LibGuides v2

LibGuides v2

Have you guys tried the new Springshare update, LibGuides v2?  I’ve only recently been playing around with my beta site, and I have to say I really like what I see so far.  One of the complaints I’ve had about some library websites in the past has been that they look to “LibGuides-esque.”   I’ve never liked the clunky appearance.  Let’s face it, the awesome thing about LibGuides has always been the ease of use for librarians, not the ease of use for patrons.  That being said, they’ve really listened to users and stepped up their game.  If you haven’t ordered your beta site for v2 yet, go ahead and do it.  It’s simple to use, and there’s a ton of documentation to help you get started.  You can even choose to import guides from your old site if you wish.  If you decide to use their CMS, you can create your entire site on LibGuides and even have a very non-guide looking homepage.  I give this new product two thumbs way up!

If LibGuides is out of your budget, you might consider trying out a free alternative such as SubjectsPlus.  Many libraries already use this product, and the guides look great.  The sites are responsive and user-friendly.   It was created by libraries for libraries, so you are just the audience they have in mind.  Give it a go!

No matter the type of library, there is bound to be a need for subject guides.  If traditional subject guides aren’t for your patrons or colleagues, think outside the box and try something new.  I hope to one day create a “behind the scenes” dashboard guide for our student workers to use.  Ideally, it will have training modules, schedules and contact information, as well as expected tasks or duties for each shift.  What innovative ideas do you have for using LibGuides or a similar product?

-Dee

Cas 1 – 0 Google Script

Cas 1 – 0 Google Script

Sometimes you have to step away from a problem to better be able to tackle it. I have been wrestling with my google apps script for weeks. After that last post, I put it away for a bit, but apparently not long enough. I had a goal: create a form using Google Apps Script that uploaded files and the recorded the information submitted. Seems simple enough.

It wasn’t.

But the difficulty was my fault, not the code. My brain didn’t formulate the problem the way I phrased it above. My brain had already decided how we were going to solve the problem. So I spent weeks playing with the code so that I had a form that uploaded a file to Google Drive, imported information into a Google Sheet, and sent an email that there was a new submission.

Are your eyes rolling yet? Continue reading “Cas 1 – 0 Google Script”

Professional Development on a Budget

Professional Development on a Budget

If you’re like me, opportunities to attend conferences and other professional development events are a pretty rare occurrence.  For one thing, I work at a very small, private institution.  I have a very odd job description (read: I have A LOT of responsibilities), including all “systems” activities, as well as all reference and instruction classes for the university, and the ever present “other duties as assigned.”  Also, if you read my February post, you’ll remember that my university, and subsequently my library, was heavily damaged when our campus sustained a direct hit from a tornado on January 21st of this year.  (We’re recovering quite well, by the way!)  So… for reasons beyond my control, it isn’t feasible for me to be away from the office.

Long story short: travel and spending isn’t an option right now, BUT I find other ways to make sure I’m working on professional development and growth.  One thing I really enjoy is finding free recorded webinars that I can complete on my own time.  You can find them on just about anything; topics include technical services, reference, information literacy, customer service, collection development, programming, and just about anything else.

Today, I thought I’d share just a few of my favorite resources for free webinars:

I think webinars sometimes get a bad rap, but I personally really enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to learn from others what they are doing in their own libraries and about up and coming trends in library land without breaking the budget.  Being able to complete them on my own time is well worth the wait for the recording, rather than attending in real time because I rarely get to begin and finish any task without interruption.  There are tons of resources out there beyond the ones I’ve provided, so don’t be afraid to get out there and Google your specific webinar needs.

Happy developing!
-Dee

Nightmare on GoogleApps Script

Nightmare on GoogleApps Script

If it isn’t obvious by now, I often take projects that force me to learn new things. This was not one of those times. As part of some committee work, I agreed to help build a form for member submissions to a social media platforms run by the organization (e.g. submit your twitter or blog post here!).

It seemed straight forward, until I realized Google Forms doesn’t have an upload option on the free version. Ok. So I went on to search other options. I found that many people used a combo of Google’s Drive and GoogleApps Script to code a Google Forms-esque upload form. I copied the code to my personal drive, and womp! It would not run, even in its initial iteration. I would just get a blank screen.

To be completely honest with everyone, I’m still not completely sure why the code would not work for me. I was sure it was an ID10-T user error, but after sending my sysadmin friend a video of what I was doing, he was stumped as well. It was working for him. He could run it with no issues, and it seemed like I was doing all the same things he was doing. After about an hour of tinkering, which left me with a deep desire to flip my desk, I closed the window to revisit later.

Later has not quite come yet; I started this project only four days ago. This post is a testament that using tech is never all success without complication. It’s completely ok to fail or hit a set-back. This is why you start things a month before they are due (take that procrastination brain). I’m jumping back into it today, hopefully. Expect a follow-up post once I get the code to submit, but for now, happy tinkering!

-Cas

Infographics

Infographics

Let’s talk about infographics!  Infographics are great way to get a message across with visual interest.  I especially like to use infographics when I teach library instruction classes.  I find that if I can give my students handouts highlighting the key points of our discussion, they pay more attention and are more interactive throughout the class.  I suspect this is because they aren’t frantically trying to write down everything I say.  I’ve also learned that it’s important how the information is presented.  When I first began teaching instruction classes, I gave my students WAY too much information.  Trust me, they aren’t going to read a packet full of library information.  They might even leave it sitting on the table when they leave.  (Ouch!)   However, they will almost always take a cool infographic with them.

If you’ve read my past posts, you probably know I’m a huge fan of Canva.  Canva is my “go to” when it comes to anything graphic design related.  It’s easy for me, a non-designer, to create a great looking graphic with this program.  Simply choose the infographic template option and start designing.

I’ll mention a couple more options for you if you’re ready to create your first infographic: Piktochart and Venngage.  Piktochart is specifically made for the design of infographics, meaning you can get a little more sophisticated with your layout than with Canva.  You can sign up for free and accomplish just about anything you’d like in a graphic.  Their support and tutorials are fantastic, and I can’t really tell you anything they haven’t already covered.  I suggest you just jump right in and get your feet wet.  Here’s a quick overview of their product.  Once you start playing around, you’ll notice the layout is very similar to Canva. Continue reading “Infographics”

Digital Trust

I just bought a new house. New house + new job = late blog post. For that, I’m TERRIBLY sorry. On the positive side, I had a very interesting conversation today, which has inspired this post. A gentleman named Jeffrey Ritter, a professor at Oxford and self-proclaimed digital information expert, came by my reference desk, as everyone does, looking for resources. While we talked about various things, the thing I thought would be great for this post was the idea of achieving digital trust.*

The idea centers around overcoming the initial skepticism around any new technology. How do you get business men to trust a fax of a signed document? How do you get lawyers and courts to accept e-signatures and e-filing? Obviously we have moved passed the skepticism on these issues, but emerging technology always faces that initial wall of skepticism before people will accept it as reliable.

This is different from Malcolm Gladwell‘s tipping point, which is more about predicting wide spread adoption than trust. However, achieving digital trust can necessary for a new innovation to pass the tipping point. I cannot say I know the answer or that I have a complete grasp on the issue. Our conversation was not that long or that in depth. What I can say is that I’m curious. I want to explore this idea. I want to learn more. I wanted to share this new, at least to me, topic of interest, because if you’re reading this blog, you might find it interesting as well.

What are your thoughts?

-Cas

*He wrote a book on this. I’m not writing this blog as a plug, so if you are interested, you can do a quick google search and look more into him and his book.

#CareyStrong

#CareyStrong

I’m going to deviate from our typical posts today to share something personal with our readers.

As many of you know, a string of devastating storms swept through the southeast a little over a week ago.  The beautiful campus and surrounding community where I work took a direct hit from an F3 tornado early Saturday morning, January 21st.  The damage is truly heartbreaking.  All buildings on William Carey University’s Hattiesburg, Mississippi campus sustained damage, many severe and some beyond repair.

It was very emotional to return to campus and see the damage in person.  It was even more emotional to clean my desk out in the library and start the salvage/preservation process with some of our special collections materials.  Thankfully, most of our collection will be salvaged.  There’s no doubt that William Carey will come back stronger and better.  Our university lost an entire campus to Hurricane Katrina, so unfortunately, this isn’t our first rodeo.  That being said, we have pretty strong disaster protocols in place.  However, we couldn’t do it alone.  I can’t thank our neighboring university (and my Alma mater!), the University of Southern Mississippi enough.  They have gone above and beyond to house our students, set up classrooms and labs, and provide library access.

While the immediate needs of our students have been met, financial assistance will be needed to help out with textbooks, computers, clothing, vehicle repair, and the like.  If you’re interested in helping our students and/or campus, please visit the William Carey University Office of Advancement donation page.

Also, please don’t forget our surrounding community.  This tornado tore an approximate 25-mile path through Hattiesburg and Petal, Mississippi, following close to the same path as an F4 tornado which devastated our area almost exactly four years ago.  Numerous families and businesses are suffering major damage for the second time.  Various relief efforts are listed in this article from the Clarion-Ledger.

#CareyStrong,
Dee