Category Archives: TTW Contributor: Lee Leblanc

Make your thoughts mesh?

A very cool use of tags. And great article. Good way to think about blogging too.

ThoughtMesh

This essay makes the case for abandoning the claim that art is property–material or intellectual–and suggests alternatives that may be more useful for artists and their heirs. “Why Art Should Be Free” was originally published in August 2002 on the listserves Rhizome.org and Nettime.org. A version entitled “The Digital Sanctuary” was subsequently printed in Lucy Kimbell, ed., New Media Art: Practice and Context in the UK 1994-2004 (London: Arts Council England/Cornerhouse, 2004).

TTW: Lee.

Get the drop.io on students?

Here’s a way to share stuff easily. drop.io.

Maybe students are using this already. Maybe not. Maybe they’re out shopping for technology. What if they showed up on campus with this brochure? (I put some music in the drop.io for you too). And instead of it showing students how to ask about technology, what if the brochure taught them what they should be asking for in a library -heck, maybe this brochure does work for libraries -what do you think?
drop.io

TTW: Lee.

What’s your Day in the Life of…?

Finally got to Michael’s tag for A Day in the Life of …

These are my daily shots, a full-time MLIS student & working library professional. Was plotting to do something else until I saw Steve Campion’s post on Animoto which I mashed-up into a Day in the Life post. This let me finish that overdue blog item. :) Thanks Steve.
Here’s a sample library promo video I made yesterday. It’s a draft and I’ll have to finish a little stronger next time but I hope I caught the spirit of an active library system. Whattya think?
[UPDATE (Apr 17): I've been told that the widget sometimes says the video is no longer available. I don't know why this has been happening. If you have trouble accessing the YouTube version below, try this one.]…

Got resources?

via Librarians’ Internet Index: New This Week on 5/22/08

This guide is intended for individuals without ready access to print resources and subscription databases in the field of library and information science. It compiles free, full-text resources available on the Web. … In addition, the Frequently Asked Questions page provides answers to a number of the most common library and information science questions received by the Library of Congress.” From the Virtual Services Digital Reference Team of the Library of Congress (LOC).

You do now library students. Thanks Reference Team!

Did you walk today?

I walked in with a cane this morning

Through the body the mind learns.  In fact, almost all learning occurs with some movement of the body.  Be it the hands in knitting, moving your pen across a page, stroking your beard while thinking, doing yoga, baking bread, or performing ukemi (falling without breaking your face) in Aikido. If you move your body, you are learning.

Why is this important?  When you’re trying to learn something new, finding a way to engage your body in the process can help.  It can help other people too.  Multiple Intelligences speaks to all our various abilities we can tap into.  While it may not be accepted that doodling at the Reference Desk is paying attention, it very well could be.  Doodling, walking, or find a way to be engaged.  That’s good.  Becoming a better learner can mean you become a better teacher.

Sometimes engaging in conversation during exercise can help.  In an article on Jiu-Jitsu and his new movie, David Mamet explains:

When I have a problem I will sometimes take it to the group,” confessed the natural-born alpha male. Mr. Mamet, who is also an ardent student of the Stoics, elaborated: “For instance, someone who I thought was a friend did something rather traitorous. I asked the guys how they would handle the situation. My teacher Renato, of course, came back with ‘Don’t carry someone else’s weight. Let him carry the weight; let it come back to haunt him.’ This is one of the central tenets of jiu-jitsu. When you carry the other person’s mass you tire yourself and so lose your ability to think clearly. That was the group’s way of telling me to let the situation go, to walk away — which I did.”

I had a habit for years now of walking with my mentors and friends.  We’d have deep conversations; so much that we often easily walk for an hour. That left us wondering how we walked so far!  Walking after work I’ve developed the habit of watching the trees and seeing the wind move between open spaces. All while breathing.  We can do this in the library too.  The walking part that is.

I like the idea of walking with our patrons into the stacks.  Who doesn’t love walking the stacks?  Walk out there; help someone learn something.  Getting lost in the stacks a patron just reminded me: sux.  Go walk and get lost yourself.  Maybe you’ll find a new way to see.

All comments should be left as haiku about walking into the stacks or doing work.

TTW: Lee LeBlanc

Do you utipu?

Here’s a 1:00 screencast for utipu.com; it’s that easy to download and fire up.

1. Goto http://www.utipu.com/app/download

2. After download, run executable.

3. Launch and press record.

4. Goto http://www.youtube.com/my_videos_upload and upload your video

All together took about 8 minutes from download to upload. This is an easier way, perhaps, than saying:

Okayyyy….first click on…

Sorry. No Mac version -but you probably don’t need one. I imagine this killer app already exists in iMovie? in something else?

TTW: Lee LeBlanc

What features make it easier?

Do you notice the seams in your socks?

Are there any to notice? Your coffee mug handle, fit nicely in your hand? Clearing that paper jam without saying, “What do you mean paper still stuck?” Does your RSS reader make it easy to forward cool stuff? How about a planner? Paper or electrons? What’s easier for you? Just how hard is it to design a handle for a door? Product designers are ever more interested in understanding psychology, why? What do you bookmark with? Yes, your actual bookmarks for actual physical books. Love how you don’t have to think about <what>?

(**I dog-ear-highlight crease-underline-note in my mostly hardcover book collection -gasp? Make the jump to the bottom of the post for the answer to why I do this.)

Sure. Simple things work simply, right? But complicated things like collecting and sharing research? That’s not easy. So we can’t bother with making it easy -that’s dumbing things down? Hold on. Making users work to organize their research -bad, bad practice. I see so many brilliant students, professors and independent researchers struggle in organizing information. Why is it so hard to manage the information they find? What system of collecting research makes it easy? Sure, we’re taught to write papers, analyze results, and prepare presentations. Are we taught to manage the information we collect?

That’s not an important step? Why do we assume (or not because we haven’t really thought about it) our users can manage the information they find after they find it? Should they have too? Why don’t we teach this from within libraries? Are we? Are we really? We recognize information overload, information mismanagement, information asphyxiation. We recognize ourselves as experts in organizing information. We tame this stuff right? So where’s the piece where we teach our users how to do this? (I know some of you are doing this; feel free to chime in about how you teach your users’ some info-wranglin’ skills.)

What about you? Do you feel the “seams” when you’re participating in a project? How many times have you had to re-find an article, a document, a fact, an email, or a website? Was it ever frustrating to have to re-find something you knew you had? It’s not a really big secret that I like to share knowledge. In fact, I believe a fundamental definition for knowledge must include sharing. Without sharing, why pick-up anything along the way? We might as well not be picking anything up. This leads us to a new role. In this changing, helter-skelter techno-infused environment, will our users need help organizing their information? Yes. Helping our users share and organize research must become a prime role. I’d like to see one more emerging role. A professional who can organize knowledge for an organization and this same professional who can organize knowledge for an individual.

Here’s an example. I keep every citation and article I find. Every.single.one. I like porting my research with me. Why? Because when I talk to someone I can actually send them the article. Yup, I’m that dork. Also, because I’m in school. Collected research comes in handy time and again. You never know when you’re going to have to cite a fundamental paper in the field. Used to be you could only have one or the other: citations or articles handy. I used to carry 120 gig hard drive with me. Then I lost it. Not the hard drive but my mind -just joking- I lost a portion of my hard drive because it felt the need to take a vacation. Now, I want the citations handy. I want the articles handy. And I want protection from technology vacations. This means I need to distribute my collection. Here’s three on the cusp of letting you do just that. (This is just one example of thinking about how to help researchers: organize, protect, share and recollect information from their personal collections for knowledge-sharing.)

Citeulike allows you to upload research you find. Lacks integration into many subscriber databases. Not a bad thing. Just an observation.

And citeulike allows attachments too

Refworks allows you up to 200 mb of storage space. Yet, you’ve got to pay for it individually. And you only get 200 mb of space. There are researchers who would max this out just uploading one year’s worth of collected research articles.

whoa Refworks allows attachments now

Zotero may offer the most promise here. It’s not a feature that’s been rolled out yet. Look for it June 2008.

does zotero allow attachments and multiple locations

**this is the bottom of the post:

Once upon a time…Just before it closed one day, I went to a very special place with very special books. I stood -quietly but not too quietly. I said, “Library, I am conflicted. I feel my books are precious. Yet, I want to mark in them. I make notes too. Sometimes in the books; sometimes in notebooks. I don’t always feel the need -but for quite a few I do.” The Library nodded, in a slow Tai Chi like nod. The Library said, “Tell me more.” So I did. (I mean…it’s a freaking talking Library -what would you have done?)

I say, “I’ve mostly stopped marking up my books. Well, I feel guilty; I’ve bought them; I think of those books as precious friends. As the containers of awesome ideas I have to protect to make them last. Yet, I mark and scrawl and highlight and dog-ear. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I hold back. But, then I can’t find what I need because I didn’t highlight it or note it: I’m exasperated! What should I do?”

The Library sat quietly as they do; but had really furrowed its brow. I could hear movement in the stacks; the books slowly climbing into their spots, settling in for the night.

The Library said, “Lee, I remember when you first came to me for story time. I know you respect books. More important, I know you respect what books can do. I will say this: Every book to the reader. Books are a perfect piece of technology. No one thinks of them as such. Books form and function to transmit the information they contain. They are your books. You derive benefit by extracting knowledge from them. Your way is but one. Your method is your own. Do with your books as you wish. The only request I ask is that you not burn them -unless you have a really really really good reason. Disagreeing with them is not a good reason. Got it?” I did get it. Sometimes I buy two copies. One to mark in. And one to donate. Articles aren’t the only thing I share. I’d like that to be said at my eulogy:

He shared books.

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc

What are you starting?

This one time I had a Professor tell me you have to start something new at least once a month. Her idea was that we are these “perpetual discovery engines” Apply, apply, apply was a core tenet. The greatest ideas she believed came from remixing. School was this ultimate test of your ability to create.

School, she felt, should be a complete playground where you push yourself to work within the confines of; to be creative in spite of everything, everyone may ever throw at you. I always liked that idea. Working from the inside out always seemed to be where the most effective change comes from anyway. Sure, a new pair of Nikes makes you feel fast -when you’re in Kindergarten. Later you learn where real speed comes from: years of training that make you look like an overnight success.

Anybody can be creative outside of their organization but can you be creative within those confines?

School starts again

TTW: Lee

What would you call it?

cooking while sick


It’s total cheese to say: here’s your assignment if you choose to accept it. But, I kinda just did. Below you will visit many links. As you pay a visit, pretend you are stressed-out, Infectious Disease Researcher under a serious time constraint to stop a virulent Adenovirus strain. And you’ve been so busy over the years. So busy you’ve never slowed down to understand what those terms mean. You want an obscure article let’s say. One that could crack your case to stop this killer cold. And you just want to get on with, you know, your research stuff.*

After visiting those links, what would make it easier for you; what would make it faster; what would enrich the experience; was there any help; could you easily speak with a real, live librarian; what fatigued you; what was only clear if you’re a librarian? What would you call “Getting at the stuff that my local library doesn’t have so I can crank out my own research”?

What would you call it and should we be charging fees? Should we absorb a reasonable amount of the cost?

InterLibrary Loan
http://library.calvin.edu/services/ill
Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
http://tinyurl.com/3qdhot
Interlibrary loan services (ILL) and alternative delivery services
http://www.ub.uni-erlangen.de/Fernleihe/index-en.shtml
Interlibrary Borrowing Service
http://libraries.mit.edu/ordering/ilb.html
and
http://libraries.mit.edu/docs/index.html

Tired yet? Hang in there. It’s called link fatigue. It’s also among the reasons why so many web surfers scan information -as opposed to read all the information we put on web pages.
Document Delivery Service
http://ndsl.lib.state.nd.us/DocumentDelivery.html
IU Document Delivery Service
http://www.libraries.iub.edu/index.php?pageId=54
Document Delivery Services
http://www.lindahall.org/services/document_delivery/
Document Delivery Services
http://library.mskcc.org/scripts/portal/services/services1.pl
Integrated Document Delivery
http://www.usc.edu/libraries/services/idd/interlibrary_loan/

Focus now my tired, diseased researcher; I know you’re getting tired (maybe); this is where we really start to see some different pieces.
7-FAST On-Campus Document Delivery Service
http://www.lib.umich.edu/7fast/
British Library Research Pack
http://tinyurl.com/45awja
Loansome Doc
http://tinyurl.com/54cmw5
Interlibrary Loan Forms
http://library.uncg.edu/depts/ill/illforms.asp
and check these two out for sure:
Ordering Full text – Document Delivery
http://web.uflib.ufl.edu/docorder.html
Document Delivery Services (DDS)
http://www.lib.ipfw.edu/dds.html
Document Services
http://libraries.mit.edu/docs/index.html

Don’t we all just want to get materials that we need? Remember: what would the user call it.
Getting Materials:
http://www.lib.fsu.edu/services#materials
http://www.lib.fsu.edu/services/materials/feds

So, what would you call this service we provide my highly stressed-out, Infectious Disease Researcher?

TTW Contributor: Lee Leblanc

*based on a true story -changed to protect anonymity. It’s in the vault.

What would make the work you do easier?

libraries are only beginning

What about the work your department does -any way to make it easier? Would you be willing to invest in: technology or training or people? Who could make it happen for you; or can anything be outsourced or automated? Below, a few friends from library land respond to various questions -real and virtual friends.

You know the deal. “stuff” that wastes time…that’s kind of tough to put my mind around at the moment. 3 things, one sentence. Riiiiight. This is a whole can of worms. :-)

I think the largest overall problem for me is transparency of tools. Formatting Word documents for signage/documentation is a nightmare in most situations. Hand-feeding information into a local knowledge database that no one uses. Overlap of two separate event/calendar systems that must be managed manually since two unfriendly systems are used.

These are difficult problems to change because of institutional implementation. An institution becomes invested into a software system that may not be the best tool for the job, it results in staff doing all of the tweaking to make that tool create a product to fit in the desired box. Why can’t we have tools that simply make the product fit in the box? There should never be a moment of “how do I trick Word into doing xxxx and then save to PDF because it cannot natively print the document as laid out?”

Another example, our subject librarians have our reference students check book lists from publishers against our catalog and our union catalog to determine what to add to the collection. Why isn’t the publisher (who charges outrageous prices anyway) analyzing our collection and telling us from the beginning what we don’t have? Send us brochures and offers customized to our collection. It really wouldn’t be that difficult.

Damned inefficiency. That’s when I get frustrated and waste an hour or two on Facebook instead. :-)”

I do so much different work... its hard to say what would make it easier.Short list:
better mechanisms for finding books (catalog sucks)
less silos of information to explain to people
better communication methods within and between departments so that I wouldn’t have to wander around or call 5 people to get an answer about something
I don’ t think those are the answers you are looking for, but that’s what I could think of. There are things that I might like, that might help me work better in certain cases- better software, better equipment, etc. But the main difficulties I feel I face during the day have to to with people and the general sad state of library search and discovery tools.
Do I feel there are parts of my job that could be outsourced to someone? Not really, but that’s because I feel that I am indispensable and nobody does work as well as me :)

For me, work would be easier if I was paired with some inspiring, collaborative individuals who sought out new and exciting changes. The ability to work with such a team would be an excellent mentoring opportunity for a young professional like myself and a motivational push to do excellent at whatever I pursue. In this case, technology wouldn’t solve much and neither would training – I think it may just be happenstance that puts all these all-star individuals in one group. As for outsourcing, I believe that some of the doldrums that arise from basic computer maintenance could be delegated to some willing and able computer science student workers – whether this is truly outsourcing is your call to make.

1. Administrative staff who understand support roles and needs like making labels, filing mail, creating basic data entry spreadsheets, confirming meetings, etc. Do you really want to this to be what a librarian gets paid to do?
2. People to provide faculty development regarding teaching info lit, especially web-based instruction. Marketing person.
3. Appropriate furniture & equipment: need chairs & tables in many places for many uses.
4. Leadership. Mine, someone else’s – but someone please lead. ;-)
There are tons of technology things I would like, too…. but mostly some creative folks with great attitudes that can ‘make it so’. ;-)

I found myself having the official role of minute taker at meetings of the Collection Development Team. My role really had to do with the faculty having a person to record their thoughts—an activity which added value to their ideas by committing them to writing, giving their ideas coherence and distributing them to others. This task asserted their superiority to library assistants (people with ideas vs. people who just record the ideas of others). In general, tasks where staff service librarians ought to be discouraged. Tasks which get the work done at the direction of a librarian are, of course, good management.

I have seen system administrators bypass system upgrades that would be helpful to the staff. Some libraries only do whole number system upgrades by policy even if the content of some of the other upgrades would be helpful to staff. If there are more rapid upgrades, then the staff has to roll with the punches more and learn on the fly. On the issues of other technologies (chat, intranet, etc.), these technologies ought to be offered to staff/librarians as a means to connect to patrons, but should be an option of the staff/librarian. Technology should be available to serve patrons which is congruent with the communication style of the patrons and the staff/librarians.

Public services done by private companies takes public money and puts it in the pockets of private companies. If the private firm is able to do the work and make a profit, then the public library ought to hire people and save the taxpayer the cost of the private firm’s profit. It is also a good that a town or county hire its own citizens: have the community serve the community.

3 things:
1. Having a mentor makes my work easier, definitely!
2. If any technology helps me in doing my work faster and more efficient, I will buy it!
3. Some sort of training to minimize learning time.
Parts of my work that can be outsourced are work that are kind of mechanical and repetitive, like inserting grades and downloading assignments.
Overall, anything to optimally use my TIME, I will definitely consider it.

I think the relationship between publishers and libraries is far too complex to be described in simple and dismissive terms. You might ask why we have to subscribe to Elsevier journals–the answer is that the tenure mill and the promotion track demand publication in established, peer-reviewed, high impact journals. We have to buy the journals our faculty have to publish in, like it or not. It would be great if we, the librarians, could get the academic establishment on board with our open access initiatives and it’s good to see that there is some progress in that direction. Oh, there goes that pushing for change in an incremental system again….

If you knew how much time my colleagues in the state university system spend on negotiations with Elsevier, holding their feet to the fire for the good of the entire SUS, you would thank them, and not think of them as partners in crime.

What about you? Have you made any lists for stuff you want to change, lately?

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc