Monthly Archives: March 2011

Class Reflection-Digital Books and Embedded Librarians

Class this week started with a wonderful talk by Paul Courant, who helps to run the Michigan Library. His talk about how complicated the world of ebooks is was really good to hear and understand all the different players. I know as a librarian that many times people get disappointed because they can only see parts of a book, which seems strange when they’re all digitized. My take is that ebooks and digital books are going to keep changing. We haven’t found a good balance between copyright, orphan works and those who wish to profit from books yet. I don’t know where the solution is going to come from, but I’m pretty sure that libraries are going to play a big part.

We then spoke about embedded librarians and what that means in large and small groups. It seems to be one of those phrases that means something different depending on the person and the situation. What I took from it is that an embedded librarian needs to know how to balance the needs of the community they’re in and the library community. This is something that any librarian should know how to do and that its just more obvious for embedded librarians as they don’t spend their time only with librarians. I liked thinking about how their are different ways to be an embedded librarian from on the webpage to in the classroom and that sometimes a balance is the best way to do your job.

Class ended as we found groups to start to plan our webinars. My group is going to be looking at programs for the unemployed and we went from three to four people in our group. At this point, I’m not really sure how its going to end up as the webinar feels much newer and more complicated than the other projects.

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Reading Reflection-Webinars

I watched an archived Webinar on a campaign created by OCLC and the Gates Foundation called Geek the Library, which was fascinating. I was really struck by how difficult it is to make a webinar more than just a recording of a powerpoint presentation. The webinar was actually made up of two different presentations that were working together and in the archived format, I had to read the chat separately from watching the audio and slides. It seems as if how the webinar presents itself reflects in the chat conversation, this webinar patterned itself like a traditional presentation and so there was less talk in the chat. I came away from it glad to know of the program and curious to learn more but with little sense of the people presenting.

This week the reading is a mixture of articles and chapter 7 of How People Learn which is titled “Effective Teaching: Examples in History, Mathematics and Science.” I’m going to start with the chapter and then move on to the other readings and I’m curious about advice about how to make an effective webinar. They seem to present a combination of challenges from other formats in one place. The chapter starts by presenting an example of a teacher who knows how to combine their teaching experience with content knowledge to design a curriculum around what her students wish to learn. It seems like something that would be incredibly hard to do, use students questions to craft a course but if it worked would change how students think about learning. The two history examples look at teachers who try to get their students examining what is history and why and how do we study it. This is something that’s so important but most students don’t seem to encounter that idea until college as that type of learning requires more time. I appreciate how these teachers found ways to make these questions into the day to day teaching of their courses and that helped them make it work within the structure they were working in.

The mathematics section starts with a teacher who talks about teaching through sense-making so that students understand why something is reasonable on their way to understanding how to do multiplication. By connecting to their prior knowledge, the teacher was able to lead the students to a place where they felt comfortable with the work. While the second teacher, Ball, focused on a model to help with a lesson on negative numbers and found that while it was helpful for some aspects it didn’t cover everything. Again she was building on what the students already knew to better help them grasp the new information and not be overwhelmed by it. Both teachers use models and the book speaks about how models can help so much in learning math since when children are younger abstract concepts can be more difficult.

The science section is not as clearly written or explained as it talks about physics and the idea of teaching students how to think about problems. It seems as if the authors chose a tricky topic to teach but their examples end up rather abstract as opposed to the other ones. There are examples presented of innovative ways of teaching but there isn’t the clear narrative structure of the other sections which was a difference from the other sections. This made this part not seem to fit and a little harder to integrate with the other ideas. Though there are a variety of examples in the science section, they don’t seem to connect in the same way the other sections do and it makes it harder to come out with a clear sense of what works. I found this chapter helpful but it seemed to veer between too specific and too broad, I’m not sure how easy I would find it to work these things into my own teaching.

The next reading is Online Webinars! Interactive Learning Where Our Users Are: The Future of Embedded Librarianship by Susan Montgomery from the August 2010 Public Services Quarterly. Montgomery begins by stating statistics about how online college students are at this point in time and how academic librarians must find ways to connect with them where they are. Then looks at some programs that work by integrating intelligent use of online tools in and out of the classroom and creating embedded librarians that students see as part of the learning team. Webinars are then presented as the next step in this type of reaching out to students since they allow for more levels of interaction between students and teachers. Montgomery makes a good point by showing that librarians are used to webinars in their professional education so its something that they know what good and bad ones feel like. This article presents many options for how to interact more online with students and places that are making changes but doesn’t seem to lead anywhere other than online stuff is useful and we should do more.

The last reading is from the same publication and is by Matos et al and is titled The Embedded Librarian or Face-to-Face: American University’s Experience. This article examines how two types of embedded librarians worked at American University, the first was what they termed traditional, which is a librarian that is connected to a specific unit. These librarians tend to be specialists within that subject area, which I wasn’t completely aware of. The second type of librarian is a combination of a reference/instruction and collection manager that seems more like the type of librarian I’m aware of at the University of Michigan with the subject specialist librarians who organize book and online resources and field questions. One of the challenges seems to be how to make sure that the library and the department are both getting what they need and providing the most for students without losing anything. The music librarian’s examples of learning to mesh with the community show how just being there isn’t always enough. She had to show the students that she understood what they did and could be an ally for them instead of what they perceived a librarian as. The business librarian on the other hand does most of the connecting in a more formalized way through online communication and speaking in classes so his interaction with the community has a different feel. The key in both of these seems to be figuring out what the communities wish for from the librarians and being able to provide that in the best way possible. As always communication is what makes things work and a librarian who doesn’t know their community won’t be able to truly help.

What I get from all of these readings is how key it is to know what the community you’re teaching in needs and wants to find out the best way to teach them. This seems to be one of the trickiest parts if you’re a new person in the community as there are things that someone who’s been there a long time will pick up that aren’t obvious. All of these readings have good suggestions of what to do when you know what works best and ideas on how to use new technology to create new avenues for instruction.

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Class Reflection-One Shot Workshop

My first thought about this class was I really wish we’d had more time. Twenty minutes even with the time planned out just feels far too rushed. The five groups covered an array of great topics, two takes on copyright policy from the point of view of K-12 teachers and academic librarians, balancing the library culture and then talk of the Code of Ethics. Kayla and I presented on the issue of accessibility in libraries, which was a great topic since it really got everyone thinking.

All of the workshops were run in really different ways, a few of us had powerpoint presentations as the hear of our workshops while some of them focused on just discussion. I think a combination of the two along with handouts seems to work the best in terms of keeping the audience involved and make sure they’re getting the most from the experience. Since too much of the one or the other can be either boring or end up rather chaotic since discussions can get out of control and take over while slide presentations can veer into the lecture format. I think after this I would be able to run a workshop since it left me feeling confident about connecting with an audience in this format and I learned some new ideas of how to present information.

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One Shot Workshop-Accessibility Links

1-We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
ALA Code of Ethics

ALA Recommendations: Talk with your community through holding community surveys either at the library or in a space which is comfortable and accessible to best understand what’s needed.
-If in doubt about language, become person first and find out from the community you’re addressing what they prefer.
-At the moment the ALA’s ADA Library Kit is out of print but as it was published in 1992, it would be quite out of date.
-Ideas from it can be helpful in presenting ways to approach accessibility within a library community.
-ALA has put together a list of links and communities to help in terms of issues and actions:
Here
Crash course in library services to people with disabilities / Ann Roberts and Richard J. Smith.: This book provides helpful rubrics for assessing your library and making an accessibility plan.
Alliance for Technology Access – help individuals meet their needs through adaptive technologies: Offer tools and literature for public service organizations (such as libraries) to help make decisions about adaptive technologies. ataaccess.org

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (rid.org): can help your library find a local ASL interpreter if one is needed for library programming.

Independent Living Research Utilization: A nationwide organization that works to increase the independence of individuals with disabilities, providing education and consultation. The directory (directory) will help you find the ILRU organization closest to your library.

LibriVox (librivox.org): A crowdsource project working to record free versions audiobooks of all books available in the public domain, and is a good resource for librarians to be aware of as a way to supplement their audiobook collections.

Satterfield, Brian. 2007. “How to Test a Web Site for Accessibility: A Step-by-Step Guide for Determining Whether Your Website is Accessible to Persons with Disabilities” pdf here :A great guide for testing website accessibility.

Grants:
Library Services and Technology Act
– Federal program exclusively for libraries. Administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Funds are allocated to state libraries; subgrants are used to distribute money to smaller libraries within the state.
Information can be found: IMLS ALA
Additional information can be found through your state library.

Institute of Museum and Library Services has offered grant funding to libraries with accessibility projects. Further information is available here: IMLS

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Class Reflection-One Shots and Horseless’ Carriages

This class was a fascinating mix of things as it felt more like we had at least three different classes in one. The first one was about how to run a One-Shot Workshop that I found so helpful. I like the idea of thinking of running something in terms of a meal because it provides specific expectations and moments, the other analogy I would use would be a play. Since there you have a beginning where the story is introduced, the build-up, the climax that all things have led to and then the denouement where things are tied together. I plan on taking this lesson with me and using it since its such a great way to think about teaching.

The next part of the class was actually working with our teams from the book club groups to plan what our One Shot is going to be about. Kayla and I decided to focus on accessibility in libraries and focus in on the ADA and their requirements. I think its going to be good since we had an idea for an activity within a few minutes of talking.

After that we moved to having a fascinating visitor through some webinar software, Bobbie Newman, who talked to us about e-books and HarperCollins. The thing that really stood out for me from her talk was the phrase of thinking of e-books as horseless’ carriages and that we need to figure out a new paradigm for them. I keep seeing this come up on my Twitter feed and with a friend of mine who runs a small press that does print and e-books, they require new ways of thinking. Last semester I took a course on the History of the Book and it was shocking to find out just how little the way the publishing industry has changed. I think e-books are starting to make them change but as the Overdrive issue with HarperCollins shows, its going to be a fight all the way. This is an issue that I’m going to keep watching and following since e-books are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the reading experience.

In a slight tangent, I realized that my title for this would work as the title for a Western short story, I’ll have to remember it.

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Readings-Ethics

The readings for this week are the ALA Code of Ethics, an article by Mosley and then three posts from the discussion about HarperCollins and the Overdrive issue of how many times can e-books be taken out.

One thing that I always think about in terms of the ALA code of ethics is how key protecting user’s privacy is, because this is something those outside the library world don’t completely understand. The idea that when you take a book out, we won’t keep a record of what you’ve read once you’ve returned it. There will be a mark that it has gone out but that’s all. I think it this idea highlights just how important it is to make the library a safe space for everyone, where the librarian will not judge what you read or what you ask. Its difficult to make it completely true in the real world, because we each carry with us so many prejudices and biases but as librarians we do what we can to overcome them. I appreciate too that the idea of constantly striving and learning is a key part of this code since it seems like something all future librarians share is this desire to learn as much as possible and share that knowledge. Whether its helping someone to find the right resource for a paper or figure out how best to share something amazing in an archive, its all about sharing knowledge.

The Mosley article focuses on creating a library assignment workshop for university faculty. This topic feels quite familiar to me in my work as a reference librarian on campus, sometimes an email will come to all of us reference librarians as a heads up about an assignment that requires our help. Its rare that this emails are sent before the assignments going, usually they appear after a few people have asked and we have to find out the requirements. The description of how the workshop begins sounds very effective with those running it presenting humorous examples of library misconceptions, which is a good way to do it. That way if a faculty member sees themselves, they don’t feel ashamed but instead go, oh I’m not alone. Now I need to figure how do I fix what I was doing. Its so key to be aware of how librarians are perceived outside of our circle of the world especially on a university campus where we’re just one of many resources available to researchers and not the one they might think to turn to first. I find the detailed explanation of the types of assignments and phrasing of assignments incredibly helpful, if I were a teacher, I’d want these lists close by to help me improve and think about what I’m telling students to do. The article seems to describe a successful workshop thought its interesting that faculty commented on how it would be useful for beginning teachers, I wonder if perhaps the librarians might have gone too far in suggesting how assignments might be flawed. Its a hard balance between not assuming too much of your audience and also not talking down to them, which seems to be one of the major challenges of teaching.

The next readings are three posts about the Harper Collins/Overdrive issue. The first thing I’m reading is The HarperCollins Open Letter to Librarians, which I found a very diplomatic piece of writing. Its clear that they are trying to not anger librarians and don’t see that 26 circulations is too few as they speak about how twenty-six circulations isn’t that few. I find it fascinating how they speak about consulting with everyone from librarians to publishers but I think I would have appreciated it more if they had included quotes and information about what helped. This feels far too much like a blanket statement that’s not really explaining but instead saying, we did our research, get off our backs, it won’t be that bad.

I next read the Library Journal article Library Consortia Begins to Vote Against HarperCollins EBook Checkout Policy as I wanted to read another official take on the issue. The focus in this article is about the consortiums that are choosing to not purchase more for HarperCollins and I find it interesting how they focus on money. The idea that HarperCollins is working with a profit motive as libraries need to stretch every dollar. I find the quote about lack of transparency quite relevant since it seems like HarperCollins felt like they did their research but they haven’t shared it. I’ve noticed that in discussions of ebooks, there are many sides of the picture and since things are constantly evolving, there really aren’t any rules set. So publishers and libraries are trying to make choices that work for them, but these discussions are happening in various corners with overlap when everyone disagrees. I look forward to seeing what happens next because ebooks aren’t easy to predict.

For the third piece I read Book Pixie and I found her blog post incredibly helpful as she draws together the Ebook User’s Bill of Rights and her own thoughts on what is important for readers. I appreciate her wariness in terms of the boycott because boycotts are a major step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Also they have a way of closing off the dialogue which in this case needs to be open so there can be change. The idea especially that the boycott will limit patron’s access, which is never the right choice for any library.

This to me encapsulates this issue, which is about who gets to decide access to ebooks. As librarians our job is to promote access in as many ways and formats as possible so I hope that a middle ground can be found between HarperCollins’ 26 circulations and a complete boycott of them.

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Class Reflection-Book Clubs

I meant to write this earlier this week, because I enjoyed this class so much. When I was an undergrad and also in my graduate work in New Zealand, I studied literature and so thinking about text is one of my favorite things. Book clubs seem such a wonderful way to take a love of reading good things and take all those thoughtful things we’re taught in English class into the rest of our life. I was in Hearts and there were four groups presenting. We began by talking about Hansel and Gretel and the presenting group gave us an ice breaker question of if we were such and such character what would we do differently? This was a good question because the Grimm version we read had many details that many of us didn’t remember and so we ended up talking about why some choices were made and what would change if this story were brought into the present.

The second group talked about two poems The Tiger by William Blake and Design by Robert Frost, each poem is looking at the beauty of predators and wondering who or what created them. Most of the discussion was around this idea of how do we talk about evil and just destruction in the world. Looking back on that talk after the horrible earthquake and tsunami, I find it even more relevant since the power of nature can be hard to comprehend.

The next group looked at a series of poem from the Card Catalog Poetry Archive by someone named Robin Harris. This discussion ended up being about the whys of the poems and what do card catalogs mean to us as librarians. We talked about how sometimes we can nostalgic for things that we haven’t even experienced but that nostalgia is still a key part of how people think about librarians. I want to go back and look over more of these poems since the medium of an old card seems to carry so much with it.

Last I presented Penelope to Ulysses, Heroide I with Kayla and I found where the discussion went interesting and unexpected. I don’t want to discuss too much here because the meat of it will go in our analysis, but I enjoyed all the connections we found to our world and the past. That really carried through all of the book clubs, how do we take what we read and move it beyond the page. I think this is the power of book clubs, they can find ways to connect reading to the lives of people who might not think about it. I know I read all the time and can’t imagine not reading, so for me knowing about something like this is a good way to show that talking about what you read isn’t something to be left behind in school.

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