Monthly Archives: March 2012

SI 643 Reflections on readings week 10

This week’s readings are mainly focused on the changed role of librarians in academic library environment. In particular, authors focus on embedded librarianship which is “a unique platform where the librarian can adopt new online technologies in order to be actively involved in a course and complement instruction”(Montgomery, 2010). Considering that people are less likely to visit library facilities to search physical collections but the needs for library resources are increasing over time, librarian’s ability to use technology (such as conducting online webinar, using emails, IM service, and social networking services) cannot be stressed enough.

Although librarians are well aware of the increasing necessity of online service, we also know that online reference service makes it difficult for librarians to conduct appropriate reference service in serving to patrons’ real interests: that is, librarians cannot observe a patron’s body language and face expression so they may not know whether she is satisfied with reference service. Thus, to overcome such limitation of online service, a library can try to increase the number of embedded librarians who are paired with a college and ideally occupy a permanent physical space within a academic department. As Matos et al. (2010) note, however, the availability of embedded librarians in person may not be always possible due to space limitation. Then, using new technology such as webinar tailored to the information needs of students can be one of supplementary services to in-depth reference service. In webinar, librarians can demonstrate how to access and search the library’s resources to students by sharing their computer screen with student through online. Additional features such as “chat” also make students feel like they are being served by librarians in person by asking questions and getting a response instantly.

However, we should keep in mind the limitation of new technology such as interactive webinar. For instance, while an instructor teach a workshop alone, she may not be able to monitor what is going on a chat window at the same time. So at least two instructors need to collaborate together with one as a moderator and the other a main instructor. Another example would be that unlike a physical seminar, a webinar is done online which means participants may be in different time zones. So instructors of webinars should make clear the time of their webinars. Last month I had a plan to attend a webinar which would introduce new online LMS (learning management system), but I could not make it and ended up watching a recorded version. It said it would start at 3 pm but it turned out they meant 3 pm PST. All in all, webinars certainly increase interactivity, but more careful preparation regarding instruction on “how-to-participate” should be done.


Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


SI 643 Reflection on class week 9: One Shot Workshop

Last week we participated in one-shot workshops with our colleagues. I delighted to see how our colleagues effectively provided interesting information to participants. I learned the following from  my colleagues’ workshops.

First, open-ended presentations are more effective in dealing with serious issues. Two groups of our team dealt with sensitive issues of library world: getting rid of dewey classification and owning e-books. Instead of lecturing on the issues, presenters introduced them briefly and then asked us to discuss them. When participants are familiar with and have serious interests on issues, open-ended questions and free discussion can help participants better express and discuss a variety of opinions on them.

In addition, preparing handouts containing detailed information on issues gives participants a chance to explore them on their own. Some cognitive psychologists point out (for example, deWinstablye and Bjok, 2002) that divided attention by provision of multiple visual and verbal stimulus may leave students with a subsequent sense of familiarity, or feeling of knowing, or perceptual facilitation for the presented material but without the concomitant ability to recall or recognize the material on a direct test of memory. As a result, students tend to overestimate what they know and how much they learn. More importantly, people misjudge what they need to learn further. In this sense, handouts can be a pivotal tools for effective learning because they  will refresh participants’ memories on the contents of the workshop and also provide an instruction on how and where they find more information on the topic.

In our workshop, we showed that joining ALA can be a good tool in developing participants’ professor career. When developed the workshop, we decided to focus on the information about ALA that new participants would be most interested in. So I researched all of 19 roundtables in ALA but covered only three roundtables in our workshop due to time limit. It seems many students were satisfied with our presentation in the workshop, but some told me what ALA roundtables are wasn’t still clear to them (e.g. Are roundtables part of official events of ALA or unofficial gathering of librarians?) and wanted to know more about regional roundtables. So if I have another opportunity to teach a workshop, I would conduct a quick indoor survey about which roundtables seem most interesting to SI students before a workshop and focus on just several workshops that students find most useful. That way we would be able to provide more detailed and helpful information on ALA workshops.

deWinstanley, Patricia and Bjork, Robert (2002). Successful Lecturing:presenting Information in Ways That Engage Effective Processing, New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no.89,Spring 2002 , pp.19-30.

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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


SI 643 Reflection of Week 8 Class and Preparation of Workshop

Last week (Class week #8) we had a chance to discuss about current conflict between libraries and publishers. In particular, Random House’s recent decision to increase e-book prices made us think how librarians can manage the collection development of e-books with a library’s limited budget. I certainly did not agree with an argument that a library must purchase e-books whenever there is a request of purchase of e-books from a small amount of patrons who own an e-book reader no matter how much they would cost. One of my classes last semester was about the topic of library management, and I learned that many libraries (and especially public libraries) were struggling to balance the necessary collection development and tight budgets under recent long-term economic recession. It means that how many e-books should be purchased and which e-book (e.g. fiction or non-fiction) collection needs to be developed are dependent on a library’s budget and reading patterns of patrons: if a library has some budget to invest on a new project or collection development, then it can spare some to create or expand its e-book collection; when the library decides to do so, it should look into reading preferences of its patrons (e.g. which do they read more, fictions or non-fictions?) and purchase e-books (e.g. the library may purchase some fiction e-books and non-fiction printed books if this is patrons’ reading habits).

What I am concerned about an issue of e-books is that there is no certain norms and regulations about the price of e-book so publishers can set a price as they want. It makes it difficult for libraries to plan on their future e-book collection since they cannot project the price of e-books even of the next year. Furthermore, it might unexpectedly strengthen a current monopoly of large-scale publishing companies in book market. We discussed in last class that small publishers were willing to lower the price of e-books but large ones wanted to increase it. Considering that libraries are the most source of revenue of publishing companies, their purchase and payment are very important to financial health of publishing companies. Because of price difference of e-books between small and big companies, small publishing companies will get paid less and make only a small profit, which will make it hard for them to keep their business. I believe that libraries and publishing companies make efforts to have some sort of rules or regulations on a price of e-book.

This week Kirsten and I are going to present a face-to-face workshop to class as our group assignment. Our topic is “Getting Stared with Professional Development: How and Why to Join ALA”. We chose this topic since ALA is one of major sources where we, as professionals, can get ideas of what is important issues in library world, how we can develop professional skills, and which jobs are available in current job markets. I am really excited about this opportunity to talk about ALA with colleagues.

ALA is a very student-friendly organization as well as a professional association with lots of valuable information on all kinds of library jobs. There are some academic ALA journals which are willing to publish students’ articles. For instance, Documents to the People, the journal for the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT), had a special issue for student’s articles in its winter term (for more information, visit here.) A tenure-track librarian of academic library are required to prove research ability so I thought this information might be of some help to anyone who are interested in publication.


Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


SI 643 Reflection of Readings week 08: Code of Ethics

Librarians in US have fought unwarranted restrictions of a patron’s “freedom to read” because they believe in upholding the principles of intellectual freedom and resisting any efforts to censor library resources. But Lenker (2008) raises a very interesting yet challenging question regarding librarians’ code of ethics. What if a librarian receives a “dangerous question” from a patron? How does she conduct a reference service?

The Article 7 of The Code of Ethics of the American Library Association stipulates that librarians should “distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.” That is, the code of ethics of ALA advises that a librarian’s personal beliefs and judgement about the aim of reference questions should not involve in reference service. However, it seems to me that Lenker argues that instead of following blindly the Code of Ethics without considering circumstances, librarians need to be flexible to adopt virtue concepts in reference service, and that full-bodied virtual approach gives librarians a hint of how librarian resolve “ possible tension between the wishes of the patron, the safety of the patron and the public, her obligations to uphold legal and professional standards, and the demand of her personal ideals.” (Lenker, 2008, p.51)

At reference service, practically well-trained librarians often realize that the provision of a certain information may harm patrons’ welfare (Agostics Maybe’s “reference dilemma” case is a good example. See or the safety of the patron and the public (See examples in Lenker’s article) even though they do not judge a reference question by their own personal beliefs. Then what should librarians do in such a case? It is a real dilemma librarians face all the time. For example, If a librarian knows that the knowledge of cattle-roping is going to be used for children abuse, then what she needs to do? Refusing the reference service provides no better outcome than giving information about cattle-roping to a patron because she is ready to abuse her children whether a librarian gives the information of cattle-roping. Or it is possible that she has no intention to abuse her children and her inquiry of cattle-roping might be really a signal to ask for help with how to treat her unruly children. If I were a librarian, I would ask her some follow-up questions to find out what her real intention is. If she insists to know about cattle-roping, then I will have to provide the information but at the same time will let her know the counseling program about children’s misbehavior. Am I too intrusive or meddlesome? I really anticipate my colleague’s opinions on this issue in class.


Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


SI 643 Reflection of Class week 7: Book Club

When I looked through assignments on SI 643 syllabus early this semester, this book club assignment was the least favorable one to me. But, it actually turns out that it was a class assignment the I enjoyed the most so far. Moreover, I learned a lot from this practice.

1. Providing some historical and cultural background of a reading helps club members understand it better and also promotes more lively conversation. In particular, as for a reading which is not very familiar to most members and deals with a different culture, some introductory information is necessary.

2. A book club leader’s role is very important. Especially a leader should make deliberate efforts to embrace any alternative interpretation of a reading so as to stimulate and keep more interesting conversation. For example, we talked about The Cask of Amontillado, and thanks to a book club readers, we enjoyed a very lively conversation based on all interesting interpretation about the characteristics of the narrator of this story. They had all their own good questions ready, but rather than sticking to their questions and leading a discussion into their direction, they changed a course and encouraged book club participants to discuss more about the narrators.

3. A good ‘ice breaking’ is also essential. It helps book club participants more easily bond and make a friendly atmosphere. I was very impressed by our colleagues’ demonstration on how fun and creative ice breaking can be (e.g. role-playing based on characters in story, “put yourself in other’s shoes”, etc.)

4. Regarding our book club exercise, first, I am really thankful to our colleagues. Contrary to our worries of having a reading material that is in a new format, they showed an interest and excitement and participated actively in discussion by sharing their own experience on the subject. But I also found a room for improvement in our exercise. Kirsten and myself worked together for our book club, but we weren’t clear about ‘division of labor’ between us. When more than two persons are leading discussion, then they should plan ahead how to divide their responsibilities in book club and “who leads it when” to make a book club run smoothly.

Conclusion: I wish we have one more book club session!


Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


SI 643 Reflection of class week 6 & Reflection of Reading week 7: Book Club

Next week we will run a book club as a classroom simulation. In last class, we explored what contribute a successful book club. First, we learned that introducing new technology (e.g. video conference and blogging) makes participants enjoy new book club activities that weren’t possible before. For instance, people can enjoy the discussion with authors who is in distance from the place that a book club is held if they can use videoconferencing devices. Also, a librarian can learn book club members’ thoughts before a book club is held by reading blog posts, so she can have prepare interesting book club questions to appeal book club members. Second, we learned that participating in a book club helps people feel and become a “real” member of a community.

One of our assigned readings says “People are looking for a chance to connect, and the library’s book club is a real community”. At first I was not quite sure why people took the role of book club so highly in their everyday life. I have never participated in a book club and my only experience in discussing books was academic seminars. But in class we learned that an instructor of a book club should be able to make people feel comfortable to talk about their personal thoughts, and also encourage people to participate in the discussion whether they read a book or not. There are several points made in class that change my mind about the importance of a book club in an American community, such as “book club needs to be held in remote area in library, so members can feel comfortable to talk about their personal experience and thought,” ” Be aware that an instructor of  book club for elderly people needs to consider the book club members’ problem of memory precision,”  “one of purpose of joining a book club can be therapeutic one,”  and ” make sure leave some empty spaces while instructor make a circle to sit, so anytime people can leave without disturbing other people or handicapped person can join a book club any time.” All these make me realize that the real purpose of a book club is not only to promote the understanding of a book’s content and the sharing and broadening of our knowledge about the book or author with people who have same interests but also to provide a place where community members can socialize with other community members and communicate with neighbors.

In order to prepare book club questions for next class, I checked out some exemplary book club questions from various sources(e.g. education web sites, exemplary questions suggested to a reader in a book that I owned, and professional book club guideline web site). My major findings is that sharing members’ own experiences with each other is the most important book club activity. Many recent research points out that we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and social structures such as churches or political parties have disintegrated. However, a book club seems to serve as a place to share my personal thought and hear my neighbors’ experience by using a book as a medium.

This Monday Kirsten and I will lead a book club in the classroom. Discussion I am familiar with is generally for debate, not for sharing thoughts with one another, so I am very excited I can finally experience a book club activity for the first time. At the same time, I am a bit nervous about whether I would be able to encourage other members to express their thoughts. For the book club, Kirsten and I picked a digital book titled “sofas”. This is the short essay about a man who once lived as homeless but became an advocate of homeless people. We have been touched by his story and his voice and images of the digital book. We are a bit worried that a digital book is still relatively a new type of reading materials, that we choose non-fiction which is generally  unpopular to book clubs, and that our book deals with a social issue that might be a heavy topic for a book club (we will not present a question like “Under long term economic recession, how does government’s budget cut affect the welfare policy?” because it is not a seminar). But, I hope this will be a time to experience the new type of reading and to think about our neighbors who need our support.

Reading materials of other Spade teams for their book club exercise were all fun to read. I read some of stuff written by Poe, Marquez, and O’Henry before, but all stories they chose are new to me. The Princess and the Puma reassure me that O’Henry is one of a few writers who know how to write a punch-line in a short story. It is real fun to imagine what the princess is thinking while Mr. Ripley Givens is lying to her. Marquez is one of my favorite novelists. His A very old man of enormous wings is a extremely realistic narrative with hallucinating storytelling about an angle. It reminds me of his 100 years of Solitude. In my view, he is a really good writer to capture the pathos of Latin America’s culture. If I were 10 years old and read this story, I won’t sleep at night and will cry thinking of this poor poor old angel. The Cask of Amontillado makes me feel like crazy because it is very hard to understand metaphor in the story. But, the fun part of a book club is listening to other people’s thoughts, so the book club on this book will be the most exciting session to me. Finally, I got really mad at Forbe’s article, If I was a poor black kid. The author claims that 1 percent of smart African American kids is worth rescuing from their misery and also that increasing inequality is not caused by defect of social structure. I really wish his opinion is not what a majority of middle class in US is believing.


Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized