Bullet journal December layout

By Greta Kuriger Suiter

December set up supplies: stickers, pen, highlighters, and notebook

I’ve kept a work notebook for years. It’s been a place for notes from meetings, ideas for future projects, and to-do reminders. Recently I’ve been looking for ways to make the notebook more efficient and I came across bullet journaling. What immediately appealed to me with a bullet journal is that it is a way to keep the notebook more organized than just a traditional daily journal type set-up and it is extremely flexible to fit your needs.

Now that we have a baby on the way (um, like any day) I want to use the same notebook for my next three months at home. Combining my home and work life into one notebook is also something the bullet journal enables.

Here are the basics to the bullet journal setup – http://bulletjournal.com/

Part of the beauty of bullet journaling is that you don’t need much to start. A new notebook is encouraged and who doesn’t love buying new notebooks?! I prefer spiral bound notebooks that I can fold up. I usually buy a few at a time and the ones I have on hand at the moment are Mnemosyne A5 notebooks. I’ve also started using a Pilot Vpen disposable fountain pen. In the last month I bought a pack of Zebra Mildliner highlighters and am incorporating more stickers. For December I bought a pack of Mark & Line Schedule Poyo Animals stickers that work well with a calendar set up.

December set up supplies: stickers, pen, highlighters, and notebook

I’ve been using the bullet journal for about three months now and I’ve realized that the beginning of the month is an important time in the world of bullet journalers. It’s the time to set up your journal for
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By anneladyem

Source: Anne Ladyem and Clio  

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National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL)

By Greta Kuriger Suiter

Below is my presentation for the 10th Annual Conference of African American Librarians which was held in Atlanta this year. I became involved when I saw a call for presenters who had worked with Wikipedia with a focus on diversity. Tiffany Atwater Lee at the Archives Research Center at the Atlanta University Center Robert Woodruff Library put the panel and proposal together and Curtis Small Jr. at the University of Delaware was the third panelist. It was such a pleasure to meet them both and learn about their Wikipedia related projects! All of our slides can be found on Google Drive here.

Intro: I’m Greta Suiter, Collections Archivist at the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections. I seriously started getting involved with editing Wikipedia after I volunteered to lead an edit-a-thon highlighting collections from the Archives. It ended up being a great way to jump into the world of Wikipedia and has lead to much collaborative work and conference presentations.

Hosting edit-a-thons is a great way for librarians and archivists to share their collections and subject expertise, expand the content on Wikipedia, and teach others about digital literacy, writing, and how to edit. It can be an impactful learning experience that empowers participants to edit one of the most influential websites ever. As we all know if it doesn’t exist on Wikipedia many people are less likely to think it is real or important.

Wikipedia is conscious of its gaps and how it is not actually “the sum of all human knowledge.” Overall it does suffer from systemic bias – the editors, and when you look at the numbers you can see that it isn’t that many editors – around 3500 that are responsible for most of the edits on Wikipedia. And the
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Yes, and… CODEX hack-a-thon 2017

By Greta Kuriger Suiter

What I enjoy the most about fiction books (aka novels) is the part in the beginning where the story hasn’t started yet. The reader is unsure at this point of the ultimate trajectory the story will take.

When I attended the CODEX Hack-a-thon at MIT the weekend of February 11/12, one of the first things we did was write out a name tag with our name and the title of a favorite book. My chosen book was the last one I had read — Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Gyasi’s book is an amazing work of fiction spanning centuries and following the progeny of a family divided geographically by the slave trade. Two sisters are at the heart of the novel and each chapter checks in with the next generation — thus positioning the reader always in a state of unknowing what the next story will be — thus avoiding a stale plot.

In the book each chapter is a new occasion for reader and author to explore new possibilities and ideas. The beginning of the CODEX Hack-a-thon had a similar feeling — there was time to meet new people, brainstorm questions and problems, but soon it was clear that one must pick a project, pick a group, and commit to that plot, that story, for the next 24 hours.

CODE encouragement at MIT Media Lab

Before attending the hack-a-thon I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’m not a coder, I wasn’t sure what skills I was bringing to the table. I thought being armed with ideas was my best strategy for being helpful. I brainstormed with colleagues, creating a list of projects that might be
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Culling a Life

By Mills


Last week I had the unenviable task of culling the life of my mother-in-law, aged 81. In some ways I was the perfect person for this task, because in my sister-in-law’s garage there were 32 banker’s boxes of files that needed to be sorted through in just under 72 hours, because we were relocating her from Colorado to Virginia on short notice. Who better than a historian to do the work of pulling the significant items out and saving them?

Because she was the keeper of the family history, several of those boxes were filled with scrapbooks, photographs dating back to at least 1870, documents from a relative’s Civil War service in the Army of Northern Virginia, hundreds of more recent snapshots, an edited set of letters sent home from the American campaign in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy in 1943-44, a series of photographs from my mother-in-laws years as a student at Sweet Briar College in the mid-1950s, and love letters exchanged with her second husband (to whom she was married for more than 30 years).

Plenty of the documents were easy to identity, but almost all of those easily identified were texts. The photos, not so much. Some had scrawled notes on the back, but most did not. I would ask my mother-in-law, but she has dementia and has a difficult enough time remembering me, much less who is who in a photograph that is more than 100 years old.

My wife was at least a little help. She could identify her grandfather in this photograph from his undergraduate years at the University of Virginia.  I happen to know a little bit about his life, but almost all of it in the last two decades before he died. I do know he attended UVa and went on to the Harvard Medical
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It’s Not All About Me

By Mills

“Our students come first.”

That’s what it says on page five of George Mason University’s Strategic Plan. As one of the authors of that document back in 2014, I’m always happy when this simple sentence is deployed to explain a new policy or rule. And I’m equally unhappy when we, too often in my view, make rules and policies that are grounded in the revenue needs of our various academic units rather than what’s good for our students.

Because the internal contest for revenue that drives so much of our decision making makes me crazy, it’s useful to be reminded, by students, that they come first. They are under such pressure and face so many problems–excessive debt, an unpredictable job market, political disunity at home, a looming climate disaster everywhere. We owe them more than just an excellent course. What we do as educators transcends the syllabus.

And it’s good to be reminded, by students, that it’s not all about me.

Those who know me know that I’m a person of very strong political opinions and that I’m very passionate, and sometimes even a little intolerant (if I’m honest), on certain issues relating to individual rights, climate change, and the twinned issues of equity in access, not just in higher education, but in our society generally.

My students will tell you, I hope, that I also keep all of those opinions to myself in the classroom. This is an issue with lots of strong feelings on both sides — professors shouldn’t be afraid to express their political and social views in class/professors should keep those views to themselves. I get why some of my colleagues bring their views into the classroom and I don’t condemn them for that. I just don’t teach that way. That’s just me.

But I still have those strong opinions and
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Trails, Paths, and Digital Literacy

By Mills


Yesterday I had the good fortune to be the keynote speaker at the Winter Symposium on Digital Literacy in Higher Education at the University of Rhode Island. It was incredibly energizing to spend a day and a half with a diverse group of educators across disciplines, all of them committed to the idea that improving our students’ (and our colleagues’) digital literacy.

Of course, there are few more amorphous topics than digital literacy, which made my task as keynote speaker challenging, to say the least. A quick survey of the literature yields almost as many definitions of the concept as there are authors who write about it.

Do we mean the ability to use digital technologies to accomplish a particular task? Or does it mean just being able to navigate the wilds of the Internet without being taken in by the false information floating around out there? Or does it mean being able to create digital objects, code something useful, or develop visualizations of large corpora of texts?

To help those assembled to try to find a way forward, I drew on my experiences on the Appalachian Trail, America’s oldest and still most iconic long distance hiking trail. Of late I’ve been mesmerized by Robert Moor’s On Trails (2016). Moor writes in ways I can only dream about, and in his first pages I found the quotation that I think helps us make our way through the echoing vastness of the Internet.

To put it as simply as possible, a path is a way of making sense of the world. There are infinite ways to cross a landscape; the options are overwhelming, and pitfalls abound. The function of a path is to reduce this teeming chaos into an intelligible line.” (14)

If we think about digital literacy more as choosing a path through
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75 Book Challenge 2016

By Greta Kuriger Suiter

My favorite reading device — Kindle app on iPad mini

I read exactly 75 books in 2016! It was a personal goal and challenge and the sense of accomplishment is completely gratifying. I’m taking with me my newfound habit of reading daily into 2017 and hopefully well into the future. I’m more excited about my commuting than ever before because now I see it as an opportunity to read more. Most of my reading in 2016 happened during my daily train and bus commute to and from Boston.

I was inspired to keep track of my reading via a spreadsheet by a co-worker’s summary of her reading habits — check out Alli Gofman’s Queery the Catalog. She had a lot of stats for the books she read in 2015 and that inspired me to keep track of what I’m reading in a similar fashion. Here is a link to her post of her 2015 reading in review that includes a link to the Google spreadsheet she uses.

The Numbers:

I did some paring down of fields from Alli’s original spreadsheet, but I used most of it. Some of the questions I was very interested to see were how many books were fiction vs. non-fiction, how many books I read electronically vs. a physical copy, male vs. female authors, and how many authors of color was I reading. Fields concerning the main character often became fields about the author when reading non-fiction. Here is a screenshot of my Excel sheet.

Screenshot of my Excel sheet

E-book vs. book book

63% were e-book.

I love to read books
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NECode4Lib 2016

By gkur


This was my second time at the Hampshire College campus this fall. The first was for the New England Archivists fall meeting at the Yiddish Book Center. The NECode4Lib regional meeting was held at a different venue – the red barn on campus. It was a wintry day with snow falling most of the morning, making the drive just as scenic as it was in October when I got to see the fall foliage.

This blog post will give some key points and takeaways from a selection of presentations, as well as some Twitter highlights, and some images from the library tour I took during lunch.

Two themes that struck me as important / reaffirmed my own biases –

1. Users want access to the stuff – not info about the stuff

2. Visuals help engage users – both digitally (click on image / browse by image) and physically (add images / visual interest to library space)

Here is a breakdown of the schedule: https://wiki.code4lib.org/NECode4lib_2016

Keynote – Smith (Rob O’Connell and Barbara Polowy) – Bento Box

  • Will launch new website Jan 2017
  • EBSCO discover system (EDS) – multi-format materials in one dump – confusing for patrons
  • Using EBSCO’s framework, not open source
  • Linking in other content w/ API’s – DPLA
  • Patrons don’t want to dig down, they just want the resource / content [This was reiterated later in the death to finding aids talk – good to know it exists for libraries as much as for archives.]
New ways of searching at Smith using Bento Box; arranges results by type – Books, Articles, Video; includes DPLA, scholarly blogs
  • StackMap built in – giving location of where item is in the library [yes! It is always confusing trying to find your way around a library!]
  • There is a feedback button so people can leave
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Making History Matter Again

By Mills

I was very pleased to see AHA Teaching Division Vice President Elizabeth Lehfeldt take on the issue of declining enrollments in undergraduate history programs in the October edition of Perspectives. Anyone who reads this blog with regularity knows that enrollment issues have figured prominently among the topics I cover, most recently here and here.

The decline in history enrollments around the country isn’t news to anyone teaching at the post-secondary level and the AHA has done a thorough job of documenting some of the parameters of the decline. What’s lacking in this whole discussion is solid data on exactly why students have moved away from history and into other fields. We have lots of reasonable propositions, and I have offered my own suggestions in the posts linked above, but all of us are, to a degree, shooting in the dark because we don’t have actual data from students.

One obvious place to look for such data would be from our campus enrollment officers. Admissions offices, enrollment management consultants, and research centers like the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA have reams of data on student preferences, predispositions, demographic characteristics, and other factors that could be plugged into the kind of regressions that might just tell us a lot about what’s going on. At a minimum, these data would add richness to our anecdotal or surface studies of the problem. I hope the AHA will consider investing in some of this sort of analysis so that we get beyond just asking department chairs what they think is happening.

A second issue I have with what Lehfeldt writes in her essay is the assumption that doubling down on the History Discipline Core of the Tuning Project is going to be a solution to our enrollment problems. I completely agree
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