Saturday, August 3, 2013

Web-based Polling in Library Instruction

Jared Hoppenfeld's article "Keeping students engaged with web-based polling in the library instruction session" introduces web-polling as a means to promote student engagement.  His literature review covers several areas, such as the main constituents of library instruction in academic libraries--Millennials, active learning, Audience Response Systems and web-based polling, as well as mobile technologies.  Indeed, he has provided a thorough overview of the topic, bringing to light some web-based polling sites I was not aware of previously: Text the Mob and SMS Poll

Of more particular interest to me, he offers suggestions on types of questions that a library instructor might ask during a typical library instruction session.  Hoppenfeld starts with an icebreaker, such as "How happy are you that college football season is here?"  If the class takes place closer to Valentine's Day he might ask about profits related to chocolate sales (243).  This signals to students that the class will not be a regular library lecture class, and it also introduces them to the polling software.

Hoppenfeld's second set of questions deals more with student knowledge.  Where are they coming from?  What have they tried when conducting research?  He may ask where they might discover a journal article, in a catalog or in a database.  "An open-ended poll is also used to find out what resources the students have previously used for their research" (243).  This offers an opportunity to discuss what they have tried and explain why they would want to take advantage of the library resources.  What are the pros and cons of searching Google, Wikipedia, or


Monday, April 1, 2013

Information Literacy Courses at Idaho State University

            The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) defines information literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.’”[1]  Over the last decade the Oboler Library has advocated for and educated individuals across the ISU campus about information literacy.  ISU librarians used to teach a two-credit library research course that helped students earn a certificate as media specialists or school librarians.  The College of Education sponsored this certification program; however, with the retirement of one of the professors in that college, the program died.
            Since that time, librarians have promoted information literacy in workshops and presentations.  Library representatives on campus committees have also explained and advocated the importance of information literacy in today’s information-rich society.  The foundation they laid prepared faculty for the course proposals put forth in recent years.  Therefore, Curriculum Council accepted a proposal in Fall 2011 to create a one-credit course titled LLIB/ACAD 1115: Information Research.  This change first appeared in ISU’s Undergraduate Catalog: 2012-2013.  However, students first enrolled in the course during the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters, taking it as an experimental course.  The Student Success Center assisted the Library to ensure the class appeared on the class schedule that first year, and the course was cross-listed as an ACAD and LLIB course with the experimental number designation 1199.
            Initially, the class met twice a week during the second block of eight-week classes.  This changed in Fall 2012, and the students attended class once a week for sixteen weeks.  It seems that student success increased with these changes due to the fact that the work spread out over a longer period, rather than loaded into eight weeks when students tend to be the busiest at the end of the semester.
            LLIB/ACAD 1115 seeks to help students accomplish the following objectives:
  • Identify sources of academic, popular, and professional research
  • Show evidence that you can select relevant and credible sources in support of a research question
  • Summarize, interpret, and analyze sources
  • Document sources in an accepted style format
  • Navigate search engines, article databases, and library catalogs to find relevant sources
  • Demonstrate an ability to distinguish between primary and secondary sources
            Assignments every two weeks require that students find a specific type of source, like a reference article, a book, a scholarly article, a newspaper article, etc.  They must explain how they found the source, summarize it, and evaluate its credibility.  Completion of these assignments prepares them to create an annotated bibliography, which is the final project of the course.  In-class activities also get students on track to complete the bi-weekly assignments.  Students who have completed the course often say that this course should be required for all students or that they wished they had taken the course as freshmen, because it would have been very helpful.
            Library faculty believed this course would be beneficial for all students.  Consequently, they put forth a proposal to change the course to a three-credit course and for the course to be considered as an option to fulfill a general education requirement for undergraduate students.  In recent years the General Education Requirements Committee (GERC) had drafted a revision of the requirements (, and information literacy appeared as one of the new objectives.  Beginning in Fall 2013, incoming students must meet either the critical thinking or information literacy objective.  LLIB 1115: Introduction to Information Research will be a course that fulfills the information literacy objective, since the Curriculum Council and GERC both approved the necessary proposals. 
            LLIB 1115: Introduction to Information Research will be taught in Fall 2013 as a three-credit course with the following objectives:
  • Determine the nature and extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base and value system
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally
            These objectives were adapted by the University and Library from the ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.
            Currently, the Library plans to teach five sections of LLIB 1115 with one section being taught entirely online in an asynchronous format where students will complete assignments independently and view course materials and recorded presentations online.  The other four sections will meet on the Pocatello campus in computer laboratories to accommodate the hands-on nature of the course instruction and assignments.  Oboler Library faculty look forward to this new endeavor and are working to make this course a valuable one that will contribute to future student success.

[1] Association of College and Research Libraries.  Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.”  Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, ACRL, 2013. Web.  27 February 2013.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The U.S. Congressional Serial Set

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Recently Oboler Library was able to purchase the Archive of Americana database from Readex.  The majority of the content of this database is the U.S. Congressional Serial Set which contains documents and reports of the United States Congress beginning with the 15th Congress in 1817 to the 103rd Congress in 1994.  The documents of the first fourteen Congresses are collected in what is known as the American State Papers.  These are also collected in the Archive of Americana and can be searched separately or together with the Serial Set.

Each of the documents that is included in the Serial Set is consecutively numbered within each Congress and within each type of document.  The documents are House and Senate Documents, House and Senate Reports, and Senate Executive Reports and Documents and Senate Treaty Documents.

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The basic material in the Serial Set are the reports for the House and Senate that are written for the various committees to accompany legislation as it passes through Congress.  Also included in the Serial Set are any documents that Congress orders to be printed as well as treaties and reports of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations  that deal with treaties and of various committees that deal with nominations.  

In the early years many Executive Branch departments’ publications were also included in the Set.  In the 19th and early 20th century you will find, for example, annual reports of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Geological Survey, and the Department of War as well as other departments.    The Official Record of the War of the Rebellion of both the Army and Navy were originally printed as part of the Serial Set.  Bulletins of the Bureau of Ethnology and the Geological Survey which encompass much early research, especially of the American West, were included in the Serial Set.  Reports of the original surveys of the West by Hayden, Fremont, and Powell were recorded in the Serial Set.
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Though not usually part of the Serial Set, when ordered by Congress to be included, you will find hearings such as those conducted to investigate the sinking of the Titanic and reports of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.  Within the Serial Set can be found documents on such various topics as the building of the western railroads, impeachments, and rearing silk worms.  Almost any topic you can think of is covered in the Serial Set and it is a valuable resource for more than just the History or Political Science departments.  The Serial Set contains information for the social sciences as well as the health sciences and many others.

While Oboler Library has many of these volumes in the Government Documents collection, the acquisition of this valuable database provides access online in searchable full text to the complete collection.  Many of the physical volumes that the Library owns are extremely fragile and many were available only in microcard or microfiche formats.  

U.S. Congressional Serial Set, Wisconsin Historical Society (Emma Schroeder 2008)

Guest post authored by Beth Downing, Government Documents Librarian at Idaho State University.

Friday, January 4, 2013

About Article on Finding Legitimate Scholarships

Students wanting to attend college can look for scholarships to fund their education.  There are many legitimate scholarships available; however, many scholarship offers deceive individuals into sharing personal information or sending them money.  Allen Grove writes a good article on avoiding such scams on  Titled "Scholarship Scams: 10 Signs that a Scholarship Isn't Legitimate" it emphasizes the importance of not sharing credit card information, sending money, giving personal information, and believing claims that sound too good to be true.  In most cases they really are too good to be true.  Avoid clicking on those links.

I liked this article, because it calls on individuals to be critical thinkers and develop their information-literacy skills.  Remember to evaluate the information you find.  Increasing its own credibility, the article identifies an author with a link to his credentials.  The easy road may consist of accepting information uncritically in life.  Be careful of taking that road.  Who knows where it may lead you.

"Sunrise on the Great Alpine Road." or Français: "L'aube se lève sur la Great Alpine Road, dans le Victora (Australie)." by Flagstaffotos
 Are you still baffled about how to find real scholarships?  It will require some work and searching, but the article listed at least four websites worth looking at in order to find potentially applicable scholarships.