Not Your Normal Librarian

It’s been an amazing year at Briar Cliff. I started here in July 2010 as the Reference and Instruction Librarian, and in July 2011 became the Director of Educational Technology. This is due in large part to having a wonderful library director and incredibly good timing. A quick rundown of things that have happened over the past several months:

Fall 2010

  • the library started checking out iPads
  • started the casual discussion series Let’s Talk

Spring 2011

  • launched an iPad Pilot with 30 faculty member volunteers
  • trained Education and Nursing students in using WordPress as an online portfolio
  • created a task force for staff and faculty to start evaluating LMS alternatives to replace Angel

Summer 2011

  • trained 25 more faculty on the iPad

Fall 2011

  • deployed over 400 iPads to students
  • led a Faculty In-Service on technology training topics, with mini-sessions from our early adopter faculty members

A lot has happened in one short year. We have a new Reference and Instruction Librarian now who brings a whole wonderful set of mad skills into the mix. We have a coffee shop in the library’s lobby for the first time. The campus has switched to a semester calendar rather than terms, and we have students from the Writing Center doing their evening hours in the Library – which has been a goal for the library for a long time.

When I think about how much everyone has accomplished in the last 14 months, I am astounded. When I think about how much my own job has changed I’m downright dizzy.

This semester started out a little strange since Mark and I had to be out of the country when classes started. I’m also trying out a very different schedule: I’m working Mondays to Thursdays from about 10 am to 8 pm. “About” means I actually arrive much earlier but the upside to these long days is that I don’t come in at all on Fridays. I wanted to try out a schedule like this in hopes of being available for the widest range of people on campus. I set my “office hours” as 4pm to 8pm – a time when anyone with iPad or classroom tech questions can come find me and get some answers. The 4pm to 8pm window straddles the time from faculty getting out of their last classes to the evening students arriving for their night classes and the on-campus students start pouring into the library for their late night study time. If I had the stamina to stay up later, I would probably get far more questions between 9pm and midnight, but 8pm is already pushing my bedtime.

I have to admit, the evening hours have been more productive than I expected. I often have a regular stream of questions from both students and faculty, and when I don’t have a visitor I can get more catch-up work done because most staff and faculty go home by 6. Most of my daytime hours are spent answering questions on the phone, in email or going to people’s offices to show them how to do something. I love all this. It feels like That Thing I’m good at. But there is always more to do, too, and it’s very easy to feel very behind. I’m also seeing an unexpected benefit in having more morning hours at home. I’m starting to set a routine of waking up, writing for at least half an hour, reading some RSS articles and with the arrival of our brand new treadmill, I’m even able to squeeze in a work out, which I am absolutely ecstatic about. These things never happened after work even when I was leaving at 4:30. Typical work days leave me wiped out by the end of the day so why not make it the true end of the day? So far, being personally productive in the morning is far more successful than it ever was in the evening.

Next up – I want to set up some specific workshops (the persistent challenge – when will people come?) and find a way to reach out to more students. I’m hoping we can have a couple longer faculty workshops during the J-Term. In the spring it would be great if we could start beta testing a couple learning management system options and Google Apps.

The biggest change I want to make is creating a culture of ongoing professional development across the campus. One of the long workshops I would love to do would cover Getting Things Done and the most basic elements of project management wrapped up in a package to help employees with time management, productivity, and communication. That’s a huge goal and I have to keep reminding myself that it won’t happen with one workshop. I have to figure out a way to incorporate these elements a little bit at a time until they seem second nature. If you have some ideas, I’d love to hear about them!


iPad or iPod Touch Training Checklist

We are introducing a lot of people to the iPad at my library and many of these folks — probably most — have no experience with an iOS device.  This part of Iowa has no AT&T 3G reception so most folks are on Verizon or other carriers.  The checklist below gives folks who are old pros at iOS a nice reminder of the features that are not immediately intuitive to newbies.  (Heck, did you know that you can get back to the beginning of a long page just by tapping the time in the status bar at the top?)

I am sure I’ve left out important features so please feel free to leave additions in the comments.  I’ve left the wording very simple to just serve as memory joggers.


  • outside buttons – volume, rotation lock (iPad), power, home
  • speakers, microphone (iPad), headset jack

Basic Screen

  • top bar: wifi signal, time, battery status
  • dock, swipe screens, dots show screen number
  • hold icon to move apps around, move apps on dock


  • wifi, brightness (Auto Brightness is better for battery)
  • General — About, Sounds, Passcode

App: Safari

  • tap in address bar, use X to clear the field (type to get plenty of text & nice long screen to play with)
  • hover on a link to open in a new tab
  • changing tabs, closing tabs
  • click plus to add a bookmark, email a link
  • hover on a word to select, drag blue dots, copy
  • scroll down, then tap time in top bar to get back to top
  • zoom with fingers, double tap or pinch
  • press at the same time – power button on top and home button – to take a screenshot
  • (screenshots will be saved to “Photos” automatically)

App: Notes

  • tap to get keyboard
  • tap and hold for pop-up menu to paste
  • use magnifying glass to edit, drag to place cursor

Spotlight search

  • always the screen to the left of your 1st home screen
  • searches email, calendar, notes, apps
  • priority can be changed in Settings


Yesterday was a day full of surprises.  At the planning meeting, it turned out that we have 2 more people in the group than we planned on and leading the group around Chicago is still only sketchy.  Ugh. With budgets so tight right now, adding more people this late in the game makes things… well… interesting.

But the pleasant surprise was that our student intern flew through all the projects given to him and even finished early!  So now I’m hoping I have enough planned for him to do today.  Having another person here is going to be very helpful, especially during the Chinese visit.

Give me templates

As I get things ready for our new staff member’s orientation, I am realizing how very helpful it would be to have templates of a lot of our documents.  For example, when we need a schedule hand-out created we could just give the schedule template and the spreadsheet of event information and anyone in the office could then put together a hand-out that looks consistent with our other hand-outs.  But creating templates takes time and that is a precious commodity right now.

We’re also getting ready for a planning meeting this afternoon to wrap up the details on the China program.  Only a week away!

Prep prep prep

Yesterday I did prepping for this and that. Coral got our last minute questions ready for today’s meeting. I got projects prepped for the student intern, and I’m getting things organized to start working on the fall program once the China program is over. Of course, we could always do much more prep but there is only so much time.

How to communicate?

We interviewed the student intern today and this is going to work out great!  I’m trying to get an orientation outlined for Thursday when the student starts.  Lots to do between now and then and so little time!

Also got a request in email to advertise or announce applications for a couple library awards.  Which brings me back to a question I’ve been grappling with a lot — what is the best communication tool for us?  Our website does not get that much traffic and most of the traffic we do get is for the Associates application.  In Facebook, on the other hand, we have the Mortenson Center group with over 200 members now.  But if I post a link to the group for these announcements, will that go to people’s news feeds?  How do we know it will get seen?  Well we don’t.  No matter what tool we use.

I’m thinking about starting a Twitter account for the Center and creating a Facebook “persona” too.  Still exploring these options.

Back in the office

Back from my semi-vacation to find out we’re getting a student intern after all!  Exciting!  Drafting up a project plan for the 10 weeks the student will be with us and hoping the student won’t be too bored.

Getting things confirmed for the day with the City.  Got a couple more pieces of info for scheduling of the Fall Associates Program.

Vacation! Sort of

My Chinese class is done and I am out of the office all week!  Woo hoo!  ‘Course I’ll spending the whole time on packing boxes and applying for jobs but for some of us, that’s the best kind of vacation we can get.

Meetings about meetings

A lot of loose ends have been wrapped up this week.  We had a good meeting on Wednesday – figured out who’s driving where when and settled on a food provider for most of the meals.  Also have a great outline shaping up for the day with the City.  Sent out emails to all the speakers asking for their PowerPoint files since we’ll need the interpreters to look over them beforehand.

This afternoon a couple of us went over to the Levis Faculty Center to plan out the Opening — we’ll have the group photo outside by the fountain, or on the 2nd floor couches if weather is bad.  Social time will be on the 2nd floor patio, followed by Ceremony with the screen showing a slideshow.  Then downstairs for dinner.  Excellent, excellent.  I think this will work out much better for photos.

Early Birds

The program for the Chinese library directors is about three weeks away and we’re running up on the time when a lot of the details need to be settled and confirmed.  Invitations are getting sent out, speakers are double-checked, making our lists and checking them twice… at least.  Still waiting to hear exactly how many visitors we have in the program… at least ten, but maybe eleven?