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Library disruption continues

The Dean of Library and Information Services at Barnard College recently resigned over the downsizing/transformation of Lehman Library into a Teaching and Learning Center. It seems like a lot of what is being proposed is very similar to what St. John’s went through — weeding of a significant portion of the books, moving Librarians from offices to cubicles, introduction of a Cafe, and repurposing of Library space.

This was brought to my attention to an article in Inside Higher Ed, Clash in the Stacks. What is the role of the Librarian when more and more materials are available online? The article mentions that there may be a perception that Librarians are “superfluous” since many of their duties could be handled by IT. Having lived in the world of IT, I think this would be a colossal mistake for the following reasons:

  • The culture of IT is often focused on “tell me what to do” or solving the next problem, not the bigger picture.
  • Information is not inventory. You don’t just order it and put it on the shelf.  I plan to discuss the responsibilities related to acquiring electronic resources and making them available in a later post.
  • Librarians we have the luxury of focusing on a broad range of information-related issues on a daily basis. There is a lot that we can offer to the Scholars toolkit — including information about searching, copyright, bibliographic managers, Open Access, research visibility, etc.

Design Thinking

Attended an inspiring presentation about Design Thinking yesterday. In DT, you are asked to empathize with all stakeholders/principles/actors before rushing to solve a problem. The human element must always be taken into account. Other processes include define the problem to be solved (why are we doing this, how can we use technology, how can we help each other), Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

Another way of looking at DT, according to University of Virginia, is:

What is (constraints)? — What if? — What wows? — What works?

Other aspects of DT:

  • Disruption
  • Service Dominant Logic
  • Creative Problem Solving

It made me reflect about how to apply DT to the problems surrounding eBooks. For eBooks the principles would be students (undegraduate and graduate), faculty, librarians, vendors, publishers, etc.  Constraints include library space, money, technology, etc. But the deeper issue, I think, is what is the role of the book in higher education. And what is the relationship of the Library to the book? And how does the new technology change this? This is a very complex (and emotional) issue of course, and there is much to explore.

Creating a Mashup

My mashup can be found at:

Google Maps

After reading the assigned articles and the instructions from Patrick, I am attempting to create my first mashup. First I tried going to Google Maps API  at having conveniently forgotten that I need to register the API. So after trying to embed the code and preview in WordPress, I got an “invalid request” message. I looked up the message, saw some semi-comprehensible advice, but did they did not fix the problem. Somehow I found the way to register the Google Maps Embed API (there are a lot of other cool looking API’s there too!). Then I clicked API access and found my key, inserting it into the embed code where it says “key=… And I do have a map of my locale, which is downtown Brooklyn — an area that I have lived in for over 30 years and is transforming at lightning speed. Though now I am noticing that WordPress itself has an Add Location feature, and wondering how this differs from Google Maps.

This is the url I used for the embed code:


Next I tried to mashup Twitter. I tried downloading an App called “easy twitter feed widget” but the instructions said to upload a file to wp-content/plugins directory. This is leading me to believe this may only work on the Server version of WordPress. No luck so far with Twitter.


I used the WP Press This tool to insert video from YouTube. It allows you to grab images or video from the Web and embed it to your blog quite easily. You can find Press This by going to the Admin page and selecting “tools”, then copying the button to the Bookmarks in your browser.

More Twitter

So, I tried to get the Follow button on Twitter onto my mashup… I can get the text, but not the button. Not sure why. But it will do (for now)


After looking more closely at WordPress setting to see if there is any way to enable plugins (nope), I noticed there is a setting for portfolios. This looks like WordPress might be a viable (and free!) alternative to Digication for e-portfolios.

Google Civic API

This also did not work correctly. Not sure if I coded it wrong, or if it’s a limitation of WordPress.


So, I decided to try to mashup with Pinterest. The Pinterest Widget didn’t work so great. However, copying the url for the board was okay.



I tried to create an EMBEDLY link to Weather channel, it still does not seem to be working fully. If you click on the word “NULL” you will go to local weather.


I think the limitation for may not make it the best choice for mashups. Perhaps or a something like Weebly might have better results.


Does this count as a wireframe?

Does this count as a wireframe?

Popular Culture in Britain and America

I decided to look at the online tutorials/help for a trial of the database “Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950 – 1975.”  The help section starts with a succinct “tour” where you are shown screenshots of various features with explanatory text at the top, and brief tips on the right side. There is a “page by page” guide that shows screenshots marked up with multiple captions with arrows and extensive explanatory text at the bottom. A FAQ is also included. This is the type of help that I have seen in many databases before, One of the gripes I have with many help systems is that they often just repeat the descriptive text using alternative wording — or tell you things that are pretty self-explanatory. They are often not of much help when it comes to more sticky problems.

So, I resolved to look at the entire help before starting to use the database, something I ordinarily would not do. First of all, I was directed to read the introduction page. By scanning the dictionary, I was able to get an idea of what would be covered in the database. There was a list of introductory essays on various aspects of popular culture. I feel that the my reading through the help, I was better able to understand the database’s structure and find some hidden gems.

RSS Readers

Like others in the class, I was using Google Reader. When it went dark, I never implemented another RSS reader and ended up reading fewer blogs as a consequence. Which is unfortunate, because without RSS can help you avoid just going to the same websites over and over (even if they’re good ones) So,  I am glad to have the impetus to get started with another RSS reeder. I was drawn to  Rolio for kind of a silly reason — one of my dog’s is named Rolo.  So far, Rolio seems pretty intuitive. If you can’t find the RSS feed for a blog, you can enter the website url and Rolio promises to try to find it for you within 24 hours. It also lets you integrate Social (Facebook and Twitter) into the interface.  I think this is especially useful for those of us without smartphones.  By the way, do you know according to New York magazine, flip phones are cool?

As for social bookmarking, I have been using Delicious on and off for a while.  I was a bit surprised when I logged into my account and saw it started in 2005.  Actually, it  goes back even further since it has imported bookmarks from the browser I was using at the time (IE?) There are over 1800 links, though I don’t really tend to go back and look at the links saved in Delicious (at least not through Delicious).  Going through the links chronologically shows a snapshot of what I was thinking of at the time.  I am going to try to organize the links and see if there are any pearls there.  I noticed features such as tag bundles to build a hierarchy out of links. Also, I would like to explore the social aspect of bookmarking.



Why WordPress

This is not the first time I have tried to start a blog. But  I haven’t found a compelling reason to blog so far. I chose WordPress for a number of reasons. It’s widely used, and therefore likely to be around for the long run. It has lots of flexibility and customizable options.  I like the fact that there is a free version, but if I ever need to get more advanced options, there is premium version of WordPress at a reasonable price. Many high quality websites  use WordPress.