A Happy New Year of Books, Self-Improvement and Education!

Happy New Year! Well, The Waki Librarian is back after a lovely holiday break. I hope you had a great holiday break as well.

For 2009 first post, I have for your reading pleasure articles about Self-Development/Improvement, thoughts on undergraduate education, and reasons for buying books! So let’s dive in for more fun in the waki world of libraries, education and technology!

First off, here is another great, slightly old (sorry, I just have so much I want to share but limited time to share it in!), article from Lifehacker on Self-Development because this might help you with some of your New Year’s Resolutions! These are really simple tips, like watching a TED talk and writing thank you notes, which will not only improve your brain but can make others feel better too. And that is a great situation. I’d also add that learning new things should always be on a list of self-development tips and can easily be accomplished in small chunks so you don’t become overwhelmed and give up on your resolution of self-development. Hopefully this year, The Waki Librarian blog will help you implement technology that helps you and your organization without overwhelming you!

The New York Times has this great article on why an undergraduate degree should not be a job qualification. I think this is a very well-written opinion editorial and it brings up a point no one ever wants to talk about: the fact that college isn’t for everyone. Everyone should have the opportunity to further their education, but that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, necessarily mean a 4-year liberal arts degree. By pushing college and the bachelor degree on everyone, I completely agree with Murray that students are coming to campuses across the country who do not really want to be there. And I think it is hurting everyone, the students who want the bachelor degree, those who don’t, the instructors and society. I think Murray’s suggestion of a more holistic view of job qualifications and certifications is a very valid one. I think it is time that we do something about this crucial matter.

Finally, a post about the joys of buying books. Don’t forget to read the comments which are fantastic. I love the per hour rate comparison of buying books to other indulgences. I love it when people talk about books and I like this nuanced view of buying books versus using the library and how one person’s buying/reading habits might not suit someone else. And, yes, I am biased–I *heart* libraries (but I really love a good used bookstore too!).

Happy 2009!

Quotes, Transfer Students and Marketing

Again, no I don’t think I can tie these three ideas together. But who knows? Let’s try…

First up, this great list of the top 10 quotes of 2008 by The Yale Book of Quotations. Quick warning, if you are not into politics, or do not have a good sense of humor, you probably won’t find these funny or amusing. But I think they are hilarious, though scary. I mean, check out quote #4. And people at my work are worried about buying an extra toner cartridge. Oh, the irony.

Okay, moving on to something that is near and dear to all of our hearts in the academic world: trying to be inclusive of all the members of the student body. So why do I bring this up? I just read this great article on forgotten transfer students. I think that it is great that some universities and colleges are finally realizing that they need to help transfer students too and not ignore this part of the student body. I especially think of my own institution where “native” students must take an information literacy course but the course is not required for transfer students. I helped co-teach an instruction session on information literacy this summer and one of the students, who was a transfer student, came up after the session and said how helpful it was and how she thought it would be great to have a required course. We have an optional course that transfer students can take but not a course designed for them. Perhaps my school is too small to actually have a dedicated course as such, but surely the library could become more involved and proactive about making the transfer students feel at home. Just a thought.

So how would the library reach out to not just transfer students but the whole community? Take a look at this article on marketing by using Web 2.0 applications. Yes, I know the dreaded word “marketing.” Really, it isn’t a bad word and doesn’t mean you are selling your librarian soul to the big, bad capitalistic corporations of the world. Really, I’m serious, I am so sick of people in my field downplaying or being negative about marketing in the libraries. Marketing is a survival strategy, one that we need to perfect in order for people to perceive us as being relevant (we know we are relevant, but others need to perceive us as being relevant). Okay, off my soapbox now.

This article on marketing in a Web 2.0 world is great because it re-emphasizes that Web 2.0 is all about social connections and that by allowing customers, users and/or patrons (we can have a discussion about the choice of terms used in library discourse and their relationship to power later) to have control over a certain portion of your website and interact with each other, they actually become invested in your services and resources. Everyone wants their voice to matter and wants a way to interact with others. Humans, even librarians, are social creatures, to varying degrees. I think the library is an idea place to let people have a forum to discussion issues, ideas and *gasp* books together in an online world. Seize the positive in the messy, info-overloaded world and let’s market together!

And, the last fun bit of fluff for the day, check out The Best and Worst of Everything from BusinessWeek. Another end of the year list that is interesting and not all doom and gloom.

So tying everything together: Web 2.0 marketing is vital for companies, including libraries. Libraries could use Web 2.0 applications to reach out to transfer students in order to create a welcoming space that they could “own” at their new place of higher education. You could start a discussion around the Best and Worst of Everything from 2008 on a blog or wiki and of course link to the best quotes of 2008–because who doesn’t like a good quote? Okay, I think I’ve now tied everything together.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

End of the Year Lists, Fire Ants, and Other Stuff…

Yes, we are actually closing in on the end of another year. So what can the waki librarian have for you to help with this year’s wrap-up? Well, a little bit of fun, a little bit of “ecological karma” and a little bit of information on college presidents.

Okay, so first for the end of the year lists. I absolutely love this The Top 10 Everything of 2008 from Time. It is great, definitely a sink-hole of time, but a good way to review what happened in 2008. I love the editorial cartoons. There has to be a use for this in my information literacy class next quarter.

So, for the ecological karma. From Wired Science comes this article on fire ant invasions. I love this short article, with links to the original research, because it just goes to show that Mother Nature bites back when there is unnatural ecological change to an environment. So are fire ants superior to other local species of ants? The answer apparently seems to be no, not in undisturbed habitats but with plowed fields-bring on the fire ants! Yeah, ecological karma, guess we should stop plowing under natural habitat for strip malls. Who’d of thought it?

I just love this article on Facebook and the National Archives. I love how people never stop to think where information they give out will ultimately end up. Now granted these papers won’t, most likely, go into the National Archives, but still it pays to think about what is happening to all the information generated when you send out your information into cyberspace. Digital trails, archives have got them. And, if you think you can’t hide anything from a librarian who is searching for information, try an archivist.

And, to end this post. Check out these figures about the inflation of college presidents’ salaries versus instructors and the general U.S. population. No wonder our students are paying a ton and we have institutions that are so top-heavy. I haven’t checked the statistical sources yet, but they look like valid sources to me.

So that ends today’s blog post on random stuff that you can use while teaching, or at least fascinate someone at a party with trivia.

Internet, Books and Graduation Rates

No, I don’t think I’ll actually be able to link all the items in the post’s title together, but those are the topics to be discussed today. I saw a lot of random articles I had been saving and just had to add my 2 cents.

First, the article, Is the Internet the Start of History? This is a very interesting article and I give the author full-props for writing about how the Internet changes the very meaning of archives and archival appraisal (even if he doesn’t say it in this way). However, like so many that do not have a preservation background, he gets a few things wrong. Changing movies from analog to digital can help with access and can, sometimes, help with preservation. But preserving things on cds or dvds is really not a good idea as the media degrades quickly and formats change. Really, you don’t want to get a person who works in preservation or digital archives to get started on this topic. They could talk about it for days and days! It is a huge archival issue. But the concept of the Internet starting a new page in human history is a very cool one.

Here is another article on Google vs. the Libraries in the realm of the Google Books project. Interesting read and argument of private versus common good. That argument reminds me of the whole argument about the commons in England.

And, to end, an article about how the United States lags behind other nations in the graduation rate of students from universities. Interesting read.

And, so as to not end on a pessimistic note, it is a beautiful sunny day and we have the weekend to look forward to. Enjoy!