Friday, February 24, 2006

Article Note: On Libraries and Online Learning

Citation for the article:

Lippincott, Joan K. "Where Learners Go: How to Strengthen the Library Role in Online Learning." Library Journal (October 1, 2005): 35-37.

Read the article in print.

This is an old article, well, relatively old in the scheme of things, but I just got the print issue through the internal routing. I had seen other articles on this issue online already, but this one caught my eye. It actually caught my attention as I started reading into it because it sparked all sorts of ideas in my mind. It was the kind of little article that makes you say, "why are we not doing such and such here?" and "what can we do to get to it down the road?" This quote from the article I thought was particularly cool:

"It is crucial that librarians who are committed to maintaining and expanding their role and the role of libraries in the new learning process via the Internet ensure that their web presence engages those learners. They must develop content and services that have more affinity with the style of people who work in a multimedia world and spend much of their communication and work time online. Librarians must experiment with new ways to connect the library and the Internet for learning" (35-36).

I love that idea of experimenting. If we could only get more librarians to experiment, and I mean more than just toying around with the latest 2.0 toy. We need to experiment with content, with ways of thinking as well as with ways to present that content in a dynamic way. In one way, you can have the greatest tools, but you need to have a reason for them. If you have a blog, it does not matter how fancy it is if you don't have good and interesting content to go with it. So, we need to experiment, and we need to be bold in doing so. And we also need to help along those who may not be as ready or able to jump right away into the great blue yonder.

I liked the author's idea of bringing in those free resources which can supplement the research and work that students do. But what I found really important was under the ideas of emphasizing community and teaching to learn that the author presents. The emphasizing community is clearly important and evident. If you provide the opportunity for the community to be involved, they will invest in your institution. Service becomes more of a two-way process. The illustration of the one book, one community example with resources as well as blogs for discussions is a good one, but this can take a myriad of forms. Another idea is the promoting of library services in places like the campus writing center. We are lucky that we have a small collaboration going with our local Writing Center, where they have a satellite location in our library. This is something I actively promote in our classes for one. Now, if we could find a couple more ways to promote the library in some of the other Writing Center resources, specifically what we can offer writing students. Something to think about.

Another quote I want to make a note of:

"Posters, bookmarks, or printed guides to Internet resources can be posted and distributed in venues where people go looking for information, such as medical facilities, government offices, and schools. Such guides help market library content and services and advertise the expertise of librarians as selectors of quality Internet information resources. Libraries must actively request placement of links to their homepages from resources where they think members of their constituency are likely to be in cyberspace" (37).

Something else to think about, more involvement with the CMS. Here, we use WebCT. We have participated in some bulletin boards with one of the classes where the students post their research questions, and we answer them. We need to continue this, but we should at least explore expanding this. Making some specific guides available to classes on their assignments, placing maybe information about librarians who can help with a topic, links to our resources (I know we have a link to the library page in there somewhere. And if I sound hesitant is because we barely get access to the CMS as is).

I also thought of the possibility of using some exercise sheets with some classes, maybe have them do some kind of task before they come to task, if I can get the professor to collaborate. I have done things like that in other places I have worked, with some degree of success. This is definitely something to think about.

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