Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for the ‘Work Stuff’ Category

Maker/Create/Collaborativespace pre-conference – #RUSA #ALAMW14

Posted by lpearle on 31 January 2014

I was fortunate to get off the waiting list for the RUSA MARS/RSS pre-conference and see what public and academic librarians think about the maker/create/collaborate space trend.

The overwhelming message was the “maker/createspace” was not just about 3D and Audino, it was anything that isn’t reference or readers advisory.  You don’t need to be a coder to be a creator, you can be a knitter, calligrapher or a rubber stamper (or another type of creator).  This is a message that we need to remember as we create our spaces: it’s about the creation, not the tools.  At bottom, doesn’t “maker” meet our mission as librarians, helping people explore their passions?  In schools especially we’re supposed to help students create new things with the knowledge they acquire – and a maker/create/collaborative space does just that.  Thinking about the space is a great way to start the strategic planning process, too, as it will involve people from different constituencies.

One important thing is to not be a closed shop: be open to all platforms (iOS, WinTel, Chrome, Lynix) and allow people to use all those during the programs.  A diversity of experience and resources can spark really interesting ideas.  It’s also critical to remember that not everyone can afford the tools necessary (it’s also important not to go broke providing for people using the space – finding that happy medium can be difficult).

How should you start? Ask the community what they want, and what they can bring to the space.  Consider an Idea Studio (a la Warwick PL). NCSU’s Hunt Library has a 270o Visualization and Teaching Lab (home of the Virtual Paul’s Cross Website).

Final words: balance what the users really do want and need with what they’re told they want and need (by the media, the library administration, etc.).  It’s a difficult process, and an on-going one, but very worth it.

Other pearls of wisdom:

  • outside funding, but BYOP[roject] is also good
  • Facebook and Twitter are great sources of ideas for what other libraries are doing – see how you can re-purpose their ideas
  • helping people with digital curation is as much “maker” as it is “archivist”
  • consider putting large windows in the space, so people outside can see what’s inside and get inspired
  • students like whiteboards, flexible seating and furnishings


Posted in Conferences, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 18 December 2013

For those about to go on Break, some things to explore and/or ponder.

Books, Reading, Etc..

School Life

Tech Stuff

  • FlipGrid looks like an amazing tool for both reader-to-reader advisory and in class collaboration for online learning.  (via)
  • Are you Sleepless in Cyberspace?  Maybe this vacation is a good time to try to rethink things.


  • Doug ponders Age, Energy, Privacy and Morals – I’m a little more concerned about privacy (perhaps because of my age) than he is… it’s interesting to note that many of my students don’t think about it, but when you start talking about the lack they get very concerned.
  • For those of my friends traveling, some tips on how to get through the airport fast.  Bon voyage!

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Ethics, Links, Pedagogy, Privacy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 31 October 2013

Sorry I missed September – here’s two month’s worth!

Books, Reading, Etc..

School Life

  • A recent project about the Republican Party’s ideas about debt and fiscal planning led me to give my “sometimes, it’s ok to use biased information” speech.  This time I also added “but if you use social media, you’re going to need to verify what you’re reading”.  Of course, as always, Joyce puts it far better than I.  And HT @lbraun2000 for 10 Ways Students Can Use Twitter for Research.
  • One goal for the year is getting colleagues (some, not all) to see us as “embedded” in their courses, and much of the work will be done on-line.  This article about feedback will help me  work with both students and faculty.  We also need to work on improving the library experience for them.
  • Don’t you love the video tours here?  Think we need to try doing some for my library!

Tech Stuff

  • As I begin to play with my iPad and watch students intently focused on their iPhones, I’ve begun deleting that which is not used.  Cleaning the crap makes it just more usable – and I’m not alone in this thinking.  (I’m also working on learning to type – thx Doug for these tips!).  That won’t stop me from seeing which of these apps I should recommend to everyone!
  • Research season is fast approaching, which makes this the perfect time to revisit what Archipelago said about her Adventures with E-books. Even better (from my viewpoint) is the opportunity to test-drive some of this with students and talk to vendors at AASL and ALA Midwinter.
  • The Atlantic gives advice about the iPhone signature far too many people haven’t yet changed.  Go now and be creative.
  • Usually it’s my librarians who give away the good Google search tips.  This time, it’s Wise Bread (so maybe now more people will get the hint[s]).
  • Badging is becoming a big thing these days, and I’m inspired by Laura’s blog to consider ways we can integrate badging and library skills.


I bookmarked this a while ago, and having just finished meeting several parents during Families Weekend, it’s worth remembering that not everyone is, or thinks like, a librarian.

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Pedagogy, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 29 July 2013

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Links, Privacy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 31 May 2013

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

Tech Related

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Links, Musings, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 30 April 2013

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

Tech Related

Posted in Books, Links, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

The coolest elevator cab!

Posted by lpearle on 21 March 2013

When you visit The Center for Fiction in NYC, you might be there for the great selection of used books on sale, or one of the neat author events.  If you’re a member you may be there to browse the collection, use the Reading Room or take one of the writer’s workshops on offer.  But I suspect some people come for the elevator cab:

photo 2 CFF Elevator

Who wouldn’t want to use it?

Posted in Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Finding the Sweet Spot – professional learning

Posted by lpearle on 29 November 2012

As the year draws to a close many of us spend time evaluating what and how we’re doing. For me, it’s also a time to think about my professional development and what my Return on Investment is for each method.

There are a ton of library-related conferences out there for us to attend: EduCon, ALA Annual, ALA Midwinter, ALA’s divisional conferences (like AASL’s bienniel conference, or ACRL’s annual one, not to mention YALSA’s biennial Literature Symposium), SLJ’s Leadership Summit, ISTE, NCTE/ALAN, IBBY and many more, not to mention local and state organizations’ events.  I see some people constantly flitting from one to another and I wonder two things: don’t their home libraries miss them? and what are they actually getting from each event?

Yes, each has a different focus and attracts different people.  And obviously if you’re presenting you’ve got good reason to go.  But if you’re not presenting, are you actually learning new things, or is it more reiterating what you heard – albeit in slightly different words or format – in a previous session at a previous conference?  There’s definite value to the networking opportunities, and if you’re a solo librarian it’s incredibly validating and heartwarming to be with others you can talk to on a professional level.  But what is the ROI?

It’s not just about conferences – how many organizations, elists, publications, blogs, twitter feeds, etc. can you follow sensibly?  For me, it’s about finding the few people who are great aggregators and following them.  Otherwise I find that I’m ignoring too many tweets and posts, the really good stuff getting lost in the overwhelming flood of information.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conferences, Musings, Professional organizations, Work Stuff | 2 Comments »

Finding the sweet spot – customer service

Posted by lpearle on 26 November 2012

Recently I had a Close Encounter of the Smarmy Kind with a salesman.  A friend and I walked into Men’s Warehouse to buy a new suit (for him) and suddenly – there he was.  Our new BFF, joking about Brooklyn and missing the Good Life in the Big City.  And during the upsell, the whispered “just go along – my manager is right over there” and louder, “So, Sir, you’re sure I can’t find you a new shirt?  Of course you need a new tie with your lovely new suit!” The suit needed alteration, and the sports jacket we wanted wasn’t in stock so we were to come back later when the tailor had worked his magic; then the jacket needed alterations when it arrived.  Again, our BFF salesperson was smarming all over us, urging us to look at these leather jackets… that vest. I picked up the jacket in August and thought it was all over.  Then in October, there was a phone call asking when we were picking up the jacket.  Several conversations later, it turns out that the jacket there was the ‘placeholder’ in the wrong size.

Bear with me – this is connected to libraries!
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Musings, Rants, School Libraries, Work Stuff | 1 Comment »

It’s ok to do nothing (aka “don’t stress about #Sandy”)

Posted by lpearle on 28 October 2012

Last year, schools near me opened late because of Hurricane Irene and then closed in October after the late-month storm. The previous year, we lost six instructional days in January because of snow, and other schools in the southeast lost days when tornadoes hit leading to delayed closings and AP exams.

Several years ago, the NYCIST conference featured Will Richardson and Alan November as keynote speakers. Towards the end of their speech, we were broken into groups to brainstorm answers to this situation: there’s a pandemic (like SARS or H1N1) that leads to mandatory school closings and quarantines – what should schools do?

Most of the groups, including by the one I was in, talked about using Skype and creating robust websites with threaded discussions, beefing up electronic resources and communications, training teachers to use Class Management Systems like Drupal, FirstClass or Moodle. The goal? To continue the educational experience in both asynchronous and synchronous settings, with as little disruption to the school year as possible. Obviously this would take a lot of training and support, but hey, the kids come first, right? In my group were Dave Cormier and Nancy White, and one of them (I think Dave, but possibly Nancy) came up with this radical statement:

This type of quarantine/closing would only last a couple of months at most – what’s the harm in letting students have a vacation? why not let them play and enjoy, rather than forcing them to “do school”?

And, of course, that’s the answer we ultimately went with: do nothing.

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on us, and threats of days with no electricity, I can imagine that conversation taking place in school administrative circles. How many of them will come up with “do nothing”?

When I think of the difference between my childhood and that of many of the students I work with, it’s a little horrifying. My parents “cared”, so I had ballet classes and piano lessons and Hebrew School. That was rare, and most of my classmates had Brownies/Girl Scouts (or Cub/Boy Scouts) and possibly 4H. That left four days after school with nothing planned. GASP! Virtually unheard of today, with so many parents scheduling every second of their children’s lives. I never had a play date, I just hung out with kids who lived near me and occasionally went to a friend’s house or had them over to mine. When we had snow days, sometimes I went outside and played but most of the time I stayed inside and read. Oh, and I got paid to shovel the walk and driveway.

I can only imagine how today’s kids will spend the next few days: can they even do homework on-line if there’s no electricity? Going outside will be difficult if there are downed power lines and tree limbs. What if their area is relatively ok, but their school is closed: will teachers expect them to keep up?

My advice: do nothing. Read. Relax. There’s more than enough time to do the school thing, and far too little time to do the kid thing.

Posted in Musings, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »


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