August 2008


Although I had a vague, not quite sure where or when I had been introduced to it, understanding of learning styles, I was able to get a better grasp of this topic in Dr. Brown’s 5053 course. When I began to think about studying for comps this summer, I knew I wanted to incorporate what I had learned about my personal learning style and to expand on this knowledge by investigating particular techniques. At some point, I landed on Visual-Literacy.org and ended up using a few of the methods from the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods, particularly the concept visualization, for summarizing topics like copyright and organizational planning. I find visualization, learning styles, and the underlying mechanisms of the brain compelling. A favorite video of mine comes from a brain researcher who describes her experience of a stroke and the interplay between her right and left brains during the event. The video is one of many interesting presentations taped for the TED conferences that bring together “the most fascinating thinkers and doers” in technology, entertainment, and design. This digital collection can be browsed by themes, either visually or textually, title of talk, or speaker. It is also searchable. I wish I had more time to spend here…so many fascinating people and ideas…so little time.

Google Book Search has sparked some debate and legal action. The controversy generally centers on copyright, the burden of opting in/out, and the idea of a for-profit company controlling access to this information. On the other hand, libraries generally lack the resources to provide this service. And, originally GBS was providing the lending library a digital copy of each scanned book. Someone must have decided this might be the Achilles’ heel for GBS, as now those copies are held in escrow until the book enters public domain or under specific conditions where the library has received permission. Despite the issues surrounding GBS (which does contribute somewhat to its interest factor doesn’t it?), I have found this collection useful. I don’t generally start at the GBS web page, but I’ve wound up looking inside many books while performing a general Google search for information. In some cases, I’ve been searching on behalf of a friend or family member, and I like the ability to “see” inside the book before referring it. The collection is browseable and searchable (of course), features links like “find in a library” and “buy this book,” and allows users to review, rate, and add items to their own library.

Another collection I’ve been known to spend some time browsing is Marylaine Block’s Neat New Stuff I Found on the Net This Week. This one was recommended to me by my internship supervisor last semester (thanks, Ellen!), and it might be a bit of a stretch depending on one’s definition of collection. It’s perfect for when you want to see some diverse, interesting, reliable, and potentially useful ‘net territory without doing the driving. She’s a good chauffeur…

I will spare you any of the real but usual excuses for my lack of commitment to this blog. I can tell you that I have felt a fair share of guilt for leaving it out there, hanging, with no conclusion. It’s like that potted plant in my husband’s office that I forget to water; it continues to linger on despite my neglect, nodding its drooping leaves sadly at me when it enters my line of vision.

Fortunately, I have the opportunity to invest more time here as I am motivated to receive a good grade in my Digital Collections course (that might fall into the Maslow’s “esteem”-if you, like me, are trying to relate most information back to a possible comps related question and if you, like me, are thinking of theory-based techniques for leading and organizational problem-solving).

I’ve been working on a little collection of my own this summer, compiling objectives from core classes, mind-mapping recurring themes from classes and from ALA, reviewing information on the comps wiki, considering the LIS issues that are receiving coverage in the blogosphere, and noting the ideas of my professor and my classmates (like here, here, and here). I’ve selected these resources and organized them in various ways that I hope will improve my chances of long-term retention and facilitate my ability to think about them critically. In this process, as in others, I find it particularly interesting when a pattern or relationship emerges from what, at first, seems like distinct entities.

As I read Lee’s “What is a collection?” today, I thought about her reference to Buckland and the primary function of a library collection “to facilitate information seeking by providing its users with convenient access to information resources.” My collection performs this function: I have a physical bookshelf for required textbooks, I have convenient desktop access to a folder containing comps resources in various forms like PDFs and word documents, I have bookmarks for relevant web pages, and I have a reader for blog subscriptions. Further, as proposed by Lee, this collection is user-centered (created by me, for me), and in places, it points to or reaches out to other collections. In this context, I don’t have to worry so much about control or copyright (fair use), but I do have to worry about information overload. Even though I’ve limited the collection to the scope of probable comps content, I find myself struggling with the depth. Do I know enough about each topic to write an essay? Or, the opposite, am I focusing too much on the detail and missing the overall picture?