Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What's your patron rating?

I started wondering today... What if we could rate patrons? I was thinking about the common practice in e-commerce (eBay for example) of rating sellers based on how they perform their half of a transaction and then thought, what if we could rate patrons based on their interactions with the library. For example checking out books and returning them on time would be good. Returning them late would be bad. It could work like a credit rating (which is kind of what it would be) and be displayed as part of a patron's record.

I don't think this is a new idea. I've heard of libraries who have assign merit points instead of collecting fines. I'm sure every circulation worker has at least had a mental list of preferred and not problem patrons.

Still, I found it intriguing to think about using our circulation and ILL system to generate a patron rating and then use that rating to determine library privilege such as length of loan period and number of books one would be allowed to take out from the library. This would give people incentive (both positive and negative) to be a good library citizen and hopefully reduce the need to fine people. Thus a beginning undergrad might be allowed 20 books at a time for two weeks and then those numbers could change as she builds up a track record.

This same information could potentially could be used by other libraries to determine if they want to fill an interlibrary loan request.

I think the advantages of this type of system are that it allows us to limit access to those who abuse it and reward those who are responsible. It also is more just then fines which are more or less severe depending on the financial status of the patron.

Disadvantages include concerns that a few overdue or lost books could become part of your "permanent" record. Their might be other privacy concerns as well including the eerie feeling that everything I do is being tracked. Also would have to work to ensure that one could not manipulate their rating by checking out and returning books for no other purpose than to improve their rating.

What do you think?

Monday, August 28, 2006

BI Blogs

Did you know that you can add "JSTOR" to your Google scholar search and be linked directly to JSTOR articles that we have access too? Or if it is an article we don't have access too, you will see a page from the article and a message asking you to check the library's print holdings or use ILL.

I don't know if those in reference will find this helpful or not. I found out about it from Taylor University's Z-Blog. A blog Taylor uses to pass on search strategies and other information. Another similar blog is being run by Trinity Western. I know there are several other schools with similar offerings. Anybody have a particular favorite?

I have no idea how many patrons actually consult these sort of blogs. My guess is that the more specific in scope the blog is, the more likely people will pay attention (for example a blog for Psychology students as opposed to just a general blog for everybody). But you front line reference people probably have a better sense of that than I.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Minutes from 8/25/06 meeting

I. Administrative
A. Distribute/collect meeting times handout
B. Schedule
1. Sept. – OCLC Student perceptions report
2. Oct. – TIU panel discussion
3. Nov. – Reading
4. Dec. – Technology overview
5. Future – Distance education discussion

II. Friedman overview
10 Flatteners
1. Berlin Wall
2. Netscape
3. Standard protocols for software
4. Uploading – Unix, Wikis, Blogs, etc.
5. Outsourcing – Y2k & India
6. Offshoring – China and WTO
7. Supply-chaining - Walmart
8. Insourcing - UPS
9. Search Engines
10. Digital, mobile, personal, virtual

Triple convergence
1. One machine for multiple tasks
2. Changing habits
3. Globalization

III. Discussion

1. Is there something you read in TWIF that made you excited or scared? What was it and why?

-- Students need to be critical of what they find online. This can be an opportunity for us to teach them critical thinking.

-- More jobs being outsourced from the U.S. - what will that mean for education? What will happen to Americans who lose their jobs? It can be scary for Americans. It can also be looked at as a challenge for America to continue to improve.

-- The ethics of information - the humanities could be neglected as there is more focus on technology. We need the humanities for realizing the ethics related to technology, especially materialism and being too utilitarian.

2. What lessons do you think we at Rolfing should learn from TWIF?

-- Outsourcing of library jobs – need to consider benefits and losses.

-- Privacy – concerns about blogging leading to a loss of privacy. There is so much information about us online that can be used inappropriately. Erroneous information about people can be found online.

-- Loss of vetting in the online world. In wikipedia, what’s correct is decided by what’s popular. With blogging, people will just say whatever they think without thinking about it too much or researching it. There isn’t a reliance on people with credentials. The different levels of vetting in the print world are lost.

-- On the other hand, print publishing can exclude ideas that are outside of the mainstream. There is an accepted orthodoxy in the different disciplines, and publishers usually publish what will sell, not what is important. Ways of vetting blogs are being used, based on factors such as links to the blog and comments on posting. There is a flattening between the author and the reader through email, websites and blogs.

-- Interlibrary loan – tracking the movement of books, giving patrons options for how they want items delivered. Education could be moving more toward distance education online. Too many records for books in WorldCat could be a problem. The possibility of having one national catalog, with WorldCat replacing the local catalog. Individual libraries could lose out by not having their headings. Each library could add to the cataloging record.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Digital Transition Brings Changes to LC’s Workforce

The title for the post is the headline of this article posted on the ATLA technical services listserve.

LC is asking a number of librarians to either learn new technology skills or choose "voluntary retirement." Wonder what new technology skills they mean? I guess we've been warned.

Getting books to patrons in a Flat World

While in Florida, I was discussing with Sean how delivery can provide service to Florida students. While he was grateful for what we have done for distance students. He asked if there might be ways to speed up the delivery of material.

Since that conversation I've been thinking about ways that libraries in general and Rolfing in particular may utilize Friedman's flatteners to more efficiently get our books into the hands of our students. Since then I've also come across

The World Is Flat

The World Is Flat Anecdote

A personal anecdote. My daughter, Charis, was planning on majoring in graphic design since she thought this would be a good way of utilizing her gift in art and making a living. Since reading The World Is Flat, she and i have had this whole discussion on outsourcing and the future of graphic design, with me convinced that more and more graphic work will be outsourced since it's such a fungible commodity. i'm encouraging her to pursue instead her other gift which is writing, more precisely to try to combine her gifts of writing and art, such as illustrating her own works of fantasy. So perhaps majoring in creative writing and minoring in art or vice versa, whichever gift she wants to develop the most. Raw creativity can't be outsourced. And anyway, she shouldn't settle for just a job while she's still young enough to pursue her dreams.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

History of Wikipedia

'The Hive,' written by Marshall Poe in the September issue of The Atlantic Monthly, provides a brief history of the men behind Wikipedia- Jimmy Wales & Larry Sanger. The article addresses some of the trials they faced as they attempted to create a 'volunteer-built' online encyclopedia. A wiki is a 'web site that allows multiple users to create, edit, and hyperlink pages.' Poe chronicles the growth of Wikipedia from 2001 to present. Of particular value is the discussion on how Wikipedia redefines truth, suggesting that the community decides what is true by consensus.

Hm, we could enter into an interesting discussion over the impact of postmodern thought on library services...I have an article about a postmodern approach to reference librarianship if anyone is interested. Basically, this approach asks the librarian to shed their authoritative role and join the patron in a journey of discovery.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Other librarians' on Friedman

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I've been thinking about...

Kevin's comment to the meeting minutes post on Hayle's book How We Became Posthuman. The word "posthuman" as I understand it refers to the integration of technology with human biology (think cyborg). One book I cataloged claimed that there is current work being done to enhance humans with all the super hero powers of the 1940s and 50s. Just recently there was a blurb on the web about experiments with material that could bend light to create a type of invisibility. My first thought is to dismiss all of this has more techno hype. My second thought is to be afraid of what we might do to ourselves in our rush to embrace the new and "improved." Finally I've been thinking about Marshall McLuhan's analysis that all technology is an extension of human attributes. Maybe we've been working on our posthuman project longer than we realize...

I've also been thinking about the Wikipedia critiques that appeared on the ATLANTIS listserv.
Jaron Lanier wrote a long article called Digital Maoism, on the seductive power of the collective as expressed for example in Wikipedia. A second, funnier, critique appeared from comedian Stephan Colbert ...

I have to confess that often thinking about emerging technologies (especially biotechnology) leaves me longing for simpler life. Kevin Miller suggests that evangelicals should appropriate the monastic movement as a model for spiritual formation. I think it is very interesting how many times recently I've heard evangelicals talk positively about monasticism. This week, I've been specifically thinking about the role the monastic movement played in preserving and passing on ancient culture during darkest days of Medieval Europe. Is there perhaps a precedent there for what we are trying to do as Christian librarians? ...

Finally, today in the ACRLog (one of my favorite library blogs) there was a post about honesty and library technology. The post asks if librarians attempts to mimic Google and thus make research easy are really honest, given that our technology does not really mimic Google underneath our clutter free web pages and that research is not easy. It seems this raises some important questions about much of our technology. At what point does technology's ability to mask the complicated and simplify tasks go from being a virtue to a vice? What does "honesty" mean when dealing with the world wide web? That is something I'll have to keep thinking about...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Minutes from 7/28 Meeting

I. Introducing the IF Task Force

Primary expectations

b. Discussion
Secondary expectations

a.Engage Others on Campus
b.Raise profile of TIU librarians
c.Reflect critically as Christians on “information science”


a.Theory and practice
b.Diverse community of patrons
c.Public and Technical Service perspectives
d.Discerning between fads and lasting changes
How will we do this?

a.Reading – amount will be determined by the type of material but up to 200 pages a month.
b.Assignments to research and report back on specific topics
c.Host discussions with people outside of our library
d.Participate in the blog

IF Blog

2.Ground rules
3.Assignment – post an interaction with Friedman

Meeting time handout

Important developments regarding the future of Rolfing

Millennials - A new generation of students with high ideals, who are tech. savvy, have a strong desire for community, and who are suspicious of disingenuous attempts to market to them

The library as a center of community with expanded hours, food, and coffee

The use of online classroom management software such as Blackboard and Moodle

A new TIU web site with individualized web portals.

Encourage students to sign up for RSS feeds, and provide lists of good feeds

Classes can create wikkis on relevant topics for their class

An increasingly diverse population and growing awareness of global Christianity

Treating information as a commodity

Helpful resources on for learning about the future of information.

Guttenberg Elegies : the Fate of in an Electronic Age (New York : Fawcett Columbine, 1995Recommended by Rob.

Power Failure : Christianity in the Culture of Technology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2003). Recommended by Matt.

Hipps, Shane. Hidden Power of Electronic Culture : How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2005). Recommended by Matt.

Chronicle of Higher Education.Recommended by Rebekah.

Special thanks to Rebecca Miller for helping me compile these minutes and agreeing to help take minutes in the future!

Library blog with course software

One of the presenters at ALA created a library blog that was integrated into the course software (blackboard, WebCT, etc.) for classes. This article talks about how he did it:

The notes for his presentation contain some useful links:

It seems like it would be good to have a strong presence in the courseware for classes, whether a library blog would be the best way to do that or not. Maybe just having links to useful resources in a prominent place in the courseware.