Tag Archives: access

The Power of a Link

One reason I haven’t fully blacked out my blog today is that I want to use it to write about the power of connecting, which is what SOPA and PIPA are threatening. The strength of the internet is that it is a web of links and it’s possible to trace a link back to its original source. Sometimes this is harder than others but if links in these chains began to disappear then conversations and sources would be lost. It is important to protect the property of creators, but creativity also requires connections to shift and grow. None of these are new ideas, but they’re important to recall when the discussion becomes one of right and wrong.

My professional life and my personal life are enhanced and grown by links to people, organizations, authors and patrons. I want to look into how some of these links have added to my profession as a librarian and my growth as a person, because mine is just one of many stories of linkages across the internet.

As a reference librarian who works primarily for students along with researchers at the University of Michigan, my job is to help along the path of searching out sources. In this moment in time that is mainly done by tracing a citation to a full text article or learning to navigate a database or catalog to find what’s needed. Each step of the process is made up of links beginning with the researcher explaining what they’re looking for, I need to understand them and we create a human connection. From that point, we have to translate questions into language that will be understood by our search tools such as Proquest and there the links become incredibly powerful. Once the right phrase is found, it’s possible to go ever deeper and seen multiple pathways to explore a question and follow the chains of thoughts. The reverse of this is using a citation to trace back to a source and here the power of links is staggering. I’ve had people grading papers ask for my help to track back a citation and when the right one is found, there’s a moment of oh, I see how they got there.

The other side of this story for me is the links of the world of fandom where thanks to the internet creators and fans find new ways to connect and fans are constantly connecting with each other. It’s possible for me to let an author know that I loved their newest book through a tweet and know they received the compliment. I can also find new shows and books thanks to the web of connections of my friends who all have different networks and we touch at many points. We encourage each other to keep looking and searching and make the world smaller. As I’ve learned, you never know what image or music will inspire you or change your day, but I know that on the internet if I find something that touches me, I can find where it began. From that source I can found out how to follow the creator or purchase from them just as a citation shows a teacher how you began. We can’t lose any links in these chains.

A difficult part of this is figuring out which links to present for extra information as there are some incredibly good ones out there. I’m going to link a lot of them.

From Wikipedia, definitions: SOPA, PIPA

From Pajiba.com, one of the best write ups I’ve read: The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act explained with profanity

From Google: Take Action

From WordPress.com: SOPA Strike

Please think on how you connect and trace links and take action.


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Filed under goals and career, links

Patron, Friend or Acquiantance-The complications of intimacy through instant messages

This post is going to be rather more serious than my other ones as I want to talk about the challenges presented by instant messenger formats. Two recent experiences in my professional and personal life have prompted it as my solution for understanding a complex issue is to write about it.

This semester, I am working as an online reference librarian more than an in-person one and the interactions with patrons occur through an instant messaging program. They see me as Ask a Librarian and I see them as a randomly generated number or a screen name if they choose to enter one. A major part of my interaction is to create an conversation and show that there’s a human behind the name, who wants to help them succeed in their research. Recently I had someone try to take advantage of the fact that I am a human by pressing me to give them personal information in the hopes that I would create a non-professional relationship with me. It was done in a creeping manner that made me uncomfortable as mixed in with the boundary pushing questions were valid ones that I tried to answer. It also took advantage of the fact that in a normal exchange, I will discuss what I have researched and my own knowledge if it will help the patron. The instant message system created a false sense of knowing that I diverted by pointing out that I was online in a professional capacity, but the interaction shook me. The main reason it did was it felt like once the other person realized I was a woman, they moved on that more than librarian and even insulted librarians in a bid to get my sympathy. In the end I had to close the conversation in a firm and professional manner, but it reminded me of how the combination of false intimacy and lack of a personal connection makes it easy to hurt someone you can’t see. Comment sections and the harassment of women bloggers shows how this has become a daily part of the internet as pointed out by Mencallmethings on Twitter, warning for harassment and threats.

The second experience was one that occurs from time to time in my roleplaying circle where the majority of out of character conversation happens in instant messages. There’s a main chat room that is open throughout the day and night as players come from a variety of timezones and this allows for a constant conversation. I consider this chat room somewhere between a table in a college dining hall or the break room in an office, people are always moving through, different threads of conversations happen at once and the feel changes a lot depending on who is inside. This chat room is where I’ve created many strong friendships but there are many people who I only speak to in the chat room and consider acquaintances. Outside of the main chatroom, there will be one-on-one sessions and email chains, which deepen friendships. One of the tricky parts of all of this is due to the lack of tone on instant messages, there can be the sense of intimacy on one side but not the other. An example that happens often and happened to me again this week is someone messaging with a link or a quick observation, but without a clear sense of thought to who they’re contacting. In a face-to-face conversation, it’s possible to pick up clues and have a quick laugh over something small and move on. Yet in the world of instant messaging, it’s rude to simply not respond but it can be uncomfortable when it seems as if there’s a presumption of intimacy that doesn’t exist. I find these exchanges confusing as usually they come from someone who I’ve interacted with in chat but not deeply. I try to be a friendly person but at times, another window appearing and saying pay attention to me is tiring. The difficulty is to find ways to set boundaries without destroying acquaintances in the mainly toneless environment of instant messaging.

In both these situations, the main issue is how do you create boundaries in spaces where interaction is fluid and the social cues are different. Online it tends to be a case of choosing who you extend intimacy to and finding the ways to be polite and not rude as you draw a line. Due to my experience of understanding what doesn’t come across well through instant messaging in fandom, I’ve been able to keep the professional line stronger as a reference librarian. For the work interaction, I stated that I was online as a librarian and not in a social capacity and would not continue the dialogue and in time, the person left. I think when talking on an instant messaging platform, Twitter or Facebook is to remember that your intentions don’t come through so you have to be go out of your way to explain what’s behind your words. It makes the internet challenging but also rewarding when true intimacy can be created.


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Last Class Reflection-Librarians Always Educate

At the end of the semester, we looked back over what we’ve done and how it all connects. I think that this course, Professional Practice has been one of the most immediately useful of all my SI courses. Today at America Reads I was putting together another screencast and a series of How To guides for how to use the library program that I found for them. As I was working, I made sure to go back and add in steps that aren’t obvious to me but need to be understood. Professional Practice has really given me the tools to think about how do I in my role as a librarian no matter the setting make sure that I’m helping my patrons get the information they need. Also how do I keep myself up to date and I think that’s such a challenge as the world communicates so quickly now and librarians are very connected. Its so key to know who to ask and where to look to figure out what’s going on, what matters and who to listen to.

I think the aspect that helped me the most were all the various hands-on assignments because they showed me places to start. I know that when someone asks me if I know how to run a book club or a one shot workshop I’ll say yes. If the semester was longer, I would have liked to have time to polish some of the assignments but I feel like I have a start and a good base knowledge.

One of the best lessons I took away was making sure that everyone who might come to your library has a way to learn and feel connected. I think this is one of the trickiest parts of being in the world of public libraries and one of the most important things. Libraries have to be safe and welcoming.


Filed under goals and career, professional practice reflection

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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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.


Filed under professional practice reflection

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:
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.

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.


Filed under professional practice reflection