Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Conversion to Libguides CMS - A One Year Review

Last summer I attended the Annual ALA conference in Las Vegas, NV and was intent on visiting with the Springshare folks on how Libguides CMS could serve as our main library website.  When I came to this institution nearly 6 years ago I was tasked with revamping (OK, total redo) of the existing library website as the Digital Services Librarian, which I accomplished.

At the time, I was hot on web development and super eager to whip the antiquated site into shape.  I did use Dreamweaver to accomplish the task and was able to launch the new site that winter break before the spring term started.  All went fairly smooth, and without too many headaches, the site served the library well for 4 years.  All wasn't perfect though as I had no choice but to port over much of the content into the new template, complete with a multitude of styles, conflicting CSS, and tables...lots of tables.  I cleaned it up as well as I could but there was nearly 400 total pages of content, a mess that really needed top be dealt with sooner than later.

Another issue, of course, was that I was the sole administrator of the website, which was OK for me at the beginning but then became a hassle as I was assigned more tasks, responsibilities, and "other duties as assigned".  Every area of the website needed to keep current (and I alone needed to make the changes) and managing it all plus the "dead wood" content begged for change.  Another issue was that the site resided on an aging server in the IT dept. which was not part of the library, another issue that became a larger problem because the larger campus moved to a cumbersome CMS platform and the IT guys were not really into maintaining the aging server when most content resided elsewhere.  I was able to remain on my old server as long as I could but knew I needed to make a jump soon.

In graduate school I had created Libguides (that still exist) for certain courses  and while it was fairly easy to build resources easy, I wasn't sure how it all would work as a main library website.  When I visited with the Springshare people they affirmed all of my questions and concerns and then gave me a trial site, where I could start building my site. The best part was that if I elected to purchase the product I could save the work I created in the trial (I think you have to request that), which was great.

We did purchase the product that summer and began to build the site the following fall.  The great part for me was to distribute the work based on Collection Development areas among the librarians and even got staff involved making other content.  Staff were responsible for a guide on our student work study students, a library 101 guide with basic library information, and even a guide to Inter-library Loan.  I think giving the staff some involvement was a good idea and was urged by my Director.

The training was handled by myself along with all of the resources provided by Springshare.  I trained my fellow librarians and paired them up with a staff member to in-turn train them in creating a guide.  The only hitch was that the version of CMS we were using was new and so some of the tutorials were for prior versions. We stumbled through, and while we are not Libguide masters, we were able to painlessly turn out stale and static library website into a vibrant website where we could improve access, get all of the library staff and involved, and manage resources in a much more organized way.  The new site is now hosted by Springshare and off of the old server tucked away in the IT dept., which pleased everyone on both side of the "house".  In a recent survey to students on satisfaction of library resources, they seemed to indicate that they were happy with the new site (we are still tallying the results of our spring survey).

We are now considering purchasing LibHelp, which is an add on product that delivers live chat.

This small private liberal arts academic library serves around 1200 primarily residential undergrads.

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No Magic in the Evening Hours: Academic Library INFO LIT Workshops

Tracking usage is something all libraries need to do to ensure they are meeting patron/student demand for resources and services.  We attempt to track everything we possibly can, and I can't imagine any library that doesn't attempt to do the same.  Although we have had numbers decline in areas such as circulation and other predictable areas (in recent years), our foot traffic and building usage has increased quite a bit.  Our library, which services around 1200 liberal arts students, is the social and academic center in the evening hours on this primarily residential campus.  Over the past few years we have noticed that our busiest hour, in terms of library building traffic, (calculated by headcounts and gate counter) lies somewhere between 7:30pm and 9pm, Mon-Thurs.

Logan Library Schreiner University

Having offered drop-in lunchtime workshops in the past that were mildly successful, we thought that we would offer a series of "information literacy" or library workshops throughout the spring term that would span in focus from the very basic (finding a book on the shelf, navigating databases, etc.) to more focused sessions (Searching CINAHL for Nursing students, or How to be a Research Pro) in the peak evening hours.  Our thinking was that if sweetened the pot with popcorn and a chance to win an iPad 3, that we would have some students interested in taking a break from their studies and friends to perhaps learn a thing or two on research or how to use the library.  We were largely wrong.

Four librarians with three different workshops each (12 in total), spread out over the semester was the master plan.  The first librarian to teach her session reported the morning after that no students had showed up- she had even tried wrangling some before the session was set to begin, but no dice.  I was up next and was determined not to strike out.  I had decided to take along with me a budding librarian undergraduate student who was to handle the OPAC/Find a Book on the Shelf portion of my session.  I thought that having a peer might work to my advantage in getting students to come to my workshop.  I also enlisted a Work Study student that was stationed at the circulation desk, to start advertising the session to every student that walked through the door.

As the budding undergraduate librarian and I sat near the front entrance waiting for our session to start, we talked about the time and whether or not students would be interested in receiving some library instruction.  The student informed me that almost everyone he knew was at a Anime club meeting on campus, and also added that students had been in class all day and maybe didn't feel like attending any more instruction sessions in the evening.  That last part resonated the most with me, and I vowed to make the session quick and informative as possible.  After all, this was their time. 

I ended up with three students in total for that first session and it went great.  The last part of the session consisted of students retrieving a book from the stacks by themselves, which they performed flawlessly.  I love to see the look in students' eyes when they "get it"- it is empowering for the student to realize they now have the power to use a library, and of course it is rewarding for the librarian as well.

Sadly, my first session was my most successful.  The other librarians didn't have much luck either in the evening with the rest of their sessions despite the prizes and marketing efforts- and that was really that.

We did however host a table in which students had to retrieve a book or an article for a chance to win a iPad during an afternoon fair.  This event was in coordination with Dept. of Student Success (held in the library) and we managed to run 80+ students through our mini assignment (highly successful).

In the case of the Student Success fair, there were tables offering food, LinkedIn Photos, and other student services that attracted many types of students over to the library at one time.  We are now planning more of these types of events during the day hours, and of course trying to figure out how to offer some library instruction at the same time.

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Google Glass through the eyes of Undergraduate Students: A Review

A faculty member tries on Google Glass for the first time.

A couple weeks after getting Google Glass (as part of the Explorer Program) I decided to loan it to a group of undergraduate students who work in the Instructional Technology department at my institution.  While I enjoyed my first wearable technology experience, it became pretty clear that the younger generation (and the more socially active/connected) could get more out of Google Glass than I could.  While I work professionally in technology, I am not actively texting friends and spending a great deal of time on social platforms via my mobile phone like these students are.

The four students were very excited to get their hands on Glass and explore a few outcomes that line up with our institution's- through the eyes of Google Glass.  The only thing that the students were required to do was to journal their experiences and report out at a student Achievement Showcase that is held every April on our campus.  You can find the student's blog entries here.

The Google Glass undergraduate team (the four in dark and gray suits) before their presentation April 22nd

Google Glass' Strengths and Weaknesses from an Undergraduate Student Perspective

The students came up with a list of strengths and weaknesses of the Google Glass unit.


  • Quick and Discreet Picturing Taking: Glass has a button on the top that can be pressed to take a picture at anytime. The same can be done by winking.
  • Communication (Incoming): Text messages and emails display directly on the Glass screen as soon as they are received.
  • Easy Time Check: The clock home screen on Glass can be seen by raising your head or tapping the side of Glass once.
  • Navigation: Glass can display turn-by-turn navigation without being too distracting.
  • Being Unobtrusive: Before I got to test Glass, I figured that this big screen would always be interrupting my field of vision when I wasn't using it. It turned out that I would forget I was wearing Glass because it was out of sight and out of mind.
  • Phone integration: the android phone integration appears to be seamless most of the time.
  • Call Quality: I don't know if it is just because of the size of my head, but I find it hard to hear anyone when making a call through Glass. I believe this is because there is a small gap between my head and the speaker built into the frame of Glass.
  • Voice Command: Glass become nearly useless when I'm in an area where I cannot issue voice command (class and the library).
  • Communication (Outgoing): I find it difficult to respond to text messages through voice command. Although it is a neat feature, it can be tedious.
  • Battery Life: Glass has a battery life of approximately 5 hours of normal use.
  • Mic Sensitivity: Glass will accept voice command given by people across the room from me.
  • Bulkyness: Obviously, Glass is still bulky. I'm sure Google will cut this size down on Glass over time, but for now it just isn't very cool looking.
read more from this post

Google Glass Easter Egg

The students even managed to find a Google Glass Easter Egg, which was, "a 360 degree panoramic picture of the Google Glass team. The entire team is circled around you. If you want to look at the people to your left, you turn to your left. If you want to look at the people behind you, you turn around. You can also look at the ceiling or at the floor. This gives you an idea about the possibilities that can come from Glass and some ideas of features that we can expect in the future." read more from this post

What's Next for Wearable Technology?

The students did a great job exploring Google Glass, far better than I could have done due to their sheer enthusiasm for trying out one of the first prototypes of wearable technology.

As we move forward to version 2 Google Glass or smart watches, the students will all remember the first time they put Google Glass on, much like I recall using the Internet for the first time at a library when I was their age.

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University.     

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Google Glass Doesn't Appear to Hold a Charge Well

I am not sure if all Google Glass Explorer's are encountering the same issues that I am experiencing. I have read about the short battery life with usage, which seems very acceptable, but I can't seem to charge the unit very well at all.  Apparently, the Google Glass unit is meant to ship charged and ready to go (according to the directions that come with the unit).

After I initially received Glass, I opened the package (very attractive Apple-like packaging) and then followed the instructions and turned on the unit. After putting the unit on I was greeted with the battery icon and that was all.  Figuring that the battery was low, I used the attached power cable and charged the unit for several hours.

That evening I took home Glass to play with and was able to turn on the unit, connect it to my Apple iPhone IOS Glass App and go through some of the tutorials and take a photo or two, Google a few things with voice, and stumble around the menus.  I then turned off the unit and put it away after 15 minutes or so of use.  My wife inquired whether or not I could rename the Google Glass, rather than saying aloud "Ok Glass" over and over, which she found irritating.

I beginning to think my Google Glass won't hold a charge very well at all.

The next morning in my office I took out Glass and put them on and was greeted with the same battery icon.  I then charged the unit again, this time from 10am to 2:30pm.  I turned the unit on with it's interior side button and put on Glass.  This time I got the battery 46% charged (so 8 hours for complete charge?).  Ok, you would expect some more life after Glass was connected to a regular power strip for four hours (yes, it is on!) and the charge indicator light is slowly pulsating- as it should when charging.

I am new with Glass but used to working with peripherals and emerging technology in general.  While I realize I need to spend more time with Glass, I am starting to think that the unit simply won't charge very well at all.

The jury is out (I realize), I need to spend more time with Glass, and more updates are sure to follow.

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University