Saturday, November 29, 2008

Studying Students

Last year I read one of the most compelling studies of students. How do students really go about writing a paper? We librarians may think we know, but wouldn't it be an excellent idea to have an anthropologist and some librarians actually spend a year studying students to find out?

This is what the authors of Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester did. From having students map out or take pictures documenting their every move throughout the day, this study provides a much clearer picture of the day in the life of today's college student--how they spend their time, what pressures they face, when they actually start working on homework and how they go about it. One part of the study asks students what they want out of the library, and they even ask the students to map their ideal library floor plan, complete with librarian/barista staff in some cases. What happens when reference librarians work the late night shift? How can librarians work with helicopter parents? This is just a sampling, as there is so much good stuff in this study.

Even though I read this over a year ago, I still use examples from it in many of my presentations. This study offers an excellent picture of today's college student and is well worth your time. The complete text is still available online.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Tech Therapy Podcast

Have you been listening to the Tech Therapy podcast series from the Chronicle? These 15 minute segments usually cover topics of interest to librarians. This week's installment focuses on the Future of College Libraries. The hosts describe some new library building projects (treadmills in a library--seriously!) and discuss the importance of the library as place on campus. It's worth a listen, as are others from the series like Libraries vs. IT.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Name of the Rows

My mother recently sent me a copy (like, a literal photocopy copy) of this article from Cincinnati Magazine that details the changes the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has been making in its quest to be a more "21st Century Library." We spend so much time in Libraryland navel gazing over this issue in our literature, I thought it was interesting to see a popular press examination of the issue.

For you in the tl;dr crowd, the basic takeaway message of the article is twofold:
  1. There are some unique main branch services are being lost because they are collapsing service points and making subject specialists into generalists.
  2. The average library user doesn't care and usage stats have gone up since the changes have been made.
Although this is about a public library, we in our academic library can probably learn something from the experiences up in Cincinnati.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cloud Computing

EDUCAUSE has just released a report about the implications of "cloud computing" for higher ed in conjunction with its annual conference, which was held recently in Orlando ( The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Wired Campus" report just ran a review.
Cloud computing refers to applications and data that don't reside locally on your PC, but on a host computer administered by someone else and accessible via the Internet. Gmail, Flickr, and Yahoo! Mail, for example, are all are on the cloud. On the one hand, you can access your work from anywhere; on the other, you're dependent on a remote system to maintain it.

For general overviews of cloud computing, NPR ran a story in August 2008, and InformationWeek has posted a useful Guide to Cloud Computing.
You can read a PDF version of the report "The Tower and the Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing," at the EDUCAUSE website. Print copies are available for purchase as well.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Presentations Posted

Janet's interesting presentation about the future of academic health center libraries is now posted on Sharepoint. I have also uploaded Tag's " A Day in the Life: UK Medical Center Clinical Librarians" presentation from the Faculty Retreat. Both may be found in the Faculty Council section of Sharepoint in the "Rethinking Research Libraries Year-Long Discussion" folder.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sessions on Bioinformatics and Translational Sciences

These two items from Janet's presentation would lend themselves well to further discussion. I also heard people saying that they would like to understand these two concepts better. That seems to argue for inviting a speaker to talk about the concept and then have discussion based on that further articulation of the issues. For example, we could invite the new SLIS director, Jeff Huber to talk about bioinformatics and we could invite Bill Balke or Geanie Umberger to talk about the clinical and translational science intiatives. One option would be to ask our Employee Development Committee to plan a forum around these two topics.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Janet's presentation and follow up

Thanks to Janet for a very interesting and informative presentation! I'd like to see further exploration in broad context of translational science and informatics. These are both strong initiatives at UK and have implications for UK Libraries, and not just the science libraries it seems. Do people like the idea of small group/brownbags on special topics like this? Should we ask how many would be interested before setting something up?

I hope others will chime in here. . .