Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#SaveIMLS - Please!

So. Things are changing quickly these days - its hard to keep up. But I want to highlight one particular potential change that I see as very dangerous to institutions that I think really matter - the libraries, museums, research, and services funded by the Institute for Museum & Library Services (IMLS) via the Library Services and Technology Act. The president's budget defunds the IMLS, along with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities - although the House and Senate budget process is the one that really matters, this sends a very dangerous signal.

I'm an academic librarian and a library user from way, way back (I distinctly recall getting in trouble when I was about ten for checking out the same book - the absolutely charming and wonderful The Horse without a Head - from both the air force base library and our church library, but I digress...). But in recent years, I have learned a lot about what the IMLS does that I didn't know. Much of this is due to my involvement with the Library Council of Washington, (full disclosure - I represent four-year academic libraries on LCW) which is " composed of members representative of the library community who act as a catalyst for dealing successfully with library-related issues of statewide concern, and advise the State Librarian and the Office of the Secretary of State on statewide library issues and the expenditure of federal funds."So...IMLS provides resources to the Washington State Library through its Grants to States program and through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program. Here is just some of what it does:

Are you a geneaolgist, or someone who does historical research or just wants to learn more about your community? The Washington State Library uses IMLS funds to run the Washington Rural Heritage program

Do you have a child who uses online homework help? The Washington State Library uses IMLS/LSTA funds to run the Ask WA program, which provides statewide online reference service

Do you have a computer with Internet access at home? If you don't or if you do, you may use the Internet at public libraries and K-12 schools. Their Internet connections are subsidized by the federal E-Rate Program, which The Washington State Library uses IMLS/LSTA funds to assist libraries in working with this complicated program.

Do you have a member of your family or a friend serving time in the Washington State prison system? The Washington State Library uses IMLS/LSTA funds to fund library workers and materials for prison libraries.

Do you have a family member or friend who is blind? The Washington State Library uses IMLS /LSTAfunds to help run the Washington Talking Books & Braille Library.

Do you know someone looking for a job? The Washington State Library uses IMLS/LSTA funds for workforce development programs in libraries to support Washington State's Talent and Prosperity for All (TAP) program.

There is so much more - digital literacy programs, storytime programs, library worker professional development programs, and grants... The point is, IMLS/LSTA funding for Washington State provides immense benefits and services to people all over the state. Without those funds, these programs will disappear - hurting the most vulnerable populations the most, but really all of us. And this is one state, out of 50.

I urge you to learn more about the IMLS/LSTA, and to advocate for it's continued funding. Some resources include:

  • Learn more about Washington State library programs supported by federal funds at teh Library Council of Washington website: https://www.sos.wa.gov/library/libraries/dev/council/ If you are not from Washington State, every state has some sort of advisory group - I'm looking for a list, but a web serach of your state and lsta advisory ought to do the trick.
  • Learn more about this issue and what you can do at saveilms.org (This takes you to library advocacy organization EveryLibrary)
  • ** Time SensitiveAsk your members of congress to sign "Dear Appropriator" letters supporting Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.
  • Lobby your members of congress, and your state legislators, to support federal library and museum funding (and the NEH and NEA too!)
  • Take a look at the #SaveIMLS hashtag on Twitter
  • Use your library! Tell your friends! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sorcery & Cecelia: or, The Now-Quotidian Long Tail

Back in the mid-to late 1990s, I was on a quest. I wanted to find a copy of a book by Patricia Wrede and Carolyn Stevermer called Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot. It came out in 1988, and I missed it, but I had loved Patricia Wrede's fantasy Lyra books, and I knew enough to know that S&C was a regency romance. In epistollary style. With magic. And I had to have it. I lived in a smallish city in Oregon (Corvallis) and it was not to be found there. So I went on the quest: As we travelled, my spouse and I would always look for second-hand book stores and check them out, for S&C and general second-hand bookstore finds. 

I never found it, but not for lack of trying. And at some point in the early 2000s I discovered Bookfinder and was finally able to purchase it (but not immediately! The first time I looked, it only listed one copy for $75!). 

So when I saw this tweet today, it took me down memory land a bit - the book that I spent over six years trying to find as an analog item could now be purchased with the press of a one-click button: 
Every so often you have to step back and think about what a weird world this is. As NYT writer Nick Bilton wrote, I Live in the Future

Today, of course, I'm especially aware that the shiny side of the future comes along with a dark side - with horrible things like weaponry that can shoot an airliner out of the sky. I'm also remembering how I felt when I finally held Sorcery & Cecelia in my hands: on one  hand, so glad to finally have it (and I totally loved it when I read it!), but on the other hand, a tiny bit sorry that my quest - that had led us to so many second hand bookstores in every town we visited - was over. I still go to second-hand bookstores, of course (but so much less over the past four years since I got an ereader) but it was never quite the same...

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Backing Up and/or Transferring Your Zotero Library

I do back up my Zotero Library - really! - but recently a faculty member asked me about transferring his Zotero Library to a different computer. Zotero tells you how to do this, but I wanted to provide him with an explicit list of steps, so I came up with this. Yes, I know there is an extra step in the list - its there for a stupid (um, I messed up once...) reason, but its a reason! I also wanted to note that I transfer libraries using the Download Everything From Zotero.org method all the time when I'm doing Zotero training, but 1. That method works best for smaller Zotero Libraries, and 2. As the documentation from Zotero linked to above note, this method is more reliable. I also have this on my Zotero Library Guide, so I'm double-dipping a bit here, but I haven't posted in a bit, so...  ;-)

 Firefox and Zotero Standalone with Chrome (also includes steps for backing your Zotero Library – Steps 1 thru 6.5) (2/18/2014 rev.)
1. Open Zotero in Firefox on your old computer. If you use Chrome, open up Zotero Standalone
2. If you use Zotero.org to synch your Zotero Library online and/or on other computers, make sure you have caught up on synching with that computer.
3. Click on the Action (gears) button and select Preferences from the drop-down menu, then -> Advanced -> Files and Folders and click on the link for the Data Directory. This will open the inside of your Zotero folder.
4. Move up one file folder level so that you see the file directory that includes the folder labeled zotero
5. Close the Zotero Preferences window and then close Firefox, leaving the file directory window open. If you are using Zotero Standalone and Chrome, close both of those and leave the file directory window open.
6. Copy the Zotero folder from your computer and paste it in an external drive (you can use a flash drive instead if it fits your Zotero Library (to find out how large your Zotero file is, right click on it and look under Properties – this is a good thing to do to do as a check to compare file sizes and numbers of files and folders after you move your files to your new computer).
7. Be sure to properly eject the external drive, then unplug it and plug it into your new computer.
8. If you have not already done so, download Zotero to your new computer from Zotero.org. If you are using Zotero Standalone and Chrome, download Zotero Standalone and download the Chrome Zotero connector from the Chrome Web Store (links are on the Zotero download page). You will need to close and reopen Chrome to engage the Zotero Connector. (You may also want to set it up to save items to your Zotero.org library when Zotero Standalone is not open; to do this, from the Chrome menu (three bars in the upper right corner) click on Extensions, and then click on the Options link for the Zotero Connector and authorize it with your Zotero account under Save via Server).
9. Open Firefox and then open Zotero. If you are using Chrome, open up Zotero Standalone.
10. Click on the Action (gears) button and select Preferences from the drop-down menu, then -> Advanced -> Files and Folders and click on the link for the Data Directory. This will open the inside of your Zotero folder.
11. Move up one file folder level so that you see the directory that includes the folder labeled zotero.
12. Close the Zotero Preferences window and close Firefox, leaving the file directory window open. If you are using Zotero Standalone and Chrome, close both and leave the file directory window open.
13. Right-click on the zotero folder you copied to your external drive and check the Properties to make sure you have the same number for file size, files, and folders that you did when you did this on your original computer.
14. Open the directory of your external drive and position it next to your computer’s directory window (you don’t have to do this, but it makes the process very visual).
15. Change the name of the Zotero folder in your new computer to zotero-Delete.
16. Delete the Zotero-Delete folder, then go to your Trash and empty it (yeah, you could just delete the Zotero folder in your computer’s directory, but I made a mistake once so I add this step to be sure I don’t delete the wrong file….)
17. Copy the zotero folder from your external drive and then paste it into the directory in your new computer where the zotero-Delete file was.
18. Right-click on the zotero folder you copied from your external drive to your new computer, and check the Properties to make sure you have the same number for file size, files, and folders that you did when you did this on your original computer.
19. Open Zotero and check to make sure everything transferred.
20. Be sure to properly eject the external drive, then turn it off and unplug it. You are done!* It’s a good idea to back up your Zotero Library to your external drive every so often (i.e. once a month or more often) just to be absolutely safe; using Zotero.org is not a totally reliable substitute for a physical backup.
*21. You’re not really done: Make sure you have your Zotero preferences properly set up on your new computer (See the “Setting Up Your Zotero preferences” tab on the WSU Zotero guide for a step-by-step guide to this).

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 2013 Book List...

I have a love-hate-ignore relationship with my Goodreads account - I'm really bad about adding books to it and noting the date when I read them. So I didn't make my 2013 Goodreads reading goal...oh well, more to perfect in 2014 ;-)

Anyway, I looked at the books that I read (not a complete list) and came up with this list of ten books (very much more or less - except not less) that I really enjoyed in 2013. Not in any particular order, they are:

  • All the Paths of Shadow / Frank Tuttle. A fantasy/steampunk novel about a young royal sorceress who is trying to meet her King's requirement to eliminate the shadow cast by a tower during his big speech, while at the same time dealing with the magic and political tensions accompanying a meeting of countries in the region... very enjoyable, although one character initially comes across as a bit of a caricature.
  • The Royal Sorceress / Christopher Nuttell. Also a steampunk/magic novel about a young royal sorceress, but much darker (and a bit more of a mashup) then Paths. Has a sequel out, and no doubt more in the works.
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore / Robin Sloan. Bookstores, ancient secret societies, scanning, data mining, Google, San Francisco, and much more. A really fun read.
  • The Maker's Mask / The Hawkwood War / Ankaret Wells. Interesting world-building, a geeky engineer heroine, some really funny lines, romance, The Swarm, decaying colonial tech, virtual reality, cold monsters, clans, a snarky hermaphrodite bodyguard to die for, multi-person marriages, secret societies, and more. Wells recently published another book set 200 hundred (or so) years in the future, Heavy Ice. After you read MM and HW, be sure to read the freebies and outtakes at Well's website.
  • Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant / Tony Cliff.  I read this book initially as a web comic (webcomic? I need to make up my mind...) and loved it. The setting (early nineteenth century Turkey), the art (glorious colors and detail), and the fun story and characters are really appealing. It recently came out in print from First Second Books, and I highly recommend it. Delilah Dirk is a sword-wielding adventurer with gravity-defying hair who ends up dragging Turkish Janissary (and tea snob extraordinaire) Selim into her wild orbit.
  • Tea with the Black Dragon / R.A. MacAvoy. An old friend from way back when, I purchased and read this book the first time right after it came out in May of 1983. I still have my copy - its one of the few books I brought with me when I moved from Tucson to Corvallis in the early 1990s. I loved this book! So, when Mark and I took our recent baseball/Presidents trip, I brought along an Overdrive ebook copy to re-read 30 years after my initial reading, wondering how it held up. It held up big time. Some clear differences that 30 years have wrought: yoga and Zen were still exotic in the early 80s, and the technology stuff is a bit outdated of course, but that doesn't make any difference, and in fact the plot is still sadly relevant. And the story - the characters! Highly recommended. From the back cover of my print edition: "Together they find magic, adventure and romance as they search for Martha's missing daughter in the baffling world of computer wizards and electronic crime."
  • Decrypted / Lindsay Buroker. I had a hard time deciding between this and the last two volumes of her Emperor's Edge steampunk series, but this one won out, and the two series meet up at teh end of Forged in Blood. In Encrypted, academic language expert Tikaya serves as a code breaker during her country's war with Turgonia; after the war she is kidnapped to translate a mysterious alien alphabet. In Decrypted, she returns to her home country with her fiance, Rias - which is more than a bit problematic... nice worldbuilding and a sense of humor. Extremely highly recommended for fans of Lous McMaster Bujold, by the way; there is definitly a Cordelia-Aral vibe going on here.
  • Revenant Eve / Sherwood Smith. I loved the first two books in this series, Coronets and Steel, and Blood Spirits. Coronets is a bit of a Graustarkian (think Prince of Zenda) mashup, with a great heroine. Blood Spirits continues the political and magical story. Revenant Eve has the heroine, Kim, going back in time as a ghost to help an ancestor of her fiance. She goes back to Napoleon-era Haiti, England, and France. I've been on a Napoleon kick every since our brief trip to France (although as a 40-year reader of regency romances, the Napoleonic Wars have always been a bit of an interest to me). I love just about everything Sherwood Smith has written, including her dense space opera series, Exordium, that is slowly being made available in slightly revised editions as ebooks.
  • Cold Steel / Kate Elliot. Speaking of Napoleon and Haiti, this last volume of Kate Eliott's Spiritwalker Trilogy was very enjoyable (although she continues to have a bit of a problem with her endings). The series takes place in a Europe that has been devastated by an ice age - magic has an African/Celtic feel, and the spirit world overlaps with the physical world in cery dangerous ways against a background of war that parallels the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Fledgling / Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I cannot believe that I never read any of the Liaden novels - a big drawn-out series of SF/space opera books with the occasional "space regency" tossed in. This was recommended as a good place to begin the series, and I found it very enjoyable. 
  • River of Stars / Guy Gavriel Kay. I love Kay's big, immersive, worldbuilding. You can just get lost in his books and his language.
  • Honorable Mentions: Two books that are installments in series I am very much enjoying. Michelle Sagara's Battle (House War, Book 5) and M. Edward McNally's The Channel War (book 5 of the Norothian Cycle). You can find my full Goodreads books-read-in-2013 list here (its not a complete accounting of what I did read in 2013, but its something...).
There it is! Comments and book suggestions welcome! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Initial Thoughts about #Metaliteracy

I've started a number of MOOCs, none of which I have completed (I wrote a post after failing to complete the first one on some thoughts about MOOCs and libraries), although all of which I have learned from. Right now I am taking participating in a MOOC about metaliteracy (look here for more information about what metaliteracy is - the tl;dr definition is "Metaliteracy is an overarching and self-referential framework that integrates emerging technologies and unifies multiple literacy types."

So - I'm behind. I've managed to watch the lectures so far and do some of the readings, but I'm behind. I don't want to talk about that. What I do want to slowly start talking about is the gradual change I am seeing in myself, as I very slowly move away from a more traditional information literacy approach to a changed version that is strongly informed by both metaliteracy and the concept of critical information literacy. (I'm actually supposed to be collecting metaliteracy-related resources this week for the class- I'll try to do that next week (late, as usual...) but I really wanted to post this so I'd have it in my head.)

So last April March February, I had a chance to talk about some of this on campus, when I was invited to give a talk at the WSU Writing Center's Multimodal Composition Across the Curriculum series, Composing the New Classroom: The Teaching and Learning Remix Series. My topic was "Exploring the Connection Between Information Literacy and Technology-Assisted Research" On my campus, the English Composition program is embarking in very exciting ways into a multimodal turn, which I'm really excited about. Meta-literacy (and CIL) are natural partners and modes of connected processes.

You can see from the slides that my understanding of metaliteracy and critical information literacy is still at the tyro level (that's why I'm trying to take this MOOC, after all!) and that I'm probably trying to cram too much into the talk - metaliteracy, critical information literacy, multimodality (sketchnoting!), and tech tools - but I see them as connected, and this talk was very helpful for me in mapping out areas of interest for future study and application. I'll try to write more as I progress in the MOOC and my own self-study.

That's it for now - I just wanted to get this up, and try to find more time to explore this topic as the MOOC continues....

Multimodal Composition Across the Curriculum

Multimodal Composition Across the Curriculum

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lorena’s List: Five Great Technology Tools for Academics (and everyone else...)

Back in February I did a talk for the WSU Writing Program's Multimodal Composition Across the Curriculum series. My topic was Information Literacy and Technology-Assisted Research (I talked about metaliteracy), and I'll post my slides in my next ID post, but in the Q&A I had a bunch of questions about technology. So the convener of the series, Jennifer Lin O'Brian,  asked me to write up a list of my favorite five tools. It was hard to limit myself, and you will see I cheated! The original version of this post can be found here, and I recommend taking a look at the other posts in the Composing the new Classroom (#CtNC) blog. I've been to every session so far, and it has been an excellent series!

1. A reference management program: Zotero [Or EndNote, Mendeley, CiteULike, etc – see this ]
Reference management software helps you keep track of material – books, articles, webpages, documents, multimedia, etc.  You can keep an electronic copy of an item (if available), bibliographic data, and your notes on the item together in a searchable database.
For information on Zotero classes at WSU, see http://libguides.wsulibs.wsu.edu/zotero ; for  information on EndNote classes see http://libguides.wsulibs.wsu.edu/endnote ; for information on other reference managers, contact Lorena O’English (oenglish@wsu.edu ; wsulorena on Twitter, Skype, GTalk, Yahoo IM)
2. A Notes program: Evernote [Or Google Drive, OneNoteSpringPadSimpleNote, etc.]
The advantage of something like Evernote is that you can access information on multiple devices (desk/laptop, smartphone, tablet). Depending on what device, you can also add in voice notes, images, photographs, etc.  I love the IPad and Android versions! Most of these have freemium options – some functionality for free, more for fee.
3. A screencasting program: Screencast-o-Matic [Or ScreenrJing, etc.]
Screencast-o-Matic lets you make videos of what is going on your computer monitor, then save the video and/or upload it to YouTube, etc. SoM has a browser version and a desktop version (the desktop version requires a paid subscription, but its not very expensive). Screencasting is great for quick how-tos/demonstrations, reading a student’s paper and providing comments orally, and so much more! You’ll find it’s as valuable for personal purposes as it is for academic uses (I use it to show my Mom how to manage her Kindle via the Amazon website, for example.
4. A Read it Later/Read it Nice application: InstaPaper [and/or ReadabilityEvernote ClearlyPocket, etc.]
I love these! I use InstaPaper to save articles that I want to read, but that I don’t think I need to save in my Zotero library – I can read them online,  or I can send them to my Kindle and wirelessly download them (I also use it to read/send scholarly articles if they are available in HTML format, but it does not always work).  Instapaper keeps an archive of all the articles I have saved on it online.  Although IP offers a “read it nice” option, I mix up my products and use Readability – it strips out ads and increases the font and the whitespace, making on-screen reading much nicer.
5. An easy on your eyes application: F.lux
This is so useful! A free program that “warms up” your monitor as its gets darker, so it’s easier to read on screen at night. Not good if you need exact colors, but you can turn it off temporarily.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

My Favorite Book in 2012

I'd have to say it is the conclusion of Galen Beckett's Wyrdwood series, The Master of Heathcrest Hall. The first in the series was The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, the middle volume was The House on Durrow Street. I highly recommend the whole series - its a mashup with magic, fantasy, theatre, and Regency romance, and was creepy, gripping, and romantic. I found it by accident, and I never understood why I heard so little about this series! (Beckett is actually the nom de plume of author Mark Anthony). Find more at http://wyrdwood.net/mrsquent/ .