In a church nursery where I used to take my twin sons, there was a banner posted on the wall:

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed1

Yesterday, a rather different quote appeared in my Twitter stream:

“What will kill our profession is not ebooks or amazon or google, but a lack of imagination”2

The victim of this homicide is librarianship.

I, for one, do not believe our profession will die. I do believe it will change. I believe it has been changing since the first day someone was declared a “librarian” and — whether we continue to be called by that title or something else — what we do will always be changing. If a constantly changing world is not for you, then neither maybe a career in librarianship (with thanks to @mstephens7).

But what really bothers me about this statement is the inference that librarians have no imagination. Librarians are some of the most creative people I know — and special props to those who work in library programming for the public; I could not do your jobs.

Here’s what I observe…

Librarians are often first-adopters of new technology, new platforms, new tools. Take Google+ as just one example (among many). Phil Bradley, is a free-lance librarian and Internet consultant who was an early adopter of Google+. Seemingly moments after I joined Google+ I received a request to join Phil’s circle of librarians. By July 7, 2011, there were 750 self-identified librarians on Google+, which launched on June 28, 2011, just 9 days prior and still in invitation-only beta. As of now, Phil tells me,

I’m at 1100 librarians world wide, with 100+ from the UK. The vast majority are American, UK next, and then European, with a brief mention of Australian. Those are the nationalities that come up most often.

According to FindPeopleOnPlus, there are 5581 people on Google+ who identify their occupation as librarian. In eight months.

Why are librarians early adopters?

We are racing to find ways to use technology not only to do our jobs better, faster, and more efficiently, but to more effectively serve and reach our community of users.

And we better! Because to whom is that community going to turn when they need help with these new methods of communicating and accessing information for both survival — and that’s not hyperbole: have you tried to find a paper copy of IRS tax publications or other government forms lately? — and for pleasure/recreation.

Many things we do by rote, we do because they still work. Other things we haven’t changed are things our patrons aren’t quite ready yet for us to change. And sadly, sometimes — too often for my comfort — those who pull the purse strings or sign the approval forms aren’t ready for us to change yet either. Even when it costs nothing but our own time and energy.

If something/one murders librarianship, it won’t be librarians.

It will be those who do not value what we do. Those who believe everything is on the Internet and free. Those who do not understand that the Digital Divide is very real, or that the so-called digital natives aren’t. Those who say, “No!” without ever stopping to imagine what we can accomplish.

Until I can discover the context of the quote2, I can only surmise that is not what the speaker meant. And I can only disagree.

Librarians are not the ones without imagination.

To take a look at what imaginative librarians are jumping into now, pop on over to Pinterest and search the boards and people.

1A quote from the New Testament of the Bible, 1st Corinthians 15:51
2Looking at Twitter feed for 23 March 2012 of both @lindsey_cubs and @mpedson, I believe the quote is from Michael Peter Edson’s “Creating Inspiring Services: Going Boldly Into the Present” keynote address at Computers in Libraries.

Just before Christmas break last year, a student was working in our library and asked if he could read to me a poem he wrote. Of course, I said yes.

Now I’ve never been too good with poetry. I envy the skillful wordsmith, loving verbal imagery almost as much as a fine painting or a breathtaking photograph. I don’t always ‘get’ the poet’s meaning, though.

That one gave me no difficulty. It was sweet and touching, and made me cry. The student printed a copy of the poem (on nice card stock) for me, and signed it.

He graduated in the spring, so I was quite surprised to see him in the library yesterday, as I didn’t think lived in the area. He sought me in our offices and, again, asked if he could read to me some of his poetry.

I spent the next half hour or so listening to this beautiful young man’s carefully crafted words. For one poem, he had to explain the meaning behind the rich imagery the words portrayed. One made me teary; another made me laugh.

He shared Gandhi quotes with me; I introduced him to the Dalai Lama.

We talked a bit about spirituality, and a bit more about truth.

In my mind, this young man represents all that is good about our world, though he won’t likely be one to make the evening news. I want to believe — I refuse not to believe — that he is not the exception but the rule. Although I can take little to no credit for his successes, that half hour with this gentle soul refreshed and uplifted my attitude as we anticipate our students’ return in 14 days.

They each have something to share us.

It’s my second day back to work after the summer break and I’ve spent a large part of both days reporting to colleagues on, completing reimbursement paperwork and submitting registration paperwork for past and future conferences and meetings.

So far in 2011, I’ve attended four conferences: Creating Futures Through Technology in March, Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival in April, American Libraries Association Annual Conference in June, and the Northeast Mississippi Community College Mobile Learning conference in July.*

I did finally get the CFTTC blog posts written and published — in late April — and two brief presentations given on campus, but the rest of my experiences are still whirling dervish in my poor little brain. I have multiple draft posts sitting over in the Admin side of this blog, and at least four more presentations in various stages of preparation.

Next week will be conference number five: Mississippi State University Libraries’s Summer Conference (MidSouth eResource Symposium and Emerging Technologies Summit). I’ve been hoping to get to this event for about three years! Then, in October, I simply must get to the Mississippi Library Association annual conference since I’m on the State Author Award Committee, to say nothing of missing the last two board meetings of the Society of Mississippi Archivists (as well as that conference) — wow! How’s a girl supposed to have time to go to the beach? <snap>@eeboyd

See any pattern? Okay, beyond the books.

I’m *happily* drowning in educational technology and mobile learning, especially as applied to libraries.  While Erin wonders how to be cutting-edge, I’m just trying to keep up — an impossible task!  There is so much available to instructors, to students, and there are fabulous, creative, and effective innovations for learning being made by both. Unfortunately, decreasing budgets and increased workloads sometimes makes implementing innovative ideas difficult, yet at each of these conferences, I’ve seen examples of how much can done with very little.

Not every school can equip incoming freshmen, or all upperclassmen with iPads. And we all know the “digital divide” is real and often most affects those who also most need equipment, instruction, and access.

One wants to rush in headlong, but the reality is that kind of approach can create an environment of rejection when good ideas don’t quite work out as planned and those up and down the chain question are less than impressed with our efforts. Many of us know that trying and failing, or trying and not quite achieving our goals, is to be expected, and should not be a reason to shut down future attempts.

Fear at all levels — self, supervisors, students — can cripple innovative ideas. I’m hoping small efforts will lead to bigger things. Our students deserve nothing less.

*In the midst of it all, too, this long-time Microsoft Windows platforms user (ALL the way back to PC- & MS-DOS and the PC jr.), switched to Apple products: Macbook Pro, iPad 2, and an iPhone 5 as soon as I can get my hot little hands on one.

The Name of the Star / Maureen Johnson
New York : G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. 394 p. Shades of London ; bk. 1. ISBN 9780399256608

 I had the pleasure of being Maureen Johnson‘s escort when she attended the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 2010. I was completely unfamiliar with her writing at the time. Even now, embarrassingly, I have only read Let It Snow, though I have Devilish and 13 Little Blue Envelopes in  Mount To-Be-Read (Mt. TBR).

Maureen is outrageously witty, and deeply committed to, I think, not only entertaining young people through her books, but helping them to think positively about themselves and their futures, and to lead pro-active lives. She interacts with her readers through Twitter (@maureenjohnson) and her website (http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/), spearheading outreach activities that involve hundreds, if not thousands of people, and thousands, if not tens of thousands, dollars in philanthropic efforts.

So, last weekend I attended the American Libraries Association’s annual conference in New Orleans, and discovered not only did Maureen have a new book coming out, but she would be there signing the ARCs. Of course, I had to see her/have one!

My habit is, for better or worse, to consume a good book: reading it every spare minute until it is finished. With a few, however, I like to take it slowly, savoring the story. I did this with The Name of the Star , reading a few chapters for several nights just before sleeping. Once I got about half-way through, though, I reverted to my all-consuming approach. I finished this afternoon.

Maureen calls this book paranormal. (She was actually heading to London to do research immediately following the book festival last year.) There’s a mystery. There’s a murder. There are ghosts. There are young people, teens to twenty-somethings. There’s young love and ‘coming of age.’

An especially touching part of the book is a conversation between Jo and Aurora (Rory) — remember I’m quoting an ARC:

… “And there are really good people who can catch this Ripper.”
“I know,” I said, ” but … they’re all … really young. Like me.”
“Who do you think goes into the army? Young people. This entire nation was defended by young people. Young people on the battlefield. Young people in airplanes. Young people in the headquarters, breaking codes”…

 I wasn’t sure how the story would end, as it is the first of a trilogy. It was quite a surprise, and really made me smile with pleasure at how Maureen did it.

I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the 2nd book — will Alistair (please) return in book 2?? — but, then, this one isn’t out until September this year!

There are times we can be thankful for our Mt. TBR, right?

The following data refer to college seniors and are taken from a New York Times Op-Ed posted May 14, 2011, Your So-Called Education by Richard Arum, a professor of sociology and education at New York University, and Josipa Roksa, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, authors of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. (Also a version of this op-ed appeared in print on May 15, 2011, on page WK10 of the New York edition with the headline: Your So-Called Education.)

  • 32 percent of the students did not take a single course with more than 40 pages of reading per week
  • 50 percent did not take any course requiring more than 20 pages of writing over the semester
  • average student spent only about 12 to 13 hours per week studying — about half the time a full-time college student in 1960 spent studying (Babcock & Marks)
  • students showed no significant progress on tests of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing
    • 45 percent of the students would not have demonstrated gains of even one point over the first two years of college
    • 36 percent would not have shown such gains over four years of college
  • 36 percent of students in our study who reported spending 5 or fewer hours/week studying alone still had an average G.P.A. of 3.16

Why? Arum and Roksa point to “cultural changes in the relationship between student and colleges.”

When my sons began college, I passed along the advice I’d received years before: spend three hours studying for every one hour in class (e.g., 15-hour load=45/week — or about half one’s waking hours, given 8 hrs sleep/night). No, I never managed that much either way back when, but they were rather aghast … it’s a far, far cry from 12-15 hrs per week (one hour or less for every hour in class) which Arum and Roksa report!

[It's not just college students, however.  Haven't we all heard parents complain that their kids have little to no homework? "I did it in class," they say. ...Stopping now before I get on a rant...]

The op-ed suggestions for addressing the problem are rather large-scale. I’m left wondering what I/we as librarian/s can do…

So…about one of those ‘twelve’ things I learned this last weekend…

Erin has recently posted QR codes in the library where she works. We’ve been sharing online information about QR codes for a few weeks, but actually hearing her describe what she’d done, and seeing how she’d done it — as well as suggestion that we include QR codes on our poster — motivated me to take the technology into my own library. You can see the result in the following photos:

It’s not much, but it’s a start. How do you (or your library) use QR codes?

One of the wonderful things about conferences and retreats is the inspiration one often receives from the other attendees. If this kind of inspiration and rejuvenation comes from good friends, so much the better. For that is another benefit of getting out of your own environment, exchanging gripes and ideas, hearing about the successful and not-so-successful: meeting up with friends, new and old.

We can’t all travel to national meetings. Sometimes we can’t even travel to state meetings. But, I would encourage anyone to take a weekend and get together with one or more fellow librarians. Plan for some good food, some good conversation, and maybe plan to brainstorm a project or problem together. I will almost guarantee you will head home with a lighter heart, no matter the problems at work, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll have learned a thing or twelve, too.

This past weekend, I traveled about 280 miles to visit a young woman who is a former co-worker — and now colleague (we also attended library school together) — Erin Boyd. The primary reason for the trip was our collaboration on a poster for the upcoming American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans (June 2011). Yes, we are collaborating via the Internet and email, but we wanted some face-to-face time during the process, too.

We have both been so busy with regular work tasks and other special projects and presentations, that this poster project has just now become the top priority. Personally, I didn’t think I was prepared to begin work on the actual poster. I felt I needed to study the topics further. It took a little while, but we were soon moving forward, and though there is more work to do, we made a good start. Plus, we discovered we really were of the same mind about a lot of the content and format!

Through out the weekend though, there were these wonderful little “Ah-hah!” moments. Some were the result of simply discussing a current situation at work, others it was sharing a solution in one place that will work in another. We shared technology tools we’ve tried or heard about, discovered features in software, and just generally had fun.

I’ll say right now, I wish we still worked at the same library. For now, we’ll collaborate as often as possible, and visit whenever we can.

Nearly two months have passed since the conference, and though what I learned has not yet had much impact on-the-job, I have used a great many of the tools and a great deal of the information obtained during those two-and-one-half days in Biloxi, MS.

Not only what I learned during the conference, however, is having an impact on my informational and educational technology behavior. The websites to which I’ve been led and the people whom I’ve met are teaching me new ways of working (yes, and playing), and showing me new avenues of connecting with information and people inside and outside my profession.  I’m sampling the various applications to see which are the best fit for my activities and my needs.

One of my primary sources for connecting with knowledgeable people in and around the information profession is now Twitter.  If you say you don’t want to bother with Twitter because you don’t want to know that Bubba is going out for beer, or Susie’s baby just spit up — well, you are following the *wrong* people!  Twitter, rather than blogs, have quickly become my go-to source for pertinent and current information about topics which are important to me. A lot of these folks are separating the chaff from the wheat, passing along the best to their followers.

More of my thoughts on Twitter another time; back to the conference.

Immediately after — and probably influenced by being ill during — the conference, I was convinced I shouldn’t have gone. I’m still looking for opportunities to ‘create futures through technology’ at work.  For one, I’d like to do more to show the students alternatives to their flash drives (which so many of them leave behind at the library computers) and really convince them they can do good research. I’d like to encourage the faculty to embrace mobile learning and cloud-based computing — because many of their students are already “there.”

Just today, when our campus network was down and we had no access to our OPAC, a student used his phone to connect to the Internet, search our OPAC and find the call number for the item he wanted. *I* could not do that for him! Something’s wrong there … but how wonderful that *he* was able to find the information! (And he thought of it all on his own without my prompting.) Earlier, another student was, unfortunately, not so lucky. Without our OPAC, we couldn’t find our books about Dostoyevsky (browsing an LC fiction section is no easy task when you can’t recall the correct call letter).

No, we can’t do everything; we can’t employ every bell or whistle. Not everyone will see the benefits, nor will some even be willing to try. And that’s okay.

But, I can try. And I will try. Not only to teach what I have learned, but to discover which ways best suit me, my tasks, and the community of learners around me.

I’m glad I was able to attend the 2011 CFTT Conference. Seeds were planted and they are growing bit by bit.

Unfortunately, I spent most of Thursday night very ill, so I was glad Friday was a short day. Even so, all three presentations were worthwhile.

CFTT Conference – Day 2

Southern Miss Offers Online Students Flexibility with Access to MSVCC presented by Sherry Rawls, University of Southern Mississippi (co-presenters Amy Thornton & Chad Seals)

Following a one-year pilot (partnership with Mississippi Virtual Community College, MSVCC, established May 2010), USM offers as host (CJC as provider) non-duplicate courses online. Seats available only to USM students in fully online programs.

Are CJC’s seats protected? Only a limited number of seats for USM; also, registration lag benefits the CJC students.

Jackson State will begin similar partnership summer 2011.


Creating a Technology-Enriched Online Learning Environment presented by Shuyan Wang, University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Wang presented results of a study of technology enhanced learning in an online graduate course. Course activities included collaboration through blogging, discussion boards, e-mail; content included e-book, video clips, podcasts, and tutorials. Students gained “equitable technology skills required to function in educational settings.”

It always seems odd to me when a professional person who seems involved and knowledgeable about online technology can hardly be found online beyond a faculty email address (however, Wang wasn’t the only one of the presenters with seeming little online — professional — presence).


Closing Luncheon (Friday) Michael M. Flood, AT&T

Interesting to listen to at the time, lots of information and very IT oriented and just didn’t stick with me.

As I mentioned at the end of the previous post, I attended one additional session the first day, Using Social Media & Multimedia in Education presented by Craig Jackson, RCU-Mississippi State University http://www.msworkforceuniversity.com/plc/

Mr. Jackson presented a collection of free online tools to create, enhance & promote content for delivery in the classroom, as well as school events.

paper.li    Create a daily ‘newspaper’ of feeds. (Sign in with either Twitter or Facebook login.) http://paper.li/faq.html

Issuu     digital publishing platform, i.e., a digital newsstand. The Issuu Reader can be embedded on website/blog, or as a standalone reader: http://issuu.zendesk.com/entries/240327-how-to-embed-issuu-on-my-website

Slideshare pretty much what is says: storage for presentations

Zipcast    as part of Slideshare, allows for live, one-way video alongside slide set under discussion:

“integrating meeting environments with social networks” (Daniel Ruscigno’s comment on ReadWriteWeb, 2/16/2011)

authorSTREAM Like Slideshare, a platform for sharing presentations: unique URL & embed code (plays as Flash, don’t need PPT software); share via YouTube, iTunes. Unlike Slideshare, presentations may be kept private without additional cost. (authorSTREAM’s PresentLive is via chat or VoIP; no streaming live video as with Slideshare’s Zipcast.)

iSpring Free  A PowerPoint to Flash converter (not compatible with Macs except for viewing) Remember: In order to use iSpring Free for commercial, educational or non-profit purposes you must register your iSpring Free copy.”

Slideboom is another platform for sharing presentations: iSpring-created flash files can be published there.

Vimeo non-commercial video community

Picasa & Picasa Web Albums Google’s photo editing & sharing platform (1Gb free storage)

Blip.tv  “a next-generation television network” for “independently produced Web shows” If you want to produce “somewhat regular” episodic video content, here’s where you can upload it.

livestream will, um, live stream video. 10Gb limit on free plan.

TalkShoe live discussions, talk shows, podcasts; create, participate or lurk; talk, text-chat or just listen.

Quizlet Flash cards, vocabulary memorization, study games; web-based or mobile (apps for iPhone or iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, HP webOS) (for public sets only). Create a group specifically for your class.

ProProfs Quiz Maker, flashcards, brain games, polls, free SAT and IT certification prep. Free services are limited, but not overly so (e.g., no tracking of quiztakers, ads).

Whew! You can see why I needed to devote a single post to his presentation. I can’t believe he covered so much in the time allowed, but he did it thoroughly, and well, and twittered a bit while he did it!  Follow him @CraigJackson and be sure to read his What’s New in Technology Daily.

scriggle tweets

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