Monday, May 5, 2008


I ran across a podcast at the Learning Times Network entitled "Designing instruction to get your students involved: doing it successfully in one class session" that sounded ever so relevant to me and the teaching opportunities I have as a librarian. The speaker Maryellen Weimer was very easy to understand but most of what she said was the refrain I constantly hear and read: Actively engage the students while making your presentation relevant. While great advice it did not shatter my preconceptions nor will it dramatically change the format of our already well designed presentations.

Fortunately , however, I did not tune out because toward the end of this familiar refrain she said
something that struck me and caused pause. I must share my passion for information, for the library, with these students if I want anything I say to stick.

As a librarian in a classroom I need to stay fresh no matter how many sessions I give on Academic Search Premier. I have to stay fresh because information is new, exciting, useful, and relevant. I have to stay fresh because if I fail to intrigue these students I am doing them a great disservice. I am leading them to believe that information is merely information rather that the powerful tool that is really is.

In an effort to avoid the pre-class ennui I need to remind myself of the privilege I have; the privilege of introducing these students to the tools and behaviors that will help them in their class and in their larger dealings everyday for the rest of their lives.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Last Friday the 25th of April I had the opportunity to attend the Academic and Research Libraries Division Day and hear Erin Walsh speak to brain development in the under 25 age group. Ms. Walsh was an extremely engaging speaker and offered some valuable advice in regards to "teaching" and reaching the students with whom we have the privilege of coming into contact.

For the sake of brevity I will summarize her speech: students under the age of 25 have still not reached a stage of full brain development, which means not only is there a huge window of opportunity BUT there are also a wide range of challenges facing educators. See Inside the teenage brain: Adolescent Brains are a work in progress or Why do they act that way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen for a more developed discussion.
Effectively reaching these students means tailoring our teaching to their needs. Some of the most easily incorporated teaching habits include:
*providing clear and consistent expectations
*avoiding broad generalizations (avoid saying something like "you will never find what you need searching "Google". You've just lost them because no they are thinking of all the times they have found exactly what they need doing just that!)
*model positive behaviors towards searching and retrieving information
*be graceful, let's be honest, Facebook is just more interesting them Academic Search Premier!
Grant it most of these should be common sense tools for everyday social and professional interaction, but it is always good for me to remember that these behaviors and my conscious choices do make a difference. It is my goal to all that I can to help the students with whom I have the opportunity to work better navigate today's exploding information landscape.

All that said, I ran across an interesting article this week that speaks to the same brain development vein with less than encouraging predications. In Is technology ruining children? we read Susan Greenfield's warning to the generations. In essence, the excess amount of time and energy spent in the virtual, two-dimensional realm of cyberspace children are loosing (read not developing within their brains) the ability to imagine and act out of an understanding. Author John Cromwell advises "all involved in parenting and education should pay heed." What I am supposed to do I am not quite sure yet. But it is definitely a train of thought that deserves exploration...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


After any interaction with a discovery tool that I particularly enjoyed using I cannot help but to ask myself whether I liked the experience's because I am a librarian who enjoys the search or if I liked it because it was a tool that helped me discover a resource I sought. This was the case with Aquabrowser.

After reading Aquabrowser: Search and information discovery for libraries found in Information Services and Use 27 (2007) 79-83, I was looking forward to playing with a tool the authors claimed would help me "find words for what [I] need, refine the available information, and offer connections to associated worlds of information."

One thing I really wanted to like (but couldn't) was the word web on the right side of the screen that was supposed to help me "discover" new veins of thought. As much as I like the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus and encourage its use of the 5 searches I performed only one (starting with the broad term 'cooking') was positively information by the floating associations provided.

What I most appreciated about Aquabrowser was its ability to limit format and subject. I liked the fact that subject headings (something I wish all of our students cared more to consider) were brought to a place of higher prominence.

All said, I would be interested in hearing how searches react to the numerous visual cues on a site that struck me as very information "full" and visually busy. Perhaps it is familiarity, but I still lean towards Worldcat when considering presentation and positive experience.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

WorldCat Local

As are so many other libraries in today's information laden environment the consortium the library I work in is exploring new means of discovering and delivering information. As part of the process we are all invited to read articles or view other media that elaborates on the qualities of some of the larger players in the discussion.

Today I looked over OCLC’s WorldCat Local: A Promising Development for Library Patrons by Barbara Quint. It is an older article and didn't necessarily break open any new concept or idea for me, but it did give me the opportunity to think about WorldCat, play around on the University of Washington's site, and revel in the enjoyment of searching and browsing and refining and reviewing...

I realize I am a librarian so I understand that searching excites me in a way most others do not experience. I understand that I think about and search for information differently than most other "professionals," but I am really interested in knowing, from a user's perspective, what is not to love about this interface! Grant it I can see technical problems including Inter library loan, etc.... but when I think about the patron I can't help but believe this is a better experience than what I currently ask them to use. But would a patron be as excited about the faceted searching and the ability to read reviews and preview as I am?! I would sure think so!

Unfortunately the use of WorldCat Local is still new to the academic setting and aside from Next Generation Library Catalogs: Jennifer Ward/ WorldCat Local there is little to be said. It is, however, an encouraging, user centered advancement in a more streamlined approach to information discovery.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thing Twenty Two, Keeping in the Habit....

This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to get into the habit of spending time on professional reading and reflection. I will most definitely continue the use of Bloglines in order to remain "in touch" with the current library world and will make it a point to blog once a week to keep myself fresh and thinking. Any extra blogging I will consider a bonus!

In addition, I will make it a point to seek out a podcast or webinar for a once a month, more intensive look at areas of interest. Kudos to 23 Things for getting me in gear, now I need to maintain the habit. (WISH ME LUCK!)

Thing Twenty Three, Finish Line

Whoopie! Survey finished.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Thing Twenty One, Other Social Networks

I don't consider myself a particularly "social" individual but I am a member of GoodReads (as I have mentioned before) and very much appreciate the community in this network. It is appealing because I am very much a reader and am very much interested in what others are reading. It is the perfect sharing environment while also helping me keep track of what I have and want to read. But as with any social network it is only exciting if the community is spot on to what excites you... I have to admit that Fuzzster is one of the last places you would find me on-line.

Really, even though I am a member of both Facebook and Good Reads I must admit that I most appreciated My Guide to Social Networks by Louderback. While there are definitely sites that take a more serious spin on networking, the majority of socializing I am familiar with and which I witness runs a bit more on the fickle, frivolous side......