In my quest for using new technologies to convey library concepts I started integrating GoAnimate (www.goanimate.com) with Camtasia video captures. This is my first attempt. More info soon!
In my quest for using new technologies to convey library concepts I started integrating GoAnimate (www.goanimate.com) with Camtasia video captures. This is my first attempt. More info soon!
Every once in awhile between the half listening slackers and the “I already know this” students you get the kind of student that becomes THE REASON I LOVE WHAT I DO. This semester it was a petite Latina girl in a college sweatshirt with a carefully made up face and waves of black hair. A typical freshman.
She never told me her name but she was attentive and engaged. She waited until class was over and all the students were gone before she asked her questions. She was doing her first college paper on global warming. She was planning to become an engineering major but the College of Engineering doesn’t accept “pre-bac” students (the ones that don’t pass the writing requirement). She was clearly stressed about passing this class. I HAVE TO DO REALLY WELL ON THIS PAPER. And after talking to her for a minute it became clear why.
“I am the first person on either side of my family to go to college. NO ONE at home can help me. My mom is a single mom and my dad was never around. My mom and grandparents came from Mexico and I am the first one.” I could feel the magnitude of her situation in her tone of voice and body language: This is a BFD.
I could feel the weight on her shoulders however, she wasn’t like a typical stressed student. While she was overwhelmed at the enormity of her accomplishments she was still determined to succeed. I could see an inner strength in her that you don’t always see in freshmen or first generation students.
I wanted to give her a hug.
Instead I gave her the most heartfelt advice of my life. I told her everything I wished I had done to take advantage of support programs in college. I told her about my other first generation students and assured her that others did it before her and she could do it too. She didn’t know it but she brought tears to my eyes. She left the classroom with a renewed sense of confidence and told me she would “see me around”.
So thank you for reminding me of why I teach six classes in one day. why I never dread coming into the office. Why I smile even though I have worked more than 10 hours straight. I hope I see her in a cap and gown within the next five years.
Because you, dear student, are a big fucking deal.
Aaron Tay and I wrote an article for ASIS. Check it out!
I had a wonderful time at both the satellite meeting in Havana Cuba and at the full conference in San Juan Puerto Rico. Many thanks to the IFLA Social Science Libraries Section and Library Theory and Research Section with Statistics and Evaluation for allowing me the pleasure of attending my first IFLA Conference. Please find both my presentation slides. While my co-presenters were unable to join me, they are equally responsible for the ideas and content- many thanks to Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe and Aaron Tay. Handouts and link to other materials will be added soon.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really liked this book.. so much so that I ordered a copy for my collection as well as a personal copy so the library copy wont just hide in my office.
Very practical and easy to read- the perfect manual to get acquainted with basic assessment techniques. What I found most useful is the section on interpreting data and writing the final assessment report. While I have done both of these before, its a nice refresher for those that have experience and an excellent blue print for newbies.
I highly suggest purchasing this book if you are directly involved with assessment efforts at your library.
When people ask me what my favorite job ever was I tell them the truth: Cocktail Waitress. I loved wearing too short skirts and fishnets with platforms, customers that were either drunk or tipsy but always happy and the ability to drink Pepsi and watch ESPN at work. The tips weren’t bad either.
As an undergrad I had my life mapped out. Political science major, top law school, move to Washington DC and turn politicians into rock stars everyone would vote for. My GPA and compulsive behavior made sure that plan wasn’t going to quite work out. I still got my picture taken with Bill Clinton on the tarmac of the executive terminal at the Oakland Airport. That’s as close as I got to world domination. On to Plan B.
I applied to library school because I didn’t want to be a teacher. I applied to library school because I thought what could be hard about checking out books and calling people to remind them their books were overdue? I applied to library school cuz I figured it was easy money and I had fun doing research. And I never wanted to work with kids. Ever.
Something magical happened when I started classes. I discovered my inner nerd. She must have been hiding behind all the late night clubs in SF and ultra cool vintage gear, waiting to break out. Information seeking behavior, systems design, the Zen-like art of the almighty reference interview, so many options. I thought I would design seamless interfaces with sophisticated search algorithms or top secret research for the RAND Corporation. But I have a compulsion to tell when I see the words “confidential” and I can’t program for shit. On to Plan C.
Oddly enough, I find reference at an academic library is almost like working at a bar. Instead of ESPN I have Meebo and Twitter, my students dress like they are going to a club. I still get to hear life stories although they are more coherent cuz it’s not from a rambling drunk. While I hung up the mini skirt and fishnets long ago, a peak under the “modesty panel” at the reference desk lets you know i still have a fetish for platforms. When I am thirsty I have a full sized Starbucks in the lobby. I miss the tips though.
A friend of mine asked me to call his nephew who graduated six months ago from library school and had yet to find a job. After our conversation, I thought I would put my advice on my blog, hopefully to inspire new graduates who have no job offers yet. If you are unaware of the unemployment plight of librarians, please read Andy Woodworth’s Unemployment in Libraryland response to a reader’s email. He hits the nail on the head for the causes; this blog post, however, is designed to help you get through the drought.
Advice to current graduate students:
Four things to do to improve your chances of getting a librarian position OR ways to keep yourself occupied while waiting to get hired…
Join a professional association: Take advantage of student pricing and join an association. Getting involved in an association can help jumpstart your job hunt. It can be a way to meet your future employers or learn about job leads before they are advertised. Joining local associations will give you the best results because they are both cheaper than national association memberships and give you more opportunities to volunteer for committees or work on statewide conferences. Volunteering to report on workshops or sessions of a conference can help get your name known and bolster your curriculum vitae.
Consider Alternative Positions: Part-time, temporary contracts and project-based positions are other options to consider. While these are not full-time jobs, they will assist you in getting practical experience and a chance to develop specific skills that may be useful for full-time positions. Try for the library type where you want to ultimately work at first, but keep in mind that almost any library will help you develop your philosophy of reference, becoming familiar with cataloging, and using library technologies.
Volunteer or apply for a non-librarian position in the library where you want to work: Applying for a paraprofessional position may be the short term way to “break into” the library of your choice. It will allow you to get a feel for the library culture where you want to work and help you become a familiar face for any professional positions that arise. As a graduate student in library school, I got a position working in the reserve area of the university library for the explicit purpose of having an advantage when graduate student positions opened up in the reference area. I got the position because I knew the librarians and my supervisors put in a good word. This experience was vital for getting hired after I graduated.
Get on Twitter: Just as associations can help with networking, Twitter is great way to cast a wider net and “meet” librarians from all over the world. It serves the dual purpose of staying current with library trends and allows you to virtually attend conferences by following conference hashtags (for example #ACRL2011 and #ALAannual). I have had a number of professional opportunities develop by being active on Twitter and partnering with newer and established librarians.
As a kid I loved punk rock and had no money. So I spent my time making t-shirts based on album covers or gig flyers that I meticulously taped around my teen girl bedroom. Perhaps this is why the concept of edupunk appealed to me and has become my approach to librarianship and instruction for the last couple of years. Basically, edupunk is “an approach to teaching and learning practices that result from a do it yourself (DIY) attitude.”(Wikipedia) Thus it was only natural that when I can’t get something done by traditional means, I will just make it myself. I recently presented my latest DIY project at the Mobile Computing Interest group during ALA Midwinter in San Diego. The following is a fleshed-out version of my brief presentation.
Mobile services and libraries
In 2007, a study funded by JISC found that sophisticated learners use personal technologies (PDAs, Mobile Phones etc) to enhance their learning (JISC, 2007). With the increase in smartphone ownership by students and faculty there is an expectation for libraries to have a mobile presence to support educational needs. While many libraries have created pages to link to basic services, options for the mobile learner have been absent thus far. Recent findings regarding use of mobile phones, access to information, and information-seeking behavior bolster the argument for creating mobile access points to library content as well.
Pew Research reported that 87% of blacks and Hispanics own a cell phone and “take advantage of a much wider array of their phones’ data functions compared to white cell phone owners” (Pew 2010). With such a large population of mobile users relying on phones for internet access, it is important for libraries to offer content in a mobile-friendly format. For teens, the numbers are an even more significant indication of this need, with 65% of mobile users accessing the internet, and 40% watching videos on their phone (Pew 2010). Both of these findings illustrate anecdotally that mobile users may be served well with access to library instruction and content for point-of-need use.
Mobile Über Alles
Library Journal recently conducted a survey of mobile sites and libraries. Unsurprisingly, 65% of academic libraries said they had or planned to have a mobile web presence. What was surprising, conversely, was how few actually had a mobile site available. The reasons given for not currently offering mobile services included budget, priorities, skills and perceptions (Carlucci Thomas 2010). These barriers ring true for many libraries, especially in the wake of severe budget cuts and staff overload.
While I have a great academic technology department at my institution, they do not have the time or people to experiment with emerging technologies, especially if the need is not a priority of the organization. As a result, I often experiment with low-cost alternatives and propose more formal changes once I have evidence of success. This is how I began playing around with low-cost mobile site alternatives.
For the last couple of years, I have been aware of libraries developing apps or mobile sites. It wasn’t until I started to use a smart device regularly that I saw the true need for this format. As an end user with a mobile phone, it is often a matter of convenience to locate general information such as book availability, phone numbers, or other questions usually answered by our library website. Nothing was more frustrating than having to navigate the tiny fonts and layout to get to the information I needed (usually urgently). I am sure others have had similar experiences. Thus, it is not earth-shattering that when blogger Aaron Tay studied mobile library pages, he found that most sites contained very basic library information designed for on-the-go needs (Tay 2010).
Very few libraries, with the exception of the medical library at Yale, Duke University, Penn State and Rice incorporate instruction and content into their mobile sites. With the popularity of apps like Wikipedia, IMDB, and various news outlets, there is definitely a proclivity for users to seek content via smart phones when an information need arises. This sentiment is echoed by Joan Lippincott, who advocated for the access of mobile reference materials and even development of research guides by discipline for a variety of just-in-time use (Lippincott, 2008).
The libraries that have developed mobile sites have reported little use of their pages, which leads to the inevitable discussion of whether the return on investment is worth the effort of diving into mobile access. Lukas Koster studied usage of mobile services and came to the conclusion that students don’t use library links on their mobile phone other than typical key services and therefore, libraries shouldn’t bother with mobile sites or apps. Lukas Koster states, “there is no future for providing mobile access on smartphones to traditional library content in digital form: electronic articles and books”(Koster 2010). This is shortsighted thinking and doesn’t consider the everyday information needs increasingly being met by searching apps or web browsers via mobile phones. With the growth of databases and catalogs in a mobile-ready format, I foresee an increase in usage as patron awareness grows. A bookmarked library page may become the link that gets used more often especially if it provides links to a variety of information sources that students are used to getting via the traditional web. Likewise, point-of-need information like instructions and video tutorials can be easily viewed on a mobile device while the user simultaneously performs the function on a computer. Using a free and simple tool to test this premise can help determine if investing in a full-scale mobile site with enhanced links to instructional content is a worthwhile endeavor.
While it’s not expected that students will read entire journal articles on their phones (until content is as mobile-friendly as interfaces), the ability to search for an article mentioned in class and email the link to view later can be useful now.
DIY for the win
One of the main barriers identified by the Library Journal survey was a lack of skill. Carlucci (2010) found, “Survey responses also pointed to a lack of technical expertise among existing staff as a barrier to development. Specifically, respondents report a ‘lack of staff who can do the necessary setup.’” It makes sense, therefore, to use an edupunk approach to mobile interface design to meet the short-term needs of students: why not use tools that are mobile-friendly and freely available on the internet? It eliminates the need for programming skills, especially since these companies routinely adjust for newer screen sizes and features available across platforms; sites like WordPress will modify pages for new browsers and anticipate changes in technology that may improve the mobile experience. By letting the professionals handle the technical side, librarians can focus on developing content. While any free blog site that is mobile ready will work for a DIY site, I examined two of the most popular platforms use by libraries.
The first platform I began to experiment with is LibGuides. While it is not free tool, so many libraries use this product that it can be a “free” mobile platform for those with accounts. Springshare has always created LibGuide pages that will automatically detect mobile browsers, however recently, they have moved towards developing more robust tools to construct pages primarily for mobile use. This choice for mobile site building is also ideal since it’s already integrated with many libraries’ subject guides. The ability to see and answer poll questions from the mobile site also allows for use of phones as clickers if one wanted to expand the use of the mobile site for instruction. Overall, if you have a current subscription, it will be easy to create a mobile site with no additional cost other than development. For an example of a fully developed mobile Libguide page please see: College of North Atlantic-Qatar Mobile Page (updated link per comments 2/3/11)
The second option is the commercial (free) version of WordPress, with the mobile detection formatting enabled. The embedded slide presentation shows screen shots of the mobile page on the fly using WordPress. I just created pages for navigation and pasted information directly from my library home page. This page took about an hour to create, with only minor formatting changes required. Using the both the WSWYG/HTML editors, I created this page with no plug-ins or advanced features.
Of course, these basic pages in both LibGuides and WordPress can be modified by adding icons and resizing text to fit mobile screens better and the creation of buttons, etc. But for a quick and dirty mobile presence, it was painless and my students can use it during the spring semester.
Designing for learning
I divided the content for my mobile page into two categories. The first one links to general information usually found on all mobile library sites. The second was a set of links for mobile learning. How useful are research tools on a tiny mobile format? How often will students use a database app or instruction tutorials? While there hasn’t yet been an empirical study of the use of mobile apps and mobile databases published, I think the offering of these services creates a value-added purpose to the library mobile services. It is my hope that instructional options on mobile library sites will eventually become as useful for students as the current Google and Wikipedia apps.
Mobile services for instruction
The beauty of a mobile site for libraries is the ability to have increased access to point-of-need instructional materials beyond the key sources that students often need for general use of the library. To move from a service-oriented site to one for learning, I added links to instructional tools I use in their desktop format. I agree with Aaron Tay, who advocates for more linking to mobile-ready tools currently used by libraries. While libraries have linked to their social media accounts, they have not linked to instructional resources, such as videos and slides. I included links to instructional videos from the library YouTube page, Slideshare to view class presentations, poll questions (LibGuides), and Scribd to follow instructions. This spring, I will be encouraging students in my large lecture courses to follow my presentation on their phones if they don’t have their laptops.
To ensure easy access to the mobile-friendly site, class handouts will have a QR code link to the site as well as a direct link from the library “quicklinks” box on my LibGuides. I will be collecting assessment data from page statistics.
The most obvious limitation is the redundancy of maintaining two pages. However, if the platform is LibGuides it will remain relatively static (hours are entered for the entire year and librarians have permanent phone numbers) and the proxy links will be updated centrally, so the workload should not be too overwhelming. Access may also be an issue if students don’t know the library has a mobile version. But as I stated before, this is my short-term solution to what I see as a need that should and can be easily filled. Of the two platforms, I prefer the ease of WordPress. LibGuides has had more formatting issues as some of the boxes don’t allow you to change font size. WordPress was more flexible but had the added disadvantage of not being housed on your server (if using the free version). Writing a grant or working with the university to develop a proper mobile web presence is definitely the preferred method for creating a permanent site. But until then, I will follow the immortal words of Frank Sinatra as sung by Sid Vicious: MY Way.
Carlucci Thomas, L.(2010) Gone mobile? (Mobile Libraries Survey 2010) Library Journal Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/ljinprintcurrentissue/886987-403/gone_mobile_mobile_libraries_survey.html.csp
Edupunk. Retrieved from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edupunk
Exploring the learner’s perspective on e-learning: In their own words (JISC, 2007) Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/intheirownwords
Koster, L. (December 2010) Do we need mobile library services? Not really” Retrieved from http://commonplace.net/2010/12/do-we-need-mobile-library-services/
Lippincott, J. K. (2008). Mobile technologies, mobile users: Implications for academic libraries. ARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues & Actions, (261), 1-4.
Smith, A. (2010). Pew Internet: Mobile Access 2010. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Mobile-Access-2010.aspx
Tay, A. (April 2010) What are mobile friendly library sites offering? A survey. Retrieved from http://musingsaboutlibrarianship.blogspot.com/2010/04/comparison-of-40-mobile-library-sites.html