Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

December 1, 2015

Fun with the Internet, Library Style

I’ve been exploring some of the tools Phil Bradley shared in his “What Phil Has Found” presentation from Internet Librarian 2015. I thought I’d share a few thoughts about some of these tools.

Some of these I already knew about (DuckDuckGo, Paper.li), some I have no need for, and some were apps or Chrome extensions and I’m on the reference computer. But a few of them really stood out to me, either for their incredible usefulness, or because they missed the mark.

First, on the subject of meta-search. I think there is something wrong with me, or un-librarian of me, that I don’t really like meta-search engines. Generally speaking, most of the search engines are going to give me pretty much the same results unless I’m really using a lot of complex search strategizing. And the way most meta-search engines present results tends to be either one-at-a-time click-on-each-logo or a blanket here-are-the-top-five-results-from-each (and they are all the same). So I’m maybe not the best person to judge this category, but I was generally unimpressed with these. If someone wants to explain to me why meta-search engines are a wonderful thing, go for it, I’m willing to listen.

Second, y’all, can we talk about Charactour.com? First impression – OMG, this is super-fun! Second impression – where are all the book characters? Seriously, they need some librarians on their team, or maybe a spinoff website for readers. But yeah, this was fun. Apparently, I’m the Wesley of my friends. I can live with that.

Third, and I’m sure plenty of librarians will disagree with me here, but I LOVE RefMe.com! I think everyone should use it. But then, I also think that learning how to cite is far, far less important to college students than understanding when and why to cite. I will definitely be recommending this to students.

Finally, I have to say a word about Hshtags. I was so excited when I saw this on the list. And then I tried it. Sigh. Hashtags make me feel like the dorky kid hovering around the cool kids, but not quite fitting in. I don’t have a hashtag I need to track. I want to know what hashtags are out there already being used. Someone give me a search engine that lets me search a topic or phrase and find out what hashtags are already out there for it and which one is preferred. Where I can search for “library jobs” and find #alattjob (and the dozens of other library job related hashtags), and see which ones are being used the most. Why doesn’t this exist yet? Or does it exist and I just don’t know about it? Anyone? Please?

October 16, 2015

We Talk the Talk, but Do We Walk the Walk?

Is it just me, or does it feel like, in practice, our focus as librarians is overwhelmingly on the mechanics of information literacy rather than on the big picture? Let me define what I mean when I say “mechanics” and “big picture.” The mechanics is the how-to stuff: Boolean, database search limiters, proximity searching, the tell-tale signs of a scholarly source vs. a non-scholarly source. The big picture is the critical thinking, evaluation, and ethics stuff. Put another way, the mechanics is concepts one and two of the old ACRL Information Literacy Standards. The big picture stuff is all the rest of it, and pretty much all of the new ACRL Information Literacy Framework.

Without being too anecdotal (read: leaving my workplace out of this), I’m struck that librarians are very territorial about these mechanical things. If someone in the writing center or tutoring center dares to teach a student about using search limiters in a library database, we cry foul. “That’s our domain!” we shout, “Stop encroaching on us! You can’t do it right! We’re trained in this!” As if only someone with an MLS can navigate the complexities of EBSCOhost. This seems petty to me. In this age of the flipped classroom, can’t all these mechanics safely be left to someone else so that we can focus our attention on those higher level concepts?

In addition, we need to realize that we’re not the only ones on campus who think information literacy is important. Those folks in the writing center? They have a stake in this too. As do the faculty members teaching the classes. And yet, according to a very interesting Dissertation by Grace Veach at the University of South Florida, librarians think that four out of the five original info lit standards outlined by ACRL should be taught by librarians, not writing faculty (see figure 13, page 79 of that study).

So here we are, focusing most of our attention on standard 2 (the mechanics), and getting upset whenever anyone else on campus tries to teach the mechanics, yet ostensibly thinking that we should have responsibility for all of information literacy instruction except for teaching the purposeful use of information. And then along come these complex new Information Literacy Framework concepts. Where does that leave us?

I don’t know the answer to that. And frankly, I’ve been brooding over this post for days, trying to make it sound less angry, less confrontational, and more coherent, and I’m ready to let go and send it out into the ether. So I apologize for coming off angry, confrontational, and/or incoherent. That’s just the kind of week this has been.

November 19, 2012

Miscellaneous Updates

I’m once again embarrassingly behind on posting to this blog. I’ve just been looking back at previous posts and want to update a few things. First off, we solved one of the obstacles I mentioned in “My Biggest Fear” by purchasing a home. Our mortgage is significantly lower than what we were paying in rent, which leaves me a little bit of wiggle room so I can swing a membership or a conference or something next year. Second, my proposal (mentioned in the post on eBooks) was accepted and I spoke at the LIBRIS conference in South Carolina in March of 2012 on the problem of eBooks in libraries. Finally, our baby boy was born in July 2012. He’s had a few health issues, but he’s doing better now and we’re looking forward to his first Thanksgiving and Christmas!

April 30, 2011

Hello (again) World!

I’ve tried this blogging thing a couple of times in the past with little success. Lately, though, I’m finding myself frequently thinking “if I had a blog, I’d blog about that!” So I’m back. Maybe this time it’ll stick.

Primarily, I want this blog to be a chronicle of my attempt at a career shift. I currently work in a public service position in a library, but in the last five years I’ve become more and more interested in digital libraries, digital preservation issues, metadata, and the semantic web. With no money to go back to school, I’m left floundering in the sea we know as “too much information.” I don’t really know where to begin my new self-education, but I’m determined to figure it out. I’ve found a few syllabi, RSS’ed some blogs, and ordered a couple of introductory textbooks via interlibrary loan. I’m also trying to figure out which professional organizations would be most useful for someone who with little concrete knowledge and limited funds, but with lots of enthusiasm, so if anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

From time to time I’ll probably blog about what’s going on in my current public service existence as well. And as I update and get a hold on my e-life, I’ll blog about that too. I’m excited about this! Maybe someday I’ll have readers who will be excited for me too!

November 7, 2008

Enough already!

I’m finding myself increasingly frustrated with the ignorance of the students at my 2-year college. And please understand, I’m not specifically picking on my college, because I’ve been doing some research and find that as far back as 1998 Tagg, et al. were prefacing their article “The Decline of the Knowledge Factory” (The World & I, June 1998) with this: “At a time when high schools cannot persuasively claim to produce even literate graduates, we focus our hopes for the educated person on colleges and universities.” (emphasis mine). And yes, I know that this is not a properly formatted MLA citation, but who cares? I’ve given you all the information you need to find that article if you choose to do so.

Students come to me with sample papers given to them by their professors. Presumably, the professors are giving these out so that the students will read them and understand what a good, quality paper looks like. See how are the arguments formulated? See how the author supports his thesis? See that the author, in fact, has a thesis? No, they don’t see this. They see that their margins are supposed to be 1″ and that they are somehow expected to put their name and page numbers at the top of each page, and that their professor has required them to cite two sources, so they are going to write their papers and then throw in a couple of quotes for good measure.

What if instead of focusing on the minute differences between APA and MLA citation styles, why don’t we teach our students how to think? How to argue effectively? How to communicate their ideas effectively and convincingly to others? Is this too much to ask? Because that is what they will need when they go out into the world of grown-ups. No one is going to care if they italicized or underlined a title, but people will care whether or not they can get their point across. That’s what we need to be teaching them.