Virtual Symposium

Everyone is doing fantastic things for their virtual symposium. Believe it or not I never did a PowerPoint. I thought this would be the perfect and safe place to try it out. I have a slide on my favorite saying,  what our assignments were, our new idea wall and our sign audit. With Michael’s last points and thoughts, I can always look back at this PowerPoint and refresh my energy, remember to be present, look to the students for what they need, make mistakes, but have fun.

HyperlinkedMOOC – Virtual Symposium


The Little Things

Amy Cavender a writer for ProfHacker had an article in the Chronicle today called Sometimes it’s the little things.  As we learned about engaging our students and paying attention to what they are thinking, doing, and learning, she had an opportunity to talk with a writer. He was trying to come up with natural sounding prose. Talking to our students you never know what you might say that would solve their problem. With Amy it was the suggestion to dictate the story instead of trying to come up with the perfect sentence. Having a conversation with our students could lead to the same kind of “light-bulb” moment.

Amy Cavender

Context Book – The Power of Habit


Freedom Sculpture in Philadelphia PA USA

I saw the above picture on Facebook. A person or spirit breaking free. It could be freedom from anything and I thought, wow, that goes great with the book I decided to read–The Power of Habit1 by Charles Duhigg.

What is the meaning of a “habit”? In the American Journal of Psychology (1903) it is defined in this way: “A habit, from the standpoint of psychology, is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”2 I get up every morning and put on my glasses without thinking about it. It’s a habit. Habits influence our every move. Smoking is one thing people have a hard time stopping.  They need help. Other people can, as Charles notes in his book, decide to stop and do it.3 His example is Lisa, who had a change in her perception. She set a new goal for herself to travel in 1 year. One drawback was smoking. She willed herself to stop smoking and established new habits of going to a gym, walking, jogging etc. In one year she was traveling, smoke free, and happy.

The book is divided into 3 parts. How habits emerge, habits of successful companies, and habits of society. The experiments are centered on the fact that we see, hear, or feel a “cue” that turns into a “routine” that gives us a “reward.” An example I liked was that the Cinnabon Company4 places their store in the middle of the malls, not by the food court. That way the cinnamon smell is not diluted with all the other food court smells. Shoppers will smell (cue) the cinnamon around a corner and stop (routine) for the bun (reward). 

A ‘keystone’ habit would be an athlete dressing the same way for every practice and game. He would create a mental recognition of dressing, muscle warm-up, going to court or field, and knowing exactly how he is going to play, even if there is a disturbance along the way, the athlete already considered how to handle it. It all started with the “keystone” of dressing.

Another example, the “gay rights organizations campaigning against homophobia in 1960 could not change legislature. Their goals were out of reach. Then in 1972 the American Library Association Task Force succeeded in having the Library of Congress reclassify the gay liberation movement from HQ71-471 to HQ 76.5.”5 It started to be OK to talk about homosexuality and gay rights. The gay organizations started fund raising. Politicians started noticing and passing laws (reward). All due to the fact they had a “cue” from the Library of Congress, and it became “routine” to hear about gay rights.

The example of Starbucks resembles libraries being customer service oriented. A spokesperson for Starbucks said “We’re in the people business to serve coffee. Our entire business model is based on fantastic customer service. Without that, we’re toast.” 6  Our circulation desk is at our front door. We wanted to make the students feel more welcome. We asked staff to start saying hello and smile to students at the circulation desk. There was grumbling. It will be too noisy to say hello, we’re too busy, and it’s hard to look up every time someone comes in. Those were some of the comments we heard.  We settled for staff to look up, smile and whisper hi. At first students didn’t notice. Slowly as time went by students would smile back. Some said hi. The door opens (cue)  staff started to say hi and smile first (routine). Students say hi or smile back. (reward). We might miss a few students, but it has started to become a habit.

Another interesting part was about the companies knowing too much information on their customers. We covered privacy issues in the MOOC, but this section was scary. Companies started hiring data miners.The data miners used courtesy reward cards and credit cards to give companies information on their customers. They now know:

Age, marital status, kids or not, what part of town you lived in, how long it took to drive to the sore, an estimate of how much money you earned, if you moved recently, what websites you visit, credit card you carried in your wallet, home & mobile phone, ethnicity, job history, magazines you read, if you ever declared bankruptcy, the year you bought or sold your home, if you went to college or graduate school and whether you prefer certain brands of coffee, toilet paper, cereal or applesauce.7

We all read this in articles and videos for the class, but somehow it seems much worse seeing it in writing. It will only get worse in the future says John Seely Brown in Social Life of Information, as referenced in one of our class videos.

From personal habits, to corporate companies and societies in general, it is amazing how much depends on finding a “cue” that will start or end habits. As librarians we need to be in touch with the students and faculty. See what they are doing, what devices do they use, when is it that they ask for help. But how can we know what is happening in our community if we don’t show an interest. We have to let the powers that be know we want to find the best way to help and engage our community. We can look for the student’s habits, and see if we can change a routine that will reward them.

The book is well worth reading and I have added some others from the class to my reading list as well.



1. Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business. New York:

2. Andrews, B. R. (1908). Habit. American Journal of Psychology, 14(2), 121-149.

3. Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business. The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business (pp. xiv) Random House.

4. Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business. The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business (pp. 50) Random House.

5. Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business. The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business (pp. 113) Random House.

6. Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business. The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business (pp. 141) Random House.

7. Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business. The power of habit why we DO what we do in life and business (pp. 181) Random House.


Week 7

In Michael’s talk this week we saw the comparison of how we divide our time on our devices. My time turns out to be more “me time” and very little shopping.   For our library, our medical students are aware of needing our collection and  access anywhere. A few years back it was a test and learn experience with EZ prozy. Students on rotation could sometimes access our resources and sometimes not. Finally, our IT dept. started contacting the different hospitals to let them know what our ports for Ez prozy were. The cooperation between us and the hospitals has worked out well. The students are happy.

I was interested in the Pew Internet mentioned during the MOOC and took another look at the information there. What were people using to look things up? What were they looking up? All most sounds like week 6, but anyway here are a few of the things I found.

In this article Tracking for Health it says that their tracking is often informal:

  • 49% of trackers say they keep track of progress “in their heads.”
  • 34% say they track the data on paper, like in a notebook or journal.
  • 21% say they use some form of technology to track their health data, such as a spreadsheet, website, app, or device.

but they also find that:

  • 46% of trackers say that this activity has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone for whom they provide care.
  • 40% of trackers say it has led them to ask a doctor new questions or to get a second opinion from another doctor.
  • 34% of trackers say it has affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition.

This is a list of some of the information people are looking for online.

Pew Internet: Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project:

The % of adult internet users who have looked online in the last 12 months for information about…
55    Specific disease or medical problem
43    Certain medical treatment or procedure
27    How to lose weight or how to control your weight
25    Health insurance, including private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid
19    Food safety or recalls
16    Drug safety or recalls
16    A drug you saw advertised
15    Medical test results
14    Caring for an aging relative or friend
12    Pregnancy and childbirth
11    How to reduce your health care costs
20    Any other health issue
72    at least one of the above topics

Back to the lecture, I thought it was interesting that the book by John Seely Brown, Social life of information was mentioned in relation to privacy. That by the year 2047 it will be inevitable that our information will be out there. A few things mentioned were the houses that would have wi-fi, augmented reality, and wearable tech. With the social connections of checking in, maps and 4 square, being used even more in the future, it makes me wonder how worrying about privacy will really matter. There will be so many things to keep track of it’s a little scary.

Our guest lecturer really hit the mobile road. To think he was there among the trees and lakes and then got a great shot of a Moose too. Thanks for that @janholmquistOne main theme was to use the right tools.  Jan’s point was to have knowledge of them so we could decide what tool we need to use and learn about.  . We take a look at toos, get the general idea but would not be able to demonstrate it. So if we think something is right for the library, learn it. Be curious, and make conversations. Thanks Jan for the beautiful surroundings of the lecture.






Week 6

I loved the quote by Samuel Green in 1876. Librarians – make people feel welcome – and personalize their service. Exactly what we have known, but are re-learning in this MOOC.

Aaron Schmidt had a lot of good points on user experience. That we’re not just customer service and to be more aware of our touchpoints.  Signs are a hassle and not really read; however, unless you walk through you wouldn’t know where the reading room or restrooms are located in our library. I don’t know how to improve that, but maybe it will come to me later.

Our website was recently re-designed and easier to use as in  the Benefits of less article. It could probably use some more stream lining in a few subject guides.3

In Learn by Asking by Josh Hadro we are told beware of “snug can make you smug.” Ask personal questions of your users. See what they enjoy doing. Our local library found out people would like to learn to play bridge and so now they have a group that meets a few times a month.

I miss understood the title Debunking User experience by Dean Schuster. Maybe that title was picked on purpose.  Instead of debunking he was explaining that we should know “why” a person does not understand how to log in. What is it that is not clear? We are used to taking short cuts, but we have to talk to the users and research them.

There were a lot of books mentioned this week that I wrote down with stars next to them to put on my reading list.

Well I’m trying to catch up. On to week 7.





Week 5

It’s been a long 4 weeks. Last night I had to rest my eyes and take a break.

I have to admit, @Michael and @Kyle ‘s video on cultivating a transparent library was not something I thought about too much when we weeded out our medical collection. Decisions like that were the Directors and catalogers. As staff we just did it. After my talk with the director I remember all the ways that we were transparent. Decisions made after doing a LibQual survey showed that we needed more student space. No being a research institution we could get rid of books that were not being used, were too old, or out of date even after just 5 years. Medical technology changes consistently in some areas. A plan was drawn up and submitted to theinstitutions strategic plan guide for the next year. It included time, money needed for new furniture, reorganization of stacks–well you get the picture.  We used Better World Books to dispose of our inventory.

Here I am two weeks later. Life happens. Getting back to week 5. . .

The article Turning ‘No” into “Yes” by Michael Casey and @Michael Stephens left me remembering all the things staff used to suggest, turned down, and now are alive and well in the medical library. Facebook finally got the ok a few years back.

The “Measuring progress” article brought back one of the first few weeks of the MOOC were I listened to a webinar on 3D printing and other “cool’ tools. Although it was not as expensive as I thought, I still do not seeing it as something our library would embrace. Not Yet anyway.  I realized as reading that I don’t really know too much about tracking hits and sues of statistical software so I signed up for google analytics course. I appreciate the comment on not getting too hung up on the comments count. I can see how that could happen.

I think the “Six More Signposts” should also be in week one or two. Even though it is a common theme.

All in all, listen and hear what is happening and being said in and around your library. Take action if possible. Keep learning.