May 26, 2015

PR Collaborations with Students: #ParkLibSavesTime

I worked with 2015 PR major, Michelle Park, to promote the Park Library to students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Our goal was to persuade students that talking to me could save them time and help them turn into more efficient searchers.

Michelle's idea was to serve food and inspire students; she named the event "S'mores with Stephanie" and baked a s'mores cake (chocolate cake with marshmallows - mmm!). She designed a terrific graphic, and we developed the #ParkLibSavesTime hashtag.

We targeted two classes whose students had to use the library in their spring classes. We also invited students from the entry-level news writing course to come and cover the story as an assignment for class.

The session featured a student-led panel of students who had worked with me for classes and talked, in their own words, about how using library resources improved their classwork. We also had a three-question treasure hunt, with prizes for those who answered the questions quickly (there were also "Easter egg" prizes for students who chatted with us, tweeted the session, or clicked on a tab on the S'mores website.

The evaluations were positive from students in all groups: we received post-event feedback from 12 attendees (almost 50%), most of whom had never met with a librarian before but said they were more likely to do so in the future.

Our collaboration caught the attention of JOMC professor Nori Comello, who encouraged Michelle to submit the campaign to the N.C. Public Relations Society of America. And in fact, Michelle won their InSpire Award, with great feedback from the judges.

These notes included (emphasis mine):

  • "love that your hashtag included an actionable message ... not just "ParkLib" but "Saves Time." Brilliant. Again, most professionals don't think to use this ..."
  • "Really thoughtful ideas here - doing the reverse interview was brilliant. I remember having to go through Library orientation, and even though I do a lot of research for my current job and love libraries, the term "library orientation"just scares everyone. "
  • "Really good results, especially for a first time event! I'm only surprised that the Library plans to limit it to an annual event. I would think that doing this at least every semester (if not 3 or 4 nights at the start of each term) would benefit not only freshman but all students as they navigate new class demands. "

Michelle has graduated, and I'm left pondering the advice to do this several times each semester.

For more info:

May 13, 2015

Because cats are essential to any presentation ...

@teodor_thecat icons are essential. There are some great free ones on iconarchive, and there are some additional free ones on the iconka website (here are the Cat Power icons). You can also purchase a full set of the "cat commerce" icons for $18.99.

The best part of all this is Teodor the Personal Catness Instructor at http://mycatfit.com.



This all makes presentations so much more fun!

May 11, 2015

Collecting News Style Guides; need Visual Style Guides

I'm building a collection of stylebooks for newspaper and other news outlets. The collection primarily includes titles from various newspapers in the United States, such as the the "AJC (Atlanta Journal & Constitution) Style : Style and Reference Guide Covering News, Sports, Business and Features Issues"(1998);  "The Kansas City Star Stylebook" (1987); "The Los Angeles Times Stylebook" (1979 & 1995) … and so many more. Browse the titles in our collection.

We have local stylebooks: The News & Observer, 2001-2005; the Daily Tar Heel (1932 and 2001); plus the "Stylebook of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication" (1983-present), and which is now online only (pdf).

We have books for usage when covering different groups, such as the "CNS (Catholic News Service) Stylebook on Religion;" the "GLAAD Media Reference Guide;" and the "Manual de Estilo" from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

We have stylebook from various wire services — of course we have the Associated Press stylebook for many years (our first edition is from 1953), as well as "A handbook of Reuters Journalism : A Guide To Standards, Style, Operations" (2008); various editions of "The Bloomberg Way : A Guide for Reporters and Editors;" and the "United Press Radio News Style Book" (1943).

There are some for non-journalism entities, such as the "Style book and editorial manual" from the American Medical Association (c1965)

Most of our stylebooks are from the United States, but we have one from Canada ("The Gazette Style" c1995) and two from the UK ("Stylebook of the Manchester Guardian Style," 1928 and "BBC News Style Guide," c2014).

HOWEVER, we don't have any guides to the use of graphics, fonts, or illustrations in a newspaper, magazine, or website. Our books focus almost exclusively on the use of text, grammar, and punctuation. Earlier this semester, the design & graphic editors at the Daily Tar Heel asked for some graphic style guides, thus illuminating a glaring hole in our collection.

At my colleague Andy Bechtel's request, I solicited the assistance of visual journalist and social media savant Charles Apple, who blogged my request for visual style guides: The University of North Carolina seeks your style guides.

Happily, I received one from Stacie Greene Hidek, the Online Editor at the (Wilmington) StarNews. We're sending it to the bindery so that it will withstand use by patrons for many years to come.

March 16, 2015

Requiring Students to Meet with a Librarian, @launcch

My SILS grad assistant and I presented some interesting research at the Librarians' Association at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conference on March 13, 2015.

Check out our slides:



More details:

I've worked with students in Jim Hefner's JOMC 424 (Electronic Media Management) class, spending more and more time with his students. In spring 2014, he began *requiring* students to meet with a librarian, rather than encouraging them to do so, as they prepared to write their 12-15 page research paper. He had tried all manner of encouragement with little success; requiring students to meet with a librarian was much more successful.

In fall 2014, we received IRB approval to survey Hefner's students to assess if their meeting with us had an effect on their confidence in writing the paper (somewhat) and they perceived it would have an effect on meeting with a librarian in the future (they said it did).

This presentation highlights our research findings and discusses our plans for future interactions with Hefner's students.

Takeaway message: Tell faculty to require students to meet with a librarian!

February 28, 2015

Birds in the Snow, in North Carolina

The recent snow was a great opportunity to take bird photos - from the comfort of my own living room (and occasionally on the deck).


This is my favorite from the 1400+ photos I took during the snow. I was standing underneath the sourwood tree on our deck, hoping for a bird to come within my camera's range.

And along came the brown-headed nuthatch!


I went outside early the next morning and captured some amazing images of sun shining through leaves, ice, and snow. This is oak leaf is my favorite. Click on the image to see more from the snow, or browse my "Outside in the South" album on Flickr.

December 30, 2014

Webster "Superman" Brown: We Hardly Knew Ye

We adopted kittens Webster and Lucinda (not biological siblings, but fostered together) in August: he was about 4 months old and she was a month older. They were darling kittens and really got along well together.

Sadly, Webster developed Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), which is what his brother Darnarian died of back in May. It's a horrible disease which affects many internal organs and is always fatal, usually quite quickly. We were fortunate that Webster lived with his diagnosis for almost two months; his initial prediction was 20-30 days.

Lucinda (tuxedo) & Webster (tabby)
His primary nickname was Superman because when he jumped off a table or the bed he would spread all four legs wide and sail off into the wild - and if he'd had a cape, it would have flown out behind him.

Webster was a regular newspaper eater: he liked to sit on the kitchen table with me and chew on the paper as I read it. And he was a crafty kitteh: Webster liked to sit in the middle of my photography work and provide assistance.
A little newspaper nomming
Helping with crafts

His favorite song might have been John Fogerty's Centerfield. When he was well, and very kitteny, he would sing to me: "Put me in coach! I'm ready to play! I'm ready to play today!" He'd add ... "I don't know what I'm going to play, but I'm ready! I'm ready to play!"

Webster preferred to chase his food than eat it out of a bowl. More than once, he left a full bowl of crunchies in order to chase kibbles I'd thrown to keep his sister Lucinda running & in shape. Webster ran down the hall to chase crunchies, returning to his bowl only when the game was over.

He was a very affectionate, social cat. His purr motor was almost constantly on; in fact, two veterinarians had trouble hearing his heart due to his purring. He liked to be with his people and his sister Lucinda, right up until the end. He is survived by his adopted sisters Lucinda (now 9 months) and Emma (a very healthy 15 years).

Webby, webby, webby, webby, Webster. Rest in peace, little guy.

Thanks to ... 
For More Information about FIP
For Helpful, Knowledgeable Support
  • the FIP Fighters Group on Facebook is full of knowledgeable, caring humans who have dealt with FIP in one (or more) cats.

July 24, 2014

Text Visualization / Content Analysis with @VoyantTools

Many of my research colleagues do content analysis on newspapers, and there's a new tool which may provide useful to them. Let's explore Voyant Tools, a "web-based reading and analysis environment" which provides lots of high-level insight into text.

 I did a quick LexisNexis search on articles written in college newspapers about sexual assault and pasted a few of them into Voyant-Tools.org. You can see the word cloud above as well as the text on the right.

If you click on any of the words in the cloud or in the text itself you'll also see where in the document the term appears, and you can see a list of Keywords in Context.

Click on the plus-sign next to the phrase, and you see more of the context.

I was able to export a URL for this Keywords in Context chart, so you can see it in all its glory.

There are myriad other export features in the tool, including a list of words by count, comma- and tab-separated options, and more.

It seems like a good option for exploring text on a very broad level. And it's a quick way to provide graphics for publications or presentations on your text analysis.

There is a stop-word list so you can exclude common words; you can edit this list as well (I excluded lots of common LexisNexis terminology like "u-wire" and "document;" should I have excluded "said" as well?). It is possible to upload multiple documents, so that you can compare coverage of a topic in one newspaper against coverage in another paper.

Some of the limitations for newspaper research include:
  • It's not possible to analyze pdfs, for relatively obvious reasons; but this eliminates the ability to search many historic newspapers which are available online only as pdfs.
  • If you export multiple stories from LexisNexis or America's News, they are exported as one document, which makes it impossible to compare documents against each other in Voyant-Tools. To do this kind of analysis, you'd need to export the documents one at a time, which would quickly get tiresome.
Here's a screen shot of an analysis I did of eight individually downloaded articles from LexisNexis -- that process was a bit cumbersome, but the data is interesting:

The chart at right shows the number of times the word "women" appears in each of the eight artcles. You can see a quick analysis of all the words in the eight articles under the Word cloud (or here).

This has great potential in the newspaper content analysis toolbox.

July 01, 2014

Photo Apps @FolkSchool ... Phun with iPhone Photos

I truly enjoyed Catherine Anderson's Seeing with Quiet Eyes class at the John C. Campbell Folk School last week. I learned a lot and took some great photos. I bought an Easy-Macro iPhone (and other phone cameras) macro lens ... which I used to take this photo of a lily sticking through leaves at UNC's Arboretum.

We spent an afternoon playing with photo apps for the iPhone and iPad. Catherine mentioned 8-10 ... most of which are ad-supported / free with ad-free versions available. The ones I tried are:

Snapseed
A general photo editing program (from Google). There are multiple editing options in Snapseed, and most of them can be made by finger-swiping. Editing is easy for newbies - you don't have to know about healing or contrast or white balance ... just click on an option and swipe.
  • Before & After in Snapseed - as easy as clicking the landscape button on the top right of the screen: 

  • My final Snapseed image:
Photopath
This lets you put multiple photos on one image. In addition, you can tweak image borders - change from square to rounded, and change the colors.
border and color options in Photopath
Final Photopath image ... of the Folk School

Phonto lets you put text on images -- and offers a great many fonts, layout options, and even symbols.

Repix lets you draw on your photos. It's not something I'd do all that often, but the sparkly effects sure are fun on this lily. I also used Repix' filter options - which you can apply and tweak to increase or decrease the effect.


Catherine also mentioned Waterlogue, which turns images into watercolor paintings. I didn't download it, but the demo in class was very pretty.

For online image editing, Catherine suggests ipiccy.com; I'd already started using PicMonkey (at @samkatben's recommendation) -- so check them both out.

Catherine suggested Costco (Costco Photo Center) as a great option for ordering photos. I just ordered some and am very impressed with the ordering options. These include:
  • Turning off their auto-correct - useful if you've spent time correcting color or removing blemishes.
  • Customizing text printed on the back of photos (I have set the default to include the date).
  • Set the crop for individual photos. Tell them where you want a 8x10 cropped, which is different from where a 4x6 image would be cropped. 
  • Inexpensive -- for me, 8x10 photos are $1.49 and 11x14 photos are $2.99. I even printed one at 8x8 (for $1.49).
  • Catherine likes ordering larger images from Costco because larger photos don't get rolled.
For more great ideas from Catherine, check out her 2011 book the Creative Photographer.

June 18, 2014

Photo Camp! ... at the @FolkSchool

I will be learning to see with quiet eyes next week at the John Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.

I can't wait to spend a whole week immersed in photography -- all day, every day. I hope to learn new skills, and yes, to improve how I see the world in a photographic sense.

Here's info. about the class: Seeing with Quiet Eyes Class at the Folk School, and here's a post the instructor, Catherine Anderson, wrote about a similar workshop she gave called Seeing with Quiet Eyes: Photography as Meditation Retreat.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate, and be alternately sunny, rainy, foggy ... and not too hot. It'll be just past the summer solstice out in the N.C. mountains, so the light will last a long time.

June 15, 2014

Late Spring Cooking

I made two delicious dishes this weekend:

Mark Bittman's Beet Roesti with Rosemary (from How to Cook Everything)


Bittman blogged this recipe in the New York Times back in 2008: Beet Rosti With Rosemary

The beets were fabulous, as they always are from Pine Knot Farms. The rosemary was from my kitchen garden.


The photo doesn't do the beets justice - they were terrific.





 

Tonight I made Singapore (Street) Noodles (from the July / August 2014 issue of Cook's Illustrated). The magazine calls them Singapore Noodles (tho' they're from Hong Kong, not from Singapore), but I know them as Singapore Street Noodles, so that's what I call them.

I made the recipe for 4-6, but the recipe for 2 is online through August: Singapore Noodles for Two Recipe.

Just about everything was from NC., except for the noodles and the spices.

The shrimp were from Core Sound Seafood, a local community supported fishery (CSF) that also sells to our local food coop. Scrumptious!

The red peppers were from Vollmer Farms (whose berries are out of this world) and the eggs were from Roberson Creek Farm.

I want to finish the whole batch!