Wednesday, March 23, 2011

thinking about patron-driven acquisition

Course material points to Barbara Fister's "Puzzled by patron-driven acquisition" and then asks what we think.

I think Barbara was having a vent in good blogger style.  Being a vent, some of her points get a bit mingled.

The clearest and most important point she made was
Used as a supplement to traditional collection development (which is already patron-driven, in that we have always tried to match choices to expressed or even inarticulate needs) it makes a certain amount of sense--provided your patrons will use e-books
[my italics]
In fact, what else is there to say?  I'd say that sums up a reasonable point-of-view.

Barbara was concerned about some speakers' enthusiasm for the method of acquisition, although she didn't identify anyone who is using it as their *sole* method of collection building. I can see how people can get enthusiastic - being able to put titles before our patrons before we buy them, being able to offer a loan (at a loan price) and only choose to buy if an item is borrowed a few times and we think it might have continuing value - this sounds wonderful.  Of course how wonderful depends how much it costs us simply for access to the database of ebooks (which I'm not in postion to know), and how well suited the database is to our likely needs (which I'm guessing is tailored to the library's profile) - but the principle is promising.

More frustrating in my course is that the next question presents false dichotomy and does not even follow from the above reading or any prior in the unit: "should librarians choose what they think people should be reading (or viewing or listening to) rather than what they want" as if the answer is not obviously NO in response to the "should" in most cases but also "it depends" because of course it is possible that there is a library somewhere whose collection development is based solely upon a specific curriculum of readings for a specified purpose in a narrowly focussed organisation, and in that unlikely library "what they want" simply wouldn't arise. 

"should"? - is this deception, obfuscation or muddy communication? does the question mean obliged, duty-bound, propriety-bound, expected, could, would or something else?
"rather than"? is such an either/or likely to arise?
"what they want"? a want articulated? like a request?

It is not a real question.  When, if the budget has not run out and the "want" is within the parameters of collection development for the library and patrons are permitted to make a request, would a librarian ever be forced to choose between a valid request and some other collection appropriate item?

Beauty & the Beasts

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Power of social search + Google Image + fortuitous error?

echofon displayed for me a puzzle [RT] from toddtyrtle:

Curious whether I could track it down I wasn't having any luck with a variety of descriptive words, so I skipped to a guess and google image search. My guess was wrong, but luckily it caught an equally half-wrong? description at istockphoto.

BTW do *any* maples have similar seeds?
or is this a case of fortuitous error?
I'd say serendipitous if not for discovering Walpole's original meaning

After Maple the description included "London plane tree". On adding that to the search google brought up a similar query at arboristsite to which Sylvia had suggested a sycamore and linked Virginia Tech's Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation VTreeID Factsheet of American Sycamore.  Great database, with pictures of tree, leaf and seed. In this case, although it is difficult to tell because in andy's pic the seed is exploded, it still looks fluffier than the American, and more like the Arizona Sycamore I think.  Sadly the database itself doesn't seem to include description of seeds, so from it I can't learn how to describe seeds.

Back at Google Image Search I checked other images of London Plane and Sycamore seed photos - and I'm leaning towards Sycamore.

I was impressed with the power of social answer finding (?social search engine) allowed me by Flickr a few years ago, when I uploaded a photo called "what flower is this" and 17 months later (possibly after I added it to a group) was surprised to find an answer but andycaster had his answer in ... 35 minutes?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What kind of Embodied Cognition can help me produce an essay?

Can someone own up to tweeting about this blogpost by Stephanie Willen Brown: CogSci Librarian: Embodied Cognition?

I read:
"Embodied Cognition...[see Stephanie's post for an explanation if you need it]...article in the January/February issue of Scientific American Mind: Body of Thought by Siri Carpenter...[a couple of examples]:
  • Just in the past few years studies have shown that holding a hot cup of coffee or being in a comfortably heated room warms a person's feelings toward strangers ...
  • [T]hat sitting on a hard chair turns mild-mannered undergraduates into hard-headed negotiators"
 and have been wondering ever since how essay writing powers might be embodied (so I can switch them on).

Blogging towards an essay?

I do find blogpost writing conducive to thinking - although it is frustrating because it takes so long, so maybe there is something in the idea in my last post to work on ideas here - I don't even have to post them, just being in the frame might help.

Downside to that idea is that part of my focus at the Blogger Edit Post screen is to try for a writing style that suits blog-reading (yeah ok I'm not great at that)... whereas my goal for school is an essay.  Some parts of this are a positive.  From what I understand (in theory if not my own practice):
  • In neither case is a long sentence desirable.
  • In both a logical flow of argument is desirable.
  • I'm remembering phrases that probably apply to both, like
    • "show, don't tell" and in both cases link it (though the citation method differs)
    • and "Trim the fat"
  • .... anything else?
Aside from citation methods, and blog=personal .v. essay=impersonal, what distinctions between essays and blogposts should I keep in mind if I work up my essay in a blogpost?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Restraints when blogging

How does blogging fit with your career?

Back in June last year, SueLibrarian mentioned the topic of blogging personally on professional topics and asked whether others feel restrained from doing so for any reason. Plenty of comments from fellow librarians shared how to manage, or avoid the risks. (And while I'm acknowledging the long-ago stimuli: @flexnib's self-questions... just "ditto") Sue had been stimulated by Dorothea Salo's experience with conflict between her blogging and colleagues.  Dorothea (whose Book of Trogool is now hosted at Scientopia) pointed to Jenica Rogers' 2009 opinion that librarianship was not yet ready for online identities - although the other 18 points Jenica made in that post were positive about managing and understanding online identity.  

This is an issue I've pondered much to myself but haven't been game to record where I sit.  My situation is slightly different: I'm working (part-time) in the profession but I'm also still studying. (And therein lies a tickly topic with other unfinished posts relating to "profession" / qualification levels / exclusion and stratification.)  But for now I'll focus on risks or rewards, if any, to a later career by blogging while a student.

"What if a prospective employer takes exception to something I've written?"
"What if I'm wrong, or sound stupid, or ...(yes thank you Ceccy) condescending, or long-winded or..."
"What about all the non-professional posts I make too, should I have separate blogs, but then they'd both have fewer posts"

So, "to blog or not to blog" as one might google - and find oneself not alone in pondering.  Charlsie pointed out that in an age when future prospective employers will google us there is as much risk of being under- as over-exposed.  Eliminated from consideration for having nothing to say or for having said something unpleasant?

For a more positive perspective I looked for people who believe it was their blogging that got them their job. It turns out (as ever) that there is more to it, such as the skills that we learn and demonstrate writing for a blog as Cameron Plommer showed. Or, as Tyler Durbin discussed, the self we reveal and develop while becoming part of a community.  Tyler's opinion spoke to one of my concerns: when one of his commenters suggested that to be helpful towards a career one's blog writing must be "polished, professional and focused on topics relevant to its purpose" (eek, my blog is a wandering), Tyler argued instead for "real, honest and candid".

Like Tyler, "I'm the person that is directly related to the content" of my own blog - so now I have to wonder what my blog reveals about me.  Rational? Compassionate? Tech-savvy? Analyser? Synthesiser? I could also consider for future writing what I *want* it to show about me.  Tyler links his blog-revelation directly to the type of place at which he now works.  Perhaps my blog will not fetch me the few extra hours a fortnight my budget needs now, but over the next few years will it connect me with a team to help a wide variety of people find the weird, wonderful, where-oh-where information they need? Or with experiences I cannot even imagine yet?   

Ryan Healy's fifth reason for college students to blog addressed another of my concerns: being wrong. If I can be brave enough to post even when I might be wrong, I can be told (or discover), listen, re-evaluate, compose myself and reveal growth.  Con (aka flexnib, mentioned above) was even more forgiving: "ah well, it’s a blog post. It’s not meant to be perfect."

So why am I writing about this now?

Let me catch you up as it has been *cough* a while since I last wrote: I am studying at Charles Sturt University for the Bachelor of Information Studies (Librarianship). Okay so there has been more happening too but that will do to lead into:

Last night my search for an elusive article (abstracts without access to full-text are so frustrating) drifted a delightful blog into my view: At "Old Things with Stories": Lisa Schell brings things, ideas, images, together - in ways and style that connects for me - her choice of images, the blending of professional thinking and personal experience, and it appears the blog was inspired by her graduate LIS studies.  (side note for fellow students at CSU: she specialises in Archival Administration and Records Management)  You'll understand it was so charming I emailed her to ask for her to open the blog to comments.

Right so, you can imagine my joy to receive a reply this morning.  And my gulp when she asked whether I have a blog and I remember that it has been *ahem* since I last posted.

The course at CSU involves reading and posting on our reading to internal CSU forums.  Sometimes the requested contributions to forums are not outlet enough for my reactions to my excessive reading but I don't want to burden the students who are finding the work as it is more than enough to keep up with. I've considered channelling some of the overflow here, and then I have to remind myself how long I spend preparing a blogpost and thus how it diverts me from the dreaded essay tasks.

Hmmm, might blogging help me process ideas towards my essays? I'm recalling John Dupuis recently posted on a topic that he had merely touched on in earlier posts - does anyone else explore incomplete notions piecemeal through their blog?

Can you stand a diversion? Son#2's latest interruption in Boolean:
"World of Warcraft" AND "Abbott and Costello"


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