Posts in presentations

Free Primary Sources:,, and the Magic of Metadata Harvesters

This post is a summary of a presentation given at the 2015 ILAGO Summit in Hood River, Oregon.

DP.LA and have become my go-to tools for primary source materials. Metadata harvesters (this is the fancy name for the kind of tool that and are) are amazingly useful, fun to explore, and rely on open content and sharing in a way that warms my cold librarian heart. I gave a presentation on these tools at the ILAGO (Information Literacy Group of Oregon) Summit and I wanted to share it with you all. Here is my slide deck, followed by a brief synopsis for my fellow preferrers of text.

I have three goals for this talk. First, I want all of you to be able to go back to your libraries and share how rich, deep, and amazing the content available through metadata harvesters is. That’s the key point: metadata harvesters are really freaking cool. Once we’ve established that, I want you all to be able to explain to your coworkers what underlying technologies and standards are behind the magic of metadata harvesters. Finally, I want to close on the question of how to integrate metadata harvesters into our existing suites of tools for discovery and reference.

Metadata harvesters are really freaking cool.

Showing off the and is easy. It’s pretty easy to manipulate the interfaces and both tools do an adequate job of helping novice searchers. Let’s use an example to see how searching metadata harvesters work. Here’s the scenario: a student comes to the library with an assignment to find primary source materials on a historical figure represented in current popular culture. This student is interested in the Cercei Lannister character on HBO’s Game of Thrones series, so we are looking for primary sources about her historical inspiration Margaret of Anjou. Searching for Margaret of Anjou, including alternate spellings, returns quite a few interesting primary and secondary sources in My favorite is a letter she wrote using veiled language to threaten people who were molesting tenants under her protection. The ease of finding materials really shows off the power and usefulness of metadata harversters like and

Standards and technologies behind the magic

Turning to the underlying technology & standards that enable metadata harvesters to work, we’ll see that Dublin Core, XML, and RDF are foundational technologies. Metadata harvesters like and rely on dublin core and rdf to build standards. The key concept is that the metadata harvesters publish a standard that digital archives can use. Digital archives that wish to share their metadata must publish their metadata using these standards. Then this metadata will harvested and become discoverable. It is important to note that the digital objects themselves are not harvested and remain on the hosting archives’ servers.

Integrating metadata harvesters into our discovery tools

How we can make the amazing sources and resources that are discoverable through metadata harvesters available to our library users? At WSU Vancouver, we make them available through a Libguide. Reflecting on this, I’m starting to be concerned how free sources are largely segregated (made available to students in a different place) from the sources we pay to get access to. Are there strategies we can use to close this gap? It may also be useful to discuss the similarities between library discovery layers and metadata harvesters. Both can make use of the same underlying technology, OAI-PMH, but in my limited experience, the tool built on open standards and sharing is much more successful at providing discovery than the proprietary solutions.

ONLINE Northwest Conference & a step back from gaming

I just got back from the 2009 OLNW conference. I love this event. The people and content are always strong and the focus on technology in libraries makes it a very focused single-day event. This time, I did not present on games and learning in libraries and it was a nice change of pace. My colleague Lorena and I gave a little talk on teaching Zotero (a citation manager plugin for FireFox). I enjoyed our talk and working with Lorena (of course!). I recommend OLNW for any librarian who has a bit of the geek in their personality.

Anne-Marie & Rachel gave an interesting and personal talk about how Twitter & other social tech are influencing civic engagement. The conversation was interesting and engaging, plus I think the metaphors really worked. Next, I attended Anna Johnson’s  2, 4, 6, GREAT: Handouts they’ll appreciate. If it hadn’t been Anna, I don’t think the presentation title would have lured me in the door. That would have been a HUGE mistake. This was the high point of the conference content-wise. Anna combined Edward Tufte’s printed handout design methodologies with a ready-made workflow for a library’s instruction program. Chapeau, Anna, Chapeau. Next I attended a nice little bit on a collaboration at Clark College. Clark is our friendly neighbor and parter in educating Clark County students. I was a bit pre-occupied with my upcoming session, so what I really took away from this one is that I’m jealous of librarians who have faculty hungry for partnerships. The last event of the one-day conference was my presentation on Zotero w/ Lorena O’English. I’m pleased with how it went. I did forget to use my favorite metaphor and neglected to say “jiggery-pokery” but it did go fairly smoothly.

This is an insanely stessful and busy time for me at work. I’ve got my third-year review (part of the tenure process) pending and I’m presening three times in six weeks. This means that my gaming has been strickly limited to playing LOTRO w/ N. and mostly with mundane MMORPG tasks such as collecting resources and grinding my crafting skills higher. There is hope for some new blog content coming up, however. First, I have an idea to write about Alasdair MacIntyre’s virtue theory of ethics in relation to games. He uses chess to explain how virtue theory works, and I think most gamers would recognize what he’s talking about, even though he uses a different vocabulary. We often hear of politicians or business leaders “gaming the system” or following the letter of the rules to achieve ends that are outside the spirit of the rules. Gamers have a word for that, we call it an “exploit”, and in a good game it quickly leads to the exploit in question being “nerfed” or weakened to balance game-play. That is a conversation I’d like to explore further.

Also, Henry Jenkins mentioned a fork in game studies academics. He classifies us as either ludologists or finding a game’s central meaning in game-play mechanics or narratologists who find meaning in the story being unfolded/invented by the player(s). You’ll find this kind conversation every day on gaming blogs, but I find the application of labels to the taxonomy of gamers to be interesting.

Finally, I started playing Tomb Raider: Underworld this weekend. I bought the game a while ago on Steam, mainly because I’d never played a Lara Croft game and J.P. Gee has interesting things to say about some of the series. I’m really enjoying it, but I’m not sure how far I’ll go. I’m using an Xbox 360 controller and finding the control scheme and third-person viewpoint to be very different from the keyboard and mouse WASD control I’m used to. Still, it seems new and fresh to me and I’m sure I’ll have things I want to say about it after I play a bit further into the story.

A Portal to Student Learning: What instruction librarians can learn from video game design

My article on Portal and learning from game design has been published in the most recent issue of Reference Services Review. This was the paper I presented at the LOEX of the West 2008 conference and my first real attempt to connect the structures of video games and teaching or learning.

It is available to everyone from the WSU Research Exchange. The link to the article text may be found at the bottom right of the page.

Post LITA presentation video

The fine folks from the Lita Forum asked me a few questions on video after my presentation. I’m grateful that they managed to edit out much of my incoherence. I held it together quite well during the session, but afterward … well, not so much. I’m in the second half, if you care to look.

ACRL 2009: Seattle here were come!

My colleagues Serin, Carole and I had our presentation to ACRL 2009 accepted. I’m pretty excited, especially seeing as how national conferences are a real crap-shoot (gaming reference) and there are a LOT of quality ideas that don’t get the chance to be voiced at these. Well, we got lucky this time. Here is what we’ll be presenting:

We’re not playing around: Gaming literate librarians = information literate students

Concerned with reaching the newest generation of college students? Try increasing your gaming and new media literacy. Perhaps you’ve heard that new college students’ learning preferences have been influenced by playing video games, this presentation will present serious adult professionals with tips on increasing their new media literacy without sacrificing their dignity or academic rigor.

There is no denying that video games are all the buzz, but how just much attention should academic librarians pay to them? With all the competing demands on our time and attention, can we justify keeping up with what amounts to a frivolous pastime? We can, because good games are successful at teaching skills that we would like to see our students apply to information literacy. Librarians who understand how a well designed game engages and teaches students are better able to apply those lessons to their own instruction.

The key to isolating the pedagogically useful information in video games is to separate the underlying design and structure of games from their content. When we look beyond the admittedly childish content of many video games, we see that our students are learning how to think actively and critically while they play. They remain committed to the learning process and persistently build new skill sets to achieve success. Librarians striving to engage students in active and critical research processes can learn much from observing how games teach. This session will explain why games are important, draw connections between good video game design and good pedagogy, and present librarians with information and techniques for becoming literate in the new media.

The presentation will be framed for an audience not already familiar with history and culture that surround video games. We will open with an introduction to video games as a media and present the effect this media has had on the shared culture and learning preferences of college students. Next, we explore how good game designers teach their players. This will reveal both the learning preferences of the gamer generation and highlight innovative pedagogies we can adapt for our own instruction. Finally we will present practical tips for librarians to increase their gaming literacy and to use that literacy to engage their students in serious academic research.