02 December 2010

15 September 2010

Overprepared? Maybe.

As is the case for many of us, it's instruction season at the college library. For us at Champlain, that means crunch time for the Teaching Librarians. As I have mentioned in the past, Champlain's instruction program is an embedded, incremental program. What does that mean? It means that we are embedded in the Core curriculum. It means that we are seeing students in a coordinated progression every semester for the three years. This allows us to create an equally coordinated, progressive, incremental curriculum. We don't have to worry about covering everything in one shot. Rather, we can spread out what we want students to know and what the skills we want them to learn over their college career.

We're pretty lucky.

But, there are some drawbacks in paradise. One of them is that teaching is extremely coordinated. Every teaching librarian is teaching the same content, at the same time, using the same pedagogy. I am always concerned about balancing this need for consistency in the teaching with academic freedom. The last thing I want is to cramp any teacher's style. Which is why I really have to think carefully about what it means to be a teacher. Hence my post last week at ACRLog. As I said there, there are many ways to prepare yourself to teach. But can we be overprepared? Can we beat a lesson to death before we even walk into the classroom?

Here's where I am coming from. I help all the Teaching Librarians prepare for our sessions. Now, we design, create, and tweak these lessons as a team. So we all have a say every step of the way in what we want to do and how we want to do it. But, we are all very different teachers and very different people who prepare to walk into the classroom in very different ways. Some of us are more nervous than others. Some of us are more comfortable with the possibility of failure or with student apathy than others. And sometimes, I struggle with the needs, concerns, and fears of my fellow librarians, as incredible as they are, and balancing my own way of teaching. I like to keep a level of spontaneity and experimentation in my teaching. More, perhaps, than they do. But in working hard as the head of this group and as the Assistant Director and the one responsible for information literacy at the College....well, I have had to give up what works for me a bit. I have had to overprepare. I have had to anticipate many possible outcomes, problems, difficulties, and responses to our lessons. I have started to question whether the level of creativity and innovation we bring to our design is truly sustainable.

To be honest, that doesn't feel good. It's really hard for me to deal with. To surrender to.

Yet, at the same time, I find an incredible amount of reward in seeing my colleagues level of comfort increase. Today, one of my colleagues said that they feel ready, prepared. And another chimed in as we rehearsed our session that it was "pretty amazing". I beamed.

One thing I am learning is how true it is that we prepare for teaching in different ways. And what is overprepared to one person is just right for another. And not enough still for someone else. The Goldilock's syndrome. The real challenge I face, personally, is not how to maintain my enthusiasm in the classroom. That's what students just do to me. But how to support my team, as a group and as individuals. How to listen to their needs and offer them the right opportunities as well as when to push the responsibility onto them for their own classroom experience.

It's really hard. And I hope that I am doing a good job of it. I wonder how others handle these situations. How you balance these seemingly competing needs. How you grow and sustain. I wonder.

08 September 2010

Thanks, ACRLog

As if I needed yet another feather in my cap to start off the new school year but I was asked to post about instruction on the ACRLog. I was thrilled to be invited. So, hop over there (if you don't the ACRLog already, you should!) and check out the post.

And thanks to Maura Smale and Steven Bell for the opportunity!

03 September 2010

Bye Bye Feevy (RE-Viewing what once worked)

I've been meaning to do this, to write about doing it, to stop dawdling and do it....

I'm saying goodbye to my Feevy.

Feevy has been a terrific tool for me. I loved adding it to my blog and enjoyed the dynamic roll/role is has played here. However, the way I use my blog and the way I follow blogs has changed. I can't remember the last time I clicked on something from my Feevy. My blog roll lives in my RSS. I follow peeps on the tweets. My way of handling information has changed. And I feel like my blog, my home base, should reflect that.

This gets at something I have been thinking a lot about as the school year begins, as our assessment cycle beings, as our teaching prep wraps up---reviewing. I'd even suggest we reconsider how we look at that word itself: RE-Viewing. Viewing again. To see anew. To see what we offer and if it aligns with where we are trying to go. That's a huge part of creating meaningful assessment but also a huge part of what makes instruction successful.

And also how technology is useful. Is it fulfilling a role or is just taking up space? Or time? How often do you RE-View your technology choices? On your blog? On your iPhone? How often do you RE-View your teaching? Your lessons? Your activities? Your assessment?

Funny how strands come together, isn't it.

Or rather, not funny at all. Fitting, really.

30 August 2010

Going Manager, or, Big News-Part 2

It's been a month since I last posted and part of me wants to apologize. But I think something I have to learn and practice for the next few months (or maybe the rest of my life) is that I can't do it all. Some things have to slide over to make room for the bigger, more pressing things.

An aside: it's funny to me to use words like "bigger" and "pressing" now that I am having a baby. Ha!

This is all a lead up to part two of my big news: my promotion. In July, I was promoted to Assistant Director of our library. When it rains, it pours!

The last two months have been a bit of a whirlwind. But I didn't want to jump into the school year without really sharing, and thereby processing, what this change has been like and means for me.

What does it mean to Go Manager?

Well, one thing I've learned is that you work past five, you bring work home with you, and you work on the weekend. I say that in jest but it is also true. I have more work to do. I have less time to chat, less time to read articles or blogs, less time to do things I feel like doing versus things that need doing. My to-do list has changed. My way of looking at my to-do list has changed. My way of prioritizing is changing. My willingness to say "yes" is changing. And with these changes come some concerns, some of which I anticipated and some of which I am starting to look at and question.

One of my biggest hesitations to taking on this increased responsibility was that I loved my job. As Information Literacy Librarian, I was responsible for the IL program at the college. It was my responsibility to keep up on the literature in the field, to brainstorm, to generate ideas, to collaborate, to make things happen in the program. Sure, there were parts that were less than wonderful (scheduling), but by and large, I loved the commitment I was able to make to IL. And as a manager, I have to put that part of my job in a silo. I have to look at it sometimes and say, "Not right now". It doesn't mean I love IL any less or am any less committed to the program. But I am having to broaden my gaze. And that frightened me. Which is why it was so important for me to do it. Being afraid of it means it is going to be challenging and as a young librarian, I want challenges. Building a program from scratch was a challenge and one that I have looked in the face and smiled at. That hasn't gone away. But a new challenge adds a layer of complexity to my daily work and to my thinking over time.

A concern I am also thinking about is how to "Go-Manager" and still be accommodating. As I said, my willingness to say "yes" is changing. There are some requests, some preferences, some suggestions, that I just can't accommodate. And that hurts. I hate to disappoint people and I have to have to say no. But I am learning a bit more about how pieces of the puzzle fit together rather than looking at individual pieces. It's hard.

And I guess that's what I am finding and thinking about: making the shift to manager is hard. I feel incredibly supported in doing it and I feel like there are a plethora of resources available to me to do it well. But that doesn't change the fact that there are things to think about, to reconcile. And while I might post even less (is that possible?!), I intend to make this blog a space where I do that. Where I talk about this transition and reflect on the kind of manager I want to be. And what it means to Go Manager.

29 July 2010

The Really Big News First

The Really Big News: The Sheck is having a baby. 17 weeks today and excited! Very excited!

I wish my husband blogged so he could post this. But when I saw it in my RSS this morning, and after crying while watching it, I realized how much Google has been amazing as we prepare for this crazy thing called parenthood. That, and the amazing friends we have who temper what I learn in Google with the real deal experience. If that's not the outline for a post on the information literacy of pregnancy and parenting, I don't know what is.

21 July 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on my Way through the Internet...

We all say it.
We all feel it.

Dude....I'm busy.

I have a lot of things going on right now, both personally and professionally (more on these changes in a later post). And lately, I've been feeling like I have not been putting my extra-curricular, professional activities on the list of things to do. As a matter of fact, I took a few minutes today to check in on my RSS and thought to myself, "Where do they find the time"?

And then I saw this post by Bobbi Newman. It’s a great post. But I found myself nodding my head and shaking my head. And here’s why.

I nodded because I wholeheartedly agree that a lot of people use the "I don't have time" argument as an excuse, especially when it comes to technology. And like most people piping up in the comments, that drives me bonkers. A little initiative, please! I also really appreciate Bobbi's intro to her post on lifelong learning. Oh, it really boils my blood when librarians, who are supposed to be the champions and advocates of lifelong learning, talk out of both sides of their mouths. Lifelong learning is a process and one in which you need to be an active participant!! Yes, Bobbi, YES!

But, as I said, I also shook my head when I read the post. Because, frankly, I don't want to be on all the time. This is the struggle I find myself in with blogging. I work hard at work. I do a lot, I am learning a lot, I give a lot. And by the time I am done, I am ready to do something else than think about libraries, instruction, assessment, or technology. I want to put energy into the rest of my life: my garden, exercise, my dog, my community, my imagination, my cooking. My self. I want to put some energy into myself. Sometimes, I feel like in order to really be the kind of librarian that is recognized in our field, I have to be working on librarianship all the time. I love my work. So much, that a lot of the time, it doesn't feel like work. And I think that a lot of our most prolific bloggers would say that. Their blogging, their thinking, their extra-curricular professional activities are out of love, out of a desire to give back (great post on that from Andy lately), and out of a desire to share what they are learning. And I thank you. Truly. Deeply. It is from you that I learn so much. It is from you that I feel like I am in a field that is growing, not shrinking. I mean it, thank you.

But, I also want to feel like it's okay to have other priorities. I want to applaud the people that maintain a work-life balance that works for them. I repeat: a work-life balance that works for them. As individuals. And it really is different for each of us. As much as lifelong learning is a process, it is also without deadline. It is, quite literally, lifelong. I cannot do it all right now. I cannot do it all for tomorrow. I can only do so much when it comes to work or when it comes to the rest of my life in any one day. And that's ok. Granted, being an overacheiver, a lifelong learner, and just my self...I have to remind myself of that an awful lot. In case you needed a reminder too, this one's on me.

01 July 2010

Join Our Team!

My library is looking for a new addition! So if you, or someone you know, is on the market, Champlain is seeking a pretty awesome person to become our Scholarly Resource and Academic Outreach Librarian.

Here is a link to the posting where you can submit your application.

And what is this job? Here is a snippet of the job ad:
Job Description:
Champlain College seeks an enthusiastic, collegial and service-oriented Librarian to serve as an integral member of a team providing high quality academic library services in an innovative setting. This position will coordinate all aspects of Champlain's collection development and management program, including both print and electronic resources, to ensure that the library's collections and procedures remain vibrant and responsive to our academic environment. Responsibilities for this position include: continuing a well-developed faculty outreach program; developing and managing the library's print and online collections; negotiating contracts; participating in curriculum review; managing the production and analysis of statistics related to the library's collections and their use; creating and maintaining appropriate policies; and contributing to the library website. This position will also participate in the library's course-embedded inquiry-based information literacy instruction program, and will share in reference and other outreach services.

I can't wait to welcome a new librarian in this position and onto our team and I'm sure Andy B feels the same. So spread the word!

17 June 2010

The best thing I've read all week

This week, I got an iPad. I've just set it up and spent a few hours with it last night. This morning, my husband asked me if I was planning on leaving it at home for a while so we could play with it. Yeah, I said. I don't need it at work. But in reading this phenomenal article from the Harvard Business Review, I seriously ask myself whether I need it at home.

Great piece. The best thing I've read all week.

11 June 2010

What do you want your fiction to be?

Like many librarians, and many of my friends, I am an avid reader. Especially of fiction. So, I was delighted to catch this segment from Tom Ashbrook's On Point . I even jumped up a little in the car while I was driving. But then I started listening. And I started feeling pretty dismayed when Joshua Ferris talked about fiction becoming the new poetry. In that the number of people who read fiction will dwindle to the small number that actively read poetry.

Granted, I read poetry. Daily. But I know most people don't. So, I found it pretty upsetting to think that so few people will read fiction.

Frankly, I was shocked that this comparison was made. I am reminded of this article from the Times about the number of people reading fiction being on the rise. But, I guess Joshua Ferris's point is that we need to face facts: people aren't reading "literary fiction" as much. (Note: there is an interesting debate in the comments from the show on what constitutes "literary fiction", if anything at all.) And as I think about the series of articles in the Times this week about technology, I am struck by the photo of the dad reading to his little girl on the iPad. I'm not against that, mind you. Reading to your children is vital, no matter how you do it. But that doesn't mean that there aren't unintended consequences to the method you employ. I would contend that there is a difference in modeling and memory for a child who sees their parents turning pages of a physical volume than for a child who sees their parents looking at a screen. You could be reading on your iPad or Kindle or iPhone but does your child know that? Do they know you are reading "literary fiction", the newspaper? Or do they just see you in front of a screen? Does that image matter when it comes time for children to choose activities in which to participate.

But, let me step down from my soap box for a minute.

Tom Ashbrook posed the question to the listening audience: what do you want your fiction to be? And that question is a pretty profound one. And connects, I think, to this issue of the unintended consequences of the mode of reading we employ. What do I want my fiction to be? I think it gets to why do we read?

I read fiction to escape. That is a big part of it for me. To explore my imagination, to envision something other than my own situation, to create a vision for other times, other worlds, other people, other paradigms. And I am not even a "fantasy" reader! I think that is why I actually didn't care for Joshua Ferris's "Then We Came to the End". I am, personally (and reading is perhaps the most personal thing one can do), not interested in reading about the mundacity of office life. I lived that already. I know what that means. I am looking for fiction that takes me elsewhere and gets me thinking about other things.

I want my imagination to go to work with the fiction I read. And I wonder if that it is harder to acheive in front of a screen. In part because of the distractive nature of screens (feel free to reread Nicholas Carr on this topic). In part because of my upbringing and my proclivities. There is plenty of literature that suggests that children of the digital age simply don't have the same issues with distraction that "digital immigrants" might have.

Don't get me wrong. We have seen a huge influx of creativity because of what we can do with computers. I work at a college that prides itself on that. But....but. When I think about the decline of reading, when I think about the increase usage of technology, when I think about the issues it raises in parenting, in education, in every dimension of our lives....I just start to feel...uncomfortable. I wonder if we are sacrificing more than we know. Not to say that I know! I don't. But I am wondering. I am questioning. Not if I want to give up technology. Don't be silly....I just got an iPad! But how I want to use it and for what. How I want to cultivate my imagination and why. What I want to read and why I want to read it? And what I expect it to do for me.

Push back on me here. Am I crazy? Am I not seeing a part of this picture? Am I reading way too much into it?

21 May 2010

A Breather


It's been a crazy few weeks with school ending, the Faculty Collaborative for the last three weeks, and catching up after a vacation. A vacation that was much needed but also eye opening. Let me explain.

My best friend got married last week in Miami. I went down for a full eight days to celebrate with her, soak up some sun, and relax. I was wound pretty tight before I left, as most of us are at the end of the semester. So, the chance to get away was most welcome. And I made it clear that I was getting away. For the first time in a long time, I set my Out-of-Office to this:

And I held to it. I could have logged on to a number of computers while I was away, but I didn't. For eight days, I was away from the office, from Facebook, from Hotmail, from the NYTimes. In truth, it felt like I was away from it all. When we got home, Jon said that he can't remember the last time that I was so relaxed. When I moved at such a steady pace. And I know that being away from my computer was a big, big part of that.

So, that was pretty eye-opening.

But that's not what I want to get at. Let me add this part into the equation:

I sport a pretty simple phone. Jon and I have iPhones on our wishlist for the summer but until our contract with Verizon expires and we get the money together, I'm pretty low tech when it comes to my phone. And there have been many times where that frustrates me. But on this trip, I felt blessed to be so low tech. I couldn't believe how many of my close friends who said they were on a full vacation as well couldn't separate from their phones. First thing in the morning, in the middle of beach time, during dinner.

I am not saying this to sound soap boxy. I am saying it because it made me stop and think. Because I started to wonder and worry whether adding a smartphone to my life was such a good idea after all. As I've mentioned before, I am not always the best at controlling my use of technology. But on this trip, I wanted to more than ever. I wanted to step away. And part of the reason I was able to do that was because I work in academia. I don't run a company, I don't have "clients" or "patients", I don't check stocks. I help students at a library. And I was never more glad of that than when I was able to close my eyes and listen to the sound of the ocean rather than looking at a screen or moving around the beach for a signal.

But it's more than that. I changed the level of expectation for my connectivity, for myself and for those that try to connect with me. I made it clear from the get-go that I was not checking in let alone responding. And I imagine that did something for those that thought to be in touch with me. But it also did something for me. It changed my own expectations of my time, my energy, my anxiety.

And that was the real eye opener. That the expectations we set of our use of information is incredibly important when we are seeking information. But also when we are trying to evade it. And that it takes evading. I had to talk myself out of following the crowd and checking in. I had to remind myself that all I really needed was this time away. I think I had devalued that more lately. And I think that is dangerous. I love my job. I love my friends. I love technology. I love connecting. But it felt incredibly rejuvenating to take a breather from it all and connect back with myself.

As I said, I know that I have some bad habits when it comes to how I use technology. And I am in the market for techniques to harnessing it, controlling it. If you have some, or if you have had a similar or different experience unplugging, I'd love to hear it!

29 April 2010

Put a Poem in Your Pocket

I love poetry.
I get "Poem A Day" in my email from Poets.org and I treasure them. I don't always love the poems they send but I can't tell you how many days have been made better by pausing to read a poem. The think about a poem. For a couple of notebooks now, I have the tradition of pasting a poem into the inside cover so that I always have a poem at hand. Poems by Mary Oliver, Galway Kinnell, Wallace Stevens have all graced me with their presence in my everyday.

So yesterday, I was thrilled to see this post about National Put-A-Poem-In-Your-Pocket day. I immediately jumped on this. As did my excellent friend Emily over at her blog.

So two things on this post:
1. Do you have a poem in your pocket? And if so, what is it?
2. Have you sent a poem to a friend or loved one lately?

The answer to those to questions for me is yes.
Here is the poem in my pocket and hopefully in my friends' pockets. I hope you too choose to celebrate this wonderful day!

It Is That Dream
by Olav Hague
Translated by Robert Bly

It's that dream we carry with us
That something wonderful will happen,
That it has to happen,
That time will open,
That the heart will open,
That doors will open,
That the mountains will open up,
That wells will leap up,
That the dream will open,
That one morning we'll slip in
To a harbor that we've never known.

19 April 2010

Some hard questions

Spring is such a marvelous time in Vermont. Winter was pretty easy this year but still pretty long. Spring brings everyone such joy and no where is it a reminder of rebirth and reinvention than Vermont.

It also happens to be my favorite season.

So, with Spring fully underway and a lot of my immediate responsibilities completed, I have been trying to think a bit about my work. About my job. And my areas of interest. About my areas of weakness. And what I love about my work. And what I don't.

This is something I think we all give thought to every now and again. But I took some more formal steps towards thinking and understanding my thoughts. First, a little background...

I love notebooks. I carry a notebook around with me all the time to capture ideas, take notes, remember things. A lot of people do this with their computers or the PDAs. But, I know myself with technology. I don't always use it in the way that I mean to. Meaning that I get distracted some times. I Facebook when I should be capturing. I email when I should be jotting. So, I limit my access by putting myself in that good old fashioned space of putting my pen to paper on a regular basis.

Each notebook contains lots of content but I try to go back through them regularly, to catch lost threads. Usually, I do that when I am taking up a new notebook. However, with Spring being here and having just gotten back from conferences, I thought that I would end my current notebook with a bit of a reflection as a chance to capture things that I want to do, things that I love to do, things that I need to do, things that I need to revisit. So, I started some pages. They are:
-Things I Love About My Work & My Job
-Things I Want to See Change About My Job
-Things I Have Noticed in the Past Year
-Opportunities that Interest Me
-Areas Where I Need Help
-Interactions that Stick Out

And then I have some blank pages.
I feel certain that there are a number of ways I could deepen this reflection. But in sitting down to think about these prompts, I am amazed by how quickly some things come to the surface. One of them is that I love helping students. In the classroom, at reference, with their research, with their writing...working with students makes me feel good. And, not to toot my own horn, I am good at it. Students seem to like me because, I think, I am genuinely interested in what they have to say. Which I am. It's a win-win.

As I think about that, I think about teaching. How the kind of teaching we are doing at Champlain, steeped in Inquiry, really does require a genuine interest in what students have to say. And that is something that is difficult to teach. It is something that comes from within. Andy and I are going to hear Parker Palmer next week and I feel like this is something that he talks quite a bit about in his writing: authenticity. I can't begin to say how much that resonates with me in the classroom. And at the Reference Desk. We spend so much time talking about service in librarianship but what does that really mean on a day-to-day, person-to-person basis? How do you engage your service mindset? Is it something that you turn on? Is it something embedded in you? Is it something you have learned? Is it something you are cultivating? Is it a combination?

Which leads me to a harder question: How can we strengthen our connection to service in a genuine and authentic way? How can it be something that we cherish and enjoy in our work…even when students fall asleep in sessions or when they tweet that library sessions are boring (yup, that happened). Is it something that warrants a workshop? Yes, of course. But it goes deeper than that. One of the things that I loved at LILAC was the talks that discussed professional development. But how can we professionally develop something so personal? So unique to each of us? But also something so vital.

It’s a hard question. And one I am thinking over. How about you?

13 April 2010

LILAC2010: Information Literacy and Digital Natives: Bridging the Gap

Information Literacy and Digital Natives: Bridging the Gap
Elizabeth Symonds, Univ. of Worcester
Sarah Kennedy, Univ. of Gloucestershire

A faculty member wanted to know about the “journey” the student took between when he gave the assignment and when they handed it in.
Focused their research on first year students, first semester.

“How do new students engage with the learning process outside the classroom?” Where do they prefer to work
who do they interect with
what technologies do they use
what do they think will be expected of them when they come into higher ed
what skills do they think they need to work on?
IDEA: compare their data to US data

How they did it: harge mandatory module; questionnaire once they received the assignment; focus groups; another questionnaie after the assignment to look at actual practices; more focus groups; faculty interview (compare faculty expectations with students’)

Findings on WHERE: home and “learning center”; they indicated that they wanted fewer distractions. Wanted more quiet. What we might think they want in more general activities might not be so in their learning spaces.

Findings on WHO: suspicious of group work. Again, assumption that because they like being social, it does not mean that they like learning in groups.

Findings on SKILLS that students bring with them:
They are good at some things but not at all. They recognize that they don’t have good researching skills.

Expectations before they did their assignments:
Student concerns on Essay Writing, Time Management, Referencing, Faculty Standards. Difference among the two student groups (Sport students v. Psychology students).

What skills do you think this assignment has asked you to use or develop?
Was this a multiple choice or did we ask students to think about it and describe it on their own?

Students were quite wary of Wikipedia. Knew how to use it appropriately.
They want their own computers.

Real concerns over time management: leaving it to the last minute. They ALL said they would start earlier on next time.

Students do rely heavily on different types of university resources: digital and physical, quiet and group.
Heavy concerns over summative assessment in group work. All group members’ contributions should be assessed and held accountable.

Information services should include a range of support activities: time management, referencing, etc.

Who do you go to for support? Drawing on the LIM idea. And finding out where we can be offering additional support. They don’t know who else is available. They only think faculty.

A lot of questions here. A lot of assumptions challenged, particularly about group work. How they think about group work v. their actual experience. Faculty dealing with group work more effectively. Peer assessment.

LILAC2010: Information Literacy and Digital Natives: Bridging the Gap

Information Literacy and Digital Natives: Bridging the Gap
Elizabeth Symonds, Univ. of Worcester
Sarah Kennedy, Univ. of Gloucestershire

A faculty member wanted to know about the “journey” the student took between when he gave the assignment and when they handed it in.
Focused their research on first year students, first semester.

“How do new students engage with the learning process outside the classroom?” Where do they prefer to work
who do they interect with
what technologies do they use
what do they think will be expected of them when they come into higher ed
what skills do they think they need to work on?
IDEA: compare their data to US data

How they did it: harge mandatory module; questionnaire once they received the assignment; focus groups; another questionnaie after the assignment to look at actual practices; more focus groups; faculty interview (compare faculty expectations with students’)

Findings on WHERE: home and “learning center”; they indicated that they wanted fewer distractions. Wanted more quiet. What we might think they want in more general activities might not be so in their learning spaces.

Findings on WHO: suspicious of group work. Again, assumption that because they like being social, it does not mean that they like learning in groups.

Findings on SKILLS that students bring with them:
They are good at some things but not at all. They recognize that they don’t have good researching skills.

Expectations before they did their assignments:
Student concerns on Essay Writing, Time Management, Referencing, Faculty Standards. Difference among the two student groups (Sport students v. Psychology students).

What skills do you think this assignment has asked you to use or develop?
Was this a multiple choice or did we ask students to think about it and describe it on their own?

Students were quite wary of Wikipedia. Knew how to use it appropriately.
They want their own computers.

Real concerns over time management: leaving it to the last minute. They ALL said they would start earlier on next time.

Students do rely heavily on different types of university resources: digital and physical, quiet and group.
Heavy concerns over summative assessment in group work. All group members’ contributions should be assessed and held accountable.

Information services should include a range of support activities: time management, referencing, etc.

Who do you go to for support? Drawing on the LIM idea. And finding out where we can be offering additional support. They don’t know who else is available. They only think faculty.

A lot of questions here. A lot of assumptions challenged, particularly about group work. How they think about group work v. their actual experience. Faculty dealing with group work more effectively. Peer assessment.

LILAC2010: How to Interpret Research on Information Literacy and Library Instruction

How to Interpret Research on Information Literacy and Library Instruction
Lorie Kloda, McGill
Alison Brettle, Univ. of Salford
Assoc. Editors: Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (Open Access)

Evaluating and interpreting research
Five steps:
Having a question you want answered
Find evidence to answer it
Evaluate or appraise that research
Decide: it applicable? Apply it.
Assess the process.

Critical appraisal as reliability (the research does what it is supposed to do); validity (how close to reality it is); applicability (can I transfer/apply this in my setting).
Develop checklists or standardized guide so that every time you are judging articles with the same criteria. Some are pre-exisiting: reliant is one that assess research on information skills instruction. Focuses on study desing; educational context; results; relevance.

Giving us an article to read an article, use the tool to discuss, talk about the experience of using the checklist. What is one positive thing they could have done to improve the article? Flaws and limitations of the research but also offer constructive feedback.


A great guideline for reading but more so for writing articles and conducting studies.

Interesting that the groups don’t agree and that the abstract and introduction don’t align.

Not know what they were teaching too but we know what they asked.
The Results were spread throughout the results and discussion sections.
No limitations or caveats presented. Such an important part of articles.

Critical doesn’t always mean negative, it just means thinking critically.

LILAC2010:Ralph Catts Keynote

Impact of Information Literacy in Higher Education
Ralph Catts
Stirling Institute of Education

Not a librarian, senior research fellow.
Specialists or practioners? As an academic, faculty should be practioners and librarians should be specialists. Interesting that no one wanted to speak up—are we uncomfortable with our own work or unsure of our value? Hm.

Substantial budget cuts impending.
Afterwards: the emergence of a Higher Education “Industry” with emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness through emphasis on design of learning resources; merging teaching and learning support roles; collaborative learning.
Universities need to come into the 21st century to realize they are not the bearers of knowledge.

What will the University of the 21st century look like?
Interchange between teaching staff
The end of the lecture: increase in asynchronous access to information.
Students need to be prepared to work independently but also collaboratively.

ANZIL Framework Principles.
In all of our frameworks, don’t just look past the principles to the guidelines. Remember why we are doing what we are doing.

Step pyramid: Hierarchical Model of General Skills for employment and general, lifelong education.
Move into achieving in situated contexts: education does not exist in a vacuum. Thinking about our outcomes for students: we need integration minimally. Ideally, embeddedness.

He is calling for Faculty Information Literacy.

Makers of our own knowledge: librarians need to be a part of that creation, facilitators.

Stakeholders: we must be able to articulate our value to others and provide evidence! All stakeholders are impacted by economic climate. We need to be convincing and specific.
If we truly offer increased retention: prove it. GREAT support for the work we are doing at Champlain. Return on Investment.
If it lowers unit cost per graduate: prove it.

If students get better grade: how can attribute that to embedded information literacy. Systematic evidence. Not anecdotal, not small scale results. LARGE projects need to be undertaken.

How to reach academics: what can we truly promise them and deliver on? Better grades? How can we prove it? Yes, that would be nice but wouldn’t that require faculty cooperation in a study in order to prove it?
Issues to raise with us about the quality of our research:
Ask help of education departments! We always are asking for cooperation and collaboration but only them working on our projects, not us asking for help! GREAT POINT! We should be called out! Talk to those that have experience in those issues.

Generic tests are not usable if you want to find effects because they are not relevant to students. Catts v. Brevick.
Kirkpatrick levels of evaluation.
Education research should be supporting us.

Different types of measurement that we should be examining. (Walton)

Can we think bigger? Some prerequisites:
Commitment and engagement from IL specialists and organizations.
Substantial funding
Phased approach and appropriate time scale

Define what we mean by embedded but also let a 1000 flowers bloom. There are ideals and reality. Learn more about pedagogic techniques. There is MORE that we can be drawing on and learning about. Ask for help.

A real question about what kind of training do librarians need in the 21st century? And what does professional development need to look like for us to meet the demands of our students and changes within higher ed?

Are we up for the challenge? It’s a great question. We talk a lot about research that needs to be done but are we willing to undertake it?

Funding: it takes a long time and the long view. How do we deal with lapse in time between when we seek funding and the relevancy or interest in projects once funding comes through?

We might like to participate in research but we don’t get sabbatical, we don’t have time devoted to research. How are we supposed to undertake these kinds of projects without that kind of support? How are we viewed within our institutions? As faculty but without true faculty elements.

Sheila Corrall: Sheffield does include the kind of interdisciplinary setting he is calling for. But is that the exception? Not sure but I am not sure I can think of examples in the States.

Really honest talk.

Reflections on LILAC 2010. Simply put: awesome, educational, inspiring.

Sorry for the delay in wrapping up and putting together my collective thoughts on LILAC. As soon as I got home, I was pummeled by the flu but finally, I am clear headed.

My first thought on LILAC is much the same as last year: this is a fantastic conference. In every way. Unlike any conference I've been to in the US, they feed you. A lot. But much more importantly is that my mind is fed. LILAC is like a smorgasbord for anyone interested in information literacy. For me, it helps to break it down into digestible bites.

My theoretical cravings were satisfied by Andrew Whitworth. His talk on the relational frame for IL cemented a lot of my frustrations with the thinking about information literacy, particularly in the States. His push for us to broaden our expectations of student use of information beyond the library and into the way they use information entirely by paying attention to behaviors pinpointed the theme of the conference for me. It seems like the UK infolit contingent is much more focused on a palpable change: students changing their behaviors. The focus seems to be less on whether a student CAN use a database or find a particular kind of source and more on whether a student, of their own volition, will choose to do so. That, to me, is the goal that what should be seeking: giving students a framework with which to relate to the information available to them and their information needs. That is something I have to think a lot about in the coming weeks as I try to develop a role for IL in Champlain's College Capstone. And Whitworth, among others, gave me that intellectual framework to build off of. I love that.

My professional development cravings were satisfied by Michelle Schneider and Dan Pullinger from the University of Leeds. Their session was wonderfully interactive but it also really gave me pause for thought about what I need to learn more about in order to be the kind of teacher I want to be. I certainly walked away from this conference feeling like I could really use a solid grounding in educational development, theory, teaching and learning. That feeling was reinforced by Ralph Catts talk to librarians about trends in higher ed. While his talk was a bit alarming, the part that really stuck with me was in terms of what we could learn in terms of education, assessment, metrics, and original research. And the workshop I went to on "How to Interpret Research on Information Literacy and Library Instruction" really showed me how much I have to learn about hard research. It is one thing to help people identify their research needs and help them find material but another to turn the tables onto your own work. It was truly eye opening.

I also appreciated the way in which this conference encourages people to talk about what works but more so, what doesn't. The best example of this was a talk about student use of scholarly research. This, to my mind, is where information literacy instruction falls short. We focus a great deal on teaching students what to look for and where to look for it but we don't talk about how to use it once they've found it. We assume that someone else will teach that. Stephanie Rosenblatt from CalState Fullerton really emphasized this in her talk.

The other thing that I have simmering on the stove from LILAC is what more I can do with surveys, both formal and informal. We've shied away from surveys at Champlain, largely because I've had my hands full with designing the curriculum, implementing it using inquiry, and getting data out of ePort. But from presentations like Sara Miller's, and even more so this presentation on Digital Native's use of information, I really have started thinking what role surveys might play in improving our teaching and in diversifying our assessment strategy.

What else should I say? I was excited to see more Americans at LILAC this year. I was also terribly impressed by the quality of the presentations. There was not a single presentation where I asked myself what I was doing there. Everyone I met was kind, interesting, and proud of the work they are doing. Truly, LILAC has become my favorite conference. And I look forward to more of them in the future!

09 April 2010

Slides from LILAC2010

In case you missed our presentation at LILAC or are curious about building a culture of assessment, you can always have a peek at our slides:

31 March 2010

LILA2010: Describing the use of scholarly literature by undergraduate students

They can find it, but they don’t know what to do with it: Describing the use of scholarly literature by undergraduate students
Stephanie Rosenblatt, Cal State, Fullerton

Not just finding information, but using information.
Hurst & Leonard, 2007 “Why are papers so often lacking in solid, factual information from scholarly sources?”

Assumptions based on the assumption that if students can be convinced to use our “great” resources found through the tools of the “modern academic library”. They will then synthesize information, add it to their knowledge base, and learning occurs.
Would instruction sessions change behavior. Change in behavior indicates learning rather than just an affect.

Is library instruction even detrimental to student work? Do we put them off? It depends, I think, on what we are teaching and how we are teaching it.

Students found materials that met her requirements and even they gave information:
What’s the point of a research paper that doesn’t make connections between the research and their thinking?
Defining our idea of “Synthesis”. What does it mean? How do faculty come to understand it? How do students?
AACU Value rubrics mapped to ACRL rubrics.
Her expectations: Integrating, Developing, Emerging.
“Transforming Qualitative Information”

Action research methodology: open dialog, communication between practioners.

We are making false assumptions about what they need or what we need to teach. We cannot stop there. It’s not about finding, it’s about using. Is the lack of synthesis a problem in information literacy or is it a problem in writing: they might not know how construct the model for writing.
Activity and instruction that models the behavior. In our teaching, show how we find the connection and how to make the connection. Look at peer reviewed articles for how the connections are made in the articles.
Other activity ideas: working in small groups, look at scholarly literature, specifically at literature reviews to emphasize how to make the connections. How do we deal with wanting to cover so much so quickly?
How much do we need to teach students about interface?

Great example of thinking more broadly about library services: integration!
Concerns about stepping on faculty’s toes: is the analytic the job of the faculty? How do you affect change without insulting their teaching? Faculty that are complaining about student work are prime for this kind of collaboration.

30 March 2010

LILAC2010:Who dares to teach must never cease to learn

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn (John Cotton Dana)
Michelle Schneider & Dan Pullinger
University of Leeds

First off, this was a FANTASTIC session. I learned so much from the session participants about what they cover, activities they use, and what other librarians are thinking about. Great job Michelle and Dan for creating an atmosphere for sharing. Loved it. Now on to my notes…

The changing teaching role of the librarian. How do we gain skills and knowledge to fulfill that role?

Feetham, 2006 in Dale: It’s not sufficient for libraians to teach about resources. We need to be focusing on pedagogical.

Do you consider yourself as a trainer or a teacher?
What’s the difference?
Does it matter what we call ourselves?
Mandy Lupton (2002)
Teachers is a more professional nomenclature. Sometimes we do both. Informaiton literacy is TEACHING, database/catalog work is TRAINING. That is a significant division. The focus on the process is teaching. Often sessions are half teaching, half training. Focus on the doing: skills transfer.
Northampton: they must have a teaching qualification and they are marketed as teachers.
The assessment.
Training is how to do a task and Teaching is why you are doing the task.
Does it matter? It depends on your setting. In an academic setting, it matters significantly. But in an employment or health services, to call it teaching would be a turn off. Approachability. Perception. Sure but perception to whom? Do we want it both ways? Confidence. To be seen by the academics as equals.
Teacher Librarian v. Teaching Librarian
Surface learning v. deep learning.

What skills and knowledge do we need to be effective in teaching our students?
Too many to list.
Educational development
Instructional design
Educational psychology
Subject specificity
Admitting failure
Assessment: learning outcomes.
Time management
This only emphasizes how interdisciplinary our field is.
(Sinikar 2008, Brophy 2007, Conroy and Boden 2008)

What are your experiences? What demands are being placed on you? What kind of teaching are you being asked to do?
Active learning
Inquiry based learning, problem based learning
ESL learning
Having to cover too much in very short periods of time.
Cover what faculty members want and what you know students need.
Let students say what they don’t know how to do. Put it on post its and build the session from there.
Research ethics/research methods

Allowing librarians to be qualified for teaching awards and faculty development opportunities in the college including peer observation, mentorship.

What training/support is available to you now?
In the US: Immersion. Nothing like that in the UK. (PGCHE??)
Sir Learn a Lot online course.
Courses, but it’s hard to find a good course. The problem is that courses are not always flexible enough or applicable in multiple settings.
How to teach in different settings: large groups, small groups.
Librarians need to ask because in many cases, it is not offered.
Required training for everyone that is teaching through the library.
Assessment training***
What training/support do you need?
TIME. Teaching is only a part of our jobs, we need TIME to be able to improve our teaching.
Training on how to run classrooms, use oral communication skills, technology.
Acting skills: how to walk into the room, how to breath, how look at the room of people, voice projection.
Managing classrooms.
CILIP-accredited Library courses to include teaching elements.

PLEASE SHARE your responses to these questions in the comments. As I said, I got so much from hearing from others.

LILAC2010: Assessing collaboration: the effect of pedagogical alignment and shared learning outcomes for information literacy instruction

Assessing collaboration: the effect of pedagogical alignment and shared learning outcomes for information literacy instruction in first year writing classes.
Sara Miller and Dr. Nancy DeJoy, Michigan State University

Currently in process.
Inquiry based learning in writing classes: if they used inquiry method in instruction, would it be more effective? Do students actually learn to find and use sources more effectively? Are the research outcomes met more with aligned pedagogies?

45,000 students
More than 35 sections.
Conducting assessment for 7 sections.
Don’t see all students-not enough “man” power.
Uses web modules.

Boyer Commission, 1998: setting a collaborative model across the institution. Differing views of understanding collaboration: it doesn’t always mean the same thing.
From Twitter: “not just in instruction but areas like research data citation as well. Collaboration: same word, different languages.” @phepbu

Careful about positioning students as “consumers of knowledge.” Example: I already wrote my paper, I just need three sources to back it up. Anti-inquiry. Rather, positioning students to contribute to knowledge base,not just take from it – that is inquiry-based learning.

Norgaard, 2004: connecting info lit & rhetoric.

Inquiry has not taken root in the US as much as in the UK but it is coming!

Students fill out worksheet during library visit. Asking students to find an opinion or background information in groups. How did you find the article?
How did you decide it was a scholarly article?
What is the article’s purpose?

Together, they develop a list of evaluative criteria and then as a group, evaluate.

Did your research practices change as a result of this session?
The rubric reflects inquiry! Recursivity, Synthesis, Source Evaluation, Relevancy.

Asking students a pre and post class survey: “When you think about doing research for an assignment, it’s primarily in what context?”
How did your search change? How is this information important to the conversation about the issue? A lot of diverse responses.

Question to think about: Do students always understand what we are asking them?
Student perceptions about what is valuable: some if “how to” but also conceptual, higher level.

In inquiry, we will position students as mediaries, particularly at Champlain. THAT HAS MEAT. THINK ABOUT THAT. Professional projects. YES. However, that is predetermining the muse. But, that offers an opportunity for thinking about the muse in professional settings and less personal settings.

Asking students what kind of writing they anticipate having to do in their majors. It’s a great question for research. What research do you anticipate having to do in your profession?

Assessment as a way to be accountable, close the feedback loop.

LILAC2010: Keynote with Karen Fisher

Lay Information Mediary Behavior and Social Information Literacy
Dr. Karen E. Fisher
iSchool at Univ. of Washington

People helping other people find information.

National Digital Literacy Corp as part of the US National Broadband Plan: neighbors helping neighbors get on line. Young people will be trained in digital literacy.
QUESTION: Trained? Or will it assume that they are digitally literate? Hmm.
Opportunity for all: how the American public benefits
The point: we know that librarians are doing a great job but we keep telling each other, not those that need to be told (policy makers, decision makers) both nationally and locally.

Methodology for her research: nationwide phone survey, web survey, case studies
Over 50, 000 people about public access computing in libraries
Interesting factoid/sound bite: There are more libraries than McDonalds in the US.

Key Findings:
2/3 use libraries.
2/3 use library staff
2/3 are lay information mediaries (people helping people use info)
32% use public access computers, 50% are ages 14-18.
Agencies are sending their people to libraries for help. People are taking it upon themselves to get help. But libraries are overstretched.

ASIST 2005: The Death of the User. Users as an inherently weak concept?
The user is not always the user. You might be giving users information but they aren’t necessarily using it. You don’t know if they will use the information in the way you anticipated. Direct and indirect outcomes. Let's think about this in academic terms as well: aren't we always surprised by the way students approach problems, construct answers?
USER is an archaic way of looking at behavior (Brenda Dervin).

A new perspective: Social constructivist nature of information: something that is holistic and contextual. Consistent with the need to expand definitions of other: need, giving, use.
Do we need new terms? Expand them? Re-envision them? Re-define them.
Recognize the complexity of the user.

Why do we help people find information?
Lay Information Mediary Behavior: people who seek information on behalf of others without being asked and may or may not follow up. NOT in a professional role. Ordinary people.
Of all demographics, all ages though typically women. Intentional and unintentional. Engage in LIM behavior is a form of caring and maintaining relationships. An expression of caring.
LIM: more likely to RELY SOLELY on PL access, lower income & poverished, women, languages other than English. How info savvy a person is has nothing to do with how educated they are.

80% use library computers DAILY or near daily.

Muses: instead of seeking for themselves, they farm the seeking out to a LIM. Difficult to know who they are.

When people come to the desk, are they the user? Not necessarily—they could be seeking information for someone other than the person in front of you. Concerns about what is lost in translation.

LIMs are info lit: curious empathetic, identify themselves as “go-to” people, recognize info needs, know how to find information.
Stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in public access computers in libraries.

The State of Information Literacy: despite that it is increasingly important, our paradigm is insufficient. It presupposes that it is about individual users seeking and using info on their own behalf. The general public has greater needs than we know.
SOCIAL information literacy: reflect people’s info seeking on behalf of other people. It is based on people being attuned to info situations of others. They know how to provide information at the right time, in the right way, in the right format AS WELL AS providing the right information!
Social Info Lit is a NEW BUSINESS MODEL for libraries.

Research to be done is extensive, deep, and across our discipline.
Social Information Literacy Interventions

Keynote challenge: how can we develop social information literacy and change the world? Step Up!
PONDER: Information Seeking is not always a solo voyage.

Is the relationship between LIMs and Muses co-dependent or exclusive? Are both behaviors occurring in the same person? Does it depend on areas of expertise? Or particular types of information? On life experiences? Opportunity for future research.

For every two people, three people benefit. In public libraries, people that love the library might not be the one in the library “using” it?
The total number of people being served=thinking about it in terms of student use. Are they searching only for themselves or for their friends, sharing information, sharing resources. What is the implications of LIMs in academic use?

29 March 2010

LILAC2010: Relational Frame of Information Literacy

Andrew Whitworth, author of Information Obesity
An evaluation of a course located in the relational frame of IL

A theoretical point of view. Seeing information literacy in a slightly different way because he is not a librarian.

Classic definitions of Info Lit (ACRL), are useful but they focus on the learner as a subjective user of information. What can it do for me, etc. There are other forms of value. If we omit these other value systems, then there are some serious risks to knowledge base. If we are to be truly information literate, we need to move beyond thinking about what information can do for us and think more holistically about information.

Make explicit what is implicit.

Damien Thompson’s “Counterknowledge” (2008), Bad Science.
Books that discuss basis of thinking that have no scientific grounding.

Objective value: scientific measure to transcend subjectivity.
Intersubjective support: people will believe them. Value created by communities (public opinion, moralities, laws, economics). If you don’t have intersubjective value, you have relativism. Just because those types of value are articulated in ACRL, that does not mean that we are building information literacy programming and instruction around those values. This gets to the idea of whether we, as librarians, feel like we are qualified to teach information literacy. Is this why we cloak library instruction as information literacy? Because we aren’t comfortable with the deeper critical thinking issues?

Group think (Ricardo Blaug, 2007)—not thinking of yourself, battery cognition.

Media and information literacy course.
Six Frames of IL (2007), Christine Bruce et al.

Lots of ways of dealing with information literacy
Learning to learn
Personal relevance
Social impact
IL can mean lots of things to lots of different people, hence multiple frames. We intermingle these frames. We might not privilege one frame over the other. They all are important.
The RELATIONAL frame brings all of these together. If you are teaching in the relational frame, then you are preparing your students to move between all of them.

Students ranking what info lit is: only one thought that it is about the world of information.

To teach teachers, we need to teach students about IL. The need to teach teachers well and holistically about IL so it can be passed on to learners. Impact on personal and professional development. How are they using information or changing their habits. Many of them changed their practice. Interesting given what Catherine Williams said this morning about the challenge of habits changing.

Assessing students on their ability to move between frames. Across activities, each activity is assigned a particular frame.

Production of information, putting it back into the public sphere, is transformative. All students felt that they were transforming their practice. They accept the need to transform their practice, even if the assessment didn’t show it. THEY thought so.

Focus on teachers, so it is for specialists.
Converting the course for a more generic post-grad audience.
Will become an open access resource.
log on as guest. Feedback will be welcome.
Moodle based.
Creating something short and modular. 7 hours. A component to professional education for teachers and for librarians.

How do you turn information into knowledge?
We have tendencies to avoid information that challenges our prior beliefs. As a PhD student, you need to see how data challenges your view. We look for information that reinforces your beliefs.

Social impact = media literacy
Ben Goldacre

Who writes the news? Single people. Where does your information come from, literally?

A “rounded view” of information literacy.

To offer these components, even those that aren’t traditionally viewed as info lit. Opportunities for collaboration?

LILAC2010: Keynote with Tony Durcan

Monday Keynote: Tony Durcan
Head of Culture, Libraries, and Lifelong Learning
Newcastle City Council

What is the role of information literacy in public libraries, particularly in terms of current economic climate. Focus on digital inclusion.

Is information literacy a public library issue?
Is Information Literacy a new skills gap?

The People’s Network (2002), free access to the internet is not possible in public libraries. A lot of emphasis on Digital Britain.
New ways to offer adult learning, with new ways to fund that.

Side note: Learning how far ahead the United States is in terms of what we offer at the public library (internet access!) and through e-education. Fewer people using the internet or even having computers in the UK, particularly in rural areas.

If you didn’t have public libraries, you would have to spend a lot more in social issues (crime, education, social services). The library as place but also a place that benefits the community in broad, societal ways--even beyond ways we sometime are aware as librarians.

Libraries as “pillars of interaction.”

Still significant issues around skills and behavior: a real hurdle is getting people to ask for what they want. Not just a problem in public libraries. How can librarians get trained to solicit questions?

Breaking down barriers in physical spaces in order to break down barriers in mental spaces: information points at Newcastle Public Library. No hard spaces—open spaces. Staff as floor based, not office based. Encourages questions.
What kinds of changes have you seen in user behavior? Much more open although staff were very frightened. But they admitted that their fears were misfounded. It has increased accessability considerably.

Made decisions without the background but instinct, and knowing their community.

Getting quite a significant glimpse into the public library’s role in the UK: no free internet across the country, libraries have to pay for government information. Wow. People that don’t know how to use the internet or that they think the internet is not for them. Offering “How to use the iPod”, “How to use social networking”. Is it the medium for you?

A culture change in the staff: we have to enthuse people to use new formats. Removed bureaucracy: no need to use your card to use computers. Breaking down barriers.

IDEA: Putting podcasts of visitors on the library: people famous, people important, just people. Why are you in the library? Why do you love the library?

A strength and a weakness of the public library is its public, democratic root. It is up to what politicians and the people are needing and wanting to do.

At what point do we allow young people to use social networking sites on public computers?

A question from Twitter: why are images on Flickr not available through Creative Commons?

How to build a better relationship with the Council? Respond to the political agenda. Libraries are part of city government—don’t forget it. We have forgotten it in terms of the agenda of the city, initiatives, priorities. Not ours but theirs. You can’t always do what politicians ask you to do, but you can explain why you won’t do it and what you can do.

Highlight your priorities:
Supporting children’s education
Supporting social and digital inclusion.
In the States: universal access.

Raising the profile of the public library.

The relationship between public schools and libraries: how to extend school’s curriculum into the librarian? Again an issue of funding.

LILAC2010: Changing User Behavior on the web

This was an excellent talk and a lot of thoughts started running through my head. If anyone else is reading this, you will find that my thoughts are running through as well so please don't think Caroline Williams said everything here!

Changing User Behavior on the web—what does this mean for the development of online information literacy tools?
Caroline Willaims, Exec. Director of Intute and Deputy Director of Mimas

A focus on the national perspective.
MIMAS: National Data Center (one of two—Manchester and Edinburgh). Provides infrastructure for large data sets (census) but also library as well as assistance through helpdesk, training, etc. Web of Knowledge.

The Alternate Title: Shall we give up and leave it to Google?
Not a throw away question. Are we fighting a loosing battle?

What is research telling us right now about user behavior?
CIBER 2008, “The Google Generation”.
Even though more people have more access to technology, little time is spend evaluating information. There is not an improvement in how we use, evaluate, or select information.
Two camps of thinking:
Make it easy for students to find what they need
Teaching them skills to be able to find what they need themselves

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World, March 2009
IL should be treated as a high priority—critical evaluation of information.
A new trend in Higher Ed that IL is getting this level of support, although it is focused on digital literacy.
Isn’t this only a greater call of transliteracy???
Digital Britain: digital literacy impacts equality through employability.
Andrew Whitworth and Information Obesity.
This isn’t new information but the emphasis it is getting from government and outside of the academic realm is new.
Q: What are libraries doing to connect to that energy? Or is government turning to Google or to other corporate services as the venue for education?

Mimas Market Research:
1. Project Fusion: the indispensability of Google and Google Scholar
2. Intute Web 2.0
3. ViM Project
4. Mobile Internet Detective

It is not just about information literacy but the complete way we categorize and share information. Catalogers are just as important to the success of information distribution and information seeking success as the skills that users apply in a variety of information environments.
Other resources were used but the emphasis remains on ease of use in terms of searching for resources but also for specific information in the material itself (searching within electronic resources—what Amazon has over libraries).

“Centrifugal model of information gathering—scholarly work and the shaping of digital access”, Carole Palmer 2005.

The habits of researchers: Once they start doing it a certain way, it is hard to change.
Confidence and satisfaction are inextricably linked. Their awareness that they could do it better and that opportunities to improve exist but students won’t seek out that help. Why? What is it that they are afraid of? Confidence and satisfaction are inextricably linked.

Intute Web 2.0:
Perceptions of librarians on undergraduate behaviour
Perceptions of web 2.0 in education: they have a place but they should be adopted because the technology exists. Social use is not the same as academic use. Not in the habit of rating and commenting and were even suspicious of those that did. Students WANT to separate the social and working dimensions of their lives.

Value for Money in Automative Metadata Generation:
Google: Students might use their institutions’ resources but Google remains pervasive and popular.
When it comes to Google, words don’t do it justice.
Undergrads are ignorant of how to undertake effective searches. Students like that iGoogle or Amazon “get to know you”. Aligns to the point about digital natives that they don’t care about privacy in the same way that we might.

Mobile Internet Detective: translating an online IL tutorial to something that can be used on a phone.
Library users will start to demand that everything happen on a phone: a behavior changer.
“Why walk to the library if it’s on the Internet” (not a comment about the resources but rather, about the value of the electronic library).
What about the value of the PERSON. We need to be focusing our attention on the human dimension to information rather than trying to compete with Google in searching.

Concerns over access, speed. Students might not be using their phones during university for information seeking BUT what about the emphasis on the lifelong component? Once they get out into the “real world” and are working with smart phones…

Pack to the question: shall we give up and leave it to Google?
Two sides to the coin:
On one side, digital and information literacies
On the other: interface and sharing information, improving access.
The actions that are being taken libraries to improve is not enough. How can we get Google to participate more fully? What is it that libraries can offer Google?

Taking the step to include Widgets and Feeds so people can put information where they want.
Balancing Child Protection with Web 2.0 tools. Students will bypass school internet protection by using their phones.

Stop saying Google is bad and help students use it better. THAT is where libraries need to put more focus.

28 March 2010

LILAC2010: Ready to go!

It's spring. And for me, that means it is time for LILAC: the Librarians Informations Literacy Annual Conference. Last year, this conference rocked my world in Cardiff. And there were plenty of posts to prove it. This year, the wonderful UK librarians have brought me to Limerick. After a week's vacation in London and the surrounding countryside, I am safe and sound in my hotel and about to go through my presentation one last time.

This year's presentation is called "Building Brick by Brick: a Pragmatic Approach to Measuring Impact". I will post slides of our presentation here tomorrow.

I'm also excited for LILAC's more dynamic presence on Twitter this year. The hashtag is #LILAC2010. I will be adding the #infolit hashtag to my posts as well. I'd like to see that tag get a bit more use and this seems like the right group to make that happen. I am looking forward to keeping up in concurrent sessions through Twitter and I will post notes from those I am attending as well.

LILAC is lovely. I am excited and ready to go!

16 March 2010

She Lives!

Now back to our regular program...

Hi. I'm Sarah Cohen. Infrequent blogger.

It's not that I haven't wanted to blog. Oh, I have. I wanted to blog about Google Books. I wanted to blog about Transliteracy (and don't worry, I will). I wanted to blog about China and the Internet, plagiarism, data....I have a lot starred in my Google Reader.

But I haven't blogged any of those things. Instead, I've been keeping to my self a bit. I haven't been Twittering as much. I haven't been Facebooking as much. I have just been content to stop, look, and listen. And it's been wonderful to read so many interesting things from so many interesting people. I have added a number of new feeds to my reader. I have started following some new people. I have been learning a lot by not always feeling like I needed to comment or produce for myself.

And then today, I read Andy's post asking us what we have to drop. It's a really interesting question for an organization, and Andy does a great job of discussing it in terms of libraries. But it is also really hard for individuals. And that's where it resonated for me.

I love to be involved. I love to generate ideas. I love to participate. It's hard for someone like me to look at my plate and recognize that it is not just full, but too full. That I am wearing myself out. Or not directing my energy in a way that is constructive. As I look at my work, what is it that really motivates me? What is it that gets me excited? What is it that feeds me? There are many parts to my job, as is the case for many of us, especially in small libraries. And I am certainly not in a position to stop doing the parts that are less exciting than others. Frankly, there are some things that I cannot drop. But by recognizing what matters most to me, what excites me, I can be that much more grateful for having as part of my job. Does that make sense? That by recognizing the parts of our job that we love, we can handle the parts that we love less. Or that sometimes feel like they are dragging us down or overloading us.

So, for me, social media was feeling like something that was becoming burdensome to me for a little while. And by stepping away from it, be realizing how much I want to contribute and how much I have to contribute to the conversation, I find myself reinvigorated.

Andy uses a plant metaphor in his post and I'll stick with that, especially being the gardener that I am and it being such a beautiful day in Vermont. Often times, you have to redirect a plant's energy in order to help it flourish. That is exactly what I am suggesting here. Find out what makes you tick. Honor it. Cherish it. And then put that energy and awareness to use in your work, in your teaching, in your interactions, in your less-than-favorite tasks. Andy is right: some things need to be dropped. David Lee King is right: some things need to be re-prioritized. But there is also a part to the conversation that is about directing your energy and directing your mind. Let's not forget to put that into our equations as well.

28 January 2010

Still thinking about ALA: What is IL Instruction for?

As you might know from previous posts, even my most recent post, I love conferences. I thrive in hearing about projects at other institutions and thinking about ways they will work at my own library. I get inspired by librarians and I also come to recognize how special as place my own library and campus can be. My trip to ALA Midwinter is no exception.

As part of our travel, my Director asks us to think about “trends, highlights, ideas you think might work (or not) here.” In reading other blog posts this week, there seem to be a lot of ideas around technology trends. But most of the sessions I attended were not geared towards technology. Especially since I was travelling with Andy, who is the Emerging Technologies head honcho. No, I tried to focus my attention on instruction. What I learned, though, is that the way I am developing are instruction program at Champlain is not easily aligned with instruction at a lot of other institutions. That gives me pause for thought.

One of the sessions I attended discussed the role of experiential research in information literacy. Our students are taking on ethnography projects this spring so that felt like the right place to be. However, as I listened to librarians share their strategies and techniques for preparing students for experiential research, I found myself conflicted with this “student as scholar” model. Are we truly setting our students up for success by asking them to behave as scholars? Is that model appropriate to today’s climate or economy?

Thinking back on the Education Life section of the NY Times I read a few weeks ago, I wonder if scholars are really what students should be trained to be? I think back to this TED video by Sir Kenneth Robinson as well. Are we serving students well by asking them to behave as mini-scholars? Maybe. Maybe if we are making it clear what these scholarship projects can do for them out in the “real world”. Maybe if we can make clear connections between the methodologies we are teaching them and the work they will encounter in their cubicles, classrooms, studios, labs. What are students getting from a particular research method that will matter to them after college?

That’s where my head is and has been for a while. I look back at my thinking about seeing Ken Robinson’s video and I still asking the same question when I attend conferences: what is Information Literacy instruction for? From listening to librarians speak, I think we can answer that question to ourselves and maybe to administrators. But I’m not convinced we can answer that question for students.

Are you?

19 January 2010

Dear ALA, about Midwinter

It’s Tuesday afternoon and I am waiting to board my plane from Boston to DC, going from one huge conference (ALA Midwinter) to another (AACU). Conferences are funny things. I look forward to them a great deal. I love traveling in and of itself but traveling with learning and improving my understanding of issues in my field is especially enjoyable and rewarding. Oh, and catching up with friends while I’m at it is pretty awesome.

This trip, though, was different than other trips to Midwinter. I don’t know about others, but there was something that hung over the conference. Perhaps it was the location. Boston is a pretty great town but you woulnd’t really know it if you stayed in the vicinity of the conference. I would have greatly preferred being at the Hynes Convention Center than in the no-man’s land of the BCEC. Even on those really busy days when I had four meetings back to back, it would be nice to feel the vibrancy of the city like you do at the Hynes.

Perhaps it was the lack of vibrancy in the Exhibits Hall. I took two hours one afternoon and strolled the exhibits. And while there are some cool things to see, what you really could see is smaller booths, more nervous looking reps from vendors, and less fat. Less celebration. And that just felt….a bit depressing.

Perhaps it’s just everyone’s focus on the economy. One of the discussion groups I attended dealt with how to increase morale among librarians and staff during these trying and scary times. (More on that in a later blog post.) I don’t work at a public institution but that doesn’t mean that I can’t sympathize and feel great concern with their discussions of furloughs, extreme cutbacks, and layoffs. Which is why I find it unacceptable that our profession, which is so interested and dependent on serving users through technology, is not offering more in terms of virtual participation. Because let’s face it: conferences are bloody expensive! And a good deal of what we do could be done virtually. I am not suggesting email, because god knows I don’t want to have to write more emails. But Skype is a pretty phenomenal free service. And sitting down to do committee work really could be done via Skype with a few emails thrown in. Believe me, I love coming to conference. And I am a firm believer in the value of face to face interaction. But I really wonder what the thinking is behind demanding attendance at conferences in order to participate in our profession. To me, it reeks of the very thing that eats at us—being viewed as outdated. This really struck me during the Ebsco luncheon. The presenter kept pointing out what they have that “Google doesn’t have.” “Hmm,” I thought (and whispered to Andy, “that’s an interesting presentation style.” Just because Google doesn’t do it, does that make it better? More usable? Valuable? Relevant? Is that supposed to be a rallying cry to librarians?

It’s not to me. And neither is saying that face to face is inherently the better, more productive way to get work done. It’s about determining what is important to us as librarians and professionals, what is important to our users, and what is important to our vision for libraries. That’s what I want to hear about at conference: vision, innovation, collaboration, optimism, creativity. That’s what inspires me. That’s what gets me back into the saddle, ready to rock it out at my library. So, perhaps this is my plea to ALA: let’s get creative about how we can make conference more essential, interesting, valuable, relevant. I have some ideas and I bet you do too. Share em! Here, in your own blogs, on the Twitter, within your libraries, among yourselves. But share them. Brainstorm. I find most people at ALA are interested in hearing suggestions. So let’s come up with some.