Monday, April 11, 2011

Cell Phones in the Library -- Cell Phones in the Stacks
“Hello? HELLO? HELLO? I CAN’T HEAR YOU VERY WELL. CAN YOU HEAR ME? … That’s better. Sorry about taking so long to pick up the phone. It was in my book bag, and I couldn’t find it…I’m at the library studying. Do you need something? … No. I don’t mind. Let me read this back to you to make sure I’ve got everything: a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, shoestrings, and crayons for Billy’s art project. Do you think the grocery store will have shoestrings and crayons? No? Does he really need the crayons tonight? Okay. I guess I’d better get off the phone so I can get to the store. Besides, the librarian keeps gesturing for me to lower my voice.”

As the technology becomes more popular, cell-phone usage in libraries is proliferating. And although a few patrons may be using their phones to access online library catalogs, most are using them for their primary purpose. Excessively loud cell-phone conversations, however, can disturb other library users and interrupt reference interviews, bibliographic instruction, or circulation services. Some cell phones even offer obtrusive music in lieu of the traditional ringing sound.

 So what can be done to preserve a quality library atmosphere and ensure that students can enjoy a quiet space in spite of widespread cell-phone usage? (There were nearly one billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide in 2001.) A number of options are available to librarians, ranging from the draconian to the relatively benign.

 The outright banning of cell phones is likely the least popular option among patrons, but it might be tempting to consider it. Although most libraries have reframed from this harsh step, some, such as the Iowa City Public Library, have pursued variations of this policy by hanging signs that ask patrons to turn off their cell-phone ringers.

Public schools in several states have enforced bans on cell phones since the 1990s, but in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, many lawmakers and school administrators are rethinking the value of cell phones during crisis situations. Policies are being rewritten and some banning laws are being abolished to ease parental concerns and promote students’ feelings of security. Trends such as these must be weighed by librarians when considering how to deal with cell phones. In addition, we must consider the potential resentment of patrons when a ban is enforced. This action could even be viewed as a barrier to library use–a result that no institution is likely to accept.
 Space for speaking

Designating library space for cell-phone use is an option, provided there is space available. Usually space is a valued commodity in library buildings, and management and staff must work together to find an appropriate area for cell phones. Depending on the size of the library, a space-utilization study, which includes a floor-layout diagram, a study of patron traffic-flow patterns, and customer surveys, may be needed. A diagram of each floor of the library provides a topographical view of the physical objects used by patrons and staff, and also gives the square footage by room to help decision-makers better understand the difficulties and costs involved with choosing one area for cell phones over another.

Determining traffic flow in the library will help identify which areas are heavily used as walkways and conversation areas. The goal would be to select an area already accepted as “a loud place.” Traffic-flow patterns can be developed primarily through observational data-gathering techniques. Customer surveys should be used to gain formal input from patrons about preferred cell-phone usage locations. This option requires more effort on the part of staff than simply banning cell phones; however, it is a compromise that could benefit everyone.

A new cell-phone technology known as “Quiet Calls” is under development to help cell-phone users in quiet environments. It allows them to prerecord messages like “I am not available now” or “I can’t talk right now; please call back at a specified time.” If the vibrating feature on the cell phone is activated and the ringer turned off, it is possible for a cell-phone user to listen to an incoming call without speaking. With this situation, the prerecorded message might say, `1 can’t talk right now, but I can listen.”
Another option involves “text messaging,” which sends a written message to would-be callers in lieu of the prerecorded message. However, both the sender and the receiver need to be using text-display cell phones, and many older models may not have this feature.

Quiet Calls may become a viable option for libraries to consider. Right now, however, most patrons will not be familiar with this new technology and may not understand library signs that say, “Only Quiet Call cellphone technology is permitted in the library,” necessitating handouts and brochures to explain the concept. The other drawback to Quiet Calls cell phones is cost: This technology will undoubtedly be expensive, and patrons who can’t afford it may view this type of library policy as discriminatory.
 Cordon off the quiet
Designating a quiet space in the library for cell-phone use is another option. The University of Illinois at Chicago has pursued this type of policy with what it deems “reasonable success.” According to Interim Associate University Librarian Jay Lambrecht, the UIC library has quiet study areas where cell phones and other “devices that ring or generate audible noises” are prohibited. Although some violations do occur, Lambrecht states that peer pressure keeps the infractions to a minimum; students wanting to study are adamant about their quiet space. Without this peer pressure, most academic libraries may find it difficult to enforce the policy of a “quiet” study area. Few academic libraries can afford security personnel in the library, leaving the enforcement to library staff members, who are not always eager to get involved. One solution, cited in the September 7, 2001, issue of Business Week, involves the installation of a “Faraday cage” into the walls and ceilings of quiet study areas.

The Faraday cage is a legal way of rendering radio signals ineffective and is currently being used by hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic to maintain the proper functioning of their patients’ medical equipment. The Federal Communications Commission imposes fines up to $11,000 on individuals or organizations who use electronic jamming devices to interfere with cell-phone transmissions, but the Faraday cage, which uses a metal mesh, is passive by design and is therefore perfectly legal. Moreover, it is inexpensive: In 2001, the material cost for the Faraday cage was listed at 35 cents a square foot. Libraries that use the Checkpoint security system to protect against theft would not want to pursue the Faraday cage because it would disable the security system’s radio-wave operation. Libraries using 3M’s magnetic security system would have little or no problem as long as the metal mesh was installed at least 15 feet away from the 3M entrance/exit gateway system.
Cell-phone use in libraries is a challenge for librarians wishing to provide a quiet environment for their patrons. Decision-makers should carefully consider all the options. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and combinations of two or more options may prove to be optimal. Indeed, the situation will likely vary from one institution to the next, so it will be difficult to develop a library policy that is fair, easy to enforce, and widely recognized. However, it is an issue that must be tackled to prevent users from learning more than they want to know about other peoples’ grocery lists, shoestrings, and crayons.

 *Cell Phones in the Stacks. By: Knecht, Michael, American Libraries, 00029769, Jun/Jul2003, Vol. 34, Issue 6 
It’s Time to Stop Partying and Start Studying
By Maisah B. Robinson, PhD.
In 5, 10, 20 years from now, what will you look back on and wish you’d done differently in college? What can you be doing right now to ensure you’re making the most out of your college experience? What minor adjustments or major changes can you make today to improve your college life? Whether you’re returning to school after a long break or heading to college straight from high school, learning to focus more on your study skills than on partying will ensure that you graduate from college and have more options for graduate school and a promising career.

An Associated Press analysis of government data on the 83 federally designated four-year HBCUs shows just 37 percent of their black students finish a degree within six years. The problem is that the black graduation rate remains well below the white graduation rate of 93 percent. Put another way, the rate at which blacks fail to graduate is almost twice as high as the rate for whites. Reasons for this low graduation rate can attributed a number of factors, such as financial difficulties. However, research indicates that many students drop out because they suffer from too much involvement in social activities, lack of motivation, inadequate preparation, and poor study skills.

A study released by the U.S. Department of Education reported that black undergraduates earned more Cs and Ds than any other ethnic group. Why do some students succeed? Why do others fail to achieve desired grades and why do they fail to be selected for jobs and careers of their dreams? Sometimes it is as simple as not spending enough time on the course material. While participating in social activities can be positive, spending more time on achieving good grades and learning the course material has greater overall benefits. A general rule of thumb for college classes is that you should study about 2 to 3 hours per week outside class for each unit of credit. Based on this rule of thumb, a student taking 15 credit hours should expect to spend 30 to 45 hours each week studying outside of class. Combined with time in class, this works out to a total of 45 to 60 hours spent on academic work. If you find that you are spending fewer hours than these guidelines suggest, you can improve your grades by studying more. Adopting the following basic, common sense strategies will enable you to get good grades.

Show up for class. This sounds like a no brainer but it is amazing how easy it can be to cut class in college. The responsibility is yours. Some people cut class because they have been partying all night and some because they did not get home from their job until late. Either way the results are the same. Try to get organized, attend classes and have a backup system in place to deal with emergencies that can throw you off balance.

Do the reading.  There is a myth that “Black people don’t read.” Unfortunately, this is true for some college students. In college you’re expected to develop a more in-depth understanding of the topics. Read around the subject. Get hold of supplementary texts (there is often a whole list of suggested reading at the end of each chapter). Consider subscribing to (or at least reading) magazines and journals (print and online) in the areas you’re studying. Find websites related to your studies and add them to your favorites list so you can refer to them regularly.

Pay attention. Another no brainer but it is truly shocking how many students spend an entire lecture talking to each other, huddled behind their laptops playing games and facebooking. Why are they there? Listening to what goes on in class is just as important as actually being there.
Find a note taking system that works for you. Laptops are great for not taking. Most people can type faster than they write and typed notes are easier to review than hand written ones. If a class usually follows the textbook fairly closely, you may want to take notes from the textbook first and then flesh them out in class.

Get organized, and manage your time. Your life will be so much easier if you devise a good filing system and keep all notes, study materials, handouts, assignment guidelines and class schedules easily accessible. Buy a good day planner to help you organize your time. You’ll find that you can more put off socializing and set aside the time you need for studies, if you know how it will help you to achieve your educational or career goals. Ask yourself:

Why are you in college?

What are your educational goals?

What are your career goals?

Develop good research skills. Knowing how to research can make the difference between spending an hour gathering useful information and spending ten hours gathering largely irrelevant information. Use your library resources (that includes the members of staff). Learn to use the Internet wisely. Talk to your professors about the best way to carry out research in their subject areas.

Improve your test taking skills. Last minute cramming really is the least effective way to study for a test. If you study consistently throughout the semester, then tests will be a time for review, not a time to sit down and learn the concepts for the first time. Make a note of tests early on and draw up a realistic schedule to work towards them. If you know other students who have taken the course you are taking, ask them about the tests and do not be afraid to ask your professors too.

You must recognize any diversions and distractions as the enemies to achieving your goals. If that means no more television, movies, dates, video games, or partying with friends until you get your education act together, then so be it. You must focus to prevent those distractions from causing you to fail. Two thousand years ago the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “A man’s character is his fate…the content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become.”

*Source: Black College Today, volume XV, Number 5, September/October 2009.
Social Networking, Grades and the College Library

Since 2004 there have been few research articles written on the subject of the use of Facebook (the social networking site)  and its application  by college students, specifically the use of Facebook in college  libraries.

On many college campuses the question to filter or not filter Facebook has been queried.  This reaction is possibly a result of the assumption that avid Facebook users would spend an inordinate amount of time on the site rather than focus on their academic assignments.  But, what is actually known?
We know that “…students often ‘browse’ Facebook while doing their assignments.” (Farkas, 2007).  Furthermore, even though a study ( Karpinski, 2007) was conducted on this very topic, the researcher did not find a conclusive link between Facebook use and poor academic performance.  Karpinsky’s research, however,  found that high GPA  students are non Facebook users and spend more time studying .  Thus, there is a connection between the two variables.  However,  the researcher states,
“…data was not enough to come to conclusive findings on Facebook and poor grades.  As this research is still very young those findings will have to come with more research in this area to establish any kind of pattern.”

Read more about these studies at:  (Study finds link between Facebook use, lower grades in college.  April 14, 2009)  (The Relationship Between Facebook Use and Grade Point Average. July 07, 2009)  (Study finds link between Facebook use, lower grades in college. Published: Monday, April 13, 2009 – 14:43 in Psychology & Sociology).

  MySpace, Facebook: A Tale of Two Cultures
The blogosphere is buzzing about a provocative June 24 essay by U.C. Berkeley researcher Danah Boyd suggesting that MySpace and Facebook users are dividing along race and class lines. Even as her timely ethnographic observations touch off debate among users and Web developers, they underscore a question businesses have been asking since MySpace first launched: Who really uses these sites and what are they doing there? What can businesses learn from the emerging information about growing audiences on MySpace and Facebook, the largest of the online social-networking sites? We took a look at current data to ascertain who’s doing what, where, and how.

One thing’s for sure: These networks — and questions — are big. According to comScore, 68 million unique users logged on to MySpace in the last month; 26 million to Facebook. On both networks, adults predominate, but on MySpace, half of the users are age 35 and older, while users age 18-24 make up only 17%. On Facebook, older users make up 40%, with college students [29%] being the next biggest group. MySpace users tilt toward the lower middle classes, Boyd says. ComScore reports that the three lowest income brackets are overrepresented there, whereas on Facebook, the opposite is true: There, the three highest income groups dominate.

 Identity and Fantasy

MySpace understandably has been defensive about these income and education differences. A spokesperson says that nearly a quarter [22%] of its users earn more than $100,000. She adds: “The actual numbers according to comScore show that MySpace has a larger percentage of graduate students than Facebook.”

One critical distinction between MySpace and Facebook is how users present themselves. Facebook originally flourished in college communities [it was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, then an undergraduate at Harvard], and students needed a “.edu” e-mail address to join the site. As a result, users stuck more closely to their real identities, and their online behavior in terms of manners and expectations tended to mirror their offline behavior. Although Facebook is now open to anyone, that tradition still holds. “On Facebook, you really have to be who you are, so it’s more controlled and polite,” says Jason Hirschhorn, president of Sling Media Entertainment Group, formerly head of digital media for MTV.

On MySpace, on the other hand, there is an understood degree of fantasy involved. Users reveal who they want to be, through their interests in music or movies, but people aren’t always who they say they are. Says Jeff Jarvis of popular media blog “Facebook brings elegant organization to real identities and communities people already have. MySpace is a gussied-up personal Web page, and it’s about new publishing forms and mediums.” If Facebook users are displaying their real-world relationships, MySpace users are self-promoters, concerned with making new connections through exaggerated, even fictionalized, personas.

 Different Purposes

Boyd’s research and the sites’ contrasting cultures suggest that although both networks are open to the public, they may not be direct competitors. “The press is saying MySpace is going out of business; everyone’s switching to Facebook,” says Boyd, but really, “they’re hitting different audiences.”
In truth, the same audiences are patronizing both networks — comScore reports a 64% overlap — but they are using the sites for different ends. MySpace helps users showcase their interests in music or film, find new artists to follow, and meet others with similar tastes. Facebook begins with relationships, rather than content, helping users keep in touch with friends from college or professional colleagues. “A lot of young users find that MySpace and Facebook can serve distinct functions in their lives,” says Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural studies professor at New York University. “Facebook and MySpace are achieving something close to an identity and a niche that can allow both of them to thrive.”

For businesses, then, both networks continue to merit investment for different reasons. For consumer-products companies targeting younger audiences or entertainment companies, MySpace seems like the obvious best bet. According to MySpace, entertainment giants Sony (SNE), 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros. (TWX) are among its top advertisers. “When it comes to discovering bands, promoting music, MySpace is still the place,” says Vaidhyanathan.

Attractive Minimalism

But Facebook’s minimalist approach to features can also be attractive to companies. While MySpace has its own media players and formats to which companies simply upload content, Facebook allows users and companies to build multimedia applications. Travel companies, such as, have built interactive maps allowing users to share vacation ideas. The Washington Post’s (WPO) Compass application allows users to share political beliefs. “Facebook is very Web 2.0,” says Hirschhorn. “It is the ‘unbrand’ and it allows users to pick the best features and companies to showcase their own brands.”

 Advertisers continue to pour their dollars into MySpace, where a more traditional banner-advertising approach still applies. Google (GOOG), for example, paid $900 million in August, 2006, for the right to put Google ads on the site. “Facebook’s been pretty limited to a niche market,” says Peter Gardiner, partner and chief marketing officer at advertising agency Deutsch (IPG). “But the audience is going to change dramatically,” now that membership is open to the general public.
 As these networks continue to evolve, the demographic divides noted by Boyd may give way to new distinctions. Our understanding of who the users are and how they use the sites is also on the rise as research companies are cropping up to help businesses measure and interpret online behavior. Now businesses need to turn that growing understanding into smart strategies for communicating with their customers.

*MySpace, Facebook: A Tale of Two Cultures. By: Atal, Maha, BusinessWeek Online, 7/3/2007 

 Checking Out The Impact of a Digital Trend on Academic Libraries

By: Charnigo, Laurie; Barnett-Ellis, Paula. Information Technology & Libraries, Mar2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1 

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have been mounting a battle in the war on slovenly attire. In an attempt to discourage images of “thug culture” on campus, Black colleges react to low point in fashion. They are cracking down on personal expression of students dressing in manners that are inappropriate. Some HBCU offers the following solutions to unsatisfactory dress problems:
·  Ban any shirt that exposes bare midriff or bare back along with undershirts customarily worn as undergarments.
·  Create rules forbidding male students from wearing women’s clothes, including dresses, tunics, and pumps.
·  Distribute “fashion cards” that illustrate what an institution believes students should wear. The card offer examples of casual and professional dress for both women and men.
·  Instruct students to hoist their trousers.
·  Set “business casual” standards and impose choices of $100 fine or go jogging early on Saturday mornings in cases if noncompliance.
·  Set up a free – clothes closet.
The administration, faculty, and staff of Benedict College encourage the student body to adhere to the following policy:

Student Dress Code
Students’ dress at Benedict College should reflect high standards of personal self-image so that each student may share in promoting a positive, healthy and safe atmosphere within the college community.
Students’ are expected to follow Benedict College dress code, which includes:

1.      Dress and grooming will be clean and in keeping with sanitary and safety requirements.
2.      All students must wear shoes, boots or other types of footwear made for outside wear.
3.      Dress and grooming will not disrupt the teaching/learning process or cause undue attention to an individual student.
4.      Class activities that present a concern for student safety may require the student to adjust hair and/or clothing during the class period, in the interest of maintaining safety standards.
5.      Additional dress regulations may be imposed upon students participating in certain extracurricular activities.
6.      Hats and/or other head coverings are not to be worn in buildings and DO-RAGS  shall not be worn outside dorm rooms by any student enrolled at any time.
7.      Shirts/tops must be worn at all times while in public or common areas of the College.
8.      Attire must not display obscene, profane, lewd, illegal or offensive images or words.
9.      Dress must be in good taste and appropriate for the occasion or setting.
10.  Pajamas, stocking caps, hair rollers and bedroom slippers shall not be worn while in public or in common area of the College.
11.  Clothing which allows undergarments to be visually observed is not permitted.  Sports bras and undergarments must be covered.
12.  Dresses, skirts or pants, which are slit more than six inches above the knee, are not permitted.
*See also:

* Excerpts from article: “Black Colleges React to Low Point in Fashion,” The Chronicle of Higher Education Volume LVI, Number 12, November 13, 2009.

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