Category Archives: disruption

July 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

My Final Blog Post

May 22, 2006. That’s when I started The Ubiquitous Librarian Blog. I wrote before at Alt-Ref where I explored new approaches for reference and instruction. But I felt too boxed in. Ubiquitous gave me freedom to roam.

It ends today. Right here.

 407 posts

9 years  1 month  23 days

When the Chronicle of Higher Education informed me that they were dropping the Blog Network I was sad. But after a few days I got over it, mostly. I realized they had given me a gift. This was a chance to move on and do other things.

I’ve probably written and presented too much over the last decade. I’m looking forward to letting that taper off. I want to focus on Virginia Tech and the great people, projects, and programs we have here.

ucsb_suit

Me as a soldier in the name of greater library experiences.

Rick Anderson says we…

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July 9, 2015, 12:12 pm

The Winnower: a “radical” publishing platform that encourages debate. Interview with Josh Nicholson

Josh Nicholson

Josh Nicholson

I discovered The Winnower at an open access event at Virginia Tech several years ago. Josh Nicholson, a PhD candidate at the time, was on a panel session discussing the merits of OA. He recently earned his degree (cell biology) and is focused on building a publishing platform.

I admire the DIY aspect of his work and the founding principle that all ideas in should be discussed and debated. Our correspondence highlights what he is developing and how it is different from the intuitional repository movement.

Tell me about your academic background and your work at Virginia Tech. 

JN: I finished my BS in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental biology in 2008 at UC Santa Cruz.  While there I worked in a lab for a few years and also wrote for the health and science section for the student run newspaper,…

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May 27, 2015, 3:25 pm

The Evolving & Expanding Service Landscape Across Academic Libraries

We all know there has been a national decline in reference transactions. Here is some raw ARL data suggesting that questions have dropped nationally from 20,000,000 in 1995 to just barely 5,000,000 in 2014.

arl_ref_stats

from Association of Research Libraries

Librarians have responded by introducing new models: the one-desk model, the tiered model, the drop-in/office hours model and even the no desk model.

While I admire this ingenuity… this post isn’t about that. But it is about people who have questions.

During this same time — while reference transactions were declining — other service points migrated into our environments. Writing Centers, Communication Studios, Multimedia Studios, IT Help Desks, and Adaptive/Assistive Technologies Support Spaces are all common today.

[caption id=”attachment_4739″ align=…

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April 6, 2015, 5:01 pm

Think Like A Startup: 3 Years Later

think_start

Three years ago I published a white paper: Think Like A Startup. A lot of people downloaded it.

start_stats

Over the weekend I reflected on the essay and I’d like to share a few thoughts:

Mental Model
“Thinking like a startup” is meant to be a mental model, not a business model. This confuses people who didn’t read the paper. I had been hearing from administrators around the county who were frustrated because they could not motivate their employees to embrace new directions. I wanted my paper to help with strategic planning and related conversations. It’s a chance to say—ok, for this afternoon let’s change our lens. Instead of thinking like a library, let’s consider how a startup might approach this service. What are we not doing? How would they operate? I viewed the paper as an invitation to brainstorm and a process that provides safety while encouraging experimentation and team …

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March 17, 2015, 6:39 pm

TALKING ACROSS THE GLOBE: Tinder as a prototype for intercontinental serendipity

I’ve been experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon lately. This is when you discover a new word, concept, song, book, product or whatever and then it seemingly appears everywhere. In my case this has been related to maps and global communications.

After reading The Victorian Internet and it opened my eyes to just how transformative the telegraph was. Pre-telegraph, it took a full day on horseback to deliver a message one hundred miles. The telegraph reduced that to a matter of seconds.

When Samuel Morse and others began building the network (around 1844) it took ten weeks to send a letter and a response between London to Bombay. Thirty years later, with over 650,000 miles of wire, messages could be exchanged between those two cities in less than four minutes.

There was much enthusiasm and a great optimism.

poem_tech via…

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March 4, 2015, 4:13 am

Confronting the Unexpected: Pink Time & Intrinsic Learning

Tim_Headshot

@tbaird007

A few weeks ago I met up with Tim Baird (Geography, Virginia Tech) to tour the library and talk about pedagogy. We discussed a handful of topics and I tried to capture the spirit of our conversation in this post. Tim has received a lot of attention across campus (here and here) for his Pink Time concept. Let’s start with that.

The short version: he encourages students to skip class three times a semester and to invest that time learning whatever they want. Students then report on what they did and assign themselves a grade based on the experience. The impetus for this approach was inspired by Daniel Pink, hence the name—Pink Time.

Here is a table outlining the students’ Pink Time activities: (from Journal of Geography, 2015)

PinkTime_Table

 The Element of…

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February 10, 2015, 2:45 pm

Are We Teaching Spatial Agency? The subliminal message of flexible furniture

Does space matter? Does the selection and arrangement of furniture and technology impact behavior? I think so. The tools around us impact what we can build. So if we follow this line of thought: can we design spaces that enable students to be more creative, more collaborative, or more innovative? Can we offer environments that encourage concentration, curiosity, or confidence?

I’ve been chasing these questions for the past ten years. It started at Georgia Tech where we experimented with atmospheric elements like sound, shape, and lighting. We could quickly recalibrate a room and completely change its mood and functionality. This is where I began thinking about the psychology of place.

lec

Georgia Tech Library, courtesy of Dottie Hunt

My thoughts were recently augmented by Frank Shushok, Senior Associate Vice…

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January 20, 2015, 4:21 pm

Sheep Rot & Rogue Publishers: advertising in early scientific journals

I’ve been watching a great talk by Jason Priem on altmetrics.

During the presentation he mentions the history of scientific journals and how they evolved from handwritten letters describing observations into aggregated print volumes for a larger audience. Philosophical Transactions was the first one. I was curious about the composition of science articles in 1665 so I clicked around. Here is a partial listing from the inaugural issue:

journal1What grabbed your attention? For me it was the calf. A very odd monstrous calf!

journal2_cafe
I thought it was  quaint but then I saw the front page of the Wall Street Journal last week and we’re still admiring livestock 350 years later.

journal3_bull_wallst

It is interesting to observe how journals evolved from short blurbs into longer articles. You can also trace the slow adoption of scholarly writing conventions and…

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January 12, 2015, 3:29 pm

Millions of Sources: the disruption of history and the humanities?

Last week I mentioned a tweet on critical pedagogy that stuck with me. Here is another item from 2014 that really got me thinking.

Mandel_Tweets

This was from an ARL meeting on the future of scholarly monographs. I blogged about it back in October 2014 but I wanted to go deeper. I spoke with Laura Mandell (Professor of English & Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M) just before winter break. Here are some highlights from that conversation:

Print Humanities
The humanities as we know them should be called the print humanities. They began with the rise of print materials and the practices and methodologies associated with them are bound to that format. Right now we have print humanities and digital humanities but eventually all humanities will be digital humanities. We’re in an evolutionary stage.

While many people feel an emotional attachment…

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