On Tuesday night my team and I did our webinar. We were really happy at the good turnout of people who watched our webinar, especially since we had to reschedule last week. We had a small technical difficulty before our webinar started, one of my team members was unable to join our blackboard collaborate session. Thankfully, the rest of us were able to join and it did not prove to be a large problem.
Though we did not originally plan to go last out of all of the groups, there were both advantages and disadvantages to being the last webinar of the class. The advantages were that we were able to watch a lot of other really great examples of webinars that our classmates did. We were able to observe some teaching methods that we really liked. We were able to borrow from some things that worked really well for our classmates. One major disadvantage to going last however was that the energy of our participants in general seemed a little low. Considering that our webinar was after the last day of class, I was just happy that 11 people attended. The lack of discussion in the beginning and middle of our presentation could have also been due to a lack of knowledge on the subject. Our webinar was about the visually impaired as an underserved ommunity in public libraries and it appeared that most of our participants did not know a lot of information about the topic before we presented.
Overall, I think that our webinar went really great, and I am very happy that I had the opportunity to practice using this mode of instruction. After completing the webinar, I think that I prefer face-to-face instruction, however I am happy that I had the opportunity to practice and develop this skill in the safety of the classroom.
This week’s readings focused on continuing instruction to patrons beyond one-shot workshops and how we can continue our professional development outside of this class and in the professional world. In large, the readings focused on integrating technology and web 2.0 tools into instruction and professional development. I thought that the three readings were a good place to leave off after all that we’ve talked about this semester.
The Blowers and Reed article “The C’s of our Sea Change” talked about the core competencies for learning web 2.0 tools. The article was published in 2007 and might be a little outdated in the descriptions of the gaps in tech abilities of librarians, however the themes discussed reminded me of some of the challenges we, as students of an ischool, might face when we move on from UMSI. This semester we’ve talked about how UMSI tends to be a bubble in the library world where there is little resistance to change, new technologies, and innovation. I suspect that when we leave SI either in a few weeks or next spring, that we will find our selves working in places and with people who may not be as comfortable working with technology the way that we are expected to be here. I doubt that we will find our selves in the exact situations described in the Blowers and Reed article, however I think it provides a good model for how to deal with these differences. The article reminded me that while it is important to be good instructors for our patrons, it is also important to be good instructors and leaders within the profession as well.
The other two readings focused on being leaders among the teachers in our work environments in the of web 2.0 tools. The major take away that I took from these readings was that while we may be the “experts” of these tools in our organization, our job is to assist them in supplementing their teaching with these new tools; not make them adjust their teaching to the tech tools. As Kristin’s article discussed, it can be difficult to offer individualized help with tech tools while not overwhelming our selves and stretching ourselves too thin. As one of the webinars stated this week “we are not super heroes,” we can’t take on every problem, especially not by ourselves. I think that these articles provide good and thorough examples of programs that accomplish that goal.
During this week I also watched my classmates conduct our webinars. It was really fun to see the class carryout their webinars and I was able to learn a lot from their research as well as their examples. In all of the webinars that I watched I saw things that I thought worked really well that I will most likely include in my own webinar. It was also helpful to see and experience how as an audience member I can be easily distracted. I hope that this will help me improve as a presenter for this class and in my professional practice when I am a webinar presenter.
In class this week we discussed our twitter assignment from last week and the pros and cons of using twitter to develop our professional learning network (PLN). As I mentioned in my last blog, I struggled to find 25 new twitter users to follow. It was really helpful to hear from my classmates the strategies they used during the assignment. In class we also discussed what we want to get out of our PLN and who we want to include in our PLN. Throughout the course of the semester I began to see my network of professional connections as a natural process of meeting people with similar interests as me in SI as well as connections I made through part time jobs and internships. It seemed a little strange to me to think of my PLN as something constructed. However, the class discussion made me think about it a little more. Though I still think that I will be more likely to have more productive professional relationships with individuals that I know in person, I think it is important to to be conscious of who I am connecting with.
In class we also discussed the pros and cons of using twitter. I really enjoyed our twitter assignment last week. My twitter feed has change significantly since before the assignment and I’m finding a lot of interesting articles and blogs that I wasn’t previously. One thing that I really like about twitter is that it exposes you to a lot of of information that you can preview, without searching multiple places to find relevant information. The other side of that however is that there is A LOT of interesting articles and blogs that I would like to read, but simply to not have the time for. Going on twitter now can be a lot more time consuming.
In class we also had time to work with our groups to work on our webinar assignments. I was grateful to have this extra time to work on some of the technical details of performing our webinar. Though ti was really great to see the first group to go on Monday do such a great job! Watching their webinar helped calm my nerves and I’m getting excited to do ours soon!
In class this week we discussed how to make a good webinar the technical side of performing a webinar, the details of our upcoming assignment, and embedded librarianship. I’m not sure if it was because of April fools day, a full moon, or Kristin teaching through example, but class started off with a few technical difficulties in regards to the webinar software we will be using. Though I don’t think that Kristin planned it this way, it gave us a good preview of unexpected difficulties we could face during our webinars. For this reason, the webinar assignment makes me a little more nervous than the screencasts, book club, and workshop assignments we’ve already done. I’m grateful that we will be doing these webinars in groups because it seems like there will be a lot to juggle during our 3 minute workshop. For this reason, I’m glad that I have the opportunity to watch the webinars of my classmates so I can learn more tricks of how to make a great webinar.
In class we also discussed embedded librarians. I was surprised that I didn’t think about our own embedded librarian at SI before I came into class. Interestingly, we all realized that not many of us take advantage of the our own embedded librarian, especially since we all generally felt that they can be very helpful. Personally, I work during our Shevon’s office hours and don’t have any assignments that I feel I need help with that warrant missing work. However, I was surprised to find that most of do not take advantage of her office hours. It is, at the very least, ironic that as librarians do not support our own embedded librarian. But why not? A few answers to this question bounced around, including that we do not have research assignments that we need in depth help with, we work or class which prevent us from stopping in, we feel like we can answer our own questions, etc. I think there are a variety of reasons as to why we as a whole do not take advantage of our own embedded librarian. I hope that this question can be put to use in the future in order to connect my services as a librarian to the patrons I serve.
The reading for this week concentrated on non-traditional forms of education and embedded librarianship. Chapter 7 from How People Learn discusses the balancing act teachers must make between their deep knowledge of a particular subject and their understanding of the process of learning and the activities that support that process. When this balancing act is mastered, students are able to achieve deep understanding of the subjects their studying. Though this chapter was very specific to teaching and traditional subject areas, the principles and examples discussed in the chapter provide really great ideas of how as librarians we can find ways to support that kind of teaching as well as teach the skills and knowledge that we have to offer to patrons.
The other reads for this week were two journal articles from Public Service Quarterly. The articles discussed the role of embedded librarianship, mostly in the academic setting. Two types of the embedded librarian are discussed in the Matos article. The traditional form of the embedded librarian defined by Matos et al. is where a librarian is placed into a specific department in order to give them specialized help. The non-traditional embedded librarian is one who offers a hybrid of library services to a department that did not necessarily receive a lot of library support in the past. (p. 131) My understanding of the non-traditional embedded librarian is that he/she flows between a more general library institution and the specific department serving as a reference librarian, instructional librarian, collection manager, etc.
Much of the discussion of the embedded librarian focused on academic libraries and how the role of the embedded librarian has functioned and changed in universities. As I have expressed previously, I am interested in public libraries broadly, but more specifically in outreach, and children and young adult services. Though our readings concentrated on academic libraries, I think that this type of library role would be very successful and useful public libraries in urban communities. On of the workshops that I heard last week discussed developing community partnerships. The embedded librarian could make a big impact on non-profit organizations who lack resources or money for information services they may need. Community gardening groups or Urban agriculture organizations could use an embedded librarian to find more information about soil testing, organic gardening, or winter crops. Already existing partnerships with child care providers and senior centers may benefit financially from having an embedded librarian in their center to have story time or workshops on online computing.
The biggest thought that stuck me while completing these readings was the possibly of public librarians embedded in public school systems that may lack library staff due to funding. The embedded librarian could offer expert services to the, likely overwhelmed and overworked, school librarian. A partnership like this could benefit the school librarian, the teachers and the students. In addition, this kind of partnership could help bring awareness to the community and school administrators about the importance of library service in the school system and hopefully lead to greater financial support of school libraries in the district. Though this partnership may be difficult to carryout and may have logistical road-blocks, I think that it has potential to be a great service to the community as a whole.
This week instead of lecture, we met in our small groups and lead one-shot workshops in the same pairs as our book club. All of the topics were somehow related to ethics, and I walked away from this assignment with a lot things to think about. I was surprised how interconnected a lot of our topics ended up being, which allowed for us to have really great discussions through out the night. The first group’s workshop was on cultural sensitivity, the second groups topics (which was my group) discussed how to approach ethically challenging questions at the reference desk, the third group discussed how to decide and defend your library’s decision to include/exclude both gay and anti-gay literature in the collection, and lastly, the fourth group discussed how to expand your library’s outreach in the community.
Each group took different teaching/discussion strategies for the one-shot workshop which allowed me to observe a lot of different activities and methods to carryout a workshop. The first group Introduced the topic and why cultural sensitivity is important for us. The bulk of the workshop was organized around discussion, which I thought went very well with the subject of their workshop.
Our group took a more instructive approach initially where we as facilitators went over key points about reference desk practice, steps to breakdown difficult questions, and an exploratory case. The second half of our time slot was used for discussion, both in pairs and our “large” group.
The third presenters started out their presentation with a short introduction and then went straight into activities for us to do in order to break the ice and get us thinking on the subject. I thought this was a great way to start a discussion about gay and anti-gay literature without emphasizing their personal opinions into the discussion at the very beginning. The structure of their workshop allowed the topic to be discussed in a professional manner despite being a politically charged topic.
Last, but definitely not least, the fourth group broke down their workshop into four main sections, brainstorming, instruction, small group discussion, and large group discussion. What I liked most about this group’s workshop was that they built up to the end task, which was for us to make an “action plan” for us to build a relationship between our library and an organization in our community.Overall, I learned a lot from my classmate’s examples and really enjoyed this assignment.
The topic for this weeks class was ethics. After I completed the readings for my class prep, I wasn’t sure what to expect from class. I was anticipating having a discussion about the Lenker reading and finding out what all of my classmates thought about it. I was also interested in finding out how some of my classmates would have handled the “dangerous questions” that were described in the readings. However, I was surprised that we did not have an in depth discussion relating to the specific scenarios that Lenker created.
Instead, Kristin brought some real life examples of controversial decisions in libraries that do not occur at the reference desk. Though I was a little disappointed that my confusion about difficult reference desk questions was not cleared up, I thought that our discussion was very rewarding. I was glad that we were able to to engage with the topic of ethics in ways that I haven’t had the chance to do in my library classes yet at SI. It was really useful to get a picture of how all kinds of library decisions, especially those away from the reference desk, could possibly conflict with the ALA’s code of ethics.
I was particularly surprised that overall our class felt more comfortable with placing advertisements on library receipts than allowing patrons to opt out to purchase a book from a third party retailer, allowing the library to collect a percentage of the sale. My small group had the opposite reaction than the majority of the class. Initially, I thought that putting adds on the back of library slips/receipts would be a good idea. The library could make some revenue, it could build good professional relationships with local bushiness and organizations and it could be a reminder to patrons that the library has very limited resources to provide services with. Though the last benefit is rather passive aggressive, it could be used as a bargaining chip. However, in our small group discussion we came up with countless scenarios that could create problems for the library. I can only imagine the long legal meetings that the library had to go through in order to create a legal contract that outlines the conditions that the advertisements must fulfill. In contrast, a “buy now” option through a third party retailer would likely be less obtrusive to the patron. Though there are still legal/practical things that the library would need to work out to make the system work, I think it presents fewer places for conflicts to arise. Transparency would need to be key for the system to work. I think the library would need to go to great lengths to make sure patrons understand when they are leaving the library website, as well as other privacy concerns. Though only one retailer was participating at the time, I think that if more retailers joined the program, the better the program would look to the public.
Overall, I thought yesterday’s class was very interesting and not what I was expecting. I was, definitely pleasantly surprised. As for the more practical questions that I had going into class after completing the readings, I’m hoping that our one shot workshops next week will provide a chance for me to gain some clarity of how to ensure that my own work follows ethical guidelines.