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Thoughts about information and the chaos that ensues


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I just returned home from the UNYSLA Fall Conference. The theme for this conference was “The Librarians’ Toolbox: Reopened!” I have been looking forward to it for awhile now since it promised to cover some interesting topics. I’ll give a brief overview here but definitely plan on thinking/writing more in debt about at least one of the presentations.

Before I start in on the presentations – one thing that happened during the conference is the “swearing in” of the new UNYSLA president. Just so happens that the new president is one of my favorite librarians. Congrats Linda Galloway!

The Keynote was the one and only R. David Lankes. His presentation would be familiar to any who know his work. It was still interesting to hear, and is actually one of the presentations I plan on revisiting. The title of his presentation was something along the lines of “Don’t save libraries, save the world.” Ok Dave. Save the world, got it. Actually, it was a really good presentation – here go watch it. The point he made is that libraries, in whatever form, survive when people recognize their value, and their value is recognized when the community benefits. In fact, it is not the libraries we need to focus on, it is us the librarians. We are the library and we make the difference. There is obviously a lot more to this, which I will talk about in some later post.

The second presentation was by a fellow librarian at Syracuse University, Sarah Theimer. She gave a brief introduction to ontologies and Knoodl. I wish that she had been given more time since I would have like to learn more. Hell, she only had half an hour (all of the presenters did) and you can spend half an hour just defining ontologies. She started by introducing Protégé from Stanford but explained that the documentation associated with it can be overwhelming. Knoodl isn’t as overwhelming, but can be more confusing due to the lack of documentation. Choose your evil I guess. I actually have played around with Protégé a bit before so would have been interested in seeing more of it. As for Knoodl, I think I may play with it a bit, but I’ll stick to Protégé if I find myself in need of ontologies.

After Sarah were two librarians from The Sage Colleges, Regina Vertone & Jennifer Anderson. They were giving an overview of citation managers and focusing on Mendeley. I have a fair amount of experience with EndNote and Zotero, but had not used Mendeley before so it was nice to see a brief introduction. One thing I actually prefer about Mendely is that while using it with Word to input citations it doesn’t form the bibliography until you tell it to. With EndNote and Zotero the bibliography forms as you input citations. I always felt like it was in the way a bit and I would get distracted by proofreading it when I really just wanted to focus on writing the paper. I think I still prefer Zotero though, mostly because it is smaller and open-source.

Kitten begs for food

LUNCH TIME!!

 After lunch Jaclyn McKewan from WNYLRC talked about some pretty cool tools to help with productivity. Most of them were basic to-do lists, but all of them seemed helpful. One in particular I plan on looking into is Toodledo. It allows you to make a to-do list with a bunch of bells and whistles to help you stay on track. It also links with calendars and, of course, there is an app. The other one I plan on checking out is If This Then That. Although I’ll probably use it more for personal organization than for work. It basically allows you to link different technologies together. SO you can star an email in Gmail and automatically have a note created in EverNote with that email. You can also link Reddit with EverNote (yup, I’m doing this) as well as link dozens of other tools together. Lots to play with!

Next was Sarah Young from Cornell talking about social networks and their use for scholarly purposes. Such as, what tools are scholars and researchers using to stay connected and promote themselves? She talked mostly about Google Scholar citations, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and Twitter. GS and Twitter were the winners I think. RG and Academia.edu seemed very similar and if either is successful, most likely only one of the two will be left standing. GS and Twitter win since they allow researchers/scholars to get a lot with little effort.

The final presentation was by Sarah Bratt (lots of Sarahs!!) an iSchool student at Syracuse University. She was talking about using Pinterest as a marketing tool. SU libraries actually has two Pinterest accounts, one for the libraries as a whole, and one for the learning commons, where I work. I agree that Pinterest is a great place to be and would love to see more library activity on there.

Ok, there is a quick overview. It was a great conference and I definitely walked away with things I want to try! Lankes’ presentation made me think about a lot of things, some of which I hope to put here later!


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There is always a reason to celebrate. More specifically, every month seems to be dedicated to celebrating different groups of people. Click here to see what I mean. This month happens to be Native Heritage Month and about a month ago a fellow librarian informed me that I would be helping her with the display in the library. Sounds good to me!

One thing that we knew we wanted to do was have some sort of map. We weren’t sure exactly what we were going to do with the maps, but we knew we needed some. So, we headed on up to the amazing map collection here in the library and harassed the map librarian into sharing his knowledge. We found a couple we liked, including one from 1793. We were initially drawn to the map from 1793 because it looked cool and showed three of the reservations in central New York. As we looked closer we both became slightly ill and quite depressed. Why? I made this, perhaps it will explain:

Map showing current reservation compared to 1793

Map showing current reservation compared to 1793

I should also point out that the current city of Syracuse takes up about a quarter of that central blue square.

Anyways, we decided to print a very large version of this map and place it beside the display we put up of Native American artifacts. Here is what that looks like (sorry for the crappy picture…) :Native Heritage Display

Besides the display we wanted to have a poster of sorts to hang over the a table with flyers and calendars. After talking about it I realized that many, if not most, of the people at Syracuse University have no idea that there is a reservation 10 miles away. Also, even though the reservation is so close, the Native student population at SU is fairly low. Taking these two thoughts I came up with the idea of showcasing a few of those students in hopes of making the SU community more aware. Working with the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and the Native American Students At Syracuse (NASAS) group we found six students who were willing to participate. Here is the final result:

Poster showcasing students

At the end of it all I am really quite proud about how everything turned out. Combining the resources of the library, OMA, and NASAS had some really great results. :)

Also, there is a libguide to ensure it all lives on virtually!


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Halloween2013

Last year I spent Halloween with Beelzebub the bat sitting at the reference desk. This year I get to go home at 5pm and spend Halloween at home. However, while at work I get to spend my time at the reference desk with Frida the mannequin dressed as a bat.

Batty Frida handing out candy.

Batty Frida handing out candy.

Anyways. Happy Halloween all. I leave you with a picture (maybe two – I can’t help showing off) of my black cat.

reflection of black cat yawning

Vespa yawning

Black cat eating corn from the cob.

Vespa eating corn from the cob.


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Indigenous Survival Day

I meant to write this on Monday, but you know, life. So. Here it is today. Monday, by the way, was Columbus Day. I have pretty much ignored Columbus Day for years now. I think it is a stupid holiday, but whatever. It’s here. It has been celebrated for generations and has been a federal holiday since 1937. Anyways, the point is I tend to ignore it and completely forgot about it.

 

Did you know that next month is Native Heritage Month? It is. Which is why I was surprised when the Native group here on campus was hosting the Kanienkehaka Ratirennenhawi Traditional Singers and Dancers as “a celebration of Native culture and heritage in an effort to educate the greater populous of the University as well as the surrounding communities.” I wasn’t surprised they were doing something like this, I was just surprised that they were doing it mid October (as in Monday) rather than in November. See where I’m going with this? It wasn’t till we (another librarian and I) got to the event that I realized what was going on. They were celebrating Indigenous Survival Day. It was suddenly so obvious. I found myself pleasantly surprised that rather than protesting a holiday in honor of a man who murdered and enslaved their people, they were just ignoring it. In its place they were celebrating their survival with song and dance. There were no hateful words or negative feelings (at least that were obvious.) Instead it was a celebration of life and survival.

This is the only video I have since my iPod was dying and I had no other technology on me…

 

I don’t really have anything else to say besides that a fellow librarian and I are putting together a display of sorts for Native Heritage Month. I am excited about it and will post pictures when we are done.


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The power of technology

About a year ago I read Program Or be Programmed: Ten Commands For a Digital Age by Douglas Ruskoff. It was assigned for a class that I ended up dropping, but I was instantly hooked on the book so I kept reading it. I don’t want to turn this post into a book review so I won’t go into details, but I really enjoyed this book. It is one of those books that I think of and relate to something happening “right now” on an almost daily basis. The main point of the book (at least from my point of view) is that we live in a world with a lot of technology, most of which “makes our life easier” but most of us are not programmers. Almost every aspect of our day to day lives is governed by technology – cars/transportation, internet, computers, phones… and a lot of it has become such a part of our lives that we would be lost with out it. We have become dependent on the technology, but the majority of us have no, or very little, understanding of how the technology that governs our lives actually works. If you stop and think about it, this is a scary concept. If we are dependent on a type of technology (the internet, our phones, a computer program, etc) but we have no idea how that technology works, then we are very easily controlled by those that make/provide that technology. Basically, if you don’t know how something works, then you are dependent on those who do.

The other day I was reading a lovely BeerBrarian post on “Digital Natives.” One quote in particular struck me:
That is to say, Millennials are using technology, and no doubt their communications create knowledge, but they are consumers of the technology, not creators of it.
The point of his post wasn’t really focused on this quote – but that is where my attention went. The future generations are consuming more and more technology. A good number of them can figure out a new app/program/technical invention and be comfortable using it in no time. A (much?) lower number can figure out how to change or adapt that technology. I find myself fitting into this category, and it worries me a bit. I consider myself “tech savvy”, but my knowledge basically equals zilch when it comes to programming.

 Gif "we have technology" GIF from giphy.com

Side note: I recently started watching Revolution, a show set in a post-power world. Basically, ALL the power, all electricity and everything that uses it (computers, cars, tv, lights, climate control, ovens and appliances…) just stops. Even generators are useless. This leads to a post-apocalypse environment and it isn’t pretty. I have no idea if Revolution shows an accurate portrayal of what would happen if electricity suddenly stopped working – but I wouldn’t be too surprised. I like to think that I personally wouldn’t fall into kill or be killed mode, but who knows. I am fairly comfortable both with and without technology. If Netflix and Reddit disappeared- I have plenty of books to occupy my time. Cooking over a campfire works for me, well as long as the wood lasts. Can’t drive my car? I have two bikes I quite enjoy. Of course, if there is no power, there probably won’t be a job for me to ride my bike too…

I am getting off topic. Sorry. This tangent is going beyond what Rushkoff was talking about. Even if then electricity stays on, we are still powerless unless we know how our technology works. I don’t know the numbers, but I am willing to bet that most people have my level of programming skills. Those of us in this group depend on programmers to make our stuff for us and we would be lost without them. Some of these programmers work for companies that want the majority of us to not know what is going on. Not in a malicious way – in a marketing way. Having control of the technology is great for sales.

Of course, there are two sides to every coin. There are open source devices/programs which allow you to make something fit your specific needs. There are also hackathons such as this one at Penn that encourage the modification of software. Of course, to get the most from these you still need to know what you are doing.

Part of me is worried that the future generations will continue to be “consumers of the technology, not creators of it.” Mostly though, I think this is my way of talking myself into taking a programming class…


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Story about an iPod

A little less than a year ago (I think… I don’t really remember) Apple recalled their generation 5 iPod nanos and I just happened to have one. The nano I had was refurbished and given to me as a gift and I loved it. I almost ignored the recall but finally sent it in when I realized it was supposedly a fire hazard. In return I got a shinny new gen 6 nano. Now this thing I LOVED. It took some time getting use to it but it is great for running and I soon couldn’t imagine not having it. It is small and clips on to any article of clothing, and it has the Nike fitness app that tells me my running speed and keeps track of all my runs. About the time that I decided I couldn’t live without it is when the power button stopped working. Of course this was also just after the warranty ran out. I couldn’t be too upset since it basically was a free upgrade of an iPod I had for a couple years, but I was not about to just throw it away and buy a new one. Instead I threw it in a drawer and told myself I would fix it… later.

Later finally happened today. I was sure I knew what the problem was. I had done lots of research and basically everyone said it was a shim that fell off. I found a forum which led to a blog and I felt confident that mine had the same problem. Now, I don’t usually take electronics apart. I am good with the front end of technology – give me a new piece of software or a new computer and I’ll figure it out. I am not so good with the insides. I had never really taken anything like this apart before. Sure, I had replaced the RAM or hard drive of a computer, but that is as far as I got. I think that is why “later” took six months to finally happen. I finally figured I had nothing to loose. I couldn’t use the iPod as it was so if I broke it, o well.

I use the directions in the forum and some youtube videos to take it apart and finally got to the part where I was expecting the shim to be off center. Except it was perfectly centered. After more research I finally figured out that there is a little black “dimple” that should be right on the button. Mine was nowhere to be found. Well crap. I have no idea what this little black thing is really called to try to buy one, didn’t know if I could make one, and even if I did fine it I had no idea how to adhere it. I seriously debated taking it off of one of the volume buttons thinking I would rather be able to turn it on than adjust the volume. Then I remembered. A couple years ago I spilled soup on my iPod touch. Well, in my defense, the soup spilled in by bag (faulty lid!) that just happened to also have the iPod. Either way – it was fried. Being resistant to just throwing out electronics I put it in a baggy and stuffed it someplace. Well, did you know that if you take a touch apart it has ONE button that conveniently uses the same technology? I tore it out, stole a piece of adhesive that was holding the battery in the nano and stuck it on. It works!

Anyways, I thought this tied in nicely with my last post about not realizing I had the “required qualifications” of many job postings. I guess both these posts are saying that sometimes you don’t realize what you can do, and what skills you have, until you do it.

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Ahhh that moment when you are looking at a job posting and thinking “Great, another job I like but don’t qualify for… WAIT! I DO have that experience!”. I think I get so tied into the fact that I am a recent grad and I don’t have that much experience in a library. My position at UB and my practicums have been invaluable and I will be eternally grateful that I was able to do all of it. However, there definitely has still been times where I see a posting that says recent grads are encouraged to apply but the list of requirements is, well… not short or “basic”. This is usually the point where I pout and move on to the job postings I actually do qualify for. Every so often though I say “screw it!” and start applying for the one I don’t qualify for. It usually hits in the middle of writing my cover letter that I actually *do* qualify for the job. No, I don’t have years of experience, and I don’t fill every waking breath with library activities, but I do have more qualifications and skills than I give myself credit for. Why can’t I remember this? All the job hunting advice I have been given says to really think about those skills that are required, that there is more than one way to gain experience. I think I have finally started to remember these things when it comes to applying for positions, or at least I make myself start writing a cover letter.
Now if I can only start remembering during the actual interviews! I don’t know why my brain shuts down during interviews. No matter how much time I spend preparing I never seem to be able to think of things to say. That is until I am on my way home. O well. I guess that is the way it usually works. Practice makes perfect right? I should probably be less particular about the jobs I consider/apply for, but I am not willing to settle yet. I’ll keep shooting for the jobs I really want and look at the interviews as practice – plus I kind of like having an excuse to wear a suit. :)

On another note, I have continued volunteering at the Health Sciences Library since my student position ended. This is wonderful for many reasons. I am able to continue working with people I have grown to respect and whose company I enjoy. I am also getting more experience with collection development which is an area that I have been hoping to get more hands on experience with. I just talked with the reference manager today about a large project they are planning to start on in the next couple of weeks. The students are doing the “grunt” work while I will be working with the librarians making executive decisions. It is a good little ego boost when your ex-boss trusts you and respects you enough to let you do the professional librarian work. :)

Success kid

Success!