Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Shopping Guide!

Image from Flickr

Just a quick post directing my numerous readers to the holiday shopping guide I co-wrote with fellow librarian Joyce Garzynski.

Feel free to take a gander and good luck getting your last minute shopping done!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is an "emerging leader"?

The ALA Emerging Leaders program has recently announce the class of 2012.  I am happy to be a part of the upcoming cohort.  The program meets officially twice, once at ALA Midwinter and again at ALA Annual (Dallas and Anaheim respectively). We'll be placed into groups to work on a variety of projects, gain some insight to the structure of ALA and hopefully emerge with some leadership skills.

The phrase "emerging leader" and the topic of leadership in general has been on my mind.  Leadership programs are something I have grown up with.  My earliest memories from elementary school revolved around being placed in an advanced program to work on projects focused on building our leadership skills.  I did not think of them that way of course, I was just happy to be learning how to program Lego robots and imagine the inner workings of a space greenhouse.  There were a lot of camps and clubs along the way to where I am now.  But honestly after all the "training" I am not a magical charismatic leader of greatness.  So, what is so important about the various leadership programs we see popping up all over the place now?  The recent flux of them seems to be related to a crashing economy and a general feeling that we need better or more leaders.  

Perhaps because there are less opportunities available now there is a higher demand for adaptable skills, which are frequently what leadership programs are striving to teach.  Leadership is not just about amassing faithful followers; although the importance of social capital is a lesson frequently brought up.   Leadership is also a frame of mind, a commitment to lifelong learning.  Your enthusiasm can carry you far. Personally I was the most inspired working with leaders who reflected how much they loved what they were doing.  And people who love what they are doing know there is always something new and exciting around the corner to learn.

Nurturing lifelong learning also plays double duty as an invitation to create diverse connections.  Growing leaders are needed in all areas, whether it is women in STEM or minorities in academia.  I recently watched a film, Miss Representation, which discusses how female portrayal in the media does little to empower girls and women today and in fact can go to great lengths to dismiss women in positions of power.  Leadership programs can do more than cultivate necessary skills, they can strive to counteract these negative perspectives.  These programs create a space where being curious, successful or smart is celebrated.  And what emerges is someone who is motivated, maybe not necessarily to lead, but to do more, be more, and hopefully thrive.

Further Reading-

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Old wise man versus BFF

The fall is upon us! When did that happen? Somewhere between the earthquake and Hurricane Irene I suppose.  Classes have started and I find myself again getting ready to teach a whole new group of students about the library and proper research within academia.  I've got a bunch of projects that I'll hopefully get around to blogging about.  One of them involves some coworkers and I mentoring 4 students who have become part of a scholarship cohort down at the University of Maryland iSchool, who are focusing their MLS on Information and Diverse Populations.  We had our first meeting a few weeks ago, and from the group dynamic I can tell it's going to be a great cohort.  The camaraderie that I have with my two scholarship cohorts, Spectrum and ARL, has made librarianship a much more welcoming place.  However, despite my love for my groups, I never found a mentor through them.  Or at least, not a mentor that I imagined.

In my mind, a mentor was someone significantly older and wiser than me.  Someone who would offer me sage advice and help guide me through various stages of my career.  I have yet to find this magical guru, partially because I think my expectations are a bit over blown, but also because I have found that I enjoy peer mentoring much more.  Given that I am young in my field both in age and in experience, I am under no illusions that the mentoring role that I will play for this group will be peer based out of necessity.  No one likes being told what to do by someone who is recognized as younger and less experienced.  However, I have seen in almost every librarian I've worked with a willingness to recognize that learning and advice is something which goes in both directions.  I'm not sure how much advice I can give, but I am very willing to be a listening ear and some one to give constructive criticism for any variety of things, projects, papers, proposals and more.  And maybe years from now I'll be a little bit wiser.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Extra! Extra! Advertising your library?

As the fall semester approaches I am bracing myself for a semester of teaching.  However, I am still trying to be sure all my faculty know that I am available to integrate library instruction sessions into their classes.  Luckily for me other librarians are thinking about this too.  On the Information Literacy Instruction Discussion List the "reminder" email was brought up and librarians were sharing what they used to mass notify their faculty about library instruction.  A flyer was sent around, and I was inspired to create my own.  The best part of my week has been all the little projects I've been working on and asking my coworkers for help and getting something amazing in return.  For this flyer my coworker Sara Nixon took my ok content and made it super fabulous.  I am happy with the product and plan to send it out soon to my faculty.  It was surprisingly simple to make using PowerPoint and a built in Flyer Template.

I am not sure how effective this flyer will be.  I plan to email it to faculty. It's also loaded to our library web page.  With the green police on patrol I don't want to print out mass quantities, but I think I may print a few to post on my faculty central office boards.  The nice thing about the flyer is that I've made a PowerPoint version available to the rest of my library, so anyone can go in and alter some of the content to make it more specific to their needs.  Hopefully it's eye catching appeal will draw in some new faculty and serve as a reminder to others that they need to schedule now!

It's interesting seeing all the avenues people are taking to market their libraries.  A recent project we just debuted is our video "Civility: That's Our Policy" which imitates the familiar Liberty Mutual commercials of observing a kind act and feeling inspired to pass it along.  It seems to be well received and will be integrated into some of the first year student orientation tours.

What is your library doing to reach out and advocate itself?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ALA 2011 - New Orleans - Sessions I am attending

I am not going to show you my entire calendar.  Then you would see how many time slots I have double or triple booked. Instead here are some of the sessions that have high priority for me and why.

 So, as I was going through library school I was a recipient of both a Spectrum and ARL scholarship.  These diversity scholarships were much more valuable than their monetary aid.  They provided me with a wonderful network of people who have created an enormously supportive community.  I always enjoy meeting up with the people from my cohorts and helping in anyway I can with the incoming students.  I'll be helping at the ARL table during this professional options fair which is being held for the Spectrum scholars.  I am also planning to attend the Diversity & Outreach Fair.

Social Media-
I love seeing how social medias are being used by libraries.  It's great to see success and also relevant to form an opinion about what doesn't work.  There are always a bunch of sessions on social medias, emerging technologies and mobile information.  In particular I am looking forward to this one titled "Seriously Social: Leveraging Social Media" because one of the presenters is David Lee King, who has a great blog and twitter presence.

Discovery Tools-
My library has been reviewing various discovery tools to decide which one we want to implement.  After the conference we have a few meetings to take a closer look at ExLibris Primo, EBSCO EDS and ProQuest Summon. I'm hoping I can take some time during ALA to hear from other libraries about their experiences with the variety of discovery tools at this session, "Diving into the Deep End" being hosted by RUSA.

Free meals-
There is an art to scheduling your time so that you can maximize how many free meals you can get out of vendors. I have not mastered this art.  However, I am taking advantage of the free breakfast Alexander Street Press is providing.  I truly do love their video collections and the guest speaker for this event sounds very interesting!

Since I am a science librarian,  a few science related sessions should be justified during my trip.  Two programs that I have my eye on are occurring at the same time.  ACRL - STS is hosting a discussion group titled "Measuring the Value of Our Science Libraries/Collections" and the National Center for Interactive Learning/Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado; and the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, Texas have a session titled "Science Programming 101: Presenting Excellent Science Programs in Your Library" which sounds enormously fun.  This is a war between my practical and playful side. We shall see who wins out in the end.

The real reason everyone goes to a conference, to have a good time when all the work is done.  There are always great late night happenings and I'm hoping I can stay awake to attend them.  Since the location is New Orleans, I have high expectations. We'll see if this dance party lives up to them.  In my experience, all the best networking happens outside the official conference.

Safe travels to everyone and see you there!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wandering Writing

I've written a few things that have come out in other places! So, like a true lazy blogger I'm going to make this post a list of links to my other things!

Footnotes is the official newsletter of the ALA New Members Round Table.  For their May 2011 issue I expanded a bit on my previous post about online portfolios and did a web review of three tools, Google Sites, Wix and Weebly.  Check it out and get started on your own! 

An article I wrote back in December 2010 has been published in the Spring 2011 Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship.  The article is about how blogs are being used by scientists today and the pros and cons of doing so.  An article describing blogs seems very meta and mildly circuitous but I had fun writing it!

Two of my coworkers have a blog, Library Tech Talk, which features practical application of technology in libraries.  I did a guest post for them titled "Presenting with Prezi" which goes over a few of the features of Prezi and ways to use it in the library.

I'll be heading to ALA 2011 in New Orleans soon!  Typically I'll live tweet some of the sessions I am attending.  So, before I leave I will post about a few of the sessions I plan to attend.  Feel free to connect with me, @LibrarianLaks , and safe travels to anyone headed to NOLA too!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Walking in someone else's shoes

Recently I tagged along with a coworker to an event that she helped organize through her work with the Diversity Action Committee.  The series of workshops and discussions was called "Tools of Inclusion" and featured a variety of events held by the colleges across campus.  This one that I attended was "Theater for Social Change" held by the College of Fine Arts and Communication.  The description of the event was more of a class description :
Theatre for Social Change explores the theories and techniques involved in the creation of theatre that specifically addresses contemporary social, political, and cultural issues that confront contemporary America. Throughout the semester, students study various examples of this kind of work and the theories behind their conception. Simultaneously, they spend time identifying—via critical readings and analysis of contemporary events—what the pressing issues are that define the modern American experience and whether there may be better ways for public engagement and understanding. Students will show solo and ensemble work during the presentation.

What I saw was the final culmination of the class.  There were only a handful of people there to watch, which was too bad because the show was impressive.  With very few props and only their bodies and voices, the show easily drew me in and I wish it could have some how been recorded to be shown to more people.  The skits/monologues/dances commented on religious freedoms, individual politics and interpretive problem solving.  For myself it was the monologues which struck the loudest chord.  The students were following the example of Anna Deavere Smith.  If you've never seen or heard her before you must watch this (of course) TED talk she did:

How much better do you understand someone when you must be that person?  Imitation can be used in negative and positive ways.  It is much easier to mock someone's differences, to place yourself above someone by pointing out all their flaws.  The challenge for so many diversity initiatives is creating an atmosphere of respect for differences.  What many do not realize is how ingrained our lack of understanding can be.  Perhaps the reason the monologues struck me was because just a few weeks prior this "discussion" occurred:

Every week a question gets posted to this board at the entrance of our library and students can write responses.  The question was "What can Towson do to increase diversity?" and while some of the answers were tongue in cheek, over the course of the week the responses essentially turned into a debate over equal opportunity scholarships and how some viewed race as granting an unfair advantage.  I was surprised and conflicted about it.  I have benefited from such scholarships, so the board felt like a personal attack on me.  Should I feel guilty?  Did I get that money only because of the color of my skin?  Had I taken opportunity away from someone more deserving? I still do not feel like I have a clear answer to any of the conflicts brought up by this simple poster.  What the monologues did do for me was recognize how every individual is unique, and that diversity is a bond we can all share.  For a brief moment a person can walk in someone else's shoes, give the audience a glimpse into another person's soul and acknowledge that no matter how different we are from each other we are all important and we all make an impact, good or bad.  I hope that diversity initiatives like the one which I attended are helping give perspective and building positive awareness.  So that the next time someone is given the opportunity to voice their opinion they can strive to be more constructive and empathetic.  The struggle today could be even harder as it becomes easier and easier to see only what we want to see.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Online Portfolios, are they worth it?

Being online today is like exercise. You either keep up or fall behind. Or you're like me and you procrastinate till you can't any more and try to catch up by doing everything at once.  Anyway, as our identity becomes increasingly integrated with the internet, it means more and more people are turning to their computers to dig up what ever they can find out about you.  So, what tools are you using to create your online presence?  A lot of what you find is spread between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs etc.  Each of these avenues reaches a different audience and plays an important role.  If you're lucky enough to have a memorable/unique name just Googling you will return all sorts of results for people to sift through. If you really want to quantify your reach you can always check the numerous sites that are now being created like this one: to give your self a score (Mine was 728 out of 850)  But I'm never really sure what the number means and of course the site wants me to pay them more for them to tell me how to improve my score.  But there's plenty of advice always popping up on how to be better at networking and marketing yourself.  This last ACRL meeting in Philadelphia my colleague Kiyomi Deards did quite a few sessions on personal branding which you can hear about on her blog.  Being successful at anything, whether it is your job, your hobby or even just how others perceive you is all about putting your best foot forward.


The reason I'm bringing this up is I'm debating with myself over the need to create an online profile for Towson.  I have a basic profile for librarians which features my library related work.  However for Towson I would maybe want to include resources on the various science sections I am liaison to (Biology, Environmental Studies, Chemistry, Forensic Chemistry, Molecular Biology).  I'm not sure how useful this would really be since I already have subject gateways to guide the students to various resources.  So I went searching for some other online profiles to start gathering ideas.  The profiles are all impressive in a range of ways.  My cousin keeps his page simple and sweet.  He advertizes his film skills through (surprise surprise) a short video and then uses the page to provide further contact and information.  This Wix from a student at UIUC-GSLIS I was very impressed with.  I also have a Wix profile I created for fun, and which I was never quite happy with for a variety of reasons. The one this student created is easy to navigate and the content is brief but very effective at bringing home her point.  And of course, the Wix flash features make the site visually stimulating and fun to interact with.  This last example made the rounds a while back, but is another great example of the advantages of having a visual element to your portfolio.  All of the examples that I found compelling have features which I hope to mimic, simple layout, easy navigation, centralized information, and they all get their point across without making the reader feel like they are working at it.

One problem, I am not a web designer.  Another problem, do I want the addition to my URL that makes it clear I am using a third party?  Also, how much time to I want to spend maintaining yet another aspect of my online identity.  But, where there is a will, there is a technology .... or something.  I recently came across a website with free CSS templates.  So, I think if I stick to my rules I might be dipping my toes into real website land soon.  Oh well, guess I have to keep exercising my technology muscles anyway.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Science Videos: Useful or not?

I love the serendipity of information sometimes. This week as I’ve been sorting through all the various places I follow for science information the common theme has been science videos. It started with TEDED Braintrust. This recently formed online forum stems from the famous Technology, Education and Design (TED) Talks which bring together some amazing inspirational speakers and publishes most of the talks online. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. The people at TED realized the online videos were much more than fun to watch. The videos were being used as teaching tools in classrooms. With that in mind, TEDED Brain Trust is informally creating a space where people can discuss all the different ways video can spark conversation, and supplement education. What and how are videos already being used? Where is there a need? Why are certain videos successful? I’ve just been lurking to see how active the forums will be, but quite a few interesting science videos have been posted. The most interesting one however, was this one which discussed how effective science videos are at actually teaching.

Videos are great, but that alone isn’t enough. I was amused by the complaints which were voiced by the students who said the second set of videos were confusing. In order to insure that critical thinking and growth are occurring, you have to actually challenge yourself. Guess what, that can be hard! What these videos are making possible though is making the “hard” science more fun and approachable, well at least most of the time.

As I was reading through some science blogs I came across this one titled Bacterial Burglary. The research sounds interesting, but what caught my eye was the video the authors had created as supplementary content. It is essentially a video abstract of the authors work. The content is very dense, I had to pause and replay the video a few times to understand all the steps the researchers are explaining. So, while the video did not make the research more accessible to me (or perhaps I just didn’t feel like challenging myself), I would be curious to know if other people within the field valued the video summary. This also sparked my curiosity and I wanted to find more articles with supplementary video content. After some minor poking around I found quite a few with short clips of cells, a few with 3D models, some with similar video summaries, and a few others with integrated video showing examples of the paper topic. This one in particular from Cognitive and Behavioral Practice titled "Using Behavioral Parent Training to Treat Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Young Children: A How-to Approach Using Video Clips" was both interesting and amusing to watch. Obviously the videos cannot be watched in a paper journal, but with most research articles available online it will be interesting to see if videos become a regular part of article content and how journals and databases will regulate the accessibility of those videos.  Perhaps instead of being placed with online journal text they will move to make entire journals composed of videos like the Journal of Visualized Experiments.

In addition to supplementing science education and adding dimension to articles, video also creates opportunities for global communication. Science Online 2011 was a conference held in early January. Recently the video archive of many of the sessions were made available. The ones on science blogging in academia were the first ones I watched, but I hope I’ll eventually make my way through all of them. Conferences are a great networking opportunity, but most of us can’t afford to travel that much. And while I appreciate conference proceedings, as a librarian I shudder at the idea of sorting through and finding anything in them. The video archives are useful for those of us who could not attend, and also for those who did and want to remember something from a session they attended. Live streaming also makes it possible for the virtual attendees to even participate in the conversation. Although I have qualms about this, as it often seems to interrupt the flow. We haven’t quite figured out the logistics of integrating twitter and other social media communication with “normal” discussion.

The versatility of videos has caught my attention this week (and also given me an excuse when I’m caught watching nature films). Perhaps it all comes from my fangirl love of Bill Nye and David Attenborough. Or maybe I'm just happy it's Spring and am feeling inspired by the return of green in my life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

WebWise 2011 - Baltimore

So, last week I attended WebWise 2011 and was very impressed by the wide variety of speakers. Hooray free conferences and hooray science and hooray technology! I had a lot of fun live tweeting the sessions, however I thought I'd sit down and think a little more about what I learned. For this one I'll more specifically focus on my favorite session (sorry, but it really was my favorite): STEM and the Participatory Web: Everyone's Invited! So for a little background, the theme for this WebWise was Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) In Education, Learning, and Research. It seemed particularly relevant to my new position as a science librarian, hooray new career (I feel like there might be an overabundance of cheering in this post)! Social media is the hot new topic on everyone's mind. Yes, yes, we all talk about facebook and how integral the interweb has become for our global population. If you don't know about the internet then I don't know how you got here and I recommend you watch this video:

Most of the time I feel people are doing a lot of complaining about information overload and not enough recognition for how these new technologies are creating possibilities. It is necessary to consider how you are using web 2.0 technologies on a professional and personal level, because if you don't create an online identity for yourself, someone else will. And why let all that potential audience power go to waste? Which brings me back to this WebWise session which focused on moving past using social media to market science and to make a bigger impact through collaboration.
First and foremost, the tools are great and fun and amazing to use, but it is hard work making them. So, be prepared to get your hands dirty in a little bit of everything, from web site design on up. Speaker Bridget Butler spoke about her work with Voices for the Lake and how in their design they considered Nina Simon's design exercise for online/onsite engagement. The project is part of Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center and is a great example of how a museum's online identity can shift from informing the public to including the public. It is an important yet subtle distinction to make when you are considering your educational goals. It always surprises me how everyone knows that most people learn better through participation, but we so easily fall back into the common lecture mode of teaching.

Making something fun and interactive is a wonderful teaching method, and a hard one to master. Bringing games into the classroom is an avenue which many people are currently exploring. When it comes to science and math however, this can be extra challenging. While I fondly recall my MathBlaster days, there are just so many games out there today, it's hard to compete. Speaker Seth Cooper introduced us to his game, FoldIt. The game makes protein folding into a puzzle. The game is addicting. What is it about a basic numerical reward system that compels us to obsess over scoring the most points? But what also makes the game succesfull is the community that comes along with it. It's not just biochemists and their students solving the puzzles. These players are actively on forums, helping each other and discussing game strategy. This ties into a webinar I watched recently from Blended Librarian titled "Improving the Reference Interview: An Instructional Designer Introduces Video Game Design for Staff Development" (If you are a part of the Learning Times Library Online Community, you can watch a recording of the event). Basically what I'm pointing out here is learning occurs everywhere, on all sorts of levels, and games can be brought in to help teach almost anything. If you want the game to do well, you need to consider what types of interactions the game will provoke.

Now I just have to hope that my creativity will kick in and I can start figuring out how to make my information searching lessons more interesting. From the blogosphere is sounds like I should consider bringing in a little Jersey Shore. I generally like to start off with this TED clip and tell the students it can be confusing finding information if you don't understand the context, but once you've been given the right tools you can find information on anything.