Monday, July 17, 2017

Upping Your Library Intelligence: An Area You Need To Focus On

Thinking statues
Thinking
Late in the spring, I had a short conversation with Rachel Clarke about MSLIS students and in which areas we thought they (the generic "they") needed to grow.  A number of people are attracted to M.S. in Library and Information Science programs who do not have deep library experience.  For them, their lack of library experience may inhibit these students from learning and applying new concepts quickly. Rachel and I realized that these students would be helped by engaging in activities that would allow them to increase ("up") their library intelligence. While we promised to continue the conversation later, I've decided to develop a series of blog posts as a way for me to explore the topic and - hopefully - create content which will help current and future MSLIS students, and LIS professionals.

Let me reiterate an important point.  A number of people come into the LIS profession because they realize that the work is calling them; however, they may have only seen what library staff do and not actually done that work themselves.  This is unlike some other professions, where students may be required to have experience before entering an academic program.  For example, in the past, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has required that applicants have some food service experience before starting at the CIA.  While that does create a hurdle, it assures that students have work experience to draw upon while in class.  Without experience to draw upon, LIS students need to work to gain the library intelligence they will need to be successful in their academic programs.  That means doing work outside of the classroom, so they have growing foundation for what is occurring in the classroom.

So this is the first in a series of blog posts on upping your library intelligence, recognizing that each of us need to do this.  I hope this series gives you ideas and if you know of someone else who could benefit from the series - like a current LIS student - please tell the person!


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Monday, July 10, 2017

Signage, Digital Signage, T is for Training

Rolls of hay in Pennsylvania
My last post here was June 20.  Since then I've been on the road for work and vacation, and then catching up from being "out of the office."  Blogging has not be on my mind.  However, I do have a series of blog posts in the works on increasing your library intelligence.  My goal is to begin to release them next week.

I am not the type of librarian, who must visit libraries while on vacation.  However, I do notice libraries and during the last T is for Training podcast, I started the conversation by mentioning the signage at one public library.  That opened an hour-long conversation on library signage, signage audits, and the digital face of a library. If you haven't thought about your signage (or web site) in a while, you might use this podcast episode to prompt a review.  The T is for Training web site contains show notes for the episode.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

EFF International IP Infosheets: Temporary Copies

In 2012, the Electronic Frontier Federation (EFF) published an information sheet on "Temporary Copies."  Temporary copies are made automatically by computer systems and are very necessary.  However, having a temporary copy could be seen as an infringing on copyright.  This three-page document provides background, the EFF stance on the matter, and even an overview of a relevant U.S. court case.  If you find yourself talking about temporary copies, this document might be one you will want to refer to.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Video: What is a copyright? (Canada)

This three-minute video is an introduction to Canadian copyright. Because of the impact of international treaties, you will find that Canada's laws are similar to those in other countries (like the U.S.), but you will also notice some differences (e.g., the length of protection). Still this is a good introduction and worth viewing/using.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Does an Award Winning Design Reflect the Content Within?

I am catching up on reading and Internet surfing, which means I'm finding things I should have read months ago.  This blog post wonders if award winning book covers are on books with highly rated content.  I've copied the post's graphic below and you're welcome to go read the original post.  However, this got me thinking about web site design and specifically library web sites.

Most libraries have a web site.  Those sites are created in a number of different ways, using free and fee-based tools.  Some provide basic information about the library, while others are more in-depth.  I suspect that most do not provide all of the information that their users want, such as information about the staff or board of trustees, or details about borrowing privileges.  Indeed many libraries only provide what the staff is interested in sharing, and that could be very little.

Most libraries do not have someone on staff who can create a professional design of the web site.  Sites which we might consider "award winning" are likely owned by large, well-funded libraries, where a tech-savvy person internally or externally is charged with maintaining the site.  As our computing devices have changed (e.g., the move to mobile devices), our site designers have had to create sites that will look good and function on any type of device. This is called responsive design.  My own site is an example of one that uses responsive design so that it functions well on any type of device.

The problem with web sites (and books) is that a great looking site may have very little useful content.  In some cases, a great looking site may actually contain fake content, while a site that is not designed by a professional may have extemely useful content.  Yes, judging a book (or web site) by its design can be problematic.

So what are you to do? 
  • Whether your site is for a digitization program, a specific department, or the entire library, make sure that it gives users the information that they desire about you (program, department, library).  If you are waiting until it is designed perfectly, don't.  Place the information online, then schedule time to make it better.
  • State your assumptions.  You actually have no idea who will use your web site, so don't assume that they will know specific details about you (e.g., location).  
  • Work towards a design that is compliant with American with Disabilities Act rules/guidelines.  If you don't know what that means, ask someone.  Yes, there are free tools, like this one, which you can use to assess accessibility.  I know you might get frustrated with the errors, but try to work on fixing them.
  • Work towards functional and informative, then towards beautiful.  People will endure a less than beautiful web site, if it delivers worthwhile information.
  • When possible hire someone - even a knowledgeable intern - who can help you with your web site.  Remember that you can contract with someone to provide this service on-demand.
By the way, I did run my own web site through the WAVE tool and I can see that I have some changes to make!  I guess I better do that before I look at any of the books below.



Created by Syracuse University's School of Information Studies master of information management program.