Posts Tagged ‘Alison Hicks’
It’s the beginning of December, the traditional time for the ubiquitous and alliterative review article (“Top Ten Tech Trends of 2012!!!”) that always seem to be slightly too enthusiastic for the pale, twitching, shadow of our former selves that we have become by the end of another crazy year. But even Scrooge (topical seasonal joke high five!) would agree that there is some merit in reflecting, especially when it comes to thinking about learning. So, drawing on the idea of contemplating the old to welcome in the new, I thought I’d try and kickstart 2013 by reflecting on this year’s columns; a meta-column if you will (yep, I haven’t got out much recently…)
So the last column of 2012 will be on professional development. Now wait. I’m envisaging half of you rolling your eyes because you now have 6,387 unread items in your Google Reader, and the other half of you laughing wryly about how you couldn’t even come to the SALALM conference last year. For those of you in the first group, I’m going to be pretty blunt. I know that life is crazy, that the instruction requests keep piling in, there is another weeding project and you’ve been appointed to a new taskforce. BUT this is the single most important thing that we can do as librarians. Just 10 minutes a day of reading or sharing, or heck, even skimming headlines or your RSS reader. That’s all it takes, I promise. For the second group, most of the ideas here are going to be free or low-cost, they just involve a bit of DIY savvy. Whichever group you’re in, it’s vital that we take time for our own lifelong learning. As John Naughton said, disruption is a feature, not a bug. That stable state of yesterday is never coming back, and lifelong learning is a way that we can enhance and adapt our personal and professional lives to meet whatever challenges are thrown at us.
In October I wrote about MOOCs and the role of librarians. The good news is that if there are hundreds of courses that you too can take for free. Some start on a specific date, others are more self-directed, but all offer traditional introductions to a broad range of topics. Looking to brush up on your Spanish? Try Spanish MOOC, starting in January. Carnegie Mellon offers French, MIT offers foreign language courses and there may be a Portuguese course too. What about literature and culture? Coursera offers Fiction of Relationship (featuring Borges!) and Listening to World Music, (featuring the Buena Vista Social Club!) among others. There are thousands of technology based courses, from Udacity’s Intro to Statistics, to Udemy’s classes on Facebook, Photoshop or Excel. Don’t forget the education classes too- try E-learning and digital cultures or Fundamentals of Online Education. More Spanish universities are getting involved too, watch out for offerings from Alicante to La Rioja. There are also several courses out there if you want a more library focused professional development. CPD23 is a UK based initiative that aims to introduce librarians to web 2.0 tools. While the course has finished for 2012, you can still complete the modules at your own pace.
In June, I tried to reassure you about information overload, highlighting the need to rely more on friends and colleagues as recommender systems. This is known as your personal learning network (PLN), because we learn through forging connections and building networks between people and ideas. I won’t mention my number 1 tool for doing this, because you all laugh at my obsession with my blue avian friend whose name begins with T, but it’s a great way of meeting new people and encountering new ideas. Another option is Google communities, which brings us back to February’s column on Google Plus. Yes, Google + still lags behind Facebook, but Team Google is stealthily making it even easier to follow interests, experts and more, all of which are super valuable for maintaining your PLN. Other tips? Take your time, use the tools that work for you, don’t just follow people because everyone does, use the same username across different tools, share, comment and engage as well as lurking- and don’t forget to challenge yourself to think outside your field, which can resemble an echo chamber at times.
Lastly, while I believe people are a key part of learning, productivity tools that help you keep track of literature and more keep getting easier to use. August’s column on productivity tools may help you decide which tools to use, as does the CPD23 programme mentioned above. (so much hyperlinked win in this column!) Other tools I really like are Journal TOCS; (they’ve actually gathered hundreds of new journal issue feeds in one place!) and several new mobile apps such as SoundNote (it records audio as well as your notetaking or drawings!) and Zite or Flipboard (create magazines out of your RSS feeds!).
So, professional development. In 2013 it’s all about the people, the free online courses, and the magic 10 minutes a day. I did fail to work April’s column about Impact Factors in. And there were quite a few exclamation marks. Nonetheless, I didn’t try and make some random and arbitrary predictions for 2013, another feature of end of year articles, so count yourself lucky Happy Holidays!
University of Colorado, Boulder
alison.hicks @ colorado.edu
Go Team, Go Team! Maybe it’s the Olympic spirit that’s getting to me (which also explains the delayed column, sorry!) but I’m increasingly thinking of myself as a coach, or mentor in the research process. Finding, citing, storing and organizing information is such a messy, cyclical, convoluted business nowadays that it’s hard to confine librarian activities to just one of those areas. And I think it’s high time we stopped trying to remove ourselves from the broader social context anyway as we have a lot to offer in the information age. So this column will attempt to highlight some productivity tools that will be useful for trying to tame the research process- as well as maybe helping those of you who are still feeling paralysed by information overload. (I told you that you need to try meditation…)
Are you having trouble organizing documents and emails or finding that great article that you read last month? If so then maybe Evernote is the program for you. This has been around since 2008, and is a multi-purpose note taking and archiving program. Organized around a system of notebooks, it provides a really easy way to organize and take notes, which can be text, voice memos, photos, file attachments and more. And, if you download the web clipper you can “clip” copies of online articles and webpages for reading later on. You can tag and annotate all notes, as well as sharing them with other people. Consisting of a web, desktop and mobile version, you can sync content across all three accounts, meaning you can catch up wherever you are. Free for a basic version with a generous monthly usage limit. Similar to: Diigo, which allows you to bookmark and annotate webpages.
Do you want an easy way to keep track of tasks and deadlines in group projects? Trello is a new program that is fabulous for project management. Established in 2011, it’s got a really cool visual drag and drop interface that allows you to create to do lists and tasks for any project that you are working on. It’s easy to share with other people, as well as setting deadlines, checklists, and sharing content. It would also work well as a personal tool. Like Evernote it can be synced with a smartphone too, giving you even more control. Free. Similar to: Basecamp.
I just need a simple to do list program… Sounds like you need Remember the Milk, an easy to use time management program. It was set up in 2004 by a couple of Australians (don’t let that put you off ), so it’s pretty well established and very easy to use. It’s kind of hard to explain- you make to do lists, and that’s about it… You can set it to send you SMS, text or IM reminders, and it will tell you off if you postpone a task too many times… It syncs easily with Google and Outlook calendars, as well as with a smartphone, but you can also work offline too. Free for a basic version but you need to pay if you want to sync across multiple devices. Similar to: Toodledo.
I want a place to record my lightbulb moments: Try Mindomo, a mindmapping tool. Available since 2007 the free version of this program will allow you up to three maps that you can share or make public. Very easy to create a visual brainstorm, or a to-do list or just a presentation of various ideas. Similar to: Mindmeister or Bubbl.us
University of Colorado, Boulder
Alison.Hicks @ colorado.edu
Standing room only at the very last panel of the SALALM 2012 conference: Pecha Kucha! This is the third time that we have run a Pecha Kucha, where participants are allowed roughly 7 minutes to present their work. There was a wide variety of fabulous topics- thanks to presenters and participants!
Here are the presenters’ presentations and details. Enjoy!
Alison Hicks, University of Colorado, Boulder.
What Digital Collection? Issues of Collection Development, Cataloging Trends and Standards, and Ethical Considerations of Underground Music in the Caribbean and Latin America / Samuel Wicks (University of Pittsburgh)
Developing Local Cataloging Procedures for Access to Foreign-Language Films / Tina Gross (St. Cloud State University)
Strategies for Patron-Initiated Acquisitions / Sarah Wenzel (University of Chicago)
Collaborative Digital Archiving: a Non-Custodial Approach / Carolyn Palaima (University of Texas)
Library Outreach using Library a la Carte (TM) / Laura Shedenhelm (University of Georgia)
Publish or Perish? Supporting Graduate Students as Aspiring Authors / Barbara Alvarez (University of Michigan)
How many of you have made a New Year’s resolution to “keep up with [insert topic of choice] more”? Anyone feel guilty when they see their Google reader has 1,064 new unread items? Cry inwardly at the thought of drowning in the information tsunami, the fire hose of knowledge, the flood of media, the sea of despair?! (Yep that’s a lot of water metaphors…) According to Miriam Levin, (2000) that’s due to the fact that large bodies of water maintain the aura of “awesome, untamed power and impenetrable mystery” and of course, the implicit dangers of drowning and destruction. That’s a pretty powerful message, and one that we librarians probably worry more about than most people (isn’t my job to be good at managing all this information?!) This column will be all about “information overload” and some tips to start managing this additional stress in our lives.
Firstly, the concept of “information overload” is a tough one. As Clay Shirky and others have explained, people have always complained about information overload. That’s one of the reasons that librarianship was so necessary- our classification systems and collection development specialists, among others, helped people understand the world by filtering, ordering and reducing the knowledge to a beautiful, ordered whole. (Weinberger, 2012) So although there’s always been too much information for any one person to read or digest in their lifetime, humans designed systems that could prevent material being published, or shelved- controls for the printed flow of information.
However, with the explosion of the internet and its low barriers of participation, our traditional systems could not keep up with the torrent of information. Furthermore, as the field of critical information studies has shown us, these systems of strict editorial or library control meant that many ideas were excluded from this process according to political, social or economic rules of the day. So we’re stuck with two conundrums- exabytes of information and a broken system of filtering. No wonder those water metaphors are so descriptive.
So what can you do?! Firstly, stop worrying that you’re falling behind. Several great books have been written recently about how the concept of knowledge is changing around us, and I believe there is much more to be written. We’re in a state of flux, and new technologies are engendering massive social change. As information specialists, we’re never going to go back to having that control over the world of knowledge- so you need to relax and start getting excited about these exciting new possibilities of the information age.
Secondly, practise information meditation. Howard Rheingold (2012) has written extensively on “info-tention” and how we need to be more mindful about our attention and information consumption. He believes a lot of our information overload stress comes from poor attention literacy- getting distracted, forgetting to breathe when you check email, failing to pay attention to the humans in our lives and lack of focus on our goals. He advocates scheduling a specific amount of time for professional development every day (even just 20 minutes) and meditating on our information use (understanding goals, intentions and reflecting on how you deploy your attention)
Lastly, content curation or using the power of your friends as filters can also be a successful strategy. Facebook’s “Like” button is a good example of using your friends to filter out the useful information, as is Amazon’s recommendation system. Programs such as Scoop-it and Diigo allow you to subscribe to curated articles, links and information on a topic- you can see what other people have recommended as useful in your area of interest. For example, I am interested in embedded librarianship, but rather than go crazy trying to scour the web for updates, I subscribe to a couple of curated content streams on this topic through Scoop-it. Technologies such as Google Reader, Twitter, Google Alerts can definitely help manage or streamline information, but human contacts are still your most valuable tool. By focusing on building (and tweaking) your personal learning network of experts, or groups of people, their blogs or their curated content, you’re creating a valuable filter that will help cut through the flotsam and jetsam.
Information “overload” is a feature of our time, but by being mindful of our habits and the changing information landscapes it is possible to feel less overwhelmed. And geeky old me even thinks it’s kind of exciting as we consider the role that information literacy and librarians can play in our networked future. Water may be uncharted and uncontrolled- but it is also a symbol of life, renewal and reflection- inspiring metaphors for the information age.
Alison Hicks: University of Colorado, Boulder | alison.hicks [at] colorado.edu
Great books on the topic
Davidson, C. N. (2011). Now you see it: How the brain science of attention will transform the way we live, work, and learn. New York: Viking.
Levin, M. R. (2000). Cultures of control. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.
Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.
What do REM and impact factors have in common?! To a few of you, the answer may be something to do with sleep. But to my mind, the movement to reconsider the place of traditional measures of scholarly publishing (aka alt-metrics) is fast becoming the new alternative rock, a challenge to the scholarly status quo. Yep, that’s a pretty tortuous metaphor- and not being an alternative rock fan, my knowledge is based on the trusty Wikipedia article, but either way, alt-metrics is becoming visible and more widespread. And just as REM went on to fame and fortune, librarians too need to be aware of where this may lead.
Alt-metrics (or Alternative Metrics) aims to track scholarly impact on the social web. It is an approach that attempts to supplement traditional citation measures of quality by taking into account how researchers work on the open web in the 21st century. The idea of quality has always been important in academia, not least for the promotion system, funding agencies and for the development of personal reputation. Within the traditional, limited print publication system, peer review, citation counting and journal impact factors have formed the backbone of these measures of academic excellence. In the web 2.0 world, however, these systems of measurement have started to be seen as too limiting. Detractors pointed out that reviewers are not held accountable, that context and impact outside academia are ignored, and that it is relatively easy to game the system. Furthermore, information, knowledge and learning have changed. Knowledge is no longer confined to journal output, especially in the still far too closed world of academic publishing. Scholarship is becoming far more diverse, and information, data and evidence of learning can be found in social citation tools or through self publishing such as blogs or social media. By looking at readership or re-use statistics as well as citation statistics, a richer picture of the influence of a piece of work can be formed.
Crucially, alt-metrics do not claim to provide a complete new system to measure impact. They are designed to be used in conjunction with more traditional tools. And with the glacial rate of change in the academy, it is clear that new measures of impact may take a while to develop. However, as the success of the Open Access movement in Latin America shows, it is also evident that for us as subject specialists, we need to be even more aware of the potential for change in our area of expertise.
Tools to measure impact:
Total Impact: Measures readership and re-use across several sites such as Mendeley, Slideshare, Delicious, Wikipedia and Twitter, among others. Ability to search by DOI, URL or Mendeley library means that it’s one of the most complete tools around. It gives numbers of mentions/tool.
ReaderMeter: Designed to provide more real-time impact, Readermeter has adapted the H and G index to measure readership (bookmarks) instead of citations. It relies quite heavily on Mendeley data.
For other tools (particularly for the sciences) see the AltMetrics tools.
Tools to establish authority:
As digital scholarship practices become more established, scholars should establish an online presence to establish authority and cement a digital reputation. The following tools can help:
Google Scholar Citations: When people search by author on Google Scholar, scholar profiles that show personal details and citation information will be displayed. This also provides basic and more traditional citation metrics such as the H index and i10 index.
Mendeley: Public profiles, which are indexed on Google provide personal details as well as relevant article statistics. Mendeley provides readership statistics by cumulative total, as well as readership statistics per article (including readership by discipline, academic status, and country.)
Google +: Facebook slayer or privacy exploiter? Yet another log in, or the dawn of a new age? Asset? Liability? Plus? Minus?! Launched to great fanfare in September 2011, commentators pounced gleefully on Google +, Google’s latest attempt to join the social media bandwagon. For the uninitiated, Google +, (also known as G+) is technically a social network that integrates Facebook style personal profiles, status updates and friendships with Twitter style information sharing, within a familiar, easy to use Google format. It claimed to fix many of the privacy problems associated with Facebook, which, at 7 years old, is now the grandmother of social media.
The jury is still out on the success of Google +. While it integrates many useful features, many users did not think it was worth migrating to a new social media service. However, while much commentary has focused on Google + as a social network, there has been much less focus on Google +’s other features which, in my opinion, make it a serious rival to many VOIP (eg Skype), IM and other educational services. While I’m the first to admit that I haven’t fully engaged with Google + yet, my dislike for Facebook remains thinly veiled (the future’s Twitter shaped- just sayin’…) and I think it’s worthwhile to highlight a few uses of Google + within academia.
Firstly, a couple of the greatest advantages of Google + are the “hangout” and “circle” features. A “hangout” is Google’s equivalent of a Skype call on steroids. Not only can you video chat with up to 10 people (for free!), hangouts can also integrate with Google Docs, meaning that a group can collaboratively edit documents or share screens while video chatting. The “circle” is a way to categorise your contacts into friends, acquaintances or colleagues. While this may sound a little utilitarian, even the hardened facebook fans among you must admit that the ability to share your favourite “i can haz cheezburger” clips among just your closest friends would have been an advantage. Lastly, (and unsurprisingly!) Google + is searchable, meaning that it is an awful lot easier to find that information that you vaguely recall someone posted about.
The benefits to libraries are also obvious. The “circle” means that privacy in Google + is much improved. While it could be difficult to separate information shared between students, administrators and colleagues on Facebook, people can be categorised into different groups on Google +, meaning that information can be tailored to each group. Useful if you’re liaison to different departments, or want to share different information between grad students, undergrads and faculty. The hangouts is the feature that I’m most excited about though- imagine being able to see the student’s screen while you chat or IM. No longer will you have to write out essays about how to get from the catalog to the database, or wonder why they can’t see that blindingly obvious button. Coming up with some great search strategies? Add them to a shared document while you work, and the student can refer back to them later. You could hold virtual office hours in Google +; or what about a book club or review session when papers are due? Google + gives a lot of flexibility, which could work well as student schedules become more elastic.
There are many ways in which Google + can be frustrating. Users need a Google account to participate- and this could raise questions about how personal data is used to filter/change your web experience in the future. A small download is needed for the hangouts, and the more public nature of Google + means that many may worry about sharing private information. Lastly, because it is so new, there are fairly frequent changes, which can get frustrating.
Ultimately, though, Google is an information processing giant, and Google + provides an easy way for people to find and talk about new information, and for companies to market themselves and to reach out to users. If libraries want to remain in the business of knowledge creation, then Google + provides an interesting glimpse of the future. Furthermore, as Google Apps for Education starts to integrate Google + features into academia, students are only going to become more accustomed to working with this functionality. Google + probably isn’t a Facebook killer (boo!) However, as a communication and information tool, it is a great addition (geddit?!) to the web 2.0 world.
It’s that time of semester again when most reference questions I get seem to have something to do with punctuation, a DOI, or placement of footnotes. Yep, happy citation season, to one and all! Despite running workshops and creating webpages on citation formatting, it’s often hard to get even graduate students interested in citation management programs. And up till now, finicky was a polite way to describe most of the existing software. But the spread of web 2.0 is such that it has even caught up with the MLA and the APA- and has created a new class of, dare I say it, fun and user friendly tools.
One of the most exciting new kids on the block is Mendeley (http://www.mendeley.com). While fulfilling most regular requirements of a citation management program (stores citations, cite in MS Word, web and desktop access) it also stores and organizes PDFs as well as allowing PDF annotation and provides easy importing into Mendeley, including a genius “watched folder” function for automatic importing. And that’s not all! One of the best features is the online research catalog that it maintains, allowing users to track article citations, follow experts, find recommendations for articles and more. By hooking up with the inherent citation networks in academic publishing, Mendeley is taking advantage of the interconnectedness of the web- instead of trying to smush all results haphazardly into one search box, the development du jour in many libraries today. I know which is more helpful for me, as a librarian… Oh and did I mention that a basic account is free? And it has a mobile app?!
Colwiz (http://www.colwiz.com) is another similar program. Although it is not as widely known as Mendeley, it provides many excellent features, particularly for group work. It may be worth pointing out that both excellent programs were designed in the UK. (Note nationality of columnist and draw appropriate conclusions!)
Longer standing citation management programs are trying to keep up. Refworks (http://www.refworks.com) has released its 2.0 version- as well as a mobile app for citations on the go. Endnote (https://www.myendnoteweb.com) also has a new web version and an app. Zotero, (http://www.zotero.org) which was king of the free citation programs for so long, is responding by releasing a version that does not rely on the Firefox browser, as well as a mobile app. Zotero still manages to deal with web pages better than Mendeley so with these new developments, the citation “lucha libre” may get even more exciting.
Another final class of new citation programs include apps for smart phones that allow users to scan materials from their phone in order to generate a citation. Quick cite (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quick-cite/id405796616?mt=8) is one such program, although it is obviously limited to book citing.
In the craziness of the end of semester these programs won’t help panicked students. But reaction has been so positive to these tools that it may be worth mentioning them next semester as honors projects and Masters theses wrap up. All that I have tried so far seem to work well with foreign characters too, so there is no excuse It looks like in 2012, citing = sexy again- who would have thought it!
alison.hicks @ colorado.edu
There are so many initiatives and new projects happening within the organization, it’s hard to keep track! For one, we have this brand new enhanced website, thanks to the Communications Committee: Alison, Orchid, Daisy and Melissa. It looks & feels great, and it is a much more accurate reflection of the dynamism, varied interests, and engagement of our members. Kudos to all who continue to work so hard on the site. It is also exciting that the call for applications to the new SALALM library student fellowship is underway and applications are beginning to arrive.
At the Secretariat, we are in the midst of a campaign to update our membership payment records, especially for institutional memberships. Messages to personal members seeking their help to update contacts and other information at their institutions were sent out three weeks ago, and we have already begun to identify some problem areas. Thanks to all who have responded promptly. I suspect we’ll be able to increase the number of sponsoring memberships as a direct result of this process. We will report back on the results. Membership renewals (personal and institutional) have started to trickle in, but it is still too early to report any figures. As of August 31, the end of fiscal year 2011, we had 213 personal members and 92 institutional members, including 17 sponsoring members, for a total of 305 members. These figures are significantly down from 2009-2010 when we closed with 347 members (241 personal; 106 institutional, including 17 sponsoring). This year, for the first time, we are handling online payments through Paypal, along with check and credit card payments. It’s now much easier and quicker to renew, so don’t delay your renewal!
Twitter! Oh, that’s disappointing. That’s the place where you tell people about your lunch, right? Isn’t it a bit 2007? Well yes, Twitter has been around since 2007. And yes, there are a lot of lunch tweets. But Twitter just keeps getting better and better- and the uses of Twitter for research, outreach, analytics and more keeps growing. So this column will provide a quick recap of Twitter before exploring how Twitter is a major tool for librarians.
In a nutshell, Twitter is a program that allows you to send, read and receive short messages of 140 characters. Using Twitter, you can stay updated on new information from a variety of sources, as well as tracking opinions, trends and moods. And, with more and more people ditching blogs and RSS feeds in favour of Twitter, you can even just use Twitter to receive information without having to actually tweet messages yourself. Since being the biggest RSS evangelist in SALALM, I’m now almost 100% converted to the superior power of Twitter. For me, the benefits of being able to search real time information, as well as easy subscription and deleting of feeds and the sense of community quickly outweighed the occasional lunch posts, making this one of my professional tools of choice.
Outreach is one of the most obvious ways that libraries are using Twitter. Event promotion, resource promotion, service promotion; all great ways to share your message through another channel. Tie in promotion with news- when a book prize winner is announced, let patrons know they can check that work out from your library, for example. Twitter is a two way street though- and it’s an easy way to start engaging more with patrons too. Want feedback on furniture, events or student interest? Try polls.tw to launch a quick poll of your followers. Want to introduce yourself (or new study areas etc) to students? Upload a photo/video and blurb to Twitpic.com and tweet it to your followers. Want to know what people are saying about your library? Set up a search on your library’s name, or use the advanced search to set up a search for the word “library” near your town’s name. Reply to positive and negative comments about your library and start building the online community. It’s another great feedback mechanism too- last year my library gathered all the negative comments and used them to push for more study tables. Not enough time in the day to tweet? Try Twuffer.com to schedule your tweets in advance.
Twitter can be used for collection development too; many publishers are also on Twitter- and messages tend to be less annoying than the ones that clutter up inboxes. Try @DUKEpress, @EBSCOPublishing, @JSTOR and @LNAcademic for a start. Twitter can also be used as a great way to circumvent the big publishers too; use the powerful search to find small or independent publishers in fields you are interested in. A couple of hours research will enable you to embed yourself in the world of key people who are writing on a topic within Twitter- look at who they follow, the links they send out and join in the conversation- it’s amazing what you can find. You can also set up Twitter alerts on keywords that you are interested in using Tweetbeep or grab the RSS feed of a Twitter search to embed in a Libguide box: simply replace the word feminism here with they keyword you want to search on: http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=feminism
Finally, don’t forget uses for research. Twitter is almost synonymous with keeping up with current news, but Hashtags, Icerocket and Monitter will allow you to search the Twitter archive for historical tweets. The Twitter advanced search will allow you to track tweets between people while We follow and Twellow allow you to search for the most influential/popular people on Twitter related to a keyword eg Argentina, Cartonera. Trendsmap will allow you to search by country for news, trends and people. These tools are perfect for following or researching topics related to public health, politics, sports, and sociology among others, as well as for getting to know key tweeters on a topic and then following links that way.
Twitter is awesome! You can still use most of these tools without an account so give it a go, whether it’s lunchtime or not…
I will be posting a new post here soon- guess what the topic is?!