Category Archives: Writing&Talking

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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June 1, 2015, 3:16 pm

Shaping Radical Librarianship: (brief) Interview with Rory Litwin

I was in grad school when I first encountered Library Juice – an email-based zine filled with socially progressive essays and other reflections. It was dramatically different than the esoteric journals we were using in class.

The spirit of the work was inspiring. This was pre-blogs — Library Juice demonstrated that you could develop a voice and audience using non-traditional formats. It had a strong DYI ethos and expanded my perspective on librarianship.

Rory Litwin
Photo courtesy of INALJ

Rory Litwin was the creative force behind the project. He went on to start Library Juice Press focusing on theoretical and practical issues in librarianship from a critical perspective.

The infusion of critical theory within librarianship has been gaining momentum. And Rory’s efforts have helped shape many of those conversations…

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May 26, 2015, 3:20 pm

Ending my blog in 50 days

And so here we are.

When I first started blogging it as fun. There were many of us out there trying new things and sharing our stories. We were learning on the fly and forging our digital (and professional) identities.

That was a decade ago.


Me at Georgia Tech, East Commons
Photo via C. Bennett

My blog became popular largely because I worked at Georgia Tech. It was an amazing environment. I learned that you don’t need a large budget to push the envelope—and they are still pushing it today.

The nature of my blog changed when I moved into administration. I was also writing for American Libraries and blogging became a chore. When the Chronicle picked up The Ubiquitous Librarian my creative spirit was renewed.

I started reaching a broader audience – vice provosts, CIO’s, and student affairs…

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July 24, 2014, 10:42 am

LIBRARIAN AS FUTURIST: Changing the Way Libraries Think About the Future

I recently published an essay in portal. It explores the mindset (and toolkit) of futurists and attempts to connect that to libraries. I blogged about it earlier with the idea of “change literacy”—which I still think is a fascinating concept.

Librarian_as_Futurist_preview_imageThe portal version is fine, but I can’t legally post their PDF – so I made my own. Besides that, academic publisher prints always look a little stodgy and grayish to me, no offense. I prefer a more uplifting wrapper for my words. Design is a vital part of the communications process and I  like to have some control over how my ideas are presented.

Here is a snippet:

Librarians could discuss ad infinitum the predictions, proclamations, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams about what libraries are becoming. In fact, as a profession librarians are obsessed with talking about our future. Books, articles, blog posts, conference sessions, an…

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October 28, 2013, 3:36 pm

FLIP THE MODEL: Strategies for Creating and Delivering Value (a pre-print)

I’ve been eager to share this one. It was wrapped up in August and I’ve been sitting on it since the semester started. I recently got the “OK” from Elsevier and just put the final visuals together this weekend. There are a number of interesting stories in here– I’ll leave it at that:

flip_icon“Academic libraries are encountering a critical inflection point. In our case it isn’t a single technology that is disrupting our established system, but a barrage of advancements in publishing, pedagogy, and user preferences. The landscape is shifting around us, and the future of scholarship requires us to develop new skills, design new environments, and deliver new service capacities. In short, we need new operating models.” Read the pre-print.

This is the draft version that I submitted to the editors. The final (authoritative) copy will be out in January 2014 in the Journal of Academic…

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July 9, 2013, 3:50 pm

MUSIC AND WRITING & MY HIP HOP IMAGINATION or: if my next paper is bad blame Jay Z

I’ve been reflecting on my writing process lately. I’ve noticed that when I’m working on an article or a conference talk that I seem to gravitate toward a particular artist or album to stimulate my thinking. It’s not intentional but there always seems to be a unique soundtrack for each piece.


When I was writing my book I listened to a lot of Thursday and Three 6 Mafia. When I was writing startup it was a blend of Postal Service and Lil Wayne. The R&D paper was pretty much all Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls. ACRL’s discovery paper was classic grunge like old Soundgarden and AIC. Yet while preparing for that presentation it was early Metallica with a shot of Kanye and ASAP


Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t limit myself to just these artists. On any given day it could be back-to-back Danzig and Dr Dre in order to spark ideas or new emotions that I want to capture…

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April 23, 2013, 3:37 pm

Hubs and Centers as a Transitional Strategy

We’re still in the early stages of reshaping the role of our library but I wanted to share a document that outlines some of our thinking. Julie Speer, Tyler Walters, and I co-wrote a paper for the International Association of Technological University Libraries (IATUL) Conference.


Here is a piece from the intro:

Libraries of science and technology universities worldwide are adapting to a changing environment where cyberinfrastructure, eResearch, and new technology-intensive approaches to teaching and learning are transforming the very nature of universities. While many have adopted new technologies and the resources and expertise to manage them, this is only an initial step. Libraries are experimenting with organizational models that will transform their work capacity and expertise. The goal of these libraries is being an entity that feeds and produces collaborative synergies…

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April 2, 2013, 2:56 pm

The Art of Problem Discovery (Invited Paper, ACRL 2013)


I was invited to present a paper at ACRL based upon my entrepreneurial writings. I decided to write about the pursuit of good problems, which has become a guiding philosophy in my work. I think it’s going to be a good talk. I’m having fun putting the content together and it addresses a different piece of the innovation discussion.


Friday, April 12, 1:30PM, Wabash 2-3, Indianapolis Convention Center


Here is the closing thought that sums it all up:

Our intention should never be to give people what they want. Rather, through the art of problem discovery, we can design and develop the capacities, service models, and solutions necessary to deliver what people need in order to accomplish the outcomes they desire.  (more)



December 10, 2012, 2:01 pm

A Paper for the Problem Seekers

I’m thrilled and honored to be have been selected as one of the Invited Papers for ACRL 2013. This isn’t something I applied for so the committee must read this blog. It would be easy to simply repackage startup or R&D and present a modified version of those papers—but what’s the fun in that? I’m planning to build off of the disruptive thinking theme and deliver something a little more compact.


I’m obsessed with J.W. Getzels right now and I want to honor his work. One of his core ideas went something like this:


There is a lot of information out there about how we solve problems, but very little related to how we discover, invent, pose, or formulate problems. From: “The Problem of the Problem”


The paper I’m writing is based on that. I’m calling it: The Art of Problem Discovery.


It’s due Feb 18 so not a lot of time. But that’s what…

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September 26, 2012, 2:43 pm

Too much assessment…

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you’ve heard me talk about the paper I was writing over the summer. It’s for ARL’s Assessment Conference and at one point it was over 14,000 words.


It was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve written because of time (3 months) and space (5,000 word max) limitations. The background reading was amazing; I skimmed 30 books and read nearly 50 articles, blog posts, and reports. I immersed myself into R&D culture. And sadly there was so much material I couldn’t use and even worse, so much material that I just didn’t have time to read.


I had two objectives with this paper:


  1. I wanted it to be a follow-up or sequel to Think Like a Startup. That paper resonated with a lot of people, so my working title was “operate like an R&D lab.” I took the section about assessment and gave it it’s own platform. I…

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