Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Library Infrastructure

[Once again, circumstances created a delay in my posting here. Hurricane Sandy provides a pretty good excuse, however: We're waiting for electricity (and thus water) to return at home, and PSE&G promises that will be by Monday, November 5. Thankfully, the college is fully functional and re-opened after two days.]

Libraries as places, as most people know them, came to exist as a consequence of physical media. Now that media is turning digital, what should happen to this physical infrastructure we have built? We are not yet completely free of the need for places to put materials and supplies, but no longer in the quantities previously required. We also still need areas for librarians and library staff involved in assisting patrons and supporting our online collections, but offices take up far less space than shelving.

During this past semester, I've seen our library used as:
-Exhibition space
-Special event/discussion space
-Student work space
-Reception/celebration space

Apart from student work space, all of these uses are new. Yet each seems appropriate, and I hope they call attention to the potential for the library building to be used in novel ways. If librarians and patrons want to maintain symbolic ownership of their library spaces, these are the types of applications we need to celebrate.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Impact of EDS on LibGuides

As I mentioned earlier this week, I've been doing a lot of library instruction sessions recently. Over the past few years I've relied heavily on LibGuides for these one-shot sessions. The habit was to make a guide ahead of time, show students how to get to it during the class, and demonstrate library services and collections through the guide.
Then this past summer we adopted EBSCO's single discovery tool, EDS. I don't know if this is happening in other instruction sessions besides mine, but EDS is having an unintended consequence: Instead of immediately directing students to the LibGuide, I show them how to get to their LibGuide, tell them it's there for their subsequent reference, but then I go back to the main library web site and work from there. That big search box is too compelling to pass by, and it's too simple to ignore in favor of a LibGuide. Actually the entire library web page makes more sense when I can start with EDS, demonstrate how it works and what's there, and then segue into more specialized search tools and resources. We've been adding an EDS widget to the LibGuides, but somehow it seems a little silly.

Admittedly, this unintended consequence might be due to the nature of the classes I've been teaching. On Monday and Tuesday of the upcoming week, I'll be working with several Business classes that in the past have relied heavily on the LibGuides, and we'll see how they go. But one of the strengths of EDS is that you can throw almost any topic at it and guarantee results. Subsequently it's a great conversation starter and tool for demonstration.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Still Here

It's been a little quieter than usual here, due to a busy library instruction season combined with one cold virus after another for the whole family. But I'll be posting again soon in the weeks to come!