This blog began as an experiment in communicating two years ago, and I’ve decided that it’s time for me to move on to other communication projects, including more ‘long form’ professional writing.  I’m intrigued by the potential to develop long form writing through social media, so that may be the next step.

With so many arrows at our disposal, choosing which forms of communication will reach others or have the impact we hope for, has become one of the critical skills for effectiveness in advancing the mission of libraries and of higher education.  So I will leave this 3×3 form with a shout-out to a librarian, Valerie Gross, who has demonstrated exceptional skill in this regard, finding the simplest of “branding” for her Maryland library system, and indeed for any and all libraries:  “Library = Education”:

“Libraries = Education means asserting the role of libraries as key components of the educational enterprise. It applies to all types of libraries. For public libraries, it means we are educational institutions in our own right, on an equal footing with K–12 schools, colleges, and universities. For academic libraries, it means we’re on an equal footing with every academic department on campus, and maybe even more central, because we support all the other departments. We’re central to success for students, faculty, and staff—the university as a whole.”

Enjoy the weekend and I look forward to our ongoing conversations and communications!





Last month a CSU-wide 2016 ScholarWorks Symposium took place at CSU San Marcos.  The symposium program included a presentation about our adoption of Islandora as well as presentations by the Chancellor’s Office Aaron Collier, announcing the decision to migrate CSU repositories from DSpace to a Fedora 4 and Hydra based repository solution by early 2017. There were also presenters from UC San Diego, who outlined their migration to Fedora 4 + Hydra. Zach and Michele, who both attended the symposium, will be sharing tscholarworks.pngheir notes with us soon.  What does all this mean to us?  Our big focus this year is on the new library services platform (ULMS) and on an improved search and discovery experience.  But we are also actively involved in piloting and advising on these system-wide developments in digital collection management and presentation.  We started getting to know Hydra and Fedora and their close cousins (Sufia, Blacklight, Spotlight) last winter, and we are proudly in the thick of these things now.

One of the things libraries and IT both understand well is the importance of “identifiers.”  In fact, anyone who has a phone number, an email address, a mailing address, or a social security number, understands how important it is to have a unique, precise identifier! We know all about identifiers for books (ISBN’s), journals (ISSN’s), and more recently, for journal articlorcid_buttones (DOI’s or Digital Object Identifiers).  These identifiers make it possible to automatically exchange and link information about books and articles across organizations, time, language, and cultural and physical space. I don’t usually geek out over such things, but the brilliance of a unique author identifier – the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID)  – is indisputable. Amazingly, a unique author identifier has never existed before. As a result, with the vast number of researchers in the world today, distinguishing which A. Kumar wrote which medical journal article is not an easy task.  ORCID is a big step towards being able to represent, exchange, and precisely link not only authors, but all the elements in our system of research: works, places, dates, authors, research instruments, funding agencies, and more.  Once all these elements can be identified precisely, we can start to do very cool things like showing how authors are related to each other, or what research was done on what instruments. And because ID geeks like to have fun, there is (I kid you not) a celebration of researcher ID’s in Iceland this November:  PIDapalooza.  We’ll learn more about ORCID during Open Access Week this year when our Open Access team will be hosting a visitor from ORCID.

Labor Day (or for Canadians, Labour Day) has been a national holiday for more than 100 years, since 1894.  The first Labor Day was held in New York City in 1882.  A former Department of Labor historian describes the details:

On May 14, 1882, a proposal was made at the Central Labor Union meeting that all workers should join together for a “monster labor festival” in early September. A committee of five people was appointed to find a park for the celebration. They chose Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue, the largest park in New York City at that time; the date was set for Tuesday, September 5. By June, they had sold 20,000 tickets with the proceeds going to each local union selling them. In August, the Central Labor Union passed a resolution “that the 5th of September be proclaimed a general holiday for the workingmen in this city.”

At first they were afraid that the celebration was going to be a failure. Many of the workers in the parade had to lose a day’s pay in order to participate. When the parade began only a handful of workers were in it, while hundreds of people stood on the sidewalk jeering at them. But then slowly they came – First_United_States_Labor_Day_Parade,_September_5,_1882_in_New_York_City200 workers and a band from the Jewelers’ Union showed up and joined the parade. Then came a group of bricklayers with another band. By the time they reached the park, it was estimated that there were 10,000 marchers in the parade in support of workers.

The park was decorated with flags of many nations. Everyone picnicked, drank beer and listened to speeches from the union leadership. In the evening, even more people came to the park to watch fireworks and dance. The newspapers of the day declared it a huge success and “a day of the people.”

As we head into our own massive fall gatherings here at Cal Poly, we are proud of our work, of each other, and of our colleagues and union leaders who will help us kick off another year together!

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend,



A late summer transformation of the Special Collections and Archives reading room on the fourth floor is in full swing this week: early Monday morning workers began to dismantle the “DMV” interior walls (no way you could miss that noise!), followed by old carpet removal, and recarpeting throughout.  Gone is the red carpet.  Soon to be gone too:  the ‘mirror’ film on the storefront glass.  If you are missing the transformation in person, we’ll have photos and video soon.  This project, funded by private donations, has opened up ample space and wonderful views to the north and east that will be enjoyed by the growing number of students (more than 700 last year) and classes for whom our manuscripts, unique books, and archives are a shared laboratory.

One of our long-standing goals has been to find ways of sharing our exhibits with broader audiences. This has included creating traveling exhibits (versions of exhibits that can be sent to other venues). We’ve also explored creating online versions of our exhibits that can be seen anywhere, anytime.  This sounds easy, and we’ve looked into some platforms like Omeka, but we haven’t found a solution that pres18b-exhibition-museum-brochure-design.jpgents exhibit content and context very satisfactorily. Meanwhile, we’ve been having some interesting discussions about other ways of sharing exhibits: they are in a sense “lived” publications:  the result of research, collaboration, design, curation, and editing.  What if we shared our exhibits AS publications, either in print, or digitally, or both?  (Or could an exhibit live on as an artist’s book?) These are intriguing ideas that we’ll be exploring more this year.

And this leads to reflections on the place of art in a library.  We’ve been thinking more about this lately, thanks largely to the swell of enthusiasm and ideas across the library about what we are doing, and what we could do, with art!  Just think about what we’re already doireflection in pink2.jpgng:  from exhibiting student work, to our galleries and formal exhibits, to the Atrium artwork, to Clare Olsen’s grand stairway piece.  Last January, research libraries (ARL), CNI, and academic museums joined forces to convene a meeting about collaboration between libraries and museums, and a few weeks ago, a white paper resulting from the meeting was published, “Prospects and Strategies for Deep Collaboration in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums Sector.”  The “call to action” in the report includes this from ARL executive director Elliott Shore: 

“Imagine a scenario in which the core of the university’s mission has a place together—either in one department or in allied groupings with shared spaces and staff—where the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the preservation and exhibition of our cultural heritage, the teaching and learning with objects both physical and digital—all happens in a coherent way.”

Have a great weekend,




Between summer ‘recess’ sessions this week (ice cream and poetry in the atrium!), the quiet storm of August continues.  Our new expanded 24-hour space – Hub24 – is getting power and networking this week and will soon be built out with new furniture.  Five of our colleagues have been debriefing from their 3 days of intensive training on the new library systems in San Jose.  Our Web Steering Committee and web subcommittees are well along in designing a new interface that we’ll begin testing this fall. Our graphics, communications, outreach leaders, and exhibits teams are producing a stream of handsome fall outreach materials, navigation signs, and materials for the upcoming Mustang 100 fall exhibit.  All of these activities are part of the strategic goals we’re setting this year:  look for more information next week on those draft goals, including plans for the Hub24 program; new systems for discovery and delivery; improving and increasing spaces for student study; communicating a strong library brand; and working with our community to activate the library with art.

Summer is also a time we look back at the previous year, with annual reports and updated measures of activity that we track each year.  A couple of highlights:  last year we reached 11% more students with our teaching programs (over 12,000 students); we answered 21% more questions at the research help desk, reflecting the new visibility of the desk after it moved to the second floor. Laptop and other media checkouts soared this year too, hitting over 120,000.  Patrons waited an average of only 13 hours (a drop of 14%) to receive over 9000 articles via our RapidILL network. And to top it off, our visitor count this year broke through 1.5 million for the first time in over a decade.   That’s a 15% increase in the last 5 years; and a 60% in the last 10 years, since 2006.  Where do those students go?  Since 2006, we’ve increased library seats from 1400 to over 2300!

The human side of the world of publishing is one libraries sometimes hebookforget to celebrate.  One discovery this summer was Perceval Press  – founded by actor/writer Viggo Mortenson. And it was great to see the ACLS Humanities Ebook team venturing out with social media to tell their story – sharing interviews, new publications, and even video of their empty office on an August Friday…..  These are our comrades at arms in the world of learning, writing, and sharing ideas.  I particularly enjoyed their link to the Atlantic. Well, actually they linked to an Atlantic article about librarians,  but then I found this great article about the human side of email:  

“Best,” “I hope you’re well,” “Thanks so much for your time,” “Just checking in on X”—these are new cultural scripts for digital interaction, much like the exchange of “How are you?” is for IRL interaction.

Enjoy the weekend,



In an age of information overload….much research is scarcely, if ever, downloaded or read, much less applied or cited.”  This brings up a good question:  whose job is it to bring attention to research?  Researchers? Press offices? Research offices? the library?  Several of us joined a webinar this week about how libraries help faculty (and graduate students) enhance their online reputations and research impact. Thwho_is_responsible_for_impact_kudos_arma.pnge famously innovative NCSU library crew did a nice job presenting their “Summer of Open Science” workshop series. “SOS” is a series of workshops and meetups that help researchers use open digital tools (using Python to find and summarize research articles on the web, using Twitter to build a reputation, or building a personal website optimized for search engines).  

On October 14, in partnership with the department of journalism, we’ll be celebrating 100 years of student journalism with a special exhibit and Innovation Showcase.  Each of our library e100-Years-Sales-Flyer_On-Campus_0.jpgxhibits is the work of many, many hands and many months of research, networking, design, and building – so we are lucky to have talented students working on this through the summer.  Meanwhile we’re just beginning to put together another exhibit concept for 2016-17: we’re in discussions now about the possibility of hosting work created by artists at a central coast correctional institution.  Professor Unique Shaw-Smith, who joined Cal Poly just a year ago, is the faculty scholar who would anchor the proposed spring exhibit:  she does incredible research on the effects of incarceration on families, and is one of two Cal Poly faculty co-teaching Cal Poly students and county jail inmates.  

It’s been a good summer for virtual reality: Oklahoma State University library was featured in Library Journal this week.  The OVAL – Oklahoma Virtual Academic Laboratory – offers experiences in interactive coursework from biochemistry to interior oval.jpgdesign – and they spec a basic VR station at as little as $1500.  Meanwhile in the ‘real world’ Reuters has teamed with Samsung to create Focus 360 (360-degree video and photography news content),  the Democratic National Convention streamed in 360-degree video, and Facebook has rolled out 360-degree photos.  What will the role of virtual reality be in libraries? in education? in journalism? entertainment? Want to give it a try? Cal Poly student journalists are already there – and so is the Innovation Sandbox.

Have a great weekend,



The first of many new faculty lists has arrived, telling us who will be coming to Cal Poly this fall (or who has joined us since last September).  On this year’s list:  more than 30 new tenure track faculty, joining us from Boston College, Yale, UCLA, UC Davis, ASU, UNC, Princeton, Caltech, Northwestern, Universities of Michigan, Calgary, Minnesota, and Queensland – just for starters. Joined by dozens of new lecturenfr_2015rs, the list keeps growing all the way up until the night of our annual new faculty reception. One of our happiest traditions at Kennedy Library is to roll out one of the best parties at Cal Poly – the New Faculty Reception.  Shelly Lucas is the heart and soul of this event that helps build countless new partnerships and friendships; past receptions have also sparked long-term  library-faculty collaborations, from student research in the library, to faculty art installations. It’s fun for non-faculty too:  a chance for campus leadership to meet a highly accomplished group of new scholars and teachers.  This year the reception will happen on Friday October 7 (two weeks later than usual), to take pressure off the heavy Fall Conference Week schedule; and we will begin a new tradition, by introducing our 2016 Learn by Doing Scholar faculty awardees (and the outstanding faculty committee that selected them).

It’s going to be a big year for information literacy:  2016-17 will be the first year in the three-year cycle of activities led by Academic Programs and Planning, to study, assess, and increase the impact we have on student information literacy.  This is one of the core university-wide commitments we study as part of the regional accreditailtion process (aka WASC) – others include quantitative reasoning, written and oral communication, and critical thinking. The timing is great:  our librarians and specialists have been working hard towards articulating not only what “information literacy” means our uniquely polytechnic learning environment, but what students will be able to accomplish as a result of the experiences we offer them to learn and apply the concepts, skills, and practices that will empower them through their whole career.  We are looking forward to being part of a university-wide conversation, enriched by national thought-leaders, that will help ensure our students have the best learning experiences anywhere.

Two weeks ago at the SCUP conference in Vancouver, I ran into a colleague who used to work here at Cal Poly, and is currently at CSULA.  She told me about an amazing program they have going there with hydrogen fuel cell technology.  It was the perfect example of going around the world (well, pretty far north anyway) to find out what’s happsustainability_green_websites2ening in our own backyard.  One of the industries most interested in this magic-sounding energy source is the big data industry, with their growing need for energy to power all those servers in the ‘cloud’.  Related to this:  Conny was telling me about sustainable web design practices and how we are already beginning to fine tune our website code to be less demanding on the cloud, drawing ‘just in time’ data rather than ‘just in case’ data to power mobile web designs.  

Have a wonderful weekend,



Twitter was born ten years ago this month, and this extraordinary political season has been a showcase of the new role of social media in our national discourse. Last night’s convention made history (and #herstory); even how candidates use social media is an issue.  In fact, how we use social media – even how we use email, which we’ve seen inadvertently turn “social” – is one of the unavoidable personal, professional, and civic tests of our awareness, insight, judgment, and agility. Some say Instagram is the next big thinTwitter_bird_logo_2012g and an important topic for new social media research.  Here at the library we’re looking at trends in our social media last year (Facebook down, Twitter and Instagram up), and thinking about where we want to take it next year (with a goal of renewing our social media strategy).  Meanwhile if you haven’t seen the library’s Instagram account lately,  it’s a lot of fun (thanks social media team!): check out Transformation Tuesday, Throwback Thursday (look at those hats), the making of the Living Library (the movie)  and the latest in student-designed swag  for brand new Cal Poly students joining us this fall.

One flavor of social media is the social media profile:  think LinkedIn or Facebook.  For that matter, every personal web page or ‘about’ page on a blog is a profile; but social media-flavored profiles add something different: networking.  Social media profiles make it easy for us to compare and contrast different profiles – the way a school uniformuniform.jpg becomes a way of expressing not only common identity, but self.  Of course there’s much more to social profile networking – machine-generated matching of people with each other, the ability to express connections through friending and likes, endorsements, shared affiliations; and to build connections through feeds and updates. And then there are academic profiles, geared to crafting and expressing intellectual and academic connections and reputations.  Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking into the issue of whether to continue to provide Cal Poly branded Selected Works faculty profiles – an add-on service of our incredibly successful Digital Commons repository.  We’ll be sharing our decision soon, and our reasoning, which comes down to this:  faculty like to choose from many profile options (like ORCID, ResearcherID, Academia.edu), and manage their own profiles themselves.  There’s very interesting data on this point  (thanks to Adriana for sharing it with us).

One of the things to pay attention to with social media is who owns it. At the conference I attended last month Kentaro Toyama showed a slide comparing Facebook to the Matrix (and not in a good way), and quoted the widespread canard (credited to a lot of different people!) “if it’s free, you’re the product.”  Academic information sharing is a serious business – it’s the lifeblood of academic work.  So when free academic networking tools and services have been sold to giant corporations, it’s been a shock to the system.  It’s one thing to be in a coop where free.jpegyour mutual good is the “product”; but do you become an Elsevier product now that they own Mendeley? (The New Yorker article described it as “the Rebel Alliance” selling out.) Yet somehow the news last month that the (not free, but not commercial) Social Science Research Network (SSRN) was sold – also to Elsevier – was a total surprise to me. The “Rebel Alliance” surged forward (coincidentally), announcing the release of free and open SocArXiv.

Have a great weekend,



A week ago I got back from several days at a conference in Vancouver: it was a  great conference. and also a fascinating city: not only beautiful to look at, but inspiring as a globally diverse culture with a people-centered vibe.  One example: the most casual visitor can easily navigate Vancouver’s swift, ubiquitous public transit system.  The empowering, productive, shared experience of the Vancouver bus system is the same experience we want our studvancouver.jpgents to have in the library!  Or, walking any street in downtown Vancouver, one can look up to see a variety of striking residential high-rises, each brightened by human features like green gardens and windchimes and flags -and each framing long vistas toward the bays or mountains. In between these buildings are green commons where people are reading and playing.  This unusual city layout even has its own name:  Vancouverism.  In a similar way, we try to create beautiful reading spaces and vistas in our library (think of our atrium, or low shelves and ‘green spaces’ interspersed in ‘high rise’ fishbowls.) Experiencing the power of a well-designed urban environment at this scale reinforces the importance of planning our part in the university “city,” knowing that a great university ‘city’ can have a strong positive impact on student well-being.  The conference was full of great ideas about how to do this.

One of the best sessions I attended was a world-wide overview of major trends in campus planning, in light of disruptions in higher education. The economics of higher education make suburban colleges hard to sustain (the economies of urban environments make for other challenges, but greater sustainability).  A solution:  bringing “urbanism” to suburban universities, “densifying” building and creating campus-community integration (think Cal Poly Hot House, or bringing faculty, community, or staff housing onto university land), integration of residential, academic, and service/storefront spaces on campuses (University of Maryland was an example, as were several projects at the University of British Columbia).   During this presentation the speaker cited important new, unique research on this topic:  it turns out the research is by Cal Poly City and Regional Planning professor Amir Hajrasouliha, and his research is available through Digital Commons!  Campus Does Matter: The Relationship of Student Retention and Degree Attainment to Campus Design.”  The gist: major factors impacting student retention and attainment are urbanism, greenness, and on-campus residency.

Although there was only a handful of librarians at this conference I was struck by how much librarians and planners have in common: shared goals (student learning), a people-centered philosophy; and shared interest in designing formal and informal learningeekheresy_6.jpgg environments and experiences. Like librarians, planners are concerned with the long-term future of scholarship and learning; and think a lot about the role of technology in both. Planners are also surprisingly scholarly: every session offered “learning objectives” and virtually every presenter mentioned key authors or books that had inspired and informed their work.  I’ve begun reading through all these enticing books, beginning with keynote speaker Kentaro Toyama’s “Geek Heresy.”  (“If technology is going to improve the lives of the world’s poorest, it must be grounded in a deep understanding of human behavior and an appreciation for cultural differences.”)

Another keynote was by Cathy Davidson, director of the Futures Initiative at CUNY.  Her latest book is Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.  Davidson has also taught a course about 21st century literacies  (attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, design, storytelling, critical consumption of information, digital partunflattening.pngicipation, ethics and advocacy, and learning, unlearning, and relearning). Her inspiring talk focused on how to counter structural inequality in our society through design of structures, practices, and strategies that put equality and partnership at the core.  One strategy: ask students to contribute what they learn to public knowledge; another:  graduation and a job aren’t the only goals of a degree: what can we do to help students also “end with a mission for life (after college)”?  Davidson’s recommended book to read Nick Sousanis’  Unflattening” – which uses comics to show that “perception is always an active process of incorporating and reevaluating different vantage points.”  It’s in my queue too.

Have a wonderful weekend,



The annual ALA conference wrapped up earlier this week in Orlando, and a big news item was ACRL’s vote to “rescind” (more kindly, to sunset) its 15-year-old Information Literacy Competency Standards in favor of the recently adopted ACRL Information Literacy Framework. Some see it as the triumph of philosophy over practicality; others as a choice of locally-developed outcomes over standards expected by accreditatiolin.jpgon bodies.  It will be great to get our own colleagues’ take on this as they return from ALA.   Related to the “framework” approach is the widespread interest and new thinking about what it takes to achieve deep, relevant learning.  Last week’s Economist had a great story on new university models  that are ‘hands-on’ and project-centered to a degree that takes the Cal Poly approach and goes even further.  Exciting developments for today’s and tomorrow’s students!

Later this month I’ll be attending the annual meeting of the Society of College and University Planners (SCUP). It’s exciting to see how much of the conference deals with the learning outcomes and impacts of university planning.  One of the campus projects featured at the conference is UBC’s “commons” model for residential housing development:  “By locating commons buildings in the heart of the academicUBC_Ponderosa_013-Collegia_WEB.jpg campus, these projects are creating vibrant, integrated residential/academic precincts.” The Ponderosa Commons  is the first of these projects:  it includes arts and printmaking facilities, a geofluvial lab, a fitness studio, a cafe/pizza venue, and “collegia” – home-like touch-down spaces for commuter students, as well as housing for 1100 students.   Coincidentally this week we’ve been having some interesting conversations about how we might integrate library-like commons spaces into residential developments here at Cal Poly. 

As we celebrate the 4th of July this weekend, many are also reflecting on the fog of war and colossal ineptness of military leaders that created one of the most terrible human losses in recent history – 100 years ago today, the 141-day Battle of the Somme began, in somme.jpg
which 1.2 million were killed or wounded: “Purgatory, in all its hideous shapes and forms.”  The literature of the Somme is extraordinary, ranging from detailed histories to the wordless graphic account by artist Joe Sacco depicted on a single 24-foot long accordion-fold page.  Some have said that “more poets and writers fought in the Battle of the Somme than any other battle,” among them the Welsh poet David Jones whose long narrative poem “In Parenthesis” tells the human story of the Somme.

A very happy 4th of July and weekend to all,



You may have noticed the installation at a ceiling near you of dataloggers, aka HOBOs, in the library this month.  What’s a HOBO?  It’s a bluetooth-enabled device that reports temperature and humidity, allowing us to capture accurate data throughout the building to study environmental conditions in a variety of locations, occupancy levels, outside temperatures, and times of day. A campus-based research team as well as campus facilities are involved in the HOBO installation and data monitoring.  All of this will be providing data to help understand what kinds of interventions and opportunities we have to improve the way the building feels to its occupants.  This is just one part of our new “Living Library” initiative – in this case, getting smart about staying cool!

Summer on display and on the move:  while you’re checking out the new third floor study rooms, enjoy the student architectural models exhibited throughout the third floor architecture reading room.  And today the Multi Cultural Center will be reinstalling 2016’s IAmCalPoly exhibit in the community gallery on the first floor, where it can be enjoyed by new students and visitors all summer.  Summer building projects on the first, second, and third floors are all moving fast – many are ahead of schedule.  On the first and second floors, our Facilities project team and work crews and our in-house facilities team have cleared the floors of furniture and computers, and are laying out fresh flooring.  If you’re out of town, watch our renovation news page and social media for updates!

If the world has been sdiablo.jpgtunned by the outcome of yesterday’s Brexit referendum (“the single most momentous day in British politics since WWII”) some of us were also stunned this week by the PG&E’s announced exit strategy from Diablo Canyon.   It’s yet another example of how a whole systems perspective changes things:  “removing the inflexible ‘must-run’ nuclear output, which can’t easily and economically ramp down much, will help integrate more renewable power reliably into the hamilton.jpeggrid. Midday solar, rather than being increasingly crowded out by continued nuclear overgeneration, will be able to supply more energy.” (Forbes) Another example of the power of a systems approach to problems popped up on my radar this week:  Margaret Hamilton‘s Universal Systems Language.  Hamilton’s story is amazing.  She turns 80 this August and is best known as a brilliant programmer with the Apollo moon landing program, who studied the very idea of “errors” and designed software that  “expected the unexpected.”

Stay cool this weekend!