Thursday, December 21, 2006

Two puzzles a week now

They've gone mad. Someone just finished a beautiful puzzle by Gustav Klimt. I put a new one out yesterday and it's already almost done. Serious procrastination is going on. Tomorrow is the last day of the semester!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Study Break December 2007

We had a very successful study break in Carlson Library
last night. There were about 150 students, which meant the
line snaked around in front of the circulation desk. We gave
out paper bags, so students could easily take the food away and
get back to studying. And in fact, within a half an hour, they were
all back at their seats working.

On the "menu" - clementines, apples, bags of chips, granola
bars, cookies, donuts, soda, water, juice, Hershey kisses, cow
tales, and fire balls.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Puzzle Madness

It's puzzle madness this semester. Every week the students do a huge jigsaw puzzle. We never see them working on it. But every morning a little more has been done. I just love and I can't tell you why.

You can tell it's exam time

You can tell it's exam time even with your eyes closed. It smells pretty funky out there this afternoon. The floor is packed with students who probably haven't slept, showered, or laundered in a while. Everyone has food with them - big bags of chips, cups of coffee, bags of take out. It's desperate times.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Audrey Taylor from University of Houston

I just read in LibraryJournal Academic Newswire that Audrey
Taylor passed away on November 28, 2006. I feel very sad.
She was a lovely women and an excellent reference librarian.
She really loved her work. I can remember laughing with her
about being a "Cougar Doll", which is the name of the University
of Houston Cheerleaders.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fabulous write up of POA library

The Society of Physics Students took the department chair to lunch and raved
about how the Physics-Optics-Astronomy (POA) Library is their second home. That afternoon he came to check out the library and brought a camera. By the next day, there was a very nice write up on the department's homepage. It doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, November 20, 2006

A lot has changed in six years

I was cleaning out old files at the reference desk. I found a four page training checklist for reference desk students. When I first started at Carlson, we had students working with us at the reference desk from 9 a.m. until 12 midnight!! It seems impossible to imagine now. Over time, we cut back more and more, until now we have no reference desk students at all. Frankly these days there is barely enough business to justify a staff person on the reference desk, much also scheduling a student. It was a huge job to supervise so many students. The scheduling was horrific and the training was non stop. Still, it was super fun to work with them. I miss that part.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Friday Flicks

Oh rats. I wish I had thought of this! My friend Nan showed movies on Friday afternoon at her
library, the Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library at Penn State. Apparently they have been very successful. Sounds like fun!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Is everything old new again?

I just saw a kid walk by with a Michael Jackson "Thriller" t-shirt. Is M.J. so old and weird that he's hip again??? I don't get it. Of course I don't get the rubber flip flops in the 40 degree rain either....

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why are we so busy this fall?

It is just crazy in Carlson this semester. There are already students working when I come in at 8:30 a.m. When I left last night at six, every computer on the first floor was in use and every big table was filled with students working. What's going on? I'm guessing it's no single thing, but a combination of a whole bunch of things.

1. They accepted 200 more students than usual this year. Apparently there are lots of freshmen living in triples. I guess I would want to come to the library rather than studying in a crowded dorm room with two other people.

2. We renovated a second group study room that can be reserved for workshops. A whole group of students who normally would never have come to Carlson are "forced" to come here. Once they find us, do they come back to study?

3. Free coffee in Carlson seems to gone through the roof. In particular there is a rush on the coffee between 4 and 6 p.m.. There are workshops scheduled from 6:30 to 8: 30. Blick. I guess they just pump themselves up on caffeine to make it through.

4. Lots of students used to study in the Management Library in Rush Rhees. With that entire area under renovation, those students have been displaced to somewhere. Is it Carlson?

5. We didn't exactly get *new* computers on the third floor, but we moved them out of the scanky computer room right into the middle of a big study area. It seems very public to me, but the students are crazy for them. They're certainly in use every minute of every day.

6. And why are they (someone??) doing jig saw puzzles at such an incredible pace??? We put one out during the summer, just as an experiment. Now we're putting a new one out at least once a week, sometimes more often than that. I have no idea what's up with this but someone is keeping busy at night!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day Two. Internet Librarian 2006

Let's just confess. There really is no "second" day to report very much of, because I went to the Monterey Aquarium in the afternoon! In the morning I did go to Judi's talk about institutional repositories at University of Rochester. I also heard Megan Fox talk about "Trends in Mobil Tools". Wow. She crammed a huge amount of information into 45 minutes. I had no idea how little I actually knew about mobile tools!!! Yikes. Very interesting stuff.

More library fun Scare Fair 2006

The Scare Fair was a huge success again this year. The original idea came from student complaints that the stacks were scary, which in fact, they are. We decided to capitalize on the scary issue and hold a "Scare Fair". One of the main activities is to introduce students to the stacks. We do a "stack stalk" where they have to find three books by call number. The reward is a ticket to go up in the tower on the top of Rush Rhees library. The tower of the library is the focal point of campus and it is only open one day a year, so this is a big deal. Every year I think the students won't do it. It's too dorky. But every year, they do it. They run through the stacks and laugh and shriek. They find their books, they get a piece of candy, they go up in the tower. It's all good.

We also had a fortune teller this year. Again, it sounds dorky, but students lined up to have their fortunes told. In addition to a fortune we gave them a "ticket to success". The ticket had the name of their librarian, picture, email, etc. The punch line, "we hope there is a librarian in your future". The idea for this came from our undergraduate research project where we have learned that students have no idea what a librarian can do for them or even that there is such a thing as a subject librarian.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Internet Librarian 2006. Day One

Our talk, "Using Ethnographic Methods to Know Your Users ", went well. I think in particular the list of things we thought were true before we started the project and proved to be true versus the list of things we thought were true about undergraduates before we started the project and proved NOT to be true was quite useful. Turns out we all can learn something by actually talking to students.

I loved the session on Second Life. That Lori Bell makes me laugh and laugh. She's right, sex and gambling do lead the way in technological innovations.

Darlene Fichter and Frank Cervone are a fabulous team. I know that everyone else has seen this pair before, but it was completely new to me. It's really really hard to do a joint presentation and they totally pulled it off. Most of the things they showed were of course over my head, but I still took pages of notes.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fun in the Library

I am a huge fan of Liz's call to have more fun in the library (specifically play games) at the closing keynote of Internet Librarian 2006. On that note, we celebrated "10-22-38", the anniversary of Chester Carlson's celebration of xerography. There were balloons and cupcakes. Next year, the anniversary will fall on a week day and we can REALLY do something fun!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Use of Wikipedia for Classes

Where the heck have I been for the past year? I knew about wikipedia, but I had no idea that faculty were assigning readings from it or actually having students make contributions to it as part of a class assignment. Good grief. I was still way back thinking about whether or not they could cite it for a paper. Obviously faculty and students are way ahead of me on this one. There is even an an article in wikipedia about using wikipedia for class assignments.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Why didn't we think of this before?

Why didn't we think of this before? Every year, usually around exam time, we have a rash of laptop thefts. It's horrible. We're distraught. The student devastated. Our response has always been to post signs and more signs. As you can imagine, it is not very effective. This year students can check out laptop locks at the circulation desk. Lots of other libraries are doing this, but somehow we had never paid any attention. Geez...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

If you build it, they will come

For years we've had a little computer room on the third floor. It has never really worked. We replaced the computers, we painted the room, but it still didn't feel right. Students only used the room after ALL the other computers on the other two floors were filled. So we decided to give up. We're going to convert the room into group study with white boards. We *know* that will be wildly popular.

We moved the computers to new workstations right by the big group study tables. Students started to sit at the workstations before we even installed the computers. It's terrific. All eight seats were in use by 10 a.m. yesterday morning. This new arrangement is a huge success! I'm definitely glad we did it.

Here is a link to all our construction photos.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

They're baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

They're back - the freshmen. I'll know it's time to retire the fall that the freshmen *don't* bring tears to my eyes. They seem impossibly young and their excitement is palpable. I love these first couple of weeks. They're the best time of the whole year.

The libraries hosted a breakfast for the parents yesterday. The idea came from our research project and observations that these kids talk to their parents all the time about their course work. We figured maybe it would be a good idea to talk to the parents as well as talking to the students. It was super fun. The parents are so proud of their kids and so eager to learn anything and everything about being a college student. One of the mothers I talked to kept tearing up. It was so sweet. I loved it!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bridge connecting the library to new building

They are building a bridge connecting the library to the new BME/Optics building next door. Yikes! We will have THREE entrances, one on every floor. Of course, this creates all kinds of security and staffing problems. But when departments actually *want* to make a connection to the library, how can you say "no"?? We're going to put in security gates and a self check out machine and keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Browsing Nostalgia

Every year we discuss with faculty what print journals to cut. Sometimes we do it because inflation rates have outstripped our budget and sometimes we do it because they have requested new subscriptions. It's always an interesting conversation. Until just this year, we kept track of how often we reshelved the unbound journals. As you might except, we rarely reshelved any of them. With the exception of Science, Nature, or Chemical and Engineering News, the current print issues are rarely used. And yet, when we discuss canceling print, the faculty talk about their need to browse, presumably their need to browse print. So is this browsing nostalgia? Nostalgia for the old days when they found their research ideas by browsing through print issues of the journals in the library? Of course who am I to talk? Just look at my nostalgic print reference collection...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Retreat to discuss research results

We all went on a retreat to discuss the results of the Undergraduate Research Project. It was good to bring everybody up to speed on what we had learned. After all these months of happily collecting data, now it's time to actually *do* something with it. That's much harder!

Monday, July 10, 2006

ALA New Orleans

Back from ALA in New Orleans. The best thing I did was go on a field trip sponsored by STS (Science and Technology Section of ACRL). Paul St. Pierre, from Tulane, made all of the arrangements.

Stephen Nelson, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, at Tulane led the tour.
He even has a web site for the tours.

Other people have written far more eloquently than I about New Orleans. I was shocked to see
how little work had been done. The area of destruction is enormous and it is not a hub-bub of activity. It is not filled with construction crews. There are not FEMA trailers every where. It is quiet. There are ruined houses and businesses as far as the eye can see. I don't think there is a plan. It is very sobering.

Monday, June 19, 2006

STS Hot Topics Discussion Group in New Orleans

I think we're going to have an interesting discussion group in New Orleans. Stephanie Hartman from MIT and Lori Critz from Georgia Tech were co-authors of two great articles in the winter issue of ISTL and I invited them to come and help get the discussion rolling. I love the T-paper, a newsletter they put in the bathrooms at Georgia Tech and I subscribe to the MIT news blog. I can't wait to meet them!

Sunday, June 25
10:30 - 12:30
JW Marriott
Ile de France II & III.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Library Videos on YouTube

I found this video entitled, Library Dominoes, from someone's (?) blog. It made me laugh. Then I searched "library" and found this one of kids leaping off the mezzanine and onto the top of the stacks. I've always wondered what happens at 9 p.m. when all the grown ups go home. Now I know the answer!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Millennials: Always On

Here is an interesting article in the Northwestern alumni newsletter, The Millennials: Always On.

Once again, I've struck that we have made the same observations of undergraduates in our Undergraduate Research Project. Parents are heavily involved with their children's studies, they are scheduled from morning to night, they all have cell phones, and they get to library resources online.

Friday, June 09, 2006

We're going to do it

Wow. The world really has changed since I became a librarian. We decided we could and would withdraw our old print volumes of Pollution Abstracts. Yes, discarding an index. Once upon a time that would have been heresy. Now it seems like a no-brainer. The undergraduates barely use the *online* indexes any more. Even if there was a world wide catastrophe and we lost internet access, no one would go back to this print index...

The Vampire Librarian

I don't know how I found this blog. You know, one blogs leads to another, leads to another... This librarian really knows where the rubber hits the road. I laughed and laughed at this entry about the stapler. Forget all that fancy Web 2.0 stuff, I spend way more of my day fixing staplers, copiers, printers, etc. etc. Very funny stuff.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mapping Diaries

I'm getting ready to do my 10 minute presentation about our Undergraduate Research Project. I got so much out of the mapping diaries we had students do. We asked them to keep track of every place they went during the day. Their lives are just packed. They work out, go to class, go to lab, go to work, go to a music lesson, eat on the run. No wonder they don't bring laptops to the library! They would be crazy to drag one around with them for the 12 hours they are running back and forth all over campus. And when the heck do they eat???

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Have you ever played these games?

Susan has been looking at gaming for a chapter in her book. Wow. I was pretty clueless about what was going on in these virtual worlds. She's been playing Second Life. I knew that players bought virtual things like cool clothing or accessories with real money, but I had no idea that they bought real merchandise with real money. Home Depot has a store! According to Susan, "you browse the shelves, as you would an online catalog, pick out what you want and purchase with a credit card. Then it is sent to your house or you go to your local store to pick it up. Just another interface for e-commerce."

I'm trying to get my head around all of this. Susan's observation is that " the games are less games than just a virtual environment for socializing. Second Life has no game objective- it is just for socializing, e-commerce, virtual dating".

Monday, May 15, 2006

Future of the Book

Well, much to my amazement, I spoke for 15 minutes on Saturday about the "future of academic libraries". Hmmmm. Actually I dodged the bullet when it came to predicting the future and just talked about problems with no obvious solutions. Someone from the audience commented about how much he had gained by browsing the stacks of Stanford, Harvard, and New York Public. I couldn't think of a useful comment, other than to agree with him. Is anyone building a system that has browsability?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Carlson Library Study Break

We had such a fun time last Sunday night for the Carlson Library Study Break. There were zillions of students in the library; the line snaked out the door. They love getting a brown paper bag that they can fill with bags of chips and drinks and cookies, etc. It's great.


I always tell my colleagues that I read blogs so I can keep up-to-date, keep abreast of the latest developments, etc. etc. But I really started reading them because they were fabulous stories, but true (or at least I chose to think they're true). I loved Julie Julia and Chez Miscarriage. (Both have stopped blogging.) They made me laugh and cry. How strange to feel so connected to people that you've never met, will never meet, don't even know their names. I will miss Cancerbaby.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Check out alt ref blog

I really like this new blog, alt ref, by Brian Mathews at Georgia Tech. In this entry, he made (I think) two really short videos about why students don't use the OPAC. We especially laughed when he showed an example of a URL link in the OPAC that doesn't lead to full text.... Duh.
We have some of those links and they make people CRAZY!!! Sometimes you get so close to the situation, you forget how completely nutty it is.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Susan has been looking at the statistics for the papers in UResearch. Jeepers. It's amazing how many hits these things get once they're "out there".

  • Eastman School of Music has 27 masters thesis and dissertations in dspace. Collectively, they have been downloaded 10,533 times!
  • Three computer science undergrad research papers have collectively been downloaded 753 times .
  • Two economic phd theses with 590 collective downloads

Monday, April 17, 2006

Do you think students equate librarians with finding the physical book? I've been rereading some of the data we've collection for our undergraduate research study. They will ask someone in the library (librarian?) if they need help finding a book. But, I'm struck by how few problems they report *finding* the information they need, i.e. electronic information. They seem to seek out more help from the folks at the writing center than they do from us at the reference desk.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I've been reading all this stuff how this generation of students wants, needs, expects to participate. How do we do that in libraries? How can they participate in the catalog (book reviews?), the web site (blogs), etc.

Here is a very cool, commercial example of user participation. You upload your own pictures into the Kodak commercial. Slick

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Linda Musser just won a big award from ELD. I am so happy. I used to work with her at Penn State and she is amazing. Incredibly smart, productive, organized, energetic. Did I also mention that she's very *practical*?! I could go on and on.

The ELD Awards Committee is pleased to announce that the 2006 Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award will be presented to Linda R. Musser, Head of the Fletcher L. Byrom Earth and Mineral Sciences Library at the Pennsylvania State University. All nominations were incredibly strong this year. The committee cited as determining factors Linda's: inspirational, no-nonsense leadership to advance the profession; approachability, generosity, wisdom, and many other mentoring skills; prolific, extensive, significant, and practical collaborative record of scholarship including research, presentations, editorships, and publications; appointments to national and international committees or leadership teams; and last, but not least, lasting, far-reaching, and substantial contributions to ELD, other societies, the field of engineering and science librarianship, and beyond. "Linda is ... one of the people who helped establish the culture of ELD that we see today: a culture that is welcoming, knowledgeable, energetic, respectful of colleagues, and interested in the evolving mission and role of engineering librarians." Linda's nomination received a record number of support letters from ELD colleagues, former co-workers/mentees, Bernhardt honorees, and faculty from Penn State. One quote that best summarizes the views expressed in those letters and the committee's decision: "All of these factors lead to a greater appreciation of the positive impact that Linda has had on engineering librarianship."

Monday, April 03, 2006

We're doing a little pilot project offering late (or at least later) evening hours on the reference desk. As I suspected, we have little to no traffic at the Science Library. In fact, our reference desk business is way down; the "main" library still seems to be hopping. Why?

We don't have very many faculty or graduate students come ask for help verifying citations any more. Lots of citations just automatically link to the full text; you don't have to figure out the abbreviation, navigate the OPAC, find it on the shelf, etc. And if you really did need the abbreviation, you can type them into Google, and almost always find the full title. Yikes! Maybe people just don't bother when the article is in print; if they can't get it from their desk top - forget it.

And most undergraduate in the sciences only need a few articles to write a paper. They don't have the vocabulary or knowledge to read the scholarly literature. They used to come to us to use the print indexes or the cdrom databases. Now you can find very good stuff on google. So why ask at the reference desk?

Data? Did people ever ask for data? I don't think I can remember the last time I was asked a real data question. And now where are they going? Well obviously - google!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Free coffee is probably the best thing we've ever done at Carlson. It's really taken off in the last year. We probably spend almost $2,000/year on coffee (caffeinated only, though I did crack to student pleas and now we have tea bags too). It's $2,000 worth of pure, positive p.r. I wouldn't go so far as to say there's a direct cause and effect between increased head counts and coffee, but I suspect they're related. It used to be a drag to study over here - the nearest food was from an awful vending machine. The coffee isn't starbucks, but it's free, and it's caffeinated. It's funny that Nancy commented on how important coffee was to students at the Blended Librarian webcast on Wednesday. Ah ha! We did something right!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Oh I thought this article in the latest issue of ISTL
by a bunch of science librarians (I think) at Georgia Tech was so fun.
"Creating a BUZZ: Attracting SCI/TECH Students to the Library!"

How many libraries have a restroom newsletter, especially one
with the clever name, T-Paper? I loved it.