App of the Week – Trello

trelloWelcome to a new academic year USMA cadets, faculty, and staff! With the new year brings new technology–in the form of 4,000+ cadet iPads! Since USMA Library staff members are always looking for the best resources to recommend to our users, we are starting a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

Trello – Task Management

If you are a visual person when it comes to task management, Trello is an online tool that can help to bring some order out of to-do chaos either for a single person, or for teams. For me, if something is out of sight, it really is out of mind. Most other task/project management tools tend to show you things that need to be done now, while obscuring things that may need to be done later, or that aren’t requiring specific action right now, but that you want to keep track of. Trello’s model of lists and cards allows for a variety of different topics (to-dos, delegations, ideas, etc.) to live side by side in a way that can be easily scanned and reviewed.

Brainstorming is also easy to do in Trello, and with some features like voting on individual cards, could provide another effective way to gather input from groups in a collaborative, visual way. We have not yet tried this in the library, though we may do so in the future.

Personally, I keep two main boards, one that I try to keep all my own activities tracked on, and another for the Library generally (Library staff have access to the latter. Those without accounts can let me know and I can set them up). I have a number of other boards for smaller projects, as well as one board shared with each team leader in the library. The Communications Team has used Trello for some time to plan out and track social media/blog posts.

Perhaps one of the best features of Trello is that the basic product is free to use, even in a team setting. There is a paid tier that offers greater customizations and control for organizations, though the basic product is quite robust for general use. Perhaps the biggest issue in my mind is poor printing support. So if someone does not have access to a screen and is linked into your board, it is difficult to share it with them. Trello does not run so well on our approved versions of Internet Explorer. Current versions of Firefox or Chrome are the best tool, along with good iOS/Android apps.

For more in-depth feature and product reviews on Trello, check out the following online articles:

by Christopher D. Barth, USMA Librarian with some content contributed by Lauren Dodd Hall, Circulation Librarian.

RS 100 Classes Complete Poker Runs in the USMA Library

Librarian Darrell Hankins helps Plebes learn to search the Library’s resources with our Scout! Search tool.

Librarian Darrell Hankins helps Plebes learn to search
the Library’s resources with our Scout! Search tool.

On 25 and 26 August, cadets enrolled in the Center for Enhanced Performance’s RS 100 course got a chance to spend some very active time in the Library, finding their way from one service point to another and learning about Library resources, services, and staff along the way. The Library Poker Runs are designed to get cadets familiar with the people here at the Library who can help them in their studies, and with the resources they can use to complete the assignments they’ll have throughout their time at West Point.

Rare Book Curator Elaine McConnell tells cadets about some of the unique resources in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

Rare Book Curator Elaine McConnell tells cadets about some of the unique resources in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

Cadets are given a checklist of locations in the Library (Circulation Desk, Reference Desk, Reserve Room, and Special Collections & Archives Reading Room) and are directed to complete a task at each checkpoint. The tasks help the plebes learn a multitude of research-related skills, such as how to search within our collections using Scout! – the Library’s discovery tool; how to renew books online; what to do when the Library doesn’t have an article or book they need (hint: Inter-Library Loan!); and the difference between primary and secondary sources. A highlight of the Poker Run is a visit to the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room, where this semester they got to see Custer’s demerits (all six pages of them!) and hand-drawn plans (dating back to the 1870s) for the construction of the railroad tunnel underneath the Plain.

Librarian Michael Arden advices cadets as they search for books and  journal articles using the Library website.

Librarian Michael Arden advices cadets as they search for books and journal articles using the Library website.

After completing each task, the cadets draw a card, and the cadet team with the best poker hand at the end of class wins a prize from their instructor. Almost 100 cadets participated in this round of Poker Runs, and judging from discussions with them at the end of class, a fun – and educational! – time was had by all.

Narrative by Laura Mosher; photos by Barbara Maroney

Librarian from German Army Officers’ School Visits Library

USMA Librarian Christopher Barth introduces Barbara Marschallek, Librarian from the German Army Officer's School before her presentation.

USMA Librarian Christopher Barth introduces Barbara Marschallek, Librarian from the German Army Officer’s School before her presentation.

Barbara Marshallek, librarian at the Offizierschule des Heeres (The German Army Officers’ School in Dresden), recently visited the USMA Library. She met with library staff to gain a greater understanding of our facilities and functions. At the conclusion of her time visiting the library, she gave the USMA Library staff a presentation about The German Army Officers’ Academy in Dresden and its library. We were surprised to learn that the German Army Officers’ School staff is not nearly as large as West Point’s. Ms. Marshallek’s presentation was very enlightening, showing historical documents and visuals of the German library. The staff thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our German counterpart!

New Faculty Orientations at the USMA Library

Department of GeNe  viewing the USMA Library's website.

Department of GeNe instructors viewing the USMA Library’s website as part of new faculty orientations at the USMA Library.

During the “dog days” of summer, USMA Librarians keep busy by working on various projects and initiatives that prepare us and our patrons for the demands of the upcoming academic year. One of the notable ways we do this is by conducting tours of the Library for incoming staff and faculty. Most of the Librarians at the USMA Library serve as Liaisons to specific Academic Departments; as part of the faculty development workshops in these Departments, Library Liaisons lead new staff and faculty members on tours that introduce them to the services and resources of the Library.

Newly assigned instructors receive library card application.

Newly assigned instructors receive library card application.

From 1 through 31 July, nine of our Liaison Librarians gave a total of 120 new faculty and staff members an overview of what we can do for them – and for their cadets! -  during these tours. The Liaison Librarians use the Library’s website – our gateway to the vast digital and physical resources available to our patrons – as a jumping-off point, demonstrating the variety of resources that can be accessed both locally and through inter-library loan. We show our new colleagues that our website also provides information on our hours, staff, and methods for requesting and renewing resources.

Instructors from the Math Department view archival documents in the Heritage Room.

Instructors from the Math Department view archival documents in the Heritage Room.

We explain the services available from our staff, including: the creation of subject- or course-specific research guides (accessible through the Library website); library instruction sessions tailored to the research requirements of specific assignments; and our Reserve Room, where materials can be placed on reserve by instructors in order that all cadets in their classes may have access to them. Of course, no trip to the Library is complete without a visit to the 6th floor Haig Room and terrace, and a stop at the Class of 1986 Ring Case.

Department of English and Philosophy instructors view the Haig Room.

Department of English and Philosophy instructors view the Haig Room.

It’s our goal that the new faculty and staff at USMA understand the resources and services the Library provides for them and their cadets, and know to call on us whenever they have a research needs associated with their personal, professional, or teaching duties.

Contributors:  Laura Mosher, Reference Librarian (article); Barbara Maroney (photos)

Library Hours Final Through 5 January 2015

We now have final hours for the library approved through Sunday, 5 January 2015.  You can view the hours here.

Please note the following days with special operating hours:

  • Home Football Saturdays (6 September, 4 October, 11 October, and 22 November), we are open 1530-2100.
  • Home Football Saturday (1 November), we are open 1500-2100.
  • Veterans Day (11 November), we are open 0900-2315.
  • Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following Thanksgiving, we are closed.
  • Army-Navy Day (13 December), we are closed.
  • Term End Exams (16-19 December), we are open 0700-2315 each day. Saturday 20 December, we are open 0700-1900.
  • Christmas Day, the day following Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and the day following New Year’s Day, we are closed.

USMA Library 2013-15 Program Review Available

201315LibraryProgramReview_Page_01The USMA Library 2013-15 Program Review is now available from the library website. The review is prepared annually each summer as both a look back at the previous academic year and a look ahead to the next. The document includes:

  •  A look at our upcoming work on organizational and service design.
  • Mission, Vision, and Goals
  • Brief snapshots of activities from the 2013-14 academic year.
  • Statistics and graphs of service and collection metrics.
  • Reports on our 2013-14 academic year organizational objectives.
  • A strategic awareness and vision for the future of academic library services and the profession of academic librarianship.
  • Assessment data and review.
  • Information on liaison support to academic departments.
  • Our 2014-15 academic year organizational objectives.

It is a privilege to work with the team that makes our library services, collections, and facilities the best that they can be each day. This report captures some of our efforts in doing so. We look forward to a productive 2014-15 academic year.

Haig Room Reopened

Haig Rm 2The wood floors in the main Haig room, the piano room, as well as the hallway and entranceway have been sanded and refinished.  The cherry-wood chairs used for special events have been repaired and refurbished.  The terrazzo tile in the rotunda has been washed and waxed.  The pantry area and the hallway chair storage rooms are being refreshed and reoganized to better support the many special events which take place throughout the year.

West Point and Victor de Grailly

Victor de Grailly, "View from West Point," circa 1840.  Oil on board. (West Point Museum Collection, United States Military Academy; Gift of Mr. Alexander Patrick Dyer (USMA 1954) and his wife Shirley)

Victor de Grailly, “View from West Point,” circa 1840. Oil on board. (West Point Museum Collection, United States Military Academy; Gift of Mr. Alexander Patrick Dyer (USMA 1954) and his wife Shirley)

Throughout the academic and memorial buildings at the Academy is an outstanding collection of historic artwork and artifacts culled from the collection of the West Point Museum.  The USMA Library currently houses wonderful examples of artwork and sculpture depicting famous graduates, distinguished professors and well-known battles fought throughout history.  A recent addition to the artwork on view at the Library is a reproduction of View from West Point by Victor de Grailly circa 1840.1

While the work appears to be a typical landscape scene from the Hudson River School, it was actually created by a French landscape artist who never came to America.  Victor de Grailly (1804 – 1889) specialized in painting American views that he copied from prints by a British engraver, William Henry Bartlett (1809 – 1854).  Bartlett was an avid traveler.  He spent his life visiting and illustrating a variety of locales throughout the world.  His illustrations were then translated into engravings and published in travel books.  This particular engraving first appeared in the book American Scenery; or, Land, Lake, and River Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature by Nathaniel P. Willis (1840).2   It was one of the most popular of such publications, and, most likely, the source for de Grailly’s painting.  Willis’ poetic description of West Point in American Scenery gives his readers a vivid idea of the vibrancy of the landscape:

Of the river scenery of America, the Hudson, at West Point, is doubtless the boldest and most beautiful.  This powerful river writhes through the highlands in abrupt curves, reminding one, when the tide runs strongly down, of Laocoon in the enlacing folds of the serpent.  The different spurs of mountain ranges which meet here, abut upon the river in bold precipices from five to fifteen hundred feet from the water’s edge; the foliage hangs to them, from the base to summit, with the tenacity and bright verdure of moss; and the stream below, deprived of the slant lights which brighten its depths elsewhere, flows on with a somber and dark green shadow in its bosom, as if frowning at the narrow gorge into which its broad-breasted waters are driven.3

William Henry Bartlett, "View from West Point," (Hudson River), c. 1835.  Engraving. (West Point Museum Collection, United States Military Academy)

William Henry Bartlett, “View from West Point,” (Hudson River), c. 1835. Engraving. (West Point Museum Collection, United States Military Academy)

This description would have certainly helped Victor de Grailly as the engravings in the book were only printed in black and white.  The colors in the painting are de Grailly’s interpretation of what he believed the West Point landscape might have looked like.

 

This piece is one of four paintings by Victor de Grailly in the Museum’s collection.   In addition to being visually spectacular, the paintings, prints and drawings in the Museum’s collection serve to document the visual history and artistic interpretation of West Point and the surrounding landscape.

1 The original painting is currently on view at the West Point Museum in the West Point Gallery.
2  This two-volume publication is available in the Special Collections department of the USMA Library. http://library.usma.edu/record=b1773207~S0
3  Nathaniel P. Willis, American Scenery; Or, Land, Lake, and River Illustrations of  Transatlantic Nature (London: George Virtue, 1840), I, p. 6

Contents contributed by Marlana Cook, Curator of Art, West Point Museum

 

 

Week in Review – 27 June 2014

Midsummer Report #1

Updates have been few and far between so far this summer with travel and other leave. However, work in the USMA Library continues at what I perceive to be a higher than normal clip so far. Here are brief notes on many of the things going on:

  • Strategic Planning Work – Library Staff worked through organizational design and planning in late May into early June. That work will continue to influence our planning over the coming year as we evaluate how best to implement some of those ideas into our current design.
  • 2013-15 Program Review – Work on this is continuing (though slowly). I will hopefully have a draft to share in the next ten days or so.
  • ConnectNY Annual Meeting – The directors of ConnectNY schools met in Buffalo in mid-June for our annual meeting. Discussed were plans to recruit a new executive director, the benefits of CRL membership, our e-book pilot program, and several organizational matters. Our e-book program will be continuing, although with some changes to the purchasing structure. We are also looking to expand the program to other vendors.
  • Archives Leadership Institute – I served on the faculty of the 2014 Archives Leadership Institute sponsored by the NHPRC and held at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. The participants, drawn from a variety of institutions across the country, worked through a week-long intensive experience focusing on development of leadership skills in the areas of generative/asset-based thinking, advocacy, digital content, project management, and my area of focus strategic visioning and team development.
  • Recruitments – We continue to work through several recruitments and have just announced a recruitment for a new Associate Director for Systems.
  • Communications Team Changes – Our Communications Team has reconfigured for the coming year. Special thanks to Karen Shea, Heather Goyette, and Suzanne Christoff who are rotating off after great service. Joining the team (Laura Mosher and myself) are Lauren Hall, Barbara Maroney, Alicia Mauldin-Ware, and Manja Yirka.
  • Blog Changes – We will very soon move staff-only blog communications over to a new site called StaffNotes. There should be no change to the public blog except for some better tools for sharing and disseminating public content.
  • Physical Renovations –  Work is wrapping up on the Haig Room floor refinishing and we expect contractor work to conclude next week. New furniture for the space will be arriving and some existing chairs are being refinished. We will be working to implement some new policies regarding access and use in order to monitor more closely use of the space. Electrical work on the second floor is planned for July, and we are continuing to move forward in the process to build and install a new service desk in the rotunda. New bollards for the loading ramp are also expected to be installed in the coming months.
  • Bartlett Hall North Furniture – We have begun taking delivery of new furniture for our collection spaces in Bartlett Hall North. This is resulting in careful choreography of filing cabinets as we shuffle out the old and make way for the new.
  • Middle States Accreditation – Much work is ongoing to prepare a report to our primary accrediting body due next June. The Library is contributing content on our program and assessments as part of this effort and an update brief was provided to the Superintendent this week on this work.
  • New Cadet Briefs – Many library-folk are planning our annual briefs for new cadets, which this year will take place the week of July 7th.
  • Interpretive Panels for the Library Terrace – We are now finally proofing final designs for the historical panels to be installed on the terrace. Hopefully final approvals will be forthcoming and fabrication/installation can move forward.
  • A/V Upgrades – We are still awaiting final programming/installation work to be completed in several library classrooms. Once that work is complete we will be arranging training for staff on operation of some of the new equipment.

Midsummer report #2 is planned to be published on 25 July.

USMA Library Events

The events below will likely affect USMA Library and Jefferson Hall operations in the coming week.

Date USMA O/DEAN USMA Library Jefferson Hall Hours
Fri 27 Jun 2014 Week in Review 0700-1630
Sat 28 Jun 2014 CLOSED
Sun 29 Jun 2014 CLOSED
Mon 30 Jun 2014 0700-1630
Tue 1 Jul 2014 USMAPS Change of Command Division Heads 0700-1630
Wed 2 Jul 2014 R-Day 0700-1630
Thu 3 Jul 2014 0700-1630
Fri 4 Jul 2014 Independence Day CLOSED CLOSED

USMA Library Metrics

USMA Library tracks a number of key statistics to measure service levels. These are their stories …

26MAY-1JUN 2JUN-8JUN 9JUN-15JUN 16JUN-22JUN
Access Services
Items Charged Out 168 228 244 186
Gate Count 2,956 1,712 1,203 1,218
ILL Article Requests 6 6 7 23
ILL Book Requests 5 5 10 9
Administrative Services
DV Tours 0 0 0 0
Significant Events Hosted 5 1 0 0
Events/Meetings Attended 11 17 17 9
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 7 8 5 5
Library Instruction Sessions 1 2 0 1
Cadets Attending Sessions 3 22 0 19
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 34 107 84 70
Items Added – Digital 2 0 1,411 904
Items Added – GovDocs 13 8 9 7
Items Added – Other 23 12 0 28
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 93 96 79 74
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 9 38 32
Research Visits < 1 hour 9 4 9
Research Visits < 1 day 3 4 6
Research Visits > 1 day 0 1 2
Instruction Sessions 0 1 1
Cadets Taught 0 17 17
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 1,496 1,694 1,563 1,575
LibGuides Visits 183 234 245 256
Digital Collections Visits 399 299 272 249
Facebook Visits 18 26 31 15
Public Printer Prints 4,569 1,784 896 2,517
Public Printer Copies 50 109 26 26
Public Printer Scans 255 316 276 260

Food for Thought

A few quotations from the past week about libraries, information, technology, and the future

  • “Only yesterday a smart young Ph.D. student told me his supreme goal was to keep himself from checking his email more than once an hour, though he doubted he would achieve such iron discipline in the near future. At present it was more like every five to ten minutes. So when we read there are more breaks, ever more frequent stops and restarts, more input from elsewhere, fewer refuges where the mind can settle. It is not simply that one is interrupted; it is that one is actually inclined to interruption. Hence more and more energy is required to stay in contact with a book, particularly something long and complex.” Reading: The Struggle by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
  • “Public libraries now outnumber retail bookstores by two to one in the United States, and are fast becoming the only in-person book browsing option for the residents of many communities.” Library Vendors Make Business Case to Publishers | BEA 2014 – The Digital Shift
  • “Nothing’s really free on the Internet. From search engines and email to social media and online publishing, if you’re not entering in your credit card number somewhere, you’re paying in a different way. As the adage goes, if you’re not the consumer, then you’re the product. You’re either paying with your eyeballs on advertisements, or with your personal data that gets sold to advertisers. If this is true of the Internet, then the same logic applies for the “Internet of Things.” This is the buzzword for the fast emerging trend of everyday objects being embedded with sensors. These sensors, which are networked over the web, collect, store, and analyze torrents of data—usually by transmitting data to remote “cloud” servers—about how people use the products the sensors are attached to. Some examples include personal devices like wristbands that measure vital signs, domestic appliances like “smart” thermostats, or automobiles that keep track of how, where, and when we drive.”  - Insurance Vultures and the Internet of Things
  • “There is nothing better than fuzzy language to wreak havoc – or facilitate consensus. Ludwig Wittgenstein argued that philosophical puzzles are really just a consequence of the misuse of language. By contrast, the art of diplomacy is to find language that can hide disagreement.” The Mismeasure of Technology | Project Syndicate | Big Think
  • “The measure, included in the Obama administration’s proposed transportation bill, would specify that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the authority to set restrictions on the apps and later order changes if they are deemed dangerous, much the way it currently regulates mechanical features of cars. The measure has the support of automakers, which already mostly comply with voluntary guidelines for built-in navigation systems, but it has run into stiff opposition from technology companies, which say that any such law would be impractical and impossible to enforce. It’s another example, they say, of federal regulators trying vainly to keep up with a rapidly changing industry.” Agency Aims to Regulate Map Aids in Vehicles – NYTimes.com
  • “State and local governments are currently prohibited from enacted taxes on Internet access, but the 1998 law banning them is set to expire this year. Unless new legislation goes forward, state legislatures and city councils could start eyeing Web surcharges in order to fill dwindling coffers. The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act would extend that ban indefinitely.” Lawmakers push to ban taxes on Internet service | TheHill
  • “The bureaucratization of scholarship in the humanities is simply spirit-crushing. I may prepare an article on … my research area, for publication in a learned journal, and my RAE line manager focuses immediately on the influence of the journal, the number of citations of my text, the amount of pages written, the journal’s publisher. Interference by these academic managers is pervasive and creeping. Whether my article is any good, or advances scholarship in the field, are quickly becoming secondary issues. All this may add to academic ‘productivity,’ but is it worth selling our collective soul for?” How Corporate IT Enslaved Academe – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “Forty years ago, when a college education wasn’t required to get ahead financially, the bachelor’s degree was the mechanism for acquiring a broad general education. The skills-training part came later, in graduate and professional schools or from an employer. Now college students are expected to acquire that general education in tandem with skills training—as well as to rack up outside-the-classroom experiences through research projects, internships, or study abroad. And all of that is stuffed into the traditional four-year undergraduate education. As the cost of college has spiraled upward in the past decade, parents and students have become focused more than ever on employment preparation and graduating on time. Intellectual discovery and exploration are no longer a priority. It’s too expensive.” The Overworked Bachelor’s Degree Needs a Makeover – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “The results of their investigation, published on 16 June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that some universities are paying nearly twice what universities of seemingly similar size and research output pay for access to the very same journals. For example, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, paid Elsevier $1.22 million in 2009 for a bundle of journals, while the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor—an almost identical university in staff size and number of Ph.D. students—paid $2.16 million for the same bundle. At Science’s request, the authors even calculated a potential measure of how good or bad a deal U.S. universities are getting, providing a graphic view of the price spread. (AAAS, Science’s publisher, offers bundled pricing for its three journals but was not included in the analysis.)” How much did your university pay for your journals? | Science/AAAS | News
  • “It’s about time we started asking ourselves: what are we leaving behind for future generations? When our descendants look back on the computer revolution, what will they still have access to?” Saving old software from extinction in the age of cloud computing | Ars Technica
  • “Western Governors, one of several colleges offering this kind of education, doesn’t look like what most people imagine when they think of “college.” That’s not just because it’s online — the university has done away with lectures, discussion sections, midterms and even grades. Instead, students take a pre-test for each subject area they have to learn. They’re given a mentor with a graduate degree in the field they’re studying and access to textbooks, tutorials, and other resources. Eventually, they’re assessed on how well they understand the concepts. They need about the equivalent of a B on the assessment to move on.” The top-ranked teacher education program doesn’t have classes – Vox
  • “Unfortunately, the way computer science is currently taught in high school tends to throw students into the programming deep end, reinforcing the notion that code is just for coders, not artists or doctors or librarians. But there is good news: Researchers have been experimenting with new ways of teaching computer science, with intriguing results. For one thing, they’ve seen that leading with computational thinking instead of code itself, and helping students imagine how being computer savvy could help them in any career, boosts the number of girls and kids of color taking—and sticking with—computer science. Upending our notions of what it means to interface with computers could help democratize the biggest engine of wealth since the Industrial Revolution.” Is Coding the New Literacy? | Mother Jones
  • “People no longer have to come to a library to get information,” she says, “so the library has to get people coming in for different reasons. Students need somewhere to socialize, create things and collaborate.” What Does the Next-Generation School Library Look Like? | MindShift
  • “So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools even tough I don’t personally have a kid in school; I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.” John Green (Crash course World History #34: Samourai, Daimyo, Matthew Perry, and Nationalism)
  • “In 10 or 20 years, when we judge the great universities, it will not just be on their research but on the reach of their teaching,” Mr. Levin told The Chronicle on Wednesday.” Coursera Chief: Reach of Teaching Will Define Great Universities – Wired Campus – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “There are two main reasons that people who go to college earn more than everyone else. One is that they are hopefully learning something in college that is going to help them in their future careers. Another is that smarter people tend to go to college, and they were going to be more productive regardless. So when you’re trying to measure the college premium, you have to look a little deeper than just saying, How much do people who go to college make versus how much do people who don’t go to college make? It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.” Smart People Go to College, and Other Twists in Measuring the Value of a Degree – Students – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “With all of the video content available today, more and more of us are spending our lives in our heads – simulating the experiences of others from the comfort of our homes. As our lives become more and more sedentary, we need more and more content to watch. Fortunately, there is no shortage of imagination in this world and, when there is, “reality” can be commodified and packaged as television programming. The result of all this content consumption is that much of what we learn is not learned through first-hand experience, but by observing others. And, unfortunately, much of what we’re observing is incomplete or has little relation to the way things actually are. When we see a TV drama about the meth trade (Breaking Bad), we build a mental model of what things are like in that subculture – even if the series has little relation to the actual workings of the industry. When we watch Lauren Conrad and her friends on Laguna Beach, we think that the life of a young socialite in LA consists of 24/7 parties, Bentleys, and passionate trysts on various darkened beaches. However, in actuality, these unbelievably enticing scenes are constructed by clever producers to make fairly normal and mundane existences seem truly unbelievable . All of this is to say that our lives today are getting filled with disembodied knowledge – that is, knowledge gleaned by mental machination and simulation, not by active real-world experience.” The Floating Brain: Learning in the 21st Century | WikiMind | Big Think
  • “When Mary Margaret Vojtko died last September—penniless and virtually homeless and eighty-three years old, having been referred to Adult Protective Services because the effects of living in poverty made it seem to some that she was incapable of caring for herself—it made the news because she was a professor. That a French professor of twenty-five years would be let go from her job without retirement benefits, without even severance, sounded like some tragic mistake. In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed that broke the story, Vojtko’s friend and attorney Daniel Kovalik describes an exchange he had with a caseworker from Adult Protective Services: “The caseworker paused and asked with incredulity, ‘She was a professor?’ I said yes. The caseworker was shocked; this was not the usual type of person for whom she was called in to help.” A professor belongs to the professional class, a professor earns a salary and owns a home, probably with a leafy yard, and has good health insurance and a retirement account. In the American imagination, a professor is perhaps disheveled, but as a product of brainy eccentricity, not of penury. In the American university, this is not the case.” The Teaching Class by Rachel Riederer – Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
  • “The library purchased two drones with some leftover money from a grant to remodel its facility with new technology. These drones are capable of taking aerial video and photography. The library’s hope is to integrate new technology to its services. In the past year, the library has worked to expand its “Digital Media Commons” in an effort to promote digital learning. Now, USF’s library is taking it a step further by giving students the opportunity to operate the drones, which are valued at $1,500 apiece.” University library to lend drones to students – CNN.com
  • “robots are always part of the future. Little bits of that future break off and become part of the present, but when that happens, those bits cease to be “robots.” In 1945, a modern dishwasher would have been a miracle, as exotic as the space-age appliances in The Jetsons. But now, it’s just a dishwasher” The Future Is All Robots. But Will We Even Notice?
  • “College in today’s economy is like sunscreen on a scorchingly hot afternoon: You have to see the people who didn’t apply it to fully appreciate how important it is. The same way a blistering sun both makes sunscreen feel ineffective and makes it more crucial than ever, recessions can both make a college degree seem ineffective and make it more important than ever.” How College Is Like Sunscreen – Derek Thompson – The Atlantic
  • “Ninety-four percent of professional workers put in 50 or more hours, and nearly half work 65 or above. All workers have managed to cut down on our time on the job by 112 hours over the last 40 years, but we’re far behind other countries: The French cut down by 491 hours, the Dutch by 425, and Canadians by 215 in the same time period. Workers in Ireland and the Netherlands are also working less. We’re also increasing our productivity, getting more done in the time we spend at work. It went up by nearly 25 percent between 2000 and 2012.” Workaholism in America Is Hurting the Economy | New Republic
  • “They sounded less worried about whether publishing an open-access book would hurt their careers. Social media have already opened things up, Mr. Schaberg pointed out. “Twitter has had a leveling effect on the economy of prestige and reputation,” he said.” In the Digital Era, Print Still Gets Plenty of Love From Scholars – Wired Campus – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “The bottom line, it seems to me, is that for the first time in hundreds of years we have options for how we disseminate scholarship. Instead of calling for more money to prop up a traditional model that was never particularly viable in the first place, we need to embrace a variety of alternatives.” Can Libraries Help Stop this Madness? | Peer to Peer Review
  • “In mid-May, the Boston Library Consortium, which represents 17 academic libraries in New England, received an abrupt and unsettling phone call from ebrary, an e-book library owned by the aggregator ProQuest. A company representative said 11 academic publishers, including major players like Taylor & Francis and Oxford University Press, would be raising the cost of short-term e-book loans effective June 1. In some cases the increase would be as much as 300 percent. The suddenness, scale, and timing of the changes—shortly before the end of one fiscal year, with money already committed for the next—left the consortium and its member libraries feeling ambushed. “There was a very, very deep collective sigh of, ‘Oh my gosh, not again,’” says Susan M. Stearns, the consortium’s executive director.” College Libraries Push Back as Publishers Raise Some E-Book Prices – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpted from Infoneer Pulse, a digital commonplace book curated by Christopher Barth.