Open Source vs. Open Access (vs. Free)

The near-simultaneous rise of interest in open source and open access in the context of academic libraries has made these concepts ripe for confusion. Adding to the confusion is the presence of projects that are both open source and open access. Rather than cringing in silence when these terms are used interchangeably, I’m hoping to clarify the conversation. Note: I’m not an expert in either concept, so please feel free to research more and/or to add your comments. Continue reading

CLIR Workshop, Photos

It’s been a busy few weeks, what with painting and then moving into a new apartment. I’m looking forward to getting back into my regular schedule!

However, one great part of my non-usual-schedule last week was attending CLIR‘s workshop/seminar on Participatory Design in Academic Libraries at the University of Rochester, NY. I attended with my former UNT colleague and research partner, Annie Downey, who is now at Reed College in Portland. We saw some amazing research, but for now I’m just going to share some photos from the weekend. My favorite photos are of these amazing “League of Librarians” trading card-style business cards for the U of Rochester reference and liaison librarians! Now I’m pondering what design to use for my own similar card.



In the large photo, library ethnographic research expert Nancy Fried Foster (formerly of U Rochester, soon to be at Ithaka S+R) is on the left, and workshop convener Alice Bishop (of CLIR) is in the center. (The photo at bottom left is of my “magic wand”–everyone created one as a right-brain activity to help us brainstorm what we’d do in our libraries/research if we had no barriers.)
The Rush Rhees Library at Rochester is an intriguing mix of traditional and modern library spaces.

And this is a friendly owl, just one of the amazing architectural details of the Rush Rhees Library.

Pondering Professional Online Presence

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about professional online presence. Last week, I attended an ACRL-NY discussion group on Demystifying the Hiring Process.” Amidst the discussion of the differences in search committee practices across institutional types (fascinating!), we ended up discussing how online presence can play a big role in how organizations view you professionally. (Also see: Susanne Markgren‘s great article about online presence for academic librarians.) In particular, we discussed how this has changed in recent years. Five years ago, your online presence was primarily thought of as a potential liability (delete those old frat party photos from Facebook!), whereas now it’s seen as a way to promote yourself as well as show potential employers your social media and PR savvy.

Juggling Social Media

In addition to my usual tending to my online presence and in particular my e-portfolio on this website, lately I’ve branched out to create electronic portfolios for clients. (Email me if you’re interested in my services!) It’s a way to keep my “geek skillz” up-to-date, and I enjoy the challenge of taking a bunch of content and ideas from someone, and creating a web presence out of that. It’s also reminded me that no online presence solution is universal. For instance, I’m highly active on this website, Twitter, Instagram, and to a lesser extent Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. I use Flickr primarily as a storage space for my Instagram photos and blog graphics (although that ebbs and flows, depending on my Nikon D7000’s use in a given month). I’ve ignored Pinterest completely, and I’ve nearly given up on my own Tumblr (although it’s a great space for, say, Ryan Gosling’s feminism and Chandler Dancing On Things).

And that’s okay. We should use social media in a way that’s natural for us, in a way that leaves us excited, rather than overwhelmed. Everyone doesn’t need a Twitter account–regardless of the fact that I regularly gasp when someone says they don’t use it. If it doesn’t meet your needs, then choose to be active somewhere else. Find the tool that works for you, feeds into your interests and strengths and helps you grow.

Here’s why I use what I do. Take it or leave it. 🙂


TwitterAcademiaIt’s tempting to just shoot off whatever’s on my mind, and I do think it’s fun to use it as a public text-message at times. However, it’s most useful for me as a place to see news headlines, what my colleagues and friends are reading and discussing, and to get quick feedback on ideas, questions, website templates. In fact, I use this more for blog reading now than I do my actual RSS feed readers. It’s excellent for knowledge-sharing: I live-tweet at conferences, and I watch live-tweets from conferences I can’t attend (long live hashtags!). I love that I can connect not only to colleagues and friends, but also organizations, professional associations, research groups–you name it. When we lived in Ukraine, it was the most “at home” I felt online because I could see people talking online, regardless of time zone–even if most of my friends were asleep in the US (leaving Facebook a ghost town until 4pm Ukraine time).

And the best part of Twitter? It’s SHORT. The length of this blog post (yikes) is a case in point of why Twitter is important to me: 1) it’s brief enough to be digestible, and 2) it makes me think, consider, and edit my content.


InstagramMosaicI don’t tend to use Instragram in a specifically “professional” manner, but I do link it on my professional online accounts like LinkedIn and Why? Because personality is important. I don’t want to work at an institution where I clock in and do my job and clock out. I want to work at a place that’s full of vibrant, interesting, exciting people who are passionate about what they do. Thus, shouldn’t I advertise to the world that I’m also that kind of person? That, yes, I’m a great researcher and an awesome librarian, but I also love urban architecture and great cups of coffee and travel–and that’s what my Instagram feed shows. It shows beauty and humor in everyday moments, and that’s important to me.


 I use this website for two purposes. First, it houses my electronic portfolio, so I have a single URL to give potential employers, new colleagues, etc. It shows the information from my CV (that’s fancy academic talk for “resume,” for all the non-nerds in the hizzy) in more rational, digestible chunks, plus it allows me to show far more than I can on my CV. For instance, I instead of merely listing my presentations, I can embed or link to the actual slideshows with Prezi and Slideshare. I can include photos of myself engaged in these activities, which puts a more human face on my credentials. I can link to the full text of my master’s thesis and my dissertation (coming soon!). If I could, I’d send that URL to every potential employer and nix the boring, rambling CV format altogether. THIS is a far more interesting and holistic picture of who I am and what I do.

The second way I use this WordPress website is what I’m doing now: blogging. I’ve been blogging since 2005 in various incarnations, and for a long time I had a personal blog and a professional one–and it was too much. So now I only blog here, about what I’m cooking or researching or seeing or thinking about. A neat upside is that my family and friends get to see a bit of what goes on in my Nerdy Academic Side, and my colleagues get to see that, wow, I am a HUGE scifi-geektastic-fangirl (see evidence below) who likes scuba diving and lifting weights and has surprisingly good chops in the kitchen. That doesn’t mean I’m any less qualified as an academic, and it may help me connect with people that I never anticipated. I strongly believe that networking is a Big Deal in all aspects of life–but that’s another post. 🙂


L to R: me as Harry Potter for Halloween; Wonder Women underoos at 5 years old; with Gene Luen Yang; as Pink Five (obscure Star Wars fanfilm reference); as Mara Jade Skywalker (semi-obscure Star Wars novel/comics reference); in one of my several Batgirl shirts

Your online presence is super-important, and now is the time to think about it. You’re already employed? Great, then you can create a presence now that has real weight and substance behind it before you ever go looking for your next job. Unemployed? Great–you have all the time in the world to work on this, so that when you’re employed again, all you have to do to keep it updated is tweak. Looking for more tips, hands-on help, or someone to create a turnkey site? Then shoot me an email (or tweet!), and let’s talk.

2012 NaNoWriMo and AcWriMo Goals

While I wait on copy edits for my dissertation, I’m going to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time! I’ve always wanted to–we had support groups and coffee for participants at the UNT Libraries each year–but work plus school never left me with the will to add a novel to the mix. This year, I’m planning to split my writing goals between NaNo (typical goal is 50,000 words by the end of the month) and AcWriMo–Academic Writing Month. Here’s how I’m splitting it up:

  • NaNoWriMo: 40,000 words
  • AcWriMo: 10,000 words (1 book chapter, 1 article)
  • dissertation copy-edits (when I get the draft back): no word count, just counting it as productive related-to-writing time!

Since I was traveling, I didn’t actually start until yesterday, and I’m going to play by my own rules (a NaNo rebel! I’m in good company…) and give myself until December 12th to meet these goals. That gives me until two days before my commencement to get it all done, which seems like a decent amount of time.

The chapter is for an upcoming book on leadership in academic libraries–my chapter is on recommendations for education and mentoring of future library leaders. It will draw on my dissertation research, specifically my last chapter that discusses results and implications. I’ve got several articles percolating in my brain that are based on my dissertation research… I’m narrowing it down to either focusing on my results related to education of library deans, or an article that reports an overview of all my results. I’d like to publish the educational one first, but that one will require some additional stats crunching beyond what I already calculated for my dissertation. So we’ll see how that goes, crammed in with all the other writing.

I’ve got a teeny tiny plush Chewie (as in, the Wookie) who’s going to be my writing mascot. He’s tiny enough to take along in my purse, and hopefully he’ll keep me amused and encouraged about the process. I’m going to meet awesome-framily-and-author Claire tonight for a writing date, so Chewie may meet some sparkly unicorn pals to keep him company… Nothing like some unicorns and a large furry alien to get you excited about writing a book chapter on academic library leadership! 

Lieutenant Commander Data Analysis

The word “data” is pretty meaningless to me right now. I’m in the data analysis phase of my dissertation, plus Alex and I are re-watching Star Trek: TNG Season 5 (Worf’s family name has honor again! Tasha Yar’s half-Romulan daughter is nefarious! Huzzah!), so I hear/say/breathe “data” a lot. Data-data-data. Was it ever a real word?

Would you say we have a plethora of Datas?

Among the many, many “Things I’ve Learned That It Would Have Been Useful To Know Before Starting My Dissertation” is that Likert-scaled data (questions coded with ranged response options, for instance: very unsatisfied, unsatisfied, satisfied, very satisfied) can/should be analyzed by nonparametric methods. Erm. So let me just say that the basic statistical analyses the courses I took tended to focus on (particularly t-tests, ANOVAs, and ANCOVAs) are parametric. Nonparametric stats were mentioned, most particularly Chi-square, but not in nearly as much detail. It was usually a long step-by-step analysis of how to perform an ANOVA, then, “you can also do this by nonparametric stats, but most of the time you won’t need to, so moving along to Chapter 13…” Egads. So I’m flipping through books, skimming articles, haunting “step-by-step statistical nonparametric SPSS analysis” web search results, and I’ve made an appointment with the UNT Stats help department to see if they can help walk me through this Land of Nonparametric Crazy. (PhD Comics doesn’t give the real explanation for an ANOVA, but it’s pretty revealing nonetheless…)

When it comes to statistical analyses, I think Data laughs at *all* of us.

So whyfore this Land of Nonparametric Crazy? Let me explain. Basically, Likert-scaled data is coded into sequential numbers (in the example above, very unsatisfied = 1, unsatisfied = 2, satisfied = 3, very satisfied = 4). Since the responses are recorded numerically, you can do all sorts of statistical numeric math-y mumbo-jumbo on them. BUT: essentially the numbers are just CODES for certain attitudes/feelings/etc. Sure, they look sequential (or “continuous” if you want to be all math-y about it), and in most cases they are ranked. For instance, the example above has a ranked order from negative attitude to positive attitude, that corresponds to the numbers. But it isn’t a scale with an absolute equal distance between the intervals (between each response). Now, if you’re recording temperatures, or people’s heights in inches, that’s truly continuous interval data. Those are scales with defined, unchanging points. But who can say where the cutoff is between “satisfied” and “very satisfied?”

Because of that strange property of Likert-scaled data, we refer to it as either “ordinal” (meaning it’s ranked, but there aren’t equal measurable distances between the response options) or as “nominal” (meaning that the number is really just a code, indicating a category of response rather than a numeric value). That’s a super-non-technical explanation, but I’m trying to make this as non-jargon-y as possible.

Aaaand voila, you can’t (well, you theoretically shouldn’t) analyze ordinal/nominal data by parametric methods. Parametric stats are really powerful, but the catch is that they rely on a bunch of assumptions, things like your data being regularly distributed (a whole other ball of wax), and that your data is interval/continuous. When you violate those assumptions, you turn to nonparametric statistical methods.

Data, Geordi, and Riker read my Chapter 4: Results with great dubiousness.

Lt. Cmdr. Data himself would be able to explain this much more quickly and correctly, but it would go waaay over my head. Then again, if he was sitting in my living room, I’d just plug my USB drive of data into his ear and ask him to crunch all the numbers for me. He’d ask me why I persist in using odd English slang like “dude” and “y’all” and I’d explain it’s a social convention that connotes my playful, laid-back demeanor. He’d nod knowingly and try to incorporate “dude” into his speech during the next meeting of the senior staff, Picard would get huffy, and by the end of the episode we’d all have a good laugh at poor Data’s expense.

Poor Spot.

Wait… wasn’t I talking about statistics?