Posted in Outreach

Adventures in Working Remotely, Day 3 (or is it 5)?

As I roll into week two of working remotely, I feel like I’m falling into more of a routine. But I have to admit, the weekend had me a bit stymied. With all activities cancelled, one day looks the same as the next, so should I just go ahead and follow the same day-to-day schedule through the weekend too? Or is that just a recipe for burnout? (In fairness, I have a tendency to work on the weekends, whether I’ve been told to work remotely or not, so it’s not much of a stretch for me, but I have to say, when I woke up on Saturday, it felt like just another day of the week, not the weekend.) When you’re working from home, do you have strategies for disambiguating your work life from the rest of your life?

Our remote classes began today. I haven’t heard any horror stories yet, other than the recordings taking a bit longer than usual to render and be made available. Strange though the circumstances may be, it feels good to get back to some kind of normal, with students (virtually) back in class, programming resuming (via Zoom), and all of our eyes set on finishing out the semester. As frustrating as working remotely can be, as isolating as it is, I can’t help but feel inspired. We have all been thrust into this unprecedented situation, and rather than accept defeat, everyone’s rising to the challenge, finding new ways to stay connected, maintain community. Student groups and offices are hosting social media challenges (I love the hashtag IUZoomington!), and it makes me want to join in too. The Law Library certainly has many plans for serving our patrons remotely. Planned workshops for the spring are moving to an online format, and I’ve reached out to a number of vendors to get temporary online access to The Bluebook, West Academic Study Aids, Wolters Kluwer Study Aids, and more. But what else can we do? A library, after all, is so much more than a building. I’ve got some ideas rattling around in my over-stimulated brain, so I’ll be sure to report back as these new initiatives take full form. But for tonight, I’m glad to have the Maurer community back together, however far apart we may actually be, and I’m excited to see how we wrap up this decidedly unusual semester.

Meanwhile, my new coworker is living his best life, and loving this work-from-home thing. Stay healthy!




Posted in Outreach, Teachable Moments, Technology

The Rise of the Reference iPad

Wow, the first week of the school year is always a whirlwind!  With 1L orientation on Monday, a journal sourcing assignment Monday-Wednesday, and 1L library tours Thursday and Friday, to say that it’s been a busy week would be an understatement.  But entering my second year as a librarian here at Maurer Law, it’s also been really fun.  Not only did I get to meet the students that will be in my two sections of Legal Research & Writing, but I also got to catch up with a few of my students from last year.  I was thrilled to hear that one of them had been invited back to his summer employer again for next year – this is, of course, what we’re hoping for.  (And it made my day when he told me he’d be sending all the 1Ls our way for research help!)  Though I won’t be seeing my 1Ls this year again until October, I’m glad they can recognize me as a resource so early in the semester – it’s always nice to be able to put faces to names, especially in a new environment.

The library iPads we bought in the Spring have taken on all new services this Fall.  While some libraries circulate iPads, ours are for the Reference Office, not for the patrons.  We use them to test out apps and such, but we haven’t heavily used them in service…until this week.  We had a journal student needing to scan a large volume of statutes from an enormous tome, making it a tedious job for him on the physical scanner, so, feeling bad for him, we lent him one of our iPads and showed him how to use the CamScanner app to scan his pages instead.  (As an aside, do you know he was the second journal student who came in this week that didn’t have a smartphone?  Both young students too – I was surprised.  It just goes to show we really cannot assume that our students are completely immersed in the latest tech.)  Anyway, this was a huge hit for him; he even lent it to another journal student as well (which frazzled me, but he did eventually bring it back to us, safe and sound!).  I was thrilled that we could offer this service to the students, but we realized we had to rein it in, since our iPads were not meant to be lent out and we had no policies or enforcement procedures in place to handle that.  So the downside is that we did get several more requests for the iPad, which we had to decline.  But this situation caused me to realize what a great tool an iPad could be for a journal.  Now they would of course have to be responsible for maintaining it and monitoring its use, but clearly there’s a need for it.

Then just today I received a call at the reference desk from someone across the country needing some historical Indiana bills.  These are easy enough to find, but, as with the journal student’s problem, these bills are bound in massive, unwieldy volumes.  Enter the Reference iPad!  I scanned, OCR’d, and emailed them right from the iPad, no trouble at all.  When we got our iPads, I imagined us using them in teaching, perhaps doing brown bag sessions with app demonstrations.  I just love finding new ways to use library tools to augment our services, and I think I certainly saw that this week with our iPad.  Finally, definitive proof that these were a good investment for the Reference Office.

Posted in Outreach, Social Media

Fun, Useful, or Ridiculous? Perceptions of Social Media Use by Libraries

As you may have noticed from many of my other posts, I truly enjoy research.  Whether because of my job, the courses I have taken, or simply because of my general interest in the subject, much of my recent research has revolved around social media use in various types of libraries.  Two projects I am currently working on have involved surveys of librarians about social media and other emerging technologies, how they are (or are not) used by their libraries, and the librarians’ general perceptions about the use of these technologies by libraries.  What amazes me is the dichotomy of responses I encounter in these surveys, no matter what type of librarian I survey.

Although certainly not all libraries are involved with social media, the profession is no stranger to it either.  Many libraries have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts; some have YouTube channels and GoodReads libraries; others are even branching into Pinterest.  As evidenced by much of the positive feedback in these surveys, many librarians praise social media as another means of connecting with patrons and the community, through avenues many of their patrons already frequent (ex: Facebook Newsfeeds).

Yet for every positive comment I come across in these survey responses, I also find many opposed to libraries’ use of social media.  Often these comments refer to the uselessness of social media generally, not just for libraries.  Some see it as too time-consuming.  Others see it as a separate sphere of existence, that the social sphere and the professional sphere should not overlap.

Clearly, I am a proponent of social media use by libraries.  My favorite aspect is the bridging of formal and informal; I can post library announcements and links to pertinent news articles and research, but I can also post historical pictures of the library, fun and informative infographics I come across, etc.  For instance, here is an image (of my dog) that I made first as a slide for our digital sign and later posted to our Facebook page: relax copy

Like so many proponents of social media use by libraries, I appreciate the ability to reach our patrons where they already spend regular amounts of time.  With the interconnected abilities of various social media outlets (ex: I can pin something on Pinterest and have it automatically post on Twitter and Facebook as well), I can hopefully reach patrons through their social media of choice — some may prefer Facebook over Twitter or vice versa.  Of course, I realize that not all patrons use any social media, and that’s fine – I think it is important to note that our use of social media does not replace any other services of the library; non-social media users can still receive information about the library in other ways, such as email and print announcements.  I’m not sure that I would support replacing social media with any other library service, because I think you risk isolating a significant patron base that does not use social media.

Social media use by libraries is by no means without flaws.  I think you have to know what you’re getting into when you sign up for social media accounts of any kind.  Social media is unlike static web pages; the content is always changing, fluid.  If your library doesn’t have the time to regularly, at least daily, add a new post or tweet, then now is probably not the time to get involved with social media.  As social as it is, it’s still a real responsibility.  That said, I think it can also be an excellent outreach tool and creative outlet for libraries, and I think its use by libraries will only continue to expand and improve.

Posted in Outreach, Social Media

Pinterest and the Law Library

Digging deeper into social media, I began a Pinterest account for the law library today:

Of all the social media, I find to Pinterest to be one of the most addicting to play around with.  That said, we are certainly not the first library, and not even the first law library, to dive in.  Pinterest allows a user to create “boards” on which to pin images on a subject of the user’s choosing.  A personal Pinterest account might have a board for recipes, another for crafts, and another for books.  (I don’t believe there’s a limit to the number of boards one can have.)  A library could have the same personal categories, or it might tailor them to library services, for instance, images of the dust jackets for their newest acquisitions.  This is the direction our Pinterest account is running.

Apart from creating boards, Pinterest users follow others’ boards, picking them based on their own interests.  So far we are following the few other law libraries with Pinterest accounts, as well as a few organizations related to law schools, such as  If you see a pin on another’s board that you like, you can repin the image to one of your boards, ‘like’ the pin, and/or comment on the pin.

As with so much of the social media out there, Pinterest also allows a user to post pins to Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Since the law library’s Twitter and Facebook accounts are linked, this means I can pin to one of our Pinterest accounts, have it announced on our Twitter page, and have that tweet fed into our Facebook timeline!  Aaahhh, interconnectedness!

Having just begun the account today, our account is quite small.  We have two boards begun, one with quotes from/about lawyers and the law, and one highlighting some of our latest acquisitions.  I would like to add some more boards, highlighting some of our databases and research guides, and eventually some fun boards about the library as well.
I am excited to see where our Pinterest account takes us.  It’s another, different, way for us to reach out to patrons, and we’ll see where it goes from here.

Posted in Outreach, Presentations, Teachable Moments

Conceptualization and Technology

This week has had me thinking about technology in terms of conceptualization – both technologies that are intended to make you conceptualize information in a different way and reconceptualizing existing technologies for use in new ways.

For the past two days I have attended the Statewide IT Conference here in Bloomington.  Admittedly, as I am not an IT specialist by any means, much of the conference material was over my head; however, there were several programs that dealt with the use of technology in the classroom, and it is my reflections on these programs that inspired my post for the week.  For at least the third time this year, I attended a program that discussed Prezi.  For most, Prezi is fairly well-known at this point as a presentation software akin to PowerPoint, yet entirely different at the same time.  I had to agree with the presenter today – I have seen both good and horrible Prezi presentations!  The thing that sets it apart from PowerPoint is – my buzzword for this post – conceptualization!  PowerPoint is inherently linear – you present your information slide by slide.  Prezi is more of a “mind map,” meaning that the information you are presenting is all linked around a central concept; certainly, you will present this information in a particular order, but in theory you could present the same information in a different order, because it is all interrelated.  I’ve been a little leery to use Prezi in the past because so many people I know find it sea-sickening (I think I’ve coined a new term there!), however, there is much in legal research that could be taught, perhaps best even, through a mind map conceptualization, because so much in research is interrelated; thus I intend to start experimenting more with Prezi to see how my presentations might be transformed for the better.

In addition I continue to find new uses for existing technologies that I believe could put a new face on typical library activities and raise our profile among our patron base; this goes beyond the Facebook and Twitter accounts I began earlier this year.  I hate to be so vague about this, but as I haven’t put these into action yet, I think I should hold off on detailed ideas.  Suffice it to say that I have been looking at existing social media and other popular applications lately in new ways that I think could change or supplement the manner in which we present library services and collections in the future.

To be continued…

Posted in Outreach, Social Media, Teachable Moments

Catching Up

It’s been a while – the last few weeks have really flown by!  We’ve been knee-deep in the interview process for another librarian to replace our outgoing Electronic Resources librarian.  Being just two months old myself, it has been interesting to see the interview process from the other side and imagine what these candidates would be like to work with.

In terms of my job here, I have been so busy with tech projects I have had little time to do personal research of my own (not that I’m complaining – it feels good to feel needed!).  In what was perhaps a stroke of genius, a colleague suggested a little competition to garner more “likes” for our Facebook page.  Thus, lately we have been advertising that, as soon as our page gets 100 likes, we will randomly select one law student who has liked us to receive a $25 Starbucks gift card.  The irony of this, of course, is that our advertising avenues are our Twitter and Facebook accounts, our blog, and our digital sign – if the students aren’t looking at these, they still do not know about the competition!  Nevertheless the likes have started coming more quickly, and I think we’ll soon make our goal.

We are now exploring other social media to see how we can promote ourselves in even more and different ways.  To be continued…

With students back, we are elbow-deep in sourcing projects for journals and orienting 1Ls and international students to the trappings of the library.  I’ll admit that I quite enjoy the craziness and fast-paced world the beginning of the semester always heralds.  It was great getting to start my job in the summer, in the quiet, but with the semester in full swing I feel like my law librarian journey has truly begun.

Posted in AALL, Outreach, Social Media, Technology

It’s Good to Feel Needed!

This has been a good week.  The Twitter account continues to get new followers on an almost daily basis; I published the LibGuide I was creating on legal apps so that our patrons can access it from our Resource Guide page; and I have begun playing around with the IU course management system, Oncourse.

I was excited to see that, though I do not have my own course this Fall, I could still get a practice Oncourse site to explore.  From my own IU education, I knew there were a plethora of features available on Oncourse, from forums to email to wikis and more, but I suspected that faculty do not use all of these resources, and may not even know the range of resources Oncourse provides; thus my interest in playing with it!  Today, that experimenting paid off in spades.  Two people approached me today asking about the features of Oncourse.  I walked them both through my site, showed them things I had already tried, such as modules and quizzes, as well as other interactive features such as wikis, blogs, and chat rooms.  I later heard that one of these individuals had been very pleased to learn about all that Oncourse can do, so I am so glad that I brought it up in the initial meeting.

One of the individuals I follow on Twitter had tweeted about an article on Android apps for lawyers.  This sparked my interest in getting my LibGuide on law-related apps published – I have been working on it and editing it for a couple months – so I did just that and advertised it on our Twitter account (which also syncs with our Facebook account).  The other librarians were pleased to see that I had published it and we will be formally announcing it to our non-tweeting faculty in a week or so.

While these are all little things, this was my first experience having others approach me for guidance in my specialty area or suggest that work I had done should be announced to law school community.  It really made me feel like I had a true place at this school, and gave me the confidence to know that I can do this job, and I can do it well.
Next – off to Boston for the AALL Annual Meeting!  I’ll tell you all about my experiences next week!

Posted in Outreach, Social Media

New Beginnings: Ed Tech to Date

After two weeks as the Educational Technology Librarian at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, I have the following to show for my work:

Although it easy to dismiss social media in an academic setting, Facebook and Twitter can certainly be used to enhance library services, as evidenced by the plethora of library Facebook and Twitter accounts in existence today.  Already I have been able to highlight changes to existing library infrastructure, such as the migration of our research guides to our new LibGuides account, as well as announcing the addition of a new video to our library’s YouTube channel.  In my opinion, one of the best things about a business or organization having a social media presence is the ability to blend formal and informal – conveying information professionally, but in a more relaxed manner; I believe this can often make the business or organization, especially a library or school, more approachable for patrons and students.  Especially in an academic setting, where most students today have Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, creating library accounts through these sites can be an excellent way to reach a larger portion of your patron base (and beyond).  I am excited to see how these accounts will affect our visibility in the law school community.

As the summer (unbelievably!) draws to a close, I will now shift my focus to technologies for the classroom so that I can reach out to our faculty members as they prepare for a new semester.

Posted in Outreach

Law Library Outreach

I love reading about library outreach, a topic critical, in my opinion, to the survival of any library.  As I was scanning through the AALL Spectrum issues sent to me in my welcome packet from AALL, I came across this article about Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law’s outreach efforts.  Staff here acknowledged what I think is easily forgotten: law libraries are not always the first place patrons go for legal research questions.  Therefore, the librarians at NKU’s law library provided a series of outreach programs to library staff at surrounding public libraries, to great success.  I will leave it to you to read the article, but what a fantastic, and worthwhile, outreach endeavor, one that will hopefully inspire copycats the country over!