Library Gazette

During February 2013...

From Lauren Pressley

Sunday, February 24, 2013 11:37 pm

A Chapter Ends, A Chapter Begins

Posted on February 24, 2013 by

Tomorrow I start my new job, at a new library, so though I still have a few posts in the queue related to the work I had been doing, I wanted to write a post about what it was to work at ZSR, mostly for myself, to capture it as I think of it at this point in time.

ZSR as a Library

ZSR Library: Ammons Symposium and a 5K! I came to ZSR (the Z. Smith Reynolds Library of Wake Forest University) pretty much straight out of college. My (now) husband and I took a 30-day Greyhound bus trip around the country after college, and then it took a few months for me to find the position there. I started out as a library assistant in Microtext, really as a placeholder, not even sure what it was I wanted to do with my life.

And in that position I found my career. I learned that not only did I love libraries (which I already knew), but that I loved working in libraries. I also found that I worked with some of the most caring and kind people who were genuinely interested in supporting each other. I found it was a safe environment to try new things. (Sure-look at that wiki, in 2004, complete with video, just to train microtext student employees! Nice job!) And that innovation and experimentation were increasingly celebrated.

Over time that supportiveness just increased. The ZSR community is incredibly helpful and creative, and above all: focused on the library’s mission: To help students, faculty, and staff succeed. I always knew I could find a partner in any project I dreamed up, and that it was safe to try and make things happen. Worse case: new ideas didn’t work, and we stop doing them. Best case: we developed entirely new lines of service! I was lucky to be involved in best-case scenarios for the most part.

ZSR Support for a New Professional

Those best-case scenarios? All kinds of things! I cannot emphasize enough how powerful an experience that is for a new professional. Dreaming up things and then making them happen? It sets the individual up to dream up new things and the library to benefit from new ideas. Win-win all around. And many of my projects happened with others collaborators, in the library, elsewhere at the university, and in one case, at other universities.

A few of the highlights included:

  • the library’s first wiki, that was enhanced with photos and videos (as mentioned before)
  • the library’s Toolkit of video-based tutorials which was well received both by students and the field at large, with my general partner-in-crime, Kevin Gilbertson
  • the development and implementation of the library’s social software strategy, again with Kevin
  • co-founding NC-LITe, a state-wide library instructional technology discussion group, with Steve Cramer and Beth Filar-Williams of UNCG and Kim Duckett of NCSU
  • working very hard as the instructional design librarian to raise the profile of instructional design as a service and professional area of expertise on campus, and since then the larger WFU community has benefited from several new positions developed in this vein
  • developing and teaching (most) sessions of a “teaching teaching” course, which I’m still blogging about here, over at least two academic years total
  • co-writing our successful ACRLExcellence in Academic Libraries nomination with Susan Sharpless Smith
  • facilitating the collaborative process of getting all teaching librarians on the same page to develop programmatic learning outcomes for the LIB100 program, and also leading committees to reinvent our course evaluations and assessment tools
  • developing and teaching the first undergraduate class in the College that was conducted entirely online
  • leading a small committee that worked to democratically draft a values statement for the entire library that captured who we are and who we want to be
  • and working with one of the greatest groups I’ve ever worked with to create an open access, electronically available, information literacy textbook.

Oats&Tea @ TechXploration

I also found that I really loved strategic planning, something I hadn’t been exposed to before my work at ZSR, but something I had the good fortune to do at thelibrary level and the exceptionally good fortune to participate with at theUniversity level.

In all of this, I learned that I had something to contribute and might actually be pretty good at this library work. I was able to do work that was meaningful to me from the front-lines perspective whether it was changing the processes in microtext, creating a new web service with a colleague, or inventing what it was an instructional design librarian would do at my institution. I was also lucky to be at a place that was happy to let me do what I thought I needed to do to do my job well whether that was conducting focus groups, usability studies, or adapting my teaching on a week-by-week basis.

In addition, like all librarians, I was involved in all kinds of committees from marketing to staff development to web to peer review to assessment to staff appreciation to various strategic planning initiatives. I liaised with subject areas, did reference hours, taught credit bearing classes, and administered our instruction program. I served on university committees and helped academic faculty teach more effectively through one-on-one consulting and workshops.

This broad experience was incredible. I learned a lot about how academic libraries function across all units, the student academic experience at Wake Forest, and the faculty teaching experience. I also learned to believe that I could make things better and that it’s okay to try new things. That’s an important lesson, and I know it’s not one that everyone is lucky enough to learn in their first job.

I also learned things about myself: that my favorite work is in the strategic/vision vein, that I like governance, that I could be effective in ALA, and that I wasn’t half bad at presenting.

And I learned this both from my day job as well as from my library’s support of my professional involvement outside of ZSR, which I won’t even go into at this point in this post, but professionally-beyond the walls of the campus-I was also incredibly encouraged and nurtured by my colleagues and mentors.

ZSR Support for an Employee as a Person

And, on personal side, I was in an exceptionally good place for the phase of life I was in. ZSR celebrates life milestones, and they threw showers for John and me when we were engaged as well as when we were expecting Leif. They were incredibly supportive and flexible while I was getting my MLIS, and colleagues always were interested in how things were going with Leif when I was just learning how to juggle parenting and work responsibilities. Not only that, but ZSR was very supportive of my writing, even being the contributor to complete the campaign for So You Want To Be A Librarian.

ZSR also supported getting to know people across the university, both in academic departments and in administrative units. I could walk into any meeting on campus and know someone, which is one of the blessings of a small institution. I could run into someone in the food court, and come up with a new service the library should offer that person (and people in their same situation) and a week later it could be a reality.

My small, but smart, awesome, and incredibly productive, instruction unit was a dream team to work with, and I’m sorry to not be there with them. I only got to work with our newest addition, Kyle Denlinger, for about six months! (Y’all watch him, he’s going to do big things.) And when I think of ZSR, what I think of is that I worked with many amazing colleagues, and my best friends. I had some of the most fun committee meetings I can imagine and somewhat regular falafel lunches with friends during the summer months.

I worked in two different units, three different times, for four different people in the nine years I was there, and though I never reported directly to the Dean, Lynn Sutton, I still had the amazing fortune to be able to have somewhat regular meetings with her due to various committee appointments. Lynn is incredible. She has done amazing things leading the ZSR library, and in some ways, the larger institution. And though I am so very excited about this next chapter in my professional and personal life, I’ll miss working with her.

In the remarks I gave at my going-away party (another milestone celebrated with colleagues) I included a bit about how I’m tempted to say ZSR was an incredible place to start my career, because it absolutely was for me. But that’s not actually entirely accurate. It’s an incredible place for people at any point in their career, because it’s a wonderful place with amazing people doing the highest quality work. And that’s absolutely true.

The Next Chapter

So, you should know by this point in the post, that for me to even consider leaving such a wonderful place would only be for the most incredible of opportunities. And I believe that’s what’s in store. Tomorrow I start at Virginia Tech, and I am inspired by what they’re doing and can’t wait to join in on the work. There are a lot of new people to meet, systems to learn, structures to take in, and things to do, and I’m ready. Here’s hoping I can start off the day right: figuring out campus parking!


E-textbook for Information Literacy is Published

Friday, February 22, 2013 11:30 am

During the summer of 2011, a group of us formed to create an e-textbook for information literacy and received a STEP Grant from a group headed by Rick Matthews in IS. Our group, guided by Lauren Pressley, consisted of Kaeley McMahan, Rebecca Petersen, Audra Eagle Yun, Gretchen Edwards, Kevin Gilbertson, and Craig Fansler. We put out a call for authors to contribute chapters by creating a video. As a result, we received written contributions from Molly Keener, Mary Scanlon, Mary Beth Lock, Ellen Daugman, and Ellen Makaravage.

For most of the STEP grant recipients, the project was a finite period of time covering the summer of 2011. For our group of open-access technology (affectionately called Oats and Tea), this project lasted two years. Last year, we presented our work at TechXploration – which showcased our work to the larger university community. We wrote chapters for this book and conducted editorial review which took longer than we anticipated. Thanks to heroic efforts by Kevin Gilbertson and Lauren Pressley, this e-textbook is now published and ready to be used.

Recent Improvements to the Library Catalog

Friday, February 22, 2013 10:53 am

Based on recent suggestions from our reference librarians, we have pushed a few key improvements to the library catalog into production:

  • Due date: Due date now displays on record pages for items that are checked out. Yes, that’s right, you won’t have to check classic view to see when something is due.
  • Call number browsing: Call numbers (in the holdings tab on record pages) are now direct links to call number browsing. It’ll be just like browsing the shelf – except this shelf contains ebooks and other electronic materials.
  • Facet order: We reordered the facets in the sidebar, pushing publication date and location to the top. We’re hoping that we can condense these long lists into something more manageable – we’ll keep you posted.
  • Zotero: We added support for secondary authors and place of publication and removed the trailing slash from the title for Zotero imports. So, the next time you add an item in the catalog to your Zotero library, rest assured – that slash won’t be there.

If you have any improvements for library catalog that you would like to see, please let us know.

Humans v Zombies-The Zombie Horde is Growing!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 3:39 pm

On Friday, February 8th, the Library hosted the fourth Humans v Zombies event, and the zombie horde is growing! We held our first event in the Fall of 2011, one year after we began hosting games of Capture the Flag as part of freshman orientation! As you can see from the chart below, Humans v Zombies is a very popular event!

HvZ Chart

HvZ Chart

This semester, 22 students from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, joined us for the event, bringing us to 125 students total! The students from UNC usually play outdoors, so they enjoyed this chance to play indoors. Susan Smith took some great pics, including a group photo of the UNC team. We gave them a round of applause for making the trip to Winston Salem to join us and encouraged them to come back in the Fall for our big Halloween Humans v Zombies event!

Thanks to Susan Smith, Mary Beth Lock, Tim Mitchell, and Chris Burris for their help running the event! It is always a team effort! Also, a big thanks to the Student Activities Fund, whose generous funding makes these events even better!


Instruction at ZSR

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 10:23 pm

One of the things that is challenging when someone leaves an organization is the loss of institutional memory. For that reason, I’m leaving this post, to remind you of all the many instructional resources you have available to support your teaching:

  • Instruction website: This page has information about the program we offer–in person instruction, self help instruction, as well as the meta information about the administration of the program. Thank you to Kevin for creating a new look and backend for the instruction portion of the website. It made a world of difference!
  • Wiki page: When I first became head of instruction, we didn’t really have a strong presence on the library website to reflect our program. In response, I made use of the wiki to gather information about projects, professional development opportunities, and FAQs–particularly about university policy. If you’re trying to figure out how to set up your Sakai course or how to deal with challenging students, you will be able to find some answers here. If you know something useful, it’d be nice to add it!
  • Learning Outcomes: As a community we developed learning outcomes to support our instruction. These outcomes were conceived to be broad enough to be useful for any research-based course. It’s easy to forget about them if you don’t have someone reminding you every semester or so, so here’s a gentle reminder: please take a look at the learning outcomes every once in a while and make sure that your class addresses them! Learning outcomes also make it easier to decide what’s not worth covering. If it’s not covered in a learning outcome, it’s not necessary to the course.
  • Template: As you also know, Joy developed a very thorough and detailed template for LIB100 last summer. It currently resides in Sakai, though more information will be available on the website at some point. The template was designed so that you can just pick it up and go, but you can also pick and choose from it to help simplify the planning of your own class if you’d prefer.
  • Teaching tools page: This page contains activities and techniques for teaching the various things we tend to teach. Right now it is more structural in nature, with a few activities. If you find this useful, let Kyle know! If you have something that you think might possibly be useful to your colleagues, send it to Kyle with appropriate metadata! (Can you tell that Kyle will own this going forward?)
  • Plagiarism tutorial: Kyle and Kevin made, perhaps, the most engaging and educational activity on plagiarism I’ve seen, and they made it for WFU students! If you aren’t sure how to teach plagiarism, or if you teach it and your students respond as though they’ve heard it all before and you can’t possibly teach them anything new, please consider using this activity prior to discussion!
  • New course evaluation: Kyle, Mary Scanlon, Sarah, Kaeley, and I worked to update our LIB100 course evaluation to be more useful for instructors and based in sound research. The new course evaluation measures first principles of instruction, as well as makes it easy to get a view of the entire program. This view of teaching across the program will allow Roz to target specific areas that would benefit most from professional development opportunities.

And there are several more things coming soon:

  • eTextbook: We’re in the final stages of this project! I am adding in multimedia as quickly as I can, and by Friday we should have a working version online. I’ll leave it to the group to do a Gaz post introducing it. The people involved with this have been many over the past two years. Audra and Gretchen were involved early on. Craig, Kaeley, Kevin, and Rebecca have been involved throughout the process. This group, along withMary Scanlon, Ellen Daugman, Molly, Mary Beth, and Ellen Makaravage all contributed writing. We are hopeful this book will be useful for LIB100s, one shot sessions (that are focused on a specific aspect of research), faculty who don’t want to give up class time, and other libraries. So that will be exciting for the library!
  • New LIB100 assessment tool: Kaeley, Kyle, Mary Scanlon, and I also have worked on creating an assessment tool for LIB100. The design is for a quick, anonymous survey to test whether we have met our learning outcomes for the class. 200 level classes might choose to modify the survey for their specific class. Again, if used across the program, it would be a useful tool to help identify the learning outcomes that either (1) could stand reinforcement across classes or (2) that might not be as relevant to our teaching anymore, and would need to be adapted for current teaching practices. The entire question bank could be useful if you’d like a final exam as well. Kyle is the point person on this.
  • Update to the Toolkit: And coming way further in the future, Kyle is considering updating the Toolkit. The idea is a new and updated interface and updated video content. His Zotero video is the style of content he will create.

One of the final things I’ve done was work with Joy, Kyle, Bobbie, and Kaeley on a strategic plan refresh for the instruction program. That has been passed on to Lynn and hopefully can provide some useful information for the next few years.

In the process of writing the plan, we did an environmental scan of the field. Joy, Kyle, and I went to the Triangle area research libraries to learn more about local instruction. (We have some amazing programs in this state!) And my main take away from all of this work is that what ZSR is doing with instruction is exceptional. The students at WFU who engage in library instruction have an unusually broad, deep, and personalized instruction experience. Wake students are lucky to have access to this type of instruction, and we are in a lucky position to be able to offer it. I’ve been honored to play the roles I’ve played in the program and look forward to hearing more about the great work you all will do going forward!

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