Posted in Lessons Learned, Technology

Adventures in Working Remotely: Day 2

A second day of remote working in the books. Today was a mix of (1) trying to get back to that ever-growing to-do list of routine work and (2) continuing to sort out COVID-19 contingency plans. Today’s contingency plan focus: student workers. With the library closed, our student workers are out of work (they can’t exactly work the Circulation Desk), which feels unjust and, for some, unaffordable. I’ve been in several meetings about this over the last couple of weeks, looking for solutions, and surveying colleagues at other law libraries about their approach to this issue. Like many, this week our University took the position of saying students will be paid, but ideally by assigning them to alternative tasks.

A few challenges present themselves with this solution: First, you have to find enough tasks to cover all student workers, for the duration of the closure. Second, you have to supervise them on those tasks, and in some instances, train them. Third, for the students, these new jobs are not what they originally signed up for; it disrupts their schedule, and may actually create more work than they had originally (esp. if their previous job was working the Circulation Desk, where they could often study during shifts). But, as emphasized yesterday, these closure contingencies are all about adaptability, so adapt we do.

At first, the idea of coming up with a huge number of projects seemed overwhelming and impossible (talk to me in two weeks – I might feel that again as the projects start to dry up!); but as it turns out, the more I think of projects, the more projects come to mind. It’s hard to know how long each will take, but I feel confident that, at least to start out, I’ve got assignments for everyone. And you know, I’m actually sort of excited about it! I decided this year I was going to get back into writing, so I have a list of article ideas I’m sitting on, and suddenly I have a pool of potential research assistants. Several other librarians have come up with projects as well, as have other departments. We all have projects waiting in the wings, and times like these are a great opportunity to heat them up. Could this closure actually be more productive for us in the end? Probably not in reality, but it is certainly allowing us to expand our list of active projects, which is not something I’d anticipated.

Yesterday’s work was sponsored by Outlook, Slack, and Zoom. Today a new sponsor entered the ring: Trello. I’m a fan of Trello boards for organizing my own work. (Full disclosure: I got a little “board-happy” when I first started using it, and it actually became a little overwhelming, so I backed off and simplified to using boards to make lists of agenda items for the growing number of meetings I report to and brainstorming for potential presentation proposals and articles.) To manage our student workers’ assignments during this closure, I’m stepping up my Trello game to use it for project management. I have checklists for each student, showing what project I have assigned to them (so far), and who’s supervising it. This helps me keep track both of the projects and the students they’re assigned to. Simple, but effective, and definitely putting my mind at ease, which is not an easy feat these days!

These are challenging times, but the funny thing about challenging times is that they often bring about creative solutions. I’m determined to stay positive throughout this, so I focus on these moments of creativity, the lessons we can learn, the improvements that will come out of this experience, and the many ways we can come together (just not physically!) as a community to be there for each other.

communicationI admire the way my University has handled things so far. Indiana University was quick to act, and has shown great care in ensuring they meet the needs of the faculty, staff, and students. The decisions they’ve had to make – like closing the dorms, deciding whether staff should work remotely, determining what university functions are essential, thrusting us all into remote teaching – are not easy decisions, and were not made lightly. True, the policies continue to be adjusted, tweaked, and updated on a near-daily basis as the numbers of COVID-19 cases in Indiana continue to grow exponentially, but as frustrating as it can feel having to readjust our plans every time the policies change, I’m glad they continue to change – it shows me that the University realizes the importance of being flexible, not rigid, and continuing to make safety our number one priority. I appreciate the level of transparency I have felt throughout this process. The number of statements from campus and university leaders help keep us informed, which is so much preferable to feeling like you’re constantly in the dark. In turn, that’s my goal with my constituents as well: transparency. Lay it out there, let them know what I know, and also what I don’t know, but what I’m going to find out! I have emailed my staff on an almost daily basis since this all began (go ahead, ask them!). I’ve tried to keep students in my class informed from day one as well. We are all affected by these closures in different ways, and I think more communication is better than scant. Are they getting tired of my emails? Maybe. But no one’s said that yet. So keep it up, IU, and so will I.

Before I close for the night, I have to do a little more bragging. This time, I have to thank my colleagues. The librarians and staff I work with have been incredible through this process, very supportive, flexible, and accepting of the adjustment to working remotely. The senior staff have been cooperative, coordinating, and quick to lend a hand or offer solution. Our Dean has been equally or perhaps even more transparent than the University in communication with the law school community. And the students? Wow. I can’t imagine this happening to me when I was in law school, and how I would have handled it, but the students have been amazing. They’re asking great questions, and showing a real investment in their education and their community, and I couldn’t be prouder. The student workers in the library who have responded to me so far today, rather than bemoaning the situation, have shown an enthusiasm for taking on alternative work assignments. I know I’m biased, but every year I feel like Maurer has the best of everything – amazing staff, amazing faculty, and amazing students. Now is no exception.

The funny thing about enthusiasm? It’s contagious. And a much better thing to catch than coronavirus. Stay healthy.

Posted in Technology

Technology for Technology’s Sake?

It comes as no secret to anyone in the library world that libraries today are in a state of flux, forced by the needs and desires of our patrons to move away from the traditional concept of the library as keeper-of-books to something more.  Far from the Doomsday cries of some in the field who proclaim that the library is a dying entity, I reside firmly in the camp that says, if anything, libraries and librarians are needed even more today.  Yes, we need to reconceptualize the library, but that’s just a matter of recognizing how libraries and library services need to evolve to meet the needs of patrons today. library-card-e-reader

Arguably, even as technology transforms patrons’ lives, their needs remain ultimately the same: they need to locate certain materials; they need to answer a research question; they seek recommendations on the best resources to fit their needs.  The only difference today is perhaps the format: the materials they want to locate might be housed in a database rather than on a bookshelf; their research questions might be best answered using electronic resources rather than print; and these days more than ever, librarians are called to help patrons find the best [often electronic] resources to address patrons’ needs.  Information illiteracy, ironically, seems to increase as the amount of information available increases.*

While the needs of patrons may not have changed, the resources we use to answer their questions, we can see, have changed (although I am also not in the camp that believes print will entirely die out; books are still important and in many cases much easier to use for research than print databases).  But it’s no secret that technology demands have (and will continue to) changed in libraries.  Beyond the basics such as internet access and database subscriptions to facilitate research, libraries are finding more and more ways to evolve their services, such as creating library apps, offering chat reference, and maintaining a library blog.  Indeed the knowledge that libraries need to keep up with technology has been embraced so voraciously in some respects that we might be seeing circumstances where libraries are embracing a technology just because it’s there, skipping the ever-important step of assessing how that technology will enhance their services.

I’ve written about this concept previously in terms of social media use and neglect, but in this post we’ll look more generally at technology in libraries.  As an example, we have recently installed a touch-screen only computer for quick access to our online catalog.  The machine is slick, and operates like a very large tablet.  But its on-screen keyboard is quite small and cannot be enlarged, some unaccustomed to smart screens had difficulty using it at first, and shortly after installation the question came up as to why there couldn’t be a physical keyboard.  The answer to that immediate question might simply be that the machine is not built to have a physical keyboard, but to me this actually posed the greater question of whether this was a useful addition to the library, or simply flash-and-bang.  The answer, I think, is – it depends.

First, I think it depends on who’s using the machine.  There are many patrons these days who are so accustomed to their smart devices that a large touch-screen monitor might be a welcome addition to the library.  There are others who will find it difficult to get used to.  Second, it depends on how it’s used.  If we were replacing all of our computers with these smart screens, I would be concerned; but this is a dedicated terminal for accessing the catalog only; it is meant to be a quick stop on your way to finding a resource, and I think the touch screen nature of this machine fits that purpose well.  Finally, I think it depends on how often it gets used.  Sometimes with new technologies, you just have to dive in and try it out to see whether it will take hold.  Technology use anywhere is an experiment at first, so I think time will tell better than any other assessment whether this particular use of technology in libraries is a success.

Yes indeed, the evolution of libraries is a true evolution – it’s survival of the fittest: the libraries that survive will be those who can look at traditional library services at their most basic level and match the appropriate technologies to these services to adapt our methods of meeting patrons’ needs in a digital-run world.  Some tech attempts will succeed and some will fail, but it’s those who refuse to adapt who will ultimately perish.

* The image used in this post is from a Publisher’s Weekly blog post from 2011.

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 Professional Development, Technology

Reflections on CALIcon13

Today marks the end of the second CALI conference I’ve had the privilege of attending. This year’s host was Chicago-Kent College of Law – I always enjoy getting to explore the layout and features of other law school facilities, and this school did not disappoint.

And of course, neither did the conference! I love the CALI conference, because it’s a conference for law school technologists, bringing together a blend of law school IT professionals and educational technology librarians like me. They even draw in some tech-minded professors, and I always enjoy hearing things from their perspective. This year was especially fun for me because, having been to one previous conference, there were familiar faces, making me feel less like an outsider trying to make my way in. I found myself talking at greater length with fellow attendees, really getting to know what other schools are doing, which is, of course, the whole point.

So I thought I’d share a reflection on the sessions I attended:


Keynote 1: Josh Clark
Our first keynote address was by Josh Clark, an app-building guru (Twitter handle: @globalmoxie). He was a very engaging speaker, discussing all sorts of considerations to be made when building apps and sites for mobile technology. And frankly one of the take-aways was that best practice for any site-building should be to think of how it will look on a small screen first; this will help you cut away all the fluff that often goes into over-crowded apps and sites these days. Since our library is looking into app-building in the near future, this was an inspiring keynote to attend.

Finding + Tuning Social Signals
As an avid experimenter with all sorts of social software, this was such a great program to attend. The speakers, Marcia Dority Baker of U. Nebraska Lincoln College of Law and Roger Skalbeck of Georgetown discussed a number of tools they’ve used to get through the fluff and chaos of social media sites like Twitter to those messages and news tidbits that are most interesting to their readers. ID’ing tools like, Yahoo Pipes and HootSuite – all of which I’ve heard of but hadn’t yet tried out – their experiences definitely convinced me to give them a try. It’s programs like this that I really look forward to at these conferences. What tools should I be trying out for my library?

Ed Tech Blog Lunch Meeting
I am an editor for the Ed Tech blog, maintained by a group of us whose jobs revolve around educational technology for law schools. Our group gets together at every CALI conference to regroup and plan for the next year. We brought in a few more interested people this year, and brainstormed some great ideas for this year’s posts. I’m so glad to be a part of this group.

Engaging Faculty in the use of Tech w/o Using the ‘T’ Word
I was excited for this session, because I think this is an issue at any law school today, mine included. The speakers, Phil Bohl and Julie Tausend of Pepperdine U. School of Law gave some great pointers, even simple things like varying your vocabulary (i.e. Coffee Talk instead of Tech Training).

Flipping the Law School Classroom: Using Tech Outside the Classroom to Engage Students in the Classroom
Everyone is into flipped classrooms these days; this was particularly evident in this session, which was so crowded I had to sit on the ground! No complaints, because I was one of the avid learners who wanted to hear about people’s experiences with this method. Interestingly the speakers here, Joshua Pluta and Tommy Sangchompuphen of Lincoln Memorial were relaying their experiences with flipping a bar prep course (not BARBRI or similar, but an actual law school course for bar prep). They discussed different levels of flipped classrooms, pros and cons of the method, and the types of classes it is best suited for: least suited for entry-level doctrinal courses (1L), better suited for upper-level doctrinal courses, best suited for skills courses.

Flipping Flop? Exploring Whether Guest Lectures Can Use the Flipped Classroom Format
This was probably my favorite session of the day. Presented by Scott Vanderlin and Clare Willis of Chicago-Kent, this was an excellent analysis of using flipped classrooms by guest lecturers. Since in our LRW program I am essentially a four-time guest lecturer, I was very interested in their analysis. It sounded like from their experience it can work, but it’s not perfect. I loved seeing and hearing how they did it and what they learned. A really excellent program.


Keynote 2: Bill Henderson
Professor Bill Henderson, of my own IU Maurer School of Law, was our second keynote speaker. He gave an excellent presentation on the changing profession. Rather than calling doomsday, as so many seem to these days, he instead spoke more of an evolution in the profession, identifying the new kinds of jobs available for law grads (hint: there are many out there, but they’re not necessarily at firms).

What We Learned from Using All the Toys in the Toolbox
This was another great tool-focused presentation by Jill Smith of U. Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law. ID’ing another great list of tools, high-tech and low-tech, this program certainly gave me more things to play with and considerations to make when applying them in the classroom.

Learning from Mistakes
This was probably my favorite presentation of this day. Given by Barbara Glesner-Fines of U. Missouri Kansas City School of Law, this baseball-themed presentation discussed 9 “innings” of mistakes she’s made in teaching over the years. I was a little hesitant when I sat down for this one, thinking maybe I should be looking for another tool-focused presentation instead. But I am SO glad I went to this! I certainly learned from and empathized with mistakes she identified, and at the end the rest of us shared some of our mistakes. I spent another 20 minutes after that presentation talking with a fellow attendee about our mistakes and experiences in teaching; it’s moments like that that I think this conference is meant to elicit.

ABA Techshow & Tell
I’ve always wanted to go to this, but it’s so expensive, so I was glad that Chicago-Kent’s Debbie Ginsberg, Emily Barney, and Florida State’s Elizabeth Barney could share their experiences from it. I think it’s important as legal educators to know what the practitioners know and use so that we can better prepare our students.

The Law School Classroom of the Future
This was the last session I attended, by Larry Farmer of Brigham Young. Triggering a hearty debate, this program looked at current trends in ABA standards for distance education and the technological developments of late to imagine where legal education is headed.

Sadly, that ended my CALIcon experience for the year. I woke on Saturday to pouring rain and a miscalculation of how long it would take to get back to the airport, so I had to miss the last half-day of sessions. However, the first two days were truly enriching, and I can’t wait to get back to start playing with the new tools I learned about and apply some of the lessons and theory I learned along the way.

Thanks, CALI, for another great conference! See you next year!

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 Professional Development, Technology

SpringyCamp November 2012

My library subscribes to LibGuides, a dynamic, template-based approach to creating research guides.  Last week, Springshare (the company behind LibGuides) hosted an afternoon webinar called “SpringyCamp” during which presenters from schools all across the country gave presentations on their experiences with various Springshare products, LibGuides included.  Since LibGuides are still relatively new to us and so many of us are creating them, I signed my library up for this free webinar.  (Check out the recorded sessions.)  Though not blown away by every presentation, I did find the experience worthwhile, and generated several pages of ideas for our library.

I found the first session most informative, as it discussed one library’s experiences remodeling their LibGuides – a basic best practices presentation.  Anyone reading my blog knows that I tend toward the verbose, so it was good for me to learn that white space is considered a positive feature of a good research guide.  Too wordy and the guide looks busy.  In addition I garnered several more tips, such as positioning the boxes on a guide so that the most important information is most prominent.  With so many of us working on guides, a small group of us is working to establish some standards and best practices of our own – something that will allow each of us to put our own personality into the guides, but will also ensure that we follow the same set of guidelines.

I also found several of the other sessions illuminating, as they discussed other Springshare products I have heard of, but which our library does not currently have.  For instance, were we to adopt a chat or texting reference service, I believe we would go with LibAnswers, which not only allows for chat and text reference, but integrates with email reference as well.  LibAnswers is particularly helpful for the Knowledgebase it creates – essentially a FAQ based on the reference questions asked in these three formats.  One presenter estimated that 2/3 of his/her patrons’ questions were answered by the Knowledgebase.

We also had some interest LibCal, a calendar service of Springshare.  This has quite a bit of functionality, with the ability for patrons to sign up for events through the calendar and even an option to virtualize study room sign-ups.  Our students currently have to come into the library each morning to sign up for study rooms, first come, first served.  I imagine a virtual service for this would be quite popular.

As always, it was not just the content of the sessions that taught me a thing or two, but the execution of the webinar itself as well.  With two different sessions on LibAnswers and two different sessions on LibCal, I would have liked to have had these back to back; this would have allowed me to better compare the two presentations and get a better understanding of the full functionality of the products.  We also encountered a couple of presentations that alienated many attendees, as they focused on integrating Springshare products into specific Learning Management Systems, such as Blackboard and Moodle.  At IU we use a different LMS, so these programs were not useful for us – but the content easily could have been, had the presentations not focused so much on the LMS, and more on the product.  Finally, it is always important to remember the audience of the presentation.  There were one or two presenters who seemed to make the assumption that we all knew what the products were and how they worked; thus these presentations felt more like advisories on how to plan a project and less on showing us, practically, how we can all benefit from these products.

It was wonderful to have the Springshare staff on hand to answer our technical questions throughout the program.  Springshare products, in my experience, are very user friendly, work well mobilely, and seem to integrate well with each other.  Springshare offers excellent customer service when you have questions about their products, and they seem to build products that can truly enhance a library’s services.  I am glad to have participated in the webinar, and if another is offered in the spring I am likely to “attend” it as well!  There are always new things to be learned.

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, 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 Technology

The New Age of Interviews

Among the other tasks I attended to this week, I coordinated our library’s first interview via Skype.  Fortunately for us, everything went swimmingly, but as is often the case, technology is either a great assistant or a terrible burden!  Preliminary interviews are most often conducted via phone these days; since our other preliminary interviews for this position were conducted in person, however, we particularly wanted to find a means to do this candidate’s interview as face-to-face as possible.  Enter Skype.  I created an account for the library, and our candidate already had an account; this meant our video call was free – we did, however, have to solicit assistance from IT to furnish and set up the microphone and webcam needed to facilitate the video call.  The major concern I had was whether we would have audio or video freezes during the interview, something we wouldn’t really be able to help.  Fortunately, everything went fine, with no connection problems whatsoever.  It was a great introduction for us to a new world of interview possibilities.

Next, we brace ourselves for the beginning of the school year – orientation Monday, first day of classes Tuesday!  Having started this position in July, I will be interested to see how different the job feels when the school is brimming with students and faculty.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Professional Development

Exploring the Cloud

The theme to my work this week seems to be cloud storage and collaboration.  Personally, my “cloud” experiences have been through Dropbox and iCloud.  The latter I rarely even think about – I  just know that all of my Mac appliances sync together.  Dropbox, on the other hand, I rely on heavily.  I was introduced to it a year ago when collaborating on a paper; it allowed my coauthor and I to share and work on the same files without having to constantly email them to each other – we simply both had access to the shared folder in Dropbox.  Since then I have used this to collaborate on a class paper and to store who-knows-how-many personal work files.  The beauty of Dropbox has been my ability to download it onto multiple devices – my work PC, my two Mac computers at home, my iPad – and have all of them sync together whenever I work on files in any of them.  What’s more, I can also access my Dropbox folders from any other computer, simply by going to the Dropbox website and logging in.  Ahh, cloud storage!

Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular, and has made its way into the highly-secure infrastructure of the university.  IU does not promote Dropbox because it does not meet their high security standards; however, the university has recently approved cloud computing through Microsoft SharePoint and  As Educational Technology Librarian, I know the likelihood that faculty members or students might approach me with questions about cloud computing is high; being unfamiliar with Microsoft SharePoint in particular (and having heard negative sentiment regarding its ease of use), I took a training program from UITS this week to learn its basics.  Frankly, I am quite impressed with what it can do.  Although not, perhaps, intuitive, SharePoint can do much more than Box or Dropbox, but there is definitely a learning curve.  I intend to take the advanced SharePoint training once I have had a chance to play with what I have learned already for a while.  Despite its complexities, I do feel prepared to address questions that may come my way.

I believe the “digital revolution” has made academia a more collaborative environment, with countless studies showing the growth of collaborative writing, even hyperauthorship.  Perhaps especially because I come to this from a librarianship angle (a typically teamwork-oriented profession), I cannot help by champion cloud computing efforts.  I mentioned taking a class that used Dropbox to write a paper.  Imagine a law school class, or even a law school study group, using one of these cloud resources to create a shared library of study notes to help prepare for their exam.

I am thrilled that IU has found a means to bring secure cloud storage to our campus, and I look forward to promoting it to my patrons this year as a means of organization, storage, collaboration, and communication.