I can’t believe next week will be my last week as a Scholars’ Commons intern! I am happy that the Zotero project has been completed, but the graduate project has morphed over the past few weeks. It began as a separate page on the library website, morphed into a possible LibGuide, and it now has been tucked away in order for us to address the overall structure of the Scholars’ Commons website. We found that addressing the information architecture to that landing page is the most crucial and time-sensitive matter. I will not be getting Drupal training until my second-to-last shift; so, I think there will be a few hours here and there that will be needed to get things done. With the library’s limited hours during the semester breaks, this may prove challenging; however, I am up for the challenge!
I have scheduled my final review with my supervisor on August 1. I will also begin working on my internship presentation!
I am a firm believer that most experiences have something to
teach you. Ranging from the mundane to
the profound, experiences provide opportunities to mine for nuggets of
knowledge. That being said, what kind of
learner would I be if I did not take writing these journal entries as an opportunity
for growth! I viewed creating this blog
as an opportunity to learn more about content management systems (in this case,
When I got to my landing page, I wanted to customize it a
bit. The nice thing about WordPress is
that little-to-no understanding of HTML/CSS is needed. In fact, I think the primary intended
audience are those without any web development understanding. I at times would get frustrated by the way
that text grouped into blocks and would switch to the code mode in order to better
control my content (in particular, the creation of bulleted or numbered lists). I also found that the site works better if
you type directly into a post as opposed to copying in text. That is not how I personally wanted to use
this site, as I wanted a backup document with all of my journal entries in case
something terrible went awry, but I can see why WordPress promotes this way of
For the design of my blog, I wanted it to be cheery and full
of pep. I used a preset layout but then
did some work with colors and images to jazz things up a bit. I also made sure to use tags and categorization
throughout my post for ease of search. I
am pretty happy with how things turned out in the end! It has metadata AND a pineapple… what more
can you want?
Today, I began moving on to my next project that considered
graduate student resources; however, my supervisor and I began to see that we
may need to consider the overall departmental page before creating a new
guide. Upon looking through our existing
landing page, I realized that I couldn’t answer a fairly simple question: what is the Scholars’ Commons? What is its mission? Its motivation?? The reason for its very existence? Addressing this overarching question helps us
better guide patrons to services.
This conversation got me thinking even deeper about the purpose
of a reference librarian, and I began exploring what kind of professional
resources exist for reference librarians.
I went to the American Library Association page, and I started looking
into the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) division. In addition to providing guiding principles
for evaluating resources, RUSA provides webinars and online courses related to
reference. Within the division, there
are also subgroups related to individual interests, including BRASS (Business
Reference and Services Section) and RSS (Reference Services Section). These sections often have their own
publications, events, and resources; so, helpful information is not lacking
within the RUSA division! I was able to
access the majority of these resources without logging into my ALA account and
will take a look through the site as I think more critically about the guiding
purpose of the Scholars’ Commons.
The main things that I am proud of in this new LibGuide:
condensing of information, including the removal of outdated features
reordering information, leading to an improved information architecture
better complying to ADA standards by applying alternative text to all images
the use of tabs to group information, leading to pages being less “scrolly” and more compact
Outside of just learning LibGuides (which was a huge goal for me!), there are two personal achievements:
I was able to take ownership or a project and make edits with minimal feedback. I had to trust my own academic training and time management to get this done.
I persevered through some major health challenges. I had major surgery 3 weeks ago and developed a terrible secondary infection afterward. I began to think that there was no way I could keep pushing forward (a full time job AND full time grad school AND an internship…what was I thinking?!?!?!?!?!). But I’m doing it! I can’t believe I only have two weeks left.
In these final two weeks, I am excited to move on to my next project: compiling library resources that will be shared system-wide with new graduate students to IUB. I may be creating another LibGuide for this next project, and I will take the lessons I have learned into that work.
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing, the Scholar’s Commons has a new exhibit set up in the West Tower. I was able to help select materials for this exhibit, and there are a few things I learned:
Locating visually interesting materials can be challenging.
To create a compelling display, I wanted to locate books of varying sizes, colors, and subjects; however, the IU Libraries typically remove the dust jacket for books in the Stacks. With the dust jacket removed, so many books have the same black cover. In collaboration with my co-workers, we tried to weed out having too many books with the same exact cover. We tried to keep those content-crucial books, but we filled out some of the rest of the collection with paperbacks.
Locating diverse materials can also be challenging.
Particularly with a subject that is so dominated by White, middle-to-upper-class men, it became challenging to bring diverse voices into the collection. Our team tried to locate materials about forgotten voices in the Apollo project (similar to the film Hidden Figures), but we also tried to expand beyond just historical data and explore the general topic of the moon and space. In doing so, we were able to locate some folklore collections around the moon, some international art pieces, and a couple novels that expanded the collection.
I’m back at work after surgery and am a) jumping right back
into my projects and b) thankful for the somewhat sedentary nature of
I have not yet finished my Zotero LibGuide, although it is coming along quite well! Today, I received some training related to my next project: creating a resource page for graduate students. Originally, we were thinking that this page would be housed on the library’s main page, but we are now considering putting this information into a LibGuide as well. I am a bit disappointed that I won’t get to learn Drupal, but I have already begun to consider things I would do differently with this new LibGuide. The two main things are:
Start from scratch.
With my Zotero LibGuide, I tried so hard to incorporate the information already on the page and, while this was helpful sometimes, most of the time, it was cumbersome. So much of the information was outdated, and trying to rearrange content within a LibGuide proved more difficult than I imagined. As the only existing LibGuide for new graduate students that I found is very outdated (possibly over 5 years old), I just want to scrap it and start anew
Continue to explore information architecture practices for LibGuides vs. web.
I have now talked with an IU Libraries web
experience professional and a LibGuides professional, and they definitely have
diverging opinions on best practices for the web. I am going to need to assess my audience a bit
more (and talk to my supervisor) to determine whose opinion reigns supreme for
this new LibGuide. I want to create
something of which I am proud; so, I also want to trust my own inclinations and
I have spent the past couple of days getting more hands-on experience with LibGuides, and I have officially rearranged the official IU guide! It is live! Woohoo!
I still need to do some content editing, but I’ve done a significant amount of information pruning already. The page now looks much cleaner. Even though I had several thoughts on the IA before getting started, once I got in and started playing around with rearranging pages, things began to feel like they more naturally belonged in other areas. I attribute this in part to me knowing Zotero on a much deeper level, but there is some intangible thing I cannot put my finger on as to why things just fall into more logical place when you are in the weeds.
I will be out of the office next week for surgery, but I’m hoping that coming in with fresh eyes the week after will help me see if the new edits I made were for good or ill. I will also begin work on Project 2 when I come back; so, let’s hope I heal well…and not just for project completion purposes!
I have talked quite a bit about the projects that I am doing
in my internship, but I have not delved into the front-facing aspect of my
internship. I work for several hours at
the Scholars’ Commons Reference Desk each week, and although the summer is slower
than during the academic year, I still face some challenging questions. What this portion of my internship has taught
me is just how much I enjoy the educational piece of librarianship. My favorite part of working the reference
desk is when I am able to teach someone how to find information. Just finding the appropriate places to search
can be a challenge, and then once someone is in the right place, employing the
best search strategies is something else entirely. I enjoy getting to explain how a trick like
conducting a Boolean search can help someone locate more relevant
This topic may wax philosophical, but I think one of the major issues in access we have today is not actually access itself. Instead, the issue is finding appropriate (and factual!) information. We can now easily type a query into Google and get a response, but this does not mean that the information is reliable. It may be biased, outdated, or blatantly incorrect, and basic information literacy training is important in helping someone navigate the information retrieval process. Teaching how to critically analyze information is something that I enjoy, which makes since with my significant work experience in higher education. I’m hopeful I can bring this love of learning into a future career!
Today, I went to a training on a
behind-the-scenes look at using LibGuides.
Having looked at the experience just from the front end so far, it was
interesting to learn more about the back-end features of the Springshare software. The software felt immediately familiar, with
editing features similar to other content management systems like
WordPress. Little-to-no actual web
programming knowledge is necessary to use LibGuides, even for more robust
features like embedding databases or image carousels.
One thing that I found particularly
interesting is how the LibGuides talk to each other. You can easily copy over the content from one
guide to another, even if you are not the owner of that guide. Creative Commons licensing takes sharing one
step further, allowing someone outside of your institution to use materials you
have published for non-commercial use. I
used this information to do a bit more research into other schools’ LibGuides
on Zotero. I still think I am moving in
the right direction with the information architecture overhaul that I had in
mind, but I may be able to copy over some of the content from other
Now that I understand a bit more about Zotero, I wanted to dig deeper and learn about other citation management software. In perusing many websites, including the comparison chart offered by IU Libraries, there seem to be 2 heavy hitters in the citation management scene: Zotero and EndNote. I have heard of EndNote before and, personally, am not a fan because a) it costs money and b) I find it less intuitive to use. I was unsure if other institutions used similar citation management software, and I wanted to explore this topic.
To research, I decided to look at information about citation management posted on main library websites for Big 10 institutions. I focused solely on citation software management systems for which the institution had published some kind of information and not just mentioned the software in passing. The following chart displays the results that I found:
It appears that EndNote and Zotero truly are king; however it
could be worth exploring solutions like Mendeley or Refworks. At least 3 institutions publish information
about Mendeley and/or Refworks on their sites, and understanding these citation
software management systems could be helpful in future research.