Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Article 8: Developmental Relationships in the Dynamic Library Environment

Murphy, S. (2008). Developmental relationships in the dynamic library environment: Re-conceptualizing mentoring for the future. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(5), 434-437.

Libraries are shifting from focusing on physical pieces to focusing on learning outcomes for library users. Library-oriented career paths are no longer well-defined and work relationships beyond hierarchical mentoring need to be considered to support new workers through this change. Currently, the literature emphasizes formal mentoring, despite research indicating informal mentorship is more effective. Information is often subtly transferred from person to person; informal mentoring recognizes this and capitalizes on learning through stories and observations. Mentoring in this new environment is a tool to ensure succession planning, to help with future staffing needs by developing mentees into leaders in emerging areas of librarianship. Peer mentoring, informal mentoring, multiple or shorter-term mentoring experiences (i.e. dialogue groups, networks, mentoring circles, reverse mentoring) are all discussed. Mentee benefits include understanding of organizational culture, networking, personal guidance, career development, learning from role models, receiving advice, and development of friendships. Mentors also benefit from learning the mentee’s perspective and actively reflecting on current practices. This reconceptualization of mentoring, as it adapts to changing technologies, is key to the future success of librarianship and libraries.

Article 7: Communities of Practice at an Academic Library

Henrich, K. J., & Attebury, R. (2010). Communities of Practice at an Academic Library: A New Approach to Mentoring at the University of Idaho. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36(2), 158-165.

Communities of Practice are made up of a group sharing a common goal. The environment created is one in which participants feel safe to share professional ideas. Benefits include efficiency of professional development; innovation, collaboration, and project success; and raised awareness about current happenings within the larger organization. Best practices for creation of Communities of Practice in libraries include having a common interest in the topic, inclusion of information and communication technologies, sharing common knowledge and experiences, promotion of publishing opportunities; and ensuring leadership is done from within the group. Promoting a Sense of Community, and making the Community of Practice meetings as part of the professional workday help add legitimacy to the development and sharing process. Challenges to Communities of Practice include finding and maintaining focus on the issue/s, allotting the time and effort to the group (it is a commitment), it can be difficult to sustain and leadership may lose momentum. When forming the group, the librarians at the University of Idaho kept the following points in mind: the goal is to benefit all members; they outlined how the time would be spent, who the facilitator was, what the goals were, how disagreements would be handled, and how they would stay on track. The group was limited to library faculty and they discussed research ideas and gave feedback to their peers. Participation was voluntary, and the environment was promoted as one that was confidential and an open space for sharing ideas without the threat that their research idea would be stolen. Meetings were held once per month the structure was that of presentation and discussion.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Article 6: Effective Mentoring

Freedman, S. (2009). Effective Mentoring. IFLA Journal, 35(2), 171-182.

Mentoring is guided learning to promote the development of skills and knowledge and happens in various points throughout a librarian’s career. Libraries are in a time of organizational change; many librarians are retiring, leaving professional gaps in experiential knowledge; the scope and approach to librarianship continues to adapt with changing technologies. By mentoring the incoming workforce, that experiential knowledge gap can be bridged, and new librarians are provided with the support they need to help libraries (and themselves) transition into the changing library & information services environment. Mentored workers feel supported by their colleagues, are given feedback, participate in professional development activities to aid with improving performance, and are socialized to their new work environment. Mentors may feel personal satisfaction and a renewed enthusiasm for their profession. The employers may see improved employee retention, and improved leadership throughout their organization. While there are many advantages, some disadvantages do exist, including mismatching mentor partnerships, lack of mentor expertise or commitment (feeling forced to mentor), and organizational cultural barriers. Formal, informal, peer, group, self managed, or professional association mentoring models may be considered or incorporated into mentoring practices.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Article 5: Practicums and Service Learning in LIS Education

Ball, M. (2008). Practicums and service learning in LIS education. Journal of Education for Library & Information Science, 49(1), 70-82.

There has been a struggle in library school curriculum between the emphasis placed on theory and the emphasis placed on practice. Service learning combines theory with practice by highlighting reflection throughout the practicum experience, and embedding specific learning objectives tied to course offerings; personal and professional growth are emphasized. The term "service learning," as used by Ball, involves student civic engagement and development. Though more research needs to be done in regards to experiential learning and LIS education (moving away from anecdotal accounts toward qualitative and quantitative studies), the benefits of practical application of, and reflection about, classroom theory include, but are not limited to: student confidence & comfort in the profession, an appreciation for the field, and assists the student in realizing and defining professional goals and values. Student journaling and reflection add critical thinking skills to the professional experience. Barriers to service learning in LIS education include administrative costs and supervision and financial considerations (to pay, or not to pay students for their work).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Week 9: Humanities, Technology, and Presentation Preparation

The week of March 7th was filled with great discussions, observations, and reference work, and instruction experiences. Monday I observed additional RES104 Humanities sessions and worked with the students to understand the Humanities in relation to their next paper. In Humanities Day 1 the students worked in groups to find resources to provided questions. They then gave an informal presentation demonstrating how they found a resource containing the requested information.

I taught the "Q" section of Research 104 and we discussed finding credible resources to be used for their Humanities paper (we focused on web evaluation and finding relevant articles/books for their annotated bibliography, due shortly). The students submitted their website examples and, as a class, we discussed what aspects of the website made us think it was credible, and what aspects made us hesitant to use it to write papers. I also showed them a couple of databases and where to find humanities resources on the library's website. The students came up with great topics and I was excited to hear their paper ideas.

We had another Web Committee meeting, discussing more details of the changes we would like to make on the "How do I?" page. There are lots of pieces we'd like to see incorporated (embedding Jing videos, mobile interface, continuing to tweak/modify language and categories for tutorial content and other questions). In addition to technology related to the website, we are looking at bigger-picture issues such as the use of QR codes, computing in the cloud, and other software and technologies that can help UD grow in terms of technology offered to help students, faculty, and staff be their most effective.

The rest of the week was spent tweaking my ILA/ACRL presentation, "Cultivating Future Librarians: Turning Students into Colleagues Through Mentorship." I got a call from one of the ILA/ACRL Awards Committee members informing me that I was selected as the 2011 ILA/ACRL Spring Conference Scholarship recipient! I am very excited to not only be attending and presenting, but to also have received this award!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Video Discussion: Digital Media - New Learners of the 21st Century

PBS Video. (2011, Feb. 13). Digital media - New learners of the 21st century [Video file]. Retrieved from

The video I watched earlier (see the post from Feb. 5) peaked my interest in how we are shaped as digital technologies continue to change and emerge as parts of daily life. This video concentrates on digital media and education. The video visits five institutions emphasizing digital literacy and integrating technology into their teaching practices.

"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow." -John Dewey

Emerging technologies have a prominent place in students' lives. Texting, tweeting, gaming, virtual groups, online videos, and Facebook all are means through which students define themselves to others. These technologies also lend themselves to education by giving them ways to interact with experts, giving them new ideas, and providing educators with new tools. Finding a balance between stimulation to the point of distraction and usefulness of them as education tools is key.

At Quest to Learn, in New York, elementary students are immersed in a school designed for digital kids. Students use technology in hands-on projects, primarily gaming learning, system-based thinking, and design. This trail-and-error, game construction model helps students think of the big concepts. "Tinkering brings thought and action together," one of the people on the video said, emphasizing the often-overlooked power and importance of play in learning. One of the challenges for educators is that, because technology changes so quickly, they are preparing students for a future to use technology that does not yet exist. By teaching problem-solving skills, students are able to transfer their knowledge to a variety of situations.

Some may be skeptical of such a technologically integrated curriculum. Throughout the building, students are using wireless internet on laptops, creating digital artifact or using technology to create physical objects, and participating in games. Students are assessed using the same state standards as other schools in New York, but are also tested on additional competencies, including technologies and social learning standards. While there are some concerns students may become overly competitive with or dependent on their games, the educators are careful to maintain a balance. Also, the video made an interesting point about how society interprets enthusiasm for reading versus enthusiasm for gaming. The example they gave was: if a child stays up late reading a book, s/he is rewarded and praised for being an avid reader, but if a child stays up late playing a game, that child is addicted (even though learning is taking place). It's an interesting comparison and, if the game is promoting certain skills that can be transferable to real-life situations, I might agree with the speaker, that there is a double standard or educational bias against technologies.

"If I can't access the place where I like to practice my passion, then where do I go? It's pretty much a dream differed." -Student

At the Digital Youth Network, in Chicago, a place was created where middle school and high school aged students go to learn digital media. It began as an after-school program and expanded into an in-school media-arts program. They have collaborated with the Chicago Public Library to offer spaces, strictly for youth use, that help provide the tools and inspiration. By incorporating the tools children are interested in exploring, this program helps students not only develop the skills for direct application but also a passion for life-long learning. Instead of digital media detracting or endangering reading and writing, it builds upon traditional literacy. As was the case in New York, students connect and collaborate through their projects at the Digital Youth Network. They are even given a chance to grow from students into instructors, leading their own classes and workshops for younger students.

The filmmakers visited UC Irvine's Digital Media and Learning Social Science Research Center, where more is being done to study the impact of digital media as well as the home environment/parental involvement. At the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. students participated in a workshop to create a scavenger game for teenagers to play using text-messaging (see examples here). Cultural institutions are working to be sure they appeal to changing patron needs; this project is intended to be more appealing and exciting to younger patrons. Another example is using smart phones to guide students through neighborhoods to find out about history and current use of various buildings. They interviewed people in the area to learn more about old businesses and how developments may have impacted the area.

Everyone wants to be seen and heard; they will make more of an effort if they think outsiders will see it.

At the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, students use technology to create their own assignments and assessments, and incorporate digital media and social networking into instruction. Technology is incorporated as necessary and seamless. Students choose the right presentation method (i.e. podcasts, digitized artwork) for the projects they choose, and incorporate media literacy and evaluation of resources (including Google Scholar and various primary sources). Ways they communicate, on top of traditional methods, include email, online forums, and chat rooms.

The true question when incorporating anything new into the classroom is: what do we want schools to be? The video emphasizes that including technology is not about replacing instructors with technology; rather technology is a tool, a resource. So, how does that impact what we do in the library? By allowing ourselves to explore new approaches, we are doing a better job of meeting students where they are comfortable. Whether it's using additional features in the school's online course management software (i.e. forums), instant messaging, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, or incorporating technologies students can use to show their learning and creativity (i.e. videos, podcasts, blogs, edited images/artwork, games, etc.), libraries can help patrons be more comfortable in the spaces, and more connected to the information within.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Week Eight: Scheduling, Implementing, LOEX Preparing, and Curriculum Library Touring

Here's an easy-to-digest list of last week's happenings:
  • Info lit observation/teaching scheduling
  • Reference desk manning (including an instance when a student used the library to woo a girl--we go the extra mile for our patrons!)
  • LOEX presentation preparing/collaborating
  • Preparing for Web Sub-committee meeting'
  • Institutional repository informal discussions
  • Concept map transcribing/digitization (for several classes)
  • Curriculum library tour (collection policies, transitioning to a new space, what to keep/what to deselect, how it supports education program)
  • CIS 101 Plagiarism assignment run through (done by Mary Anne and Jon to fill the rest of the staff in on what they have planned for the classes)
  • A little bit of everything (because that's what librarians do)
 I have had several conversations about the future of education and the impact many proposed legislative changes may have on all levels of learning (from public elementary schools to college, and beyond with life-long learning being supported by public libraries).  As I am sure is the case in many areas of the country, librarians here have been following legislative news closely, particularly HF 45, HF 103, SF 163, HF 9 and the Iowa Work Force Development office closings.  There are lots of changes (or proposed) happening which would impact library users.