I agree with so many of the faculty in this video. You learn a lot from the students, and it is a pleasure to see the light bulb go off. When the student has reached a level of understanding that astonishes them. It is the greatest reward.
2010 Faculty Development Week:
I am finally getting used to being an Online Reference Librarian. At first I thought it was really different from doing reference in person. It is actually very much the same. I am serving the same students as I did at the community college. In addition to the problems of understanding assignments we have computer problems. Computer and copier problems in the physical library are different. You are there and you help the student by rebooting, or turning the copier off because it is overheated. They are sitting at home and we cannot help. Call tech support! Thank you Tech Support. We love you.
think know this experience is making me a better librarian and teacher. When you have to do reference interviews through chat you have to be very clear and to the point. You have a lot of students to help. In email you have to be clear as well. You do not want to confuse a student that is already baffled by the notion of an online library. Teaching in a virtual classroom is something I never thought I would be doing, but it is cool. More to come… Image from: didatticadellamatematica.wordpress.com
I am an online reference librarian. I started a couple of weeks ago, and have been intensely learning chat and email.
Yesterday, I went live and started to answer students’ emails. Today, I got my first thank you! It made me feel really good. I was really worried about clarity in my emails, but I said,”I am a librarian, and I can rock this!.”
I miss sitting and laughing with the students at Wright. Of course, I am still helping students, and it is just as rewarding.
I emailed a student, and she decided to call me. I guess she said forget this email I need to talk to a person. Some people are like that, and others prefer to chat and email.
Today, the library is buzzing. The study tables and group study rooms are full, and almost every computer is occupied. I came in the door this morning and there were students at the reference desk and circulation. This rarely happens, because there are so few classes held on Friday. Next week, is the last week of the semester, and everyone is trying to finish those last few assignments.
A student was going around campus asking random people to record a happy birthday message for his friend. So, I wished her a happy birthday. Immediately after that a student comes to the circulation looking for a book on reserve for her class. She does not know the name of the book, the course name or number, or her professor’s name. I told her to get some more info, or go find her instructor to get the information. The professor comes back and gives us the title of book, but we cannot find it. It was shelved incorrectly. A student comes to the desk and insists I help her. She refuses the other librarian’s help. I guess I helped her before, and she liked the result. Her paper is due at 11pm. She does not have a thesis. So, I have to dig it out of her. In class they discussed U.S. influence over Brazil’s economy, and she read it in her textbook. I went to the textbook on reserve, and showed her the bibliography. We found some New York Times articles in the database, and books on our shelf. (I was shocked to find the books.) Since, we had some keywords we continued to search the databases, and found an abundant amount of information. As I was typing this blog posting a returning student looking for a Spanish-English dictionary wants to know if we still have it behind the desk. It was re-shelved, and he did know how to use the library catalog or find books using the LC call number system. He was not happy. I made him search the library catalog, and find the book on the shelf. He was frustrated, but in the end he thanked me. I think he was happy he did it on his own. I told him I am about teaching students how to find materials, and not just giving it to them. Now, I have an APA/MLA workshop. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!
Last week, a student came to me looking for an article in the New York Times. He needed to use the microfilm. I told him to look at the index and identify the reels he needed. Then, when he found the reels he should come back to me, and I will show him how to load the microfilm reader. Maybe 20 minutes or so went by, and I went to check on the student. He was gone!
Yesterday, he returned to the library. I asked him a series of questions. He said yes to everything I asked him. He was ready to use the reels. He picked the reel, and I helped him load the microfilm reader. I was having some technical problems so I enlisted some help from my kind colleagues. Turns out he never looked at the index, and used Wikipedia. I asked him if he used the index, and he said he did not know he needed to use it. It was amazing. A few people told me I was an “authority figure” and he did not want to tell me he needed help. This left me baffled. You come to a librarian for help. Why not tell me you did not do something or you do not understand? I work very hard at being approachable. He came back a few hours later looking for something else. I learned a little bit about him, and asked my questions differently. Image from: http://www.microfiche-microfilm-scanning.co.uk/microfiche-reader.html
Wright College Library Reference Desk
I am asked a lot of questions on a variety of subjects. I was really stumped for search terms to use in EBSCO and ProQuest for this student’s topic. The topic is rehabilitation and treatment of pedophiles on probation. I started with rehabilitation and pedophile, and a few things popped up. She already searched cognitive therapies. I needed to think about this without her staring at me at the reference desk. So, I told her I would continue to look, and check back with her. I can see her sitting at a computer station from the reference desk. She was advised to focus on the laws. Since it was an English course I decided to be more liberal with my search. Some of my search terms were: behavioral intervention and pedophilia, pharmacological interventions and pedophilia, Depo-Provera and pedophile, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone and pedophile, chemical castration, phallometric testing, and incarceration and pedophile. I removed the scholarly journal limiter and my results included articles from periodicals such as Time magazine.
I knew I was not going to get a break today. The young lady I tried to help before this student only spoke a little bit of English. Spanish was her first language. Luckily the Head of Reference was able to help her, and speak to her in Spanish.
So, I decided to make blue and white cupcakes, because those are Wright College’s colors. I came in the revolving door this afternoon carrying the blue cupcakes covered in plastic wrap. Soon as I entered the building students were asking for cupcakes. I told them to go to the library. A student arrived at the desk before I did, and was asking for cupcakes. I did even get a chance to put them on a platter. It was so funny. I have baked about 75 cupcakes this week, and I am done. Image from: wilton.com
I am going to make pink cupcakes for the book sale tomorrow. The chocolate cupcakes were a hit. Pink is more spring-like, and the shining sun has inspired me. If I am really motivated I might make a dozen blue cupcakes. Now, I just have to figure out if I am going to dye the cake, frosting, or both.
Today I visited my new job. I was planning to go to River Forest, and went the wrong ending up in Northbrook. You can tell I am from the city. Everything looked the same. I am glad I carry a road map in my car. It was cool. I got to drive around on a surprisingly warm and sunny day in Chicago. I saw Glenview Public Library for the first time. It was really nice.
I am planning to finish out my contract with my part-time job, and start working the full-time job soon. So, I will be working two jobs for a while. I know I am not the only librarian working two jobs. I wonder what percentages of librarians are working two jobs. I will have to look into it. Image from: shrinkingvioletpromotions.blogspot.com
I have applied for 65-70 jobs at academic, public, and special libraries. I have applied to work at for-profit schools, too. Half of my job interviews have been with for-profit schools like Kaplan University.
It took me some time to warm up to the idea of applying to for-profit schools. They get so much bad press, and you never hear the success stories. I recently watched Frontline’s College, Inc., which does not depict a rosy picture. I personally do not know anyone who has attended a for-profit school. So, I am really relying on what I hear about these schools, and what turns up in my research. I read several comments and postings on blogs from students at for-profit colleges discussing their experiences. I decided the students were having the same experiences as students at public and private universities.
Tuition increases, struggling to pay for school, taking out$100,000 in student loans, struggling to find a job in their chosen field after graduation, and changes in curriculum and requirements in their field. I think higher education is too expensive all around whether you go to a for-profit, private, or public institution. Honestly, when I was a college student some of the people I went to school with were not prepared. They chose to go to a private institution, and did not know how to write a basic essay. Enrolling more students, and making more money is a goal for almost every institution of higher learning.
I think some student grievances with for-profit schools might be valid. For example, getting stuck with loans they did not want, or nursing students suing over lack of accreditation. There was a similar case at Virginia Western Community College. I saw a television special where nursing graduates from a for-profit school never stepped foot in a hospital. Of course, I do not know what was on their mind not questioning why they never went to a hospital as part as part of their training.
Despite all the bad press there are librarians out there that need jobs. You get to a point where you stop being choosy, and need to pay your bills. If you are really willing you can have an impact on students. This goes for all institutions of higher learning. I believe helping students find authoritative information, providing them with the skills to do ethical research, and teaching them to do research on their own is the most important part of my job. Image from: lakelandlocal.com
It’s only Monday, but it does not mean things will not happen in the library. Ten minutes into my reference desk shift a young lady asks for a paper bag. I ask if she can breathe, and she nods no. We give her a shopping bag to breathe into and call security.
I commend Wright College’s security for coming within seconds, and being very compassionate. They were great with the student. It turns out she was on her way to astronomy class, had previously been in the military, and going to Africa in summer on a school study trip. (All of this revealed through her emotional rant.)
I gave her cold water, rubbed her knees, wiped her tears with a tissue, and told her everything would be okay. She was worried about missing class, and was embarrassed she was having anxiety attack in front of people. Security and I reassured her we only wanted her to get better.
Minutes later a team of about 7 or 8 fire fighters arrived with equipment, and a stretcher. They seated her, gave her oxygen, and she was on her way. She received help quickly, and was handled with care.
Hopefully next time I see the student it will be for research help. Image from: http://www.mtv.com/photos/made-season-8/1563810/2621658/photo.jhtml