Library Day in the Life – Micah V. Edition

I’m proud to be a participant in #LibDay6, and even more proud since I actually can participate, having a job in a library and all (even if it is part time!)

Currently I am working as a Project Coordinator on Project CHART (Cultural Heritage, Access, Research and Technology) – an IMLS funded digitization project between the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society and my institution Brooklyn Public Library. (Read my introduction post on the Brooklyn Collection’s blog – Brooklynology.)

So, here’s my typical day – Tues Jan. 25th.

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Leave house 8:45 walk in snow to BPL.

Listen to NPRs Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast on the walk to get my culture fix.

In office: 9am – check email, Twitter for news and/or interesting articles on LIS-related stuff.

Volunteered to help out Smithsonian Archives with something via this tweet from @digitaleffie – Effie Kapsalis, Head of New Media at Smithsonian Institution Archives. (YAY for cool, interesting stuff to do!)

Write out proposed schedule/to-do for the day.

Tweeted the LucidChart workflow that the interns and I built to organize our digital project – got a good response.

Met with intern – set agenda for the day.

Discussed the necessity and value of Controlled Vocab in a shared catalog between 3 different types of institutions.

Researched and rewrote DCMI fields we will be using for our project.

Quick meeting with Supervisor to update her on the status of the project.

Break for a bagel and coffee!

Discussion with our archivist about different types of archival media and the pros and cons of each.

Researched ALA annual conference and the LITA Division with the intern. Plan to register for the conference next week, and schedule travel and lodging.

More Email.

Practiced digitization process with test images.

Conference call at 3pm with the coordinators at the other institutions.

Practicing digitization process with test images. Working out the kinks in the process.

Lunch at 4pm!

Practicing digitization process with test images. MORE KINKS TO WORK OUT!

Plan future conference call with Project CHART’s technical advisor and the libraries IT team to discuss the details of building our shared website on Drupal architecture.

Read Smithsonian’s Digital Strategy doc for inspiration. [PDF]

Finalize some processes in the digital process. (Finally!)

Clock out and head home!

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Then quick dinner, homework and log in for my library school class, Management of Information Organizations from 8-10. Did I mention that I am soooo ready to graduate and get to work in this field!?

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[Guest] Kindle Review

Through my internship at Brooklyn Public Library I did quite a bit of research on ebooks and the issues surrounding them for libraries. I am an iOS user, and have had mixed experiences getting ebooks onto my iPhone and iPad, so as part of my internship I built this page for BPL about digital media generally, with some ebook tips mixed in. So, this has become sort of a professional interest of mine now – I use Curated.by to grab all tweets, articles, etc related to ebooks for further research.

I was surprised when I got a call from my best friend Josh Mason saying that he was going to purchase a Kindle. He’s always been a book kinda guy, so I never thought he’d go for the ebook. I asked him to write a review from a non-librarian point of view so I could have an idea what the common user experience of this device is like. His thoughts are below. Follow Josh on Tumblr and Twitter for interesting things related to art and sound. NOTE: Josh is an artist and so approaches the world by examining the aesthetics of things. His insights are always eye-opening for me because of that fact.

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Right out of the box the Kindle 3 was ready to go. It came linked to the Amazon account which I purchased it through (with the option to unlink if you bought it as a gift for someone). I can’t remember the last thing I bought that was truly ready to go right out of the box. All that was included with the device was a usb/powercord and a quick start guide. Once the device powered up, the quick start guide seemed a bit useless. For someone who is even a little technologically inclined, this device was no problem to start poking around in. Plus, all the manuals were already loaded onto the device (who’d have thought). It’s no more complicated than a flip phone from 2000 and felt a lot like learning how to play a Gameboy.

One of thing things I liked about the Kindle was its physical presence. It was compact but big enough to still read. I could see how people would be annoyed by the fact that the screen goes black for a split second every time you turn a page. It does this so that the e-ink can reorganize itself for the next page. It might seem slow—but considering when you are done with a page you have to turn it in a real book, it doesn’t seem too bad. It reminds me a lot of reading a novel where you fold the left spread around to the back and hold it with one hand because you’re tired of using two or cramping your fingers. It also fits in the back pocket of my jeans, weirdly enough.

Click for a surprise!

I would say within 15 min., I had done and figured out all there is to do. Surfed the internet, figured out how to convert just about any ebook format to a Kindle friendly format, connected to Twitter and tweeted a passage from an Emerson essay. My device is equipped with only WIFI which seems to work well, although not as strong as my Macbook Pro or my iPhone. People seem up in arms about having 3G on everything—but really, how many books are you downloading? No one these days has enough time on their hands that they need constant contact so they can download something when they need it. I guess if you were getting magazine or newspaper subscriptions it would make sense to pay the extra balloons for 3G. Otherwise, there is a WIFI hotspot like, every 5 min in any direction.

The problems I have with is so far lie in the navigation—which is only exacerbated by the fact that I deal with the graphical organization of information for a living. One thing I have gotten used to in other forms of navigation is the ability to select your way down a list and when you get to the end the cursor or highlight returns to the top of the list and can be endlessly repeated. With the Kindle you make your way down a list and that’s it. You have to start clicking back up a bunch of times to get back to the first of second menu item. In the end, it’s not a huge deal, just something that I might would have expected to be there.

The next issue I have with it is another “I have gotten used to it” thing. If you are reading a book that has a table of contents you can jump around in the book by selecting that chapter—but if the original book you are reading the eBook version of didn’t have a TOC, such as my personal favorite “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy, you are crap out of luck. I want that to make sense, but it just doesn’t because we take stuff like being able to grab 50 pages at a time and flip to another chapter for granted.

But, one cool thing about the Kindle is that Amazon released the source code for it. This is good because it comes with a stock screen saver of images of everything from literary tools to book covers to famous authors. Bloggers and infonauts tend to agree that the image of Emily Dickinson provided is especially creepy.

So the obvious course of action? Dunna nunna nunna nunna nunna nunna nunna…

All in all I am pretty happy with it. All I wanted was to be able to read books anyway. All the extra stuff is just that. Extra. If you would like to be totally distracted from your book by the rest of the world, get an iPad. If you just want to read a have a solid device that does what it was designed to do and doesn’t fry your eyeballs, you can’t beat the K3.

Response: Thoughts on Online Library and Information Studies Degree Programs

I totally stole this from FSU - but since they get my tuition money, we'll call it even, deal?

About a month ago my colleague-in-internets, Britt Foster, wrote a intriguing piece outlining her thoughts on the state of online Library Science programs as compared to on-campus programs. After reading her article, which you can and should read here, I knew I must respond. You see, I have had the best of both worlds: This spring will be my final semester as a Master’s student in Florida State University’s School of Library and Information Studies and I spent half of my degree “on-campus” and half “online.” The program itself is entirely online, but since I was living in Tallahassee for the first half of my degree, I was able to meet other students, interface with professors occasionally, and be active as a graduate student on a college campus. So I have a unique perspective that I’d like to bring into discussion with Britt’s excellent piece. Here goes…

Britt digs right in with the proposal that, based on her experience and research, on-campus programs have the potential to produce a higher level student.

She states, “I think that being at an on-campus program can raise the quality of their work, just through being around a range of students… This way to be in the information professions– how to speak, how to phrase, what language to use in talking rather than typing– this conveys a lot about the professional exchange of ideas, and at what level that exchange is superior.”

Assuredly, peer interaction is invaluable, and on this point I would tend to agree with Britt. However, this doesn’t take into account those of us onliners who adapt very easily to any environment, and create our own peer networks (online and off) for conversation and sharing of ideas in virtual spaces outside of the classroom. For instance, in one of my first classes I met Natalie Binder. We had similar interests in the web 2.0 space, and had some good chat conversations during class. Natalie works at a small rural library about 30 miles outside of Tallahassee, and since I had never been to a rural library I hopped on my motorcycle and went and volunteered there for a day. Since then Natalie and I have kept up communication through Twitter and commenting on blogs back and forth, and I really value her opinions and ideas on professional librarianship.

Two other points Britt mentioned that are right on – the convenience and cost of an online program is a deciding factor for many. I have found that many of my peers in FSU’s program are working librarians who are finally able to complete the degree because of the online option. All of our classes are in the evenings, and its great to be able to eat dinner (plus wine!) while learning about intellectual freedom. We also have the option for guest speakers piped in via the web that really enhance the literature and coursework. While convenience and cost might convince many to go online, I ended up there because a professor from my previous MA in American Studies suggested it to me as an option before committing to a PhD program. And I am so glad he did, because through my studies I have found a profession that I really enjoy and can see myself working diligently in.

I think that what Britt might have been getting at, and a thought I have had more than once, is that perhaps on-campus programs are more apt to produce Scholar/Librarians, who are more immersed in the physical and mental work of theoretical discourse simply because a classroom setting allows for that, whereas a chatroom (no matter how sophisticated) does not. It is telling that FSU’s PhD track in LIS is an on-campus option only. It would be interesting to compare the ratio of researching/publishing between online and on-campus LIS students. I don’t mean to devalue the caliber of education that is the online program – it has certainly worked for me – but I also came to it from a very small MA program where I learned and shared in scholarship with peers in a face to face environment.  So what am I trying to say? Is the online MLIS watering down the value of the degree? Will a UCLA grad have a better chance at a job than a FSU grad?

One last example: in my current work, which grew out of an internship at Brooklyn Public Library, I have the pleasure to work closely with two capable, interesting and smart MLIS grads. One did an MLIS degree as a hybrid online/on-campus at San Jose State, the other on-campus at Pratt SILS here in New York, and myself, online through Florida State. We all work very well together, have similar interests and really great, difficult, theoretical conversations about the place of cultural heritage, digitization standards, metadata, inter-institutional projects, real-life librarianship and more. I am working at Brooklyn Public, one colleague at Brooklyn Museum and the other at Brooklyn Historical Society. In this case it seems to me that how and where we did our degrees matters very little, and that what does matter is that we are enthusiastic about the work.

I think we could say that overall the cream always rises to the top. And right now, I would think that being visible, engaging and asking hard questions in an online format is a great way to prove ones value to the field. Cheers to you, Britt. 😉