INFO 287: Fandoms

My wife, Natalie Stark, dressed as Hulk and me dressed as Thor before the Avengers premiere.

As you might have guessed from last weeks post I am familiar with fandoms. I participate in making things from my favorite stories, draw pictures of characters when bored, and have dressed up for the midnight premier of movies like the Avengers. Although I have been a part of that side of fandoms I have not participated in the more literary side of fandoms. I have never written or sought out fan fiction stories, though I can see how they can be valuable learning tools.


Writing fanfiction in particular seems to have a good parallel with video games when it comes to learning. Both activities draw the fan or player in and in many cases compel them to form a community of learning as described in a New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. In the book the authors give an example of a college course where students played a video game throughout the class. In time the students were compelled to create a learning community around the game and learn deep lessons without the aid of their professor (Thomas & Brown, 2011).

Fanfiction works in much the same way. People form a deep connection with their favorite characters and worlds from books and television and are compelled to write about them. This burning desire leads them to write and possibly join a fanfiction website, where other people can read their writings and give them writing advice. In essence they create a sort of writers club that mimics the standard creative writing course, except the writers don’t write for a grade but for the love of the story.

While I haven’t ever been to a fandom event at a library I have no doubt that they help the library interact with teen artists and writers. In her essay Katie Behrens writes about hosting a fandom centered art event. Behrens said that”even if teens aren’t active in online fandoms, chances are good they’ve read something awesome lately and have that creative itch to make something” (Behrens 2012). These events can easily attract teens for some hands on learning, and isn’t that one of the biggest goals of a library?


Behrens, K. (2012). Essay: why you should pay attention to fandoms [web post]. Retrieved from

Thomas, D. , & Brown, J. (2011). A New Culture of Learning : Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. CreateSpace.



INFO 287: Nerdiest Project

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, a very personal and very hidden secret… I’m a nerd. I know it will come to a shock to anyone who knows me, has seen the Iron Man standing on my desk at work, or the pictures of me and my daughter in matching Superman outfits. More importantly I am a creative nerd, and I have a similar story as the one Adam Savage from Mythbusters shared in this weeks video, except instead of wanting to be Han Solo I wanted to be Superman.

When I was sixteen I carved an octagonal disk out of wax with strange symbols in it, put it in a mold, melted it out, and shot molten silver into the leftover hole using a spinning crucible. After the metal cooled it was sanded and polished until I had a replica of a piece of Clark Kent’s ship from Smallville that acted as some sort of alien hard drive. To quote Savage “it gets better.” I made a wooden holder for the disk, embedded it into my bedroom wall, painted the  wall to look like stone, painted kryptonian symbols on top of the stone, and wired the holder to play sound from my stereo when the disk was put in the holder.

Smallville Cave Wall and Disk


Like I said, nerd. But as dorky as this project was it made me as happy as it made my parents mad (I went the “ask for forgiveness” route). Also like Savage I have continued making things from movies and original art.

Ultimately I agree with Savage, that there is no real difference between creating original things or replicas. They are both creative, require real skill, and can give you a sense of happiness. Both types of projects give me the same satisfaction and helped hone the same kinds of skills. I was equally happy when I designed the SJSU ALASC library t-shirt as I  was making the Smallville disk, the only real difference is one project is vastly more socially acceptable to show off.

INFO 287: Living in a Digital World

How does participating in online culture differ from participating in a physical space? How is it the same?

A large part of my life has been spent exploring various digital worlds. I am only a few years older than the teens interviewed in “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out” and I grew up in the same, or very similar, environment. Texting, IMing, Myspace, and video games monopolized my teen years and continue on in some form today.

In “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out” the authors divide online culture into several categories. One category, hanging out, is an extension of physical culture. People digitally hang out with peers they know in real life online to have a sense of privacy. They text friends to continue conversations across long distances and play online games with friends when they are unable to physically hang out. All of these activities can also be done offline and in person.

It has been  a few years since this book was written and the lines between the digital and physical worlds have blurred to the point that for many people the two worlds are one and the same. As a teenager everyone wanted the coolest flip phone, with unlimited texts! Now texting takes a back seat to social media on smart phones where the entire online universe is instantly accessible at all times. It is common to take pictures at any given activity and instantly put them online where your friends can “like” them. At library conferences people are told to use the conference hashtag while live tweeting their thoughts on the presentations. Even traditional accessories can access the internet, I can reply to Facebook posts and text on my watch and buy running shoes that track my steps. The digital culture and offline culture have merged into the single culture of my generation because we are always online.

Ito, M., & Bittanti, M. (2009). Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out : Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge, US: The MIT Press. Retrieved from

Explanation of Mixed Content

Hello anyone who finds this blog!

For the next few months there will be two kinds of posts. I will continue to store the posts I contribute to the I-SPIE website and I will post my thoughts on my SJSU MLIS classes. Many of these courses require weekly blogging so it makes sense to write them here on my already library centric blog.

Thanks for reading!


What I Learned at ILLiad

Last week I attended the International ILLiad Conference in Virginia Beach! Between playing Minute To Win It games, showing a snazzy poster, and chillin with Neptune I learned a thing or two about how to use certain features in ILLiad and what enhancements are coming.

ILLiad and WorldShare moving to a cloud based web app

OCLC and Atlas is looking into creating a combined cloud based web app. Very little information has been given other than they are looking into creating this new ILLiad/WorldShare hybrid. If you are interested in working on this and possibly being an early adopter of this new program contact Katie Birch at

IFM Refunds

OCLC will soon allow you to refund IFM charges without creating a dummy request.

Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States

The Interlibrary Loan Code has been around since 1916 and revisions are currently being handled by STARS and RUSA. Like the Pirate Code the ILL Code is a system of guidelines and not legally binding rules, that being said it is a great guide on how to make sure your ILL department plays well with others. The code was recently updated and Brian Miller from the revision committee gave an explanation of the new changes. Some notable changes include:

  • The due date has been clarified as the date the patron needs to return the book to the borrowing library. We no longer need to adjust due dates to allow extra shipping time.
  • Staples are strongly discouraged because they can damage books or hurt people while opening packaging. On a personal note I have a scar from a rogue staple on an ILL package.
  • Scans should appear as close to the original as possible. Scanning in color is encouraged for pages with pictures or graphs. Black and White copies often turn the image into a black blob.

As I am sure you are all aware, there are many other less memorable guidelines in this code. To read the full code and supplemental explanations go here: Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States.


I learned two things on statistics that really impressed me. The first piece of advice given was to make the stats visually appealing. When a librarian is handed a spreadsheet with thousands of numbers they will likely be overwhelmed and will forget about your stats almost immediately. Not only should the stats be clean and have colorful graphs but they should use graphic design elements such as lightly textured backgrounds and pictures to pull the reader in. There are many free programs to create PDF’s, infographics, and booklets to show off your statistics in a memorable way.

The other thing I learned about are Custom Request Searches in ILLiad. While many library folk at the conference knew about Custom Request Searches about half had never heard of this handy dandy feature. By clicking the small arrows on the ILLiad Home tab you can access a search function to create very detailed ILLiad stats. Once you decide which conditions and filters to use ILLiad will generate a spreadsheet for you to download and use as a basis for your statistics reports.

Poster Session

Before the poster session began I took pictures of many of the posters so I could refer to them later. Below is a slideshow of all the pictures.


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Using Reprints Desk and Other Document Suppliers to Save Money

A little while ago I received a phone call from Darlene Nowak at San Diego State University. She knew Cal Poly, like San Diego, was using Reprints Desk to save money on copyright. Darlene thought it would be a good idea for our statistics to be shared with members of the ILL community so together we made a poster presentation for the International ILLiad Conference in Virginia Beach.

CPS Chart
This graph visualizes the difference in price between Reprints Desk and the CCC at Cal Poly SLO.

Cal Poly SLO started using Reprints Desk on August 28, 2015. To find out how much money we were saving using both Reprints Desk and the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) we created a spreadsheet showing the prices we paid Reprints Desk and what we would have paid using just the CCC. Between August and Dec 31st Cal Poly spent $2,031.40 less than we would have if we stuck to only using the CCC. We still use the CCC for articles that are cheaper through their service.

Turnaround time
92% of Reprints Desk articles arrived at Cal Poly in under an hour. .

Another Benefit to using Reprints Desk is the speed of delivery. As we all know articles requests can take awhile to arrive. We request it from a string of libraries and every library on the string has several days to fill the article, meaning articles can take hours to weeks to arrive. At Cal Poly SLO 92% of the articles we requested arrived within an hour. It seemed like most of these articles actually arrived in less than 10 minutes but the statistics provided by Reprints Desk measures by the hour.

The statistics provided by Darlene Nowak showed similar results at San Diego State University (SDSU). SDSU used Reprints Desk along with mediated Get It Now through all of 2015. Since Cal Poly SLO has yet to use Get It Now only the Reprints Desk numbers were used in this presentation, we felt it was appropriate to compare apples to apples and not apples to apples AND oranges. San Diego saved an estimated $3,699.66 and received 85% of their articles in under an hour with Reprints Desk in all of 2015.

SDSU Chart
San Diego State saved $3,699.66 using Reprints Desk.
SDSU Turnaround time
San Diego State received 85% of their articles in under an hour.