Novelty

I’ve recently shifted my perspective on the importance of consuming content as part of the creative process. This shift came as a result of my fledgling explorations of the world through poetry and with a cultivation of new friendships with writers. I’ve done quite a bit of blogging, and I see how this parallels my consumption of content – I read blogs and short articles more than almost anything else.

A new blog/site that I’ve been into is Medium. I was alerted to it because I read danah boyd’s blog, and she’s one of the contributors. The articles cover such a variety of subject matter that it would be impossible to summarize, however, I do find that many of them have applications in my work as a librarian. One recent entry by Clive Thompson titled “The Novelty Effect” was especially valuable.

It’s a short discussion on the adoption of new tools and technologies, and how the novelty effect impacts both tool users and makers. As libraries we often cater to both audiences, and certainly use various technologies to accomplish our work. Thompson argues that the novelty effect can be a good way to stimulate work on a project, and I think this is a way for libraries to sell their tools/technologies to users.

In my academic setting the obvious tie-ins are the midterm or end of semester projects in which students are engaged, and faculty research and writing activities. We need to stay abreast of what our users need and find ways to insert the library as a potential solution. I think we can also take advantage of the positive feelings associated with novel tools even if we didn’t create them or explicitly provide them.

For example, if I’m doing a workshop on presentation skills and introduce students to a new tool that helps them successfully complete a project, then I will gain esteem which might reciprocate for the next project – even if the tool is no longer relevant. It should be clear how this applies to all types of libraries. We may have lost our novelty, but we can still find ways to benefit from the novelty effect.

Of course there is the flip side in that much of what we show our users is likely to fall prey to this effect. They may enthusiastically use a database in the weeks following instruction, but forget it completely by the end of a semester or academic career. In those situations we have to trust that the positive feelings from the first use will encourage users to seek us out again.

In our non-public facing roles, we need to ensure that the novelty effect doesn’t color our decision making. I think this is especially relevant in the wake of ALA – I’m sure we all heard about or experimented with new tools and technologies, but we need to make sure any purchases will have a lasting impact on what we do, and that we aren’t investing in something new as a bandaid for an old problem. Awareness is always the first step in making change, and being aware of the novelty effect can have a big impact in our work.

My First Infographic

I’m itching to get back to blogging professionally. The mad rush of a new semester is over and now that I’m in a routine of implementing what I’ve changed I hope to have more time to blog and reflect. I keep a folder in my bookmarks labeled “Websites to Explore” that I use to keep track of things I’d like to get back to. As I was going through it tonight I found a link to a free infographic tool called easel.ly . Here’s my first effort:

Hopefully more posting to come in the near future!

 

Everything’s Coming Together

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving so I gave myself the week off from blogging. Aside from being sick a few weeks ago, this was the longest break I’ve had from the library since I started working. I enjoyed having some time to reflect on everything, although my holiday didn’t quite go as planned. My parents came from NY for the holiday and stated off staying with my aunt who lives about an hour and a half from here. The night they arrived my Mom fell in their driveway and broke both of her wrists. We had planned to do some cultural & touristy stuff in Charlotte over the break but instead we spent the weekend at home to make things easier on my Mom. We still had a good time, and an excellent meal on Thanksgiving. If anyone has advice or suggestions on living with two broken wrists I’d appreciate the input! My parents are back in NY now, and hopefully once my Mom gets casts (sometime this week or next) things will be easier for her. I wish I could help her out more, but time off is something I’m not planning to use until I’ve been here longer!

I’ve spent quite a bit of time doing online training over the last few weeks, and it’s been a good experience to tie in with the reading I’ve been doing. I finished the Hybrid Learning book, and also read Cybrarian Extraordinare. I just started reading Web-Based Instruction: A Guide for Libraries. My main goals at work right now are to migrate all of our current website content to LibGuides, and to redesign the library portion of the ACA Basic Skills classes that we teach every semester. These tasks are both about using technology in a library setting, and the latter focuses on the instruction piece. I’ve done some tutorial style trainings on our catalog system; attended some live webinars on LibGuides & Articulate,  and attended an in person session on campus about using Blackboard IM. I also taught two workshops on Plagiarism & Citations last week. The combination of this reading and experience has been very thought provoking, and I’m looking forward to redesigning the ACA class.

I really love the Articulate software, but I’m not sure if we have the budget to support buying a copy right now. It seems like an awesome way to create tutorials and quizzes. I’m still not getting how the software will work with Blackboard or even just embedded on our site to track student grades, and this is something I’ll need to figure out if we are able to purchase the software. My Dean and I met with the head of the ACA program today and had a good discussion about where we each see the library portion of instruction going in the future. I’m trying to use this week and next to do as much research into web based instruction as I can before I set out to redo the course. I know the first step is to rewrite the learning outcomes as these are the basis for the entire instruction, but I’d like to gather some more ideas first.

Teaching the two Plagiarism & Citations workshops last week was a lot of fun for me. It was nice to focus on a topic rather than on library resources, and I got a much better turnout than anyone expected. Between the 2 sessions I had over 40 students. I know they all got extra credit for attending, but I had 2 students stay to ask questions and I’ve had 4 of them come find me in the week since the workshop to ask for help. I’d call that a success! I started by playing the first minute or so of “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanillai Ice followed by “Under Pressure” by Queen. I think this helped engage the students right away, and also communicated that they could be relaxed and not scared of me or the library. I used a Powerpoint (a little boring, but effective when showing how to cite!) to go through what plagiarism is, our school’s Academic Honesty policy, how to avoid plagiarism, the basics of citations, resources, and tips. I finished with a game from Lycoming College called the “Plagiarism Game”. The game has goblins that pop up and ask questions. I had the students all stand up and wouldn’t let them sit unless they raised their hand and answered a question. They all seemed shell shocked and a little peeved at first but they seemed to get into it after we started. One thing I try to make a point to do in all my instruction so far is to keep it light, use humor, and not be afraid to admit things are cheesy or that I use Google sometimes or that I know learning about plagiarism isn’t the most exciting topic. I think it all comes down to making connections with the students so they know I’m just a normal person that isn’t to be feared.

I’m going to one of our local high schools tomorrow to do the workshop with a class of students in a program we have that lets high school students take college level courses during their regular school day. I taught at the same school with our other librarian during my first month, and I’m looking forward to doing it again now that I’ve had more practice. I am glad to have the LibGuides project happening at the same time because web design is soothing to me and it’s nice to have something else to focus on to let everything I’m reading & researching digest.

Learning to Instruct

It seems like I keep having weird weeks that leave me feeling like I haven’t had much time for reflection by Thursday afternoon. After my crazy 50 hour work week last week, I woke up Saturday to a nasty sinus infection that knocked me out for 4 days. We had our first “Meet Your Librarians” event planned for Monday, which was essentially my chance to introduce myself to the faculty with food, and of course that’s when I got sick. Luckily we were able to postpone it, and now I have a fridge full of hummus, pimento cheese and cucumbers! When I got back to work yesterday I found out that 4 of my co-workers have had the same illness over the last week, and two of them aren’t here today. I’m glad to be on the mend, but I’m still not 100%.

These were the first days I’ve missed since I started and it has definitely thrown me off for the week. Yesterday I spend the day in webinars and meetings, so today was really my catch up day. I read a great blog post by Lauren Pressley about building an online course, a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot since the NC3ADL conference. She is a fantastic library blogger, and I’d highly recommend her to anyone interested in library instruction. I also started reading Hybrid Learning: The Perils and Promise of Blending Online and Face-to-Face Instruction in Higher Education by Jason Allen Snart last night, and this is a topic I’m really focused on right now.

At the conference I went to a session by some of my colleagues about their work funded by a Title III grant to get faculty teaching online/hybrid courses to make use of technology to enhance their instruction. One of the presenters was Susan Jones, a math instructor here. She talked about how she has been slowly incorporating the technologies (iPad, tablet PC, video recording, etc) into her online and traditional classes. She was fascinating and really showed how technology can enhance student learning. If anyone is interested in seeing their Prezi, you can check it out here.

All of this focus on instruction has led me to have a desire to get more involved with the Instruction half of my title. I think I’d even like to teach a full semester class if the opportunity is presented. I’ve heard talk of a new Web Design AA degree program being started, and I’d love to teach Information Architecture or HCI or even basic HTML. I get the impression that as I show my skills to the campus I may be asked to teach as an adjunct, and I’d love that opportunity. Today I was asked to teach a professional development session to our faculty on using Softchalk during our Professional Development Day in April and I was both honored and a bit overwhelmed, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity.

I realized that I have a good place to start in honing my instructional skills, and that is with our library instruction sessions in the basic skills classes required by most programs here. I had about a month to get prepared for these once I started, and I turned what we had been doing into a Softchalk tutorial. I spent a few hours today analyzing the results of the pre & post test and a survey we had the students complete to get an idea of how I can make improvements. I already knew that I wanted to re-write the learning outcomes, and I’m planning to design new learning objects/activities based on the new outcomes. The results were very positive. We saw huge improvements in skills based on the comparison of pre and post test results. For example, only 36% of students reported that they knew how to search our catalog before the instruction and 92% reported that they did after instruction. The survey results were also great. 95% of students agreed that the instruction was easy to follow/understand, 98% agreed that the instruction helped them gain new information about using Library resources, and 97% agreed that the instruction will be helpful for other classes. I feel really good about that!

We had a space for extra comments and got 40. 1 was silly (“needs more cowbell”), 20 were positive or said nothing should change, and the other 19 made suggestions. A few were about computer speed and a few were about time, both of which are things we can’t control. Several students asked for more hands on and more opportunity to do things on their own. I know this is the biggest weakness of the current instruction, and I’m hoping to find ways to engage the students more within our time limits.

It’s funny, I didn’t plan to write about instruction today (or anything really), but it’s clearly on my mind. I’m really surprised with how much I like teaching, and especially using technologies to enhance teaching and learning. I thought my Digital Libraries concentration would lead me to something more behind the scenes, but so far I’m applying that knowledge more to instruction and curriculum support activities.

Oh Crap, I’m in Charge

It’s Thursday evening again, which means it’s time for my blog! Last week I was looking forward to blogging, this week is more of a struggle. I don’t have a topic in mind like I did last week but there are some things I’ve decided I want to reflect on.

The first thing is a meeting I had at the beginning of the week with Jennifer Ballance, who I mentioned in my last post. She is a librarian at CPCC, the community college system in Charlotte. I contacted her after the NCLA conference because I think what she’s doing at CPCC is a model that would work for our online classes. She was kind enough to come here and meet with me, and it was a very fulfilling meeting both professionally and personally. She shared some fantastic resources and knowledge with me that will be helpful as I build our new website and try to increase our presence in online classes. She and I also have similar interests and world views and I hope to cultivate a “profersonal” relationship with her in the future.

The sense of camaraderie in the LIS field has been rewarding, and a welcome surprise. I have contacted several librarians that I met at NCLA and they have all been overwhelmingly nice and willing to give me whatever information I was seeking. I worked with a fantastic group of people at my last job, and it’s nice to have the feeling that I have supportive people around me.

This week I’m starting to struggle a bit with the amount of work and responsibility that is slowly amassing in my life. I love this job, and I love every single thing I’m doing, but my calendar is filling up rapidly and my priority list is getting longer every day. I’d like to become more involved with professional organizations but I’m afraid I won’t have time to fill those commitments. I know some of this is due to the fact that the next few weeks of my life are going to be hectic. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m going to Wilmington to celebrate with friends and family, and my week following that is already filled with classes, meetings, and webinars. Next Sunday-Tuesday, I’ll be attending the NC3ADL conference in Raleigh with several of my non-library colleagues. At the end of that week I just found out I have to work until at least 9PM Friday (instead of 2PM) for a special Fire College we have on campus. I’m happy to help out, but I know I will be glad when I get to November 12th!

I had a moment last week about this time where I realized “Oh crap, I’m in charge here”. Essentially, whenever our Dean is not in the library I and our other librarian are in charge. That’s both scary and exciting for me. One of my classes in grad school discussed how many new librarians are thrown into managerial roles in their first position, so I was aware of the possibility, but I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms before last week.

Thus far I feel like my blog has been very dedicated to personal exploration, which is fantastic for me, but I feel like I should be giving more back and sharing resources and ideas that I’ve found. This week I downloaded the Zite app for my iPad (one nice perk of the job!), and it’s been a fantastic way for me to find articles of interest based on my Google Reader and Twitter accounts. I’ve found some great articles that I might have missed otherwise. One I’d recommend is an article from Time titled “‘Digital Literacy’ Will Never Replace The Traditional Kind”. It discusses how traditional IL skills are being lost behind new technology. I tend to get geeked out about technology, so it’s good to remind myself that technology need to be used to foster the skills for using all types of information, not just digital information.

Things 8&9: Organizing

 

This week’s things post will be briefer than most of my posts typically are. I started volunteering at a local university this week in the Special Collections area. I’m now working there Monday & Friday from 9-5 along with my counseling job Tuesday through Thursday, so it doesn’t leave much time for exploration! I also had my first library job interview today, and I had to prepare a lesson on an Information Literacy topic for the interview so I have been busy! (BTW, I made a wiki for it, the link is carrieemoran.wikispaces.com if you’re interested).

I’ve used Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, Outlook Calendar and several variations of phone calendars in the past so I didn’t really spend much time on this topic. While I was in school I primarily made use of a real life, giant, dry erase wall calendar to stay organized. Now I put really important things in my phone with reminders and use Outlook for work appointments. I’m certain that when I get my first library position I will have a wider variety of duties, meetings, and professional development activities and I might make more use of an online calendar. I know some people shared their Google Calendars to show their planned conference schedule forALA, and I think this is something that is potentially very useful. The group aspect of the majority of Google’s applications is a strong point as online collaboration is becoming more popular in all settings.

I hadn’t used Evernote before but I had been tempted while in school. I downloaded the desktop client, watched the tutorial video, and started making a list of jobs to apply for. I like it, it’s easy to use, and the tutorial video made me wish I had a cool project like building a house to work on so that I could store other types of media. As I stated earlier, I’ve had quite a busy week so I’m sure I can explore this tool more in the future. If I become dedicated to using it I will definitely download the iPhone app to complement the computer side of things. I like using it for job applications because I can paste the whole text of a job ad and save it once I’ve applied. Oftentimes organizations will remove the job ads once the job has been closed, and it will be helpful to have a copy of the original ad for interview purposes. I did actually mention Evernote in my interview today as an example of an emerging technology tool that would be helpful for students to learn about, and I am once again grateful for cpd23!

An extra exploration of awareness

One of my fellow participants mentioned Delicious in her post when discussing Pushnote. I’d heard of Delicious but hadn’t ever taken the time to explore it on my own. I found it much easier to use than Pushnote, and I love the fact that I can access my personal bookmarks from any computer. I think this is probably the greatest strength of Delicious. I’m also a huge fan of folksonomy and user generated tagging, and Delicious makes this incredibly easy. I imported a file of bookmarks from my computer that had been stored before I had to completely wipe my hard drive, and it was fun to explore some of those old links again. I liked how Delicious automatically selects tags based on the most popular tags from other users, and the ease with which I could add my own or remove the automatic tags. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to explore Delicious past my initial account opening because I’ve been working, creating a site for my Mom’s genealogical society, and applying for jobs like a mad woman.

Yesterday I attended the 2011 ALA Annual Tech Wrapup webinar. It was a fascinating presentation that featured 4 speakers: Jason Griffey, Kate Sheehan, Sue Polanka, and Marshall Breeding. Each speaker discussed different tech seminars or news from the 2011 ALA Annual Conference, and each speaker focused on different topics. Jason talked about 3 distinct ideas: Native Apps vs. Web Apps, The Death of the Mouse, and 3D Printing. His discussion on the first two topics was the most familiar to me, but I still gained some good insight. I’d never heard of 3D printing, and I think it’s a neat practical application of technology, but I’m not sure how many libraries would justify the cost of a 3d printing machine.

Kate talked more about trends in technology and her presentation was very insightful. She mentioned a lot of books that I need to add to my reading list. She discussed how backlash to new technology is a normal part of any technology’s life cycle, the “online or it didn’t happen” phenomenon that has exploded as the Internet becomes more user friendly, the importance of using statistics to support advocacy but not replace it, GIS and using maps for visualization/mash-ups, and the role of libraries/librarians in the new information ecosystem. All fascinating stuff that I can’t wait to look into more.

Sue and Marshall discussed topics that are certainly relevant but were more difficult for me to embrace as I currently don’t work in a library. Sue gave a wonderful overview of the current state of e-books and the many new services that are being developed in the e-book arena. The 3M Cloud Library was the most compelling for me because it allows libraries to buy a touch screen based preview system for e-books, and loanable e-readers for patrons. Marshall’s focus was on the new generation of library automation systems and the shift toward what he calls a “Library Services Platform”. He also talked about changes in discovery services and RFID technology. I learned a lot, but it was difficult for me to apply the knowledge due to my limited experience with these technologies. I’m very glad I attended the webinar and I look forward to more learning opportunities in the future!