A week of mishaps and successes

Oh, how I’ve missed you! I intended to write my next entry much sooner but life has intervened. Just after I wrote that sentence I was pulled away to help a faculty member put links to library content in his Blackboard course. I really feel like life is joking with me this week, I got a flat tire on my way in to work Tuesday morning which is never the best way to start a week.

Last Thursday night the internet on our campus went down at around 3:30PM and stayed off through Friday afternoon. That threw a kink in my blog writing plans and also meant that I had to spend more time at the circulation desk and on the floor explaining the situation. It down poured the entire day Thursday and we had our first winter storm warnings this season which threw most people into a panic. Thursday night was our first library film screening and unfortunately the weather kept a lot of students from attending. I’m hoping our next showing in February will not fall on a night where people are scared to drive!

There have been quite a few good professional development related things happening in the last few weeks. I have mentioned that I am on the ACRL Distance Learning Section’s 2013 ALA Annual Conference Planning Committee, and I found out that my travel has been approved by the college. I’m excited to attend my first Annual and to have the opportunity to write a report for “College & Research Libraries News” on our session. I also was selected to be the Co-Chair of that committee for the 2014 conference. On a local level, I was nominated to the Digital Services Advisory Committee for NC LIVE. NC LIVE is a statewide resource for community colleges, private universities, the UNC system, and public libraries in North Carolina. They ask representatives from each community of interest to serve on advisory committees, and I’m thrilled to be selected. I think NC LIVE is fantastic, and their staff members are wonderful. I’m looking forward to getting a behind the scenes perspective on how they operate.

On an even more local level, I found out my presentation proposal for the 2013 North Carolina Community College Learning Resources Association (NCCCLRA) Conference was accepted. I titled it “Flexing Your Library Muscles” and I’m going to talk about how to use your strengths, be flexible, and stretch yourself as a librarian in a community college library (stolen directly from my abstract!). The conference is in March so I need to get working on my presentation. I’m happy that I’m getting more opportunities to get involved professionally, and I’d like to start looking for opportunities to write. I’ve seen a few calls for proposals on listservs but there hasn’t been anything yet that looked like a good fit.

I taught my first class of the Spring semester yesterday and it was a great experience. It was an upper level English course, and the instructor is very much an outside the box thinker. He asked me to focus on developing a topic/keywords and evaluating information, and to focus less on how to search the catalog and specific databases. He wants the students in this course to appreciate real world research situations where they might not have access to proprietary databases. I started with a keyword activity in pairs, discussed resource types & the information cycle, led them through an individual search activity, and finished with a discussion on evaluating resources. The class was small and very engaged. I love starting with the keyword activity in pairs because it starts the class with the students talking to each other and it gives me the chance to walk around and work with them in their pairs. This technique has been incredibly successful in building rapport with the students, and they seem to be more involved and focused after the activity than in classes where I haven’t done it.

There are times when it all clicks for me in a session, and this was definitely one of them. The instructor asked if he could videotape my session in his other class next week, so hopefully I will be clicking then too! I have a different English class tomorrow so I spent some time today tweaking my worksheets and lesson plan. Here’s the link to download the Keyword & Search Activity handout: ENG Keyword and Search Activity

I do the keywords first in pairs and the search toward the end of the session as an individual activity. I really enjoy walking around the classroom, watching the students do the activities, and having discussions about what is working and not working. When I bring the class back together at the end of the activity I make sure to call on most if not all groups/students and remember something from my interaction with them. Sometimes it’s just the topic they picked, but often I try to talk about something interesting that happened while they searched or tried to think of keywords. Instruction and instructional design is something I’ve become passionate about in my time here, and I’m thankful that there are so many great resources for librarians who didn’t learn about instruction in their graduate studies!

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