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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Wireless Electricity

Since we were talking about handheld devices today I thought I share the link to this article on wireless electricity. The goal is to create ways to recharge lap top, cell phone, and Ipod batteries that don't require plugging the devices in (and maybe someday don't require batteries).

Here is the article.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Faceted browsing in Libertyville

The Libertyville Library (my public library now) just switched catalogs. It's called Encore, and it appears to use faceted browsing. When you do a search, you can refine it by format, date, etc. and there is a tag cloud. I think you can also post reviews (although I'm not seeing that now). I'm enjoying the features - at least for public library types of searches, it works quite well!

iReports on CNN

I was just noticing on CNN there is a section for iReports, where people can upload their own videos, pictures and news stories.
So now the general public can also create the news!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The shushing librarian

I just read Academic Libraries: "Social" or "Communal" by Jeffrey Gayton that is cited below.

Gayton is not pleased with the trend (he might prefer fad) of positioning libraries as academic commons. He helpfully reminds us that serious, silent study may still be social and may benefit from being done in a public space. He fears that cafes and conversations in libraries may ruin the library as a setting for deep contemplation leaving little alternative for people who study best away from the distractions and noise so prevalent on campuses. He attempts to support this argument by appealing to statistics that suggest this quiet atmosphere is why people come to the library and that yes people still go to libraries.

I was not convinced by his statistical case nor completely convinced that we have a real dichotomy here between social and communal. But found the article helpful for pointing out the connection between pedagogy and library service. Is knowledge socially constructed by communities actively engaged in dialog with peers? Or knowledge earned by carefully and attentively sitting at the feet of our intellectual ancestors? I don't feel prepared to give an intelligent answer to these questions, but our answers (conscious or not) do impact how we position our libraries.

While Gayton feels that libraries are not the endangered species they are sometimes portrayed. I wonder if his serious, silent, scholars are the real endangered species. Some studies seem to suggest they are. The struggle of many in our culture to engage with material in a patient and thorough way seems to strike at issues more profound then the place of libraries. I think many of us would like to see libraries' fate be separate from the fate of that type of scholarship not because we don't value it but because we find it a very uncertain foundation.

Perhaps we should make resisting the snack culture our top priority, Gayton thinks we'll be rewarded for it, or maybe we hedge our bets by selling snacks in the library.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Academic Libraries: “Social” or “Communal?”

Continuing with the conversation on developing community in the library, there is an article in the January issue of Journal of Academic Librarianship on the topic. I haven't read the article, but I thought I'd share the abstract!

The apparent death of academic libraries, as measured by declining circulation of print materials, reduced use of reference services, and falling gate counts, has led to calls for a more “social” approach to academic libraries: installing cafés, expanding group study spaces, and developing “information commons.” This study compares these social models with the traditional academic library, whose spirit is best understood as “communal.” It argues that this communal spirit is unique and greatly valued by academic library users. Efforts to create a more social academic library threaten this communal spirit and may do more harm than good.

There is also a book that was just published called Social Software in Libraries: Building Collaboration, Communication, and Community Online by Meredith G. Farkas.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Open Library

Have you all heard about Open Library? It was news to me... It sounds like one of the designers of RSS is creating a book catalog that anyone can edit, like Wikipedia. It's supposed to go live in March. The Chronicle of Higher Education said many librarians are wary of the mistakes that could occur with non-librarians editing content. But other librarians are supporting it, saying it could make library collections more visible on the internet. The creator is also thinking about integrating his database with Wikipedia and LibraryThing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Organizational Learning in the library

On an encouraging note... Also in the Jan. 2008 issue of "College & Research Libraries" there was a research article on whether libraries have cultures that encourage the librarians and staff to continue learning. Most of the libraries that they studied had problems with organizational learning. The problems they found included management which discouraged new ideas, low worker motivation, high work intensity, lack of communication, and unresponsiveness to people's ideas, among other things.

I was encouraged that our library seems to do well in this regard, as evidenced by this committee!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Engaging users: the future of academic library web sites

The January issue of "College & Research Libraries" has a study that examined 111current library web sites and made recommendations for integrating web 2.0 principles from O'Reilly. Some of the web 2.0 things they currently found included RSS, blogs, wikis, podcasts, user responses, homepage customization, and virtual tours, among others.

The author recommended making the homepage a portal, where users would identify themselves, and this would then lead them to specific resources for their group. Another option would be to have "My Library Space" which allows them to customize which tools and links they want to display. They could also save things to this area and interact with others. Online communities could be encouraged through online publishing and sharing tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasting and tagging.

They mentioned doing something like this would require heavy collaboration between librarians and IT, which is true! I'm curious if something like this could be accomplished in myTrinity or Moodle...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Quitting Facebook

There were a couple of articles in the New York Times talking about how it's difficult to remove all of your information from Facebook.
How sticky is membership on Facebook?
Quitting Facebook

It mentions how this is a problem for privacy and security. If someone joins and then decides to leave because they don't want others to see their private information. (They use an example of someone who doesn't want their co-workers to see their info.)
But it sounds like FaceBook is working on making it easier to wipe your information when you quit.

LOEX conference

I am registered to go to the LOEX conference which will be in the area in May. I was looking at some of their workshops and breakout sessions, and quite a few sound relevant to our task force:
Research 2.0: Research Blogs as Windows of Opportunity
Learning (2.0) to be a Social Library
iTour: How We Stuffed 6 Floors of Milner Library Into the Palm of Your Hand
Game On (and On): Adapting and Extending the Open Source Information Literacy Game
Wiki-ing Your Way into Collaborative Learning

Depending on which ones I am able to make it to, I can give a report afterwards!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The library in your pocket!

I saw the following announcement (more info here) on the Hekman library's website and since we are discussing hand help devices at the next IFTF meeting I thought I share. I think this is definitely going to be a growing trend.

Stay tuned.... who knows which CATLA school I'll highlight tomorrow :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Innovation at JKM

JKM Library has created a set of (or see their nifty web site) book marks to help their patrons find web sites of interest. I think this is a cool idea and given the social nature of could be something that other ATLA schools could contribute too.

Now Chad Pollock at JKM is working on creating a customized Google search of religious web sites and per his post on ATLANTIS he is looking for others to contribute to this as well.

Thanks to Chad, Anthony Elia and the rest of the JKM staff for leading the way.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Blogging in academe

I thought I'd share an article I read recently that relates to Matt's post on a TEDS student putting his research paper in his blog.
The article was

Blogging Their Way Through Academe
in U.S. News & World Report.

It told some anecdotal stories about how grad students are using blogs in connection with their research. Many are using it as an informal way to talk about what they are doing, work through frustrations, and ask for advice. Students say they “especially value the ability to connect with others in their fields in mere minutes, as opposed to the months or years it can take to publish in journals.” Some students post under a pseudonym if they are talking about something controversial. The article also talked about using blogs to get an inside look at a college you’re considering.