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


SI 643 Reflection of Readings: Book Club and Socratic Seminar

This week’s readings are about two different styles of reading groups and discussion: Book Club and Socratic Seminar. First, Hoffert (1996) and Dempsy (2011) explain how book clubs of public library became flourished. They argue that several factors attributed to a success of book clubs activities; widening a scope of books in book clubs (e.g. comics, non-fictions, blog posts, etc.), using videoconferencing technologies, developing activities beyond book reading (e.g. watching Shakespeare’s play after reading his book), and discovering new communities that are willing to discuss a book while they engage in other activities (e.g. Knitting club).

On the other hand, Metzger( 1998) and Tredy (1995) discuss about the principles of Socratic Seminar in classroom and how they help students achieve an in-depth understanding of reading materials. What I find most important in their articles are (1) Socratic Seminar works best with open-ended questions rather than questions which are made by and for teachers to test whether students do their readings (2) feedback based on observation from students in a outer circle to those in an inner circle can help inner-circle students improve their skill of discussion (3) teachers’ less intrusive behavior in the seminar eventually helps students’ critical thinking.

Although these articles deal with different types of reading groups (book club in public library and students in classroom), they all stress that choosing proper reading materials and having ready well-prepared open-ended questions are important for successful discussion. Therefore, while instructors (or librarians) need to be passive observers rather than active participants in Socratic Seminar or book club discussion, it is also important to keep in mind that the careful preparation of class is always essential to successful discussion.


Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


SI 643 Reflection of Class week 05

This week we started by talking about whether gaming can change the real world. Interestingly, while some colleagues were skeptical of the role of gaming in education, others thought that gaming could become a useful tool to promote transfer in learning process. As I talked in class, I think that the role of gaming in learning process will vary depending on who plays it because gamers have different educational, cultural, and social environments. In other words, even if children play the same game, the context of the game can be transferred or connected to other activities or learning in very different ways depending on other environmental factors.

The most interesting finding in the class discussion is that gaming is quite different from reading or watching movie and it may not promote creative thinking because gamers have to follow a certain type of protocols and paths that game creator designed in order to win a game. It means that gaming may be useful to master a certain skill but it has limited capacity to develop learners’ critical thinking.

We also had a chance to meet our blog cohorts and discussed about the main issues raised by key bloggers in library land. We found out that librarians are very proactive and have a liberal attitude toward social issues (e.g. SOPA, PIPA, RAW, and Overdrive issues) because they have been the advocates who support freedom of speech and learning. The hottest issue to key bloggers is eResources because it will affect reading behavior, learning capacity, educational curriculum, and library system and management in the future. In particular, many key bloggers are worried about the problem of emerging technology that the prosperity of eBooks and eReader devices may harm the low-income households’ learning opportunities.

Compared to librarians in European countries who are supposed to serve for a handful of academics, those in U.S. have been and will be educators of people and supporters of freedom of learning. Under the current long-term economic recession, these efforts of U.S. librarians will be a great help to overcome the increasing social inequality in U.S.  


Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


SI 643 Reflection of Reading:Transfer

As authors of How People Learn claim, a major goal of schooling is to prepare students for flexible adaptation to new problems and settings (Bransford et al, 2000, p.77). Therefore, promoting the transfer of learning from one context to new contexts is a fundamental task of teaching. According to academics researches, the transfer of learning has three distinctive characteristics.

First, initial learning is necessary for transfer. Students need to gain enough knowledge before they can apply their knowledge to new context. Second, contextualized knowledge is helpful to students, but it should be noted that overly contextualized knowledge can harm students’ ability to transfer from one context to new context. Third, transfer can be improved by helping students become more aware of themselves as learners who actively monitor their learning strategies and resources and assess their readiness for particular tests and performances.

To teachers, however, promoting transfer is not a easy task even when they know well about the aforementioned principles of transfer. Students’ ability to transfer their knowledge can be hindered by previous experience and cultural difference. What is a suitable amount of motivation to promote transfer and how much environment gap there is between school and home are not easily identifiable. Moreover, individual students have different personal backgrounds.

In this sense, Wiggins and McTighe (2008)’s 12 steps of meaning making and transfer proceeding instruction can be very useful to improve students’ metacognition that help transfer their learning from one context to new context. In addition, I personally think that providing multiple contexts in each class will really help stimulate students’ metacognition and thus conduct transfer (Please see my posting of “the reflection of reading week 1”. In the posting, I offered my experience in which students did not understand properly the pros and cons of political system in various countries until I provided multiple cases).

However, In a typical one-time workshop carried by a library, it may be difficult to follow all of Wiggins and McTighe’s instruction due to time limitation. But I believe that this method can be still applicable to a one-time workshop. We can focus on part of Wiggins and McTighe’s instruction that can best meet the needs of targeted students when we design a one-time workshop. For example, suppose there will be a workshop on Excel in public library. An instructor will teach how to use Excel but also she can get students work together on some exemplary tasks in class and give them tasks based on their own needs. So even after a one-time workshop, students would be able to use Excel skill in their own project and may come back to the instructor in order to get her advices for their future tasks.
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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


SI 643 Reflection of Class Week 04

We discussed in class about how a librarian should do a summative evaluation and a formative assessment before and after a workshop.  First, in a summative evaluation, we learned that Likert and multiple choices were very effective tools in getting feedback from an audience of the workshop. Either Likert or multiple choices, it is very important that we should try our best to make good questions since poor question wordings usually lead to poor results.

Second, we learned that a well-done formative assessment could help instructors to customize instructions to fit needs of learners. Moreover, it would allow learners to get feedback that would help improve their project “before” it is done. In library, entrance survey, hand votes, and the human thermometer are most effective tools of formative assessment. Among three, I think entrance survey is better than the other two because, first, a librarian can assess learners’ anticipation and goals before a workshop, and second, a librarian can adjust the contents of workshop to maximize learners’ satisfaction.


Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Uncategorized