Washington DC was blessed with mild December weather this week (little rain, highs hitting 60), and that was just one of the pleasant surprises of this year’s fall CNI membership meeting.  Probably the most exciting session I attended was called “Hydra in a Box” (or “hybox” for short).  “Hydra” is a digital library framework based on a single repository of digital objects, with many tailored applications and workflows that handle different use cases (institutional repository, publishing system, image annotation) and different genres (e.g. images, theses, ebooks, audio, video) in different ways. Stanford, Duraspace, and DPLA reported on the first few months of their joint, 2-year IMLS-funded project to create a turnkey, cloud-based, Hydra solution based on user-centered design. This will make the powerful features of the Hydra framework available to even the smallest institutions.  The first release will come in the first half of the new year.  If standing ovations were CNI’s style this session would have surely seen one!

I’ll share my detailed CNI notes next week and Adriana (who also attended), and I may be able to do an open update session early in the new year.

I met yesterday with Hunter Francis, director of Cal Poly’s Center for Sustainabilitygreen-walls2, to share the ideas we’ve been developing about finding sustainable approaches to cooling the Kennedy Library, and sustainability in our programs in general.  I learned about some very interesting approaches to literally ‘greening’ the building. Hunter also brought up food as something that could play an important part in our concept of sustainability:  from growing food on, around, and in our building, to bringing ‘real’ food cooking experiences and eating options to the library neighborhood.  This is exactly the idea that SLAC began raising and championing last year: providing better dinner eating options between 4-8 pm for hungry library-bound students.   If we could move the bus stop outside the library, could a reimagined corridor between the library and the Bonderson building become a pedestrian and bike-friendly zone featuring grape arbors, herbs, artichokes, fruit trees…and great student-run food options?

I had a good book with me last week on my flights to DC and back:  Richard DeMillo’s Revolution in Higher Education.  DeMillo posits that higher education is unsustainably costly in its present form and that MOOCs and other forms of low-cost, empowered user learning models can help recover higher education as a critical part of the public sector.  What role can libraries play in integrating these alternative learning models with our traditional curricular support (e.g. hosting meet-ups for MOOC participants)? How can we learn from MOOCs about the power of feedback in enhancing learning?  I found it fascinating that frequent testing is a key to student success in MOOCs, but not (as I would have thought) as an incentive to students but rather, as feedback to the instructor, so they can adapt their teaching as they understand better what it is students find most challenging.

As we head into the last weeks of 2015 and the winter holiday break, I am deeply grateful for the “village” of fellow workers, partners, supporters, friends, and collaborators who have made this such a phenomenal year.  We have an amazing year to come.  No library could better illustrate the African proverb I heard repeated at CNI this week:  “If you want to go far, go together.”

Wishing you and your families and friends a joyous holiday,