Notes from ACRL-NEC 2011

Fairfield Library interactive gameACRL New England Chapter – Spring Conference
Creative Collaborations: Remake, Remix, Remodel
May 13, 2011 College of the Holy Cross

Morning Keynote
Mark P. Rice, Dean, School of Business, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Creativity/Innovation Frameworks

  • Creativity = Restructuring and escaping existing patterns
  • The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas
  • Struggle between what has been or is currently successful vs. changes that have to happen to keep the organization evolving

Brainstorming/Interactive Activity with the Audience

Greatest Innovations in Libraries in the last 10 years:

  • Social networking
  • Embedded access / blended and online learning
  • Media in the curriculum and the library
  • Mobile access to information
  • Digitization projects
  • Open access / alternative copyright like CC
  • Relevancy rankings, smarter search

Greatest Barriers to Innovation in Libraries today:

  • Lack of money
  • Lack of programming experience in the library
  • Information overload
  • Lack of standards of systems and data organization (systems not compatible)
  • Non-standard pricing for digital resources
  • No standard DRM/copyright control from publishers
  • Risk aversion/techno-fear
  • Old infrastructure
  • Inability to make our case/market our value
  • Lack of on-campus collaboration

Seven Challenges of Innovation

  1. Capturing Radical Innovation – recognizing opportunities (not just having ideas)
  2. Living with Chaos – managing uncertainty matrix; anticipating and addressing uncertainties
  3. Market Learning – what is the market for innovation for college and research libraries?  Senior Admin?  Faculty? Students?
  4. Business Model – how can we create a sustainable model that doesn’t require ongoing subsidy from outside the library?
  5. Resource Acquisition – Internal venture capital, grant funding, government funding, get other departments to share costs, set aside %5 of ops budget for innovation.
  6. Transition Management – Problems of turnover from the innovation/development folks to the standard ops folks.  How to resolve residual uncertainties during the rollout of a new product or service?
  7. Individuals and Infrastructure – Critical Importance of Leadership, Building the Radical Innovation Team, Radical Innovation Hub.  Supporting the people and creating an environment to support innovation and change.  Operations AND Strategies – Leaders spending a portion of their time dedicated to supporting innovation (and asking staff to spend some of their time on innovation).  Leaders are not just at the top of the organization; they are people who see opportunities and try new things.


  • Cross-functional teams work OK for incremental innovation.  Works well for low-risk situations where the path to success is relatively
  • For radical innovation, you need cross-functional people. Folks who can work in different environments, aggressive, risk takers, educated, innovative, etc.
  • In a library, have various innovation teams work with and learn from each other’s experience in innovating, making change, etc.
  • Libraries need to “Go Make it Happen”!

Breakout Session 1: Draper Publications and Videos: Using SharePoint to Showcase Library Collections

Wendy Austin, Draper Laboratory

Librarians at Draper are responsible for collections, access; SharePoint Support; Web Development and management of intranet portal content

Problems: Proprietary Catalog is not widely known by users, constrains rich archive, format for showcasing materials is clumsy, catalog is not full-text searchable

SP was adopted to showcase specific items to the broader Draper audience, expose collections that were not known; put the library collection into the new collaborative workspace SP offered

In creating the SP database, they didn’t want to duplicate the catalog record; used basic info (department, date, author, title) only has about 1/2 the info of the catalog record.

Personal note: Might be a good way to showcase videos and special lectures?  Will depend on how SP is rolled out on our campus later this year or early 2012.

Breakout Session 2: Designing and Implementing an Interactive, Multimedia Game for Information Literacy Instruction

Jessica McCullough, Sr Reference Librarian & Instruction Coordinator; Curtis Ferree, Electronic Resources Librarian, and Philip Bahr, Media Librarian, DiMenna-Nyselius Library, Fairfield University

Library Scene: Fairfield Edition

Components of the game include: introductory animated clip that introduces a student-need-learning scenario (how do we do this assignment).  Students in the clip are discussing library space, resources (study rooms, wifi access, etc).

Information Literacy program at Fairfield:
Fall Orientation covers building geography, services available in the library.  Based on previous experiences and feedback, library tours took too long and were boring.  Next step was to create a “choose your own adventure” movie.  Movie only had 2-3 year shellfire (students looked outdated, library home page and resources had changed in the interim).  For the third iteration of an orientation program, the library chose a video game format for an orientation exercise because gaming is ubiquitous, social, motivational and active (“active learning” components).

Game model based on “Scene It” (combination of quizzes and puzzles).  Library staff knew what learning objectives and content they wanted but didn’t know how to produce the game.  The previous “movie” tool had been created by Fairfield’s media center; media center agreed to create the new game.

Game development timeline was one summer (3 months).  Using animated characters meant that additional content could be developed later using the same ‘cast’.  The Fairfield Media Center did all the animation and programming. (I’m wondering how this could be done at our institution – perhaps with a combination of skills and time from our library comuting staff, student/faculty partnership in the animation and gaming courses.)

Challenges: Create a game that could be both collaborative and single-player.  Compromises for both formats were made in the final version.  Also needed to develop game-play options (short games, longer games, in-class games, faculty requests for what material would be covered – 4 modules).  Students compete in groups during in-class instruction sessions.

Evaluations have pointed to a successful project:  95% said that the game somewhat or substantially increased their knowledge of library services  (up 14% from the “movie” exercise previously used)

Tech specs:  Programming was in Flash, editing in Final Cut, incorporated animation into video footage shot in the library.

Game provides orientation/logistical content intentionally, could be expanded to include an introduction to database searching.  Answers in the game also include links to more information on the library website.

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