francey's blog

Best spokesperson ever

I posted this on our Facebook page some time back, but I think it's worth putting up again to close out this year's National Library Week.

So true, so true.

Slam!

Why does all the good stuff happen when I'm gone? Last Friday, Ms. Atkinson organized a poetry slam during Uni Period. The well-attended session featured performances from four students, one teacher, and library staff member Paul K., who sang one of his original compositions. Many thanks to George Gunter, Sierra Maniates-Selvin, Sophia Carillo, Marshall Allston-Yeagle, Ms. Majerus, and Paul for sharing their talents. 

All agreed it was an event worth repeating.

More Uni Period musings

Usually it's controlled (or UNcontrolled) chaos in the library during Uni Period. Today, not so. The United For Uganda club leadership met in our main room for a Skype session with folks from Come, Let's Dance, a community development organization that has been working in and around Kampala, Uganda since 2006. Yes, they were Skyping with people in Uganda. In the PRESENT TENSE (sorry, I get kind of excited about these things).

Check out the handprint background! Club members said they would send a photo of themselves taken in the lounge in front of our own handprint background.

While all this was going on, I couldn't get to my desk. Since every other seat in the library was taken, a new batch of tardy duty "volunteers" were doing the black marker thing on our latest weeds. 

All in all, a pretty good Uni Period.

404 Day: NOT

On Friday, April 4th, the Electronic Freedom Foundationin partnership with the Center for Civic Media at MIT and the National Coalition Against Censorship, is marshalling forces for 404 Day: A Day of Action Against Censorship in Libraries. The focus of the day is a digital teach-in featuring some top researchers and librarians who will address the long-standing problem of Internet censorship in schools and public libraries. 

Here's the deal. To get federal funding assistance for Internet access, schools and libraries must be in compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act, which specifies "the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors.” The definition of “harmful to minors” only applies to certain types of pictures, images, and graphic image files—visual, not text-based depictions. The problem is that people (IT people, school administrators, school board members, etc.) WAY overinterpret the requirements and ALL SORTS of constitutionally protected speech is blocked, blocked, BLOCKED from view in schools and public libraries.

Can you tell I'm a little passionate about this topic?

So what about at Uni High? I assume you've figured out by now that we don't use any "technology protection measure" (Internet filtering software). Are we in violation of the law? Nope. Because we are part of the University of Illinois, we (very fortunately) do not need to accept federal funding to pay for Internet access. We also believe that - rather than limiting your access in the name of child protection - we're all better off teaching responsible and ethical use of information and communication technologies. Finally, our experience shows that our trust in you is not misplaced. You guys rock.

 

Baddest

It's that time of year in Computer Literacy 1 when we become philosophers and ethicists. We do this by discussing scenarios of Things That Really Happened, tweaked to protect both the innocent and the guilty. Today, in groups, students ranked the following scenarios in order of "Bad," "Badder," and "Baddest" (shades of good not being an option). 

Scenario 1

Roberta and Todd are the DJs for the next school dance. They download a bunch of music and create a huge playlist for the dance. Some of the songs are from big name groups and others are from new artists who are using the web to build an audience. Some of the download sites are maintained by people who upload music from their own CDs and music collections. Some are peer-to-peer sharing sites like BitTorrent. And some of the sites are “official” band sites, public domain music sharing services, or sites like iTunes.

Scenario 2

Suzy conducts an online popularity poll.  She asks “Who are the people you like most in the subfreshman class?  Who are the people you like least?”  A couple of names predominate on the “least liked” list.  Chad, who is one of those people, starts missing a lot of school.  His parents are puzzled because the doctor can find nothing physically wrong with him.  School officials warn them that Chad will be on academic probation if his attendance doesn’t improve.  

Scenario 3

Roger, Alfred, and Tim are good friends, but like lots of guys, they sometimes get into games of one-upsmanship. This time, it started when all three of them decided to run for student council. They all use Facebook to promote their campaigns. Roger hints at some things about Alfred that aren’t exactly true. Alfred gets back at Roger by going to a popular web forum and logging on with Tim’s name instead of his own. He posts Roger’s real telephone number on the forum, saying Roger was a girl looking for a date. When the phone calls started coming in, both Roger and Tim got in trouble. 

Here's how the vote went with our 5 groups (with a shout-out to Singer for snapping the photo and sending it to me):

See those .5 votes? A couple of groups were deadlocked and, though badgered, could not come to complete agreement. The surprise (for me, anyway) was that there was actual serious sentiment in favor of the true badness of Scenario 1, which rarely gets any sympathy from the troops. I figure it's because there was a ringer in that group - someone whose parents make their living as musicians, and - get this - are NOT multibillionaires. Go figure.

Happy spring break, everyone!

 

Library headphone CRISIS!

"Library headphone CRISIS!" was the subject line of an email Paul recently sent to students:

"Dear everyone—

Have you, yes YOU, borrowed library headphones or earbuds lately?  Have you noticed any headphones or earbuds abandoned in classrooms or common rooms around the school?

Well, the Library is sad, :-( , because as many as seven pairs of headphones have gone missing in action since Agora Days.  Yes, SEVEN! 

So, if you have library headphones accidentally stashed in your locker or bookbag, PLEASE BRING THEM BACK.  If you see them on a windowsill in a classroom or elsewhere, PLEASE BRING THEM BACK.  If you have a pair that you have broken and you are hiding them in shame, FESS UP* and BRING THEM BACK!

*When we say fess up, we just mean tell us THAT they're broken so the next person checking them out doesn't have to.

And finally, SRSLY PEOPLE:  If you've been borrowing library headphones or earbuds without signing them out properly, STOP DOING THAT.

Please and thank you."

And that seven number doesn't include the PILE of earbuds that have gone missing from our self-checkout drawer. Today Amy turned it up a notch by posting the following notice around school:

So the fact is, we've acquired a new batch of headphones and changed the checkout system to make it more accountable and, well, memorable, so as to encourage a higher return rate.  Change, Uni people, prepare yourselves for this CHANGE. For the good of ALL.

Book repair 101

It's always a little shocking (and irritating) when a new book arrives and needs mending before it can even go on the shelf. It's even more shocking when the subject of the book is design (um, #bookdesignfail). The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning is otherwise a lovely book, chock full of good ideas for how classroom environments can be designed to maximize learning. Luckily for us, Paul is a master book mender. Here's his description of the necessary repairs and some photos of the trickier bits (those arms belonging to George and Mary).

"The original glue on the spine of this brand new book had failed completely, so we carefully pulled the whole text block away from the cover and clipped it tight with two big binder clips. Next, we set the text block spine up and put a layer of glue directly on the spine. Then we put a layer of cheesecloth over the glue layer, with the glue still wet, and added a layer of glue on the outside of the cheesecloth. After that, the cheesecloth was left to dry and then trimmed neatly. The text block with its newly reinforced spine was then glued back into the cover and stored spine down overnight to dry. As a last step, front and back hinges were reinforced with plastic tape."

Glue goes on the spine

Glue goes on the cheesecloth

Cheesecloth awaits trimming

Okay, NOW it can go on the shelf!

To the rescue redux

They were here in October and now they're back! To help us weed our library collection, that is. This time we had seven graduate students from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science online Collection Development classes here for their on-campus weekend. They helped us identify around 220 (!!!) books that can go to the University Library's high density storage facility. 

In the 800s:

Buh-bye, 1952 edition of Great Books of the Western World. Now on to the 300s: 

Today's favorite find:

Follow ALL the adventures on Twitter, #lisw33d. Thanks, guys! 

Getting to be top dog in Google rankings

I can't resist sharing this infographic from HubSpot that shows the most significant changes Google has made to its search algorithm since 2003. A high Google ranking is super important for any site that wants to be seen (which is maybe why one of my students once remarked that the "invisible web" is the second page of Google results). Just to be clear, bajillions of clicks on a site won't propel the site to the first page of Google results. At all. On the other hand, Google has been looking at quality backlinks since forever. My favorite improvement to the algorithm was Panda, in February 2011 (take THAT, content farms and sites with high ad-to-content ratio). Still, nothing in this infographic about how Google tracks and bubbles you.

infographic google algorithm changes keyword seo

A couple more Agora photos

As thanks for Paul's loan of a couple of legacy manual typewriters, he received this lovely piece from the Mail Art class:

And students keep stepping up to help us process weeded materials. This morning's greeting: "I'm here to deface books." We are ever so grateful.

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