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Reflection on reading week 13: Long-term Learning Activities for Librarians

All good things must come to an end and it is my final blog post for SI 643 class.
Thinking back on a whole SI643 class, I think I can sum it up as two major issues: Information literacy and effective learning. At first, it was kind of a puzzle to me why we needed to think about effective learning of students as well as patrons because I thought that the main task of a  librarian is to provide precise information that patrons want in efficient ways. I, however, learned from this class that a library is not only a place to find reading materials or to provide information based on a patron’s query but also a place to provide life-long education to our patrons to improve their information literacy. In this view, librarians need to keep updating their knowledge about new technologies and also effective teaching methods. Yet, learning new technology and improving teaching methods are not easy tasks at all. Fortunately, some libraries provide long-term technology workshop sessions for librarians so they can learn new technology and teaching methods. This week’s readings, Semadini (2008), Blowers and Reed (2007), and Fontichiaro (2008), all provide many good strategies to follow when we conduct these long-term sessions for librarians. For instance,

  • Before preparing a series of workshop for librarians, try to assess in advance what they know and what they don’t know.
  • If you have to teach relatively large group of audience, provide online tutorials to them so they can practice by themselves.
  • Some incentives (e.g. rewards for completion of tasks) will increase participants’ motivation to learn new technology.
  • Increase the skill level from easy to difficult, so they can easily follow the instruction.
  • Allow participants to respond anonymously, then you can learn what they really think about the tasks.
  • Encourage participants to work together.
  • Continuously encourage them to practice and play.
  • Instructors need to adjust the contents of presentation based on what participants need to know.


These strategies will be very helpful for those who want to develop a workshop for long-term informational program for librarians.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Reflection on preparation of Webinar presentation & Reflection on class 12: Webinar

The assignment was to make a webinar that was helpful for a underrepresented group in library service. I particularly like this assignment because we mostly dealt with how we could provide better library service for a ‘majority’ of patrons but often forgot about how we could improve the service for a ‘underrepresented’ group of patrons. In our group, Mary, Karen, and I chose to talk about how to provide equal library access to the blind/visually impaired. Traditionally, the blind and the visually impaired achieve information by reading braille books, but in digital age, they likely become one of groups that run into the trouble of information poverty. People find and get more and more information from digitized artifacts and Internet searching, but the blind/visually impaired are having a hard time coping with changing learning environments and most libraries don’t seem ready to serve them. We think there are many services libraries can develop and offer to them other than providing reading materials since libraries these days become a social hub for a variety of social activities of the community.

So we focused on three types of services; (1) information about physical and traditional reading service, (2) new technologies for accessing information, and (3) potential workshops and outreach services related to employment readiness program. We did some research and learned that various technologies have been developed for the visually impaired that can help them access information. Yet we found out that book clubs or employment readiness program for the blind/visually impaired were rare in libraries. We therefore decided to provide practical information on how a library can develop those activities.

Personally, the biggest challenge in webinar presentation is technological. In a face-to-face workshop, an instructor can observe the audience’s face expression and body language and then can make changes necessary based on audience response. In a Webinar, it is still possible that a presenter communicates with the audience by using a chat box, but it is quite difficult for a presenter to respond to the audience’s questions and provide a lecture at the same time. So we planned to have a moderator who aggregates the audience’s questions and verbally deliver them to a presenter whenever it is necessary. But things didn’t go as planned. After we started our webinar, laptops of two of presenters’ became out of order (one had some audio problem and the other crashed), and so moderators could not deliver questions to the presenter. We also found out that Elluminate randomly changed a font size and locations of images in our PowerPoint slides. As a result, our slides might have been looked ugly to the audience.

Regardless of these problems, our team members did our best. Moderators responded to as many questions from the audience as they could via a chat. We let the audience know the technical problems we were experiencing, and made out efforts to have our presentation flow smoothly without any interruption. As a result, we could complete our presentation on time. One of things we learned from this experience is that a laptop computer is not a reliable tool for a webinar. Another is that we reserved a room in Shapiro Library because we thought it had a stable wireless internet connection. But it turned out that the wireless internet was not as stable as we hoped. Thus, a webinar presentation should be done by using a desktop computer with a stable Internet service.

Personally I participated in four other webinar sessions: ‘Library service for ESL patrons’, ‘How to protect your patrons and yourself from copyright infringement’, ‘Young professionals: The Missing Link’, and ‘When Learning is difficult: Better Serving College Students with Dyslexia, ADHD, and Autism’. I really enjoyed all these webinar sessions and had a chance to think about how librarians could provide more diverse services to our patrons in creative ways. In my experience, I had some difficulty in following both a lecture and a chat box at the same time, in particular when contents of presentation did not sync with what was going on on a chat box. Interactive communication between the audience and a presenter is an advantage in a webinar, but I still prefer listening to an instructor’s presentation and then asking questions on subjects.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

SI 643 Reflection on twitter posts & Reflection on class 11:Twitter

Last February I joined Twitter to see what this new social media was about. I wasn’t sure of what I would do with Twitter, but at least I knew it’s a good tool to access news. So I followed the New York Times official Twitter account. Reading a newspaper from Twitter is quite convenient because I can quickly see a headline of news on my timeline without visiting newspaper websites. When I find any interesting headline to read on my timeline and want to read a full text, I click a twitter post and it opens a webpage of the newspaper article. But I have long used Google Reader to organize my news sources and read news, and using it is as convenient as using Twitter, so I haven’t found a compelling reason to switch to Twitter in my news reading behaviors.

Late March I made my first tweets with ‘#SI643’ hashtag by posting some interesting articles from my favorite librarians’ blogs. The assignment was to follow 25 Twitter accounts. I first thought it would be very easy since I have been subscribing to way more than 25 blogs in my Google Reader. I assume that given the popularity of Twitter they all have their Twitter accounts. But it was not the case. Clearly the familiarity with one type of social media does not necessarily lead to the use of other social media. Especially among 20 librarian bloggers I follow, only 5 are using Twitter. So I used Twitter’s discovery search function to find 20 more librarians. When I typed in “librarian” in a search box, Twitter shows Twitter accounts of over 100 librarians and various libraries and publishers, so I chose and followed more than 20 librarians among them.

In class discussion, I learned that people prefer Twitter when they want to share information, while other social media (e.g. Facebook) are used more for communicating with people. Of course, many use Twitter to post what they eat, what they feel, and where they go, but, to me, it’s less interesting to know what others’ lifestyle seem like. There are still many Twitter users who focus more on finding and sharing information. I chose and followed such users. They provide me with updated news about information literacy or and interesting news related to other library services.

I was not a avid user of social networking service and did not actively use any service. But the class assignment of using Twitter is completed but I am still using it. I have occasionally tweeted and retweeted information I found interesting. I may keep using it since I think I find the benefit of Twitter as an information-sharing tool.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

SI 643 Reflection on class week 10: Embedded librarian and Webinar preparation

This week we talked in class about whether an embedded librarianship can serve clients effectively and also tested Elluminate by setting up a webinar on our own.

One of readings this week introduced a story of a music librarian who has an office in a music department and I was very impressed by the librarian’s service and performance when I was reading it. But we discussed some real cases of embedded librarians in class and it seems more likely that the case of the music librarian is more of an exception. For instance, the School of Information has its own outreach librarian but people seldom visit her. As for faculty members, Kristin pointed out the librarian’s office hours overlapped with a regular faculty meeting, which made it impossible for faculty to visit office hours. Also, a government information librarian at Clark Library where I works used to provide an embedded library service for Ford School of Public Policy, but the office hour service wasn’t very effective. So the librarian eventually gave it up and instead is regularly sending emails about updated news and services to faculty in Ford School. Recently I had a chance to talk with a faculty member at Ford School regarding library service. She told me that she was just happy with getting updated news sent from a librarian of Clark Library and also with a government information librarian visiting her graduate class to lecture on how to conduct library research. Thus, in my opinion, while an embedded librarianship works well in serving our clients’ special needs, setting up office hours in clients’ workplace may not be as client-friendly as we thought. So, in conclusion, in order to maximize patrons’ benefits from embedded librarian services, a library should research beforehand on a targeted department’s culture and work environment, and patrons’ information-seeking patterns.   

We also learned how to create an Elluminate account and use the service. Kristin’s step-by-step instruction was very informative and helpful. Elluminate seems to have many functions and complicated options, so it would have taken lots of time to learn how to use it on my own.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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.

 
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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.

Endnote:
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.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Uncategorized