3.28.2007

Stumble Stuffs!

Here's some of the cool stuff I recently found on Stumble Upon!

Switchring
Unique, interchangable, plastic rings.

Bugknits
Extremely tiny knits.

Russian Greeting Card Maker
It is in Russian. Very intuitive and easy to figure out, but it did take me a few clicks to find the "Send" button.

Desktopography
Very cool desktop images that combine nature and abstract art.

Gummy Bear Chandalier
I kid you not. From Craftzine.

Born Talking
Interesting site about baby speech.

Drop Spots
An interesting community project treasure hunting site.

Megamouth Sharks

I love biology! Here's a well researched look at the Megamouth and a timeline of sitings/catchings.

Harry Potter Final Cover Revealed!

3.21.2007

Sugar Bowl

I think I have to start a new feature called "Guess where I found a library book?"

Yeah, a sugar bowl.

Technically, a sugar basket and the sugar was packaged. But still...

What is wrong with our patrons?!

3.18.2007

Catastrophic Disaster!

Well, the floor hasn't fallen in yet on the third floor of the west wing, but the shelving took a tumble. It seems that who ever installed the temporary shelving for our T collection didn't think bolting it into the floor was all that important. Several hundred pounds of books later, the entire thing collapsed into a twisted metal mess that resembled the lower intestine.

Thanks to the quick action of the collection maitenance staff, no one was injured and the books (about 2,500) were cleaned up in 24 hours. Rather than re-install a whole new set of temp shelving, we rolled out the Sampsons.

Sampsons are book trucks designed by our amazing collection maitenance staff and commissioned to a local book truck maker. They hold 280-300 books, move with the push of a finger when full, fold up when not in use, and make as much noise as a church mouse. They are freakin' amazing!

So now that they are temporarily keeping our T collection in order, we seem to be set until the construction on that floor is done.

Strange, but Very Relaxing

Sandcastles Exploding in Reverse Part 1

Sandcastles Exploding in Reverse Part 2

3.14.2007

MIT Webinar

MIT hosted a great little webinar about using, not just library space, but all space around the campus as learning centers. Here are the interesting concepts they've been applying to their campus:
  • Campus wide Wifi - Okay, we all know wireless is important, but MIT tracks where it is most used all day everyday to ensure that those spaces get prime attention for informal learning spaces. Check it out at iSpot.
  • Classroom porch - This is an area immediately adjacent to formal classrooms where students can meet faculty for office hours right after a class, thus eliminating the "scary office" meetings.
  • Seredipitous Seating - This concept follows the Wifi. Students need places to park their butts and work on papers with laptops and other wireless devices. Serendipitous seating means a wide range of chairs and benches matching the immediate surrounding that invites a student to park and work. Wide planters, counter tops, and low rise walls become a part of the seating arrangement. Seating is also put into human traffic flow areas to give students more places to sit that are near walkways, cafes, restrooms, and classrooms.
  • Coffee shop enabled - Students tend to be highly caffinated. Mobile coffee shops are used to help a student settle in an area.
  • Balance formal and informal use - A room with three massive TVs is used for a seminar at 3pm and a Halo tournament at 6.
  • Augmented reality - Today's students want the technology as their environment, hence the wifi. But this also bleeds over into virtual world interection (instant messenger/Second Life), classroom uses (touch boards), and experimental learning tools.
So how do we take all this and use it in the library?
  • Install WiFi. (Done and Done.)
  • Install a wide variety of seating and make it appropriate to the area. Put comfy seating in front of windows for lounging. Put hard chairs at tables and desks. Arrange space around plants and artwork that qualify as areas to plant your butt. Put unusual seeting choices in high traffic areas to invite students to sit for a spell.
  • Advertise unused space in the library (such as auditoriums and assembly rooms) for student use, especially student club and group use.
  • Since our classroom space is not conducive to it, install a "Library Porch" for faculty to hold office hours here and away from the 'scary office.'
  • We have a coffee shop, but better signage explaining food policies would help us a great deal. Due to rodent and insect problems, we can only have food in designated places. A coffee area and staff that serve as well as enforce the food rules would help us a great deal.
  • Open up 'closed' spaces. The entrance to the central stacks is hidden behind a display wall. Take away the wall.
  • Add new technologies and new technology hook ups for powering and use.

3.05.2007

Google and the Libraries

We are noticing a terrible trend in the library. Here we are, the paragons of research!

And students are googling everything.

Even with the large amount of dubious research just lying about on the internet, students would rather use google than take a quick walk over to the library to get the real scoop.

The Business Library alone spends $7 million a year to get the best information, journals, and resources for our patrons. And that doesn't count the amount spent on physical books.

When we ask a student how much they spent on a Google search, they say, "Nothing."

Well, You get what you pay for.

Though student tuition does NOT pay for any part of the library, the money spent is to make the resource available to you.

So what would you rather have? A free google search that get's you a hundred different answers to one question. Or $7 million spent on getting you the right answer?

If you chose google, you don't deserve to be in college.

Why Don't Our Students Think?

That's the title of a presentation one of our research librarian candidates is giving. I'm sad that I'll miss the presentation, but I can the answer to the question:

Age of Entitlement

There are two distinct and separate types of individuals in Generation Y, and each are a reflection of who they were raised by. Roughly half of Generation Y was raised by their grandparents: the Greatest Generation and the oldest of the Boomers. They're hard workers, but they only work to fund their adventures outside the office. The other half were raised by mostly absent parents, the kind who were too busy with work to be with their children and substituted siblings and emotional support with expensive gifts. They believe everything will be given to them without their even asking for it.

The end result is two extremes in one generation. Even though I can honestly say that half of the people I deal with everyday in the library are hard working and diligent, my human brain only really remembers the half that refuses to even check their email let alone do their own work. This is not helped by the massive amount of staff and faculty who, because they work for a large university, have their own sense of entitlement as well.

This sense of entitlement has led to functional illiteracy. Half a generation of kids know how to read, but refuse to. A sign that says 'Enter Here.' An email subject line that says 'Library Notice.' A map that says 'You Are Here.' All of these are ignored. They expect someone to tell them what to do at all times without even asking for help.

This has led to a new customer service paradigm where we treat the customer like a child, because emotionally and intellectually, they are children. We ask if they need a hand and we never, ever ask them if they need help.

Try this. Ask a student if they need help. The answer is no. But if someone else asks the same person if they need a hand, they will say yes.

Getting a hand means that subordinate person is being of assistance. Getting help means that they are incapable of doing soemthing on their own and is an insult to their intelligence.

It doesn't take a PhD in psychology to understand that this is a major problem and one that leads to bullying.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that catering to these students will cause major problems in the future, especially for libraries. Half of a generation, with an over inflated sense of entitlement demand services that suck library resources dry and leave us without future donors.

What we need to do is switch gears. Don't cater to these kids. They aren't going to be future donors. We need to cater to the other half of the generation, the ones who do the work. They will be our future donors. They are the ones who we need to leave big impressions on so that they look back to us later in life and give us the funds we need to run.

3.04.2007

Drunk Squirrel

If you work for a university, the squirrels are a source of endless amusemest... Especially when they go after a student with food!

Here's a drunk squirrel.

I kid you not.