Life with Pi: Microcomputing in Academia
Last Friday, I co-led a presentation on single-board computers at the 2013 CUNY IT Conference. Since it was a very well-attended session (where we had great discussions with the attendees), I thought I’d provide a brief recap and link to the presentation material.
Using Adobe Digital Editions on an Ubuntu desktop
I recently purchased a new laptop and installed the Ubuntu OS on it. However, in my excitement to install a UNIX-like working environment, I forgot that some software works only with the two major operating systems (i.e., Windows and Mac). Namely, I needed to install Adobe Digital Editions on my new machine and panicked briefly when I realized I couldn’t do that. But after some quick research, I learned how to install ADE and then have it recognize my e-reader.
Linking to Aleph OPAC and search results
Update: This post was updated in August 2014 to reflect the new URL for the CUNY Catalog.
User-triggered error reporting in EZproxy
Back in March, my colleague enlisted me to help him roll out mobile-friendly interfaces for all centrally-hosted EZproxy instances. (My office provides support for all 21 libraries in CUNY. Half of the libraries host their own proxy servers while the others rely on us to host and maintain their instances.) While I was at it, I decided to spruce it up a little bit and make it so that users can send error reports if they reach needhost.htm:
Drupal 7: Friendly URLs for personal user contact forms
I’ve been working with Drupal for the last year in my current position (as University Web & Mobile Systems Librarian at the City University of New York) and I have a love-hate relationship with it. I appreciate its power and agility but curse its complexity, especially for the lay end-user. The biggest project thus far has been moving the department’s support site from Drupal 6 to the newest version of Drupal 7. There’s no easy way to accomplish this so I’ve been doing it manually, using Node Export and Feeds to move data from one instance to the other. It’s been tedious work but manageable since it’s a small site.
Video tutorials a la carte
When we last met, I gave you a behind-the-scenes look at how four librarians became superstars. In this installment, I show you what the finished product looks like…
An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain
Along with two of my colleagues here at the Lehman College Library, I am currently in the process of reviewing research papers from 31 students in three sections of ENG 120 (Principles of Effective Writing II). We are examining their bibliographies to see how and whether students are applying what they’d learned in the library classes they were required to attend. A couple of thoughts came to me immediately:
The one where four librarians become superstars
Well, maybe not super stars… but three of my colleagues (Robert Farrell, Stefanie Havelka, Jennifer King) and I headed over to the campus Multimedia Center last week to make use of their fancy film studio equipment and talented staff to shoot our brief instructional videos. These videos will be presented similarly to Google’s Teach Parents Tech videos: short & sweet (≤1min), easygoing narrative, screencasts where appropriate… So to emulate the great minds at Google, I isolated 16 areas/topics that needed videos, wrote the scripts, found actors, shot practice videos, tweaked the scripts, shot more practice videos, and, finally, booked the Center’s studio.
The more I see the less I know
Ta-da! The RefWorks flyer is complete:
It all comes down to this
Last week, I became the leader of my library’s e-book/e-reader project. This week, I started a group on the CUNY Academic Commons for everyone who’s involved in similar projects on other campuses. (Was this move selfish? Slightly. I want to know how others are managing their programs but I also want everyone else to benefit from such a space. At the LACUNY Dialogues event this past Tuesday, it was obvious that others agreed.) So now when I’m not working on LibGuides or RefWorks, covering the reference desk, teaching (or preparing to teach) classes, combing through book catalogs, attending workshops and meetings, planning instructional tutorials/videos, writing/answering emails, or managing the library’s knitting group (which I started so I have only myself to blame), I have this new project to occupy my headspace.
A show of hands from those in this audience of one
So I decided that I didn’t have enough on my plate and took over the role of RefWorks Administrator at the Leonard Lief Library. And, actually, it’s quite a peaceful gig, considering how underutilized this tool is on my campus. (Approximately 3.8% of faculty have created an account in RefWorks. The figure for students is at a dismal 1.6%.) However, I want to turn that around. Everyone on campus — especially those involved in research, such as graduate students and junior faculty — should know about this citation management tool.
Just laugh it off, it's better than it seems
I get it now. I’m supposed to dress in business casual because it sets me apart from the students. (And when I’m younger than the average student on campus, this is of utmost importance.) Instead of people asking me, “You work here?” with a twinge of disbelief, they ask me, “Do you work here? I need help.” My attire is like a uniform, letting the students know whom to turn to if they’re having trouble finding a classroom or needing assistance with their research.
I think this song has reached its peak
At the end of my ENG 110 (Critical Thinking) classes, I ask the students to fill out a survey. One of the questions is “What would make this workshop better? Why?” The best response I’ve received so far:
As easy as Alpha Bravo Charlie
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since starting my first full-time position as a librarian is instruction. I am not, by nature, a teacher. I get terrible anxiety when standing in front of a room full of people (all those eyeballs blinking at me!). My heart starts beating uncontrollably and I lose control of my voice. My only reprieve is that I have to teach maybe one class every week. (I commend every teacher out there for his/her ability to do this on a regular — and much more frequent — basis!)