Sphero 2.0

I recently checked out a Sphero 2.0 from the UNT Library’s Factory, and I must say that it is one of the coolest pieces of technology I have ever played with.

For those that might not know what is, it is essentially a small white plastic ball, that you can drive/control through apps on your smart phone or tablet. Here is a picture of Sphero and it’s packaging:

Sphero 2.0 and packaging

Credit: sphero.com

The best way to experience Sphero before buying one is to see if your library, such as UNT’s, has one available to play with or check out, or you can also watch these videos created by the Sphero team:

After having checked this out and played with it, I am certainly purchasing one and encourage anyone with an interest in robotics, gaming, cool toys, coding, creating apps, or just wanting to have fun to also consider buying a Sphero.

(In addition to Sphero, the company has created an app controlled BB-8 from Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens and another app controlled robot called Ollie.)

This is not a paid endorsement in any way. I just love Sphero’s products.


UNT Faculty Success Writing Panel

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 saw the start of UNT‘s Spring 2016 semester. The campus was bustling with people, and all the faculty were back from winter break. The busy and productive mentality that comes with new beginnings was used today in the form of a faculty panel, put on by UNT’s Office of Faculty Success.

This panel, Productive Writing Strategies: How to Make the Most of Your Writing Talents, brought together some of the most prolific authors on campus to discuss their methods and share insight about their craft. The panel included Dr. Richard RogersDr. John IshiyamaDr. Victor Prybutok, and Dr. Bruce Bond. They all have hundreds of publications each and come from a variety of disciplines across campus. Below, I will try to distill their knowledge into pieces that will provide the most help to librarians who need to publish.

  • On time management
    • Schedule specific time to write everyday or every week
    • Turn down service opportunities in order to give yourself time to write
    • Know what you have to do and when it is due
    • Schedule your time based on deadlines
  • On the act of writing
    • Just start to write and put words on a page instead of only thinking about the project
    • You will write garbage in your first draft and that it OK because you will clean it up later
    • Have others read your work
    • If you have to stop, stop in the middle of sentences or thoughts so you can pick up where you left of and are not starting fresh
    • Take notes while you read or walk to get inspired
    • Don’t be a time-perfectionist, work when and where you can. Writing in solitude for a set amount of time will not usually work with a normal life and schedule
    • Don’t think of writing as a sequence (start, middle, end, next project). Have multiple projects going at once in various stages, so you can hop around as the mood or inspiration strikes.
    • Don’t assume the knowledge of your audience, but also don’t be too general. Explain your ideas fully.
    • State your purpose early on in a paper
    • Give both detail and synthesis, not just one or the other
    • Sell your writing from the start. Know how to write a good abstract
    • Write on a fun, new idea.
    • Write complex ideas simply and be artful in your writing. Find your own voice
  • On finding inspiration
    • Find a passion or get riled up about a topic and write on that
    • Tare ideas and things down. Look at everything and be skeptical
    • Find and enjoy little goals throughout the writing process. (Research done, article submitted, etc.)
    • Think of writing as an adventure. Going from blank page to submission should be exciting
    • Love the fact you are moving the discipline or an idea forward
  • On revision
    • “Revise toward wildness”
    • Ask your writing questions
    • Distill your idea from general to broad and narrow your writing as you revise
  • On rejection
    • When you receive a rejection, learn from it and know that not all of your ideas are great
    • Don’t ignore the revision suggestions, sometimes the same reviewers will review for multiple journals and know if you made their suggested changes
    • Submit to the best journal you know will give you feedback and then use that to re-submit or submit to other journals
  • Other ideas
    • Believe what you write will be published
    • Focus your ego toward your goal and not toward the words on the page
    • Top journals only want original content, don’t submit something  to them (in whole or in part) that you already submitted elsewhere

Commuting on a bike.

I have enjoyed biking all my life, but my current love of cycling was developed when I was a student employee at the UNT Media Library. Two of the staff members there were big into the local biking community and talking with them got me excited to regularly ride my bike again. I would go on bike rides in the evenings or on the weekends and I had a great time exploring on two wheels, but I never had the need to ride my bike unless it was just going out for fun. Also, due to the proximity of previous work and home, I could always walk and never needed to bike (even though I did most of the time, just because it was fun.)

However, when I got my new cataloging job at the UNT Libraries, I decided that I would revive my days at the UNT Media Library and make my commute to work on a bicycle. This seemed easy and straightforward, because my new work location was only about 3 miles away from home. When I drove there in a car for the first time, the route seemed easy, except that there is really only one road in and out of this location. Also, the area where I work is home to a Peterbilt truck plant, and at least five large manufacturing and distribution operations. This means that there are no shortage of large semi-trailer trucks on the single road to and from work and home.

This was initially unnerving because I would be on a tiny bike and having to share the road with 18-wheelers. However, I did not lose my conviction and decided that I should make a few trial runs before my initial start date. Early one Sunday I got up, hopped on my bike, and rode to work even though I would not be starting for a few more weeks. This ride proved much easier than I had thought, but it was a Sunday after all and the traffic is usually subdued on a Sunday. Therefore, I decided to put my want of a bike commute to the full test by riding to new-work one evening before I started during the 5ish o’clock rush hour. This was just as easy as the Sunday ride even though there were more cars and trucks on the road. They all gave me adequate room or slowed down as they passed, and never once did I feel like I would be run over.

I have been bike commuting to work ever since and it is still going great! On the rare occasion I have to drive my car to work (to either get to a meeting or somewhere else quickly) I always find myself wishing I could be on a bike. If you enjoy biking and ever find yourself able to safely commute via bike, I highly recommend it!

Biking/Bike Commuting Tips:

  • Wear a helmet!
  • Use lots of lights and reflectors so you can easily be seen.
  • Test your route to ensure safety and familiarity.
  • Have fun and enjoy the ride.

One Month

I have officially been at my new job for one month and it is going great!

Every morning I wake up and really want to go to work. I enjoy my bike commute, I enjoy all the things I do, I also enjoy all the people I work with.

So far, my job mainly consists of the following:

  • Adaptive Cataloging
    • (This process is specifically for physical books)
    • Editing pre-made records in OCLC to ensure they are up to UNT’s standards
    • Getting records checked my Lead Cataloger
    • Exporting those records to Sierra
    • Ensuring they transferred to Sierra correctly
    • Sending the book along for processing
  • Processing various types of DDA records
    • (DDA stands for Demand Driven Acquisition)
    • (These records are all eBooks)
    • Edit and Load DDA Discovery Records for items we do not own but may in the future
    • Edit DDA Purchased Records for items that were automatically purchased through the DDA process
    • I use MarcEdit to edit all of these files before uploading them into Sierra
  • Process Firm Orders
    • Download and Edit (using MarcEdit) the eBook records for items that have been purchased for use in the library
    • Notify patrons of activation when necessary
  • Edit/Update Retrospective ETDs
    • (ETD stands for Electronic Thesis and Dissertation)
    • This is an ongoing and collaborative project between the UNT Digital Library, the Toulouse Graduate School, and the Cataloging and Metadata Services Department.
    • The Digital Library digitized all hard copies of old Thesis and Dissertations and have put minimal records online
    • CMS Department expands the records and makes sure the records in Sierra are correct
    • (All current thesis and dissertations already come in electronic format, so the process is similar, but not as complex
  • Various other things
    • I attend trainings and meetings as required or needed

Soon I will start to learn everything about Authority Control and will eventually become the master of Authority Control since my job title is Catalog Management Librarian and therefore I will have to eventually manage the catalog.

SAGE Research Methods

I recently attended a training on the SAGE Research Methods online resource. This is a wonderful site from SAGE Publications that gives great details and articles relating to how to conduct research. This is an area that I did not have much experience with until I attended this training.

The idea of researching how to do research was an idea that I suppose sounded plausible, but coming from a background in English and history, I never needed to conduct any studies or research anything that involved others people.  But, from the start of this class I knew that I would love this resource in the context of my current career as an Academic Cataloging Librarian.

As a publishing house, SAGE puts out many different types of materials on many different topics. Two of their most popular publications are their Little Green Books and Little Blue Books. These publications focus on Quantitative and Qualitative Methodologies respectively. They also have larger textbook size volumes as well as articles on any topic of research methods you could wish. However, one of the best things about this resource are their case studies and data sets. The data in these two features are unique to SAGE and can help researchers both in seeing how the data was collected (for possible studies of their own), and it can also help researchers use the collected data for articles.

By far the best feature of the SAGE Research Methods resource is the Methods Map. This is a visual tool that will guide users, that may not know exactly what they’re looking for, toward a set to article/videos/books that only involve the topic they selected. In the screenshot below, you can see that the broad topic of Research Methods is on the left and little sub topics are on the right. This same format continues as users click on narrower and narrower topics until they find exactly what they are looking for.


Methods Map

If you are a member of the University of North Texas community or wish to come to the UNT Library, you can use this link to access the resource for free: http://iii.library.unt.edu/record=e1000942~S12.

However, if you are not part of UNT, please check with your local library or University to see if they subscribe to SAGE Research Methods.