Everything, Grad School, Libraries

Thoughts: Social Networks

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

You could say I’m fairly connected. I use a variety of social media in my daily life. I have a Facebook, a Pinterest, an Instagram, a LinkedIn, and I operate Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest pages for several of my employers and organizations I volunteer for (I’ve added hyperlinks as an example).

I’m on Facebook the most, though I would say 90% of my posts are uploaded from Instagram. I use LinkedIn to connect to people I know professionally. I use Pinterest to plan crafts, displays, and to store good ideas (and yes, I actually found Pinterest helpful when planning my wedding).

However, even though I’m on a lot of social networks, I make a conscious effort not to use them too much, though they all are useful.

I check Facebook multiple times a day, I check Instagram a couple of times a day (and I post maaaaybe twice a week), I scroll through Pinterest a couple of times a week, and I check LinkedIn once a week.

Since social media is normally not a very private platform, I use it to highlight events in my life, to express some of my personality and opinions, and to promote things I care about.

Each social network is useful in its own way.

Below, I’ll list out the uses for two social networks I use: Facebook and LinkedIn.

Facebook – Facebook is really good for keeping track of friends whom I can’t see much because of our schedules or who live elsewhere (such as the friends I made while studying abroad). I mainly use Facebook to find articles; a lot of my friends share a lot of really interesting reads. I also use Facebook to interact with certain groups of people, such as the NaNoWriMo group for Indy. Lastly, I opt to have most of my blog posts share to Facebook automatically.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is good for keeping track of your professional accomplishments as well as those of others. I use it to connect with people I know from work and from classes. The idea of this social network is networking. We connect with people and present our best professional selves to them. We update our profiles, which contain professional images, examples of work, work history, and recommendations from others. It’s a social network where colleagues can congratulate each other on work-related milestones. Like with Facebook, I opt to have most of my blog posts share to LinkedIn automatically.

LinkedIn differs from Facebook in the type of content that is posted on each account. Facebook is mainly for personal information, such as the day-to-day goings-on in life. LinkedIn is reserved for work- and education-related content.

Value for Library and Information Science Professionals

Social media is a useful tool for libraries and other organizations. The IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI has a Facebook page where they share articles, events, information, and more. For example, they recently posted to upcoming graduates the following:

SOIC ExampleThis is a great medium for places to share information. However, Facebook has a “mysterious” algorithm that doesn’t always allow everyone to see your posts unless they visit your page specifically. So you’ll want really important information to be shared multiple times (Hootsuite is a great tool for planning posts in advance).

Facebook is also a great way to express the “personality” of your library. Some library Facebook pages are very professional and some feel very connected to their patrons online.

I use the library’s Facebook page to share library programs, community events, pictures from events and programs, upcoming happenings for the library system in general, closing information, new services (such as our new fax machine!), and occasionally articles.

We are in the process of building our Pinterest page, but we currently use it to highlight books and materials on display at the library, staff picks, and programs. We also have secret boards where myself and other staff members can save pins for display and craft ideas.

Our Twitter is the least-utilized of all of our social media accounts, but we occasionally use it to “live tweet” events currently happening.

Social media is a great tool for libraries to get in touch with their communities, to share events, to show patrons what goes on at the library, and to make the library seem less like a building and more like a place to be.

One last thing that I have noticed while operating social media accounts for a library is that it allows for patrons who can’t physically make it into the library (home-bound patrons) to connect with us on a social level.

I would highly recommend libraries and library professionals to become familiar with social media, as it is a great tool for them as professionals and their organizations.

Do you use social networks? What are your favorites? What don’t you like?

Everything, Grad School

Grad School: Experiences with MUVEs

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

My husband Daniel and I at the IUPUI Regatta dressed as Harry Potter characters.
Daniel and I

This post has two parts: a description of an experience using a MUVE and ways libraries could use MUVEs.

For this post, I have interviewed my husband, Daniel, who has lots and lots of experience gaming and playing MUVEs.

A MUVE is a “Multi-Universe Virtual Environment,” where you can interact with a virtual world and other people inside of the virtual world.

Fun Fact: Daniel works for a local theatre which is currently running a show called The Nether, in which characters interact in a virtual reality (think The Matrix) MUVE called The Hideaway.”

Daniel’s first experience with a MUVE was with the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMO) Anarchy Online way back between 1999 and 2000, when he was around 9-10 years old. This is long before World of Warcraft came out, which is usually people’s first introduction to MMOs. Anarchy Online came out around when EverQuest was the ultimate MMO.

Daniel’s dad (my father-in-law) had bought a one-month subscription for him and his sons to it because he found the idea of MMOs intriguing and there weren’t many things like it. When the game first released, it was massively buggy and basically unplayable. When Daniel’s dad bought it, most of the bugs had been worked out and it was finally starting to gain its virtual land legs.

This was Daniel’s first time where he actually got to make and design a character in a game. Most games in those days just had standard basic characters (basic wizard, basic warrior, standard military dude, etc.), but in Anarchy, Daniel really had control over the character, and he liked that he had more flexibility with it. He could choose to play a male character, or he could choose to make a female character if he wanted to.Anarchy Screenshot

Anarchy Online is a futuristic game, so Daniel also had the option to play an alien race if he wanted to. He spent a long time flipping through the different options he could play until he finally decided on one: Liadon, a female solitus (human). On the next screen, he also had a large choice as to what profession he wanted his character could be. Each profession had a description, so Daniel spent time reading through each one until he settled on the Adventurer profession, which sounded similar to a Ranger. Daniel figured he could get an animal companion based on the image of the sample Adventurer, but he later found out Adventurers could become animals.

With character creation complete, Liadon (Daniel’s character) was dropped into a futuristic junk yard. There was no quest, there were no windows that popped up and told him what to do, he was just dropped in. He just had to figure out what to do.

He noticed some robots that were walking around, and as he walked around, he found a little green oasis that had a little shop with a shopkeeper. Daniel spent a long time playing with the buttons and options to figure out what he could do. It was really, really, really confusing for him. Eventually, he learned how to attack things, and after he would kill things, he would collect loot to sell to the shopkeeper in return for better gear.

Later on, Daniel came in contact with another player named “Romulan2,” another solitus, who had been playing the game for some time before Daniel joined. He just sat down with Daniel for hours talking about the game, how to do different things, and then he showed him how to get to a big city. If it wasn’t for Romulan2, Daniel thinks he probably would have quit the game because he was so lost.

This was the first time Daniel was ever in an open world that was absolutely gigantic where you can go anywhere, do anything, and it was weird for him not to have a purpose or someone telling him what to do. He had to make his own adventure, and it was the sense of exploration that kept him going.

The game became more enjoyable when he started meeting other people, making connections with them, and started exploring things together.

Daniel became “pretty obsessed” with the game, and he played it almost every day for three years. Even to this day, he still logs on to play (and he has even shown me the ropes).

Daniel and his brothers eventually started fighting over who got to play the game, because back then, they didn’t have a computer and account for everyone.

Daniel has formed really good friendships and connections with the people in the game. Looking back on some of the times that he’s played, he says they’re some of his most fond memories of gaming.

MUVEs are great ways for kids and people who have social issues to communicate and work together in a safe environment. It allows people to step into a world where you can be yourself without really showing who you are.

MUVEs can be a new way to learn for a generation who has grown up with video games.

Libraries could use MUVEs in several different ways.

One way would include either being a game designer or employing them. Libraries could build MUVEs that center around books and the exploration of books. Rather than just reading a book, they could really walk around in and explore the world that the book takes place in.

Another idea could be that libraries could use MUVEs as teaching tools. Whether it’s teaching students to work together or about a specific topic, a MUVE could be built so students can explore those topics and work together.

A third idea is to form a group inside an existing MUVE, such as a book group, or just a group that goes around exploring together. People could either come into the library to play together, or they could play from home. Librarians could make themselves available in the MUVEs to be moderators and also leaders.

There are lots of ways libraries could incorporate MUVEs, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m currently reading book called Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age by Kurt Squire. I would highly recommend it.

Everything, Grad School

Grad School: Voki Introduction

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

Hi All!

As part of a class I’m taking this semester, I’ve had to create a Voki introduction to my blog. To view it, please click the link (I’m having issues embedding the video). I hope you enjoy!


Voki Screenshot

Everything, Grad School, Organization

Grad School: Event Organizing

Grad School: Event OrganizingEveryone has their own way of keeping track of upcoming events.

My husband didn’t use any sort of calendar, planner, agenda, etc. at all during his time at university. How he managed that, search me…

All truth be told, I didn’t even have a planner until around my junior year of university. But as I got more involved on campus, my brain suddenly lost its capacity to keep track of events, homework, meetings, classes, and more, so I found myself in need of a planner.

And just to be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a planner, nor is it always necessary. It’s not a sign of weakness by any means, and, for me, it helps relieve a lot of nerves and keeps me from panicking in the middle of the night about an event I may have missed.

As I am always interested to see how other people keep their lives organized, I thought I would share how I make sure I don’t miss an event or overbook myself.

Here’s how I keep track of my events:

– Google Calendar

Though it took me a long time to adopt, I find that Google Calendar is really convenient, especially because it’s synced to my iPhone’s calendar application.

Click here to see how I color-code my Google Calendar.

Google Calendar Example

– Physical Planner / Weekly & Monthly Agenda

The best way for me to be sure I remember something is to write it down. Filling in my Google Calendar is a good way for me to know what’s happening if my planner isn’t handy, but I always find I remember my schedule a lot easier if I write it down.

I currently have a Sugar Paper brand of planner, purchased at Target. In the past, my favorite planners have been from Blue Sky, also purchased at Target. However, when I went planner shopping this year, no Blue Sky planners were available, but my current planner works just fine.

This planner was thicker than I usually like my planners because of the large “Notes” section in the back. However, I have made it work by removing months as time goes on.

Sugar Paper 2015 Planner CoverFor the monthly section of my planner, I will usually assign repeated events (jobs, square dance lessons, Delta Zeta events, etc.) a shorthand code–such as “UL” for my work at the University Library–so I don’t have to keep writing a long phrase over and over.

April 2015 Monthly Planner

For the weekly part of my planner, I usually try to add any extra details, such as locations, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. Also, at the beginning of the school year, I will write down all test and homework due dates in the planner and update them as needed.
July 2015 Weekly Planner

– Mounted Wall Calendar

The calendar on my wall is laid out the same as in the monthly planner, but I like to keep it whether or not I write in it because it’s always good for an at-a-glance check during a phone call or when drafting an email.

And that’s how I try and keep my events organized. At some point, I’ll write about how I keep track of my homework assignments.

Next week, I’ll chat about a bag I take with me nearly everywhere, but until then, let me know what you think of my event-organizing system and what you do to keep track of your events!

Everything, Grad School, Organization

Grad School: Color-Coding

Grad SchoolIn the excitement leading up to starting graduate school, I’ll share a few posts about how I am currently organized / how I plan on being organized during grad school. Expect these posts each Tuesday for several weeks, and they will start off with “Grad School:” and will be categorized under “Grad School” and / or “Organization,” as well as “Everything,” as always.

I have never been one to color-code my notes, planner, study guides, etc. I can see how it works for other people, but it’s never been something I can stick to consistently. Color-coding just seems like a lot of work for something that doesn’t do much for me memory-wise.

The only thing that’s color-coded is my Google Calendar, and that’s mainly because it’s good for a quick overview (aka big blocks of color), and there’s usually no more than two or three types of events on there at a time (one for each job and one for extra activities, see below).

Google Calendar Example

Here’s how I color-code my Google Calendar:

– Job #1 = Dark Green / Default Color Option

– Job #2 = Light Grey

– Square Dance Lessons / Square Dances = Purple

– Big Brothers Big Sisters Meet-ups = Turquoise

– Delta Zeta Events = (what Google Calendar classifies as) Red

That’s about the extent of my color-coding. Everything on physical paper doesn’t get that sort of special treatment because it just doesn’t work for me.

However, what works for me might not work for you. You might LOVE and swear by color-coding everything. And that’s great! Do what works for you because that’s what matters in the end.

Next week, I’ll chat about how I keep my events organized beyond my Google Calendar. Until then, what works for you? Do you think color-coding is useful? If you do, how do you color-code your notes / events?


Physical Books Might Be Better For Students

While on Facebook earlier this week, I came across this article. It says that “our brains were not designed for reading, but have adapted and created new circuits to understand letters and texts. The brain reads by constructing a mental representation of the text based on the placement of the page in the book and the word on the page. The tactile experience of a book aids this process, from the thickness of the pages in your hands as you progress through the story to the placement of a word on the page.”

Basically, it confirms what I’ve always believed. I remember more when I read from a physical book.

Now I’m not completely against e-readers. But I think that being able to balance both electronic and paper reading is key. I have a Barnes and Noble Nook (which I LOVE), but I also read plenty of books on paper. Ebooks are definitely convenient (mine has a built in book light; hello late night road trips!), but I’ve found paper books are much better for remembering details, especially as a student. Whenever my professors would assign readings that are online, I would usually go to my university library to find a paper copy, or I would print the reading if I couldn’t find the book. Sometimes I would just suck it up and read it online, but like I said, my comprehension and memory of the material was definitely lower than it would have been if I just printed it out.

I know, it’s not good for the environment. However, I can’t let my education suffer because I want to save trees. I do try and recycle heavily, so I hope that makes up for some of it. I also try and use less paper by using my public and university libraries (whenever possible) rather than purchasing books. If I do purchase a book, it’s because I felt a major connection to it and I would love to reread it long into the future. Mainly, I use my Nook to reread books I love on long road trips or during an airplane ride and to read book series only available in ebook format (new authors, mainly).

As a student, ebooks might seem more practical, but I have no problem carrying one or two (or five) books with me everyday. My Education > Convenience. I learn best by reading from physical books. I make marks in them. I highlight important statements. I learn best by reading from physical books. 

The article thinks so too. “While e-readers try to recreate the sensation of turning pages and pagination, the screen is limited to one ephemeral virtual page. Surveys about the use of e-readers suggest that this affects a reader’s serendipity and sense of control. The inability to flip back to previous pages or control the text physically, either through making written notes or bending pages, limits one’s sensory experience and thus reduces long-term memory of the text.”

Of course everyone learns differently. Everyone has their own right to choose ebooks over physical books, but now science has given us one argument for the benefits physical books. Perhaps science will also tell us why ebooks might be better in other ways.

Read on.


Why Do Opinions Matter?

In my fairly brief lifetime, I’ve come across some fairly abysmal and horrifying opinions. I’ve been told to ignore the opinions that don’t align with mine, and I’ve also been told to listen to each opinion. I know people with who believe that listening to other opinions is akin to poison, but I’ve never understood why. To me, differing opinions can open doors to new and insightful conversation. And just because a new opinion is given audience, it doesn’t mean that the listener must agree with it…or else.

Also, the person giving the new opinion should be just as interested in your opinion as their own. Too many times have I seen arguments break out where it’s clear that only one person truly cares about listening to the other person. All too often, the other person just spouts their opinion in a way that makes it seem they didn’t even hear (or read) the other person’s comment. What is accomplished by this? It seems that these conversations just run around in circles. The people who don’t listen to other opinions could be missing out on a great learning opportunity. They could also be missing out on an opportunity to state their opinion in a way that will be beneficial to the listener.

At my university, I helped run a student organization that asked difficult questions to open discussion. Some of these discussions were written down publicly and anonymously (unless you were seen writing your comment, of course) and some of them were in person. The opinions represented were generally varied and made for an interesting conversation. However, we always had critics. They generally thought that we were either wasting our time (no change would come from the little people like us), or they expressed that talking about things only makes them worse. But I don’t think so. I think that discussion is necessary–especially on a university campus. Sometimes, the discussions were great examples of how to present an opinion and value that of the other person. That is what discussions should be like. Valued. They should never end with hard feelings, but they should get you and the other person thinking.

If everyone agreed on the same thing or if no one stood up for what they believed in (unless the world was perfect, but it isn’t now), the world would probably fall into some sort of scary dystopian bandwagon where differing opinions were few and far between. It would be easier for people to be taken advantage of, and intellectual growth would be slim. I’m not saying that’s going to happen (or is even realistic), but I do believe that opinions matter. More than that, I believe that the ability to not only have your opinion matters, but I believe that the ability to state and have a dialogue where both opinions are valued is essential.

But of course, this is just my opinion. I’m not an expert, and I would be hypocritical not to welcome discussion. So feel free to comment with your opinions.