Professional Development

In the '2007 ACRL Baltimore' Category...

Miscellaneous and Concluding Thoughts from ACRL

Sunday, April 1, 2007 10:11 pm

John Waters: I am by no means a prude and loved his interviews in “This Film is Not Yet Rated” but I thought his luncheon speech at ACRL was inappropriately irrelevant. We should attract students to the library by appearing in the nude? And that was one of the mild suggestions!

“Perceptions of Campus-Level Advocacy and Influence Strategies among Senior Administrators in College and University Libraries” sounded like a good research project but yielded inconclusive results. The premise that peer influence strategies are differentiated by size and type of library institutions (expressed in Carnegie classifications) was largely unsubstantiated. There was a helpful review of the dimensions of influence and strategies for influencing peers on campus.

General thoughts: In my view, ACRL is a very worthwhile experience for academic librarians. The presentations are generally of higher quality than you will find at ALA. An additional benefit is the fact that no committee meetings are allowed so you have 3 days of uninterrupted, high-quality presentations focused on academic and research library issues. There is a notable public service slant to the themes, so if you are a public services librarian you will find more posters, panels, presentations and discussions on information literacy and reference and emerging technologies than you can absorb! This conference put out its call for papers well over a year ago – and that sometimes backfired, as two of the presentations I attended had abstracts submitted 18 months ago that never actually materialized. Still, I would recommend ACRL strongly to all ZSR public service librarians.

Tomorrow: University Libraries Group


Tuum Est – Designing Learning Spaces

Sunday, April 1, 2007 9:28 pm

The second pair of presentations I attended was on the theme of designing learning spaces in libraries. I was reminded that I wrote a paper on this topic ages ago (late 90’s) when we were building the Undergraduate Library at Wayne. Many of the principles are the same, but the importance of technology is even greater than it was back then.

“Designing Self-Service Learning Environments” by Wendy Starkweather of UNLV emphasized the following timeless principles:

  • Self-service (for convenience, speed, choice and control)
  • Flexibility (perhaps the single most key component in modern design)
  • Stimulating spaces (the wow factor)
  • Foster both community and contemplation (need both quiet and non-quiet spaces)
  • Provide healthful, ergonomic environment (but what they really want is soft seating)
  • Service policies that support design principles (give them what they want)

Starkweather reminded us that the life cycle of buildings is much longer than the life cycle of policies or technologies so designing an adaptable structure and infrastructure is key. Being a classics major, I loved the way she summed up the presentation, which she “borrowed” from another university: tuum est, meaning “it is yours.”

“Effective Practices for Technology-Enhanced Spatial Transformations” was a panel presentation by three librarians from the University of Southern California. Projects were described at the Von KleinSmid Applied Social Sciences Library, the Science and Engineering Library, and the Leavey Undergraduate Library. Themes were similar to the previous presentation: the need for flexible space, growing importance of multimedia, the library as a community gathering space for the campus, the need for both quiet, individual spaces and non-quiet group spaces. The Leavey Library designed a podcasting studio that might bear further investigation. One line I loved from one of the speakers was when she introduced herself with the title of Team Leader – “which now sounds so 90’s!”


Gaming presentations at ACRL

Sunday, April 1, 2007 8:56 pm

Back to blogging, after catching up on email. I will try to group some of the presentations I attended:

I tried to attend as many presentations on gaming in libraries as I could, since that has become a specialty of ours at ZSR and Giz and I are scheduled to present at the 2nd Gaming in Libraries Symposium in Chicago this summer. Our gaming experience has been largely a marketing strategy to try to attract students to the library, but other libraries have gone the next step and are trying to incorporate the gaming experience into library instruction.

The first presentation was by a team from the University of Cincinnati Libraries. They called their inhouse team of librarians a learning community because they knew they would be learning as they went about their project. When they submitted their paper over a year ago, they thought they would have a viable, tested product focusing on using a video game to teach plagiarism and report on its success. In fact, they discovered they were in a bit over their heads with the complexity of the gaming software and after the head of the Faculty Technology Resource Center who offered to do the programming for them left, they had to go back and reassess. Next, they looked at trying to incorporate existing games and found that Second Life was not suitable at all for their project but that two games called Montage-a-Google and Guess-the-Google had modest success when used in library instruction.

The second presentation was an excellent comprehensive approach to all aspects of gaming in libraries, called “Gaming for the Ages: A Wholistic View from Collections to Services” by David Ward and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They covered topics like Gaming in Society, Gaming in Education, Gaming in Libraries, a Five Year Plan for Gaming at UIUC, and Future Directions. One difference I noted in their environment was that they had a number of faculty at UIUC who were doing active research on learning through gaming. They are taking the view that in 10 years gaming will be a major avenue for learning. At the UIUC Undergraduate Library, they have begun a gaming collection of both hardware and software. They have not tried to write any gaming software, but have tried simple games like the “ESP Game” and “Tapper” in their library instruction. Here is a challenge for Erik to think about: “wouldn’t it be great if the OPAC were a fun game?”


Mary’s Saturday in Baltimore

Saturday, March 31, 2007 2:16 pm

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

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

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

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

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

A Last Friday Note from Mary

Friday, March 30, 2007 9:07 pm

Another wow — for a different reason!

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

Mary’s Fridat at ACRL 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007 7:09 pm

Hi, another busy day in Charm City!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blended Librarian

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

Mary’s Take on the Opening Session

Friday, March 30, 2007 6:28 pm


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

Mary’s Sight-Seeing in Charm City

Friday, March 30, 2007 6:15 pm

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

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

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

Check out some of my photos on Flickr.

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

Dinner with Debbie at ACRL

Friday, March 30, 2007 9:19 am

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

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


Lynn at ACRL

Friday, March 30, 2007 9:09 am

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

Opening Session – Michael Eric Dyson

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

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