Creepy overseerers anyone?

This is not a post about our readings, of which I will admit to being embarrassingly behind already.  Instead I want to add to the discussion of the ramifications, now and in the future, of giving the “computer” so much information about ourselves.  I am a fairly active FB user, posting pictures of the kids, the snow(!), vacations, and other random things that catch my eye.  I use the “Like” button liberally, telling FB that I enjoy various types of music, books, news sources, and recreational activity.  So FB and Google tailor their adds and suggestions to my likes.  This doesn’t really bother me because I mostly choose to ignore all of that.

But what happens when (if) it becomes too much to ignore?  OR if the algorithms become good enough that it no longer needs me to “tell” it things, but rather guesses the natural progression of my interests?  I have no idea really where this would lead or how to complete this series of questions, but I suspect one of you seriously smart and thoughtful people might have more to add to this.

In the meantime, let me suggest that you take 7 minutes and watch this interesting video about the gamification of everyday experiences and how that could affect human relationships.



introduce you to a short video that I found while taking a MOOC last fall. 

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Roving – Is it just wandering?

With a small team of undergraduates, I started an in-house project in October that we call  Peer Roving Assistants, or PRA.  This team essentially wonders around the library looking for people to help.  They help with printing issues, way-finding, locating books on the shelves and a variety of other things.

The second piece of their role in the library is to observe.  We observe the a different location in the library each week, spending the first 15 minutes of each hour of their shift in the designated location.  The amount of data we are collecting is enormous.  The team Roves for 46 hours each week, collecting data at each hour.  We look at how many students are in the area, what they are doing, size of the groups; all kinds of things.  Our observations are based on the Learning Space Toolkit’s Observation Template

The unexpected bonus to this project has been the photos that the Rovers are taking.  In the month since we started this project they’ve taken approximately 300 photos.  Everything from damaged signage and furniture, to interesting whiteboards and groups.  We even have a collection of eye-catching book spines, which we are hoping will turn into a tumblr site!  Such an amazing wealth of information!!  We still have some kinks to work out but so far we are very happy with the results!

So the question becomes, are you doing anything cool to get a feel for how your space is being used?


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Crowd Sourcing

Today, a colleague and I sat down made a list in Google docs of all the events we could think of that the library had hosted in this fiscal year, 2012/2013.  We made this list realizing that we probably forgot a few things, but we still felt it was fairly comprehensive.  Then I sent an email to the library’s main listserv asking people to add events we missed and names of folks involved in each event.  I hoped everyone in the library would look at it, but I certainly didn’t expect the immediate and positive response.

Over the next hour, I accomplished absolutely nothing!  I sat at my computer completely entranced as colleague after colleague clicked on the link I sent out, added events and names; both their own and those of their colleagues.  Several times over the next hour there were 10 or more people logged into the document at once.  More often than not, someone would log in, look at the document and close it.  Some folks lurked for a while (like me!).  Other people jumped in and started adding names and events often working on the same line as another person.  One of my colleagues even emailed me and said she had other things to work on but couldn’t look away from the document as it took shape in real-time by multiple-users.

So many of my colleagues jumped in and made this a more robust document, while at the same time giving kudos to other people in the library for their hard work. Now, I will admit that I am blessedly easy to make happy, but I really wanted to jump for joy and run around the library patting people on the back.

Why is this a big deal you may ask?  As of 5 minutes ago, there were 52 individual events (counting event series as one event) and 55 individuals (out of 147) listed on this document.  And I can think of at least 10 more people that were involved in something or another that we did in the last year.  Over a third of the faculty and staff of our library, not to mention the student workers, were directly involved in events for our university community.  Not one of these events were internal focused.  I would call this spectacular!

So to my colleagues that might read this post – you rock!  I am honored to work with you all.



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Musings – my first blog post

I’m new to this blogging thing, but I keep hearing how much the platform helps people work through ideas in new and interesting ways and find new and interesting collaborators.  So I have a few ideas to think through in the coming weeks as I explore the idea of blogging as a platform.  Among these are self-service holds in the academic library, data auditing systems, open vs. closed stacks, teaching and learning and how to find more time to knit with everything else I absolutely must do.  I suspect I may not actually get to all of these topics in any cohesive fashion, but I will certainly try.  I also suspect I will not find the answer to the last item in the list for many years.  The main idea at this point is to get in the habit of writing for a public audience about things other than the kids, dogs and minutia that makes up one’s day. 

So, let’s get started!!

I’ve been asked to participate in a project with our electronic resources team.  We are looking at the data the library collects to determine if there’s a better way to collect it all.  Do we want a database?  Do we know why we collect any particular data set?  Who’s responsible and why?  Are there any archiving or preservation policies in place and if not, should there be?  If we put something together, can we get support from administration to make it work? 

In case you couldn’t tell, we are in the very early stages of this project.  One of the documents we are using to develop the framework behind the project came from these folks  Incredibly helpful if you choose to look at your own data collection methods more closely.  I will continue to write about this as the project develops. So stay tuned!





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