LIS blogs galore!

I want to first state that for this assignment I had a difficult time narrowing my choice down four bloggers.  There are so many perspectives that I want to follow.  So, currently I have a long list of blogs in my RSS feed.

However, I did narrow it down to four:  What I Learned Today, Swiss Army Librarian, Tame the Web, and In the Library with a Lead Pipe.  I follow these more closely than that others in order to write this post.  I choose these four because of the variety that they collectively represent.

What I Learned Today

This is an interesting blog written by Nicole C. Engard, Director of Open Source Education at ByWater Solutions.  The reason that I chose this blog to follow is its attention to technology in regard to libraries and education, playing particular attention to open source software.  This is an area that I want to learn more about, but haven’t yet because I don’t know where to start.  I have found this blog to be helpful in this department.  Throughout the month or so that I have been following this blog, she has been posting her bookmarks, some more relevant than others.  They can cover a variety of issues from an app to get good hotel deals to an online resource to manage and reserve rooms.  This is a great blog for browsing since she posts regularly and often they are short bursts of information.  What I liked was the related posts link at the bottom that will led me to many Internet worm holes or related materials.

In the Library with a Lead Pipe

This is a collaborative blog with information professionals from different backgrounds.  They take submissions for blog entries and have an editorial board listed.  First of all, I love the name of this blog.  It is very visual and humorous.  The blog itself is pretty academic in nature with fairly long posts.  Due to this, it seems that they don’t have many posts per month.  Since I’ve started following there have only been two posts, one about emotional intelligence and another about students as stakeholders in academic libraries.  The quality definitely outweighs the quantity.  With this blog, I have to sit down in a quiet place for an hour in order to fully concentrate on it.

Swiss Army LIbrarian

This blog is maintained by Brian Herzog a public reference librarian in Massachusetts.  I chose this blog because I am interested in working in public librarianship in some capacity.  A nice feature of this blog is his “Reference Question of the Week” which is pulled from his experience and he documents the way he went about to solve the questions.  This is really helpful to me because I have yet to actually work in reference, so it provides practical steps and thinking on how real librarians tackle information issues.  Some of his other posts cover some of the ins and outs of work in public libraries, like building eye catching displays or changes in policy and how it is implemented.  I like this blog for the practicality and its insider view into the library.  He also writes in a relate-able way.

Tame the Web

This is another technology blog that I chose to follow.  This one is primarily written by Dr. Michael Stephens an Associate Professor of LIS at San Jose University.  His focus is on emerging technologies in libraries, so this goes along well with What I Learned Today. As mentioned above I am interested in the technology side of LIS because it is all so new to me and I want to push myself into that area.  There are other occasional contributors and guest writers as well.  In this blog, they have current news, such as the Edwin Mellen Press v. Dale Askey case.  In fact, this was the place where I first heard of the case before it seemed to be everywhere on the Information Professional corner of the web.  In addition, he covers a lot of news regarding online teaching awards and different conferences.  Since this is a new side of LIS for me, I think that Tame the Web is a good sneak peak into that life.

Some of the trends that I noticed within these three blogs are the importance placed on teaching and technology.  A number of blogs are centered around these topics as well as how emerging and open-source technology play a role in the information field.  In addition, there is a powerful thread that runs through all four about the power of information and the right that we have to use some technology (such as blogs) for expressing our thoughts and opinions freely.  This may be why the Askey case has caught the LIS world by storm and scared so many folks.

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Musings on Class 2/11/2013

I never gave much thought to surveys before.  They’ve always seemed like an ineffective or forced way to get feedback, but in light of a better way to hear from the participants, they are necessary.  So, I usually fill them out.  In fact, it is difficult for me to say ‘no’ to filling out any survey.

So, I found the discussion in class about surveys and all the thought that goes into creating an effective survey really interesting.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, however I was, by how much thought and consideration went into the creation of surveys.  I was particularly fascinated by the different types of questions that draw on the different types of learning or knowledge from the workshop/lecture/discussion.  Previously, I thought it was more about the format of the question rather than the knowledge one needed to complete it.  Now that I am aware of it, I see it in many of the surveys that I have completed and it makes total sense to me why one would do that.

In addition, I think that it is pretty savvy to not give a ‘neutral’ choice in the answer spectrum so that you force participants to give an answer.  However, I have always been irritated in giving tight one word answers to questions that I see as being very detailed.  It is one of the reasons that I have avoided doing the political phone surveys.  The answers are so much more complex than ‘satisfied’ or ‘dissatisfied.’  In that sense, the survey seems skewed in its origins, so what good is it to administer that sort of survey?  The cynic in me can think of many different reasons they would do this.

But this is a different sort of beast than I will be administering in workshops of the future.  So, the lesson that I want to take away from this discussion is to be cognizant of result that I want and match the format of the survey to that.  It may take a process of trial and error before I can effectively create that survey, but I am OK with that.  I look forward to the challenge.

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Monday Evening Post #2

In class we discussed (in small groups and as a whole) many aspects to information literacy and the general confusing nature of definitions that surround the different literacies.  As usual in my classes, I am in awe of my classmates.  So many thoughtful responses and useful life experiences.  The point about having students choose relevant research projects was particularly poignant.  The projects that I found the most stimulating and interesting (and that I still remember) are the ones where I got to choose the topic.

Another aspect of our conversation is how libraries need to be a part of the larger instructional arc, not just the initial research aspect.  This is something that I really would like to address in my future career.  I see libraries as being so many things for their communities and dislike being pigeonholed as merely a place to start research.  It excites me when I see programming in our local library that addresses different aspects of community needs and instruction.  For example, the Ypsilanti District Libraries’ Reskilling Series that addresses different skill sets that the community may be interested in.  Next week, they will be hosting a beekeeping workshop.  The idea that the library could host classes or workshops put on by various community members is really interesting and exciting.

The possibilities are endless!

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Formative Assessment and How People Learn

The article by D. Royce Sadler, “Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems” delves deeper into an issue brought up in previous posts and SI643 classes, expertise.   Sadler tries to understand the disconnect in some students from accurate feedback and actual improvement of skills thereby leading to a student’s deeper knowledge.  The hope is that this deeper knowledge will one day lead to expertise in a given field.

Sadler believes that the disconnect is tied to the difficulty in assessing products in a simple +/- matrix.  Many student projects are multifaceted and therefor cannot be assessed as either correct/incorrect.  This then leads to human judgement for assessment and expectations which may have not been properly explained prior to the submission.  Or, if expressed students focus so intently on the criteria that it leads to a poor performance.  So, students may not understand what is expected and they may not have the ability to properly self-assess their project against the standards, what Sadler calls multicriterion judgements.

I was particularly intrigued by Sadler’s idea of the transference of responsibility in making evaluative decisions from teacher to learner when students are expected to evaluate themselves (135).  I think that this a really strong idea.  I believe that when learners are given more responsibility they typically perform better and retain the information longer.  In addition, you are your own harshest judge because you know just to what extent you tried and pushed yourself.  However, this could pose a problem for students that have unrealistic expectations and anxieties.  This mode of learning could also pose problems for students from cultures where active partnered learning with self-critiquing assessment is largely unheard of.  While this may be challenging for the teacher and the students who are unfamiliar with these concepts, for this reason it could be the most beneficial.

So, how does this information translate into the work that I will be doing at public libraries?  How can I use formative assessment in library programming?  I immediately think of the short story from Chapter Seven in “How People Learn” where the authors describe the curriculum building and evaluation in Barb Johnson’s middle school classroom.  After the students answer two questions ‘What questions do you have about yourself?’ and ‘What questions do you have about the world?’, Johnson uses their collectively prioritized answers to build/guide the term’s curriculum.  Then students are asked to participate in discussing the most compelling issues, ways to explore the issues and then they start their ‘learning journey.'(156-7)  Toward the end of their journey the students are then asked to evaluate their experience through the lens of academic subjects, which subjects were touched on and in what way.  This draws the students’ attention to the subject and in a way their performance.  Having students as active members in the learning journey is an awesome experience.  In theory it could give them a greater respect for the planning process while also making them conscious of learning in general.  And what I think is the best reason for doing it, making learning fun and relevant to their needs.

I want to be more like Barb Johnson and am eager to get to that place of expertise, but am not there yet.  Time and experience are needed before I have mastered those types of knowledge (subject, psychological, and pedagogical).  I think that this method of teaching has many exciting applications for people of all ages.  It empowers them in their information journey while also making them aware of where they are going in the process.

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Mulitmodal Literacy and Week 3 lecture

In day-to-day discussion, literacy is typically placed into a category of recognizing written language, comprehension and application.  However, once a person begins the long journey into academic papers regarding literacy, this topic ceases to be so cut and dry especially when a descriptor gets tagged to the front of literacy.  I had some experience with this in my undergraduate when I studied media literacy.  Due to this background in another form of literacy, I wanted to see how (or if) the literature cover an intersection between information and media literacy.

Think Global, Act Local: Expanding the Agenda for Media Literacy Education in the United States” by Vanessa Domine was the first article with which I started my search.  In this article, Domine wants to connect the global push for information literacy to the US’s drive to incorporate media literacy into American education system.  Through this connection she wants to show that these two areas do not need to compete for educational funding, but rather should be something that is cooperatively funded. She highlights the common area that information and media literacy (as defined by multiple organizations such as ALA, UNESCO, and the US government) occupy like evaluating and using information.  In addition, both stress the importance of asking critical questions.  She argues that “information and media literacies are members of the same family rather than competitors.” (443)  Some aspects of the article that I found thought provoking was the idea that the US government seems to be reacting to trends in the world and technology rather than being proactive in preparing future generations.  A good example of this was the recent addendum by the FCC to approve changes in funding that allow schools to provide Internet access to the community outside classroom hours (446).  This realization that students might need access to Internet and technology outside of the classroom seems rather obvious. 
I also agree with Domine’s insistence on how intertwined media literacy and information literacy are in today’s world.  Users that are able to critically question the medium and the content will be more prepared to act as global citizens.

This idea of the inter-connectivity between media and information literacy is don’t Domine’s idea alone.  In “The Media and the Literacies: Media Literacy, Information Literacy, Digital Literacy” by Tibor Koltay, this idea is explored with further depth.  He believes that due to the changes in how our world displays, disseminates, and uses information users need to be able to employ a multitude of literacy skills. In addition, Koltay believes that there is not a single literacy that supplies every user with the skills for lifelong learning, so we should be preparing users by educating them in a multimodal literacy.

“The virtual world that produces this information does not sit ‘out there’, but invades the ‘real’ world.  What is digital, nonetheless, is subject to human agency and to human understanding.  Technology is just a tool, which does not determine how we mush act.” (1)

Something that struck me about Koltay’s article was just how many different definitions of the different literacies exist.  He spends a good portion of the article showing the how different organizations (such as European Commission and the Ontario AML) define one type of literacy (e.g. media literacy).  it is no wonder we cannot agree on how to teach media literacy if we cannot even agree on what it is.

The last article that I read was danah boyd’s “Streams of Content, Limited Attention:  the Flow of Information through Social Media.”  In this article, boyd makes a strong argument for a mixed method of literacy education by using the metaphor of a stream or river of information.  If we do not prepare ourselves and our children for this “flow” of information we will become overwhelmed, tuned out, or left-behind.

“The goals is not to be a passive consumer of information or to simply tune in when the time is right, but rather to be attentive to the world where information is everywhere.  To be peripherally aware of information as it flows by, grabbing it at the right moment when it is most relevant, valuable, entertaining, or insightful.  To be living with, in, and around information.” (28)

I really enjoyed this metaphor and think that it works well with how information works today.  Boyd argues that today we are in an era of networked  media, this network feeds the river with constant news, stories, or references.  Throughout time people were willing to share their stories or their point of view, and now we have platforms for more to share.  However, now we have a limited amount of attention/time that we can give to the greater number of stories while maintaining their context.

“The future of Web 2.0 is about streams of content.  If we want to help people we need to help them be attentively aligned–‘in flow’–with these information streams.” (36)


Musings on Class

I enjoyed watching screencasts on YouTube and trying to discern the characteristics that made for effective & enjoyable ones versus ones that we did not connect with or were just plain rotten.  I felt that this was a fantastic way of learning the basics of the production side of screencasts.  Much better than getting a list of Do’s and Don’ts.  In addition, it raised some good questions for us to consider before starting on our own screencasts.  I hope that I was able to implement them in my own version.


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ImageThe “Creating the One-Shot Library Workshop” was an interesting read.  I have had some experience creating something similar to a workshop, but the method behind it wasn’t as thoughtful as presented in this book.  It usually involved hours sitting at a desk by myself browsing the Internet for sample work.  I like the idea of using Instructional Design to create a workshop.  The structure of the process (Analysis, Design, Development, Implement and Evaluate) speak to me.  Although group work is not for everyone, I enjoy doing it and getting feedback.  The result usually seems stronger than anything that I could have produced on my own.  However, I wonder what is the likelihood of getting a (consistent) group together to create a workshop.  In my experience, people are stretched pretty thin and might not want to do extra work.  Especially when it comes to teaching!  However, maybe this weeds out the fainthearted, leaving only the strong-willed who would be excellent group members.

I was impressed by all the different processes for design.  Allowing for different mehtods of creation will appeal to a wider group of people.  I like the idea of working individually with a sounding board.

After reading Patrick Griffis’ “Building Pathfinders with Free Screen Capture Tools” I was excited to try out making a screen capture, but I wasn’t sure what I would do.  Then I instantly thought of my mom. She calls me quite often with questions on how do various tasks on the computer.  She is fairly new to computers and is struggling with translating her  offline skills to the digital world, like writing an email.  So, I thought that I could make her a screen cast of a computer skill, like how to write an email.  I could then use her as a sounding board for how well the screen cast worked.  I know that she will be share her thoughts honestly and it would fill a real-world need.  However, this wouldn’t work well for hardware issues like when she can’t figure out why her volume isn’t working even though the speakers are on and turned all the way up.


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Monday Evening Post

So we have finished one session of class and I am looking forward to the rest.  Since we didn’t have any assigned readings for the MLK holiday, this post is mainly just highlighting and expanding on some ideas from class that I thought were interesting.

In general, I found the general class environment to be thoughtful, warm and humorous.  It has the potential to foster an environment where students feel at ease to share their opinions/thoughts/concerns.

I was really impressed by the concept of Drexel University’s personal librarian for every incoming freshman.  It is a such a great idea that I am surprised more universities are not employing.  I think that this would have made such a positive impact on my undergraduate experience.  I was never taught how to research online resources; it was just a matter of trial and error.  There was lots of error.  Had it not been for the help of my advisers recommending resources, I question whether I would have been able to finish my thesis.  The guidance of a trained professional teaching me how to do the research would have been amazing.  In addition, it would have brought light to all the different resources that our library had.  I remember my final semester at university when I discovered our library had LPs that you could listen to in private booths and wishing I had known about that a lot sooner.

Another aspect of lecture that I was intrigued by was the brief Melville Dewey tidbits.  Such an influential guy whose name gets tossed around as an aspect of tedious librarianship has a vast impact on the underlying impact of the library.  I feel very inspired by the idea of libraries fulfilling a democratic mission in the community; this idea is what drew me back to the United States to get my degree in LIS.  It is so powerful, but I think that it is taken for granted by the general public.  From my observations and conversations with people outside the LIS world, the library is just another institution that has been around forever.  Rarely do people outside LIS lose sleep over the future of the library, but I hate to think of what that day will look like.  I mean this is a place that gives you free access to materials and information FOR FREE.   That is an awesome concept that I am willing to work my life to protect.  Now if we can just get the library open during bar hours.

To end I want to share a short story my husband experienced this week at our library.  So, The other day he was in line at the local branch of our district library.  The person in front of him was trying to open a new account.  All her paperwork was ready but the person at circulation was having some issues.  The computer was saying that she already had an account from a few years ago.  The old account had over 40 books checked out.  The patron stated plainly that yes this was her account, but it was old and she didn’t use it anymore.  She wanted a new one.  The person at circulation explained that they couldn’t give her a new account because of all the fines.   To which she replied that she returned the books albeit a few years late, but that they should be on the shelf.  So, the fines are on them (the library).  After much discussion the woman walked away with two pages of missing titles to look for at home, while the library was to check the shelves for the titles.  I am not sure how this ties in with anything that I have talked about, but I do know that the people who work at the library are capable of good work and that makes me excited to work there.

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Thoughts on the First Week’s Reading

I am excited to be starting a new semester with a new group of classes.  This will also be the first blog that I have ever had (not counting a failed food blog way way back which lasted for a total of 3 posts).

After doing the readings this week (chapter 1 & 2 of How People Learn) and looking over the ALA Core Competencies, I am caught on an idea that as people we still haven’t nailed down some seemingly basic concepts of human-ness, such as how people learn.  Considering how much and for how long our civilizations have emphasized education and learning, it is funny that we don’t quite understand how humans learn and what is happening during the moments when they are utilizing their knowledge.

I enjoyed reading the chapters and during which often thought about my years teaching (in tutoring centers and cram schools) and the difference in my instruction throughout the eight years.  When I first started I had no formal education training; I had been just been a student for the majority of my life.  I was definitely a novice and struggled to find ways to teach ideas in meaningful ways.  The Hamlet example in the book struck a chord because the first teacher’s enthusiasm and understanding didn’t translate well to his students.  This was something I struggled to convey to my students (particularly my high schoolers).  Time and time again, I would excitedly come up with an idea to teach what I thought were important ideas in current events or social justice, only to fall short in practice.  Yet as I continued to teach and get feedback from students, instructors, and co-workers; I started to see patterns in teaching and learning.  This helped me become a stronger teacher, however I still think that I am a novice.  I would like to be a better teacher even if I never step foot in front of a proper classroom again.  I know that I will be engaging in some form of teaching, whether formally or informally and I want it to be meaningful.

One last thing that has wiggled its way into my brain is the breadth of the ALA’s Core Competencies.  I hope to be able to employ them (live up to them) at any point in my career, let alone when I graduate from this program.  They are some pretty lofty goals.

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In Process

In Process

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