Zotero Workshop

At UNBSJ we run a workshop series for faculty and staff . This week I’ll be doing a workshop on Zotero. Several years ago I attended the Zotero Evangelists training on the University of Washington campus, and have been a quiet evangelist since. I don’t get to use Zotero very much anymore, but for my recent presentation on Cognitive Dissonance I dipped back in. Wow! Things have improved. I’m still rusty for sure, but here are my notes for the workshop.


  • A cloud-based storage for bibliographic data and pdfs
  • Free, open source

Getting Started

  1. Register for your free account on the zotero.org web site
  2. Decide if you’re going to use Firefox (recommended), and install Firefox
  3. Install  Zotero for Firefox 
  4. Login to the Zotero plugin (that’s the step I usually forget). Here’s more information about that from Washington State University LibGuide
  5. If you’re planning on using Word along with Zotero to create bibliographies, install the Word plugin


  • At the moment there seems to be two choice for the IOS, ZotPad and PaperShip.  PaperShip allows you to annotate PDFs, which is very handy!

Learning More

  • There are tons of tutorials and guides on the Zotero web site, check under the Documentation tab

Cognitive Dissonance: LibQual Results after a Move to a Commons

I recently attended  The 7th Annual Canadian Learning Commons Conference, June 9-11, 2014, Hosted by Bishop’s University at the Delta Hotel Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec.  It was an excellent conference, the first time I had attended. Excellent keynote speakers, and it was delightful to have them stick around for the whole conference!

My presentation was an attempt to explain disappointing LibQual results after moving into a new Learning Commons.


Cognitive dissonance is the psychological conflict from holding two or more incompatible beliefs simultaneously. In 2011 University of New Brunswick Saint John moved all library services from the Ward Chipman Library to the newly constructed Hans W. Klohn Learning Commons, with fifty percent more seating capacity. The beautiful building features a two-story glass front with fretted glass representing pixilating trees. Designed for collaborative learning, it has nine group study rooms, plenty of open space, comfortable seating, a cafe and a collaborative classroom. Services include the writing centre, math and science tutoring and traditional library and technology support services. It is also the campus “library”, with book on shelves, study carrells and a quiet reading room. In the 2013 LibQual study we received a failing grade for “library as space”. Despite the negative score and remarks, the Commons is very popular, with every seat being used most of the day. Cognitive dissonance theory will be used to explain this apparent paradox and we’ll explore how to make the transition to new learning spaces more harmonic.

Cognitive Dissonance: Learning Commons Conference 2014 (PDF)

Bibliography (Zotero)

Master of your Own Technological Destiny

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.

Gluten Free Waffles


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.

Categories: Uncategorized

IFLA in Finland 2012

August 24, 2012 1 comment

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.

Links to interesting things from the Conference on my Diigo Links,are tagged IFLA2012, and the twitter feed from the conference (warning, it got spammed), and my own twitter feed from the conference.

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Update from an Apple event

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.

Ranganathan’s new sixth law?

January 6, 2011 1 comment

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!

Categories: Uncategorized
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