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Monthly Archives: January 2013

I was glad that we spent a lot of class time this week going over how to make a good tutorial and screencast, in addition to how to avoid making a not so good tutorial. Something I did not spend a lot of time thinking about until we were in class was the importance of the narrator’s vocal performance during an online tutorial. After watching a few examples of good tutorials and bad tutorials on YouTube  I quickly realized the importance of having a friendly, enthusiastic tone while making a tutorial. I thought one of the most helpful tips that Kristin gave us during class to help us capture the right tone, was to imagine our audience or a specific person that we are speaking to while recording the screencast.

The idea of capturing the right voice for the right audience also challenged me to really think who I see my audience being as I continue developing the professional skills I will use in my career. I am interested in working with youth and young adults in public libraries. This audience provides me the opportunity to do a wide range of tutorials and workshops because that audience will have many different interests. I anticipate the biggest issue is tailoring my narrative voice in order to connect with the audience.  I am very excited to begin working on my screencast. I’m sure I will run into a few frustrating bumps in the road during the processes, but this is a skill that I am excited to develop and perfect!

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The readings for this week concentrated on instruction in libraries, both electronic tutorials and in person workshops. I found the topics this week particularly interesting because instruction is something that I have been interested in for some time. I had some instruction experience last semester and found the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) process to be very interesting. Admittedly however, in my personal lesson planning I typically jumped to the design stage. then to the instruction, and only lightly touched on evaluation on my instruction and on the tools. It is easy to see the benefits in following this model in all stages of instruction specifically in libraries, and the ADDIE process was visible in the other readings for this week.

After completing the readings, it seems that online tutorials best support instruction when it is dealing with software or database use. More specifically, the tutorials seem to be received positively when it helps with navigation and searching in a specific cite. However, I think it is important to notice that the Johnston article suggests that a combination of in person instruction along with screen casts and tutorials be used. I think that would be best, especially for University students unfamiliar with library systems and log-in procedures. It may be difficult to address all of a student’s questions when they are unfamiliar with searching, the library system, and the database. However, once students begin to feel more comfortable, they could use the tutorial as almost a “ready reference” during their research.

Many of the articles that we read were very focused on academic libraries and students in need of research help. I am curious how the results of these studies would translate to a public library for adults and children. Would tutorials be a good resource for patrons of  a public library? I would like to think that they would, however if patrons are taking introduction to Microsoft Office software workshop, is it likely that they would be comfortable accessing similar information online and following along with a tutorial? Perhaps tutorials should be used for more advanced classes, like in excel or Photoshop workshops, where the targeted patrons will likely feel more comfortable using online tutorials. The ADDIE procedure accounts for this kind of analysis and planning of workshops, however I would be interested in reading more about public libraries’ experiences using online tutorials and the success they have had, or not had.

As briefly mentioned in lecture, the newest library Branch “Library Express” in Hugo, Minnesota allows patrons to pick up pre-ordered books after hours, no librarian required. As Kristin asked in class, what is wrong with that? (Despite its ability to fuel the self-asserting remarks of a distant relative during Thanksgiving dinner about the future of libraries or lack there of?) I only see the positives of “Library Express.” Yet, there are professionals in our field who think that library branches that are more like kiosk’s than traditional libraries could be a bad thing. Is this merely a division in visions of what a library should be or is the hybrid “iSchool” education taking effect? Does it really matter? I understand the “Library Express” as a library branch in Hugo, Minnesota providing service to their community and patrons in the best way possible while working within their financial capabilities. As a library patron I often wish I could check out a book when the library was closed, especially growing up in a small Wisconsin suburb where the community library closes at 5pm on Fridays and doesn’t open on Sundays. Ironically, I think that innovative ideas like “Library Express” are what keep public library important in their patrons.

A recent article I read about the planning of an “all-digital” library in Bexar County, Texas reminded me of our short discussion in class. Is a library with no books, with only digital content and devices going too far? At first glance, a library with no books seems scary even for the most forward thinking future librarians. However, I think that an all-digital library branch is a creative solution to issues of e-books and e-readers in libraries. Developers of BiblioTech, the name for the all-digital library in Bexar do not think of the branch as a replacement to a traditional library, but rather a way to supplement their services to an expanding community (Mlot, 2013). The developers of the new library branch hope that it would provide patrons greater access to content that they otherwise cannot get because of recent geographical expansion of the community. With the proper resources, I think an all-digital branch could help alleviate the tensions that e-readers and e-books are causing in libraries for librarians and patrons. At an all digital branch focusing on e-books and e-readers, librarians can take extensive measures to inform patrons about e-book policies, downloading instructions, lending policies, etc.

Librarians need to serve their community in the best way possible. Not all communities will want or use an all-digital branch. As librarians I think it is important to remember that different communities are going to want and expect different collections, materials, and programs from their library. Though the Express Library and BiblioTech have little in common,  these branches are similar in that their librarians are finding innovative ways to meet their patron’s needs and making the most out of their budgets.

Texas County Plans All-Digital Library http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2414264,00.asp
New Library Technologies Dispense with Librarians http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304354104575568592236241242.html

After completing the reading assignments for this week, my attention was focused on the emphasis on education among the “core competencies” of library and information professionals. Librarians have many different roles and responsibilities in the communities that they serve; managers, service providers, consultants, etc. What intrigued me the most in the readings, was the information was presented from an educators perspective. It is no secret that libraries have an important role in education, either being an extension of formal education or a place of informal discovery and learning. However, I often fail to think of librarians as educators themselves, in need of training in the theoretical approaches to education.

My intuition tells me that I am not alone in this oversight. This becomes more apparent after reflecting on my observations of reference interviews. During the unobtrusive observation project in SI 647 where I was asked to observe a librarian during a reference interview, I observed a poorly performed reference interview where the librarian ultimately suggested that I just “Google it.” However, as Information professionals involved in the learning process of individuals who come into the library, it is necessary that we understand more about the process of learning as well as the teaching methods. Through the reference interview particularly, it is our responsibility as Librarians to be able to answer reference questions, in addition to educate users on conducting research and navigating information in the library and outside of it.

Through my reflection of the readings for the week and the core competencies it occurred to me that an efficient way to learn more about useful education techniques and practices is through our learning process as students. SI 501 and SI 502 particularly had two very different teaching styles and two very different topics being taught, but I think the courses demonstrate some of the ideas discussed in the readings. SI 502 was definitely a class taught towards novices and was not shy about that fact. The course was designed to allow it’s students to understand basic concepts that could allow us to progress towards more expertise. I found the way of teaching to be very successful. Furthermore, when we are Librarians, especially reference librarians, we will have a very limited amount of time to work with individuals and will need to teach them the skills that they can quickly master, and provide the opportunity to learn more from us in the future if they prefer. SI 501 on the other hand was taught very differently. In many ways we were given a problem and were taught a skill set, and were asked to find the solution independently as we progressed through the course. The course attempted to develop us with the skills to develop “adaptive expertise” where we could analyze our skills, learn more throughout the course, and apply our old knowledge and new knowledge to solve a problem.

One question I had while completing the reading assignments was the constant comparison between experts and novices during the learning process. During SI 531: Human Interaction in Information Retrieval, we discussed that experts tend to find fewer “relevant” documents than novices, or intermediary subject specialists during online information searches. This is thought to be contributed to the novice and intermediary individuals knowing less specifics about the topics that they are searching for, and therefore find much more information relevant to their search because they are unfamiliar with the topics. Therefore, a greater amount of documents are relevant to their learning process. The experts however, are much more familiar with research and information on the subject and will find fewer documents relevant towards their information need. This relationship between novice and expert learners seemed to conflict with the information presented in chapter two of our readings. I am unsure of any real connections to be made, but I think that discussion on the differences in the learning process and online searching experience for novices and experts could be insightful.