Samantha's blog

Regalia Update

Turns out that I didn't wear the Phi Beta Mu cords. No one else was and the peer pressure got to me.
Here's a picture of me looking all academic.

ACRL Wrapup

I had to do a presentation at work about ACRL so I typed up some notes to organize my thoughts about what I attended. I didn't really use them so I thought I'd put them up here. Not sure how edifying they are, but I was amused by how much I apparently enjoyed the food. I didn't notice how often I mentioned eating until I read it over after the meeting.

Happy Friday!


ACRL 2005 Wrapup

Wednesday, Apr. 6: sculpture garden (cool!). Neat greenhouse.

Thursday Apr. 7:

Copyright preconference—lots of useful practical advice on complying with copyright and informing others on campus about copyright regulations. Some examples shown were websites handouts and brochures. Worked in small groups on ‘real life’ copyright situations. Learned that the most common answer to questions on copyright is, “it depends!�

First time attendee orientation—basically just told us to network like crazy and attend things that we may not have ordinarily picked out.

Keynote session—interesting speech by William J. Mitchell, professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences and head of the Media arts and Sciences at MIT. Former dean of the school of Architecture and Planning at MIT. Talked about intelligent design in buildings: incorporating computers in retirement homes to track health and welfare of residents, designing buildings so that every office was a corner office, the development of residential urban/business areas, the importance of functional windows (yes!) and open space.

Exhibit reception—entered raffles, won nothing.

Friday Apr. 8:

Scholarship breakfast—informative roundtable of tips for new academic librarians. Good food. Big handout.

Poster sessions—massive crushing crowds!

Virtual reference collaboration session—informative, more for groups just starting out. Got some useful info that I forwarded on to the MT VR consortium re: staffing and scheduling.

Luncheon w/women mystery writers: Got to sit up front since I was a scholarship winner! Very interesting discussion on fiction reading and writing. Neat to see what Liane Hansen looked like. Excellent food.

Wandered around exhibits for a while.

Panel on copyright—again, more on informing others on campus about rules, setting guidelines, etc.

Dinner with colleagues—new librarians. Interesting experience. Food not so good but still full from lunch so it was okay. Mostly from MN and from south.

Saturday Apr. 9:

Slept in (cold hit me!)

Poster sessions: still crushing mass of humanity. Free donuts.

A place to belong: the campus library as prototype for context diversity—presented by Roberto Ibarra, UNM. Touched on curriculum and building design. Talked about ‘context diversity’ as it differs from structural diversity (like affirmative action programs) and multicultural diversity (sensitizing systems to differences, celebrating and increasing awareness of differences). Context=helping the system adjust to people—reframing rather than reforming.

CSA demo lunch: Web of Knowledge demos—interesting as it’s a database I never used before I came here. Learned a bit more on how to manipulate it and what sort of new stuff’s been added (although it’s all new to me!)

Exhibits and poster sessions—ever crowded. Free ice cream.

Volunteer at session: Computer attitudes of a university community: directing library instruction and services. Basically talked about the increasing comfort (and frustration!) with computers with their users.

Library school reception. Meh.

All conference reception at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Wonderful! Dessert buffet (chocolate fountain!!) Musicians on each floor—jazz, bluegrass, African. Wonderful exhibits.

Sunday, Apr. 10:

What’s next? Academic libraries in a Google environment—very interesting address from Google VP and a librarian from UMich. Discussed the mechanics of the Google Print program.

Closing keynote by Slyvia Hurtado, professor and director at Higher Research Institute at UCLA. Discussed post 9/11 changes in students and campuses, with an emphasis on diversity issues (remember specific mention of religious tolerance, ethnic tolerance, comfort zones)

Mall of America, Airport.

Regalia question

Sooo, graduation is this weekend. It's my first commencement from 'the other side.' If I'm a professor, do I still wear my Phi Beta Mu honor cords? Or are those just for those graduating? I tried looking on the internets but can't find a conclusive answer, so I thought I'd ask y'all. Are there any reference works on regalia? ;-)

Need ALA/Chicago advice

Hey LISNewsterz,

You are all so good at answering my inane questions! No wonder you all became librarians! I have yet another question for you. I'm making my plans for ALA this June. Usually when I go to Chicago I stay out at a airport hotel and go into town on the Blue Line, because I'm cheap. Do you think this tactic will work for ALA? I'm not usually out late at night at conferences so I don't think I'll have to worry too much about the extra travel time.

Also, if anyone has cheap but not scary conference-area hotel options, let me know. I know about the hostel, but I don't know if I want to share a room with one person, let alone 9. I shared a room at ACRL and, while it was fun, it also really wore me out.


Silly patron tricks

I wouldn't go so far as to call this a 'stupid' patron trick, but for some reason over the past few days I've gotten a lot of students coming to the desk who are writing papers on social policy who *insist* the words "social policy" must appear in the title of the books/articles they are using. I'm pretty sure they're all coming from the same professor. Some of them look familiar so maybe they were in one of my sociology or social work instruction sessions earlier this year. I try my best to assure them that those words don't necessarily have to be in the title of something to ensure that it's about social policies but the students seem dubious. Oh well...only a few more days until finals...

ACRL Update

I just wanted to say I was blogging at ACRL, since that's what the cool people are doing :-)

The conference is great so far, lovely weather, interesting colleagues, good food. I went to a preconference on Copyright yesterday that was excellent--practical, informative and best of all interesting!

If you too are wandering around the Minneapolis Convention Center, be sure to say hi! I have a yellow bag so I'm easy to spot in the sea of librarians...

Google SMS

I have been meaning to tell you all about my experiences with Google SMS on my recent train trip. Wow, is this a handy service. Just send a text message from your cell phone to 46645, such as "weather chicago il" or "chicago transit authority chicago il" (two real life examples!) and Google messages you back within a couple minutes. We got a weather report and forecast with our first message, and the second sent us the phone number and address for CTA in Chicago so we could call and figure out the best way to the airport.

It's a great service for travelers, and it's cheaper than calling 411. The only charges you pay are the costs of sending and receiving text messages--about 10 cents for each on Verizon. I really appreciated the weather info--I messaged regarding weather for Missoula on my return trip to see if it was nice enough out to walk home from the airport or if I needed to arrange a ride.

The obvious question I had was, "How can we use this for reference questions?" I don't think we can beat Google's speed in responding to the messages since it's all automated. And we definitely can't beat the cost, I'd imagine. Has anyone heard of library reference over SMS? And has anyone else ever used the Google service?

Spring Break!

HI all, I am currently enjoying my first paid vacation in about four years. I'm visiting my husband back in Iowa and boy is it cold here. I guess it is even colder back home though.

We took the train from Whitefish, MT to Chicago this past weekend. It was very enjoyable and my first time ever traveling in "first class." Ritzy! We had a nice private compartment and free meals for both of us, all for the cost of one airline ticket. It did take 38 hours to get there, versus the usual three by plane however.

Once in Chicago, I rented my very first car (it cost about $70 more than the train ticket!) and we drove about halfway to Iowa before stopping for the night. Now I am back in my old stomping grounds and doing all those fun Iowa things (mostly food related!).

We're going to a former boss's baby shower this afternoon. It's probably a good thing I left Iowa since everyone seems to be getting knocked up. Seriously, in the past year, there's been like five or six babies in our circle of colleagues.

Hope all is well in LISland!

Got GMail?

Hey, is anyone else having problems getting into GMail? I've been unable to get in since about 5 pm last night. I can't connect to the server, or the connection times out. I haven't tried it from a computer off campus so I'm not sure if that may be the problem since I haven't seen any complaints on my rss feed or anywhere else. Of course, now that I'm posting this, it will probably start working again and I'll look like an's hoping!

Tuesday night reference club

I haven't written much lately--work has been keeping me busy! Plus I think maybe some of my co-workers have caught onto my blog. If so, let me know, it's always good to know that someone's reading (and to know who I shouldn't complain about, ha ha!).

I'm on the Tuesday night reference shift and despite the fact that the public library's internet is out, things aren't too busy here. Which is nice, since I got to the library at 7:30 am and won't leave until 9 pm. It's just the way my schedule worked out--meetings in the morning, a class to teach (upper-level Sociology research class) in the afternoon, reference desk in the evening. Good thing we don't have 24/7 virtual reference or I bet I would have gotten the midnight to 6 shift for that!

Don't feel too bad for me, though, since I am taking tomorrow afternoon off. Plus I will be going on a train trip to Chicago over spring break, so that will be a nice vacation.

Anyhow, hope you are all having pleasant and less-than-14 hour days!

Want to get involved in ALA?

For those who may have been itching to get involved with ALA, the New Members Round Table is organizing committees for next year even as I type! I've been involved with NMRT for about four years now and it's a great way to learn more about ALA in general and get in on committee work. You have to be a member of ALA for less than ten years to be part of NMRT.

Click here to sign up!
For those of you who hate ALA, please ignore the preceeding message. Thanks.

those crazy econ students

I had my first Econ instruction session yesterday. I'm not sure why I'm handling Economics since anything dealing with statistics makes me curl up into a little ball and hide under my desk. But deal with it I must.

I thought it was possibly the worst session I'd ever done but the instructor really liked it and gave me a good evaluation. The students seemed to dig it too according to the evals, although you couldn't tell by the blank unresponsive stares I got during the session.

I also got the funniest comment ever on an evaluation. In the blank space at the end of the form where students are supposed to write what they didn't learn that they wish they had, one student wrote, "If Samantha was single! She's cute and a good instructor." My husband wasn't too pleased with that comment but I think I will treasure it for a while!

Students hate spending $ on anything but beer

On Tuesday I had a student ask me how to get an interlibrary loan from the Library of Congress. I said he could get ILL's through us at the university but I was pretty sure the LOC would not send him materials directly. He responded that "everyone knows" you can ILL textbooks from LOC for 60 days so that you don't have to buy them for your classes. Hmm. I have never heard this particular academic legend before. Has anyone in the LISNews-o-sphere?

I told the student he could try his luck with ILLing his textbook through us or emailing the LOC to ask for more info, but that if he wanted to be on the safe side, he should probably buy the dang book. On his part, he was very amused that I had never heard of this system of getting around buying textbooks and I think felt a little sorry for me in my ignorance. Weird.

LISNews headache cures?

This has been bothering me for a few weeks now--I seem to always develop a headache in the early afternoon on Mondays (or Tuesdays if I'm lucky enough to have a three day weekend). Is this a sort of "Librarian's Eyestrain," do you suppose? On weekends I almost never use a computer and I try to spend a lot of time outdoors moving around. Maybe it's too much for my poor little head to have to sit and stare at a computer again after so much freedom.

So now I turn to you, my fellow LISNewsterz. Do you have any headache cures or suggestions for prevention? It's never been a problem before this particular job, which requires me to sit still and look at a computer more than I ever have before. Maybe I should ask if I can shelve a cart of books a day or something, to get me up and away from the dang computer. :-)

two interesting visual search engines

I'm not sure these are very useful to the average librarian but they are fun to play with.

The first,, has you type in a musical artist's name and then shows you related artists in sort of a solar-system type pattern. Click on a new artist and it will bring up a discography and a new system of artists to explore.

Second, the TouchGraph Google Browser. Enter a URL in the search box and it will show you the related links from Google. Double click on a related link and it will branch off into more related links, or enter a whole new URL and see if they are related. Fun!

Will print rise again, or die trying?

I was checking out this link that I had bookmarked some time ago from who knows where. It's an interesting look at the digitization phenomenon from the framework of a museum video from ten (well, soon to be nine) years in the future. It concludes (spoiler alert!) with the idea that the New York Times, stymied by the use of its content by a merged Google-Amazon corporation, decides to go offline and distribute only in print. It's a fascinating idea--would the traditional media give up online access to save itself? And would it work?

Call me professor

I just found out this week that I'll be teaching an information literacy course online in the Spring, which should be exciting. I have heard from some librarians affiliated with our university (though none that actually work where I work) that they really don't like the idea of a stand alone information literacy class. I can't say that I'm sure it will work outside the framework of a course requiring research, but I will say this:

--the distance education classes that I provide library services and instruction for don't seem to want library services or instruction in their classes. The instructors don't want to take the time away from what they're teaching, and they don't want to take the effort to figure out how to fit it in. So distance ed students, as a whole, currently have NO opportunity for information literacy instruction. This is better than nothing! (hmm, course motto?)

--I'm not sure, and have never been convinced, that one-shot sessions are all that useful either. When I think back to my undergrad days, we came into the library, some librarian talked at us for a while, then we got to leave class early. Not a lot of it stuck with me, and I was a good student. I always say to the students when I'm teaching one-shots that I know a lot of this will probably not stay with them, but I hope they remember they can always call/email/chat/come in to see us at the reference desk for any research related questions. Sometimes I see a few stop in. I'm not sure if it's because I say it's okay to do so and I don't expect them to remember everything, or whether it's just the kids who would stop in anyway.

The other exciting news is I have the new title of Social Sciences Librarian. It was arbitrarily thrust upon me last week. It sounds cool, but I'm not sure how exciting it is in reality.

Hope you all have a happy holiday of some kind, however you celebrate!

You can't outsource education?

An article from Christian Science Monitor discusses the plight of schools in India--seems the teachers tend to go truant. I found it amusing in light of that Chronicle of Higher Ed article talking about how you could outsource a lot of library and education functions if you wanted to. What if they outsourced a university and nobody taught?

Interesting tale of copyright

This story from the New Yorker by the author of the very cool book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell, has an interesting exploration of copyright and plagarism. It concerns the play "Frozen," which turned out to be heavily based on the research, writings, and life experiences of psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis. That came as quite a surprise to Dorothy when she read the script in preparation for an upcoming interview on the play's content. She knew it related to her field of study, the psychology of serial killers, but had no idea so much of it was about her life.

The article explores the issue of creative works--how deriviative must a work be to be unique? How much of a quote constitutes plagarism? What is the line between fact and fiction? How much of a music sample can be used in a song? How have these lines been changing in recent years?

Maybe it's the two copyright courses I've taken in the past month, but I found this article very insightful and thoughtprovoking (although it was very long!). If you have the time and interest, give it a glance and let me know what you think.

DuPage Teleconferences

Do you all ever participate in these? I had my first one a couple weeks ago, on the role of education in today's library. The setup was a bit cheesy--it was like watching Oprah or some similar talk show, with 'vignettes' of various library situations acted out for our amusement...uh, education. We especially enjoyed the one where the young college guy said he was going to become a librarian and his friends all laughed at him and said, "what do your parents think about that?" I never realized there was parental animosity toward librarianship before. :-)

Despite the cheese factor, it was still very interesting and informative. Steven Bell and John Shank of the Blended Librarian were the featured guests and had an interesting program. They also had a professor of drama from Wheaton (don't know his last name but his first was Dave) who talked about librarians from the professor's point of view. It gave me some insight into what those guys are thinking. It seems like the librarians here are almost afraid of professors sometimes. It's a weird vibe. This program helped demystify the relationship a bit for me.

I guess the next one's on dealing with difficult people--sign me up!

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