Thursday, October 16, 2014

Faculty In-Service Hours

The Darling Library will be open from 2:00PM to 11:00PM on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 for Faculty In-Service Day.

Regular Hours will resume
at 7:45am on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.


Today's Hours are always posted on the library's home page.

See a complete calendar of library hours at

Monday, October 13, 2014

Information Therapy: Supply and Demand

Early in the MLIS program I was introduced to the concept of thinking about information in economic terms. The first law of supply and demand economics, says that if demand increases for a given commodity and its supply remains unchanged, a shortage occurs, leading to a higher price for that product.

Word cloud created with Wordle.
Information is a tricky commodity because you can sell it or give it away and still possess it. And as we all know, in today’s society it is plentiful. In the information economy the really valuable commodity is our attention. Demand increases for it every day but our supply remains unchanged. No matter how well we think we can multi-task, our ability to absorb information has its limits.

About 12-13 years ago I heard about a study that found the average amount of information crossing the desk of an administrative assistant in a typical day would take at least eight hours to read – without a bathroom break. I have not been able to find that study to verify the data, but I believe that if we actually spent time reading everything – email, printed brochures, interoffice memos, letters, bills, etc. that comes our way in a typical workday we would get nothing done. And that doesn’t take into account phone calls, voice messages, texts, scheduled meetings, and other face-to-face conversations.

So what do we do about it?

Our brains find ways to cope – but not always positively. In the process we can create a cluttered work environment for ourselves. Case in point: When I have already used up a lot of attention I have been known to simply close a document, click Save (hopefully,) and agree to whatever filename and location the program suggests. Consequently, I don’t know where the work went, I might end up doing the same work again later, and I now have multiple files named “Book 1.xls” in a number of different subfolders.

Last month I read an article in AARP Magazine, in which professional organizer, Barbara Reich, describes how she works with clients to “declutter” their lives. She says, “Clutter is stress: It nags at you, drags you down psychologically, slows you down physically.”(1)

It spoke to me on several levels.

Reich encourages people to downsize, simplify, and minimize the amount of stuff they have in their homes. Given the frequency of complaints I hear from colleagues, students, friends, family, and strangers about how hard it is to "keep track of everything," I believe this applies to digital clutter as well.

Consider how easy it is to save multiple copies of virtually the same document with slight filename variations. Now imagine having 10 blenders in your kitchen. They each have unique capabilities but which one is perfect for today’s breakfast smoothie? I don’t have enough counter space for more than one at a time, but I had two in my cupboard until this week. (As I was packing to move, I was inspired to simplify and now only have one.)

In the virtual world, it is much easier to have the equivalent of 10 (or more) blenders hidden away in the cupboard. Digital storage space seems nearly infinite and it seems impossible to run out of room. But this freedom to proliferate allows us to create immense haystacks in which to hide needles from ourselves.

Last week Information Systems replaced my office computer with a new PC. In preparation, I moved files from my local hard drive to a safe temporary location to be transferred to my new computer later. I did not take the time to figure out what was important and what was not. I was being a good steward of my time by saving everything.

This brings me back to the professional organizer's advice about physical clutter,

’It takes 20 to 30 hours to organize a house. If you think you’re going to spend five minutes here and there, it will be undone in a minute.’ Instead, put a few hours on your calendar, she says, and honor the commitment the way you would a doctor’s appointment. Then, play some music, enlist a friend to help, pour some wine—whatever works so you get cracking. Sort things into three piles—keep, toss and donate—and tackle what makes you most bonkers first. ‘After that,’ Reich says, ‘your anxiety level will drop exponentially and it’s amazing how motivated you are to keep going.’

Can we apply this to our office spaces, desktops, file drawers, email inboxes, and computer files?

Even when forced to, I can testify that it is easier said than done. It was fairly quick and easy to move all of my files from my old hard drive files to a new folder without much thought. I can sort it out later. The clutter remains.

At home, it is tempting to box everything up and likewise transport my clutter to the new home. But it is an opportune time to make some hard decisions, clear the deck, and resolve to keep things under control hereafter. The "hereafter" will require a change in lifestyle to go along with my change in venue. We shall see.

Addressing the virtual clutter on my computer is harder mental work. It is more complicated to analyze the value of information than the virtues of different blender options. And, of course, the files on my computer are just a small percentage of the information for which I feel I must give attention.

The challenge is to put my short supply of attention to use on the things that are of value to me. This requires giving time and attention to values clarification.

Whether I like it or not, information therapy takes time and attention.

(1) Dunn, Jancee. “Declutter Your Life – Now!” AARP Magazine (August/September 2014) pp. 38-47. Vol. 57, No. 5A (Digital version:

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Books for Bible Students

The library often receives book donations. The most frequent donors are retired ministers. When they retire, they downsize their personal and professional libraries and since they loved these books throughout their ministry, they look to pass them on to future ministers. What better way to do that than to support the local Christian University library which serves ministers in training?

It is my job to evaluate donations for possible addition to the library. As you might guess, we receive numerous duplicates of classics, reference works, and popular writings. We can't keep them all so we pass them on to Better World Books to sell for us on consignment. They can be purchased at a low cost by those who want personal copies and the library receives a modest income from the sales.

Over the past month or so an adjunct professor at Hope, Bob Mink, who is preaching his last sermon at Discovery Christian Church in Moreno Valley this coming Sunday, has been bringing in his library a few boxes at a time. From the looks of it, he has not only read these books, but has actively interacted with them. I have not met him, but I feel the love he has had for these books and how difficult it must be to part with them.

The current Christian Standard in the library.
Coincidentally, the October 2014 issue of the Christian Standard magazine has an article in which Pastor Mink has written a section called, "Four Books for Gospels Students." It also accessible online. I recommend reading the full article called, "Books for Bible Students: Seven Scholars Recommend the Must-Have Volumes for your Library," available in print at the Darling Library.

We truly appreciate these men and women passing their passion for reading in preparation for ministry to the next generation.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Information Therapy: Decluttering for Mental Health and Personal Productivity

I recently had a disappointing exchange with one of our graduate students. She had been calling the library nearly every day (sometimes more than once a day) eventually talking to everyone who had ever been on duty. After talking to her a few times myself, I asked her to come in with her laptop so we could talk face-to-face. Everyone has different learning styles and I thought it might help to have us work side-by-side using her personal computer.

When she came in and got connected to the library’s Wifi it became apparent that her problem had more to do with poor information management practices than technical skill or library competency. That is, she was disorganized.

Librarians learn reference interview techniques to help patrons identify and articulate their real information needs. It is common for people to start asking for help with one thing and then discover that what they really need to accomplish is something else entirely.

Before becoming a librarian I worked as a social worker in the juvenile justice system and with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. In both fields, I had been trained in "advanced interviewing skills" to get people to reveal information that they hadn’t necessarily planned to expose. Teenagers going through legal troubles and their families often had things to hide from well-meaning social workers. Potential "Big" brothers and sisters need to be carefully screened before matching them with a vulnerable young person. This kind of interview requires keen observation and listening skills as well as the ability to ask direct questions in a non-threatening manner. Then, sometimes, harsh decisions or directions have to be communicated. I have had to tell people that they have to do something I knew would be hard for them or that they could not continue doing a certain activity if they wanted to succeed.

This is what happened with this student. After an hour of working with her re-focusing her attention and drawing pictures to demonstrate visually the difference between two different library related accounts - admitting that this was, in fact, confusing - I told her that when she calls the library from now on, she should talk only to me so we can continue to build on the progress we made in my office. I would instruct the rest of the library staff to transfer her to me to avoid giving her the run-around and to save time. I could tell she was very discouraged. Although it was not my goal, so far, she has not called again.

This exchange got me serious about researching a topic that has been on my mind for several years; Personal Information Management (PIM) as it relates to storing and retrieving information for personal productivity and efficient work habits. I see people struggling with mental anguish under the load of the immense information coming their way. As an information professional, I have dutifully studied to try to manage it myself but it is overwhelming both personally and professionally. How can I help people navigate the information landscape if I can’t manage my own personal information?

I have read a number of articles from a variety of perspectives, listened to some relevant TED Talks, and am reading a book that addresses the need to get organized spiritually. My goal is to equip myself for what I call personal information therapy and to help others gain proper perspective on the information cluttering up their worlds and to feel less paralyzed and more productive. (Not to be confused with the healthcare term of information therapy.)

Over the next few weeks or months I will be writing about decluttering and managing personal information for personal productivity. It will be as much an exercise for me personally (as I am currently in the process of moving from one apartment to another) as well as professionally. Join me as I learn to apply principles toward making information management as painless and productive as possible.

Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Welcome Intern Number Two!

As mentioned in a blog post earlier this month, the Darling Library offers an internship to masters students in Library and Information Science at the San Jose State University School of Information. We normally have one intern at a time but now we have two!

Katie Zeeb has just five classes to complete the MLIS degree. When she is done, she wants to work as a Young Adult Librarian in a Public Library. For now, she is helping us with the Reference Collection.
Reference books such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, and directories, are generally referred to for bits of factual information and are not usually intended to be read cover to cover. With the transition of reference works to digital formats, it is often worth asking why we continue to have print books.

This is one thing that Katie will help us determine. After painstakingly reading the shelves for accuracy - making sure the books all there and in order on the shelves - then she will evaluate them one title at a time to find out which ones are available online, through means and for what cost. She will employ what she has learned in her Collection Management course about assessment of print and electronic collections.

This is one of the best things about having library science interns. We seasoned veteran librarians get the benefit of learning from these developing professionals what is being taught today and get a fresh look at the latest thinking in information management.

Welcome and thank you, Katie!

(Fun fact: Katie's grandfather, Joe Watson, is our cataloger!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Introducing Appy Hour!

The Darling Library is hosting its first "Appy Hour" for faculty to focus on various apps used in classrooms. Jennifer Rich, Systems and Technical Services Librarian will facilitate discussion with a show and tell introduction to a few apps of interest. Faculty are invited to meet in the new Collaborative Student Innovation (CSI) Lab on the second floor of the library, Friday, September 26, 2014 at 1:00pm.

The next Appy Hour is planned for Friday, November 14, 2014.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Camino on Hold

The Library has put its participation in Camino on hold. Tradtional Interlibrary Loan services will continue as before.

We apologize for any inconvenience.