Thankful

Thankful

“Thankful note on tree” by Jessica Castro on Unsplash

The day before Thanksgiving, I got an email from the Chancellor’s Office letting me know that a student who graduated in the spring (AKA my worst semester) indicated in an exit survey that I was one of three staff or faculty members who made a memorable impact during their time at UC Merced.

This recognition means a great deal to me.

As a non-faculty librarian (we’re academic appointees at the University of California) who teaches one-shot research lessons, the only student feedback I receive, besides formative assessment, is through post-lesson satisfaction surveys. While the librarians have been involved with projects to assess student learning, I, personally, haven’t yet had opportunities to see the impact of my and my colleagues’ work over time. (I am hopeful through liaison work and some other contacts I’ve made this fall that this can change somewhat, and we might be in a good position due to campus growth, a new general education curriculum, and a new department structure.) Outside of classes and workshops, my other source of student engagement is through research consultations.

I sometimes feel disconnected from my purpose in this kind of library environment. In my previous position, if I wasn’t teaching, I was at the desk, which proved to have its own challenges, but I really enjoyed knowing students’ names and about their lives. I may not feel as connected to students as I did before, but I’m very thankful to know that I really am helping students on their path to earn a degree and accomplish their life goals.

This is something I needed to hear. I go back to work tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to the two research consultations I have scheduled in the afternoon.

Title Change

I just got back from ACRL 2017 in Baltimore late on Saturday night, and I’m definitely feeling the jet lag! I’ll write more about the conference later this week, but I wanted to update on my job. We’re getting another instruction librarian position, so our access services librarian is going to make a lateral move at the beginning of the fall semester. This afforded an opportunity for the instruction librarians to update our job descriptions a bit. We all do more or less similar things, and while we don’t have subject specialties, we decided to have one or two things in our descriptions that are slightly different.

I’m now the Instruction & Outreach Librarian, which is really exciting! Though we all do this type of work in our liaison areas and in other work that we do, my title change reflects a new job duty: “Collaborates with Student Affairs to increase students’ awareness and use of library services and resources.” I think my personality and creative spirit are really well suited to this kind of work; I’m just still getting used to our library culture, and I don’t think the various folks in Student Affairs will be used to the idea of partnering more closely with the library, but I hope to build some bridges. Creativity is really important to me, and I’m happy that I have some more wiggle room for it in my work.

This is also a very timely change because Jen Park at Mount Saint Mary College and I are starting our roles as co-conveners for ACRL’s Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group right after ALA Annual in Chicago.

LibraryGo

Well, oops! I discovered a ton of draft posts. I meant to post this during new student orientations this summer. But if your academic library participates in preview days, this could also be helpful. Here’s what I meant to post:

PokémonGo is everywhere, including libraries! Although summer is a little slower for those of us in college and university libraries, fall semester is almost here, and academic libraries are preparing welcome back events and orientations. Erin Washington, the library director of the Marie Blair Burgess Library at Spartanburg Methodist College in Spartanburg, South Carolina has designed her own version of the game. She shared her idea in the ili listserv.

Washington was already working on an augmented reality game using Aurasma, so she decided to rename it LibraryGo since everyone “know[s] what PokémonGo is even if they haven’t played it” (personal communication, July 13, 2016).

If you haven’t used Aurasma before, it is basically a way to link online content to an object in the real world (I used signs, a statue, a student ID card, and a screenshot, for example). If you’ve used QR codes for scavenger hunts before, it’s basically the same idea but is just more fun. When you walk around and use the Aurasma app, it feels like you are pulling images and videos out of the air when you find a “trigger.”

It is free to set up an account in Aurasma and fairly easy to create Auras. (My suggestion is to check the “lock” feature when you create an aura so that the students don’t have to keep their phone hovering over the trigger to make the content play.) If you would like to see my auras, download the Aurasma app and follow “eirini52105”.

The attached doc is the sheet I will give students to begin their search for “LibStops” (rather than PokeStops). Feel free to adapt this however you like, and borrow/edit my “LibraryGo” logo. The students will also receive one of our library iPads that will have the Aurasma app pre-downloaded for them. If you don’t have iPads to hand out, you could easily do this with phones as long as one student per group was willing to download the Aurasma app. This activity *I think* will take about 30 minutes, and I was considering doing a Kahoot Quiz as their “Pokémon Gym” battle for the remainder of class time, or perhaps the usual database demo.

Here is Washington’s second email about the Kahoot quiz mentioned in her July message.

Now that we are closer to the semester starting, I have had the time to create a simple Kahoot Quiz to go with LibraryGo. It’s got the Pokémon Go theme song at the beginning and Pokémon images that go with the questions. I’m hoping to use it as assessment to see if they learned anything, and/or learned it better than last year’s more traditional class. If you would like to use it or transform it for your purposes, do the following:

1) Sign in/Sign up with Kahoot at getkahoot.com.

2) Click Public Kahoots (up at the top)

3) Use hashtag #librarygo to find my quiz (author = eirini52105)

3) Click “Duplicate” to put this Kahoot into your “My Kahoots” area.

4) Click on MyKahoots (also up top) and then edit to change the questions to be your own. (Erin Washington, personal communication, August 4, 2016).

For more information, or to share other PokémonGo ideas, you can contact Washington at washingtone@smcsc.edu. A special thank you to Erin for allowing me to share her ideas on here.

Documenting the Future (& Past)

As of yesterday, I have exactly one month before I leave Merced College, and I have started preparing for the new librarian who will be making the Los Banos Campus Library his or her new work home. (Here is the job ad for the position I am leaving, by the way.)

Last summer, Meredith Farkas’ American Libraries column was about what to do to ensure your projects continue after you’ve left a position, “Future-Proof Your Project.” Documentation is so important when leaving a job. When I got my position, documentation wasn’t necessary because my predecessor (and librarian mentor) was switching to the other campus, so I could easily call to ask questions. I have been working on a Word document that is simply a list of things to know: a little library history, accounts to get set up (LibGuides, Text-a-Librarian, Sirsi Workflows, etc.), collection needs and procedures, things I worked on and things I still wanted to do, etc. I also have a message about how important it is for him or her to make the library his or her own; I have my strengths, and the new person will have other strengths. I also included my personal email and cell phone number. I have nine single-spaced pages so far.

I added the librarians at the other campus as co-owners to all of my LibGuides, so they can share those with the new librarian. I got rid of paper and digital files the new librarian won’t need and re-organized the file drawers.  Our campus has a shared drive, so I am updating the Library folder in there, too, with various folders for electronic copies of handouts, important forms, instruction calendars, and other things I mention in the Word document I am writing up.

I switched all my listserv subscriptions to my Gmail, started forwarding a few emails, and boxed up the things to take home, including a binder full of flyers I made over the last few years for displays, events, and contests.

13072919_10156770974445573_4293123233050030986_o

I also started cleaning out my office.

13071947_10156783673190573_7654611409594775529_o

Doing these things has also helped me realize that I was able to accomplish some good things in the three years I was full-time in Los Banos. Ultimately, I am glad I was able to be an energizing force on our small campus. Their librarian wasn’t a shushing, stern type. I was able to make small steps to get a more user-centered space. Culture is the hardest thing to shape, but I made progress. I was able to have some fun displays, contests, and activities, including Game Nights. Through these and other communication efforts, the faculty and student groups began to see and use the library as a campus hub. Our student government even had a campus suggestion box in the Library at one point. And let’s not forget about the food pantry! I feel great that the faculty and staff knew they could count on the Library to help, in both instructional and non-instructional efforts. I was able to build solid relationships in our campus community.

And the students knew they could count on me, too. To quote one of the student comments on my evaluation this year, “Definitely not the crusty old librarian stereotype.” I feel really good about that.

Coloring Party and Other Ideas for Finals

During finals this year, I had coloring pages available. I only printed a few out the first day (some design I could download for free online), and the next day, one of the student assistants said I needed to print out way more because “people really like them.”

I have noticed an upswing in talk about the relaxing powers of coloring lately. Even NPR and Quartz have chimed in, and I think I remember seeing something on Huffington Post. It’s rare that I go to the local Barnes and Noble (I am a library user, after all), but I went a couple of days ago and was so surprised by all of the coloring books on display.

Long live coloring! I will still be offering coloring pages during finals, but I think in addition to my once a term game day/night, we need to have a craft and coloring party, too. I will definitely be talking to our student workers about it in August.

While I can’t remember where I downloaded the mandala image I used during this past academic year, there is a Facebook page, Coloring Pages for Adults, that offers free, downloadable pages to color. With back to school sales around the corner, now is also a good time to buy colored pencils and sharpeners. We have electric sharpeners in the library, but for a bigger event, we’d be in the Student Lounge, so we’d need little sharpeners. Right now, I can tell you for a fact that Target has a 12-pack of Crayola colored pencils for 97 cents.

I know there are some academic libraries with the big bucks and staff for massages, pet therapy, and coffee and cookies, etc., but even the smallest of libraries like mine can do something to help students de-stress during exam season. Puzzles and games are a great idea if you have the space. Our game night, for example, doesn’t happen in the Library because we are only two thousand square feet. Another option for small libraries might be to provide a crossword puzzle or word search. Origami supplies are not that expensive and don’t require a lot of room. We had Origami Yoda for Star Wars Day in May. I just put up paper and instructions by the checkout desk. I also do Starbursts “for a burst of energy” and mini Crunch Bars for “crunch time” near the doors. I do purchase those on my own because I only have a couple of hundred dollars I can use for the library from the college, and candy adds up so quickly.

Be creative, and, as I’ve learned, don’t get down because you can’t bring puppies or kitties to campus.