Friday, June 20, 2008

Faculty are short on time

I recently finished reading Faculty-Librarian Relationships by Paul O. Jenkins. The number one thing I took away from this book is that faculty are extremely busy people who cite lack of time as their number one stressor. They are expected to teach, research, publish, hold office hours, serve on committees, advise, and so much more - to the point where the whole idea of summers off really isn't the case. Their summers are full of all the work they had no time to do during the year. What does this mean for librarians? Anything we can do to make the lives of the faculty easier will make us look really good!

I hear (and admittedly am sometimes part of) the common complaint that it is hard to get faculty to make time for instruction in their classes. Often they probably just don't have time - to plan it, to fit it in, etc. Reaching out to them, and offering to provide however short or long an instruction session may prove more effective. I have often thought about offering to go into the classroom for 5-10 minutes, give a short intro to the library, and hand out a sheet containing a list of things librarians can help students with. But I worry that it's a slippery slope, and offering this option will result in an increase in short sessions and a decrease in 50 minute instruction sessions. I am still undecided.

Some other takeaways:
1. Often unreasonable requests come from faculty because they simply do not know library policies and procedures.
2. Let them know what we can do for them - they often don't know!

Jenkins interviewed 15 faculty members at the College of Mount Saint Joseph. Some things they mentioned:
1. One faculty member tries to tell students that librarians get excited about helping them.
2. A Ph.D. means you know a great deal about a very small area of study. People often think faculty know everything.
3. Several mentioned that students are less interested in learning and seem to be focused on doing the minimum to get the degree and the job.
4. Several also mentioned that students will not read.

The book also mentioned this great list of 100 Ways to Reach your Faculty by Terri L. Holtze. Lots of good ideas - a few of which I already do, and many which I hope to implement.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unusual Bookmarks

An article from AbeBooks has some great examples of things that have been found in books, including:
  • Forty $1,000 bills
  • Piece of bacon
  • Credit cards
  • Valuable baseball cards
  • A diamond ring
Moral of the story: Be careful what you use as a bookmark. And if you find yourself the lucky recipient of a bunch of old books, it may be worth your while to go through them before donating them.


There is just too much information out there, and with the Internet, the amount of information continues to grow exponentially. An article in the New York Times discusses the problem of information overload and what tech companies plan to do about it.

Google, Intel, Microsoft, and IBM have gotten together and formed the Information Overload Research Group, which aims to study this problem, publish information, and find ways to solve it. Their focus is primarily around workers who are easily distracted by incoming emails. I must confess, I'm definitely one of them - Outlook's feature displaying snippets of each incoming email in the bottom corner of the screen is just so distracting, yet I can't make myself turn it off!

Some possible solutions, or at least steps in the right direction:
1. Check email less often
2. Send emails more frugally (I wish some of the listservs I am on would practice this)
3. Be sure to reply to only those who need to hear your response.

And some interesting statistics:
1. "A typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times" (really? only 50 times?)
2. "In the United States, more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions"

Friday, June 06, 2008

Machine for Lending Books

An interesting article in the Contra Costa Times describes a new machine situated at a BART train station in California. The machine contains approximately 400 paperback library books - both fiction and non-fiction. Commuters can use their library cards to check out books to read on their train rides. The books are due back in 3 weeks.

What a neat idea for bringing books to the patrons!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

New Blog

I have started a new blog. After a great deal of debate, I have reached the conclusion that Adventures in Library Land needs to be devoted solely to library-related information. Thus, I created Growing Green Cents, which will include information on personal finance, the Green movement, and growing plants.

I have also decided to change my post name from Kat to Kate. I was only very temporarily called Kat (at about the time I started this blog), and it did not stick. So Kate it is.

While I am uncertain about the wisdom of maintaining 2 and 1/5 blogs, I am interested in seeing how it goes. Wish me luck! :)