Archive for the 'social media' Category

Can libraries facilitate transformative experiences?

I had some very good discussions on twitter recently (complete with book recommendations, naturally) about whether higher education is transformative, what that even means, and how you might measure it.

My very, very cursory look at some of the research seems to indicate that the number of college students who show truly transformative increases in moral reasoning, critical thinking, cultural understanding, and the like is fairly small. Moreover, there seems to be some evidence that students (and their parents) are actually not approaching college with any sort of transformative goal in mind — most kids are pursuing a college degree for understandably instrumental reasons.

And yet, despite the fact that it rarely happens, and it may not even be what students are seeking, I still believe in the transformative potential of the college experience. For example, I believe in the possibility that a student might be encouraged by a classroom experience in such a way that ignites a life-long passion for social justice. I believe in the possibility of a student discovering an unknown aptitude for art, for programming, for scientific analysis, or for leadership. I believe these sorts of transformative self-discoveries can happen in the classroom, in the dorm, in extracurricular activities and in the library.

I’m more than willing to admit that the kinds of life-changing transformative college experience I’m talking about may be very rare.  And in spite of that (or perhaps because of that), I want to create libraries and library experiences that facilitate those rare events. I don’t quite know what that looks like, but I think it may be as much an attitude as any specific set of actions or programs.

That’s the argument I couldn’t figure out how to make in 140 characters, but that came into relief for me through those twitter exchanges. Thanks to @lisalibrarian, @NancyDryden, @bfister, @JMarkOckerbloom, @jillian6475, @MerrileeIam, and @olinj for the twitter conversation and the book recommendations.

I would love to know if the idea even makes sense and/or if anyone has ideas about what a library that facilitates transformative experiences looks like.

Cats and books

I predict that with that tweet, Joyce Carol Oates provided the opening presentation slide for at least 50% of ALA presentations this summer. I further predict that 75% of those presentations will use it ironically (librarians are so ironic), and 25% will use it earnestly (we are also a very earnest bunch).

If anyone has a good public domain or CC-licensed photo of Joyce Carol Oates with a cat (and a book) in her lap, let me know. I have a presentation I’m working on.

(Edited to add: Thanks to @joshhonn for alerting me to the Writers and Kitties tumblr)

Joyce Carol Oates & cat

Joyce Carol Oates & cat, from

Happy Friday.

Stanford is going to the Rose Bowl; Library gets more twitter love

Stanford in 1st Rose Bowl. We're hoping for a much different outcome this year. Photo courtesy of Stanford University Archives.

Stanford in 1st Rose Bowl. We’re hoping for a much diffferent outcome this year. Photo courtesy of Stanford University Archives.

Stanford beat UCLA last night, securing a spot in the Rose Bowl. And, as has become the pattern, the library got plenty of attention on twitter during the game. The big twitter joke last night was that the game’s low attendance must be because all those geeky Stanford students must be in the library (on a Friday night).

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It amuses me to think so many people thought they were being original by joking that all the Stanford students must be in the library on a Friday night. On the other hand, at a time when other libraries are worried about declining use statistics, our main library still averages over 1600 visitors and 800 check outs per day. Go Cardinal, indeed!

Report from Libraries Rebound

Stanford Rebounds. Credit: flickr user Han Shot First

As with most conferences and events, the best part of the OCLC Libraries Rebound event was meeting new colleagues and reconnecting with others. The event was live-cast and had a surprisingly active twitter stream (#LibRebound).

My official role at the event was as a reactor to the panel on Directly Supporting Researchers. Three others gave prepared presentations, and then three of us reacted. I rather liked the format, and the three of us who reacted agreed a few minutes before we started that we would each try to be interactive and at least mildly controversial in our reactions — with the goal of spurring a conversation with the larger group. I’m pretty pleased with how well that worked. I tried (and mostly succeeded) to stir up some conversation by asserting that subject librarians in research libraries need an advanced degree in the discipline (or a closely related one) that they support. Another comment I made that picked up some traffic on twitter was that we need to stop worrying about saving libraries and focus instead on supporting research (a theme I have surfaced here before).

The other fun debate that sprung up was around the notion that the value of Special Collections rests on their use. While I am sympathetic to the fact that we all face resource constraints and in some cases pressure to justify our very existence, I want more of us to stand our ground on the idea that libraries (especially research libraries) must collect for not just current scholars, but for the future. As I tweeted, if our predecessors collected only stuff that was of interest to scholars of their time, then our archives of women’s history, african american history, queer history, etc. would be even sparser than they are now. If we believe that history remains a relevant discipline, then we owe it to future scholars to collect more widely than current use would dictate.

Once I catch up on my real job, I hope to return to some of these topics more fully here — especially the idea that subject librarians ought to have advanced disciplinary degrees. Until then, let me just say that Libraries Rebound was a great event — well organized, good topics, fantastic discussions. Thanks to the folks at OCLC RLP for pulling it together.

We’re tweeting, now what?

I know we are a bit late to the game, but Stanford Libraries now have an official Twitter account and we are tweeting away. I started the account several weeks ago, and have been single-handedly trying to nurture it to some reasonable level of viability.

How it feels to nurture @StanfordLibs. Photo credit: flickr user basykes

Although I’m not someone who thinks every initiative needs to be evaluated for Return on Investment, I do want us to build up a reasonable following to make it worth the staff time it will take to feed it. I’m not at all sure what number of followers = reasonable, but we are over 100 now and I’m heading out for an actual 5-day vacation, so I’m turning over the care and feeding of @StanfordLibs to some colleagues. I’m also not a fan of strict Social Media policies, but figured they might want some guidelines. Here’s what I told them:

  1. Tweet several times a day.
  2. Tweet any and all library events.
  3. Tweet links to stories from The Stanford Report, Clayman News, other campus news-lists you might be on.
  4. Tweet or re-Tweet any book-related, library-related, higher education-related, academic technology related links and news that you hear about through your own network.
  5. Set up Twitter searches for “stanford library” “stanford Libraries” “green Library”, etc., and retweet and/or respond to anything that is really about us.
  6. Respond to anyone who tweets to us or re-tweets us — Just a simple “Thx for the RT” is fine.
  7. Follow back the real followers — check profiles so you aren’t following back spammers, but generally good idea to follow back. Feel free to send a reply to someone who follows us “Thx for the follow”; but only to “real followers”.
  8. It is OK to tweet something light & humorous once in a while. Keep it tasteful. I would use the “imagine your mother reading it” standard, but my mom’s sense of humor can be pretty raunchy. Imagine Michael Keller‘s mother reading it. (I’ve actually never met Mike Keller’s mother, so have no idea what her standards are — which is the point. And I know picking on “mothers” instead of “parents” is at the very least implicitly sexist, but my father is dead, and I liked the parallelism of my mother and Mike Keller’s mother.)
  9. Tweet links to Stanford Library job openings.
  10. Tweet about cool things we are doing –even if they aren’t new. I have tweeted links to the Special Collections blog and the Digital Forensics Blog. We should definitely tweet links to some of our cool digital collections — especially the publicly available ones.
  11. Try to reflect our personality — part of a great research university, stewards of great collections, leaders in digital library development, smart, serious, and willing to be a bit quirky.

My implicit social media policy for Stanford Libraries is to pick smart people to be in charge of the social media, and trust them to use it well, but it seems everyone likes a bit of guidance. Plus, to be honest, I need something to say to the people who I didn’t pick, but who want to tweet for us anyway. Trying to be inclusive, but I want to make sure we have some kind of relatively recognizable “Stanford Libraries” voice.

So, if @StanfordLibs sounds like someone you want to follow, you know what to do.

What’s happening at Harvard?

The twitterspere (at least my corner of it) was all abuzz today about the Harvard Library Town Hall meetings (hashtag #hlth). Harvard Libraries have been in a “transition” for some time now, and it appears that the meetings today were intended to provide library staff with some updated information on the transition. Judging from the tweets, it was not particularly effective — more questions than answers apparently.

I have absolutely no insider knowledge at all, but as far as I can tell from trying to keep up with the tweets all day:

  • An initial tweet claiming “All of Harvard Library staff have just effectively been fired” was re-tweeted often, as was a Google+ post written by a former Harvard University Library staff member.
  • Later tweets clarified that no staff were laid off … today. Layoffs are imminent, however, and more details will be available next month.
  • The layoffs will be in areas that are “Shared Services” — such as technical services, preservation, and access services; not collection development, research librarians, or special collections.
  • Some jobs will be eliminated, some restructured, some new jobs created.
  • For restructured and new jobs, internal candidates will be solicited first.
  • All library staff are being encouraged to fill out employee profiles (with skills, interests and a CV/resume), which will factor into decisions about restructuring (and presumably who stays and who goes, and where the stayers go …). It looks like the deadline for completing profiles is only 1 month away, and workshops on how to do so are already full.
  • The general sentiment on twitter is that the senior administrators at Harvard Libraries handled this very poorly — that the town hall meetings produced more questions than answers. Rather than serving to keep staff informed, they served primarily to create significant anxiety.
  • Plenty of folks are worried that as Harvard goes, so go other academic libraries – in other words, if massive layoffs can happen at Harvard (with its huge endowments), then no academic library is safe.
  • An official Harvard Library Transition Update was posted publicly on January 17. More official Harvard Library Transition stuff on the Harvard University News site.
  • Excellent first-hand accounts and analyses from @mpeachy8 and @oodja.

I know a least a few folks who actually work at Harvard occasionally read here, so I do hope they will correct anything I have wrong, and chime in with any additional information. I hope they also know that I wish them well in what is obviously a super difficult and stressful time.

My 2011 in Music

Inspired by Ed Sommers post on 2011 Musics, here is my summary of new (to me) music in 2011.

I got 30 new albums in 2011, 22 were digital downloads (direct from iTunes store), and 8 were actual physical CD’s. (I’m not counting CDs burned for me by friends, only CDs I paid money for). All of the physical CDs were uploaded immediately to my iTunes library, and about half of the digital albums were burned to physical CDs (so I can play them at home for all to enjoy). The truth is, I love the listening convenience of digital music, but am clearly not ready to make a wholesale transition to all-digital. One thing that is stopping me is storage — I haven’t yet invested in iCloud or any other cloud-based storage solution — and I don’t have a device with enough memory (other than laptop and back-up hard drive) to hold all my music. The other thing stopping me is an old CD player at home, with no input for an iPod or iPhone — so if I want to listen to music through my half-decent speakers at home, I need actual CDs. These are probably not the only reasons I have not gone all digital though, since my book consumption patterns reveal the same indecisive mix of print and digital. Clearly I have some lingering emotional attachment to physical CDs and physical books. I’m OK with that.

My top 10 CDs, in order based on number of plays, for 2011 are:

  1. Crosby, Stills and Nash: Greatest Hits
    At some point in 2011, I realized I did not have enough CSN in my collection. In less than 5 minutes, iTunes took care of that. I love that digital music means I can get old music easily and quickly. I still keep a running list of old music I want/need, and enjoy hunting through used CD stores for gems; but sometimes you need some CSN right away!
  2. The Decemberists: The King is Dead
    This is one of the physical CDs, and was a birthday present.It is an excellent collection of tunes, and will make you forget the horribleness of their 2009 The Hazards of Love.
  3. Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues
    Another CD I own in physical form — picked this up at a Best Buy because I had a store credit. I love the Allman Brothers Band, so took a chance on this without reading any reviews. This CD is flat out AWESOME. Buy it now! Check out I Can’t be Satisfied.
  4. Andrew Duhon

    Andrew Duhon, photo credit Flickr user dsb nola

  5. Andrew Duhon & the Lonesome Crows: Dreaming When you leave
    While in New Orleans for ALA in June, I heard Andrew Duhon live — he just happened to be playing on the night I decided to go listen to music on Frenchmen Street. I loved his sound, so downloaded 2 of his CDs as soon as I got home. Really good singer/songwriter stuff, with a sorta folksy flavor, and some pretty good harmonica on some of the tunes (I’m a sucker for harmonica). Here he is playing Crosstown Southern Blues (my personal favorite)
  6. Lucinda Williams: Blessed
    I love Lucinda, and will buy everything she puts out. This CD does not disappoint. The title cut is a personal favorite, and I love the accompanying videos on her youtube channel.
  7. Pete Yorn: Music for the Morning After
    I “discovered” Pete Yorn through Pandora – can’t remember what station I created that led me to Pete, but probably The Jayhawks, or Ryan Adams, or maybe Golden Smog.
  8. Andrew Duhon: Songs I wrote before I knew you
    See story for #4 above for example of how live music is supposed to work.
  9. Traveling Wilburys: Volume 3
    I don’t remember how I decided to buy this; but I added Volume 1 to my collection this Christmas. There is no Volume 2.
  10. Big Head Todd & the Monsters: Sister Sweetly
    I distinctly remember buying this one based on responses to my request for new (to me) music recommendations on Facebook. I specifically asked for something in the bluesy rock – rocking blues spectrum, and this definitely hit the spot. Again – title cut is especially good.
  11. Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues
    I was on a bit of a Steve Earle kick for awhile, and someone (I think on Facebook) suggested I give this CD by his son a shot. I love the simple alt-country, bluesy sound of this CD. Christchurch Woman is a favorite. Am still not sure whether Steve and Justin beat out Bob and Jakob (Dylan) as best father-son musicians ever, so I’ll just keep listening to all 4 of them.

Clearly, social media play a big role in alerting me to new music and old music that I want in my collection. In fact, I complained on Facebook that none of my “friends” had ever mentioned Pete Yorn’s music, leaving me to discover him by chance on Pandora.

Some concluding advice:

  1. Buy Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues, and play it immediately and often.
  2. If you don’t have any Lucinda Williams in your collection, get Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. It is the closest thing I have ever heard to a perfect album – music, lyrics, Lucinda’s amazingly distinct voice. Trust me on this.
  3. If you want to support a very good young musician, and you like Bon Iver or early Ryan Adams, give Andrew Duhon a try.
  4. If you like learning about new (to you) music, share the music you like with your social networks, and ask for recommendations. Things like Spotify that show me what a friend is listening to are OK, but I get more out of actual comments, mini-reviews, etc. I much prefer a “Mike thinks AC/DC is a great way to jumpstart the budget proposal process” over a “Mike is listening to Back in Black on Spotify”.

Research is like Cooking video

A couple of years ago I posted about a Powerpoint slidedeck I had been using in Information Literacy classes comparing the research process to cooking. With the help of some awesome colleagues, I updated the slides, did a voice-over, and turned it into a video called Research is Like Cooking.
Sometimes I use it in workshops, for a little break from me talking. This week, I’m sending it out as homework before the library workshop. I’m hoping the kids will spend the 5 minutes watching it before the workshop, so we have a common metaphor to use throughout the workshop.
I slapped a CC-BY license on it, so use it if you like it.

Mindset of Students in Class of 2015 and Faculty of 2011

Beloit has once again published their Mindset List, with “There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway” leading the list of things describing the Class of 2015. My favorite is “19. We have never asked, and they have never had to tell.”; even though it isn’t true (yet) for many young people in many places — especially in my home state of Virginia. The rest of the list is the usual mix of cultural (OJ Simpson, Tickle Me Elmo), political (Jimmy Carter, Kim Jong-il), and technological (dial-up, Facebook break-ups) references.

This year, The Chronicle Review published “an antidote”, called The 2011 Mind-Set of Faculty (Born Before 1980) (subscription required). The faculty list is a strange mix of some amusing culturing tidbits (“We … never used libraries as restaurants or coffee shops. We faced books; we did not facebook.”), with bitter and sarcastic snipes (“Those same faculty members are regarded by many parents, administrators, and state legislators as lazy, inefficient, and unaccountable. If it were not for all the work the faculty members must do, they would have the time to live down to those expectations.”). Yes, it is true that many faculty are “teaching more and larger classes and doing more “service” than ever before at the same pay or less as faculty were three or four years ago”, but I personally like my Mindset lists to be more on the light side. Give me more “Faculty members born before 1980 said “Wii” to express the euphoria they felt as children when sledding down a hill.” and less “Freshmen will encounter some faculty members who used to work at institutions where faculty governance did not require the inclusion of administrators, advisory boards, and regents in academic decisions.” YMMV.

Update on our Library Facebook page

I know Library Facebook pages are old news, but my post on Our Library Facebook Page continues to get plenty of traffic, so I figured it was time to update the story of Green Library on Facebook.

We now have 2,846 people who Like us (up from 809 in July 2009, when I last reported our fan numbers); and I remained convinced that we are the most popular academic library on Facebook. Yale is close behind with 2,839, so I hope all the Stanford fans reading this will head over to Facebook and Like us.
We have not done any paid Ads since summer of 2008 — all of our new Fans/Likes have been gained organically.

We still get plenty of interaction on our page, with 40 comments/likes over the past week (I expect that number is higher during the academic year). We are averaging over 1000 monthly active users. Despite early fears on the part of many in the library community, we have not had any problems with flaming or negative comments.

I’m convinced that our success is based largely on the fact that we post interesting content, tailored to the interests of people who truly Like libraries. Most of what lands on our Facebook page is pulled automatically from our blog, but occasionally one of the Facebook admins will post something just to Facebook. The Facebook only posts are usually just quick links to outside articles of interest, often humorous (or intended to be humorous).

The best part of the story is that we have been able to leverage our Facebook presence to recruit participants for some usability testing for new website prototypes. We tried many other venues to recruit participants, but Facebook was by far the most successful.

For us, Facebook provides an extra venue for interacting with people who Like us; and the small amount of effort dedicated to keeping it up to date is certainly worth it.

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