Archive for the 'Tech stuff' Category

Libraries and IT: together forever?

This week I’ve been working with colleagues on an MLA presentation proposal about libraries’ alternative management techniques. While doing preliminary research I stumbled across today’s (January 18, 2008) Chronicle of Higher Education. One of the front page stories, “Strains and joys color mergers between libraries and tech units” caught my attention.

I work in a small liberal arts college with no library director but a “management team”. We are fortunate to have a non-librarian as part of our team who oversees our Educational Technology department. She offers insight that the librarians tend to overlook especially from a technological perspective. While reading the article I was surprised to learn that some libraries struggle with the concept of “blended” environments particularly when we use the term so often.

The article mentions a half dozen various colleges and universities, both private and public, and the trials, tribulations, and triumphs each experienced. Each institute had its own reasons for combining the library with information technology services. These blended “learning commons” or “information commons” allow for stream-lined accessibility for our users. David Dodd, CIO at Xavier University in Cincinnati, says that “colleges ‘have to be better than Google'” and I believe that to be true.

It’s time libraries shed the dusty, quiet book repository image and started to become (or continued to be, whichever the case may be) the information mecca for the institute complete with appropriate technology and support that today’s students expect.

-dana pawloski


Rekindle your love affair with books

Is the book dead? Is print obsolete? Is reading overrated?

For some people, new technologies will always pose a threat to what they know and love. When e-books first appeared, pundits predicted that they would eventually replace the printed book. Others argued that Google Book Search would infringe on the profit and copyright of traditional publishers. Rarely do such dire forecasts reflect reality.’s new wireless reading device, the Kindle, is already inspiring similar predictions. Yet Amazon’s own president and CEO Jeff Bezos reinforces the fact that, despite ever-changing formats, “books aren’t dead.” The full interview with Bezos can be found in the November 26, 2007 issue of Newsweek magazine.

I first encountered mention of the Kindle a month ago while working on collection development. The Kindle shares many features with previous e-book devices with one important difference: wireless connectivity. It’s designed to operate independently of any computer. You can purchase a book through Amazon via one-touch process and once you buy the book it will be downloaded to your Kindle and stored in your library. Downloads take less than 90 seconds.

While searching for more information, I stumbled upon several blog entries. I am not the only one interested and intrigued by the Kindle. This post came from Amazon’s own backyard: Seattle PI covers the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Kindle:

Boingboing offers some interesting points as well:

The times are changing in the publishing world. However, as far as this traditional librarian is concerned, nothing beats curling up with a good (print) book and a cup of cocoa.

Data Curation: A New Frontier in Faculty-Librarian Collaboration

That is the title of a presentation I’m giving next spring for the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters. Why? Because data curation has tremendous potential to reshape academic librarianship. In particular (I’ll refer to my abstract):

Librarians with data curation skills retain the ability to help researchers better describe, manage, and share their research datasets. By introducing sound data management practices into faculty research, they also promise to facilitate the discovery, access, and dissemination of said research. Such practices include maintaining data quality (digital preservation), adding value (metadata creation), and providing for reuse (data validation). Librarians willing to provide such services invariably allow faculty greater time to focus upon research. And success in this regard will undoubtedly promote faculty-librarian collaboration beyond what is currently conceived.

A very general introduction to be sure (consistent with speech format) but exciting nonetheless. And librarians will be hearing much more about the field. Just last summer, the University of Illinois at Urbana announced data curation as a concentration for their LIS degree. Within the last 2 years, Purdue has created a successful Digital Data Curation Center (D2C2) staffed with librarians to help faculty organize their research (purposely located outside the library). And don’t forget the current impact data librarianship has had upon GIS, the social sciences (UofM’s ICPSR), and bioinformatics.

These developments have tremendous potential to influence how librarianship is perceived among faculty. Institutional respository (IR) managers should also take note– because data curation will likely encourage a desire for data repositories separate from the traditional IR (Andrew Treloar et al. makes the case in this D-lib magazine article).

MLC Launches Michigan Libraries Wiki

From Press Release:

Lansing, Michigan, September 18, 2007: The Michigan Library Consortium
(MLC) is pleased to announce the launch of the Michigan Libraries Wiki , an online resource of information for libraries.
Michigan librarians can consult the new Wiki to find out what services
other libraries in the state are offering, ranging from coffee shop
services to MySpace pages to digitization projects, as well as sample
library policies, consultant lists, RFP resources and more. Like Wikipedia,
the Michigan Libraries Wiki is open for librarians and others to add
content to the wiki pages.

“Our goal is to provide a useful library wiki for Michigan library staff
from all types of libraries,” said Randy Dykhuis, MLC Executive Director.
“We’re asking library staff, trustees, Library Friends, consultants,
speakers, and others to contribute to the wiki to create a resource for
information and news about Michigan libraries’ activities, policies, and
projects. All are invited to share policies, services, ideas, and best

To build the initial content for the wiki, MLC staff began with the
questions most frequently asked by member libraries. These included
inquiries posted on Michigan library listservs or asked of MLC staff, such
as requests for library consultant lists, sample policies, sample RFPs, and
lists of libraries providing new services such as MySpace pages, blogs,
coffee bars, home delivery, and digital collections.

“We’re frequently asked for information on digitization projects in
Michigan,” said Ruth Dukelow, MLC Associate Director, “so we included a
page on the wiki where libraries can add links to their digitization
projects, institutional repositories, and special collections. Prior to the
launch, we populated the Wiki pages with a lot of information, but we
expect that the content will be greatly expanded once Michigan library
staff begin to add to the Wiki.”

For more information, visit the Michigan Libraries Wiki at or contact Ruth Dukelow, Associate Director, MLC,
(800) 530-9019 x121 or

MLC is a library membership organization serving all types of libraries in
Michigan, from the large research libraries to very small school media
centers and public libraries. Because Michigan’s libraries are such a
diverse mixture of large and small, rural and urban, with a wide range of
needs, MLC has evolved over the years to become a full-service library
service agency. As such, MLC offers library technology training workshops,
special programs, group licensing for database and e-journal subscriptions,
and provides implementation, training, and support for the statewide MeL
Databases and MeLCat projects.

Web 2.0 and the college crowd… well together, as evidenced by Business Week’s
graph of online users
. Kinda of interesting I suppose how use of social networking sites falls off in the late 20s (a function of marriage?). Not surprised RSS is not as popular as many would suppose it to be (overrated in my estimation).

The DigInit:Digital Initiatives blog has some advice about how the academic library community should look at this data

Be sure to understand Second Life

NMC Campus: Seriously Engaging

I’m betting Library Administrators will have to become familiar with Second Life in very short order. Here is a helpful introduction–with an academic campus and library featured.

Question: Why does a British accent have to sound so brainiac–I rather the voice of HAL from 2001 Space Odyssey.