Podcasting, Visualizing and Dreaming of Trudeau

Hello again, dear readers!

By the time you read this blog entry, I’ll have finished my third full week at Brock – I can’t believe how fast time is already flying by!

So far, one of my favourite things about being in a university library is the fact that I’m involved in a lot of learning experiences – both my own and those of Brock students and faculty members. I said in my first entry that I wanted to disprove the idea that technology is rendering libraries obsolete, and I’ve found that the best way to do this is to demonstrate how much learning can occur with the help of technology, and the librarians who know how to use it. In just three short weeks, I’ve started work on a lot of different projects through both the Digital Scholarship Lab and the James A. Gibson library. Working on these projects has been exciting and also provided me with a lot of new learning experiences.

First, I got to be a part of the DSL’s bi-weekly podcast (and I have the picture to prove it!). This was a totally new experience for me – I like listening to podcasts and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to record one, but I had never tried it myself until I started working in the DSL. One of the reasons I like listening to podcasts is because I find it to be a more natural way to learn something new or to hear another person’s opinion on a subject I’m familiar with in the hopes of gaining a new perspective. I won’t spoil the episode in case you haven’t listened yet, but I liked having the opportunity to voice my thoughts on a topic, while also learning from others in a casual environment. The recording process felt like four people having a normal conversation, but when I listened back to the episode I realized how much ground we’d really covered in what felt like a short time.

Another project I’ve been involved with has been the planning of lots of DSL workshops for this semester. Working in the DSL has given me exposure to so many cool programs and technologies to learn and use in my work, and the workshops we’ve planned are a great way for students to learn these technologies and programs as well! Just last week, I attended my first workshop on Zotero, a citation management tool that is also capable of compiling bibliographies – a must for lengthy research papers. With every Zotero feature I learned, a small piece of my English major heart sighed, “if only I’d known about this in my undergrad when I was writing papers with 20+ sources”. The DSL is running another Zotero workshop closer to final assignment season (March 19th to be exact, run by yours truly), I highly recommend checking it out!

I’ve also been working on mastering data visualization and plan on running some workshops about the various programs I’ve used to develop my skills – so if citation management doesn’t appeal to you, fear not! Data visualization is another great learning tool for students and faculty. It makes patterns easier to see in datasets and makes large data sets easy to read and interpret. One of my data visualization projects has been creating a report based on a study that assessed language changes in Agatha Christie’s novels to determine whether or not she developed dementia in her old age. The study itself was fascinating (and a great example of digital scholarship), and visualizing the data is a really great way to see the trends and patterns – especially if you’re a visual learner like me, who has a hard time drawing conclusions just from reading tables. I also really enjoyed working with this study because data visualization is often seen as more of a necessity in STEM fields, and using it to notice trends in Agatha Christie’s writing style proves that this isn’t the case. Another message I really want to emphasize in this series is that the services offered by the DSL, as well as digital scholarship in general, is relevant to all fields of study – not just those that are technology based.

There are so many more projects and learning experiences I could write about in this entry, but I’ll leave you with one particular life lesson I learned last week about the nature of technology and social media. Following PM Justin Trudeau’s visit to Brock University, the DSL staff was overjoyed to see that Trudeau’s team appeared to be following us on Instagram! We basked in the glow of our national reach and validation for our efforts – how can you go wrong when The Prime Minister has actively shown support for what you do? We later came to the saddening realization that we had been bamboozled by a Justin Trudeau spam account (womp womp). We’re still hopeful that one day the real Justin Trudeau will drop by the DSL and profess his love for digital scholarship, but until then we’re happy to keep our focus on the Brock community.

My blog series is posted bi-weekly, so be sure to check back on February 8th for more on my internship journey!

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Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main