Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

These are things that are happening

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globe

March

On March 12th (2 PM EST) I’ll be co-presenting “Stealth Librarianship: Creating Meaningful Connections Through User Experience, Outreach, and Liaising” with Kiyomi Deards and Bohyun Kim. We’ll be talking about relationship-building and how user experience research, outreach, and stealth librarianship can be used to create meaningful connections within the campus community. The class size is limited to 60 participants, so register now! And let us know if there is anything specific you’d like to see us cover.

April

I’ll be in Indianapolis from April 10-13 for the ACRL 2013 Conference. It’s my first ACRL and my first trip to Indiana. On the 11th I’ll be presenting on a panel with some my fellow Lead Pipe editors:

From the Periphery into the Mainstream: Library DIY culture(s) and the academy – In October 2008, In the Library with the Lead Pipe published its first article. Additionally, numerous groups have been hosting unconferences, infiltrating SXSW, and more. The culmination of do-it-yourself (DIY) activities points to a growing DIY culture that is permeating academic libraries. Find out from some of these DIYers what DIY library culture has inspired in academe, and how these innovative enterprises tie into our scholarship, instruction, and advocacy.

May

I was invited to present a session for academic librarians at the Pennsylvania Library Association Lehigh Valley Chapter Spring Workshop on May 23rd at Muhlenberg College. I’m trying something a little different (modeled on a session I saw Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches do in November 2011) and will be bringing in some students to discuss the library:

A Crevice or a Chasm? Investigating the Disparities Between Experience and Expectation – How wide is the gap between what students expect from the library and what they experience? Hear from four current college students about why, when, and how they use (or don’t use) the library. Audience members will have the opportunity to pose their own questions to the panel following this facilitated conversation.

June

My first conference abroad! A joint proposal I submitted with two colleagues was accepted for presentation at the 5th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries being held in Rome June 4-7 at “La Sapienza” University. Does anyone have international travel tips for me? I’ve never been outside the US, so this is big & awesome news!

One Website to Rule Them All: Meeting the Needs of Students, Faculty, and Librarians – Most academic library websites have three main audiences: students, faculty, and librarians. While there are additional audiences (including non-users, community members, staff, and parents), these three groups spend the most amount of time on our sites. Libraries risk losing credibility and customers if these three main audiences do not have a good experience on the site. While each of these groups has a different set of needs and expectations, many academic libraries do not have the freedom, time, or skill set to develop a distinctive website for each user group. Our challenge, therefore, is to create a single website that meets the needs of each of our individual user groups without sacrificing continuity of design, quality of information, or consistency of navigation for one group over another. This presentation will highlight the opportunities and challenges of building an academic library website for students, faculty, and librarians. Each speaker will address one audience and will highlight various qualitative measurements which attendees can recreate at their home institutions in order to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of their websites to make targeted improvements.

How is your spring looking? Anything you’re looking forward to? If you’ll be at any of these events, make sure to say hello!

Image CC BY-SA 2.0 courtesy of fsse8info on Flickr

Written by Erin Dorney

January 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Poem “January 26, 2011” published in Birdfeast Magazine

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birdfeast

At the beginning of September I learned that my poem “January 26, 2011” was accepted for publication in issue four of Birdfeast Magazine. Birdfeast is published quarterly and features a “feast” of 10-20 poems in each issue. They publish “…your loudest pieces, and your quietest ones. Your strangest and your most gentle.” I absolutely love the way Birdfeast presents itself electronically in terms of its site design. It was one of the things that made me want to submit there. If you submit work, you probably know exactly what I mean when I say there are some online journals out there that look absolutely horrendous. I know that literary journals (including ejournals) are a labor of love, but come on now people. Birdfeast is where it’s at in terms of minimalist design & great use of color/images. It allows the work to take front stage.

Another reason I decided to submit to Birdfeast is because Duotrope (y’all know about Duotrope, right? If not, get on that!) has this nice feature where you can look up a particular journal title and then see:

  • Work submitted here was also submitted to…
  • Users accepted here also had work accepted by…

When my poem was accepted at Curio, I checked Duotrope for other places work by Curio authors was accepted. Lo and behold, Birdfeast was on the list. It’s an easy way to learn about new journals to read and places that might mesh with your particular style for submissions.

This poem is particularly meaningful to me because it’s about my friend’s mother who has since passed away. I have incredibly fond memories of growing up and playing in their house when I was younger (all the way through high school). The last time I got to see her, in winter of 2011, she still beat my ass in a game of Skip Bo! The poem is short, possibly my shortest ever. I think it’s a good parallel to the brief lives we lead.

Thanks to Jessica Poli (Founder and Editor-in-Chief) for selecting my work for inclusion in Birdfeast.

Written by Erin Dorney

November 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Chasing Ice

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Ice is something I have accepted as a nuisance in my life. I grew up along the shores of Lake Ontario in upstate New York where crippling ice storms and slippery roads are the norm. Up until last week, I couldn’t have imagined wishing for more ice or considering it to be one of our most beautiful natural structures…

That changed when I saw Chasing Ice, a documentary that follows environmental photographer James Balog on his Extreme Ice Survey. Balog used time-lapse cameras to capture thousands of images of Arctic glaciers, providing evidence that these glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. I was in New York City visiting a friend and was able to catch this limited release on its opening weekend. Director/producer Jeff Orlowski and James Balog himself joined the audience for a Q&A following the screening.

No words that I could write here would come close to describing the devastating beauty of this film. All I can say is please go see if you live in a major city and if it’s not playing near you, petition your local theater. At the moment I am looking into the possibility of bringing Chasing Ice to my campus for a screening. It seems like the perfect conduit for introducing a discussion about climate change among students. Throw in a response panel of earth science, environmental studies, geography, economics, and government faculty members and library showcase of print and electronic resources for information on climate change and you’ve got a nice little program on your hands. One that makes students think and question.

Check out http://www.chasingice.com/ for more information and ways to get involved.

Written by Erin Dorney

November 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM

Keeping Track of Ideas

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notebook

Last March I blogged about a Computers in Libraries session on capturing, sharing, and acting on ideas (presented by Adam Shambaugh and Jill Luedke from Temple University). Since then, I’ve been thinking about the different tools I use to record my ideas:

On my phone:

  • Voice Recorder App – Mostly I use this to capture ideas while driving. Six-hour trips between Pennsylvania and New York equal lots of time for creative reflection. I try to be as safe as possible (open the app before I leave, keep the phone on my lap, one tap to record and pause, etc). On my last drive I recorded all the billboard messages I saw, transcribed them and am now working on a hybrid found/erasure poem using the messages as my text.
  • Notes App – I’ve been known to jot a line or two down in my iPhone notes. I usually do this when it’s the only available option—if I’m in the middle of attending a lecture or something. Eventually I transcribe these into one of my writing notebooks.
  • Camera – I like to take pictures of things like really great or really awful signage or businesses practices that I think might translate well to libraries.

On my computer:

  • Bookmarks – Yup, I still bookmark a TON of stuff in Firefox. And they’re not synced between my work and personal computers. I know there are more robust bookmarking tools out there, but bookmarking usually comes into play when I see something random (after clicking along from five different blogs/websites) that I’m not sure I’ll be able to find again. This results in a huge mess of unsorted bookmarks on both my work and personal machines. About once every month or two I go through them all and either organize them (if it’s a place I’ll want to visit multiple times), read the article/post and delete the bookmark, move the information somewhere else, or buy the item.

In the cloud:

  • TeuxDeux – I’ve blogged about this tool before, but can’t resist sharing it again. TeuxDeux is browser based which allows me to add “home” do-to items while at work and vice versa without syncing headaches. I also purchased the iPhone app, so my lists are available there as well. Yes, this is more of a to-do list tool than a place to capture ideas. However, in addition to a weekly calendar, there is a “someday bucket” which I use to record opportunities I want to look into at a later date. It helps me keep those opportunities fresh in my mind because I see them whenever I look at my daily to-do lists.
  • Google Docs – I recently received an email from Google notifying me that my 894 files stored in Google Docs are now in Google Drive. Eight hundred and ninety four files! I have Google Docs for everything—work projects, creative writing, papers, research projects, presentations, conference notes, lists of things to do, and more. I have a shared doc called “Fishbowl of Awesomeness” where my colleague Melissa and I put snippets of ideas we have for research and publication projects. Google Docs is also where I collect my blog ideas and outline them before drafting them in WordPress.

Tangibly:

  • Notebooks – While I do a lot of my work and writing digitally, I still love paper notebooks. I usually have a few going at once—right now there are three: a Moleskine in my purse/work bag at all times (for anything); a hand-bound journal next to my bed (mostly journaling and book notes); and a spiral bound notebook (reserved for poem crafting).

In the past I’ve collected ideas on sicky notes, large pieces of paper (mind mapping kinda stuff), Evernote on my iPad, and whiteboards. Having a great idea—the perfect line for a poem or topic for a post—and not having a way to record it is a terrible feeling. This usually seems to happen to me when I’m in the shower, just about to fall asleep, or somewhere in public where it would be awkward to pull my notebook out. I repeat the idea over and over in my head, convinced that there’s no way I could forget such a beautiful phrase or thought, but inevitably, the idea is lost if I don’t record it.

How do you keep track of your ideas? Any tips or tricks? Do you keep work ideas and personal ideas separate?

Image CC BY 2.0 courtesy of seanmcgrath on Flickr

Written by Erin Dorney

November 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Facebook Messages: Where Things Go To Die

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I have a co-authored article up over at In the Library with the Lead Pipe about email management. We would love to hear more about your experience with email and your strategies for dealing with messages in your inbox!

Lindsay and I didn’t really delve into other types of message management—the article is about standard email inboxes. But there are messaging/inbox capabilities built into many social media tools these days. On Twitter you can send someone a Direct Message (DM), a private tweet that acts like a limited character email message. DMs aren’t a problem for me because I really only check them when I specifically ask someone to DM me. Otherwise it’s not even on my radar and I don’t forward these messages to any other account or device. The limited scope has helped me handle my DM inbox.

facebook notifications

Facebook messages are a different story. Facebook messages, for me, are where things go to die. True story. I don’t mind Facebook chat… if I am online, definitely message me in real-time. But for some reason, I have not been able to incorporate the Facebook inbox into my normal flow of checking and responding. For fun stuff with my friends it’s fine because there is no real pressure to reply right away. But I do get a number of Facebook messages related to library/work stuff. Those are the messages that always seem to fall through the cracks. I’m not really sure why this is but I have some ideas:

  • I have a gut reaction to the little red numbers that pop up for notifications, messages, and friend requests, so I click on my messages (but often don’t read them right away) just to get that alert to go away. Seeing it there makes me kind of anxious. Am I the only one or do other people feel this way? Then, I forget that there are new messages and it could be days (weeks?) before I get around to reading them.
  • To a certain extent, I see Facebook as more of a social/fun site than a tool I conduct work within. It’s great for some aspects of work—networking with other librarians, building your online identity, promoting different events, engaging through your institutional page, etc. I go to Facebook to learn things and to connect but it’s pretty casual.

I just always seem to forget about messages that are living in Facebook. I see them and then I forget about them. Maybe this is because I really do use my email inbox as a to-do list (although I’m trying to break that habit) and Facebook just seems more… fleeting? It might come down to having too many places to check for messages. Perhaps it’s not email that is overwhelming me, but multiple inboxes? There are so many different places where my response is required:

  1. Personal email
  2. Work email (including accounts associated with research help, outreach, and the renovation)
  3. Twitter (personal feed + DMs; library feed + DMs)
  4. Facebook (personal wall + messages; library wall + messages)
  5. Blog comments (personal + Lead Pipe)
  6. Voice mail (work + personal)
  7. Text messages
  8. Chat (Facebook + GChat)

I’m probably forgetting some. It’s helpful for me to list these out so that I can think about making a plan for managing my communication. When I don’t reply, people typically reach out to me through another channel but I’m sure I miss people (and opportunities). I want to apologize to anyone whose Facebook message I have missed—it’s nothing personal! And despite this angst, I have contacted people via Facebook message regarding library/work stuff. So, I have not been good at setting expectations for where different type of communication should take place.

This is something I want to reflect more on and potentially share my communication preferences with everyone. I think this would lower my stress and alleviate frustration for people who might not be receiving a timely response. How do you cope with multiple message streams? Any suggestions for me? Feel free to share here or over at Lead Pipe!

Written by Erin Dorney

November 5, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Student Learning Commons at Lancaster Bible College

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A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit the Charles & Gloria Jones Library, located in the Student Learning Commons at Lancaster Bible College. They just built a new facility and used the same vendor we’re using for our library renovation, so we were interested in seeing some of the furniture in action. It’s a truly amazing space—definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area. Despite my people-less photos, the library was packed with students the whole time we were walking through. Thanks to Lancaster Bible College for the tour and to Supply Source for lunch!

Row (left / right)

  1. Great use of curves to create unique spaces / High-tech collaboration station
  2. Out of the box room sign / Out of the box interior space for fun & inspiration
  3. Recycled pallet book displays! / Donor wall with modified card catalog & vinyl decals
  4. Clear signage (be still my heart) / The little details (basket) = all kinds of yes
  5. Items for sale in open stacks / Projected images on the wall behind the research help desk

LBC curved windowLBC collaboration stationLBC out of the box room

LBC red roomLBC palletsLBC donor wall

LBC signageLBC details

LBC sale itemsLBC help desk

Written by Erin Dorney

October 12, 2012 at 8:31 AM

PaLA Conference 2012

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pala 2012 logoJust sharing some of my notes and reflections from the 2012 Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference in Gettysburg earlier this week. It was great to see friends and colleagues from across the state. Unfortunately it wasn’t 100% awesome since I was recovering from a bad cold, the hotel wifi was terrible (almost non-existent!), and we couldn’t find a ton of great places to eat in Gettysburg. Health, the interwebs, and good food are apparently staples of my happiness. I did really enjoy the tours this year – a wine tasting at Adams County Winery (picked up a bottle of Turning Point) and a nighttime walking tour of the haunted Farnsworth House Inn and Cemetery Hill! I was running around a lot so I didn’t get to attend a ton of sessions (I co-presented a session on Monday, facilitated two focus groups, and ran three unconference sessions – thanks to all the volunteers!).

Unconference session notes

  • I thought the unconference sessions went really well. Some of the same people came to all three, but there were also new people at each one which made the group breakout discussions pretty unique. We tried to get everyone to do evaluations so PaLA can decide if it’s worthwhile to do again next year (in my opinion, yes!).

Playing for Keeps: Lifelong Learning in the Ludic Library by Barbara Fister (Professor, Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library @ Gustavus Adolphus College)

  • The Citation Project – great project coming out of the composition and rhetoric fields
  • Student approach to research is to find some quotes that work and rearrange them
  • Being really good at following the rules stifles creativity and discovery – how does this impact how we teach information literacy?
  • There is value in doing things, not just learning about things

Using “The Filter Bubble” to Create a Teachable Moment by Allyson Valentine (Instructor @ York College; Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian @ Harrisburg Area Community College) and Laura Wukovitz (Instructor @ York College; Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian @ Harrisburg Area Community College)

  • Panopticlick
  • “confirmation bias”
  • Peek You
  • My reflections:
    • “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser might be a really fun pick for a college One Book, One Campus program to get students to think about this kind of stuff on a broader scale.
    • Filter bubble instruction might work well in Millersville’s COMM100 classes where students do public speaking and have to present both sides of an argument/persuade their audience.
    • I posed this question during the Q&A portion of the session. Are library database vendors picking up on the idea of the filter bubble? I know some systems have built-in recommender services (if you liked this article, you might like these) but what about federated search systems? Do we know if EBSCO is privileging its content over other provider’s content that has been integrated into the results? If we don’t know how the systems determine relevancy, then we don’t really know, right?

The Space Between: Valuing and Utilizing Empty Spaces in Libraries by Alica White (Head Librarian @ Penn State University Mont Alto)

  • If you look at the aerial view of botanical gardens, they are a lot like the floor plans of library buildings (never noticed this before, but true)
  • Sala Borsa in Bologna, Italy
  • My reflections:
    • We need to think intentionally about the space between and around things in our libraries and be strategic about that space. It’s like whitespace when you’re designing a poster or a layout. The eye needs room to breath in order to take it all in.
    • We could brainstorm some way to revitalize “stacks” as content goes more and more electronic. I was thinking maybe you could take out some shelves from the middle (leave end caps and shelves at the top/bottom – even leave some books on the top ones, maybe?) and then put in a row of hanging plants. This would bring some green elements into the space but also create a nice vertical line that’s not completely solid or blocking too much visibility – a way to section off some space without closing it in completely?

Moving Towards the Future: Three Applications of Cutting-Edge Mobile Technologies in Libraries by Carolyn Sautter (Director of Special Collections and
College Archives @ Gettysburg College), Jessica Howard (Reference & Web Services Librarian @ Gettysburg College), Eric Phetteplace (Emerging Technologies Librarian @ Chesapeake College) and Erin Burns (Reference Librarian @ Penn State University Shenango)

  • Write your search terms like a robot
  • Aurasma augmented reality app seems cool
  • The Gettysburg artiFACTS project is a great example of one area the library could be considered an “expert” at outside the building. There’s lots of artwork located in different buildings on campus and the library could “curate” QR codes with additional information (where the piece came from, history of it, etc) for an interactive exhibit.
  • My reflections:
    • Aurasma (or something like it) would be the perfect thing to incorporate into a poster session at a conference. You could put right on the poster which app to use (or, an entire conference like ALA or ACRL could make the decision to use one app) and then if you put your poster up but weren’t standing right next to it all the time, visitors could scan and see you do a pre-recorded video poster talk.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 5, 2012 at 10:10 AM