People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Tag Archives: collaboration

Guttman Information Commons – A Student-Centered Library

At the recent New York Library Club annual meeting held in the New Community College (recently re-branded to the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College), we had the chance to check out their information commons.

Established in 2011, the community college is one of CUNY’s (City University of New York) first new community college in over 40 years. This college is taking a different pedagogical approach hoping to bolster the dismal community college graduation and success rates.

group table seating photocopier 
The information commons/library plays a major part in the school’s goals. With an emphasis on  access, the information commons is touted as a student-centered space complete with all the necessary technology, space and resources for student self-sufficiency and collaboration. In a presentation given by the chief librarian, we were informed that the information commons is very popular with the students. After seeing the space, it’s not too difficult to see why.

Hackspace Prototype in the Library

While on a recent trip to DC, I decided to check out the LibLab prototype.  The LibLab is based loosely on FanLab and is meant to be a “hackspace for knowledge”.

“LibLab has a modular design, with up to a dozen research and collaboration modules. Each module provides the tools and space needed to work on collaborative knowledge production, research, or learning and teaching.”

Admittedly, I was not very impressed when I finally saw it:

1.  On the wiki, it sounds very impressive and built my expectations overly high.

2.  The wiki description is a little incoherent and I’m not completely sure what exactly LibLab is.  It sounds like it’s trying to be everything.

3.  By calling it a “hackspace”, it implies that this is going to be very tech-centered, maybe beyond the comprehension of average people like me.

There are some redeeming qualities to the LibLab:

1.  The project is very loosely defined and flexible and seems open to suggestions from the public.

2.  The project emphasizes roundtable collaboration and community learning.

3.  Despite its seemingly intellectual intent, the LibLab does have workshops and modules meant to educate the general public.  On my visit I had the chance to see their Wikipedia workshop for the community.

All in all, the idea of LibLab is exciting.  The execution just needs some work.

Visit LibLab at the Martin Luther King Library in DC before it disappears at the end of December.

Our Top 10 Free Tools 2010

Here are our top 10 free tools (listed in no particular order) that we used this year:

  1. LinkedIn – A great tool to maintain and expand your professional network. Also, another place for job postings.
  2. Blogs: Blogger, WordPress – Blogging is a great way to share your thoughts and ideas. You can also use a blog to create your e-portfolio.
  3. PDFonline – Convert your Word documents to PDF. Size limitations.
  4. Google tools: Analytics – Track and analyze site visits, Calendar – Use it everyday or for specific events like conferences (unfortunately, many conference planners aren’t very user-friendly), Docs – work collaboratively on reports and presentations without the confusion of multiple versions, Sites – Quick and easy way to build a website. We used it to create our e-portfolios.
  5. Delicious – While the future of Delicious is unknown given the recent news, it is a great tool for bookmarking and accessing your favorite and/or useful sites.
  6. – Shorten a URL, share the link and track the clicks.
  7. Slideshare – Share your presentation slides online.
  8. Wikis: PBworks, Wetpaint – Useful for collaborative work, sharing of ideas and resources and project management. We used Wetpaint for HealthCampNYC. Lesson learned: some organizations block access to these sites. Also, Wetpaint had been acting funny. We’ve used PBworks for committee work.  
  9. Wordle – Create word clouds for presentations, reports, etc. Just dump in the text. 
  10. Meebo – Integrates all social networks and communications channels into a one-stop location that allows real time communication.

Last month at NYPL, we talked to the NY Librarians Meetup Group about how these tools can help your library career. We do presentations on a range of professional and career development topics. If you would like us to do a presentation for your group, please contact us.