Professional Development

Author Archive

LAUNC-CH March 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 2:03 pm


The theme of this spring’s LAUNC-CH conference, which Steve and I attended on Monday, was “Creating a User-Centered Library.” As ever, it offered an impressively wide range of pragmatic presentations, this time revolving around the issue of user-centricity.

The keynote presenters, Mike Olsen, Dawn Hubbs, and Barbara Tierney, all of UNC -Charlotte, led off with macro- and micro-perspectives on the issue, “What Do You Do?” User-Centered Ethnography at UNC-C’s Atkins Library.” Olsen, Associate University Librarian for Information Commons, recounted how the library hired a professional anthropologist to do usability testing, querying a group of eight students on how they worked and how they could perhaps do so “better and smarter.” The impetus for this stemmed from the absence of a University Librarian for many years, as well as a head of information commons, so the sentiment was that they needed to re-address their purpose. The result was a re-designed library, both physically and virtually, with an interesting array of approaches, some novel, some more familiar. Easels now permit students to write about what they like and don’t like: for instance, students want more of a streamlined Google look to the library’s web site and the library has emulated a library Smartphone app, similar to Duke’s mobile site. Barbara Tierney, Head of Information Services, listed their university-centered services. A Public Services Committee meets monthly with representatives from every public service area. They instituted a user-centered forum to address the question of how students (4 on the panel) do their work; from this it emerged that students are in their own personal networks, unlikely to consult either faculty or staff, and they prefer to use information from their peers. They are not sophisticated in the way they use the library, and are generally blissfully unaware of library resources, are satisfied with finding the easiest way to research, and Google is uncontested king. Smart phones are devoted to social networking only, untainted by research purposes. Atkins’ user-centered initiatives promote library resources and services such tactics as blanket emails, embedding resources in course pages, attempting to keep students tech savvy, showing how to use specialty software, having library staff present at orientation programs, publicizing services in all areas of the university, and having librarians involved with various university programs and centers. There are also eight “Learning Express” modules, with both long and short versions for books, articles, and other research resources, with links to these units embedded in courseware. They were able to accomplish something we have had in mind for years: an Information Desk that is the first public service desk students encounter as they enter the library. Dawn Hubbs, Head of Research Services, noted that the library doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but in relation to other structures and programs. They have responded to students’ wishes to have a sofa room/nap area (have we truly addressed that need as yet?) as well as food in the library. There was some sentiment still to see books in the library, so reference books are now located on the first floor. There’s an ongoing conflict between quiet study and group study needs. Three public service desks are situated near to each other, for Information, Research Services, and Tech support. Incidentally, they use LibStats from UW-Madison to collect reference questions.

The two breakout sessions I opted for were: “Telling our Stories: Connecting with Faculty at Guilford College” and “Encouragement as Service Philosophy: Motivating African-American College Students to Connect with Library Resources and Services.” The first presentation was offered by Nathaniel King, Information Literacy Librarian, and Leah Dunn, Library Director, both of Guilford College. This session advocated cultivating “library evangelists” in order to approach “library skeptics” about the value of library services, whose value might not always seem readily apparent. King sees stories as a means of persuasion: when one asks library users about the library, one most often gets a story, and faculty who share stories become valuable marketing resources. Just find the faculty who can tell great stories, thereby communicating infectious enthusiasm for the library– such as their positive experiences with ILL. He outlined a range of possible tactics: getting into the campus community by attending events and informal and formal meetings, campus-sponsored faculty lunches, and supporting research and writing (for instance they have a Zotero week when librarians go into the dining hall and offer quick demos and handouts to students who stop by).

The second breakout session was presented by Judd Mortimore, a Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor of Religion at Bennett College, and Amanda Wall, a UNC-G Ph.D. student in Teacher Education. Adopting encouragement as a service philosophy, Mortimore contended, serves to motivate African-American college students to connect with library resources and services at a Historically Black College, many of whose students are first generation college students with limited research experience, are internet dependent, have research anxiety, and do not eschew plagiarism-not unlike the college student universe in general. They embarked on a library instruction promotion program, and as a result went from 11 to 90 sessions between 2006/07 and 2009/2010, and patron counts of 14,661 to 25,911. They have developed approaches and services with instructional and programmatic emphasis on fostering a perception of encouragement in students. Ms. Wall presented the scholarly undergirding for this approach, discussing a seminal study on the motivation of African-American students, published in 2003 by Kevin Cokley (“What do we Know about the Motivation of African American Students? Challenging the ‘Anti-Intellectual Myth’.” Harvard Educational Review 63.4 (Winter 2003): 524-558.

The aim was to capture social and contextual factors of self-concept, and they addressed the notion that faculty encouragement will promote positive academic self-concept. Students at HBUCs have higher motivation and confidence than those attending PWCUs. Working from the premise that the perception of encouragement is a factor in motivation, the implication for libraries is that promoting perceptions of encouragement through library services will likewise foster motivation and positive academic self-concept. He listed strategies for use in both instruction and in references services.


  • Emphasize relationships, not resources, e.g. student-librarian, librarian-professor
  • Address research anxiety early and often, validating the experience of anxiety
  • Know the syllabus and assignments, and engage research tasks as one who is responsible, i.e. model the experience of doing research
  • Emphasize strategies for identifying keywords and revising search strategies, and knowing when to move on
  • Model good responses to search failure and don’t “bulletproof” presentations (show how to respond to failed searches)


  • Communicate enthusiasm, even jealousy for the research task
  • Indicate commitment to supporting the student; elicit how the student feels about the task, show interest, commitment, and confidence
  • Acknowledge confusion, anxiety, and disinterest, and respond
  • Clarify the topic and weigh potential foci
  • Identify ambiguity in assignment and encourage to seek clarification
  • Question the student’s choices
  • Model research processes and practices
  • Focus on what the student should do after the interview
  • Resist the temptation to produce the source
  • Follow up, e.g. find something afterwards to re-engage the relationship, establishing oneself as a partner in help

He cited faculty feedback which was positive, even flowery: post-instruction students exhibited more confidence, produced better and more refined topics, used the internet more appropriately, and exhibited less evidence of plagiarism. Students felt more confident with research, finding books, citation styles, and using the internet.

The wrap-up session was led by Jean Ferguson, Head of Research and Reference Services at Duke University, and consisted of querying a panel of students and one professor of Art History at UNC-CH, Dr. John Bowles. A sampling of questions and answers:

Define a library

(Prof) home base, but also books from other libraries on campus, and what can be accessed through the computer

Books and information and journals, but used online resources 10 times more; place to escape and have quiet time; the PGs, a set of shelves on the far end of Davis, also the BF section, where one can wander up and down the aisles and find great books one didn’t find in the online catalog; off campus access makes one more aware of subscription services

If you had BI classes, what was useful?

Too much information, a 3 page handout, but good experience in libraries with help on the spot; library information on course page, germane to specific assignment; asked librarian why couldn’t use Google scholar instead of journal databases; need university-specific technology information and handouts; (prof) faculty loves the library, which is extremely helpful, will do anything to get the student into the library

Where do you like to study?

Library or public places, with the best coffee shop; likes a little bit of noise; home alone, since the library has too many people and one gets too many books if one stays too long

Do you use social media in research?

Doesn’t like chat, since it’s like talking to a customer service agent, prefers personal interaction; likes text a citation for books

Information sources they like

Google and Wikipedia; (Prof) art librarians put together a resource page with most useful sources relevant to the class, uses Google and Wikipedia but knows that other faculty feel they are the downfall of research

What things have prepared you to be a better researcher?

Reference class on citation management; (prof) working in a library as an undergrad and grad student; working in a library so knows how call numbers work, can go right to the book instead of spending 15 minutes looking over the shelves

I felt that the conference’s pragmatic orientation provided much of interest and potential use, but Steve and I both agreed that we have many things in place already at ZSR and are ahead of the curve in much that was presented and discussed!

NCLA 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009 1:25 pm

Mary Scanlon and I attended the Thursday session of NCLA’s 58th Biennial Conference in Greenville, where 543 registrants converged on the Greenville Convention Center.

The speaker at the day’s Ogilvie Lecture was Mary Boone, State Librarian of North Carolina, who commenced her address by countering our awareness of parlous times for libraries by citing positive statistics for the state: NC is the 4th fastest growing state, 10th most populous, and is projected to be the 7th most populous state by 2030. On the other hand, there have been hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the traditional big three job areas– tobacco, textiles, and furniture, as a new economy has emerged based on technology, banking, pharmaceuticals, and auto-parts , yes auto-parts. She underscored the importance of NC libraries and the services they provide, despite cuts to their own resources (17.9% cuts at ECU, for instance, the home university for this conference). She singled out NC community colleges’ challenges as they try to support a new curriculum that addresses the education and training needs of the new workplaces. I’ve read, for instance, that community colleges are jumping on the bandwagon for educating in emerging green technologies. Yet community colleges have had resource cuts of 25-41%.Public library use is at an all time high, heavily used by people seeking new jobs and forced to apply online, when some have never touched computers in their lives (some public libraries have also found it necessary to take reservations for story hours!). However, she remains optimistic that one can define one’s core mission and still provide essential services. For instance, she cited innovative strategies in the face of materials cuts:librarians going into the stacks and displaying literary classics in lieu of the latest bestsellers, with the result that these venerable works are flying off the display shelves.She closed by urging us to redefine and update our mission and do different, if necessary, with less.

I attended the RASS luncheon, which featured author Jill McCorkle as speaker. She prefaced her readings with engaging and humorous accounts of her writing process, disclosing that she tends to jot intriguing snippets of conversations on slips of papers, napkins, paper towels, etc. which she then stows away for future use. She cited one such remark from this summer, coming from a woman in a grocery store who observed that “the humility had been just terrible” of late; Ms. McCorkle emphatically agreed-and added that quotation to her cache for future use.She was queried, inevitably, about her archival practices (her papers are at UNC ), and she assured the audience of librarians that she does indeed place these slips she’s used in a story in an envelope, to be archived with her other literary output. Her readings from her most recent short story collection, Going Away Shoes, were delightful, full of wit and insight.I am looking forward to finding out how the tales ended.

Each day of the conference offered a session on the greening of libraries, and not surprisingly the sessions were all highly popular, with enthusiastic presenters and audiences alike. The choice of the day was “NC Public Libraries Going Green,” presented by Jody Risacher, Director Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center, Jodi Hojosy, Green Business Program Coordinator, and Dan Barron, Chair NCPLDA Green Libraries Task Force. They offered a very interesting and encouraging overview of Green Library initiatives in NC, including the NC Green Libraries Project (Mr. Barron’s portion) and included a specific account of how the Cumberland County Public Library earned the local Green Business Certificate. That opportunity had fallen into their laps when Sustainable Sandhills approached the library as part of an initiative to assist businesses and institutions in the area with sustainability planning and to encourage them to embrace more environmentally friendly modes of business. The Library now has an informative web page, “Thinking Green, Working Green,” that is filled with information resources, including books and dvds owned by the library, as well as links to external information sources for consumers, provided by governmental and by environmental agencies and organizations.

“Utilizing Library Space for Learning Opportunities,” presented by two UNCG librarians, Kathy Crowe (Associate Dean for Public Services) and Mike Crumpton (Assistant Deans for Administrative Services) took us through the process of assessing, devising, and developing learning spaces. They conducted an environmental scan, assessed how the students use space and what they need, considered changes and updates, and began the planning and renovating processes.They considered changes in how students approach learning and studying, such as active and reflective orientations, group and individual study, technology and other resource access issues. They determined that they needed to create a larger instruction lab, expand collaboratories and group spaces, develop a Learning Commons (the new term for Information Commons), expand service areas such as vending machine and copy center areas as well as the Archives space, reduce and resituate government documents, and reduce as well the reference collection. As a means to these determinations, they used three assessment approaches, an in-house survey, observational studies, and focus groups. Focus group results revealed that the 24/5 expansion was popular as were café booths, collaboratories, group areas and vending. Many considered the library’s environment conducive to study, and confirmed the need for quiet space areas. Fortunately, UNCG has made the expansion of Jackson Library one of its highest priorities, and the proposed design will expand the tower for book stacks and create a center for academic and student life.

Mary Scanlon and Kathy Makens, Electronic Resources Librarian at Durham Public Library, presented a BLINC session on “Social Networking for Career Advancement:It’s Not Your Teenager’s Facebook.” With her usual verve and energy even at the end of a long day spent a-conferencing, Mary explained the various social networking tools and correlated them with professional uses to which they could be put– totally unfazed and undeterred by connectivity poltergeists. She discussed email alerts, useful for journal articles; RSS feeds for both journal articles and blogs; Twitter for conference and professional association coverage; and Facebook, for similar purposes. I had not heard of RT-re-tweet forwarding; or twibes -twitter tribes ,what else, graced by a librarian twibe; or Pipes for filtering the inevitable abundance of RSS feeds (used with a Yahoo account). The audience, coming from various levels of experience, was very engaged, and peppered the two presenters with questions at the end of the very informative session.

Launching a Text a Librarian Service: Cornell’s Experience with Text-a-Librarian

Friday, July 31, 2009 3:34 pm

I sat in on a couple of the concurrent sessions of the day-long “Hand-Held Librarian” online conference on July 30. I was particularly interested in hearing how a library system with the stature of Cornell University had implemented a service which we ourselves have in fact successfully launched already. The participants were Virginia Cole, Reference and Digital Services Librarian at Olin, Cornell University’s humanities and social sciences library Baseema Banoo Krkoska, Reference & Instruction Coordinator at Albert R. Mann Library for the Colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences & Human Ecology; and Gabriel Marcias, VP of Sales and Marketing of Mosio, the makers of Text a Librarian (TAL). Bearing in mind the 85-90% Americans-with-cellphones statistics, the Digital Reference Committee at Cornell University decided to launch a service that would reach students via their preferred mode of communication. They negotiated important privacy provisions with the service provider, Mosio, in order to disassociate student phone numbers from their queries, but do retain an archive of questions which can actually be searched to find earlier answers to repeat questions. Mosio offers a Q & A technology that has been at the cutting edge SMS, and it uses the same encryption that online bankers use. At Cornell, the service operates on a first come-first serve basis, and any staff can answer; there’s a built-in alert so anyone can see if a question is taken. They market via in-house promotional material, by distributing business cards that include the number for the service, and through library instruction sessions. In the future, they hope to have all librarians offering chat, with hourly shift changes. The types of questions typically cover hours, circulation policies, resources, course-related topics, or the inevitable complaints–an excellent way to preserve anonymity while venting regarding a problem. They began this with a “stealthy” launch, in one course only, in order to test the system and methods, so this totaled 26 texts from April 20 to July 29. A particular challenge, they noted, is the ambiguous question, although some people are savvy enough only to ask precise, specific questions that lend themselves well to this mode of communication. The librarians warned that one has to be prepared for the lack of the reference interview and the general lack of dialogue. They look forward to expanding the service in the coming school year. The Mosio representative, Gabriel, singled out security, privacy, dependability, and simplicity has attributes that their system has to offer. The statistics on texting are impressive; 3.5 billion per day in American in 2008, twice as many as phone calls. He showed the screen features with one- click access to favorite research tools, Web 2.0 sites, and social networks. The issue, he wryly pointed out, is teaching librarians to text, not students, except in the sense that students are not all using reference services. It’s a promising system, but with a price tag of $1199 per year, charges are daunting, and our impending Meebo and GoogleVoice services at the opposite end of the price range promise virtues of their own!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009 2:54 pm

LAUNC-CH Conference March 2009:”Rethink, Redefine, Reinvent:The Research Library in the Digital Age”

The most interesting and relevant session for me at this year’s LAUNC-CH was one entitled, “Outreach and Personalization.”Presenters were Richard Cox (Library Webmaster, UNCG), Lynda Kellam (Data Services and Government Information Librarian, UNCG), Jacqueline Solis (Humanities Reference and Instruction Librarian, UNC-CH),Megan Von Isenburg (Associate Director, Information Services, Duke University Medical Center Library), and Kim Vassiliadis (Instructional Design and Technology Librarian, UNC-CH)

Jacqueline Solis and Kim Vassiliadis presented their course page innovations in the context of studies showing that students are still overwhelmed by research resources and that they tend to approach research without regard to a library’s structure (and web sites tend to reflect an organizational view of the library). So they undertook to find new ways of offering the content traditionally offered in subject guides, simplifying and customizing that content and affording *easy* access to the tools students need. They were mindful of the fact that many students just want the information required for course assignments, and that they are focused on an end product: a grade of “A” for the course.

Solis and Vassiliadis worked with faculty to identify information needs and to create a course page specific to an individual class.The course page was introduced in librarian-mediated sessions, and the librarians were available for follow-up via email, chat or consultation. Their concerns centered around questions of scalability, being overwhelmed by demand in attempting to reach all students. So their approach was to take baby steps, starting with a small pilot of ten classes, working with targeted faculty in specific disciplines to share the syllabus and to offer an instructional session. They learned that course pages are indeed not scalable and that that’s okay: not all classes need course pages, for example if there is no research component. But they needed to identify faculty and students with that research element, since without teaching faculty involvement, course pages are not used. So far they have 75 course pages, incorporating print and electronic resources, chat, RSS feeds, and shared delicious accounts, all embedded in the Blackboard account. The project has been successful for a number of reasons:because of relationships established with faculty, and because with faculty buy-in comes student buy-in. Another positive outcome is that the project has demonstrated that librarians truly understand student needs.

Marketing of faculty has been characterized by repeat users, word of mouth, cold-calling and e-mailing, targeting First Year Seminars, new faculty, and infrequently taught courses receptive to library assistance.

Assessment using statcounter to count page hits has revealed that students are indeed using the resources, and that there are repeat visitors. The most frequently used ones are those for which librarians visited the classes and used the pages as part of the instruction. The least used ones are those for which there was no library instruction or if the pages were not well integrated with course assignments. In summary, course pages facilitate relationship-building and outreach to faculty, remove barriers to finding information, provide personalized context, embed and focus instruction, and offer easy access from Blackboard.

The approach taken by UNC-G was to use a portal within Blackboard. After considering whether students want librarians in their social networking spaces-surveys showed that students would *not* respond to library presence in facebook– the next question was whether we can expect students to come to our pages, and if so, how to integrate library’s materials into spaces students actually will use. This led eventually to considering integrating with a course management system. There were issues in Blackboard, as we all can imagine: navigation issues, getting out the word, getting buy-in from librarians and faculty, teaching students to access databases and the library’s homepage. Use of the portal involved taking over a library tab in Blackboard and setting up library resources for “My Major”-a great idea. The challenges cited included timing of student data from Banner and workflows, finding the correct data in Banner, outreach and marketing. But there are some 1000 hits per day, a very respectable number.Reactions have been positive from reference librarians, administration, faculty, and students alike.

The final portion in this session was a presentation on the use of Kindles as a means of exploring and exploiting new technologies to benefit both students and communities. Megan von Isenburg from the Duke Medical Center Library recounted their efforts to target a specific group with a specific tool. The technology advisory group had been tasked with finding technology for workflow or students. They bought Kindles with end of year funds, noting that Kindles are cheaper than the $200-$300 textbooks, as well as lightweight and portable. They can be used not only for Kindle books but also for personal documents and include web access with no monthly fee. Medical students could use medical books as well as personal documents and could search the web. The National Library of Medicine has technology and outreach grants, so they got this as an outreach grant. They acquired six Kindles, and shared one book to six readers.Kindle was chosen to accomodate low connectivity locations in the communities the medical students serve, and because of the outreach opportunity, to serve disadvantaged communities specifically within the family medicine arena. Kindles were given both to preceptors and to students, and each loaded books, class documents, and practice guidelines. The e-texts are searchable, accept added notes and bookmarks, and they support looking up terms. Among the lessons were the following:technology is a moving target (Kindle2 came out in the middle of the project), focus on bigger issues i.e. what can be transferred out of the project, grants provide structure to projects, faculty involvement is the key to personalization, test boundaries to explore new territories.

I do think that our use of LibGuides in combination with bibliographic instruction sessions compares very favorably to both of these schools’ approaches. We also customize our research guides, always basing them on course syllabi and assignment information provided by the professors. The idea of a “My Major” resource is a good one, although the constraints imposed by locking all of these research guides within Blackboard are not necessarily advantageous, in my opinion.

Finally, I took advantage (with Mary Scanlon’s kindly acquiescence) of this trip to Chapel Hill to visit Wilson Library’s Rare Book exhibit on the 19thcentury poet of the English Romantic movement, John Keats. The UNC-CH Libraries’ 6th millionth book was the 1817 edition of his first volume of poetry, and the exhibit was a very well thought-out and inclusive approach to that signal publication (Keats is usually mentioned in the same breath as Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth). Keats died of consumption in 1821 at the age of 25, and his best poetry, that of his “Great Year,” appeared in his third volume, published in 1820. Wilson Library hasa copy of each of the three volumes, which were on display along with the 19th century editions that reflected his growing posthumous poetic reputation. In addition to 19th century giftbooks and anthologies (one has to remember that had he survived, he would have lived well into the Victorian period) , there were separate exhibit cases also for rare books literature by poets who influenced Keats (e.g. William Wordsworth, with a beautiful volume graced by foredge painting of a scene clearly from the Lake District) and by poets who were influenced by Keats, women writers of the 19th century, volumes of Keats’s poetry beautifully reflecting the book arts, and a case exhibiting the other “millionth” volumes, the first two of which were 15th century publications. It was a very enriching end to an interesting day in Chapel Hill.

Ellen at Lilly Conference

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 2:52 pm

Lilly Conference on College & University Teaching

“Millennial Learning:Teaching in the 21st Century”

February 20-21, Greensboro

The Lilly Conference focuses on academic pedagogy, but despite the 2009 theme of millennial learning, presenters I heard chose to forgo the familiar litany of millennials’ characteristics, and proceeded instead to address best practices designed to meet this group’s learning styles and predilections.

The Opening Session, presented by Milton Cox of Miami University, actively demonstrated its title, “Strategies, Practices, and Evidence to Encourage and Facilitate Active-Learner-Centered Approaches.” Cox posed questions to be answered by the round-table groups, soliciting consensus definitions of active, learner-centered approaches, as well as instances from participants’ own teaching of effective engagement with students; and cited evidence that such approaches produce optimal results.Discussion, cooperative and collaborative learning, problem-based, active, and experiential were key terms that recurred throughout his presentation and in the proferred answers to his questions, all summed up by his challenge to be the “guide on the side, not sage on the stage.”

I next attended Dr. James Eison’s “Put-Offs and Turn-Ons in the College Classroom.”A faculty member at the University of South Florida in the Department of Adult, Career, and Higher Education, he skillfully launched a lively discussion by asking us to “reflect candidly” on both irritating and desirable behaviors in students and in faculty alike.There was no dearth or reluctance of response.Arrogance, condescension, boastfulness, bias, vintage notes, lack of preparation or currency, failure to respond to emails quickly or to return graded work promptly, “death by powerpoint,” unapproachable, failure to communicate expectations, reading from textbook material, and ambiguous assignments all came to mind as faculty behaviors irritating to students.On the other side of the coin, faculty are averse to lack of engagement, attention, and preparation; excessive familiarity (“YO, Stan!” was a case in point cited by one professor); packing up early; plagiarism; tardiness; and engaging in other non-academic activities such as IMing, email, and ESPN.In contrast to these modes of conduct, faculty cited impressive and desirable student behaviors such as thoughtful questions, discussion of papers and projects with the professor, active participation, demonstration of a desire to learn, courtesy, respect for others’ ideas, and enthusiasm.After having elicted such lengthy lists, Dr. Eison then discussed studies that have in fact corroborated these aversive reactions.Repetitive lectures, reading from textbooks, information overload, monotonous delivery, verbal abuse (!), and poor organization and planning apparently are verifiably counterproductive.He did note that cultural and other elements of diversity (e.g. a younger generation of professors) create fuzziness and uncertainty about expected conduct (witness “Yo, Stan”), and that a syllabus spelling out expected behavior and a classroom code of conduct developed by students themselves would be ways of addressing this type of problem.

Another concurrent session focused specifically on multi-cultural classrooms and contexts.Maria Stallions from Roanoke College led a discussion of “Classrooms as Knowledge-Building Communities:A Cross-Cultural Competence and Inquiry Approach.”Her warm-up session was intriguing:looking at photographs and giving one-word responses.For example, there was a Newsweek cover image of a fully armed soldier.All of our responses were variations on the theme of violence, war, or excessive force.However, she said that some audiences in other meetings responded with words like “security” or “safety.” She stressed the importance of developing cross-cultural competence as classrooms become increasingly diverse both linguistically and culturally, and singled out key components of culture and communication, such as perceptions of time, communication styles, social structure, and values and beliefs.This, too, was a very interactive and engaging session for all participants.

For years now we have become quite familiar with LIB 100 assignments involving assessment of websites.So a session on “Meeting the Millennials:Using Wikipedia to Teach 21st-Century Literacy Skills to First Year Writing Students,” by Paula Patch, an Instructor in the English Department at Elon University, certainly seemed apt.The indisputable premise that the online world is more familiar to students than the academic world inspired Patch to use Wikipedia to teach critical literacy skills.She devised a detailed evaluation assignment, requiring the students to write an essay arguing for or against the reliability of a Wikipedia article.A highly detailed questionnaire guided the writing assignment, posing queries regarding completeness of information, organization, referenceerrors, flagging, history and discussion, page linkage, and intended audience.It is a useful guide for possible use in ZSR literacy skills work.

Another session focused on course blogs, in this case the use of a blog to post research findings about pediatric assessment tools.Students of Dr. Paula Hudson , in Elon University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, were asked to post information on a measure, followed by comments by other students.For Dr. Hudson, class blogs offer several advantages:they free up class time, replace solitary classroom presentations with knowledge-sharing collaborative projects, and result in instant publication.Students in this course indeed felt that they had created an information-rich resource.

On Saturday, the Plenary Session was “Persisting with Passion:A Summary of Break-throughs in Teaching and Learning,” led by Barbara Millis of the University of Texas, San Antonio. It was one of the more in-depth sessions, summarizing approaches to cooperative learning, deep learning, and teaching methodologies, in the hopes of enabling teachers to save “years of wasted energy in your teaching life by reducing the cycle of teaching blunders and naivete.”Dr. Millis is Director of the Teaching and Learning Center, and she defined cooperative learning as “a structured form of small group problem solving that incorporates the use of heterogeneous teams, maintains individual accountability, promotes positive interdependence, instills group processing, and sharpens social skills.”She advocated a combination of student self-selecting and teacher-selected group formation,and suggested rotating student team roles as leader or facilitator, recorder or scribe, reporter or spokesperson, and folder monitor.Deep learning was a concept frequently referred to during the conference, and she singled out the key elements of a deep approach to learning:intrinsic student motivation, active rather than passive involvement in learning, interactive discussion with others, and a well-structured base of knowledge in which content is integrated and related to other knowledge rather than presented in discrete pieces.She noted that although deep learning and doing work well together, active learning comprised solely of doing is not sufficient.When students are engaged in activities involving discussion, questioning, clarification, and writing, there is better subject matter retention as well as expansion of students’ critical thinking abilities.Deep approaches to learning incorporate understanding rather than memorizing facts, and relies on integrating new concepts with prior experience and existing knowledge.She elaborated on three learning principles, which she identified as prior knowledge (students create new knowledge based on preexisting knowledge-or lack thereof);”deep foundational knowledge” (students require a conceptual framework and knowledge base; and metacognition (students need to identify learning goals and subsequently to monitor their own progress in meeting them).She noted the importance of knowing where students are and what they know or don’t know, and then helping students take control of their own learning process.Her packet included printouts of some of her own publications referred to during the presentation.

My favorite session was offered byDorothe Bach, Assistant Professor and Faculty Consultant in the Teaching Resource Center/Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia. She presented a very engaging session on using scholarly listservs to introduce students to discipline-specific communication.Aware that students often are intimidated by the scholarly discourse they encounter in academic books and journals, Professor Bach devised an assignment that woulddemystify the process by which questions emerge and knowledge and scholarship are created.She chose the Child_lit listserv from Rutgers University, which discusses theory and criticism of literature for children and young adults, while offering all the immediacy of dialogue and debate.After asking the listserv for permission and giving a heads-up to the community, she asked students to take time first to lurk and to explore threads of interest in the archives, and then to venture into the discussion either by responding in a substantive way to an ongoing discussion or by raising a relevant new topic.(She did recommend peer review feedback prior to posting and defined the characteristics of good postings.)A class presentation and reflection paper discussed the issues raised in relevant threads and articulated responses to this particular listserv culture.The assignment was an exhilarating success.Students were thrilled to have participated in ongoing dialogue with authors, scholars and other individuals on the listserv, and to have been taken seriously by the community as the members responsed to their postings.It didn’t hurt that none other than Philip Pullman (author of the Dark Materials series-The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Skyglass) posted there until the demands of movie-making drew him away.It was an innovative approach to the problem of how to initiate students to scholarly communication in a more informal framework.

Another fun, very active learning plenary session was led by Darby Lewes of Lycoming College.The emphatic title, “Armageddon 101:Dealing with Disruptive Students and Their ‘Natural’ Aversion to a Discipline” actually turned out to be a very lively, energetic hour spent explicating two of Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues, “Porphyria’s Lover” and “My Last Duchess.”As Dr. Lewes paced relentlessly around the Victoria Ballroom, followed by her appropriately name-tagged dog (until the dog dropped out of sight presumably for much-deserved rest), she coaxed answers to interpretive questions.

Finally, to conclude on a culinary note of sorts:mealtimes became forums for exchanging tales of economic woe in academe.At first I thought I had mis-heard when a young academic from the University of Georgia disclosed that office telephones had been taken away:a redundancy in the age of cell phones, email, texting, and IM-ing, not to mention Twitter.But the revelation was corroborated on the following day when a Ph.D. student at UC-Santa Barbara shared a similar story, embellished and enhanced with accounts of increased teaching loads and escalating office occupancy figures.One would-be presenter had to cancel due to a travel ban.Others were only able to attend thanks to the hospitality of friends or family members.Indeed, there was a preponderance of attendees from UNC-G, Elon, and other area schools; however, the conference does attract from distant regions and it was the richer for that reason.

NCSLA Web 2.0 Roundtable

Friday, July 25, 2008 3:45 pm

The NCSLA Web 2.0 Roundtable held July 24 at the National Humanities Center at Research Triangle Park offered an informative round of musical tables. Seven roundtables covered blogs & wikis, Facebook & LinkedIn, RSS & News Feeds, Podcasting, Library Thing, SLA’s Course on 23 Things, and & Flickr. Some 50-plus attendees got to choose four 30-minute sessions, and as sessions drew to a close we could be seen eying the next sought-after table and assessing the most expeditious route for getting there in time to obtain a seat.

A variety of libraries were represented there, not only biotech and business, but art, public, and academic as well. The Web 2.0 library applications presented during these brief sessions shared a common (and commonsensical) premise: reach patrons by making library information available in places where people already are spending time.

Karin Shank of the NC Biotechnology Center demonstrated how and Flickr can be exploited in libraryland. Sharing categories of URLs with staff, pooling bookmarks, bundling tags, linking in blogs, and using to view the history of a website with comments submitted by people are all approaches being explored at her library. Using Flickr, Karin showed an interesting art historical application: the digital image of a Renaissance painting, divided up into sections of apparent painterly issues where students would point and click, and then make comments for an art history professor to view and no doubt assess.

John Wilson from NC State laid out blogs and wikis at his table, focusing on “WolfBlogs,” which can be used for both academic and personal purposes. He said that there are not many light users; once converted, people tend to be committed. He showed a wiki set up for a NCSU chemistry course, as well as his reference wiki which permitted him to pull together numerous subject and instructional guides, whether in print or electronic incarnations, and which are now available through a large and growing, interlinked site .

Sheila Devaney of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School (where former ZSR business reference librarian David Ernsthausen still works), addressed Facebook and LinkedIn. She recounted earlier efforts to keep up with students’ preferred modes of communication; however, by the time a library was able to utilize, for example, a palm pilot as a means of connecting with students, they had long since moved on to something else. She saw students managing their lives from Facebook, using it extensively for communication. So she created Facebook profiles in hopes of making it the first window to library services, essentially a PR function. She noted that friends and fans proliferate virally, pointed out that Georgia Tech started a page this Monday, and by Tuesday it had more than 80 friends. Fan pages can be found for ACRL, OCLC, and NCSLA, as well as UNC- Wilmington and the southern Folklife collection at UNC-CH. The Metropolitan has 8000 fans, not a negligible amount! LinkedIn, because of its orientation to the corporate environment, is “pushed” at Kenan-Flagler. Not many libraries use it, but it is another place to get contact information out; headhunters also use it as a way of doing research on people before interviewing potential candidates. It’s one more example of putting things in a form or medium people are actually using. Incidentally, in an aside she noted that NPR’s Carl Kasell solicits wishlists for program guests via his friends and fans on Facebook. Something to consider!

The final brief roundtable I was able to attend was on RSS news feeds, presided over by Erin Iannoacchione who works for Intermune. As a librarian for a biotech firm, she spends hours each day tracking down news stories of interest to her clientele. RSS feeds have simplified her work enormously, since she no longer has to go out and do individual searches on various databases and web sites; the feeds bring the information to her. She specifically recommended to create feeds from web sites that don’t offer any. Like the other four sessions I attended, it was rich in tips and helpful examples.

The National Humanities Center, incidentally, is unique. The only such private, non-profit center of its kind for the humanities, it offers approximately 40 scholars in the humanities a year in which to carry out research. It is not a program for young scholars endeavoring to wrestle a dissertation into a publishable scholarly monograph: generally one has to have already published at least one book. The library director, Eliza Robertson, told me that they provide services ranging from locating online resources, submitting interlibrary loan requests (80% of which are filled by Duke, NC State, and UNC-CH libraries), and assisting in other ways as needed. The WFU English Department’s prolific scholar, Professor Eric Wilson, has been there and gratefully acknowledged the helpful role played by the NHC in enabling him to carry out his research and bring his scholarly projects to completion.

NCLA RTSS: UNC System Pilot Institutional Repository

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 11:16 am

Following Dr. Griffith’s keynote address, summarized by Leslie, I attended the concurrent session on the UNC System Pilot Institutional Repository (IR), which UNC-Greensboro hosts for Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, UNC-G, UNC-Pembroke, and UNC-Wilmington. Presenters were Eleanor Cook (ASU), Stephen Dew (UNC-G), Adina Riggins (UNC-W), and Rob Wolf (UNC-Pembroke). Their discussion included a history of the IR’s development, content and collection policies, copyright concerns, and marketing strategies. After the initial formation in 2006 of a pilot group to create a consortium IR, progress has continued at an expeditious pace. By the spring of 2007, according to Rob Wolf, the group was making content decisions and establishing a timetable. They decided to exclude pre-prints, unfinished works, and data sets, but otherwise to include virtually anything and to rely on policing themselves rather than attempting to anticipate all possible content quandaries. The group considered various platforms, including Digital Commons, EPrints, Fedora, and Content DM, but decided to develop a UNC-G homegrown creation because other products were not set up for a shared IR and were so costly. The homegrown version is fully customizable. Later in 2007 the group met to review content, file types, basic policy guidelines, and metadata standards. They decided on the inclusion of ETDs, Dublin Core metadata, and standard file types for greater accessibility. ETDs are recommended as a “good way to seed your IR,” but they reside in a separate module in order not to “clutter” the search results. Currently, ASU is testing the administrative module, adding elements from an extant faculty publications database, and launching publicity plans to inform faculty of copyright issues. ECU currently has its own IR, “ScholarShip,” but is committed to the joint IR on some level. UNC-G is creating the public module and adding records to the administrative module. UNC-Pembroke plans to market the IR to faculty in the fall, and is testing the administrative module. UNC-W has formed an IR committee for marketing strategies this fall, and is determining the status of ETDs for the IR.

Stephen Dew surveyed the marketing strategies employed in order to advance the IR cause. The Faculty Scholarly Communications Committee at UNC-G for 2007-2008 includes two librarians, eight faculty members representing each school or college, and one representative each from the Office of Research, University Counsel, and Technology Transfer, and Continual Learning. The group has sent out three ARL brochures covering “Author Rights,” “Open Access,” and “Create Change;” created an “Addendum to Publication Agreement” with a cover letter from the Provost; and held two faculty forums. The first one, “Taking Control of your Scholarship: New Trends in Copyright, Patents, and Publishing,” consisted of panelists from the Office of Technology Transfer, University Counsel, and IT; the second forum, “Open Access to Scholarship: Benefits for the Scholar, University and Society,” invited as guest speaker David Shulenburger, of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

Dew has been working with library liaisons to educate them on the issues of scholarly communication. They are encouraged to read selected articles and the ARL/SPARC handouts. He has developed a six-page list of talking points to provide background for discussions with faculty, as well as a one-page IR handout for faculty explaining “how, why, and what. ” Educational meetings for liaisons have focused on specific subjects: the background to scholarly communication issues, the open access movement, author rights and publication addenda, and institutional and disciplinary repositories. In addition, potential early adopters at the University have been identified: highly published scholars, department heads, NIH grant recipients, new faculty and newly tenured faculty, other leaders and opinion-makers, as well as people deemed likely to be enthusiastic about the initiative. Liaisons obtain resumés for each department and identify articles from prospective contributors. They then conduct SHERPA/ROMEO searches for journals and publications (the site lists the permissions usually given as part of publishers’ copyright transfer agreements), contact editors or publisher for those not in SHERPA, and for each article establish what the rights are for contributing to an IR.

Also underway is the development of presentations, including demonstrations of the IR and Google Scholar, that will highlight the advantages of contributing to the IR: how it can showcase scholarship and promote higher citations and a wider readership. Other marketing strategies include IR discussions held by the Provost and Deans with the faculty, campus news articles, library newsletter articles, general campus mailings to faculty, a web page highlighting new contributions and high use articles (indicating hits for the number of times an article has been downloaded), and a blog about new developments. These strategies are well thought out and thorough, and surely will inform the approaches of our own campus-wide Scholarly Communication Committee.

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.

ALA Annual
ALA Midwinter
Career Development for Women Leaders
Carolina Consortium
CASE Conference
Celebration: Entrepreneurial Conference
Charleston Conference
Coalition for Networked Information
Digital Forsyth
Electronic Resources and Libraries
Elon Teaching and Learning Conference
Entrepreneurial Conference
Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP)
Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA)
First-Year Experience Conference
Handheld Librarian
ILLiad Conference
Innovative Library Classroom Conference
Journal reading group
Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians
Library Assessment Conference
Lilly Conference
LITA National Forum
Mentoring Committee
Music Library Association
NCCU Conference on Digital Libraries
North Carolina Serials Conference
online course
Online Learning Summit
Open Repositories
Professional Development Center
Site Visits and Tours
Society of American Archivists
Society of North Carolina Archivists
Southeast Music Library Association
Sun Webinar Series
TALA Conference
UNC Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference
University Libraries Group
ZSR Library Leadership Retreat
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

Powered by, protected by Akismet. Blog with