02 December 2009

Ireland, here I come!

Some exciting news to share (remember, I am working on that!). My presentation proposal for LILAC 2010 was accepted! Ireland, here I come!

LILAC was terrific last year. This year, we will be participating in the Measuring Impact track. Assessment is the part of my job that I find the most challenging to wrap my head around and to enjoy. But, believe it or not, I am coming around to it. That's what our presentation will focus on: Building a Culture of Assessment, Brick by Brick.

Last year was full of superb presentations and a great sense of collaboration and cooperation. I am looking forward to being a part of it again.

20 November 2009

Great Reading

I am leaving campus for the holiday (HAPPY THANKSGIVING) but there are so many good articles in my RSS today that I just have to throw them out here:

If you haven't checked out this piece about academic libraries in Inside Higher Ed, DO IT! And be sure to read the comments. I especially was partial to Steve Bell's one liner on not having time to respond because he's busy making sure the books are all in order. HA! But seriously, this piece is a terrific conversation starter among us about strategic planning, missions, and vision for academic libraries.

Another Inside Higher Ed piece: this essay in defense of the lecture. I am a huge proponent of the Inquiry Method, particularly when it comes to information literacy, but I think there are some excellent points to be made and discussed here about expectations of students, building skills, scaffolding, and gaps in learning. And while the article is aimed at traditional classes, there is a lot of food for thought here in terms of library instruction as well.

The Chronicle Blog has a great piece (again, check out the comments) on "tweckling"--heckling during conferences over Twitter. I look back at my own concerns with Twitter at conferences. It's one thing to stand up in front of the room and deal with people looking bored or sleeping, it's another to wonder what all the typing is about. And I do think there is still a lot to be discussed about community and respect in the online world.

But one thing these articles all get at is the changing face of education. The way in which the landscape is shifting and the challenges that presents as we try to gain our footing, even if only for a moment. And frankly, that is something I am interested in talking about, especially with students. How do you account for change? How does change impact your expectations for ways of being, ways of reading, ways of thinking? How does change impact your expectations for information?

Some of what I'll mull over during my week away. That is, when I'm not reading for pleasure. Oh pleasure reading...how I have missed you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

13 November 2009

You Never Know

Like many librarians that design IL curricula and especially librarians that teach, you really wonder if what you are doing is having impact. Am I getting through to the students? Did that student walk away from the class with an idea of how to move forward in their head?

Or even at reference: is the patron leaving our time together thinking I was helpful?

Is this work I'm doing working?

This week, I was surprised by how many ways the answer came to me. And that the answer was yes.

Yes, our IL curriculum is making students think differently about information. It might not always be obvious from how they participate in class or how they look while we are up in the front of the room, but this students' post reminded me that the work we are doing does work.

That alone would have been enough for me. But the love just kept on coming! Yesterday, a faculty member sent this email out to all faculty:
Dear Colleagues,

Our librarians are wonderful. A little while ago I asked them to find a photograph of Friederike Maria Beer-Monti. “Friederike who?” you ask. Exactly - her only claim to fame these days is that she was the one person to be the subject of portraits by both Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

In less than an hour, (librarian x) found me a usable photo in which Friederike Maria Beer-Monti’s pose resembled that in the Klimt portrait.

Impressive, wouldn’t you agree?

Best regards, (professor A+)

I was beaming when I read that. I'm not the librarian mentioned in this email. But I don't care. It was a fellow librarian, someone I work with and love, and yup...they rock. Getting an email like this was incredible.

More incredible was the wealth of response this sparked:

-Our Librarians are the best!!!

-I couldn’t agree more. Our librarians totally ROCK!

-I'd like to chime in with high praise as well. I insist that my art students find their way to that nice building on the hill every semester. As much as they may enjoy their cozy computers, when students conduct research in the library or consult the staff there, they invariably discover that Champlain is blessed with a stellar library staff that simply couldn't be more supportive.

-Oh yeah, and the students actually look INTERESTED when the librarians at the reference desk are talking to them. They work magic for sure!

-I am going to jump on the bandwagon and say that I too, think that we have a truly crackerjack library staff. One of the things that I find to be most impressive is that in a time when Universities are closing libraries, we have a thriving one due to our staff of professional’s abilities to seamlessly integrate “old school” and new school ways of getting at information. Kudos to the whole crew at MIC!

-I assign a lot of research papers and projects, and always recommend that students use the Librarians for what they are, a critical resource in their learning. Of the students who do tap into this valuable resource, all of them report back to me how helpful the librarians have been. You all DO rock!

-I'm not usually one to hop in on the emails in praise of X, but for the librarians, I happily will. "Helpful" is a nice little adjective, but it doesn't really capture the MIC folks, for whom "above and beyond the call" is the norm. I loudly second Professor A+'s laudatory comments.

Be still my pounding heart!

What's the point here? The point is that you never know when your work is truly making a difference. You never know the value of your helpfulness. You never know how much you are appreciated. That is until someone kindly shares it with you. But even if they don't, you never know. You might be making the world of difference.

Believe it. Surprises abound.

10 November 2009

Recognizing Recognition

So, I am ACRL Member of the Week.

There. I said it.

Being recognized has been a strange thing for me. I am not a shy person. And I am comfortable talking about what I do, why I do it, and what I enjoy or dislike about it. But I am not the kind of person that feels comfortable sharing my successes. Or highlighting my acheivements. I'm not sure I really knew that about myself until this Member of the Week thing. I mean, I share exciting things with my family. But even with my friends....I hesitated. Is it obnoxious to put this on my Facebook page? Is it inappropriate to tweet yourself?

Andy convinced me I was being ridiculous about not putting something like this on my Facebook. Wouldn't I want to know if one of my friends was highlighted by their national organization? OF COURSE! So, I posted it. And let me just say....I have amazing friends. The support and love overwhelmed me. And made me grateful for the connections I am able to maintain via social networks. But still....those are my friends. As I said in the email to my parents, brother, husband, and non-facebook friends, "If not you, who?"

I couldn't bring myself to Tweet it. I couldn't bring myself to sing out into the Twittersphere about my self. I struggle with that when I post to the blog. But why? Where is this discomfort? I don't feel embarrassed or uncomfortable highlighting workshops I am giving. I have no problem saying that I am speaking at ACRL or LILAC or VT NEA. I am fine sharing articles being accepted. But recognition is different, for some reason. Perhaps it's the part of me that is afraid of being tagged as a fraud. Perhaps it's the part of me that thinks that while I do good work, it's not more worthy of recognition than so many other librarians. Perhaps it's the part of me that blushes. But frankly, I would rather congratulate someone else than myself.

Where does self promotion and self congratulation swap seats? And at what point does it get to be too much?

I feel like this is one of those things that we each have to figure out as we go. They certainly don't tell you in library school how to manage success. Or recognition. And I am trying to figure it out. I don't really have an answer here. It's just something I've been thinking a ton about in the last two days. And I wonder how other people handle it? How do you share your successes? How do you push your achievements out there for people to see? Do you do it at all? Are there some things you do and some things you don't? Is there a "best practices" I am not aware of? I am sure I am not the first person to feel a bit ill at ease in moments like this. Who's got a trick up their sleeve for this one?

03 November 2009

Awesome Ahead.

Champlain is in the midst of working on our next Strategic Plan: Champlain 2020. As such, the Library is engaging in some forward thinking about what we think the library might look like in ten years.

Ten years.

It doesn't sound like that far away, especially because ten years ago felt like yesterday. But in truth, ten years, especially when we think about the rate of change in technology, is a different world in libraries.

Do I mean that?

Yes and no. Academic libraries have changed a lot in the last ten years, twenty years, fifty years. But at their core, libraries have remained something very stable. They are weavers of intellectual fabrics. They are a place for all members of all communities. They are a place of expansion, learning, exploration, growth. That is true. That is solid. But how we are manifesting that has changed immensely. Social media, Library 2.0, information commons, user-centered design...there are more examples than I could possibly think of. Yet, at their core, libraries remain committed to supporting and engaging our users in learning, community, and pleasure.

So what does that mean in an academic library?

Andy and I got to thinking about it in front of a white board. Here's what we came up with:

Some of these are pretty space oriented. I want to be out from behind the desk. Librarians on every floor, walking with hand held devices to provide instant access to information.

The thing about that, is that libraries could be doing that already. Whether anyone is, is a different question. But they could.

And that’s the thing about this question of what the library should look like in ten years. We can’t really answer it when it comes to space or technology. Or users. What we can do is answer it in terms of attributes. Qualities.

That’s exactly what happened in our meeting the other day. The question shifted to “What do we want to be known for in 5 years?” I couldn’t help but blurt out “awesome”. And my awesome boss actually wrote that down. I mean, it’s not going into our actual document but she took it ran with it. Because seriously, how much better can it get than trying to figure out what awesome means.


What does it mean to you?
To your library?
To your patrons?

21 October 2009

Blogging the Blahs

I've been having a hard time focusing lately. Part of it could be that time of the semester. Part of it could be the season's changing. Part of it could be how much energy I am exerting into teaching.

But I am sharing it, in part, because I think that while it is important to share our successes, our questions, our highs and our lows, it is also important to share our blahs. Our moments that we don't think are worth sharing. Because sometimes...frankly...I am not productive. Sometimes I want to curl up and go back to bed. Sometimes I want to drink tea and read. Sometimes I want to go play.

Two thoughts about the Blahs:
1. It's ok. I do pretty amazing work on a regular basis. And I have some pretty incredible opportunities at my finger tips. What I am saying is that I am not reading too much into it. I am not necessarily feeling the Blahs because I am not challenged at work or not interested in the work I am doing. Sometimes, it just happens. It would be something worrisome if it happened a lot or for a long stretch. But if you are experiencing the Blahs too, it's ok. We don't need to beat ourselves up about it. We don't need to guilt ourselves over having a Blah day. What's most important is that we share how we are doing and not read too much into it.

2. This is me blogging the whole me. When I met David Silver four years ago, I never would have guessed that such a little phrase as "blog the whole you" would have such a lasting effect. But it has. It is a rule of blogging for me. So blogging the Blahs is just as important as Blogging the Awesomes or Blogging the Challenges or Blogging the Solutions.

Sometimes blogging is an intimidating task because it feels like I should only be blogging about "real" things. But having the Blahs is real. And sometimes sharing it, letting it out, venting can be cathartic and just what I need to get past it. To put some zip back into my step. To return to being the Sheck.

And don't get me wrong....venting is not the only way I am dealing with the Blahs. I am looking back at projects that are on the side lines to seek "Inspirado". I am talking to co-workers, like Andy. I am attending fun stuff like tomorrow's Chili CookOff at the Library. I am also taking inspiration from fellow bloggers, like Bobbi Newman who wrote a really authentic, honest post about making a mistake. Hats off to her for blogging her whole self! And for inspiring me to do the same.

So that's my post for today. That's how I am feeling. How about you?

06 October 2009

Information Literacy Month?

Oh yes, people. October is Information Literacy Month according to the White House. How awesome that this coincides with the IL teaching load at work.

There might be some grumbling about this out in the Blog- or Twittersphere. But when you take a moment to think about it, what does this proclamation really mean? It recognizes that information is not power alone. It recognizes that information is necessary but not necessarily. It recognizes that information alone is not enough. That critical thinking about information is central to an information society.

And that librarians have an important role to play. Our role may be changing, as is the role of information. My awesome co-worker, Andy Burkhardt, is blogging that these days. But we have a role to play.

The real question is what role that is going to be?

What are you going to do?

Come on. Tell me.

21 September 2009

Opportunity Lost or Just a Library Saved?


The Philadelphia Library system is staying open. Here is the announcement from the Free Library.

Here is also an interesting post by Jessamyn about it. I think she makes an interesting point about believing in our elected officials. But....that's fine line. What is a girl to do? One minute we need to rally, engage, communicate, and be a part of the change. And then there are times when we should sit back and assume all will be well. I get the gist of what she is saying but it still doesn't sit well with me.


Because every problem is an opportunity. And we missed one.

What really bothers me about the lack of action and organizing is that we missed an opportunity. Librarians could have used this as a moment to engage and organize around addressing legislatures, speaking out for our communities, and demand more. More support for libraries. More funding. More commitment so that something like this isn't even a question. Then we wouldn't have to have PR stunts like Philly pulled.

But we didn't. We just let it go because really, who is really going to close a library?

What about you? Did you follow this story? Did you engage others? Why? Why not? Is this an opportunity lost or just another library saved?

15 September 2009

Hello? Opportunity? Is that you?

Opportunity knocks. You have to decide if you are answering the door.

Well, I am answering. My incredible partner in crime and constant source of inspiration, Rob Williams, and I are taking our show on the road. Our enthusiasm, prowess for things digital, and creative energy around social media is coming to Vermont's Upper Valley in early October. We are looking forward to working with artists a bit south of here to make their foray into social media.

Here's the description. If you have questions, let us know! If you are interested, SIGN UP! If you are reading this, please share this opportunity with others. I hope to share more opportunities like this in the future!
Twitter Me This: How Writers and Artists Can Harness New Web 2.0 Media For Creativity and Business Success

TEACHERS: Rob Williams, Ph.D. and Sarah Cohen

SPONSORED BY: The Writer's Center and Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 6th from 6-9 p.m.

WHERE: White River Junction's Center For Cartoon Studies.

COST: $30

DESCRIPTION: Are you a wordsmith who hates the thought of wrangling the Web? Then come to this three hour workshop, where we'll teach you how to harness the power of new Web 2.0 tools - Twitter, Blogger, Google, RSS Readers and more - to support your work as both a writer and an entrepreneur. Sign up for this workshop, or find out more information by contacting Rob Williams at editor@vtcommons.org or (802) 279-3364 (mobile yak phone).

14 September 2009


I am from Philly. And I love it there. I don't follow sports much but I always cheer when the Birds, the Phils, the Flyers, or the Sixers are playing simply because I am proud of my city.

But that's over.

That is if Philadelphia libraries close on Oct 2nd. Here is the WAY TOO BRIEF article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to the Free Library's blog:
At stake are over 700 jobs, loss of access to information and resources including 800 public computers for Philadelphians and no place to go after school for over 80,00 students.

With almost 7 million visits annually and 22 million hits to its website, the Free Library is the most heavily used of all institutions in the city. As the largest provider of internet access in a City where 41% of homes lack web connection, the Library provides the essential link to information, jobs and resources found only on line.

So here's what I think: get the social media machine to work. TWEET it! Use hashtags: #savephilly #libraries
Send your tweets to @PhiladelphiaGov and @Philly311. If you have other suggestions, SHARE THEM!
Donate your status to Saving Philadelphia Libraries.

The Free Library of Philadelphia also has an ACTION PAGE.

ACT. CALL. WRITE. TWEET. If you are in Philly, let us know what else we can do!

Libraries will get us through time of no money better than money will get us through times of no libraries!

28 August 2009

Some things remain the same

It's a beautiful day in Vermont. Sunny. The perfect temperature and a gentle breeze. Today is the last day that I could bring Rigi to the office. He's spent three or sometimes four days a week curled up on a chair in my office throughout the summer. School starts on Monday and the first year students descended onto campus today. I had hoped to listen to the President's welcome out on the quad but as soon as people started clapping, Rigi perked up a bit too much. So we went for a walk.

As we were walking, I came up to four neighborhood kids selling lemonade. 10 cents a cup. And I started thinking about selling lemonade when I was a kid. And about my parents dropping me off at college. What a sunny, beautiful day that was. How excited I was. How nervous I was. How strange it was for my parents to be dropping me off. How strange it was to see my dad well up with tears as they pulled away from the gates at Smith.

Today, as I met parents and eavesdropped on their conversations as I walked around, their excitement for their son or daughter was palpable. And so was the undercurrent of nervousness emanating from the students.

iPhones. Facebook. Twitter. Ebooks. Kindles.

The essentials for college life may change.

Some things remain the same.

04 August 2009

Thinking of Louisville

Thanks to Michael Porter for letting us know about the terrible situation at Louisville Free Public Library. Greg Schwartz is one of my closest friends from library school and he has been passionate about his work at the Louisville Free since Day 1. My thoughts are with him, the staff, and all the patrons at Louisville.

03 August 2009

Why I didn't share my Library Day in the Life

Last week, a number of colleagues and friends posted their Library Day in a Life. This was one of those memes that made me stop. And while I think Bobbi Newman rocks for putting this together, I have been asking myself what I can learn from the experience. What is it that librarians are trying to acheive by participating in this meme? What does it tell us about ourselves? About our profession?

The first thing that it tells me is that we lead incredibly varied lives. It really makes me proud to be in a profession that brings so much intellectual and creative energy to the information stream.

However, at the same time, I ask myself who we are writing these memes for. It would be one thing if we were taking these various "day in the life" scenarios and publicizing them in a way that encouraged patrons and other professions to rethink what they mean when they say "librarian". All those folks that cock an eyebrow or give a little giggle and a joke about Dewey...those folks could learn so much by reading these expositions on our profession.

But that's not what the library blogosphere is up to with this meme, really. And it really wasn't until I saw Amanda McNeil's tweet this morning that it really struck me as to why I didn't participate in this meme:

Amanda's link to an article wasn't what took my attention here. It was the vibe that she picks up on. I love being part of a group of people that are proud of the work we do. And I love working with people that speak up and speak out. But this meme leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth in part because I don't see the meme itself having a role in our relevance, or our creativity, or out sociality (is that a word?!). Are we using these memes as collaboration tools? As ways to develop our own practices based on the practices of others? If you are, BRAVO! And share that! THAT is what I want to hear about. THAT is what I want to see happen with learning more about the nitty gritty of our day. THAT is what makes the technology we feel so comfortable with and the wealth of librarians being social media butterflies (had to steal Andy's metaphor there!) so valuable to our profession. But just sharing what you do on a daily basis--that doesn't have value in and of itself. And as Steven Bell rightly points out, we need to be spending our hours adding value to the learning process. And not just in the classroom. But amongst ourselves. At our conferences. At our Tweetups. On our blogs. I'm not saying we should abandon fun, laughs, and humor on our blogs (although, I haven't seen a single Library-Day-In-The-Life that admits to checking their Facebook or watching a YouTube or reading the New York Times). But I do think that the intentionality to learning that we bring into our classrooms could have a valuable role in our social media.

What do you think? Have you gotten something from the Library Day in the Life posts that have given you more value than I am allotting? Share it! I am dying to know.

09 July 2009

Finding the Sweet Spot

Funny the way Twitter takes over your media life.

When I look out on the blogosphere, there are some people that are full fledged, all the time bloggers. People that blog often and have a great deal on a regular basis. Steven Bell, Michael Stephens, Meredith Farkas.

I have never been like these people. I am an occasional blogger. I, like many bloggers, MEAN to blog more often. I have many blog posts I MEAN to share or thoughts on our profession that I share all the time with Andy and other co-workers but rarely do I find time to sit down and get it all out on my computer. And admittedly, I feel guilty about it. Lately, I even ask myself if I should maintain my blog at all. This, in part, is because of Twitter.

I've had an interesting path with Twitter. Initially, I didn't get it. I didn't see the point. And I was philosophically opposed to condensing communication to 140 characters or less. And I still do have reservations about encouraging communication to be so brief. But Andy, my partner in crime at Champlain and generally awesome soul that he is, as usual, helped me see it in a new light. My experience at ACRL and LILAC helped take me from observer in Twitter to participator. And now, I find myself in Twitter more than I ever expected. And not just Tweeting about the weather. But asking questions and getting responses within seconds. For example. yesterday I asked how librarians are teaching RefWorks? Five minutes, six tutorials and three info sheets later, I have some excellent ideas and templates for what could do at Champlain. Another example is keeping track of issues. Whether it be the Iran elections, Information Literacy, or what's shaking in Burlington, Twitter lets me track it easily, quickly, and instantaneously. And that has taken me away from my RSS feed.

Don't get me wrong. I still read many articles, blog posts, and journal articles that are through RSS, references, citations, or referrals. But the point I am making is that my input and my output is shifting. I get information in a new way and I share information in a new way. I tweet an awful lot more than I blog. Yes, a lot of that has to do with how much time it takes to construct a 140 character tweet. But, I find myself wanting to share and see. What interests other people? What gets re-tweeted? What gets a response? While I have never felt the need to blog for others, blogging can be a lonely endeavor while Tweeting is an amazing communal one. Increasingly I find I work well with both. I appreciate the quiet of my blog. I appreciate the opportunity to go back and review what I've said. Even as I've been writing this post, I look back at my blog and realize how long I've been blogging and how much I have thought through things here. But on Twitter, I appreciate the ability to share without the added pressure of annotating and reflecting, or at least doing so very briefly.

So where am I? Where does this leave me in terms of my blog and my media? Thinking about how they intersect and diverge more than before. Certainly thinking about how I can use them effectively and interestingly in teaching. But also realizing the purpose and importance they both have for me. It does not need to be one or the other. There is a sweet spot to be achieved. And I am just starting to sort that out for myself. It has taken me a while and some experimentation to even come to that space. But I think that's what the whole "Exploring New Technology" thread has always been for me. It's been a chance to roam through these new and exciting things for someone who doesn't experience a great deal of techno-lust but is just a generally curious person who wants to try new things and see what they can do. It's always been about finding the sweet spot.

Maybe I will keep the blog after all. I'd forgotten how cathartic it can be. How refreshing. How sweet.

30 June 2009


As a librarians, we don't often have the same gratification as professors. I feel fortunate to work at a small college where I form close relationships with a number of students. But sometimes, they don't come around to share their achievements. And while you see them succeed, our role is often more in the background than front and center.

But sometimes you do have moments when you see someone take something you introduced to them and take off. A close friend and colleague of mine recently did this with blogging. Gary travels a great deal for our college and a few years ago, I encouraged him to start journaling his travels on a blog so that his friends and family could share in his experiences. Who knew that he would take it so deeply to heart. As I read his blog today, while he is galavanting from China to the UAE to Austria to Turkey, I am amazed at how much of the world I see from his posts.

It's wonderful to see so much from so far away through a tool like blogs. And to see someone embrace something so fully as Gary has embraced his blogging. It's a special thing.

17 June 2009

Social Media, Iran, and You

It's an amazing time to be paying attention to social media. Over the last three days, Twitter has been one of the only places where accounts of the protests are coming in. The #iran and #iranelection have been blowing the mainstream media out of the water! People, USERS, are sharing content and building community at an unprecedented rate. All the terms we read about (social media, user generated content, read write web) are typified by this moment.

I can hardly peel my eyes away.

Here are a few articles and blog posts I've been putting into de.licio.us about it:
*The Inquisitor's piece is excellent in giving some context to how social media is over throwing some traditional media outlets.
*Excellent coverage from the New York Times on social media's role. To my mind, they are setting themselves apart with an article like this.
* The Huffington Post is doing great work on their blog. The Post at 2:42 am on 6/17/09 draws an excellent comparison to the Chinese's efforts to quell protest around Tiananmen. My only complaint here is that it is past tense. My excellent friend and mentor, Rob Williams, just returned from three weeks in China during which he and his team of mobile journalists were unable to Tweet, blog, or upload content as the Chinese "celebrated" the anniversary of Tiananmen. Their blog, China Mojo, is well worth reading for a variety of reasons. Check it out.
*Mashable has done an excellent job explaining what's happening on the social media scene and inciting action:
Social media comes fast, and because of that, the information can be overwhelming. Use filters and tools to help you understand what’s happening in real-time. If you’re looking for background on the situation, get yourself up-to-speed using Wikipedia (Iranian presidential elections 2009 and 2009 Iranian election protests are being constantly updated).
Finally, if you want to help bring awareness to the situation, then share! Share the videos you find via Twitter, blog about the situation, email your friends: everybody can play a part in this new media ecosystem.

So share, post, Tweet. This is an exciting moment for social media and a tipping point for the people of Iran.

10 June 2009

What I'd like to see. And you?

As you may know, I am an ACRL Legislative Advocate. I was recently asked to share some of the actions I have taken in the past year and what suggestions I would make. Below is the letter I sent:

As the ACRL Legislative Advocate for VT, I have been in contact with my senators and congressman (we only have one!) a number of times on behalf of ACRL. I have also posted on my blog and Twitter asking people to reach out to their representatives as well. I have also spoken on the phone with aids and staffers at Senator Saunders and Senator Leahy’s office on more than one occasion particularly in regards to Copyright, LSTA, and general support for libraries.

I would love to continue as a Legislative Advocate but I do have a few recommendations for really making this program more effective and targeted to ways that fit ACRL’s mission. Perhaps first and foremost, contextualizing issues in terms of ACRL. While your team has been tremendously supportive and informative, there have been a number of times when I wonder how the steps we are being asked to take impact college and research libraries? Is there a way to make the connection between the goals, needs, and expectations of higher ed libraries and those at the legislative level more explicit?

I would also love to see more active participation of this program in social media outlets. In the age of Obama, social media is a powerful force for engaging our communities (particularly information professionals) around issues and mobilizing. Can we invent a hashtag for ACRL Legislative Advocates on Twitter that allows us to share information more readily? What social media are our representatives paying attention to and how can we leverage our adeptness for technology to make a greater impact? Believe me, I live in a state where I still get a person and a person who is local and interested in what a Vermonter has to say. But I am not sure that is the case in states with larger and broader constituencies.

Finally, is there a way to deepen the community of ACRL Legislative Advocates? I don’t know a single other advocate and while I recognize that there have been a number of opportunities to meet face to face, in a time of slashed budgets, are there ways to connect, brainstorm, and coordinate successfully virtually?

I would be more than happy to discuss these idea with you.
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity and for the excellent work you are doing. I am proud to be a part of this endeavor.

What suggestions might you make for ways ACRL Advocates could engage more fully with our representatives? What ACRL issues do you think need hearing at a higher level? As an advocate, it is my responsibility to put your concerns and issues out on the table. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

08 June 2009

What am I doing this summer

Rudy posted this meme yesterday and I applaud her and anyone else who is posting their projects. But I am going to take a slightly different take on this meme. Rather than write about what I am doing for the Library, Info Lit, or Champlain, here's what I am doing this summer for myself!

* Gardening. I had a terrific conversation with David Silver last week and gardening was one of the topics of that conversation. He has some terrific pics up on Flickr of his garden and he asked me why I don't post more pictures. I didn't have a good answer so I went home and took some on the spot: This is one of our three vegetable beds and this one focuses largely on leafy greens. I am a pretty aggressive gardener and we just finished a terrific weekend in the garden so I will try to post more pics. And thanks, David, for reminding me one of the cardinal rules of blogging: blog the whole you. In the summer, my attention really does shift. I think I spend so much of the school year at my computer, in the classroom, in meetings, and thinking about logistics or lofty thoughts. It's refreshing and wonderful to ground down, to get dirty, and see the results of your labors. Or eat them.

* Reading. I am a voracious reader. Or I used to be. This being a meme, I remember this post into reading a the beginning of the fall semester. Sadly, with all the work I do, my reading has really suffered. NOT ANYMORE. This summer, I am reading. In the garden. I just finished reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. And I am now on to Eva Luna by Isabelle Allende. What else is on the list? Here's the stack at the library, waiting to be checked out:

Please notice: this is all reading FOR FUN. I also have a stack of articles and books for the library that I have going. But it is the reading for fun that makes me feel like summer is really here and I am meant to enjoy it.

*Being outside, preferably with Rigi. In case you didn't know, I have a German Shorthaired Pointer named Rigi (pronounced REE-GEE, with a hard G). In the summer, I bring him to the office on occasion. Here he is at work last Friday:
I love how the quiet summer and the relaxed atmosphere at my library allows me to bring him into work with me a bit more. It makes the work day so special. While he does well at the office, this is a dog that is meant to be outside. And I hope to spend as much time with him outside as possible. Burlington is incredible in the summer. Between the Lake, the music that comes to town, the outdoor cafes, and then all the things that take place out on the trails, Rigi and I will be out there enjoying it (with my husband too!).

So, while I have a lot of work to do, I am also focusing on one of the best parts of this time of year: the time to not work. The time to rejuvenate and recharge. So while I'd love to hear about your projects, planning, and preps for the year to come, what else do you have up your sleeves for the summer? What are you doing for yourself?

28 May 2009

Why do we cite?

I spend a lot of time talking over the last three weeks talking about citation and documentation with faculty. What is it that we want our students to be attentive to: correctly identifying and attributing someone else's idea or citing a source correctly. Don't get me wrong. Both are important. But in the grand scheme of things, I am more interested in talking to students about documentation, attribution, plagiarism, and intellectual integrity than talking to them about MLA or APA. Styles seem like the cherry on top (did I just equate citation styles to the cherry on a sundae...I did. That happened.)

I guess this is where I remember arguments in ontology and want to parse our what we mean by citations and documentation.

Here's a first go:

Documenting is really about giving credit where credit is due. This is a tough one for students who are just starting out and I think that is worth really thinking about. It's difficult to remember what an 18 year old who is new to college, let alone college writing or research, is taking in on any given day or assignment. At times, I wonder if the expectations we make for students in their first year assignments are truly setting them up for success. When it comes to documentation, the key point is that a student can identify an idea as their own or as someone else's that they are building on. It is, essentially, providing evidence.
This gets into why do you provide evidence and how.

Now we get into citations.

The real question is why do we really cite anything?

The answer that I’d like to advocate for is that citations are the most consistent way of sharing information. We cite because we have information we see as worth sharing. Citations aren’t just to prove your point. They aren’t even about being a part of the scholarly community. With so much information in the world, it’s about SHARING that piece, that piece that did something you wanted, needed, or made you think. That piece that stood out. That piece that was relevant and valuable to the questions and issues you are exploring.

Once we have a handle on what needs to be cited and why it should be cited, then we can get to that final layer: how we cite it. APA, MLA, AMA, IEEE. In the end, the important thing is that the information is findable. All key components are present.

This is my philosophy on citations and documentation. To my way of thinking, there is not a real good reason to teach one style over another. Students are using web-based citation tools whether we like it or not (more on our hunt for one of those in a forthcoming post.) There is a good reason though to talk to students about why it is an important thing to do. There is a good reason to talk to students about what they can get from these "stupid citations". Perhaps we could bring it back to the most basic of lessons: sharing. We are sharing information with one another every day in many different ways. Citations are a way to do it in writing so I can FIND what you found.

And then comes the hard part: teaching this in the classroom. Any ideas?

05 May 2009

Back in Action, Taking Action

I am back from vacation and putting on my ACRL Legislative Advocate hat. This is a call to action by any of you librarians, educators, or concerned citizens out there to get in touch with your Senators to ask for their support of the Library Services and Technology Act. (Find their contact info here).

Please contact your Senators and ask them to sign the "Dear Colleague" letter being circulated by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI)
and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in support of funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Program.

The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is the only federal funding program exclusively for libraries. LSTA offers a variety of competitive grants available to librarians: The 21st Century Librarians Program; The National Leadership Grants; and the Native American Library Services: Enhancement Grants. Around the country, knowledgeable librarians use the flexible LSTA funding to help patrons access essential information on a wide range of topics. They offer training on résumé development; help on web searches of job banks; workshops on career information; links to essential educational and community services; assistive devices for people with disabilities; family and youth literacy classes and services; homework help and mentoring programs; access to government information; a forum for enhanced civic engagement; summer reading programs and much more. These are essential for libraries survival in these challenging economic times when our communities need library services all the more. LSTA funds help libraries provide persons of limited financial resources or who live in remote areas, access to books and reference materials, computers and the internet, and community-based social services that are often available nowhere else.

The deadline for supporting this legislation is MAY 14th!

While I did the normal thing of sending an email and filling in an online form asking for Senator Sanders and Senator Leahy's support for this legislation, I also called their offices. And let me tell you that the response I received was encouraging, friendly, and supportive. The people I spoke to appreciated my taking the time to call rather than just email. They appreciated my having some information at hand (like the deadline). So do what you can, put if you can pick up a phone as well as send a message, THANK YOU!

22 April 2009

A Week Away

I am leaving in a few hours for a week's vacation.

To the Gulf coast of Florida. Manasota Key, to be exact.

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I've been traveling a lot in the last few months, which has been wonderful, but traveling for work is not the same as traveling for yourself. Rather than bringing files, articles and my trusty notebook, I am bringing crossword puzzles, and a book. This book:

I am also bringing Boggle, to play with my in-laws during our afternoon cocktail hour.

Sadly, I am bringing my computer as I do need to stay in touch with my HIS415 class as they hammer away at their final assignments. And to finish all the grading I need to do.

But I have promised myself: no blogging, no emails, no facebook, no Twitter. I have a way of working even when I'm not at work, as many librarians do. Who can ignore that interesting article? Or that blog post? What is behind that tinyurl? And in truth, I need some time away from the library. I need some time to stare at the ocean, be lulled to sleep on the sandy beach, to spend my time searching for seashells rather than information. How lovely to think of the seashell as information.

So, I'll be back in a week: sunkissed, clear headed, rested, and happy. I'll tell you about the book. And the seashells.

16 April 2009

The Symphony goes 2.0

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra

Here is the related NYT Article.

All I can think of is Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody". The Orchestra might be one of the most traditional structures I can imagine and yet....talent from everywhere and anywhere has the possibility to participate. User Generated Content suddenly has a new meaning...a new sound. Awesome.

14 April 2009

RIP Encarta, Viva Information Literacy and Wikipedia

Microsoft has announced that they will be closing down their online Encyclopedia, Encarta, due to the extensive use of Wikipedia. The part of the article that I was particularly excited about was this quote:

Christopher Dawson of ZDNet certainly doesn’t think so. The demise of the encyclopedia, he argues, should simply galvanize educators into teaching the research skills students need to wade through “brutally powerful knowledge sources” like Wikipedia and Google. “The encyclopedia is dead,” Mr. Dawson writes. “Long live critical thinking.”

Here is a link to the full article.

This kind of article reminds us how valuable and important the work we do is to our students but also reminds us that while we might be using the language of information literacy, faculty are viewing this "wading" through the web as critical thinking. This harks back to the questions asked at one the LILAC presentations I attended: Getting the Student Perspective, Is Joe Student Paying Attention? Are we using language that actually engages our communities to think about the actions they take every day as they dive into the world of information? Are we rendering ourselves obsolete by using terms like "information literacy" in the first place?

What language should we be using instead? Isn't that always the tough question? But really, what ideas do you have for other ways to frame these essential skills?

10 April 2009

Whew...what a week

It's a beautiful, sunny Friday afternoon and there is something premonitory about the quiet in the library. With less than three weeks to go until classes are out, you would think that students would be flooding us. Even on a Friday. But there are two things in Vermont that trump all obligations: snow and sun. Big snow days = skiing. And the first few sunny days after a long winter = get outside.

I, however, am stuck in the library. At least for the next hour. I appreciate it, frankly, after such a whirlwind week. I returned from our trip to Wales and Ireland on Sunday evening and jumped right back into life on Monday. It's been a while since I traveled internationally and I forgot how exhausting reentry can be. Plus, March was all about traveling and teaching: ACRL and then directly into the 2nd year info lit sequence and then on to LILAC and Champlain in Dublin. Hence the "Whew" component to this post. But here I am now, quietly at my desk, and I can start to see the silver lining of finals. Summer.

Part of what I love about summer (besides the lake, bike rides, and my garden) is the chance to quiet down and think more thoroughly about what we are doing at the library. What are our goals? Are we meeting the expectations of our faculty? Our students? Our selves? What is it that I want to improve upon for next year? What is it that I want to expand? What is it that could be omitted?

My ever impressive partner in crime at the MIC, Andy Burkhardt, really got me thinking about expansion and improvement with a terrific brainstorming session yesterday. We work well together, Andy and I. As he pointed out, when the semester is buzzing and we are dealing with our info lit teaching schedules, we just don't have the chance to throw out ideas and get creative as much as we might like. This is certainly true. I need to pause and bring it down a notch in order to generate ideas. The irony is that once I achieve my optimal speed for idea generation, I speed up immediately and the ideas start pouring. For example, a discussion about staff information literacy needs leads to developing our popular reading collection leads to summer programming for reading leads to technology workshops leads to video tutorials leads to skype. BAM BAM BAM. Thank goodness Andy gave me a piece of paper to capture some of these ideas on. And thank goodness there will be more quiet time to think about what is ripe for action and what needs more time in the incubator.

Many people ask me whether I resent not having summers off. In large part, no. I appreciate the time to slow down, think about what I am doing, and develop a plan for the year to come. I appreciate the chance to be more flexible. I appreciate the quiet in the library.

I hope that I will have the chance to think it out a bit more here, on my blog. And to share it out in the library community. One thing I realized at ACRL and LILAC is that we don't always have to wait until something is over in order to share it. Sharing the process is often far instructive and helpful for other librarians and for myself. So, I guess that's a commitment I am making to myself and to anyone reading: I hope to share some of the ideas and processes to manifesting them this summer. So while summer might be a quiet time, it is not to be mistaken for a slow or unproductive time. Rather, I feel like by June 1, it'll be BAM BAM BAM a lot more.

03 April 2009

Colbert on Twitter

Talk (or tweet) amongst yourselves.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Biz Stone
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Thank you LILAC!

Thank you to the organizers and attendees at LILAC for such a terrific conference. There are a couple of things that make a conference particularly good in my mind and LILAC had them all. Here's a breakdown:
1. The People: Everyone we met was wonderfully kind, welcoming, and interested to hear about Champlain and share what they were doing at their own institutions. The degree of transparency and collegiality at LILAC was really unique. There is a sense that these are librarians that share and collaborate openly and often. This never fails to impress me.

2. The Tracks: as I mentioned to Steven Bell, I prefer conferences that have a structure you can follow. It was wonderful to look at sessions in the context of their track to get a fuller sense of what to expect and the way in which information literacy would be explored. Although there were many interesting sessions, the break down into tracks helped me distinguish between sessions that were interesting and ones that might be more applicable to my work.

3. The Keynotes: In two and a half days, there were four keynotes and they were all incredible. All of the speakers (Melissa Highton, Conor Galvin, Patricia Iannuzzi, and Leslie Burger) were thought provoking in their own ways. Two things were particularly noteworthy: first, that the speakers all referred back to one another's lectures, referring to points the other had made but more so elaborating or explaining their own take on the issues. Terrific. Second, the speakers were a part of the conference. They attended sessions and spoke to delegates. I don't always see this at conferences and it emphasized that feeling of collegiality.

4. Tending to our needs: This might sound silly but it really does make a difference to have tea and welshcakes, time to chat, a coat room that is monitored so you feel good about leaving your luggage, and people who can answer your questions in a central location. My colleauge, Cinse, was especially fond of the Welshcakes.

5. Special events: We attended two events in special locations. The Networking evening at Caerphilly Castle and a more formal dinner at the National Museum of Wales. Both events were lovely from the food to the music to the open bar! It was wonderful, especially to a group of foreigners, to be in two locations that are significant to the region. I loved both evenings!

On top of all of this, as if it weren't enough, we were shocked to be awarded the CILASS Award for Information Literacy and Inquiry Based Learning. To be given an award like this was an incredible honored. As you can tell, I thought there were so many wonderful sessions. We are so grateful to be recognized amongst such company.

Thank you to everyone who made LILAC the wonderful experience it was. I hope we can join you again!

01 April 2009

LILAC09: My students and other Animals”

My students and other Animals
Matthew Borg and Erica Stretton

Dealing with LARGE cohorts.
Students have to understand the importance of information literacy before they can incorporate information literacy skills into their “academic mindset”.
We need to know the limitations and the strengths of the materials that we are using with students.

Tells students there are 1 trillion unique urls on the web. When you do a google search, what percentage of the web are you actually searching? Has students write their answers on post its and then put them on a continuum on the board.
Google actually indexes 4%--40 billion pages.

Their experiences with 900 business students over
One shots, computer based, practical tools for databases and library materials or materials specific to their course of study (business).
NOW, they are seeing students over three workshops, each with a different focus. Sessions without computers other than podium. NEEDED SOMETHING NEW.

Considerations of student boredom, using active learning, different learning styles.
Needed to rely on one librarian leading the session in non-digital rooms.

Asking students: How do YOU find information?
Ask students to discuss a recent information search of your own with a neighbor.
The type of info you are looking for, where you looked.
Look at the list of animals: what kind of information animal are you?
Ask students to analyze their information seeking behaviours and adapt to the changing landscape in the academic sphere.

Ask students:
How many types of business information you can think of? What have you used in the past? Report back and then share with them a list of sources. RAISE AWARENESS. Now that they are in a higher ed environment, they need to think more broadly about what is available and appropriate to their work.

Putting the research question FULLY into Business Source Complete = no results. Then explore how to deal with it. Give them a full working demo that isn’t perfect or practiced, include the bad and the good. Show them how to deal with NO results.

Find mistakes in a screen shot of a search screen. Cool exercise. Shows how complex a search can be and how to use options to make your search more useful. Awesome idea. Great addition to COR120 exercises.
One thing I’ve noticed is that there is a lot of emphasis on truncation and wild cards. Been mentioned in a number of sessions and in conversation.

Start their discussion of critical analysis with Wikipedia. Ask students what they think of Wikipedia?

What feedback they received from their sessions.
Invite staff (or faculty!) to the practice session.
GREAT IDEA. Way to get faculty involved, solicit feedback, and practice. Also helps us deal with questions about the setting the bar appropriately. We should make this a standing component of our sessions.
Kept an online diary (use Clearspace or Zoho??) for tracking feedback.

MEGO = My eyes glaze over. HA!

Creating a reference guide for students rather than taking face-to-face time for basic skills (library catalog). Perhaps this is a cultural difference—would our students really read through a workbook?

Fantastic that a librarian asked about how much paper they are using in their sessions? AWESOME!

Loved the active learning part of this session! A bunch of ideas I will take home, especially the screen shot of databases exercises and inviting faculty to practice sessions.

31 March 2009

LILAC09: Leslie Burger: “From Information Literacy to Digital Citizenship: Libraries and the New Democracy”

Leslie Burger, former ALA President and Director of Princeton
“From Information Literacy to Digital Citizenship: Libraries and the New Democracy”

Thinking from the perspective of a public librarian. Everyone here is academic.
“Libraries for all seasons and all reasons”: no matter what type of institution you are in feeds into the work we do in all of our institutions. In public libraries, doing much of the pre-literacy work: teaching them how to read, how to listen. The partnership between the school librarian and the public librarian; learning information literacy skills. Find themselves back in public libraries “trying to negotiate their way through the complex world we live in”.

How do we need to prepare our users to be digital citizens?
What is a digital citizen and why do I need to be one?
Do I need a separate passport to cross the web border?
Information in the currency of democracy—Jefferson

Learning on the job how to integrate digital resources into her work. How the world has changed: everyday, public libraries are teaching people how to be information literate but in a very different way—one person at a time. The teach-able moment. Isn’t this something we should be aiming towards everyday?

Information is power = example of the experimentation of prisoners being outlawed based on the information her class extracted in the 60s.

As she reads the 1989 ALA Statement: isn’t it interesting that it is always about how we can compete rather than what we want for ourselves? Hmm.

Top Trends:
• The web as ubiquitous throughout the world, not just in the developed world. It’s not always through computers. People get information in new ways.
• The web has changed the way we do business. Information is widely distributed and openly available.
• Information as a commodity. Not new to librarians: people that know how to find good information have a competitive advantage.
• People are communicating in a variety of ways. Tools that have the potential to change how we use information .
• Information consolidation. Too much available to ever use. Google is not altruistic. It is capitalistic. Sell back to us our own free information, example of Google Books. It might be free now, but it won’t be eventually.
• Library as a trusted resource
• Librarians on steroids—we are better than we were before. Skilled information navigators.
• More content than ever before. Playing on a more
• Librarians as the on ramp to the digital highway for those that don’t have access or can’t afford access. In the economic downturn, more people are turning to libraries. While the Gates foundation supplied significant funds to get many libraries new computers, those computers are now 6-7 years old. The problem when help comes from NGOs—what do you do when the grant is over?
• Information fuels our democracy.
o Taking issue with Melissa Highton’s point that the
o Book recommendation “Digital citenzship—Mossburger” people that are internet savvy participate to a lesser degree?

Concerns about the demise of the newspaper. What is happening to investigative journalism, can we really trust the bloggers???

Libraries were not an essential part of teaching to the test during NCLB. This puts into question about how ubiquitious information literacy is in our K-12 educations. A GAP!

Two issues:
Helping people navigate from the “old way” to the “new way”
How can we augment what is missing in our school libraries, both in terms of IL instruction as well as support their research needs (eg. school libraries closing at 3 pm: do they turn off the need for information for those school students? Of course not. So they turn to public libraries.) Asking faculty or teachers to come to the library to do the assignment at the public library, since that is where students are.

Give me the answer: sometimes they just want the answer and we have to wait for a teachable moment. Dual screens.
Consider each interaction an opportunity to change someone’s life!

Public libraries need to be looking at the K-12 IL standards.

Highlighting a number of public library sites: Spokane, San Fran, Central Illinois.
New Jersey state library: Helping Residents Through Tough Economic Times. COOL.

ALA’s E-Government resources.
Online Information literacy: the role of YouTube for the most basic to more advanced tools. IDEA for Andy for the next video: let’s get MORE advanced, not easier.

Information Literacy for the People:
Monitoring trends: what is going on? What is shifting? What do our services need to look like?
Market!!! We need to get out of the idea that they know to come to us. We need to TELL THEM to come to us.
Make information seeking fun: engage them in the moment.
Tie your information literacy moments to solving real life problems. Let’s be where we are needed and providing instruction in things that people are interested in or challenged by. We learn from eachother.
Reach out to those that need you the most; go for the unexpected. Be where people are and might not expect you to be.
LEAD THE WAY & Never give up.

We are in a values driven profession with the opportunity to change people’s lives.

LILAC09: Getting the Student Perspective: is Joe Student Paying Attention

Student perspective on Info Lit:
Alison Bestwick, Univ. of Sheffield, student ambassadors to CILASS

Student created film about what students think about Info Lit.
CILASS Channel (They have a student film group—good idea)

Asking how you define information literacy:
Students did not know!
Can they (or other librarians) put the “7 pillars” in order? Understanding higher order vs. lower order skills. They put two into the right place but were discussing info lit in the process, “which is a good thing”.
Students not giving themselves enough credit for what they do already. Student admitted that it is something they already do, they just don’t know. COGNIZANCE
Ask students what they think students should be able to do at certain points in their own careers. GREAT IDEA. It might help develop instruction.
From the video: great to see how the student perspective shifts our own vision of IL frameworks.

Is the term “information literacy” the best way to describe it. Use non-threatening mechanisms. Stop using JARGON. Let’s come up with other ways to describe what we’re doing and do it in a way that is more inviting. From the video: when we don’t use the term information literacy, we get better results.

Asking students how successful they are when they research?

Where do you (students) go to fill in gaps in your own knowledge?
GREAT QUESTION. Add a component to the Goals and Expectations exercise.
Do you feel you are supported in your research?
How confident do you feel in x, y, z, skill?

The Information Literacy Parthenon.

IDEA for ROB: Could your media students make a video for us on IL? Defining it? How they use it? Students want to hear more from other students.
Connection to CCM and Business: how can we market IL? What kinds of promotional materials can we generate?

From the questions:
First time one attendee had seen a student perspective. So helpful.
Suggestion to share the definition with students and get their feedback to how we could redefine it, describe it otherwise?

An interesting comment about students not being information literate but that is not what the video said, at least in my view. They ARE more information literate, just not familiar with the way we ask them to describe it.
How do we make the sessions we do more aligned to what students need? If you ask students, they will say they haven’t had training, even if they’ve had multiple sessions. But they aren’t seeing that as support or helpful. How can we remedy that? Is it how we present our sessions? Is it how we try to make a connections to students?

We make a lot of assumptions about what students need or do. Perhaps our assumptions are off.

LILAC09: The Pathway to Success: Using Research Trails for Summative Assessment

Rebecca Mogg (Cardiff University)
The Pathway to Success: Using Research Trails for Summative Assessment

Assumes embeddedness of IL
Design assessments that evaluate IL & what students are doing in their courses—RESEARCH TRAIL.
Coursework submitted with their essay that documents the research process. A required component to the assignment. Includes evaluative reflection of why they included their sources. Also can be used to assess referencing (citations). How is this different than an annotated bibliography? Could it be used as a essay component to the bib?

Why do it?
Draws on higher order skills. We can choose which criteria from the IL outcomes we wanted students to address. Also can be used to assess writing and critical thinking outcomes. Not just for IL outcomes.
Promotes both formative and summative assessments.
Suitable for all level of learners. It depends what you are asking students to evaluate (remember, we set the criteria).
Deters plagiarism.
Promotes problem solving: learn from what works and what doesn’t.

Strong emphasis on the assignment and rubric (see handouts). Students saw the rubric ahead of time. Built on what students already know how to do. In her sessions with students, one session on what they knew already (Google, Library catalog), second session on more advanced database searching, third on mirroring the process students would go through.

Learning objectives—finding and evaluating.

Shared everything they did to find their sources:
What did they use to find it.
What keywords did they use, did they use Boolean, truncation
Include reasons for selection (relevance, objectivity, reliability, currency)
IDEA: Increase the emphasis on currency. Might be an interesting way to connect more to primary source materials—some things don’t go out of date while somethings go out of date almost immediately.

Provided extensive feedback in order to make the assessment summative AND formative. Give them something to take out of the process as well.

Validity: how well did the assessment work.
Reliability: did it connect to the criteria?
Sufficiency: how much time did it take for them to do the assignment and the time she gave to assessing in comparison to what we learned from it.

Validity: concerns about students falsifying their approach in order to meet the criteria rather than conducting a genuine process.
Reliability: students did what was required and the rubric worked well. Reliability decreased as more people participated in the marking of papers. Different assessers have different ideas about what meets/does not meet. (Also a concern when faculty take over the assessment)

Sufficiency: an enormous amount of work on her part.

Does think it is successful. Assessed higher order skills and process rather than strictly product. Student feedback is not as positive. Helped her identify gaps in student understanding and use that information to develop her teaching strategies. The relevance has to be made clear to students.

By taking a journal approach, could you deal with the issues of students falsifying their process? Isn’t this where faculty could be partners: creating benchmarks?
Very little discussion about faculty as partners or benchmarks. Essential component to success, especially for students that are not as advanced?

If you do use Grad Assistants or Professors, must collaborate IOT make significant connections between their final work (the essay) and the research trail.

More on promoting problem solving: continue applying what they’ve learned but it is on their own, independent of the instruction.

At Cardiff, a bottom up and a top down approach. It is recognized at the University level and a directive from the top about IL as well as within departments/schools.

To make the activity easier and equally sufficient: list x number of references rather than all the things they look at.

How much help was provided: email, reference, but not additional class time.

30 March 2009

LILAC09: End of Day One

I am just about to shut out the light from an amazing day at LILAC. Let me tell you, American readers, this is a GREAT conference. Every person I met was wonderfully friendly and interesting to talk to. Both sessions I attended were great and in both sessions, the follow up questions shed light on critical or practical issues that make bringing the ideas presented home more feasible.

Tonight, we had a "networking evening" at Caerphilly Castle. NOTE: The image is from Flickr since my camera is over the Atlantic somwhere. More on my lost luggage below.

The food was very good, it was open bar, and I met a great group of librarians and learned about a number of UK universities I had never heard of before. We also got into a heated discussion about Melissa Highton's talk and the role of Google Scholar in student learning.

I'm having a great time here. Sadly, my luggage did not arrive today so tomorrow I need to go splurge on a pair of "trousers" for tomorrow's evening event. The jeans and sneaks just won't cut it for "smart" dress. Cross your fingers for me that my bag arrives before we leave for Dublin on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, more posts tomorrow.

LILAC09: “Enhancing Undergraduate Engagement with Knowledge and Research through Evidence-based Information Literacy Training”

Angela Newton, Amanda Lynch McPhee
Univ. of Leeds
“Enhancing Undergraduate Engagement with Knowledge and Research through Evidence-based Information Literacy Training”

IL assessment tool for undergraduates
University wide
Results and their implications

Based their questionnaire on 6 of the 7 pillars.

Comparing their data to Sheffield. The cross study with Sheffield enhances validity.

Recruited faculty from each school and provide evidence to each school. Develop best practices for developing IL skills. Kickstarting a larger conversation about IL.

What do you of expect undergraduates students?
Broke into groups, which was AWESOME so I could hear from UK librarians
The conversation was based on NOT recognizing information need but LIBRARY need.
Similarly to our experience, students aren’t very strong at evaluating and comparing information. They find something from a database but they don’t ask whether that is what they want. What’s interesting is that the data presented from the assessment contradicts this anecdotal finding.

Will be conducting a longitudinal study over time. How do students measure over time.

Locating and accessing information remains the biggest area of challenges. Does this connect to their web site at all? Are they conducting usability studies at all?

What you DO with the data that you get is truly exciting. But is the change only in their training vs. how we provide access to information?

Can this be developed as a pre-arrival tool?

Librarian from Darby pointed out that by using Google Scholar, we aren’t demonstrating their need to look any further.

Assessment questions:
Are students prepared to meet the academic demands placed on them?
How can we gauge assessment if we are assuming there is just one right answer? An argument for rubric-based assessment.

Good session. Really interesting.

LILAC09: Keynote by Melissa Highton

Melissa Highton, Learning Technologies Group, Oxford University Computing Services, Oxford

Challenging the view and questions about the place of Oxford and Cambridge in a diverse education system.

Learning technologists and information literacy should work together and save the world!

Managing the flamingo: Alice in Wonderland. Every time she tried to play, the flamingo or the hedgehog would be difficult. An analogy for getting all the parts of your library or your IT & Library to work together and get them on the same page.
Maximum leverage.

Oxford’s conference on Digital Literacy

Can you be digitally literate without being information literate? Can you be information literate without being digitall literate? Are they the same? Do they have overlap? If so, in what ways are we letting the two conversations continue together.
Who will write the framework for digital literacy? Use the Wikipedia pages to build a definition of digital literacy.

Oxford & Cambridge:
Autonomy within the organization.
Oxford Libraries: 11 million printed items, the largest library system in the UK
How do you categorize and organize information in such a large system? How do you argue for funding for your needs against the goals of the larger institutions?
Publishing new content, generating new ideas. How do we change information efficiently or effectively? Rethink authority—the authority’s view and perspective changes too!

Lead in new ways of learning.
Encourage student to think differently about information, research, and presentation. How can do a better job getting students to do these things.
What should digital literacy look like in a higher education setting? Should it be taking the place of history? Of literature? Shouldn’t we change our approach of incorporating the literacies into the curriculum rather than thinking it needs to be separated out?

The language of student skills and information literacy has changed very little in the last ten years. We are tied too closely to what we think employers want.
What are the 21st Century skills?
Who should be shaping the debate about digital literacies?

How will institutions change in the recession? Continuing education.

“YouTube is single handedly saving us from boring presentations.”
Where is the differentiation between your content and mine.

We are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist, to use technology not yet invented, to solve problems we don’t yet have. In staff development, we develop staff for jobs they already have, to use technology we already know, to solve problems we largely already understand. If we are taking this long, if we are struggling this much, then we should acknowledge that some of it has to do with what we do and how we do it. Let’s question that!

The influx of international colleagues. What efforts are you making to accommodate international academic staff and international students? Who is giving advice to students? Are we being aware and effective in those settings and meeting their needs truly? Are we giving training that is consistent?

How are we internationalizing our curriculum?

Thinking about staff:
What do you do when knowledge is power and colleagues withhold that information or are purposefully making it difficult to find in order to hold on to power.
How information can be abused, not just used. See the world around us. Information is used for decision making , incl. bad decisions. We might want to teach the “light” end of infomraiton literacy but make them equally aware of the “dark” end. A Machiavellian approach to IL. Presenting information to show yourself in the best light. Recast what you know about information to manipulate it. What digital natives do already, do they know it? Do they realize the impact of those actions?

High level information literacy skills.
1. Modeling literacy: the role of information in decision making. We must know what the models senior decision makers see, how are those models used, how are those models understood. Interpret and manipulate information in models. Oxford’s Modeling for All
Making use of their gaming skills. Is modeling literacy already present and we need to leverage those skills more carefully and wisely. Digital wisdom

2. Open content literacy: accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Who licenses it? Who gives permissions? Open educational resources is more than open access. Different levels of comfort around different kinds of materials/content. Use/reuse/ adapt: what is the context of using others’ materials? How much is too much? Support students as they how they use and find open material and understand how to use those licenses AND recognize that students generate material and need to know how to license it as they want! We should be aware of and teaching Creative Commons. Forseeing YouTube as a hub of educational activity, similar to what iTunes (iTunes U) is becoming. How do index open source teaching tools—an opportunity for us all.

Oxford currently offering 500+ lectures (talks and seminars that are a one time thing) and materials in iTunes U with a complementary web portal. Joseph Stiglitz/Gordan Brown

iTunes U as a tipping point at Oxford around podcasting. It is a way of publishing and sharing information. Does that make them digitally literate/information literate/media literate?

The Grand Tour = exposure to the cultural legacy. In the digital age, that is open to EVERYONE, not just the rich and aristocratic. Democratization of information. Grand Tour Learning. Google is NOT making us stupid…it can make us a hell of a lot smarter.

The continuum of openness.

If we are going to solve big problems, we need to pull content and materials out of educational silos . Librarians can help index and break apart those huge chunks of knowledge. We can provide guidance to how that information is shared, is distributed, is licensed or not.


Open educational resources and the spectrum of reactions to these initiatives. Are we touting our horns too soon? MIT’s courseware is spotty, not comprehensive, and at times not maintained. Is podcasting the same as truly sharing resources?
Know what content you have and what content is available. Find a starting place and grow it. Quite the same as the research process: steps, looping back, changing, iterative. Leveraging the University’s goals: publicity, marketing.

How do you deal with competition of big institutions putting up a lot of content? What is the incentive for smaller institutions that only offering a few lectures?

Just as a side note: I feel pretty young in this room and the twitter stream is pretty quiet. But Melissa Highton was terrific! Very thought provoking and very exciting. I am officially excited about this conference.

Greetings from Cardiff

I have made it to Cardiff for LILAC. Cardiff is a lovely city. If my luggage had arrived with me, I would have taken photos and uploaded them already but USAir decided my luggage was too exiting to pass up. My fingers are crossed that it will show up this afternoon.

It is pretty exciting to be attending a UK conference on information literacy. I haven't had the chance to attend an IL focused event like this in the States. I am amazed at how many librarians are here with so many different job descriptions, from so many institutions.

The conference is just underway and I will be blogging the talks much as I did at ACRL. We are presenting on Tuesday afternoon and I just found out that our session is fully booked! WOW.

Great to be here. Blog posts of sessions will be forthcoming.

24 March 2009

IL for the RD

Library Society of the World is so clever. They are embracing the full power of user generated content by allowing us to celebrate our own successes. We all have stories we want to share and now you can as a Shover and Maker.

My story is in terms of information literacy. Sometimes it is hard to be banging the IL drum. Sometimes it is hard to walk into classes and try to engage students. Sometimes it is hard to be creative and inquisitive. But then you have moments where you see the lightbulb go on. When you see students get that you are talking about much more than the library. That you are talking about thinking about information and how we use it. That it is IL for the RD (real deal).

It's great to get these successes out in the open. Rock on Josh Neff and Steve Lawson. You are helping every librarian feel the power of their contribution to the field. And that can only lead to more energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and innovation.

20 March 2009

ACRL2009: What do I wish were different?

ACRL was terrific. Not only because I attended a number of great sessions but more so because I met some really interesting and creative people with whom I hope to collaborate or at least keep my eyes on in the future.

But, now that I am back from ACRL, there are a few things that stick out at me about it as a conference. Steve Bell asked me what I think ACRL needs to do to improve. Here are four things that I think would make it more attractive, educational, and effective as professional development.

1. Tracks that mean something: I think ACRL could take a few tips from Computers in Libraries in terms of creating clear tracks for session themes. It’s very difficult to identify with the themes of Casting a Net, Feeling a Buzz, etc. How about tracks geared towards Teaching and Learning, Technology and Usability, Leadership and Assessment? I’m sure someone far more creative than I could devise catchy titles for these tracks. But offering tracks that enable attendees to focus their energy or diversify their experience would be very helpful.

2. What about the little guys? I wish ACRL would devote more attention to College libraries. While we are all in academic libraries, some issues are particular to smaller institutions with smaller staffs serving smaller communities. While I love seeing and hearing what big institutions can do, thinking about applying their ideas or programs at smaller institutions can be paralyzing. Can we create opportunities for smaller institutions to share and collaborate within the larger organization?

3. Let’s discuss! The Roundtables are excellent for short discussions of interesting topics but I would get a great deal from more discussion with peer institutions. Perhaps offering presentations that then turn into discussions? Discussion groups are well attended at Midwinter and terribly valuable. I wish we used that model more at ACRL’s own conference.

4. Get Digital: I can’t stress enough how I wish there were more emphasis on technology at ACRL beyond CyberZedShed. Despite how many exciting things academic libraries are doing with technology, ACRL is not showing itself to be a place to showcase those initiatives or teach and discuss their value. Younger librarians will turn elsewhere and that does not bode well for the future of ACRL or for keeping librarians abreast of changes and creative ways of using technology.

I love attending ACRL but as I move forward in creating innovative programming and implementing technology in ways that address my faculty and students’ needs, I wonder whether ACRL will be the place where I share my stories about that in the future. I hope so.

If you made it this far in the post, what about you? What do you think ACRL could do to improve?

15 March 2009

ACRL2009: Green Speaker Robin Chase

An incredibly inspirational talk!

Robin Chase, CEO of GoLoco and Founder of Zipcar
Located in Boston---would love to have her come to Champlain.
Social entrepreneur

How libraries can play a role in a world of increasingly scare resources

From the negative to the positive.
2020 and 2050 goals:
Her emphasis on CO2 emeissions: the only way we are going to make it is if we
If we all bought fuel efficient cars, we would reduce our CO2 emissions by 5% in 10 years.
If we shared a ride 1 in 10 trips or didn’t drive 1 in 20 trips, we would reduce our CO2 emissions by 5% this WEEK.
“That is the difference between infrastructure and behaviour”

Founded in 2000, today there are 300,000 people using 5000 cars across N. America and London. Averted 6000 lbs of CO2 just this year.

Sharing can make gigantic differences: the anatomy of sharing.
Simple sharing: person to person.
Simple sharing institutionally: one company’s assets to many. If you pay me, I will share. Carsharing has a negative connotation: if hotels were called bed sharing, they would be considered very differently. I have my own personal fleet of cars anywhere I go. Different cars for different moments.

Sharing 2.0: Personal collaborative: many to many.
Wikipedia as making use of excess mental capacity. A sense of pride in contributing to the world’s knowledge.
Couchsurfing: beds all over the country, 1 million beds in 231 beds.

Excess capacity in our cars: GoLoco ride boards meets facebook meets paypal. Creating our own public transportation system. If we just started getting in the habit of asking someone if they need a ride, no matter where you are going.
It is messier and much less predictable, uses much less stuff. We know how to do a better job, we just don’t have incentives.
Lower ROI threshold: potential for success is broader, faster uptake, higher participation. Higher social value.

Collaborative consumption, but let’s think about
Let’s start to think more about
Example: Vienna, 500 wireless nodes of internet access. Opening capacity on our routers (mesh networking). Turn our cars into mesh networks. There is more that we want to do with our wireless devices in our cars (EZ Passes)
Moving into vehicle miles travel taxes: people will pay to use roads. Multipurpose devices into cars. Keep communication local. Reaching broadband through people, not governments!

We have a feeling of scarcity: we focus on closed proprietary assets “It’s mine” so I have to pay for it all and deal with it alone. I have to bare the costs.
The Architecture of Abundance: we pay for what we use. We share costs and infrastructure. “Farming” for best innovation. Draws unexpected benefits. Because Twitter is an open platform, PEOPLE came up with how to use it powerfully. The minds of many.

The take home:
1. Identify excess capacity
2. Find or build platform for sharing: what’s out there and how can we leverage it?
3. Reap Unexpected benefits

Libraries as vessels for brains and willingness and desire to engage new ideas. Libraries have an opportunity to engage in the educational component of the crisis of climate change. What does that look like at my library?

Sharing does not mean we don’t act in our individual best interest. Every dollar, we need to maximize it.

Inspirational. And while she is presenting ideas that are challenging and scary for many people because it requires a paradigm shift. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great idea. Or that it can’t be done.

Different rule sets for small or large scales. Example from Omnivore’s Dilemma.

We are going to build a technological and environmental infrastructure. Yes, there are costs to building this infrastructure that might seem counterintuitive to the mission but if we evaluate excess capacity and we evaluate the cost and benefits of that infrastructure, then there is reason to use that existing infrastructure.

Recreate access to information beyond the platforms we already have.