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In the Limelight: Our New Director – Knott a Stereotypical Librarian

August 15, 2012 Leave a comment

When you hear that the Professional Center Library has a new Director who is an avid gardener, specializing in roses and orchids, do you imagine a person who looks like this? If so, you are in for a surprise.  The PCL’s new director, officially the Associate Dean for Information Services and Technology, is Professor Christopher Knott.   Aside from the fact that it would not be a flattering look, his hair is too short for a bun and he looks more like someone who would tackle a quarterback than “shush” a patron.  Professor Knott comes to Wake Forest from the University of Maine where he has been since 2006, most recently in the position of Vice Dean and Professor of Law.  Prior to his time in Maine, Professor Knott has worked The Columbia University Law School and the Georgetown University Law Center.   Before his career in academia, Knott practiced law and specialized in corporate transactions and commercial ligation.  Currently his interests are more in the area of legal research and legal information, and he is the co-author of the text Where the Law Is: an Introduction to Advanced Legal Research, soon to appear in its 4th edition.

Professor Knott’s interest in gardening could be said to be an inheritance from his father.   As a boy in Iowa, Knott and his brother returned home from school one day to discover their backyard, which had always doubled as the neighborhood playing field, transformed into a giant rose garden.  Admittedly shocked at the time, Knott’s positive outlook eventually won out and he is now a dedicated gardener himself, with a particular interest in orchids and roses.  Knott is also dedicated to his wife Maggi, with whom he is raising (but hopefully not pruning) an energetic first grade son and an teenage daughter who is an aspiring actor.

Those wishing to stop by to talk roses, research, or to just say “hi,” can find his office behind the Reference Desk, room 2201C.

This is not Knott

This IS Knott

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Today in Government Information: Why you still want a library

Anyone who has looked for government information in the past several years knows that most of it is available online. As long ago as 1998, when I started working with government documents, the word was spreading that “soon” everything will be online. I’m not sure we even knew what a PDF was in those days, nor authentication, but we knew which way the wind was blowing. Close to 15 years later, not everything is online, but many government information sources are not distributed in print any more. The trend towards putting more and more online continues.

That raises an obvious question which troubles some in the government information community. If virtually everything is available online – and in the realm of government information, almost free of charge – why on earth do we still need depository libraries? When a researcher can sit in the comfort of his own home, in his bunny slippers, and find all the information through a Google search, why maintain the depository system?

The Modern Researcher

The answer is expertise from librarians, particularly government information specialists. Each depository library is required to designate a staff member as a “coordinator” who is charged with maintaining the collection, ensuring access to the public, and assisting researchers in need of assistance. While it is true that a simple Google search can turn up a wealth of information, can it verify that you’re looking at the most recent edition? Can it suggest an agency’s other publications that might be useful? And if the search is too successful, can it help you weed through thousands of results, by suggesting additional terms to include or avoid? A government documents specialist can do all of that, and more. The depository system is not just a distribution method for print documents, it is also a network of specialist librarians across country. These librarians are often the best gateway to information aside from an agency itself, and they are so much more convenient – wherever you happen to be.

Map of Depository Libraries

Map of Depository Libraries

I don’t think depositories are going anywhere. I think they bring value to researchers and the general public, and as the Government Printing Office says, they keep American informed.

I know those books were here yesterday…

If you’ve been in the Professional Center Library in the last couple of days, you’ve probably noticed that we’re once again making some changes to the second floor. Don’t worry – there will be much less construction this year than last! Here’s a look at what will happen:

Right now, books are being shifted to clear out some space for future work. They’re also being reorganized, slightly. While in the past books on the second floor have been shelved purely by function, at the end of this project they’ll be in call number order – just like books on the first and ground floors. It turns out that they’ll be in a pretty similar order, so hopefully it won’t take too much getting used to.

The shelves that are getting cleared out are mostly those in front of the Reference Librarian offices. Those shelves will be removed, and the Reference Desk will be relocated to that area. The form books and the Reference section will be put in new shelving near the copiers on the second floor, and work tables will be shifted around.

In July, there will be some construction to change the configuration of Reference Coordinator Angie Hobbs’ office. She’ll be working out of the an office on the back wall, near the Reference Librarians (Room 2201D) temporarily, so stop by if you need something notarized. There will also be some touch up work to some of the walls throughout the library during that time.

We’re excited about what the changes mean for the library – a new look, better access to the reference librarians and materials easier to find. To keep you up to date, we are resurrecting our Twitter hashtag #newPCL from last summer. Follow us @wfupcl and find out what to expect on any particular day!

Don’t let the Machines Win – (Part II) We took the stairs!

So, if you read Part I (Don’t let the Machines Win – Take the Stairs – April 25), you know that the staff of the Professional Center Library has been involved in a ‘competition’ or (as we called it) a Team Challenge.   The library staff was divided into two teams who were challenging each other to see who could take the most ‘steps’.  Ours was a two-fold purpose or goal of wellness and team building.

Six weeks ago, we all were given pedometers, and a spreadsheet on which we recorded daily the number of steps we had taken during that day.  We had a conversion chart, so that if any of us choose to participate in some other form of physical activity (besides walking) we could convert the time spent doing that activity into ‘steps’.  So if I went biking for 1 ½ hours, I was able to multiply the minutes I had spent cycling (90 minutes) by 116, which would give me an additional 10,440 steps! There are lots of other activities on the chart, like gardening,  roller skating, tennis, canoeing, chopping wood, or even waxing  the car.

So we’ve been in a friendly competition….of sorts.  Encouraging each other, but still trying to be the one who takes the most steps.

So how did we do?  Well, all together, both teams combined took a total of 6,058,088 steps.  This comes out to about 2297 miles, or the about distance to drive to Dallas, Texas, and back.  Or, a little more than the length of the entire Appalachian Trail, from Mt. Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Georgia.

Well, we took a lot of steps, but how about our goals of wellness and team building? We had a number of staff members who had success stories to tell.  One told of having had 2 heart attacks 12 years ago and how the event had, until now, slowed her down.  Our Team Challenge encouraged her to start the No Boundaries training to begin preparing for a 5K.  Another told of making a lifestyle change of never sitting during commercials while watching television, choosing instead to run errands around the house, or simply run in place.  And another told of being motivated to start training for a Sprint Triathlon.  On the team building  goal, I think we had many opportunities to come together as teams to encourage one another and relate as team members.

So, are we there yet?  No, probably not.  But one step at a time towards our goal! We’ll keep stepping!

Don’t Let the Machines Win – Take the Stairs!

April 25, 2012 1 comment

Did you know that it takes approximately 2000 steps to equal one mile?  That means that if an average, inactive person takes 3000 steps in a day (which is about average), he/she is walking 1 ½ miles.  But is that enough to promote good health?

Have you seen the motivational quotes about walking have appeared around the library? Perhaps you have noticed recently that our Professional Center Library Staff are all wearing pedometers. If you haven’t noticed, well, we are. Our staff members are currently involved in a team challenge to see which team can take the most steps during a 6 week period.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC has donated pedometers, we have divided out staff into 2 teams (Team Happy Feet and Team Sole Survivors) and we are competing to see who can be the top ‘step’ team.  Each day we are recording the steps we have taken and then report our weekly total to our team leaders on Monday mornings. We also have a conversion chart that multiplies the minutes we spend doing some other physical activity (like swimming, biking, yard work, etc) by a particular number to translate into additional steps.  So if your preference is say . . . scrubbing floors, you can multiply each minute you spend scrubbing floors (maybe 65 minutes)  by 174, and you get to add 11,310 steps to your daily total.

The program in which we are involved is called the PCL Step Into Spring Team Challenge and it is designed to promote teamwork, as well as physical well-being.   According to the American Psychological Association, “As many as 50 million Americans are living sedentary lives, putting them at increased risk of health problems and even early death.” We are encouraging each other to walk as much as possible, because beyond it being good for us, there are prizes involved here!

NPR recently did a piece on the health of Americans stating that we have basically ‘engineered’ walking out of our lives.  Everywhere you look, there are ways to avoid walking, or for that matter, any physical activity.  When there is an option to ride up/down in an elevator, or take the stairs, do you opt for the stairs, or do you cave and take the elevator like everyone else.  Or how about when you have to go to an event on the other side of the WFU campus.  Do you drive – or do you choose to walk because you need the exercise?  We drive up to our banks, cleaners, pharmacy, post office box, library book return, fast food restaurants, and many others which eliminates the opportunity to get out of our cars and walk inside.  And how often do we drive through a car wash, rather than get out there and do it ourselves? (Those minutes spent washing a car, by the way, would be multiplied by 87.)  We are becoming a nation of fat, flabby butterballs whose muscles are atrophying at an alarming rate!

If you’re feeling inspired and want to start walking more, find out your local WalkScore  – how “walkable” is your neighborhood? That could be something to think about when you’re looking for summer housing or even debating between jobs! Even taking a quick walk around the courtyard (or the portico, if this rain keeps up) can give you a little air, some exercise, and a fresh perspective on that exam you’re studying for. Get stepping!

Categories: Fun, PCL Information Tags: , ,

Sail on!

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

“To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it.  But we must not drift or lie at anchor.”  This is a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes.  When I read this recently, it suddenly hit me that this sentiment not only applies to our individual lives, but also to the Professional Center Library.

Here in the PCL, we have recently been ‘soul searching’ as to what we are, and what we need to become for the future.  Often to drift or lie at anchor is much easier and more comfortable.  However, seeing the future as a ‘digital’ world, we have decided to point our ship in that direction.  But to reach our destination, we must first put up our sails and begin our journey.  As such, we are making strides to create for our patrons a library to meet future needs.  Sometimes determining what the future needs are for a digital library can be a bit tumultuous, as we are battered to and fro by the winds of change, opinion and budget.    Change is difficult in any organization, but can often be even more difficult in a staid subject such as law, which is rooted in books, hard copy and papers. But still we sail on toward our goal.  Opinion can vary from person to person, which puts a different spin on every idea, but the biggest battle to fight is usually budget.   We have all been hit by the slow economy, but a library’s budget is always a challenge, even in a stable economy.  But still we sail on toward acquiring more digital resources for our patrons, creating opportunities and spaces for digital research, and teaching our patrons how best to use these new resources.

So, sail on we must, lest we drift and become lost in a future digital world!

Sometimes it is Easy Being Green: Simple Sustainability

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

With all due respect to my favorite amphibian, Kermit the Frog, sometimes it is not that hard to be green.  Once thought to be only for “crunchy” hippie types, reusing, re-purposing, and recycling are not only trendy, but are becoming easier and easier to do as more businesses and workplaces implement sustainability strategies.  Even if you emphatically do not want to be considered a granola eating, earth-shoe wearing, tree huger, how hard is it to toss a can in the recycle bin, or take your used grocery sacks back to the store? Sometimes you even benefit directly from green actions; printing on both sides of the paper not only reduces the amount of paper used, it also reduces the size of the stack that you have to carry around.

Cut the pile in half; copy on both sides.

The University’s  Office of Sustainability supports student, faculty and staff groups in developing strategic initiatives for integrating principles of sustainability into university programs, and “work[s] to develop connections with…local and regional community representatives.”  This broad mission encompasses a wide variety of services, ranging from teaching and outreach to campus dining systems and energy conservation.  The Office of Sustainability also offers paid, project-based internships where students can gain experience working it the field of sustainability while helping the office accomplish its mission.   If you would like to know more about sustainability, both on campus and in the greater community,  visit the Resources page for links to the Campus Green Guide, and to sustainability websites and blogs.

Not only is there an Office of Sustainability on campus but the University is home to  Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES).  Founded in 2010, CEES is an “interdisciplinary center that aims to promote critical thinking and effective action across the fields of Renewable Energy, Social Influence, Environment Policy, Enterprise, Environmental Markets, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services, and Human Behavior. … 60 faculty from 16 academic units across the university have come together with initiatives in Research and Scholarly Activities, Education, and Public Engagement. ”  One of the Law Schools recent graduates, Vanessa Zebrowski (’10) is currently working as a Sustainability Fellow.  Although working for the Center, Ms. Z  works from her office in the Professional Center Library as she develops a plan for a Masters level program in sustainability.