Last week I made a brief return to the blog world, and I’m determined to continue my blogging efforts. I know how important reflection is in my growth as a librarian, and I need to make a better effort to engage in formal reflection…thus, blogging. My night shifts are the best time to blog, however this night has been unique. I work in a small community college library, and I typically answer one or two reference questions a day. In the 6 hours (minus one of teaching time) I’ve been here tonight, I’ve answered at least 10 reference questions. Two came in by phone, which is also unusual. I think it’s getting to be that time of the semester where important projects are due.
Another factor is the work I did this semester with our General Psychology (PSY150) classes. I have my BA in Psychology and one of my goals for this position was that I would get involved with the Psychology program on campus. I spent my first two semesters here getting to know the Psychology faculty and trying to help them with small projects like adding videos to Blackboard or assisting with pulling reserve books for projects. This summer I happened to be in their building teaching a different class and I made an effort to stop by their offices. There are 2 main faculty members that run the program, and I was lucky to catch one of them that day. I discussed their final project (which is similar for all PSY150 classes) and how I could help their students be more successful. I scheduled library sessions for all of her classes that day, and soon after scheduled with the rest of our on campus PSY150 sections as well. I also made a Research Guide that has separate tabs for each instructor, their assignment, and the best resources for completing the assignment.
I used the guide in classes to help orient the students and give them a more memorable place to come get help. As part of the in class presentation I had them work in groups to explore a database and answer questions about the resources it contained. I then had them present what they found to the class. I’ve been using this exercise in our English classes this semester and I’ve been pleased with the results. I’ve done a lot of reading, video/webinar watching, and discussion on teaching over the last few months, and I knew I had to figure out some way to assess the impact of this instruction. I’m taking a three pronged approach: I’m keeping track of the PSY150 students who reach out to me (and our other library instruction person) for help, I’m tracking statistics on the PSY150 Research Guide, and one of the PSY150 faculty members has agreed to let me look at their citations. I think this should give a good estimate of the value of our work in this area.
We had 152 students attend the library session of their PSY150 class, and we’ve had 14 students come for assistance so far (the assignment is due between now and the end of the month depending on the class). That means almost 10% of them have made a point to reach out. The Research Guide has had 1,082 hits since it was published in August. The assignment requirements have been downloaded 64 times. These numbers are very encouraging to me. I’m excited to see the citations, and I’m hoping the instructor still has papers from previous semesters for comparison purposes. I hope to use this experience to convince faculty members in other departments to use our instructional services.
I took a pause after I wrote the first part of this blog to do some things in the library. I re-read my previous paragraph to get an idea of where I was and the last sentence reminded me that I need to reflect on a big moment in my library career, my first conference presentation! At a conference in April I was asked to be a co-presenter on a proposal for the state community college system conference in October. I presented with a librarian from NC Live (the organization that provides a vast majority of our online resources) and another community college librarian about how NC Live’s online resources are being used to support faculty. The presentation evolved over time to focus on how we used NC Live to meet a specific need on campus. I did my part on how we use online content to support the Quality Enhancement Plan developed on campus for our 10 year accreditation review. My co-presenter discussed how she worked with the Psychology faculty on her campus to help them design an assignment with an appropriate set of research demands and the instruction she delivered to those classes.
I felt fantastic about how the presentation went. I knew most of the people in the room, but we did get a few non-librarians in attendance. One faculty member came to hear more about a specific resource, and she asked if her librarian would know about the resource. We assured her that her librarian would, and then we discovered her librarian was in the room! It was a serendipitous moment that made me feel great about the whole thing. I got a lot of positive feedback, and it’s given me the drive to present as much as possible! It’s hard to think of topics, although we discussed creating a proposal for an upcoming conference about how to get faculty to buy into library services. I see that topic a lot and it was something that worried me when I first started. Several of the questions we received at the end of the presentation were about how we got faculty to do these things. It made me feel good that I’ve accomplished something that can be difficult in community college libraries, and I love sharing my experiences with others.
I recently read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I had mixed feelings about the book itself, but I was taken aback when I realized that I’m not as much of an introvert as I’ve always thought I am! One of my criticisms of the book is that the author makes it seem like you have to be one or the other, but I found that some of the introvert characteristics didn’t fit me and neither did some of the extrovert. I love teaching and presenting, and I get energized by it. When I go to presentations at conferences I’m often one of the only people who will raise my hand to answer questions, ask questions, or add to the discussion. On the flip side, outside of work I prefer hiking along, reading or spending quiet nights at home.
I’m a big fan of learning more about myself and how my strengths can be used to their fullest potential. Realizing that I’m not a complete introvert gives me motivation to keep pushing myself to be outspoken and contribute to library conversations. There are days when it feels like there are too many young, talented, smart, driven librarians for me to make a difference but days like today where I taught an awesome class and have answered umpteen interesting reference questions assure me that I can have an impact.