Friday, December 11, 2009

Ebooks anyone?

Just read a couple of articles, one in Inside Higher Ed and one in the NYTimes about publishers delaying the release of new books in electronic format for months after they release the hardcover versions. One article suggested that one way publishers would benefit from the earlier release of ebook versions was that ebook readers would publicize the books they read via social networking software (!) So I was just wondering, anyone out there besides me reading ebooks?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Syllabi and teaching

I read an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed this morning about one professor's disillusionment at the turn that creating course syllabi has taken. He talks about the days when he looked forward to the creativity of producing interesting and thoughtful syllabi that reflected his enthusiasm for a course as well as having the freedom to change the direction of a course or the readings based on his students' interests and needs. But all this seems to have disappeared from his syllabi, partly due to constraints on his time but also due to increasingly strict institutional requirements.

As a soon-to-be teacher, I found the article a little disheartening. One of the side effects of my dissertation (on educating electronic resources librarians) that I was looking forward to was seeing the (anticipated) variety in the way different faculty teach courses as those ways are reflected in their course syllabi. But if professor Brottman's experience is reflective of a general trend away from creativity and towards institutionalized templates for syllabi that must be approved months prior to the beginning of a course, then I confess to being a little disappointed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Did you know?

Did you know that MS Word 2007 has a function that automatically creates and updates a table of contents in your document? Peg Boyle Single points out in her new book that this is highly useful for creating and maintaining a one page working outline of a paper as you write. Imagine how useful it would be to have at your fingertips an outline of what you've written so far that automatically updates itself as you write! I confess that I am a visual/kinesthetic learner (I learn by seeing and doing) and maybe that's why I find this tip so useful. It makes clear to me where there are gaps in my writing that need to be filled or sections that would really flow together much better in a different order.

To try out this useful tool:

Use the heading styles in the Styles box under the Home tab to identify sections as you write. Then place your cursor at the point in the document where you want to place the table of contents/outline. Finally, select Table of Contents from the References tab in Word 2007.

Microsoft has a couple of useful recorded tutorials that give some greater detail on the use and customization of tables of contents at

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dissertating...or planning to dissertate

So I've read two books full of advice for surviving a dissertation (Mauch, James E. 1998. Guide to the Successful Thesis and Dissertation a Handbook for Students and Faculty. 4th ed. Vol. 58. Books in Library and Information Science. New York: M. Dekker and Ogden, Evelyn Ogden. 2007. Complete Your Dissertation or Thesis in Two Semesters or Less. 3rd ed. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.). They're quite different and offer different kinds of advice for navigating the process and the institution. I was disappointed to discover that I can't actually complete my dissertation in two semesters because of the deadlines the TWU has in place (e.g. they must have two final copies of your dissertation in their office a month before commencement as opposed to Ogden's book that says that the typical timing for a defense is at least two weeks before commencement)...sigh. But it did force me to create a realistic time line that uses Ogden's time line as a skeleton modified with TWU's deadlines. And that might allow me to finish by August 2009...if I stop blogging and start working that is :-)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Dissertation advice

Now that the prospect of creating a dissertation is looming I've become inordinately interested in dissertation advice. One of the failings of the doctoral program of which I am a part is a scarcity of information or information sources. Other programs I've encountered offer courses from which one emerges with the first several chapters of one's dissertation complete or at least drafted. They also seem to spend a great deal of time talking about conducting research and what's expected regarding both comprehensive exams and dissertation. Sadly, not so in my program. So, in an effort to inform myself, I came across this new column in Inside Higher Ed this week: Demystifying the Dissertation: Piles, Stacks, Folders. It's a new column that, I think, will be useful.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ALA Annual Conference...Saturday, July 10...Designing Effective Research Surveys

The next session I attended was called Designing Effective Research Surveys. I was very excited about this session and thus somewhat disappointed with the simplistic coverage…although I also have to confess that I probably should have anticipated this, given that the audience was likely to be (and, in fact, was) made up of practitioners rather than more experienced researchers. However, not all was lost! I think this would be an excellent program for NASIG and one I will probably propose for their next conference. So I made a lot of notes about what worked and what didn't in the presentation. Here are some of my notes on the session:

(The speaker's name was Regina McBride). A successful survey project begins with deciding precisely what it is you want to know, specifics are very important at this point. One means to zero in on this is to talk to a colleague to who you can explain aloud what you want to know and who can help you clarify your ideas. Knowing what you want to know will help you to decide who you want to know "it" from.

She emphasized the large amount of assistance that an institutional research department can be in both collecting and analyzing data. She provided links to a couple of websites that will calculate minimum sample sizes: and The second one is a little more involved in terms of knowledge of the statistical terms.

Surveys can be approached both qualitatively and quantitatively. McBride defined both approaches and their strengths: qualitative uses open-ended questions to achieve results that describe feelings and experiences but are more difficult to extrapolate to a population whereas quantitative uses closed-ended questions to achieve results that are precisely calculated and able to be extrapolate a broader population

In designing a questionnaire, it's important to first decide how you are going to deliver the questionnaire to the respondents. Keep the questionnaire simple: short, direct questions, clean simple presentation. The Killer B's: be brief, be objective, be simple, be specific. Use objective language (no shoulds, musts, always, nevers, frequentlys, etc.) when writing your questions. It's very important to pre-test your questionnaire to learn how potential respondents will interpret (or misinterpret) the questions, both among persons with no knowledge of the topic and those with some knowledge of it. Pre-tests will make your results carry much more weight (by increasing their validity and reliability).

[I liked the way she gave us some practice with designing good questions…but it didn't work very well. She gave us about 10 minutes to work on our own or in pairs on them and lots of people left. What might work better is to do the exercise as a group…which might also work better for a smaller audience.]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

ALA Annual Conference...Saturday, July 10...Leading from the Middle

So here I am at ALA's Annual Conference. The first session on my agenda was a panel discussion/presentation called Organizational theory and practice: Leading from the middle of the organization. As I listened to the speakers, I realized and really thought about the fact that I am a middle manager. I'd never really given it any serious thought (although clearly on some level I've thought about it since, well, here I am in this session). The speakers balanced each other quite nicely. One was a doctoral student who presented some preliminary research on the experiences of middle managers in libraries, another was a librarian educator (as well as an experienced middle manager) in management, and the last was a new (e.g. less experienced) library manager). Here's what they had to say:

First speaker, John ? (doc student, researcher): Shared leadership = a dynamic relationship between middle management and upper management with the objective of achieving organizational goals.
Surveyed 145 middle managers in a variety of library types in the Pacific West contained 12 statements that respondents rated on a Likert scale. Results: middle managers felt that they shared information with UM but didn't get an equal amount of information in return, communication exchange flows up but not down but MM feel accountable for decisions within their responsibility. Recommends more research be done on MMs. [Interesting presentation software:]

Second speaker, Joan Giesecke (upper manager in an academic library): Success as a middle manager is like herding cats – they can be cajoled, coaxed, and persuaded but not forced. MMs need to be able to explain the purpose and goals of the unit, develop a climate of trust, create a climate of optimism, and develop a bias toward action. Understand the work of the unit in order to be able to rearrange complex tasks in response to change and intervene to resolve indterdepartental interpersonal conflict. Think about creating a balance between the needs of the organization with the needs of the individuals within the department. Core skills = technical knowledge, planning and decision making skills, and communication skills. Obtain input and consensus on "value laden" decisions. "It may be impossible to over communicate." Mentioned the importance of not just "delegating problems upwards" without also suggesting solutions. Avoid creating a silo of your unit but rather "manage and integrate horizontally." Things to avoid: "transactional style" = rewards for doing something, "laissez-faire" leadership is not effective, nor is micro-management "balance your technical knowledge with respect for the skills in your unit", "think integration."

Third speaker, Megan Anderson: (new middle manager). Model for MMs. Imagine a line that starts with your role as a novice – a page, you move along the line to a paraprofessional position to a librarian at which point the line splits. One path is toward technical mastery, guru-ism. The other path is toward supervisory positions: MMs. Many of us have one foot on each path, her analogy is plate spinning…MM's job is NOT to keep the plates spinning (cause the people who the plates represent are capable of doing that themselves) but to move the floor beneath them in a way to help them spin their plates. "Focus on helpfulness, differentiated from niceness, likability, friendliness." Helping people do what they need to do to achieve the organizational goals;" helping builds trust, trust allows them to follow you.

It was a fascination session and an area that I'd like to pursue further.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Just spent a couple of hours cleaning up my Zotero library, upgrading to their version 2.0b4 which (fingers crossed) will eliminate some of the problems I've had lately including being unable to sync and to download citations from EbscoHost and Science Direct. It has taken several days to clean up my tags (if they're more than 255 characters long, zotero won't sync and won't provide a scroll bar in the tags window). I had hoped I could simply browse through the tags window but, alas, I finally had to resort to scrolling through all of my entries, one by one, to view and eliminate long tags. While I was doing this, zotero was syncing. I notice that it will stop syncing and display a tag-too-long message (but only in the mouse-over text) when it comes across a too long tag which was helpful. Zotero is still my citation manager of choice but I would caution anyone with a large library compiled in a version of zotero that precedes 1.5 to clean up their tags before upgrading to 2.0b4! Now, to eliminate duplicates....

Saturday, March 07, 2009

New words

I'm burried in writing my quals this semester and so not very communicative but I came across a couple of new words in my reading today so I thought I'd share them:

de no·vo
Pronunciation: \di-ˈnō-(ˌ)vō, dā-, dē-\
Function: adverb or adjective
Etymology: Latin
Date: 1536
: over again : anew a case tried de novo

As in "Over time, say later this century, we should expect many new kinds of electronic forums to support scientific communication. It is not hard to find de novo creations today, such as pure e-journals or shared disciplinary compendia,
such as ISWORLD (see above) and GDB."

Pronunciation: \i-ˈlīd\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): elid·ed; elid·ing
Etymology: Latin elidere to strike out, from e- + laedere to injure by striking
Date: 1796
1 a: to suppress or alter (as a vowel or syllable) by elision b: to strike out (as a written word)2 a: to leave out of consideration : omit b: curtail , abridge

As in "What we have critiqued in this article is the information processing theorizing about electronic publishing and scholarly communication that dominates both popular and academic discourse about the subject—theorizing that elides and homogenizes field differences."

Definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online and quotations from Kling, R., & McKim, G. (2000). Not Just a Matter of Time: Field Differences and the Shaping of Electronic Media in Supporting Scientific Communication. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 51(14), 1306-1320.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Word of the day: lacuna

Came across this word in an article this evening and couldn't resist sharing it.

One entry found.

Main Entry:
la·cu·na Listen to the pronunciation of lacuna
\lə-ˈkü-nə, -ˈkyü-\
Inflected Form(s):
plural la·cu·nae Listen to the pronunciation of lacunae \-ˈkyü-(ˌ)nē, -ˈkü-ˌnī\ also la·cu·nas Listen to the pronunciation of lacunas \-ˈkü-nəz, -ˈkyü-\
Latin, pool, pit, gap — more at lagoon

1: a blank space or a missing part : gap ; also : deficiency 1 2: a small cavity, pit, or discontinuity in an anatomical structure
— la·cu·nar Listen to the pronunciation of lacunar \-ˈkü-nər, -ˈkyü-\ also la·cu·nate Listen to the pronunciation of lacunate \lə-ˈkü-nət, -ˈkyü-, -ˌnāt; ˈla-kyə-ˌnāt\ adjective

If you go to MW's site directly and turn your speakers on you can hear it pronounced!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ALISE day 2

My favorite session from Wednesday was one of a set of three juried papers on social networking in LIS education. Two of the presenters talked about the use of social networking and/or technology in course delivery but the third took another tack. He used network analysis to examine the relationships between students to study the relationships between students in an online LIS class. The data he used were taken from the discussion forums. His specific question was whether name networks or chain networks were more effective for this type of study and he hypothesized that name networks were the better choice because of their use of the message content to look for names of the persons communicating. Name networks still present challenges because students may have the same name, one student can have multiple names. He used both name networks and chain networks to compare the effectiveness and then triangulated using an online survey of the participants. He found statistically significant differences between the two types of networks (using the results of the survey as a baseline, although that data was self-reported): name networks provide roughly 40% more information about social ties in a group as compared to chain networks. Self-reported networks are almost twice as likely to to share the same ties as name networks than chain networks. Name networks method found three important types of social relations: learn – collaborative work – help.

After that session I attended a “birds of a feather” luncheon where I sat at a table of educators whose expertise lay in cataloging including Arlene Taylor! We talked about the relative merits of including specific types of cataloging work (like serials/continuing resources cataloging) in a broad introduction to cataloging versus the inclusion of cataloging in a more narrowly focused course on a specialty like serials/electronic resources librarianship. The consensus was that the former method would reach more students and have a greater effect of introducing students to a variety of specialties that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to be exposed to.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ALISE day 1

Attended the 'Works in Progress Poster Session' this evening, it was very well attended and there were TONS of posters to look at. Luckily, ALISE has posted the abstracts on their conference web site and anyone can access them.

Because of my involvement two years in redesigning the MJBL website ago and then evaluating the results, I was particularly interested in a poster presented by a group of doctoral students from the University of Missouri ( It described a research project they did on the usability of academic library web sites using heuristic walkthroughs for data collection with the aim of demonstrating the effectiveness of heuristic walkthrough as a method for evaluating usability and developing a set of evaluation criteria (best practices). In their poster they accomplished the first goal but not the second (remember that these are works in progress) so it will be interesting to read their final results.

I also enjoyed talking to Kyungwon Koh from Florida State about her research on the information seeking behaviors of "digital age" young people. In her poster she presented her methodology which is framed by Eliza Dressang's Radical Change Theory. [As an aside, I noticed in Koh's references list that Dressang has just published a new article on her theory in a journal called Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (vol.8, no.3).] Koh intends to use RCT to construct indicators of the particular aspects of information behaviors. Her poster abstract is at

I had thought that Becoming colleagues: The experiences of doctoral research fellows in the practice setting would be interesting to me because of my own interest in the different cultures that academics and scholars have to navigate but their focus in this poster was the elimination of boundaries between LIS scholars and LIS practitioners rather than on the characteristics of the boundaries themselves.

I knew that Chris would be interested in one titled Does Size Matter? An Exploration of Job Advertisements for Academic Library Director, 1974-2004. Chris if you read this, the first thing she asked me when I tolder her about your content analysis of library director job ads was, 'is it published'?]

Two TWU faculty had posters as well, Dr. McElrath on Safety Measures Implemented in Academic Libraries in Response to Recent Campus Violence and Dr. Curry on Information-Seeking Behavior of African-American Women with HIV/AIDS. I had a chance to introduce myself to Dr. McElrath which was pleasant.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Updated professional web site

I just finished updating my professional web site for the year. I'd like to say that I do it more than once a year (and sometimes I do) but the sad truth is that I often give higher priority to more pressing responsibilities and save up additional news, publications, and updates for the end of the year. You're welcome to have a look; If you find any broken links please let me know.

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I am... a wife a daughter a sister/sister-in-law an aunt a reader a librarian a doctor a quilter a niece a grandmother ;-) a cat owner 6 feet 1 inches tall a yoga enthusiast a cook