Category Archives: New Roles

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.


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

Rick Anderson says we…

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July 15, 2015, 2:45 am

ENCODING SPACES: Shaping environments that unlock human potential (coming fall 2015)


Leigh Ann Soistmann

I have a project that has been in the works for a number of years. It’s 95% written and around 15,000 words or about 50 pages. It contains everything I want to say about libraries as physical spaces.

There is something for everyone in it. Big philosophical questions and practical design tips. It touches on concepts like harmony, balance, and rhythm. There’s choice architecture and decision interfaces.  Ambience and atmospheric audits. Priming, congruence, visual cues, impulse design, and neural wi-fi. It’s sort of like interior design crossed with social psychology and neuroscience with a heavy heap of retail principles and experiential design.

I explore four different “future” models for libraries: Showrooms, Studios, Boutiques, and Salons.

And I also propose four…

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July 14, 2015, 1:15 pm

Researcher-In-Residence in the Library

We’re kicking off a residency program next month.  Here is the gist:

The Researcher-In-Residence Program at the Virginia Tech Libraries aims to provide faculty, researchers, and designers with the opportunity to focus on a unique academic endeavor of their choosing in a supportive environment that includes interacting with the information and data professionals of the Libraries.

This annual residency is for visiting scholars, post-docs, or faculty on sabbatical whose work explores the application of data and information for technological advancement or human progress.

This Program is designed to:

  • Encourage and support applied interdisciplinary research across several areas including data curation, analysis, and visualization, digital libraries, publishing, literacies, instructional design, virtual communities, and learning environments.
  • Foster collaboration between librarians…

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July 12, 2015, 8:54 pm

The Library Renewal @ Georgia Tech. Interview with Ameet Doshi

I started this blog when I worked at Georgia Tech so perhaps it is fitting that one of my final posts is about that library.

Here is an interview with Ameet Doshi, Director, Service Experience & Program Design. He talks about moving the collection off-campus and the new types of spaces and services they are developing. It’s a very ambitious plan and I would expect nothing less from that library.

Here is a snippet from their white paper that sets up the transformation:

A majority of the Library’s physical collection — the very core of all preconceived notions of what a research library is and how librarians serve — is leaving the Georgia Tech Library space. Even without these books, we are still a research library.

And here is a promo video that outlines the concept:

Tell me about the renewal. What’s the goal?

AD: The goal is to become…

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July 12, 2015, 4:51 pm

Interdisciplinary Studios — incubation space for semester long projects

Burchard Hall, Virginia Tech

I’ve always been inspired by architecture studios on campus. There is an unmatched sense of camaraderie that develops by spending a lot of time working together in a shared space. I’ve seen variations of this, mostly for graduate students, where people have assigned desks, tables, or cubicles together often near labs or other work areas. Most undergrads, however, don’t have this available to them.

Obviously anyone can come into the library and work on assignments—but it’s temporary or ephemeral.  Libraries offer a host of labs, studios, and commons areas but you go there, work a bit, and then leave.

What if we could take the architecture studio concept (a dedicated spot for a whole semester) and open that to a variety of disciplines?

We’re going to try it in January.


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June 10, 2015, 1:56 pm

Practicing Critical Information Literacy. Interview with Troy Swanson.


Troy Swanson

Troy Swanson is the teaching and learning librarian and Library department chair at Moraine Valley Community College. His article A Radical Step: Implementing A Critical Information Literacy Model (published in 2004) was my first exposure to critical theory in librarianship.

Let’s keep these critical interviews rolling before they pull the plug on this blog.

You have stated that librarians have long been champions of intellectual freedom and that you see critical information literacy as an extension of this value. Could you tell me more about that?

TS: I have always felt that the value of critical information literacy (applying critical pedagogy to information literacy) is as a lens through which to view the cycle of information production within society. Information products (whether online or in a…

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June 8, 2015, 1:55 pm

From Teaching To Consulting: Librarians as Information Literacy Designers. An Interview with Carrie Donovan.


Carrie Donovan

A few weeks ago I heard Carrie Donovan (Head of Teaching and Learning, Indiana University Libraries ) give a keynote address at The Innovative Library Classroom Conference.

Here are the slides from her talk: Shaking up the Sediment:  Re-energizing Pedagogical Practice while Avoiding Bottle Shock. And here are  slides from the other presentations at the conference.

My main takeaway was the transition that Carrie is experiencing from teaching to consulting. This is a theme that seems to be gaining momentum; I’m seeing fragments of this concept appear more frequently. It seems we are at the doorstep (threshold?) of an evolutionary leap in terms of information literacy and library instruction. I asked Carrie a few questions about this transformation.

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June 3, 2015, 10:21 am

Conformity vs. Scrutiny: Radical Information Literacy. An interview with Andrew Whitworth

Here is a quick interview with Andrew Whitworth, Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Manchester and Programme Director of the MA: Digital Technologies, Communication and Education. He published Radical Information Literacy: Reclaiming the Political Heart of the IL Movement.

What is radical information literacy?

Well, I did try at points to give clear definitions of key terms. Page 167 is as succinct as I ever get:

“IL, or more precisely, information literate behaviour, can be defined as practices that sustain learning and the potential for transformation within communities and their [information] landscapes. Radical IL is the subset of these practices which lift those potentials up into practice, transforming information landscapes through scrutiny and review of the cognitive authorities that penetrate them.”

Mainstream IL – competency-based,…

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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.


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.

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April 14, 2015, 3:20 pm

Your Assignment: Host A Campus Wide Event (libraries and active learning)

eventAs a follow-up to my post last week about our seven classrooms, I wanted to quickly share an example of how we are impacting teaching and learning.

We’re hosting a Financial Literacy Event today that is part of a class project. It is a digital showcase bringing together students from a Financial Counseling course to offer educational engagement with students in a Financial Management course. Both courses are taught by Oscar Solis.

Here are the topics:


There are many things I like about this.

  • It brings two courses together—this is one of my constant aspirations.
  • It encourages peer-to-peer mentoring.
  • It promotes financial literacy.
  • It fosters active learning. This could have just been traditional talks at the front of a classroom where everyone speaks for a few minutes and where most students are distracted and nervous about their own presentation. Instead we…

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