Posts Tagged 'twitter'

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.

Library as icon: Hoops edition

Signed photo of Johnny Dawkins

Signed photo of Johnny Dawkins, hanging in my office

Stanford beat Oregon last night and in addition to giving mad props to my fellow Dukie Johnny Dawkins, I have to update the Library as Icon series:

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).

Screen shot 2012-12-01 at 9.23.18 AMScreen shot 2012-12-01 at 9.24.42 AMScreen shot 2012-12-01 at 9.25.49 AMScreen shot 2012-12-01 at 9.25.09 AMScreen shot 2012-12-01 at 9.23.54 AM

Screen shot 2012-12-01 at 9.24.18 AM

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!

Stanford beats Oregon, Library gets twitter attention

The Stanford football team beat then #2 ranked Oregon this weekend, and once again the library got plenty of attention on twitter:

Tweet from @JasonKleinman

Tweet from @JasonKleinman

Tweet from @WatchThisTrick

Tweet from @WatchThisTrick

Tweet from @fidoz

Tweet from @fidoz

The library tweets during Stanford football games are becoming so ubiquitious that I may need to make this into a weekly blog post during football season. Wonder if it will continue during hoops season, or if there is something special about the seeming juxtaposition of football and libraries/academic excellence?

More Library as Icon: Sports edition

Keith Price is getting hit harder than the library during finals week in Palo Alto. #Stanford — From @DylanScottLTD on Twitter

I wrote earlier about how I love it when it becomes clear that the library is an icon on campus and is a central part of the Stanford experience. What I neglected to address is how often “the library” gets invoked (often sarcastically) during sporting events. As the Stanford football team has risen to prominence in the last few years (GO CARDINAL!), there seems to have been a corresponding increase in the number of times the library gets mentioned in social media and on sports radio and TV. Apparently one of the announcers made a crack about Stanford students “storming the library” after we beat USC earlier this season.

Stanford students at football game

Stanford students at football game, from flickr user aefitzhugh. Captioned: “It is only a matter of minutes before they learn that studying in the library might be more exciting.”

I love that “the library” gets invoked as a kind of short-hand way to stereotype Stanford kids as geeks. The combination of an excellent academic reputation and a top-notch Division I football team is rare enough in higher education (I should know) that the fact that Stanford kids “are smart” or “have high SAT scores” gets mentioned pretty regularly when Stanford teams compete on the national stage. And often enough, “the library” is part of that conversation. I do know that my twitter search for mentions of “Stanford and library” turns up all kinds of gems during football season:

Stanford if you dont at least cover the spread Ill burn your library down Jack Black style #YouBetterNotYouBetterNot From @FeldyMaizeNBlue on Twitter

My all-time favorite Stanford sports & Library connection, though, comes from Stanford basketball stand-out and current assistant coach, Kate Paye:

“I’d probably work in the Stanford Library if they’d let me.”

Dear Kate: If you are reading this, please contact me — I’m sure we could find something for you!

Library as icon

Stanford Band outside the Bing Wing of Green Library. Photo by Chris Bourg.

I love it when it becomes obvious that the library is a true campus icon and is central to the Stanford experience. That happened to us last week when the library was included in a Sonic Scavenger Hunt held during New Student Orientation week.

Last Friday afternoon, eight Stanford University freshmen from Larkin Hall trooped into the quiet-as-a-hush Lane Reading Room in Green Library on a quest – to find a book and slam it shut.

It was one of a dozen sound samples – and visual images – they had been instructed to collect around campus and record into MadPad, a mobile music app, during the first “Sonic Scavenger Hunt” held during New Student Orientation.
From Hunting and gathering on the Farm – sounds and images that is.

The library is also a frequent stop for the water polo team and the infamous Stanford Band when those groups do spirit runs around and through various campus hot-spots. And, of course, we play a crucial role in Big Game week every year.

Beat Cal banner at Meyer Library

Beat Cal banner at Meyer Library. Photo by Linda Cicero / Stanford News Service

Admittedly, book-slamming and hordes of Speedo-clad students rushing through the library can be momentarily disturbing to our otherwise studious patrons. To my mind, though, that is a small price to pay to remain a key campus icon, included in scavenger hunts, spirit runs, pranks, and even the occasional party.

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.

Things that made me smile this week …

Kingston Trio; From LoC PPOC

I started the week off feeling grumpy, but it is Friday now and I need to change my attitude (not to be confused with changing the subject). So, for my own mental health, here are the random things that made me smile this week:

  • Running into a colleague on her 2nd day back from maternity leave just as her wife arrived on campus with their gorgeous baby
  • Listening to the Old 97s this morning and realizing that they sampled the Kingston Trio’s Worried Man on Big Brown Eyes
  • Bragging about a colleague to an AUL at another institution this morning
  • Hearing kind words from colleagues on the other coast
  • Pink vespa

    Photo credit: Flickr user Shendeluth

  • Seeing a women on a neon pink Vespa, wearing matching neon pink jacket and helmet, riding down Palm Drive this morning
  • Getting a note from Stanford’s Parking & Transportation Services saying they love the Marguerite Moment idea, and sending me an updated photo of one of the Hybrid Marguerite buses
  • Excellent long-distance customer service from Franklin Flower Shop in Franklin LA

On Harvard, being quoted out of context, and a fleeting 15 minutes

My summary of the situation at Harvard continues to get some press, including an out of context quote in the Boston Globe story Harvard plans to consolidate library, reshuffle employees . The original version of the story concluded with:

A blogger named Chris Bourg, an assistant university librarian at Stanford University,” wrote that as Harvard goes, so might other universities: “If massive layoffs can happen at Harvard [with its huge endowments], then no academic library is safe.”

The actual full quote from my blog post is:

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.

The part about “Plenty of folks are worried” seems to be key to the actual meaning of what I said. I’m not too happy about the fact that the Globe article makes made it sound as if I believe that what is happening at Harvard is a harbinger of things to come for the rest of us, when I actually think quite the opposite. In my subsequent Update on What’s happening at Harvard, I note that:

My sense is actually that what Harvard is doing now (in terms of downsizing and centralizing) is actually what many of us have already done. I think this is a case of Harvard emulating its peers, rather than a case of the rest of us eventually following in Harvard’s footsteps.

Just to be very, very clear — I am not (nor was not) saying that I think the restructuring and downsizing that is happening at Harvard is necessarily good, or necessary, or inevitable. I am in no position to know what the best organizational structure is for the Harvard Libraries. I do know, however, that the Stanford Libraries faced some very painful restructuring, streamlining and centralizing in 2009. We are not looking at Harvard’s situation as a harbinger of things to come for us, nor as a model to be followed. Colleagues at other large research libraries tell me they are likewise not looking to follow in Harvard’s footsteps. If anything, I suspect the folks who produced the Task Force Report (PDF) for Harvard may have looked to us and our peer institutions for benchmarking.

At any rate, I was unhappy enough about the out of context quote that I tweeted: “Really unhappy about being quoted out-of-context in the @mary_carmichael Globe story about Harvard #hlth” To her credit, @mary_carmichael (Higher Education reporter for the Globe) responded immediately and graciously; and the entire paragraph was removed from the online version of the story. Ah, the fleeting nature of digital text!

So, my 15 minutes of fame is over, but I do now have a Twitter follower at the Boston Globe, so one never knows …

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