A Plethora of Notes

I have this silly habit, perhaps many of you share it. I compulsively take notes–during meetings, workshops, conferences, lectures, heck even the odd tour or so. Primarily I do this because writing it down even once helps my poor abused memory retain the content, and secondarily because if I ever remember that I took notes and need more specifics, I could perhaps track down the info on my phone/iPad/laptop/various and sundry pieces of paper shoved into boxes in my closet. (Ahem.)

Mostly this means that notes take up much of my hard drive space on any given device, although the only notes I consult regularly are my to-do lists. But I’ve been to a lot of cool things since we moved to NYC, and they’ve all been swimming around in my brain, so I thought I’d present a highlights blurb here. (I’m sorry or you’re welcome, take your pick!)

Library Mosaic

NYC Library Club Meeting, 06.18.2013

Dr. Vee Herrington spoke about designing the Information Commons at CUNY’s Guttman Community College. It’s an experimental school where students live together in cohorts for the first year before declaring majors, and they’re taught by Instructional Teams that include librarians–how cool is that? Students constantly use the “un-library,” as Dr. Herrington calls it, from 6:30am to 10pm. It’s a space for class, eating, research, tutoring, studying, and creating–very few print books, but lots of electronic resources. I love this model of librarians as an active part of an instruction team!

CLIR Advanced Workshop on Participatory Design in Academic Libraries, 06.05.2013 – 06.07.2013

Train student workers to perform observation studies (less intimidating/obtrusive than librarians doing these activities). Participatory design studies can be done in a matter of days, with few resources. To find out other ways to design library spaces, ask students/patrons, “If you had to leave the library now, where would you go?” Nearly every study reported the need for more power outlets–probably will only increase over time, with decreased cost of computing devices. Rotate librarian/staff involvement in these projects, so that it’s not the same people involved in every study or redesign project (increased buy-in). When performing observation studies, include observations at different hours/minutes, days to get feel for different uses, traffic flow. Evernote is a great tool for qualitative research, lots of plug-ins to help work with your content.

METRO Library Council: Spring Forum, 06.04.2013

Hilary Mason, chief data scientist at Bitly, spoke about how we use data. I love her assessment of Reddit: “very young, very male, and very bored.” Data scientists combine engineering, math, communication, and social science (which is understanding the context of data). How to get someone to see value of data for decision-making? Make data available to make others’ jobs better, make your data useful.

NYU Digital Humanities Lecture: Ira Berlin on Shelter Island and the Atlantic World, 05.15.2013

Shelter Island, a tiny island off of Long Island, as an example of the differences between communities of colonial slavery. “Societies with slaves” (Shelter Island) versus “slave societies” (Barbados, other Caribbean islands). Distinct cultures in close proximity formed new kinds of societies. Shelter Island was home to myriad ethnicities, including Native Americans (though many died after arrival of Europeans)–included freemen, paid servants, indentured servants, and slaves. Berlin’s work on the topic include: Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (1998) and The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations (2010).

Random and Sundry Thoughts

Who is teaching MLS students how to provide library instruction? Most public services jobs I see require instruction, and I’d say easily half have “instruction” in the job title. This wasn’t even an elective class when I was in library school–how many places provide this now? How can we teach students to teach effectively?

How can we train MLS students, especially those on an academic librarian track, to be more rigorous researchers? Perhaps we should consider cooperative programs with Colleges of Education, collaborating on social science research courses and “how higher education works” courses in organization and administration. For special/corporate librarian tracks, perhaps collaboration with MBA programs?

This has been the Wednesday edition of “Welcome to Starr’s Brain.” 

2 thoughts on “A Plethora of Notes

  1. dalecooper57 says:

    I like the fact that there are actually “data scientists”. We generate so much data at work which is never looked at by anyone, just stored away in files somewhere.
    We collect data on all sorts of technical specs and physical properties of various materials, the idea being that it’s used to improve production techniques, but nobody ever gets round to looking at it, least of all the engineering types that request it’s collection in the first place.
    Frustrating doesn’t cover it. Send me a data scientist!

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