Archive for June, 2008

A session that rocked!

June 29, 2008

K, this was hands-down the best session I’ve attended so far. “Creating Change: Teacher Librarians and New Learners,” presented by Dr. Jeffrey Liles, an education professor at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. The presentation slides are available here. In a nutshell, Liles discussed a variety of different theories of learning (behaviorialist, cognitive theory, constructivist, connectivism and brain-based learning) and talked about how those theories played out in the classroom. And despite not coming from the library world (or maybe because) he really spoke directly to the experience of library instruction. He got it. He knows and understands the kind of instruction we do and the challenges we face. Moreover, he was a very dynamic and engaging speaker, clearly demonstrating he practices what he preaches.

I was also immediately sympathetic to his approach given that he kicked off with a quote from Parker Palmer’s “The Courage to Teach” (a book actually had the pleasure to work on when I was at J-B). Palmer’s notion of subject-centered teaching is really an excellent approach. And he writes with such sensitivity and understanding of the joys and frustrations of teaching that anyone who has ever stood before a classroom and cared about what they are doing will immediately connect with him.

Liles laid out a number of his assumptions for us and discussed what they mean in practical terms for teaching. i will not replicate them all here, but two things in particular struck a chord with me, and they are related. First, “less is more.” He emphasized the need to resist trying to cover too much material in a class. It is more effective to cover less material and go in depth, than to skim the surface by trying to cover too much. He knows that many faculty members requesting a library instruction session will ask the librarians to cover way too much material, and his advise is to work with that faculty member on paring down the coverage to focus on something more manageable and meaningful. Relatedly was what he coined as the “nature of the experience matters: educative vs. miseducative.” I think he said he got this from John Dewey. Here the basic point is that an educative experience is one in which the learner is motivated to go back for more. They want to learn more about the topic because you’ve done something to ignite that spark in them. If you can design a session that is educative, you will hopefully have students come into the library on their own initiative when they need help because they know that they can learn more from the librarian. And now you have the opportunity to cover more.

The whole session helped me to reflect on our instruction session and what I could do to become a more effective instructor. I certainly want to revisit what I do. For instance, moving forward, I want to do more to really engage the students in the process, beginning a session with asking them how they find information, discussing techniques and tools, having them teach each other and introducing them to resources and strategies new to them. I’m jazzed.

Missed the Direct Democracy session. For whatever reason, it isn’t listed in the conference program and by the time I booted up and found the location on the LPSS website, I discovered it was in the boonies and I had no desire to trek over to see it. So, I squeezed in some coding for my LIBR 240 class and took the opportunity to blog the other session. A little down time in between is good.


Back to the roots

June 29, 2008

Yesterday wrapped up with the presentations on RDA and FRBR. The presentation on FRBR was at a pretty high level of abstraction, which was interesting from an intellectual standpoint, but the fact that it was already 4 in the afternoon sure didn’t help my comprehension. Whether RDA really gets rolled out as early as they say (i.e. early next year), I kind of doubt it.

Ran into the guy who taught my cataloging class last fall. It was nice to reconnect with him. I also wanted to pick his brain about the advanced cataloging class he’s teaching this fall. I’d like to take it, but I’m worried about being over committed, given that I already have instructional design and building online tutorials on my plate. On the other hand, in order to stay on track for Summer 2009 graduation, I will have to take either 3 classes this fall or 3 classes next spring or 2 classes next summer. So, somewhere down the line I have to take on an extra load. Anyway, I’ll just have to email him and continue the conversation, b/c he got pulled off with friends before i could learn more.

this morning i went to the LPSS section committee meetings. Before going into the meeting chatted a while with Robert Labaree from USC. In the meeting, I sat down with the instruction committee. Nice group of folks. They’ve developed a standards document for doing research in political science, and the discussion focused on how to translated that document into a format that is palatable to faculty and which they can take the APSA in Toronto in 2009. The interesting thing for me about it all was a feeling of being very much back in my element, what with my poli sci background. It felt very familiar. So, I think I am going to join ACRL and sign up with the LPSS section and starting getting involved. It’s not really directly connected with what I’m doing at Marymount, but I have such a strong interest and background in it, it make sense to build on that.

We actually laughed a lot during the meeting as well. Which was refreshing. At one point someone quoted Michael Pallin as having said: “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” She said wouldn’t it be great if we could distill I key parts of our lives down to a 5-7 word essential statement. Then we started joking about how that would work for the standards document. Stuff like, “Find information, mostly peer-reviewed, write well.” You had to be there.

I then went to a session advertised as “Energize Your Instruction.” It was entertaining, but it really did not have anything to do with instruction per se. The presenter was a professional sort of self-help coach/speaker and he went through his version of M-B personality scales, reminding everyone to find out who there and figure out how to best work with that and with the personality types of others. Not exactly ground-breaking. But, he was amusing.

had lunch with Mary, where we traded notes on what we’d been to. Also ran into Stephen Klein, the recruiter from the LA county Lib system, Western Division. He’s so funny. Every time I see him, he’s always trying to convince me to go into PL.

Now I’m off to another session called “Creating Change: Teacher Librarians and New Learners” and then probably a session on direct democracy put on by LPSS. One of the speakers at the latter is a guy who got a job I had applied for over two years ago to set up a site called PolicyArchive, a repository of public policy papers coming out of think tanks and academic institutions. Would be interested to talk with him about how that is going.

Plan to end the day at a SLIS reception. All in all, a good day.

Day 2 of ALA

June 28, 2008

Yesterday afternoon I did quickly do the rounds of open houses for RUSA and LITA.  At the latter, spoke to the chair of the Next Generation Catalog section, who is a systems librarian at UCLA.  She was pretty enthusiastic about all kinds of different things she wanted to try out to improve the catalog.

This morning began with the ACRL general session and conference 101 stuff.  there I ran into a guy I met last year who had applied for the Instruction/Ref job at MM.  In the event, he’s ended up in Lake Charles, LA and what sounds like a nice position.  At the end of the session, i spoke briefly with someone from the Law and Political Science Section.  I’m interested in looking more into that section.  I mean, I’ve got the background, so i might as well capitalize on it.  Basically, I’ve got to finally decide which section/division I really want to get involved in and just jump in.  The problem is, there are so many areas I’m interested in that it is hard to decide.

Next I went to hear about Koha, and open source ILS.  Regrettably, this was off at a hotel some distance away from the convention center, and the walk over was rather uncomfortable (a little hot and even a bit humind; note to self: get more comfortable shoes!).  Anyway, I don’t know if Koha is really right for us, but I should would like to play with it some and see what I can learn.  the  presenter was from a company called Liblime, which provides support for libraries wanting to implement Koha.  Some links: (podcast of the session, I believe).

The key to migrating to Koha appears to be getting your data into a standards compliant format.

some libraries who have implemented Koha to check out:

Florida Southern Libraries (group of academic libraries)

Waldo Consortium (academic libraries in NY)

Not clear that Koha would actually save much money, if any, if you have to contract out all of the development support.  But, if the cost is equal to what we have, it looks like a nicer, more robust ILS all around.

took the shuttle back to the convention center for an EBSCO presentation/lunch featuring their new interface.  Looks nice.  Food was okay, but the veggie option was pretty weak.  Met any interesting pair of siblings who were originally from Malawi, but now live on the east coast.  They were shocked when to learn I knew where Malawi is.

From there I went to a session on Developing Cultural Competency.  I thought it was going to be about cultural competencies in terms of interactions with patrons, but as it turns out, while that was part of it, it seemed the bigger focus was internally, i.e. on developing a cultural competent workforce.  It was interesting and I would like to get more into.  Lots to think about in terms of understanding where everyone is coming from and what they have to contribute.  One presenter noted that the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has well developed cultural competency standards, and the suggestion was that ALA/ACRL should do the same.  Still, I did end up leaving before the end as it was a four hour session and conflicted with other sessions i wanted to attend.

Now I’m off to learn about RDA and FRBR.

Working for the Feds

June 27, 2008

So, after an extended hiatus, I’m ready to start contributing to this blog again. Having finished the 23 Things program, my focus now switches to general library issues and my own professional development. To kick things off, I’m attending the ALA conference in Anaheim this weekend. It’s a big conference with over 10,000 librarians coming in from all over the country and the world. Closest thing I’ve been to that approximates those kinds of numbers is the APSA (American Political Science Association) conference I went to back in 1996 (I think), but that was more like half that number.

Anyway, I’m starting the conference by attending an all day workshop on careers in federal libraries. My focus from the start has always been academic librarianship, but I do want to keep my options open, so I figured this session couldn’t hurt. The big take-away from the session so far (we’re in the lunch break) is to be patient with the whole application process. Very bureaucratic and very slow. It’s the federal government; did anyone expect anything else? What else? Was interested to learn that librarians working for the foreign service (aka Information Resource Officers) do not have to take the foreign service exam, as they enter the foreign service as so-called “specialists” rather than “generalists”. But, like other foreign service officers, they are expected to rotate from post to post around the world every few years. Exciting if you don’t have kids. Not so exciting if you do.

Couple of job-hunting pointers: (search librarians, technical information specialist, records management; series# 1410, 1411, 1412, 2210) (Foreign Service/State Dept. jobs)

Check agency specific websites

Check with local HR offices of federal agencies; some jobs posted locally, not in national websites. (list of internships at federal libraries)

Okay, that’s all for now. The rest of the day looks to be devoted to resume review and other job-hunting advice. Later, I’ll check out some the conference intro sessions, the general one (NMRT), the techies (LITA), and reference (RUSA).