Reflections on class #13: webinar wrap-up!

Wow, what a week we had! We all hosted (as a group of 3, or in my case, 2) a webinar on either copyright issues or on a underrepresented/underserved group in libraries. My partner, Kirsten, and I chose to do our presentation on the LGBT*Q community and some methods as to how best serve that group in a library setting.

Basically, I was terrified before, terrified during, and kind of terrified after. It was a weird experience for me. As much as talking in front of people makes me nervous, not being able to see my audience and gauge them ended up being really difficult. I guess I never really realized how much I count on nonverbal cues from my audience before!

From the surveys we collected back, it seems like people really liked our topic and found it useful. I know one thing I have to work on is pacing; I’m a fast talker, anyway, and when I have a script, that exacerbates the problem. I also stumbled a few times saying the LGBT*Q acronym three or four times in one sentence. We also had an audio issue where I accidentally pushed the Talk button before we were ready, so you could hear a few runaway words, but I think overall, our audio worked better than we expected. Although I wish I was one of those people who could go off-script and be okay, I’m not, and so even though it sounded like I was reading from a script, I think that was still the best decision. I have a tendency to get caught up in my words, and even having bullet points might have caused me to mess up what I was saying.

Just like with every other activity in this class, even though I’ve been terrified before them, I’m really glad I did it. Not only can I put it on a resume, but I think with something like webinars, the first one is always the hardest, and we’ve got that one done!

We also attended three other webinars, and all of those were great. I went to one on welcoming millenials into the library, on intergenerational families (how to welcome grandfamilies into the library) and how best to serve the homeless/poverty-stricken in the library. All of them were incredibly useful and I was really proud of my classmates. I know a lot of us were really nervous, but we did it!

I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about webinars, to be honest. I like that I can attend webinars even if I’m halfway across the country, but there’s just something about them I can’t quite put my finger on that makes me not 100% sold on them. I’m sure that’ll change, because the library world loves them!


Reflections on class #12

I wasn’t able to attend class last week, but it sounds like it was quite the class! It seems like I missed quite the time with the introduction of Blackboard and the ability to draw on slides before Kristin had to take away privileges (full disclosure: I know I would have been one of them!). I’m definitely bummed about missing this class because I think it would have been incredibly useful to get some hands-on experience with Blackboard, but I’ll definitely be sure to get a good look at it so that I’m fully prepared for webinar time.

I’ll admit: I’m way more terrified of this webinar than I had been of the book club or the one-shot workshop. That’s probably because we’re being graded on our performance and not the reflection, which really makes me quite nervous. I’m excited about mine and Kirsten’s topic, for sure, but any time that I have to simultaneously use technology and speak in front of people usually ends up being quite the experience.  Despite all of the nerves, I know that this experience is extremely practical, because webinars are HUGE in the library world right now. I also feel like I can put this on my resume and it’s going to set me apart.

It seems like we also talked a little about our Twitter experiences, and that some people, like me, are a bit apathetic about it. I’ll be honest: I haven’t touched my Twitter since last week. It’s not that I hate it, but I have so little time right now, and if I do something other than homework, that activity has to really capture my attention, and so far, Twitter hasn’t done that. To be honest, Twitter (because I use it for professional reasons) feels a little like homework. I don’t mean that in a bad way, necessarily, but it’s just not the social networking site I go to for fun.

Reading other people’s posts, it’s obvious I’m not the only nervous one about the webinars. But we’ve got this, guys! Good luck to everyone and I can’t wait to see your webinars!


Reflections on class #11

During last week’s class, we spent a great deal of time discussing a recent local library controversy. The Ann Arbor District Library has been making the local news lately (check out one of the articles here) because of their concern that the city of Ann Arbor wants to build a park adjacent to the library. The library’s concern stems from the library’s problem with heroin and alcohol use in the library. The director and many others worry that the problems the library are already facing will simply travel outdoors to the park, possibly endangering park users. The director, Josie Parker, is concerned that many in Ann Arbor are just not paying attention to this problem, which is certainly a problem in the library, but also a larger reflection of the community’s problem at large. (She gave a really great interview, which can be found here.)

The discussions we had, in our blogging groups, were interesting because they brought up a lot of important issues surrounding the library’s place in the community. AADL spends an astounding $250,000 on security (for some libraries, that’s their entire budget), so it’s clear that the security of the people in the library is something that AADL takes very seriously. People of Ann Arbor seem shocked that these problems are occurring, but in reality, the problems are right in their own backyards. AADL has been handling the problem internally, but if the park is built, the problems AADL are experiencing will most likely just move there as well, and AADL can’t police that area, too.

I think one of the most interesting parts of the discussion involved one of the quotes the director gave in her article. She stated that while some think that the homeless population at the library causes the library a lot of its problems, in reality, most of the library’s problems come from those that are well-educated, well-fed, and well-housed, and their entitled and privileged attitudes. I thought it was a great point to bring up because the stereotype is that the homeless population is the root of the problems, and that’s simply not true.

Since we’ve been talking about the ALA Code of Ethics so much lately, we also discussed how to use the Code in relation to AADL’s problems. My opinion was that I love the Code of Ethics, but the director can’t stand up in a board meeting and say, “Well, according to the ALA Code of Ethics…” and expect that people will take that Code as seriously as librarians do. However, like someone else pointed out, the director and other librarians involved can certainly use the Code as a way to direct how they are personally going to handle it. Many of the statements in the Code do apply to this situation, and while Josie Parker can’t get up and say that in the board meeting, it’s possible she can consider the Code when attempting to make her decisions.

Talking about these problems are incredibly interesting, obviously, but also incredibly useful. Drugs and alcohol are a problem no matter a person’s socioeconomic status, and while bigger cities tend to have bigger problems, little tiny libraries will have their issues as well, and it’s good to be aware of those problems as well as take note as to how the problems are handled. I know that the library I worked at occasionally had problems like AADL’s (although certainly not nearly the scale they have) and I’m from a smallish town. These problems always shocked me, and I was always really careful in studying how the head librarian handled it, because I know that someday, I will have to as well.


Reflections on class #10: One-Shot Workshops wrap-up

Last class, we did our One-Shot Workshops, and they went really well! I had been really nervous beforehand, but after I was done, I couldn’t even begin to imagine why because it was actually a lot of fun!

I’ll admit: being a facilitator, although fun, was nervewracking. It was difficult to gauge the amount of time we’d need, and sometimes it was hard to keep things on track. It really helped that the group Mollie and I were with participated a lot, and there was no teeth-pulling, so to say, when we asked questions (which was a relief). There’s nothing worse than getting up in front of people trying to invite discussion, and then nothing happens. Luckily, we didn’t have to deal with that!

I think I’ve been to one workshop in my entire life, so I really don’t have a sort of “template” to go by, but I enjoyed them and I think they were educational, so they served their purpose, I think! The five we had were:

  • Collaboration between school, public, and academic librarians (which was mine and Mollie’s)
  • An introduction to the World Digital Library
  • How we, as librarians, share (or don’t share) information
  • How to deal with problematic behavior from patrons
  • How to be respectful towards others in awkward situations

I think that when I always thought of a workshop, I always really thought of them teaching you something tangible, of sorts, like how to deal with technology, for example. But they can also include things like how to deal with problematic behavior, so I’m glad I got an exposure to a few different kinds. Almost all of them involved discussion about situations we had personally been in in regards to the topic, and a few included scenarios as well. I think the major problem we had were time constraints; I think several–if not all–of the workshops could have gone on for longer.

My favorite part of the workshop Mollie and I hosted was during our interactive Venn Diagram section; we drew a large Venn Diagram on the board, consisting of three circles, representing school, academic, and public librarians. We then asked our group what sort of situations where each group could collaborate with one another. We got so many varied answers, and there were more than a few situations that I hadn’t thought of before. That portion was the part I was most nervous about because without audience participation, it probably would’ve fallen flat, but our group was great in answering our questions!

So all and all, very good experience! It’s really awesome that we’re getting to be involved in so many different experiences this semester. Although I don’t know if I would have previously thought I could do a workshop, it’s nice to know, after surviving one, that I can!

Reflections on class #9

So last week, we had a really great discussion on ethics in libraries. We were given a scenario where a mother had asked the school to remove a book so that her child couldn’t see it (I forget the title, but essentially the title was an injury that the child had actually sustained). My immediate question was…why? Was the book triggering for the child? Was the child being teased? Ultimately, though, our conclusion was that the Code of Ethics is not one-size-fits-all. What is considered ethical in a public library might not fly in a school library, especially when it comes to censoring books. In a school, the mission is to provide the safest and most comfortable environment for students, and while a public library also aims for those things, its ultimate mission, I believe, is protecting intellectual freedom.

I’ve worked in the YA section for a long time, and have had several requests to take books off of shelves. I always politely listened to parents’ concerns, of course, but I always told them that I could not censor what was put on the shelves. In a school library, though, I’m not sure that I could say the same. I hate to say it, but I think I’m glad that I’m not going to be a school librarian because I think a school library brings up a whole host of issues that I’m not comfortable with. (Kudos to those future school librarians, because I couldn’t do it!)

I think you, as the librarian, always have to consider the situation and decide about where to apply the Code of Ethics from there. I think there are some that think you should follow the Code to the T no matter what, but I think that’s unrealistic and possibly harmful. The Code is a great idea; any time that you have a set of rules for a profession, I think it’s helpful in a lot of situations, but I don’t think that there’s many sets of rules that exist that can be applied in every environment, every situation, all the time.

Okay. I could seriously talk about ethics in libraries all day, so I’ll quit now. But I love when we’re given scenarios in class and then discuss them, because every single time, someone comes up with a point-of-view that I hadn’t thought of before, and may not have ever reached by myself. I’ve noticed SI likes scenarios, and I’m glad, because you can sit there and lecture on a topic all day, but if students can’t apply it to real-world situations, then it’s really no good.

Next week, we’ll be doing our one-shot workshops! (AHHHHH!) Mollie and I are doing it on collaboration between academic, school, and public librarians, which is great because Mollie and I both have experience in an academic library, I have experience in a public library, and Mollie has experience in school libraries, so we’re hoping we’re covered! We’re also hoping that this is something that will appeal to everyone, regardless of their future career choice. Mollie and I talk about this topic a lot, so we’re hoping that shows. We’ll see!

I’ll admit: I’m really nervous. I’m excited about our topic, and I think our activities (which include scenarios, so…good!) are interactive and useful, but this is the sort of thing where I’m just going to have to go with the flow. I’m a little concerned about our time, because I think we’re going to cut it close, but I hope that we can give everyone enough time without running way over. I also hope that people come away with some ideas of how to collaborate, or even with the idea that collaboration is possible. Sometimes, librarians tend to isolate themselves with librarians of the same kind, so to speak, so hopefully if people haven’t thought about branching out, this one-shot workshop will help them to do that!

Reflections on class #8

You would think, after so many years in school, I would learn by now the importance of, when writing reflection pieces, to do them right after the event, instead of almost two weeks later. Alas, I have not yet learned that lesson, so for that, I apologize.

At any rate, during the last class, we hosted our book clubs, where five pairs held a 20 or so minute book club about a short piece of their choice. Our group had three fairy tales and two non-fiction pieces, so the mixture was really nice. We decided to do the fairy tales first, and then the other two next, so we got to do some nice compare/contrast of the fairy tales we had. (And since two were by the Brothers Grimm, I learned that the Brothers Grimm just collected the tales and did not write them, which I didn’t know. Shame on me!)

As I thought, our conversations were varied and lively, and brought up so many points that I hadn’t even thought of. (Gender issues in The Fisherman’s Wife was definitely one of them.) For me, being a facilitator was an easy job because the conversation didn’t really need any prompting from Mollie and I. The hardest part for me, as I predicted, was not putting my two cents in; I’m passionate about the subject we picked, and I caught myself a few times before I said anything. People brought up some points I hadn’t considered, and the one I found most interesting was considering the issue of YA literature (and whether it’s too dark or not and whether or not it’s okay to put on shelves) in schools; I had considered this entirely from a public library stance, but putting the articles in the context of a school library, where sometimes the choices don’t lie with the school librarian, definitely made me reconsider some things.

This was definitely a fun class and a really useful one as well. I hope that by being a future YA librarian that I get a lot of opportunities to do book clubs, and I learned a lot facilitating and participating in these. I think any time we get to participate in something like this “for real,” it’s incredibly valuable, because as much as you plan and write questions, it really comes down to the actual meeting and how you (and your fellow facilitators) are involved in the meeting.

So thanks for the great class!

Reflections on class #7

For the first part of class this week, we discussed the dos and don’ts of book clubs. We made some important points on both ends of the spectrum, and several that I hadn’t thought of before. I think one that stuck with me on the Do This! side was having a plan for blurters/rude people/interrupters/etc. I’ve worked with the public for several years now, but every once in awhile, someone still shocks me with how they act, and being in an environment where you, as the “leader” (bad word, I know…perhaps guide or host?), is responsible for having a fun and productive environment, you need to have contingency plans for situations that may arise. Are you going to be able to anticipate every situation? Of course not. But there will be ones that are pretty common; so, you have to think…how do I handle a person that dominates a conversation? How do I handle someone that is constantly interrupting another? How do I handle a person that rudely responds to another’s opinion? I know for me, thinking about these hypothetical situations makes me a lot less nervous about doing a book club. (Side note: the fact that we had to put “Read the book” on the Do This! side makes me sad…although I can believe it, I still am disappointed that there are those who host a book club and don’t read the book.) On the Not This! side, I wanted to clap when someone brought up tipping well if you host it in a restaurant. I had a waitress friend tell me one time she had a book club take up four tables for three hours and she barely got a tip from them. It’s very inconsiderate (and people will dislike you…it’s just a fact). I think another good point we brought up is not making people feel guilty for not reading the book; although you should, sometimes people have bad months or weeks where reading a book for book club is low on the priority list. Also, sometimes, like we said, the book club isn’t about the book; it’s about the camaraderie that comes with it. We should definitely be sensitive to that.

We also discussed how to craft discussions/questions for book clubs. I’m definitely glad for a little overview because I’ve never hosted a book club, so it’s advantageous to see what good book club questions look like. I think a really intriguing part of the question process is asking something you as the host is curious about and may not know the answer. I’m like a lawyer; I don’t ask a question in that sort of situation unless I already know the answer (9th grade Debate class probably doesn’t help with that). But it most definitely makes sense in a book club setting to ask a question you don’t know the answer to because you’re going to get diverse and unique answers and perspectives. For the piece Mollie and I chose, we purposefully chose one that could have different sides, and so I’m really curious to see what people think. I think something I’m going to have a hard time with is not answering our own questions because the articles are about a topic I’m passionate about, so it’s going to take some restraint on my part!

For the second part of class, we had our own Socratic Seminar about the Prensky article. I love being in circles for discussions, and I think we had a really great conversation. I still greatly dislike Prensky’s view, and I was pleasantly surprised when the first conversation point broached was on whether or not it was a satire piece because I wrote in my post about how I thought it was from The Onion for its black-and-white stance. It was interesting to get to hear everyone’s point-of-view. Socratic Seminars are familiar to me, but I think the size of the group kept this from being a true Socratic Seminar. Having a smaller group enables everyone to talk more than once. However, I realize we had limitations on time, so it makes sense to do it with our one big group.

At any rate, I’m excited to see what class brings next week with our book clubs!

Reflections on class #6

What a class we had last week!

I really like when you can have a class full of people start discussing something and then have it morph into another discussion entirely. While our talk started with Jane McGonigal, by the end, we were talking about privileges in libraries and what we thought of SI’s T-shirts that state “I will change the world.” (Who knew T-shirts could engender such a discussion?) It was interesting how we all saw the shirt differently: for example, I don’t like to wear mine because I think it makes a statement I can’t back-up and I’m tired of people asking, “And how will YOU change the world?” But some took a much different approach and thought that it was more about changing one person’s world. Additionally, one of my classmates mentioned the idea of privileges in libraries and privileges in a place like SI. The library profession is full of privilege for a few reasons, but mostly because a lot of people can’t afford to go to school for a job that may not ever pay for itself. Ubiquitous unpaid internships in libraries don’t help either; most people need money to live off of, and it’s hard to take on a full-time internship that doesn’t pay. I think that’s largely why that T-shirt strikes a nerve for me because it seems to say, “Hey, I’m privileged enough to be at this great school and I’m going to change the entire world because of that.” Maybe that’s not fair. Maybe I’m biased because I went to a state school in Michigan where UM had what is (after going here) an undeserved reputation of arrogance. But I think we all need to, quite simply, check our privileges and realize that by going here, we have them. (Even if most of us our paying in our life’s blood to be here.)

Our discussion was great largely because it stuck with me after class ended. In 638 the next day, Mollie and I talked about the discussion in class, and I thought about it over the weekend. I think I’m not as against the shirt as I used to be. I think perhaps I take it too strongly as a point and need to be proud that I’m a part of something bigger than myself that will hopefully change the world someday. I think I need to realize that I’m at an institution that does change the world and that’s also something to be proud of. Maybe I’m not going to singlehandedly change the world. But maybe, like one of my classmates said, I will help to change someone’s world and maybe they’ll go out and change the world for the better. Yes, I’m absolutely privileged to be here at SI, and I need to be sure that I use that privilege to its full advantage.

Thanks for the great discussion, SI-ers!

(We also discussed the professional bloggers we’ve been following, and the discussion was really interesting; I’m especially interested in the idea of librarian “branding” and it’s something I’m looking forward to getting to know more about!)

Reflections on class #5

The two or three times that I’ve had to write a survey of some kind has proven to me that it’s hard. It’s difficult not to write leading questions, and it’s also difficult to know what are the priority questions you really want to ask.

But honestly, I’m a pretty good person to write surveys because I’m one of those people. If I bother to do the survey at all, I often get bored and don’t give quality answers. Sometimes, it’s laziness, but often, I’m annoyed by the questions. We were given an example of a question where it asked why something was outstanding (what if it wasn’t?), and I’ve seen those questions a lot. It’s leading and it’s hard to be honest with a question like that. That’s no excuse, though, and I really need to start completing surveys more because they are important. I’m really into people giving me feedback and I often don’t give it back to people (usually it’s because I don’t want to hurt their feelings…if they’re great, I’ll definitely tell them so). I suppose I need to work on giving people constructive feedback when they ask for it.

At any rate, I’m glad that we discussed assessment in regards to surveys. Like I said, despite my unwillingness to answer surveys, I do realize that they are important and are definitely an important part of formative assessment. Taking the example survey after Jane McGonigal’s talk was useful because it showed what could potentially be misleading or negative aspects about surveys. It was helpful to talk about how surveys/formative assessments connect to libraries because I was a bit confused about the connection beforehand. Because of that, I found it interesting when Kristin said how librarians are naturals at formative assessment because I never really thought about how I use formative assessment in my job. But looking back, I think in my own experience, the way I did this most frequently was by telling people if they couldn’t find what they were looking for, they should come back and I would do the best I could to help them again. Sometimes, I would inevitably not be able to help a patron, but they always said, “Oh, you were so helpful!” because they felt like they could approach me again.

I think the phrase that sort of wraps up what we talked about was “assessment of learning versus assessment for learning.” We’re largely still assessing the amount of learning a student achieves, instead of to learn. Things like self-reflection papers are incredibly useful because it aids the student in really looking back on what they learned and it also allows for teachers to give them feedback in something that isn’t an exam. (Which is invaluable, really.)

For whatever reason, this was a short post for me this week! (I think I made up for it in my reading post for this week, though!)

Reflections on class #4

We librarians like our jargon.

I mean, I think information professionals in general like it. (I have never been around more acronyms than when I started here: “Yeah, I’m going to SI to get my MSI in LIS and maybe in PI, too.”) But for some reason, librarians love making up their own jargon.

Which is why I find transliteracy an interesting term, and also why I’m glad we discussed it during class. It’s a buzzword that doesn’t really seem to have a concrete definition. I come from a background in comparative religion where people spend their entire career coming up with a definition of (a)”god,” (gods, entities…well, I’m just proving my point), but we librarians want a concrete definition because that’s who we are. I had never heard of transliteracy until a few weeks ago, and when I was doing my search, I didn’t come across it at all. (Perhaps because I was looking into public libraries?) Transliteracy, as was stated in class, is a “bucket term” and we were asked what it meant to us. I’m not certain I know what it means to me yet, to be honest. I think too broad a definition is harmful to it being useful, but too narrow of a definition threatens to make it useless as well. I think I may have to mull on it for awhile. Certainly, the profession is going to have to because no one seems to have come up with a “blanket” definition yet, and there very well may never be one. I wasn’t too sold on Sue Thomas’s definition because it’s too broad, and as we were saying, her definition just really defines communication. But it’s truly hard to put into words what the ability to distinguish what the text is saying versus what the picture is depicting actually is.

We also talked about different models of learning. I’ll be honest about Carol Kuhlthau: I never really thought very extensively about her research before, even when it was introduced in 647. This is not a good thing, because Carol Kuhlthau is about as famous as a librarian can get, and her research is pretty fascinating. But before, all I really thought was that I know in my research process I go through a variety of emotions (anxiety and triumph are basically the two), and so I always figured other people did, too. End of story. But what really stuck out to me about our discussion was at which point in the process librarians can intervene so as to have the most impact in a person’s information search process. In Stripling’s inquiry model, investigate is where we’re probably going to have the most impact, and in Kuhlthau’s model, we’re probably intervening at exploration, too. I think knowing when to intervene is important because if you, as the librarian, come in too early, you may be a detriment to the process (perhaps not…perhaps you can help the student or user narrow down a topic), but if you come in too late, the damage is already done, so to speak. I think the key time is, like Kuhlthau and Stripling suggest, when a person is researching and exploring ideas and we can help lead them in the most helpful direction as possible.

One last point that I want to bring up is that in class, someone was quoted as saying, “Even if we didn’t have libraries, we need librarians.” I think the fact that so many librarians are working outside of libraries is evidence of that;  good librarians have all sorts of great skills that can be useful outside of libraries. I don’t really have a lot to talk about on that phrase, but it just sort of illustrates to me that we’re a special breed of people and it reminds me why I’ve always wanted to be a librarian.