What is a Presidential Library Anyway?

by Liz Schroeter Courtney on February 17, 2014

The purpose of “Presidents’ Day” is not entirely agreed upon. Some celebrate it as a combined recognition of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays, which both fall in February. Others see it as a day to honor all US Presidents across our history, and still others just use it as an excuse to advertise mattress sales and 3-day discounts on electronics.

Though the focus of this day is unclear, it got us thinking about presidential legacies. Once a president is no longer in office, they are remembered in many ways. Some get their own holidays, some have been carved in stone on the side of a mountain or in a monument in Washington, DC. But one of the more consistent ways our presidents have been memorialized in our modern era is the presidential library.

But what exactly is a presidential library? Read the rest of this entry »

A Good Researcher is Like a Museum Curator

by Liz Schroeter Courtney on January 6, 2014

Recently I took an online course from University of Virginia about Design Thinking
for Business Innovation
. In the final week, the instructor, Dr. Jeanne M. Liedtka, made a comparison between a good researcher and museum curator.

I like this analogy since I truly believe that a key step in doing any sort of research is figuring out how to tell a story with all the data and information you have unearthed. Picturing someone walking through the halls of a museum, Read the rest of this entry »

3 Must-Reads in #LibrarySciences

by Liz Schroeter Courtney on December 23, 2013

Here’s a recap of three of our favorite recent reads from the world of library science and library tech. Check out more in our #LibrarySciences collection on Annotary.

photo from fjm.fujitsu.com

In Japan, public libraries embrace digital tech with NFCs, article from Springwise. Hanno City Library in Japan is integrating its collection with digital tech, using NFCs to help visitors more easily browse the contents of each shelf. What a cool integration of technology in the library! While NFC (near field communication) tags aren’t yet common in the US, the technology is being used in interesting ways Read the rest of this entry »

Khan Academy and the Public School Kid

by Paige Leavitt Mowbray on November 26, 2013

Photo by Joe Pugliese for Wired

I think worldwide tutoring provider Kumon may have the most honest logo out there. After enrolling one of my kids for a few months, I understood why its logo is a bleak line drawing of a withdrawn, unhappy kid. I wanted my kid to be challenged, but the repetitive drilling was boring and affecting her attitude toward learning. There had to be something better out there.

Public schools  are limited in how much they can tailor their pace and approach for each kid. So it’s up to families to find the right help. Something to allow kids to pursue their academic interests. Something to help them in a nonpunitive setting. Something fitted to their pace. I think this is why Khan Academy is so popular. It’s not revolutionary. But it’s got many families excited. And it’s free.

So is Khan Academy good enough to be the supplement to any public school kid’s education? Can Khan be the Flintstones vitamins for whatever kids are missing?

Read the rest of this entry »

Most Revered Train Trips in the Americas

by Paige Leavitt Mowbray on November 4, 2013

Peru Rail at Aguas Calientes

The Orient Express, the Trans-Siberian Railway, that summer you spent taking the trains across Europe or somewhere across the ocean. The Eastern hemisphere knows how to lay down some actual tracks and use them. For the other side of the planet, the idea of traveling farther than to the office by rail is less common. But there are some tremendous trips—in North and South America—that you don’t want to miss.

When a wedding in Peru justified my own train trip to Machu Picchu, I was reminded how great it is to just ride and look out the window. Free of our cars, the entire wedding party got to witness the Andes Mountains together. Now I can’t decide where to go next. As my family wearies of rushed road trips on familiar highways and air travel in general, the trains seem like an awesome way to make the journey part of the vacation while accessing all those national parks that have failed to install an airport nearby. What to do first? Yellowstone? Big Bend? Jasper? Denali? I used Annotary to collect my research into the best vacations in the Americas by rail. Let’s take a look at what I found:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Sharing Economy

by Liz Schroeter Courtney on October 25, 2013

photo from Peers

You know that phenomenon where you hear about something for the first time ever, and then suddenly it’s everywhere? It happened just recently for me with Peers, a grassroots organization that supports the sharing economy through education and promotion of peer-to-peer sharing networks. First a friend sent me a petition, organized by Peers, to stand up for AirBnB’s right to conduct business in New York City. Then I came across a blog post on the website of branding agency BBMG which interviewed Peers founders about the sharing movement. The next day on the subway, I overheard three women talking about the Peers dinner they had just come from where they’d met to discuss the sharing economy movement. Suddenly Peers and the idea of this so-called “sharing economy” was everywhere! I decided to do some research.

Read the rest of this entry »

Betting on Tablets for Schools

by Paige Leavitt Mowbray on October 10, 2013

iPad NY Times

Image by Brian Finke for The New York Times

I can remember when my high school purchased LaserDisc players to great excitement. In college, I remember a professor assigning us freshmen to infiltrate a chat room—all of us pretending to be someone else, for reasons only he knows why—on this burgeoning thing called the World Wide Web. Some things stick, some don’t.

It’s always interesting to witness a technology’s introduction to the classroom. Ideas are all over the place, and the potential is largely untested. With more experiences similar to the LaserDisc than to the Internet, teachers may be technology fatigued. But the media—and the policy makers and people who buy stuff for schools—have especially grand hopes for the tablet. Is this a temporary infatuation before the next new gadget? Or are tablets—specifically the beloved iPad—truly worth investing in for all students?

Read the rest of this entry »

Common Sense of Decision Making

by Nadia Uddin on October 1, 2013

decision making

Image from 99u.com

With varying degrees of consciousness, our waking moments are consumed with continuous decision-making. Some believe that all decisions, everything from our reactions to situations to what to each for lunch, are intentional and are, hence, our responsibility. However others have concluded that decisions are so influenced by external factors (such as how much sleep we got) that we are less involved in decision-making than we believe. Even with these opposing viewpoints, it wasn’t until two significant transitions happened in my life that I became aware of the accountability for my decisions. This inspired me to explore the decision-making process and understand the actions that render a good decision versus a bad one

The first transition was becoming a parent and receiving a deluge of Why?s from my toddler, all non-rhetorical. And the second was working on a start-up, where ambiguity comes with the game. These instances force me to explain many of my decisions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Packaging Emotional Intelligence for Schools

by Paige Leavitt Mowbray on September 27, 2013

Holly Andres for The New York Times

When I first read one of the many articles encouraging parents to bolster their kids’ “emotional intelligence” along with their IQ, I assumed the term serves two purposes: 1) to remind parents to tend to their kids’ well-being and behavior without sounding too patronizing about this obvious task and 2) to stoke the competitive impulses parents have for numbers like IQ and apply it to nurturing their kids. I figured we don’t need to turn the act of raising aware, content people into another measurable test.

But this idea is taking root. Emotional intelligence is showing up as formal curriculum in thousands of U.S. schools. If intelligence is the capacity to learn, then how do you teach emotional intelligence? Are we really talking about character development? Communication skills? Cooperation? Haven’t our schools always worked on those things? Or is this nudging kids to somehow take on desired personality traits (e.g., praising the extrovert)? Basically, is this a half-baked idea wasting education dollars and time?

Read the rest of this entry »

Using Technology to Prevent Medical Mistakes

by Paige Leavitt Mowbray on September 19, 2013

There’s the peculiar stories such as the woman implanted with the wrong embryo, who then selflessly chose to carry to term another couple’s baby. There’s the icky stories such as a woman realizing a surgical sponge was left inside her body after she began to smell like dead fish. There’s so many tragic stories such as the toddler who endured chemo and beat cancer only to fatally overdose from a drug error. And then there’s the alarming stats.

A cause was ignited in 1999 when the U.S. Institute of Medicine reported that hospital errors contribute to 98,000 deaths each year. But the numbers continue to be disconcertingly high for the United States. In 2008 there were 1.5 million injuries resulting from medical errors. That’s 7 percent of hospital admissions in an inpatient setting resulting in some type of medical injury. The Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2010 that one in seven Medicare beneficiaries have complications from medical errors, contributing to 180,000 deaths annually. One-third of families say they’ve been victims of a medical mistake, backed up by another study that puts the number at one in three hospital patients. And hospital errors continue to be a leading cause of death in America, ahead of breast cancer, AIDS, and car accidents.

One-third of families say they’ve been victims of a medical mistake. And hospital errors continue to be a leading cause of death in America.

With surgery accounting for about half of all unintended injuries, a foreign object is accidentally left inside a patient’s body about 40 times every week, and it’s almost as common for the wrong body part to be operated on. Even more common than surgical errors are medication errors. Such errors result from “poor communication; misinterpreted handwriting; drug name confusion; confusing drug labels, labeling, and packaging; lack of employee knowledge; and lack of patient understanding about a drug’s directions,” according to the FDA. What can be done to stop such surgical and medication errors, along with the insane number of other things that can go wrong?

Read the rest of this entry »