Thursday, December 27, 2012


So, I'm a relatively low-key person, but I've been pretty frustrated with the lack of PDFs/full-text articles in ERIC.  You can learn more about ERIC's removal of many of their PDFs here (

After seeing EBSCO's tweet, which included a nicely-edited video about their new parking lot, I got to thinking about how many man-hours might have gone into that project and, conversely, how many PDFs could have been examined & uploaded in that same amount of time had those man-hours been used in another way.  (I know, EBSCO & ERIC are two different entities that just work together...but still.)

That's when I got to thinking.  What if librarians and ERIC users all worked together to PDF-request the heck out of ERIC? Seriously. I'm putting out a call on Twitter, using the hashtag #takebackeric, because this is a service we are paying for, that receives government funds (hellooo,, that really should be available to our learning communities.  I don't have all the details worked out, but right now I'm thinking we declare one day in the future (preferably not at the very beginning of the semester, because I know we're all busy) where we search in ERIC, find 10 or 15 articles that aren't currently available and request that they be made available using the ERIC PDF request form (

We can also send emails, but those can be pretty general, and they'll likely just send back a form letter anyway.  If we specifically request articles, who knows, maybe something will happen and those articles will start turning back up in the database! So, who is in?!

I know there are huge things going on in the world right now (war, famine, politics, abuse, violence), and I'm not trying to overlook these things. I'm just trying to work together to see if, maybe, we can fix something small that might help make an impact in the education of one of our students.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Iowa Library Association Conference Recap 2012 - Friday

This past October I was able to attend the 122nd Annual Iowa Library Association Conference held in Dubuqe, IA.  Here is a very brief recap of some of the sessions I attended.

We were so fortunate to have had Jamie LaRue, library superstar (oh, and Director of the Douglas County Libraries in Castle Rock, CO, author, speaker, facilitator, musician, actor, and poet), as our opening speaker for the Friday, October 12 general session. His morning session was titled "Hangin' (Together or Separately)" and I found myself nodding my head constantly.  He began by discussing emergent literacy and how kindergarten reading readiness & the literacy level a student achieves by fourth grade determines much of their future (earning levels, crime rates, and more).  As a former public school teacher, I've seen this --both the positives when children are well-prepared, and also the negatives when children haven't had the support at home (more times than I would have liked to have seen).  Reading and stories helps children learn to empathize, to put themselves in someone else's shoes, and to see that there are problems in the world & figure out how to deal with them.  It helps students figure out that the world is a big place with diverse people and experiences, and reminds them that they are a small, but important, part of that world.

He then moved on to community reference wherein different community organizations are assigned a reference librarian.  Generally speaking, librarians are used to searching; that is what we do. But in the case of businesses, they needed more than just the resources. They needed the information presented in a way that was easy to understand (without hunting). This meant giving the organization an executive summary and a presentation of the information.  This helped the business owners and community members make that connection and see the difference between "my kids love the library" and "this is essential." By getting into the community, learning the context of the needs of the community, and addressing them through library services you are making the library invaluable.  By asking "what can the library do to make our community better/stronger?" and "how do you make your community thrive?" you are better able to identify issues, pull together information, and help solve issues.  By establishing community reference (targeted at community organizations and leaders) you then position the library and the library director to be community leaders which shifts the way the community sees the library.  Once only thought of as a service provider, now seen as a community leader, the library has moved from a passive (or victim) role to an active role (as an advocate for change).

E-books have been a hot topic for some time in libraries, but discussion has especially increased lately with questions of ownership and access.  Publishing fundamentals have changed.  According to LaRue "The bullet has passed through the brain of commercial publishing and we're just waiting for the body to fall." Currently we are seeing four streams of content:
  • Traditional
    • Commercial publishing (e-books, print, audio books, etc.)
  • Up & Coming 
    • Independent publishers (small process runs of works)
    • Self-published works
    • Local archives (digitizing information)
Interesting resources mentioned by LaRue included EVOKE ( and Libraries Unlimited. These bring new ideas and alternatives to the traditional approach to e-books.  The EVOKE website has many resources including sample letters to publishers, e-books survey data, and documents to help establish common understanding between publishers and libraries.  

In the section of his talk entitled "Library as a place" I noted LaRue's emphasis on some of the traditional ideas of libraries: places to go with books/information access; somewhere to go for social interaction.  The quote that I wrote down, however, speaks to the greater mission of service: "The work that we do is fundamentally affirming of society." 

In the last portion of his talk, LaRue discussed support and advocacy.  He made sure to note that library use does not necessarily translate into support.  This is evident in libraries that have high gate counts, program participation, and circulation statistics but do not receive support when it is needed in local votes.  Library patrons may not support library initiatives, projects, and maintaining or increasing funding.  LaRue emphasized that you should argue with them or that they are ignorant, or dumb, or evil (straight from my notes, I swear).  Rather, it means you need to persuade them with stories and support your story with facts.  Make it clear and simple, and drive the point home (make it personal and relatable  with the story. Resources that speak to securing local support from communities include Don't Think of an Elephant! by Lakoff and Being Wrong by Schulz.  He outlined how to tell a library story:
  • Use a real person's story
  • Give them a problem
  • Tell what the library did to help
  • Give them a happy ending
  • And have a tag at the end, a catch phrase that sticks 
Then it was off to concurrent sessions.  I attended Meg Gerritsen Knodl's session "Social Media's Impact on Libraries: Social Media and Collaborative Consumption." Essentially, collaborative consumption is an economic model with the sharing of a core to make it more reasonable to use and consume.  These communities thrive because of social media.  They are easily formed online (i.e. Ravelry), geography doesn't necessarily matter (i.e. Twitter), or you can have places where the bond is the local connection (i.e. Meetup),  they are places where anyone can be a teacher (i.e. Skillshare), or where skills and services can be shared (i.e., and you can share what you know or think (i.e. YouTube & many others). She briefly discussed the importance of a Results Oriented Workplace Environment (ROWE) and reflected on the book Why Work Sucks & How to Fix It by Ressler & Thompson.  Here the workplace is focused on results, not schedules.  She mentioned flexible work spaces and the practice of "Hot Desking" where individuals don't have a specific or assigned work space.  Workers can go anywhere to focus on work or do group work throughout the day.  

Part of her presentation was just a laundry list of what ifs and these are working elsewhere:
  • As a way of outreach, she suggested offering library meeting spaces to help companies host meetings
  • Intrepreneurship (a la 3M or Google): committing 20% of time to work on original projects, brainstorming, etc. (Need I bring up the Post-it note? That resulted from this type of unstructured time).  
  • Coworking spaces: Things like Tina Roth Eisenberg (of the blog Swiss-Miss) & the Studiomates where putting creative people together in a shared space helps build even more creative and innovative ideas.  Knodl mentioned as an example of workspaces that facilitate innovation & that serve as startup incubators.
  • Makerspaces: Makerspaces cultivate a culture of sharing whether it's crafting, writing, art, or ideas.  Examples include TEDx talks (locally grown), Recha Kucha, or Ignite talks (quick presentations).  This could also take the form of pop-up maker "markets" but all services exchanged are free.  This could be a fix-it day at the library where people bring their skills and their needs together as a community.  Or you could host maker competitions where those who come are given parts & tools and work to assemble something or fix some problem.  There is a lot of flexibility here.  
The final concurrent session I attended was given by Kelly Munter & Sherry Schlundt from the Kirkendall Public Library in Ankeny.  In "YA & J: Like PB & J, Made for Kids, but Adults Love It Too!" the presenters discussed how one of their patrons expressed interest in a book club for adults who like to read YA novels.  Their club has done a variety of things ranging from talking about a common book to having everyone bring in whatever they're reading and do mini book-talks.  They meet the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. I jotted down ideas that came as they were talking that might be relevant/useful for our book club here at Grand View.
  • YA book club for faculty
  • Book talks from visiting teens (perhaps more relevant for the public library book club than the GV YA Book Club)
  • Casual book talks--bring whatever you are reading to share
  • Common book talks with discussion prompt questions
  • Talk to publishers or book suppliers about ARC (advance reading copy) to preview for book club
  • Marketing: they use the web, fliers, word of mouth.  Other ideas: giveaways/contests, social media, partnerships with other student groups or departments on campus
Some of the books they recommended or had discussed were: 
The conference wrapped up with the lunch session and Dan Buettner's presentation "Blue Zones: Secrets of a Long Life" wherein he discussed his research & travels.  He is the author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the LongestThrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, and others.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Iowa Library Association Conference Recap 2012 - Thursday

This past October I was very fortunate to have attended the 122nd Annual Iowa Library Association Conference held in Dubuqe, IA.  Here is a very brief recap of some of the sessions I attended.

I was teaching Thursday morning, so I wasn't able to attend the Wednesday pre-conference or early Thursday general sessions, but I did manage to slip one session in on Thursday afternoon, before the breakout meetings and evening banquet. I've been working closely with children's literature class over the past couple of years, so I thought the information shared in the Graphic Novels for Youth and Teens session, led by Andrew Frisbee (North Liberty Community Library), Sarah Latcham (Iowa City Public Schools), and Becky Johnson (Cedar Rapids Community Schools), would be helpful and give me ideas about collection development & instruction for this area. Boy, did it ever! I came away with a fantastic list I hope to purchase, plus I got to visit with a former coworker, Andrew! Below is a list of just a few of the titles that were mentioned. Graphic novels can sometimes be tricky. There is a wide range of of topics covered, and sometimes it can be tricky to determine age-appropriateness.  Particularly if you plan on recommending something to a young person, be sure you have carefully assessed this.  Just because it is presented in a visual format doesn't mean it should be fair game for some of the youngest readers.  This is also something parents don't always realize.  While this won't necessarily be a problem when purchasing for my college population, it is important for me to be aware of when presenting this type of material to our education students.

Click to enlarge

You may find more resources here:

On Thursday afternoon I attended the ILA/ACRL meeting where we took care of normal business (approval of minutes, individual & committee reports) and began to think ahead about elections for next year's officers (who have since been elected--My coworker, Dan, is the new ILA/ACRL President!).

After the ILA/ACRL meeting, a small group of instruction librarians got together to discuss Becky Canovan's idea for a group space where instruction librarians can come together to share ideas, resources, encouragement, etc. The idea behind this group came from the ILA/ACRL conference held last May in Decorah, IA.  Those who attended the instruction/IL lightning round session noticed that there were many timely, relevant questions being asked by both new and veteran librarians who may be the sole instruction librarian at their institutions.  Many great instruction ideas were shared as well.  This planted a seed in Becky Canovan’s brain and, after a few discussions and emails, the IL Interest Group began to take root. At ILA we discussed goals for the group, how/where we wanted to collaborate (online space), and what we wanted to be included (general post from one of the website moderators or guest contributors, a space where questions can be contributed and then later addressed in a post or responded to by other users, encouraging or humorous stress reliever posts to help everyone stay afloat and take a moment to remember to be a person too, and perhaps a space where users can contribute "this worked" or "this flopped" examples).  This is still very much in the early stages, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes out! This April we hope to coordinate a pre-conference session before IPAL to help connect instruction librarians around the state.

That evening Bob Anderson, Director of the Raptor Research Project in Decorah, IA, spoke during the banquet about the many projects he has worked on over the years, capturing many different species of wildlife (specifically birds) on film.  Thanks to advances in technology, online streaming of the Decorah Eagles has really taken off, but Anderson also shared stories of humor, wisdom, and science.

In my next post I will cover Friday's events.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lib & Learn - December 2012

Here's the December edition of the Grand View University library newsletter. Enjoy! Student Newsletter - December2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lib & Learn - November 2012

Here's the November edition of the Grand View University library newsletter. Enjoy!
Student Newsletter - November2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Author Visit - Wonder of Words Festival

Author Stephen Lovely came to Grand View as part of the Wonder of Words Festival. He read from his book Irreplaceable and from an as-of-yet untitled work in progress.  Here are a few images from the evening.


Student Shadow Day

A little while back I got a Facebook message from a former Dorian Summer Music Camp camper of mine. She is currently a student at Luther College and is starting to think about the possibility of pursuing library school to become a librarian (she hasn't yet decided on which flavor: public, academic, archives, school, etc.).  Because she's awesome and on the ball, she has begun to ask about different schools, specializations, opportunities, etc. This week she came in and shadowed me for a day to see what we do here at Grand View and to ask questions and gather resources.

Our day began with a tour of the library and of campus.  We talked a little about the makeup of the student body, the role the library and librarians play in classes (especially the embedded classes), and some of the institution history.  Then, from 9:30-10:50, Sarah observed Dan Chibnall working with a 200 level religion class that was visiting the library for a one-shot session.  They were learning to research using the Anchor Bible Dictionary and other library resources.  After that we headed over to another computer lab on campus where I taught a Core Seminar I class about presentation skills and software. Students were broken down into groups of 2 or 3 and each group was assigned a different presentation medium: PowerPoint, Prezi, or Google Presentations (part of the Google Drive Applications). They were to answer a series of questions about their software and then present back to the class, demonstrating how to use the features.

After class, Sarah and I headed out to lunch at Thai Flavors to talk about ways to gain experience, test the waters in different areas of librarianship, graduate school possibilities, specialization possibilities, networking and conferences, internships, and anything else that might have popped into our heads. It was great to share ideas and help Sarah start to think about different possibilities to begin to explore.

In the afternoon, Sarah observed me teaching another first-year Core Seminar I class, this time covering web quality.  We spent the first chunk of class working on an activity that (hopefully) drove home the idea that where you get your information is important.  Tracking information back to a quality resource is important, especially when writing papers or researching for school projects. Then students found two websites related to their paper topics and evaluated them using a quality-control checklist.

After class I had hoped to take Sarah on a tour of the parts of campus we weren't able to cover in our morning tour (it began to rain during our morning jaunt), but instead we spent the time looking at resources, library school lists, and brainstorming ways Sarah could get her foot in the door to gain experience early. All in all, it was a great day!

As I prepared for the day, I wanted to emphasize the teaching aspect of librarianship (as it is a key part of librarians' roles, especially in a small, liberal arts institution), and give her an idea of what a typical day was like. This included having her observe different librarians in different instruction settings.  I would have liked to have shown her some time on the Reference Desk, but schedules didn't align to make that happen.  I also didn't want to overwhelm her with resources, but I did want to give her an idea of where to look to prepare herself for the library school application and selection process.  Also, I emphasized the importance of experience--If she can gain experience as an undergraduate, she will be more likely to be hired in student jobs in graduate school, which will help her as she moves forward and applies for full-time, professional positions.  Here are some of the links I shared:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lib & Learn - October 2012

Here's the October edition of the Grand View University library newsletter. Enjoy!
Student Newsletter - October2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Disparate Expectations

Sometimes (oftentimes) I pose questions for which I do not have "the answer." This blog post is just a whole cluster of that, so if you came here for answers, you might want to mozy on. (Plus, as you can see, it gets a bit long.)

How do librarians, instruction librarians specifically, navigate situations in which their expectations for student achievement, classroom behavior, success, etc. are higher than the expectations of the course instructor? I have encountered a wide range of instructors during my time as a librarian (also from my time as an educator in the public schools and as I sat the other side of the desk as a library science student).  Many have high expectations for their students, but there are always a few each semester that make me scratch my head--I can only imagine how students in their classroom feel.

While I understand that oftentimes librarians are guests in the classroom, I also know that we are most definitely there for a reason (whether it is that the faculty member has asked for us to work with their students or whether it is required of them to have IL sessions with their classes to fulfill a core requirement).  We are incorporated into their class to help their students be successful in their assignments and further research/information endeavors, and help the teachers who are looking for a better end product with both the assignments students submit and with the education students receive.  With that said, there are instructors who may say one thing, but their educational actions show me something different.

Below are three main areas that come to mind.

Contact time:

My philosophy as an educator (no matter what I teach--whether it be library & information literacy skills or music, as was the case in my previous profession) is that every moment of contact time with the students is so very valuable. I respect students' time and do my best to release them on time; I also expect them to be attentive and engaged the entire duration of the class (and I know it's my job to engage them that whole time).

Lately I have found other instructors releasing their students early from class, though there is much left to be taught, reviewed, reinforced, evaluated, and reevaluated.  As a student I was occasionally pleasantly surprised with an extra 5 or 10 minutes to travel between classes (which, as an educator now, I prefer to keep as dedicated class/work time).  The occasional 5-10 minutes I could possibly see (i.e. if you know your students have "hit the wall," or when you are conferencing with students and they are to use the non-conference time for research, but have already completed much of their work), but in the instances I've seen lately involve professors releasing students an extra 20-30 minutes early from class.  I assisted with a class earlier this week wherein the instructor and I were visiting before we began (as I was there in a support capacity, rather than leading the class myself) and was told that the professor planned on releasing the students 30 minutes early because the content wouldn't take the whole time. I suggested that, instead of dismissing class early, the professor could have them work on the first draft of their homework (due for the next class) and post that to Blackboard. Now, not only are the students going to receive input on their assignment earlier, they also have a head-start on their final draft.  Simply put, if you have that time, use it--Break up the time, diversify your class activities, but use it.

Classroom behavior:

The instructor cultivates the classroom environment--Part of that is to establish clear expectations for student behavior in the classroom.  I understand that different professors have different expectations for the way they prefer to be addressed (Dr., Ms., first name, last name, etc.), lecture vs. discussion, and how long students are allowed to veer off topic before being brought back on task.  With one-shot sessions we, as librarians, come in and work with the established culture--but when classroom policies are so lax where it reaches a point of distraction, how are we (as classroom guests) expected to improve the situation so all students can reach the session's learning objectives?

I do what I can to convey my expectations from the start by demonstrating, by catching distracting or off-task behavior from the start and casually addressing it (without making students feel targeted or on display for their actions).  I try to give students the benefit of the doubt--If I am leading a demonstration and one person is not on task, I first try to make a class announcement to either 1) turn off monitors and just follow on the projector, or 2) remind them of where we are working.  I will walk around the room to monitor how on-task the group is, ask questions of different students or groups to measure their comprehension, etc.

I expect students to put away their cell phones unless they are using them for class-related activities, be on task, remove ear buds from their ears during class, and not chew tobacco & spit out the juices into empty bottles in class (this has happened multiple times and I have addressed it with each student.  I inform them that tobacco of any kind has no place in my classroom--I don't care what their professor's policy is; whenever they are in a class where I am present, they are not to be chewing).

I understand students' attachments to technology, but I also expect them to be focused during library sessions.  Other teachers allow texting and Facebooking during class--Having recently graduated from library school, though we were supposed to be more mature and focused than undergraduate students, I know the Facebooking and texting that happened in class (and almost all cell phone use in class) was not for educational purposes. I don't have students put their phones away until I see it is a distraction; then I will ask the whole class to put away their devices.  If I want students to use their cell phones can always ask them to take them out later, but I prefer to not have them sitting out, distracting not only the owners of the cell phones, but also those around them.

Better yet, what do we do when the instructors are disengaged from the class, checking email, not paying attention to 1) what we are sharing with their students (which will better help them know what to expect from their students' research) and, 2) what their students are doing? (Occasionally checking email is fine, but but not knowing when I ask them a direct question about their assignments because they are so unattached from the class doesn't convey respect for the information they felt was so important for their students to learn--and, of course, loud keyboard clicks are distracting for all.)

Whenever I am in the back of the computer classroom (which is where we encourage instructors to sit while we instruct), waiting to deliver my part of the lesson, I scan the computer monitors to see if students are on task or lost and listen to the instructor to see if there are additional pieces I should include in my lesson plan for that day (or for future sessions).  I also try to assist lost students or encourage students to pay better attention (asking a student to stop texting, put away their headphones, etc.).

Where I work, we have a policy where instructors must be present in the classroom when librarians are teaching because, if professors use our sessions as a "baby sitter" during conference or sick days, what message does that convey to students? On the same note, what message does it convey to students when professors mentally check out for the day?   

Quality work:

My goal is to give students the tools to be successful in the long run.  I want students to learn something and learn it well, to the point where they are automatically able to incorporate IL skills into their schoolwork, future employment, and personal life.  First, students need clear expectations from the start.  This not only sets students up for success, but also professors when they go to assess learning artifacts.  This means being organized with your materials, with your syllabus, having a plan before you assign something, and knowing your structure before you build your online course material (we use Blackboard--if you plan to use a resource or technology, you must first instruct students on how to use it--do not assume they have experience with the technology). This also means, as a professor, you need to pull out the time machine and transport yourself back to your years as a college student when you are designing your syllabus, assignments, group activities, and other course materials. Have others read through your materials to see if there is language you could clarify.  Are you being specific enough or too specific with your guidelines? Have you tried researching those topics--In doing so, were you able to find the types and numbers of resources you are restricting your students to? If you can't fulfill those requirements, how can you expect students to? (This is something we see a lot.)  Sometimes what sounds like a good idea or a completely doable topic is very unreasonable once you place your restrictions or try to track down the information.  On the flip side, sometimes an assignment is unreasonable because there aren't enough restrictions.

I have also found some professors who have fallen victim to a "good enough" mentality. While I agree that there is little a professor can do once an assignment has been submitted, I think by building skills as you go, students will submit higher-quality learning artifacts and perform better on summative assessments.  But I have seen professors touch on topics which their students are obviously not grasping.  Instead of deviating from their scripted lesson plans to clarify materials, they stick to their plan and the students lose out and remain confused.  I think it is important for students to learn some things on their own, but it is also important for professors to clarify (and modify), as necessary. 

Making sure students produce quality work also means instructors lead by example.  By modeling good research habits and distributing quality resources to your students you show them the importance of quality information and a quality product.  If you are going to have students read articles, please be sure they are reliable & well-respected--not something you found on, Wikipedia, or WebMD (all real-life examples...). Also, be sure you are not accepting those types of resources from students.  Essentially, when you accept those materials for their assignments, you are reinforcing that "good enough" is acceptable and even preferred.

Additional comments & conclusions: 

Are these lax professor expectations a result of inexperience or lack of teacher training? Perhaps. Many terminal degrees don't require much (if any) training for their students to prepare them to be educators.  The emphasis is on research and publishing rather than effective education practices at the higher level. This leaves students without true leaders in the classroom.  Instead of teachers, they are given subject specialists who know amazing things within their discipline, but cannot convey those ideas in such a manner that students are able to understand and apply the concepts.

But what about those veteran professors who have many years of experience in the classroom? Are those cases of "this is how I've always done it" or "I already know this stuff" or other situations where the classroom culture doesn't just permit off-task, disrespectful, or distracting behaviors, it even goes so far as encouraging these things?  I know there are many excellent educators teaching at the college level.  I have had them as professors and mentors, and have worked with them as colleagues.  But, as is human nature, I sometimes get stuck on (and frustrated by) those who aren't teaching to the level I would expect of myself.  The question comes back to this:

How do we, as librarians, resolve within ourselves (first) and within the classroom the difference between (lower) professor expectations and the (higher) expectations we hold?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lib & Learn - September 2012

Here's the September edition of the Grand View University library newsletter. Enjoy!
Student Newsletter - September2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

GV YA Book Club & Leisure Collection

Since I began as Faculty Development & Instruction Librarian here at GV, I've been wanting to have more fun library-related activities & resources for students.  We're just getting started in the right direction by beginning a Young Adult Book Club and starting a leisure reading collection for students to utilize. The leisure collection will be displayed on top of the low shelves where our paperback collection is currently housed (on the main floor).  Right now the paperback collection isn't cataloged and students can just take them & return them whenever.  It is mostly comprised of donated fiction (lots of suspense & romance here, folks!), or discards that were brought down during a major weeding project several years ago.  The leisure collection will be cataloged and checked out through our system, like the rest of our (non-paperback) collection.  Many of the items I selected for purchase have film or TV adaptations that are already popular or that will be released this fall.  Additionally, we are filling out series that were incomplete.  For example, we only had the first of The Hunger Games trilogy in our Juv/YA collection.  When the first movie came out, our copy was hardly on the shelf, and we had students asking for the rest of the series.  The best we could do was direct them to a nearby library or offer to ILL the books for them, neither of which was an immediate solution. We also had gaps in our Harry Potter collection and hadn't even started collecting George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series--so I added those to our "to buy" list.  Our collection isn't going to be perfect, but we're starting small and growing from there.  Many of the leisure titles we are purchasing function as crossover works between YA fiction and just plain fiction, which will serve our newly-developed YA Book Club nicely! We are just getting started, but I'm hopeful we'll get a good core of book club members.  I sent out an email announcement (below) and plan to include it in our library newsletter (geared toward students) as well as putting information on our library blog.

Meet the Book Open House!

Click the picture to play:

Need a great escape from heavy course readings?
Like homemade cookies?
Want a chance to win a free book?

If so, then the GV YA (Young Adult) Book Club is for you!
Stop by the library to check out the Meet the Book Open House!
Grab a cookie, learn more about our first selection, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and sign up for our email if you are interested in attending our first group meeting.

Monday, Sept. 17, 4-7 p.m.
First floor of the GV Library
You don’t have to stay the whole time! Come & go as your schedule allows!

Want to learn more about the first book?
Check out a video from the author:

Contact Cara Stone or Dan Chibnall with questions.

Monday, August 20, 2012

IULILColloq2012: Designing with Learners in Mind

The final session of the day was Christina Wray's (Center for Disability Information and Referral, Indiana University Bloomington) session" Designing with Learners in Mind: Utilizing Universal Design for Learning Principles in Library Instruction." Wray began by having attendees determine their learning style based on the descriptions she had on her handout (they boiled down to: imaginative, analytical thinker, hands-on learner, and spontaneous/free thinker).  This reinforced the idea that we all learn differently, but, if we design instruction to each all learners and intentionally plan beforehand, you're really avoiding creating "more work" later (rather than backtracking and reteaching, you're setting all types of learners up for success from the start).

  • "Universal design is not a trend, but an enduring design approach that assumes that the range of human ability is ordinary, not 'special.'" ~Elaine Ostroff
  • I love this quote Wray used because, in my "previous life" as a music teacher, I saw this all of the time--There is no "normal" way to learn.  No one approach to teaching will reach all learners, which is why it is crucial to approach each concept and skill from a variety of angles & present it to students in a way that engages them in multiple ways (see the three pillars below).
The Three Pillars of Universal Design for Learning (directly from Wray's handout)
  • Provide multiple, flexible methods of presentation
    • Provide options for perception
    • Provide options for language, mathematical expression and symbols
    • Provide options for comprehension
  • Provide multiple, flexible methods of action and expression
    • Provide options for physical action
    • Provide options for expression and communication
    • Provide options for executive functions
  • Provide multiple, flexible methods of engagement
    • Provide options for recruiting interest
    • Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence
    • Provide options for self-regulation
Many of the librarians who attended the session, including Wray, are at institutions that primarily deliver one-shot instruction sessions, which can sometimes make using Universal Design seem unrealistic given their time constraints.  Wray emphasized that Universal Design makes your instruction more efficient because you're actually doing a better job of reaching students & making the important concepts & skills "stick." I am very lucky to be at an institution that has a large and growing Embedded Librarian program, so I get to see many of the same students multiple times throughout the semester, and can take more time teaching (and therefore include a wider variety of approaches with) concepts and skills. 

Wray has compiled a list of resources and links (and continues to add to this as new resources become available):

Here are a few that I put big ol' stars by in my notes:
I loved that this session and my teaching philosophy overlapped in many ways and I loved that we walked away with a ton of great resources to tap into when we got home! 

The IULILColloq2012 ended with some closing remarks and prizes... Some of the prize giveaways consisted of drawing names from hats, while the last one was a bit more...participatory.  Sometimes it can be hard to get librarians (even the crazy instruction librarians) to volunteer for activities... So I stepped up to the plate and raised my hand when Carrie Donovan asked for volunteers.  Little did I know I would be asked to read Standard 3 of the ACRL IL Standards a (horribly executed) British accent (though I did do it with...errr...gusto?).  All in all, I had a blast at this year's IULILColloq and hope it is a tradition that continue! I know the date is already set for next year's: August 2, in the same place, New Albany, IN.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

IULILColloq2012: Bringing Reality TV to Library Instruction

Warning: This is the blog post in which I enthusiastically discuss Becky Canovan's and my presentation and get really excited about the evaluation comments we received.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, YAHOO! I had an absolute blast presenting with Becky during our session "Bringing Reality TV to Library Instruction: Non-traditional Activities for Teaching Traditional Library Concepts." Our presentation began with a brief overview of both of our institutions (small, liberal arts but with many professional programs, similar average ACT scores--Grand View's is 21, etc.). Then we jumped into explaining the activities and how they were applied in two very different ways.

The foundation for the activity:
  • Simply put, it's a series of tasks (which I enthusiastically declared many times throughout the session, partly because it's applicable, and partly because it makes me think of Ted Stevens' declaration that the Internet is a series of tubes...series of tasks...series of tubes. That's where my brain went anyway!)
  • A group activity
  • The group must complete each task before advancing to the next round, after having the librarian or instructor sign off on the task
University of Dubuque's version--The Great Poetry Race:
  • This originated from a brainstorming session on a Friday afternoon (when all great, kooky ideas are generated, of course) when library faculty & staff were trying to come up with a creative and entertaining approach to students needing to find secondary resources on a poem. The goal was to be sure students were comfortable and capable searching within the library catalog, CREDO, JSTOR, & Academic Search Premier, and they would be introduced to Literature Resource Center.  The activity was done over two class sessions. Librarians reviewed using the databases listed above & introduced Lit Resource Center and then gave the students a chance to ask questions or review something again. After that, students were grouped and had to complete (you guessed it!) a series of tasks.  They were given packets of cards, each with a different task that needed to be completed by the group.  Here's the catch: the groups had to do this without asking for help.  They had one "life raft" card they could use to get help, but other than that, they were on their own.  For each task, the groups had to select a different member of the group to be their leader.  The first group to complete their tasks & have them signed off on by a librarian was declared the leader (hooray)!
Grand View University's version--The Great Citation Race:
  • We are fortunate to have a strong embedded program with several departments on campus, including the English department.  I worked with Engl 101 (Intro to Composition, a first-year composition course) for this activity.  Many of the students we get may not have even written a research paper before, let alone mastered the science (art?...whatever.) of citations. So, long story made longer, we developed a series of activities to be delivered over five class sessions.  Each activity took the first 20 or so minutes of class; the rest of the session was spent searching the library catalog or databases for the types of materials they learned to cite earlier.  
  • For the citation activity, groups were formed based on the students' majors (the instructor liked students to learn that, rather than have 1 set citation style for the entire class...Which meant I got to teach 4 citation styles. At once.), leaving the class with seven groups.  The groups that completed the activities first received the highest number of points (7), with the next group receiving  one less (6), and so on. The whole group needed to complete the activity and have it written on their sheets in order for anyone in the group to receive their points.  At the end of all of the rounds, those individual with the highest point totals received prizes (of course, the prizes were awesome Pez dispensers & a big package of Peeps).  For each round the students completed a worksheet (I know, worksheets are gross, but I felt the students would better interact with the citations they were creating by writing them out).  Each citation style had a different worksheet, but they all worked to cite the same sources (I just had to prepare answer keys in 4 different styles for each activity).  Here's a brief overview of each of the rounds:
    • Round 1: Explained the game & learned how to cite books with one author (no editors)--This included in-text (or end note) citations, paraphrasing source material, and incorporating direct quotes
    • Round 2: Citing books with multiple authors &/or editors (followed by finding books in the library catalog)
    • Round 3: Citing journal articles from databases & in print (followed by finding journal articles in the library's collection)
    • Round 4: Citing websites (followed by searching for & evaluating websites)
    • Round 5: Recap of previous rounds, showing points progress chart, and celebrating winners (followed by independent work time for additional research)
  • It was a bit chaotic at times, but the students really made the connection between citations and responsible use of materials.  Having to prepare multiple citation styles was...a challenge and a bit time consuming, but since the instructor wanted them to learn the citation styles they would use later in their majors, we made it work. (Let me know if this doesn't make sense--I sometimes forget to explain a step or two...)
Then it was time for the IULILColloq attendees to get in on the fun and complete a series of tasks in their own groups! 
  • Round 1: Chose a course from a list we provided (see the Prezi, linked above)
  • Round 2: They identified an IL skill to target in the course they selected in Round 1
  • Round 3: They linked their IL skill from Round 2 to at least 1 ACRL IL standard (& explained why they chose it)--We provided them with a printout of the ACRL IL Standards, for easy reference
  • Round 4: They wrote 2 learning outcomes for the session/IL skills they selected (i.e. The students will...)
  • Round 5: After completing the above steps as a group (and having gotten them signed off by either Becky or myself), the attendees worked individually to write down one IL skill, course, or way in which they could use this strategy at their own institution. They then shared their responses with the group and we recorded them on the prezi (so all could access them later)
Ok, so that's the nitty-gritty stuff of how we implemented this activity at our institutions and in our presentation.  I mentioned at the beginning of this (now ridiculously long) post that we received some great feedback and comments about our presentation. Here are a few (I'm not trying to brag--I'm just super-excited that our presentation was so well-received!):
  • "Another great one!  These ladies were not only knowledgeable, but very entertaining.  I loved their storytelling approach to how they made these techniques work with their students.  Great, GREAT presentation."
  • "I thought it was smart to have the audience try out the approach."
  • "I think a little more time would have helped this session.  The presenters discussed what they did in the instruction sessions at their universities and then demonstrated how their process worked by having session members participate in a real-life example.  But, I was still left a little confused by exactly how they planned and executed their instruction.  It would have been nice to have some time to talk to them about that." Agreed--we packed a lot into a short amount of time--it would have been great to have had more time to visit at the end of the session! 
  • "Hilarious and so fun. The hour went by before we knew it. Good ideas. Look forward to implementing my own 'series of tasks'!"
  • "I loved the energy of the presenters and also the information! They mentioned empowering students to answer each other's questions, and I LOVE this idea."
  • "This was one of the best sessions I attended and I think it was because instead of telling us how they did it, they had us experience it as a participant and described the behind-the-scenes parts at the beginning and end. The session leaders demonstrated their enthusiasm and genuine desire to teach. It was great fun!"
A HUGE thank you to my co-presenter, Becky Canovan, for being on board with my crazy idea to submit a presentation proposal for a conference that was held a couple of states (and several hours in a car) away! Thanks also to Maria Accardi (IU Southeast) and Carrie Donovan (IU Bloomington) for throwing this shindig! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

IULILColloq2012: Dancing with Strangers

Barb Macke, of the University of Cincinnati, was this year's keynote speaker.  Her passion for libraries and excitement for teaching and inspiring students (and us) was so evident as she spoke on her theme "Dancing with Strangers" (she dances the tango and related it to librarianship).  Here are some of my favorite moments from her presentation:

  • "Teaching is a lot like tango. At its best, tango is improvisational." Good teachers can improvise on a dime & flexibility is key! (See?! All of that time nerding out as a Thespian and in Speech Team in high school did pay off!)
  • "The IL instructor must make her classroom activities malleable to the passions of each student." If it doesn't feel relevant or intriguing to the students, what's the point?! Make it relatable; make it relevant; make it fun.
  • Fantastic (big picture) conversation starters for IL sessions (this is where the juicy learning happens, folks!)--Start with something provocative (a question or image) to get things going:
    • "Can information be used to control people?"
    • "How is information disseminated? How does it multiply?"
    • "How is information lost...and found again?"
    • "Who creates information? And why do they create it?"
    • "Why is some information more valuable than others?"
    • "Is this art?"
  • By raising questions you are helping students struggle with the concept--and in struggling, that's where good learning happens!  
  • Practice and application are key! "How can they practice if you are always talking?" 
Macke mentioned several resources I hope to explore in the near future.  Here are just a few:
  • Simmons, M. H. (2005). Librarians as disciplinary discourse mediators: Using genre theory to move toward critical information literacy. Portal: Libraries And The Academy, 5(3), 297-311.
  • Bain, K. (2004, April 6). What makes great teachers great? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from (requires online subscription/login)
  • Anderson, C., & Runciman, L. (2005). Open questions: Readings for critical thinking and writing. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.
So there you have it! A few takeaways from an enthusiastic & inspiring presentation! (I told you this post would be shorter than the last one!)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

IULILColloq2012: Communities of Practice

One of my few complaints about this conference was that there were too many awesome things going on all at once and I wanted to "DO ALL THE THINGS!!!" Take the line-up for session two, for example:
  • The Games Librarians Play: Using Interactive Strategies to Stimulate Information Literacy Learning
  • Engaging Students with Visual Literacy: providing the framework and materials for actively engaged teachers and learners
  • Teaching the Information Literacy Teachers: Fostering a Community of Practice
  • Easing the Intimidation: Decreasing Library Anxiety with Instruction
I mean, how do you choose? Yes, they all have the obligatory library (or any academic) presentation "first part of the title :colon: second part of the title" format, but they all look interesting, relevant, and valuable.  I ultimately decided to attend Malia Willey's and Brian Sullivan's session "Teaching the Information Literacy Teachers: Fostering a Community of Practice" because, though I had explored the concept of Communities of Practice (COP) during my internship and when preparing for our LOEX 2011 presentation, I haven't worked to create something like that here in Des Moines, I was interested in seeing how they developed and grew their COP at Loyola. Also, a small gang from around the state of Iowa are interested in getting an online COP going to facilitate sharing ideas and reflection specific to library instruction.  (It's in the beginning stages, but I think it's going to be something special!)

The presenters began by looking at the literature (and continued to do so throughout the entire process), first noting why they felt the need to address IL through a COP.  They noted the changing nature of librarianship and the increased emphasis on IL Instruction in new librarian positions (as well as a the need for already established librarian positions to do some of the instruction as well), but not all librarians have the necessary training (whether from graduate school or from work experience) to feel comfortable developing curriculum, writing lesson plans, and assessing student learning (along with assessing the effectiveness of their instruction).  This lack of preparation or experience can lead to anxiety and a resistance to change.  One way to combat this fear is through education and practice.

Willey and Sullivan shared various definitions of a COP, emphasizing that it's a group brought together (physically or virtually) by a common goal, interested in sharing and creating knowledge.  One of the most important parts of creating a successful COP is developing trust among members.  A COP is a place to come together, share ideas, ask for advice, share successes, and fail safely (in failure, that's when some of the most valuable learning happens).  They shared best practices (and noted that you can partner with like-minded people, or think outside of your immediate box and expand beyond departmental boundaries or even beyond your institution or region) and emphasized that the most important things are to model openness, curiosity  respect, and enthusiasm.  (Think of some of your favorite librarians or teachers--do these things not exactly describe them and their approaches to life?! I thought so!)  Another important element of developing a successful COP is to gather formal feedback.

At Loyola, they started the TLT (pronounced "tilt"-- short for "Teaching and Learning Team") with informal meetings sparked by one person's awesome experiences at ACRL's Immersion program. They developed a self-evaluation form after examining the Association of College and Research Libraries Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators, and asked questions like "how have you grown as an instructor?" and "what would you like to learn more about?" and had their librarians self report about other instruction-related strengths and weaknesses.  These evaluations shed light on some areas librarians felt they needed help with, and also showed that there are some things that librarians say they are comfortable with (or good at) that need to be reexamined.  Eventually these informal conversations morphed into times where they discussed shared readings or teaching experiences with the group.  The COP leader made a conscious effort to turn reoccurring conversation items into formal agenda items during meetings.

Things to consider when selecting shared readings:
  • The K.I.S.S. method: Keep it short, stupid! 
  • Resources to check out: LOEX Quarterly (love!)
  • Tracking back recommended readings lists from other articles
Tips for conversations:
  • Come prepared with an activity or questions (as is the case with everything, you may deviate from this, but having a plan--but staying flexible--is always good)
  • Monitor the conversation to allow all to participate 
Encouraging others to try something new:
  • Teaching Challenges (I'm super-excited about this and am probably going to issue self-challenges, if nothing else): At Loyola, they issued Teaching Challenges to all of their librarians to try something new as they teach (but, it's something specific.  It's like unlocking a new level, or achieving a quest on a video game, but this is with instruction...So that's pretty cool!). Some of the examples they gave were co-teaching or using new technologies like Adobe Connect. At the end of the semester they shared with the group the results of their challenge efforts
Preparing presentations and workshops:
  • Occasionally workshops covering teaching to different learning styles, incorporating active learning into instructional design, writing learning outcomes (yes, this is something that takes practice, especially if you've never done it before), etc. were held in addition to article discussions
Thinking outside your box:
  • Collaborate beyond the library: I immediately thought of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL, pronounced kettle, for anyone interested). We already have a series of "Conversations on..." a specific topic, faculty development sessions--often with a library/information literacy component.  The issue right now is over-committed faculty and (in the past) too many sessions for faculty to schedule into their already packed schedules.  We've already been working on a new way to deliver these sessions & I hope it makes a difference. One idea I liked that goes along with this element is to deliver the main presentation and then have a follow-up workshop (which could even be one-on-one if needed) to reinforce and apply the concepts with the faculty member. 
  • Regional Un-Conference: A casual gathering of area instruction librarians to discuss instruction ideas and approaches.  
At Loyola their TLT group meets every other week for 1.5 hours and the presenters were careful to emphasize that developing COPs takes time and purposeful reflection in order for it to really become a part of the culture.  

And here's the photo I forgot to tweet while actually at the conference...
So, that was a ridiculously long post--to reward you for getting (or skipping) to the end, here's a fun resource (it combines one of my fravrit memes and famous quotes) and the promise that the next couple of posts will be significantly shorter.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Indiana University Libraries Information Literacy Colloquium 2012

This year was the first annual Indiana University Libraries Information Literacy Colloquium and I was lucky enough to be there to participate! Becky Canovan (who I've probably blogged about a couple of times, at least), from University of Dubuque, and I sent in a presentation proposal and it was accepted (more on that in a bit). So these two Iowa gals hit the road to (just north of) Louisville, KY to be there for "Learning Out Loud: Information Literacy Pedagogy for the Non-Shushing Librarian."

The conference began with your basic welcome, but with an instruction-y twist (of course) where attendees jumped right in with a Think-Pair-Share activity.  We discussed something that has made an impact on our instruction/institution.  When we came back to the whole group we heard answers ranging from making headway with increasing the amount of instruction, collaborating/advocating for IL with faculty outside of the library, to being purposeful about making sure students (and faculty) see you as a whole person (many librarians, especially new/young ones, feel pressure to wear their professional librarian hat at all times, but showing you're a person & making mistakes can open doors and make faculty & students more comfortable coming to you for help). Another programming idea that was shared was the Murder Mystery at the Library where students have to follow clues (as part of their orientation) to find resources & solve the mystery (it was Mrs. White in the Library with the candlestick!!!).  How much fun would that be during freshman orientation days?! I totally want to dress up and ham it up melodrama-style!

The first session I attended was "We Didn't Start the Fire": How Billy Joel's Song Can Motivate Student Learning and Deeper Engagement, given by Linda Lambert (Taylor University) and Ruth Szpunar (DePauw University).  When I read through the abstracts I was really excited about this presentation because "We Didn't Start the Fire" is one of the first songs on my running playlist--power up!  The abstract described using the song to apply Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences "in an active learning session which employs multimedia and provides participants with a hands-on experience.  As part of this session we will create a time line [sic] using the events between the years, 1949-1989. The aims of this exercise are to encourage students to probe more deeply into the historical and ethical issues mentioned in the song and to engage in the learning process in a personal way." Basically, students chose one of the people/topics from the song, did preliminary research (using encyclopedias) and plotted some of the information they found onto a timeline, then they were to locate a peer reviewed article (and be prepared to discuss and evaluate), and formulate 1-2 possible research questions. The presenters also mentioned a more modern alternative to the Billy Joel version is a song from the new Train album (not really an option for me, as that would likely make my ears bleed and all of my hair fall out as I run screaming from the room). This session wasn't exactly what I expected...or rather it was exactly what I expected and didn't bring anything new beyond having students choose topics & research them. I suppose it was my expectations that got the best of me, but I wanted some extra "oomph" or something more that would further engage students in the classroom. You can find more information, including lesson planning materials, here:

Stay tuned for the next installment of "IULIUColloq" or "This Conference has a Super-Long Hashtag, but That's Okay Because Information Literacy is Awesome" (a little throwback to "Rocky and Bullwinkle" there with the two titles...).

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Midsummer Day's Blog

Well, it is officially July, which means from here on out I'm constantly going to be wondering aloud where the summer has gone (likely to the point of annoyance for those around me).  Since my last post we've completed Summer Institute here at Grand View.  Summer Institute is an intensive planning and development time for faculty and professional staff.  This year GV brought in Jared A. Danielson, a speaker from Iowa State University, who shared strategies for efficient and effective assessment.  His workshop was titled Evolution, Not Revolution: Curricular Design as the Natural Outcome of Data-Driven Decisions (and how to write test items to produce the right data...), and we discussed and worked through different types of test questions to better gather authentic data.  As someone with a background in education, much of what Danielson shared was review (particularly because of the emphasis placed on assessment and effective test question writing in my undergraduate program--when you're a music teacher, you need to constantly gather and share assessment data in order to help justify your program, and Luther well-prepared its music education majors to do that).  It is nice to have a few packets to reference as we move forward in creating pre- and post-tests for our Core Sem I classes.  The rest of Summer Institute was broken up into departmental workshops, with the final day being an off-campus retreat for lunch and strategic planning for the entire campus.  

For our departmental retreat we discussed our planning for the upcoming fall semester, focusing on Core Sem I which begins the roll out of the new core (in which IL is a key outcome).  We laid the groundwork for pretesting and a series of post-tests in those classes, along with periodic informal (or formative) assessment of in-class activities (including assignments, Blackboard discussion posts, and other activities).  For the library, we are aiming for three main IL outcomes for students to reach a level of satisfactory or above (though students will also learn to apply an even wider range of IL skills, these are the ones we are focusing on at the first-year student level):

  • Information gathering: Students will gather quality, research-based information using multiple sources & types
  • Evaluation: Students will analyze information for accuracy, authority, currency, relevance, and bias
  • Differentiation: Students will differentiate between types of sources and use them appropriately
Our rubric was completed, and will be used to help guide our instruction throughout the semester and will be applied as an assessment tool when looking at the final written assignments.  We also brainstormed 6 sessions/topics that need to be covered in each of the embedded Core Sem I classes, and 4 optional, "a la carte" lessons that may be included if appropriate to the course/requested by the course instructor. Though the direct wording is still being developed, here is a general overview for the 6 required sessions (which may usually be done in any order, depending on the needs/calendar of the course):
  • Short introduction with the embedded librarian, and brief introduction to library services (this is required and must be done early in the semester)
  • Plagiarism
  • Finding and evaluating information: Websites
  • Finding and evaluating information: Books
  • Finding and evaluating information: Journal articles
  • Citations: Annotated bibliography, reference pages, in-text citations, etc. 
The a la carte options include:
  • Technology session: Windows MovieMaker, Prezi, etc.
  • The research process: creating an outline, drafting, revising, etc.
  • Choosing a good research topic
  • Understanding the information world
Depending on course calendars, some of these concepts may be combined or introduced with another, but we felt it best to break it down by individual concept first, allowing instructors to easily see how the library has planned to meet the larger objectives while still making it relevant and authentic to the course assignments.  

Our off-campus strategic planning day included all staff and faculty from Grand View.  This was the first year GV has done something like this, and it was an interesting experience to be a part of.  Basically, we all went through the strategic plan, got an update from the President, and brainstormed ways to respond to opportunities & threats by setting measurable goals--the big ones being long-term financial viability/size, academic quality and reputation, and considerations to keep in mind with the populations we serve.  We looked at current strategies in place and, in mixed groups, brainstormed other strategies.  It was really interesting to hear from other departments & have ideas grow from just something mentioned in passing, to something that could actually be implemented.  Below is one of 3 walls that were covered in post-its with ideas for improving university services while remaining affordable and relevant.  

The time after Summer Institute has also been a bit of a whirlwind.  I was away for two and a half weeks working at the Dorian Summer Music Camps as a camp counselor (two of my very favorite weeks of the summer).  This year's counseling staff was fantastic and the campers were absolutely wonderful! After camp, I returned to work for three days and then hopped in my car once again and hit the road for Minnesota be a personal attendant for one of my dear friends.  This week is also a bit of a strange week with July 4th on Wednesday, but after that I think a regular routine will emerge and help me get back into the swing of things.  It is pretty quiet around the library this summer, which is normal.  I know I should appreciate this quieter planning time, but I admit, I miss the hustle & bustle and energy students bring to the campus during the year.   I'm gearing up to finish preparing Becky Canovan's & my presentation for the upcoming Indiana University Libraries Information Literacy Colloquium, working on developing a purchase list for our new leisure reading nook, developing programming for faculty development, brainstorming for a new YA book club, and prepping 7 embedded classes (and growing) for the fall...on top of regular library duties. There's definitely plenty to do, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ILA ACRL 2012 - Session 4 - Ready to Stream? Investigating Offering Online Video Content for Courses

In the final time-slot of the afternoon, Amy Paulus, from the University of Iowa, presented Ready to Stream? Investigating Offering Online Video Content for Courses.

The U of I had the (rare and wonderful) instance where there was a surplus of collection funds available for use and decided to partner with their Film Studies department to form a partnership for a pilot video streaming program.  Paulus clearly articulated some of the considerations to keep in mind when beginning a program like this:
  • Manpower (both within the library and with someone with expertise in using the necessary technology)
  • Vendor with the content available and/or server space for ripped content
  • Someone with the expertise to review and negotiate license agreements 
  • The equipment and ability to rip DVDs
  • Linking URLs
  • Communication with instructors (before during the planning & after, as they are using the videos)
  • Cataloging (for long-term or perpetual access items)
  • Technology (being sure the content is password protected, and computers are equipped with the proper software to work with the materials)
  • Funds (licenses aren't cheap, neither is storage or staff time)
Paulus summarized some of expense totals, noting the cost of digitizing and storing a title or purchasing digital access, along with licensing averaged to $148.76 (some of which weren't perpetual access, but may have to be renewed in the future); they were able to provide streaming access to 75 films.  This pilot project impacted fewer than 100 students.  She noted that this project took significant staff time, but the feedback from the professors was positive and they would like to see the service continue. Distance education classes particularly loved it (I'm sure for the convenience of being able to stream materials rather than track them down locally).  In the future Paulus noted that instructors may request online content/streaming and the library will do their best to make it available if it is provided through a vendor, but because ripping and converting content was so time consuming, they would not offer that aspect of the service in the future.  

One alternative to finding vendors or in-house ripping/licensing negotiation, etc. is Films on Demand--perhaps not the fanciest resource for connoisseurs of film (as this pilot population is), this database holds films on a wide variety of topics and allows for streaming, showing of just a segment of a film, and creating playlists on certain topics.  For an institution the size of GV and with our budget, Films on Demand is a much more reasonable resource and adequately fills the current needs of the learning community we serve.  

ILA ACRL 2012 - Session 3 - Green Academic Libraries

Green Academic Libraries: Sustainability in Iowa and Beyond was delivered by Mara M J Egherman, of Central College.

Enthusiasm was evident throughout the presentation as Egherman spoke about the responsibility to promote green practices within libraries (beyond the obvious considerations like building design and construction materials). One example that I hadn't previously considered but makes complete sense is the placement of bookshelves around exterior walls.  This creates additional insulation, but does bring a few questions to mind:
     1) How would arranging books in this manner impact the user experience?
     2) How would fluctuation in temperature impact the books' durability? (We talk about climate control, especially during the summer months when humidity tends to creep in and curl our journal covers, but would using books in this way compromise our efforts to preserve materials?)

Egherman brought up big questions like:
     How have smart phones, student laptops & tablets, and other devices impacted the power needs of libraries, and how can we be more proactive about how we handle those needs?
     Should students be able to use the library as an e-recycling point for their electronics?
     How do libraries and universities dispose of their discarded electronics?
     Is cloud power greener than on-site storage?
     Which resource is greener, print or e-book (keeping in mind user habits)?
     Moving forward, what can individual libraries & larger library systems do to reverse their carbon footprint?

We all know of the daily can-dos.  Things like using recycled paper products, carpooling, choosing reusable materials over disposable, double-sided printing, and choosing eco-friendly fonts (like Century Gothic, which uses less ink), but what else can we do?

Others brought up an important point noting that manpower must also be sustainable, and there are certain limits to which it can be stretched.  This needs to be considered when looking at implementing a green initiative.  Do the green benefits outweigh the costs to the institution, the population you serve, and to the staff.

One of the most helpful parts of this presentation, beyond just getting a dialogue started, was the great selection of resources Egherman shared.  Below are a few:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

ILA ACRL 2012 - Session 2 - Bringing Information Literacy Skills to the Tablet

In the afternoon the librarians all headed over to the Union for a working lunch.  It followed the same format as past ILA/ACRL lunches, but this time I actually had a hand in some of what was happening.  The Membership Committee submitted our report early, as our chair knew she wasn't going to be able to attend the conference.  I particularly enjoyed the awards portion.  As a member of the Awards Committee I read all of the research submissions & scholarship applications a while back, but it was particularly nice to see the recipients and hear from them firsthand how excited they are about their work!

After lunch we jumped into the afternoon sessions.  The first I attended was a session on iPads.  Usually I have my conference game plan pretty well mapped out before I even arrive, but this time slot was one where I didn't decide where I would be heading until right before (and I'm not going to lie; a little part of my decision was based on the fact that I got to play with the iPad). Another reason I attended this session was because a former Dorian camper of mine, Charlie, who has been a student at Luther for a few years now (gah, I'm getting old), was the tech helper, which is just too adorable (I'm pretty proud of that kid!).  But enough about how I chose this session; let's talk about content!

Bringing Information Literacy Skills to the Tablet was presented by Luther College's Rebecca Sullivan.  As a Luther graduate I was aware of some of the space and technological constraints in the library's instruction areas, the largest issue being no computer equipped instruction lab.  There are labs around campus, but not one within the library that is suitable for instruction.  Bu using iPads, Sullivan was able to work around some of these issues, and allow more flexibility for students to directly apply the skills they learn while being able to move freely around the library (including the stacks...imagine how many post-its they might save!). Sullivan discussed some of the traditional uses for iPads (roving reference/chat, student/faculty petting zoo to help them feel more comfortable with technology, e-readers for books, OPAC stations for service spots, self-guided tours, conveniently located instruction videos, student worker use with shelf reading/weeding, and -- as they did at UD -- and easy way to keep in-house statistics for materials use & space use).  Essentially, Luther uses the iPads as a classroom set, similar to a laptop cart.  She highlighted a few apps for classroom use and noted the importance of syncing all of the iPads to one iTunes account (so they all have the same apps laid out in the same way, making instruction easier).  Just as with laptop carts, this classroom set of iPads is stored and charged within a secured cart.  The cart may be checked out as a whole, and then each iPad is individually barcoded & signed out to individual students (as to better prevent the iPads from disappearing).  They also are able to track the devices on campus by looking at when & where the device last accessed wireless.  They've only had one issue with an iPad not being returned, which, given the portable nature of the device, isn't too shabby! Sullivan mentioned a couple of particularly useful apps for reading and annotating PDFs: GoodReader and iAnnotate.  Luther just began working with Mac AirServer (only $4 per computer for a bulk license), which allows you to project your iPad screen onto another computer (or in this case, through a computer and then onto the screen wirelessly). It made me think of a less sophisticated (less expensive) version of SynchronEYES.  You can project your own screen, or have students access the Mac AirServer to project their screen, but you don't have the ability to take over the devices to project your screen onto each device (as you do with SynchronEYES) or to choose and display a student's screen on your own (without asking them to access the AirServer), which could potentially slow things down in class.

As with any technology, there are always some challenges to consider.  First: distraction. A simple solution is to just ask students to close the covers when you need to deliver instructions or prepare them for an activity, and then have them open the cover back up when it is time for them to apply the skills that were introduced. Another challenge (and this is big with me and my uber-love for multiple windows with multiple tabs) is that it can be difficult to multitask using iPads because navigating multiple applications can be a little cumbersome.  You must have cloud storage available, so students can later access their documents from any device.  Another big thing to keep in mind is that printing from iPads (or any wireless device) to a networked printer can sometimes be tricky.

I asked about using this technology with students who may have special needs.  Traditionally Apple products have been very user friendly & disability friendly, but I wondered about how that would work with a large classroom set of these devices.  From the usability standpoint, the product itself is fantastic, but students with disabilities would have to bring in their own devices in order to be sure their accessibility settings were kept.  This brings up two large concerns for me: 1) in my mind this creates an even greater rift between the "haves" and the "have-nots" -- particularly when you add a learning or physical disability into the equation on top of financial concerns.  2) From a logistical standpoint, there would be issues with the apps and other pages instructors may have pre-loaded or synced onto the classroom set of iPads that wouldn't be loaded or arranged on the student's personal iPad they brought in because they wanted to be sure their accessibility settings were available to them during the class...