December 26, 2013

Christmas Eats

As usual, Christmas was a day of good eats! Here's what we had:
Started the day with a cup of Willoughby's decaf
in a new Spode mug

Goat chops, frozen

Darnarian supervises
Cooked carrots (with maple syrup & mustard)
Cooked chops, before the red wine reduction

Garlic smashed potatoes

This was what we ate, in the end. Delish!
The finished product

December 23, 2013

Mama Leah's Chicken Soup

"When a man eats a chicken, one of them is sick," says Tevye in _Fiddler on the Roof_.

We recently had the need AND a stewing hen for soup, thanks to a cold and a stewing hen from Little Tree Farm.

Our favorite chicken soup recipe is from Mama Leah's Jewish Kitchen, by Leah Loeb Fischer and Maria Polushkin Robbins (c1990).

The best part of making the soup was that the stewing hen came with feet!

Chicken feet!
Chicken feet in the soup ...
The second best part was eating the soup!
Tasty soup!

December 18, 2013

What They Learned in Class

I taught a "one-shot" session of The World of Mass Communication this semester. It's a 100-level class designed to introduce students to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

I went in to talk about doing better Google searches AND to show them some of our spiffy news databases. I created a LibGuide for the class which got a lot of use that day in class an a wee bit of use following the class.

As usual, I asked the class to write a bit about what they learned in class. Because the class had over 300 students, we were not able to talk about what they learned. Instead, the professors asked students to write in Sakai (our course management system) a sentence or two about what they learned.

Professor Boynton sent me a copy of what they said. The comments themselves were helpful, but I also enjoyed looking at what they learned in a word cloud.

I was happy to see that several of the things they said they learned were topics I had taught in class: "I learned how to use quotes in google to get more exact search results" and "I really like the chat option that the library offers so that many of our questions can get answered!"

One of their assignments was to find a blog and analyze it over the course of the semester, so I taught them that they could do a fancy Google search with inurl:blog -- which is why that phrase shows up in the tag cloud.

The class was great fun to teach, and the word cloud helps me analyze what they learned in my session.

December 15, 2013

Ginger snaps!

As I do every year, I made a ginormous batch of ginger snaps. My work, spouse's work, our fridge ... so many reasons to have ginger snaps!

The cookies taste best after a day or two, and they freeze beautifully!
The wet stuff: eggs, butter, molasses, vanilla.
The dry stuff: flour and four tablespoons of ginger powder (and a few other things).
The dough is very sticky!
Lots of little dots on the baking pan turn into ...
Lots of ginger snaps!
Check out the recipe on Evernote.

November 04, 2013

Infographic: Research on Students' Research Habits

The good folks at the University of Washington's Project Information Literacy created a great infographic of their findings about 11,000 college students' research habits:
Project Info. Literacy infographic
For the text-based learners among you:
  • 70% use Wikipedia 
  • 92% use search engines
Other resources students use for course research:
  • 88% library databases
  • 83% instructors
  • 30% librarians (emphasis mine)
What's most difficult about doing research?
  • 84% getting started
and check out the 12 adjectives students use to describe how they feel about research assignments!

For more, check out the Project Info. Literacy website, where you can read an article from College & Research Libraries about Alison Head's research, watch a video, and more!

October 29, 2013

Advertising & Libraries

I got some great ideas from the Next World Media Symposium held at UNC Chapel Hill on October 25, 2013. So many of the topics & takeaways were tweeted by students at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, so I created a Storify of the speakers' pronouncements -- and how they relate to libraries.

I went to the session hoping to get some ideas on how to better help my advertising students ... and I came away with ideas about how to better promote and advertise libraries.

Above all, keep it simple. Think about Daryl Evans' quarters -- let's throw only one or two quarters at at time rather than the 100 we think they might need someday.

Read on for more.

Thanks to UNC JOMC professors Gary Kayye, JoAnn Sciarrino, and John Sweeney for a wonderful session!

September 02, 2013

"Twitter for the Skeptical Professional" in MHC Alumnae Quarterly

Love the image of MHC Founder
Mary Lyon with the Twitter bird
I recently wrote a fun article called Twitter for the Skeptical Professional for the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Quarterly.

The article's audience is alumnae "over a certain age" (as I am myself, having graduated in the mid 1980s) who have heard about Twitter but think it's silly or not relevant to them.

I talk about how I use Twitter at work (to promote the library) and for fun (to connect with science peeps). I hope it's helped persuade some of my skeptical sisters to give Twitter a try; if you or someone you know is similarly skeptical, feel free to share this article with them.

August 27, 2013

Suggestions and Outcomes of PR Writing Assessment

I'm delighted to share student suggestions and outcomes from Dr. Lois Boynton's PR Writing class.

The suggestions include (but are not limited to):
  • Asking professors to give students extra credit if they talk to me as they are working on their assignment. I've mentioned this to two folks who are enthusiastic.
  • Send a press release to faculty about our new website (when it goes live). This idea works particularly well in a school with a public relations department, but it's a good idea for any discipline.
  • Emphasize the instant-ness of chat in classes. I think I'll ask a student volunteer to use the chat while in class - how much more instant can we get? 
  • Bring in a student from an earlier semester with me to talk about how helpful it was talking to me about the class assignment.
The output includes (but is not limited to)
  • A series of three short videos where I demonstrate what happens in a library interaction - and show that I don't bite. Check out the first one (the other two are on YouTube and embedded in some of my LibGuides):
  • A flyer to be made available to students about what the Library has to offer. I originally balked at the idea of a flyer (print? really?) but this is the second group of PR students who recommended one, so I went ahead and made one.
  • Park Library: Space, Stuff, Support
  • I printed 100 copies, which I've placed around the building and will share at the School's welcome reception.
  • I will also post them in bathrooms to see if that increases awareness.
Now if I could just super-charge my Photoshop skills so I can create slides for the School's digital signage boards ...

As I implement more of the students' ideas, I'll blog them. 

August 21, 2013

PR Recommendations for the Park Library

My library recently served as the client for Dr. Lois Boynton's PR Writing class, where her students analyzed the Park Library from a public relations perspective. It was both a humbling and terrific experience, and I got several great bits of advice and some great videos out of the experience. Plus, I got to see some of the work our PR students do - which will help me help future PR students. It was win - win - win.

image from Microsoft
I'll start with the students' Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats analysis, interspersed with some comments of my own. I'll share the students' suggestions and outcomes in another post.
The strengths, as defined by the students, include:
  • The library's chat feature (tho' one student had not used it, thinking it would be as slow as email; note to self: promote chat as "Instant Chat").
  • The Library's website and all its resources.
  • Return books from any library to the Park Library.
  • Food & drink allowed in the library.
  • Therapy dogs during finals.
  • The Library's location within the building where most department classes are held.
The weaknesses & threats, as listed in the students' SWOT analysis, include:
  • Not enough visuals on our website; library website is difficult to find on department website.
  • Longer hours (mentioned by multiple students).
  • We don't have a free campus printer (aka CCI printing).
  • Funding.
  • Students are afraid to ask questions or don't want to ask for help.
  • Olivia H. wrote "Easy access to library materials on Park's website could mean fewer students actually using library facilities because of home access."
    Olivia adds: "Although Stephanie makes presentations to many classes, students may forget about the resources and information that she shares as the semester goes on."
  • Too much information on our website and in our "extensive online collection." 
  • Faculty don't encourage use of library in their classes.
Opportunities & recommendations
  • More visuals! (on the website and on the School's digital signage boards).
  • More promotion generally -- through flyers and bathroom signage.
  • Extended hours.
  • Update the website.
  • Adding a free campus printer.
  • More information about Stephanie (which seems strange to me, but this was mentioned several times, over two semesters).
  • Social media contests such as hashtag promotions on Twitter or Instagram.
This statement highlights my aspirations quite nicely: "The goal is not just to get [students] in the door but to also to get them comfortable enough to ask questions while they are there." (emphasis mine)

So ... hearty thanks to Dr. Boynton and her PR Writing students. I hope to implement a few of their ideas this semester; and I will post about them as I do.

July 11, 2013

Working with Students, Non-traditionally

I've branched out into non-traditional librarian-student interaction, and it's been a great success.

This spring, I collaborated with JOMC professor Spencer Barnes and his Infographics students. Dr. Barnes asks the students to create (amazing) infographics over the course of the semester. In the past, I have worked with him and his students to find great statistics for their work; my favorite sources for them are the Statistical Abstract of the United States and Statista; see the full list of sources on this library course page I created for JOMC 182: Infographics.

That's the traditional part.

Here's the non-traditional part: I thought it would be fun to graphically display some library statistics for UNC's Library Snapshot Day, and I asked Dr. Barnes if his students would be able to design something for me. He graciously agreed to let "library statistics" be one of the three topics students could tackle for their final project.

I am so pleased with the results! Three students participated, and my favorite is this, by sophomore Marissa T. It's a striking representation of library service, collection, and "library as place" over the past year or so.

This summer, I'm working with professor Lois Boynton and students in her JOMC 232: Public Relations Writing class. The Park Library is their semester-long client, and they are working towards increasing students' awareness of library reference services. I'll blog about their efforts once their project has finished.

Non-traditional student interaction is as rewarding as traditional student interaction, AND it's helped me enhance the Park Library. Win, win, win.

July 09, 2013

Search: Fail

image from findicons
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox had a nice (if sobering) column in March: "Converting Search into Navigation."

Nielsen's conclusion: "Users are incredibly bad at finding and researching things on the web. A few years ago, I characterized users' research skills as 'incompetent,' and they’ve only gotten worse over time. 'Pathetic' and 'useless' are words that come to mind after this year's user testing."

His study focused on e-commerce websites, but I think the results would be even worse if we studied user search behavior for academic purposes. His first user had trouble finding a pink iPhone case on Amazon, largely because she was unable to translate her meaning into something that Amazon could understand, or as Nielsen put it, she did not "realize that Amazon uses a full-text search that doesn't understand the meaning of a query."

Nielsen suggests that websites should be designed for "mediocre searchers." I know that the UNC Library is trying hard to do this with its book catalog and Articles+ super search. Sadly, library database vendors aren't as good at this.

What's the solution? At a minimum, be aware that your students aren't as search savvy as you think they are — they are likely not as search savvy as you are.

In an email to faculty, I added: in an ideal world, I'd have you invite me to come talk to you students. An interim step is for you to tell your students to come talk to me (or another librarian) about improving their searches in Google and using better resources like America's News (for news articles) or Communication and Mass Media Complete (for scholarly articles in JOMC areas).

But again, remember that students aren't as savvy at using Google as you (or they) think they are!

found through Greg Notess'  | Search Engine Showdown April 2013 blog post "Searcher Behavior."

June 27, 2013

Fun Science Books from #scio13

Way back in February, ScienceOnline motivated me to read some great science books. Thanks to the publishers, I won / received copies of David Quammen's Spillover and Barbara Natterson-Horowitz / Kathryn Bowers' Zoobiquity. Both were terrific. I reviewed them on Goodreads & would like to share the reviews here too.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

it was TERRIFIC - great investigation, great writing, scary topic. Quammen's writing is amazing. I'm not really a non-fiction girl, but this was interesting, science-y, and moved along quickly. Like a Michael Crichton novel, only real and better written.

Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing
This was a great, relatively easy read. It covers how similar diseases occur in both humans and animals. Each chapter reads like a good, long magazine article about a topic - like STDs, adolescence, cancer, obesity, and more. I won my copy at ScienceOnline 2013 and had the great fortune to befriend co-author Kathryn Bowers, who signed my copy. There's some good neuroscience in here too!

Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat--Not a Sour Puss
I'm skimming through this - I got the first edition on Interlibrary Loan & liked it so much that I bought it. :-) I consider myself a kitty whisperer, but I'm learning some fun new things in this book. The tips about how to play with your cat (and how often: 1-2x per day, for 10-15 minutes each) are useful. Finally learned what the whiskers on the forepaws are for: "to sense any movement of prey trapped under the cat's front paws." The book gives good tips on how to desensitize cats to the scary experience of going to the vet. Most of these involve food. :-) While my kittehs aren't scared of the vet, reading this section made me appreciate my vet more, because they do some of the non-food tips to make my cats feel more comfortable while in the examining room. The book is full of good information for new & old-timey cat owners!

February 12, 2013

Thoughts from #scio13

As usual, ScienceOnline was a terrific conference. It neatly combines so many of my interests: science, reading (because there are so many writers in attendance), social media, and good food.  Here are some of the sessions I enjoyed, along with links to a blog or Storify page (Storifies?) for more information.

These are roughly in conference order, and any omissions are inadvertent.

My first session was a pre-conference workshop "Monitoring and analyzing one's effectiveness on social media" (Storify) taught by Nature Communities staffers Lou Woodley and Laura Wheeler. Lou and Laura talked about some great tools for monitoring social media use. Two that I want to check out in more detail are
  • Topsy (which lets you search tweets back to 2010, among other things
  • Twiangulate (which lets you compare 2-3 twitter accounts for followers
Lou & Laura also prepared some amazing handouts, which will be available on the Nature website soon. I'll share them in the comments below when they are publicly available.

My next memorable session was "Narrative: What is it? How science writers use it?", facilitated by T. Delene Beeland and David Dobbs. This was the geekiest session for me, in which I got to see how science writing is made -- getting a behind-the-scenes look into how writers do their interviews and capture the little details which make all the difference. The best part was listening to Carl Zimmer talk about the research he had done for his recent piece in Wired ... which I had read days before (How Scientists Stalked a Lethal Superbug—With the Killer's Own DNA). 

The session I facilitated with Lali DeRosier, "#Hashtags in the Academy: Engaging Students with Social Media," was a great success. I've blogged about it and Storified it.

The converge sessions were all terrific, but I really enjoyed Baba Brinkman's evolution rap session. He demonstrated how to talk science in a wholly unexpected medium: rap. Check out his video Artificial Selection from his CD The Rap Guide to Evolution (which my library now owns)

There was more - so much more! but I'll stop now and blog more later.

February 01, 2013

"#Hashtags in the Academy" at #scio13 on Storify

@Lalsox and my session called #Hashtags in the academy: Engaging students with social media was a great success! We had lots of great conversation which generated some (unanswered) questions as well as some terrific ideas about using social media in the classroom.

Several attendees talked about using social media with their college / graduate students. Ideas like:

  • @Cotesia1 / Marianne Alleyne has her Insect Physiology students create a "twitter lecture" in 25 tweets. Here's her Storify of those lectures
  • @WhySharksMatter / David Shiffman has done a similar assignment with his marine biology students. Next time he teaches it, he promises to Storify them. 
  • @2footgiraffe / Adam Taylor set up #scistuchat to encourage his high school students to chat with scientists via Twitter.
  • @MelanieTbaum / Melanie Tannenbaum has just started using Twitter with her social psychology class: : @UIUCPsych201 Hashtag: #PSYC201.
There was additional discussion about students' digital footprint now and in the future and some unanswered questions. 

Take a peek at the Storify and feel free to comment on here or Twitter (using #tagacad). I'll add useful tweets to the Storify.

January 21, 2013

#NewToCogSci: Resources for the Curious

Interested in cognitive science? Lots of us are, and I get questions from readers (thanks!!) asking for resources to this interdisciplinary field, which comprises the " of mind and intelligence, embracing philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

I'm including three sets of resources, and omitting two. This is due to my own professional and learning biases. I'm a text-based learner and like to read my cognitive science in short bursts (reference material, Twitter, or blogs) or listen to interviews with cognitive scientists. So these biases give me great familiarity with:
  • Twitter & Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Books & Magazines
I'm not including popular or scholarly non-fiction, partly because there is so much out there and partly because I don't typically read non-fiction (shhh, that's a secret!), so I can't list my favorite cognitive science books here. I'm also not including videos, because I don't have the patience to sit through a video.

Twitter & Blogs
These are in addition to the Twitter feeds mentioned elsewhere in this post (like @SciAmMind and @AllintheMind).
  • @mocost (Mo Costandi) writes the Neurophilosophy blog for the Guardian and describes himself as a "Neuroscientist turned writer."
  • @neuroconscience (Micah Allen) is a PhD in cognitive neuroscience; meta/social cognition, neural plasticity, connectivity, & mental training. Solid news about all of the above.
  • @TheNeuroScience (Stanford) tweets lots of news about neuro- and cognitive science.
  • @PsychScience (Association for Psychological Science) tweets news and scholarly articles about all aspects of psychology.
  • @TheSocialBrain (Dr. SunWolf) tweets about "neuroscience, social behaviors, and the science of happiness."
  • @VaughanBell tweets news & articles about all aspects of cognitive science and science more broadly. He also blogs at MindHacks (which is also on Twitter @mindhacksblog).

Podcasts (oh my!) 
Books & Magazines

As a librarian, I'm very familiar with reference resources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, and there are some wonderful reference sources for cognitive science -- and if you're new to cognitive science as a whole,

Books are linked to WorldCat, so you can see if a nearby library owns the title. You can also easily get from WorldCat to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to order the title for your collection.
  • Scientific American Mind is a wonderful magazine with articles written for a scientifically knowledgeable lay audience; topics cover all areas of cognitive science and neuroscience. Recent articles include "How Video Games Change the Brain", "Schools Add Workouts for Attention, Grit and Emotional Control," and Christof Koch usually has a column on Consciousness in each issue.

    The website offers a few paragraphs of each article for free, but to read the full article, you need a subscription (through your library or on your own). Each major article offers citations for more reading on the article's topic. Check out @SciAmMind on Twitter, too.

    They have a section of Reviews and Recommendations (20122013) which is a good way to find popular non-fiction in cognitive science.
  • The open access Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy includes several entries containing the word "cognitive" which include cognitive scienceembodied cognition, and evolutionary psychology. They also cover topics like emotion and consciousness as well as biographical entries on folks ranging from Socrates to Descartes to Sartre.

    The SEP's goal is to provide "the philosophical profession and the general public alike with high-quality scholarship on a variety of topics relevant to the human condition," writes Edward Zalta ("The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A university/library partnership in support of scholarly communication and open access," College & Research Library News, Sept. 2006 (pdf))
  • A great dictionary for understanding psychology terms is Raymond Corsini's 1999 Dictionary of Psychology. The images are terrific (my favorite is the one for pilomotor response) and the definitions are clear and concise. Citation: Corsini, R. J. (1999). The dictionary of psychology. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel.
  • A great encyclopedia is Michael Gazzaniga's The Cognitive Neurosciences, the fourth edition of which came out in 2009. The academic library review magazine Choice calls it a "benchmark resource for the cognitive neurosciences" (May 2010); sections include Development and Evolution; Plasticity; Attention; Sensation and Perception; Memory; Language; The Emotional and Social Brain; Consciousness and several more. Citation: Gazzaniga, M. S. (2009). The cognitive neurosciences. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
all icons from Iconfinder (from the 'Nuvola' icon set)

What's your favorite Cognitive Science resource? Feel free to add yours in the comments!

January 07, 2013

Engaging Students with Social Media, #TagAcad preso at #scio13

I'm so excited to be facilitating a conversation at ScienceOnline 13 called #Hashtags in the Academy: Engaging Students with Social Media with Lali DeRosier.

We want to talk with attendees -- as well as others around the interwebs -- about the role of social media in the high school and undergraduate classroom. 

Is it possible to engage students with Web 2.0 tools in ways that meaningfully support learning?  We will moderate a conversation about what’s worked and what hasn’t with social media in the classroom. 

Because it's ScienceOnline, we want the session to be reflective of the audience's interest / experiences, so Lali and I are going to be tweeting some questions to get the conversation started.

The questions are below ... Lali will tweet & Storify the first few questions, and I'll tweet & Storify the last few. Feel free to comment here or to reply to one of the upcoming tweets.

Librarians, I'm also interested in how y'all use social media to engage with your students, whether in a specific class or your discipline or your library as a whole. Comments from other non-teaching academics also welcome!

If you do comment, please use the hashtags #scio13 #TagAcad so Lali and I can track your comments.

  • Do you use social media to engage with your students?
  • What was your biggest social media success in the classroom? Failure?
  • To what extent should social media be embedded in curriculum? Or used to supplement the curriculum?
  • Are some social media tools more academic than others?
  • How can we help students navigate their personal vs. academic / professional personas?
  • How important is social media to our students’ future? As they consider jobs and/or graduate school?
  • How does social media advance the content of the courses?
  • Does social media improve the efficiency of communication?
  • If you aren’t using social media to teach, what would make you start? 
Thanks for your feedback!

January 02, 2013

Librarians at ScienceOnline #scio13

Librarians like to organize information, such as our books (WorldCat is a prime example -- it's a catalog of over 10,000 U.S. and international libraries' holdings), photographs (see the Library of Congress' Tissandier Collection of 1,000 items documenting the early history of aeronautics), articles (medicine's PubMed database; education's ERIC database)... including ourselves.

We also like to go to conferences outside our own discipline, including the science / communicator conference ScienceOnline. See my post from last January "Non-Librarian Conferences, #Scio12, and #AEJMC." Fellow librarian and conference-goer John Dupuis prompted my post with his post Science Online 2012: Library and librarian sessions. He's been an amazing collector of librarians at past ScienceOnline conferences ... and this year, I'm going to try to collect #scio13 librarians in this post. I'm sad that this year's list doesn't include John (or Joe or Christina or Bonnie), but I am glad to see so many of my librarian fellows will be represented!

From this list of amazing people going to #scio13, I've picked out librarians & library-types (in alphabetical order by last name, starting with me):
The list includes a lot of scientists, writers, communicators, and even a science comedian

'Tis the season ... to be excited about ScienceOnline! 

January 01, 2013

Stephanie's Favorite Songs, 2012

Spotify Playlist
As always, it was a good year for music! I've completed my favorite song list of 2012 and posted it on Spotify.

The full list, in song order, is below, with a few annotations here & there.