fan of collaborative games, or luck based games. I guess that means I’m a fan of perfect information? Ha! What a weird, logical leap that is…

Ready, Steady, Go: Ready Player One and the celebration of nostalgia

I just started reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and so far, I’m enjoying the possibilities in it.

The book is organized into 2 levels with multiple chapters within each level. I’m currently still in Level 1, Chapter 5. Despite the setting of a near-future Earth, I don’t feel like it’s too sci-fi-y. In all honesty, it almost feels like a Neal Stephenson book, in the style of writing. Parts of it feel like it could be lifted from Snow Crash, which I have yet to finish too (maybe I should get on that….). That being said, I don’t think this will be part of the pantheon of sci-fi writing at all – it feels too…normal. Nothing is outlandish, everything feels like it could happen, it’s great!

I was side-eyeing the book though, when the history of GSS was being discussed…it felt almost like a word for word description of the founding of Apple. As inspiration, he definitely could have done worst but, at the same time, be a bit more original! I just needed to change the names to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and it was Apple.

I’m really looking forward to finishing this book, mainly because I love, love, love seeing games, simulations, virtual environments, AR, being discussed in a book as part of normal society and not some sort of fringe element. I hope that the rest of the book continues as it’s been so far.

What I really can’t wait for (especially since it’s too early to tell right now) is the element of nostalgia that really drew me to this book. Nostalgia is always such an interesting thing – why do we venerate things that have passed? Why do we only pick out the most interesting elements of the past and hold them up on a pedestal? I’m totally a perpetrator for nostalgia – I always look back fondly at the past. At least in Ready Player One, there is a reason – they need to become well-versed with the past to unlock the secrets of a game.

I’m very excited to finish this book. Here’s hoping it’s as good as I’m building it up to be!

Patron Privacy in a Self-Service World

Shelves and shelves of books, wrapped up in paper with peoples names on it. The infamous hold shelf. What once was behind the circulation desk is now out in the open, allowing anyone to come in and pick up their holds.

I used to be a big opponent of these types of self-service changes being implemented in libraries. I was worried that they would reduce the need for staffing, and as I was a library clerk at the time, I feared that these changes would lead to me no longer having a job in the future. However, these worries were unfounded – there will always be a need for some sort of staffing as there are tasks that only humans can handle – such as shelving books, pulling books, customer service and just plain on human interaction.

Back to the main point of this post – self-service holds. I really didn’t like the idea of it at first, because I love dealing with people when I am picking up a book from the library. There were instances when I would breeze into the library, pick up my hold in the shelves and check out at one of the machines, and then leave – not once running into a library employee. It was great for ease of check out, but I kind of missed running into people and then talking about what I’m reading at the moment.

However, I was always kind of wary of the holds area. The biggest issue with this area for me is that anyone can see what you have on hold. What if you were requesting a book that you didn’t want people to know you were checking out? We value the privacy of our customers, yet we flaunt it constantly by putting their holds out there.

Has anyone out there in libraryland come across any instances of privacy violations with holds? I would love to know more about it.

way too much information, all the time