Category Archives: technology

Libraries of the future

The following visualization was adapted from PewInternet.com, of a keynote address for the 2013 State University of New York Librarians Association Annual Conference.

librarians of the future

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Big Data Meets the Bards and the Profs

There is an interesting discussion going on right now on big data and how it is used in academia. I found Dave Feinleib’s of Forbers magazine visualization of landscape of Big Data an interesting point of reference from the technological side of the spectrum. Big data

In the other hand, John Sunyer’s lengthy review, “Big data meets the Bard”, in the Financial Times for 15 June, http://tinyurl.com/mzrjwll presents the  point of view of acadmics who are proponents of using digital data in humanities.  It is based on Sunyer’s interviews with Franco Moretti, Matt Jockers and Melissa Terras.  Franco Moretti is perhaps the most known for his push to digitize and use digital texts in humanities.  I hope some of it may be useful as an argument for Open Access at your universities.

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An interesting opinion piece on Open Access and the Humanities

Times Higher EducationThe latest issue of Times Higher Education contains an opinion piece  entitled
“Green open access can work for Humanities”  by Gabriel Egan, director of the
Centre for Textual Studies at De Montfort University, arguing that “the move to open access is desirable and inevitable for the arts as well as the sciences”.  By “the arts” he means, in accord with the British usage, what most of us would call “the humanities”, in general. You can access it here: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/green-open-access-can-work-for-the-humanities/2004323.article

This is not an unusually radical or visionary in formulation article, but a very strong and well argued plea, and one whose appearance academic librarians might want to take note of.

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Reading McLuhan – food for thought

I am soaking Marsahall McLuhan once again….  This great visionary and humanist to the core discerned that the modern industrial world derives its unity from technological imperatives rather than from nature or human instincts.  He argued back in the sixties that in the approaching electronic world, media and methods will replace philosophical inquiry into both natural and mechanical worlds;  and that the media of communication will replace the means of production.  As a result, humans will move from the age of industry where the means dominated to the age of information where the media dominate to the point that humans may loose control over them.  Here is how he puts it incisively:

The medium, or process, of our time – electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life.  It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted.  Everything is changing – you, your family, your neighbourhood, your education, your job, your government, your relation to “the others”.  And they are changing dramatically. […] Radical changes in identity, happening suddenly and in very brief intervals of time, have proved more deadly and destructive to human values than wars fought with hardware weapons.”

-Marshall McLuchan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Message (1967)

…. and here is the Master lecturing….

Enjoy…

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Social Media as Teaching and Learning Tools

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An interesting comment by Eric Stroller from “Inside Higher Ed

by: Eric Stroller

Social media increases student engagement. How do I know this? Well, let’s try an analogy. Let’s say that you are a carpenter in the early 1900s. You have a certain toolkit that you use to go about your work. You build houses with said toolkit. Now, let’s hop in a DeLorean to 2012. Carpentry is a totally different gig. The tools have changed…a lot. Big box stores provide ample selections of tools and all sorts of gadgets. Carpentry has evolved, in part, because the tools have made increases in efficiencies possible. In the sense that Student Affairs practitioners are like carpenters – instead of building houses – we build community, increase student engagement, and foster opportunities for student development. The work has evolved over time and so have our tools. Social media provide a great set of channels for communications and engagement. However, here’s the caveat: Social Media are only as good as we make them. The tools themselves do not build houses nor do they increase student engagement. We do. Practitioners actively create structures that enhance engagement.

If there is a “secret sauce” for using social media to increase student engagement, it’s staring back at us in the mirror. Student Affairs professionals have worked earnestly for decades to increase, foster, and contribute to student engagement. Having access to the latest (and greatest) communications tools gives us the capability to further the reach of our endeavors. Social media add to our toolkits in educationally relevant ways as long as we are purposeful and strategic about its use. People are not carpenters simply because of access to tools. Carpentry is a profession, and similarly, so is Student Affairs. It’s an exciting time to be in Student Affairs. We have communications channels like social media and mobile devices that enable us to connect with our students.

Can social media increase and/or contribute to student engagement? Absolutely. However, this only occurs if you are at the helm and actively using the tools in ways that contribute to educationally purposeful activities.

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The digital divide argument

      I was going to meet  my daughter  for a cup of coffee  at Tim Horton’s on on my  lunch break.  I was late because, unexpectedly,  at the last minute, I had to assist a frustrated patron trying to check the Internet with his laptop at our library.
        The academic  library where I work does  not offer wifi access to anyone but the university students  and it takes anywhere between 5-10 minutes for a person walking into our library to play with the wires attached to the registration computer before they can scan their ID and get a daily pass that allows them to access the Internet on one of two computer stations that are open to the public.  Trying to get the computer pass is always a frustrating experience.  After several years of assisting people with using this machine, I still have no clue what is the best way to scan the personal ID, so it would cooperate and issue the pass.
       When I was paying for my coffee at the counter at Tim’s,  I spotted the sign advertising free Internet access.   They partnered with Bell to do it in order to bring in more customers and level with competitors, such as Second Cup, that already offer wifi.   I should have sent my patron to Tim Hortons …  Yes, they would get the Internet access quickly there and it is a 5 minute walk  from my library… They could get a cup of coffee too…. They could search the Internet and drink coffee in a public space…  My patron would do better at Tim’s… and they should, and justly so, be called Tim Horton’s patrons, not mine….
      Most libraries would not allow people bring Tim Horton’s coffee into the library,  nor would they allow a coffee shop inside the library….  At the same time, libraries claim to be the institutions that help to close the digital divide by providing the Internet access to those who cannot afford it.   Coffee shops are closing it while we use this argument and develop our collections….

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QRs and collection marketing…. retail style

Recently, while researching QR technology, I came across a piece that discussed its use in retail.  The author used the video below that shows how a South Korean retail store, Tesco, have adapted their services in order to reach their goal of increasing their market share without having to increase the number of stores. They created “virtual” stores in subway stations, and other high traffic areas and provided QR under the picture and price of each item.  People waiting for subway are looking on the pictures and can add items to their shopping carts by scanning QR codes with their smart phones, and then the items purchased are delivered to their homes.  Here is the video:

Now, think about the QRs and their potential for marketing library collections …..   I can see libraries creating “virtual” displays where a graphic presentation of a book is accompanied with a QR code that can provide detailed and precise  book information.   People could view such thematic displays of books and snap a picture of the QR code with their iphones.  Public libraries could even create “virtual” branches on subway platforms, bus stops, etc. where people could browse the collections while waiting for a train or bus and having them delivered either to their ebook reader or home.

The link between QRs and libraries is obvious.  The basic principle behind this technology is the same as behind library barcodes.  Think about the checkout computer at the library. It scans a barcode and the item scanned is added to a list. The command – namely, “add this item to the list is built into the design of the barcode and is decoded by the library system. Similarly, QR codes can be scanned with a device which will then carry out the action built into the code.   What’s left is for the library to do is to create a system where these codes can be decoded and the library action carried on (i.e. send this book on hold).

I work at a library where we provide InfoExpress service for our faculty.  The way it works is that the faculty members  e-mail the library staff responsible for this service the title, the author and publication details of the resource they need, and the library staff retrieve or sometimes obtain the materials from other locations and deliver them to the profs.  This is a very popular service.  Imagine it paired with QRs… Imagine always getting the correct citation, imagine how easy it would be for the faculty to order these books without having to type the bibliographic information….  Then imagine promoting the collections using QR coding, imagine that all the incoming new books could be “displayed” this way in high traffic areas while the physical copies would circulate…., or imagine creating thematic book displays in the faculty hallways and classrooms….  Imagine embedding the library in a very real way into every research or project by creating “virtual” thematic displays equipped with codes….  Imagine….

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