Category Archives: University Tech

Highlights case studies and forward thinking campus-based technology.

Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies

Run don’t walk to check out this very important, very insightful report from Char Booth. I’ve been luck enough to share a few meals with Char and her take on the academic library student technology experience is well-grounded, innovative and, frankly, brilliant.

I’m lousy with anticipation, so I am extremely relieved to write that a giant piece of my workload/ brain energy has been officially lifted as of today. ACRL just released Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University, a book-length research report I’ve been working on for quite some time.

The report is a detailed case study of the student environmental scanning project I spearheaded at OU in 2008 with the help of many colleagues (see my Acknowledgements for the long list of names). In addition to reporting our findings, I discuss the importance of gaining research-based insight into local user cultures in order to inform service development and mitigate the temptation to make potentially off-the-mark generational assumptions about who students are and how they use technology and libraries, complete with a chapter on the practical trials and travails of homegrown research. You can think of it as a quantitative corollary to the University of Rochester Studying Students project – quite different methods of investigation, similar depth of insight. It’s one part presentation of survey results, one part analysis of the academic library emerging technology and assessment cultures that have developed over the last few years, and one part bon voyage/ homage (bon vomage?) to my former employer. The OU Libraries manage to do incredibly innovative and effective work not only on a shoestring, but with an ever-important a sense of humor. It shows in many, many ways, and for this they deserve to be recognized and emulated.

Informing Innovation is available in several forms. Free downloads: the full documentin PDF, another version packaged by separate chapters, and an updated and revised template library/technology survey instrument based on the one used in the original Ohio University study. For an introduction to and explanation of the scanning project itself, there is also a streaming dynamic webcast of my and Chris Guder’s 2009 ACRL presentation (no virtual conference login necessary) that summarizes survey findings and explores its practical applications at OU, voice and slides-style. You can also buy a hard copy of the report in book form from the ALA Store.

Adding Links to the Hyperlinked Library

Just some things of note:

Library of Congress embraces YouTube, iTunes: “Our broad strategy is to ‘fish where the fish are,’ and to use the sites that give our content added value — in the case of iTunes, ubiquity, portability, etc.,” Raymond said in an e-mail.

Pupils to Study Twitter and Blogs: Children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain “fluency” in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell.

When every student has a laptop, why run computer labsThe change also doesn’t mean that the university gets to reclaim all that physical space from the labs. As the university’s explanatory document notes, “ITC understands that students need collaborative space where they can bring their laptops and mobile devices to conduct group work, especially as the curriculum becomes increasingly team- and project-based.”

Twitter in the Classroom

David Silver writes:

this semester, twitter is the main mode of communication used by my students and me. twitter has replaced at least three classroom technologies, and has streamlined our outside-the-classroom conversations and collaborations.

twitter has replaced the class listserv. for years, i’ve used a listserv (alternatively called a mailing list or discussion list) to extend our discussions beyond the classroom. these days, when we want to continue conversations, the 12 students in DMP, the 17 students in ESF, and i use twitter.

twitter has replaced email announcements. in the past, if something’s come up, or i want to add a reading, or we have a location change, i would send all the students in class an email. these days, when i have something to announce, or when my students have something to announce, we use twitter.

twitter has replaced the cardboard box i used to bring to class on due dates. in the past, my students would print out their papers and bring them to class; i’d collect them in a box and take them back to the office to grade. these days, my students write blogs, design flickr sets, upload vidoe, and post works-in-progress. when finished, they tweet about it so that i – and, more importantly, their peers – can check it out.

We’re doing similar in LIS768. Follow along  here: Feel free to chime in!

Investigating Student Laptop Use

File under keeping up with your students’ technology use. Brian Mathews reports on investigating how his library could better support the technology needs of students:

I am not talking about IT support, although that is offered by people in our building, but rather about  the types of software, gadgets, accessories, tools, furniture, or supplies that would help people to be more productive. So I asked them:

  • Recliners and more ottomans
  • More outlets
  • More headphones for check out
  • Power strips
  • Extension cords
  • Book stands / paper stands
  • More small cubical-like spaces
  • Wireless keyboards
  • Wireless mice
  • Laptop docking stations
  • Comfortable chairs with tables and power outlets attached
  • Live chat with IT Help Desk
  • A bunch of common chargers available for checkout
  • Power outlets in all of the furniture
  • Laptop friendly tables and chairs (everything adjustable)
  • Swirling desk chairs
  • External drives
  • Flash jump drives
  • More laptops for check out
  • MacBooks for checkout, not just Dells

That’s the quick and dirty.  We asked other questions as well, but this gives you a taste. One direction we are talking about heading is creating a package specifically for groups or individual users in which they can check out a case with a power solution, keyboard, and mouse with perhaps a few other accessories bundled together. 

I’ve seen libraries circulate content creation devices and such, but this list expands that thinking to furniture, easy access to assistance and even more varied tech. What might your users need or want to improve their experience in your facility? Have you asked them?

7 Ways to Think about Info Lit

Kathryn Greenhill reports on Liz Wilkinson, University of Auckland, presenting at the LIANZA 2008 conference:

 I was very impressed with an information literacy package she had helped to design. Te Punga uses online graphic novels and simulations to introduce students to the library catalogue.

I was even more impressed with her philosophy behind the design – and I have tried to capture this in this movie, Information Literacy: Seven ways to think outside the box. She was very gracious about being filmed with no rehearsal time, and I’m very grateful to her and the University Of Auckland for allowing me to use her words and screenshots from Te Punga in the movie.

Here are her main points:

1. Literacy beyond text
2. Student centred, not library centred
3. Outside experts
4. Involve students
5. Use students’ environments
6. Learning by doing
7. Make students feel at home

How are we addressing these important points in our university libraries? I can identify good examples for all 7 above from some of my travels and visits to various university libraries this year. Which ones have you tapped into?

Tips to Make a University Student Blogging Program Successful

Great stuff:

Tips to Make a University Student Blogging Program Successful

You Can Never Have Enough Feedback

The final step to a successful student blogging program is to constantly pursue feedback. Successful bloggers utilize user feedback to improve their writing and focus on topics that their readers would be interested in. Ask prospective students, current students, alumni, and staff to give their impressions of these blogs and suggestions of what they would like to see. Some of my best blog entries were inspired by e-mails from readers who asked what I had to say on a topic that interested them. Readers enjoy being a part of the conversation and having their feedback valued.

No Amount of PR is Better Than Happy Students

Any university that is afraid of giving their students a voice knows that their students have negative things to say. Blogging should always be honest and transparent. Therefore, any university considering a student blogging program should give their students good things to talk about.

Do Not Stop At Text

Blogs are a great start for giving prospective students an honest look into your college or university, but it does not have to stop at text. Pictures are very important and readers love them. Encourage bloggers to share pictures in their entries whether they are hosted on their own blog or through an online service such as Flickr [1] ( You could also encourage student photographers to host an official photoblog. Finally, consider audio blogging (podcasting) and video blogging; two far more difficult but innovative ways to reach prospective students. The web provides a wealth of options for PR, and the benefits are waiting for those universities brave enough to take advantage of them.

This counters the universities still trying to control the message and the voice with useful advice and a “why it works” viewpoint.

IT Professional says “No” & Phil Bradley Responds

I was following a thread by Phil Bradley about Facebook and bosses and found this:

Charlie says this:

As an IT professional I believe it would be a short-sighted and risky to allow employees or contractors to even possibly exchange corporate/business information through an unaccountable service such as facebook.

For the following reasons:

* user submitted information to Facebook is stored in the US where there is no comprehensive data protection legislation.

* Facebook is a free service – what’s in it for them in the long run? What of intellectual property implications?

* Facebook applications are notorious for being security and privacy hazards, as well as being potential hazards to the security of a coprorate network

* Facebook are known not to delete user information even after accounts have been cancelled and numerous requests for deletion. Is this the kind of company with which businesses should store any kind of communications history?

And Phil responds brilliantly:

Interesting views Charlie – thanks for sharing them. To be honest, I don’t think anyone is really suggesting that sensitive corporate information should be shared across an open network, but equally that shouldn’t preclude its use in more general discussion.

NOT participating in Facebook doesn’t stop people talking about your organisation or things that are pertinent to that organisations business. To pretend that Facebook doesn’t exist and to ignore it is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying la la la.

People should of course be sensitive when it comes to making their data available but surely that again should not preclude the use of that or any other service? In fact, one could make the point that it’s more sensible to actively use the service, be aware of the dangers and limitations and work with them. A lack of understanding leads to far greater problems.

Facebook is indeed a free service. This is neither the time nor place to go into detail about the funding for Web 2.0 resources but in short – it makes its money by selling advertising. Tell me – if you have a concern over this aspect I can confidently expect that you don’t use Google either, since that works on the same financial model.

As an IT professional you’ll be fully aware of firewalls, how to block a virus and so on. Surely it’s the job of IT professionals to warn and educate their users regarding this and to ensure that they have put appropriate measures in place? To simply say ‘it’s dangerous – you can’t use it’ it to abrogate any responsibility, which I don’t regard as being particularly professional. Someone could use their work phone to ring their aunt in Australia – but we don’t ban the use of phones. I don’t regard this as a reasonable or indeed reasoned approach.

Faculty Technology Lab

I love the idea of this kind of facilty available to faculty via the library:

Faculty Technology Lab

The Faculty Technology Lab is located in Room 108 of the Library, behind the Reference Desk on the main floor. It is intended to support the academic endeavors of the faculty by providing access to specialized equipment and software. In addition, the Library Technology Assistant can assist faculty with scanning, optical character recognition, DVD & CD burning and much more.

If you have any questions, or would like to make an appointment, please call the Reference Desk at 630-617-3173 or the Library Technology Assistant at 630-617-3161.

Available Software and Equipment

The Faculty Technology Lab is equipped with the following software and equipment:


For PCs:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Adobe Acrobat 9.0 – great for creating your own PDF files
  • Adobe Photoshop CS2 – a powerful tool for manipulating digital images
  • Adobe Reader
  • Internet Explorer 7.0
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver 4/MX – the librarians’ favorite software for creating web pages
  • Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 – PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Publisher, Access, and other Microsoft tools
  • Mozilla Firefox 3.0
  • NVU – a freely downloadable web-authoring tool that’s fairly easy to use
  • Pinnacle Studio – a video editing program that works with Studio MovieBox Deluxe (which connects to an external video source)
  • Presto! Page Manager – useful for creating electronic copies of documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  • Putty – for creating user_html directories on the web server
  • WS_FTP – for uploading web pages

For Apple Macs:

  • Mac OSX 10.4
  • Microsoft Office 2008 – PowerPoint, Word, and Excel
  • Firefox 3.0
  • Safari 3.1
  • iLife – which includes Garageband, iPhoto, iWeb, and iMovie
  • Google Earth
  • Second Life
  • RapidWeaver – a very nice Mac-only web publishing program
  • VLC – for multimedia viewing needs
  • Quicktime Pro
  • Mousepose’ and Snapz ProX – for any screencasting needs


  • MPC 385 PC (runs both Vista and XP) – CD/DVD-RW DL
  • iMac 2.16 Intel Core 2 Duo – CD/DVD-RW DL
  • Two G5 Mac Pros 1.6 PowerPC – CD/DVD-RW
  • HP Scanjet 5590 scanner with automatic document feeding (up to 50 pages)
  • HP LaserJet 8150n high capacity printer
  • HP LaserJet 990cxi color printer
  • Hewlett-Packard DesignJet T100ps large format printer – otherwise known as “the Plotter”

    Question: Is the next step in this progression the Faculty/Student Technology Collaboration Center?