Category Archives: MPOW

Building a 21st Century Learning Environment

Here’s the MASSIVE slideshow from the preconference I was a part of for ACRL at the ALA Annual Conference just this past weekend. I was thrilled to be able to present with the team from my library, including the Dean of the Library Theresa Liedtka, our Head of Reference & Instruction Virginia Cairns, our curmudgeonly but kind Assistant Dean & Head of Materials Processing Mike Bell, and our current ILS Manager & Web Technologies Librarian and former Head of Access Services Andrea Schurr. A powerhouse of a team, I think we gave a great preconference about the process behind our renovations and new building. It’s a massive file, but it was also nearly 7 hours worth of content. Enjoy!

Collection distribution by publication date

At my place of work, we’re just beginning a massive weeding project as a part of the larger new library building project. We are hoping to weed the entire collection for, effectively, the first time in the history of the library. Needless to say, it’s kind of going to own our lives for the next 18 months.

As a part of this, my awesome co-worker Andrea created this chart showing the distribution of publication dates for our collection. The massive amount of 1800’s is from our Early English Books Online collection, but the rest of it shows a pretty great distribution of “when did the library have funding” over the decades.

collection by pub date

Why I love new librarians

So here at UTC we’ve hired a few new faculty and staff, and this week I’ve been blown away by one of my new colleagues. She attacked a problem that we were having, and found a solution that was elegant and awesome, all at once.

Here’s the setup: one of my reference librarians is maintaining a file that describes, for each of our databases, how you use Endnote Web…which filters, how to make it happy, etc. With dozens of interfaces, this is a non-trivial amount of info, and finding a balance of how to display it to users and keep it easy to update for the librarian became an issue.

Enter: Caitlin and Exhibit! Somehow, I had never seen or heard of this marvelous little tool! Exhibit will take data, and build you a webpage that can be manipulated and sorted in a myriad of ways. Best thing? You can use a Google Docs Spreadsheet as your data source.

So Caitlin worked to get the data file up as a Google doc in the appropriate format, got Exhibit working with it, skinned the results to fit our look & feel, tweaked the CSS, and generally went web-fu on the whole problem.

The final result is a page that’s easy for our patrons to use, and easy for the librarians to manage. Take a look at the result: here’s the Google Spreadsheet with the data, and here’s the final webpage using Exhibit.

I was really impressed with the way she handled this problem, and I can’t wait to continue to be surprised with the solutions she comes up with.

I can haz class!

The proposal that I put forward for a 1 hour class for incoming freshman at UTC was accepted! Here’s the title and description:

COURSE TITLE: Digital Revolution: Everything is different than everything before

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
The rise of the Internet and the conversion of popular media to digital forms (TV becomes YouTube, CD’s become iTunes) does far more than just make information portable. It effects the way we interact with it, create it, share it, and use it in our daily lives. This class will help you understand the ways that digital information changes the world you live in, and how the future might look given these changes. The class itself will be driven largely by student interests, but topics will include why the Internet is different than everything before it, what social information does to traditional publication models, and how the world is changing (or not) to meet the new information revolution.

Awesome! Can’t wait to get back into the classroom, even just a little.

Live Desktop and Libraries

I hadn’t mentioned one of my favorite things we’ve done at MPOW here on the blog, because I assumed that it was an obvious thing to do. However, I’ve told a few people about it, and it seems not as obvious as I thought, so here ya go.

In trying to decide where our Meebo widget should live, I realized that it didn’t have to live on a webpage. That is, it does, but that webpage can be, on a Windows machine, part of the desktop. We have our student systems set up to use the Windows Live desktop functionality. We point the desktop at a page on our server, that we use to rotate banners, give instruction (Your files WILL be deleted when you log off) and other things. Since it’s a webpage, the Meebo widget lives happily among the other web content.

So students don’t have to navigate anywhere to reach us. The box is right there on the desktop. Putting the widget there has also increased our question count, and seems to be working really well for us.

Hope that’s useful for someone out there in library land!

Guest computer access

Thanks to my coworker Andrea for the wording below…we have a quandary at MPOW, and we’re trying to work out the best answer. We need your help in seeing other ways of handling the situation. So: to the question!

The context:
Here at UTC, we require our patrons to login with a username and password to use our library’s public computers. Current UTC students, faculty, and staff have these logins, but other library guests (alumni, patrons who have purchased courtesy cards, people who walk-in off the street) do not.

At present, our Reference Librarians use a guest account to login courtesy card patrons (alumni, retired faculty/staff, those who purchase a courtesy card etc.) and faculty/staff/students of other universities. Courtesy Card patrons can also check out a laptop computer for 3-hour in house use at our Circulation Desk. For everyone else, we have set up three “research stations” — computers without logins that have no productivity software and can only access the library databases and .edu/.gov websites. No general Internet access is available on these.

Unfortunately, we consistently find all of our computers in use during the fall and spring semesters. And, we find that some of our guest users monopolize our equipment to the exclusion of our primary patrons: UTC students, faculty, and staff. We are also getting some pressure from our campus IT people to not allow “anonymous” logins to the campus network – which is essentially what our use of a generic guest login provides.

The Questions:
We’d like to know what others out there in a similar situation have done (other than buy more computers). Have you cut off access to guest users completely? Have you implemented time or access limits through some technological or manual method? What has been the reaction from your guest users to the policy change? How about from others on campus?

Thoughts?