29 September 2008

Nicholas Carr on Stephen Colbert

Fantastic. It's awesome to see Nicholas Carr hold his own with Stephen Colbert, who is WONDERFUL here. The idea that we become like the tools we use, and Colbert's question of whether our creation takes us over, is always one my students find challenging when we talk about technology. I can't wait to share this with them!

26 September 2008

At a Faculty Conference, thinking a little differently about Info Lit

I have been in North Carolina this week for the Association of General and Liberal Studies Conference. Cyndi Brandenburg, Kelly Thomas, and I gave our presentation "Too Much Information: Helping Students Deal Effectively with Information Overload." You can see our slides here or check out our wiki here. The presentation went really well. It was a tiny room but we filled it up. While the presentation was fun, it was the conversation that followed that was truly the highlight of the conversation. These faculty were very excited by what we are doing with information literacy in both library sessions and in classrooms. Many of them expressed interest in embedding IL into their own courses or curriculum! YAHOO!!!

It was really interesting to talk about information literacy at a faculty conference rather than a library one. The issues and concerns that these faculty members expressed are not far from those I've heard on library blogs or in the literature. The difference I think is that faculty are surprised to hear that the library would think about information literacy in any way other than as a ploy for using the library. The group of faculty that I sat down with seemed to be wondering how to cope themselves with not information overload among their students but knowledge deficiency. Students, these faculty decried, don't come into college with the general knowledge that they should have. They fear that we are purporting what some of them see as a crutch: the ability to look things up but not to LEARN. Not to KNOW.

That's worth thinking about. It aligns well with a book I have checked out from the library called True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. It's by Farhad Manjoo, the technology/media/politics writer for Salon.com. Essentially, Manjoo argues that it doesn't matter what is real, true, or fact. What matters is whether it does what we want it to do: answer our question, support our point of view, "prove" someone else wrong. The book is fascinating, challenging, aggravating and important, especially for those of us that are designing and teaching programs that we say will help our students find, select, evaluate and manage information. If we focus our programs and instruction on what the Library has to offer, how are we preparing our students for the world they will live in when they graduate and don't have an academic library to draw on? In essence, what are we doing to prepare them for the digital world, the knowledge society, the information age?

These are the questions we grappled with for our 75 minutes of glory. We had to push people out of the room at the end. Needless to say, I loved it. And it gave me a lot of ideas for posts that I hope to hash out over the next few days.

On the more personal side, a few things about the trip itself:
1. Asheville was a really pretty town with the friendliest people I have met in quite some time. It was refreshing.
2. I ate some darn good fried chicken at the Moose Cafe and felt my arteries clogging up as I did it. Fantastic and worth every calorie.
3. I experienced the gas shortage first hand. Every gas station in the area was out of gas and it was a little nerve wracking driving the two hours back to Charlotte. I am thinking of the people dealing with that.
4. I went to an AMAZING book store, Malaprops, and found my motto.  Living it and smiling.

17 September 2008

My first published article!

My first article came in today's mail. If you've been reading my blog, you know that I am a staunch believer in faculty outreach, especially when it comes to technology. I hope that a few more librarians have the kind of success with it that I have been fortunate enough to have at Champlain. And if you are, PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT IT! I'd love to hear what works at other institutions. It really can be an uphill battle so knowing that you have allies or new strategies to put into play is affirming and invigorating.

On a more personal note, I have to admit that it is exciting to see my name in print. I have been putting a lot of time into presentations for the last few years and this article came out of my presentation at Computers in Libraries last year. Still, it was nice to sit and write. And even nicer to have positive feedback and suggestions from David Free at C&RL News.

And that feeling of "first time published" is kind of nice. Is it silly to want to send a copy to my dad?

08 September 2008

Exploring New Technology: I love Chat Ref

School started last week. I forget how different campus becomes at the start of the school year. Perhaps it's also because it really was different this year. The library didn't just feel busy but actually WAS busy. Perhaps part of that was our new website and the influx of chat ref questions. Putting chat ref front and center was a bit of a contentious issue given our severe staffing constraints but frankly, I love it. I love the ability to address needs right away, with a few well chosen words. I love the little sound Pidgin makes when we get a message. It makes me feel loved. I love how the librarians are using chat ref to ask one another questions while one of us is at the desk. It just feels like it will work. Like it is working. Admittedly, we have some concerns about how it will compete for F2F questions once classes pick up but I also feel confident that we can manage it. That it's not nearly as difficult to manage as we might have thought.

And that gets me to an overarching theme that seems to be recurring in my course, my workplace, and my personal life. Technology is not as hard as we sometimes make it out to be. I think that those of us that are immersed in technology or teach it to others are often so deeply immersed in it that we don't hear ourselves talk. Or we want to show the uninitiated how incredible a tool technology can be that we cast our technologist shadows over the new user, hoping to bring them under our wing, when in reality we make them feel...well, cloudy. Shaded. In the dark.

It's hard for someone like me, who is genuinely excited by technology and genuinely loves sharing it with others, to step back and see it in the light that many of the people who approach me see it. But I can't stress enough how important I think that is while also striking a balance with people's nervousness about technology. So many faculty members I work with think that blogging or Facebook is not for them. In truth, once we've worked with it a bit, many of them come to admit that they just didn't know how to use it and therefore inferred its lack of utility. Isn't that quite the same as students and the databases? Students don't really know how to use these more complicated interfaces so they just assume it isn't useful? Creative approaches to solving that problem has many lessons that are applicable to a less academic setting as well.

All this from just loving Chat Ref....I better get out to the Ref Desk.

02 September 2008

The Sheck Reads What?

I picked up this Reading Meme from Kate at the Delicious Burden and I can't not get in on reading lists. If nothing else, I do love to read. So here goes.

This is a list of the top 106 books most often marked “unread” by LibraryThing users.
The rules: bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.
Write a note in the comments if you’ve done this one and link to your meme!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights

The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey (this is a regular for me...every few years or so)
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities

The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World

The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons

The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles (LOVE THIS ONE!!)
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon

Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values

The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
(stayed home from work to finish this one….could NOT put it down)
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

45 read (bold)
12 read in school (underlined)
12 started, but not finished, YET (italics)

This meme couldn't come at a better time...I just finished Ken Follett's World Without End and am in need of a good book.

Are we tagging others? If so, let's get the brainiacs in on it: Rudy Leon, Andy Burkhardt, Steve Lawson, Aaron Schwartz, and Greg Schwartz.