Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts

Now That You’re Finally Retiring

When it’s time for me to retire, in, oh, 20 years or so, I hope some young whippersnapper librarian will ask me what the meaning of librarianship is. Well, if it evers happens I hope I can come up with some good advice like David Bishop did for this brief article. Bishop is the University Librarian at Northwestern University and he’ll be retiring soon after 40 years in the field. So what sort of advice does Bishop have for those of us who won’t be retiring anytime soon. Among his pieces of advice:

  • Be prepared to be flexible…the biggest job librarians will be facing is changing the expectations of libraries…My concern is that many libraries have to change and change quickly in order for provosts and the general public to see the relevance of libraries in the age of Gooogle.
  • How does Bishop think we can maintain that relevance? He recommends accelerating the acquisition of electronic content, providing community space in the library, be an integral part of teaching and help faculty and students to learn the new ways of working. Gems of wisdom? You be the judge. But I think this is good basic advice for developing and sustaining a position of relevance. Academic libraries are not immune, says Bishop, to going out of business. Well, not if I can help it – at least not for another 20 years.

    It’s Time For Serious Games

    There are certainly divided opinions about the value of electronic gaming for learning and their role in academic settings. How one feels about this issue could depend on the kind of games that could be used in educational settings. To advance higher education’s understanding of gaming a new effort called the Serious Games Initiative has just started becoming more widely known. The goal of the site is to focus on games that explore management and leadership challenges facing the public sector. Part of the mission of the site is to bring together the gaming industry with education, training, health and public policy for greater productivity. The site seems more like a series of blogs (that haven’t been updated since June) than background information or analysis about the use of games for serious applications. I plan to keep an eye on the site. I suspect that the influence of gaming for education is only going to grow.

    Down With Engines, Up With Portals

    Must be the time of year for search engine usage studies. I just came across another one contained in the Annual E-Business Report produced by the Ross School of Business at University of Michigan. This one’s main finding is the U.S. residents are less satisfied with traditional search engines, but happier with portals like AOL. The findings on user preferences for different engines with respect to customer satsifaction is of mild interest, but what I really wanted to know – and what this news item didn’t discuss – is what is it about the portals (AOL is mentioned specifically) that makes customers more satisfied. I’m about to launch a portal for our business school students and faculty, and it would be helpful to know what features of portals are most appreciated by users. My portal attempts to gather all our relevant business databases, links to Internet resources, special resources pages (e.g., SWOT research, company research, etc.), and course-specific research guides into a single home page. We will be testing another portal as well, hoping that it will satisfy our users by saving them time and making it easier to choose from among research options, and if these prove successful we’ll create additional portals for our other programs. I hope to learn more about portal development and what makes them work well for users.

    One Blogger’s Take on MySpace/Facebook

    If you enjoy the debates about social networking software and what stance academics should take on these new social networking communities, I think you will enjoy this blog post by Matthew Williams (I Am Matthew Williams and Your Are Not). Williams takes to task those faculty who either disregard or complain about sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Their main complaint says Williams is that faculty see social networks as distractions to learning. He claims they need to explore ways in which they can allow their students to play a more integral role in the course rather than just being passive participants. I don’t doubt there are quite a few faculty examing how they can create more opportunities for their students to participate more actively in their courses. Can a faculty member go so far as to give more of a social network feel to his or her course? I’m sure we’ll see more of them giving it a try.

    Update on OPML

    A few months ago I shared some experiments I was doing with “reading lists’ using OPML technology. At that time I offered a reading list for higher education news resources. Since then I’ve created a unique page on my web site to hold different reading lists. The newest reading list will faciliate the addition of Google News resources. If you want to keep up with Google you might find the reading list a very convenient option for adding selected Google “keep up” blogs to your news aggregator. The page also contains instructions on how to use the reading lists. Give it a try.

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