Current Cites

February 2014

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Alison Cody, Peter Hirtle, Leo Robert Klein, Nancy Nyland, Roy Tennant

Bodemer, Brett B. "They CAN and They SHOULD: Undergraduates Providing Peer Reference and InstructionCollege & Research Libraries  75(2)(March 2014): 162-178. ( - This article provides an overview of how undergraduate students have been involved in providing research help as part of a formalized program run by their library. The author reviews several different case studies representing a variety of models, and stretching back to 1975. These overviews would provide a helpful start for those looking to develop such a program. Most of these programs focused on having students provide reference-type services, but the author's institution took it one step further, and trained students to assist with teaching information literacy sessions. The latter portion of the article details this program, and the ways in which it's been changed as a result of assessments and evaluations. While entrusting undergraduates with this type of work may be unthinkable to some librarians, it's worth a deeper conversation - particularly in smaller libraries where demand for instruction outstrips the available staff time. This article provides an excellent starting point for discussion. - AC

Foster, Nancy Fried. "Designing a New Academic Library from ScratchIthaka S+R Issue Brief  (February 2014)( - I found the title of this brief (four-pages of content) piece unfortunate, since it may deflect readers who mistakenly believe one must be preparing to build a new building to care about what this paper says. And that would be a serious mistake. It is basically a case for using a "participatory design" process when preparing to construct or remodel an academic library. Participatory design is the act of including the people in the design process for whom you are designing. Academic library design, Foster seems to say, is too important to be left to the usual crew of architects, administrators, and library directors. Rather, a deep understanding of the new kinds of resources and the ways that students and faculty are working with them is necessary to create spaces that will most thoroughly support those kinds of activities. For much more along these lines see Foster's CLIR report cited in this issue of Current Cites. - RT

Foster, Nancy Fried, editor. "Participatory Design in Academic Libraries, New Reports and FindingsCLIR Reports  (February 2014)( - The author is a trained anthropologist who has worked for libraries (and now Ithaka S+R) for many years, and is well known for applying anthropological techniques to better understand the needs of academic library users. This report is an edited collection "based on a series of presentations at the second CLIR Seminar on Participatory Design of Academic Libraries, held at the University of Rochester’s River Campus June 5-7, 2013." Those presentations and subsequent volume chapters report on a particular project undertaken by eight different institutions after staff attended a CLIR participatory design workshop. This is the second of two volumes in series, the first being Participatory Design in Academic Libraries Methods, Findings, and Implementations published by CLIR in October 2012. - RT

Johnson, Larry, Samantha  Adams Becker, and Victoria  Estrada, et. al.Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition  Austin, TX: New Media Consortium, February 2014.( - This is the 11th in a series of reports on technology in higher education where a panel of experts tries to identifies technologies that will have an impact on education in three different time horizons: 1-2 years, 3-5 years, and 5 or more years. Two trends are identified within each time horizon for each of the following areas: Key Trends Accelerating Higher Education Technology Adoption (e.g., growing ubiquity of social media, evolution of online learning), Significant Challenges Impeding Higher Education Technology Adoption (e.g., low digital fluency of faculty, competition from new models of education), and Important Developments in Educational Technology for Higher Education (e.g., flipped classroom, 3D printing). Anyone interested in the future of higher education would do well to spend some time with this report and consider the implications. - RT

McNeal, Michele L., and David  Newyear. "Introducing Chatbots in LibrariesLibrary Technology Reports  49(8)(November/December 2013): 5-10. ( - Libraries have always adapted available technology to serve their own purposes, and they began experimenting with chatbots about five years ago. Now that Siri and similar "personal assistant" agents are ubiquitously available on smartphones, library patrons should be comfortable having their questions answered by a disembodied, automated voice. This first chapter of a longer Library Technology Report, Streamlining Information Services Using Chatbots, reviews the benefits and drawbacks of automated reference service. The authors provide Web addresses where interested readers can go to test out a chatbot for themselves. Those who want to practice their German can visit the chatbots of German libraries, who seem to be the earliest adopters. Chatbots are a form of artificial intelligence (AI), and no one can talk about AI without mentioning the Turing test. Readers new to the subject may find that they can better tolerate those sometimes annoying CAPTCHA boxes by appreciating them as a Turing test called "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart." - NN

Soria, Krista M, Jan  Fransen, and Shane  Nackerud. "Stacks, Serials, Search Engines, and Students' Success: First-Year Undergraduate Students' Library Use, Academic Achievement, and Retention Journal of Academic Librarianship   (Corrected proof)( - Interesting look at those activities in an academic library which tend to predict first year student success. Does the fact that a first year student logs into a library database or checks out a book predict higher GPA or retention to the next year? The authors were interested in answering these questions while, at the same time, employing extremely robust statistical controls. In fact, much of the discussion is spent explaining the formulas and methods of their research. This way, while their research does suggest positive associations, they also provide a framework for other libraries to pursue and this is particularly valuable. - LRK

Stobo, Victoria, Ronan  Deazley, and Ian G  Anderson. Copyright & Risk: Scoping the Wellcome Digital Library   Glasgow: CREATe, December 2013.( - How can libraries digitize the 20th century, when most of the sources are protected by unjustifiably-long copyright terms? Seeking permission is not an option if one is dealing with archival materials, which may have thousands of known and unknown copyright owners. Risk management has been heralded as one viable approach, and now we have a detailed description of it in action. For its Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics project, the Wellcome Library sought to digitize books and archival materials from its collections as well as partner libraries in the UK and the US. This working paper from the CREATe center at the University of Glasgow describes the workflow and approaches followed by the Library. Its success, especially in making unpublished material accessible, is all the more remarkable since fair use in the UK is not as extensive as in the US whereas the provisions for data privacy are stronger. Any repository that is considering digitizing contemporary work could learn from the Wellcome's example. - PH