Monday, July 20, 2009

Open Access Study

In this month's issue of College & Research Libraries Kristi L. Palmer, Emily Dill, and Charlene Christie discuss their research study on librarian attitudes regarding open access: "Where There's a Will There's a Way?: Survey about Open Access."

"This study indicates that librarians support the concepts of open access and, more important, believe that these concepts are related to their work as librarians" (328). This observation did not surprise me as I had suspected as much, but they did point out that while librarians are in favor of open access initiatives, they do not do very much to make any changes or educate others about the issues surrounding it.
Librarians are in favor of seeing their profession take some actions toward open access. The most highly supported behaviors were those that extend traditional library activities such as educating faculty about open access and providing a means by which to locate open access items. Indeed, involvement in education campaigns was not only highly supported, but those librarians managing education campaigns also had significantly more supportive attitudes than other respondents.

It seems to me that librarians should be talking more about open-access issues with each other and with other academics in their communities. The survey said that librarians talk more about this issue among themselves than with faculty and staff. Not surprisingly, educating campus constituents about open access was perceived as a more favorable activity than advocating changes in publishing and tenure policies, such as encouraging faculty to publish in open-access venues, keep their copyrights, place "pre-published versions" of papers in institutional repositories, etc.

On an information-literacy level, the authors of this study sent the survey out in the summer of 2006. It seems that the data might be a little aged. How have open-access issues changed in the past three or four years? How have academic librarians changed their attitudes regarding open access? Have they?

Still, it seems that librarians could do more to educate others about open access and provide more helps on how to find the publications that are freely accessible.

Palmer, Kristi L., Emily Dill, and Charlene Christie. "Where There's a Will There's a Way?: Survey of Academic Librarian Attitudes about Open Access." College & Research Libraries 70.4 (July 2009): 315-35.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Humor in the Classroom

Humor can lighten the mood in any setting, but in a library-instruction session it might be particularly unexpected and well received. Unfortunately, if other librarians are like me, humor does not come naturally. I read an article a few months ago on some librarians who endeavored to study humor in the hopes that they could be funnier in the classroom. They attended workshops and read books. [Yes, I know, I need to look up the citation to that article.] If I remember correctly, they concluded that they could not succeed as stand-up comediennes, but maybe they could make library instruction more palatable for students. Anyone can show a cartoon or a funny clip and get some chuckles. Students seem to appreciate that attempt at humor. They also said that just keeping your eyes open to humor can keep you aware of golden opportunities for a laugh.

Don't get me wrong. We do not want to entertain students just to be entertaining, rather humor facilitates learning. It can pull them back to the here and now if they are losing focus. It can direct them engage more willingly with the activities you have set in place during your instruction. Of course, it can go too far, but a few well-timed jokes or humorous observations during a demonstration can work wonders in garnering student attention.

Here's my one lame joke during the introduction to our catalog: "When it refers to 'Status' it is not asking if the book is married or not, but it's asking if it is available inside the Library." Yeah, pretty lame, huh. : )

At any rate, I picked up a book by Patrick McManus not long ago titled: The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions into the Writing of Humor. I used to think that I didn't pick up on humor very well in books, and I was probably right. I took things very seriously. Things have to be spelled out to me, like "This is a humorous book, don't forget to laugh." No matter how much I tried to keep a straight face, Patrick McManus succeeded in making me grin from ear to ear and laugh. He provides some great tips for writing humorous pieces, and he includes some great sample stories from his years of writing for magazines.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Job Searching Audio Tutorial

Yesterday I completed an audio tutorial on job-searching resources. It talks about websites, databases, tips, recommendations, and centers that can facilitate a job seeker in their search for a job. The physical centers are specific to Idaho State University, but anyone going to college has access to these kinds of career and advising centers, not to mention reference librarians.

One thing I did not mention in the tutorial is that individuals in specific fields of study might do better finding jobs in the professional associations related to their field. For librarians, the American Library Association has it's own job-search website that includes available library positions throughout the country.

If you take a look at the tutorial, please let me know what you think. Is it too long? Is my voice too annoying? Is it too obvious?

Job Searching: Finding a Job