Author Archives: tiffinianne

The terrible design mistakes you’re likely making on your resume

Useful design options for those fresh out of Grad School. I confess I have been on a million search committees and have seen very few resumes that could be categorized as unique. The ones that have had unique layout (sidebars, vertical headings attracted my attention more than the boring resumes) But if anyone submitted one of the infographic resumes I have seen online I probably wouldn’t have been impressed. Content over trendy.


A Dear John Letter to the Standards

LOVE this.

Do-It-Yourself Library Instruction

Dear Standards,

I will never forget the day we met, in one of my favorite library school classes.  You were a little standoffish, a little cold.  It took some time to really get to know you, but once I did, I loved you.

Remember my library instruction practicum?  I would write out lesson plans so carefully, and you would help me develop student learning outcomes that made sense for each class.  You gave me confidence as I faced those first classes, still a student myself, and taught them about research.  You helped me realize how important it was to give students quality, intentional information literacy instruction.  You helped me choose this as my life’s work.

When I started my first library job, you challenged me.  I had freedom to be creative in the classroom, so I tried to develop instruction that kept students active and encouraged them to envision themselves…

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My Cuban Bucket List

cubapassportI was so excited to go to Cuba in 2011, I created a bucket list of all the things I wanted to do while I was in the country. Before I left to attend a satellite conference hosted by the Social Sciences division of  the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), I watched Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations episode that featured Havana.  Much of what he experienced contributed greatly to my bucket list. I fulfilled almost everything on my list except attending a baseball game. This post is four years overdue because my Ipad died and took with it all my notes and bucket list entries. By chance, I came across this list while looking for an email (Go me!). My next post about Cuba will discuss my observations regarding information technology and freedom of access in a communist country. Until then, please check out the monograph, Open Access and Digital Libraries /Acceso Abierto y Bibliotecas Digitales Edited by Rudasill, Lynne M. and Dorta-Duque, Maria Elena featuring subject matter from the satellite conference. As you can imagine, there are a lot of updates needed for the next post due to the passage of time and changing political climate. cigars

Smoke a cigar 

I don’t smoke. I usually hate the smell of cigars. However, I was, as Samuel L. Jackson would say, in mother f**king Cuba. So of course, this was a significant task on my list. All I wanted was a single cigar- just one cigarillo. Part of my search included bringing a Cuban for my cigar smoking Dad (Ok- I guess the term is smuggling). A Cuban colleague suggested I buy myself a Cohiba Mini Cigar and my father a larger Cohiba cigar. It turns out that single cigars were more difficult to find than I realized. Many places didn’t sell single mini cigars so it wasn’t until my last night that I found a place that did. Even before I smoked my cigarillo, I wrote about cigars my first night in Havana. At the time I wrote:dad

 “As I’m smelling the sweet aroma of a Cuban cigar I think: It had to be rolled on the thighs of a virgin. It smells so much of a sugary nectar, a nice compliment to my buzz..”

(Buzz? Ok, so the first thing I did on my bucket list was drink a Mojito. But doesn’t my dad look smooth?)


Write a fictional piece while in Hemingway’s Bar 

The name of the bar is La Bodeguita del Medio which roughly translates to “the store in the middle” because its in the middle of a long narrow street. It is known to be the place where Hemingway started his Mojito hazed days. hemingwayintThe bar is small and filled with the scribbles of people who flock there to be in the presence of his ghost.  The bartender sent me air kisses and made one of those cat calls. All I wanted was to buy my cigarillo.

Went to Hemingway’s bar
To buy a Cuban cigar
But instead all I got 
Is a whistle and kiss
Adios little bar in Havana

(Hey, I had like three minutes to compose this while I was in the bar. Don’t judge me.)

rafaelGo to a baseball game

Baseball in Cuba is an addiction. I love the ambiance of a feverish sports crowd and was really looking forward to eating bad food and warm beer in the seats with the die-hard fans. Sadly, I wasn’t able to go to a baseball game as the season was done. It was one of the major items on my list. So instead, I just talked to Rafael, our driver, about baseball in his pidgin English and my non-existent Spanish.

mojitoDrink a Mojito

I think I must have done this bucket list item at least a half-dozen times. How often does one get to drink this succulent cocktail on the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Havana?

Kiss a Cuban

Other than too many romance films, I don’t know why I added this to my list. From my notes I wrote:

men“You need a caballero?” Yes the Cuban men love me. Of course they love any female, but it’s nice to feel like you got game in a foreign land. I suppose kissing a Cuban will be an easy thing to knock off the Cuban bucket list.

As I predicted, it wasn’t very difficult to find a Cuban man who would let me kiss him on the cheek. I won’t kiss and tell, but I did get this done and a few wedding proposals to boot!

( I didn’t take up the offer from these men to be my caballeros but I did ask to take their picture. It may have been the shirt.)

water in cubaPut my toes in the ocean

We went to Veradero Beach and not only did I get my toes in the ocean, but I got all the way in! The water was beautiful and in the crazy heat, felt amazing. I felt bad when little kids wanted to charge us for taking pictures of them but when you live in a country like Cuba who can blame them.


Take a picture of a classic carexterior

Not only did I take amazing pictures of classic cars but I got to ride in one! I was totally shocked to learn that most of the old cars are just “classic” on the outside. They have been spliced together with various parts and whatever else they can use (I saw Duct Tape!) to keep them running. Check out the inside of our touring vehicle. These pictures are the exterior and interior of Rafael’s car the Garcia Gallion. I pray that the first imports from the US are original Pontiac and Chevy parts.

(The back seat was from a Chinese manufacturer and virtually nothing inside these cars is original anymore)

el hornoEat at a Paladar

Paladar is the Cuban name for privately owned restaurants. They take Cuban Pesos (CUP) instead of the tourist currency called Convertible Pesos*. I was eager to eat at a Paladar. The  fish and meat were served in ample amounts. The prices were equivalent to $5 a plate for a meal we would normally pay $25 for. This included the wine. It was  a small place but the staff were thrilled to have a gaggle of librarians come eat at their spot. I only wish we had tipped more. It’s the cocktail waitress in me I guess.

While the food was tasty, this was the first of many meals that left me wishing I brought my travel-sized bottle of Tapatio. I tried to ask for spiciness in every Spanish variant I could think of: Salsa picante, jalapenos, even the shaking motion a bottle of hot sauce. Every time, I got a dog head tilt as a reply. Alongside Costa Rica, I had to add Cuba to my list of Latin countries that have not discovered the culinary necessity of chili peppers. If I could start a business in Cuba it would be a Sriracha hot sauce plant.


Visit a library 


As it turned out, I visited many libraries in Cuba. The Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba José Martí is where our conference was held. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations so other than the presentation rooms I didn’t see much. I visited a large public library and archival collection both located in the middle of old Havana. El Buro de Homicidos was the best book title of the trip. I also met librarians who worked diligently to meet the needs of their patrons. Their passion for librarianship matched those of their American counterparts. Meeting and speaking to them about their experience providing information to the public was a highlight of my trip. In Cuba there are also underground libraries with collections made up of “subversive literature”. I wish we could have visited these as well to get an accurate representation of information access and censorship.


Oddly enough, my two favorite libraries were both abandoned. They were near the Paladar El Horno and were catercorner from each other. The sign Biblioteca is definitely the coolest library sign ever made. It was apparent the second library had been vacated for many years. If you peaked through the windows, you could see books that had been leftifla inside. The holes in the ceiling let in light and birds used them to fly in and out of the open spaces. Ironically there was a placard on the front of the library commemorating the first time that  International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) visited Cuba.

Take an iconic picture: Plaza de la Revolución


The Plaza de la Revolución is perhaps the most historically significant place in Havana I visited. Castro addressed millions in this Plaza. You could almost imagine being there when standing in the center. From the José Martí Memorial, I was able to see get this view of the plaza. I consider it my “iconic photo” of Cuba.


The Enrique Jorrin Orchestra was my soundtrack for this bucket list item. Enrique Jorrin is long gone but I guess these bands stay together and use the original name in perpetuity. He is said to be the originator of the Cha Cha ChadanceThe band performed in the foyer of the Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba José Martí. While we danced we had an endless supply of Mojitos and Cuba Libre available at the information desk. Needless to say, I danced. Many of my readers have been on the French Quarter and witnessed drunk librarians. Yes it was like that.

(The front man was muy suave. Don’t you think so too?)

churchGo to Mass

I must be hanging out with my dad too much. I am not even Catholic but Catholic churches are usually one of the first things I want to see when I travel (OK- well maybe not in Saudi Arabia). I wanted to go to an old Catholic Churches in Old Havana but didn’t recall one of the basic tenets of communism: Religion is the opiate of the masses. So of course religion isn’t a dominant aspect of current Cuban society. While there are still Catholic churches, most of them have been converted. The San Francisco de Assisi in old Havana was converted into a concert hall.

Visit a bar.

barI went to many bars but the coolest one was what I called “Bar of memories” in my notes. Upon further examination it is a bar located within a section of the hotel that is known as the Hall of Fame. The hall was a nostalgic look at the notorious and famous guests who stayed at the Hotel Nacional . This list included gangsters, movie stars and sadly even the Backstreet Boys. Glass cases held programs, old casino chips from the pre-Castro years and other ephemera. So many primary materials. It was a librarian’s wet dream for sure. The history of the hotel is romantic and worth checking out. The Bar attached to the hall is where I finally found my tiny cigar. Since it was my last night in Havana, I was scrambling to complete my bucket list. I hit two birds with one stone as I completed a additional task on my bucket list: Drink a tumbler of Cuban Rum – neat.


Eat at a street vendor truck.

Whenever I travel, I try to eat where the locals eat. In St. Thomas the best meal I had was from a food truck. My first day in Havana, I saw a lot of food vendors near the Malecón and decided to eat there one night. It was another thing on my list that I didn’t complete. While I could see the vendors from my hotel room, I never made it out to buy food. I got sick from water I bought on the street toward the end of my visit, so it is probably a good thing I didn’t!

While looking at  the Malecón, I could see the people hanging decorations on the light poles. They were also setting up large floats that later had bands and dancers all over them. After a few Mojitos, we partyventured down to the festival and had another amazing Havana night. The closest I got to buying local food on the street was purchasing a beer for $.50 that would cost $4 at the hotel. The empty street in the picture with the float was later crawling with people, soldiers and librarians .

(I wish I had quality shots of the floats but thanks to Apple’s inability to make cameras on iPhones that work at night you get a picture of me and my librarian friend Liz)

Watch the sunset on the seawall


This was the view from taken from my hotel the first night in Havana. It was this breathtaking. What is probably more awesome than this image is the fact that I could hear the Bee Gees blasting from the market tents below. Surreal.


Adios Havana

I really enjoyed my time in Havana and I hope to go back and visit again soon, My dream is to assist Cuban libraries as they transition into a connected society. When I visited in 2011, internet access was limited and there was no online catalog or inter-connectivity between libraries. My smart phone was the equivalent to a tablet on the Flintstones. As US-Cuban relations relax and increases, I foresee an increased need for digital and information literacy for the population. Anyone in Cuba reading this feel free to send me an email when the time comes!

* I was happy to find this BBC article which notes that Cuba is changing their dual currency system.

Facebook Insights 2015 : Measuring What You Post and Audience Engagement

main page of fb fan page analytics

Facebook Fan Page Insights revisited

If they can’t see it will they come?

While I have never been a champion of Facebook as the ultimate source of outreach for libraries, I have always loved it is an informal way to reach students in an immediate manner. In the way way back days of Facebook and Myspace, I would reach students via groups and eventually the “Page”. After the mass exodus from Myspace to Facebook the fan page became the preferred method of interaction. I enjoyed thinking of new and creative ways to keep fans entertained and informed. In those salad days of the fan page, I knew I was reaching everyone who “liked” the page and could see basic statistics of who was viewing content. As Helene Blowers noted in Computers in Libraries (2012), engagement is measured by reach and influence. She astutely observed Facebook Insights as the most cost-effective way for libraries to measure these two levels of engagement.

Flash forward to the rising popularity of Facebook Pages and the establishment of corporate social media strategies. The increase in companies willing to pay for visibility on Facebook has turned out to be a mixed blessing. On one hand it lures organizations with the promise of reaching thousands of potential users, while at the same time placing unexplained limits on the “reach” of posts and appearances in timelines (unless you pay). Each attempt at engagement is unnaturally limited and basically ensures that in no way shape or form will you ever reach all of your fans who have liked your page.

While increasing reach has become more and more of a struggle for Page admins, the latest version of Insights coupled with the current News Feed algorithm holds promise. Facebook invested a significant amount of time improving Page Insights. The current algorithm makes it possible to appear in more timelines without paying for placement.  There is a great increase in the ability for administrators of Pages to analyze the level of engagement created amongst users based upon factors such as time of day fans are online, high performing posts and conversely posts which have had negative feedback. Understanding the latest version of audience metrics and post algorithm can help libraries leverage Facebook to increase awareness of services.

Nailing Honey to the Bee

Since Facebook is notorious for changing algorithms and interfaces without notice, it is useful to monitor Facebook modifications by following pages such as BufferSocial and Wisemetrics . Additionally, Facebook responded to criticism from businesses and created a Facebook for Business blog specifically for announcing any changes. Kevan Lee of BufferSocial gives an explicit list of criteria Facebook values to rank posts. I am including the ones most relevant to libraries. The current algorithm favors posts with lots of likes and/or comments. Format plays an important role in placement as photos, videos and media have a higher ranking. I was surprised to learn posts which tag other pages, reference trending topics or contain external links are more likely to appear in News Feeds. Furthermore, rankings are measured by amount of time it takes for multiple likes or comments. In an effort to dissuade spammers or repeat ads, the algorithm rewards the promotion of original content and links that are not already posted numerous times on the site.

As of December 19, 2014, Facebook introduced yet another edition of Insights. This version provides valuable data in an intuitive format. While most labels existed in previous iterations of the metrics, the level of analysis provides a better representation of fan activity. You’ll find this change will make it easier for libraries to gain more insight (pun intended) into what is or isn’t working. Learning how to analyze the data available in the new Insights will directly impact your visibility on user News Feeds.

Golden Rules of Audience Engagement

Over the many years since Facebook Pages were first created, there has been a standard set of rules of engagement for anyone who markets using social media. Engagement is not a precise science but most experts agree certain types of posts lead to the most number of likes and a larger reach. Lets examine some of the golden rules of audience engagement and how the News Feed algorithm and Insights can be employed to improve Page performance.

 User Generated Content: In an age of social media celebrity, individuals love to have their content retweeted, regrammed or reblogged. User content in a variety of formats is easily found via hashtags.  Mining sites like Yik Yak and Twitter to find additional mentions of the library will yield additional content.

performance by type

Performance of Posts by Type

Implications for Algorithm and Insights: This is directly related to the algorithm which emphasizes graphical and new content. The more engaging and interesting the image, the more likely it is to be seen. To measure the impact, Facebook insights has an option to see which posts perform best by type. This can give actual data on how well students receive specific types of media, if they click on the post and can determine which type of post to replicate in the future.

Keep Content Fresh: A starting point for generating content has been gleaning the campus and library calendar to find annual or semi-annual events. Developing regular features in a calendar cycle in a variety of formats will keep posts interesting and current. Nothing hurts a page more than dormancy especially with the algorithm settings. 

Post Reach Analyitics

Post Reach comparison

There is a fine line between posting too little and posting too much. A key indicator of posting too frequently is a mass exodus of “unsubscribes”. Not posting enough is easily measured by the drops in views on your page. It is important to recognize the “cleaning house” college students are likely to engage in during the beginning and end of the academic year. Graduation and retention should be accounted for when looking at the number of users who leave your library fan page so you don’t attribute the departures to a specific post.

likes and shares in FB Insights

You can now see your likes and shares and comments in a variety of graphs with clickable links directly to posts/dates etc.

Net Likes on Facebook Insights

Each point along this graph is clickable to see even more details about which milisecond your page was liked or unliked

Implications for Algorithm and Insights: Incorporating content found on sister campus pages can increase visibility (linking to other pages) Insights measure the response to content on your most and least liked posts. The “Reach” and “Engagement” tabs are helpful to gauge post frequency. Examine the time your fans are online (as opposed to the generic guides of “when to post” found all over the internet). It will give you data to compare to your posts from previous periods. Another new feature allows you identify similar pages to “compare post performance” to benchmark your post success.

screenshot of Facebook Insights- top posts from pages you watch

Adding other library pages (especially ones that are more popular than your own) can help determine your marketing strategy on Facebook

Initiate Interaction: Feedback encourages more comments which increases the chance a post will show up in a feed. Questions don’t always have to be library service related. One of the most popular posts on our Library page was a request for feedback about our 24/7 library hours during finals. Another way to increase likes and shares is to integrate humor. See this Craigslist ad posted as an image on our page (below). 

popular post on the Library home page

One of our highest and most influential posts. Notice Insights now provide a section entitled “Negative Feedback”

Implications for Algorithm and Insights: Students love images, funnies, and questions. This post combines all and as a result was one of our top performing posts for the semester. To evaluate your success take a look at the data for individual posts. What is nice about the current version of Insights is the direct link between unlikes- hides or likes. (Perhaps I am a fatalist but I am always a little paranoid one wrong post will result in a flurry of “unlikes” or “hide all post”.)

Implications for Measuring Engagement

I expect the latest version of insights to finally link the use of Facebook fan pages to substantive data which will help libraries pinpoint what services to market. It will also determine what type of posts yield the best results. The answers for some libraries may be surprising. While it will not directly relate the usage of library services with marketing on Facebook, it takes us one step closer to doing just that. While conducting research for this post, I found a plethora of advice on organic (read: FREE) ways to increase visibility on Facebook. Stephane Allard of advises posting the same content more than once as it will increase reach with very little overlap. However, as of January 2015, Facebook will downgrade repeat posts which may make this particular approach ineffective. I think libraries can take advantage of the algorithm in other ways. One method is to coordinate with other campus social media sites (Facebook likes links to other pages), blend content from other social media sites like Vine, Youtube and Instagram (Facebook likes media saturated posts), mine user generated content (Facebook likes unique subject matter) and finally, pay attention to the trending topics on Facebook and include in posts as appropriate.

Additionally, Facebook announced the addition of “Call to Action” buttons which allows fans to sign up for a variety of features: Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game,  Shop Now, Sign Up, and Watch Video. It will be interesting to see how these features can be incorporated to drive fans to library services.


gratuitous chance to mention my fetish for spiked heels

The internet is saturated with posts discussing the best way for libraries to create a social media presence but rarely address measuring the concrete impact on library usage. Is all the time and energy we spend developing content for Facebook time well spent? Perhaps using the tools Facebook freely provides will give us a satisfactory answer. I just dream of the day when university libraries show up on a  student Facebook home page like Zappos does on mine after I oggle shoes online.

Addendum: After this month, I will pass the torch onto our new Social Media Group (Gabe Gardner, Cynthia M. Orozco and Chloe Pasqual) who have been responsible for creating our other social media profiles and astutely snagging content from Twitter and Yik Yak. 

Information Literacy + Service Learning = Social Change (WLIC Lyon 2014)

In the evolution of information literacy from a competency based set of standards to one that is more holistic and reflects current trends in higher education, it is critical to evaluate the role of information literacy in social change. One of the key purposes of a university is not only to help students gain critical thinking and applied skills for the workplace but also to instill a sense of responsibility and desire to make a difference in the world around them. More than just focusing on data collection, it is important for academic libraries to, “shift our thinking to include affective (emotional) learning outcomes that address self-efficacy, student confidence, attitudes, motivation, and valuing what is being learned.” (ACRL Standard Review ACRL AC12 Doc 13.1). These key areas are all embodied within the learning outcomes of a service learning curriculum. The focus of this paper is two-fold: to examine how information literacy complements a service learning focused curriculum and how service learning projects can be embedded in any course regardless of the discipline.

Full Conference Paper Available in the IFLA repository: