Professional Development

During March 2007...

Mary’s Saturday in Baltimore

Saturday, March 31, 2007 2:16 pm

What a mixture we were today at the Baltimore Convention Center! ACRL and Mary Kay and teens and tweens cheerleaders, oh my!

I started the day with breakfast with our LexisNexis sales representative. It was nice to catch up with Dawn; although, we both agreed that we might have closed a few restaurants in our time, but this was the first time we waited in line for a restaurant to open!

Most of my day was devoted to my Round-table Subcommittee uties. Round-tables are a way to provide a semi-formal networking opportunity for people who are interested in a similar topic. Prior to the last ALA annual conference, the committee received over one hundred round-table proposals. We read through the proposals; at ALA annual we selected the top 100, sorted them in to tracks and sent our selections to the Baltimore Conference Committee. Today, fifty groups met from 8-9am and from noon-1pm. The Committee was in attendance to provide directional assistance and make sure the conversations were proceeding at a good pace. Both sessions seemed to be successes with a vast majority of tables involved in lively discussion!

Because of the round-table timing, I missed a few sessions that I would have liked to have attended. If I can find the webcasts/powerpoint slides online, I will post the information in this space.

I’m looking forward to the All-Conference Reception tonight at the National Aquarium. Although the forecast calls for rain, I’m hoping to see the Edgar Allan Poe grave-site and Fort McHenry on my way out of town tomorrow morning. I’m stopping by Alexandria for lunch with my cousins and then on down I95/I85 to Winston-Sam!

A Last Friday Note from Mary

Friday, March 30, 2007 9:07 pm

Another wow — for a different reason!

I forgot to report that John Waters was the luncheon speaker today! Listener discretion advised — ‘nough said.

Mary’s Fridat at ACRL 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007 7:09 pm

Hi, another busy day in Charm City!

I’ll just try to hit some high-lights of the sessions I attended.

The Reference Question — Where has Reference Been? Where is Reference Going?

  • The Librarian is no longer the “locus of control” in the research process
  • Overheard: ‘Don’t need the library because we have EBSCO’ — must let them know they have EBSCO because of us
  • In the mind of users “stuff on Internet” is the same as scholarly, vetted info
  • The role of a profession/professional is to establish a practice and try to improve it
  • We are too close to our profession
  • must step back and look at watershed changes
  • not selfishly, but for how they impact our users
  • Take a look at the Vikings who immigrated to
  • Greenland — didn’t adapt and died out
  • Iceland — adapted and thrived
  • Must go to where users are: Facebook, Myspace, Second Life
  • try this stuff — if it fails, it fails — go on to something else

Where Neurosciences and Pedagogy Intersect to Support Student Learning, Or, Learning, Emotion and Their Application for Teaching

  • Overall, higher education is changing drastically and libraries are needed
  • humans are programmed for learning
  • always ask students to compare before contrasting
  • having students consider an issue from different angles is important — cognitive flexiblity
  • humans compare new information against previous knowledge — which can be “extremely wrong”
  • humans need to have a logical explanation of observable phenomena
  • humans make up connecting pieces when information is missing (not always correct information)
  • learning actually changes the brain
  • lecturing is NOT the way to teach
  • learning occurs when senses, emotions are involved
  • group learning, collaborative activities are best
  • discussion promotes problem solving, retention, better understanding
  • students must do the work
  • people have limits in their ability to pay attention
  • sleep is important to long-term memory creation (what happens when Wake the Library students cram?)
  • Students are excellent judges of whether you care about them, their learning
  • If they think you are on their side, pulling for them, opening doors for them, they will learn more


Designing a Library Environment that Promotes Learning/Build it and What?: Measuring the Implementaition and Outcomes of an Information Commons

Get Blended: Injecting Instructional Desing and Technology Skills into Academic Library Jobs

see
The Blended Librarian

I’ll try to add more tomorrow to the blended librarian idea. Right now I’ve got to get some dinner and some sleep so I can be ready for my 7am breakfast meeting tomorrow!

Mary’s Take on the Opening Session

Friday, March 30, 2007 6:28 pm

WOW!

I value conferences for several things. One of them is re-invigoration — getting me out of the day-to-day, reminding me of the higher ideals of librarian-ship and why I wanted to become a librarian. I wish I had a tape of Michael Eric Dyson‘s opening keynote, because it was a great, thought-provoking, and definitely uplifting piece of stage-craft. I’m glad that Lynn has already covered the speech, since there is so much to say. So, I’ll just add a few more observations. I’m in perfect agreement that we do a lot of “singing to the choir,” which is ok; but, “the choir gotta sing better” to the audience. I’m also very happy to be a “liberator of the mind,” rather than a “hand-maid of history” — something I’ve also been called as a librarian. I think I might lobby for “liberator of the mind” as a job title the next time we re-do our position descriptions!

Mary’s Sight-Seeing in Charm City

Friday, March 30, 2007 6:15 pm

ACRL is a busy conference and I’m just now catching my breath and taking a moment to blog!

Yesterday morning, I had some free time so I went exploring. I walked the short block to the Inner Harbor, where I first went to the visitors’ center. Then I went to the 27th floor of Baltimore’s World Trade Center, the Top of the World, for a 360 degree view of the city.

Next I walked Historic Charles Street, taking in the Baltimore Basilica (the first Cathedral in America), the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Peabody Institute and Library, the Walters Art Museum, Washington Monument and, finally, Beadazzled (bead heaven)! As I returned to my hotel and the convention center, I took a side route to take in the 220 year old Lexington Market.

Check out some of my photos on Flickr.

I’ll probably be posting some more sight-seeing info as I go to several receptions tomorrow and try to make it to Fort McHenry on my way out of town.

Dinner with Debbie at ACRL

Friday, March 30, 2007 9:19 am

I met Debbie for dinner last night in Baltimore so that we could both catch up with what was going on in our respective libraries. She drove us to the Little Italy section of town, which has fabulous Italian restaurants. We chose one based on the availability of their gated parking lot, and discovered it was elegantly superb!

Her campus is very busy and undergoing change right now. Her Provost’s last day is today, which is disturbing to her because he was instrumental in her decision to go to Towson. She is busy with making budget appeals in a number of areas and is about to post two open positions, her first since she arrived. She wanted to know all about our strategic planning efforts and campus politics and everything about ZSR staff. She misses us and Wake Forest and especially her house on Faculty Drive. But she is busy, happy and healthy in her new environment and sends her love to all.

Lynn

Lynn at ACRL

Friday, March 30, 2007 9:09 am

Here we are in the land of MoreBalts, as Bill likes to call it. The city is crowded, congested, and undergoing massive construction projects, from what I can see along E. Pratt Ave.

Opening Session – Michael Eric Dyson

When I attended the Wake Forest convocation with Leonard Pitts last fall, I thought it was the best speech I had ever heard. Well, that has now been topped by Michael Eric Dyson’s opening address at ACRL. He said he was a native of Detroit, but he sounded for all the world like a southern Baptist preacher to me. He is a professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania but loved to lapse into rap lyrics. His main message was the importance of the work that librarians do, acknowledging that he was preaching to the choir, but observing that the “choir gotta sing better.” He ranted against the Bush administration, Bill Cosby, and anyone who stands in the way of dissent, ideas, and an open view of learning. His philosophy is that you need to “meet people where they be, to take them where they need to be.” Hence, his embrace of the hip-hop genre, which he views as a “quest for self-determination in an environment that denies their legitimacy.” He describes librarians as “arbiters of enlightenment for the future of human civilization.” We don’t see that in Library School catalogs very often! He spoke without a note, barely drawing a breath, quoting long passages of Tennyson and Tupac Shakur from memory, all in the style and cadence of Martin Luther King. I loved it.

Women’s History Symposium

Friday, March 30, 2007 8:17 am

Old Salem is certainly among the most apt of locations for conferences and symposia pertaining to the history of the early American South, and on March 9, I attended a day-long symposium there devoted to the achievements of “Working Women of the Early South.” Presenters from Old Salem Museums and Gardens figured prominently, but speakers from Wake Forest University and Colonial Williamsburg contributed substantially as well to the program.

Dr. Michele Gillespie, Kahle Associate Professor of History here at WFU, provided the keynote address, an engrossing account of “Enterprising Women: A New Look at the Daughters of the Early South.” She summarized the record of scholarly inquiry and emphases of recent decades including the newer arenas of research and investigation, thus providing an academic basis and context for more specifically focused talks that were to follow. Not surprisingly, she commenced by noting how little attention has been paid to women’s work, its diverse nature and worth. Although there has been a veritable explosion of books about women in the early South, the locus of interest has been largely the plantation world, i.e. plantation mistresses and slaves. Challenging Tara-esque stereotypes, these studies have drawn substantially on a legacy of educated and literate women who wrote letters and diaries that have long since formed the core of collections of family papers and subsequently, university and state archives. These surviving private genres have revealed that long-standing stereotypes have been false, that these women frequently lived difficult rather than romantic lives running households, managing servants, even making business decisions–all punctuated of course by childbearing and by disease. Furthermore, these elite women were often lonely, depressed, overburdened, and oppressed by a sense of an imprisoned existence.

Slave women have only recently been discovered in the historical record. Until the 1980s the attention paid was “gender oblivious:” the slave experience was perceived as if it were exclusively male, and female slaves were regarded as genderless workers in fields and in houses.

However, Professor Gillespie pointed out that the vast majority of southern women obviously did not reside on plantations, and moreover, that this large segment of the population was in fact central to a developing southern economy. These women in the middle were mostly white (approximately 1% were free black) and generally have been omitted from the historical record, inhabiting instead a rather shadowy realm apparently invisible to historians’ eyes. Part of the problem is that women have been defined by men and valued only in relation to men. (I once heard another historian recount how difficult it was to track down archival records pertaining to women, since they were buried there only under the names of the men whose mothers, daughters, and wives they were.) But in fact, despite constraints imposed by both their reproductive and other productive labor, the roles they played in the development of the southern culture and economy form a rich and diverse mosaic of contributions.

Alluding to the much-lauded Jeffersonian ideal of yeoman farmers, Gillespie emphasized the centrality of these farmers’ wives and daughters in attaining and sustaining the sufficiency essential to the independence of this population. Women worked alongside men in the fields as well as in household production. In addition, early industrialization in the South benefited from women’s hands at the looms, utilizing poor white women and children as a labor force–as was also the case in New England, where farmers’ daughters worked in the Lowell mills. Thus, there was an early and significant working class that was in part a feminized force at the forefront of the transition from an agrarian to an industrialized economy. Lines separating white from black women were not universally clear; color boundaries were permeable. Black as well as white women owned shops, and even the world’s oldest profession could at once observe racial distinctions for clients, but also could offer cross-racial services!

This new area of women’s historical scholarship must rely perforce on records of business transactions and similar types of data as sources for research into the achievements of working women. Lamentably, there is for this group a dearth of private writings which exist for other, literate groups of women possessed of a modicum of leisure, and consequently the personal voice is clearly missing as is any account of working women’s interior lives.

The remainder of the symposium consisted of more specific accounts of working women who labored either singly or in groups. Johanna Brown, Director of Collections and Curator at Old Salem, described the work done by the women of the Single Sisters’ House. Deeming no task too menial, these women spun cloth, did needlework and laundry, gardened, worked for families, and taught school. So successful were they that they paid off Single Brothers’ debts no less than three times.

Sandy Hegstrom, Education Associate and Tour Manager at MESDA, spoke about some women who achieved a bizarre celebrity of sorts due to physical deformities and essentially gave (paid) performances demonstrating feats such as cutting silhouettes minus the benefits of fingers or hands. Strange as this seems to the modern sensibility, Ms. Taylor characterized this as an instance of a deformity permitting certain women to perform outside the constraints usually imposed on young ladies’ occupations.

A dramatic interlude came in the form of a theatrical interpretation in the St. Philips African American Church by Valarie Holmes of Colonial Williamsburg. She presented an interpretation of one Lydia Broadnax, a slave of George Wythe, who confronts the possibilities and challenges of new-found freedom. But she will not feel truly liberated until she finds her young daughter, from whom she was separated when the girl was 4 years old. Her account of this physical and emotional journey, which morphs into an intense experience of the present moment, received a standing ovation from the audience.

The final event of the day was an optional tour of the Single Sisters’ House, which is in the process of restoration. It will be used in part as office space for Salem, and in part as another site to visit in Old Salem. Interestingly, the House will not be entirely restored to pristine condition; rather, portions will remain “as is” to reveal old German construction methods: wood and brickwork, plastering, even eighteenth-century graffiti that has been exposed on early layers of plaster. (And there will be a re-creation of the original Lovefeast for the Single Sisters’ House on April 22, at 3 p.m. in the Old Salem Square.)

I always find it very enriching and exhilarating to attend occasional conferences outside of the borders of library land. They always underscore the point of so much of what we do here. This symposium fulfilled all such expectations.

Mary’s in Baltimore

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 7:54 pm

I’ve arrived safely in Baltimore in anticipation of the ACRL Conference. I enjoyed my day by driving to the big city, rather than going the stressful route of flying. Most of the trip was second nature since I come as far as Alexandria, VA to visit my cousins a couple of times a year. I just had to navigate around DC and make it up I-95 to Baltimore. I didn’t realize it, but the conference doesn’t officially start until 4:30 tomorrow (pre-conferences in the am), so after a meal and a good night’s rest I hope to do some sight-seeing in the morning.

unc-tlt wrap up

Friday, March 23, 2007 12:44 pm

The UNC TLT conference was a good one!  There were a wide variety of programs, some more geared towards things that we’re doing than others.  Some were really good at this point in time (like the Learning Commons presentation NCSU did) and others resonated with things that I’ve worked on in the past and inspired me to do more (like the Learning Objects one that UNCG did).  My presentation with Bob King went well. It was a little less hands on than I had hoped, but there was good discussion–such as privacy regulations for publishing student work on the web. We had a good turn out, even though the workshop was a 5 minute drive from the conference hotel.  Several people followed up saying that this is just the kind of thing their faculty are becoming interested in. So, overall, it was a good conference, and I got lots of good ideas.  Thanks!


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