Friday, August 19, 2016

When Is Research Data No Longer Useful?

I've been fortunate to be in an academic library considered by many to be one of the more advanced in research data management planning.  Certainly in confronting ever changing guidelines the  funding requirements around data sharing, data preservation and the submission of data management plans at universities across North America, academic library institutions clamouring to  understand the needs, in addition to attaining a fuller understanding of their users’ research data management practices and attitudes.  Certainly, much has been written about the work being done here and here.  My friend and colleague Eugene Barsky, for example, has researched and published much in the area of data management.   RDM is such a new area that it sometimes feels very much like the early days of the Wild West.  Where to begin?  It seems like everything we collect becomes data; sorting and organizing it all is an challenge unto itself.

On the surface, it's messy, but underneath it, it's even more complicated as not all of can or should be archived.   Since federal granting agencies in Canada are now advocating for "open science" whereby future researchers can access and reuse such research data, we often assume all data is important, all data is equal.  But just because it's data, doesn't mean it's useable, let alone preservable.  University of Alberta librarians Janice Kung and Sandy Campbell's What Not to Keep: Not All Data Have Future Research Value offers a remarkably cogent and sensible examination into what faculty, clinicians and graduate students from the health and medical sciences deem as research data and while what types of data should not be kept by libraries and archives for the purpose of reuse.  There are eight themes identified here:

Bad or Junk Data - Data that has missing values, malformed records, or stored in problematic file formats has no research value and are therefore unusable.

Cannot be used by others - When datasets become too specific to be combined with other datasets - or cannot be used by other researchers that require knowledge of that particular context or subject - it prevents researchers from manipulating them in a meaningful way and hence,

Easily Replicable - Cost effectiveness of regenerating data on demand - for example, citation analysis data - can make data preservation impractical.

Without good metadata - Since descriptive metadata must accompany research data to ensure future use and interpretation, the ability to reuse datasets can be hindered by suboptimal metadata.

Data without cultural or historical value - Since server space and administrative costs are finite, not all data are valued equally and it's necessary to evaluate the feasibility of archiving everything.  Data covering short periods of time, small samples, or have no cultural/historical content would have less value than longitudinal, large, and cultural based studies in such instances might need to be "weeded."

Pilot or test data - Data derived from instrument testing or trial runs have little future research value since they are used for testing the data collection methods to ensure quality control.  Sometimes there are many iterations of data generated in developing a method that such "raw data" is not required for validation

Proprietary data - Often researchers do not have ownership rights to data but work with such data released to them under contract by companies or organizations for a specific project only.

Confidential data - When research involving human subjects is being conducted, ethics agreements define when data must be destroyed and researchers must abide by these restrictions.

Of course, the study is not exhaustive by any means as it offers only a viewpoint of the health sciences.  But what about other subject domains?  For a more comprehensive contribution to the establishment of more detailed library and archival best practices, policies, and procedures, we need to further examine the digital humanities, for instance.   This is a good, early start.  But more is to come.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pokémon Go Drags Augmented Reality to Coolness (Finally)

Pokémon is back, and it's taken a flailing technology and made it relevant and even cool again, too. Augmented reality—the ability to witness an altered version of our world via a smartphone display -- was written off by most. It had gone the way of the QR codes. Faded and irrelevant. Pokémon Go has consumed the public’s consciousness and, in a single weekend, thrown augmented reality into the mainstream. It’s fun and so people actually use it, and that’s critical because augmented reality is suddenly something the whole world can experience in an accessible and interactive manner.

But times have changed (or returned, in this case) as the Nintendo-owned franchise, which exploded in popularity in the late 1990s, is again taking the world by storm — this time through Pokémon Go, its biggest entry into the mobile space, now available for a free download on Android and iOS. It’s so popular that it’s now overtaken Twitter based on daily active users on Android.  It's amazing to see how people are clamoring to download and use this app, even if it's before it's official release in their country.

What is exactly Pokémon Go?  It's an AR game that utilizes a phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when in the game Pokémon will "appear" (on the phone's screen) in order to "go" and catch it. By moving around, various types of Pokémon appears, but depending on when and where an individual is situated. The idea is to encourage people to travel around the real world to catch Pokémon in the game.

Augmented reality in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre Recognition Wall
In many ways, augmented reality has arrived, albeit much later than we have expected. Three years ago, I experimented with the technology and at that time it was Layar that was the most popular app. In the "Virtual Museum," augmented reality became a useful tool for highlighting the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s history as the Main Library using UBC Library’s digital collections. Patrons using their smartphones or iPads could view the current Wall of Recognition and see the wall "come alive" with archival images and videos of students and alumni talking about their experiences in the building - past and present.   Back then, the technology was still in its infancy.  It was a novelty.  Pokémon Go has really opened up the game.  What are the opportunities for AR in libraries and education?   There's great potential to use the technology now that people are looking up instead of down and will eventually grow to love the neat applications of AR.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Use of Smartphones by Art and Design Students for Accessing Library Services and Learning

In Use of smartphones by art and design students for accessing library services and learning in the journal Library Hi-Tech, a research study in which I co-published with Patrick Lo, Dickson Chiu, Man-hon Leung, and Kevin Ho, our study explored the use of smartphones for accessing library services and learning by art and design students at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI).

In the design and research methodology, we employed the questionnaire survey to examine how students used apps and the Web on mobile devices in finding information for the purpose of academic learning, social networking, and collaborative learning.

Our survey results showed that while the HKDI students were all smartphone owners and active users of such mobile communication devices, only a minority of them “frequently” use these mobile devices for formal learning purposes.  Students demonstrated a keen preference to use search engines, social communications, and other diverse use of smartphones. Except for research and image/audio-visual needs, the majority of the needs and usage behaviour of these students is similar to mainstream university students.  Therefore, our results recommends greater opportunities for libraries to develop services and facilities that could better fulfill students’ information needs, and to improve the outreach outside the library.

So why is this research of value to the library and information science literature?  This is probably the first study of its kind to explore how art and design students use smartphones for learning needs. In particular, with recent capability of smartphones and mobile Internet speeds being comparable to desktops, it is vital to re-examine the rapidly changing environment and their effects on the needs of the library's users.  I encourage you to take a read and explore the discussion and data from our research and see if it corroborates with your particular library context.  Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any comments, feedback, or question to share with us.

Monday, May 09, 2016

From the Electronic to the Digital University: a Twenty-Five Year Redux

In 1988, the library thought leader David Lewis' "Inventing the Electronic University."  What's significant about Lewis' article is that it was the first to examine how technology would change the information practices of users and library patrons rather than the library itself.

This was a seminal piece: it marked a new beginning in the library literature.  Joan Lippincott responds with an interesting take on the state of the academic library twenty five years later.   Its topics are highly relevant to not only my research, but also to the volatile times we are in for academic libraries everywhere.  With that said, here are the salient points to discuss:

Teaching and Learning - Lippincott argues that of all the developments, teaching and learning programs have had the most mixed results in recent times in terms of development.  Although MOOCs and LMS's have emerged as tools that libraries have had to learn to support, but overall libraries have not been trendsetters in the area of learning technologies when once upon a time, patrons and users needed to rely on libraries more heavily on borrowing and using technology (remember catalogs?)

Scholarly Communications -   With new technologies has emerged e-science and digital humanities -- digital scholarship arrived without much fanfare but has become critically important areas that academic libraries have been asked to support. At the same time, open access, data curation, social media, among the among have become integral in our daily work and is needed to support students, faculty and researchers.

Access and Preservation - We've come a long way since Lewis' article predicted the potential of the digitization of print materials on the CD-ROM.  Libraries created strong digital collections, but the caveat is that they have seemingly lost ownership and authority of these collections.   Libraries are falling behind in integrating its open access collections with its discovery tools -- so now that we've built it, how do we use it?

Staffing - Changes in the roles of staff continue to come as new technologies emerge.   However, some of Lewis' predictions did not materialize as predicted.  While Lewis expected library services and university academic computing units to merge, this has simply not happened in the scale he imagined.  For the most part academic libraries have continued to lead its own initiatives in teaching, learning and research in the areas of technology.  Instead, libraries are working with faculty in both research and learning to expand the "liaison model."  We keep hearing about it, but what is it exactly?  Lippincott alludes that changes are to come, so we wait and see.

Certainly, this is a brief list and there could be quite a few more areas to include here.  Despite what universities say, research is often prioritized at universities and faculty research and publication is tied to tenure and promotion.  What are academic libraries doing right in supporting research?  What are the big areas that we need to get better at?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

From A Cabinet of Curiosities to the Re-Emergence of the LAM

Currently, I'm working on a research project with Dickson Chiu and Patrick Lo on Journey to the East.  We examine the rise of the “LAM,” an acronym that stands for libraries, archives, and museums and in doing so, we profile leading experts -- librarians, archivists, and museum curators -- who specialize in East Asian collections from across the world. In examining the dynamically shifting role of the cultural institution in the context of managing information and collections, this book provides important themes offered by these cultural experts in understanding the necessary professional skills, knowledge, and personalities that are required for working in such environments of varying size, scope, and composition in LAMs.

By interviewing practicing librarians, archivists, and museum curators across the world who specialize in East Asian collections, our research examines the shifting role of the cultural institution in the context of managing information, cultural and knowledge exchanges, and collaboration on a global scale and ultimately challenges the notion of what constitutes “Asia’s collections.”

These managers of East Asia collection not only refers to library, archive, and museum (LAM) professionals who are ethnically of East Asian descent, but also their North American and European colleagues, who have devoted their careers to safeguarding cultural heritage collections of immeasurable values that are housed in different world’ s leading LAMs, located all over the globe. So that is why we went on a journey to interview experts from Berlin State Library, Bavarian State Library, the British Library, the British Museum, the National Library of France, the Vatican Library, the National Library of Denmark, the National Archives of Japan, the National Taiwan Library – just to name a few.   We have three purposes for the project:

(1) Our research project ultimately serves as a reference guide for students, scholars, researchers, and LAM professionals, enabling them to gain a glimpse of the vast amount of treasures available for their research and other scholarly activities. To survive on their own for future generations, LAMS must be organized, researched, talked about, promoted, and taught to the young generations - otherwise they risk extinction, physically as an entity and institutionally relevant to their audiences and users. 

(2) We conducted our research using a mixed-methods approach using semi-structure surveys through face-to-face meetings, Skype, and also by email depending on preferred mode of access by our interviewees. Upon completion of transcribing our interviews, we followed up with our interviewees for clarification and approval for publication of the text. 

(3) We argue that the present convergence is actually a return to traditional unity. These three institutions share epistemological links dating from the “Museum” of Alexandria and continuing through the cabinets of curiosities gathered in early modern Europe. But over time, as these collections expanded, they became more specialized and their storage was separated according to the form of information and kinds of users and after the nineteenth and century, these institutions professionalized and intellectual societies and educational programs materialized that crystallized the formal separation. So in many ways, LAMs have come full circle.

I'd be more than happy to answer any questions and feedback you may have about our project.  I've written about LAMs in the past, and this is a really exciting project to continue my research in this area. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Rise of the Innovation Commons

On my research study, I took the opportunity to visit the City University of Hong Kong, which is globally recognized as a top institution of higher learning and research, currently ranked #57 in the world in the QS World University Rankings and ranked #2 in Asia by the U.S. News & World Report.  It's not a large space whatsoever, but how it creatively re-purposed existing library space into a collaborative learning environment is worth a closer examination.

As my research is now focusing on innovative academic library spaces across the world, I was really interested in learning more about the history of this rapidly growing institution during my stay in Hong Kong.  Founded in 1984 as the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, it became a fully accredited university in 1994 and renamed the City University of Hong Kong and became public research university located in Kowloon, Hong Kong.  It's also uniquely situated in the vicinity of the beautiful Festival Walk Mall.

Established collaboratively between the university library, the School of Law, the Knowledge Transfer Office, and the Education Development and Gateway Education, the Innovation Commons serves as a one-stop resource center physically located inside the Run Run Shaw Library.  It is a draw for students and the campus community for quick and easy access to information about entrepreneurship and innovation. 

What I really wanted to learn more about was how the Innovation Commons situates community engagement in its academic mission.  One of the initiatives is holding competitions for business plans and government-funded venture programmes for students.  Its staff participates as jurors in these competitions. In addition, it organizes activities, inviting industry experts and speakers to hold talks and workshops related to innovation, intellectual property, and the entrepreneurial projects. The Commons also provides professional advice through its peer tutors from the School of Law to consult on patents and related legal issues.

As I'm conducting research on curriculum mapping, I was curious to see how the Innovation Commons has aligned its space and services to the City University of Hong Kong's curriculum called the Discovery-enriched Curriculum since 2012.  Under DEC,  students create new knowledge, communicate it, curate it and cultivate it to benefit society as a final project prior to graduation with the goal of giving students the opportunity to make an original discovery while at CityU.    The results of this research trip will be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of East Asian Libraries.  Stay tuned.   

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Introducing the Horizon Report 2016

The latest NMC Horizon Report has just been released.  Like many of involved in higher education, I've always been curious as to what new tools and toys are out.  I remember the early days (five years ago?) when it was neat to see the latest trends of digital media.   Time have changed -- we've moved beyond just 3D printers and augmented reality.

This 2016 Higher Education Edition identifies six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology across three adoption horizons spanning over the next one to five years.  Useful as a guide for campus leaders, educational technologists, and faculty as a valuable guide for strategic technology planning, the report provides higher education leaders with in-depth insight into how trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational technology, along with their implications for policy, leadership, and practice.  What is most interesting is the "Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Higher Education."

Long-Term Impact Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in higher education for five or more years 
Mid-Term Impact Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in higher education for three to five years 
Short-Term Impact Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in higher education for the next one to two years 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Vaporized? That's the World We Live In Now, So We Must Deal With (Embrace) It

Emerging technologies has been a theme of this site for as long as I have blogged.   While libraries have been slow to in the digital migration its programs, services, and collections, the retail world has experienced transformative changes, with the disappearance of Kodak, Borders, Blockbuster, etc.

In a consumerist world, such businesses need to change with the times -- and those that didn't do so quickly enough certainly got subsumed by history.   I read with great interest Robert Tercek's Vaporized which proposes that once-tangible goods such as music CDs and video DVDs were vaporized, replaced by pixels and bytes of data.   Vaporized offers a reminder of the de-materialization of physical objects.   So what is it?   You'll know what vaporized is as it:

  • Happens when tangible physical products are replaced with invisible software that can be downloaded instantly over the air to a digital device.
  • Occurs when the neighbourhood store is replaced with a digital storefront that exists in no particular place at all but is available anywhere at anytime, from any mobile phone connected to a data network.
  • Happens when the global supply chain for manufacturing, shipping, warehousing, and retailing consumer goods is decomposed and reorganized by software systems and digital networks.
  • Replacing real things with digital metaphors that can be replicated, updated, distributed, and deleted in seconds.
But what really caught my interest is Tercek's interest in what he terms loosely MOOC 2.0, with an insightful look into future trends, particularly SPOCs (small private online classes).   None of the MOOC platforms (think edX, Udacity, Coursera) have adopted smartphone or tables to enable a truly "anywhere, anytime device" mode for students.   With the dominant mode of teaching still the lecture, which dates back to the Medieval era, there's much opportunity for new entrants to take advantage of the current underdeveloped MOOC.  Perhaps that's why MOOCs have currently lulled in terms of excitement and buzz in the academic and business communities.  Once a silver bullet platform emerges, we just might see the vaporization of the current behemoth that is higher education.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Rise of the GLAM - G(alleries), L(ibraries), A(rchives), M(useums)

Yuan Dynasty (1165-1368 C.E.)
I've been conducting research on the area of GLAMs (an acronym that stands for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums).  And I have even written about it in the past as well.  We're seeing the convergence of galleries, libraries, archives and museums collaborating together in the digital age to transcend the traditional boundaries that separated them previously.  This is not surprising at all since these cultural institutions' common goals are really about creating better user-oriented services -- whether it be housing one repository for full access to all cultural heritage or obtaining exhibiting materials for public audiences.  To put it another way, while the professional language of the work is different, but the work is very similar.

The topic of GLAMs or LAMs is still in its emerging stages.  Although the convergence of galleries, libraries, archives and museums may be seemingly a recent development amongst cultural heritage institutions, these four institutions have been intertwined from some of the earliest known institutions, and can in fact trace their historical development back to similar origins. As Katherine Howard puts it:
If galleries, libraries, archives and museums wish to continue to maximize all that the digital environment offers now and into the future, the GLAM sector may require information professionals who have the flexibility, skills and knowledge to allow them to work across the full spectrum of the GLAM institutions. . .
Indeed, to contextualize this history, Howard points out that even the most renowned ancient library   demonstrates the connection between collecting institutions. Founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and developed and maintained by the Ptolemaic dynasty in approximately the third century BCE, the Library of Alexandria was merely one part of what was essentially a research institute known as the Museum of Alexandria.

Fast-forward to the current information climate, we see that in our information networked world, the once clearly demarcated of GLAM institutions with their unique professional histories are now realizing that users of their content want information about subjects, not information from a particular source.

I'm pleased to be working with Jenna Dufour on her LIBR 596 professional experience course. Jenna is currently an MLIS candidate at the University of British Columbia. And equally excited to be working with Patrick Lo (Professor at the University of Tsukuba's Faculty of Library, Information & Media Science) and Dickson Chiu (University of Hong Kong's Faculty of Education) on a book entitled: Conversations with the World’s Leading East Asian Librarians, Archivists & Curators, which is based on a series of interviews with different practicing librarians, archivists, and curators who specialize in East Asian collections. In asking these leading experts to describe the necessary professional skills, knowledge, and personalities that are required for working in such environments of varying size, scope, and composition in libraries, archives, and museums across the world, we examine the GLAM from a specific subject domain standpoint. It's going to be an interesting upcoming year, and one I'm busily looking forward to!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flora of Descriptions for the Internet of Things

I've been writing about the emerging technologies for the past decade, and ever since the Internet of Things first appeared, I've been actively following its development as part of my professional quest to understand its impact on educational technologies.  Fresh off the press, Olson et al.'s Semantic Web, Ubiquitous Computing, or Internet of Things? A Macro-Analysis of Scholarly Publications is one of the most thorough in its examination of the evolution of ambient technologies.  And I'm glad I've found it and I'm going to share it with you here.  The authors investigate concepts used in depicting future visions of society, they map the extent of their use, examining the level of their dominance in different research areas and geographic boundaries, pinpointing fourteen concepts, each of which is used to depict visions of future3 information infrastuctures. More than 20,000 scholarly documents related to those concepts are analyzed.

Ubiquitous computing - "Ubicomp" Refers to a society in which human computer interaction is seamlessly and unnoticeably integrated into everyday life. 2.  Pervasive computing -

Pervasive computing - Used interchangeably with ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing's focus is not so much on the vision as it is on technological issues.

Ambient Intelligence - Or AmI, is different from Ubicomp in not just being about computing; rather, it involves other technologies such as smart materials and other innovations that integrate with our environments, a vision that extends the range of technologies that are considered to go beyond computing.

Smart Environment - or SmE, is able to acquire and apply knowledge about an environment and also to adapt to its inhabitants in order to improve their experience in that environment.

Ubiquitous Web - Concerned with mobility and constant access to information, an "anytime from any location" idea in which a different sense of the user emerges, where the technology could benefit commercial corporations as the user, rather than the individuals who seek and use Web-based information.

Semantic Web - Originating in the 1990's, it is an extension of the idea of the Web, created by Tim Berners-Lee.  Where content is designed to be read by humans, the Semantic Web builds on the idea of designing contents for access and meaningful manipulations by computer programs.  The focus is placed on Web-based information, information access, knowledge representation, and semantic codes for technology intervention.

Internet of Things - or IoT, was originally an adoption of Ubicomp, but was later considerably broadened to envision a society where all members have access to a full-fledged Internet environment populated by self-managing, smart technology anytime and anywhere.

Real world Internet - or RWI, the focus is placed on the integration of real-world into the Internet where wireless sensor technologies and network embedded devices extend interaction between physical and virtual worlds, enabling event-based environmental intelligence.

Web of Things - Follows the idea of the IoT in that it builds on the success of Web 2.0 mashup applications to suggest a similar approach for integration of devices to connect the Web allowing both physical and Web-based things to be connected to virtual resources.

Digital Living - Not widely used yet, the idea of it is a lifestyle not bound by place and time.

 System of Things - SoS, dating as far back as the 70's, it has evolved to relate increasingly to linked systems and connected devices.

Everyware - Information processing embedded in the object and surfaces of everyday life.  Process powers of multiple everyday devices such as the coffee pot, the garment, etc. come together invisibly, rendering our homes, workplaces or the street to become sites of processing and mediation.

Internet of People - The emphasis on allowing a steady stream of personal data from each individual and her interaction with various devices in everyday life in order to customize services according to individual needs.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Library Cafe's as Trendsetters

Lelystad Public Library
Lelystad Public Library

There was a trend in the Library and Information Science literature beginning in the late 1990's that last till the beginning of the millennium about libraries becoming more like bookstores.  At the periphery of this movement was the first vestiges of the cafe as part of the library.

I came across Creating the Customer-Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model by Jeannette Woodward earlier this millennium and it is one of the seminal texts on the library-as-a-bookstore model, arguing that if libraries do not redesign the way its customer service, looks, and functionality in ways that enhance its community mission, patrons, or "customers," will only continue to gravitate to the beautiful, spacious, and well-stocked new bookstores.   In fact, as Renee Feinberg puts it:
I have noticed patrons who seem to be using the store as a library.  As a librarian, I wondered whether students were doing library research there, and if so, why they weren't using their college libraries.  Were they gathering information successfully?  Were they making an informed choice to avoid their college libraries?  If students find it better to do research in B&N, should this affect how librarians develop library programs and provide services?
Interestingly, libraries took a sudden turn in 2008 in the advent of the Web 2.0 phenomenon and subtly the emphasis shifted to Library 2.0 (which had its own share of controversy as a term).   Which leads us to the present. Currently, I'm working with Dr. Patrick Lo of the University of Tsukuba in Japan on exploring library cafes as a "third place" for users of the library. This idea of the third place traces back to the sociologist Ray Oldenburg who articulated that beer gardens, main streets, pubs, cafes, coffeehouses, post offices, and other "third places" are the heart of a community's social vitality and the foundation of a functioning democracy.

Howard Schultz repositioned Starbucks into the idea of Starbucks goal to also become the Third Place in "our daily lives. (i.e. Home, Work and Starbucks)," so that it can provide all the comforts of home and office.   So in our research project, we look at the library cafe as a Third Place, as a node of the library building, information/learning commons, and informal learning spaces.  This site will continue to update on this interesting journey into the innovative ways that libraries are repositioning themselves and how patrons perceive this paradigm shift in the way food and culture intersect with library collections and learning.  Stay tuned.

Monday, July 06, 2015

End of College? But the Start of What?

Having worked in higher education for more than a decade, I've seen first hand the wholesale transformation of the university.  As the jacket explains, in just nine months between 2011 and 2012, the world’s most famous universities and high-powered technology entrepreneurs began a race to "revolutionize" higher education. College courses that had been kept for centuries from all but an elite few have been released to millions of students throughout the world for free in the form of massive open online courses (MOOCs).  But it's not just online learning that is the tipping point of this change.

Coming across a recent book by the American higher education writer and policy analyst Kevin Carey was marvellous timing as many of the ideas from his writing is trending in the university world and offered much food for thought.  End of College offers excellent insight into the world of higher education, particularly its current shortcomings and all.   And here are some points which I find intriguing:

The Luxury Branding of Education - Why does a Rolex watch cost exponentially more than a Timex?   Both tell the same time, and incur essentially the same amount of mechanisms that make it work.    Higher education has subtly become a luxury brand business where everyone strives to emulate the Ivy League elites.  Community colleges become full-degree colleges while colleges become research universities - becoming an ever evolving climb to the top for greatness (and with it higher tuition).  To justify its brand, universities have catered to the lavish tastes of students with the most modern amenities, cafeteria cuisines, residential spaces, top-grade sports facilities, just to name a few to whet your appetites.  But in all of this, where is the learning?  Why are low-cost local college just as effective as these luxury universities?  Why a Rolex when a Timex works just as good?  Why has learning become commodified?

Open Learning - If MOOCs and open badges have shown us anything in the past few years, it's that higher education can no longer be monopolized by institutions.  Learning can occur everywhere and at anytime, and in any platform.  Universities carry prestige as employers trust its credentialing system simply because universities were the only ones in business that offered some sort of measure of how prepared adults were for the workforce.  But this is no longer the case: students aren't obtaining the skills and there have been new methods of imparting the knowledge by new technologies such as MOOCs.  What this means is a great "unbundling" of the college credit system into one where the hands of learning are placed firmly back into the students' (regardless of institution or age of the learner).

Cathedral of Learning -  Which leads us to what Kevin Carey calls the "university of everywhere" - an idea which is analogous to religious institutions where adults return each week without fail to replenish themselves spiritually.  How can we learn from religion where the passion for fulfilment can be replicated in lifelong learning?  Can the spirit for learning be replenished each week for the rest of our lives?   It's a brainteasing thought: learning from the cradle to the grave.   What can universities and colleges learn from adult learning?  If it ever envisions itself not as a short-term diploma mill, then the university can ultimately re-position itself back to its roots as cathedral of learning.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

YouTube, social media, and academic libraries: building a digital collection

I recently presented at the Acquisitions Institute 2015 on a panel with Stacy Sieck (Taylor & Francis) and Zoe Pettway Unno (California State University - Fullerton's Pollack Library).  YouTube, social media, and academic libraries: building a digital collection, is a paper I had published in the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship about YouTube as a new technology situated in the suite of emerging technologies.

YouTube’s extensive reach and integration in mainstream society as well as lifelong learning habits of online users cannot be understated.  My presentation continues on the theme of how YouTube collection at the University of British Columbia Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre has become an exciting extension of the digital collections and services.  By examining the history of traditional collection development at academic libraries, I really tried to demonstrate how YouTube fits into the long continuum of library media collections in an open-access platform.  Am I pushing the envelope, stretching the definition of "media collections"?  Perhaps, but I'd love to hear from you, too, on your thoughts.  Please feel free to share your comments with me!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cantonese Worlds Workshop at UBC #ItsAboutTime

I recently presented at the Hong Kong-Canada Crosscurrents presents: Cantonese Worlds (May 14-15th, 2015).  Over the last 50 years, migrations between Hong Kong and Canada have transformed cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Significant changes in real estate, business, philanthropy, and education, as well as cultural transformations in language, popular media, and mass consumption have reshaped societies on both sides of the Pacific. Flows of people, goods, and ideas have been multidirectional--even as hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong Chinese became Canadian citizens, Canadians of both Chinese and non-Chinese heritage also migrated to Hong Kong for work and family. Counting the estimated 300,000 Canadian passport holders living in Hong Kong would rank it among the ten largest “Canadian” cities.

The Hong Kong-Canada Crosscurrents Project looks back on the last half century in order to understand how the migration of people, goods, and ideas across the Pacific has created a complex crosscurrent of dense and sometimes surprising connections, including the transformation and re-animation of a Cantonese Pacific world that had spanned the ocean for centuries.

Cantonese Worlds is a two-day workshop that aims to begin an important conversation about how to make sense of the transformations of the last 50 years. In gathering leading scholars and observers to lay out an initial set of workshop themes for discussion, this pilot process will help create guiding questions that will shape the next few years of research, outreach, and public education. Initial themes might include, for instance, the role of the Cantonese language historically in shaping linkages between Hong Kong and Canada, or how the resurgence of Cantonese popular culture and music has been a formative element in youth identities. We invite all those interested in examining the last half century of crosscurrents between Hong Kong and Canada to participate in this important undertaking.

In my presentation, Bringing Old Perspectives to New Audiences: a history of BC’s First Bilingual Newspaper, I look back at the last twenty years of a student-run publication called Perspectives Newspaper, which at one time, represented the voice of most Hong Kong students at UBC.  In 2009, this entire collection of newspapers was digitized and archived on UBC's institutional repository cIRcle as part of the Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) project.  As I was once the Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper when I was a graduate student, I'm proud that I was able to offer insight into the evolution of the student movement and its context of academic libraries.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fraser Valley Regional Library, 1930's - 1945 #TBT

Yes, it's rare and it's kind of unsexy.  But it's #ThrowBackThursday.  So we must deal with it.  This brief historical footage is an experiment by the Government of British Columbia.  In 1930, the Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded the province a grant of $100,000 to establish and maintain a rural library project for five years. After considering various regions of the province, the Commission selected the Fraser Valley as the site of "BC’s book experiment."

The library’s first director Dr. Helen Gordon Stewart successfully met this challenge. With enormous energy, Stewart went about organizing the district, selecting books, hiring staff and purchasing a truck suitable for use as a book van. She personally visited councils and public meetings, convincing residents and politicians of the value of cooperation and resource sharing that would lead to a viable library system.
At the end of the five years of operation, under its present auspices, it is the hope that the people of the Fraser Valley, whether they reside in large or small centres, or in the out-of-way places, will want the library so much that they will decided to take it over as their own, to be maintained as a municipal service. The success which has already attended the experiment indicates that the Fraser Valley library will become a permanent institution

It sure did. It's grown to become the largest public library system in British Columbia, spread over 24 community libraries serving nearly 680,000 people in its service area.  Stewart later went on to help establish another historic library system, the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) system.