These [technologies] rank 'among the

marvelous things' – inter mirifica – which God has placed at our

disposal to discover, to use and to make known the truth, also

the truth about our dignity and about our destiny as his children,

heirs of his eternal Kingdom."


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Back to blogging

Well, now that it's Lent I've given up Facebook and have to fill my down time on the internet somehow...what a better way than getting back to blogging? It's been nearly 7 months since I last blogged, and I have new things on my mind now in the library field, like thinking seriously about job applications, opportunities, etc. It's exciting, albeit a bit overwhelming! I decided that I need to get some business cards soon, because I have heard that the key to job hunting (especially in this area full of libraries and librarians) is networking.

I am taking a class this semester (my last core class) called "Libraries and Society." We talk about deep thoughts...like "what is information?" and "how can librarians become empowered?" Some of it is very interesting and thought provoking, some of it is like knocking your head against the wall, talking about things as if they are important, when they are really just silly. This comic strip from Unshelved was sent to us from a classmate, and I think it accurately describes some of the more exasperating "debates" among librarians...err, information professionals. :-)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Talking buses

So, yesterday I was on a bus and had an interesting experience. As I was walking towards the bus I heard a clearly feminine voice greeting passengers saying "hello"; it took me a minute to realize that the hello was not from the bus driver, but the "Hello" was merely a recorded computer greeting. Hmm. I had never had this experience on the bus before. As the bus continued on, the voice continued to say "hello" as people entered, and "goodbye" as people exited. "How very impersonal!" I thought to myself. I wasn't sitting near the front of the bus, so I couldn't tell if the driver was able to offer his own greetings over the jarring computer voice chime. It struck me though, because I had previously been very impressed with the friendliness of the bus drivers in saying to people "have a good day now", as they exited the bus - it is a very personal gesture in the midst of an impersonal world. This automated voice however, seemed to provoke exactly what it was supposed to remedy: an impersonal, "I-feel-ignored" feeling on the bus. Really, who cares that a computer recording dings every time you enter and exit the bus? Frankly, I just found it aggravating and annoying! An example, in my opinion, that computers can't replace human interaction. When they attempt to, a jarring incongruity is evident, in which the human person recognizes the void of authentic human communication.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Holy Father Sends First Text Message

A neat example of technology at the service of the Gospel, used by the Pope himself! I thought the Pope's text message to WYD participants (even using some texting lingo) was cute...showing how he is willing to us today's tools to connect with the youth of today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Refreshingly original thoughts on academic librarianship

Since I began Library School last fall, as well as my job as the Reference and Instruction Department graduate assistant at a university library, I have developed mixed feelings about the direction of libraries as a whole. There is such a tension in the field right now between those who are rallying for change and technological innovation, always lobbying for the use of the latest technologies and trends, and those who are determined to keep things "the way they used to be." Aka, formal, "old-fashioned", and what I sometimes perceive to be exceedingly uptight. I predominantly have identified myself with the former group, excited about change and making the library relevant. But I must admit, the library rhetoric of "change" and "innovation" has become very cliche, very quickly. Web 2.0, Social Networking, and Virtual Reference have become buzzwords that those in the library field hear no less than 50 times a day.

Furthermore, I have been rather skeptical of new library marketing initiatives, like setting up "librarian-information-booths" around campus, so we can answer a whopping 1 question over the span of two hours. It's not the lack of questions that most frustrates me, but this seemingly superficial attempt to dumb down the scholarly pursuit, by spoon-feeding the students; they no longer even have to take the effort to walk into the library building. How will they ever learn that true learning requires hardwork, sacrifice, and dedication? Not so long as we are doing silly things like doorstep information delivery.

I suppose that at some universities, many even many, the libraries are struggling to survive. Maybe these desperate attempts to market the library really are necessary for the library to maintain visibility within the academic community. Isn't this lack of reliance on the library a reflection of the importance of the scholarly pursuit as a whole? I suppose that I am just opening a pandora's box of university politics of which I am too young and naive to know much about, but it seems that if the university has a clear goal to provide students with a liberal education, using the library resources will necessarily follow; setting up carnival-like booths around campus will not be necessary. Rather, the use of the library will be an expectation ingrained in the educational mission of the university.

I recently came across a book about academic librarianship with some strikingly refreshing perspectives on academic libraries and information literacy. While I haven't yet finished the entire book, I have found some of the chapters incredibly enlightening and thought-provoking.
It's called "Musings, Meanderings, and Monsters, too: Essays on Academic Librarianship," edited by Martin H. Raish.

While I found lots that was interesting, I found the following most thought-provoking:

  • In the essay "Information Literacy As Liberal Education," Douglas M. Stehle questions some of the "entertainment" style approaches to information literacy education. He proposes:
"Information literacy strikes me as nothing more than the librarian's deep passion for liberal education."
Hmm...you probably haven't heard it stated like that any time recently. Furthermore, he says,

"Librarians introduce students to collections that provide and even embody the liberal quest of knowledge. The library and it's collections are the greatest assemblage of parts, and a whole greater than those parts that together provide for liberal education awareness and it's development of the openly critical spirit alluded to by Matthew Arnold. I believe that we can reach more students through collection marketing than through instruction programs to accomplish this."

  • Another favorite of mine was "Place and Space" by Barbara Fister, in which she argues for the importance of the library as a physical, contained space and cautions against a complete reliance on the seemingly boundless, spaceless electronic libraries. She says,
"Being oriented to a place gives us confidence because we are rooted in personal, sensory, experience. It is ours in a way that isn't until we have been able to relate it to our experiences in some fundemental way...The library, as a physical place, is small enough that it can be experienced and mapped...the coordinates established through the experience of a library, then, can orient the explorer heading out into the unknown. "
Fascinating, I say, and worth mulling over.

Friday, June 13, 2008


For my practicum this summer, I have been working with creating taxonomies. While very new to the topic, in the past two weeks I have done a lot of research about the creation and use of taxonomies in information science and knowledge management, and it is a very interesting and constantly evolving tool. I found this article to be especially illuminating about the purpose and importance of taxonomies (and even librarians :-).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Computers and humanities research

In researching digital repositories, I came across an interesting article by Michael Lesk entitled "From Data to Wisdom: Humanities Research and Online Content." He makes some interesting observations about the affects of electronic resources and the internet on different facets of scholarship. One of his most striking questions is whether online repositories will not merely enable quicker document retrieval, but will provide insights on the texts:

"Most important in the long run will be the development of better techniques for analyzing and using the data accumulated in humanities repositories. Scholars can find works, they can view works, at least as surrogates, and they can exchange information with other scholars. Repositories thus make traditional research easier. But will they enable new and significant kinds of research? We would like to see more authorship studies, critical evaluation, annotation, and the like. Today, computers can count; they can read a little, see a little, hear a little, and feel a little. But as yet they do not read, see, hear, or feel at the levels needed to provide insights for humanities scholars."
Hmm...machine produced insights seem a little unsettling to me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

YouTube and evangelization

JPII continually emphasized the potential of using modern technology as a tool to spread the Gospel in new and exciting ways. This article on Zenit proves how Catholics are using YouTube to spread the Truth!