Library On/Library Off

Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

Agile, Applied: Conversations with Local Leaders

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Join me to talk about #Agile, #Scrum, and transforming your business and work! Download the flyer: agilescrumlunchesktos_2015.


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September 24, 2015 at 1:14 am

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Learning to Teach Online – resources for instructors

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Lately I’ve been (lightly) dabbling in podcasting with my colleague, Alan, over in Kirkwood’s Distance Learning department. It’s been a fun monthly plunge into some issues in education – considering blended courses, teacher presence, motivation and engagement in the classroom, and this Friday, we’ll look at new online instructor trLTTO Imageaining.

Alan introduced me to the Learning to Teach Online (LTTO) project out of the University of New South Wales in Australia. In my work as a librarian, interacting with all kinds of faculty who teach face-to-face, online, and in blended environments, it’s fantastic to be able to hear from instructors all over the world about what it’s like to teach online. I particularly learned some interesting things from the Managing Your Time When Teaching Online video/resource packet, and Creating eBooks for Distance Education.

Happy learning, all!

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April 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

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And then there were three

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Greeting again, world.

It’s been too long, but you know what? I had a baby, and have an exciting new (full-time) job.

Stay tuned for changes to this blog – though I suppose that’s the death-knell of many a blog, eh?

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June 30, 2011 at 12:08 am

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OMG! Ponies!

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In my Digital Preservation class, taught by Professor Jerome McDonough, we recently discussed the following slide as an example of the translation of meaning across various formats. I’d be doing a disservice to the world if I didn’t share it here for your delight:

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September 1, 2010 at 12:57 am

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Some real-life data librarian interview questions

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I was recently lucky enough to see the following from-real-life interview questions asked by major universities in the hiring of data librarians, and wanted to share them with you. Though many are standard, and likely not a surprise to anyone who has interviewed before, I found the question about travel particularly interesting – surely universities want well-rounded, worldly librarians, but I can’t help but rankle at the potential bias toward those who are more affluent.

Although these are specific to a small subset of academic library jobs, I’m also curious to hear from you about questions you’ve been asked (or have asked others) in library interviews – what surprised you? What questions were you not prepared for? What lessons have you learned from seeking jobs (or hiring) in LIS?

  • What are your professional aspirations, and how do you see this position fitting them?
  • Are you more interested in data or in science librarianship?
  • Based on what you know of this position, what are the major challenges and how would your skills address them?
  • In reference to the role of libraries in e-science, Anna Gold has stated – ‘Key to libraries or librarians playing more ‘upstream’ roles in data science is their ability to position themselves as partners in research.’ What strategies might you engage to do this? What challenges do you foresee?
  • How do you see the relationship of the data curation position with science librarians and faculty, given existing relationships?
  • Have you travelled and how many languages can you speak?
  • What about this position is appealing to you?
  • A major part of this position is to create best practices in data management, support data standards and data curation, and promote data access and reuse for the science community. all of these will involve outreach efforts to other librarians and scientists.
  • How would you establish such outreach and who would you engage?
  • What might the outcome of these efforts be?
  • What role do such professional users of the system play in its design?
  • Describe your technical skills including data frameworks and standards for data and metadata description, curation, preservation and access.
  • What do you consider the most significant gaps amongst the integration of library, data management and scientific workflows and what actions can help fill these gaps?
  • Talk about a particular challenging situation in coordination, and how you successfully resolved the challenge.
  • Describe your ideal work situation.
  • Do you have questions for us about the institution and/or position?

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August 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm

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New school year, new blog name

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It has been a long summer. And while the humidity and temperature aren’t yet aware of the shift to Fall, I’m heading back for my last semester in my Master’s program at the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Today, in fact, is my first day of classes, and with the launch of a new semester, I’m also changing this here blog’s name.

What has been known as Libraries with/out Walls is, as you’ve seen, now “Library On/Library Off.” I’m changing the name in recognition of the many other initiatives by a wide range of organizations called “Libraries without Walls,” and to blog about my areas of interest that others may not always categorize as “library” related – hence the library off. As always, I hope you’ll let me know what you think by commenting away,  dropping me a line via email or catching me on Twitter.

As far as my classes for this semester, I’m taking Information Modeling with Karen Wickett, Digital Preservation with Jerome McDonough, and Electronic Publishing: Technologies and Practices with Julia Flanders. (You can read the course descriptions here if you are so inclined:

Here’s to Library On!

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August 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm

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Scholarly publishing: what would a do-over look like?

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There to here


In the January 2009 Atul Gawande wrote Getting There from Here, a piece in the New Yorker about health care reform. In it, he explored how “path-dependence,” in the social science sense, makes reform harder. Despite our most idealized visions of a health care system we could build, had we only a clean slate, what has happened in the past so tethers us down that it becomes hard to see how to get from here (a broken system) to there (that shiny utopian system). It seems so obvious and stupid sounding at first: “the past impacts the present,” but whenever I am frustrated with an old system, it does me good to remember Gawande’s analysis, and path dependence. I find this paradigm shockingly relevant in several areas – old friendships, website redesign, or pondering the craziness that is scholarly communication. There is value in envisioning an idealized new system; but once those ideal plans are drafted, one has to in some ways let go, step back, and try to think about how to get there from here.

In my current issues in collection development class, we were challenged to think about scholarly communication.  Let’s pretend we were unencumbered by history, and Universities and research was just starting up today: how would scholarly communication be changed?

Before I jump in to  the imaginarium, a brief bit about scholarly communication. I’ve written about it before, but it is a complex system with vagaries of all sorts, especially variable from discipline to discipline. If you happen to be an academic and feel so moved to tell us about how scholarly communication works in your part of the world, please leave a comment. (The comment link is at the top of this post, not the bottom.) I’d also like to acknowledge the 2007 Ithaka report University Publishing in the Digital Age by Laura Brown, Rebecca Griffiths and Matthew Rascoff, a far better written, researched, and more authoritative rendering than I can do here.

If scholarly communication were starting today, it would be able to take into account contemporary information communications technology, like blogs, wikis, open notebook science, social networking, and functionality like rating, commenting, and group editing (such as you  might find on a comment page in Wikipedia). Instead of print journals and their concomicant, long timelines from solicitation, through peer review, to publication, scholars could publish independently on blogs. In the prestige economy, however, there would likely still be a desire for editorial control and peer review. Processes could be managed entirely online: authors upoload content, editors review, publishing staff send electronic invitations to reviewers, reviewers remarks are saved and viewed by the original author who makes changes, publication happens online. This builds off today’s model of scholarly communication, only mediated by CMS or other publishing technology.

More interestingly, technology could enable different and transformed kinds of scholarly communication. The process of peer review could be opened up entirely, where “preprints” (which would need to be renamed, obviously) could be published and then articles both ranked and commented upon; author revisions could then be “finalized” and the process archived like a Wikipedia talk page (can you tell I like that example?). And yet this still doesn’t go far enough – what if technology was moved “upstream” in the scholarly process, where scholars were collaborating in wikis and other computer-supported collaborative environments? Would the concept of the journal article even continue to persist?

The practice of scholarly communication, were it to be built over, would have to take into account not only scholarly process but the tenure review processes that reward scholars, and what counts as “work,” and how those committees know that said “work” is valuable. And goodness, that’s enough right there to make anyone’s head spin…

What do you think? What would you change, imagine, or hope for if the world got one big “do over” when it comes to scholarly communication?

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May 6, 2010 at 7:42 am