Library Gazette

During July 2008...

Zephyrs Take Silver in the 2008 Summer Olympics

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 1:58 pm

Prentice Ate the Pie, the Whole Pie

Today was the final competition for the 2008 WFU Staff Summer Olympics. The challenge was a relay: Prentice and Mary Beth formed a human wheelbarrow (Prentice started out holding up Mary Beth as she walked on her hands, but they switched off midway). Then, when they arrive at the pie table, Prentice had to eat a whole apple pie (no hands allowed). Next, Susan bobbed for an apple. Erik finished up the relay by throwing on/carrying a variety of pool accessories (inner tube, noodle, kick board, etc.) back to the finish line. It was a noble effort by all, particularly Prentice who had eaten lunch prior to showing up for the “mystery” event. Weight Watchers Erik, Mary Beth and Susan all refused to eat a whole pie!

However, the effort was enough to secure the ZSR Zephyrs 2nd Place in the team category for the entire summer – especially since we were one of only 4 teams who turned in all the participants’ lifestyle points (librarians always follow the rules of the game!). And Erik nabbed 1st Place in the Individual Male competition (lifestyle points + individual competition points).

Overall, it has been a fun-filled summer with the Wednesday competitions being a nice mid-week highlight. And it’s always a great way to interact with fellow WFU staffers in other campus departments.

Way to go, Zephyrs!

Summer Olympic Update #4

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 8:14 pm

The 2008 WFU Summer Olympics is drawing to a close next week. But there are still competitions and lifestyle points to be accumulated!

This week, croquet was the contest, a first for the Olympics series. None of the Zephyrs were ringers for this sport, one that dates back to the middle ages. The goal was use a mallet to put your ball through wickets with the least number of strokes.

The team had fun and quickly excelled as they learned the best techniques. Maybe we’ve found a new game for next year’s Employee Recognition Event?

Talking With Wake Students

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 2:02 pm

Over the past few months, Kevin and I have gotten together with a few sets of students to conduct some informal focus groups. The students we have spoken with, though a small group, have been from all years and from varying majors. Our aim is to better understand how our students find information, how they use our website to do so, and what we can do to make it easier for our students to get to the best information more quickly. As one of the participants said, “I mean, we live on our computers,” so understanding what they do on their computers can help us do our jobs better. These conversations have proven to be really valuable, so I thought we could share some of the themes and interesting ideas here.

The first thing we found was that the students don’t clearly separate the library as a place from the library as a web presence. We’d start talking about something on the site, only to find ourselves talking about the building a few minutes later. One library fact that a student shared was that “the state of the atrium defines the state of the library.” She said that if you walk in and the atrium is crowded, that you know there won’t be an outlet anywhere. The popularity of this (and other) space shows how much the students value the library as a place. Across the board the students we spoke with also valued serendipity, and liked looking as books shelved together. We also heard positive things about the periodicals move: one student even said, “now I will use them!”

We found that students often are confused by library speak. As we know, many of the terms we say, or write on the website, make sense to us, but not to all of our users. One group continued to come back to interlibrary loan, first asking what it was, then asking several follow up questions. Once they knew what it was, they were really excited about it, but it showed us how even a term that sounds like what it means might still be confusing to users.

Once we were able to address the design of the website, we heard pretty clearly that there are too many links on the homepage. People look at the main tabs, but are overwhelmed by the amount of text on the page. One student said “design is content” and in this sense, we heard that the design obscured the content. We also heard that the catalog is one click away rather than no clicks, which would be preferable. Students also said they’d like to see library and technology news displayed more prominently, even news about the new Firefox or Zotero. Across the board they love the covers in the catalog and the new text message call number feature.

We also learned that the students would like a more simplified way of getting started. They suggested a Getting Started button on the website for those who have never written a college level research paper before. Hopefully, we’ll be able to easily do this with the Toolkit. We also received a request that librarians compile top research blogs and think tanks in a wiki, letting the students contribute as well. This student found many blogs by professors in their field and use them in their academic work. He thought a list of these blogs would have been very helpful when he was getting started in the field.

The students also spoke to a need to make things very easy and well publicized. One student described her classmates as “very intense, they need simple information and lots of marketing.” Over and over we hear a need for simple, bulleted news. Students like what we have to offer, but want an easy way to find out about it.

And perhaps the best quote of them all: “The library going 24/5 was the most beautiful thing that ever happened.”

These focus groups have given us a lot of work to do, but they’ve also given us work that we know will help our students. We hope to do more of these types of meetings, but first we need to create a Getting Started page… list some relevant research blogs… find a way to market library news……

Update on RITS Organization Efforts

Saturday, July 19, 2008 8:39 am

During the past several weeks since the Research, Instruction and Technology Services Team was formed, efforts have been underway to establish its structure.

Initial organizational structure was announced last week. Two team sub-units have been established to facilitate daily operations. Roz Tedford has been appointed Assistant Head of Research and Instruction Services and Erik Mitchell has been named Assistant Head of Technology Services. Two “bridge” positions were identified that already span functions of both units: Giz Womack (Technology Training Manager) and Lauren Pressley (Instructional Design Librarian). To assist with team integration, Giz and Lauren have switched “home” units – Giz will be with Research & Instruction and Lauren with Technology. Other functional changes may take place as the team identifies ways to improve its effectiveness.

Part of the integration process includes physically placing people in office locations where they will be close to their unit colleagues. To accomplish this to some extent, we have moved some of us to new offices. Giz has moved to the 4th floor Reference Office Suite. Susan, Erik and Lauren did the “Big Move”, a circular office switch! Susan is now in 457A (Lauren’s old office), Erik is in Susan’s old office (258B), and Lauren has moved into Erik’s old location (302A). Stay tuned for an open house to show off the new offices, but in the meantime, please come visit!

Susan Returns to Her First ZSR Library OfficeSusan’s New Office
Erik's New OfficeErik’s New Office
Lauren's New OfficeLauren’s New Office
Giz's New OfficeGiz’s New Office

The process of developing a job description for the open team position (the one vacated by Mary Horton) will commence this month with a projected search to begin in early fall. We will revise the position into one on the Technology side so that we can address our need for the additional programming skills required for us to migrate to more open source systems. But we will look for a person who also can contribute to the library instruction programs.

The largest project for RITS during the next academic year is the consolidation of our Government Documents and Microtext Departments. This project will require the talents of many people within the RITS team, as well as from other Library Teams (Resource and Access Services). Mary Scanlon will lead the task force that is being formed to manage this project. Details on this important initiative will be shared as we proceed.

Deacon Discovery!

Monday, July 14, 2008 3:32 pm

On Sunday, July 13th, Roz led the 30 new freshmen student athletes through a twenty minute introduction to the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. These students came to the library in three groups, one group every twenty minutes, over the course of an hour. We placed them in the ITC desktop computer lab and had the students spend five minutes searching for answer to three questions about a particular Olympic sport. After five minutes, Roz asked them what they found and how they found it. It didn’t take long for them to realize their trusted Google search didn’t always deliver the best results! This gave us the opportunity to show them how to contact a librarian for research assistance. After answering a few more questions about the library, we signed off on their “Deacon Discovery” worksheets (think “scavenger hunt”) and sent them on to their next destination. Hopefully this fast, fun introduction to the Z. Smith Reynolds Library will encourage these students to come back when papers are due! (We’ve already seen a few with a 10 page Anthropology paper due in summer school.) These students were great, and Roz and I had a wonderful time introducing them to ZSR!

Lauren C.’s ALA Annual

Friday, July 11, 2008 3:04 pm

See this post in the Professional Development blog.

Professional Development Blog Postings on ALA Annual in Anaheim

Thursday, July 10, 2008 9:48 pm

During the last week in June, several ZSR staff members attended the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA. Our reflections on our experiences at this conference can be read on the ZSR Professional Development Blog.

ZSR Zephyrs Summer Olympics Update

Thursday, July 10, 2008 8:47 pm

The Zephyrs have been working hard and having fun during the WFU Staff Summer Olympics. But the Wednesday “competition” success has been elusive until this week. Each Wednesday, there is a contest between all the teams in a different sport.This week was the basketball shoot. Over the years, sometimes we’ve done OK at basketball, but we wouldn’t make the real Olympic team, if you get the drift.

However, this year, this week, we took top honors – winning the overall competition thanks the the topnotch team of Prentice Armstrong, Erik Mitchell, Carolyn McCallum and Roz Tedford. They were on fire with their shooting accuracy and beat out 10 other teams.

Prentice was so on target, he was the top performer out of 44 shooters. And Erik tied for 2nd place.

It was a good week for the Zephyrs. Way to go guys!

Up on the Roof

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 1:42 pm

“When this old world starts getting me down……..” as the song goes, I go up on the roof! In May, I had the opportunity to check out our beloved former logo-the cupola- in person. I had mentioned in passing to one of my students, Kala Brown (whose Dad, Hugh is the “go-to guy” around here for most Facilities jobs) that I’d love to go up and see the library cupola. The next day, Kala had arranged a personal tour with Hugh. We went to the 8th floor, passed through a door into a dark room, and then through another door and we were under the library roof. A short climb up several sets of metal ladders and we passed through a door onto the cupola. The view was spectacular and a little dizzying. The campus looks different from above- a peaceful, idyllic community of buildings. In the distance, was Wait Chapel and BB&T Field. The inscription on the bell reads “Presented to Wake Forest College by the Class of 1957″.  Photos of my visit to the cupola are on the library Flickr site:

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