I’ve just finished up my conference notes from the April 28 University of San Diego conference on digital initiatives, and on Wednesday submitted the paper I presented, about our <iDi> initiatives: the amazing things we’ve accomplished together in a few short years. I’ve posted both on the wiki and will add a link to the paper from our iDi page.  (Feedback & questions welcome!) As we begin to draft strategic goals for the coming year, one of the most exciting digital initiatives that we’re developing is about digital research services: taking our research support services to the next level to support every step in the cycle of research, from exploration and inquiry to  publishing. How can we integrate and coordinate our efforts across this cycle, wherever and however people interact with the library? That’s an exciting <iDi-2> challenge.

In the annual spring conference season, many of our librarians and staff have been on the road – several are off to ESRI soon for all things geospatial, others are heading this month to New Orleans for ASEE (Adriana will be participating in a panel session on changing librarian liaison roles), Kaila’s just back from presenting at Learning Elevated in Utah about Inquiry-Based Learning in mathematics, and others are bringing back ideas and inspiration from the American Alliance of Museums and NeoCon (that’s interior design, not politics!).   In July I’ll participate at the annual meeting of the Society for College & University Planners (SCUP),  in a panel organized by our library master plan partners from Shepley Bullfinch: we’ll each be talking about how the learning affordances of print and digital library collections and spaces shape space planning decisions at universities.

summerreadingOne of the great traditions of summer is reading – it’s not that we don’t read all year – but summer reading has a special appeal.  On my desk – a couple of books on organizational culture that are really good; a beautifully written book about “The Boys in the Boat”  – the 1936 team of kids from Oregon that won Olympic gold in Berlin in the depths of the depression; and Andy Clark’s “Surfing Uncertainty“.   It had me at the first page:

“The mystery is, and remains, how mere matter manages to give rise to thinking, imagining, dreaming, and the whole smorgasbord of mentality, emotion, and intelligent action. …But there is an emerging clue. …The clue can be summed up in a single word: prediction…Perceiving, imagining, understanding, and acting are now bundled together, emerging as different aspects and manifestations of the same underlying prediction-driven, uncertainty-sensitive, machinery.”

What’s on your summer reading list?

Have a great weekend,




Happy Friday and last day of the academic year!

This is a time of year for celebrations of all kinds – a few endings and many new beginnings.  We are all in awe of the achievements of our student assistants and SLAC members.   Each has dedicated a huge number of precious hours, and their insight, creative vision, hard work, and positive and friendly energy have made the library more beautiful, more functional, more responsive, and more interesting. SLAC’s best-ever student survey results will keep that student voice going through the summer as we work to implement more improvements that next year’s returning and new students will be able to use in the fall.  This month we are also celebrating two of our librarians who have attained tenure and promotion this year:  Jesse Vestermark and Mark Bieraugel.  Congratulations!

At this time of year, senior projects pour into DigitalCommons (solar powered hot-tubs… apps … teaching physics…city ordinances…water-use-reduction…).  One senior project – the amazing reclaimed Mustang sculpture – will leave the library Sunday evening under the watchful eye of the students, faculty, and staff who made it happen.  Next fall another group of students will help the campus decide on its permanent location.  It will be fun to see where the as-yet-unnamed sculpture will find a home!  A number of senior projects have directly addressed library projects, initiatives and improvements.  Several of us also consulted on other senior projects about the library:  how to expand seating, increase access to electrical power, and more. These student research projects are alwlib_logo-14.pngays fantastic sources of inspiration and ideas.

Wherever you are this summer, you can follow along with our summer work via our social media and renovations updates web page.

Congratulations grads, come back to see us and stay in touch!  You will always be a part of the Kennedy Library family.

And a good weekend to all!


Prefer the blog version? https://friday3x3.wordpress.com


With summer around the corner, can a web redesign be far away? For the last four summers it’s become our tradition to use this down time to adapt our site to many changes: growing use of mobile devices and reliance on visuals for communication, evolving campus branding standards and – most important –  what our users want to accomplish when they reach our website.  This summer we’re planning relatively modest design changes (creating a deeper footer on all pages, and improving and integrating our news feed). But we’re also putting together a longer-term project team to help improve the search experience on our website;  a third group will be created to plan a more comprehensive redesign by summer 2017 – one that incorporates improved search prominently (see NCSU’s QuickSearch for an example of how this might work).  ExTeam will be meeting again with Conny next week and after that we’ll be getting working groups and committee proposals out to everyone for review & feedback.

These goals for our website are being developed as part of our annual library-wide and department goal-setting activities.  This year ExTeam has agreed to adopt a new goal development template for goals at both library and department levels.  The new process is linked clearly to our new strategic plan, but it’s more than a list: it calls for fewer goals, but more detailed descriptions, and justification, for each goal.  Cheryl and Adriana worked together to propose this new process (thanks!) and we’re beginning this month to share it across the library.  We’ll bring library-wide and department goals together later this summer, into what should be a shorter and less redundant list of important goals for the coming year. If we can get our library-wide goals down to 3, 4, or 5 exciting, important, achievable goals, we will declare success!

This week Cal Poly hosted an event (movie & panel discussion) about women and minorities in programming – “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap.”   The movie producers, who used Indiegogo to raise the $75K they needed to make the movie, had two goals: to expose and explore reasons for profound gender and minority gaps in the US programming/computer science industry; and to advocate for encouraging more kids – including girls and underrepresented kids – to get excited about & involved in programming, a core competency for today’s citizens and students. One of the issues raised by the movie is the power of stereotypes – including what Claude Steele and others call “stereotype threat”  – the idea that people are or feel themselves to be at risk of conforming to stereotypes about their social group. And then, “once a stereotype takes hold, it can take generations to reverse the impression.”

Students, we’re all rooting for you and so very proud of you!



It’s that time of year – Learn by Doing is in full bloom everywhere. This afternoon the College of Engineering opens their Engineering Project Expo in the Engineering quad; and tonight “Unlicensed” – the Architecture Thesis Project show – opens in Chumash and runs through the weekend.   Selections from this show will get more exposure and longer life in our new architecture reading area on the third floor, through the summer.  And in the Community Gallery you can still check out today the Honors program research posters – they feature critical thinking, data analysis, and informative comparisons of this year’s presidential candidates’ positions on sustainability.  Just in time for the California primary!

Next week we’ll be sharing even more Learn by Doing news:  the selection of 2016 Learn by Doing Scholars by this year’s faculty committee will be announced.  We’ll celebrate their achievements this fall at the library’s New Faculty Reception.   The award committee and awardees alike spoke about the importance of recognizing how faculty are working to improve Learn by Doing. One said: “It was amazing to see the diversity of how professors across campus applied our common university motto of Learn by Doing in such rich, intentional, measurable and interesting ways.”  Also next week: we’re announcing the release of an ebook version of President Robert E. Kennedy’s heavily used, detail-rich personal memoir, Learn by Doing. On our digital archives it’s now shared with the world, searchable, and readable with page-turning software (courtesy of the Internet Archive).

As you may know I really like jazz:  my uncle – a beautiful guy, a DJ-turned corrections reformer –  taught me about jazz and used to take me to Blues Alley in DC when I was a graduate student. Here’s a nice bit you may enjoy on Wired:  a video about the “beautiful relationship between physics and jazz.”    Physicist Stephon Alexander describes quantum particle behavior as “considering” and choosing a path, just like a jazz musician choosing how to improvise on a melodic line.

Go Warriors! 

And happy Memorial Day all,



Three weeks ago I had an opportunity to present about Kennedy Library’s Initiative for Digital IDEAS  at the University of San Diego’s Digital Initiatives Symposium. This is a small, lively conference – some of our team has attended in the past. This year there were many sessions about digital humanities, institutional archives, and digital scusd.jpegholarship centers. It was a chance to share our approach to integrating digital initiatives across all our programs, blending digital and non-digital resources in a seamless way and giving our users many affordances to choose from as they shape their own learning experiences. My hook was the idea that we are a “post-digital” library – one that “is more concerned with being human, than with being digital” (Wikipedia, “Postdigital”). The closing keynote, Jim Neal (a distinguished library leader) said something very similar in his talk:  “embrace human objectives!” I’ll be writing up my notes from the other sessions, and will share my presentation notes also on Digital Commons in June.

Just two weeks ago we welcomed our Library Advisory Board (LAB) and many special guests from across the campus for a day and a half of meetings and conversations. We had several discussions centered on the “Living Library” – including how we can improve Kennedy Library’s “thermal comfort.”  Stacey White, Dennis Elliot and Joel Neel joined us for these conversations.  We also had some great discussions about university and library fundraising strategies, with helpful insights from our special guest Diane Parr Walker, and Adam Jarman from University Development.  One of the most exciting sessions was the update from Dale, Sarah, Adriana, and Professor Tom Katona about the first floor renovations and the very cool programs planned for the updated areas.  Sarah’s beautiful renderings of how the space is being transformed (as we speak!) can be sneak-previewed on this draft web page that allows you to experience “before” and “after”.  Tom Katona also shared his unique research on how the Innovation Sandbox helps achieve “gap” learning outcomes (outcomes difficult to achieve in regular coursework) – and in different ways, for different colleges.  

I was intrigued by a couple of news items this week:  you may have caught the story about a French coding academy, 42, that uses project-based and peer-to-peer learning (sound familiar!) and doesn’t charge students fees.  How many Cal Poly students will throw themselves into “Piscine” this summer?  Meanwhile, in an awesome explosion of the boundaries between disciplines, the Norway Research Council awarded $3.6 million to three philosophers for a project on Conceptual Engineering  – “the critique and improvement of concepts” by focusing on finding the right questions.  That’s the sort of thing librarians live for!

Have a great weekend,



This morning I’ll be joining the journalism department’s advisory board meeting to share some thoughts about what journalism and librarianship have in common, and how we might partner in the future.  Already this year we’re collaborating to help celebrate the 100th year of student journalism at Cal Poly, culminating with events on October 14 – anmedia-literacy-week1230x10001 exhibit opening, a journalism innovation showcase (a drone may be involved), followed by a symposium in the ATL conference room.  A different kind of collaboration could be to explore, together, how to help develop the skills of the ‘new’ journalism:  data journalism, new media production, collaborative journalism.  The internet has profoundly disrupted and transformed journalism practice and industry, just as it has librarianship.  In many ways, today’s students and professionals need to act both like librarians and journalists, learning to ask critical questions, sift through information, and create and tell meaningful stories with impact.

We learned this week that once again this year, students named Kennedy Library “best study space on campus.” What’s really cool is that we have a lot of information this year about why, and how we can keep improving the study environment for every student. This year’s SLAC survey had nearly 3000 respondents – and while the data-crunching has only just begun, SLAC and the survey team are moving quickly to summarize and respond where we can to the student experience.  Just one example: we got input this year oSLAC_Surveyn preferred types of new furniture, and this is already informing our first floor furniture choices (small tables and booth-style seating).  What do students want more of in the library?  This year, quiet, individual, and ‘reading’ spaces overtook collaborative study for the first time.  What do students like least about the library?  It’s too crowded.  This is the hands-down biggest problem students face, even after we’ve done so much to open up new space for student s to work.  It’s an important message to share with the campus.

My ‘previous institution’ has recently announced the merger of their budget for scholarly communication with their budget for library collections.  They’ve drawn the analogy between transforming the scholarly communication system and transforming our food system:  promote open access; promote local, organic food; leverage consumer power to ‘vote with our dollars’:  “we want to use our collections dollars — in a more systematic and strategic way — to transform thumbnail_BPFile objectthe scholarly communications landscape towards more openness, and toward expanded, democratized access.”  An interesting milestone for a major research library, on the long road that David Lewis began mapping out in his 2007 article, A Strategy for Academic Libraries in the First Quarter of the 21st Century, and his 2012 paper, The Inevitability of Open Access  – which I echoed in the title of our 2013 poster on Open Education, “Open to the Inevitable.”

Happy Earth Day, and have a great weekend,



Tuesday’s celebration of the green library was fantastic this week – just in time for Open House this weekend – and offering a great setting for a student sustainability fair on Earth Day, next Friday.

The week has also been filled with a different kind of green…as we celebrate tax day today with a noopeningdayd to baseball season opening this month  (thanks Sunshine Committee!), and as our work on next year’s budget continues.  In addition to working with some fancy new spreadsheets and trend data analyses that are helping us calculate and predict our costs more accurately, we’re beginning to look at program budgeting as a way of expressing the total cost of library programs.  This is a great way of understanding just how powerful a return on investment the library is:  every program we offer benefits every student, and the benefits of the investment last sometimes for years or even decades.

property-taxesHere’s one example that I shared this week with the new head of Parent Philanthropy at Cal Poly. Our library provides 340+ computers to students including loaner laptops and classroom computers. In our traditional budget documents this looks like a $100,000 line item for ‘public computer refresh.”  But the total program cost includes the staff, student, and software costs that deliver and maintain software and workstations, staff student assistants to support and circulate computers, servers in the background that drive software delivery, furniture the computers sit on, adding network drops and power outlets, etc. Even with all these costs, the back-of-the-envelope total cost of this program is less than $30 per student per year.  Considering how heavily students (and faculty) use these computers and rely on their availability and excellence, that’s a pretty sound investment.

There’s been an outpouring this spring of announcements and reports on the future of learning and higher education, with a lot of attention to personalization. Sanjay Sharma, MIT’s first director of digital learning, suggests that universities should consider “breaking up semester-long courses into shorter modules, so that students can take only the parts they need, essentially remixing the curriculum into a personalized-learning playlist.”   Also from the Chronicle’s special issue on tech innovators in education,  a profile on Dror Ben-Naim, an entrepreneur and founder of Smart Sparrow adaptive courseware. Their idea includes creating “meaningful choices” as an adaptive and personal element in learning.  Ben-Naim is also a force behind a digital system that will allow instructors to share and exchange digital lessons and tools – another instrument in the OER orchestra.Design Village 2016 AURA poster

What’s your favorite Open House activity? Maybe I’ll see you at the Rodeo or on the path to Aura (Poly Canyon Design Village)!  Whatever you do, have a great weekend,



As flowers and plants are popping up all over the library this week, you’re getting a preview of the Living Library exhibit!  It’s  reminded me this morning of a wonderful children’s book by Maurice Druon about the child who can grow plants anywhere (it’s available to borrow from the Open Librarytistou2). I hope you’re able to join in the fun when the exhibit opens next Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier this week Kaila shared some of the work she’s been doing to pilot a new online tutorial on doing research, based on work done at other university libraries – using our LibGuides platform.  This is part of the really exciting and multifaceted work the whole Academic Services team has been doing to conceptualize and realize a uniquely polytechnic literacies program for Cal Poly students.  They’re coordinating this work with the campus and faculty on university-wide literacy outcomes and assessment.  And they’ve participated in not one but two grant proposals already this year, in collaboration with the Center for Expressive Technologies, to advance data literacies by creating “data sandbox” experiences for students.  Exciting work!

Two important reports have come out recently relating to the future of higher education and online learning.  One was from MIT:  Online Education: A Catalyst for Change in Higher Education.”  It’s worth a look 317097-smartphone-internet– not just for their high level recommendations (including a call for change agents who practice “learning science” and “learning engonilne_ed_mitineering”), but also for concepts such as “digital scaffolding” to enhance (not replace) in-person teaching.  How? By providing “spaced” learning to improve retention, or game-based learning to contextualize abstract concepts, and by providing feedback and data to the teacher for better insight into their students’ needs.  Also just out:  a Pew report on “Lifelong Learning and Technology.”   The report describes “the joy — and urgency — of learning,” and describes a high level of engagement in lifelong learning (around 75% of those surveyed), but also cautions that awareness of and engagement with online learning is relatively low for adult learners who are poorer or less educated.  Another version of a persistent digital divide.

Have a great weekend,




It’s been such a beautiful week here – but very cold.  The library already offers students rain ponchos for those occasional downpours, and personal or industry-strength fans when it gets hot.  But we hadn’t tackled the problem of cold until today! Borrowing an idea from one of our loveliest downtown restaurants, we’ve decided to buy a number of large heaters for the atrium – you’ve seen them at manblanketsy an outdoor cafe. And with local restaurants lending fluffy blankets to ward off evening chills, we’re not to be outdone!  Watch for a new supply of Kennedy Library blankets, available for pick up and drop off at the entrance.  Just like kindergarten!

I’m really excited about the recently announced ruling of California’s highest court.  As advocates for expanded access to research information, librarians everywhere are envying our state’s sweeping decision to eliminates all barriers of access to research information.  All information will now be free, to all students throughout California.  The savings for CSU libraries will san-diego-public-library-luce-studio-photo-by-tex-jernigan-(c)-zahner-6674have an immense impact on our campuses.  One proposal for repurposing the library’s digital collections budget is to add a sixth floor to the library modeled after this one in San Diego – expanding seating by 500 and providing new outdoor seating with extraordinary views.

stanfordI’ve been thinking about acceptance rates – a metric many universities use to benchmark their selectivity and excellence. At many highly rated universities, the ratio of applications to admissions is – for today’s students – terrifyingly small.  But it turns out that there is a limit to this trend, as reported in Frank Bruni’s fascinating article in the New York Times: “Admissions Shocker!

Have a great weekend!



April, and spring quarter, are just around the corner!  The libraryi will welcome students and faculty back with a whole new look at the main entrance, thanks to new carpet, rolled out earlier this week. A nice beginning!

Last week, we got a preview of the kind of library usage data that our new people-counters can produce. Not to be outdone, this week our information resources team produced some great data visualizations of data about thewordcloud books our students and faculty borrow from other libraries. Tim shared a few of their Tableau visualizations yesterday, including a word cloud from borrowed titles that reflects…well, a certain amount of human nature, if nothing else!  But it’s really exciting to see the data skills of our team keep growing, not only for what the data reveals but because it helps us think critically. It’s all too easy to assume that our data is not biased by missing data, or double-counting; and it’s also easy to assume that a data point is equal to the thing we meant to measure.  Not always so! A very concrete (and now obvious) example is that for decades, our 24-hour room gate count data has been over-counting use by about 10%. We never considered that restroom uses were getting counted as library uses, until we got our better people-counter going this year.

Speaking of data:  as an institution, we are frequently trying to compare ourselves with “peers” and who Cal Poly’s peers are is a matter of continual debate. One point of comparison is research output:  there are ‘research analytics’ services, including InCites and SciVal, that compare research output across different universities.  I attended a couple of demos recently and found the data interesting; but I found the way people responded to the data even mo re interesting.  Attendees of the demo peppered the presenter with requests to look at the data this way, that way. It reminded me a little of someone trying on clothes (“does this one make me look good?”).  One of the take-homes for me was how unique undergraduate polytechnics are.  There’s a short article on polytechnic ratings that was published a few months back.  This one does make us look good (see how Cal Poly is mentioned), but it also suggests some indicators that could be better benchmarks for polytechnics:

“Part of the U.S. polytechnic success story is attributable to their nimbleness, ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit, and importantly, their remarkable capacity to align program and curricula with emergent educational attainment, career preparation needs, and workforce demands.”

Given the tragic news bookshouldnotfrom Europe this week, and the ongoing election cycle, this piece of news was underreported, but in the grand scheme of things, how the Internet works is important.  Several (mostly tech-centric) news sources reported on protests against the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) which took place around the world.  Yes, you heard that right:  the W3C is usually a hero in the tech world, but demonstrators picketed their meeting this week. Protesters including leaders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation  said the W3C had “let down many of its biggest supporters when it decided to cater to Hollywood by standardizing DRM as part of the spec for HTML5.”

Have a great weekend,