February 27, 2008

Mutating Libraries

Slate has an interesting slideshow with the slightly misleading title Borrowed Time: How Do You Build a Public Library in the Age of Google. I say misleading, only because the author literally means “build,” as in physical building. It doesn’t take into account staff or any web-based services at all, so why even mention Google? Even though it’s an incomplete picture, I found the last slide especially interesting.

“Ross Dawson, a business consultant who tracks different customs, devices, and institutions on what he calls an Extinction Timeline, predicts that libraries will disappear in 2019. He’s probably right as far as the function of the library as a civic monument, or as a public repository for books, is concerned. On the other hand, in its mutating role as urban hangout, meeting place, and arbiter of information, the public library seems far from spent. This has less to do with the digital world—or the digital word—than with the age-old need for human contact.”

I missed Dawson’s original post about the extinction timeline last year, so it was news to me that libraries will disappear in just 11 years. I tend to agree more with the Slate author because for me, libraries are about a lot more than just books or study carrels. That’s why I think there’s room for things like gaming in today’s library. (Thanks, Dad!)


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February 19, 2008

What Do Games Have to Do with Literacy?

I’ve been telling everyone who will listen about Paul Waelchli’s work mapping the ACRL Information Literacy Standards to skills used to play popular videogames. I’ve been waiting for someone to do the same thing for school libraries, and now we have our first step towards that goal because Brian Mayer has mapped New York State’s education standards to some modern board games.

Gaming, School Libraries and the Curriculum

“Games engage students with authentic leisure experiences while reinforcing a variety of social, literary and curricular skills. When an educational concept is introduced and reinforced during a game, it is internalized as part of an enjoyable experience and further utilized as one aspect of a strategy to attain success.

Games also carry other benefits. They help students connect and build social skills, working as part of a team or negotiating the most advantageous situation for themselves. It also provides an opportunity for students to to explore a host of life skills not inherent in the curriculum , but important for success. Some of these include: micro-managing resources and options; actively re-evaluating, re-prioritizing and re-adjusting goals based on uncertain and shifting situations; determining acceptable losses in an effort to obtain an end goal; and employing analytical and critical skills to more authentic social experiences.

Here is a list of NYS standards currently supported by a well established school game library:

NYS Social Studies Standards:

  • Standard 3: Geography Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live—local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.
  • Standard 4: Economics Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the U.S. and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non-market mechanisms.

Several more are listed in the post, so please click through to see just how good a fit this can be.

If you still question whether there are literacies (especially information-related ones) involved in playing videogames, ask yourself if those same things happen around playing board games. If your answer is that yes, they do, what then is the difference between learning those skills through board games and learning them through videogames? Brian’s work helps illustrate the similarities but even more importantly, it shows how easily a school library could start out with the familiar world of board games as a way to implement gaming services and engage students more interactively in learning information literacy skills. Thanks, Brian!


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February 18, 2008

Lots of Happenings in LibraryLand

Superpatron Ed Vielmetti is speculating that Ann Arbor District Library might be getting ready to connect Twitter and the Library. Not that I’m putting any pressure on AADL, but if anyone was going to do it, I’d expect it to be them.

“Once upon a time I built a ‘superpatronbot‘ that searched the AADL catalog via a Jabber bot – quite reasonably you could build one of these upon Twitter’s direct message listings. Useful? Perhaps, especially if I could link a Twitter account to my library card and then be able to twitter

d aadl reserve anatomy of a murder dvd

and have it do a hold on it for me (or return some disambiguator if there were multiple choices).”

You can find the new, announcements Twitter feed for AADL at http://twitter.com/aadl.

If you want to ask AADL staff what they’re up to these days, head to the Library Camp taking place there on March 20. It’s free to attend, and the discussions are sure to fire up your brain.

I won’t be able to attend because I will be kicking off the day at the SOLINET/OCLC CAPCON event Changing the Way Libraries Do Business: Meeting the Challenges of the Web 2.0 World in Arlington, Virginia. I’ll be giving an overview of 2.0, but I’m really looking forward to hearing the other speakers for the day – Kate Sheehan, Jamie Coniglio, Jennifer Howell, and Karen Calhoun. You can still register, and you attend, please be sure to say hi.

If you can’t make either of these great events, you can try for Library Camp Kansas the day before, on March 19, another unconference that promises some great discussions.


11:13 pm Comments (5)

February 15, 2008

Syracuse Library Game Lab Gets Funding from Gaylord

Shout out to Gaylordg for helping get this project off the ground.

Professor receives grant to bring gaming to libraries, other campuses

“[Scott] Nicholson, an associate professor in the School of Information Studies, recently received a $5,000 grant from Gaylord Brothers, a library supply company located in Syracuse, to begin building a portable library game lab. Money from the grant will specifically go toward purchasing projectors, consoles, screens, accessories and games, Nicholson said.

‘This was a great way for Gaylord to support Syracuse University, the community and gaming libraries in general,; said Henry Orr, director of business development at Gaylord. He also noted that the credit for the grant should go to Gaylord’s President and CEO Guy Marhewka….

Nicholson’s goal is to explore the implications of offering gaming as a library service. Additionally, he hopes to study the entire gaming experience and how gaming will change the attitudes of students toward the library.

‘Gaming activities are like the new coffee shop in Bird Library; it’s not about the coffee so much as the social atmosphere it creates,’ Nicholson said….

‘Gaming is currently the wild, wild west of libraries,’ Orr said….

The Library Game Lab project will occur in three main phases, depending on the availability of outside funding. Nicholson has been working on the first phase of the project for the past year, working with students to survey libraries and how they view gaming….

The project’s current phase, to create a portable library game lab, will be followed by the next phase, to increase awareness about the project.

‘With this project, I will travel to library conferences and expose librarians to the spectrum of games, talk about what types of games are best for certain demographic groups with libraries and collect more data about what is happening,’ Nicholson said.

The third and final phase of the project will be to set up research projects, which will explore how the different types of games relate to different types of people.

‘This will be the ongoing life of the lab – to analyze new games and game types, to recommend the best games for different goals and demographic groups and to work with industry to help them create gaming experiences more suited for a library/school setting,’ Nicholson said.

Nicholson said as soon as he is able to secure more funding to build the program, he hopes to start aggressively drawing in students to help with the project. So far he has relied heavily on volunteers to help with research and promoting the program. In addition, Nicholson is teaching a graduate-level iSchool class in May on gaming in libraries, and it has already received considerable student interest.

There has been both support and criticism from the Syracuse community at large regarding the Library Game Lab, but Nicholson said the key is getting people to understand that this is not about ‘first person shooters,’ but rather about ‘understanding how gaming works as a service and how libraries and schools can be engaged.’ ” [The Daily Orange]


6:17 am Comments (4)

February 13, 2008

Win a Wii and Thank Blake, All at the Same Time

If you’re a regular online, you probably know or know of Blake Carver. Even if you’ve never met him, you know his work. He’s been running and maintaining the incredible LISNews hub since 1999. This contribution alone is why many of us admire him for his dedication and vision.

In 2002, Blake started LISHost, an affordable website hosting service for libraries and libraries. On the very rare occasion the LISHost server goes down, you can tell something’s amiss because half the known LIS world must house their sites there. I do, as does Michael Stephens, and we can both tell you from first-hand experience that Blake does a superhuman job of maintaining the server (especially security) and providing technical support.

I can’t think of a time when Blake hasn’t responded immediately when there was a problem, when he said no to a request to add software just for me, or when he didn’t come up with a creative solution to a problem no one else would have wanted to deal with. And for all of his hard work (truly, the man must not sleep), he charges next to nothing for the services you get.

Win a Wii! So to thank him for all of his efforts, both on our behalf and for the profession, Michael and I are raffling off a Nintendo Wii to help show our appreciation in the form of a fundraiser. Please note that neither LISHost nor LISNews is in financial trouble, and this is not a call to “save” them. This is simply a way for us to acknowledge Blake’s efforts and thank him for everything he does.

So here’s how it works. Everyone who donates $10 or more to LISHost by 11:59 p.m. on March 14, 2008, will be eligible to win the Wii. We’ll pull a name out of the digital hat, so-to-speak, and send you the Wii if you’re the lucky winner. To enter/donate, click on the button below. Your donation is your entry, as we’ll have a full list of names from Paypal.

Update: The donation period has closed. Thanks to those of you who contributed!


11:30 am Comments (6)

February 12, 2008

More Undead Ends




Undead Dead End

Originally uploaded by herzogbr

In response to my post about IM widgets at dead ends, Brian Herzog offers a great example of using a greasemonkey script to provide an email door out of the “no search results” page of his catalog. Since his library doesn’t offer IM reference, this is the next best thing to inserting a librarian back into the search process.

Because greasemonkey only works with Firefox, users of other browsers won’t see the form, but that’s why there’s an email address at the top. Could this be used with databases, as well? Probably only if the vendor lets you customize the code on that page.

Hardy programmer types with full access to the backend of their catalog could add an HTML form to level the playing field in that respect.

Or, vendors could provide this type of functionality as part of the default system and the library could just specify where the email should go on a settings screen. There could also be a box to embed code for instant messaging widgets for libraries that offer IM help.

Brian is making the script freely available here.


6:39 am Comments (2)

February 11, 2008

Fantasy Sports and Real Information Literacy

Check out Paul Waelchli’s article in the January 2008 issue of C&RL News in which he expands on his blog posts about information literacy and fantasy football.

Librarians’ Sport of Choice: Teaching Information Literacy through Fantasy Football

“Librarians want students to effectively identify and evaluate information and make decisions based upon what they discover. These are just some of the skills that an information literate student successfully applies. These are the same skills that more than 19 million people use on a daily or weekly basis playing fantasy sports.1 As the NFL football season comes to a close, millions of Americans, some as young as 12 years old, have spent the past few months connected to information literacy. They just don’t know it.

The challenge for librarians is to connect fantasy sports skills to information literacy and create building blocks for academic applications of the same concepts. One library, University of Dubuque, did just this by teaching fantasy football research to incoming student athletes. Through the lesson, students engaged in discussions of creditability, validity, timeliness, and search strategies to find and evaluate fantasy football information….

The high level of player investment creates educational opportunities for librarians. According to a 2006 study by the Fantasy Sports Association, a large number of college students play fantasy sports. Librarians can build upon the information literacy skills that students are already unconsciously using through fantasy sports play. The successful fantasy sport player consistently applies four of the five ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards (2000)….

At the end of the sessions, the students completed a short evaluation that assessed both criteria for evaluating sources and library perceptions. More than 80 percent of students were able to describe two of three appropriate source evaluation criteria and more than 60 percent provided all three. The students were asked to describe what research meant to them before the session and responses included, ‘headaches,’ ‘work I didn’t want to do,’ and ‘school work.’ The responses to the same question after the sessions showed a dramatic change in perspective and included, ‘making sure one is getting accurate information,’ ‘comparing and knowing where I’m getting my information,” and “fun work.” While the ‘fun work’ might be a stretch when homework is involved, it does show a change in perspective and awareness about research. One student first said that before the session, research meant ‘school,’ but afterwards he responded, ‘everything.’

In addition to the change in perception of research, the student athletes were asked about their perception of librarians. Prior to the fantasy football orientation session, the students had a 66 percent ‘very positive’ impression of librarians. After the session, the students “very positive” perception was more than 90 percent. While these results are not scientific and large enough to generalize, they show a distinct change in students’ impressions of libraries and their own abilities. One student stated, ‘I made the fantasy football connection to looking up school stuff quick, it worked well.’ “

And if you haven’t seen it, Paul’s chart illustrating which of the ACRL Information Literacy Standard are involved in playing Final Fantasy, Halo, and Madden (football) is also well worth your time.


6:43 am Comments (5)

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