Monthly Archives: June 2011

2011 California Conference of Library Instruction notes

Are you feeling tired? Worn down by grading too many papers? More inspired by the end of Spring semester/quarter? Then, you feel just like me.  The cure: CCLI.  In one day, I’ve been not only inspired to better structure my outreach for effective acceptance by students, but also got to explore new online learning tools and consider hope for my academic librarian future.

The morning started out with cocktail umbrellas and Mad Men as Emily Missner asked us to reconsider what we think of as library resource advertising.  With her real world, ad agency experience, Emily began the morning with some basic concepts to reach our student population sweet spot (18-34 year olds). First, develop a unique personality that fits self images.  Second, evoke sn emotional response. Finally, create a stimulating experience.  As a model of how this works, the attendees brainstormed ideas of successful ads and marketing camaigns, such as Apple.  Often times, libraries advertise new resources like how vendors pitch to us – but do students really care about how many thousands of publication titles are in a database? NO.  So why do we keep telling them this?

Next, she shared her own approach of a listserv.  I know, I know, listservs are not Web 2.0 chic but, like Draper and the Kodak Carosel, she knows how to sell it to students, faculty, and alumni (about 2,000 to be exact).  Mood (like major holidays), nostaglia or pop culture, analogy, and anthropomorphism are her ingredients for success.  I would also state that her prudent use of once or twice a quarter in key weeks 3, 7, and/or 8 makes timing a sixth unnamed ingredient.

After a lovely lunch, Debbie Faires dove into the nuts and bolts of online education, methods, and a wide array of resources.  Now, first of all, online education in a purely-online-no-in-person-meeting-EVER has grown 21%.  Learning management system usage (the Moodle, Blackboards, etc of the world) is estimsted to be 1 in 3 students. Therefore, Debbie tooj a broad approach first identifying the various types of interaction between students and faculty, students and content, and student to student.  To minimize the isolation effect, all of these have to be in place.  Discussions across asynchronous, sychronous, and in between communication styles and tools encouraged good conversation from many of the other attendees.

As our final keynote speakers, Dr. Dale Jacobs and Dr. Heidi Jacobs reminded us not just what we do as being good enough, but also to “hope, a way to think things through as a group to make things better.” As the extended metaphor of this reflective librarianship, they referred back to the isolated island also being a complex ecosystem.  The rare species found in the Galapagos might be isolated from larger continents with better documentariand but it doesn’t mean that the vegetative life and animal life on the island don’t have to find a mutual cooperation for their shared survival.  With budgets and institutions needing to make use of what we have and better, librarians cannot just consider themselves as isolated entities in the sea of academia.  So, the Jacobs asked the hard questions and made us think about what we might start answering.  For example, what do you want from your info lit program? Who do you need to talk with? What do you need to do to make yourself avaliable to listening to other peoples’ responses? I have some notes of names and ideas but I’ll save my actions and findings for another post….    

Make ’em laugh

One of the benefits of being on summer break is the reintroduction to normal society aka Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  Through their analysis, I get some great info lit pieces.  If you haven’t been watching lately, I recommend the following viral items:

For more info lit centric pieces, enjoy classic Colbert:

  • Wikiality – the Wikipedia defined factual reality
  • Wikilobbying – to agree upon what we just agreed upon, we can also
  • Great News – what’s the value of a journalism degree?

Perhaps, I have found a new approach for sparking web evaluation discussions…..

Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!

With a rare formula of energy, time, and motivation, I was assigned a brief orientation for a Humanities class with the focus to introduce students to the library, the catalog, and the databases in about 30 minutes.  So, I wanted to get creative.  I know my content but selling the first minute or two is my usual stumbling point and it also happens to be the small window I get to actually have students get interested or mentally checkout.  Being the pop culture diva I am, I wanted something funny and relatable for my community college students, so nothing too age specific.  In my YouTube search, I started with general library clips but quickly made my way to the iconic Ghostbusters.  Scenes from the original and the more recent NYPL re-enactment quickly got added to the list but the real key, I believe, was knowing how to integrate these effectively.

So this is how the sequence went:

While students enter class, play this in the background to set the tone, get them curious about what is going on in the front of the room, etc.

Next, at the beginning of the class, start playing the first 20 seconds of this video on mute, noting how the library used to be with books, card catalogs, and the scary thought of doing research (timing is key to get the scream/scary research effect)

Next, launch into library intro

  • hours
  • facilities (printing, copying, computers, study rooms)
  • website

Catalog (Bloomsday related examples since it was June 16th)

  • Subject v keyword
  • demo search (Ulysses) – more refined resource lists/name disambiguation from the general and the mythological character
  • Review a record (location, call #, status)
  • Save record–>view saved–>Print/Email/Request/Hold
  • Request/hold individual books
  • ELECTRONIC BOOK EXAMPLE (under keyword results)
    • how to access in library & at home


  • Academic Search Elite
  • SIRS Researcher
  • Boolean operators
  • AND, OR, NOT – human example
  • Full-text, peer-reviewed, date range, source type, etc.
  • Show article
  • Email/print/save functions

Conclude with the note that Reference Librarians are there to help you and not do this…..

The giggles and lots of mid-presentation questions told me that the research and listening to the Ghostbusters’ theme song at least 25 times paid off.  Now, I must channel my 1980s childhood and finally dance like I wanna to the theme song.  Now, if I could just find my slap bracelet and blue Reebok hightops…..

My first two years…

In late August 2009 while visiting with friends in San Jose, I received a desperate call asking “Would you teach one of the Library Studies courses this semester?”  Little did I know just how addicting teaching, assessment, and working with students and faculty to be.  My Italian professor used to dance in front of the class singing that he would be the Candyman, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus for what he would teach you with Italian.  So far, I have restrained myself from doing the same, but I make no promises for future classes.

In these 2 years, I’ve managed to teach 10 different classes in both the community college and four-year university setting.  Mishaps and pitfalls, breakthroughs and new explorations all characterize who I am and how I teach today.  While waxing poetic about myself would be great for the job market, it just wouldn’t be me.  Instead, I’d like to share some of my *preliminary* musings and findings about teaching in these communities.

There is something to said about maturity

 While teaching for my first year was only in the community college setting, I became accustomed to having a majority of students 1) who had dealt with libraries and research in some form in their other classes and 2) were taking this in their last semester before graduation.  In my first session at the four-year institution, I found that the same teaching strategies DO NOT WORK ON FRESHMEN.  Granted many different factors come into play, such as previous library exposure, what quality of high school education they received, and general academic maturity, but never again will I assume students want to learn like I do/did.  This maturity/motivation/generation factor also played out in other ways such as email usage (or notsomuch…).

Just because you use Facebook/MySpace/Twitter doesn’t mean you’re tech saavy

Based on the stereotypes, digital natives (Gen X & especially Gen Y/Millennials) are natural technology savants and other generations are a bit more hit/miss as digital immigrants.  However, my returning adult students who swore up and down that they were “not good with computers” perservered and, occassionally, got very creative with ensuring their academic success despite tech failing beyond their control.  At the same time, I had some of those Millennials get stuck using Google Docs; having the assignment worth 20% of their grade wasn’t motivation enough to try and troubleshoot it.  In short, stereotypes and assumptions still, in the words of Samuel L. Jackson, make an ass out of you and umption.  Nevertheless, technology will impact their motivation do complete citations.  Freshmen LOVE using citation builders while some adult students REFUSE to use them.  When I say LOVE, I mean I couldn’t get anything resembling a proper citation in any format out of 90% of my freshmen until I had them use Noodletools Bib Express or other builders.  When I say REFUSE, I mean that even though the school paid for a subscription for all students to have and use a Noodletools account during their entire academic career, were taught in class how to use it, and were required to use Noodletools to complete course assignments, they would actively tell me in person that they would not use it.

For now, I’ll leave my thoughts to this, but I’ll be reviewing my past work a lot this summer to explore core information literacy trends and behaviors.  If there’s something you’d be interested in getting data/analysis on, don’t hesitate to ask.