A few years ago, maybe I read or heard it somewhere else, a question popped into my head “Do you want to be master of your own technological destiny”. If the answer is yes, then the solution is open source. I was reminded of this when I opened up an email today from D2L, who supplies our course management solution.
Subject: Root Cause Analysis for SaaS event January 29, 2013
To the credit of D2L they have done a really good job of communication and damage control, in my opinion. And since we signed up for a 10 year contract (not my decision) there’s not a lot of point of second guessing the vendor-hosted decision. But the email reminded me that we’re really not in control of our technological destiny. All the joy and creative energy that could be harnessed locally is shipped out of province in the form of an annual maintenance contract. On the other hand they are holding the bag for the problems.
Before my son was diagnosed with celiac disease a few years ago waffles were a staple in our house. You can tell by the page from my Fannie Farmer cookbook. I threw out the “poisoned” waffle iron and didn’t make waffles for a few years. A few months ago I broke down and bought a new waffle iron and have been experimenting since. I make a big batch, freeze with parchment paper between layers, and presto, quick breakfast for The Boy (smothered with Nutella, whatever, I’m happy if he eats before going to school — he’s 16).
Today’s turned out particular well, and here’s what I remember.
4 cups of flour. I used 2 cups of Sorghum flour, and a bit of some left-over bread mix flour and the rest was Bob’s Mill Pizza mix floor, which is my go-to all purpose flour mix. Sorry that’s the way I cook.
7 eggs separated
4 cups of buttermilk
1/2 cup of melted butter
2 TBSP baking power (Magic brand in Canada is Gluten Free)
1 TBSP baking soda
1/4 cup of sugar
Normally I would add a bit of xantham gum, but I’m pretty sure I forgot. The flour mixes I used would have had some.
Followed the instructions from Fannie Farmer. It is worth it to beat the egg whites, which is the way my Mennonite mother made them to. The other thing my mom did, which I don’t, basically because it is one more step, is cut in butter like you would for a pie crust.
I find with Gluten Free baking you need more eggs and liquid, if you’re thinking Wow! that seems like too much liquid.
The other tip, let the batter sit for 30 minutes or so before making.
I just got back from the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) 2012 in Helsinki, Finland. Since I was flying IcelandAir, I decided to tack on some vacation at the beginning of the trip and I spent 2 days in Reykjavik, Iceland. After the conference I made a quick trip (8 hours) to St. Petersburg, Russia.
In addition to attending the main congress, I attended the satellite meeting hosted at the University of Turku, Library’s Efficiency, Impact and Outcomes, photos from the satellite meeting have been posted.
You can see pictures from my trip on Flickr. That’s the link to the “library” pictures, by the way.
Brief Impressions / Ideas
Silent Disco – this was a poster from the main conference, I thought it might be an interesting and fun way to promote quiet in the Library. The idea is you invite people to wear wireless headsets and dance to the music no one can hear (unless you have the headphones).
University of Turku Library – went on a tour of the main library, where you can still see a working card catalog. There are five libraries in Finland that have legal deposit of everything PRINTED in Finland. So they have stacks and stacks of posters, et cetera. I even saw a menu! I did like some of the furniture.
Library Impact Data Project JISC funding project looking to “was to see whether library usage data could be combined with other variables to build a model that might help predict student outcomes.”
Siva Vaidhyanathan – he spoke at a couple of sessions, author of the Googlization of Everything. He’s convinced me that we shouldn’t be so passive about letting companies fulfill the “library” and university missions. Corporations come and go, Universities have a longer track record. He’s a great speaker.
Copyright and Privacy – lots of people thinking carefully about these issues. It is good to have that as an international perspective.
IFLA Code of Ethics – just adopted, can be used by others library organizations.
Knotworking – really like this concept, the idea is kind of like teams / embedded librarians. The “knot” is the idea that these groups should come together, loosely, and be “untied” when finished. Link to academic paper. And the name catches people attention, how can you be against knotworking
Berlin10 conference will be in South Africa this year, http://www.berlin10.org/, at Stellenbosch University.
University of Rochester, once again impressed by their work on anthrolib -
National Library of Scotland – nice example of a strategic plan.
Edgeless University – UK call of action to change HE.
Went to a session that introduced a term to me, Post Occupancy Evaluation, I’ve bookmarked some stuff in Diigo about that.
Libqual – University of Missouri Kansas City, nice libguide on on libqual
DigitalNZ – I was very impressed. All open source.
There was much more! Overall I was very impressed with the IFLA conference this year, the program was the best I have experienced (this was my 4th IFLA). Comments or questions, please let me know!
I recently attended an Apple event in Halifax. So I confess I was disappointed that they didn’t hand out new iPads, but the information was good!
The most important thing I learned was not really what the event was about, but it was a revelation to me (duh!) that an Apple TV connected with a TV or a projector (think projectors in classrooms) can be used as wireless way to project from an iPad using Airplay. Guess who ordered an Apple TV to try out in the Hans W. Klohn Commons?
We’re thinking of Apple TV’s in our BMO Financial Group classroom and group study rooms, and selective smartclassrooms. Good match for our iPads on campus.
But back to the event, the main purpose was to show off iBook Author. I’d taken it for a test spin before I left home, and yes, it is intuitive and easy to create content, likewise to publish and make available. I wonder if the folks at Apple realize that the hardest part about creating content is actually the creating content part. Maybe curriculum developers for school divisions working with subject experts will use these tools? Some authors? I’m not sure.
The app iTunes U was also news to me. iTunes U in the iTunes store has been around for a very long time, but a separate app for iTunes U is new. Install the app and browse the catalog. Part iBooks, part open educational resources (OER), part podcasts, part interesting to see where it all ends up!
The details are fuzzy, but we also were told that teachers can now push out content to all the iPads in a class.
See http://www.apple.com/ca/education/ for all the details.
I’ve invited the Apple crew to University of New Brunswick Saint John for a replay of the event. Stay tuned.
If you’re a Canadian academic librarian right now, you are no doubt trying to figure out how to respond to changes in copyright collective agreements. I’ll leave the issue of what is happening for others more wise and knowledgeable. And I’ll also say the views in this blog are my own and in no way reflect on my institution. Oh yea, I Am Not a Lawyer and This is Not Legal Advice. There, butt covered.
Yikes!!!! What did Canadian academic libraries do before 1989 (the year of the first CanCopy agreement, if I’m not mistaken)? We tried to “Save the time of the user” (Ranganathan’s Fourth Law). We worked with faculty (I should not say “we” since I graduated with my MLIS in 1989) who brought us reading lists and we put heavily used classroom items on limited time loan. We quickly found the books before some keen student borrowed them and we photocopied articles from journals so that students wouldn’t have to individually hunt through the stacks for them and other students weren’t inconvenienced by students who sliced articles out of bound journals. I’m not sure, but I don’t think we ever fussed about whether we or the students or the faculty were breaking the law.
With the AUCC guidelines on Fair Dealing that some are adopting we shall have to review Ranganathan’s Laws and add a Sixth. I’m speaking of the “guideline” to ask students to produce a written acknowledgement that he or she is a student enrolled in the course, that the student requires the copy for research, private study, review or criticism, and that the student will not use the copy for any other purposes. I hope that librarians serious about teaching students about information literacy (including their legal rights) are now including advice in classes about whether they should sign this document. What if a student refuses? Gee I might want to use that article on the enlightenment for some other purpose. What purpose? I don’t know, I just know that as a librarian I am not in the business of ensuring that we make material accessible that will “not be used for other purposes”.
Student at circulation desk: “I would like to borrow this article about spousal abuse”
Library staff: “Yes, but you have to promise to use it for this course”
Student goes home and talks to neighbour about spousal abuse because they suspect their neighbour is being abused
Enter Librarian knocking on door: “Wait . . . you can’t discuss that!”
I know a ridiculous example. Could never happen.
What about the “guideline” that says “the electronic copy is only downloaded by the student once during the course of instruction”?
Student at circulation desk: “I would like to borrow that article again”
Library staff: “You can’t”
Student: “But I have an exam in 2 hours and I lost my copy and I’d really like to read it”
Library staff: “Sorry you can’t”
We are putting ourselves out of the service role and into the policing role. We are putting our front-line staff into a very uncomfortable position.
OK Fine You Win, we will adopt the AUCC Fair Dealing Guidelines. Then let us at least be principled and add a sixth law:
Karen’s Proposed Sixth Law of Library Science: “The Library protects the University from threats of litigation”. That sounds like a lawyer’s job, and my momma didn’t raise me to be no lawyer!
Disclaimer: Mom, I love you, and I have nothing against lawyers!
We’ve been working on getting subject hubs ready for about a year. Many months on the back burner and convincing people it was the right platform for the job. The work to create the environment and the content isn’t that onerous.
I recently got an email from a librarian at another institution asking about our use of Drupal for subject guides (which I will call subject hubs to help differentiate from libguides by Springshare). Here are his questions:
- How difficult was it to install Drupal and set up your guides?
- Did you encounter any bugs along the way ?
- What are the “technical requirements” of using Drupal ?
- Do you know if you can use it to create course guides ?
I won’t answer question 2 and 3 here, they are covered in great detail in many other places (Drupal.org, Drupallib). Suffice it to say that if you have someone that can install and run open source software, Drupal will not be a problem. If you have PHP skills in your shop even better, but not required for using the basics.
The technical parts of Drupal are not nearly so difficult as convincing librarians and library administration administration that using Drupal is a better way to go than libguides. I should say I have nothing against libguides, and when I was University of Winnipeg I recommended that we use libguides. Especially for larger institutions that have technical support, there are some key advantages to Drupal:
- It is flexible, customizable, and open source. You are in control of your technological destiny. For example, if you decide that making your Drupal site mobile friendly, you can install the module that does this. Opposed to waiting for a vendor to do it.
- I think it is easier to integrate with your existing ”database of databases” or however you guide people to databases (for non-librarians, I mean things like JStor, Web of Knowledge, Ebscohost).
- You are not stuck in the design of libguides, which may not comply with your institutional requirements.
- You get to use modules like faceted browsing, calendars, et cetera to add lots of functionality to your site.
Getting a basic Drupal site up and running is pretty easy.
At University of Manitoba Libraires (UML) we are required to use RedDot for our website, or I’d probably be talking about using Drupal for your entire web site. Guides.lib is our working title for the subject hubs and what I call “common content”. UML is made up several “unit” libraries that historically created and maintained their own websites, that included information like “hours”,”location” and “loan periods” (that is, common content). This made it difficult for our students to find this basic information. We’re also using Drupal for common content.
Features of guides.lib (beta version)
See for yourself at guides.lib. All the content in guides.lib is held together with taxonomy glue. What I mean by this, is we’re using taxonomies and the views module to display content. When a librarian creates a “node” (in drupal a block of content, think of a piece of lego), they tag the content with two critical pieces of information:
- subject taxonomy — which subject or subjects do I want the content to be associated with
- tab — which tab in the “guide” do I want the content to appear under
This is a bit of a learning curve for librarians that are used to creating html pages or used to using libguides. But from initial feedback, once they understand this difference they find it very easy to create content.
- Contents (menu on left) faceted browsing of content (using the faceted browse module)
- Course guides – nodes associated with a particular course (which have durable links to make it easy to share in course management systems or other places)
- RSS feeds for new books (see Architecture Library node, new books block on right for an example of this).
- Calendar and signups – a way to create workshops and events that people can sign-up for. When an event is associated with a “subject” it shows up in the Workshops tab.
This is just the start. By using Drupal we can add and create additional functions. And yes, we do plan on testing with students.
guides.lib intro – Jing Video (sorry not of great quality, but I’m in a hurry), that shows you the student view.
guides.lib creating content (librarian view of creating content)
Once again, the challenge of using Drupal for subject hubs and course guides has not been technical, it was convincing librarians and administration that it was the best approach! And remember, if you look at guides.lib at University of Manitoba and think “hmm, I wouldn’t have done it like that”, you don’t have to! By using Drupal there are an infinite number of ways you can develop your site.
Addressing the Gap in Smartphone Use – The Smartphone Pilot Project at the University of Manitoba Libraries
I’ve submitted this to Information Technology division of IFLA’s newsletter, but here’s a preview . . .
In the Winter of 2009 I was asked to do a presentation about smartphones and libraries for a “Mobile Learning” symposium at the University of Manitoba.1 University of Manitoba is Manitoba’s largest, most comprehensive and only research-intensive post-secondary educational institution, with over 25,000 students. We have several professional programs, including medicine, law and business. As a new owner of an iPhone I was very excited about the potential of the smartphone as the primary way people would be accessing and manipulating information in the future. As I prepared for the presentation a few things became clear to me. Canada lagged behind many other countries in terms of mobile phone market penetration and the demographic with the highest use of smartphones was not the demographic of our librarians. In other words, the younger generation of students were leaping ahead of our librarians in terms of using smartphones to access information.
If librarians at the University of Manitoba were going to remain relevant we had to start using smartphones to even start thinking about the potential ways we could be delivering services and information. This situation is very much reminiscent of the early days of personal computers. In the late 1980s managers and technical staff were given personal computers, and only those who had an interest and purchased a home computer were learning about new technologies. Reference and liaison librarians for several years lagged behind what many of our students and patrons took for granted. To break this pattern we decided to use some of a “technology renewal” budget to develop a pilot project. We would purchase smartphones for our frontline librarians. We had enough funding to purchase smartphones for twenty-five librarians (just under half of our librarians), and thirteen technical and electronic resources staff. Since monthly fees didn’t start at the beginning of the year, we also had funding for an additional twenty iPod touches.
For other libraries, sources of funding for a similar project could be grants or diverting funds from desk-phones or computer replacements.
A year later the Reference Community Forum organized M-Ref: Using Handheld Technology For Reference Services. The Reference Community Forum is an event held twice a year for librarians at the University of Manitoba. We had six presentations by our librarians and support staff on smartphones. The enthusiasm and energy at the forum was infectious!
The presentations included:
- An overview of the UMLs Resources for Mobile Devices Task Force;
- Explorations in the rapidly developing ecosystem of the iPhone (and iPad): apps, the cloudmosphere, social networking and not-working by a health sciences librarian;
- Mobile devices and location, looking at how location, generated by the GPS capability in most mobile devices, will be appended to user generated content;
- Archives mobile resources currently available to users, either through native apps or mobile web apps;
- Demonstration of the Red Laser app developed in-house that enables barcode searching in the library catalogue and in Summon.
- Tips and tricks for your Smartphones.
None of these sessions would have been possible without devices in the hands of librarians and support staff.
The path to getting the pilot project up and running had a few bumps and curves. For libraries contemplating similar projects you’ll have to consider:
- How will you decide who will get a smartphone?
- Who will pay for apps installed on individual’s smartphones?
- How will staff reimburse the institution for non-work related calls and texts that go over the plan maximum?
- How will the project be evaluated?
- The issue that proved to be the most problematic was deciding who was going to get a smartphone in the first year of the pilot.
Deciding who got a smartphone
For our project we had a task group determine the criteria for assigning phones.
- Participants should be in continuing and, preferably, full time positions (at the unit head’s discretion).
- Participants ought to be public service staff or those that are integral to supporting patrons’ use of our resources.
- Participants must be willing to accept calls on their smartphones, exclusive of meetings and other unavoidable priorities, during working hours.
- Participants must be willing to participate in feedback, assessment, and reports as the pilot proceeds.
- Participants must be willing to do outreach to other staff, sharing expertise developed and demonstrating the usefulness of the technology.
Because of the innovative nature of the project, we did not want to set out rigid evaluation criteria at the beginning of the project. Three librarians enrolled in the Graduate Professional Certificate in Library Sector Leadership at the University of Victoria (Jan Guise and Laurie Blanchard from the University of Manitoba Libraries and Kenneth Field, Trent University) are preparing a recommendation on how the program should be evaluated. As we move forward evaluation of the pilot project will be critical.
For me, measures of success are the M-Ref: Using Handheld Technology For Reference Services event, informal comments from project participants and this email sent from one of the participants:
Since getting an iphone over three months ago not only has my productivity increased, answering emails and reading online content while on the bus going to and from work, my understanding how these mobile devices can and will be used by our patrons when accessing information in real time has grown dramatically. If you want to understand how society is using location aware smartphones you have to be enabled with that technology. In this case, early adoption is critical to be well versed in understanding how constant connectivity offered by mobile technology is changing how libraries both push out our services as well as how we must reconfigure our online presence to pull patrons in.