Monday, March 28, 2011

Visualization of Virtual Libraries

In “Plotting a Library,” The Chronicle looks at Places & Spaces: Mapping Science: “a multidisciplinary physical and online art project, running since 2005, that seeks to create a complete picture of ‘human activity and scientific progress on a global scale.’” This year’s theme is the digital library.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Library Time

So a clock in our library recently went missing. We may have found an explanation:



Speaking of our library, the current issue of our alumni magazine includes a photo feature called “24 Hours at the Penrose Library.” (Also in this issue is a nice piece by book artist Mare Blocker, who talks about how going to a special collections library “changed the pathway” of her life.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pileup and Preservation

An op-ed piece in The New York Times, “The Digital Pileup,” recommends a digital conservation effort. An article in D-Lib Magazine, “Discovering the Information Needs of Humanists When Planning an Institutional Repository,” highlights solutions that an institutional repository can offer. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Library Facilities

[The Library Learning Terrace] won’t have any books or computers, but it will provide wireless internet access and electrical outlets for laptops and mobile devices; flexible seating options to allow up to 75 students to work individually or collaboratively; and a space for tutors, faculty consultations, and study groups. It will also include an outdoor space for use in good weather. 
See also “From Modernist to Modern,” (Inside Higher Ed): 
At one well-attended presentation [at the Society for College and University Planning's North Atlantic regional meeting], officials from Lafayette College and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth discussed their efforts to transform massive (and in many ways outdated) Modernist libraries at the heart of their campuses into modern, technologically advanced, sustainable centers for learning.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Archival Turn

Recent scholarly interest in archives—“not only as sites for research or as a theoretical concept, but also as fascinating objects of study themselves”—is part of a larger movement within the humanities. See “From the Desk of Roland Barthes” (West 86th)
The last decade or so has seen what we might call a “technical turn” in the humanities. Inspired largely by science studies, humanists have started to think seriously about the technics of knowledge, its material conditions, infrastructures, and mediations. ... 
These days ... stuff is all over the place. ... 
Knowledge emerges out of arrangements and rearrangements of paper. Formats and protocols matter. Matter matters.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Compulsory Lie of Clock Time

Ready to save some time? See “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (The New York Times).

As for keeping time, catch a glimpse of what goes on in the French National Library's Tower of the Times in “A Memory of Webs Past” (IEEE Spectrum).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Brains in Libraries

John Medina, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine and director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University, was on our campus this week speaking to a number of groups about brain science and education. The challenge, he says, is that we know very little about how the brain works. What we do know is that the brain is suited for sovling problems in an outdoor setting while in motion: “If you want to design a setting that is the exact opposite of how the brain is designed to work,” he said, “you’d design a classroom.”

A number of Medina’s brain rules are releveant for thinking about the library as place. Consider rule number 4: “We don’t pay attention to boring things”: “What we pay attention to is profoundly influenced by memory. Our previous experience predicts where we should pay attention. Culture matters too. ...”

Or consider rule number 9: Stimulate more of the senses”: “Those in multisensory environments always do better than those in unisensory environments.”

Or rule number 12: “We are powerful and natural explorers”: “The desire to explore never leaves us despite the classrooms and cubicles we are stuffed into.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Standards for Academic Libraries

An ACRL Task Force is updating the 2004 Standards for Libraries in Higher Education. A draft is available for review and feedback.

Missing from the nine principles—Institutional Effectiveness, Professional Values, Educational Role, Discovery, Collections, Space, Management/Administration, Personnel, External Relations (it is not clear if there is a logical order here)—is preservation. Here is the feedback I posted
Preservation is a core role and contribution of libraries. Academic libraries in particular do a number of things to ensure long-term access to the scholarly and cultural record. Performance indicators could include (1) collecting and curating local materials in a variety of formats to advance the teaching, research, and administrative needs of an institution and (2) partnering with others (e.g., library consortia) to ensure long-term access to widely replicated content. Outcomes could include (1) unique educational and research opportunities for students and faculty and (2) support of administrative operations and projects.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Futures and Fantasies

From A&L Daily (26 Feb 2011):
Sure, the future of publishing looks grim. But not entirely. New literary objects are taking root in the digital world... more [Paul Duguid in The Times Literary Supplement] ... more [Virginia Hefferman in The New York Times Magazine].
In the first of these articles, Duguid reviews John B. Thompson’s Merchants of Culture (about trade publishing), Irving Louis Horowitz's Publishing as a Vocation (about scholarly publishing), and Jacques Bonnet’s The Phantoms on the Bookshelves (about a “bibliomaniac”). Duguid concludes:
Though the form may change, the book chain itself is likely to continue to endure. For ultimately, it is a communication chain, and it is hard to believe our garrulous species will cease trying to communicate. We cannot communicate without a medium, and as new media develop, new authors will push at their edges to experiment in the sort of unplanned possibilities that make the best books. You cannot have art, as William Morris argued, without resistance in the material. Books have provided splendid resistance. But as long as there is a medium, there will always be resistance, and, with luck, art. So while we codex-bound bibliophiles may look with gloom on the future, new cultural forms worthy of the name “book” will develop in the digital world.
A few weeks ago in The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik offered a typology for all the “books explaining why books no longer matter”:
call them the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers. The Never-Betters believe that we’re on the brink of a new utopia, where information will be free and democratic, news will be made from the bottom up, love will reign, and cookies will bake themselves. The Better-Nevers think that we would have been better off if the whole thing had never happened, that the world that is coming to an end is superior to the one that is taking its place, and that, at a minimum, books and magazines create private space for minds in ways that twenty-second bursts of information don’t. The Ever-Wasers insist that at any moment in modernity something like this is going on, and that a new way of organizing data and connecting users is always thrilling to some and chilling to others—that something like this is going on is exactly what makes it a modern moment. One’s hopes rest with the Never-Betters; one’s head with the Ever-Wasers; and one’s heart? Well, twenty or so books in, one’s heart tends to move toward the Better-Nevers, and then bounce back toward someplace that looks more like home.
In something of a never-better moment, Gopnik suggests that the Hogwarts library would have disappeared if the Harry Potter series had appeared after the launch of Google. But see, below, Hedwig delivering a parchment letter. Below that is the Book of Pythia from the 21st-century version of Battlestar Galactica. (Both from exhibitions in Seattle, November 2010.)