Writer’s block?

It’s been too long since I have written a blog post. I can blame the cold, cold winter (yeast won’t rise and Polar Vortex, you know?) I can blame getting a new computer (and what is up with Windows 8? Do they not realize that families share a computer workstation? It is oh, too personal!) I can blame disenchantment with my daily job – enough said! I have been thinking and reading about writing , all the while wishing I was a better writer.

Ice picture


An article that has stayed with me poses that we should move from  “writer based-prose”  to “reader based prose.” Who Are You Writing For? by Ann Bauer (January 17, 2004). Obviously, I’m not there yet. But this advice I am practicing:

My goal was to help my students build a framework for what their readers needed to understand. I taught them to think like strangers to their own lives and relate back story or evidence in a compelling, relevant way. I asked each of them to consider why the reader should care about their writing—what the average person could take, and use, from their work. Why, I challenged them, was their story worth telling?

Then I turned that question around and asked myself.

“Think like strangers to their own lives”;  it gives perspective, if not yet wisdom.

How do we teach engagement and inspiration and ah-ha moments? In our writing, our teaching, our daily living?  John Warner’s post (January 28, 2014)  It’s Impossible to Teach What I Want My students to Learn reminds us that  if we are lucky, we can remember moments when we were struck, by beauty, words, ideas …even theorems, proofs and beautiful physics diagrams.

You have to trust that you are in a place where you can make that possible for the students, colleagues, and loved ones in your life.

Note: to John Warner, I use Twitter as a memory aid to keep all the articles I want to think about and re-read (and maybe someday write about!)


“Research depends on it”

data information literacy

Data Information Literacy https://www.facebook.com/datainfolit

Thanks, Dr. Karen Plaut for the most memorable line from Day 1 of the Data Information Literacy Symposium. Her quote (see title!) is in reply to the question “Why do I care about data information literacy?” Dr. Plaut also mentioned that the vast majority of data – from sensors, from satellites,  from bioinformatics – is going unused. And, how many data files are lost on hard drives from  mis-naming and file iterations? Dr. Plaut wondered if this data will become the record of the human race in the future? We can’t even imagine the uses and re-uses that future historians and researchers may investigate using the data generated today.

I’m reading this tonight: New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries

I will spend time with this web site: Planning a Data Management Curriculum and Requirements for a Collaborative Repository

OK – I will need lots of time…see all DIL Links

Notes from Day 1

And I’ll sleep on the bigger questions in hopes that – collectively – we will find answers tomorrow at Day 2!


“The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Toby Ziegler West Wing Fourth season “Evidence of Things Not Seen”

This is my favorite definition of faith. In this very chaotic first week of the semester that has seen too many managing challenges and not enough reference questions – I search for meaning in this job. I need to have faith.



Kevin Brown of Lee University is helping me today. I need to have faith that I am doing good work in the lives of the people I work with, teach and help.

However, when I walk into a class full of students whose future I will probably never know, I do so with the faith that something I say or something one of them says will have an effect on at least one student. I believe that students listen to what we say, that they care what we say, that their lives will be better for having taken that class.  In the same way that the craftsmen never saw the finished cathedral, I have no proof of this, of course, but I believe it to be true.  Perhaps one day, someone will see that former student in the same way I saw Wells Cathedral and know that at least one person had the faith to do good work in that student’s life.

Go do good work!

Life’s punches


Roll with the punches, my Dad always said. We would laugh.  Dad’s always say funny stuff over and over and over again. Now I begin to understand my Dad was saying it to himself, as much as to us. Remember that life punches you down, and punches you again and continues to punch away. You can be knocked down and never get up …or you can remind yourself to roll with the punches. What else is there?

I think it is easier to get up again and again if you have a support system and good balance in your life. In today’s world of far flung family and hectic lifestyles; far too many hours of networked work life and not enough real face time;  I find myself with not much daily support and little to balance work going badly.

Since 2008, I have tried very hard to sustain myself with the written word in many forms. Books, books and more books offer comfort and hope and inspiration. I am not alone when I am with books. Poetry speaks in the absence of loved ones – to bolster, to commiserate, to decode in the face of life’s punches. But, it is when I put pen to paper literally and write a letter or card to a friend that I am most comforted.

Books and words are life’s necessity, I learned this from my Mom; acts of kindness and generosity, my father taught me, this will sustain my soul. Watch out, you may be getting something in the mail from me soon!

This week’s book: Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara

This week’s column: Joel Stein,I Will Now Answer All Your E-Mail

This week’s poem:  A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

“The above poem was first published in the Knickerbocker Magazine in October 1838. It also appeared in Longfellow’s first published collection Voices in the Night. It can be found, for example, in: Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. The Complete Poetical Works of Longfellow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1893.”

Change and serendipity


I realized this week that I want no part of this change that I have been managing for more than a year. I have been preaching to my staff that closing a library is bad and sad, but maybe also a time for opportunity and growth. “You will be OK!” , that is what I have told my staff. It dawned on me that I am not OK – or anywhere near OK -  with this change.

Then, as often happens, I calm down. Or, better yet, I read something that speaks to me as I did this morning.

Haystacks vs. Algorithms: Is Scanning the Stacks for [Pretty] Books Really the Best Research Strategy? by Brian Mathews (June 25, 2013)

Libraries everywhere are in a constant state of change these days. I am caught up in this chaos. We are closing/moving a branch library. Decisions on collections, services and staff are just the tip of this event that seems never ending – but, I know it will end (maybe late this summer) and we will all have to settle into new roles and places. I can’t picture a place for myself in this maelstrom, but maybe it is yet for me to discover. I should trust in…serendipity.

During this time, I have come to know some new library users – adult learners who have come back to school. These are learners that have found our branch library a good place for group study and technology resources and assistance.  They work pretty independently and have told me that they appreciate my staff and this library space. I am sad to tell them we are closing, but it has forced them to seek other resources on campus. While these users currently use us for group and quiet study – they have found the 24 hour technology labs and a study room at our main library.

I am watching their learning journey – they have “adventured” past their comfort zones in just a few short months and I can learn from them.

Thanks to Brian Mathews for reminding me …”Serendipity is a state of mind.”







Year-end review OR twice in two days…

As we wrap up this academic year, I am evaluating this academic year by ideas, not by closing a library. My choice! It’s been a tough year…but the ideas survive and nourish a tired brain.

One of the biggest trends this year has been “big data.” If you haven’t had time to think about this yet – what it is, what this means for science librarians or why libraries should pay attention – this is a good beginning article.

Data Science, Machine Learning, and Statistics: what is in a name?

The University of Virginia has an interesting site all about data and researchers and their university. A model for universities? Maybe. If nothing else, use this a good model for citing data practices.

University of Virginia data management consulting group – citing data

Data visualization is another big topic in libraries and research. Good visualization is not new. Twice in two days I ran across reference to my favorite visualization – Charles Joseph Minard’s famous graph showing the decreasing size of Napoleon’s Grande Armée as it marches to Moscow; a classic in data visualization.

Charles Joseph Minard

Charles Joseph Minard (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

Good visualization tells a story, clearly, forever!

Stephen Hawking’s advice for twenty-first century grads: Embrace complexity

Service Design (Slideshare) – Slide 119

I have been trend-doing all this academic year. Read more about it in this informal report.

How does your academic year measure up?



More on CiL2013



CiL2013 Notes: Tuesday, April 9

This year, CiL seemed to really put the Computers (all things tech) back into this conference!

[NOTE: Just capturing information here; will write further notes]

IMPORTANT NOTE: Get back to this ASAP –  Nebraska Learns 2.0 – 66 Things!

[I choose sessions, not out of duty to my job, but from personal interest in my job!]

Keynote: Libraries as Community Revitalizers


New Trends in Content & Resource Sharing with Joe Murphy and Marshall Breeding

Joe Murphy slides here

Content change is a technological issue

Content formats

Content opportunities

Libraries are all about stories

 Technology areas?





Facebook Home

Wearable technologies

Impact = area


Traveling uphill…pressures, gravity, signs are not clear; Horizon is only partially visible

Confluence = wearable technologies and smart devices

What will impacts be of google glass?

Bracelet as a flash drive?

 Some tech areas are bridges not destinations

 See Google Field Trip information

Ongoing tech updates must be suffered! Embrace the suffering!

Stories end.

Forever-on gadgets

 Flipboard has found its stride

Is Facebook Home a content player?

 Phablets – smartphones and tablets

 Second screens experience



Wear your consumer hat


Marshall Breeding: Resource Sharing in Libraries

Consortial Resource Sharing – too many silos

Illinois Heartland Library Consortium – largest in US

Portland, Oregon ORBIS Academic library consortium

Denmark – all public libraries in the country

 Statewide or national infrastructure beginning to make sense

 2CUL – Columbia and Cornell; Shared technical services; Shared ILS


Gale Luncheon: Archives Unbound


UX & Accessibility Pecha Kucha

As much for the format; and then it wasn’t, oh well!

Oldham – Guelp


W3C Markup Validation

Fangs: Screen readers actually read aloud page; Firefox plugin; Shows script;  Web developer extension

 Universal design is the key – video supplemented by transcript not just closed captioning

 Age related conditions; Magnification; Stop scrolling; Suppressing pop up windows

 Repetitive stress injury; Keyboard equivalents for mouse-driven commands

 Learning and cognitive issues; Supplemental graphics; Multiple search options

 Fujitsu accessibility tools; Color inspector

 Reading effectiveness tools;  Project Cannect

NIH Usability tests

Older adults do not like images

Need single level navigation

“scrolling fatigue”

Pagination was a problem

Fonts in Responsive Design; George Mason

Raster vs Vector

Vector font doesn’t lose quality

 Using SVG in HTML5

 See George Mason menus

 First Friday – test 1 per month with 5 users


Other Session info:

Management Metrics That Work

Road Maps to the Latest in CI & KM on Linked In

Success Does Not Equal Value

Open Educational Resources and the Open Web


Wednesday, April 10: Followed from afar, thanks to tweets and streaming

Rasmus.pdf Uncertainty & Imagination: Evolving Libraries Through Technology

Inbound Marketing: Leading-Edge Tools

New Face of Reference; Liked this idea – Reference on Call

Academic Learning Models



And the very coolest thing I learned at CiL2013!

Game of Books


Cil2013 Day 1 or conference going!


KeyNote : More business; more iPhones being purchased than babies being born; subscription economy; clients; relationship management business; Amazon effect for libraries. Not inspiring.

I believe that Libraries are their own special entity. We are better served by visionaries like Michael Edson – see this blog detailing his session  from later in the day #CILDC Live Blogging: Michael Edson, Collaboration on A Large Scale.

See also:  Mobile Synergies. Shared mobile museum platform using Twitter’s API.


15 Web Trends for 2013 David Lee King

I’ve read his books but never heard him speak before. Insightful. Useful, to the point and this guy knows his stuff!

CyberTour: Evolving Spaces: Tips & Insights

WOW! Tell me stories…libraries can be place for sharing stories. Now this was inspiring. Why was it only 15 minutes?


Exposing the Information Landscape


Blekko, DuckDuckGo

Top Tips From Top Searchers (this session was  live blogged by Bill Drew.

See slides on News searches b y Marydee Ojala

See slides from Gary Price  [Best sight of the day:  WorldCat Live ]


Web Technologies and User Engagement


LibGuides: Embedding & Sustaining Strategies

UNC LibGuides: at  UNC Libraries home page

See: Coursepages

See: Subject Guides

My takeaway from this session: Kim Vassiliadis noted that from 1999 – 2011 Librarians at UNC had created 350 guides using HTML and assorted programming tools. When they made the move to LibGuides in 2012 they used a management plan. Each LibGuide had a defined purpose; consistent style; planned life cycle; and long term commitment. They analyze their LibGuides on a yearly basis from a yearly usage report and they have a mathematical formula for a workflow of how long each LibGuide may take to update. They have separate Courseguides which live only during the life of a course. They do have a library of material to use for quickly building a Courseguide.

This seems a systematic approach and works for them because they started it as they developed LibGuides. It may be harder for others to implement this (especially the consistent design principle) with a collection of LibGuides already created.

April is for baseball, poetry and libraries!

Jackie Robinson


Can’t wait! One of my favorite days is April 15 – Jackie Robinson day!

Celebrating a real life hero and good guy. And looking forward to seeing the movie next weekend – “42″.

I love April! It is poetry month. Baseball [most importantly Detroit Tiger Baseball!)  is back. We celebrate Cervantes (death date) , Shakespeare (birthday) and World Book  and Copyright Day. We celebrate National Library Week  and it is library conference season.

This week I will be at Computers in Libraries in Washington, DC and virtually attending ACRL 2013 in Indianapolis and attending my niece’s wedding in Buffalo, NY.

I’m resting up and logging in and packing! Follow the blogs and tweets below.


Bloggers at Computers in Libraries