Dual Roles: Information Science versus Information Technology

support_your_radical_militant_librarian_postcards-300x300Thursday and Friday I attended a retreat in southern Illinois, and one of the presenters discussed how librarians are stereotyped as mousy individuals. We must use our voices to speak up and tell everyone what we do and what we mean to our library users.

I would like to form a library committee in my library of faculty members, students, and staff that support the library. We always get complaints about resources we do not have, but no one understands if they do not speak up for us administration will ignore the library.

Speaking up and speaking out will ensure our survival! The retreat I attended was full of library directors and library administrators that do not have a library science degree. Many of them were IT professionals. The individuals making the decisions about access to resources have a different philosophy than a trained librarian.

Information technology and information science are different in my opinion. Information technologist are focused on running and maintaining software and hardware. Information scientists want users to be able to access information regardless of computer machinery, firewalls, computer crashes, etc. They are less concerned with the software and hardware.

What is the future of the library in the hands of a information technologist?informationtechnologist

I think it is important for librarians to become familiar with computer software, hardware, and web-based tools in order to show there relevance in the ever evolving library. It is assumed that to maintain electronic databases, integrated library systems, library websites, and computer systems in the library you must be a information technologist.

Why not hire an information science professional with the same skills of a information technologist?

Of course, information science professionals must be willing to do things that are not part of the traditional librarian’s duties. As an academic librarian we often refuse to step from behind research, and do more practical and technical tasks. This is a detriment to the academic librarian. As the library moves into a virtual environment, and computer hardware is essential for library use we must be willing to have dual roles as information scientist and information technologist. Not only will we need to know how to search an electronic database for a scholarly journal, we must possess the skills to fix the hardware of the computer that is displaying that electronic database in the library. This dual role will ensure the librarians place at the table where decisions are made about the future of our libraries.

Image credit: blogs.scientificamerican.com, rikowski.wordpress.com



Blink: Thin slicing and Changing Your Experiences

Engaging Community College Students through a Hyperlinked Community

I am presenting at the Illinois Library Association conference in October with Beth Mandrell from Rend Lake College in Illinois. I am filling in for a colleague from another city college, and I am considering taking my part of the presentation on a totally new path. Earlier this year I presented with Sharon Silverman at the Information Literacy Summit in Illinois, and discussed using Edmodo as a way to stay connected with students beyond the one-shot library instruction session. It is a way for the librarian to determine if the student actually learned anything after their presentation. Asking a student if they understand is not a good indicator. You have to give them an opportunity to apply what you taught them to determine if they really learned.

So, I spoke to Beth, my co-presenter at the Illinois Library Association conference, last Tuesday and so many ideas went off in my mind. Our presentation is focused on getting students to relate to the library resources we review during our instruction sessions. I use stories and examples, but I said to myself why not a hyperlinked community where students can stay in touch with me throughout the semester. I considered doing this in Blackboard, but it is very stagnate. The way WordPress has been used to create a hyperlinked community for our class is inspiring! I never honestly thought about it. It would be a way for us to keep track of several students’ progress throughout the semester. Students would also be able to ask questions and post comments.

Sometimes I meet 2-4 times a semester with one class and I get to see how students progress. Usually, I have no idea if students successfully completed research assignments unless a student or faculty member contacts me, visits me, or sends me an email. The library is considered a support service at my community college although I am a faculty member, and it is difficult to convince other faculty members and administration the value of the library to a student’s success. A hyperlinked community would be an excellent way to keep track of students from the beginning of their academic careers until they graduate.

Participation scares some librarians

Last Friday I received a call from a Foundational Studies instructor that was inquiring about a library session for her Reading and Writing classes. We talked about inviting the Chicago Public Library to do a library card campaign on campus. She offered to work with to design a lesson plan and co-teach. She was willing to do anything to help her students.

I suggested we survey students to find out if they would want us to invite the Chicago  Public Library to our college. My library colleagues said we did not the same resources as other institutions.

First why not ask students what would help them? Many of our students are recipients of financial aid, and many do not know the Chicago Public Library is an option for research. I believe the more supportive we are of our library users the more they will support us. When we need our students to speak out and tell administration how important the library is to their academic careers. If we are there for them they will stand up for us without hesitation I know as a former online librarian that students can live without a physical library, and successfully complete their research.

This assumption and complacency is dangerous, and does not consider the future of the library.

I have created many online surveys to get feedback from faculty and students, but have not had the support to ask, what do you want in your library?

It will help me determine if my thoughts and projects for the future are on track.

I look forward to my library evolving and accepting the feedback and participation of our college community.

Staying connected via electronic devices

So many thoughts were running through my mind during the hyperlinked lecture. I am very intrigued by the digital native. I played PAC Man on my father’s computer when I was 4 or 5 years old, and when I was 12 or 13 my mother allowed me to carry her cell phone when I went to the mall with ma friend and that was the extent of my exposure to technology. I cannot imagine how young born with Smart phones, iPads, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence will view the world we live in.

I am continuously computing and it is worse since I bought a Smartphone a few months ago. My colleagues, friends, and family expect to get in touch with me very quickly. I always socializing with someone using one or multiply devices. I reply to work emails using my Smartphone and my mind never rests.

I work in the Learning Resource Center which includes IT, Math Tutoring, Writing Center, study areas, computer labs, books racks, AV dept., and library circulation and reference. This summer IT began to rent out laptops to students, today I taught information literay to a group students with an embedded tutor, and instructor that insisted I was more than a librarian a keeper of information. I explained to the instructor there are many names for librarian.

I have to more and more about technology, and I see college and university libraries needing “cloud librarians” and librarians to curate all types of information in the virtual world. I am looking forward to being a librarian in this new library.

Library 2.0 Rewind

Conservation is part of the library business

As Lankes, Silverstein, & Nicholson (2007) state “Knowledge is created through conversation. Libraries are in the knowledge business. Therefore, libraries are in the conversation business. Some of those conversations span millennia, while others only span a few seconds. Some of these conversations happen in real time.” ( p. 3) I whole heartedly agree with their observation. I am especially in tuned with these statements as a reference/public services librarian. Conversations with our patrons is essentially when determining the services and new technologies we implement in the library.

Social media as a way to connect

I think many of us that use social media get involved in getting more friends and connections, and for some people it becomes more important than the information provided by that source. (Lankes et al., p. 8) Honestly, when I joined the Hyperlinked Library I started to send friend requests before I ever read the content of the Hyperlinked Library blog. There was lots of important information to read, but I began to get information overload, and found reading blogs and sending friend requests to be an easy escape.

What is best for your library is not necessarily right for every library

Technolust and the desire for some libraries to implement new technology just for the sake of it does not benefit the community you serve. Library administrators must consider how the new technology will be implemented, who will use it, how it will be maintained and evaluated. Depending on a library’s resources it may be difficult to implement new technologies. (Lankes et al., p. 16) Several of the students we serve in my library use their Smartphones to search the online catalog and databases. They text their friends and family members using these devices too. We do not have text reference in my library. I think it would be a good resource for our students, but we do not have enough staff to facilitate the service. We only have 3 full-time librarians (including the library director), and 4 part-time librarians (all working less than 29 hours a week). This makes it extremely difficult to offer additional reference services. I was an online librarian and my job did not involve any face to face reference. I would provide chat reference for 9 hours while answering reference emails. If I had to answer face to face questions, and troubleshoot printer/copier issues I would not have been able to help as many students.

We could implement a text reference but I am afraid it would be switched off most of the time. I always wonder as a library patron about libraries that offer text reference, but whenever I go to their website no one is available to help me. I have to call the library for help. Not all technology services will work in every library setting.

Reference: Lankes, R. D., Silverstein, J., & Nicholson, S. (January 01, 2007). Participatory Networks: The Library As Conversation. Information Technology and Libraries, 26,4, 17. (Pre-pub version available here: http://quartz.syr.edu/rdlankes/Publications/Journals/COLISFinal-v7.pdf)

Books in the Electronic Library

In April of 2012 I attended a book lecture given by Nicholas Carr at the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL, and I most recently took an online course through the American Library Association about eBooks. I love eBooks and the availability of up to date information in our electronic databases at work. Of course, so many are hesitating to introduce eBooks as a possible source for our students. If I find a book as an eBook I immediately let the student know it is accessible via the library’s electronic databases. I think many of the librarians I know assume students want print books because of their own attachment to the printed book. I worked in a rare book library and never was fascinated about the physical state of the book.

During Carr’s lecture he mentioned how ereaders make their books look like the printed version. He gave the example of the Gutenberg bible because it looked like it was typed by scribes. Sellers are assuming consumers want books to look like the printed form. Of course, many eBooks are taking on a new form, and are becoming more interactive. For example, Alice for iPad, which was an interactive version of Alice in Wonderland. When I saw this book I thought it was fun for children, but possibly dizzying for some people.

Publishers, authors, and others are coming up with ways to transform the book for the ever approaching electronic library, but librarians are not involved in the discussion in a way that will positively affect the communities we serve. It brings me back to Chapter 4 in Library 2.0 when you consider creating teams of people in different phases of the process to implement change. As librarians we can play an integral part in the changes that are happening with the book. A discussion has to take place between librarians, authors, and publishers. I am not exactly sure how this is happening or how it will happen.

How long will we have to wait for Buckland’s ‘Electronic Library’?

Monday, Aug. 26th was the first day of the semester at my job. The place was swarming with 60 or 70 students standing in line at the bookstore to buy textbooks. I could not believe. Many of the students take courses online but cannot afford the book. So, they visit the library to see if we have a copy on reserve. The school has an agreement with Follett books to give requested copies of textbooks to the library.

We offer classes online but students have to drive or take a bus to one campus on the South side of the city to make copies or read the book in the library. It does not make sense that the textbook would not be available online. Especially, considering the population of students we serve.

An ‘electronic library’ would be desirable with the increase of online universities, MOOCs, etc. The students we serve want electronic resources available to them, but we cannot meet the demand due to budget cuts or lack of technical skill.

I attended the Illinois Library Association conference in 2012. A group of librarians at a public library created a web page with links to famous books out of copyright so elementary and high school students could read them. They hooked up a router in the library, and made it possible for students sitting anywhere in the library to get access to this webpage. When I heard this idea I was so excited. The students in the Reading, English 101, and English 102 courses at my community college were reading several of the same books such as Frankenstein, and we never had enough copies for students to checkout. Our budget was cut or put on hold and it made it difficult to purchase books. I immediately brought this to my supervisor who told me it would require lots of paperwork, external stakeholders, and eventually the project would be taken from me and possibly given to the IT department. My excitement dwindled and began to immediately feel defeated. Of course, recently I learned many grants/projects get snatched out of one person’s hands and placed in someone else’s hands. This can occur in any type of organization.


Library 2.0: The I-Team, the P-Team, and the R-Team…

Reading Chapter 4: Framework of Change in Library 2.0 gave me many ideas of how I could implement change in my organization. I am always trying to get feedback from librarians and support staff but it always falls short. I never get enough input to make a decision about change. I cannot require any one to give me input because I am not their supervisor although I am a librarian. I really need the support of my supervisor the director, but is not interested in evaluating anything unless we are required by upper level management. This disconnect makes it difficult for me to survey librarians and support staff to implement change or new services that may benefit our library patrons.

Chapter 4 gave me a boost of energy and sparked many ideas of how I can encourage the staff to participate. Of course, some of my ideas may seem like a chore to a staff that still uses a card catalog.

I would love to see if my idea of a mobile hub would be beneficial to our students. Of course, this would require the involvement of internal and external stakeholders. I would need the input of the IT department, which is grossly understaffed. I feel guilty disturbing them about a broken mouse or keyboard although they are essential to daily operations. Of course, I still ask for their assistance. This brings up the big issue of being understaffed. It is mentioned in the chapter that small libraries will find it difficult to create the I, P, and R teams. (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p. 57) My organization is large but my library staff is miniscule.

I know the support staff sometimes feels like their ideas will not be heard or recognized. I try to include everyone, but it is difficult to get them accustomed to giving input. Sometimes if I do not get input I am unable to make an intelligent decision and a project falls to the waist side, because I lose motivation. Then the staff will come to me and say I thought you were going to do blank. I explain no one gave me any input or worked to help me get a project off the ground, and I could not do it alone. I made a decision to work on a project that was more feasible. Many projects are team-oriented especially projects that will bring about change in the library. (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p. 42)

My library is guilty of “Plan, Implement, and Forget,” and I started to evaluate basic library services such as reference and instruction. (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p. 39) It was difficult to get front line staff to disseminate surveys to library users. I am constantly sending reminder emails, and mentioning it to them in casual conversations. It is still not enough feedback from our patrons. Our resources are limited and I am sure library users want new or improved services. Of course, it is difficult to get input if the front line staff does not take it seriously. I explain how the data will be used, and the importance of their participation but it does not work.

My microcosm is not indicative of what most academic libraries strive for in terms of evaluating services and staff participation. I did work at a university library where I was given the “illusion of participative management,” but I have actually implements many ideas brought to me by support staff. (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p. 46) Since they work so closely with our patrons and hear their grievances their input is vital.

Reference: Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.

Working in teams: It’s inevitable!

There are many things necessary to be a successful library school student dependent upon if you decide to go to school in the traditional classroom or entirely online. I got my Master in Library in Information Science in the traditional format, but since then worked as an online librarian and have become very comfortable in an online environment. Right now, I am taking courses toward a certificate through San Jose State University (SJSU) which is entirely online. This is a unique experience but I spend so much time online it is not foreign to me.

I took an Online Learning Readiness Assessment offered by San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) and it gave me a score of 45, which means I am ready for online learning! At the end of the assessment you are given some tips, and the Unit 5 assignment also has some valuable points for what makes a successful online student. Of course, many things contribute to a student’s success in an online environment such as:

  • Participation in discussion boards, via email, and instance messaging with classmates and instructor
  • Time management is a huge issue because you are responsible for designating time to complete your coursework. I personally prefer going to school online than sitting in rush hour traffic on one of Chicago’s expressways after working 8 hours, and then finding the time to do homework before I go to sleep.
  • This leads into being self-motivated and the ability to work independently!
  • You must have the technical skills and computer software/hardware to be able to watch lectures, participate in synchronous meetings, complete written assignments and post them to blogs and discussion boards, send/receive email, and be familiar with Microsoft Office.
  • The ability to work in teams for group projects which is often a requirement in the workplace.

Dr. Ken Haycock made some very important points during his colloquia presentation titled Working in teams. His presentation was extremely informative, and I would have loved to receive this tutorial before I started library school. It is inevitable that you will work in teams as a librarian, and having this type of discussion would have been extremely valuable to completing my graduate coursework. A few things Dr. Haycock discussed in his presentation that stood out to me were:

  • Vertical teams incorporate different perspectives but have the same problem and issues but different ideas to bring a resolution.
  • The team should set ground rules for all team members to follow and if they are not followed there should be defined consequences.
  • Conflict is not unusual and a successful team addresses it!

Dr. Haycock and Enid Irwin both point out that students often do not want to work in teams. Enid Irwin admits she is someone who does not like working in teams, and she outlines some of the fears online students have with teamwork being number 1! Students fear a lack of control in a team environment, and many do not have the skills to be a successful team member. This contributes to their fear as well. Trust is an issue both mention in their presentations. Trusting that a team member will complete the task they were assigned.

Just these few points out of the many that Dr. Haycock and Enid Irwin made will help me be a better team member and leader as I continue to take courses at SJSU.

There are so many factors that contribute to a student’s success in an online environment it can be daunting for students that struggle with using their home computers. So, it is essential to gain the necessary computer skills to be successful in online coursework.