Tag Archives: academic libraries

June 5, 2011, 11:50 am

When talking about the library remember N3P3: an advocacy talking points framework for academic libraries

Brian_n3p3It seems I’ve been advocating defending the concept of the academic library lately. Different people respond to different attributes, so I’ve developed this framework to help express the narrative. I call it N3P3.

Libraries are…

  • NATURAL. A natural place where scholars gather. They offer the materials, tools, and learning spaces that enable people to access, discover, use, and share information.
  • NURTURING. A nurturing environment that promotes academic success. Librarians and staff are there to provide assistance with research and technical support. The space also promotes collaboration, enabling peer-to-peer mentoring and group work.
  • NEUTRAL. An open and inviting destination on campus. It encourages exposure to interdisciplinary encounters and freedom to relax and reflect. Everyone is welcome to use the library.
  • PRODUCTIVE. An atmosphere that generates…

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May 10, 2011, 9:23 am

Using Students to Manage the Social Streams; or How to Use Social Media to Engage Students; or What We’re Trying Next w/ SoMe

Ah yes, social media. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on this topic—a favorite one of regular readers. So what’s new? Well, I’m trying a different approach this upcoming fiscal year. The story goes like this…

A few librarians and myself oversee our social media presence, but honestly, it has not been a priority and minimal effort at best. The main reason is that there are simply too many other things going on—but a secondary reason might be our questions on impact and return on investment (in terms of effort.)

I decided to punt the rest of this year and to start fresh in the summer. Meanwhile, I noticed that the UCSB Recreational Center is very active, particularly with Facebook. They were extremely organized and consistently pushing out a variety of content. I dug into it and found that they hired a student to manage their social media–  a digital outreach…

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May 2, 2011, 1:03 pm

THE VIRTUAL REALITY: Exploring graduate student use patterns of the UCSB Library

The UC institutional repository doesn’t have a space for library-generated papers, so I’ll just post it here. My SEO is decent so hopefully it will be discoverable.

Exploring graduate student use patterns of the UCSB Library
An ethnographic study

Prepared by Lindsay Vogt, Anthropology Graduate Student, UCSB
in collaboration with Brian Mathews, UCSB Library

Executive Summary (with an internal link to the full report)

I’ll let the report speak for itself. This is part one of a larger project, currently on hiatus, but hopefully will pick up again after ALA in New Orleans. In a nutshell, I hired an anthro grad student to help me study grad students. This paper is an internal document, but I figured since many librarians are interested in anthro research these days that it might be of some value. After our next report is done we’ll turn our work into a…

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January 18, 2011, 9:53 am

Are people really ready for eBooks? My attempt to give away 100 of them

Like many campuses we do a “one book” program every year. We purchase a ton of print copies, host a variety events, activities, and exhibits, and bring in the author for a public lecture. We also work with our local public library system and schools (including high schools) to push a common reading experience and dialogue around a thought-provoking interdisciplinary topic. (campus press release)


 Last week we kicked off our event by giving away 2,000+ plus print copies. In less than 3 hours we gave away 1,700 books. Before we started there were several hundred students (and some faculty) waiting in line. This is the fifth year of the program and it is great to see people get excited about receiving a book. I’ve enjoyed walking around campus and seeing those bright orange book covers everywhere I look.


This time around I wanted to dabble with something a little different and so…

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January 10, 2011, 10:59 am

My Five Blocks of Library Outreach: conceptualizing the engagement impulse

Outreach and engagement can be quite subjective. What one librarian calls outreach another might call instruction and still another public relations. I’m not going to try and establish a shared nomenclature right now—I’m just going to share my perspective in a graphical manner:


This image was a result from a planning session for the year ahead. I want our librarians and staff to think collectively about what we do and what we are striving to do. Obviously building and maintaining collections, offering assistance services, and providing space and tools for productivity and reflection is our core. But around that core is a vague layer of activities that are hard to describe.


What I’ve tried to do here is create target buckets of these activities with the objective of offering something related to each category once a quarter for each of our primary user groups: undergrads,…

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December 16, 2010, 12:02 pm

The Steps (or Pathway) to Pride: the ultimate goal of library outreach

This is another concept from my whiteboard sessions:


When I talk about outreach and marketing and related promotional matters— people often think that I am working just to drive up business… increase volume. That's not always the case… or rather, that's not the sole purpose. Our reference librarians would probably be upset if I brought in 10,000 more questions a year. Our reserves staff probably couldn't handle a doubling of materials from faculty.


My goal is not to just increase usage, but rather, to see it as a step toward a larger purpose. It's not to help patrons become better users of the library. Nor is it to design a satisfying library experience. Ultimately… my goal… right now… is to build pride in the library. Building a brand.

Library Spirit?
It's bowl season and there is all this mounting school pride channeled via football teams (UCF upsets UGA, you read it…

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December 7, 2010, 10:20 am

Levels of Patron Assistance: too much pressure on the top? (another conceptual pyramid)

So the whole pyramid thing… An Assistant Dean turned me on to them. We were talking in my office and he saw my white board– we chatted about the engagement theory and he mentioned that over in Career Services they explored a similar concept based on services. In a nutshell, they offer a hierarchy of services attempting to match different student needs:


A student might come in and need help with a resume. While she might just need a handout describing formatting, she could be directed to a career planning professional. This might be similar to a patron asking where BF637.T5 A45 2001 is located. Rather than giving him a floor plan or directing him to the BF range, it would be like setting up an appointment with a subject librarian.


The sense I got from the Career Services example is that their model is directly tied to expenses. It costs them a lot in terms of salary and time to sit…

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December 6, 2010, 4:05 pm

Levels of Patron Engagement: a conceptual pyramid

 I’ve had this sketch on my whiteboard for most of the fall term. 


What I am really interested in is the evolution of a patron’s relationship to their library over the course of time.


In theory – as they accumulate different blocks of experience using our services their sophistication and commitment should increase. So perhaps during their first visit they use it as a study space, then the next time they use a computer,  and then next they browse the popular fiction section.


I put this concept into a pyramid to create a better visual. Just ignore the degree of spacing, this is meant more to illustrate progression rather then to accurately chart user behavior:



Ok, so you start with the easiest and most primitive level of service: study space.  This could be a cubical or something more designer. This is the greatest entry point because it is accommodating and requires…

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November 24, 2010, 11:01 am

How About Some Nominalism For Thanksgiving?

Heading into the holidays I want to reflect for a moment on one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories. It occurred my senior year of undergrad, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I was in a Renaissance & Reformation course (intellectual history) with about 30 other students. There were only six of us present that day and the professor said that his lecture was too important for the others to miss– so he decided to cancel class and offered to meet us at Applebee’s for a 2-for-1 drink special—and that he’d buy the first round.


This was an unexpected and really cool experience. He was an older German fellow and used colorful language during his lectures– a tough grader too. I remember that he liked to challenge popular notions of history and historical figures and dig into the psyche of the material. He was really into Freud and the primal motivations behind people’s actions….

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September 30, 2010, 7:28 am

Applied Diplomacy: an assessment attempt to discover what people know, don’t know, and want to know

I’m experimenting with an assessment tactic. I have a pile of multicolored sticky notes in my office related to another project AND I was preparing for a meeting with our User Services Group to talk broadly & briefly about the topic of assessment AND I was reading Visual Meetings–  so basically I was looking for a way to blend all those components.


A theme that I keep coming back to is do we know our users? We can read about them and obviously we interact with them daily, but do we really know them? Do we really know the process that grad students experience as they prep for candidacy?  Do we really know what happens in the dorms the night before a big assignment is due? Do we really know faculty tendencies when starting a new article or when they prep to teach a brand new course?


I tend to be overly curiously, but what about my colleagues? What I realized is that I didn’t know …

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