The recording of my short talk from Access 2012, New Mean to New Ends, is finally online.
I’m amused by the list of related videos YouTube pulls in on the right side of you visit the actual video page. I don’t know if they’re customized for me, but I see half other Access talks and half uncategorizable: Jay-Z, “Space News From The Future!”, something from the SAG foundation, something in Arabic, a sermon from the Potter’s House, and, my favorite, “Savannah Guthrie’s Fear of Frogs“
I’ve embarked on a new project, or perhaps endeavor is a better word. At home, Iusually juggle a few books plus a couple magazines at any given time. During the run up to the opening of Hunt, plus my new responsibilities at the D.H. Hill Library, I found that I didn’t have the mental space for new, challenging reading in the few minutes of idle time I wrested away between working and sleeping. Instead, I reread Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle for the 3rd or 4th time, wrapping myself in the comfort of 3000+ pages of marvelous writing and quasi-history. I finished that series with perhaps six weeks to go till the soft open, so I naturally moved on to Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, which is much of the same, then during the crunch of the final weeks, Reamde, a less satisfying work but an enjoyable, easily digested modern techno-thriller.
With Hunt open, things are still busy in our department but the suffocating pressure has palpably lifted for those of us at Hill. I’ve been enjoying some leisure again, to my relief. And as part of that, I’m reading new stuff again. Which brings me to my new endeavor. I’ve decided to take advantage of working in a building with nine floors filled with books. I plan to work my way through the stacks, choosing books with no rules except that I will keep moving forward through the LC ranges and I’ll take the first title that catches my eye.This week, I started in the far Southeast corner of the 2nd Floor and found myself looking at works on magic and mysticism. I choose Hermeticism and the Renaissance, by Ingrid Merkel and Allen G. Debus, a conference publication from 1988. Wouldn’t you know it, within the first few pages of the introduction, mention was made of Sir Isaac Newton’s pursuit of alchemical knowledge, a prominent theme in The Baroque Cycle.
I’ll update my progress and review titles on Goodreads, as I usually do. I may also post updates here, if the mood strikes me.
I tend to be skeptical of librarians and academics who gush about “serendipitous discovery” and bemoan the loss of traditional bookstacks, but it’s not because I think collocating physical items adds no value. Moving to a virtual browse environment does mean losing some real value but I think many critics miss that it’s a trade-off. You sacrifice some to gain some. Physical collocation can’t hold a candle to on demand, infinite virtual rearrangement. But I can still enjoy wandering the open stacks, while they yet exist.
Hunt Library opens its doors to the public today. This is our “soft launch,” as opposed to next month’s Grand Opening. I found myself wide awake at 3:00 AM for no good reason and there’s no going back to sleep now. I don’t want to overstate my role in getting Hunt to this point, as I arrived late to the party and many others had far more central roles, but it’s with no small amount of relief and pride that I celebrate today.
Twitter Fail Whale, redrawn as freaked out by ShannaBanan_o_rama at DeviantArt.com
I recently read Leonard Mlodinow’s Drunkard’s Walk, one of the many recent popular texts on behavioral economics. A very good read and this quote from Thomas J. Watson (the IBM one, not the telephone one) in the concluding chapter stuck with me:
If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.
That’s a dictum that libraries, as much as any other organization, should heed. One of the things I love about working at NCSU is the willingness to try things that may or may not work, learn, and iterate.
Here are the visuals for my recent Access presentation. When they post video at accessconference.ca, I’ll link to it.
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I’d like to have a longer post about the topics addressed in my talk, but I’m close to working every waking moment right now, trying to keep my unit afloat during this tsunami of Hunt preparations, so instead I’m going to crawl into bed. Goodnight, world.
I was hoping to add some new posts before I jetted up to Access but, as has become the norm, work intervened. C’est la vie (’cause we were in Montreal–GET IT?) Instead, I offer this selection of memorable quotes, unattributed, both because I didn’t know/keep track of those responsible and since I like how they stand devoid of any context.
“Scale is the new horizon of intellectual inquiry.”
“Your diagram of your ontology system architecture consists of ontology relationships…that’s turtles all the way down”
“Personalization looks a lot like prejudice”
“URLs are your contract with the world”
“Textbook edition mishigas”
“So it’s dental DAMS”
“We can’t train our users”
“Search engine sucks”
“How might the library catalogue make the user experience feel embodied?”
“Serendipity is finding things you weren’t looking for, because finding things you were looking for is so difficult.”
I can’t overstate what a great conference Access was. Smart, engaging, fun people in abundance. By Sunday I was half-joking about starting “Access South [of the Border,]” with an inaugural session at Hunt Library. Who knows…maybe I can put a bug in the right person’s ear …
Here’s a local news clip about the Hunt Library, which will open in 2013. Great job by my department head, Maurice York. The mock shushing and mention of the Dewey Decimal System by the anchorpeople was amusingly appalling.
As has been noted in some far-flung corners of the internet, I have a paper in the nextcurrent volume of ITAL. It’s currently available on ITAL’s preprint archivehere. I’m reasonably satisfied with it, considering it’s my first. There was a period there, when I was completely immersed in everything published on the topic in recent memory, that I briefly felt like I understood the topic as well as anyone not actively involved in digital preservation possibly could. And then I moved on to other things :)
The biggest takeaway for me was the provocative but extremely well-reasoned work of David S. H. Rosenthal at LOCKSS. I found his work rather late in the process of researching and writing and it blew a hole through many of my early conclusions. I rebuilt and I hope the conclusions are stronger for it.
Resources Used When Course-Related Research Contexts Arise, from "Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, Project Information Literacy First Year Report with Student Survey Findings, University of Washington's Information School, December 1, 2009
I tried to read on, but I kept straying back to it, until I found I was staring at it as I tried to digest this information. I feel like I need six weeks–or maybe six months–to fully mull it over. It one thing to know that Google is wiping the floor with Librarians, it’s another to see the hard data laid out like this. Then I got past that initial reaction and noticed that about half of the top ten items on the list are partly or wholly library resources.
As I discussed with Mike after his talk, there are two ways to respond to such a trend (I think it’s safe to assume that the “Librarian” category has fallen steeply from years past, though I’d like to know if it’s continuing to decline or if it’s leveled off): either it’s something to fight or it’s something to adapt to. Librarians need to re-intermediate themselves in the process or we need to divert expenditures to resources and spaces. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as one or the other could be targeted at different aspects or stages of information seeking. Maybe I’ll have more to share about this is six weeks, or six months, after it’s worked its way deeper into my thoughts.
Boy, turn around for a minute and four months blow by. My last post was on Halloween (and noted that I have a paper in prepublication, which, to my surprise, still hasn’t seen print–is this the usual pace of professional publications?) Life here at NCSU is a blur and the pace is only increasing as Hunt is now over the horizon and looming closer and closer ahead.
There’s no end to the interesting projects I get to work on these days. A short list would include expanding our use of Google Apps, planning for the implementation of an XRM system to improve transactions and relations with our patrons, bringing in awesome communication options to minimize the issues that will naturally arise from being split across two main branches, working on virtual referrals and a unified communication workflow, and aiding our Access and Delivery Services Department with tools to bring in Lean Business Practices and systems for real-time response to demand overload and service points.
I also attended Midwinter and will be headed to Anaheim this summer. I’m looking to get more involved with LITA–I met lots of great, smart LITAers in Dallas–though finding time is obviously tricky, and won’t improve any time soon. So, we’ll see.
Life continues to be interesting–can’t ask for much more than that.