Cabinet of Curiosities: Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry

Georgina Goodlander, Interpretive Programs Manager at the Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and LRS-V Panelist for, “Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and 21st Century Literacies” shares the following:

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is housed in the Historic Patent Office Building in downtown Washington D.C. When I give museum tours, people are always fascinated to learn about the history of the building. Originally constructed in the mid-1800s, the building was conceived as a “temple of invention” and designed to symbolize America’s creative genius and technical superiority. It housed patent examiners as well as the models that were a requirement of the patent application process. These models were displayed in glass cases on three wings of the third floor. The area in the west wing that is now home to the Luce Foundation Center for American Art (the American Art Museum’s visible storage facility) was where the rejected patent models were displayed.

On September 24, 1877, there was a major fire in the building that destroyed much of the north and west wings. Fortunately, employees were able to save over 200,000 original patent drawings and some of the models, but all of the rejected models were destroyed. By 1880, the requirement for submitting a model with a patent application was discontinued and the patent office eventually disposed of all the remaining models in its collection. The Smithsonian was given first choice, and the National Museum of American History acquired 6,000 models.

Recently, my colleagues over at the American History Museum published an online index of these patents, which provides a fascinating insight into the variety of models that you would have seen had you visited the Patent Office in the nineteenth century. Bear in mind that at its peak, the Patent Office had over 200,000 models, each no larger than one cubic foot. They were grouped by subject and “crammed” into tall cases. It must have been an amazing sight!


Now here’s where things get mighty peculiar. Recently a mysterious document that appears to date back to the fire of 1877 was found crumpled under one of the old models. The document cryptically refers to “Cabinet No. 1171706,” which is otherwise unreferenced in any extant maps or records of the model halls.

I’ve hit a wall trying to decipher its meaning, so I’m turning to you, my intrepid readers, to help in the investigation of the artifact (see images, above). Please post a comment if you have a theory or discover anything interesting: who might the initials in the document refer to? What could possibly be housed within a “Cabinet of Curiosities”? What is the meaning of the dire message scrawled at the bottom of the document? If you plan to attend our participatory session on Friday (Session 7C), bring a laptop and your knowledge of how to find old patents and historical documents—and help us rewrite (and remake) history!

See previous LRS-V blog post: “Hansen, Kraus, Bonsignore, Johnson and Goodlander Talk Gamers”

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Hansen, Kraus, Bonsignore, Johnson and Goodlander Talk Gamers

Derek Hansen, Kari Kraus, Elizabeth Bonsignore, Margeaux Johnson, and Georgina B. Goodlander are panelists for session 7C entitled, “Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and 21st Century Literacies.” You can read their abstract here.

1)   What do you hope people gain from your presentation and/or panel?
We are hoping that participants come away with a good idea of what Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are, and how they can be designed to engage students in the practice of 21st Century Literacies.  But we can’t stop there.  Our panel attendees will get to experience an ARG activity first-hand (for more details on that, check out our suggested reading list).  We would also like to brainstorm with our participants on the potential for a large-scale, multi-institution, library-focused ARG.

We will start with a bit of background on ARGs, highlighting game-play features that immerse players in literacy activities such as gathering, evaluating, and managing information.  We will also discuss collaboration and creative expression, equally important literacy practices not only possible, but required in ARGs.

We’re excited to have two experts who have designed and launched ARGs on our
panel: Margeaux Johnson, a Science and Technology librarian from the University of Florida, and Georgina Goodlander, Interpretive Programs Manager of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Luce Foundation Center.  Margeaux will relay
her experiences designing information literacy missions for a campus-wide Humans vs. Zombies ARG.   Georgina will share the stories of two ARGs that offer
museum audiences innovative ways to engage with art collections.  Ghosts of A Chance was the first ARG played out in a museum environment (2008) and PHEON, first played at the American Art Museum on September 18th, 2010, will be launching online on the day of our panel!  Georgina will also have some curious design documents and compelling questions for our audience members (have a gander at those suggested readings, yet??).

Our goals are to learn from each other, to have fun with a hands-on ARG activity, and to make some long-term connections with the diverse array of practitioners, students, and researchers attending, in order to keep the conversation and ideas going.

2)   Are there one or two articles or websites you think attendees would benefit from reading before attending your session? By scavenging the following links, participants might get a sense of how to progress through our session (in no particular order):

3) What do you enjoy most about presenting to a crowd with such broad interests (practitioners, researchers, students, librarians, archivists, info tech, etc)? Oh, we won’t just be presenting to the crowd, they’ll all be presenting to us, too! (Say, did you notice that Georgina will have some design documents and compelling questions for our attendees?) The wonderful thing about ARGs is that, whether you are interested in designing or playing one, you’re going to need to collaborate with individuals who have a wide variety of experience, skills and interests. ARG design teams comprise individuals from diverse disciplines, such as human-computer interaction, graphic design, narratology, creative writing, software engineering, and marketing.  As a group, ARG players possess skills and interests that range from mathematics and cryptography to art, music, literature and languages.  That seems a pretty fair fit for a crowd of practicing librarians, students, and researchers who are interested in working together to design or evaluate novel outreach and education approaches that support the mastery of 21st century skills.

4) How did you get interested or develop this research topic/project or
panel topic?
Our diverse backgrounds and complementary interests largely reflect
the myriad of skill-sets found in ARG designers and players.  We learned of our mutual interests through iSchool courses or University of Maryland presentations, and have all participated at some level in one or more ARGs.  As noted above, a few of us have even designed and launched ARGs.

Prior to becoming co-principal investigators on the NSF-funded EAGER grant, Alternate Reality Games in the Service of Education and Design, Kari and Derek were engaged in complementary research related to ARGs. Derek studied the Lostpedia community, which participated in “The Lost Experience” ARG, and Kari worked with graduate students to develop a learning-based ARG in conjunction with the University of Maryland’s Mobility initiative.  Further, as educators, both Kari and Derek have presented on their use of innovative social media tools in the
classroom.  Elizabeth Bonsignore, a PhD student at Maryland’s iSchool, is one of the student investigators supporting their EAGER grant research.  Elizabeth’s interest in ARGs grew from her studies on the design/use of social media in education, and her HCIL-supported research on the use of mobile applications to promote personal expression and new media literacies.

Margeaux Johnson is a Science & Technology Librarian at the University of Florida’s Marston Science Library, where she coordinates information literacy instruction for the sciences and integrates technology into library learning environments. She is also a PhD student in the Educational Technology Department in the UF College of education where her interests include studying New Media Literacies, 21st century
skills, and educational gaming. She is currently a Co-PI on the NSF ethics in education grant Gaming Against Plagiarism.

Georgina has served as the Interpretive Programs Manager of the Luce Foundation Center for American Art since 2006, and is the project manager for the exhibition The Art of Video Games, which opens at the museum March 16, 2012. She is responsible for all operations of the Luce Foundation Center, including developing a regular schedule of public programs, creating and updating interpretative information, maintaining audiovisual installations, coordinating the selection and installation of collection objects in cases in the Center, and supervising staff.  In 2009, Georgina received the Smithsonian’s first annual Secretary’s Award for Excellence for
Innovative Spirit.

5) Where or to whom do you see your research/panel being most useful, implementable, or interesting? We’d probably talk to anyone who is willing to play to learn (or learn to play), but seriously, we are most interested in brainstorming with library practitioners, students, and researchers who are interested in working together to design and evaluate similar novel approaches that might help students
master 21st century skills.  Also, we’ve noticed that there might be some local government agencies that are interested in Georgina’s design documents.  But you didn’t hear that from us.

6) If you have collaborated on your research or project, how has that collaboration assisted and possibly changed the development of your work? Listen, there are 5 of us: collaboration is key.  Interestingly, as demonstrated by the short bio blurbs in our response to question 4, the combination of our diverse backgrounds yet mutual interests have served to enhance our collaboration, much like the interdisciplinary efforts of ARG designers and players enhance the design-play-learn experiential cycle.  No one can deny that collaboration is a hallmark not only for successful ARGs, but also for the effective practice of 21st Century literacy skills, the innovative design of community-developed cultural collections, and the future of academic research.

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Here’s What Jenny Emanuel Has To Say!

Jenny Emanuel is presenting her paper, “Librarians in the Digital Age: Impact of Internet Adoption on Search Habits,” in session 2C. You can view her abstract here.

1.  What do you hope people gain from your presentation and/or panel? I hope that people will be more aware at the various differences in how different groups of librarians search.  There are differences, and we don’t spend a lot of time studying ourselves.

2. Are there one or two articles or websites you think attendees would benefit from reading before attending your session? Nothing specific, and I imagine every one has read something about the digital natives, which is what I’d recommend reading.

3.  What do you enjoy most about presenting to a crowd with such broad interests (practitioners, researchers, students, librarians, archivists, info tech, etc)? I think it will be great speaking to an audience that includes more than just practitioners.  I’m particularly interested in research methods and strengthening my research, and I imagine the questions I get will be challenging but beneficial to my research.

4. How did you get interested or develop this research topic/project or panel topic? I’ve always noted that I search differently than my more experienced colleagues.  I first got online in middle school, so all my sophisticated research was conducted online.  Now that I work at an institution with a library school, I’ve noticed there is an ever widening gap between non digital natives’ and digital natives’ searching habits, and so I’m attempting to document these differences.

5. Where or to whom do you see your research/panel being most useful, implementable, or interesting? I plan on continuing this research and I think there will be a wide range of interests.  Library schools are interested in the next generation of librarians and how to teach them, while libraries themselves are interested in retention and workplace issues.

6. If you have collaborated on your research or project, how has that collaboration assisted and possibly changed the development of your work? I have not collaborated on this project.  But whenever I mention what I’m working on, people get interested.


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A Note from Henry Pisciotta

Henry Piscotta is presenting in sessions 2E and 8A. You can find the abstract for his University Press Talk here and for his Big Picture talk here. Please see his remarks below.

Hi.  I’m Henry Pisciotta, Arts and Architecture Librarian at Penn State.   I’m doing two presentations for LRS-V.  They are not at all alike.  One (“Discipline-Specific Analysis of University Press Production: Art History and Its Specialties”) is a rather objective, statistical study (conducted with friend and statistician Jim Frost.) The other “The Big Picture: Artists on the Library” tries to combine the subjectivity of art criticism with……library criticism, I guess.

1) What do you hope people gain from your presentation and/or panel?

Big Picture:   SEE libraries a little differently.  Be appalled.  Be amused.

Univ. Press Art History:   Another way of understanding a discipline & its bibliography.

2) Are there one or two articles or websites you think attendees would benefit from reading before attending your session?

Big Picture: Heartney, Eleanor. 1991. “The Treacherous Library: Recent Book Art”. Sculpture 10, no. 5 (October): 46-51.

Univ. Press Art History: Lawrence T. McGill, The State of Scholarly Publishing in the History of Art and Architecture, July 27, 2006.http://cnx.org/content/col10377/latest/

3) What do you enjoy most about presenting to a crowd with such broad interests (practitioners, researchers, students, librarians, archivists, info tech, etc)?

Big Picture: Finally hearing the rightness or wrongness or absurdity of the ideas  as they float out toward a real audience.

Univ. Press Art History: Obtaining people’s hunches about what the numbers might mean.

4) How did you get interested or develop this research topic/project or panel topic?

Big Picture: I decided my sabbatical should be about something I could never find the time for otherwise.  From my POV, art and libraries have always had a lot in common.

Univ. Press Art History: It was not my idea.  I was hired to do the study for a foundation that funds research and publication in art history.

5) Where or to whom do you see your research/panel being most useful, implementable, or interesting?

Big Picture: Everybody needs the big picture.

Univ. Press Art History: A method of analysis that may, or may not, be useful for other disciplines.

6) If you have collaborated on your research or project, how has that collaboration assisted and possibly changed the development of your work?

Big Picture: I interviewed several artists and librarians, which was fascinating.  I wish I could have been in a seminar with other people interested in art or libraries during the project, but perhaps that is part of why LRS-V exists.

Univ. Press Art History: Jim Frost, and I worked together on a couple of previous projects, including the Visual Image User Study (2001-2003).  He is a statistician now working for Minitab.  He’s also used other research methods, such as user protocols.  We’ve always enjoyed working together.  We both love that process of getting familiar with the data and seeing what it has to say.  (Although he has to do a lot of translating for me, since I’m not fluent in data.)  Working with a research partner more than once is very interesting.  Perhaps like doubles tennis.

Looking forward to an interesting conference.

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Beckett, Cooke, and Kwon Talk Diversity

Edith Beckett, Nicole Cooke, and Hannah Kwon are the panelists involved in “Diversity in Research and Practice: What Have We Learned and How Do We Move Forward?” They will be speaking in session 8C. You can read the abstract here.

1) What do you hope people gain from your presentation and/or panel? Our goal for the session is to begin a conversation that will help LIS researchers and practitioners, with an interest in diversity, come up with ideas that we can use to extend our current stock of diversity knowledge.  We are doing this because we think that extending our knowledge base increases our chances of achieving a truly diverse profession, one that better reflects the populations we serve.

2) Are there one or two articles or websites you think attendees would benefit from reading before attending your session? We would recommend that people take a look at ALA’s Diversity Counts website. This site has reports and presentations that provide data on some of the key issues relating to diversity within the profession.

3) What do you enjoy most about presenting to a crowd with such broad interests (practitioners, researchers, students, librarians, archivists, info tech, etc)? The audience for this conference was an especially good fit for us as a group, because our interests in the topic of diversity in librarianship range from the very practical, e.g. what does diversity look like in our libraries, to theoretical concerns about LIS curriculum and its role in perpetuating the status quo in librarianship.  We are excited about the opportunity to interact with a multifaceted audience, and are also looking forward to facilitating a discussion with both researchers and practitioners about diversity within the profession.

4) How did you get interested or develop this research topic/project or panel topic? The idea for this panel came from discussions that Hannah, Nicole, and Edith had after presenting separately at a conference in June 2009.  We felt that while existing LIS research had clearly articulated, and even resolved some of the problems related to diversity, we had no real sense of the future direction of this research.  We thought it would be really useful to have a conversation with a larger and more diverse group of people with an interest in diversity research to get their thoughts on the future of this line of research.

5) Where or to whom do you see your research/panel being most useful, implementable, or interesting? We think this discussion would be of interest people currently doing research on diversity because it would provide an opportunity to discuss their research with people who share this interest.  We also think this discussion would be of interest to people interested in supporting and promoting diversity within librarianship because it could provide them with an opportunity to hear about current research and to contribute their knowledge and experiences.

6) If you have collaborated on your research or project, how has that collaboration assisted and possibly changed the development of your work? The preparation for this panel was our first collaborative effort.  We found that while we have different areas of interest, our approaches to research are complementary.  Working together we believe we have developed the framework for a more comprehensive discussion of diversity in librarianship than any of us would have been able to do as individuals.

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What Stoltz, Czarnecki, and Wilson Have to Say to You…

Dorothy Stoltz, Elaine Czarnecki, and Connie Wilson will present their paper, “Emergent Literacy Training Assessment Project (ELTAP)” in session 3E. You can read their abstract here.

1) What do you hope people gain from your presentation and/or panel? Everyone has a stake in the success of our children.  Research shows that starting school ready to learn is key for their success.  Public libraries/librarians can be key assets for parents and caregivers to help children birth to age five develop essential school readiness skills and behaviors. Learning begins at birth.  Social/emotional development lays the foundation for cognitive learning, especially in language and literacy.  The first five years of a child’s life offer critical windows of opportunity for social, emotional and cognitive development. There are simple ways information can be meaningfully transferred to and utilized by primary caregivers as demonstrated in our scientific research project.

    2) Are there one or two articles or websites you think attendees would benefit from reading before attending your session?

      Every Child Was Ready To Learn, Public Libraries, May/June 2008. Role of Public Libraries,  Zero to Three. Zero to Three has an excellent early brain development section on its website,   http://www.zerotothree.org/

      3) What do you enjoy most about presenting to a crowd with such broad interests (practitioners, researchers, students, librarians, archivists, info tech, etc)? We appreciate having an opportunity to encourage this diverse audience to think of public library services and programs to young children as an exciting topic for research.

        4) How did you get interested or develop this research topic/project or panel topic? As public libraries became increasingly cognizant of using research-based best practices in storytimes and programs for young children, we discovered a dearth of public library research.  The Maryland Division of Library Services and Development and public library administrators began to encourage Maryland librarians to find ways to conduct research.  Dorothy Stoltz was inspired by the idea, formed a project team, and secured an LSTA grant to conduct the study.

          5) If you have collaborated on your research or project, how has that collaboration assisted and possibly changed the development of your work? Collaborating as a team – an outreach librarian, reading specialist, and emergent literacy trainer – increased the quality level of the training program and research study by bringing together different skills, perspectives, and creative ideas.  Collaborating with child care professionals, parents, the school system, and early childhood organizations increased the quality of the project by pooling resources, such as recruitment of participants.  Our library has gained in reputation as a source for helping children become ready for school.  Community partners and funding sources have collaborated more and contributed cash to help several library projects due to statistically significant study results.  Other libraries in Maryland, Ohio, California, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Washington are adapting and/or replicating the training program.  Pierce County (Tacoma), Washington, is replicating the two-year study in partnership with the University of Washington.

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            Networking Tips for Librarians, Archivists, Information Scientists, and Students

            Attending conferences like the Library Research Seminar is a great opportunity for all of us to network. When large of groups of people with similar interests and goals gather in one place, we have an opportunity to find mentors, collaborators, future bosses, new employees, and peers from other institutions. In order to help you make the most of your LRS-V experience, we have posted some links below that provide wonderful information about networking. Take a look and get prepared to do your best at this conference, and many conferences to come.

            For networking tips: http://www.rileyguide.com/network.html and http://lisjobs.com/career_trends/?p=489

            For conference networking tips: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/5-steps-to-conquer-any-networking-event.html and http://www.wikihow.com/Network-at-a-Conference

            For career strategies (which include informational interviews and networking), check out: http://www.liscareer.com/shontz_involvement.htm

            So, go forth and prosper. Network, network, network!

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