Monthly Archives: May 2011

E-Textbook Use in CIS 9000

As a larger-scale follow up to the e-textbook project with the PSY 1000 class in January 2011, we arranged for the use of an e-textbook in four sections of  CIS 9000 (Information Systems for Managers) in spring 2011 (n = 182).  We followed the same procedures as the PSY 1000 project: students were offered the option of downloading any and all formats of the textbook from the publisher’s site at no cost.   Students were asked to complete the same survey instrument that we used for PSY 1000.  Below are some preliminary data and a complete report will follow.  In the discussion of e-books at the last Tech Sharecase, I heard comments that students are not ready to use e-textbooks at Baruch.  The data from last January and this spring would seem to contradict a generalization on this issue.  There are incentives (e.g., financial) that will persuade students to use an e-textbook.  Once they use one, the great majority report that the format was at least a welcome supplement to print use and in a large number of cases it was an acceptable sole format for use.

Which of the following formats of your course textbook did you use? (Multiple responses allowed)

1. An e-book that I loaded onto my iPad, SonyReader, Entourage Edge, or Kno. = 16 (9%)

2. A PDF file that I read on my computer or laptop. = 103 (57%)

3.  An e-book that I loaded onto my Kindle. = 14 (8%)

4.  A group of Web pages that I accessed from my computer or laptop. = 47 (26%)

5.  None of the above. I only used a paper copy of the book that I bought from the publisher/bookstore or printed out by myself. = 19 (10%)

Did you print all or part of the textbook from the PDF version or from the web site?

Yes = 34%

No = 66%

Based on your experience with the e-textbook in this course, how interested are you in using an e-textbook in your other courses?

1.  I am now more interested in using an e-textbook in my courses. = 64%

2.  I am now less interested in using an e-textbook in my courses. = 8%

3.  My level of interest has not changed since I took this course. = 28%

The students’ written comments on the survey are especially helpful in understanding their perception of the role for e-textbooks at this time and how the library may facilitate the adoption of e-textbooks. More to follow.

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Tech Sharecase, 13 May 2011

Stephen Francoeur, Curtis Izen, Ellen Kaufman, Louise Klusek, Darryl Minor, Michael Waldman

bX Recommender Service
We watched this video from Ex Libris about the bX service, which CUNY has a trial for.
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One interesting reaction to the service that came up was that there is a disconnect between the label on the Find It button and the fact that when you get a SFX menu after clicking that Find It button, you not only see information about how to track down that article but you also get “more items like this” kind of recommendations about that article. Perhaps the Find It button we use should be relabeled to suggest in some way that it is also a “more like this” button.

Guest Logins
We talked about some of the issues with the guest login system, including the fact that the server for it needs to be rebooted too frequently (we often notice at the reference desk that the system is hung up and requires a call to the Help Desk to get it restarted). We also wondered if we’d be able to generate guest logins that last more than 24-hours at a time (perhaps a week, a month, or even a semester).

New Wireless Network
We talked about the new wireless network that is coming this summer. Devices with wireless cards can already detect signals from the new network but, since the system is still being tested right now, you are unanable to connect to it. Status of work on the new network can be found on a BCTC page dedicated to the upgrade.

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What Apps to Load onto iPads We Will Loan?

We are preparing to circulate 50 iPads and must decide which apps will be installed for Day 1.  We already know that the Baruch College app and the Newman Library Anthology of World Literature will be loaded.   (The Anthology is a collection of public domain e-books that correspond to titles that are used in courses at Baruch.)  I have reached out to students to find out what they are installing on their own iPads.  Bishop Mueller Library at Briar Cliff University has posted its selections.  The Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University has also shared its app list.

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Tech Sharecase, 15 April 2011

Stephen Francoeur, Ellen Kaufman, Louise Klusek, Jin Ma, Ryan Phillips

We checked out a number of library related videos created using the xtranormal service, which lets you create animations.

“Library School: Hurts So Good”

“My Rules for Using Law Library Reference”

Video Interviews of Baruch Professors
At the recent Baruch Teaching and Technology Conference, Keri Bertino from the Writing Center spoke about a project she’s undertaken with a peer tutor to interview Baruch faculty about what research looks like in their disciplines. The interviews are recorded and will eventually be available as videos. This teaser video gives a sense of what the content will be like in the final videos.

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Using Video to Evoke Critical Stances from Students
We talked about this news story from InsideHigherEd (“Calibrating Students’ B.S. Meters,”15 April 2011) that spotlights the work of librarians using videos in classrooms to engage students in critical thinking.

Mobile Library Websites
A recent blog post at iLibrarian featuring 7 ways to build a library website for mobile devices was discussed.

joli Cloud OS
Stephen showed his Dell Mini laptop that was running Joli OS instead of Windows. Joli is built on Ubuntu.

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A Search Box to End All Search Boxes

I’m intrigued by libraries that are trying to find creative ways to cut down on the number of places users have to go to search for information. First, we had federated search tools that sent out searches to a bunch of places and aggregated the results; now we’re seeing discovery layers (like Summon, Primo, EBSCO Discovery, WorldCat Local, VuFind, Project Blacklight, etc.) that aggregate content into a single index and offer search results more quickly than federated search typically can. Still, these new discovery layers may not be the ideal search tool for every silo the library owns or licenses.

Our students, trained by Google to look for a single search box to rule them all, are probably looking for unified search tools on our site. While discovery layers are great and all the rage now, it seems like some libraries have accepted that discovery layers may not be the ideal solution for searching all the silos or presenting results from those silos. If you take a look at what the libraries at North Carolina State University have done, you’ll see that the “Search All” box on the library home page presents results from different silos and spreads those results out on the search results page into different clusters. Check out what happens if you do a search there for “market share.” Notice the way that the articles are presented via the discovery tool (Summon), the books via the catalog, and other categories of content via other search tools:

This federated “search all” feature on the NCSU libraries web site actually pulls together a number of different search tools, which are explained more fully elsewhere on the site.

Librarians at the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor are at work now on a tool called Jamun that does something similar: it gives the user a single search box that will do a federated search across several different silos and present those results spread across the page in different categories. This project is being built using a Google Custom Search engine. You can learn more about it from the video recording the presentation about it at the recent Code4Lib North event and by checking out Mita Williams’ blog post about it (which includes an embedded slidecast) and Art Rhyno’s blog post from April.
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Making the Library Website Manageable

As we begin work on redesigning the library website, I’d like to put in my two cents for simplifying things. This quote from Aaron Schmidt‘s recent blog post at Walking Paper, “Library Websites Should Be Smaller,” nicely sums up the argument for me:

For years, I’ve heard talk about libraries cutting the cord on irrelevant services. Yet I haven’t heard as much discussion about which sacred web cows we can put out to pasture. This might in part be owing to the perception that a 200-page website isn’t more expensive to manage than a 50-page one. While probably true in terms of hosting fees, it isn’t otherwise true. Good content takes staff time to produce and arrange, and the navigational overhead can be a time expenditure for users.

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Redesign of the Library’s Web Site Begins

Greane Tree Technology is the successful bidder for the redesign project.  In advance of the first meeting with them, A. Downing held focus groups with students to gather data to inform the initial discussion.  Here are some of the findings:

What students already go to the web site to do (and we should make very simple to accomplish):

1. Find Books – Textbooks for courses and books recommended by instructors (i.e., known items), but also items that they are seeking on their own to support their class work.  Students do not think that we should give equal attention to other formats (DVDs, CDs, etc.) on the home page.  They also need to check the status of what they have found and perform functions such as renewal.  Students want an easy way to search for e-books.  It was also clear that they tend to believe that all e-books require an e-reader device that is apart from their laptop or desktop computer.  They want to know what books have been recommended by their peers (especially previous students in a course) more often than a librarian or instructor.

2.  Search Databases -They use only a small fraction of our total titles.  Federated search interests them greatly.

3.  They look for tutorials, but think of them as help sessions.  They look for help in areas that may not be associated directly with the library (e.g., Excel).

Other factors to keep in mind:

1.  Keep text to a minimum.  Whenever possible, use images and icons to convey information.  They do not linger on the home page long enough to read lists.

2.  Locate search boxes at the top of the home page.

3.  Locate library hours at the top of the home page.

4.  Place a reference chat button on pages where assistance may be required, such as at the results screen of a federated search.

5.  Arrange services by those most heavily used.  Order all lists by frequency of use or in some cases alphabetical.

Next Steps:

Greane Tree will supply a map of the current site so that we can make decisions about organization.  We will provide them with a description of how we intend to handle the functions in the current site that rely on custom code.  BCTC has identified superior substitutes.  We will give them access to a collection of images that we would like incorporated into the site.  We will identify the first 10 announcements (graphics with text) that will occupy the main slide show on the home page.


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