It’s digital divide Friday!

It’s Friday afternoon, and I’m heading out the door to do some hours at the Environmental Design reference desk.  But before I do, a few links to projects designed to help close the global information gap.  Because our main constituents may be the folks at the reference desk, but we have a broader responsibility as well, to the folks who can’t get there yet.

  • Better World Books: a national book drive to improve people’s lives through literacy
  • Librarians Without Borders:  working to develop a library in Angola, while struggling to keep their name in place (Doctors Without Borders has taken exception.)
  •  addictive little vocabulary-building game designed to promote literacy and language skills, while donating food to the hungry.

And just in case you’re thinking, We don’t need to worry about literacy–the bookstores are full!, a quick link to the NEA’s most recent (and depressing) report on the state of reading in the U.S.   Maybe it’s not just the rest of the world we should be worrying about, in terms of literacy?

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m going to be offline for a few days for the Thanksgiving holiday. In honor of which, please enjoy this cheerful Gilbert & Sullivan send-up by Stephen M Stahl, MD, PhD, of Neurosciences Education Institute. Professor Stahl, my hat’s off to you in the arena of promoting educational activities online.

Recall when the novel was considered a frivolous waste of time.

Northern Virginia Community College has a computer lab devoted to gamers.  This, of course, is causing all kinds of controversy and debate.  Not among the students, obviously, but among the rest of us–faculty, librarians, administrators–who wonder whether a gaming lab is a genuine educational tool or a sign that we’re selling out our own teaching mission. Sample comment from a reader of the article:  “Many [college students today] do not have any strong work ethic.”  Wow.

Fortunately, there are some more reasonable voices in there too, including that of my friend and former colleague Annie Zeidman-Karpinski, who’s spearheaded the effort to get video games into the Science Library at the University of Oregon.

An interesting point to consider is that made by John Min, director of the Northern Virginia gaming “pit,” who explains the motivation for the gaming lab in one word:  “Desperation.”  The college is trying to get students to enroll in its IT program, and it uses the lab as a way to create community and promote the courses in that program.  At least one student said he was planning to take a course he saw advertised on a poster in the lab.

It’s fascinating to me that we’re seeing these declines in computer science and IT enrollments (the Chronicle recently carried another story about Cambridge’s shrinking computer science program), at the same time as we’re seeing creative, smart, tech-minded young people building terrific Facebook apps, creating awesome lip dubs as recruitment tools, and generally disregarding the traditional distinctions between work and play, with some really cool results.  Maybe they’re trying to tell us something?  (And maybe some schools, like the UO, NVCC, and Stanford are listening?)

Focus on: Facebook

I’m going to start doing occasional posts that provide a manageable reading list of current pieces about a given topic. I make no claim that these are the best pieces out there, or that the list is anywhere near comprehensive. They’re just some things that I’ve seen or read recently, or that I want to read soon, and don’t want to lose track of. (Also, I don’t vouch for my citation style.)

With no particular agenda in mind, I’m doing the first one on Facebook. So, here we have it:

Focus on…Facebook


Bisson, C. “What does Facebook matter to libraries?” Maison Bisson. January 30, 2006.
Asks how well existing library services serve students in Facebook.

Bumgarner, B. “You have been poked: Exploring the uses and gratifications of Facebook among emerging adults.” First Monday 12, 11-5, Nov 2007.
The abstract concludes with the delightfully frank observation, “Essentially, Facebook appears to operate primarily as a tool for the facilitation of gossip.”

Charnigo, L. & Barnett-Ellis, P. “Checking out The impact of a digital trend on academic libraries.” Information Technology and Libraries. 26:2, March 2007, 23-34.
Link to UCB resource; requires log-in. Haven’t read this one yet. From the abstract: “This article reports on a survey of 126 academic librarians concerning their perspectives toward, an online network for students.”

The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2007
Check out the full study link, and do a quick search on “Facebook.” 80% of students use social networking tools daily, but most prefer not to use them for work or school. Student quote: “It would be crossing the line for my advisor or instructors to find me on Facebook. But it’s open to everyone!”

Kroski, E. Top ten Facebook apps for libraries, part 1. iLibrarian. August 1, 2007.
Includes apps for Slideshare, Libguides, MyFlickr, the UIUC Facebook app that lets users search the library catalog and databases from inside FB. Edit the URL to get parts two and three.

Lupsa, C. “Facebook: A campus fad becomes a campus fact.” The Christian Science Monitor. Dec 13, 2006.
Includes a sidebar history of Facebook and poll results on students’ opinions on FB privacy issues.

Stephens, M. “Social networking services.” Library Technology Reports. 43: 5, Sep/Oct 2007, 45-51.
Link to UCB resource; requires log-in. Gives an overview of MySpace, Facebook, Ning, and Hennepin County PL’s Bookspace. Gives practical suggestions for what a library can do to start offering services in FB or another social networking tool.

WordPress tip of the day

Here’s a neat way to find blogs that are interested in what you’re interested in:  search by tags.  I recently popped up the list, because I tagged a post with “millenials.”  The list shows the most recent post across all WP blogs that used this tag.

Clearly, you can whack that URL and substitute your preferred tag:  check out or or or whatever you’re most interested in.

And notice that you can follow each of these lists with the handy little RSS feed supplied on the right-hand side of the page…