Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ballard Library's Green Roof

For more on libraries & sustainability, check out ALA's Task Force on the Environment.

Libraries, Commons, & Copyright

John Wilbanks on Libraries and the Commons from Leslie Chan on Vimeo.

Wilbanks gives a really nice overview of how libraries and academic institutions are affected by current copyright law in our digital era.  He also moves on to give examples of what he & his team at Creative Commons have been doing to help.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rainer Ziehm at Columbus Pecha Kucha

Rainer Ziehm: Smoke from Bryan Loar on Vimeo.

Rainer Ziehm spoke at the Columbus Pecha Kucha Night on May 21st, 2009.

He also spoke in 2007. Check out that video here -

For more info on Rainer, go to

I had the opportunity to go the last installment of Pecha Kucha here in Columbus, OH. I hadn't been since all the way back in 2007 when they were still holding it at Junctionview. Although not as hip & funky as Junctionview, the Gateway Theater provided a great setting for the event.

The video above features Rainer Ziehm, who always tells a great story. He travels abroad frequently, gets to know the locals, and photographs them. His presentation this time focused on one of his reoccurring themes--people smoking. Although he doesn't smoke himself, he is drawn to documenting those who are in the act of.

Though I would like to hear more about the artists' process(es) rather than listen to a portfolio presentation, Pecha Kucha offers a great way to learn about creatives in your area. Check out more at, and if there is not a chapter in your city, definitely start one.

Collection Development

Hekman Library repurposes collection from Calvin College on Vimeo.

Gutenberg! Hilarious.

Nonstop Alternative Libraries: Preserving Antioch

Nonstop Alternative Libraries from News @Nonstop on Vimeo.

"The items in these collections were rescued from Antioch College by a small group of students and alumni in the Summer and Fall of 2008. The Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute has taken on the task of preserving organizing and cataloging the collections. We are currently most of the way through cataloging the Alt Library, which you can search through this site -"


MindThread from Erlend Kyte on Vimeo.

Mind Tread is a service that allows you,

and your knowledge need to be connected to the

perfect librarian.

It also allows you and your librarian to visually build,

use and share knowledge pathways you create and

explore together.
Interesting how the search process is documented--a way to capture some of that tacit knowledge.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Objectified trailer

Last night I had the opportunity to watch Objectified and listen to a Q&A with its director, Gary Huswit. It was a packed house at the Wexner, and I'm truly grateful to have such a wonderful institution here in Columbus.

The film is fairly good, and the big-named designers & thinkers certainly gave the film some weight. I was particularly happy to see Rob Walker in the film.

Huswit's Q&A shed light on some of the film's technicalities and processes. I admired his take on pre-prepared interview questions--he doesn't do them. Instead, Huswit comes to the designer with themes, and they have a discussion.

I also enjoyed parts of the film (e.g. Newson talking about materials) because it was one of the things that I enjoyed most about working at Fitch--finding & bringing in new materials and professional material representatives to Fitch's Columbus studio.

However, there were parts of the movie that just didn't jive with me. Really, I couldn't put my finger on it until I read Steve Portigal's comment on Core77. Specifically, it was the ideation sessions for IDEO. Although they may illustrate part of the design process, they really came off as an orchestrated advertisement. Good for IDEO, but not necessarily good for objectivity.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do Downturns Make Dumb Students?

Image: Dunce by

I've been thinking about how access to information correlates to our collective brain trust. 

Libraries across the nation, and probably the world, have reduced services or are looking to do so.  Of course, there are a staggering number of resources that are available electronically.  However, any good researcher knows that not everything is online or digitized.  This is especially true in the Arts & Humanities.

So the question becomes, "Are we handicapping our students by limiting access?"  Do we have a choice?  I'd argue that we do.  If we value education as a means to global competitiveness and diplomacy, then it's absolutely necessary that we continue to financially support our institutions. 

Of course, it would be naive to suggest we should do so without accountability or making tough decisions.  Without continual auditing and analysis, we would be throwing funds blindly at a problem we don't understand.  Additionally, shifting funds (at a personal, local, state, or national level) would not be easy.  Somebody, somewhere, will feel the pinch.  However, our students' educations really are that important.

Related: ALA & LSTA

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sarah Houghton-Jan on Developing a Technology Plan

Image: Sarah Houghton-Jan by Bryan Loar

Yesterday I spent part of the day at OHIONET's annual meeting. The keynote speaker was Houghton-Jan, who was one of LJ's 2009 Movers & Shakers.

Sarah's presentation entitled "Sustainable Technology in a 2.0 World" focused on developing the right technology plan for one's organization.

Some highlights* include:
  • Users are much more ahead of the curb regarding wants and needs than librarians
  • Users (of San Jose's Public Library) want text messaging services and RSS feeds for everything
  • Get feedback from users, non-users, and staff through surveys, focus groups, etc.
  • Non-user opinions are very important in a world where libraries are not the first place users go to find information
  • When conducting interviews, don't ask what the library can do for them. Ask questions that hit on their daily needs
  • A great way to gather non-user feedback is conducting intercepts at grocery stores
  • Set up a technology hierarchy (think Maslow) based your local users and non-users wants and needs
  • Use technologies that fit your users needs, but don't try to implement too many new technologies at once--it will result in poor outcomes
Sara also covered quite a few other areas including project planning, staff training/buy-in, and marketing.

Finally, Sarah emphasized the "engagement of continuous learning environments." She stressed the importance of incorporating daily or weekly time to professional development, particularly within new technologies. I wholeheartedly agree. A good extension to this ideology is Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.

*Note: The highlights primarily cover the user-centric parts of her presentation. Another resource that might be of interest is Char Booth's Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University which is also available as a free digital publication (as of May 7, 2009).

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Friday, May 01, 2009

When Architecture Acts as a Catalyst for Community Involvement

I have always admired this Spanish-influenced bungalow.  Judging by the sign, they have a yearly Cinco de Mayo celebration [I have not yet been to one].  I think that it is interesting that the owners use the design of their house as a gateway to community involvement.  It's a great case for how architecture fosters community and how people can capitalize on it.