Friday Design: Thank you ALLA!

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that today finds you and your family safe and healthy and looking forward to some small (or big) thing that is fun and relaxing this weekend. Today I want to take the time to say thank you,  publicly, to ALLA and remind us all of one of the best ways we can create better graphic design in libraries.

But what, you may be wondering is ALLA? ALLA is the Australian Law Librarians’ Association. I was honored and thrilled to present a webinar, Graphic Design 101 for Librarians, for the association this week. It was amazing to have so many people attend, especially during this uncertain and stressful time, and want to learn about graphic design and applying it to their work.

It was also almost miraculous that the Internet/wifi held strong through the entire presentation (I was worried as we’ve been having spotty connection issues at my house this last week). And the ALLA organizers did such a fantastic job that it was a pleasure. It can be really weird to deliver an entire presentation in a room all by yourself without the immediate feedback from an audience, but the feedback I’ve received after has been positive and I’m looking forward to the next time I’m able to do a similar webinar for my librarian colleagues.

This brings us to one of the best ways we can all create better graphic design in libraries: share our knowledge! Everything is new for someone, and this includes graphic design principles. If you have been studying and creating graphic design in your library, share your tips with colleagues. If you’ve found a great royalty-free site for images or icons or videos, let others know. If you’ve figured out a great way to streamline the design workflow, show your teammates.

Teaching through sharing is how we can ensure that more of our colleagues understand graphic design and can apply it to their work in libraries. This is how we will finally be able to say, someday, that we can think of more well-designed examples of graphic design in libraries than poor ones. And how we can get to more good than bad and ugly.

And, in the spirit of sharing, here’s a link to the handout I shared with ALLA. I hope it provides some inspiration and opportunities to further your graphic design work, too.

I wish you a wonderful day and rejuvenating weekend. May you stay safe, healthy, and find moments of peace and joy. Take care and I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y, friends!

Friday Design: ALA Midwinter Book Talk Wrap-Up

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. I’m back from Denver and finally warming up (so cold there for this Bay Area weather wimp). ALA Midwinter was great–I enjoyed the book buzzes, presentations, and exhibits. And, it was fantastic to meet my acquisitions editor and two people from the marketing team in person. Plus, I got to give a book talk! It was so fun. Thanks to everyone who came to chat with me. Today, I wanted to give a quick wrap-up on my book talk and share a design handout.

If you didn’t make it to ALA Midwinter, and even if you did (but didn’t make it to my talk), you can view it on the ALA Editions & ALA Neal-Schuman Facebook page here.  It was great chatting a bit about graphic design solutions to issues faced by people who attended. We talked about structure, visual movement, and how to make designs look professional. It was a blast.

I passed out a handout, which you can see in the video, and wanted to share it on my blog, too. I wrote about the design process that went into it before and now you can download the completed brochure (PDF available via this link). It gives some basic tips, inspiration, further reading, and design ideas. Plus, hopefully it will entice you to check out my book! 🙂

image of first page of brochure from ALA Midwinter, links to PDF of handout if clicked

Thanks to everyone at ALA Editions for making my book talk such a success! The ALA Store was beautifully laid out for both browsing and for the book talks. Can’t wait to see what book talks happen at upcoming conferences.

That’s it for now. I’m working on catching up with all my work and will be back soon with more news and notes on design in libraries. I wish you a wonderful, relaxing, and rejuvenating weekend. Allons-y!


Online Tutorials for IL Instruction: Thanks NCCPL!

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well. Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking at a workshop hosted by NCCPL (Northern and Central California Psychology Libraries) on using online tutorials for information literacy instruction. It was a lot of fun and I just wanted to share a bit from that talk today.

The NCCPL Workshop was held at the lovely Palo ALto University. I’d never been there before, but it was great to be up in the hills for the day.

Palo Alto University sign

Palo Alto University sign

It was a great, friendly group of librarians and we heard about new information literacy modules from vendors as well as the information literacy module process undertaken by Menlo College Bowman Library. (Very interesting process and cool module with open source code that you can download and modify for your organization.)

I talked about best practices in creating online tutorials, contexts for using online tutorials, and showed how we use online tutorials at my library. Happily, my laptop even held up through a brief walk through of the tutorial software we use. (*happy dance*) And no one fell asleep during my talk, even though it was after lunch. I just wanted to share my link to the resources and tools I talked about yesterday: Hopefully you find something of use.

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend, dear readers. I’ll be back next week with some more news and notes. Allons-y!

Online reviews, website redesigns, and other stuff

This post is a little of this and a little of that. It made sense when I saved the links, but like most things in this hyperlinked world–what makes sense one minute makes much less sense the next (especially as the smell of burned leaves permeates the library–generator issues, don’t ask and don’t panic). So on to the technology stuff and please forgive any randomness along the way.

First up, this post from Lifehacker on how to Hone your eye for fake online reviews. I teach freshmen in my classes how to evaluate online sources and I think I’ll include this in my next class. How annoying is it that we have to be on the lookout for fake reviews? So annoying, especially as Consumer Reports is not freely available online.

Okay, so this isn’t about libraries, but it is about technology and archives. If you care about the NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) website, you might want to participate in redesign. I am so excited that the website will be redesigned and that NARA is asking for input. (Yes, I know this makes me an archives geek.)

I posted a bit ago about the exciting news of Library of Congress archiving public tweets from Twitter; this is a follow up by Resourceshelf: more information about Library of Congress and Twitter. Resourceshelf has done a lovely job of summarizing and explaining what will happen now that Library of Congress is archiving Twitter. There is also information about Google’s service, Google Replay, that allows for searching Twitter tweets.

And we end today with 6 proven ways to make new habits stick. I love easy ways to tackle new things.

Back soon with more technology and library news.

Archives and Local History

This post is a break in the Waki Librarian’s regularly scheduled programming; we will return to a discussion of libraries, technology, and self-improvement in the next post. Today’s post turns to my other loves in the information world, history and archives, so just bear with me for a moment and I promise it will be worth it. This post is about a spotlight on local history, well local to California, and the wonders of archives. So please leave your pens and drinks outside of the archives and join me in delving into the world of archives for just a bit.

In addition to my role as online literacy librarian (and all around help support for my colleagues when they have questions about web stuff) I also oversee the University Archives. Or, to be more precise, I go down to the basement of the library each week, try to make as much sense as possible out of the collections, and just process a collection until I can’t take it any more (any archivists reading this will know exactly what I am talking about, for the librarians in the audience, go find your local archivist, buy her/him a nice cup of coffee, and s/he will be happy to explain what we do in the archives). This method seems to be working as we have an entire collection processed, described and even findable via our library’s catalog; this is a huge triumph in my opinion.

So why would anyone go into archives or, as our archives intern/volunteer would say, deal with the Sisyphean task of processing in the archives? Because it’s about bringing order into the chaos, it’s about constructing history and making visible what was previously invisible, and it’s about using all the skills, talent, and schooling to retain the records that help formulate collective memory, solidify social identity, and allow for the possibility of social justice. Now I’m not saying all the collections I process can help with all these things, but they all do help with maintaining institutional memory which is important. All too often in today’s hyperlinked, hyperkinetic world we forget about the past, forget about history, and forget about memory. Or, even worse, we relegate those concepts and research to the dusty back shelves that only “old timers” and “luddites” would want and care to go. Obviously I don’t buy that argument for a second and think archives are incredibly important (if not also time consuming and at times frustrating places to work) and I’ll give you a couple of examples of why archives are vital.

One of my colleagues, Joe, is currently taking a history class which requires him to create a blog as part of his class project. He also happens to be one of the few people at my library I can talk with about history without having his eyes glaze over in the first 30 seconds. Joe gave me permission to share his blog Italian Farmers of Alameda. I highly suggest you take a look and poke around a bit; it is beautifully laid out and the photographs are fantastic. I love the way that this blog shows a combination of local history and archival research melded into a blog format. And, you completely understand and get a sense of his love of history and interest in family genealogy from this blog. See, archives and history don’t have to be dusty (in fact, if your archives are dusty, you have a problem and should check your HVAC).

Archival materials have also been used in moving ways in historical documentaries and films. Of course the first name that comes to mind is Ken Burns, who has created numerous films using archival sources as visual aids in telling his story. (Yes, I know there is great debate about Burns’ use of archival materials, but we aren’t getting into that right now). Photographs and historic documents are evocative and moving and completely lovely when used correctly in film.

Collin, the aforementioned intern/volunteer at our archives, isn’t taking a history course at the moment, but he is currently working on archives and web design courses; he created the video below for one of his classes (turn up the volume on your computer, or even better use headphones, because the audio track is very quiet).

This video shows yet another good use of archival materials in a web environment plus it would be a fabulous marketing piece for the archives. If you liked it, go leave him a nice comment on YouTube or better yet go visit his blog The Litbrarian and pester him to start posting again.

Finally, if all this talk about archives and local history has given you archives fever, and you live in the Bay Area, go check out the San Francisco History Center. The archivists are very nice and helpful, the collections are wonderful, and it is a great place to get your feet wet in archival research. But definitely bring a warm coat, the reading room is rather chilly.

That is all I’m going to say about the archives and local history right now. I hope it peaked your interest enough to go talk to your local archivist or visit a local archives. Really, archivists like to talk with people and show off their archives’ collections as much as librarians love to explain research strategies to people. And archivists don’t bite, I promise.

The Waki Librarian will be back with your regularly scheduled library and technology programming shortly. Enjoy the day, read a lot, and share the good vibes of National Library Week with the archivists, there is totally enough of it to go around.

Self-Improvement Friday

I dislike self-improvement books whose authors take themselves too seriously, although I love finding out information about self-improvement if the authors are funny. But I do like the idea of self-improvement because, really, when you get right down to the crux of the matter you can only really improve yourself. This really isn’t as self-involved as it may seem (and yes I promise that it has something to do with technology and libraries, if you will bear with me for a moment) because improving yourself can be interpreted as broadly or as narrowly as you wish. I happen to believe that improving yourself includes helping others, being selfless in giving, and also learning to do the tree pose in yoga.

So for this Friday’s post, I decided to finally round up all the posts, feeds, and tidbits of information about improving yourself. Let me know what you find is the best advice for improving some facet of life–I’d love to hear about it.

Lifehacker has a nice write-up on the book Confessions of a Public Speaker. I just started reading this book and think it is fantastic–funny, engaging, and helpful. What more could one want in a book? I get stage fright every time I have to present in front of an audience, which some people find hard to believe considering I teach and often present at conferences. Therefore I find it a comfort to know that a lot of great speakers and performers also get nervous before performing, plus the advice in this book is spot on. So if you hate public speaking but have to do it, go read this book.

Before you get to the public speaking though, you’ll actually have to finish up a project or presentation to have something to present. To help you get to that stage, check out Work Awesome’s Stay on Track with an Idea Embargo. I love this advice, especially because people seem all too willing to give advice at the eleventh hour on projects. I implemented this on the last project I worked on at my library and it went rather well.

One of the endemic issues in librarianship (see I told you I would work in libraries) is the fact that so many librarians are professed introverts. Now, of course, not everyone who is a librarian, or archivist, is an introvert; however, the professions seem to have a great deal of introverts. As an aside, I thought I was a total introvert until I went to library school and suddenly discovered that in my new profession I was definitely one of the more extroverted people in the program. Part of the reason people don’t want to give public speeches and presentations is because they are introverts and some introverts are inordinately shy. So for those of you who are shy and want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, check out the article on How to Finally Overcome Shyness. Great advice.

I didn’t say it would be easy to change, but it is well worth it. As I’ve noted on this blog multiple times, getting over the need to be perfect will free you to do and be so much more than you are now. And if you’re thinking to yourself that is all well and good but does the Waki Librarian actually take any of her own advice, the answer is yes, I do. I’m so far from perfect at speaking in front of groups, or even just one on one at parties. I practice and I continue to present and speak, even though I stumble over words when I’m nervous (or excited), have a tendency to mispronounce words, and sometimes talk too quickly. Communication really is key and by becoming more comfortable (and less shy) you’ll find that you will be spending so much time trying new things and tackling new ideas, that you won’t have time to worry about if you’re perfect in your speech or what everyone else thinks.

If you want even more inspiration, check out this Interview with Linchpin author, Seth Godin. I am a fan of Godin’s work and his blog. His writing is remarkably jargon free and he has powerful ideas that can help, even if you are not in marketing. Be bold, even if your lizard brain is telling you to take the easy way out.

If you’ve heard the hype, but haven’t tried Google Buzz yet, check out Lifehacker’s Google Buzz Explained article. I freely admit that I activated Buzz on one of my accounts and 24 hours later switched it off. I didn’t see it adding to my productivity or ability to keep up with friends and it was making me anxious that there was yet more stuff I hadn’t read every time I opened up my Gmail account. Some people are finding it useful. If you are using Buzz and like it, please let me know in comments. I’m interested to hear what people think about it.

I promised somehow this post would relate to libraries, so check out: Top 10 Tools for Better Reading, Online and Off. I especially like that the first comment on this great Lifehacker post recommends going to a library for Reader’s Advisory! 🙂

Finally, I leave you with a great comic from xkcd:

comic strip of Science Valentine by xkcd.

Science Valentine by xkcd

Have a happy Chinese New Year on Sunday, read a lot, and the Waki Librarian will be back next week with more tips, tricks, and fun.

Assumptions about Online Teaching

Happy Friday! I thought today I’d take a little time to talk about online teaching. I’ve been thinking about it a lot because of the push at so many universities to make more and more programs and courses available online, as technology for holding synchronous and asynchronous sessions for students improves, and as more people seem to be espousing online education as a panacea in these rather lean budgetary times.

First, I have to say that I’m in no way against online teaching and education and am for really good online teaching. I work with faculty to help them increase their comfort level and use of technology in their teaching and support good teaching, period. However, I am worried a little that this exponentially increasing push towards online teaching, without the concurrent support for teachers on how to leverage online tools and focus on pedagogy and learning outcomes, is a case of following a trend because it is a trend and not because it is in the best interests of either the students or the teachers.

For an example of how to teach online not just well, but in an outstanding fashion, check out MPB Reflections. Michelle is an award-winning online teacher and her blog is filled with thoughtful posts and ideas for making online teaching effective, collaborative, and community-based. In the interest of full disclosure, I know Michelle and have worked with her which probably biases my opinion but that doesn’t mean she still isn’t a fantastic teacher and fount of knowledge when it comes to the online teaching world.

Michelle recently posted this video that shows what not to do in an online class. While I too would be really upset if my online class consisted just of reading chapters from a book with no interaction with my professor or fellow students, I think that this video misses a larger, systemic issue that affects the quality of online teaching: support for faculty.

Faculty need to use technology more effectively, but they also need support. No one wakes up one day and is a superb online instructor. Faculty need instruction as much as their students on how to use technology, if not more because the faculty are learning to translate their teaching to an online environment. Not only do faculty need support, but those who work in support services (like instructional design, LMS support, accessibility and student disability resource centers, and faculty development) need programmatic, consistent support from the institution in order to foster a thriving, innovative, and collaborative online learning program for both students and instructors.

So what does this have to do with the library and librarians? Librarians are often the unsung technology gurus of the institution. Many librarians are at the bleeding edge when it comes to technology and libraries have been using online databases and other resources for years. I think librarians are positioned well to support students and faculty in enjoying better online learning experiences.

This is, obviously, not news to most librarians. However, it is news to most other departments and people at your institutions I’m sure. Librarians need to get out of the library, as many have been calling for, and get some PR campaigns going so that we are central to online teaching and learning and not a dusty afterthought. And that’s my soapbox moment for the week.

Now to something that has nothing to do with pleading for libraries to become more visible to the campus community, check out the videos and information about the new iPad. It looks awesome. I know that some people say it is just an iTouch on steroids, but I don’t care–I want one when the iPad is released later this spring.

Have a great weekend, read lots, and the Waki Librarian will be back next week with more thoughts about technology and libraries.

Why Innovation

We are a week away from classes starting for Fall Quarter at my university which means the campus is gearing up and faculty members are frantically trying to finish the prep for their courses. All of this leads me to the question of why we need innovation and why it isn’t happening so many times.

Now not to rehash everything that has already been said, I direct your attention to a 2006 presentation titled “Are We Ready for Massive Library Innovation?” by Stephen Abram at San Jose State University. You can find the link to the webcast here: Fall 2006 Colloquia List.

Abram makes a great case for libraries and innovation; a theme that can also be seen in his latest column in SLA’s Information Outlook. Now, I wish that a call for massive innovation from 2006 did not still resonate because we were all being so innovative, but it seems like we are still battling the same resistance to change and fear of innovating. I think, therefore, we heartily need to embrace Web 2.0’s mantra that everything is beta and it is better just to try something new than analyze it to death. Sure we’ll make mistakes, but if we listen to and work with our users, at least we’ll also make improvements and learn something. Failing isn’t the worst thing that can happen; not being relevant is the worst thing that can happen.

As my biology professors always said: there are only two states–change and death. So we are either changing or we are dying. I for one pick changing to death.

So is your library innovative? Do you support innovation? Do you welcome learning something new and trying something different? Are you willing to give up control to create community and let your users have a say in the creation of information and context in your library? I’d love to hear what other people are doing to foster an environment that embraces innovation because I’d try to implement them at my library.

While you are on San Jose’s School of Library and Information Science Colloquia page, you should check out some of their other archived presentations. This is really a great use of technology and they even closed captioned the videos and make them available for streaming and downloading in a variety of places and formats. This is something I wish more libraries would do–a great use of technology for PR and it incorporates accessibility. Plus, there are just some really interesting talks.

This is an older video, but in case you haven’t seen it and need some more reasons why we need to be innovative check out the “Did You Know 3.0?” video below:

Good luck being innovative, read a lot and the Waki Librarian will be back soon with more technology and library fun.

100th Post

Wow, I can’t believe that I am up to 100 posts on The Waki Librarian blog. I know that isn’t super impressive, but I’m amazed that I’ve written that much and that you, faithful reader, are still reading. I don’t have anything special planned for this post, just the usual assortment of helpful techie stuff and some library news.

First I need to do my public service announcement. ATM Skimmers have been making the headlines lately and I thought I would do my part to get people to pay attention when they are at the ATM. Thanks to the Consumerist, here is a great article (complete with pdf) on how to id an ATM Skimmer. Definitely check this out and protect your account. As I tell my students, identity theft can happen to anyone so at least make the thieves work for your information and don’t just give it to them!

In the vein of ridiculous challenges and bans to books that I wrote about a bit ago, here is ALA’s 2008 Top Ten List of Most Frequently Challenged Books. Although this came out a week ago, I wanted to offer the link just in case you missed it the first time around. And, for another year, And Tango Makes Three is the number one most frequently challenged book. Who knew that penguins could be so divisive?

Now for some fun, check out Unshelved’s Publisher Confidential, a very funny booklet of “frank feedback for publishers from librarians, booksellers, and readers.” Created in conjunction with BookExpo America, this is a superb comic booklet. Really, take a few minutes and have a laugh–it’s good for your health. Oh, and then RSS Unshelved if you haven’t already.

Now Prezi has been making the blog rounds lately. Thanks to Lori for the heads-up on this as I was buried in conference paper preparation and almost missed it in on my Lifehacker feed! Prezi is a web-based presentation tool with a difference. You create your whole presentation on one stage and use the cool zoom and path features to make sense out of your one master stage that holds all the information for your presentation. You can sign up for a free account and there are lots of helpful video tutorials on how to get started. As always, I suggest watching a couple tutorials and then diving on in. There is nothing like playing around with a new application to learn it. It is really fun and a time sink so you are now forewarned!

I think Prezi would be great for presentations at some conferences, but I have to admit that some of the zooming makes me a little sick. So one little hint: just because you can use a fast zoom while twisting your presentation in Prezi, doesn’t mean you always should. Remember when animated GIFs were all the rage? I rest my case.

Have a great Thursday, read a lot, get off the computer and outside at least once if you can, and the Waki Librarian will be back with more fun and helpful information soon.

Realizations and Fun

I know it is just stating the obvious, but it is Monday. And what a Monday, we are in the middle of a mini-heatwave out here and it is the fourth week of the quarter which means the first midterm panic/rush is upon us. But that will not stop us, faithful readers, from having some fun and perhaps coming to a few realizations about the academy and librarianship. Maybe they will not be new realizations, but they will be realizations none the less.

I think that this blog entry, 5 Things I Didn’t Realize I’d Be Working On, should be required reading for any new or aspiring librarians. I have to say that it rung true for me. So much of my day is spent troubleshooting computer and printer issues on the desk and a lot of my teaching time is spent creating online modules and videos. The face and work of librarians are changing, even while our core values of service, access and learning are not. I met quite a few people in library school who talked about working by themselves, away from the public, and reading a lot. Thus, this post is very timely and there are those that still need to be reminded that the librarian’s work is always evolving and literally never done.

In that vein, I think that coming to the profession with an open mind and retaining the same open mind is one of the best assets a librarian can have. Oh, and a desire to learn and understand applications of new technology. Oh, and a love of helping people. And, well, as you know the list goes on and on. Librarians are, without a doubt, some of the people most likely to be polymaths and very happy that their jobs allow them to explore so many varied areas and tasks.

This article, Admissions of Another Sort, is really not ground-breaking news, but rather a re-realization and confirmation of just how important and necessary librarians are to student learning. Long live the information literate individual! (and the librarian that helps him/her become so)

Now for a little fun. I think this must be one of the coolest applications I’ve seen in a while. DoInk is a free, web-based animation application. I just finished watching the video tutorial and was super-impressed by how simple the interface is but also how powerful it looks for creating animations. Just think of the cool videos you could make with DoInk. I’m definitely trying this out and seeing what I can create for my classes.

Have a great rest of your Monday and the Waki Librarian will be back later in the week for more fun and productive tidbits from the web.