The following is a guest post by Barrie Howard, IT Project Manager at the Library of Congress.
This interview is part of a series about digital preservation training inspired by the Library’s Digital Preservation Outreach & Education (DPOE) Program. Today’s interview is with Sam Meister, University of Montana-Missoula, who is a DPOE Train-the-Trainer Workshop instructor and is also an instructor for the Society of American Archivists Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) Curriculum and Certificate Program.
Barrie: Sam, you attended the inaugural DPOE Train-the-Trainer Workshop in Washington, DC, correct? Can you tell the readers about your experience and how you and others have benefited as a result?
Sam: I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural DPOE Train-the-trainer workshop in September 2011, very soon after I began my position as Digital Archivist at the University of Montana. This was a very valuable and timely opportunity as the experience kick-started my thinking and practice around digital preservation in the context of my new institutional setting.
When I recall the experience of those two days in September I think of a group of professionals who were excited and energized, eager to learn how they could play a role in sharing and building community of digital preservation knowledge around the United States. While some of us were coming to the workshop with less professional experience than others there was a feeling of collaboration and mutual benefit and respect amongst all of the participants. Additionally, we had an amazing opportunity to learn directly from leading experts and practitioners in the digital preservation field. The two workshop days were filled with exercises, conversations and debate, and by the end I felt ready to return to my corner of the country and share my new knowledge and skills with others in my region.
I feel I have benefited from my experience in a few different ways. Through workshops sponsored by the Montana Historical Society I have been able to present the DPOE curriculum to representatives from multiple cultural heritage organizations around the state of Montana. The workshop opportunities provided an opportunity to better understand the particular needs and concerns of smaller institutions, grounding and solidifying the importance of educational materials such as DPOE to encourage and empower individuals to take some action now, even if small. Additionally, I believe that education is integral to the sustainability of digital preservation, whether that is at a small historical society or a national digital preservation network. The DPOE experience has provided me with a set of materials and approaches to continue to further my own educational activities in the digital preservation arena.
Barrie: Since becoming an official DPOE Trainer, you’ve taught SAA DAS courses and helped revise the DPOE Workshop Curriculum. Did your DPOE training inform the development of the SAA DAS course(s) you teach?
Sam: Yes, my DPOE training definitely informed my approach to teaching in the SAA DAS program. There is some crossover in the type of audience, made up of professionals who have been in the field, but may be in the beginning stages of developing and implementing local solutions for the long-term management of digital content. In that way, I have drawn from my experiences teaching DPOE workshops and applied this in the SAA DAS settings.
I would say that the approaches I have utilized have more to do with form and structure rather than the course content itself. In a one- to two-day workshop setting with around 20 people there is an opportunity to find a balance between presenting the course content and making room for a more conversational atmosphere. I have found that workshop participants desire real-world examples of the concepts that they are learning about, so I attempt to ground the course materials in my own experiences as a digital archivist. This may sometimes lead to slightly tangential conversations, but often these end up being very valuable to attendees.
Some of the desired outcomes for either the DPOE program or the SAA DAS courses are to instill in the participants the skills, knowledge and confidence to return to their institutions and start doing something, even if small, to tackle the digital preservation challenges they face. Learning about how others have dealt with similar situations helps to strengthen and build this confidence.
Barrie: Have you developed any other training materials from the DPOE Curriculum?
Sam: I have started developing a set of training materials drawing from the DPOE Curriculum that could be utilized in a workshop or training event on personal digital archiving. I’m in the early stages of developing these materials, but am excited about the potential of the DPOE Curriculum applying to this type of audience.
Barrie: Regarding training opportunities, what do you think are the strengths and challenges of traditional in-person learning environments versus distance learning options?
Sam: To date, I have only presented training opportunities for in-person settings, so I can speak to my experience as instructor in that regard. As a student, I have had experiences with both traditional and distance learning environments. Drawing on my experience as both an instructor and a student I would say that one of the challenges in a distance learning setting is creating an environment for meaningful exchange and dialogue between the students and instructor and amongst the students themselves.
While digital preservation as a subject may not be post-structuralism or philosophy, I have found that the opportunities for direct and immediate exchange, whether as an entire group, small groups, or as pairs, clearly benefit students by allowing for a deeper engagement with new, unfamiliar and seemingly abstract concepts. As an instructor, I know what parts of the course content may be difficult, and I can sense via body language or facial expressions if I need to spend additional time on a particular section to clarify. Additionally, as an audience that is primarily practicing professionals, the sense of community and support that results from attendance at in-person workshops is a very valuable outcome that will be of assistance well after they return to their particular institutions.
That said, digital preservation is a global challenge, and distance learning technology is steadily advancing to improve the experience of both instructors and students. While at this time we may not be able to fully replicate the in-person setting in an online environment, we should continue to make any and all efforts to expand the knowledge and skills needed to develop sustainable digital preservation solutions around the globe.
Barrie: What are your plans as a digital preservation training instructor for 2015?
Sam: I’m looking forward to an initial opportunity to participate as a instructor in a train-the-trainer workshop sometime in 2015 to help educate a new set of trainers to expand the digital preservation education network even further.
The strike at York University, where I work, enters its fourth week tomorrow.
The university’s Labour Disruption Update site (they are always very careful to call it a “labour disruption”, not a strike) has some information for people in CUPE 3903 Units 1 (TAs) and 3 (GAs) who want to come back to work. If you follow through and log in with your York account, this is what you get.“By clicking this checkbox, I agree that I am resuming all of my work assignments.”
It’s sad to see York University, home to decades of progressive thinking and social activism, doing this.
DuraSpace News: REGISTER for the 2015 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries–Early Bird Discount Ends March 31!
From Kristi Park, Interim Director and Marketing Manager, Texas Digital Library
Jonathan Markow, DuraSpace CSO, speaking at the DuraSpace Summit where members gathered on March 11-12, 2015
It has been some time since we hosted our Digitization Matters symposium, which led to our report, Shifting Gears. This event and findings from the surveys of archives and special collections in the US and Canada, and the UK and Ireland have helped to shape our work in the OCLC Research Library Partnership for some time. However, we felt like enough time had gone by, and enough had changed that it was time for us to begin some new discussions in order to frame future work.
We often hear from library colleagues that they continue to experience challenges associated with digitization of collections, so earlier this month we hosted some discussions (via WebEx) to try to get a handle on what some of those challenges are. Prior to the conversations, we asked participants to characterize their digitization challenges, and then did some rough analysis on the responses. Challenges fell into a number of areas.
- Rights issues (copyright, privacy)
- Born Digital, web harvesting
- Issues with digital asset management systems (DAMS) or institutional repositories (IR)
- Storage and preservation
- Metadata: Item-level description vs collection descriptions
- Process management / workflow / shift from projects to programs
- Selection – prioritizing users over curators and funders
- Audio/Visual materials
- Access: are we putting things where scholars can find them?
We opted not to include the first four issues in our initial discussion — copyright, and rights issues in general, are quite complicated (and with a group that includes people from Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand I’m not sure we could address it well). We have done quite a bit of work on born digital (and are currently investigating some areas related to web harvesting). At least for our first foray, discussions on DAMS and IRs seemed like they could have gone down a very tool-specific path. Likewise with storage and preservation. Even taking these juicy topics off the table, we still found we had plenty to chew on.
Metadata: Item-level description vs collection descriptions
Many of our discussion participants are digitizing archival collections — there is an inherent challenge in digitizing collections at the item or page level when the bulk of the description is at a collection level. People described “resistance” to costly item level description, and a desire to find an “adequate” aggregate description. On the other hand, there was an acknowledgement of the tension between keeping costs down and satisfying users who may have different expectations. A key here may be a more nuanced view of context — for correspondence, an archival approach may be fine. In other circumstances, not. Some institutions are digitizing collections (such as papyri) where the ability to describe the items is not resident in the library. How can we engage scholars to help us with this part of our work?
Process management / workflow / shift from projects to programs
Many institutions are still very much in project mode, looking to transition to programs. For those who have or are working towards digitization programs, there is a struggle to get stakeholders all on the same page: at some institutions, the content owners, metadata production unit, and technical teams seldom if ever come together; here, getting all parties together to establish shared expectations is essential. Some institutions are looking to establish workflows that will more effectively allow them to leverage patron-driven requests, while others are thinking about the implications of contributing content to aggregators like DPLA. One institution has started scanning with student employees — when students have a few minutes here or there, they can sit down at a scanning station and scan for 10-15 minutes — this leads to a steady stream of content.
Selection – prioritizing users over curators and funders
Many institutions are still operating under a model whereby curators or subject librarians feed the selection pool, either through a formal or informal process. Even in these models, it can be difficult to get input from all — there tend to be a small pool of people who engage in the process. At one institution, people who come with a digitization request are also asked to serve as “champions” and are expected to bring something to the project — contributing student hours to enhance metadata, for example. One institutions views selection as coming through three streams — donor initiated, vendor or commercial partner initiated, and initiated by the curatorial group (emphasizing that the three are not mutually exclusive). Another institution is looking at analytics and finding that curator initiated requests generate less online traffic than patron initiated requests. In a similar vein, a third institution is looking at what is being used in the reading room and considering making digitization requests based on that information. Even though people’s survey responses indicated that they would like to move selection more towards directly serving researchers needs, from the discussion I’d observe that few institutions have established models to do so.
As with born digital, everyone has A/V materials in their collection, and making them more accessible is a concern. A participant from one institution observed that they see key differences in interest for these formats — for example, filmmakers, not scholars, are the people who will seek out video. If there is a transcript for materials, that may impact demand. A/V projects tend to focus on at-risk materials, since costs are so high. Some institutions are beefing up their reformatting capacities, in anticipation of needing to act on these materials. If you are interested in this area, you will want to track the activities of the (US based) Federal Agencies Audio-Visual Working Group.
Access: are we putting things where scholars can find them
For many institutions, aggregation is the name of the game, and thinking as a community about aggregating content is key: “Standalone silos don’t help users find our things.” Whether materials are in discovery repositories that are hosted by the institution or elsewhere, discoverability and user experience are concerns. One institution assigns students to search for materials via Google and in repositories. Are collections findable?
Thanks to all who took part in our discussions! I hope we’ll have more to report in the future.
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My first post on UXLibs was bits taken from my conference notes. This is what shook out when I reread all my notes and reflected a bit.
Matthew Reidsma (who was somehow even more inspiring in person than online, and I’m not sure how that’s even possible) spoke in his keynote about Heidegger, including his concept of being-in-the-world, and the question “How does the world reveal itself to us through our encounters with it?” In my notes, I continued “How does the library reveal itself through our encounters with it?” and – more pertinent to my work – “How does the library website reveal itself through our encounters with it?” Matt went on to explain that by interacting with things, we are making meaning. So, by interacting with the library website, what meaning are we helping our students make?
This made me think of the great workshop I’d had with Andrew Asher on the first day. One of the many things we did was watch videos of students trying to find information. A second year student needed to find peer reviewed articles but clearly had no idea what this meant. A fourth year student came upon an article on her topic from the Wall Street Journal and thought it could be useful in her paper because it sounded like it was on her topic and came from a credible source (not seeming to realize that a credible source is not the same as a scholarly source). I found it striking that neither of these students seemed to understand what scholarship looked like; what it meant for a thing to be a scholarly source.
So, taking those two points together, is there a way we can help students make meaning of scholarship through interacting with our website? And I don’t just mean, how can we help them understand how to find various scholarly materials (you find books in this way, you find journal articles in that way), but can we help them understand how to interact with a journal article in a scholarly context? Can we help them use that article to first create understanding and then create their own scholarly work?
This in turn circles back to Donna Lanclos’ keynote on the first day where she challenged us to move beyond helping our users with wayfinding, and engage with them in the act of creation. She challenged us to move beyond the model of the bodiless scholar whose chair is hard, who can’t leave the library to eat, and who has to endure horrible searching on crappy library websites to find what they need. The finding part doesn’t have to be so hard. The hard part should be thinking about what you’ve found and then making something new out of it.
So, to grab a phrase from Paul-Jervis Heath’s keynote, “how might we” design a library website that helps students make meaning out of the scholarship they are finding? How might we design a library website that helps students focus less on finding and more on thinking and creating?
Since reading Emma Coonan’s great piece in UKSG News, “The ‘F’ word,” about moving away from a focus on finding in the context of information literacy, I’ve been wondering how we could do this in the context of the library website. UXLibs has prodded me further, and – even better – given me some tools, techniques, and a giant mound of inspiration to get out and try to start working on it.
Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on Delicious.
- Tutanota An Open Source Encrypted Gmail Alternative
Digest powered by RSS Digest
The DPLA family was devastated to hear that one of our Community Reps, Sabra Statham, passed away suddenly on Friday. Sabra was a Digital Project Coordinator at Pennsylvania State University and had joined the Reps program in 2014 as part of the second class. In the last year, she worked enthusiastically to represent DPLA in conversation with local Pennsylvania genealogy groups and in collaboration with her fellow Pennsylvania reps. She was multitalented: in addition to her innovative work in the library at Penn State, she was an accomplished musician and a scholar of musical modernism.
On a personal note, I met Sabra when I visited Penn State last year, and was enormously impressed with her and her many projects. She cared deeply about reaching a broader audience through digital means, and worked on many fronts toward that goal, including through DPLA.
Recently Sabra was selected to receive a 2015 DPLA + DLF Cross-Pollinator Travel Grant to attend DPLAfest 2015. It’s hard for all of us to understand that she won’t be joining us in Indianapolis next month.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Sabra’s family and friends.
DPLA: National Endowment for the Humanities announces award to support expansion of DPLA Hub network
The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $250,000 to the Digital Public Library of America today, in support of DPLA’s effort to continue to build its network of Service Hubs across the United States. The funds will be used to help cover states that currently do not have an on-ramp, through a state or regional digital library, for their collections to get into DPLA’s national, open collection. The award is being made as part of NEH’s new Common Good initiative, which is highlighting and demonstrating the importance of the humanities to the general public.
“We see our mission of bringing the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums to everyone as in great harmony with Chairman Adams’ Common Good initiative,” said Dan Cohen, DPLA’s Executive Director. “We deeply appreciate receiving this funding under that banner, and look forward to working with NEH and its other grantees to connect the public with the works of the humanities for years to come.”
The National Endowment for the Humanities has been a major supporter of DPLA from its inception. Today’s grant supplements the $1,000,000 that NEH provided to help launch DPLA in April 2013.
“These supplemental funds from NEH will allow us to continue to grow the map by supporting DPLA’s efforts to assist in the development of new state and regional based Service Hubs,” said Emily Gore, DPLA Director for Content. “The increase in hubs will allow us to come closer to reaching our goal of having an on-ramp to DPLA for all interested cultural heritage institutions in the US.”
The NEH’s official announcement can be found here.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.
The Digital Public Library of America (http://dp.la) strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. Since launching in April 2013, it has aggregated over 8.5 million items from over 1,700 institutions. The DPLA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.
Time to take another tour of the edges of Islandora, where work is being done in the community on tools and modules that you can use (or help to build!) to make your Islandora better. Previous iterations of this blog have featured modules that long since became part of the Islandora release stack, and we hope that some of today's featured modules will also make that journey someday:
The Manuscript Solution Pack, developed by discoverygarden, is an important step forward for digital humanities support in Islandora, allowing users to create and view manuscripts with the upload of TEI and XSLT and CSS documents.
Users will be able to view transformed manuscript TEI (via the upload XSLT) side by side with the image(s) of the manuscript (via the Open Seadragon viewer), and browse all of this via Box / Folder hierarchies as defined by their record in an associated finding aid, such as EAD.
This module is explicitly a work in progress and not ready for use, but when it is finished it will allow a user to ingest database dumps (.SQL files) as Islandora objects that are then spun up into live, browsable (read-only) database instances using Docker and Adminer.
This module is being developed by Ashok Modi of Cherry Hill to support a project where fedora objects that were in Islandora 6.x had to be moved over to to Islandora 7.x and into new content models. To use it, you give it credentials for to the islandora 6.x site, provide a PID, and that object can be copied over to Islandora 7.x.
Tuque connects to the remote repo, gets the object and its datastreams, and maps them to the appropriate 7.x solution pack content model to bring over.
There are still some bugs to work out and an ongoing discussion here on the listserv if you want to know more.
The brainchild of discoverygarden's Dan Aitken (you may know him as QADan), this module adds two new fieldsets to collection management pages, to handle derivatives on one object or many objects at once. The first allows a user to generate or regenerate any and all available derivative datastreams on selected or all objects in a collection. The second allows a user to regenerate the DC datastream for selected or all objects in a collection.
Our last Long Tail module comes from Donald Moses at UPEI. Islandora Taxonomy Autocompletes works with Drupal taxonomies and Islandora XML Form Builder form fields to bundle up some authority driven autocomplete options for your MODS metadata. If you want to add new authorities to the list, Don would love to hear from you.
CrossRef is happy to announce new discounts for bulk deposits of datasets and book chapters or reference entries that will take effect from April 1st, 2015. The goal of the discounts is to make it easier for CrossRef member publishers to deposit high volumes of datasets and book chapters or entries in reference works that are currently too expensive.
The following discount fee schedule will apply for deposits from a single title or database made in a CrossRef billing quarter effective April 1st, 2015.
The following discount fee schedule will apply for deposits from a single book title or reference work made in a CrossRef billing quarter effective April 1st, 2015.
If you have any questions about our fees please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for WHCLIST nominations is quickly approaching! If you are planning to nominate a non-librarian, first-time attendee of National Library Legislative Day, the nomination requirements are due no later than April 1, 2015. The winner of this award receives a stipend of $300 and two free nights at the Liaison hotel.
The White House Conference on Library and Information Services Taskforce (WHCLIST) has been an effective force in library advocacy nationally, statewide and locally since the White House Conferences on Library and Information Services in 1979 and 1991. WHCLIST has provided its assets to the ALA Washington Office to transmit its spirit of dedicated, passionate library support to a new generation of advocates. Both ALA and WHCLIST are committed to ensuring the American people get the best library services possible.
The criteria for the WHCLIST Award are:
- The recipient should be a library supporter (trustee, friend, general supporter) and not a professional librarian.
- Recipient should be a first-time attendee of NLLD.
Representatives of WHCLIST and the ALA Washington office will choose the recipient. The ALA Washington Office will contact the recipient’s senators and representatives to announce the award. The winner of the WHCLIST Award will be announced at NLLD.
To apply for the WHCLIST award, please submit a completed NLLD registration form; a letter explaining why you should receive the award; and a letter of reference from a library director, school librarian, library board chair, Friend’s group chair, or other library representative to:
Grassroots Communications Coordinator
American Library Association
1615 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20009
Note: Applicants must register for NLLD and pay all associated costs. Applicants must make their own travel arrangements. The winner will be reimbursed for two free nights in the NLLD hotel in D.C and receive the $300 stipend to defray the costs of attending the event.
A sprinkling of spring links.
When to wend and why to wind
Be The First display at the library highlights hidden gems that have never been checked out
Transferable, regrowable, distributed memories. Maybe libraries contain storehouses for flatworms and not text.
If baby carrots successfully market themselves as junk food, libraries should market themselves as? Extreme coupons?
Software is eating the world. So is mobile.
This is going to be another several post series as I wade through some of the data we have been collecting for the past year related to metadata editing and various events within a metadata record’s lifecycle.Background
For the past few years the UNT Libraries has been collecting data about how long our metadata editors are spending editing records in our systems. We’ve written on the overall change of metadata in our digital library and presented those findings as last years Dublin Core Metadata Initiatives conference in Austin Texas with a paper called “How Descriptive Metadata Changes in the UNT Libraries’ Collection: A Case Study“. The goal of collecting data about metadata change is that we will have a better idea of how our metadata editors are interacting with our systems.What is an edit event?
Our metadata system will create a log entry when a user opens a record to begin editing. This log acts as the start of a timer for the given edit session of that specific record by a given user. When the user publishes that metadata record back into the system the log entry is queried, the amount of time that has passed is recorded along with the metadata editors username, identifier for the record and state (hidden or unhidden) is in when the item is saved. This information is submitted to the Metadata Event Service and logged.
An edit event ends up looking like this once it has been createdid event_date duration username record_id record status record status change record quality record quality change 73515 2014-01-04T22:57:00 24 mphillips ark:/67531/metadc265646 1 0 1 0
With this information we are able to create a number of views into the metadata editing workflow in our environment, we can easily see the number of metadata edits on a given day, within the month and for the entire period we’ve been collecting data. We can view the total number of edits, the number of unique records edited, and finally the number of hours that our users have spent editing records within a given period.
Below are a few screenshots from our Edit Event Service web-interface.
We are able to query a given day, month, year to view statistics as well as show the rankings and information for a specific user or digital object in the system.Analyzing a year of data.
We were interested in taking a deeper look at the metadata edit events and that is what the following posts in this series will cover. A year’s worth of metadata edit data was extracted from the event service. This was paired with two other datasets, descriptive metadata about the items editing including contributing institution, collection, resource type and format fields. We also classified each user in the dataset with their status as either an UNT-Employee or Non-UNT-Employee, and finally their rank as either Librarian, Staff, Student, or Unknown rank. These datasets were merged to form a complete record for each metadata event in the Edit Events Dataset. They were added to a Solr index that was used in analyzing this data.
A total of 94,222 edit events occurred from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014 and are the base dataset for the analysis presented here.Month, Day, Hour
During 2014 we averaged 7,852 metadata edits per monthJanuary 10,133 February 5,082 March 5,960 April 5,543 May 6,622 June 5,136 July 8,099 August 10,508 September 10,989 October 12,840 November 7,712 December 5,598
Looking at the day of the week that metadata edits occurred shows the expected pattern of the majority of metadata editing activities taking place during the week with fewer happening on the weekend. The breakdown by day of the week is presented in the table below.Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday 2,765 17,506 19,580 16,876 20,838 14,416 2,241
The hour of day that metadata is edited is interesting to take a look at. For the most part you will see the majority of editing being done during the work week, with the afternoons being the time of day that most records are edited. The full data is presented below.Hour Edit Events 0:00 237 1:00 77 2:00 58 3:00 41 4:00 19 5:00 86 6:00 290 7:00 601 8:00 1,836 9:00 6,189 10:00 8,948 11:00 8,868 12:00 8,134 13:00 10,760 14:00 11,653 15:00 11,184 16:00 9,114 17:00 4,868 18:00 3,564 19:00 2,439 20:00 1,947 21:00 1,787 22:00 937 23:00 585
Presented as a graph you can easily see the swell of metadata editing in the afternoons.
If you combine the day of the week and hour of the day data into a single table you will get something like this.
In the image above, green is lower number of edits and red represents higher numbers of edits. It shows that Thursday afternoons tend to be very busy, while Friday is much lighter compared to other days of the week.
That’s it for the first post in this series, I have a plan for information about Who is editing records, What records are they editing, and then finally How Much time are we spending on metadata editing. Check back for future posts.
As always feel free to contact me via Twitter if you have questions or comments.
Today I was stopped at a red light in downtown Santa Rosa, and I looked over to see a tough guy in a muscle car with sheer delight plastered across his face. We were enjoying the same magical scene: thousands of tiny white petals scudding across the avenue, swirling in the air, drifting onto benches and signs and people.
This could explain the sneezing fit I had last night, but that snowglobe moment was worth it. When we were contemplating this move, no one said we would experience this beautiful warm snowfall. No one has commented on it to me at all. I guess it’s just me and Tough Guy, thrilled by the floor show.
I had no idea how beautiful this small city, and our neighborhood in particular, would be in the spring. The neighbors’ gardens are not even in full bloom, yet every block is resplendent with color and redolent with fragrance. My rosebushes, brave little souls who survived five years on a cold, partially shaded, windswept deck in San Francisco, are stretching their limbs toward the warmth and the light, their foliage thick and lush, their buds fat, the first rose gorgeously impeccable.
I am stretching my own limbs to the light as well, professionally and in my growth as a scholar–and with leadership studies, of course the two are ever entwined). Coming back from some reasonably tolerable conference, I realized I was happy to walk into the library. It is a human institution and not the Good Ship Lollypop, but it’s filled with caring people determined to make a difference in other people’s lives. (I wonder what things were really like on GSL, anyway. Probably lots of dental issues.)
Last night I turned in my last short homework assignment for the doctoral program. Assuming it doesn’t bounce back to me with a request for revision (Lord please no — I cannot write anything more about net neutrality), I have completed my last class for this program. Up next: completing my qualifying paper, studying for and taking comprehensive exams, developing and defending a dissertation proposal, then doing the research for, writing, and defending my dissertation.
Piece of cake, eh?
Yes, a lot of work, and the doctoral work is folded under a lot of work-work, and (since some of you may be wondering) compounded by my mother’s health care crisis, which has its four-month anniversary in two days. It’s one of those life crises many of us will deal with at some point — a foreign land that, when you get there, you find populated with a lot of people you know.
But I get a lot of sustenance from my doctoral work. My qualifying paper is about the lived experiences of openly gay and lesbian academic library directors. (A friend of mine teased me that I should interview myself, which reminded me of a stern lecture everyone in my class in the MFA program received about The Crime Of Solipsism, which sounded like something we should stand in a corner for.)
I deeply love this research project, and I earned this love. I did the hard thing — prolonging this project by over a year by torpedoing two papers that were too small, too meaningless, too insufficient, too lacking in rigor; papers I wouldn’t want to see my name on — to find my literary-research beshert, that topic I was meant to wrap myself around. The kind of topic that pulls me into its own snowglobe, where I stand arms upraised in its center, watching meaning swirl around me, its brilliant small bits glinting in the sunlight.
Later on, I hope, I’ll write a bit more about my research. I owe a lot to the great people who shared their time and thoughts about my work in this area, giving me courage to ditch the crap and focus on the gold, and to the subjects who providing fascinating, heartening, hilarious, heart-tugging, thoughtful, surprising, invigorating, and fully real interviews for my research. The Association of Openly Gay and Lesbian Academic Library Directors could fit in a hotel suite, but it’s a group I’d share that suite or even a foxhole with, hands-down.Bookmark to:
I’ve been quiet of late, as we’ve not been doing any user testing this term; instead we’ve been taking a step back and thinking bigger about our website. But after attending the User Experience in Libraries conference (UXLibs) last week, I’m excited to move forward with user testing/research and thinking big.St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, site of UXLibs
UXLibs was amazing amazing. Don’t believe me? Check out the #UXLibs Twitter stream during the week of the conference. I’m not going to try to capture the essence of the conference (see these posts by Ned Potter, and conference organizer Andy Priestner for that). Rather, I’m just pulling out particular bits from my notes that resonate most strongly with me. Many of these may not make sense out of context, but I’m happy to provide context if you ask.
From the keynote by Donna Lanclos:
- What happens if we decenter staff expertise?
- Find out what users understand not what they want
- Not helping with wayfinding but engagement with creation
- If an activity has intrinsic value, does it need to be assessed?
- We want people to “revel in independent thought” (Revel!)
- If we’re going to do ethnography, we have to be okay with feeling uncomfortable, and with feeling comfortable with ambiguity. We need institutional support for uncertainty.
- A pedagogy of questions involves “a voracious not-knowing” (from @jessifer)
- Do a small proof-of-concept project and use ethnography to see if it’s working
From a workshop with Andrew Asher:
[we explored a couple of ethnographic techniques: cognitive mapping (e.g. asking people to draw a map of the library from memory, or mapping out where they went when and what they did there), and respective process interviews (asking people to draw each step of a step-by-step process as you ask them about that process)]
- The location of mapping exercises (i.e. in the library or away from it) doesn’t seem to influence the content of the maps created
- Mapping can demonstrate where prime real estate is being used for low-impact things
- Commuter campuses [and so probably commuter students] are very different from residential, when looking at mapping journals
- Drawing can help with specificity but don’t get too hung up on the drawing
From the keynote by Paul-Jervis Heath:
- People are fundamentally unable to tell you what will help them (they don’t know or don’t notice)
- Should vs want creates an interesting tension -> how do you help people be the better version of themselves?
- Books are sharks!
- Rules of improv are good rules for ideation
- I really have to read Gamestorming one of these days
From a workshop with Matt Borg and Matthew Reidsma:
[we were introduced to the wonderful world of grouping post-its with affinity mapping (by voice, pain points and then categories) and empathy mapping (by what people say, what they think, what they do, and what they feel)]
- Maybe we should add “games” to our “search books, articles and more” Summon box
- We need to have empathy with our colleagues, as well as with our users
- Add the demographic, etc. metadata to post-its to make it easier to find patterns
From the keynote by Matthew Reidsma:
- All those links on the website – people put them there
- Interacting with things = making meaning
- Usability is beyond functional, it’s making sure people have meaningful interactions with the world
- It’s easy to recover from breakdowns [errors, confusion] when you understand how the thing you’re using/doing works
- Usability could be helping people better understand our tools/services so they can better recover
- Test to learn, not just perfect; learn how people cope
There was so so so much more than this. I have a follow-up post on some bigger picture stuff. But there’s so much more than that too. I’m going to be processing this conference for a while.
Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on Delicious.
- Free Online Learning at GCFLearnFree.org From Microsoft Office and email to reading, math, and more, GCFLearnFree.org offers 125 tutorials, including more than 1,100 lessons, videos, and interactives, completely free.
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In a departure from the things I normally talk about here, I’m going to do a short(?) series of posts on health-related stuff — some apps and tools I like (or don’t), plus some recipes I’ve been into lately. It should go without saying that by “health” I do not mean body-shaming of any variety. Body-shaming also will not be tolerated in the comments. This series is about good habits and feeling good (and a little bit of gadget love), and that’s all.
Still, not everybody’s into health stuff, or any other topic I might post about, and I get that. If you use an RSS reader, here are top-level sub-feeds you can choose to subscribe to, so that you only see certain topics (and there are sub-sub feeds, but I leave all that as an exercise to the reader):
- Librarianship (fairly self-explanatory, except it also includes posts about books and the ALA)
- Technology (includes programming, usability, engineering, and science)
- Social Justice (codes of conduct, inclusivity and diversity, #libtechgender)
- Teaching and Learning (instruction, pedagogy, classes I’m taking or teaching
- Leadership (a lot of stuff about communication, so talks I’ve given also end up in this one
- Crafts (things I make, things others make that I like, recipes)
- Geekery (stuff about birds and games, apparently)
- Health stuff is actually under a category I call “On a Personal Note,” a holdover from when this was just a professional blog, although you can get to just the health stuff, too.
I’ve been trying to find shiny clouds around unfortunate situations, and these health posts are kind of an extension of that. I did not intend to be unemployeda freelancer at this juncture, but it’s finally given me the space to step back and realize what bad habits I’d developed during my working life, in terms of self-care and (de)prioritizing my health. This last job was also the last straw, because it turns out I don’t do well with constant high stress and a bunch of 60-80 hour weeks back to back. Nobody should have to deal with that, but especially if one is fighting a chronic illness, that’s just no way to live. The down side is that my health deteriorated quickly. The up side is that, once I left (ironically, I left for other reasons, not for my health), I really had to take stock, and I am doing so well now, at least in terms of habits. My health is already noticeably better, and I have tools in place to help it continue to improve. And I mean that both in the sense of managing my illness and in improving my general health.
Which is to say, nothing I share is going to be arthritis-specific, although if it relates to arthritis or other chronic illnesses, I’ll mention it.
Also, it’s the first day of spring, so we’re all thinking about renewal and about getting out of the house. It just seems like a good time for this kind of thing!What do I plan to post?
I want to talk about my activity tracker and how it compares to other options out there. (I ditched the Fitbit, despite loving it.) I want to talk about this stupid — but delightful! — app I use to make myself drink enough water each day, plus a related app that is not a particularly good motivator for increasing one’s step count — so I probably want to talk about incentives and motivation, in general, too. I have at least two recipes I want to share… maybe more. And, I don’t know, maybe I’ll talk about tea or the healing power of cute animal photos or bad behavior I’ve seen in fitness forums. I use MyFitnessPal, but I don’t currently have a post in my head about it (unless someone wants to read a compare/contrast with SparkPeople?).
So it might only be three posts, or it might be more. Much like when I give a talk, I never know exactly what I’m going to say until I start writing. :)
Updated March 16, 2015
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