Monday, December 16, 2013

What I've been learning so far from my storytelling course with iVersity?

So I have begun a new journey to improve my craft of storytelling by signing up for the online course "The Future Of Storytelling" on  at iversity This course is interdisciplinary and taught by German professors, but done in English. And so far, the course has been transformational and inspirational.

One of my favourite moments in the course so far, is the lecture by/interview with Dr. Hans-Christoph Hobohm. In his session, Dr. Hans-Christoph Hobohm, an information science professor, presented in a library space, the origins and history of storytelling. Hobohm in his short 22 minutes video summarised much of what I have learned from my readings on storytelling from both my comprehensive examination and self-directed studies. He also added a new dimension or perspective to what I already knew. Hobohm suggests that storytelling, contrary to what Walter Benjamin and others have argued [1], has never ceased from being around us.  Hobohm in talking about storytelling from past to present, indicates that how stories have been told have changed with technology, but that stories and storytelling are continuously being told in every human epoch and generation.

I particularly enjoyed when Hobohm discussed storytelling in library and information science. He suggested that librarians are awakening to the idea that 'libraries are houses of stories' and as such have been inviting authors and people to tell their stories in libraries. He also talks about storytelling in knowledge management, archival science and oral storytelling. Here he discusses stories as a way of capturing information, tacit knowledge and even wisdom.

I also learned from him about Story cubes, a board game for storytelling (See This game has dice, which instead of having dots, the dice have pictures. When we roll the dice, we must tell a story based on whatever pictures come up. As I saw this game, I knew that I would love to acquire it and use it for not only teaching future courses or classes in storytelling, but also in developing my own storytelling skills as well as those of my children.

The change in my outlook was evident today when I stopped by Indigo Chapters bookstore to look for the Story Cubes in hope of purchasing the last remaining one in stock at my London store. IndigoChapters no longer was a book store to me, but a 'storeroom of stories'. Games and books were transformed into stories competing for my engagement and finances. However, I left the store without any items, but hoping that one day, my own stories would be in that bookstore, screaming out for someone to purchase it.


1. Walter Benjamin (1969) discusses that the production of print literature, movies and television for the masses has killed storytelling. However, while one can contend that oral storytelling culture has suffered from print literature and movie production, one could also argue that with movies and novels come a new form of storytelling, which is the position that Hobohm and my online storytelling course maintains.


Benjamin, W. (1969). Illuminations, ed. and with an Introduction by Hannah Arendt. Trans. by Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books.

Windows Surface: A tablet for librarians to consider?

For December 2013, a relatively new tablet is on the market, the Windows Surface. As such I wanted to weigh in my few thoughts on this device as compared with the iPad. (Just to make it clear, I am not paid from blogging or to blog about any of these technologies.)

Unfortunately, I have not played around with the Windows Surface. In fact, I must confess that I have only played around the iPad 1 that I borrowed from my faculty's resource centre. I recently used the borrowed iPad to watch videos for a free online course I am taking, read a thesis, and to read some electronic copies of journal articles using i-Books. Despite the inexperience in using Windows Surface, I still wanted to give my opinions based on research that I have undertaken on the subject of tablet adoption in libraries.

In Scale (2013), I found that some early adopter librarians adopted tablets based on their own personal experience with the device. This is problematic as it is clear that some have sought to incorporate personal devices meant for individual use into an institutional setting that requires the device to be used by many persons or multiple users (Scale, 2013).

In my view, librarians need a more logical and systematic approach to determining what technology to adopt and implement in libraries. Librarians need an approach that is based on the mission of the library and the design of the device to help the library carry out its mission. While it is true that tablets and e-readers are meant for consuming digital content of which libraries have a mission to collect and acquire (Scale, 2013), we need to see which devices are best designed to do so without compromising principles such as the privacy of our patrons as well as adopt devices that are designed for use by multiple institutional users and not the ones that are meant for personal individual use. (See also my blog post critiquing this and recommending instead smart touch screen tables).

In this regard, I appreciate Windows Surface, which has been designed specifically for use within institutions ('Surface RT', 2013; Intel® Corporation, 2012). Surface RT is a tablet device designed for multiple user accounts ('Surface RT', 2013). Further, the device is already compatible with Microsoft Office and SkyDrive cloud storage, making it a useful device for not only consuming electronic media, but also creating content. Finally, it allows one to use a keyboard, rather than having to use the small touch screen keyboard that I disliked on the iPad 1 (see previous blog post).

Hence I conclude that it is perhaps worthwhile for librarians thinking about tablet adoption for their institution to consider Microsoft's Surface. I recommend getting the vendors to demonstrate its capabilities. So if you are still doing shopping for the holidays, go over to the computer store and check it out. Anyways, happy holidays and new year to you all! And I hope you  continue to stay tune to this blog in 2014 for more updates and blog posts.

I also looked back at my 2011 experiments with the iPad (see post 1 and post 2) and found that I have a greater appreciation for tablets today. My main areas of appreciation is the ability to enlarge the text to read of electronic journal articles or thesis papers as well as the capability to search and find a specific keyword. To me, these are the best part of e-reading over reading the printed page. However, I still prefer the navigation system of print. Let's see if future tablets will change my preference.


Intel® Corporation. (2012). Business innovation unleashed. Intel® IT Center Tablet Hanbook. Retrieved from

Scale, M-S. E. (2013). Tablet adoption and implementation in academic libraries: A qualitative analysis of librarians' discourse on blogging platforms. Library Hi Tech News, 30(5), 5-9.
Surface RT - The original Microsoft tablet (2013). Microsoft Retrieved from

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My December 2013 update on my research

So I have presumptuously began collecting and analysing data for my research. This is despite the fact that I have not yet given the revised proposal draft to my committee for approval. (Keeping my fingers crossed that it is better now and almost worthy of approval). Any way, I just want to share in this post briefly an update about some of my thinking as it relates to my current research and possibly future direction.

The general gist of my research has to do with constructing a profile of those who tweet and blog about library consultants and library consulting and analysing from these tweets and blog posts the presentation of the library consultant identity. In essence I hope to examine and analyse the identity of library consultants and library consulting as discussed and formulated in blogs and tweets. My approach is to use mixed methods, collecting both quantitative attributes and analysing qualitatively the narratives that I see emerging. In the end, I hope to tell 'a story' on library consultants and library consulting pulling the various strands of data together.

I have also been reading Simon Down's (2006) Narratives of enterprise. In my view, Down (2006) presents a good ethnography of how entrepreneurs craft their identity that may be relevant for my thesis on the crafting of the library consultant identity. However, after completing the reading, I realised that the book has had a profound impact on my own existentialism.

In some regards, Down is like me. He is an academic who has had a previous life as an entrepreneur. He also wrestles with his own self-identity as an academic who still feels the calling to an entrepreneurial identity. He also finds himself critical of entrepreneurial narratives as they tend to be anti-social. His work has got me wondering if the entrepreneurial and enterprising identity can be compatible with good moral values.

These ideas also relate to what I am findng about librarians' views on library consultants who charge for their services. A Judas or betrayal to the profession theme is emerging even though I haven't really started the 'deep' analysis. So far I have seen two particular tweets that summarise this perspective. One tweet in 2008 where a librarian remarked [not verbatim to protect anonymity] 'Am I the only person disturbed by this listing of paid library consultants?' In a more recent tweet, another librarian remarked that 'what library consultants should be doing is lobbying businesses to create more librarian positions' [again not verbatim]. From these tweets, it seems to me that there is a sinister picture being painted about library consultants who charge for their knowledge, expertise and services.

Yet this is also contrasted by other tweets and blog posts, where there is an event where library consultants offer free library consulting services (ASCLA, 2013). Or a tweet by a librarian praising another person for being a 'good library consultant' [not sure though if the person doing the consulting was paid though].

So far, the story being told about library consultants and library consulting on blogs and tweets is an intriguing one, where most times they are portrayed as villains, both by librarians or even the public who express outrage at the fees charged or money spent on them. Yet, there is seemingly praise for those who engage in no-paid library consulting services. However, I can't disclose all my ideas here, but just some of the preliminary notes and perceptions that I am forming of the data as I go through. For more, you've got to read the thesis when it is done or follow up on my future publications.


Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies [ASCLA] (2013). 'Consultants give back: Free 30-minute sessions in Chicago co-sponsored by ASCLA and PLA'. [blog post]. Retrieved from

Down, S. (2006). Narratives of enterprise: Crafting entrepreneurial self-identity in a small firm. Chelteham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.