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July 2011
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October 2011

What Is Mikey Fixing?

I haven't looked at the menu in a long time. 

When Mike Lee & his sister Melissa opened up Mikey's Grill a little over a year ago, less than a mile from our house, we started going once a week with Marian & Josie.  We've known Mikey & Melissa for a very long time from the days when they were at Fox Valley. 

It wasn't too many visits before I started asking our server, "Just ask Mikey to make me whatever he wants.  I know it'll be good."  It always is. 

Mikey likes it -- gives him a chance to try out some different things.  And he knows I'll give him an honest critique.

Sometimes he'll ask me what I'm sort of generally in the mood for -- beef, fish, pasta?  Most often, though, he just tells me.  I trust him.

When I got to the restaurant he stepped out of the kitchen to say hi and said, "I've got a cold soup for you."  Now I actually don't like cold soups as a rule, but I just said, "Sounds good!"  It didn't really, but like I said, I trust him.

It turned out to be a cantaloupe cream soup.  It was fantastic.  It was sweet, but not cloying, about the thickness of a smoothie, I suppose.  A beautiful pale orange color.  You could freeze it and serve it for dessert, but after a couple of 99 degree days, it was an exceptional first course.  I just about inhaled it.

He hadn't said anything about my entree.  I never ask.  But I'd been thinking earlier in the day.  We're in the middle of Restaurant Week here, so Lynn and I have been trying new restaurants.  So I'm eating more this week than I usually do and I thought maybe I should cut it back a bit at Mikey's.  Maybe just a sandwich?  He does fantastic po' boys.  Or maybe I should just go vegetarian for a change?  He's always got great fresh local vegetables.  On the other hand, I'm going to overeat this week anyway, and he does great burgers, so maybe I should go for that!

I now know that he actually can read my mind, because what came out was a beautiful, delicious, vegetable burger.   A soft poppy seeded roll with layers of grilled onions, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and some cheese.  What always impresses me the most about Mikey's cooking is the balance -- texture, tastes, all seem to lock into each other just right so that the final dish is always more than the assemblage of ingredients.  So it was with the burger.

I'd order another one next week.  But, of course, he'll have thought of something else for me by then.

 


University Library 2031

Please share your ideas about what university libraries might look like in 20 years and how we are planning and adapting to keep pace.  This information should be limited to one page...

Every summer I have a 90 minute planning meeting with the President & Provost.  It's an opportunity to talk about how the year has gone, but more importantly, to discuss the major priorities for the year to come.  I get a memo every year listing the items I'm supposed to write up (generally in no more than half a page each) to lay the ground for discussion.  Typically they include things like the university scorecards, significant achievements, top priorities, faculty & staff development and the like.  This year, there were a couple of new questions, including the one above.

I had to smile.  Five years is a long time to be planning these days in libraryland -- to predict two decades isn't science fiction, it's fantasy.  But I always enjoy these meetings and this year I've got a new boss who is really putting a lot of good thought into imagining how the libraries ought to be developing.  So I'm looking forward to the meeting, and I like the challenge of trying to distill my fantasizing into one page.

Here's what I wrote:

 

Twenty years is a long time.  In 1991, when I would try to explain the Internet to people, I would have to show them.  If you hadn’t used a browser, you didn’t have a mental map for what pointing and clicking to move from site to site was like.  The Netscape browser, which made the Internet accessible to anyone with a computer and a dial-up connection, wouldn’t be released until December, 1994.

The consequences of those developments have been huge for academic libraries, and we can expect even more of that over the next two decades.  No doubt, some of what will be the most crucial developments are literally unimaginable from this vantage point.  Nonetheless, one can make some assumptions and speculate about the nature of the academic library based on those assumptions.

  • Most scholarly/educational information will be distributed electronically, although print will continue to be an important niche technology in certain disciplines
  • The form and format of information containers will be radically different, incorporating multi-media and social devices.  The distinction between “e-journals” and “e-books” will have disappeared
  • Much of the required content will be distributed via national or global projects similar to the Google Books project and the Digital Public Library of America
  • Management of locally produced data (“data curation”) will emerge as one of the critical tasks for research universities
  • The “information space” will continue to be very complex and rich, and students and faculty will require training and support in making efficient and effective use of the resources available.

Consequently:

  • “Collection development” as it has been practiced in the past will disappear.  Librarians will focus on managing access to widely distributed information resources, on data curation of locally produced research information, and on organizing and making available locally produced special collections
  • The library building will be student focused as an alternative site for solitary and group study, social interaction, and access to specialized tools and resources.
  • Faculty librarians will spend the majority of their time outside of the library building, participating in curriculum development and teaching, and as members of research teams.

Our space planning focus continues to be making the building a hospitable environment for students.  Our focus on licensing resources is very much usage & request based, so that we can be sure that everything we pay for is being well used.  Our liaison program encourages faculty librarians to spend time interacting directly with faculty and students in the schools that they support.  We will continue to focus our future planning on these areas.

 

How much of that will actually ring true in 20 years I have no idea.  But in the summer of 2011 it's my one page best guess.

 


1st Day In 1st Grade

"What do you think you're going to like best about first grade, Bug?"

"I'm not sure, 'cause I've never been there before.  But I think it'll be reading and learning."  I like the distinction.  "I know what I'm going to miss the most, though -- nap time!"  She grins and I can't tell if she's kidding.  She insists that she's not.

That was a couple of weeks ago.

The other day I asked her how many books she's read this summer.  "Two hundred and eighty-eight," she replies, promptly.  When I suggest that she's exaggerating she gets mock-angry with me.  "No, really!" she says.

At dinner last night her Mom gave her a back to school kit -- her crayons and markers and glue and scissors.  A marker board that she can write "gymnastics" or "dance" on in the evening before bed so she knows what stuff to take with her in the morning.  And her own alarm clock, with an iPad dock.  We tease her that she'll be able to have Justin Bieber wake her up in the morning now.  This embarrasses her only a little.

Marian called this morning after getting Josie on the bus.  She showed Josie how to work her alarm clock last night before bed.  "When it goes off, you get up and turn it off, like this.  Then wash up, brush your teeth, get dressed, brush your hair, make your bed, and then make sure that I'm awake."

She listened this morning (having actually set her alarm to go off slightly before Josie's).  Heard it go off, heard Josie shuffling around, getting ready, coming in to check on her.   And when she peeked into Josie's room the bed was made!  "I wish it could be like this every morning!" said Marian.  "I know it won't be."  But we agreed that it was a great start.

Marian has responsibility for rounding up parents to help out with buses and cafeteria trays these first two weeks.  So I'll go out tomorrow afternoon to help guide the kindergarteners onto the appropriate buses.  I hope I don't scare 'em.