Monday, September 01, 2014

KLA LIRT Library Instruction Retreat 2014 Notes for Afternoon Sessions

For the morning sessions note, please check out the previous post. As I mentioned previously, the Kentucky Library Association LIRT (Library Instruction Round Table) Library Instruction Retreat took place on July 11, 2014 on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University. As usual, I will try to put the notes of what I saw and heard; any comments of mine that I add I will put in parenthesis.

# # # 

Session 3: "Library on the Go: Taking the Library to the Students."

  • This presentation was on a program to reach students outside the library, especially those who rarely come to the library. The idea is to reach students outside of class visits. 
    • For events, have "giveaway" items like pens, pencils, bookmarks, sticky notes,  etc as well as some library handouts. (I have done this kind of thing, especially at my previous workplace where I coordinated library outreach. Success on this can vary depending on the event. Also, what you give away as freebies can determine success. Let us be honest, there are some things students may go for more than others. So it helps to know your audience a bit. Also, freebies do have costs for the library, so doing this can depend on how your library budget looks. In my current workplace, we are taking some steps to do more outreach and events. I may even blog about it down the road.)
  •  Goals: 
    • Promote library awareness. 
    • Deliver information about library resources to students where they are. 
    • Offer one-to-one instruction where they are. 
    • Presenters focused on use of mobile apps and mobile webpages. (I think for us, our focus online would be on LibGuides.)
    • Educate students about subject specific databases. 
    • Deliver information about library instruction and electronic resources to professors in their areas. 
  •  Identify events to attend. 
    • One target was freshmen. 
    • Try to hit campus-wide events. 
    • Identify subgroups such as athletes, a dorm, a cohort, so on. (One thing we experimented on back in my old workplace, and a colleague of mine had down to a science, was having hours in her liaison departments. This was a service for both faculty and students. In her case, it worked out very well.) 
  • Why attend events at all? You reach out to new students and you give the library a face. (Concur. For me, much of doing this boils down having a presence and emphasizing for students that we are there to serve them.) 
  • (For me, this presentation validates the need to step out of the library more.)
  • They went to the Advising Fair on their campus. 
  • On hitting academic departments. They did their Physician Assistant Program. (I am thinking we can do something similar here with our nursing program.)
    • Checked on database mobile app availability (In other words, are apps a PA, or a nurse in my case, use that we get available in a mobile version for use in the field?)
    • (I am thinking also having occasional library hours in the department.)
    • To make a survey at an event more interactive, you could have students try to accomplish something, a task, on an iPad or laptop. 
  •  An event idea (this one was so-so, but I still think there may be potential here). For their Spring Fever week, offer help for final projects. This may work best maybe 2-3 weeks before final projects, so work needs to be done on timing. 
  • Challenges of attending events: 
    • Limited interaction with professors. 
    • Getting buy-in from other groups, such as the athletic teams. 
    • Technological limits. 
    • Reaching a diversity of students. 
    • To consider: social media component. 
      • At EKU, "library pop-up," use social media to tell students where a librarian would be. 

Session 4: "Using Exploratory Image Searching to Invite Inquiry into the Student Research Experience."

  • We know that refining a research question is difficult. How do we help students deal with this?
  • The expectation is usually words and text. Idea: do the unexpected. One way to do it is with image search for topic exploration. 
    • Images provide connections. 
    • Images provide curiosity. The presenter notes this goes with the new ACRL information literacy standards (still under development as of this post. I could not find it on the ALA website, however, this blogger has been discussing the proposed standard statements. From the list, I think the presenter referred to the item on research as inquiry).
    • Images can provide context. 
  • This can work with any topic, visual or not. 
    • Start by asking what students would expect to see for an image search from their topic. Reflect a bit prior to running the search. 
    • Run the search. (You can use your favorite search tool.) Then jot down keywords that describe images you see. 
    • After the search, ask students which images stand out the most in their minds. Why? How do they feel about them? Use this to begin crafting a research question. Evoking emotions can help. 
    • From the research question created, you can then identify your search keywords for a database, so on. 
  • Suggested by the presenter. For student collaboration, could use Padlet. ( I have to look into this some more at this point.)
  • If a topic can bring shocking or suggestive images, you can give a warning to the class; however, you can also make it a teachable moment. Also, do state that you are treating the students as adults. For some students, you may have to offer some other options, say for a topic like female genital mutilation. 
  • This activity allows you to focus on one learning outcome per class. 
  • Once they do the activity-- image search, words, question, keywords--, then take to the database for a search demo, bringing things back to the research. 
  • This exercise is perfect for when students lack a topic. Have them all practice a common topic, like a class theme. (This is an activity I do want to try out in my classes.)

Note: Some of the presentation materials can be found here:  (mostly slides and such).

Friday, August 29, 2014

KLA LIRT Library Instruction Retreat 2014 Notes for Morning Sessions

The Kentucky Library Association LIRT (Library Instruction Round Table) Library Instruction Retreat took place on July 11, 2014 on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University. I must say up front that I found this to be a useful learning opportunity, and it did spark some ideas for me to bring back to my library. I am also giving serious consideration to joining the state association as I see some good opportunities to do some good things, but let's not digress further and get to my notes. As usual, I will try to put the notes of what I saw and heard; any comments of mine that I add I will put in parenthesis.

# # # 

After the welcome and opening remarks by the KLA LIRT officers, I went to the following sessions:

Session 1: "Gauging our Impact: Assessing Outreach and Student Learning Using Readily-Available Technologies." 
  • (Going to this was pretty much a given to me. Assessment has become the new big word in my workplace, and I am pretty much expected to take part in anything that has that word in it. That aside, library outreach is an interest of mine, so attending this made sense.)
  • The presenters discussed a self-reflection pilot exercise for students attending library instruction sessions, getting statistics on use of library tutorials out of BlackBoard CMS for distance education students, and student feedback on course-embedded SoftChalk modules. 
  • Reflective opening question: What are the implications of the session for your own instruction at your library? How will today's session influence your approach to library instruction? (Question actually applicable throughout the day.)
  • Context from the presenters: 
    • 2012-2014: They conducted a survey of professors who brought their students in for library instruction. 
    • 2014: Surveyed students who scheduled research consults (this I may be interested in replicating for our library). 
    • 2014: Embedded their LibGuides into BlackBoard. 
  • Suggestion to look over University of Louisville's Critical Thinking QEP. This can give ideas for partnerships and other initiatives or projects.  
  • On online information literacy and online modules. 
    • Their module objectives: 
      • Distinguish how information comes to be in popular sources. 
      • Explain the need for information evaluation. 
    • Informed feedback.
      • Describe the biggest takeaway from the module. 
      • Provide comments on the modules themselves. 
      • You can use pen and paper or the questions feature on BlackBoard. 
    • They mentioned using NVivo research analysis software.  (This may be more than I would want at this time, but jotting down for reference.)
    • Implications: 
      • Develop specific outcomes for modules. 
      • Have formalized assessment to demonstrate grasp of learning outcomes. Allows students to reflect on module content. 
      • Incorporate real-life examples and multimedia.
  • On BlackBoard statistics tracking of SoftChalk tutorials (this is for distance learners, but I suppose can be applicable locally too). 
    • Instead of sending a marketing e-mail with a lot of text containing the library and information literacy information for students, you can use tutorials to be a visual and concise message tool. You still need good instructions, including screenshots. 
    • The idea is to encourage our users to be empowered and more independent as distance learners. 
    • SoftChalk does provide tools to generate statistics reports for tutorial content. The statistics can help librarians know things like if there is a need for an online chat service and when to have it. 
    • Make tutorials for basic and foundational needs. Then track them to help with marketing and knowing what student needs have been met. 
  • On a self-reflection pilot for library instruction students. (Of the three parts in this session, this was the one that I was really interested in since we are exploring use of self-reflection exercises for assessment. If nothing else, it helped give me some validation for that work.)

Session 2: "How's it Different from an Annotated Bib? Helping Students Survive the Literature Review."
  • A common faculty gripe: students fail to synthesize sources for a literature review. 
  • Common faculty expectations (as if): 
    • Assume students already know how to do research (oh, I could say so much about this, but we are just taking notes here). 
    • Assume that students understand the purpose of a literature review (especially without bothering to actually explain it to them). 
    • That students understand how to use research to construct a literature review (see previous assumption). 
  • (Reminder to self that the presenters provided some sample handouts, which I have on my folder. If I manage to scan or such, I may include later.)
  • It is important to discuss critical reading (yes, even in library instruction, but discipline faculty need to do it too). This can be done with their literature matrix (again, this was a handout).
  • A question for us librarians: on using source management software, like Zotero for example, do we need to cover this a bit more in our instruction sessions? (I'd say probably, but then we get into the question of just how much time we have to cover how much content again?)
  • Something to teach the students: To pull together the literature review, you do need to do prewriting, reading, annotation. Identify themes rather than just authors.
  • Key questions to ask students. Get them to think about this:
    • What do we know? How do we know it? 
    • What don't we know? Why don't we know it?
  • How librarians can help faculty and students: 
    • Offer multiple library instruction sessions. 
    • Recommend building scaffolded assignments.
    • Recommend other resources as needed. 
    • Offer workshops. 
    • Partner with the campus writing center and other relevant campus units. 
  • Citations to check out: 
    • Rempel and Davidson, "Providing Information Literacy Instruction to Graduate Students through Literature Review Workshops." Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Winter 2008.
(Coming next: Notes for the Afternoon Sessions)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Booknote: Active Learning Techniques for Librarians: Practical Examples

(Crossposted from The Itinerant Librarian)

Andrew Walsh and Padma Inala, Active Learning Techniques for Librarians: Practical Examples. Oxford, UK: Chandos, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-84334-592-3.

I finished reading this, and I was not impressed. The core of the book is the list of activities for active learning. Let's start by looking at what the book claims to do:

"It is a practical resource to be dipped in and out when needed and aims to appeal to a wide readership within the profession, particularly where teaching is a key part of the role. This includes graduate trainees and also students of librarianship and/or information students" (3).

The book is organized into three chapters:

  • One: Outline of theory and practice of active learning. This is a basic overview for people who do not know what active learning is or folks who need a refresher. 
  • Two: The practical activities are here. The activities vary from low to high tech and from practical to not so practical. The activities under the section "mobile phones and other gadgets" may fall under not so practical. Just because more students carry cellphones, it does not follow they can do whatever active learning activity you think you can do with the latest "cool" mobile gizmo. Now one nice element of this chapter is that each activity lists potential pitfalls; it is a rarity in LIS literature to admit something may not end as planned. 
  • Three: Sample lesson plans, including a couple of templates for lesson plans. New folks may find this useful. 
There are some good practical things, including one or two items I jotted down to try out. There is also a good number of activities I have seen before, so experienced practitioners may not find much new here. Additionally, the book has a few activities reliant on clickers or other technology that may or not be available in all libraries. However, for beginner librarians and librarians with minimal to no teaching experience who are suddenly told they have to teach, this may be a useful book. I don't see this book as one every librarian needs to have. If you instruction unit has a small reference/consult shelf of books about teaching, I can see adding it for the new folks. It is mostly a book for beginners.

In addition, instructions for some of the activities were pretty minimal; at times, I had questions about how exactly to implement something. I also wished the author had added more examples of how to use something or in what type of lesson something would be applicable. That would have made this book much more practical.

Again, as with other LIS books, we see authors running the risk of appearing less than relevant when citing Web 2.0 in learning contexts. That is because of how fast it can change, how often companies go out of style or out of business, and how things can quickly go out of date. Examples from the book:
  • Bebo and MySpace as social networking examples are pretty much a joke at this point. Bebo now is some kind of app company, and MySpace is pretty much, to be honest, dead in the water. 
  • iGoogle is gone by now. It was taken down in 2013. 
  • Jaiku was bought out by Google and then promptly shut down by Google. 
I am not saying don't use Web 2.0 online tools and resources. My philosophy on that is to experiment, find what works for you, and dump what does not. But when it comes to this topic, you are often better off asking around, talking to practitioners in the field who are likely more up to date than checking an LIS book. 

In the end, it is a book that I would recommend for beginners with some reservations. Seasoned instruction librarians have probably seen much of this, so they are better off seeking for new ideas elsewhere.

It was an OK book, so I am giving it 2 out of 5 stars.

# # #

A quote from the book I wanted to remember:

"A lot of library instruction can be very tasked, but when we are teaching we should not only be interested in gaining an end result, we need to focus on the experience the learner will have. If this journey is one where interactivity and stimulation takes place, in an environment that encourages thinking, doing, discussing and reflecting then there is more likelihood that the information will be retained and there will be some sense of understanding of the process, and therefore the learner will be enabled to independently replicate what has been learnt" (11).

Our job is to empower our students to use that knowledge, help nurture it, so they can be self-reliant, active lifelong learners.

Friday, June 20, 2014

SAALCK Assessment Workshop 2014 Notes

This workshop took place on Friday, May 30, 2014 at Crabbe Library, Eastern Kentucky University Campus. The featured speaker was Megan Oakleaf. The workshop also featured a panel of speakers from Murray State University. The workshop was provided by SAALCK. What follows are some of my notes from the event. As usual, stuff in parenthesis is usually my comments and additions.

Topic: Opening Speech by Megan Oakleaf on topic of "Academic Libraries and Institutional Impact Overview." (This presentation did have a PowerPoint. We did get a copy of it as a PDF--link to it on my Google Drive, let's see how it works out. A handout packet was included, much of it comes from a workbook by Megan Oakleaf, which can be purchased here. We'll probably order a copy for the library here.).

  • We began with some opening questions. 
    •  How to link library outputs to student learning outcomes? 
    • How do we develop an assessment plan?
    • How do we translate what we do into numbers? 
  • We got a small index card at the beginning of the presentation. The card had an owl sticker on one side, and a monster sticker on the other. The instructions were to, as we went along, jot down on the owl side any good ideas you heard or learned. On the monster side, you jotted down why the ideas could not be done, the challenges. 
    • (Ideas #1 I jotted down: Got validation of the value of reflective writing and other reflective exercises in assessment. This is something I have been starting to talk about in our library as something we need to be doing. Idea #2:  The library proactively assigning "research advisors" to support certain student groups. I think this could work for us here.)
    • (Challenges #1 is the ever present challenge of time. Challenge #2 is gaining advanced knowledge. One way I am acquiring it is piloting things, learning from them, and moving forward.)
  • What do we think when we hear "library value"? "Assessment"? 
    • The "elevator speech." Assessment is the tool, the measures. 
    • Value is the ROI (return on investment). Others would say how the library contributes to student success.One way to define success is helping with student retention and helping faculty be better teachers. 
  • See also The Value of Academic Libraries report (link to website. The report itself is available, but keep in mind it is a pretty big PDF file). 
  • "Satisfaction" measures are not really a big deal in assessment. We want to really measure outcomes in learning, so on. 
    • Yet we measure a lot of satisfaction and use. "Use" does not really measure value past a starting point. 
    • Difficult to measure what students do in academic terms. 
    • ROI studies do have limitations. It's one strategy, but it is not perfect. Also it is dependent on things like institution size. 
  • Ask how well the library contributes to overall goals of the parent constituencies. 
  • There is a trend in the library literature showing libraries moving from being passive to being active (this is not news to me really). 
    • Product>>Service. 
    • Collections>>Experience. 
    • Mediation>>Enabling.
    • Resources>>Educational Impact. 
    • Facility>>People. 
    • Access>>Sense-making. 
  • We build spaces, but we often fail to think how spaces will be used and what impact they will have on students.
  • Some recommendations/highlights from the Values in Academic Libraries report (report linked above):
    • Think institutionally. Be able to translate plans, etc. for other constituencies. What are campus leaders talking about in their speeches, so on? 
    • Ask: what do we enable people to do? And to answer that question, we need to know what people have done. 
    • As much as possible, use existing data. Your campus probably has a lot of data already; find out who keeps what data. Your library probably keeps a good amount of data as well. 
  •  Question to ask: what does your institution value? (what follows are some ideas from a brainstorm in the room. This list is mostly what the institutions would say, or at least what the people in the room say or think their institutions would say): 
    • grades
    • program completion
    • graduation
    • admission to graduate school
    • regional engagement
    • public service
    • economic development
    • athletes
    • serving international students
    • brand
    • (what I would say) good citizens and lifelong learning (no one said either one or something close to it, which honestly makes me wonder)
  • Students appear to acquire "information literacy" skills as a consequence of instruction, but assessments are scattered and episodic, not coherent and longitudinal. 
    • Much of the library instruction literature is about minutiae (I know; I read a lot of it). 
    • (I am thinking that for us here, use of the HEDS survey and keeping track of cohorts, we may be able to get some good data for assessment and improvement of our programs to better help student learning.)
    • Oakleaf is not much into pre- and post- tests. (To be honest, neither am I, but convincing some people in higher positions of this can be a bit of a challenge) Where the students come from does not matter as much as what they leave with. (This is what really interests me. However, I would add we do need to know at least some of where they came from in order to know where they are going. How much of where they came from do we really need to know has been a point of contention here for some of us)
  • Another question: how do you know scholarship is a conversation? This is where reflective writing and performance assessments, such as concept maps, come in. (This is something I have started to discuss here. We still have a ways to go)
    • Time and scaling are challenges. It's rigorous, and we may need more skills to carry it out. 
  • We need to be familiar with learner and learning analytics. Know where and when student behaviors/inactions/activities are tracked. 
    • Help to find problems in curriculum in order to fix them. 
  • (A reminder to myself to review this:
 # # #
Topic: "Conceptualizing and capturing library value."

  • Idea: students using company profiles, say from a database like Business Source. Ask if the students are using them to prep for job interviews? And if they do, ask if they did better on interviews. (To be honest, there was only one place that even mentioned this idea, and it was a few years back. The question was mentioned, but never explored, so I definitely see a research idea here.)
  • We need more information on library impact and faculty teaching. We do know, anecdotally, faculty citing library support for them having more time to do research, to develop lesson plans, etc. (Again, another investigation opportunity perhaps?)
    • How else do support faculty? Do you help in grant seeking and writing? In tenure and promotion? Keep track if you do. 
  • Idea: We need to learn about ILL (interlibrary loan) impact on students. 
  • Question: do students use library resources for prepping for and being involved in internships? 
  • Think of assessment as record keeping. Keep track of numbers as well as quotes and testimonials to enrich assessment narratives. 
  • I am thinking the library impact map can be a good exercise  to do in our library. Break it down for different units.
    • To begin investigating and prioritizing what to investigate, find out what the institution cares for. 
    • I would divide the chart by department/units of the library and go from there. 
    • Another idea: use a similar grid, but with library policies to look at policies' impact on patrons. 
    • Be careful not to be overwhelmed (which is why I would prefer the grid to be divided into sections). 
    • Again, on campus tours that stop at the library, make them more effective. Provide talking points (and try to measure impact with at least one survey question). 
    • Consider where are the "invisible" areas of the library that have an impact.
  •  In assessment, we often want "causal" questions, but "causal" can't really be done. You can't control every single factor. It is not a closed system.
    • Goal is to identify behaviors that lead to an outcome, positive or negative. Work then to improve the positive. 
    • What you want to show is a correlation. What contributes to the positive outcome, as part of other activities as well. 
    • Ask yourself: is it enough to describe the profile of successful students and seek to increase students that emulate the desired attributes?
    • To stave off criticism (say, from the usual "picky" faculty who feel the need to wave their "big stick" around), state your research up front. Say what something means and what something does not. 
  •   Consider your library communications. 
    • Which institutional values are reflected/emphasized in library communications? One part of communication goals should deal with library and institution goals (retention, learning, etc.). 
    • What part of our communications communicate impact on institutional focus areas? 
    • Keep in mind: different audiences may need different versions of (the same) information. 
  • Reminder note to review some of Lisa Hinchcliffe's work.  
# # #

Topic: Panel Presentation from Murray State University on "Assessment in Action."

  • Reporting on a campus and library project focusing on retention. 
  • If you decide to present (at a conference, workshop, a publication, so on), you may have to go through your IRB (institutional review board). 
  • They identified library users using campus data (students enrolled, faculty lists, so on), then used library data for identifying patron checkouts. (If you use something like Voyager for your library information system,  you are looking at things like historical library checkouts.)
    • They added ILLiad (interlibrary loan system) users. They do note they ran into some issues doing this, in part because ILLiad does not always "play nice" with other library systems. 
    • They used EZ Proxy data for electronic resource use. Their patrons use the "usual" credentials (campus e-mail user name and password). They make every user log-in whether on campus or off-campus. (Some attendees were skeptical of this, but the speakers claim that the campus complaints on this were low when implemented. I have to say I found that pretty impressive. In other campuses I have worked that, making such a suggestions would mean more than just "a few complaints.")
    • Most of the data is "yes" or "no." The idea is to see if there is a sense of a user community building up. 
    • Their data can now capture use by distance students as well. (For us, being a residential campus, this would not be a big concern. Maybe to track some off-campus students, say those traveling abroad.)
    •  Idea: providing documents with steps, how to talk to stakeholders, so on. 
    • Make sure that you can articulate the benefits in collecting data for assessment. 
    • Make sure you start early conversations with institutional researchers on the campus.
# # #

Topic: "Taking Library Value Home" (back with Megan Oakleaf). 

  • Reflection on ideas to take back. 
    • (Review parts of the library impact grid with our instruction team.)
    • Write something on our assessment efforts in a newsletter (for us, this could be done on our library blog.). An article on student outcomes and learning. (This can also add transparency.)
    • A presentation to faculty or a select group (for us here, for example, it could be to the Committee on General Education) on the Value of Libraries document.
    • Work more on collecting anecdotal information and testimonials. Things like filling out a small card at the reference desk. Sending out a small 2-5 question survey to students after instruction, so on. 
    • Quote: "you need to find the right key to unlock people's minds." This is especially true for resistant folks. So think ahead of time how you will address any resistance and answer any objections.
    • Assessment of LibGuides. Connecting to instruction and pedagogy. 
    • Work to build a culture of assessment into your strategic plans. 
    • Think big in an organized way. However, you can start small, but do start. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Booknote: Library and Information Science: A Guide to Key Literature and Sources

(Crossposted from my personal blog, The Itinerant Librarian)

Bemis, Michael F., Library and Information Science: A Guide to Key Literature and Sources. Chicago: ALA, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-8389-1185-3. 

This is basically a very big annotated bibliography of sources in library science. Though there are some web sources and databases listed, the focus appears to be on books, followed by periodicals. If you have kept up in your area(s) of librarianship, then you have seen much of what is listed here. The value of the book then is in seeing lists in other areas. The book is valuable, for instance, to see what are the basics of cataloging if cataloging is not your area. Also, the book can serve as a double-checking collection development tool for LIS school libraries. I would anticipate that LIS schools and their libraries would be the primary places wanting this book. It's the kind of book they would want their students accessing.

From the author's introduction:

"I wrote this book for a simple reason: I needed a current annotated bibliography of library science but couldn't find one. My goals were twofold: to collect as much of the available information sources regarding various aspects of the profession as reasonably possible and to then organize them in a logical fashion" (xi). 

The book is organized by chapters; it has 39 topics from administration and management to writing and publishing. Some of the topics have more sources than others, but most of the chapters provide a basic core list to give you a sense of what you have to read, or at least be aware of, on a given topic. If you need to read more deeply on a topic, some of the selections should help with that. 

An issue I found comes in the listing of information technology materials. For books in this area, a common issue surfaces: information tech books tend to get dated pretty quickly. Some items in that chapter are already out-of-date. If you still mention MySpace as something part of "all the rage," you are woefully behind at this point.

I did take a closer look at Chapter 15: Information Literacy and Bibliographic Instruction, which represents my main specialty. It did have items I expected to see. A new librarian wanting to go into this area will find enough to get started.

As a research starter on a topic in librarianship, I'd say this will be useful for many, especially beginners and librarian in the field who may not have extensive access to LIS sources. For me, I'd keep it on my shelf to check on things now and then as part of keeping up or for my areas of interest. This is one I am suggesting for librarians to at least look over.

I really liked this one, in spite of some small issues, some I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

* * * 

I did jot down some titles from the book's listings for later reading (the number included is the entry number in the book. Links, as usual unless otherwise noted, go to WorldCat.):