ACRL 2017 Conference

Back at the end of March, I attended ACRL 2017 in Baltimore. I hadn’t attended ACRL before, and I was able to go with two of my colleagues in Access Services. There were a few sessions and events I enjoyed at ACRL, including Roxane Gay’s keynote and hanging out with folks from the Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group, but I found that I was just really tired and couldn’t get myself going in the mornings. I was wiped out by the last day, so much so that I also missed the Librarian of Congress’ closing remarks. I didn’t even look at any posters, which is also very unlike me. (The three-hour time change may have had something to do with it.) A colleague and I were able to visit Ft. McHenry for about an hour or so before grabbing lunch and hitting the airport back home.

Looking back through the conference booklet, there are quite a few sessions, papers, and posters I want to dig into, but here is what I attended:

Find more conference papers here. Find the conference’s complete proceedings (available as a PDF) here.

ACRL Immersion 2017

Back in the fall semester, I applied to ACRL’s Immersion Program, specifically, the Teacher Track. The program is essentially a week-long boot camp for librarians who teach information literacy skills and concepts. In February, I found out that I was selected for the program! The program is taking place at the end of July at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. I’m really looking forward to this action-packed learning experience, and I’m thankful for the support and encouragement from my supervisor.

UC Merced Assessment as Research Symposium

My instruction colleagues and I presented a poster at the UC Merced Assessment as Research Symposium earlier this month, “Assessing the Value of Library Instruction Using Qualtrics Survey Software.

Assesing the Value of Library Instruction Using Qualtrics Survey Software

Here is our abstract:

In fall 2016, the library created two online exit surveys (Option A and Option B) in Qualtrics, an online survey tool, and used the surveys to collect student feedback after library instruction sessions. Library instructors selected a survey to use after each session. Option B survey questions were designed to elicit responses regarding students’ attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction levels, per Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivational Design Theory. Option A surveys used similar questions but also asked about students’ comfort level with library instructors. Results from both surveys indicated that students find value in learning about databases and specific search strategies. Option A survey results indicated that over 95 percent of students felt comfortable contacting their library instructor later in the semester. Option B survey results indicated that over 96 percent of students agreed or strongly agreed that participating in a library instruction session increased their research confidence. The evidence suggests that library instruction sessions are beneficial for students and that library instructors are approachable.  Though online exit surveys in general and Qualtrics more specifically may present challenges, there are also benefits for educators.  The library offers recommendations for individuals and programs interested in using this lightweight form of assessment.

I served as lead on the project since I crunched the numbers and interpreted the data from this fall’s instruction surveys. Over the summer I had also crunched and interpreted data from the spring surveys. It’s a time-consuming project, but I have come to enjoy working on it. I anticipate crunching the numbers from this spring’s surveys as well.

A special thank you to our Library Communications Coordinator Breanna Wright for designing our poster. I did a rough sketch using columns in Word with the information we needed and provided redacted Excel data, including charts, and she made it beautiful. We got lots of nice compliments on the design.

Committee Work

It’s been a while since I have updated. I’ve basically been reblogging posts I’ve written for the CJCLS blog and a nice post with a shout-out from the Haggerty Library. I think I will work my way backwards to share what I have been up to. Today’s post is all about committee work for ACRL and the UC Merced Library, which seems fitting since ACRL 2017 is next week! (It’s actually going to be my first time attending the ACRL conference.)

In the fall, ACRL’s College Libraries Section (CLS) sent out an urgent email asking for someone to volunteer to serve as editor of the CLS Newsletter. I became a member of the CLS Communications and Membership Committee and am responsible for producing the fall and spring newsletters. Because of the tight timeline in the fall, I used a MS Publisher template from the previous editor. You can find the Fall 2016 CLS Newsletter here. For the spring newsletter, I will be looking to use something else to produce the newsletter. (If you have suggestions, that would be great!)

And, very unexpectedly, I was asked if I could co-chair the CLS Communications and Membership Committee for 2017/2018! My appointment starts after ALA Annual. I’m a continuing member on the committee, so only my role will change. I will have to find a new CLS Newsletter Editor! I do plan to end my time with CLS and the committee once my appointment is done since I work at a research university with graduate programs.

Back in September, I mentioned that I had started my tenure as the incoming co-convener for ACRL’s Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group. I have loved working with Bonnie, Chris, Amy, Mark Aaron, and Jen! Jen and I will be leading the group after ALA Annual, and I am equal parts nervous and excited. Our group has grown significantly (nearly 3k have joined the Facebook group!). This year, our group had a lightning round during our regular meeting time at ALA Midwinter 2017 (sadly, I wasn’t able to attend Midwinter). I am excited to announce that we will have a panel discussion at ALA Annual 2017, “Transforming Our Academic Outreach Practices: Reaching Our Students, Faculty, Staff, & Administrators.”I worked on writing up the proposal, and I am so happy we were able to snag a presentation time outside of our regular meeting time. I am so excited for the members who were able to present at Midwinter, as well as those who have been selected to share about their marketing and outreach work at Annual.

I think I wrote about this previously, but my time with the Community and Junior College Libraries Section (CJCLS) and the CJCLS Communications Committee is coming to a close. I wanted to finish out my term even though I changed institution type. It was a good experience. I just have a few more posts left to write and a couple of administrative tasks.

I’m still serving on the Instruction Section’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee, but, to be honest, I haven’t done much with the group this year. I missed our last meeting, and I really need to get on the ball with the group again.

UC librarians have an association called Librarians Association of The University of California (LAUC). For this academic year, I’m serving as the local secretary for LAUC-M, which really only involves some elections later in the spring, but I’ve really enjoyed my time serving on the system-wide Research and Professional Development Committee. We just got done awarding spring project and presentation grants to those who were selected for awards. It has been so interesting to read about the applicants’ research projects. We have also been working on putting together a bibliography of the most interesting projects the Committee has helped fund over the last 37 years for LAUC’s 50th anniversary celebration this year, which will be celebrated at UC Irvine in April during the LAUC Statewide Assembly meeting (I’m not sure if I will be going yet).

At the UC Merced Library, I have also enjoyed being a member of our Student Recognition Committee. I’ve been putting together the award letters and taking photos of our monthly winners. We have great student workers, and I have liked getting to know them. I can’t say too much about it yet, but I am also serving on a committee that is developing a Student Research Award for the next academic year.

I’ll probably have a few other updates over the next few days. Thanks for reading!

 

Instruction Brown Bag Sessions

One neat thing we do at the UC Merced Library is meet during a lunch hour to discuss information literacy and research instruction. We have an internal LibGuide for these sessions. Over the summer, we met after the Library Instruction West 2016 conference to share about sessions we attended as my colleagues and I tried to attend different sessions from each other. I shared two sessions I attended at LIW 2016 during the first brown bag (you can read about everything I attended at LIW 2016 here). We had our second instruction brown bag lunch in mid-August. Here is a summary of the sessions my colleagues attended at LIW 2016.

Foothills to Fourteeners: Preparing Students for Research in the Real World

This session referred to Problem Based Learning (PBL) and the ARCS Model of Motivational Design.

The ARCS Model can help encourage student motivation. A refers to attention, stimulating and sustaining learners’ interests. R refers to relevance, meeting the needs and goals of learners to effect a positive change. C refers to confidence, helping learners believe they will succeed and can control their success. S refers to satisfaction, reinforcing the accomplishment with internal or external awards. Chapter 3 of John Keller’s (2010) Motivational Design for Learning and Performance: The Arcs Model Approach provides strategies for how to approach each area.

It can be challenging to stimulate students’ interest in learning, and I think it’s perhaps more challenge for research instruction because students tend to be over-confident in their research abilities when arriving to a session. I found the ARCS model really useful to pinpoint the areas where I can focus my efforts to increase motivation in my teaching. In our discussion about how to apply ARCS, we all agreed that getting and sustaining students’ attention is the hardest part. I struggle with this, too, because, usually, I am really focused on getting the housekeeping bits out of the way, including objectives for the lesson. One of my colleagues shared that one “hook” she uses is a cute video about how picking a topic is research (I have used the video before, but not, specifically, as a hook). Generally, our instruction is tied to specific course assignments and requirements, so it’s pretty targeted, though I do try to  indicate that what they are learning is relevant for research in and out of school. Confidence is a little more challenging because, generally, we are only seeing students one time, but we do reinforce during hands-on practice and iterate that research takes practice for everyone. during A strategy to help measure satisfaction might be to use Padlet to ask students what they are hoping to learn at the beginning of a session and then going back to see if the things students listed were met.

As a result of this discussion, we will be using an exit slip for our instruction this semester that seeks to gain feedback about attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. We will have the option to use our other exit slip for those who wish to measure some other things. After this term, we’re going to analyze the results. I’m really looking forward to seeing how focusing on these areas can improve my teaching.

Digital Research Notebook: A Simple Tool for Reflective Learning at Scale

The UCLA Library developed the Digital Research Notebook as a way to move beyond one-shot instruction (the one-shot plus language by Char Booth). The Google Doc is a “combination of video tutorials and reflective writing prompts, [which] guides student[s] through the research process. The notebook can be assigned on its own, as a pre-assignment for a one-shot session, or as the backbone of a credit course or research consultation.” The notebooks are useful for librarians to actually be able to see student work.

Outside of the Academic Garden: Lifelong Learning for Engineers

Mary DeJong and Wendy Holliday reported their findings from surveys and interviews conducted with graduates of Northern Arizona University who had majored in engineering. Those surveyed discussed what tools they use to find information, what information needs they have, and how they approach various research projects. Check out the link to the presentation slides to learn more about their findings. I think the results hold lots of implications for librarians who teach information literacy for engineering students. There may be something you can create with engineering faculty that would be helpful for students.

Three Months Later

The summer really flew by! Last Thursday marked three months in my new position. I discovered that working throughout the summer is a much better fit for me. I had two years worth of summers off, and that was enough for me. School started on Aug. 24, and it has been a little strange seeing so many students on campus. We have over 2,000 new freshmen and are up to about 7,000 students or so. It’s a small university, but I came a very small center of a community college, and while my previous library was full just because of its small size, it’s amazing to see how busy it is already.

Below is a quick list of some projects and events I worked on this summer and during the first couple of weeks of school. I also observed instruction sessions, met with students for in-person research consultations, and did some digital reference.

  • attended the Library Instruction West 2016 conference and attended and presented at the National Diveristy in Libraries Conference.
  • updated some Guide on the Side tutorials,  investigated and annotated Creative Commons tutorials from other libraries for our internal instruction online guide, and added readings to another instruction online guide.
  • presented and tabled at new student orientations for freshmen, transfer, and graduate students, including one tabling event for Spanish-speaking parents.
  • co-created an online research guide for our Common Read book, Living Downstream.
  • co-taught two plagiarsim workshops for ASCEND, the university’s new student success conference.
  • taught two website overview workshops for new and seasoned library student workers
  • co-planned and tabled our Welcome Week event.
  • created my very first video tutorial using Camtasia, “Requesting a Full-Text Article through UC-eLinks.”
  • met with a new economics faculty member. I am the primary contact for Social Sciences (economics, management, and public health–we have a new Ph.D. program in public health) and am a secondary contact for Interdisciplinary Humanities. My areas in the IH are Spanish, American studies, and history. I am also helping with psychological sciences. Our liaison program is still very much in its infancy, and our goal for the fall is to meet with all the graduate group chairs.
  • attended an all-day TRAIL workshop and inaugural First Year Writing Symposium.
  • attended and participated in library strategic planning meetings.
  • met with the new librarian at my previous institution. The notes I wrote seem to be helping, and I’m really glad I prepared them and cleaned up files as much as I did. I wish her the best!

Below is a list of what’s on the horizon for this fall and the academic year.

  • For this academic year, I’m serving as the local secretary for LAUC-M (I am featured on the main LAUC website this month!), member of  LAUC’s Research and Professional Development Committee, and member of our library’s Student Recognition Committee.
  • We’re starting to book instruction sessions, and I’m looking forward to working with faculty/lecturers and students in the classroom. It’s nice to be in a library where there are strong relationships with the writing lecturers. My experience as a writing tutor in college is what helped me realize I enjoyed working with college students. A big shout out to my long-time friends Matt and Heather who began this work with the library in 2013! I’m also excited that the pilot for the Writing Center in the library is continuing this year.
  • I started my tenure as the incoming co-convener for the Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group! This group is what encouraged me to get more involved in professional library associations back in 2014. A big shout-out for the folks who encouraged me to apply to be a co-convener. I’m truly honored. This is the type of group where folks are on the leadership for three years, first as incoming convener, convener, and then a post-convener to help the new conveners. We had out first meeting via Google Hangouts this last week. We submitted a proposal to have a panel session at this year’s ALA Annual Conference. I’m hoping our group gets a slot. The idea is that the interest group at large will vote on three presentation topics submitted by group members. The panel members will be those with the winning proposals. Our next meeting is in October. In addition to planning, I will also be helping to manage the Facebook group.
  • I’m also continuing my tenure as a member of ACRL’s CJCLS’ Communications Committee. I started my appointment in 2015, and although I am no longer at a community college, I will be carrying out my role through June 2017. I help out with the Scholarship page on the blog and have written a couple of blog posts. I am thinking about pitching Zotero for the Scholarship page content.
  • I was secretary for ACRL’s IS’ Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee in 2015/2016, and I’m continuing as a member of the group for 2016/2017. We’ll be focused on updating the Multilingual Glossary. Our next meeting is in mid-September.
  • My colleagues and I are going to visit the Yosemite Research Library at the end of September.

Stay tuned! I am having a great time here. I’m looking forward to this semester.

National Diversity in Libraries Conference (NDLC) 2016

This was a really great conference, and not just because I went to Universal Studies Hollywood to look at the Harry Potter section of the park when the conference was over. 😉

I’m a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to things like this, so it might not be that exciting for more seasoned folks, but I co-presented a poster for the first time! I am on ACRL’s Instruction Section’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee, and during the last year, we have been updating a selected bibliography of resources for inclusive library instruction. A few of us from the committee decided to present a poster on our work to help advertise the bibliography. I met one of my committee colleagues in June at another conference, but it was nice to get to talk with the other group members in person. Working online with this group has been a great experience. This coming year, we’ll be working on the Multilingual Glossary. Click here for the description of our poster.

NDLC Poster

For quick access (the tl;dr version), here are the sessions I attended in a list. The links take you to the descriptions from the program. Below this list, I have included my notes/thoughts for each session. I really need to start doing summaries when they are more fresh in my mind.

Keynote Address

We had the very great honor of hearing a message from Lakota Harden. She spoke a little about her background, including her time at a residential boarding school; her people’s relationship to water; the protests happening against the Dakota pipeline; and unlearning racism and gender discrimination.

Harden took a few questions, as well. Someone asked about preservation and access to items in museums and archives. Harden asked how many of us had visited the National Museum of the American Indian. “How did those things get there?” Talk about living in a post-colonial world view. I didn’t grow up going to museums, so I have always thought of these these places as “fancy”rather than as places that serve to make a spectacle of native culture for the enjoyment of non-native people. But it is true. (Here is Ulali’s song “Museum Cases.”) She explained that when people visit or drive by reservations, they don’t want to see reality and yearn for a romanticized view of Native Americans. This makes me think about the part in Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad where Cora and a few other young black women posed for a museum installation. Harden explained that things were being returned to native populations.

She also spoke about white people’s tendency to “help” as a way to feel better and get an “innocent certificate.” Someone asked how the library community could help native voices. Harden expressed that the act of listening and hearing lifts the weight of the loss of language, devastation, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, and lack of education affecting Native American peoples. Someone else asked about the lack of native representation in children’s literature, and Harden expressed that native communities are dealing with very scary, difficult situations, so it’s not surprising that there is a lack of materials. She asked that we become allies, that we continue to include native voices in our collections and programs, that we go out to meet the native community where they are and listen. “Coming together is a sacred act.”

Identity at Play: Exploring Racial and Identity Theory in Everyday Experiences in Academic Libraries

This panel was slightly different from that described on the program. The focus of the program was on these three questions.

  1. What is identity theory? How do race/ethnicity shape our sense of self?
  2. What does intersectionality mean? How do we unpack it?
  3. How can we apply this framework to our work?

In introducing racial and identity theory, the panelists asked us to think about how identity may play out in the library. Asking for help is simply uncomfortable; it’s a sign of vulnerability. One of the participants shared a story where a student who was not white had waited a really long time to ask a librarian a question related to blackness because she waited for a non-white librarian. I can understand how the student would have been uncomfortable, not just asking for help, but asking for help from someone who may or may not be an ally. The panelists brought up Hall’s chapter in The 21st Century Black Librarian in America (2012), “The Black Body at the Reference Desk: Critical Race Theory and Black Librarianship.” It sounded really familiar, and then I realized I had come across the citation in Hathcock’s article “White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS” (2015) from In the Library With the Lead Pipe.

In the intersectionality section, the panelists introduced the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term in 1989. The panelists also pointed to Crenshaw’s Washington Post article from September 2015, “Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait.”

In my notes, I also listed the citations below, but I have no context for why I wrote them down.

Bonnet, J.L., & McAlexander, B. (2013). First impressions and the reference encounter: The influence of affect and clothing on librarian approachability. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 4 (39), 335-346. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2012.11.025

Ortega, A.C., & Ramos, M. (2012). Recruiting and mentoring: Proactive mentoring: Attracting Hispanic American students in information studies. In J.L. Ayala & Salvador Guereña (Eds.), Pathways to progress: Issues and advances in Latino librarianship (103-124). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Price (2010)? Why would I write only this? I should use this to show students why taking good notes saves a lot of hair-pulling.

Academic Libraries Spearheading Diversity and Cultural Initiatives on University Campuses

In this lightning round, librarians from four institutions shared what they have been doing on their campuses to support diversity and introducing students to new cultures.

I was very impressed by the programming work at the University of Cincinnati Library. One thing they did was provide students with diversity/inclusion journals at the beginning of the year. These are just composition books, so not at all expensive. During each cultural event or program, the library provided a writing prompt for students to reflect on. The journals were not collected; the intent was to help cultivate a culture of writing. While the librarians shared several wonderful examples of diversity programming and events, there were two that I was very interested in. Around Thanksgiving, the library held an event called Coming Together to Give Thanks. The speakers were students who shared cultural foods, rituals, and traditions from their home countries or ethnic backgrounds. I was also very drawn to the library’s Reading Around the World book club. Click here to find their LibGuide to learn more about it.

At the University of Tennessee Knoxville, there is a campus-wide diversity committee with library representation. I believe there are also campus representatives on the library’s diversity committee. For the last 15 years, the University Libraries have had a three-year diversity residency program. I was very impressed to learn that the library still has a relationship with former residents. The university also has an Office for Diversity and Interculturalism, a Black Issues Conference, and an International Festival. I didn’t write down how the library is involved, which is a bummer, but I can contact the librarians who spoke about these programs and events. The campus and the library seem very engaged in diversity efforts.

Chapman University, which has an emphasis on global citizenship, has a very robust exhibit program focused on diversity in its Leatherby Libraries. Essraa Nawar (check out her TED Talk!), the library development coordinator, explained that she has had great success in pairing fundraising with diversity efforts. I was so blown away by the sorts of donors and exhibits they have had at Chapman that I didn’t even write down a single example.

I was so happy to see folks from California State University Fresno! I’m a CSU graduate–both for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and Fresno is just south of Merced. I was also very impressed with the Henry Madden Library‘s diversity work both in and outside the library. Click here to see the library’s diversity committee Facebook page. The committee supports the university’s mission to promote and celebrate diversity through library programming and exhibits, LGBTQ Allies, Library Diversity Lounge, Meditation and Prayer Room, and International Coffee Hour Presentations.

Educating the Educators: Proactive Approaches to the Inclusive Classroom

This session was comprised of two individual presentations. The first presentation was given by Paula M. Smith from Penn State Abington and focused on the Global Awareness Dialogue Project (GADP). GADP is a faculty development program that engages faculty in the exchange of ideas about contemporary global issues in education, with an emphasis on non-Western educational systems. The sessions are three hours long and are open to 20 or so faculty members who register for the program.

After Smith introduced the session, we were asked to complete The Numbers Exercise, which was developed by Roxanna Senyshyn and Marianne Brandt. Essentially, it’s a list of simple math problems, but the directions indicate that subtract means to multiply; divide means to add; add means to divide; and multiply means to subtract. So 12 x 2 really means 12-2. After a few minutes, Smith asked how we felt completing the worksheet. I said it was stressful. The idea behind this is that this is the sort of frustration international and immigrant students feel navigating American academic life.

Smith then discussed the types of GADP sessions they have had at the university. In one program,  a panel of international and immigrant students, representing East Asian, African, South Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds, were able to tell faculty members about some struggles they have had in the classroom. For example, Chinese students were not familiar with cursive. Students were Googling the characters one by one! The students also said they felt stupid because many of their classmates would leave exams early. Chinese students, if given 30 minutes, will use the whole time. There are also some challenges about what academic integrity means in a western framework. What a wonderful way to include student voices and help faculty foster more inclusive classrooms.

I’m really itching to talk to someone about this, but being so new, I’m not sure it’s appropriate for me. However, the person in charge of Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning is also new. We actually sat next to each other at the new employee orientation.

One neat thing I jotted down that was a result of one of the GADP sessions was that faculty members who speak more than one language started putting little stickers (or signs) on their windows/doors that said, “My name is_____. I speak ________.” How fabulous! I’m thinking about doing that underneath the name plate on my office window.

The second presentation was given by Shannon Simpson from Johns Hopkins University. She helped developed the Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments (TILE), which is a toolkit of “best practices [and] a repository of specific examples that all faculty are welcome to replicate or re-use.”

Simpson shared a sample assignment that professors/librarians teaching information literacy, business, marketing, and communication could use. It’s a simple but effective assignment. “In 2014 a food and entertainment public relations firm called Strange Fruit was the subject of a media backlash. Ask the students to Google the term strange fruit to see why.” (I literally gasped out loud that no one at this company knew what this meant!) Students then answer these questions:

  • To what does the term refer?
  • Where did the term originate and who has used it since then?
  • What would you tell this firm if during the media firestorm they had come to you for advice?

During the session, we also did a pair-share in which we came up with groups or people we could partner with to share about TILE, such as a diversity committee, student life/affinity groups, teaching and learning groups, university departments, human resources, provost/president’s office, and other relevant people or groups. I plan to share this resource with the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning. I will probably also share this resource with some of the writing lecturers I know who I think would be interested in this. I also plan to ask my colleagues from ACRL’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee if we can add this resource to the bibliography; the general resources section is a great catch-all.

Why We Stay: The Motivation of Veteran Underrepresented Minority Academic Librarians

I actually met Antonia (Toni) Olivas trying to find where the keynote address was going to be held, and I am glad I was able to attend the session she was moderating. While Olivas was completing her dissertation on motivational theory, she realized she wanted to do a larger project and decided to edit a book. Choosing to Lead: The Motivational Factors of Underrepresented Minority Librarians in Higher Education will be published in early 2017, and I can’t wait to read it.

At the beginning of the session, Olivas briefly discussed Chan and Drasgow’s (2001) Motivation to Lead (MTL), which includes personality, values, self-efficacy, and previous experience. Motivational identities include affective, social normative, and non-calculative. Most minority librarians stay in the profession due to these identities.

This panel was organized around the themes of the chapters in Olivas’ book. The panelists included Shannon Jones, Oscar Baeza, and Binh P Le. Each gave advice or their perspective based on the themes of the chapters. I actually found this to be a very applicable session, and I honestly feel like the advice is helpful for all new and early career librarians.

Chapter 1, for example, is on self-development, and Jones explained that librarians should have a strategic plan for themselves. Write your own SWOT analysis and make a three-year career road map. I haven’t actually done this before. I have had goals and met them and made new goals, but I’ve not ever done this systematically. This is definitely a project I need to undertake this semester, especially as I have started a new job.

Chapter 2 is on knowing yourself. Baeza explained that librarians should know who they are, including knowing their strengths and weaknesses and where they come from. He emphasized family history. I find this to be absolutely true. Every time I begin to think of myself as not being successful, I remind myself that my family is proud of me. That is enough. I am so thankful for the support they have given me, even if they didn’t understand what I was doing.

Chapter 3 is on trust. Le said it plainly, “People need to trust you in order for you to lead.”

Chapter 4 is on family impact. This sort of goes with chapter 2 for me. Jones shared a beautiful story about her grandmother wanting her grandchildren to go to college, to do the things she was not given the opportunity to do as black woman born in 1912. Jones’ grandmother had a seventh grade education. She had a saying that if people wanted to keep things from black people, they would put them in books. She cultivated a culture of reading, taking her grandchildren to the library and teaching them that they should look for answers to questions. It was so touching to hear Jones talk about the impact her grandmother made on her life.

Chapter 5 is on support groups. Jones mentioned that mentors are “for a reason and a season.” I find this to be true. Currently, I realize I am in need of a couple of new mentors. She also mentioned that mentors advise and friends inspire. Certainly, your mentor should be a cheerleader in some ways, but constructive criticism is needed, too.The other thing Jones said that I found particularly inspiring was to be brave enough to walk through doors people open for you. I was intimidated about starting my new job, but then I heard from one of my references about a conversation she had had with the folks here. Without saying too much, I knew it would be both a place where I could help the library meet its goals and mission and also grow as person and professional. Jones also advised that we ought to open doors for others. If you are in the position of being a mentor, be honest, realistic, responsive, and create an exit strategy for the mentorship for both yourself and the person you are mentoring if it doesn’t work out. s

Chapter 6 has to do with involvement. Some of the most fulfilling experiences for me have been participating in campus and national committees. I am really glad that I didn’t shy away from contributing where I could in my previous job, and I am also finding ways to contribute at my new employer, both in the library and university-wide. Le really spoke well when he said committee work is not something we should avoid but actively seek out, even if it means you have to ask how you can contribute if there isn’t a specific call.

Chapter 7 is on preventing burn out. I know this is the area where I struggle. The panelists all emphasized that self-care is essential, and each shared some ways that they blow off steam or find inspiration, from keeping thank you notes to finding non-library people to you can vent to. Jones also advised that we ought to be selective about projects we take on. Some questions to ask yourself include whether an opportunity fits within your plan and/or if you can do it well in addition to your other duties and responsibilities

We skipped a couple of chapters to wrap up the session, but one of the last words of advice I wrote down was that it’s okay to sell yourself and toot your own horn.

The Library as Connector: Creating Collaborative Outreach Opportunities for Diverse Student Populations

I was really interested in attending this session because one of the people on the ACRL committee I am on works at University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and I also wanted to see my fellow University of California colleagues Roberto Delgadillo and Robin Gustafson from the University Library at UC Davis. This was a fantastic session!

The UNLV University Libraries have done fantastic work with the LGBT community at the university and area high schools. I was impressed, and it was good to know that the library is helping students who may be struggling with their identity find a place where they can be themselves and be successful college students.

The presenters introduced research about why it is important for them to work with LGBTQ students. GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey “… has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.” The presenters briefly asked if anyone in the audience had seen the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Ask Me video. I have, and it is very moving. In the video, LGBTQ students express what they want their professors to know. Lastly, the presenters shared a book called Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter (2010). Not only can the library “play a big role by providing student access to LGBTQ people, history, and events through library and internet sources,” but we can also build a community where students can pursue education and learning with less fear. Click here to check out the UNLV University Libraries’ LGBTQIA LibGuide.

In order to build community, the University Libraries have had some really neat events. For example, for this year’s REMixed Week (as a culturally mixed person, I was really excited to see this), the Lied Library, in collaboration with UNLV’s  Center for Social Justice, MEChA, Jean Nidetch Women’s Center, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University, and Students Organizing Diversity Activities (SODA), held a paint party and screening of Transvisible: The Bamby Salcedo Story. The library also participated in the Coming Out Carnival and GSA Talent Show. They also held a Banned Books Buffet Book Tasting, which was an interactive, self-paced event that highlighted books censored for various reasons. The library also has helped foster partnerships between the University’s GSA and the GSAs at area high schools.

The presentation from from UC Davis focused on how the library aligned its diversity goals to the campus goals by creating strategic partnerships to empower all students. This presentation was interesting because it included mini presentations from the director for the new Strategic Chicana/o and Latina/o Retention Initiatives and the director for Academic Services in the  the Athletics department at UC Davis, who touched on how the library has been assisting in their efforts to aid Latino students and student-athletes. While the University doesn’t yet have a center for Chicana/o and Latina/o students yet, it does have a Center for African Diaspora Student Success and plans to open a Native American student center and a center for Chicana/o and Latina/o students. (Click here to see a list of multicultural resources available at UC Davis.) In reaching the student-athletes, the library has helped in a life skills class that is designed for athletes but is not required. In the class, the library has given workshops and gone over services, such as the 24/7 chat service. The library also has allowed the football team to have evening study sessions. The Academic Services director from the Athletics Department let participants know that every athletics department has academic services staff and suggested getting in contact to form a collaboration to reach student-athletes.

Library Instruction West 2016 Conference Notes

In early June, I traveled with two of my new colleagues to the Library Instruction West 2016 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. I hadn’t ever been to Utah before, nor this conference, so it was a neat experience, and it was nice to be among instruction-specific librarians. Here are my notes from the sessions I attended.

Teaching, Learning, and Vulnerability in Digital Places

I had the pleasure of listening to Donna Lanclos’ keynote address. Lanclos is an anthropologist at UNC Chapel Hill. Her work for the last few years has been in studying higher education and academic libraries. Although you can find a much better summary about her talk here, her keynote centered on the idea that online is a place, and we need to work towards making this learning place welcoming to our students, and, to do that, we need to have professional empathy. We need to work for the connection in our online spaces. Although our Moodle and Blackboard course shells have spaces for discussion boards, why are students still creating Facebook groups for their classes? Why are students leaving the course management system to find humanity elsewhere online?

Rather than have people fill out surveys, Lanclos, in her work as an anthropologist, had people annotate their emotions related to different online spaces. On one end of the spectrum are places in the online world that are used like a toolbox in which one acts as visitor. On the other end of the spectrum are the online places in which one is a resident engaging and communicating in community. This was a very revealing exercise. In my notes, I made quick note about my online world. There are times and places online in which I act as visitor, but there are other places in which I am a resident. For example, when I had Twitter, I was an occasional visitor. Facebook is where I engage, and this had to do with personal comfort. I did not feel comfortable engaging with librarians on Twitter. The most vocal people are the ones who are heard, and I don’t have a style that is bold, sarcastic, or witty. I didn’t feel like I belonged.

Lanclos is asking us to carefully examine how we can make online learning be more personal and human. Vulnerability, she argues, is mostly approached from a personal level. If we do not give away some personal things, we seem unapproachable. There is utility in sharing, but we need to examine vulnerability in other ways, as well. Vulnerability can be characterized negatively and positively, as risky or risk-taking. When one is part of the power structure, being vulnerable is seen as risk-taking. When one is not part of the power structure, vulnerability is seen as risky behavior. How much humanity do we put out there until it is deemed risky? This is what our students are negotiating. We need to think about the values we are expressing in our instruction.

In academia, we are asked to be more empathetic and vulnerable with our students, but Lanclos indicates that what we really owe students is professional vulnerability—flexibility and transparency. With regard to library services, the classroom, and the university, we are constantly finding ways to make the process more seamless, but there is something in showing students messiness, the seams (we need to be seam-y). Being transparent in our teaching is an act of professional vulnerability. Dave Cormier writes about rhizomatic learning in his article “Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum” (2008). This type of learning and teaching is very challenging because it is centered on being vulnerable. In this inquiry-based environment, it is okay not to know the answer and engage in the half-formed ideas. We need to model to students that experimentation and not knowing are part of the learning process.

Our students will learn to challenge themselves if we model the messy process of learning, and librarians are uniquely positioned to model process given that are expertise is focused on process versus content. For the librarian, however, challenges remain in being a seam-y teacher. How do we work with low faculty expectations and a university that may view the library as a checkbox versus a partner? How do we develop relationships in the one-shot model?

I really liked Lanclos’ overview of the work she did in having people map their emotions related to online environments. You can read more about the visitors and residents continuum here.

In which environments do you act as a visitor? Where are you a resident? What is the reason for the difference? How might this exercise be adapted in your classroom? I feel like it pairs really well with Kuhlthau’s ISP model, because there are also emotions researchers experience in the research process. How might you create an online learning environment that is safe for students to be human?

Demonstrating Dialogue: Using the ACRL Framework to Teach Scholarship as a Conversation

This active learning workshop was conducted by Sarah LeMire of Texas A&M University. Before the activity portion of the workshop, LeMire and the participants discussed the scholarship as conversation frame, addressing the challenges and opportunities and strategies in teaching this concept.

Opportunities include engaging with multiple viewpoints, recognizing privilege, student contributions as information producers, and the interconnected nature of scholarship. Some conceptual challenges in teaching this frame are that scholarship is mediated in a way conversation are not; conversation is give and take, though not all research is, and because scholarship is mediated, there are barriers to access and some voices are marginalized. Some of the practical challenges in teaching these concepts are the reliance on the binary (scholarly vs. popular), pro/con assignments, and privileging academic viewpoints. Students are used to consuming information, so having them participate as producers can be challenging with this frame.

Some strategies include recognizing the relationship between authors’ work, engaging students in roles as information creators, critically challenging privilege, focusing on how authority differs based on context, and demonstrating that there can be different viewpoints.

Although I feel that LeMire did an excellent job in having the audience participate in the activity, what I was looking for were actual activities or lessons I could adapt surrounding this particular frame. While I did learn some ideas from the group I was in, because we spent the time developing learning outcomes for this frame, we didn’t get very far in actually developing an idea for the outcome. I also didn’t get to hear much from the other participants due to time, so, for me, I didn’t get a lot out of this to share with colleagues except that it was a good example of how to do active learning.

We were divided into groups based on the populations we serve, such as lower division undergraduate students in one-shot sessions, etc. Each group was then given a series of 3×5 cards with words written on them. We had to make three learning outcomes based on the scholarship as conversation frame from these cards. After creating outcomes, one member of the group selected one of the props LeMire provided, a toy telephone. We had to develop an activity focused on one of the learning outcomes we had created based on the prop. For example, using a smartphone, we could have an activity where students could get in parts to explore a hashtag and a do a think-pair-share, or they could ask each other who they would call to learn about a topic being discussed in class. Or what might certain people in their contacts lists have to say about the topic?  Who could they not reach with a phone? Another activity someone came up with was the have students work in pairs to find a social issue on Twitter and explore the different people and perspectives in the conversations. The students could then share findings with the class.

Teaching or Tyranny: Class and Course Guides

In this presentation, Nancy Noe from Auburn University took a close look at LibGuides, a tool many librarians use to develop subject, course, and class online research guides. You can download Noe’s slides here. The slides also offer articles to read on this subject. She became interested in doing more research about online guides when helping a student one day who corrected her in how to find something based on the pathway he had learned from a one-shot instruction session that used an online guide. Noe examined 500 guides from 9 institutions and found that most of the guides looked like subject guides and while useful for librarians, they weren’t utilized much by students. She also was critical of online guides because they are not a learning tool and “dehumanizes the nature of inquiry.” In a time when education is incorporating more active learning techniques and when librarianship is moving towards a more holistic view of information literacy, I can understand where she is coming from in light of critical pedagogy. The presentation also reminded me of an article by Hicks that I read last year, “LibGuides: Pedagogy to Oppress?,” in Hybrid Pedagogy.

However, there is room for directories in our landscape. Throughout the presentation, I kept thinking about the visitors and resident continuum Lanclos introduced in her keynote address at the conference. Second, simply analyzing a LibGuide does not tell you what is being done in the classroom with the guides. There could be analog activities going on in conjunction with the tools on the guide. At my own institution, some of the librarians also create online activities that are embedded into the guide, so while that shows evidence of active learning, but I can think of times at my previous job at a community college where I used a guide with paper-based activities in the classroom. Third, library instruction programs do not merely consist of guides; they are not being used a substitution for teaching.

I am not defending the standard guide as much as I am saying that everything has its place, from the subject guide that merely points out some of the subject-specific databases and websites to the class guide full of interaction and focus on process and inquiry.

I do appreciate the fact that she indicated that there didn’t seem to be much difference between subject and course guides from the guides she analyzed. Her willingness to look into a tool critically that the profession embraces can help us to be more critical of the guides we make, and it also speaks to the importance of continuing to reach out to faculty regarding instructional efforts and working with them to develop instructional materials. There is no point to make these things if instructors do not use them or recommend that students use them.

The Road Untraveled: Alternative Outreach for Instruction

In this presentation, Carrie Moran and Rachel Mulvihill of the University of Central Florida shared how the library has reached out and engaged with campus partners to reach faculty and students. You can find the presentation slides here. Traditionally, many libraries outreach to specific departments through subject specialists and liaison models. For example, there might a librarian who is the psychology librarian or there may be librarians who are responsible for reaching out to faculty in a few specific majors. UCF Libraries, instead, have sought partnerships based on specific programs, such as the graduate school, first year experience program, Honors program, online programs, international student program, transfer student program, and faculty.

The library partnered with the Center for Distributed Learning to put the library’s information literacy modules in the learning object repository and had them incorporate library tools into Canvas, the university’s learning management system (from the image on the slides, it looks like they incorporating library tools into Canva using the LibGuides CMS). They also worked with instructional designers to design a Library Canvas Course.

Rather than start new ideas from scratch, the library sought places where library expertise could contribute to what other programs were already doing. The library found ways to reach the campus community through an online video presentation with the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, presented at New Faculty Orientations, played a role in the Summer Research Academy through the Office of Undergraduate Research, held College of Graduate Studies workshops in scholarly communication and a dissertation forum. For the Honors program, the library held an Honors in the Major workshop covering research basics (the library got a list of students with their majors prior to the workshop) and a series of thesis development workshops. They partnered with Transfer and Transition Services’ Foundations of Excellence Transfer Initiative, participating in two interdepartmental workshops, “Bagels with TTS” and “Are You on the Knight Track? Transfer Student Seminar.” To help with library myth-busting at New Student Orientations, the library invited First Year Experience Orientation leaders to go to the library for a session. Although too much time has passed for me to make sense of my notes, the library also did something with the Office of Research and Commercialization.

Moran also offered that the library can also seek out partnerships with non-academic departments, such as personal/social groups or clubs. For example, being involved with the Pride Faculty and Staff Association at UCF, United Faculty of Florida UCF chapter, and the Center for Success of Women Faculty has fostered opportunities for library outreach. Being on search committees can also foster opportunities. The library definitely needs to meet people where they are and get involved with the spaces, places, and activities other departments do on campus.

There is something I wrote here regarding librarian paper dolls and insomnia cookies. I’m a little bummed I can’t remember the details, but I can always contact the presenters. It was a fun, inspiring presentation.

Breaking it Down and Climbing Back Up: Learning Theories & Approached to Instruction

In this presentation, Erica DeFrain from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Julia Glassman and Doug Worsham from UCLA, and Nicole Pagowsky from the University of Arizona discussed using active learning, constructivism, and critical pedagogy as instructional strategies to motivate learners and make learning memorable, meaningful, and transformative.  You can download the slides and the handout that went along with this presentation here.

During the first part of the presentation, the presenters had us work in pairs and think and share about a time when learning was memorable, meaningful, and transformative. I really struggled with this question, and I know that reflecting on our own positive and negative learning experiences can inform our own instruction, but I think transformative is what threw me off. Using our experiences, we made a list of characteristics. For example, what makes learning memorable, meaningful, and transformative might be that it is authentic and engaging and happens when learners and teachers are motivated and motivating.

  • Active learning focuses on being memorable.
  • Social constructivism focuses on being meaningful.
    • Constructivism: we learn when we build knowledge with our concepts and experience.
    • Social constructivism: we learn when we interact with each other to build knowledge with concepts and experience (this is why we were doing think-pair-share)
  • Critical pedagogy focuses on being transformative.
    • Social justice perspective that challenges status quo and how things are/came to be
    • “Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom and mere opinions to understand deep meanings, root causes, social contexts, ideologies, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse.” (Shor, Empowering Education, 1992, p. 129)

Interestingly, the panelists asked who had trouble coming up with an experience from higher education that was memorable, meaningful, and transformative and prompted a discussion about barriers to this kind of learning. Barriers that our group came up with include lecture forma, lack of confidence, language/culture, research vs. teaching focus, quantitative assessment, prescription, and lack of personal interaction.

The next part of the presentation had us look at one of four case studies. We were asked to identify the learning outcome for the case study we selected, and then were asked to develop active, constructivist, and critical approaches for this learning outcome. I really struggled with this workshop. I think it was more helpful for me to hear from other people about what they would do, but, unfortunately, I didn’t write anything down. I think this might be a good in-house professional development session for instruction librarian teams to do.

Note: I’m not sure why, but I wrote down Bean’s Engaging Ideas (2011).

Mapping Landmarks in the Territory: What do Threshold Concepts Look Like to Students?

This was possibly my absolute favorite presentation and workshop of the whole conference! Margy MacMillan of Mount Royal University analyzed the transcripts of 400 student interviews from a long-term qualitative study of the student experience at Mount Royal University. The questions and initial study did not originate with the library, so the questions were not specific to research. MacMillan, independently, decided to see if anything in the interviews revealed students’ experience with information literacy. She specifically wanted to know if students were touching on anything related to the threshold concepts (now called conceptual understandings) outlined in the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. She coded all the data based on the specific concepts or concepts and also indicated students’ various stages learning of the concept, such as unaware, aware, or understood. Some students could not see any “doorways,” “where lack of awareness of a frame is a barrier to learning.” Other students “…appear to be looking through a frame, but may not have crossed a threshold, and other reflect the impact of gaining a deeper understanding of the frame, and how that changed the participant’s view of research, information, or learning.” Understanding where students may be struggling based on their perspective can help inform the language we use in instruction and in the development of activities and assignments.

After introducing her work, MacMillan also had us try out this metacognition reading exercise. We read and coded various excerpts from transcripts that she had pre-cut. She asked us each to find a partner and look over the strips together. My partner pulled up the Framework on her laptop, so we could see the concepts, practices, and dispositions. Together, we coded the strips based on the concepts we thought students were touching upon. Below are some photos from the data my partner and I coded.

During the session, I remarked what a great exercise this would be for librarians and writing faculty to do with our own student populations. At my library, we have Instruction Brown Bag meetings every so often to talk about new ideas, things we have read, or presentations we have watched. We’re actually meeting tomorrow to go over things we learned at this conference. We mostly attended different sessions, so we could get the most out of the conference program. I’m planning to share this research and idea. I am also going to a workshop on Friday where I might have time to talk to a writing lecturer and longtime online friend (I was a writing tutor for her students at my undergrad institution where she was a new instructor) about this idea. I know that in the past that the writing sections participating in the pilot with embedded information literacy had a reflective writing assignment, so I am curious if those could be looked at again and coded…

MacMillan also provided her PowerPoint slides and notes from the discussion part of the presentation and workshop. You find these documents here. For more information about the data collected through four rounds of Assessment Seminar interviews at MRU, see http://bit.ly/mruasem. Contact MacMillan at mmacmillan@mtroyal.ca and @margymaclibrary.

Note: It appears that someone may have introduced what they feel is a missing frame in the framework: Reading as Translation. That’s all I wrote next to the listed frames. I wish I had been more precise in my note-taking.

Lofty Conversations, Grounding Teaching: “Threshold Concepts,” “Decoding the Disciplines,” and Our Pedagogical Praxis

In this presentation, Andrea Baer of the University of West Georgia introduced threshold concepts, the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, and the Decoding the Disciplines model. She related the model to threshold concepts, and asked how we might apply this model in our teaching of the conceptual understandings found in the Framework. This presentation made me think about “Inventing the University,” in which Bartholomae (1985) speaks to the idea of demystifying academic writing.  Working in groups, we discussed how we might apply the decoding model for a specific scenario. You can find Baer’s slides at the link here; make sure to check out her reference list.

Land, Meyer, and Baille (2010) write that threshold concepts are “core or foundational concepts that, once grasped by the learner, create new perspectives and ways of understanding a discipline of challenging knowledge domain.” Meyer and Land (2003) characterize these concepts as being transformative, irreversible, integrative, bounded, and troublesome. Formerly, ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education identified six threshold concepts, but due to some disagreement about whether the frames really are threshold concepts, the frames are now called conceptual understandings. These threshold concepts or conceptual ways of understanding offer a way to “…articulate…shared beliefs providing multiple ways of helping us name what we know and how we can use what we know…” (Yancey, Introduction to Naming What We Know, 2015). They provide a lens.

The six core concepts, which address areas that students can find difficult or messy to understand, include:

  • Authority is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration

Bottlenecks of learning, as noted by Anderson (1996) cited in Middendorf and Pace (2004), are “points in a course where the learning of a significant number of students in interrupted.” For example, in history, students may struggle with what is essential and nonessential information. In literature, students may struggle with the idea that they must interpret and argue based on textual evidence, rather than gut instinct.

Each discipline has its own ways of thinking. Middendorf and Pace (2004) note that many students are not necessarily taught disciplinary skills, practices, or ways of thinking, nor are given much practice. There are seven decoding steps instructors can take to help students learn these skills, practices, and ways of thinking. They include:

  • Identifying cognitive and affective bottlenecks—where are students getting stuck?
  • Unpacking a process—how does an expert do this task/process?
  • Modeling—how can the task/process be demonstrated explicitly?
  • Student practice and feedback—what opportunities can students have to engage in the task and get feedback?
  • Motivation—how will students be motivated?
  • Assessment—how well are students doing the task?
  • Sharing results—how can the gained knowledge about learning be shared with other educators?

The last point made me think about Lanclos’ keynote with regard to professional vulnerability.

Threshold concepts are similar to bottlenecks of learning in that both address the stickiness students face when working through the lens of a particular discipline. While threshold concepts provide the conceptual understandings in a discipline, decoding provides a model for instructional planning in the discipline.

How might we apply decoding to the Framework? How can these challenging concepts be explored through modeling and activities?

  • What are the bottlenecks?
  • How can we unpack the process?
  • How can we model it?
  • What sorts of activities can we have students do and what kind of feedback might they get?
  • What will be the motivation for students to learn this concepts?
  • How might we assess this concept?
  • How might we share results?

At this point in the presentation, Baer had us think of a discipline in which we often work and identify where students often get stuck when doing research of using sources in that context. Someone in our group mentioned that when he works with students in the social sciences who are writing literature reviews, they often get stuck in how to annotate and synthesize the information from the scholarship. This relates to the threshold concept Scholarship as Conversation. While the process had been unpacked, the process hadn’t been modelled explicitly and the students hadn’t had opportunities to practice and get feedback before turning in their literature reviews. Together, we discussed strategies for activities students could do. One of the group members had actually attended a workshop called “Bridge t­­­­­­he Gap Between Faculty Expectation and Student Experience: Teaching Students to Annotate and Synthesize Sources” that introduced activities to help students write annotations and read and synthesize articles, so he shared those materials and activities with us. You can find the presentation slides and other information, including activities and lesson plan, for the Bridge the Gap session on this LibGuide. The accompanying source sheets, summary table, and the lesson plan are all available for download.

From ‘Design Thinking’ to ‘Design Knowing’: Re-conceptualizing Librarianship as a Design Discipline Webinar

My interest in design thinking began when I took the Hyperlinked Library MOOC in Fall 2013, although I only completed half the modules. The following summer, I took User Experience as an independent course through San José State’s iSchool Open Classes. If you’ve happened to poke around in my blog (it’s really to a means to keep track of what I read, conferences, projects, etc.), you’ll find that I’ve written about my interest in learning and instructional design.  I’m still contemplating a second Masters or certificate. My current job is focused on instruction, which includes the design of learning objects to aid the research and instruction process. I’d like some more formal learning and training.

I finally had the opportunity to watch the May 12, 2016, recording of the Blended Librarians Online Community webinar “From ‘Design Thinking’ to ‘Design Knowing’: Re-conceptualizing Librarianship as a Design Discipline.” Rachel Ivy Clarke recently earned a Ph.D. at the University of Washington Information School; her research centers on this topic, and you can follow her @archivy, contact her at raclarke@uw.edu, or visit her website at archivy.net. The webinar stems from a letter Steven Bell wrote in response to an August 2015 report called “Re-envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations.” Clarke reached out to Bell after reading his letter, which sparked her interest in the subject of approaching librarianship from a design perspective. Steven Bell has also previously written on this topic in his November 2014 Library Journal post “MLD: Masters in Library Design, Not Science.”

Here is the webinar description:

Although librarianship is often traditionally framed as a science, librarians have always been designers: creators of tools and services ( everything from indexes to curricula to  ) that connect people with information. Librarians have never really explicitly conceptualized their work as design work or viewed themselves as designers. Recent years have seen an upsurge of interest in applying “design thinking” to library work, but librarianship also aligns with “design knowing”—foundations of knowledge in design that differentiate it from science.  (2016)

This was a really great webinar to explore both how design is a form of knowledge different from the sciences and humanities and the ways in which librarianship is a design discipline. It’s a compelling argument, and I am impressed with Clarke’s work.

Here are my notes with the examples Clarke used in the webinar.

“Designerly Ways of Knowing”

Design is concerned with the artificial world–making things in order to solve problems. Nigel Cross, a design scholar, developed “designerly ways of knowing” that span across different design fields. Clarke argues that these also span librarianship. She has pinpointed three “designerly ways of knowing,” which include creation of problem solutions, generation of knowledge through making, and design evaluation methods.

1. Creation of Wicked Problem Solutions

Designerly ways of knowing include the of creation artifacts, or things, to solve “wicked” problems; the way we frame these kinds of problems makes a significant impact on how the problems are solved. In librarianship, we create artifacts to solve information problems, including tangible items, such as indexes and pathfinders, or digital items, such as an online catalog or LibGuides; conceptual systems, such as the Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal Classification systems; and events, such as story times, or services, such as instructional curriculum.

Wicked problems are unique problems in that whatever context they are in, they can’t be solved the same way in a different context. They are interconnected, challenging problems without a single answer and aren’t solved through a traditional scientific approach; solutions, instead, are ranked as either better or worse and will vary depending on what aspect of the problem is being addressed. For example, solutions like a library catalog will vary depending on what is seen as the main problem–is it more to help people access materials, for inventory control, or to introduce people to diverse materials? Wicked problems also have many stakeholders with different perspectives, like librarians, administrators, and patrons. Are classification systems designed to help librarians, patrons, or both librarians and patrons?

2. Generation of Knowledge through Making: Iteration, Reflection, and Repertoire

We generate knowledge through the making processes, which include iteration, reflection, and  drawing on a repertoire of knowledge. The process of creating artifacts is as important as the results; the design cycle supports the idea of iteration. Clarke indicates that the design process is gaining traction in librarianship, and I find that she is correct. Check out Design Thinking for Educators and Design Thinking for Libraries. Clarke remarks, however, that reflection does not seem to be as strongly represented in design thinking as it relates to librarianship. She suggest that we are reflecting all the time without actually talking about it and that we might not recognize this as a legitimate form of knowledge in our profession. We typically might think of reflection as occurring in the test part of the design process, but reflection is intrinsic in the process–it is ongoing, or “in action,” as explains Clarke. (I really think she is onto something; I also see this in the research process. Reflection is not strongly emphasized in information literacy, either, but it is essential throughout the process. I know that professors sometimes have students write a reflection at the end of a research assignment, but some have students write in journals about the research process while students are working on a research assignment. Interestingly, at the end of the webinar when Clarke was taking questions, she commented that many people were mentioning that information literacy is a wicked problem.) Design also relies on repertoire; Clarke argues that librarians are often drawing upon past knowledge, experiences, and ideas they see to make decisions for their libraries.

3. Design Evaluation

Evaluation methods in design are also different than in science. Scientific evaluation methods like replication don’t work well for design work. Design is meant to come up with different solutions, not repetition. One method for evaluation in design is rationale–the justification and reason for design choices, which is based on how the problem has been framed. For example, if the purpose in keeping the Dewey Decimal Classification system is for a school library to be able to work more closely with the public library, that’s a better classification design for the school library to use than an author and genre classification system. Another method involves constructive critique–what works and doesn’t work in this particular design? The feedback furthers the artifact and furthers knowledge.

Implications: Research, Education, Practice

Librarians do all of these things. Clarke is arguing that we make design more explicit in research, education, and practice.

She and I also agree on a lot of things regarding current LIS research. I was tickled that she touched on the complaints that library research is not research-y enough; it’s more “this is what we did and how we did it.” I know I have been critical of that in the past myself, but that’s because I wasn’t thinking about our discipline as being a design discipline. Librarianship isn’t a hard science, and it isn’t a humanities discipline. I always tried to explain it as an applied field, but what does that really mean. Is it education? Clarke argues that these traditional measurements aren’t appropriate; she explains that research through design is emerging in user experience and interaction design fields, which may use some traditional evaluation methods but is not necessary for the research to be valid. How a library reports that they did something, which includes the rationale behind it, is valid research. We do need increased avenues for critique, and Clarke mentions that there does seem to be a growing interest with the rise of the critical librarianship movement. For example, critical librarianship critiques that the Dewey Decimal System, which comes from the Victorian era, emphasizes knowledge categories in white, Christian terms. However, the movement is still not grounded specifically in design. Perhaps our profession could arrange spaces where people could bring in their designs for critique as another mode of research; the Museums and the Web conference does this.

Clarke argues that Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) programs in North America offer no design courses. Students are introduced to design through MOOCs and workshops, or they become introduced to design while on the job. Taking the Hyperlinked Library MOOC and User Experience a few years after I graduated with my degree is what really got me thinking more about design. Clarke notes that the University of Washington is launching a new (online) course for its MLIS program in Fall 2016, Design Approaches to Librarianship. Clarke also says that MLIS programs lack the “studio environment” with ongoing feedback, a safe pace to practice and fail, how to reflect, and how to give and receive critique. Given that one of librarianship’s core values in lifelong learning, she argues that MLIS programs should encourage students to be proactive in increasing their skill sets. Not everything is going to be taught or learned in library school. I could not agree more!

Clarke believes that if we re-frame librarianship as a design discipline, we will create better designs. These better tools and services will help libraries be better at advocating about the library’s values, which may lead to more funding. Clarke claims, “Embracing design offers potential for empowerment.” Clarke shares a study she read about user experience librarians that showed that even these librarians do not see themselves as designers. It could be because the actual design work is being carried out by other departments, such as the IT Department. Since these librarians aren’t designing the tool, they feel like they have no power over how it will look or work. Many librarians also buy tool and products from vendors. Some of these perspectives could be changed with increased education, but workplaces could also build design tasks into job descriptions or offer support for design projects. As many libraries are beginning to have makerspaces and other kinds of innovation labs in their spaces, Clarke believes it is imperative that we consider thinking about librarianship from a design perspective. She asks, “How can we empower others to be makers if we don’t fully understand making ourselves?”

Thinking about librarianship as design also offers some broader considerations. Clarke sees that the values of librarianship–privacy, democracy, intellectual freedom, diversity–is what separates us from other information professions. She says, “Values are always embedded in design artifacts.” She explains that if we aren’t designing our systems, software, furniture, buildings, etc., our values are not carried out into the design.

I deeply enjoyed this webinar, and I watched it pretty closely, stopping the recording often to take notes and jot down the examples Clarke gave in showing the audience how the work of librarianship is entrenched in the discipline of design. I’m very interested in reading more of her work and more about design.

 

Research Design in Librarianship Sage Webinar

So back in September, I registered for Sage’s Research Design and Librarianship webinar because I wanted to learn more about the experience of librarians who went through Loyola Marymount University William H. Hannon Library’s Institute for Research Design in Librarianship. (Sage is the sponsor for the Institute in 2015 and 2016.)  I finally got the chance to watch the recording from Sept. 29th. I know it’s May. Can you tell I’m going through the last of my work files?

IRDL is an intensive two-week course in research methods and design to help librarians conduct original research. The IRDL is grant-funded for three years. I missed the deadline to apply for 2016 (a good thing since I didn’t know I’d be starting a new job during the Institute’s time frame), and the first year the IRDL was offered was in 2013, so I may not ever get the chance to apply, but I have always wanted to conduct my own research. As a community college faculty member, research is not required for tenure, and in my new job, research is also not required but it is highly valued, so I think this is  a great place for me to be. Unfortunately, with this change, it also means that the idea I had for a project needs to be tabled, but I just need another idea!

If you’re in the place where you have an idea but need some motivation to get yourself writing, check out this handy little guide, “Get Writing! Overcome Procrastination, Remove Roadblocks, and Create a Map for Success.” You might need to adapt some of it since this exercise works best with a partner. I attended the corresponding workshop, led by Jerilyn Veldof and Jon Jeffryes from the University of Minnesota Libraries, at the American Library Association Annual Conference in June 2014 in Las Vegas. It was very helpful, even though I didn’t have a strong idea of a topic to write on back then.

IRDL is definitely a need. Many librarians didn’t have to take a research methods course in graduate school. In college, I started off as a sociology major and took a research methods class, and in graduate school I took a research methods class in how to evaluate programs and services, but I am not confident in thinking I can devise a whole study. The poll at the beginning of the webinar showed that 41 percent of attendees were involved in research, but that 58 were not! 7.5 percent indicated they were not confident in their abilities to conduct research. Here is a citation to an article about this topic by one of the IRDL’s directors: Kennedy, M. R. & Brancolini, K. R. (2012). Academic librarian research: A survey of attitudes, involvement, and perceived capabilities. College & Research Libraries, 73(5): 431-448. doi:10.5860/crl-276

It was really interesting to hear about the research being done by three IRDL “graduates,” and it was also good to hear about how they have fostered a community to help support one another as they work on projects. I think that’s really part of the issue—not having colleagues engaged in original research studies.

These research summaries are taken directly from the webinar email reminder.

Frans Albarillo is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. His research focuses on how immigrant students use academic libraries. Frans has finished his first IRDL project on foreign-born students, and is writing up the results. He is preparing to start a second project with an IRDL fellow in the second year cohort that focuses on how graduate students and faculty use mobile devices for teaching and research.

He focused on this topic because he found that there was a lot of literature on international students but not on foreign-born/immigrant students. His works will begin to help fill a gap. He chose to do a survey and got 93 of his targeted 100 students to participate in the survey.

Frans

At the time of the webinar, John Jackson was the Reference & Instruction Librarian for Wardman Library at Whittier College; he is now Outreach Librarian at Loyola Marymount University. His current research examines the values that undergraduates place on the knowledge practices outlined in the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

What was really interesting about the research design in this work is that rather than have students tell the librarian what he or she would do in a given situation, Jackson instead read vignettes of a student named Jenny and then asked the students he was interviewing to offer advice about how she should proceed in the research process. Very neat!

John

Lisa Zilinski is the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Research Data Specialist. As part of the Scholarly Publishing, Archives, and Data Services Division, Lisa consults with faculty to identify data literacy opportunities, develops learning plans and tools for data education, and investigates and develops programmatic and sustainable data services for the Libraries. Her research experience focuses on research data management education and literacy principles; integration of data services into the research process; and assessment and impact of data services and activities.

Zilinski was re-recruiting faculty for her focus group. She was six months into her research project and changed institutions, which was a huge challenge. As a community college librarian, data services is something that is run by our Office of Grants and Institutional Research people for the institution, not really individual researchers, although we do have an IRB, which is quite rare. I think there is only one other CA community college with one.

Lisa

The IRDL representative, Marie Kennedy, shared the following four texts used in the IRDL.

Bernard, H.R. (2013). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fink, A. (2013). How to conduct surveys: A step-by-step guide (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Guest, G., MacQueen, K., & Namey, E. (2012). Applied thematic analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Guest, G., Namey, E., & Mitchell, M. (2013). Collecting qualitative data: A field manual for applied research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Some webinar participants and the researchers also offered (I revised some of these to be the current edition):

Robson, C. (2016). Real world research (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ:Wiley.

Salkind, N. J. (2014). Statistics for people who (think) they hate statistics (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Wildemuth, B. (2009). Applications of social research methods to questions in information and library science. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

The open-access, peer-reviewed journal Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP).