Reference for Dublin Students?

Traditional Irish Breakfast

I recently had an excellent summer scheming meeting with my amazing colleague Sarah Cohen. I like when we put our heads together. It gets me energized and excited about new ideas and initiatives that we could try.

Sarah had just gotten back from a trip to the UK and while there she visited Champlain College’s study abroad campus in Dublin. She related that immediately when she got there she had reference questions from the students there. Apparently students are doing significant research while they’re abroad, and are not quite sure where to get appropriate resources.

Even before she told me her idea I was on the same page as her: we should offer in depth reference to these students using a service like Skype or something similar. They do have our Digsby/IM chat available to them (which they have made use of), but with in depth research something more is needed.

I think we are going to look into it this summer and then maybe run a pilot of the service in the fall. The only missing piece that may be necessary is screen broadcasting software. I really like Procaster, which allows you to live stream what is going on on your screen.

But I really would like something that would allow me to use Skype and then simply switch from my camera to viewing what is on my screen. Is anyone using anything like this? Are there any free or cheap options available? I’ll do some more research, but it should be fun trying something like this.


I just tweeted in the library


This just in: Fail Whale! (thanks to Lee LeFever on Flickr)

Twitter has gotten a lot of press lately. CNN loves to talk about it. It has been on both John Stewart and Steven Colbert. Jimmy Fallon uses it copiously and talks about it on his show. Twitter has grown 2,300% in 13 months. There is no ignoring it.

Yet, recently at the ACRL conference in Seattle I was told students aren’t using it.  I heard this at an excellent session called If You Build It, Will They Care? Their data may be correct for the time they conducted the survey. I thought as much was true myself. I had not seen students on Twitter. Now, though, my response to them is: “just wait.”

The presence here at Champlain College has been growing steadily. This is likely in part due to the efforts of “the queen of social mediaElaine Young, a marketing professor at the college. She began to use the hashtag #campchamp to group all the tweets Champlain College together.

Following and using that tag has proven very useful in learning what’s going on around campus and connecting with students, faculty, and staff. I was even able to perform some preemptive reference for a student who tweeted that they were working on a paper.

I am predicting a growing number of students will be on Twitter in the coming months. It is not going away. We may have a number of pretty savvy students and faculty members here at Champlain, but I forsee a this becoming a national trend.

My advice? Try to find and follow the tag for your school or your community using a tool like Tweetdeck or even Twitter Search and RSS. If there isn’t a tag , start it. Someone has to be the first. Why not you?

It is a much less formal way to interact with students and faculty members. Instead of seeing them in class or meetings or a reference interview, you can simply have conversations about what’s going on around campus or in current events or whatever. It can be very powerful community building tool, in addition to its other myriad uses.

Your students may not be there yet, but they will be…they will be.


The past and FUTURE of libraries


thanks to dottorpeni on flickr

I really enjoyed reading the Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians. It succinctly puts in perspective the place of libraries and librarians in the world.

It came out of a gathering called: In the Foothills: A Not-Quite-Summit on the Future of Libraries (which I wish I could have attended). This group, composed of some very bright library enthusiasts, undertook the task of thinking about the library in big picture terms. It’s often easy to lose this perspective when you’re going to meetings or sorting through mountains of email, but I find this statement invigorating, and something that we as librarians, archivists, etc. can really draw strength from:

The Role of the Library

The Library:

  • Provides the opportunity for personal enlightenment.
  • Encourages the love of learning.
  • Empowers people to fulfill their civic duty.
  • Facilitates human connections.
  • Preserves and provides materials.
  • Expands capacity for creative expression.
  • Inspires and perpetuates hope.

I hope that when I and my colleagues are making decisions about our library and what we should be doing, that we don’t lose sight of this big picture perspective. I know personally I will try to keep in mind that my mission is bigger than just myself or my institution. It is about all libraries together and about humanity.