My Middle Name Should be Calendar:

The semester is upon us!

My liaison team at Mount Holyoke had a semester ramp-up/psych up meeting a few weeks ago, in which we shared strategies for managing the start-of-term craziness. I demonstrated some of the curriculum and collection mapping I’ve been doing this summer in Coggle to learn about my new departments, and another colleague shared her favorite calendar management tool, My struggles to manage email and calendar appointments is documented on this blog here. While I had some luck with lizibot last year, I also found that there were some bugs that gave me pause over the summer. As my colleague demoed, I realized it was time to make another switch for these reasons:

  1. It just works with Google Calendar without any muss or fuss.
  2. Customizable settings. It was easy to set my time zone and block off times for lunch and anticipate meeting heavy days that don’t make open hours optimal.
  3. Minimal steps for users to make an appointment. Lizibot had too many cumbersome steps.

The school year is always a time management battle; new projects occupy precious brain bandwidth; revision of my teaching materials is continual; meeting with as many students one-on-one is a perpetual goal; and back up on service points like the Research Help Desk can derail my best intentions to multitask. I am always looking for new ways to simply routine tasks like setting up meetings, responding to email, and managing my time. Resources like ProfHacker and Life Hacker inspire me to tweak my habits and workflows so I can spend my time wisely and not get lost in the roundabouts of administrivia. Here’s to a great semester!

Via The Library of Congress on Flickr Commons

Via The Library of Congress on Flickr Commons

Do Libraries Collect Software Now?

Last week, ISIS  hosted an online seminar about bake-offs, processes through which individuals and institutions decide what new tools or technologies to purchase. Generally an activity in the purview of Information Technology departments, we had the pleasure of hearing a presentation from Sarah Oelker, a librarian from Mount Holyoke College, who talked about how a group of Mount Holyoke librarians applied bake-off principles to the process of sourcing technology solutions for the College. Here’s a look at Sarah’s awesome venn diagram:

Sarah Oelker's Bake Off Matrix

Sarah Oelker’s Bake Off Matrix

It’s a great visual to help us think about how libraries and technology departments can contexutalize making decisions about our resources, and how we should try to meet our community’s academic needs through our purchases and services. As we embrace a ‘just in time’ collecting model – one that allows us to purchase that book a faculty member needs on a moment’s notice or to have a cache of power cords for students to borrow to charge their laptops in the library – how do we think about software as not just a tool, but also as something to collect?

Which brings me to a larger question: should libraries collect software now? As digital humanities centers proliferate  and as heated debates come up about whether 3d printers should be in libraries, the nature of our collections is also shifting. How does/will/should that impact our collecting strategies? As libraries and information technology departments scale up to meet new demands for ‘digital’ scholarship, how do we balance the needs for ‘just in time’ and ‘just in case’ acquisitions with tools that have utilitarian value now and historical value later?

From where I’m sitting, the answer is that yes, we need to collect software, but the what and the how are other questions for which I don’t think profession yet has a cogent answer. For collection development librarians, the ground is shifting away from bibliography and toward patron-driven acquisitions for monographs and journals. I believe this shift provides an opportunity to work closely with our colleagues in IT to map out strategies for successful collection and stewardship of software, especially as librarians increasingly support classroom technologies. In any case, it represents another step towards utilizing the library as incubator of new ideas and practices, instead of just as a repository for the old.

CFP: Digital Humanities for Liberal Arts Colleges

Five College Committee work is one of the highlights of my job at Hampshire College. I am lucky enough to serve on a few committees and task forces including one called DEDCC (Digital Environment Development & Coordinating Committee). One of our goals this year is to raise awareness among librarians of Digital Humanities and how librarians can get involved. To that end, this committee is organizing a program in the Five Colleges later this year. Below is the call for proposals along with a link to submit proposals, as well as some context about who we are in the Five Colleges:

The Five College Consortium is exploring a June program introducing Digital Humanities to an audience of librarians and IT staff at our institutions.  The Consortium in western Massachusetts includes Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, four liberal arts colleges and one ARL.  We are interested in identifying speakers who can discuss digital humanities vision or digital humanities work in liberal arts settings targeted at undergraduate teaching and research.  We are open to a variety of interpretations on/definitions of the phrase “digital humanities”’ and its intersection with other initiatives around teaching with technology in the undergraduate curriculum.  We envision a panel followed by breakout sessions during which we will ask our panelists to participate in small group discussion.  Possible topics for discussion include:

  • What does it mean to do work in this field in liberal arts colleges?
  • How to help faculty navigate shifting technologies
  • Mapping out new collaborative relationships (inside our institutions and across the Five Colleges)
  • Where should conversation around research/teaching/technology be happening?
  • Content mashups and the development of new kinds of “collections”
  • The library’s role in a supporting digital culture
  • What professional skill sets are needed to support digital humanities work?
  • Infrastructure/services/copyright/IP

If you have interest in participating on our panel and in small group discussion, we would like to hear from you!  Please submit a brief proposal online at by March 8th, describing your interest in the areas outlined above and your interest in speaking to our audience.  We are looking towards mid-June for the program itself and will confirm dates with the identified speakers.  Please direct questions to:

Erin Stalberg,

Chair, Five Colleges Consortium, DEDCC;; 413.538.2228

For further information on the Five College Consortium., please see:

Ideas Salon

Throughout history libraries have been highly effective as what we might call idea storehouses. Universities and schools have been highly effective as idea communicators. But, particularly at a time when many are questioning the relevance of libraries (thinking in terms of the ‘storehouse’ model), might we develop libraries further as idea factories? The place you go to generate ideas in the first place?”

via iLibrarian

I completely agree with the sentiment of this post, that libraries need to move away from the storehouse model and more towards an active agent of research on campuses. At Hampshire, my crew of librarians are engaged sherpas helping our students and faculty select resources for capstone projects, muddle through internet resources, and bringing people together to work on various projects. I’ve been thinking more and more about how we can also be a place we help facilitate open source platforms for scholarly communication, provide instructional support for emerging technologies in collaboration with educational technology folks, and continue to be a neutral meeting group for our interdisciplinary projects to meet and flourish. I’ll say it again for emphasis, I love the sentiment of this post.

Of course, being at Hampshire, calling the library an ideas factory would not be appropriate, so I will say my holiday wish is that our library can continue to market itself NOT as a warehouse of books, but a dynamic ideas salon where faculty, staff, and students can come together to learn, to do, to ask questions, and enjoy community.


“Usually I was not so moralistic, believing as I still do that it was my duty to teach the curriculum and not to pontificate, to inspire debates, not weigh in with verdicts. I did on one or two occasions tell my students they were living in a society that valued people of their age, region, and class primarily as cannon fodder, cheap labor, and gullible consumers, and that education could give them some of the weapons necessary to fight back.”

-Garret Keizer, “Getting Schooled: The re-education of an American teacher,” Haper’s Magazine September/2011

I am so fired up to teach after reading this essay! Helping students achieve information fluency is one of the reasons why I became a librarian, to watch students’ worlds get larger and more complicated, and watching them grapple with all of life’s ambiguities.

Class of 2015 Mindset

“The same radical privacy that I seek in books, my mind’s way of eating its lunch alone, is what turns their stomachs. I learn of two girls in my class who got through Ethan Frome by reading along to each other over Skype, not unlike George Gibbs and Emily Webb chatting between their upstairs bedroom windows, just with different kinds of windows. They are acutely social creatures, these kids, and it is a slow learner indeed who fails to grasp that fact even as he prattles on about building a more social democracy.”

-Garret Keizer, “Getting Schooled: the re-education of an American teacher,” Harper’s Magazine /September 2011

Something to keep in mind as we turn we approach a new school year, get to know our new students and begin the exciting work of teaching and learning, for the students AND the instructors. Seriously, I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. I don’t mean that like the aphorism it might appear.