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.