Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blog Holiday

The holiday's are fast upon us and, as with many blogger's on semesters, I will be taking a break from blogging until after the New Year. Until then, here are a few interesting tidbits and postings from a few of my favorite blogs:
  • ACRLog: Here's What You Told Us
    This post includes highlights from the recent ACRLog poll regarding readership. I found it interesting that many of the readers are new/newer librarians. "And ACRLog readers are mostly a group that is newer to academic librarianship as 52% reported being in the profession 5 years or less. Compare that to the 13% of readers in the profession more than 20 years. That’s an area where we can certainly achieve more balance."
  • ALA Techsource: Google goes to college
    I have a google email and account name and know there is much more I could be doing with the available resources. This post declares, "For librarians who spend much of their time liaising with faculty, this (Google apps for education) has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with them."
  • Read Roger: For the Alias fans in Mourning
    Roger has been providing links and information regarding digital stories.
  • TechLearning Blog: The future of Academic Publishing
    Somthing of interest to many academic librarians the author takes a look at academic publishing as a whole.
  • Walt at Random: Book Publishing in the U.S., Bigger than we thought?
    Great statistics and information regarding "the book." After standing in line at Borders two evenings ago, I'd say the book is in pretty good shape.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and peace to all.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


This morning I have been perusing the growing stack of journals on my desk, passing on one's I have read to other librarians and putting others aside for further reading. In addition to general library fare that includes Booklist, Book Links, and Library Journal, I began browsing through the year end special issue of Campus Technology that features "101 Best Practices in ... Smart Classrooms, Connectivity, and Administrative IT," December 2006. Paying particular interest to this issue because recently I began serving on a technology instructor search committee for the College of Education, I was intrigued to find buried amongst emerging classroom technologies (check out Tegrity) a Smart Library at Utah State University with the Smart Classroom section.

"Utah State University’s new Merrill-Cazier Library, opened in the 2005-2006 academic year, is using technology to not only retrieve information from the library catalog, but also retrieve the books themselves. The $42 million project features a state-of-the-art system of robotic stacks, 85 feet high, 60 feet wide, and 120 feet long, which locates requested materials among the 1.5 million volumes and speeds them to patrons—at a rate of 328 feet per minute. The space-saving system allows for many years of collection development. Says Linda Wolcott, vice provost for libraries, “The Merrill-Cazier Library has become the hub of learning on campus, providing the resources, access to technology, and flexible study environments that support the way students learn today.” " (Smart Library, Campus Technology, 12/2006)

Unfortunately, the article made no further mention regarding exactly what books were housed within the USU Merrill-Cazier Library retrieval system, the BARN. Sharing my finding with two student workers, I wondered if it was the entire library or specific collections within the library utilizing the system. In all honesty, we were a bit taken aback by the idea of a juvenile collection being part of this storage since it is routinely a frequently browsed area in our library. I was intrigued enough to want to learn more. They were concerned I watched the availabe web cam to see how it worked. Check out the BARN (ASRS) page on the USU Merrill-Cazier library web site to learn about what the BARN is, why they chose a BARN, and what is housed in their BARN. For anyone wondering what BARN stands for, it means Borrower's Automated Retrieval Network; a much simpler, catchier acronym than ASRS or Automated Storage and Retrieval System.

With what may be a growing trend, how many institutions can actually afford this technology? I would imagine it is not something smaller and/or mid-sized academic libraries will quickly adopt. Not just because of the cost issue, but also because collections may not warrant off-site storage of any type. Either way, it sheds an interesting light on the shelf shifting I have been doing in the library juvenile collection for the last 4 - 6 weeks. Creating additional room where no room exists is an ongoing challenge, even an opportunity. In retrospect, a nice little robotic arm would have been welcomed.

Here are a few academic libraries in Canada and the US utilizing ASRS:

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A bit of finals week library humor

Flush with the successful completion of the term without major technology failures, only one dead computer for a single 24 hour period, or horrific equipment failures, a new plug on our roll top laminator not withstanding, we have begun finals week at Ashland University. The library and IRC undergo another interesting metamorphosis regarding library as a place.

As previously mentioned, last Friday was the due date for 131/504. It is not an exaggeration to say students in the IRC were lined up five deep to make Ellison letters (we have 6 machines), muttering about the time it was taking to pick up print jobs (someone printed a 150 page article during a particularly busy time), and the table by the binder was full as students waited their turn to bind their final portfolio project. The noise level on the second floor was higher as discussion ensued regarding the best way to finish quickly. No one was exceptionally loud, everyone was using their "inside voices," but there was a constant muted conversational buzz throughout the day. During this time, no one mistakes the second floor of the library for quiet space. Not so during finals week.

Yesterday every computer, study table, and miscellaneous available work space on the second floor was occupied by students studying. The quiet, a definite contrast from last week, was almost deafening. In the midst of the quiet came a first for the IRC. On my way to lunch and then a technology search committee meeting at the College of Education, I was chatting with two student workers (I think dolls for toddlers might have been our subject) when a very polite young man came asked if he could shut the IRC door.

I was chagrined to realize that indeed we were the noisiest people in the IRC!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who's Who? What do you think?

Along with several thousand other people, I received a letter from Cambridge Who's Who in late October (the 25th to be exact) informing me I was "being considered for inclusion into the 2006/2007 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women in Education 'honors Edition' of the Registry." After dragging it from my mail box, I covertly glanced to see how many others received the same missive. The letter further explained:

"The 2006/2007 edition of the Registry will include biographies of our country's most accomplished women. Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executive and professional women throughout America each year. Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement.
Upon final confirmation, you will be listed among thousands of accomplished women in the Cambridge Who's Who Registry.
For accuracy and publication deadlines please return to us your application form within five business days from the receipt of this letter. There is no cost to be included."

It sat on my desk for several days and on a whim, I sent it back and did not think anything more about it. Until today. This afternoon I got a phone call from Cambridge Who's Who and after a short question and answer period I was congratulated and told my biography was accepted.
At that point the sales pitch commenced.
The price for being included in this edition ranged from $189 - $700 depending on the level of sponsorship (for want of a better word) I was prepared to purchase. I had no desire to make this decision spur of the moment and the longer I "waffled," the harder the push. At one point I was asked, "Don't you know who we are?" That was when my patience expired. I replied, "Yes, but I have no intention of making a purchase of this magnitude over the phone without any consideration." She relented and gave me until 5:30 pm this afternoon to decide.
Naturally, I began my research on this company after lunch. I started with my boss, who had never heard of them, and finished with a quick Google search. Findings ranged from a few happy consumers to snarky reports of outright scam. I also found several mentions of this letter in other blogs.
Negative research results:
Positive customer results:
Blogging about the directory:
An interesting discovery:
I was less than thrilled with the sales pitch, mostly because the representative was pushy and rude. (It is now 5:30 pm and I have missed her deadline.) The crux of the matter for me? If it costs nothing to be included, why must I pay for a subscription and/or join? I would be interested in hearing comments from others who have paid for this service and/or opted out.
Update: 12/12/06
Last Friday afternoon I received a second call from Rebecca at Cambridge Who's Who. I freely admit I did not expect to hear from the company after missing my deadline earlier in the week. However, when she started the entire sales pitch a second time, including wanting to ask me additional questions to further assess my qualifications for inclusion, I politely interrupted and told her we had this conversation last week. I also reminded her I had answered all of the secondary questions and that she already welcomed me to the "family" (so to speak).
I questioned why I was being asked to make a purchase when the invitation letter specifically noted "There is no cost to be included." The clearest part of her circular answer detailed benefits only offered customers subscribing to their registry. I declined the opportunity to make a purchase and admit to some curiosity regarding my inclusion in the upcoming registry. It is obvious I should have researched before sending in the application, but I was flattered, somewhat naive, and did not see the harm. Quite honestly, no harm no foul for the entire process because I have learned something.

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ACRLog Survey

To celebrate their first year in existence, ACRLog is conducting a readers survey. As of this morning there is still time to participate. If you are a regular reader of ACRLog, or are simply interested in learning more about it, now is a good time to see what they are doing and make suggestions for topics.

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