28 July 2011

Best Twitter Experience Ever

What did I do in my library life today?

I had the best Twitter experience EVER by trying to be a librarian to the White House Chat (#whchat) on the debt ceiling. There were a lot of rants and opinions slamming @whitehouse but there will also some genuine questions that I tried to answer. Some examples:

  • What is the history of the debt ceiling?
  • What is the difference between default and bankruptcy?
  • What might (notice the word MIGHT) happen if we default?
I tried to answer a few questions and ended my tweets with "From a friendly #librarian".  

It was pretty awesome to get thank you's from other tweeters.  People I do not know and never will.  But maybe they will ask a librarian another question.  Just maybe.

27 July 2011

Exercising the power in my fingers

The internet is Jim Gillian's religion.

pdf2011 on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

Jim's story is powerful and profound. But even more powerful is the activism that he reminds us of. The creator and change agent in each of us as we blog, as we read, as we write emails. Seemingly mundane and trivial. But together, powerful.

Is that something we are reminding our students of? Is that something we are remembering ourselves? Information Literacy spends so much time talking about the evaluative. Are we thinking about the active, about the creative component? Are we thinking about how the information we find and ultimately put to use can impact the world?

This video reminds me of a bigger framework, a bigger picture in which to think about the work we do with students. But it also makes me remember the power that lives in my fingertips. Have I exercised it today? Have you?

14 July 2011

Serious fun

The Teaching Librarians have been working on our lesson plans for the fall over the last week. One of our sessions is with our third year students.  I love working with third years.  Something seems to happen by the junior year where many, if not most, of our students really understand that you are a valuable resource.  They don't sleep through class.  They ask questions.  They ask for help.  Hallellujah!

We are 100% committed to active, inquiry-based learning and to having fun in the classroom.  As we thought about how to engage our students, we started talking about how third years seem ready to be serious.  We don't have to "trick" them into participating or learning anymore.  We can treat them like fellow researchers.  It's kind of exciting.

In this case, students are tackling their first literature reviews.  As we thought about what students need to do this assignment well, we found ourselves digging into some pretty advance research skills.  As we talked about the what and the how, the question arose: how do we make the session fun while also imparting the serious nature of the assignment and the task?  Can we be serious but also have fun?

We talked about a number of ways to engage our students.  We talked about metaphors.  We talked about using technology, music, Youtubes.  We talked about relating to things they care about.  We talked about the process, the outcomes.  And we came up with a lesson plan that is feeling pretty solid.  But still, the question haunts me.  Not because I think I know the answer but because I think it is revealing about our own attitudes towards what we offer and sometimes teach.

I think fear factors into it.  Fear of boring students and being boring, fear of messing up in front of them, fear of lacking authority, fear of not being invited back, fear of descending reference statistics, decreases in funding....AHHHH! (she runs and hides under her desk).

This fear is natural I think.  We've been told for decades and longer that we will soon be outdone by computers.  By golly, I watched Desk Set the other night and realized that we were already manifesting that fear in 1957!  But while this fear is natural, it is also exhausting.

A particular axiom comes to mind: Ensure your own good time.  What is it about databases that makes it fun for you?  For me, I love how it makes me think about a topic in a different light.  And that excites me.  When I have to show databases in class, that is what I share about it.  How this tool excites me and makes me feel like I am on an adventure.  Dorky?  Sure.  By god, I'm a librarian!  I am dorky!

Can we make serious research and serious teaching on research skills fun?  YES!  But it has to come from within.

So when it comes to the serious stuff, what is it that you (yes YOU) find fun about it?  How to share something fun is way easier than sharing something boring, right?

Do you have a story to share about something serious you made fun?  I'd love to hear it!  Share away!

12 July 2011

Where are the librarians?!

I love reading about Wikipedia and love when I learn about new ways to use it. So, it was exciting to read this article from Inside Higher Ed about Wikipedia's efforts to expand and improve their reputation in higher ed. I wish I could have gone to their first conference on Wikipedia in Higher Ed!!

Wait a second...why didn't I?
And come to think of it, why didn't you?
Where are the librarians in all this?

Know anyone that went? Know anyone that blogged it? And if not, why?