Thursday, December 16, 2010

Origin of the Term "Call Numbers"

My supervisor received the following question from someone who has recently taken a position as a media specialist at a local elementary school and forwarded the question to me and my colleagues:
Somewhere I was reading about the origin of the phrase "Call Numbers".  I didn't know if the idea of a librarian "calling" out for books in closed stacks was a real story or not.  But if it is, it may help the students grasp the idea of call numbers a little better.
This seemed like quite an interesting question, so I Googled it, Asked Jeeves (okay just went to, searched in the Oxford Reference Online, and looked in the Encyclopedia Britannica.  None of them mentioned anything about the origin of the term "call numbers."  Many results provided explanations on using call numbers to find books.  "Origin of call numbers" returned lots of results that had nothing to do with libraries. 

On a whim I thought to look in the index of Arlene G. Taylor's Introduction to Cataloging and Classification, Tenth Edition.  It referred me to page 528, where it included the following definition:
"Call number: A notation on an information package that matches the same notation in the surrogate/metadata record and is used to identify and locate a particular item; it often consists of a classification notation and a cutter number, and it may also include a work mark and/or a date.  It is the number used to 'call' for an item in a closed stack library--thus the source of the name 'call number.'  See also Cutter number; Work mark."
Bingo!  Eureka!  Ah hah!

I just love it.  Here's a time when the print source bested the online sources.  Of course it makes sense in retrospect that a book about cataloging and classification, which happens to be intended for library science students, would have such an answer.  Gotta love it.

If you are looking for ideas to teach students about Library of Congress call numbers, consider showing them the  following page on call numbers from our SearchPath Tutorial.  On the possible chance that you might be interested, here's a tutorial designed and hosted by the University of Pittsburgh on learning how to use LC call numbers, including an interactive component that allows users to put call numbers in their proper order.  The creators explain how others can link or use this tutorial for themselves. This could definitely be used in classrooms with computers. 

Though I have not checked it out yet, chances are that there is a game/tutorial freely available online that lets people practice putting Dewey call numbers in order.  This would be good for middle and high school students.

Here's a brief visual explanation from the University of Maryland's site "Finding Library Items Using Call Numbers."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Multimedia Tutorials with Adobe Presenter

Today I received word that an article I helped to co-author has been published.  InformaWorld's Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning published "Staying on Top of Your Game and Scoring Big with Adobe Presenter Multimedia Tutorials."  Adobe Presenter works with Microsoft PowerPoint and allows users to record and edit audio on each slide of a presentation.

Take a look at it and let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cool YouTube Video on Visual Data/Statistics

"Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four"

This short video by Hans Rosling rocks! Statistics can be dull, cumbersome, and complex, but he succeeds in making them interesting, relatively simple, and relevant.  Indeed, he infuses a large dosage of hope regarding the future of our world with his concluding remarks.

Information literacy involves knowing when you need information, knowing how to access it, and applying the information ethically and effectively.  Sometimes we need statistics.  Each country gathers demographic data differently.  In a recent trip to Canada I learned that Canadian statistics can be aggravating to find and interpret.  In fact, one individual lamented that some of the census data did not continue from one iteration to another.  They changed the questions, so graduate students looking for longitudinal information in a particular area could not be extracted.

My sense is that U.S. statistics may include some of these same frustrating flaws as far as research goes.  In case you may be interested in finding U.S. statistics, take a look at our resource page.  Find links to the Census Bureau, FedStats, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes the Occupational Outlook Handbook and a site with career information for high school students.  I have always like the Statistical Abstract of the United States when looking for quick statistics.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Follow Up on Native American Research Post

In my searching for Shoshone/Bannock tribal treaties, I discovered another resource worth mentioning. Handbook of North American Indians published by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. is a bit dated, but still contains lots of information worth looking at with regards to the North American Indians.

This twelve-volume title dedicates a volume to each major region. Volume 11 highlights the Great Basin Indians, which includes the Shoshone/Bannock tribes. Chapters focus on the prehistory, history, ethnology, and special topics of individual areas within the region. Black and white photographs show art, tools, and contemporary individuals. For example, photos include bows, arrows, cradleboards, salmon-skin bags, woven carrying bags, and historical figures, as well as winter and summer dwellings.

The chapter titled "Northern Shoshone and Bannock" provides 29 pages of details about their language, environment, external relations, territory, population, culture, and history. A short history talks about their prehistory, but another chapter goes into greater detail where that is concerned. Multiple authors collaborated to write each chapter, and they include descriptions of their sources with author and date details. The full bibliography appears at the end of each volume, as well as a detailed index and a list of illustrations.

Shoshone Indians (1871). Photo by William H. Jackson. Courtesy of National Park Service.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Finding Native American/Indian Treaties

Last week I presented to my colleagues some updates to the Resources by Subject: Political Science page. In that presentation I pointed out one of our resources Public Documents Masterfile, which can aid researchers in finding government documents. Essentially, it serves as an index of other indexes. Therefore, this database does not provide full-text access, but it refers you to other sources, when can then refer you to the actual items with the full-text documents. Welcome to the world of government and legal research.

As an example, I showed how to find treaties between the U.S. government and the Shoshone/Bannock Tribes. A search for Shoshone Treaty brings back these results:

Selecting the first option with four records bring up this

Copying and pasting these titles into our catalog will help you find where they are located in our Library.  Actually, the following title Descriptive Catalog of the Government Publications of the United States will return a negative search, because the physical volume in question spell catalog like this: catalogue.  Whenever a title search does not work for me, my next step is to conduct an author search, which happens to be Poore, Benjamin Perley: .

The author search worked, and I found a call number but could not locate it on the shelf, so our government documents librarian helped me find it.  The numbers after the colon "963" and "991" seemed to refer to page numbers.  Nothing on page 963 seemed to refer to the Shoshone Indians, but there was something on page 991:
Report on the Shoshone and Bannock Indians.  See Columbus Delano.  Jan.22, 1874.  House Ex.Docs., No.61, 43d Cong.,1st sess., Vol.IX  2pp.  Transmitting information in regard to articles of convention concluded with the chiefs and headmen of the Shoshone and Bannock Indians for relinquishment of a portion of their reservation in Wyoming Territory.
Then my government documents colleague directed me to the CIS US Serial Set Index: 35th-45th Congresses 1857-1879 (Part II). Part II are "Finding Lists," so if you know what you want, that's the volume you need. If you are looking for documents according to their subject take a look at the two subject indexes on those sessions of congress.

Now we looked up the 43rd Congress, 1st session, which we found on page 1540. (Incidentally, this volume started on page 1293.) We found the title of House Executive Document 61: "Articles of convention with Shoshone and Bannock Indians for relinquishment of portion of their reservation in Wyoming Territory. Yes, we already had that information, so the most important thing at this point was the Volume and Serial numbers for the Serial Set. These were Vol. 9 Serial 1607.

We hiked up to the third floor, and, of course, the government documents librarian knows where the Serial Set is located, so I just followed. It turns out that we lack Serial number 1607. 1606 and 1608 sat on the shelf, but no 1607; however, someone had photocopied House Executive document 102, inserted it between a hard cover, and placed it on the shelf. This one did not relate directly to the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, but it did relate to Idaho: "Reservation for Indians of Colville agency, and for Coeur d'Alene Indians, of Territory of Idaho.

Since we could not locate it on the shelves, we went to the microfiche cabinets and found the microfiche that had Serial 1607, which included H.Ex.Doc.61. Today I went and refreshed my memory on using the microfiche and microfilm readers, scanned a copy of the two-page document. On one of my Google Sites pages it is the pdf document titled Shoshone Treaty.

Faster Way to Locate Native American/Indian Treaties

Yes, it does not have to take you this long to locate these treaties. Oklahoma State University has digitized many, if not all, of the treaties between the U.S. federal government and the sovereign tribes. Make sure to search Kappler's Indian Affairs:

Our Library does have a print copy of Kappler's Indian Affairs. Volume II on Laws and Treaties is where you would look to find the treaties. The index at the back points to the pages necessary for the appropriate tribal treaty in question. See pages 694, 848-51,859, and 1020 for treaties that mention the Shoshoni or Shoshone/Bannock Tribes. A look at our copy will show that these pages have been frequently looked at, since these are the nearest tribes to Pocatello, where Idaho State University resides.

Chief Pokatello helped negotiate the 1863 treaty; hence the name of the city here. The Shoshone/Bannock tribes live on the Fort Hall reservation.

Thank you, Oklahoma State University. Digital access takes much less time than hunting down the print copy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reading the Newspaper

Sometimes the newspaper can reveal some good websites worth using. Over the years I have discovered a number of good sites this way. Typically, I bookmark them within my Delicious account:

Today I discovered SkillsUSA at A local Pocatello automotive teacher, Roy Angle, in the public school system recently earned the designation of first runner up for his work as SkillsUSA advisor for Region 5 (an area that includes much of the western U.S.). The Idaho State Journal's Jimmy Hancock describes the organization: "SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled work force." Idaho's School District 25 chose Angle as their Teacher of the Year.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities in the Information Literacy Classroom

Ted Chodock and Elizabeth Dolinger's article "Applying Universal Design to Information Literacy: Teaching Students Who Learn Differently at Landmark College" discusses some ideas for helping students with AD/HD, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities. The define their terms upfront and explain how Universal Design (UD) can apply both to architecture and the classroom. To them active-learning strategies facilitate UD in the classroom: "Instead of simply engaging students and breaking up lectures, active learning methods become a way to reach the variety of learners in the classroom" (30). This makes sense.

Of worthy mention, they explain and provide examples of nine Universal Design principles in their article. Let me highlight just a few. First, "equitable use" in the classroom could mean that a course guide be provided in an online format as well as in print. "The Web-based version allows students with dyslexia and others who learn better aurally to use a test-to-speech screen reader to access the content." It also allows visually impaired students to increase the font size (28).

"Principle 2: Flexibility in Use" encourages active-learning methods, which can help those with attention difficulties. Mix things up with group, demonstration, lecture, and independent activities. To get their attention, also try previewing and viewing an agenda periodically throughout the class, noting when certain objectives have been accomplished. Goals that correlate directly to an assignment give students more reason to engage (28-29).

Spelling search terms can also even things up for those with dyslexia, not to mention a large number of students who have always had a spell-checking function available to correct their mistakes. Along these lines, the authors suggest that handouts, printed or otherwise, be written in a sans serif font, such as Arial or Trebuchet, and that any writing on a blackboard or whiteboard be done with print letters. Cursive or fancy writing may be particularly difficult for those with dyslexia. Besides, the large majority of students will be able to interpret print letters more readily (28).

Finally, "Principle 4: Perceptible Information" deals with clear communication. They make some good points:
Two other applications of principle 4 are using few words in giving directions and presenting information in multiple formats. Just as including too many databases and search strategies can be counterproductive to memory, so can giving detailed instructions that assume a shared knowledge base. Instead, succinct instructions using fewer words provided in sequential order are more effective. Finally, examples of presenting material in multiple formats include using online video clips to illustrate concepts, emphasizing the increasing availability of audio and video content in databases and other electronic resources, and linking multimedia screencasts to Web-based course guides. (29)

It seems that academic librarians spend a lot of time adopting or looking into new technology. Understanding the why's and wherefore's can be useful, and this article begins to address some of these reasons. They also talk about why half to a third of an instruction session should be given for students to practice searching the resources just demonstrated. Students benefit from this opportunity to search, make mistakes, and ask for help from an expert (29).

Consider reading this article and coming back to discuss it here:

Chodock, Ted, and Elizabeth Dolinger. "Applying Universal Design to Information Literacy: Teaching Students Who Learn Differently at Landmark College." Reference & User Services Quarterly 49.1 (Fall 2009): 24-32. Print.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Books in the Library

Most academic libraries buy books. Yes, they often buy lots and lots of books in order to support ongoing research. Depending on the discipline, some fields of study publish more books than others. For example, hundreds of titles get published in English, history, art, philosophy, political science, and so on. Generally speaking, the hard sciences, such as biology, medicine, engineering, mathematics, do not publish quite as many books. These disciplines tend to publish their research findings predominantly in scholarly and peer-reviewed journals.

In many cases, patrons of academic libraries can browse some of the new books in a reading room. (Admittedly, not all new books go onto the "New Books" shelf. Typically, the most attractive or eye-catching titles go on the "New Books" shelf.) Some professors like to view the recent acquisitions in the Library, especially if they have helped with the selection of the titles.

New books can also be browsed online in many library catalogs. Below is a link to a tutorial that shows how to browse new books with the Eli M. Oboler Library's catalog:
New Books in ISU's Oboler Library. Another link to this tutorial can be found on the Eli M. Oboler Library Tutorials site.

The tutorial suggests that students can browse new book titles to discover potential research projects. It seems that deciding on a topic remains one of the biggest problems students face in the research process. If they wait too long, then they will not have enough time to research the topic, they will not become as interested, and they final result may not be quite as polished.

On the other hand, browsing the new books might introduce them to a subject that piques their interest. If they go and check out a new book, then they may only need to go and find a few more sources, thus saving them time. This strategy could save them time, especially if they utilized the list of references (the bibliography) within the book. A simple title search could save time, where a keyword search might take a bit longer. Additionally, like I often express in teaching situations, if they find a "new" book they like, they can go to the shelf where that book will be located after it is no longer "new" and look around to see other books on that same topic, thus expediting the search process even further.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Finding Full-Text Access

Students often come to ask for assistance with their research at the reference desk. One student yesterday wanted to find access to articles within particular journal titles, so I showed him how to use the A-Z Journal List, which can sometimes be a bit cumbersome. As a result I thought it might be helpful for the student if I created a quick Jing tutorial. As it turned out, I ended up creating two tutorials, so I thought I would share.

The first one demonstrates how to use the A-Z Journal list. It also shows how to search within a publication inside the ProQuest Central database.

The second tutorial shows how to use the Resources by Subject pages. These pages point students to databases which will help them with their discipline-specific research.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Phrase and Proximity Searching

Last week on the information literacy and instruction listserv, someone asked about changes to EBSCOhost's search function. When searching for a phrase, she surrounded the phrase with quotation marks: Ex. "reality tv." Results highlighted these words even when they appeared separate from each other. Only results that include the phrase itself will be returned; however, wherever either of the words appear it will be highlighted.

Changes to their software make it so that any terms entered into their search are defaulted as both a phrase and a proximity search. In the past the searcher needed to enter w/5 to specify a proximity search. Now the proximity search takes place simultaneously with the phrase search. Another contributor to the listserv suggested the following kind of search: geoffrey chaucer not "geoffrey chaucer". Within the Academic Search Complete database, 348 results came back today. "geoffrey chaucer" brought back 702 results, but geoffrey chaucer without any quotes returned 1050, the sum of the other two results.

It seems that most searchers rarely use proximity search commands, but in many instances it may yield more relevant results that just a plain keyword search. Personally, the help section on proximity searching contains some cool, though probably arcane search tips. A search for child* w/3 obesity would return results with the words child, children, childhood, etc. within three words of obesity, but child would always come before obesity.

EBSCOhost's help page gives a great example of the near command. tax n5 reform* would bring back results where the words "tax reform" appear as well as "reform of income tax," because they are within five words of each other.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Narrowing Down a Topic

Students must choose a topic before they begin their research. At this stage, students can do many things. Some find it helpful to talk to their friends or family for ideas. They might ask others what they know about a particular topic, which can elicit a wide range of responses. These conversations might even be useful in discovering aspects of the topic which might be useful to avoid or aspects that would narrow the topic to a more manageable size.

Let me echo others. Students should choose a topic that interests them. They will engage more readily with the material, likely spend more time researching and writing, and deliver a more-polished paper to their instructor, who may have delight in reading their final work.

Reference resources, such as encyclopedias, Wikipedia, or CQ Researcher, can also be valuable to students, since they offer basic background information that their instructor may already expect them to know beforehand. Reference articles, like a trusted friend, can identify specific aspects of a topic which might be even more interesting than the general topic. A bibliography or list of references at the end of a reference article can also launch them into their research immediately. At any rate, students should aim for a specific topic, especially if their paper can only be a few pages long.

Creating a concept map, a spider graph, or other brainstorming activities can guide students to discover what interests them the most, as well as make a better decision about how they want to specifically narrow down their topic.

My supervisor has identified three ways in which a researcher can narrow down their topic:
Three Ways to Narrow a Topic
  1. Population
  2. Location
  3. Time

A person interested in the obesity epidemic can narrow down that huge topic by selecting a population group, such as children, teenagers, Generation X, middle-aged, whites, Hispanics, lower income, etc. Likewise, they could also limit even further to a geographic location: rural, urban, a specific state (Idaho, Utah, South Carolina, etc.), or a region (Western U.S., the Midwest, the South, etc.). Last, a time limitation can shrink the scope of the research quickly: last 3-5 years, the 90s, the 19th century, and so on. True, there probably was no obesity epidemic in the 19th century, unless it occurred among the nouveau riche, fat cats, or the robber barons as many called them.

If you are interested in a multimedia screen cast that discusses this same idea of narrowing down a topic, take a look at a Prezi presentation I created not long ago: Narrowing A Topic.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Embedded Librarian: Working in the Course Management System

For the first time, I am working as an embedded librarian this semester. I met the class on the second day they met. I have given them instruction in the Library. Now I am offering assistance with research by monitoring a discussion forum with their course management system (CMS). (We use Moodle.) My first post alerted them to recent multimedia tutorials I had created, as well as some older ones. In checking the forum today, no student had asked me any questions about research or asked for help, so I decided to offer a quick search tip, which appears below; this post.

Students tend to wait until the last few days before an assignment is due, before they really begin their research and writing. When this happens they do not have time to ask for assistance, or they might be embarrassed. Sometimes librarians have gone home for the day or the reference desk has closed already by the time they think to ask for help. Perhaps some of these tutorials and tips can be useful for them, since they can be accessed at any time. As long as they think to look at some of these resources, it could be useful for them.

Like other CMS software programs, Moodle allows the instructor to send a mass email to everyone in the class. Perhaps I should take advantage of this function to alert students to the resources they have available to them. Who know? Maybe they will be appreciative of a reminder to conduct their research and actually get an earlier start on it.

Do you have time-tested techniques for reaching students at their point of need? What do you do?

Tip: Did you know you could expand your results with an asterisk or a question mark? This can be helpful if you need more results.

For example, if I were searching for information on prescription drug abuse, I could "truncate" each word to get more results. Ex: prescri* and drug* and abus*. This tells the database to search for variations of the different words: prescribing, prescribe(s), prescription, drug(s), druggie, abuse(s), abusing, abusive, etc. When your search returns many results, this strategy is not recommended, but when you are getting too few results, then it may be helpful.

Note: the asterisk (*) is the truncation code used in the majority of databases (Ebscohost, LexisNexis, ProQuest, etc.). The question mark (?) serves as the truncation code in the Library catalog. Therefore, pigment? would return records with the following words: pigment(s), pigmented, pigmentation, pigmenting, etc. Truncating back to "pig*" would not be so helpful, since it would return results about "pigs" the animal, about humans acting like pigs, about guinea pigs, about skin pigments, etc. in addition to painting with pigments, etc.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Teaching Undergraduate Students--Attitudes

Before a recent class I asked the students what their instructors do to make their classes more interesting. One student at the back of the class piped up: "They let us out early." Perhaps I should have laughed and joked along, but this answer deflated me a bit and did not seem to help improve my attitude regarding teaching on that day.

Admittedly, in the last month I have felt more pressure and taught more classes, which may have contributed to my too-serious attitude. Yet, classroom experience is not always positive for one reason or another. Following is a list of possible reasons why library instruction sessions may not always be so wonderful:
  • Library instructor is not adequately prepared.

  • Librarian feels overworked = not enough librarians or staff.

  • Library instructor is trying out some new activities or methods.

  • Students evince negative attitudes regarding library instruction.

  • Student(s) have already received instruction in the library and know all there is to know already.

  • Students have not chosen a topic for their research project.

  • Students and/or instructors have not had enough sleep.

  • Class takes place at a time when many are low on blood sugar = lunchtime.

  • Class period occurs when many are drowsy (afternoon) or just waking up for the day.

  • Students do not like reading, researching, and school in general. They may not value education or understand why they are still going to school.

  • Students may only be around to get the degree, rather than learn.

  • Student may be experiencing personal or family problems.

It seems that focusing on the negative really breeds a downward spiral as far as performance and attitude goes. Sometimes I sense negative feelings from individuals in the classroom, and I let it get to me more than I ought to do. What should a teacher do? Should they ignore negative comments? Students can and sometimes do sabotage instruction.

Last weekend I heard someone talking about teaching--that teachers need to have positive attitudes. I needed to hear this, because I had begun to focus on students and all of their perceived faults. While some students may have less than desirable attitudes, that does not mean instruction should suffer. Consider some of the following suggestions to remain positive during the class:
  • Smile. : )

  • Look around the classroom and make eye contact with as many as you can.

  • Move around the classroom. This helps students pay attention more easily and show you are not afraid of them. Don't hide behind a podium or lectern.

  • Insert some appropriate humor periodically.

  • Ask students to explain to their neighbor something you have taught. Let them ask questions afterward.

  • Find a friendly face or two and feed off of their positive energy.

  • Share examples of how the content can be applied to life or various situations.

  • Tell students how the content will be useful to them in their lives. This sounds the same as the previous point, but I believe it's slightly different. Telling students what they will learn at the beginning of class can sometimes be useful--just make sure you teach them what you said you would. Sharing examples throughout the class can make it come alive.

  • Do something you like during the class. If you like music, literature, or sports, maybe you can find opportunities to demonstrate a search on a topic of your interest if that is what you are doing.

Anyway, in my office I have a whiteboard with Post-it notes on it. It adds some variety with the different colors, but that is beside the point. In workshops I have taught on active learning or teaching-related issues, sometimes I like to ask participants to write down descriptors of their favorite teacher. Invariably, one or more participants (usually the majority) says their best instructor was enthusiastic about the material. Sometimes they use the word "passionate" or some other variation of the idea.

Other students will say the teacher that impacted their lives the most cared about them. All instructors, including library instructors, need to remember these things once in a while, especially if they intend to make a difference in student lives. Yes, I definitely need a reminder once in a while.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Tutorials Created with Jing!

Take a look at some tutorials I recently created to help students become familiar with our databases, so they can find articles more easily and know how to take advantage of the search interface as best they can.

Database Features (4:06)

The following tutorial shows the steps Idaho State University students, faculty or staff might take for finding scholarly articles with resources available to them through the Library's resources:

Finding Scholarly Articles at ISU (2:23)

Ever wondered how to narrow down your topic to a more manageable size? Writing on global warming, gun control, abortion, or any other huge issue can be daunting. This tutorial covers some general tips to help narrow down just about any topic, including by population, time, and location/geography. This tutorial used Prezi--The Zooming Presentation free software to create the presentation. Jing allowed me to add audio.

Narrowing a Topic (4:59)

Do you have an opinion about any of these tutorials? Let me know what you like about them and what could be improved.

If you are interested in viewing other tutorials I have created, take a look at my Google Sites page: Eli M. Oboler Library Tutorials.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Activity for Narrowing Down a Topic

Today I participated in a good class discussion about academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and narrowing topics down to a manageable size. I split the class in half, and had one set of groups talk about childhood obesity and how it could be broken down into a smaller topic for a 5-6 page paper. The other half of the class talked about "reality TV," and how it is influencing society. They were a great class to work with.

The whole activity took about ten minutes. In groups of 3-5 they discussed various aspects of the topic to consider how it could be narrowed down from a large, book-sized topic to a more workable essay-sized topic. After five minutes, a scribe wrote down answers from the groups on the board, and I inserted comments and suggested ideas. The scribe divided the board in half and wrote the ideas for obesity on one side and for reality tv on the other.

Then I suggested in general terms, that they can always narrow down a topic by population (a demographic), location (geography), and by time period.

Here are some of the results from the group discussions about narrowing a topic:

Childhood obesity

* parenting
* video games/TV (sedentary lifestyles)
* genetics (it's changing)
* future health
* junk food access/availability

"Reality" TV

* perception of reality
* distracts from life
* jackasses (society getting dumber?) Reminds me of Pinocchio movie where the boys play and do bad things, then they become jackasses.
* demographic influence

Narrowing Down a Topic (suggestions from the librarian)

* demographic = population i.e. age group, race, class, single-parent family, income, etc.
* time = last 5 years, last 10 years, the 90s, 19th century, etc.
* location = city, state, region, country, world--even urban, rural, 3rd world, etc.

For the plagiarism discussion, I used a PowerPoint presentation to drive the discussion. Each slide asked a question:
  • What is academic dishonesty?
  • What is plagiarism?
  • What is common knowledge?
  • How can you avoid plagiarism and academic dishonesty?
  • Where can you go for help?

With each question, students wrote down answers on their own piece of paper. Then they discussed their answers with a neighbor before we talked about each question as a class. This method of active learning seems to yield more participation. It leads me to believe that students will more readily accept what they hear from a peer than from their instructor. Also, students like to test their ideas on each other before sharing them with the instructor and the class as a whole.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Information-Literacy Quotes

On the information-literacy and instruction listserv, several librarians shared the following quotes about the need for information literacy in today's world.
"We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."
by E. O. Wilson from Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
It is not the finding of a thing, but the making of something out of it after it is found that is of consequence.
by James Russell Lowell in My Study Windows
"My guess is about 300 years until computers are as good as, say, your local reference library in doing search," says Craig Silverstein. "But we can make slow and steady progress, and maybe one day we'll get there."
by Craig Silverstein, Google's Director of Technology and Google Employee #1

How important do think information-literacy competency skills are in today's society?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Promoting the Library's Learn Something Quick Workshops

Once I got going, these videos got easier to create. Here's one that highlights our Learn Something Quick workshop series.

What do you think? Did you catch any humor? Does that detract or make the video more digestible? Do you find this appealing or a good learning tool?

Succeed in the Oboler Library

Watch this longer video, which gives more in-depth information about ISU's Eli M. Oboler Library while also trying to mix in a little humor periodically. The characters' voices are machine-automated, so they sound a bit panned, or artificial. The video creator did forget to say that the reference desk is only open until 9:00 p.m. on regular weekdays.

Promoting the Library with Xtranormal Text to Video

I recently discovered Xtranormal Text to Video. It looks like it could be a fun way to promote libraries and information literacy competency skills. They do not charge money for the basic stuff, but if you want more character, actions, and settings, then you do need to pay some money. Check out this quick, introductory video:

Do you think this would be useful? How would you use this free online software? Could it offer good instructional help?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Google Sites Workshop

As part of the Library's Learn Something Quick programming, I taught a basic 15-minute workshop on how to create Google Sites. Following are some of the YouTube links worth looking at:

Introductory Videos
Google Sites Tour: it offers examples for how you might use Google Sites.
Google Sites: Simple, secure group websites: shows how to create the pages, how to allow others to edit the pages, and how to create group websites.
Google Sites #1: Creating a New Site: a series of videos created by individuals from Radford University.
Google Sites #2: How to Edit and Add Media to your Google Site
Google Sites #3: How to Change the Appearance of Your Site
Google Sites #4: How to Share Your Site
Google Site Search: Quick Tour (But you have to pay for this Google search box.)

Why use Google Sites?
  • Develop a pathfinder for a class or a site.
  • Share professional information, including a resume or CV.
  • Share personal or family information. It is possible to limit who sees it by invitation.
  • Research items and interests
  • Class projects
  • Work projects
  • Promoting the an organization or company, such as the Eli M. Oboler Library
  • Promote an event
  • More… Do you know other reasons why people use Google Sites? Please share a comment in the comment box.

Google Sites allows you to...

• Create page
• Edit page
• Site Content
• Privacy
• Site appearance
• Site layout
• Colors and Fonts
• Themes
• Subpages
• Insert: Images
• Links
• Calendar
• Share the site: collaborators, owners, and viewers

Types of Pages:
  • Lists

  • Web page

  • File cabinet

  • Announcements

  • Start Page

Monday, August 30, 2010

Finding Free Images and Clip Art

Today I taught a workshop on finding free photos and clip art as part of our Learn Something Quick series.

Below are some of the websites I highlighted:

Google's Advanced Image Search allows individuals to look for images with varying degrees of copyright restrictions. For example, searches can be limited to images "labeled for reuse," "labeled for commercial reuse," "labeled for reuse with modification," and "labeled for reuse with commercial modification." Naturally, the default to all image searches is the all-inclusive "not filtered by license."

Information-literate individuals understand the legal and ethical issues surrounding information. Google also knows about these sticky concerns. On their Features: Usage Rights page they have included the following information:
Anyone can browse the Web, but usage rights come into play if you're looking for content that you can take and use above and beyond fair use. Site owners can use licenses to indicate if and how content on their sites can be reused.

When looking at photos, keep your eyes open for the licensing information. On the sites listed above, these notices generally appear in a visible spot near the photo.

Cognizance and ability to correctly (read legally here) apply copyright and license information relate to the last information-literacy competency standard, espoused by the Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL). Namely:
Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.

Best wishes as you search for free photos, images, clip art, and other files.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Information Literacy Outcomes

It seems like the following might be appropriate outcomes of for a course intending to teach students how to become information literate. I tried to incorporate Bloom's Taxonomy, so you ought to be able to insert "I" or "I can" before each of the bullets below. The link to Bloom's Taxonomy takes you to a website with the taxonomy, including verbs that you can insert into questions to focus students on develop that level of thinking.

* understand the differences between scholarly and popular sources.
* know how to access scholarly sources.
* describe ways to narrow down a topic in order to write a manageable paper.
* create an annotated bibliography.
* evaluate sources and explain why they are or are not useful for a given purpose, such as arguing a point/thesis in a paper.
* apply criteria for evaluating information sources.
* understand why information needs to be cited.
* explain why some information costs money to access and other information does not. ~ Explain why information is not equal in its quality or demand.
* show how to mold a topic into a research question.
* understand when it may be necessary to seek help from a librarian/information professional.
* identify the differences between a catalog and an index.

What other outcomes would you expect to come out of a semester-long course that incorporated information literacy?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Improving Student Learning in the Information-Literacy Classroom

A few months ago I came across an excellent article:
  • Bowles-Terry, Melissa, Erin Davis, and Wendy Holliday. "'Writing Information Literacy' Revisited: Application of Theory to Practice in the Classroom." Reference & User Services Quarterly 49.3 (Spring 2010): 225-30. Print.

They argue that the information-literacy concept "has been undertheorized in its relationship to writing pedagogy" (225). Rhetoric and composition instructors who envision the Library's utility for them and their students as a single one-shot orientation (or even a single online tutorial) may be found lacking in their understanding of the full capabilities of information-literacy instruction in full collaboration with librarians (225).

Bowles-Terry and company call on librarians to explain and broadcast their contributions to the rhetoric and composition instructors. The authors build their arguments on personal experience as they have collaborated with writing instructors on the Utah State University campus. Not only that, they have learned how valuable "creative learning activities" can be to foster real information-literacy skills that persist.

Student habits of copying and pasting from the "right" resources reflects behavioral theories more espoused in education from the 1950s and 1960s. "On the other hand, constructivist approaches emphasize that the prior knowledge of individual learners shape all information seeking, which is conceptualized as a recursive process, with an emphasis on strategies rather than mechanical procedures and rules" ( 226). This view sees the expert as a guide who is not so didactic but helps beginners practice skills that will help them find the information they need.

In their description of integrating information literacy into the freshmen and sophomore writing classes, they mention their ability to hire five writing instructors who became Information Literacy Fellows, their creation of IL learning goals (226), and their development of Problem-based learning (PBL) projects (227). When implementing newer pedagogy, such as this inquiry- or problem-based learning, they advise that some supports be given, what they call "scaffolds." These might include more access to librarians, class time to work in their groups, and tailored readings, not to mention additional input from the instructor regarding expectations for their research (228).

Permit me to quote extensively from the article, as they expound on the constructivist approach:
Students also need opportunities to reflect upon, write, and talk about their research throughout the process. This helps them to share information with others and practice that difficult task of summary and synthesis. They need to organize, evaluate, and synthesize information not just for their final project but also in classroom conversations and short written assignments throughout their research and writing process. These types of activities can help students assess their information sources on the basis of how specific discourse communities assign value to certain kinds of knowledge and how the information addresses the students' own rhetorical purpose. (228)

Admittedly, not all students accept or eagerly join this inquiry-based approach. Not surprisingly, they become "focused on creating a final product for a grade rather than on their understanding of the problem itself" (228). It seems that this highlights the value of this constructivist approach. Problem-based learning, when done correctly, can promote development of real critical thinking skills by getting the students to work together in teams assess, evaluate, synthesize, and so forth. The other model seems to center on finding a fixed number and type of sources that are thrown together in the right order to fill the specified number of pages (228).

A discussion of evaluation criteria fills a sizable portion of the second half of the article. Many acronyms have been created to facilitate student evaluation of sources, including the memorable CRAAP Test. Bowles-Terry and company criticize these checklists, and others that can be found in many textbooks (writing, rhetoric, and composition ones, for example) elsewhere. They cite Marc Meola who has written about the checklist as a promoter of "a mechanical and algorithmic way of evaluation that is at odds with the higher-level judgment and intuition that we presumably cultivate as part of critical thinking. The checklist gives students the impression that evaluation is mechanistic, enabling them to spit out correct Web-site evaluations given the right input" (229).

Still, today there are many students, instructors, and librarians who continue to follow the traditional patterns, though the authors argue that these "traditional [...] ways" are "sometimes counterproductive" (229).

On a different note, it appears that this article lacks any reference to assessment or outcomes. One sentence encapsulates their assessment efforts: "We evaluated students' reactions to the PBL approach by observing their behavior in class" (227). In order to convince a larger population of librarians and writing instructors, perhaps a look into the literature on assessment of PBL as it relates to information literacy might be productive.

Personally, the list of four IL learning goals in the article, plus the brief, yet explicit, descriptions of the three instruction sessions connected to one of their PBL projects proved to be some of the most appreciated parts of the article, though the discussion of theory offered a quick and useful refresher. Read this well-written article and consider putting into practice what they have already set in motion.

Meola, Marc. "Chucking the Checklist: A Contextual Approach to Teaching Undergraduates Web-Site Evaluation." portal: Libraries and the Academy 4.3 (2004): 331-44.

A Visual Explanation about how Google Works

Have you ever wondered how Google really works? Below is a fun visual explanation that communicates the basics. I discovered this graphic on Peter Godwin and Jo Parker's Information Literacy meets Library 2.0. When I selected the link to the infographic, it would not connect to the proper webpage, saying how it was unavailable within Firefox. Copying the link location into the Google search box helped me find it. Apparently, it was only missing the "h" in the "http" protocol prefix.

I think it's pretty cool how PPCBLOG provides the code for inserting the graphic on your own website:

How Google Works.

Infographic by PPC Blog

Yes, I include the label/tag "index," because that's exactly what Google is--an index, a very, very big index. Like an index finger, they point people to what they want to see, though in some cultures you may be wary in using your index finger to point to things, since it may not be very polite. Fortunately, it still remains a common practice in the U.S.

If you are interested in an explanation about the difference between a catalog and an index, take a look at one of my previous posts.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My creation

My creation
My creation,
originally uploaded by Ref & Ins.
In an effort to promote ISU's Oboler Library, we are considering the possibility of making library trading cards. It seems that this would be a great way to piggyback off of the First Year Seminar scavenger hunt that has been created. One of the questions asks to name two library workers, their positions, and where they work in the Library.

A search for "library trading cards" on Flickr will show you all kinds of different cards that other librarians have created already. Big Huge Labs (a website) allows you to create this style of library trading card for free.

If you have created library cards, please let us know how successful this was. What were your objectives? Did students and patrons get to know you better and then return to ask for assistance? What kind of information did you include on the card?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Academic Blogs

Many professors blog about their research, teaching, and administrative duties, as well as issues they encounter in higher education. The Academic Blogs wiki classifies these academic blogs according to discipline. If you wish to keep up-to-date in your field or to understand what interests others academics, take a look.

Each of the disciplines are represented, i.e. social sciences, humanities, sciences, professional and useful arts, etc.

Have you found a blog that has been particularly useful for you?

Apparently, Salem Press has even given awards to the best library blogs, according to the following categories:
  • General Library Blogs

  • Quirky Library Blogs

  • Academic Library Blogs

  • Public Library Blogs

  • School Library Blogs

Honestly, I often feel overwhelmed with all of the information out there, and I often feel technologically averse, as well as a laggard in adopting new technologies. For example, I still have not developed the habit of using a blog reader to keep up on technologies, news, or information-literacy developments. I still gather information literacy and instruction ideas from the now prosaic (definition: dull; unexciting; lacking in poetic expression, feeling, or imagination; unromantic; commonplace; mundane) listserv. It still works, but it seems that many in my generation have moved on to blogs as a source for professional ideas and so forth.

Admittedly, the only time I see some of the blogs that are of interest to me is when I come to write on my own blog. After logging in, I see new feeds to recent posts from a variety of blogs I have chosen to follow. Though I have an account to Bloglines, I never log in to keep up to date. It might be worthwhile to give it a try again.

By the way, one of the best academic library blogs out there is "In the Library with the Lead Pipe." A team of librarians commit to post regularly to this blog, and they do their homework well, contributing interesting ideas on a variety of topics germane to academic librarianship. It does help to know one of the authors, Kim Leeder, who attends the Idaho Library Association's Annual Conference each year in October.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Assessing Library Instruction

As a librarian I belong to the American Library Association (ALA). The organization makes it easier to connect with other individuals in the profession. While many think of librarians in the generic sense, each librarian fills a different role within the library. For example, the Eli M. Oboler Library has only one electronic resources librarian, though she also has reference, instruction, and collection development duties. (Yes, variety remains one of the positive aspects of librarianship.)

So what do you do if you have a question or problem that none of your immediate colleagues can answer? Well, that's part of the beauty of ALA. Many others in similar positions around the country (even the world) willingly share their expertise with fellow, like-minded librarians. Last week I wanted to know how to assess my colleagues and their library instruction, so I sent out an email to other instruction librarians, including many coordinators of instruction.

The Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL) manages a number of listservs. One of these, the information literacy and instruction listserv (ili-l), devotes itself to instruction and info-lit issues. We talk about teaching in libraries, developing information-literacy skills, and so forth. A fair number of librarians responded to my question about assessing library instruction, so I created a Google Site to summarize their responses.

With so many libraries scattered throughout the country, ALA is huge, and so is ACRL. Library school seems like a good time to consider which nook within the larger library umbrella you wish to make a name for yourself. More and more young librarians seem to be entering the academic libraries as instruction and reference librarians. ACRL's Instruction Section can be quite supportive of instruction librarians, depending on your level of involvement.

If you are searching for academic library reference and instruction job positions the ili-l listserv frequently sends out job postings. To learn how to sign up for the listserv/discussion list, go to this link.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Using Technology in the Information-Literacy Classroom

Last week I found a link to Adam Bellow's "Library 2.0 Presentation." I discovered many new technology websites and was motivated to explore some that I had only heard about. He shared this presentation in New York in the month of February if I remember correctly.

So many search engines exist out there, and sometimes it can be enlightening for individuals to learn about a few alternatives to the super popular Google. They have evolved and become fancier with visual results, though some of them appear to be more for fun than for searching. Take a look at some of the following:
  • RedZ: Shows thumbnail images of half a dozen websites, so you can preview the source before you select it.

  • Search Cube: Images related to your search appear in a cube.

  • DoodleBuzz: Enter search terms, then doodle with your mouse. Results appear along the line you draw for an interesting visual map, though it does not seem to let you click on a title and jump to that website. I suppose that if you can save one of these visual search results it might go well with a report or presentation.

  • WolframAlpha: Computational Knowledge Enginge: Of all the new search engines I looked at this one got me the most excited. While it did not have fun pictures culled from Flickr (see Tag Galaxy), it did display one single page (read clean and uncluttered here) with a list of factual information about the item in question. The site includes examples of questions or queries, so it focuses on answering mathematical problems, but it does provide general information also. Examples: how many teaspoons in a cup, distance to the sun, height of Mount Fuji, facts about Pocatello, number of acres in a square mile, December 7, 1941 (tells you day of the week, phase of the moon, day of the year, and more about that specific date), etc.

    On their About page they describe their goals: "Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything."

  • Tag Galaxy: Narrow down image results by clicking on planets. When you want to view results, select the sun/star around which the planets/satellites revolve. These images are pulled from the popular photo sharing site,

The following sites are not so much search engines, but Web2.0 sites that invite participation or creativity:

  • Trailfire: This site allows you to create a pathfinder or a "trail" as they call it to important sites on the web.

  • It allows you to save sites in a visual manner and create your own online desktop with tabs if you wish.

  • Animoto: Create a video with your own images or film clips, then add text and music to spice up the video.

  • Flixtime: Lets you create and customize videos from your own photos and videos.

  • Glogster: Design, create, and publish your own digital poster.

  • Screentoaster: Record a screencast. Share and stream videos. Record what you are doing on the internet.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More screencasting software available

Patrick Griffis wrote an article that highlights a few free screencasting software that would be helpful for librarians who create quick tutorials. First he talks about Jing, which I have discussed in a previous post. Then he introduces Trailfire, Wink, and Slideshare. These all offer ways of sharing screenshots or presentations, and possibly even adding audio at the same time.

Take a look at them, and let me know what you think of them.

Graffis, Patrick. "Building Pathfinders with Free Screen Capture Tools." Information Technology and Libraries 28.4 (December 2009): 189-90.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Retaining the Learning

Do you ever worry that students do not remember the things they learned or should have learned in the library instruction classroom? Students tend to forget the instruction, especially if they do not apply it immediately and/or a few times on their own shortly afterward. Eric Frierson, from the University of Texas at Arlington, address this issue in an article titled: "Unforgettable Instruction: Designing Learning Experiences that Stick."

He argues this for learning to stay with the student, there need to be connections of the content to their own daily lives. "Our ability to recall is directly linked to how well that concept is connected with other concepts in our minds" (8). This makes a lot of sense. It reminds of an analogy or comparison another librarian at Utah Valley University uses. He compares database searching to fishing. Sometimes you have to try different baits to get the fish you want. Likewise, in doing research, we need to try different things and be patient. We may not find exactly what we want on our first cast.

In his article, Frierson suggests that librarians try using the ESP Game. At the beginning of a library instruction session, this might be particularly helpful in getting students to connect their own experience with the library experience. The ESP Game uploads a digital photograph (perhaps from Flickr) and asks that you enter words that describe that photo. Another person on the internet looks at the photo simultaneously and enters descriptors as well. When each of you enter the same word, you get points, and you move on to the next photo.

Designers of the game have thrown in a few wrinkles to make the game more challenging. Occasionally, the photo appears with a few taboo words that you may not enter, so you have to guess what your partner is thinking besides some of the most obvious words, which are prohibited. Frierson asks students to "shout out words for me to type. Inevitably, we'll get stuck on a picture--they'll be calling out word after word, but we'll be unable to move forward because we can't figure out what our partner is typing and match his description before he indicates he wants to 'pass' on the picture. This is a frustrating experience for students!" (9).

From this point, Frierson asks the question: "Why weren't we able to move forward?" An interesting discussion ensues, but Frierson asserts that students "answer in a variety of ways, tapping into their prior knowledge" (9). If someone lives in a different country, perhaps they use different words (truck vs. lorry or apartment vs. flat). Similarly, English speakers in other countries spell words differently. It could be as simple as understanding the idea that the other person concentrated on different things in the image (9). They could be thinking more abstractly, and we could be thinking more concretely.

After such a discussion, Frierson urges librarians to tie this exercise into the search process. He even asks the students how they would have done if they had only entered a single word for each image. They get the point that they would not have succeeded very well. Students can begin considering how authors think of a given topic. Which words would a specialist use when describing a disease? Frierson writes: "As they activate this prior knowledge you can then introduce new ideas to connect to it: the search mechanisms of databases" (9).

Frierson concedes that this activity may take as long as ten minutes, but it may create more mental connections for the students, thereby increasing the probability that they may remember the search tips you want them to learn.

Frierson, Eric. "Unforgettable Instruction: Designing Learning Experiences that Stick." LOEX QUARTERLY 36.3 (Fall 2009): 8-10.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Active-Learning Presentation

Tomorrow I will be giving an active-learning presentation to librarians at Utah Valley University in Orem, UT. I have been updating and revising previous presentations along these lines. On my Google Sites page you can find some of these materials.

I anticipate that there will be lots of discussion. Librarians like to talk it seems. If you look at or want to use my presentations, please let me know and attribute me accordingly.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Favorite Teacher

Anyone who teaches for any length of time will certainly have there ups and downs along the way. How do you remain positive in the face of real challenges? Librarians, for better or worse, do not get to see students every day, so they do not get to see the progress or lack thereof of the students in the learning process. This may be changing as more librarians are becoming embedded in classes and help to grade research-related assignments. This models appears to have great potential for increasing students' information-literacy competencies.

To get excited about teaching, it may help to attend a teaching and learning workshop. Additionally, teachers may benefit from thinking about their favorite teacher. Why did they like that particular teacher? Which attributes did they exhibit?

Today I practiced a presentation and asked two groups of participants to describe their favorite teachers. Here are some of their responses:
  • Cute

  • Variety: in teaching methods

  • Surprising

  • Demanding high standards

  • Meaningful, relevant assignments

  • Funny or has a sense of humor = noted by both groups

  • Knowledgeable = noted by both groups

  • Interesting or off beat = noted by both groups

  • Intelligent or smart = noted by both groups

  • Interactive

  • Passionate and/or enthusiastic

  • Manages time effectively

  • Organized = well prepared

  • Caring

  • Encouraging

What kind of teachers do we want to be? Are we embodying the teaching qualities that we admire in others? What can we do as librarians to help students become information literate?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oboler Library Room 212

Jardines in 2010 029
Jardines in 2010 029,
originally uploaded by Ref & Ins.
We have two instruction rooms in our Library. One has 26 computer workstations that allow for hands-on practice and live demonstration (we have Vision software that allows us to broadcast what we are doing at the instructor's station to all the other stations). It has a projector, screen, whiteboard, moveable blackboard, bulletin boards, handout cupboard, and ELMO. These have all been useful for instruction. This room (#212) gets used the most for instruction, because librarians like to let students practice and develop their searching and accessing skills.

Take a look in Flickr to see the photostream with more photos of our instruction rooms.

Oboler Library Room 266

Jardines in 2010 035
Jardines in 2010 035,
originally uploaded by Ref & Ins.
This instruction room (#266) has an instructor station, projector, screen, whiteboard, a big-screen TV, tables, and chairs that seat a little over 30 individuals. It's more of a lecture room, but we have also used it for teleconferences (College of DuPage). We do have a piece of art work or two in each classroom as well.

We like having two instruction rooms; it allows for more flexibility as far as library instruction and scheduling goes. It also doubles as a meeting room for librarians and for a presentation room when vendors come and want to show us their products.

Friday, April 23, 2010

ACRL Information-Literacy Competency Standards

Academic librarians love to talk about instruction and reference. We like talking about students as well. Today we had ten librarians attend our monthly instruction meeting, which is about two-thirds of the total number of librarians who give instruction in our library. For the bulk of the meeting we talked about information-literacy skills. After a quick review of the information-literacy competencies, we ranked them, giving a rank of one (1) to the competency we felt students have mastered best and a seven (7) to the one for which they may have the least ability. Granted, this was just a survey on the perceptions of our librarians, but it sure generated some good discussion.

ACRL’s Information Literacy Standards
  1. Determine the extent of information needed

  2. Access the needed information effectively and efficiently

  3. Evaluate information & its sources critically

  4. Incorporate selected information into one’s own knowledge base

  5. Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose

  6. Understand the economic, social, & legal issues surrounding the use of information

  7. Access and use information ethically & legally

We had junior and senior undergraduates in mind for this survey. The rankings seemed to be all over the place without too much consensus. The only two standards that a majority seemed to agree upon were the last two. Eight of the nine ranked Standard #6 a six (6) or a seven (7). We tallied the rankings, so the rank each received added up for points toward that standard. Like golf, the lowest point total wins as the standard our librarians considered that students had mastered the best. Here are some of the results:
  1. Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose = 24 points (ACRL Standard 5)

  2. Determine the extent of information needed = 26 points (ACRL Standard 1)

  3. Access the needed information effectively and efficiently = 27 points (ACRL Standard 2)

  4. Incorporate selected information into one’s own knowledge base = 31 points (ACRL Standard 4)

  5. Evaluate information & its sources critically = 39 points (ACRL Standard 3)

  6. Access and use information ethically & legally = 47 points (ACRL Standard 7)

  7. Understand the economic, social, & legal issues surrounding the use of information = 52 (ACRL Standard 6)

Of course, at least one librarian filled the "maverick" or "outlier" role by ranking Standard 6 number one (1). This same librarian may have been the one who ranked Standard 7 dead last with a seven (7). This "maverick" librarian may have been the one who was grading student papers last night, or perhaps she was grading bibliographies, which certainly indicates that librarians' perceptions may certainly differ from instructors' perceptions, who assess student work and work with students through the whole process.

Following this ranking exercise, the handout asked us to identify which standard or competency that students believe they have mastered more than the others. A unanimous vote for Standard number two (2). Librarians perceive that students think they are excellent searchers. A Google mindset means that they think they can find anything and everything when provided a search box or a browser at least.

When asked which standard we as librarians feel we address the best in our instruction sessions, we responded with Standard 2. We mainly focus on accessing the information, including demonstrating the mechanics of our catalog and databases. With only 50 minutes we must show them where to go in order to find the articles or books for their research project.

Idaho State University librarians (at least the two-thirds in attendance today), maintained that focusing on accessing information efficiently and effectively, as well as evaluating information and its sources critically (Standards 2 & 3), should continue to be emphasized during library instruction sessions.

View the PowerPoint presentation (ACRL Info Lit Standards) from the instruction meeting, which includes the results of the voting. My Slideshare account provides access to other presentations as well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Facilities as Recruiting Points

A week or two ago I learned about a study that discovered the importance of facilities in recruiting prospective college students to campus. I needed that information again today, so I thought I'd share it with other in case they had not heard about it already:

The Impact of Facilities on Recruitment and Retention of Students
by David Cain, Ph.D. & Gary L. Reynolds, P.E.

Yesterday I attended a workshop on creating an emergency survival kit for the workplace, and the presenter happened to be one of our campus recruiters for the College of Technology. In fact one of his other recruiting colleagues also attended. As the Coordinator of Instruction I am also involved with outreach and coordinate tours and instruction for students in local high schools. Anyway, I thought to share one of our promotional brochures on the Library with him and all the other campus recruiters, reminding them not to forget about the Library in their conversations with prospective college students. Additionally, I invited them to work with me to schedule tours of the Library. Student opinions of the Library can influence their enrollment decisions as suggested in the above-mentioned article.

It interests me that attending a workshop introduced me to new people who gave me some new information and ideas on how I can help recruit college students, plus some tips on emergency kit items.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

English 101 Class

So I have been teaching students in the library one-shot sessions for close to three years now, but I still get nervous. Preparation for this class began two or three weeks ago, but I still felt like I was scrambling to get ready. Last week I sent a tentative outline with some tentative worksheets to the instructor. He asked if this would include/allow for a "quick tour." Then I looked at his request a bit more closely and saw that he did ask for an introduction to the Library's resources, so a tour made sense, though I wonder if librarians know how to give a "quick tour." We love libraries, so where do we stop?

As with other classes, I asked for a list of student topics. Instead, the instructor gave me access to his Moodle course, which allowed me to go see students' posts within a class forum. This proved to be very useful. With the topics I chose one that allowed me to find a resource on three of our four floors (apparently there are not many books on human genetic engineering in our Special Collection = basement). With call numbers in hand, we went straight to the spot on the shelves where the resources could be found. This emphasized that items with call numbers can be found on all floors of the Library, so researchers to pay attention to the "Library Location" within the catalog.

Once we found and discussed the book a bit, I had students read previously printed questions, which just happened to be color coded. Students with a blue question read it aloud on the 3rd floor before I answered it. It did tax my memory to remember which floor went with which color; perhaps I should have written it out on my outline, which I did take with me. This livened up the tour a bit, and it even solicited a few extemporaneous questions. Many refer to this as the Cephalonian Method.

Admittedly, the tour was not so quick as I wished it would have been, but the instructor commented that he had never had one of classes take a tour, but he was glad we did it today. He thought that the questions would be used after my spiel, sort of as a review exercise, but he said that this actually worked better having students ask questions. It seems that students become owners of their questions, they get to hear someone else's voice, and they tend to pay a bit more attention.

Ideally, it works even better if you can insert a couple humorous questions, anecdotes, or bits of information on the tour. If you have any examples, please share. My tour spiel could use some improvement. I did not tell them everything I know about the Library, which is always tempting, but students do not remember it all anyway. It's good to emphasize to them to come ask us for help in case they do forget stuff.

During the class we also talked about the research process and looked up materials in our Library catalog, so this seemed to be a good course to follow for an English 101 class. The active-learning, Cephalonian exercise contributed to make the class a bit better.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Need a DOI?

No, this is not a post on driving over the influence, nor under it, either. Rather, this is about finding a digital object identifier (DOI). The International DOI Foundation gives the following definition: "A DOI® (Digital Object Identifier) is a name (not a location) for an entity on digital networks. It provides a system for persistent and actionable identification and interoperable exchange of managed information on digital networks."

Some associations, such as APA and AMA, have begun to ask for DOIs in their bibliographic references and include instructions within their published citation style manuals.

What happens if you cannot find the DOI? Fortunately, many databases provide the DOI as part of the full citation of the articles they index. Nevertheless, there may be times when the DOI cannot be located. has created a query page that allows individuals to input elements of their citation into blank fields before clicking the search button to find the answer. Actually, they provide three different search options:

  • Bibliographic Metadata Search: enter as many individual elements of an article, book, or conference proceeding citation. Note: select the radio button next to Book/Conference proceeding if that is what you seek.

  • Search an Article Title: use this one if all you have is the article title. Knowing the author's name may reduce results.

  • Automatic Parsing of a Normal Reference: enter the text for a bibliographic record. It lets you search for multiple DOIs if you enter multiple bibliographic references.

So if this post influences you to use to find DOIs, then you might just be driving [the internet] under the influence (DUI).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Using Google Sites as Library Guides

Idaho State University stopped using a webmail service back in October 2009 and switched to Google Apps. I have migrated completely from the Microsoft Outlook to exclusive usage of the Google Apps. It has many advantages, though many of my colleagues may argue otherwise. They have stayed with Microsoft Outlook, preferring its system of folders, which is an advantage in many instances. Today's news says that 25 million people use Google Apps.

I like the greater capacity to collaborate with the Google Apps. It seems to be easier to share calendars, share documents, collaborate on websites, etc. Google Sites in particular makes it easy to create webpages. True, they may not function as well as LibGuide's product; however, the price tag, or lack thereof, really makes Google Sites more of a realistic option in today's down economy.

As part of my duties, I teach lots of different classes and have created handouts for many of them. Unfortunately, some students will discard them immediately after the class, so rather than print handouts that may get wasted it may make a bit more sense to create websites and include digital copies of the handouts and worksheets that they can print or use digitally themselves.

Here are some of the Google Sites I have created thus far:

Let me know what you think of them and please share any suggestions for improving them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Information Literacy: A Practical, Everday Skill

About a month ago, a friend of mine invited me to join him in a triathlon. That sounded like a good idea, so the next morning I got up early and went to the gym to swim. Of course, I was pathetic, which did not surprise me. My swimming skill at the time was more on the level of a beginner than an intermediate. Another friend saw me swimming and invited me to train with him for this triathlon, which I gratefully accepted.

From the beginning he talked about how difficult swimming had been when he had first started a year earlier. He also mentioned that he had gone onto YouTube to learn more about swimming techniques, how useful that had really been, and even supplying some basic keywords for the search.

Now I had heard that YouTube had become more of a reference resource, but I just have not used it much for anything more than entertainment or library-related videos. Like many online search engines, when I began typing in "swimming technique" it supplied with numerous other search options, such "swimming technique freestyle," "swimming technique butterfly," "swimming technique for beginners," "swimming technique breathing," etc.

One thing I really like about these videos is that they automatically include captions, which is really nice for catching all that the "instructor" says. The audio is not always the best, considering that many of the YouTube videos are created by amateur cinematographers.

Like other social networking sites, you may add your own comments to critique or praise the video. As a beginner, I have enjoyed some of the following videos on the subject of swimming technique as found in my Delicious account under the tag "swimming."

By the way, several people think I'm crazy for wanting to compete in a triathlon; they believe I need to start practice the word "No." We have even had some mini-workshops on this skill in our core reference meetings. : )