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2013 ATLA Conference-Days 2 & 3

Thursday, July 11, 2013 3:36 pm

My favorite session from the last two days of the conference spoke to a topic I’ve been thinking about for awhile. We teach students how to find information, but don’t really give them assistance in reading or processing the information they find. Academic reading, like academic writing, is a skill that many of our students probably haven’t developed (well) prior to coming to college.

The session “Teaching Analytic Reading Skills and Reading Strategies to Seminary Students” described a one-credit course created by Laura Harris from Iliff School of Theology in Denver. The course met over a Friday afternoon and all day Saturday (not her ideal!) and students started by working through the same article that they had all read prior to class, completing four assignments. For the first assignment, using a strict set of instructions, students marked up the article, focusing on thesis statements, supporting information, verb use and the article apparatus (headings, footnotes, etc….). Writing a descriptive outline of the article was the second assignment. The third assignment was to create an argument map of the article, which could be in the form of a flow chart or a mind map. This technique particularly helps visual or second language learners. The last assignment was to write a 300 word evaluation of the article, looking at clarity, consistency, logic, assumptions and biases of the author and their writing. After going through one article together, students then completed the same assignments using an (pre-approved) article that they brought in, hopefully one they needed to read already!

Harris found that this technique helped students not only with their reading, but with also with their writing. By seeing the techniques and styles of successful authors, they could use them as models, and use the less successful authors and examples of what to avoid. Harris also gave us a great bibliography (I’m happy to share) and I would like to incorporate this somehow with the Divinity students to start with, and also in my LIB250 course.

My other two favorite sessions were related to book history, one focusing on the history and structure of Christian reference bibles, and the other on the publication history of Luther’s collected works. “Information Structures in the Christian Reference Bible” was presented by John Walsh from Indiana University, and began with a discussion of paratexts, which are devices and conventions inside and outside the book that mediate the book to the reader: titles, subtitles, epigraphs, dedications, notes, afterwords, prefaces, etc… Christian reference bibles have a large number and a wide variety of these types of additions to the main text (which is another discussion itself…) and include things as basic as chapter and verse divisions, as helpful as maps as genealogy charts, and as problematic as section headings and cross-references. These problematic section headings and cross-references can also be helpful, but frequently they have been used to project a specific theological perspective, and they have been codified in such a way to make one interpretation seem to be the only legitimate interpretation (ie, marginal cross-references in the Gospels that refer to passages in the Hebrew Bible to make seem as if they are prophetic fulfillments). I found this session particularly interesting and it brought up some issues that I hadn’t considered before.

Armin Siedlecki from Pitts Theological Library at Emory University presented “From Wittenberg to Weimar: The History of Publication of Martin Luther’s Collected Works.” Collections of Luther’s works began to be published before he had died, as early as 1518 (he died in 1546) so it was quite some time before there would be a complete collection of his letters, speeches, pamphlets, and books. Siedlecki highlighted 12 major editions of Luther’s work, which had varying methods of organization (chronological, topical, format, etc…), were published in both German and Latin, and in varying sizes of different portability. The most recent of these editions, the Weimar Edition, was started in 1883, 400 years after Luther’s birth. It was supposed to take 10 years to finish, but because of several wars, including the Cold War, it was only completed in 2009, with 120 volumes. The American Edition was started in 1955, but was stopped incomplete in 1986. Work began on it again in 2011, and the edition is projected to be 75 volumes when complete.


2013 ATLA Conference-Day 1

Thursday, June 20, 2013 9:53 pm

The 2013 American Theological Library Association Conference is being held in Charlotte, and I have been on the local host committee, helping to prepare events and excursions for those who want some local color while they are here. We kicked things off on Wednesday night with a lovely reception at the Mint Museum, and then started our conference sessions early this morning.

The first session I attended was a conversation group on the topic of “Library Instruction and Advanced Researchers” and asked if there are differences between instruction sessions presented for doctoral students and masters students, and if so, what they might be. While our Divinity School does not offer a doctoral level program, it may in the future, and I thought this session might give me an idea of the support these more advanced students might need. The consensus in the room seemed to be the standard librarian answer of, “it depends!” It depends on whether your institution requires a master’s degree for admissions, or if a master’s is part of the doctoral program. It depends on whether your students are coming straight out of undergrad, or they have been out of academia for 20+ years. It depends on whether you are meeting them at the beginning of their studies, or at the point where they are having to make their dissertation topic proposal. It depends on whether the faculty make library sessions a priority or not. It also depends on the topics/degrees being covered (archaeology, exegesis, theology, church history and pastoral care are all vastly different areas of research and require different tools, D.Min., Ph.D., and Th.D. degrees also cover different areas)

In regards to specific content, these suggestions were made:

  • basic search strategies and religious studies databases
  • primary, secondary, tertiary sources
  • importance of archival sources/collections
  • importance of selecting a bibliographic management system at the start of their research
  • if faculty notice particular problems (lit reviews, bibliographies, level of research) you can adress those issues and possibly get faculty by-in
  • help prepare students for what their dissertation committees will want to see (lists of databases consulted, archival collections to investigate, LC subject headings and call numbers, etc…)

“Theological Libraries & the Theology of Hospitality” was a panel presentation of three reflections on the idea of hospitality in libraries. A few ideas that came up:

  • Definition: “Hospitality involves a space into which people are welcomed, a space into which they normally wouldn’t be allowed.” Do we think our libraries are hospitable because we are used to them ourselves (we have lost the outsider perspective”?
  • We see many of our patrons on a daily basis, or face to face, but what about those who never come into the building? How do we extend hospitality to them? On the website, on chat, email?
  • What do our patrons expect when they enter the library? Do they know what to expect before we show them what is possible (ala Steve Jobs)?
  • Different types of hospitality in a library environment: hospitality of resources (research resources and human resources-knowledge, assistance), hospitality of comfort (food/drinks, quiet space, temperature/light), hospitality of dialogue (library as a third space, interdisciplinary discourse), protective hospitality (safe space)
  • We practice hospitality in the context of our profession of furthering academic pursuits

“Support for Online Bible Studies” covered free and hosted tools to help students who might want to conduct or participate in online Bible studies as part of their course or ministerial work. Some of the tools were already familiar to me (Wabash Center Internet Guide to Religon, Princeton Theological Commons) but there were several that were new (Lectionary Greek, Working Preacher, Narrative Lectionary). There were a few questions suggested for students to think about as they start an online bible study program, especially because of the private and personal nature of the types of topics encountered in these discussions:

  • Will the group be open/public, or private only to members/registrants?
  • How will you create your online presence as a leader?
  • Do you need a covenant agreement between participants?
  • Is it better to meet via skype so there isn’t a record of the discussion?

One new aspect of this conference is that we are meeting in conjunction with annual conference of the Center for the Study of Information and Religion (CSIR). I attended one of their sessions today, “A Study on the Effects of Iranian Religions on Its House Architecture,” presented by Khosro Movahed of Shiraz Islamic Azad University. Movahed’s study compared the traditional house architecture of Islamic and Zoroastrian families by visiting 10 houses, looking at house plans, interviewing inhabitants and reviewing relevant scriptural passages with housing rules for both of the traditions. Traditional Zoroastrian houses were oriented on an east/west axis as sun/light worship was a significant part of their religious practice. They included a guest space that was set aside for visitors that were not of the Zoroastrian faith. The decor of the houses included symbolism taken from their scriptures, the Avesta (such as cedar trees), and construction followed prescriptions from the Vandidad portion of the Avesta. The plans of traditional Islamic houses were centered around the distinction of public and private spaces, who would be allowed to enter the private areas of the home (ie, the areas the women occupied), and signified the importance that Islam placed on hospitality. The entrance area of the house was set aside for guest rooms, and had no sightlines into the private area, and these areas were the most opulent and decorated in the home. The decorations were limited to geometric and floral patterns, as well as Qur’an verses. Muslim homes were oriented towards the southwest and Mecca, as are mosques. In cities and towns with multiple religions, there were specific quarters where each religious group lived, and these architectural types predominated in their respective quarters. In the last few decades, with population growth and socio-economic changes, these architectural patterns have been changing. New highrise apartments are western in style and don’t maintain these religious distinctions. Movahed suggested that it would be good for new construction and urban planning to re-incorporate some of these traditional ideas going forward.

2013 Metrolina Information Literacy Conference

Monday, June 17, 2013 5:26 pm

On Thursday, June 13, 2013, I attended the 8th Annual Metrolina Information Literacy Conference, held at Johnson & Wales University in downtown Charlotte. The day started with a keynote by ACRL President Steven Bell, and then separated into four breakout sessions along four tracks: pedagogy/instruction, assessment, diversity, and collaboration.

Steven Bell, Higher Education Rebooted: Exploring the New Mysteries of Information Literacy

Bell framed his discussion around the concept of mysteries and wicked problems. Mysteries are important because they bring new discoveries and knowledge, and make us tackle problems creatively. Rather than being complacent about the solutions we come up with, we should continue to adapt our solutions, which will lead to more growth. Wicked problems are complex challenges that are characterized by ambiguity and shifting qualities. His examples of current wicked problems in higher education were:

  • what are students learning that will get them jobs?
  • why does higher education cost so much?
  • can we make it less expensive?

Regarding information literacy, his wicked problems were:

  • are we making a difference?
  • do students learn what we say they do?
  • are we/they academically successful?
  • do students really become life-long learners?

Clearly, assessment is an important component of answering these wicked problems. One current solution is the project to update the ACRL Information Literacy Standards, which hasn’t been done since 2000, as well as the Assessment in Action project that just got started.

Session #1: Jennifer Resor Whicker & Lisa Vassady, Radford University, A Novel Approach to Assessment: Using Worksheet Observation Assessment in One-Shot Instruction Classes

Resor Whicker and Vassady presented the observational worksheet approach they developed at Radford University to assess student learning in their information literacy sessions, which are taught in conjunction with General Ed courses. They focused on assessing two sessions: search strategies and databases, and website evaluation. They created worksheets for the students to use in class, and then collected those worksheets at the end of each session. Immediately following each session, the librarian wrote a reflection on how they felt the class went (student engagement, faculty preparation, success of active learning exercises). After the librarian evaluated herself and how the session went, she evaluated the students’ worksheets using an assessment rubric, to see how successful the students were in following and applying the information and techniques the librarian presented. Using the results from the student worksheet assessment, the librarian then wrote another reflection on whether or not the student worksheets matched with their initial impression of student learning, or if they might need to make changes to their presentation or exercises. This evaluation and redevelopment process was continuous during the semester and not limited to the end of the semester.

I liked this idea and am trying to figure out how I might be able to apply it to LIB250. I already use worksheets in the course, but usually let the students keep them so they can use them as they work on their daily assignments. It may be most useful to be more purposeful and formal in my post-class reflection on how the session went and how it could be changed.

One exercise example they used that I really liked was in regards to website evaluation. They initially show the students a website that is unreliable for academic use, and tell them that it is and why. Then they pose a research question to the students, and ask them what qualities the “perfect” website on that topic would have by answering the five w’s: Who would have written/prepared/sponsored it? When would it have been written? Why would it have been made?, etc… Then they have to search for a website they think meets these criteria. I like this idea of the “perfect” website on a topic, as I think students just search for a website that is “good enough” rather than looking for something that really answers their question.

Session #2: Kaetrena Davis, USC-Lancaster, & Deborah Tritt, USC-Aiken, Serving Information Literacy via Digital Humanities

Davis and Tritt mapped the use of various tools to the standards and performance indicators that are shared by those who work in both information literacy and the digital humanities (identifies keywords & concepts, selects and uses appropriate documentation style, etc…). Many of these tools are familiar to most of us (Prezi, Zotero, Evernote) but there were a few that were new to me, so I’ll share those.

  • Text2mindmap: an easy way to create concept maps or outlines, helps students think of key words and how concepts are connected
  • VoiceThread: allows asynchronous discussion on presentations, images, etc…especially useful for online courses
  • Bamboo DiRT: this website is a clearinghouse for digital research tools. Organized by tool type, click on the various categories for a curated list of tools that will help you if you need to: brainstorm, transcribe notes, visualize data, etc…

A few other tools suggested during the discussion:

  • Screencast-O-Matic: a free and easy program that will record video tutorials using screen capture on either Macs or PCs. More flexible and has more features than Jing!
  • bubler & popplet: collaboration & brainstorming software
  • tiki-toki & Timeline JS: software for creating timelines

Session #3: Mae Rodney & Forest Foster, Winston-Salem State University, Moving From Output Measures to Confirming the Value of the Library

Rodney and Foster shared the ways that O’Kelly Library at WSSU has been working to demonstrate the value of the library to the educational mission of the university and its impact on the success of their students. They designed a (IRB approved) study that would look at student interactions with library services (study room reservations, instruction sessions attended, media lab logins) as tracked by the email address used to login on library computers, and correlate that to student success. Being on the dean’s list was decided to be the standard of student success. Students were also asked to take quick surveys, which were administered at the library entrance on iPads, and which collected more subjective information, such as how often the student thought they used the library, how using the library impacted them, etc… Once users were identified by their email logins and all of these various streams of data were collated, they were compared to the dean’s list to see what percentage of overlap there was. WSSU is still in the process of tallying the data, so they don’t know the outcome yet, but they are hoping this will be a strong way to demonstrate that library usage contributes directly to student success.

Session #4: Jenny Dale & Lynda Kellam, UNC-Greensboro, Lost in Emotion: Emotional Intelligence and the Teaching Librarian

Jenny and Lynda always give high-energy presentations, so this session was a lot of fun! Most of us went in to the session thinking of emotional intelligence as limited to empathy and compassion. While those qualities are certainly part of the whole, there are other aspects to consider. Using the work of Alan Mortiboys, Teaching with Emotional Intelligence, and Daniel Goleman’s Working with Emotional Intelligence, they outlined these two concepts:

  • Mortiboy’s three categories for teachers: (1): subject expertise, knowledge, authority, (2): organized, gives feedback, clarity, engaged, (3): affective, positive, empathetic, open: each of these areas contribute to a well-rounded teacher
  • Goleman’s five competencies in the workplace: (1): self-awareness, (2): self-regulation, (3): motivation, (4): empathy, (5): social skills: areas 1-3 are personal competencies, while 4 & 5 are social competencies

Their suggestions for teaching with empathy were to:

  • set ground rules and explain expectations
  • use active listening skills (move on if your students understand a concept)
  • acknowledge individual learners by making eye contact, learning their names and referring to their previous class contributions
  • know your style and play to your strengths
  • know what motivates you as a teacher
  • be aware of verbal and non-verbal communication

As always, I would be happy to talk more with anyone about these presentations! I have more notes and handouts that I would be glad to share, and the slides and prezi’s should be posted to the Metrolina Conference page soon.

Kaeley @ Metrolina 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012 5:16 pm

On Thursday, June 14, Mary Scanlon and I attended the 7th Annual Metrolina Information Literacy Conference in Charlotte. This one-day conference is packed with useful presentations and is a great way to get new ideas for both practical teaching skills and strategies for working with faculty members. There were four sessions, and four tracks (Collaborate, Sharpen, Remodel and Engage) with an option from each of these tracks during every session. The closing session was an entertaining keynote presentation by Jessamyn West, who blogs at Mary and I divided up a few sessions, and attending a few sessions together, so we’ll each talk about three of the sessions we attended.

Session 1: Collaborate: Fostering a Community of Collaboration: Scaffolding the Student Research Process

This session really presented the partnership that has flourished between Amy Burns, a Reference librarian at Central Piedmont Community College, and Jaime Pollard-Smith, an English professor there. They have worked together in both online and face-to-face environments and have done a great job creating assignments and projects that clearly incorporate the use of the library. Jamie started the presentation by assuming her role as teacher and led us through three techniques she uses in her class before the students attend a library research session:

  • looping: students write about their research question for 5-10 minutes. This can include what they “know” about their topic, questions they have, where they think they should look, etc… Then they circle the most interesting thing they wrote, and then write about that for 3-5 minutes, and then circle the most interesting thing they wrote… At the end, they should hopefully have a list of keywords and a more focused idea of what their question is and how they might tackle it.
  • 20 questions: the students write down their research question, and then move around the classroom, finding out what questions the other students would ask regarding their topic. This can help students see their topic from a different perspective.
  • ticket into/out of the library: before the students come to the library session, they must email Jaime: their topic, why they are interested in it, what do they want to learn from their research, their research question and what they learned from their pre-writing exercises. Before they can leave the library, they have to get a ticket out of the library by getting a solid source approved by one of the instructors.

I found these exercises really useful. Frequently, classes are supposed to come to the library with research questions prepared, but often that doesn’t happen. A condensed version of the looping technique could help focus them and give them a place to start their research for the session.

Session 2: Collaborate: LAF: Librarians and Faculty as Teaching Partners

Michael Frye from Winston-Salem State University presented on their program to facilitate librarians and faculty working together on planning courses. The instruction team at O’Kelly Library took advantage of a change in the gen ed requirements to reach out to faculty and help them plan or revamp courses to incorporate information literacy skills. Frye, a life sciences liaison, demonstrated the work he did with Stephanie Dance on a course about infectious diseases. He was embedded in the class, and they created several activities that combined the course content with info lit skills. One example was a bingo game with different columns (geography, gender, etc..) and when someone thought they had a “bingo” they would have to create a search strategy out of their bingo words (male, lymphoma NOT smoker). Frye also shared a great video their department produced that they can use for marketing to other faculty.

Session 3: Remodel: Liberating LibGuides: Designing Guides to Support Student Research

Judy Walker of University of North Carolina-Charlotte started her presentation by saying that she hates LibGuides! She doesn’t like the way LibGuides “boxes” you in with its design and formatting, so her presentation was driven by implementing design strategies within the LibGuides structure to make the guides better. Her Prezi presentation, as well as her documentation, is all on a great LibGuide. A few of the main points she raised:

  • Eye reading patterns have changed: when reading print, our eye moves in a “z” pattern across the page. Online, our eye moves in more of an “f” pattern, with the majority of the focus on items in the top, left 1/3 of the page. Put the most important information in that area.
  • Make sure that your columns are balanced in length, and break-up information into smaller chunks.
  • Be consistent in terminology, headings and placement of information across different guides and individual tabs.
  • Don’t overwhelm your users with information! Present only a few examples, and the most important for the task(s) they have been asked to do.

I plan to use these tips as I clean up my LibGuides. The LibGuide she posted has lots of great information, including useability studies and articles that discuss website usage, so check it out!

Keynote Speaker: Myths and Facts about the Digital Divide

Jessamyn West gave an interesting and entertaining presentation on the state of the digital divide, and why it isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. The website linked above includes West’s presentation, the sources she discussed and the statistics that she presented. The thing I found most interesting was the way that she presented that there are really multiple divides, not just one “digital” divide, and that there are many reasons why people don’t use technology or get online:

  • economic divide: can’t afford the technology or access, or access doesn’t come to where they are located
  • usability divide: physically can’t use, or don’t know how, to use the technology
  • empowerment divide: are intimidated by the technology, or have their introduction to the technology at a stressful time (unemployment, taxes, etc…)

From start to finish, Metrolina had great presentations that made me think about my teaching and relationships with faculty members, as well as different ways of approaching my work with our patrons. I would recommend that others interested in teaching look for it next year!

2011 School of Divinity Orientation

Friday, August 26, 2011 4:09 pm

On August 25 and 26 I participated in two orientation sessions for the incoming class of first year students at the School of Divinity. While I have done a library orientation session every year since the inaugural year of 1999, this was the first year that I was asked to also do a presentation on plagiarism during the first day of orientation.

After asking for advice from Molly and Roz on content, and adopting the Lauren P. method for PowerPoint presentations, I led the first session in Wingate Hall. The students used the clickers to answer questions about plagiarism and the appropriate use of information, and I spread the news about Zotero, The Writing Center and some of the seminary/theology research-and-writing specific resources we have at ZSR. They laughed at my jokes and got most of the questions right, so I considered the presentation a success!

Today I led my usual library orientation from 476 and throughout the building. As usual, I went on too long about Reference sources, but they were an engaged group and asked a lot of questions. Also as usual, this is a diverse group of students with a pretty wide age range and varied backgrounds. I look forward to assisting them with their work at the School of Divinity over the next three years!

ATLA 2011 Days 1 & 2-A Busman’s Holiday

Friday, June 24, 2011 1:12 pm

On June 7th I headed to Chicago for the 2011 American Theological Libraries Association Conference. I went a day early to check out a few of my favorite haunts from my college days in Chicagoland.

Chicago-June 2011

Chicago-June 2011

Chicago-June 2011

After I made it into downtown Chicago and checked in to the conference hotel, I took the train down to Hyde Park and the University of Chicago. As an archaeology student, we visited the Oriental Institute at the U of C on multiple occasions. The OI has significant collections from the various civilizations that inhabited the Mesopotamian and Nile regions over the last 10,000 years. The museum underwent a major renovation right after I graduated, so I hadn’t seen the new museum. There were huge improvements made regarding their climate control and security, allowing for the display of many artifacts for the first time in many years. I located a few of my old favorites in their new exhibit spaces and luxuriated in the air conditioning before moving on to the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and the Robie House.

Chicago-June 2011

On Wednesday I headed out to the suburbs to the town of Wheaton, where I had attended Wheaton College as an undergrad. Other alums you might know, besides me, are our own Nathan Hatch, and Billy and Ruth Bell Graham. One of the main buildings on campus is The Billy Graham Center, which houses the college archival collections, a museum on the history of American evangelism, and many departmental offices and classrooms.

After wandering around campus, my next air-conditioned stop was at the Wade Center, an archival and research center focused on seven Oxford authors. Wheaton has a collection development story similar to Wake Forest’s, in that both had an involved literature professor who visited England, made several important contacts and built up an amazing archival and manuscript collection. In Wheaton’s case, the professor was Clyde Kilby, and he struck up a friendship with C.S. Lewis, as well as his brother, which led to the collection of a variety of items from these seven authors: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Dorothy Sayers, George MacDonald, Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton and Charles Williams.

Chicago-June 2011

Beyond the manuscripts, letters and books in the collection, the Wade Center holds several larger pieces that spark the imagination, including Tolkein’s desk and the wardrobe that inspired the Narnia series.

Of course, I had to stop by Buswell Library, where I worked as a circulation assistant during my senior year. The library has also had extensive renovations since I was there last in 1997, and it was interesting to wander the building and try to visualize things as they used to be. My favorite study space is now behind the new circulation desk and is someones office!

Stops at Blanchard Hall, at the campus bookstore to purchase a t-shirt, at the soda shop to get some ice cream (did I mention it was 95 degrees!) and at my old dorm and house rounded out this visit to my alma mater. I don’t plan to wait another 15 years before my next one!

ATLA2010-Day Three

Friday, June 25, 2010 5:00 pm

Day Three of the ATLA Annual Conference was a short one. After checking out of the hotel, I got on a shuttle to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Another unique thing about the ATLA conference is that they have a day on the host campuses, which among other things, gives attendees a chance to poke around their libraries :). This year, half the day was at LPTS and the other half was at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Since I took the shuttle to the airport from LPTS, I didn’t get to experience the other campus.

Our time at LPTS started with a chapel service, which included memorials to previous members, and then continued with a great brunch and the opportunity to view the campus and tour the library. I had a chance to note a few books they had in their reference department that I didn’t recognize.

The first floor of their reference area was all “B” call numbers, with all the other call numbers being on the level above.

The only session for the day was another panel, “Great Underappreciated and Much Needed Works of Theological Reference.” The panelists presented several lists of reference works, or sections of larger works, that are not usually considered while doing reference for religious studies, such as Guide to the Sources of Medieval History (historical outlines, papal edicts) or International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Again, there was a long bibliography for this presentation, so I have some catalog searching to do! The moderator for this session was David Mayo, from Union-PSCE in Charlotte, who I had been wanting to meet with at some point during the conference. David is heading up the planning committee for the 2013 conference in Charlotte, and I am hoping to be involved with their committee.

Overall, I really enjoyed being back at the ATLA conference. I made some good connections, got some good ideas from the presentations, and some good catalogs and titles to order! Hopefully I’ll be back next year in Chicago!

ATLA2010-Day Two

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:33 pm

Friday at the ATLA Annual Conference began with the second plenary speaker, Dr. Susan Garrett, Professor of New Testament at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She discussed, “Biblical Studies and Real World Hermeneutics,” which advocated a shift from “integral hermeneutics” to “differential hermeneutics.” Hermeneutics, in biblical studies, is the field of interpretation of biblical and extra-biblical texts. Garrett encourages teaching students to understand the variety of possible interpretations and approaches to a given text, rather than teaching them that there is one correct interpretation. This idea of a single, “authorized” meaning leads to division, because there is an implied right and wrong interpretation. Rather, by teaching our students that there are multiple possibilities, we prepare them for interactions in congregations and the “real world” where they will be leading or encountering a variety of viewpoints. She discussed several assignments that she uses with students to help them think through an interpretation and its implications, and emphasized that the goal isn’t to change student’s minds, but get them to be aware of the multiple choices they make as they do interpretation. I thought her talk was fascinating, and she used some really good examples to illustrate her points. Let me know if you are interested in more specifics!

“Online Bibles: Trustworthy, Sectarian and Odd Bibles” by Michael Kuykendall, Professor of New Testament Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, was a very useful overview of the variety of online bibles that are available for study or historical research. He included a 20 page annotated handout with his show-and-tell presentation, which will help me add to my LibGuide for the Divinity School! This presentation was a great reminder of the variety of translations that are available (literal, paraphrases, functional, dynamic), and how they can be useful for research (tracing mistakes, publication/publisher histories, religious conflicts).

After a lunch presentation from EBSCO, I headed to a presentation by Anthony Elia from JKM Library at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, “Reading as Wandering, Wandering as Theology: Textual Landscapes, Flaneury and the Social History of Contemporary Reading.” This was a dense paper filled with some great quotations and statistics on reading and how it has been perceived over the last two hundred years. Specifically, Elia discussed the long history of the idea of the “death of reading” and how morality and concepts of laziness and leisure are bound up in our discussions of reading and why we do it. One question he posed had the audience reflecting: How long can you go without reading? One week? One day? One hour? How does thinking about reading in this way broaden what we consider to be reading?

A panel discussion from the Teaching and Learning Interest Group, “Pray, Work, Study, Log On: Can Libraries be a Common Ground in Online Theological Education?” focused on online education and creating community through the course design. While each of the panelists had led a different type of online course, all five presenters emphasized that online courses are not less work than a face-to-face class, and to have a good experience for both teacher and students, the course should not enroll more than 15-20 students. In designing an online course, or an online component for a “regular” course, it is important to not just transfer your regular content to the online environment, ie, don’t tape your lecture and post it. A variety of organized assignments, discussion questions, collaboration and social media spaces, etc… need to be incorporated into the online course.

After a short break, I headed a few blocks from the hotel for a tour of the History Center for the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Cathedral of the Assumption. The Diocese of Louisville was created in 1808 (along with Boston, New York and Philadelphia) and was the diocese for “The West,” encompassing all or part of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The history center had a variety of pictures, vestments and other artifacts from the first bishop, Bishop Flaget, through to the contemporary church.

ATLA2010-Day One

Thursday, June 24, 2010 2:54 pm

From Thursday, June 17-Saturday, June 19, I attended the 2010 American Theological Library Association Annual Conference, held in Louisville, KY. This was my first time attending this conference since 2003, and it was nice to be back in a place where terms like ontology, hermeneutics and exegesis were used with the same frequency as FRBR, OCLC and LibGuides!

After arriving and exploring Louisville on Wednesday afternoon, and attending the opening reception in the evening, the first conference event was held bright and early at 7:30 Thursday morning. One of the unique things about ATLA is that they include several opportunities to visit local churches and experience various worship styles during the conference. With a large number of members working for specific denominations, and being ordained ministers themselves (as our own Sharon Snow was), these are popular events. So Thursday morning we met at the Christ Church Cathedral, around the corner from the hotel, for the Episcopal service of Morning Prayer.

Upon returning to the hotel, the first plenary session, “Describing and Accessing Resources-Where are We Headed,” was led by Dr. Barbara Tillett of the Library of Congress. She gave an overview of the changes from AACR2 (“take what you see”) to FRBR (“see connections”), and what some of these changes would mean for our catalogs, and for theological studies in particular. Specific changes to the LCSH she mentioned were removing the “OT” and “NT” abbreviations for Old and New Testaments and using the full words, as well as listing individual biblical books, ie, “Bible. Genesis.” rather than “Bible. O.T. Genesis.”

Tillett’s presentation was very helpful in explaining some of these changes to a non-cataloger. I know it at least made sense while I was listening to her!

After visiting the exhibits opening, I attended “Where’s the Data? A Research Agenda for Next Generation Catalogs” by Lisa Gonzalez from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Her presentation was a lit review of recent research on surveys and improving online catalogs. She described the research and what was missing, as well as the type of usability testing they completed at CTU (where they are also a Voyager/vufind hybrid). Several hints and guidelines from her experience and research:

  • minimum of 5 students
  • use generic terminology, what students would understand
  • write up your questions along with your rationale, or what issue you are attempting to evaluate
  • make sure that you aren’t confusing qualitative (observation, interviews) with quantitative (surveys, transaction log analysis)
  • try card sorting! A lot of usability questions may be better answered by a card sorting exercise.

My afternoon sessions started with “Historiography for the Study of the New Testament” by Beth Sheppard of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She encouraged librarians to be trend spotters in our collection development practices. Rather than waiting for faculty members to make requests, librarians should pay attention to publications and presentations in our subject disciplines in order to notice new and developing fields of research. This will allow us to have a collection at the ready when faculty members want to incorporate a new perspective into their own teaching or research. She gave several things to watch for:

Internal (own school):

  • curriculum change-faculty may be looking for a change in their course and use it as a “lab” to try out new ideas
  • new hires-older faculty may want a new faculty member to bring in new, different ideas, to fill in generation gaps
  • ILL-faculty are more likely to recommend an item to students and colleagues after they have used it, so we should make an effort to purchase recently requested titles


  • new sections and consultations at conferences-at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) conference, the “Jesus, John and History” test section is becoming a permanent section, indicating increased interest and research in that area
  • subject fatigue-when terminology becomes too prevalent in publications and conferences, faculty will start looking for other areas to research

One example: In 2003, a paper was presented at SBL on “Reading the Signs of the Times: The New Testament in the Historical Context of Rome,” which led to an increase in publications on the topic of “empire” in the following years. As everything has been focused on the political aspect of empire, and from one analytical perspective, other researchers will start looking at other topics, such as economics and empire (clothing styles, pottery types, trade routes, fishing) or from different perspectives (post-colonial, counter-factual).

This was a really interesting presentation and gave me several good ideas, as well as a good overview of the variety of historiographic approaches in biblical studies.

The last session for the day was “Kissing Your Handouts Goodbye: How LibGuides Can Revolutionize Your Instruction” by Michelle Spomer of Azusa Pacific University ( Spomer used her LibGuide as a presentation tool during her talk, briefly demonstrating the various features of the LibGuides software and how they look in practice. While most of the examples were things we already do here at ZSR, it was nice to see a different implementation. A few things I was inspired to work on this summer:

  • getting book covers into my LibGuides and experimenting with the book display
  • adding “star” rankings to my databases
  • adding a link to the WFU plagiarism/academic integrity pages on my citation page
  • embedding screenshots
  • experimenting with a preset google web search box (one example she gave was for “‘social work’ site:edu OR site:org”)

After I dropped off all of the catalogs and swag I picked up in the exhibits, I did a little more exploring in downtown Louisville and got a good nights sleep!

Louisville Slugger Museum

old city hall

More pictures at my flickr page!

Kaeley at ALA Annual 2009-Day 4

Friday, July 17, 2009 12:34 am

I started Monday morning off with a session entitled, “Resuscitating the Catalog: Next-Generation Strategies for Keeping the Catalog Relevant.”Four panelists discussed OCLC initiatives, and the public and academic library experience with the catalog.Several of the most helpful comments came from Beth Jefferson of Bibliocommons in Ontario.She has studied both public and academic libraries in Ontario, and though she focused on public libraries in her comments, she demonstrated some great features in an online catalog based on user behaviors that could be incorporated into academic libraries.She indicated that in regards to searching, less is more.When information was scarce, casting a wide net was helpful.Now that we search so much more information on a regular basis, it is more helpful to have a focused set of results.A few other features she discussed were:

-putting metadata where patrons expect it-type ahead (if they are typing “cook” for cookbook, show them “use cookery” rather than an error)

-rather than call number searches, a link to “browse the shelf” with book cover images

-more browsability with dvds and audio (their most popular patron searches were “dvd,” “dvds,” “movie,” “films”)

-browsing recent new books, recently returned books, and indicating “available now” rather than “checked in”

David Flaxbart of University of Texas-Austin discussed their implementation of a new ILS.They had a helpful item record display that had item information like call number and location in a separate, colored box right below the title and author information that set it apart from any other information on the page.In talking about any future software implementations, he indicated they were working under the “perpetual beta” model, recognizing that they would always be a little behind the curve, that the current system is just a bridge to the next, and that though no one likes change, no change will be remembered more than a few months after it happens.

The last two sessions I attended were again sponsored by LITA: Social Software Showcase and The Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled its Promise.Both sessions looked at current trends such as cloud computing, mashups and technology tools, focusing on how we can use them best to communicate and engage with our patrons

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