one less totebag this year

The North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) is meeting at Rancho Las Palmas in Palm Springs (CA) this year, and rather than having a bunch of new totebags made for carrying around conference swag, they’re holding a contest that asks participants to bring bags from past conferences. Any bag will do, whether it be from a NASIG conference or not, and there are four categories to compete in: oldest NASIG bag, oldest conference bag in general, bag from a conference furthest from Palm Springs, and ugliest bag.

I don’t have any that could compete well in this contest, so I won’t be participating other than bringing the plain old NASIG-branded canvas tote bag I bought last year. It’s easier to get the netbook and other swag in and out of that between sessions than it is to use my backpack.

set it and forget it

One of the things I love about my new system of managing email and tasks using flags and due dates is that I never have to remember when something needs to be done. If it’s not in my “due today” list, then I don’t need to worry about it, and instead I can focus on the project at hand.

Today I had nothing scheduled on my calendar (yay!), so I’ve been focusing on my current number one project. In the midst of doing this, I identified a small project tangentially related to this one. Rather than stopping what I was doing to follow up on that (because I might forget it later), I instead took a few moments to create a Task in Outlook that described the project and a rough outline of subtasks that also identified why I’d created the task in the first place. Then, I set the due day for about two weeks from now.

It’s not an urgent project, so I don’t need to do it sooner, but I wanted to make sure that it would still be fresh and relevant, while also giving myself time to wrap up the things I’m currently working on. When that task pops up in my “due today” list, I’ll reassess whether I can start it then or if I need to push it back further. Until then, it’s off of my mind, allowing me to use what mental energy I have on the project I have in front of me.

history channel on foursquare

What kinds of information (historical or otherwise) can your library share with visitors/users through location-based networks like Foursquare and Gowalla?

The History Channel is on Foursquare, promoting their series America The Story of Us by putting tips on particular historical locations that include history trivia about the location. It got me to think about how libraries, or at least local collections, could do something similar with tidbits from their archives.

There have already been some examples of libraries inserting references to their digital collections on Wikipedia, and this is an opportunity to add some enhancement and self-promotion to a social media network that seems almost designed for this sort of thing. What kinds of information (historical or otherwise) can your library share with visitors/users through location-based networks like Foursquare and Gowalla?

sleep & caffeine, part 2

My friend Brent suggested that measuring caffeine intake by the ounces of the beverages consumed isn’t a good calculation, and he’s right. So, I went back and used this chart to determine the milligrams of caffeine per ounce depending on the beverage consumed. Here’s how the totals break down:

I found it interesting that while I drank about 35 more ounces of diet soda than coffee, coffee was clearly the major source of my caffeine intake.

Comparing the new set of data regarding my caffeine intake with the hours of sleep during the same time period, the chart looks a little different:

I gave the hours of sleep a multiplier of 100 so that it would be easier to compare them visually. There are definitely some points where the hours of sleep decrease and the milligrams of caffeine increase.

sleep & caffeine

I’ve been meaning to share this here. Back in January & February, I started using Daytum to keep track of the hours of sleep and ounces of caffeine I consumed each day. I’m not sure how much being aware of the data gathering influenced my decision-making, but it felt about like normal, so this is probably a decent snapshot.

You can see more visualization options and analysis on the Daytum page, if you are so inclined.

still tweaking

One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I am an inherently lazy person.

A few weeks ago I wrote about changing some habits and workflow. Today, as I tweaked my daily tasklist process yet again, I thought I’d post an update/continuation.

One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I am an inherently lazy person, so I need to set short goals and rewards in order to not let the laziness and procrastination take over. I managed to go five weeks with the 10/15 split method of organizing my day, but when I found myself not doing the things on my schedule, I realized I needed to change it up a bit to keep at it.

Yesterday in my end-of-day wrap-up and planning for today session, I took a sticky note square and began listing attainable goals for the projects I’m currently working on. By attainable goals, I mean things I could do in a 1-2 hour stretch. That’s about how long I can work on any single project without getting burnt-out and distracted, which is why I try to always have several projects in the works at any given time.

Rather than scheduling specific times to work on specific things, I let it flow a little more organically, checking the time only to make sure I wasn’t getting too sluggish. Guess what? It worked. When I’d start to slack off a bit, I’d glance at the list again and I could see the endpoint looming, which encouraged me to delve back into the work.

I thrive and fail in structure, but mostly thrive. Big, long-term projects frequently overwhelm me because I am still learning how to structure my time to work on them, particularly when they have squishy end dates. By setting smaller goals and continuing to trudge towards completion, I will be much happier because as soon as the project is finished, it means I can start working on the next one. And the next project is always more exciting that the one I’m working on right now.

CIL 2010: post-conference thoughts

I should present more.

I should present more.

That’s what I have concluded at the end of this conference. There were a few sessions I was jazzed to see, and some others that surprised me, but for the most part, I found myself too often realizing that if I had done a bit of research on my own, I would have known about as much about a session topic as the presenters. Those tended to be the sessions in which I stuck around for the intro and then left, or looked at the slides in advance and decided to go to something else.

While I may be learning about a lot of new tech and ideas outside of the ITI conferences, there is nothing to replace the “lobbycon” aspect of theses events. The connections I have made with other folks who are as equally excited about pushing libraries forward is well worth the price of admission, in my humble opinion. ITI conferences are my equivalent of going to ALA, and very few folks I know talk about going to ALA for the presentations.

I may joke about the “beer track” at conferences, but the reality is that as much as I may advocate for virtual attendance and online communities, they can’t replace the connections (serendipity, perhaps?) of real-time, face-to-face interactions.

CIL 2010: Digitization Practices

Speakers: Deborah E. B Keller, Jody L. DeRidder, Amy Buckland, & Louise O’Neill

[I arrived late due to slow lunch service, so I missed the first half of this presentation.]

Louise O’Neill spoke about digitization at McGill University (Montreal, QC). The goal of the program is to make rare and unique items available to everyone and to the students & faculty of the university. They want to make the items both discoverable and deliverable through their catalog(ue).

They’re also making material available in hardcopy (Espresso Book Machine and/or OCR PDF), mainly public domain items or those with permission; thus making them available to the masses without damaging the originals. Items are selected by anticipated demand and uniqueness, and also priority is placed on items that will be used directly in research and instruction.

Amy Buckland shared some examples of collections/projects. They just bought a 3-D scanner to digitize realia, like their Olympic torch collection. All physical exhibits are digitized and made available online for those who may not be able to visit the library. They also put the digitized items in their Second Life locations as appropriate.

Their biggest challenge is copyright. The technical issues are what you may expect, but copyright is the biggest barrier they have to getting valuable research items off the dusty shelves and into spaces where they can and will be used.

CIL 2010: Productivity Tools

Speaker: Lynda Kellam & Beth Filar-Williams

Check out the presentation wiki for a list of the tools and such. I’ll just note the ones I really like or other commentary I might have. They’ve grouped them into three categories: tasks, notetaking, and scheduling.

The presenters are using Poll Everywhere to get audience input on which category to focus on first, as well as asking for hands for which one. They started with Tasks.

Things is awesome, but Mac/iPhone only. Without a cloud-based interface, it’s not accessible by any other OS. Based on Getting Things Done, the application helps you organize tasks based on contexts.

Todoist is cloud-based task tool. I just started using it myself because I wanted something that could let me add sub-task to tasks.

Remember the Milk is also cloud-based, and like Todoist, it has a mobile interface. Unlike Todoist, it has apps for Blackberry and Android as well as iPhone. Tasks can also be added by SMS. One complaint I had was not being able to see a list of everything due today or overdue in the main web interface (can see it in Gmail), but now I know how to create a saved search that shows overdue tasks (dueBefore:today) and tasks due today (due:today).

The presenters have lots of scheduling tools to share. I’ve heard of only one of them, Schedule Once. The presenters are most excited about jiffle, which pulls your Goolge Calendar availability along with your own selection of available times, and allows the user to request a meeting through the site, but only for the available times. This is really useful for students scheduling personal appointments with instruction librarians. If you’re not using GCal, there is likely a tool that will allow you to sync your calendar with a GCal account.

Cozi integrates calendars, photos, widgets, journals, tasks, and is more geared towards groups or families. It might be more friendly for folks who are not comfortable with disparate, more complicated tools.

They don’t have many notetaking tools listed (Google Docs, Evernote, & wikis). More folks were interested in Evernote. Personally, I just haven’t found a good way to integrate Evernote into my life/work, and I’m not interested in paying for the premium features until I have a reason to use it regularly. I like using the journal feature of Outlook for taking work-related notes, and I rarely need to note things for personal stuff beyond adding them to a task.

CIL 2010: Library Engagement Through Open Data

Speakers: Oleg Kreymer & Dan Lipcan

Library data is meaningless in and of itself – you need to interpret it to give it meaning. Piotr Adamczyk did much of the work for the presentation, but was not able to attend today due to a schedule conflict.

They created the visual dashboard for many reasons, including a desire to expose the large quantities of data they have collected and stored, but in a way that is interesting and explanatory. It’s also a handy PR tool for promoting the library to benefactors, and to administrators who are often not aware of the details of where and how the library is being effective and the trends in the library. Finally, the data can be targeted to the general public in ways that catch their attention.

The dashboard should also address assessment goals within the library. Data visualization allows us to identify and act upon anomalies. Some visualizations are complex, and you should be sensitive to how you present it.

The ILS is a great source of circulation/collections data. Other statistics can come from the data collected by various library departments, often in spreadsheet format. Google Analytics can capture search terms in catalog searches as well as site traffic data. Download/search statistics from eresources vendors can be massaged and turned into data visualizations.

The free tools they used included IMA Dashboard (local software, Drupal Profile) and IBM Many Eyes and Google Charts (cloud software). The IMA Dashboard takes snapshots of data and publishes it. It’s more of a PR tool.

Many Eyes is a hosted collection of data sets with visualization options. One thing I like was that they used Google Analytics to gather the search terms used on the website and presented that as a word cloud. You could probably do the same with the titles of the pages in a page hit report.

Google Chart Tools are visualizations created by Google and others, and uses Google Spreadsheets to store and retrieve the data. The motion charts are great for showing data moving over time.

Lessons learned… Get administrative support. Identify your target audience(s). Identify the stories you want to tell. Be prepared for spending a lot of time manipulating the data (make sure it’s worth the time). Use a shared repository for the data documents. Pull from data your colleagues are already harvesting. Try, try, and try again.