Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My First Commencement at Berea College

I made it to the end of my first academic year at Berea College, and many things have been going on for me. It was a good, challenging academic year where I learned much and even had some good professional growth opportunities such as attending my first ACRL conference (2013 in Indianapolis). At some point soon I want to reflect further on my first year here, but for now I want to write a bit about this year's commencement.

On Sunday, May 5th, 2013, Berea College held its 141st Commencement Ceremony. It was significant not only for our students but also because it was the first ceremony for our new president. I will say upfront that this is the nicest thing anyone has required me to do. I am a faculty member here (yes, officially, I am an Assistant Professor of Library Science, but nobody really calls me that, which is fine by me not being one for fancy titles). Faculty are required, unless they have an excused reason, to attend the commencement ceremonies and to do so in regalia. So I dug out my masters regalia so I could participate and march in the procession with the rest of the faculty. There is a certain sense of belonging you get from marching with the faculty in a moment of celebration. We came together to celebrate the achievements and successes of our students who now will go out into the world to do some good. This is a celebration that feels big, yet it is very intimate.

Before the ceremony, the faculty line up in the hallway along the old gymnasium, in preparation to march into the new gymnasium where the event will take place. The students are lining up in the old gym. The music starts, and the students begin to march, and they walk along the hallway where we are lined up, and we cheer for them. We smile; we cheer; we high five some of our students who were in our classrooms, including the library classrooms, not too long ago. You can see the joy and pride in their faces as they walk past us. And then we march in, followed by the rest of the academic procession.

Naturally, we had some speeches, but there was also music by our student ensembles and choirs. The college also conferred an honorary doctor of laws degree on Peter J. O'Connor (college press release about Mr. O'Connor; biographical page about him from Fair Share Housing Development). Mr. O'Connor was one of the lawyers who argued cases that would shape the Mount Laurel Doctrine for fair housing (link from the New Jersey Digital Library, which I found a bit better than using Wikipedia's article, which seems a bit biased). Mr. O'Connor was to give the charge to the Class of 2013. I managed to take some quick notes on my program from his speech.

  • He begins by highlighting Berea College's social justice mission. 
  • His speech topic is the meaning of social justice. It is a simple concept: treat others with respect and fairness as we would be treated. 
  • Live a life of service with the goal of ensuring a dignified life for all. 
  • Equal opportunity for all. 
  • Live a life guided by Berea College's motto (God has made of one blood, all the peoples of the Earth). We are all brothers and sisters. 
  • Social justice starts in the home with values taught by our parents. 
  • Forgiveness is an integral part of social justice. 
  • Sometimes in life you have to do tough things. 
  • Life is an opportunity to help others. 
  • Has the belief that the U.S. has a moral obligation to help alleviate poverty in the world, but it lacks the stomach and commitment to do so. At least not until the problems of poverty, education, racism, are solved here. 
  • Social reforms are not 100 yard dashes. They are marathons. 
  • And now it is time for our graduate to go out and solve some problems. 

From there, we would go to the presentation of the degrees. Unlike much larger institutions, with 232 graduates this time, the ceremony feels small and very personal. Our president shook every graduate's hand, and he hugged many of them, as they received their diplomas. Most moving to me is that many of them who had either very young siblings or children of their own marched up the stage with the children. I had never seen that before in any commencement (and I have been to a few), and it is indeed a moving and joyous thing to see. And in one case at least, an overseas student clutched the photo of his mother as he went to get his diploma.  Such small details are what I will remember and take with me from that day.

After the event, I had time to mingle with faculty and greet some of the student with their families, families proud and happy for their sons and daughters who will now go into the world to, as Mr. O'Connor said, go solve some problems.

To see some more highlights of the event, including photos, see this post from the BC Now campus news site. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Closing Keynote with Maria Hinojosa

ACRL Closing Keynote
Speaker: Maria Hinojosa.
Date: Saturday, April 13, 2013, 11:00am

  • (With this post, I conclude the series of notes from the ACRL 2013 Conference. Will I make it to Portland in two years? Maybe. In the meantime, thanks to my four readers for stopping by, and read on)
  • The American Dream does not exist anymore. (Ok, that's it, we are done. That is all folks. On a serious note, actually, I do agree with this idea. All we have to do is look around). 
    • What happens when stories that are baseless are repeated? 
    • The narrative is changing. Latinos do not see ourselves as a minority anymore, nor whites see us that way. Conversation and change are happening to change the narrative. Changing the narrative is the first step to owning the voice and transforming democracy. 
    • Democracy matters to us all. 
    • We librarians are the first line of defense. (Another thing I have often said, and I hope I am not alone in believing that)
  • We need to build bridges of trust. Salvation lays in the binding of America. 
    • Librarians are role models, so we are responsible to be accessible to those who need us. 
    • "Eat your fear, put honey in your tongue, then swallow." In asking questions, take control. How do the questions you ask get others to tell their stories?
  •  New immigrants are the America waking up, feeling out of place, so we need to care. 
  • Hinojosa recommends reading Sonia Sotomayor's new book. (She did not specify which one, so I am guessing it is Sotomayor's memoir My Beloved World.) 
  • Hinojosa strives to create safe spaces, in her classrooms and in her work, so people can tell their stories. This is about seeing beyond what we usually see. 
  • If you see injustice, say something. If you see injustice, say and do something. 
    • Understand that what we do and our stories have power. 
    • For Latinos, stuck in the "US Mambo = 3 steps forward, 2 steps back." We are a big market, yet we get our books banned; we get discriminated against. In Arizona, librotraficante comes as a democratic reply, the book smuggler.
    • Latinos in the front line of democratic excesses, of a challenge to democracy. We need access to information, knowing our rights and engaging in democracy and society. We librarians serve as an example to Latinos and others. 
    • Latino youths need us to see them, and to see we fight for them. They need us librarians. 
  • There can be happiness in seeing each other, in seeing ourselves in others' eyes. This is the work we do. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Panel on Having an Instruction Arsenal

ACRL Panel Session
Topic: ""Building an Instruction Arsenal: Using Standardized Elements to Streamline Class Planning and Ease Student Learning Assessment Across the Curriculum."
Date: Saturday, April 13, 2013, 9:45am

  • (This was definitely another panel I was very interested in, so worth it to be up and about on Saturday morning. This is an idea that I talked to my director about, and it has possibilities for us). 
  • The question: How to deliver classes that are good with minimal planning? And then, how do you assess them?
  • Three elements of planning: 
    • Student Learning Outcomes (SLO). 
    • Active Learning Exercises. 
    • Tailored Assessments.
  •  Start by thinking critically what is it students do. Map activities to SLO's. 
    • SLO's become common denominators across all library instruction. 
    • Guiding principles. Think strategically what students need to know and when. Use "in order to" statements. 
    • Build assessment around SLO's. Measure effectiveness of instruction and use it to inform reevaluation of exercises. 
  • Create a Prezi/PowerPoint repository. Each presentation aligned for SLO's. (I think we can do this for our lower level General Studies classes). Share these with other instructors. 
  • Create an assessment menu for each SLO. Dozens of questions and rubrics. 
  • Online activities all combined on a course LibGuide. 
  • Idea is to assess the same information literacy skills in a variety of ways. 
  • Another set of ideas: 
    • SLO mapping of curriculum (again, something we can do for our General Studies initially, for other courses down the road). 
    • Keep a set of Active Learning Exercises, customizable to assignments. 
    • Assessment to be authentic, formative. Pre/post testing. Note that every class is not assessed. Do more in-class formative assessment. 
  • Maximize librarian time. Scaffold learning outcomes. 
  • The model is adaptable; it allows for catered instruction without much planning. It allows us to be effective and efficient. 
    •  Unique but uniform. Sessions can be created quickly to meet the needs of individual classes. 
  • Note the slides are available online in the conference planner as a PDF. (May want to grab them, as I noted before of the planner, who knows how long ACRL will keep it there).

Monday, May 20, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Panel Session on Queering the Library

ACRL Panel Session
Topic: "Queering the Library: What are YOU Doing to Serve Your LGBTQ Community?"
Date: Saturday, April 13, 2013, 8:30am

  • (I was interested in this panel because I do have an interest in the topic, both as a librarian, and as an ally. I do have to note that this was an interest I could not always express, certainly not "too much" in my previous workplace, but let us leave that behind. In addition, since I have done some reading on the topic-- see here, here, and over here--, I figured this would be a good follow-up. It definitely was worth it getting up early on the last day of the conference for this panel.)
  • See for the presentation slides. 
  • LGBTQ issues and needs of students is a good research topic; case studies can be meaningful. There is a lack in the LIS Literature (I know. I have not seen a lot of this neither). 
  • Look at the LGBT Campus Climate Index (I did check. Curiously, neither my previous place nor my current place are listed. Though if I go by experience, my current place is lot more friendly, so to speak). 
  • From cited survey by Rankin (it refers to this. Note, it is not a free product. However, I did check WorldCat, and a few libraries have it, so ILL may be possible): 
    • 31% of LGBTQ students identify their campus as phobic. 
    • 21% experience harassment. 
    • Many students consider leaving campus as a result. This has an impact on retention (and I would guess it may have some impact on reputation as well, at least among LGBTQ people). Campus responses have been less than adequate.
  • This is a library issue. 
    • We are about equality. 
    • Show that the library supports all students with materials and access. The challenge is the line between visibility and privacy. 
    • Safe spaces to access materials are necessary. Also, work with any LGBTQ campus center, if it exists. Such places often have their own libraries as well. 
    • Overall, LGBTQ centers are still rare on campuses. 
  •  From the Q&A: I am one voice. What can I do? 
    • Put yourself out. Still, let others know you are a resource. Start by making your office a safe space. You being visible is an act of subversion. 
  • From the Q&A: Could this get me in trouble? (The basic answer is yes. Sort of implied in the discussion is that you have to measure your own risk tolerance and act accordingly, but act.)
    • Embrace discomfort and trouble. 
    • In hostile environments, maybe keep the faith as change is coming (this seemed a bit on the idealistic side to me. In some cases, change may be extremely slow to come, if at all. Still, try to remain positive). 
    • In hostile environments, do be aware of yourself and others. Gather your thoughts and support base. At the end of the day, do take the time to decompress. 
    • In an extreme case, getting fired may be worth it (though here I would say, again, measure your risk tolerance. If you are single with nothing to lose, you can probably do this with ease. If others depend on you, like family, maybe instead of getting fired you bide your time and move the hell out of Dodge. Don't burn bridges unnecessarily, but when you do move and secure a new position, make sure the old place knows exactly why you are leaving). 

Friday, May 17, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Contributed Papers on librarians, faculty, and assessment

ACRL Contributed Papers Group 2
Topics: Faculty and IL Rubrics, Assessment Leadership, and Instruction/Assessment
Date: Friday, April 12, 2013, 4:00pm

Again, reminder that the proceedings with the papers are at this link. I will be also linking the individual titles below, which lead to PDFs.

I. "'How is this different from critical thinking?': The Risks and Rewards of Deepening Faculty Involvement in an Information Literacy Rubric."
  • While working with faculty, reinforce that librarians are educational experts and researchers (I will admit this is not always easy since often librarians can be their own worst enemies in this regard whether by just being shy or, as I have been subjected to, taking down other librarians and saying things such as "you are not a real teacher." By the way, I will put my teaching credentials up against any librarian or faculty out there any day, any time). We then gain benefit from faculty strengths.
  • The paper reports on a study comparing how faculty and librarians score items on a rubric, their common elements and differences. 
  • Difficulty in assessing how students evaluate sources. Librarians go across disciplines where faculty go deep in their discipline. (See, we are strong in different things, and that is good)
  • Overall though, the study found few differences between the librarians and the faculty. 
    • Risk of credibility and expertise. 
    • Gains: librarians identified as peers. Advancing information literacy. 

II. "Becoming a Campus Assessment Leader: Collaborating for Campus Wide IL Assessment."
  •  (I was interested in this paper to go along with what I learned in the preconference I did earlier in the week)
  • A common problem on campuses is a lack of information literacy in campus curricular assessment.
  • Note that the paper includes the survey instrument. 
  • Survey distribution:
    • Target specific departments. Start with the ones you have connections with. 
    • End of semester distribution. 
    • Stress that the assessment will not be used to judge faculty. 

III. "Just-in-time Instruction, Regular Reflection, and Integrated Assessment: A Sustainable Model for Student Growth."
  • (I did not get a whole lot out of this presentation. We got referred to go online to find the handouts. This is one I need to read in full soon. By the way, the handout is in the conference schedule part as a PDF, which is not link-friendly. So here is the link to the program, hoping ACRL will not muck it up down the road. Way I see it, it should have been included with the paper's link to have it all in one place). 
  • Paper reports on a collaboration between a faculty member and a librarian. 
  • Embarking on parallel, non-communicated work does not really help our students. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Contributed Papers on Undergraduate Information Literacy

ACRL Contributed Papers Group 1
Topics: Information seeking strategies, undergraduate research, and basic IL instruction
Date: Friday, April 12, 2013, 1:30pm

As noted previously, the conference proceedings with the contributed papers are at this link. I am also linking the specific titles below (these links go to PDF files). 

I. "When the Helicopters are Silent; The Information Seeking Strategies of First Generation College Students."

  • (A big reason I was interested in this paper is that we have a significant undergraduate population at my current workplace that is first generation students. So, anything I can learn to help me serve them better I am interested)
  • This is a review of traits of first generation students. However, according to the speaker, no previous study has addressed the information seeking behaviors of first generation students. (By the way, if you want a decent book on today's incoming college students, Generation on a Tightrope provides a nice overview. See my review.)
  • The paper reports on four focus groups. The study was asking about daily information seeking behaviors. 
  • Methods of information gathering by the students: 
    • Formal university systems. These were seen as confusing by students. The fact that there are advisors at various levels of a campus was confusing.
    • Family: Family can encourage, but they cannot provide advice. Note that students also often try to "protect" the family from campus information, if they are not doing well, etc. 
    • Informal college networks: Campus organizations, friends. They seek out people who look like them. (In this regard, we may have an advantage locally thanks to our labor program, which enables us to hire and train students to work in reference, thus providing the students with "someone like them" with librarians to back them up)
  • Overall, the students felt information poor. They were also confronted by jargon. Frustrated and confused, they stop asking for information. 
    • Campus services are usually fragmented. In high school, you turned to your guidance counselor (who pretty much was "one stop shopping"). In college, you have various units and departments such as financial aid, the bursar, the registrar, etc.
    • Librarians see themselves as sources of information. However, students still feel that libraries are confusing places; in larger settings, the library can be seen as fragmented (again, we can have local advantage given we have one central location, and our extreme focus on student service). As a result, students may avoid the library. 
  • This can go back to meeting the students where they are at. 

II. "Supporting the Dissemination of Undergraduate Research: An Emerging Role for Academic Librarians."
  •  Undergraduate research is gaining popularity. (We certainly have examples of that here locally with the capstone projects and their end of year presentations)
    • This was inspired by the 1998 Boyer Report "Reinventing Undergraduate Education." 
  • This kind of student needs targeted information literacy support. 
    • Partner with the undergraduate research office or program director. 
    • Offer specialized workshops in support of dissemination and production of research for undergraduate researchers.
  • Scholarly communication and dissemination. 
    • These students are creating new knowledge. 
    • Modern information technology makes publishing easier, so address formal and informal publication venues such as social media. 
    • See for more on the topic. 

III. "They Not Only CAN But They SHOULD: Why Undergraduates Should Provide Basic IL Instruction."
  • (I was definitely interested in this paper given our student workers and their abilities. This is certainly something that would fall within their abilities if trained. Something to consider down the road perhaps)
  • Reasons to do it: 
    • Pedagogy: Peers do learn from peers. This can foster cognitive collaboration. 
    • Their Lib RATs (Reference Assistance Technician)( in a way are very similar to our reference student workers).
    • Increased instructional capacity and flexibility. You can teach more sessions and do more when you need them. 
    • Librarians can then focus on more advanced skills. 
    • Gain traction for instruction by sharing evaluations. 
    • The instruction peers provide a built-in focus group. 
    • Opportunity costs go do down. This can create librarian opportunities beyond instruction (however, careful here: some could get the idea of reducing library funding with this). 
  •  Evidence for success: 
    • Increased demand. 
    • Evidence from student session participants; used Likert scale surveys. 
    • From faculty participants, also using Likert scale surveys. 
  • See to learn more.    

Monday, May 13, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Contributed Papers on Learning and Information Literacy

ACRL Contributed Papers Group 1
Topics: on problem-based learning, narratives, and emotional intelligence
Date: Friday, April 12, 2013, 11:00am

As before, notes on these are going to be brief (for some reason, paper presentations do not lend themselves as well to taking notes. Part may be the over-reliance on PowerPoint). The good news is that papers are available online (so my four readers and I can review them later. Direct links, leading to PDFs, included in title).

I. "Using Problem-Based Learning to Facilitate Student Learning Across the Curriculum."
  • Problem-Based Learning (PBL): 
    • Librarian as facilitator. 
    • Focus on cognition and metacognition. 
    • Uses real life problems. 
    • It is a conceptual model of facilitated learning. 
    • Encourages student-directed solutions. 
  •  PBL and metacognition: 
    • Believes the problem-solver can change his/her thinking and thus their behavior. 
  • PBL: 
    • Promotes critical thinking. 
    • Promotes peer-to-peer learning, which is more closely aligned to student preferences. 
  • Some concepts taught: 
    • Open versus hidden web. 
    • Primary/Secondary/Tertiary sources. 
    • Scholarly versus Popular sources. 
  • Move students from googling everything to entering the academic conversation. 
  •  It is important to meet with faculty to agree on outcomes and class activities as well as to collaborate. 
  • Sample idea: give students cards listing sources to sort out, say for primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. See then how they sort them, which can reveal how they are thinking. 

II. "Tell Me a Story: The Use of Narrative as an Instructional Tool.
  •  Definitions of narrative. 
    • Literary: linear. Beginning--> events --> conclusion. It is a representation of events. See Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (2008).
    • Social science: Events are framed in larger structures. People do not deal with the world event by event. 
  •  Learning theories
    • Constructivist. 
      • Learning occurs from experience. 
      • It only occurs if the learner has experience, interacts with it, and change occurs. The process is recurrent. 
    • MBE (Mind, Brain, Education) Science. (This link out of Johns Hopkins School of Education might help).
      • Learning involves emotion, cognition, reflection, and there are changes in the brain. The brain needs practical context, including narratives. 
  • Sample class exercise/lesson: Find a banana (or some other item):
    • The general store: Google Scholar (ok, you can probably get a simple banana here).
    • The grocery store: A database, say CSA or Web of Science. 
    • The farmers' market: Specialized databases, say ERIC or Education Full Text. 

III.  "Feeling our Way: Emotional Intelligence and Information Literacy Competency."
  • Students who better manage emotions can better navigate information literacy skills and tasks. This is the paper's hypothesis. This positive element was supported by their research.
  • Emotional intelligence affects learning and thinking. 
  • Awareness of intervention points for instruction and reference. Watch for cognitive overload. 

As was the case before, I really did this session for one of the papers, in this case the one about narratives given my interest in the topic. (Again, a case of it is not easy to leave the room once you are in it, plus not to mention locations are not exactly close enough to get to another paper on time. That was not a feature that endeared me to the conference planners). The third paper sounded good, but the presentation was just not that great (means I would probably be better off reading the paper to see what I can get out of it. I just think there could have been more to the presentation).

Friday, May 10, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: On Creating a Culture of Assessment

ACRL Panel Session
Topic: Creating a Culture of Assessment: Determinants of Success
Date: Friday, April 12, 2013, 8:30am

Since I did the preconference on assessment earlier, I figured this would be a nice addition to my learning experience. Plus, the preconference presenters did recommend it.

  • On defining a culture of assessment. Definitions can vary. One idea: an "organizational environment in which decisions are based on facts, research, and analysis." 
  • What it means: 
    • Assessment is the norm and regular practice. 
    • It is done for improvement, not accountability. 
    • It is user-focused. 
    • It is driven by learning and curiosity. 
    • Decisions are based on the results of the assessments. 
    • We hold ourselves to the same standards as other departments. 
  • Assessment can be used for advocacy and to inform teaching. 
  • Suggested reading: Haviland, Don, "Leading Assessment: From Faculty Reluctance to Faculty Engagement." Academic Leadership 7.1 (2009). (The citation as provided in the panel was not correct. Took some digging, but here it is.)
  • Culture of assessment requires changing people's thinking. 
  • Suggested reading: Lakos, Amos and Shelley E. Phipps, "Creating a Culture of Assessment: A Catalyst for Organizational Change." portal: Libraries and the Academy. 4.3 (July 2004). (I thought these authors were familiar, so I checked to see if I had read this particular article. I have not, but I read another article where they are cited, thus my small sense of deja vu. I will have to read it and write it up when I get a moment).
    • A learning culture committed to learning. 
  • We need administrators who are unfailing in terms of support and use assessment results in planning and decisions. Some say, however, that administration cannot be top down. 
  • Librarians need to be empowered and act on what they have learned. 
  • Suggested reading: Nodye, Abdou and Michele A. Parker, "Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Assessment." Planning for Higher Education 38.2 (2010). (Nice to see this one is open online).
  • A couple of facilitating factors: 
    • If there is a campus-wide initiative for assessment. 
    • If the library gets involved in said initiative. 
  • Presenters report finding that "culture of assessment" is in the eye of the beholder. Some people may report not having a culture of assessment in their institutions, but they may have some traits of it. 
    • Without institutional commitment to assess, the culture of assessment is not likely to exist.
    • Having faculty status (for librarians) isn't associated with culture of assessment. Some report having the culture due the obligations of tenure, or viceversa, tenure prevents assessment. 
    • Of the libraries reporting clear expectations and having an assessment plan, 92% reported having a culture of assessment. 
  • In the end: Having a clear understanding of, expectations for, and a plan for assessment. Having an administration that makes assessment a priority and leads by example by using assessment data. These are the most important factors related to a library achieving a culture of assessment. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Booknote: Librarians as Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook

Consider this a brief intermission from my series of posts on my ACRL 2013 conference notes. I just finished this book, and I wanted to share it with my four readers right away.

Smallwood, Carol, ed., Librarians as Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010.

ISBN: 978-0-8389-1006-1

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Library Science, Outreach

I think this is a book that every outreach librarian, or any librarian planning to do outreach (or had outreach dumped on his/her lap) needs to have. It is not perfect, but it is pretty close. The editor brings together 37 librarians from a diverse range of libraries and settings (such as archives) to write about their best techniques and activities for library outreach. The only reason I say the book is not perfect is because the entries do vary: some are more practical in terms of telling you how things are done (what I am really interested in to be honest) and others are a bit more "how we did good, let's all be warm and fuzzy" entries. That aside, this is a very good book full of ideas that should inspire other librarians out there. One of the things I really liked were the various essays on collaborations between schools and local libraries, be they public or academic. Working in this kind of situation is something that interests me, and that at times I have tried to accomplish back when I was doing outreach (as it was my job title and what I did), but was never able to get around to it (it was low priority compared to other more pressing things). I still think such collaborations are crucial, and for me, maybe something to explore later. So, that definitely gave me some hope.

The book answers questions such as:
  • how can I better promote library services? 
  • how can I work with specific constituencies? 
  • learn more about partnerships, be they on campus or in your community. 
  • and more. 
To be honest, I wish I had this book back when I was working as an outreach librarian. I had to learn and figure out a lot of things on my own, often with very minimal support, and seeing what others have done, and more importantly, how they did it, would have been helpful. So, if you are an outreach librarian, whether because that is your job title or by default (because no one else wants to do it), do yourself a favor and read this book. My current workplace owns it, which is how I read it. But I would say this is one I would add to my own professional book shelf. It provides both advice and inspiration, and librarians can always use both.

Monday, May 06, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Henry Rollins Keynote

ACRL Keynote
Speaker: Henry Rollins (links: his official website; his Wikipedia entry).
Date: Thursday, April 11, 2013, 4:20pm.

(My notes are short on this one, but it is because Mr. Rollins is a force to reckon with, and how can you take notes from someone who moves with the force of a hurricane? Anyhow, I did manage to catch some thoughts of this excellent lecture. Down the road, I will be hunting down some of his books to read).
  • Get angry about something every day, then channel your energy to do something. 
  • He asks us to listen without cynicism, for he holds librarians in good esteem. 
  • Describes himself as a "work slut" who will try anything. 
  • Every single person you meet, on some level, are worthy of respect and have a story. 
    • In punk rock, you do not blow people off. 
  • Young people can be very eclectic if you give them the right material. 
  • Harvesters, organizers, and protectors of information: this is what librarians are. Not everyone gets the information they need to make choices in life. 
    • Punk became his soundtrack, and as his life, he worked to preserve it as it was persecuted music. Well, it was persecuted until many punks got famous. Bands themselves never thought of preserving their records, flyers, so on. So, he is building the "Henry Rollins Library" for "the next guy" to preserve the history of punk. 
  • In 2013, we still experience suffocation of information, yet we are awash in information. We are facing active efforts to suppress information.
  • It is our job to right wrongs in this century, and it has to be done by people willing to stand up, not waiting for someone to get elected.

Friday, May 03, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Contributed Papers on Information Literacy

ACRL Contributed Papers Session, Group 2
Topic: Mostly on information literacy, see specific papers.
Date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 1:00pm

Whenever I attend a librarians' conference, I try to catch at least one of the sessions that offer contributed papers if possible. I do this because often these are LIS school students or librarians just entering the profession, so often they reflect recent thinking in the profession. However, these sessions can often be hit and miss when compared to panels, which usually have more "established" authorities. I did not get a whole lot of notes on these; they did not seem terribly substantial (at least during the presentation), but on the positive, ACRL has made available the proceedings (link to the general proceedings page. Links to papers below are PDF), and you can find the papers there in full. I may have to reread them at some point in the future.

I. "Melding the Nitty Gritty of Critical Thinking and Information Literacy Into English and Developmental and Composition Classes" by Mark Thompson.

  • Use student learning outcomes from courses to mold your IL work and objectives. 
  • Steps:
    • Look at syllabi for student objectives. 
    • Review current textbooks. 
    • Meld, then revise assignments, and then approach faculty. 
 II. "Information Literacy as a Formative Force" by Paulette M. Rothbauer, Sheril Hook, and John M. Budd.

  • (I will admit that the title did sound exciting)
  • They asked students two questions: 
    • What is information? 
    • What is a library?
  • Concept of the library as a place of knowledge. 

III. "The Almost Experts: Capstone Students and the Research Process" by Robin E. Miller.
  • (This was the paper I was actually interested in from the set. Unfortunately, it is common for papers I really wanted to listen to that they were spread out, and leaving the room was not always an option. I was interested because in my current workplace, our seniors do various senior year projects and capstones, and this is an area where we have an interest in expanding our services). 
  • Initial observation: They are not almost experts. 
  • The paper reports on a survey and student interviews. 
  • How could librarians help? 92% would like a capstone LibGuide. 35% wanted instruction on writing a literature review. 57% wanted citation management support. (For us, I think these are all areas, and more, that we could help our students). 
Overall, the session was so-so. I think, for me at least, reading the papers is more productive than listening to the speakers. Keep in mind we have come a long way from when I use to present papers, where I actually had to read the paper. Nowadays, they just toss the highlights on a PowerPoint and hope some stuff sticks.  The result is very often the speakers are rushing through the presentation, tossing out numbers, and overall, not very reflective. As I mentioned, I will be going back and reading over these, specially the Miller paper.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: On Course Integrated Research Narratives

ACRL Panel Session
Topic: "Visible Thinking: Using Course-Integrated Research Narratives to Engage Students and Assess Learning."
Date: Thursday April 11, 2013, 10:30am

I recently read an article on using undergraduate personal research essays for library instruction and assessment, so when I saw that there were some programs on the topic of research narratives, I knew I had to go to those programs. This is a topic of interest, and as I work on writing up a new information literacy assessment plan for our library, this is an element I want to include in the plan. So, I tried to learn as much as I could on this topic.

My notes:

  • Do note that presentation handouts are available, as PDF's, on the conference website, in the schedule section. Link to the schedule here:  (I did print them out and added them to my print notes). 
  • Concept based on narrative theory. 
    • "...theory about what happened and why it matters" (Bruce Jackson, 2007. As usual in many presentations, heaven forbid they give a complete and accurate citation. Anyhow, based on date and some searching, I think they are referring to the book The Story is True: the Art and Meaning of Telling Stories. Sounds like something to add to my TBR list. I do remember reading bits and piece).
    • Drawing on the concept of literacy narrative assignments. A story about how a person learned to read and write, how they acquired literacy. Explore the relation of individual and society in terms of literacy. 
  • Develop a story to make meaning. Writer presents a theory of what happened and why.
  • Modify literacy narrative to review and focus on research experiences. 
  • Prompt sample (partial, can refer to handouts for others): Tell a story about an experience where you had to research something for school.  How did this experience influence your current attitudes or feelings about academic research? 
  • Emerging theme: research and writing are inseparable. However, from the study, positive and negative student research experiences emerged as well. 
  • Part of a sample student response. This student criticizes the research experience as a waste of time. (By the way, this is probably one of the best lines I heard at the conference, if not one of the best lines on college paper writing I have heard ever): ". . . a collage of plagiarism that people actually accepted as a real paper." 
  • Applications: 
    • Librarian narratives to engage students (this I found intriguing. I may try to write one out before I try it out in a classroom). 
    • Narratives as meta-cognitive reflection.
  • (I think we could do a pilot of this at my library and campus. When I spoke to the director about it, she said we love pilots in this place. I think we can adapt it to our General Studies program). 
  • Works cited analysis can reveal diversity of sources students use in their research. It does not tell you why they chose a source or not (which is what interests me personally). Pair up citations with the narrative to see the full picture. 
  • Begin with a single course and section. Leverage an established relationship with a professor who may be friendly and/or supportive of the library and information literacy. Then increase impact by involving colleagues in reading and assessing the pilot. 
    • Reminder, whether on research or other writing, students are more invested if they can choose their own topics.