Saturday, October 29, 2011

Technology Devices and Podcasting in the Library

I am a big proponent of allowing students to use the technology devices they have during school hours. There are so many opportunities to learn using these tools and while I understand the rationale for why they are often banned, I don't agree with it. There is never a wasted minute in my day because if I am in line at the grocery store /  in a doctor's waiting room / sitting outside my daughter's dance class, I am consuming information on my phone. I can't even begin to articulate the knowledge I've gained during these times.

In addition to learning how their devices could be used to help them consume knowledge, students could also be taught how their phones could be used to create knowledge. Here are three podcasting lessons that students could complete using their devices' podcast recording functionality:

1. Ask students to share their family history by conducting interviews with family members and building a Family Podcast. Students could be directed to the Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide ( for assistance.

2. Last year, I heard about a remarkable program in a NYLA SLMS conference session. West Seneca East High Librarian Sandy Eichelberger has created the award-winning Hometown Heroes Day (here’s a link to a SLAWNY publication with an article about the program - Eichelberger invites veterans into the library to share their stories with groups of students. They are designed to be interactive sessions with many questions and answers. In a similar vein, podcast interviewing could be used to capture these important stories from veterans. The LOC’s Veteran’s History Project ( wants your podcast interviews of veterans (and other artifacts) to save for their research. What an excellent opportunity this would be to help with ongoing LOC research projects.

3. Students from health class could create Public Service Announcements against drinking and driving, dangers of drugs, Internet safety, etc. In Rochester, we have a popular BOCES-sponsored school radio station. Perhaps we could speak with them to see if they would be willing to run the PSA’s on the station.

The projects above could also be conducted via a computer for those students who do not have phones with recording capability. This would be a great opportunity, though, to encourage students to create academic content with their personal technology tools. It might even motivate them to independently develop other content that would further augment their information literacy skills.

Do you dig Diigo?

I have been eating, breathing, sleeping and living Diigo the last few weeks as I worked through my technology collaboration project. You probably already knew it was a social bookmarking tool. Are you aware of its collaborative features yet? I wasn’t until recently.

If you have an educator email account, you can request a Diigo educator account. Oh and you might want to do that a week before you need it because it can take some time to get approved (not that I have any experience with any issue with that or anything). The educator account enables you to set up a bunch of student accounts without needing student emails. This is awesome as a librarian because you can set up 30 accounts. If you instruct students that these are for demonstration purposes only, you can then clear them out once your lesson is done and have fresh accounts all set for your next class. I did this while also showing them how to build their own personal Diigo accounts to use after our class sessions were done.

But I digress. We are talking about collaboration. In Diigo (both the educator version and regular Diigo) you can also create groups. Researchers can post their bookmarks, comments, highlights, etc. to the group. All researchers in the group can then see this collaborative research information. Group members can post comments to each other. There is a “Facebook”-like feeling interface where group members can post topics and have threaded discussions. You can even “like” things just like on Facebook. These tools are definitely worth learning more about.

If I’ve piqued your interest, check out the overview of Diigo’s collaboration features

Monday, October 3, 2011

RSS - does it do enough?

When I worked in information publishing, I was an avid user of our proprietary clipping service. Essentially, we could set up searches that would run at intervals we defined and receive a feed of updated material on my employer’s vast information databases that met the search criteria. For example, if I wanted to keep tabs on one of my products, I’d set a clip up with its name and every time its name was mentioned in the press, scholarly journals, etc., it would save a link to the content, aggregate all the links over my defined time period (usually one week) and send them via a concise email. I don’t work there anymore so this would be insanely expensive to continue (our customers pay by the search -- I didn’t know how good I had it!).

I wonder if there is a tool that works similarly for Blogs. That is a tool I’d definitely be all over. Maybe it exists in an RSS feeder, and I’m just not a sophisticated user. Please let me know if it does. This dream tool would run a search across all blog postings (not just for the ones I follow) looking for those that meet my search criteria. For example, let’s pretend that I was doing research on Web 2.0 teaching ideas. I could set up a blog clip that searches all educator blogs for “Web 2.0” and then probably a bunch of Web 2.0 tool names just to be sure I catch everything. This might help lead me to other blogs out there that I don’t even know I should be following.

If we were able to help students set something like this up to support them in their own research (and also maintain their safety), I think it would be easier to say which AASL standards it wouldn’t support than it would to identify the ones that it does.

Does this blog searching tool already exist?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Evolution Begins

After completing the chapters in The Portable MLIS, I am beginning to see things differently. (Haycock, 2008). Some of my blogs reflect those of an MBA trying to apply the black and white of the corporate world to a public service institution. You can almost feel me wanting to break out a balance sheet, develop a quadratic equation and mathematically explain the librarian's value to his or her community.

Let's not forget the cost-cutting drive. Someone from Peru contacts your drained reference staff via an online chat for information? Hand them off to a Peruvian library. Do it quickly. We will be recording how much time you spend on out-of-scope activities. We will review this weekly and roll it up to management monthly.

Chapter 15 in The Portable MLIS contains a powerful discussion of the librarian's role in our shared global community. (Ford, 2008). As the author Barbara J. Ford states, "The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that human beings have the fundamental right to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity, and intellectual activity." (Ford, 2008, p. 196). Contemplating those words, I find myself changed.

I considered going back through and retrofitting some of my posts to fit my newly developing librarian consciousness. Thankfully, I read Sutton's "The Weird Rules of Creativity" first. (Sutton, 2001). According to Sutton, "Naïveté can also come in the form of people who are experts in some other area, which allows them to see-and perhaps solve-problems from a new perspective." (2001, p. 99). Maybe my different perspective will help shed more light on librarian value and provide tools for librarian advocacy.

As the blog subtitle states this is "My journey to a new career in librarianship." I am thrilled to begin the journey with all of you.


Ford, B. (2008). LIS professionals in a global society. In K. Haycock & B. E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (pp. 195-203). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Sutton, R. I. (2001). The weird rules of creativity. Harvard Business Review. 79(8). 94-103.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Reflection on Powell’s Research Chapter: An Opportunity?

In an earlier blog, I suggested that further research into the core competencies provided by librarians and their value to the librarians’ communities was required in the face of public funding cuts. Using the research methods presented in Ron Powell’s chapter in The Portable MLIS as a guide, I will highlight how I would design a study to quantify school media specialists' value to their communities.

I would target a population of school media specialists and survey enough of them to build a statistically sound result. (Powell, 2008, 171-172). The survey would elicit details on the work the librarian completes in a day including work completed in support of long-term goals (ex: information literacy, improved school test scores), daily tasks (selecting material to support classroom lessons, booktalks, etc.) and the percentage of time spent on each item. Comparing the data (comparative librarianship), I would create a statistically accurate composite of the school media specialist’s role. (Powell, 2008, 174).

Admittedly, determining the value of the school media specialist to the community, would be more challenging. First I would define the communities to study (school, school district, greater community). Next, I would deconstruct the composite school media specialist role and devise focus groups within each of the targeted communities to determine the qualitative value the community places on the librarian's work. (Powell, 2008, 173). In order to impact policy, quantitative studies within the community would be required as well perhaps through statistically relevant surveys. (Powell, 2008, 174).

I have had some experience quantifying intangible value in my profession. To do so, we might ask the community to rank order lists of items that have known, quantifiable value. In each unranked list furnished to the subject, I would also include a school media specialist responsibility that is not readily quantifiable. As a result of the subject's ranking of the list, we may be able to pinpoint a quantifiable value range for the school media specialist's services.

Powell’s disclosure that LIS research “has not been as rigorous or as plentiful as would be ideal” surprised me. (Powell, 2008, pp. 177-178). Despite some reservations about joining a profession without benefit of scholarly studies to support its mission, I view this as an opportunity. I look forward to investigating this over the next two years and joining the academic conversation.


Powell, R. (2008). Research. In K. Haycock & B. E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (pp. 168-178). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Reflection on Chelton’s How To’s for Readers' Advisory Services: I Can Do This!

While some classmates have expressed discomfort with the Web assignments and others are anxious about delivering presentations, I may be the only library student in this ardent bibliophile group who is concerned about the readers' advisory portion of our coursework. Yes, I adore selecting books for my kids that help foster a lifelong love of reading. Yes, I am an avid reader. But I struggle with selecting books for myself.

That is why I want to grab scissors, cut Mary K. Chelton’s chapter right out of The Portable MLIS and share it with all of my local librarians. As a business school graduate, the concept of the librarian as a merchandiser translates very well for me. (Chelton, 2008, pp. 164-165). Chelton has helped me unlock why the library of my adulthood invokes stress in contrast to the haven I found in my childhood library. My current library does not appropriately merchandise. Most books are in dimly lit stacks, and it is hard to differentiate them.

If we analyzed my patron habits, we would undoubtedly learn that most books I select for myself are culled from the one adult fiction shelf permanently located in the children’s area that contains 10-20 selected titles for Mom and Dad. This is clearly good merchandising, but it means that in most of my trips I never make it to the adult fiction section. With more intentional merchandising, I would enter the adult section. I would most likely look at more than 20 books. The library would again be a haven, and I might even start engaging as a more vocal library advocate as my usage rose.

This chapter gave me hope. Chelton has provided me with some ideas for fostering advisory services including book club leader support, suggested listservs and websites and, my favorite, staging a "city-wide book club". (Chelton, 2008, pp. 162, 166). These suggestions and an explanation for my own challenges selecting books in my home library provide me with the confidence to become a readers' advisor.


Chelton, M. K. (2008). Readers advisory services: How to help users find a “good book”. In K. Haycock & B. E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (pp. 159-167). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Reflection on Tyckoson’s Reference Service –World Domination?

With my own library experience limited to my role as a patron and a vendor, David A. Tyckoson’s chapter in The Portable MLIS provided me with a helpful overview of the reference librarian. (Tyckoson, 2008). Tyckoson’s discussion of how reference attorney tasks have evolved with technological advances was enlightening (Tyckoson, 2008, pp. 135-137, 139-141). That being said, Tyckoson only tangentially mentions globalization when describing how the Library of Congress was able to provide more comprehensive service by developing an international network of libraries that provide cooperative reference services to their collective patrons (Tyckoson, 2008, p. 137).

Globalization, though, could potentially be a huge impact on a library’s already limited reference resources. Allowing patrons to query reference services professionals via online chat, video conferencing and co-browsing tools rather than solely through face-to-face interactions means that there is the potential for the patron base to grow significantly. The library should carefully define its patron base, determine the criteria for supporting patrons outside the defined patron community and draft a communication strategy to communicate with those the library is unable to support due to resource constraints (i.e. provide alternative libraries that may be able to assist).

In conclusion, Tyckoson references the 1957 movie Desk Set as "the best library-themed film ever made". (Tyckoson, 2008, p.130). Although I have not yet seen it, I am thinking it can not possibly top this 1947 vocational film titled, The Librarian. Enjoy!


Holmes (Burton) Films, Inc. 1947. The librarian. United States of America: Iowa State College. Available from

Tyckoson, D. A. (2008). Reference service: The Personal side of librarianship. In K. Haycock & B. E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (pp. 127-146). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.