Posted by: char booth | 30 April 2009

done and done.

I’m lousy with anticipation, so I am extremely relieved to write that a giant piece of my workload/ brain energy has been officially lifted as of today. ACRL just released Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University, a book-length research report I’ve been working on for quite some time.

The report is a detailed case study of the student environmental scanning project I spearheaded at OU in 2008 with the help of many colleagues (see my Acknowledgements for the long list of names). In addition to reporting our findings, I discuss the importance of gaining research-based insight into local user cultures in order to inform service development and mitigate the temptation to make potentially off-the-mark generational assumptions about who students are and how they use technology and libraries, complete with a chapter on the practical trials and travails of homegrown research. You can think of it as a quantitative corollary to the University of Rochester Studying Students project – quite different methods of investigation, similar depth of insight. It’s one part presentation of survey results, one part analysis of the academic library emerging technology and assessment cultures that have developed over the last few years, and one part bon voyage/ homage (bon vomage?) to my former employer. The OU Libraries manage to do incredibly innovative and effective work not only on a shoestring, but with an ever-important a sense of humor. It shows in many, many ways, and for this they deserve to be recognized and emulated.

Informing Innovation is available in several forms. Free downloads: the full document in PDF, another version packaged by separate chapters, and an updated and revised template library/technology survey instrument based on the one used in the original Ohio University study. For an introduction to and explanation of the scanning project itself, there is also a streaming dynamic webcast of my and Chris Guder’s 2009 ACRL presentation (no virtual conference login necessary) that summarizes survey findings and explores its practical applications at OU, voice and slides-style. You can also buy a hard copy of the report in book form from the ALA Store.

The template questionnaire is a core aspect of this project, and in addition to the separate download also appears as Appendix A in the full report document. This sample instrument has been pored and picked over by a series of qualified academics and/or librarians, meaning that it can with relative confidence provide the foundation of a sound and reliable survey (one of the more challenging aspects of conducting homegrown assessments). It is also enthusiastically Creative Commons licensed – I encourage people to share, hack, and adapt it at will to conduct similar environmental scans at the local level (and if you do, please tell me about it – charbooth at gmail dot com. I would love to know if anyone takes on similar projects at their own libraries.)

This endeavor has been a labor of (nerdcore) love (of statistics and libraries), and the wonderful folks at ACRL did me the service of allowing me to design the publication cover-to-cover – a giant shout out to Kathryn Deiss and Dawn Mueller for all their editorial help and patience during the process. I also received the honor of having my work both edited and foreworded by Joan Lippincott, an individual I admire greatly for her visionary perspective on technology, learning, and librarianship. Thanks also to Lia Friedman for her relentless collaborative assistance, among other things. Long story short, I’m so very happy to be able to sally this publication forth.

By way of explanation, the wholly unphotoshopped cover shot was taken last summer in Lamesa, Texas, on the drive out to California to start my new job at UC Berkeley. Words to live by, and no mistake.

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  1. Yay! Congrats!

  2. Char, thanks for the shout out and thanks for the amazing work! It is a great contribution to the field. And it happens to be my all-time favorite library publication cover!
    Take some time to celebrate this accompishment!

  3. Fantastic news–congratulations. Thank goodness for labors of nerdcore love. What would the rest of us do without them. I look forward to exploring!

    • three comments from three favorites. thanks, all.

  4. Didn’t I say last time I saw you (in a bus) You rock!

    • you did indeed. and like i always say, the only thing better than being on a bus full of librarians is when susan macicak happens to be there.

  5. Way to go, Char. Well done!

  6. Holy! I sure hope you’re bustin’ with pride, young lady, cause you deserve to be!

  7. Way to go, Cackalee!!!! this is very impressive!

    • thank you, mary! now the world knows another of my odd nicknames… i can’t wait for mogie and grandpa to bust out with “pistol” next.

  8. Congratulations! Can’t wait to read it. I hope I can buy you a drink when I come up next weekend!

    • most definitely. and thanks.

  9. Excellent. We’re ordering a copy today – can’t wait to read it!

    Katie Clark
    University of Rochester

    • awesome. interested to hear what you think…

  10. Congratulations! Caroline told me about this. I am super impressed – Way to go!

    • thanks, kim. i hope texas is treating you well.

  11. So proud of you!!!

    As Kim mentioned, Caroline informed us that Aunt Sissy was published – Very exciting for you!!!

    • again with the nicknames! thanks, missy.

  12. Congrats Char: this is very impressive! And I just loved the fact that I could get a free download and skim through it on the actual official release day. I look forward to reading it more carefully. Kudos, kudos, kudos!

    • janine! so nice to hear from you. come to the lauc thing at berkeley in october so we can catch up?

  13. I don’t understand any of it; I am old and retired and play a lot of golf and fish some, but am still very proud of you.

    • Thanks, Gary. The chapter on golf ended up on the chopping block, I’m afraid.

  14. […] information: Fra Char Booths blog Done and done Fra TameTheWeb: Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies […]

  15. […] Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University […]

  16. Bloody brilliant. I’m setting aside time to read it next week and looking forward to taking in the genius that is Char Booth.

    • candise! touched by an angel. re: “genius” – i woke myself up this morning by saying the word “carjonious” out loud. look it up.

  17. im sure i wont be the last to congratulate you on this fine, hard work. thank you for trusting me enough to read it twenty times over – the thing is, that i look forward to reading everything you write twenty times over and as long as you will have me, will be your champion, editor and friend. can’t wait for the next one.

    • thank you again, lia. all of the above, enthusiastically.

  18. […] talks to Char Booth, E-Learning Librarian at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University, a book length research report recently published by ACRL and available as a free […]

  19. […] have a bit of breathing/reading room, I’ve been getting more and more inquiries about the research report I published via ACRL in late April (and keep them coming, by all means). By way of further […]

  20. […] – switching jobs, moving from the woods of Appalachia to the jewel of Oakland, breaking bones, writing maniacally, and a number of other things that are a bit t.m.i. for this venue. Usually any of these would not […]

  21. […] two three. I recently gave three very similar presentations on Informing Innovation at two very different conferences, LAUC-B 2009 and Internet Librarian 2009. I’ve posted my […]

  22. […] and start communicating about the project in a space that produces conversation without cost. My first book was released as a free download, and although I cannot say the same in this instance I will at least […]

  23. […] Deep insight and broad strategic perspective (instead of easy, unquestioned assumptions) should guid…. […]

  24. […] we just ask them?” moment. Ellie had recently interviewed Char Booth about her research report, Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University …, which she felt was an especially good example of hard data about student technology use. Moreover, […]

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