Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Georgia Wednesday Webinars

One of the many great things about my Georgia COMO trip was meeting new people and expanding my professional network. Thanks to fostering new relationships, two free webinars hosted by the Georgia Library Association and the Georgia Public Library Service were on my radar: "Open Source Software in Georgia Libraries" by Jason Puckett and "How Ebooks, File Types and DRM Affect your Library" by Brian Hulsey.

Jason gave a great overview of open source software types and how they are useful for libraries. I was fortunate enough to ask him which resources we should be teaching students and faculty to use. Jason's first recommendation was Zotero, the open-source reference manager. He's also writing a book on Zotero to be published in the spring by ACRL. Other suggestions include LibX, Audacity, and OpenOffice.

Brian's presentation is was on a very timely topic. Unfortunately, I was interrupted several times so I did not view the content for the entire session. I do know questions were asked regarding support for multiple device platforms and challenges for lending. Good stuff!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Library instruction my way

Over the past two weeks my reference librarian, Rachel, and I have been talking a lot about library instruction. Last week I observed her teach two classes, and this week she observed me teach two classes. All the classes were the general English composition course, English 015. Her teaching had not been observed by a librarian. After teaching her first session Rachel was eager to get my feedback. It was funny because suddenly I was the one being put on the spot! It was great how enthusiastic she was for my feedback. It was a rewarding piece of my new job I had not thought about.

With regard to content covered, she'd mentioned several times before my observation and then after how she felt a little pressured to cover as much about the library as possible. Reading this post today reminded me a bit of that part of our conversation. I completely understand where my reference librarian and other librarians are coming from. I've been there. Earlier in my career I felt like I had to tell people as much about the library as possible. This was my one and only chance to wow them with why the library was so awesome that they would keep coming back. Information overload and point of need? Totally lost on me, and frankly on many of us providing library instruction during that time. Fortunately several somethings happened. I attended a series of teaching workshops on campus, I participated in ACRL Immersion, and I built up a clientele of repeat faculty to work with on fine-tuning my lesson planning. I decided to try different things. Oh, and I took my ego out of it and reconceptualized my worth to the class in a different way. By this mean I mean I stopped worrying if students were playing solitaire/completing online tax forms/sleeping and focused on being a guest faculty member as a regular component of the course well versed in their assignment and offering thoughtful strategies. My value and the libraries' value would be evident.

Rachel was really interested in how I actually taught based on our conversations. I found that after she observed my first class I too was interested in feedback. She pointed out a number of things I do that she liked. Funny thing is they're so automatic now after 13 years of teaching I don't necessarily realize I'm doing them. One thing she mentioned was how much she liked my use of the word "we" when brainstorming or doing sample searches. To her this meant I emphasize that the students must take an active role in the research process and have responsibility for developing the topic, identifying the resources, and evaluating the information. The way I accomplish this is probably very different, but it's information literacy. I think I'm in line with the blog post mentioned earlier.

She also asked a great question about how I tell users to get to a few of our resources. Our redesigned website launched shortly before this semester began and I honestly was not sure how I would teach classes in this new look. Before observing her class I told her I was very interested in how she was going to teach from the site because I was not sure where to begin. Between the two instruction sessions my approach to getting to our online catalog changed. I guess that I learned and adjusted quickly between the two classes how I wanted to teach from our site. We agreed after talking it though that the reason I accessed the catalog in the way I did was driven by the goals of the assignment. It took me a while to articulate that, but after talking it through it made sense to both of us why I did it.

I have an awesome job.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One night in happy valley

The last work-related trip I had scheduled for the year is for the Penn State Commonwealth Campus Libraries fall meeting. We met November 9-10 at the University Park campus, where I worked for about fifteen months.

For many this was their first opportunity to meet our new dean, Barbara Dewey, in person. I had the pleasure of meeting her back in August during my interview. Highlights from the agenda included an update on the Google Books Project a lightning round presentation on Source Evaluation and Citation Feedback, and an update from the Collections Mobility Task Force. For the Source Evaluation and Citation Feedback, Jennifer Gilley (head librarian, New Kensington) evaluated the proposed works cited pages for students in two courses. She provided feedback on the sources selected and the MLA citation style. She's found this process to be useful in understanding how undergraduates in certain courses select their references. She adjusted her approach to providing library instruction for these courses based on the types of sources the students use. I learned a lot from her project. It also reminded me it's important and okay to try new things and take risks.

I was also introduced as the new head librarian at Greater Allegheny. It was really humbling to hear the enthusiastic applause of my colleagues and be congratulated over and over.

Something a little different was the Digital Libraries Technologies and Information Technologies Open House. We were able to tour their space in Paterno Library. They also had party favors, pictured below. As they were handing out the drives, the first thing I thought of was this libraryman photo. It inspired mine.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Collection assessment and diversity published

My article with Matthew Ciszek has been published in the latest issue of Collection
Building. "This paper aims to examine the methods of diversity-related collection assessment useful for large academic libraries." It's based on a task force I chaired at Penn State in 2007-2008 and presentation at the KLA/SELA/ARL Diversity In Libraries Conference, "Measuring Diversity in Collection Development: Strategies for the New Millennium".

Matthew P. Ciszek and Courtney L. Young, (2010) "Diversity Collection Assessment in Large Academic Libraries", Collection Building, Vol. 29 Iss: 4, pp.154 - 161.