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.

Evaluating Infographics

I subscribe to communications from the Online Learning Consortium, and a couple of weeks ago, they sent out an infographic about the state of online education. Since I’m interested in online learning (I did my MLIS online, and I have taken a class on teaching online), I took a look at it, and I was surprised that the infographic indicated that 75 percent of undergraduates are age 25 or older. Right now I work at a community college library in Central California, and we have a ton of nontraditional students, but the number of students age 25 and older is 35.6 percent; statewide, the number of community college students who are age 25 or older is 42.9 percent. The 75 percent figure that all undergraduates in the country are nontraditional as claimed by OLC seemed wrong to me. 75 percent?! [Although, I did discover that, according to Choy (2002), if a more broad definition of nontraditional is used, this figure is estimated at 73 percent.]

I seem to be helping a lot of students with fact-checking specific statistics lately.  Thankfully, I can point students to resources like the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) data, but statistics aren’t easy to look through or interpret, demonstrated by my experience analyzing the infographic.

OLC cited sources at the very bottom of the infographic, but it’s not clear which source goes to which fact. I dug into every single link to try to figure out where this 75 percent thing came from, but I was a little overwhelmed because I am not drawn to charts, lines, and numbers (data scientists and data science/statistics librarians, I bow down). I also recruited the librarians at the other campus to help me, and one of them wrote back to me that they had over-simplified the information as the education statistics are divided by type of college. Here’s what the National Center for Education Statistics’ Characteristics of Postsecondary Students information actually says:

In 2013, a higher percentage of full-time undergraduate students at public and private nonprofit 4-year institutions were young adults (i.e., under the age of 25) than at comparable 2-year institutions. At public and private nonprofit 4-year institutions, most of the full-time undergraduates (88 and 86 percent, respectively) were young adults. At private for-profit 4-year institutions, however, just 30 percent of full-time students were young adults (39 percent were ages 25–34, and 31 percent were age 35 and older).

Not cool OLC.

Evaluating, analyzing, and interpreting information, whether in text, numbers, or images is such an important skill, not just for school purposes; it’s a life skill. One of my good friends who teaches English shared Sheida White’s article “Seven Sets of Evidence-Based Skills for Successful Literacy Performance” (2011) from the now defunct Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal. In the article, which is based on her book Understanding Adult Functional Literacy: Connecting Text Features, Task Demands, and Respondent Skills (2011), she lists seven skills that are needed for “adolescents and adults to meet the literacy demands of education, work, citizenship, and daily life,” which include text search skills, inferential skills, language comprehension skills, basic reading skills, computation identification skills, computation performance skills, and application skills (p. 40). White writes:

…[S]econdary, post-secondary, and adult education programs typically do not provide explicit classroom instruction in the quantitative literacy skills needed to work with numbers embedded in prose and document texts. In fact, mathematical information is often stripped away from any surrounding authentic texts in schools to produce a cleaner measure of students’ skills in mathematics as a separate domain. This approach, does not reflect the way adolescents and adults typically encounter quantitative problems in their daily lives, including workplaces. (p. 47)

This article changed the way my friend taught her courses. Like many English and communication teachers, she has an assignment where she has students evaluate an advertisement for modes of persuasion, but she started adding in-class assignments where students had to breakdown a passage with numbers to build their own chart. She also has them analyze charts and write down what they think the chart is showing. This was a hard task for some of her lower level students. She and I dreamed of creating a learning community between English, math, and the library resources class (I have never taught it, and we were planning to offer it in Spring 2017, but I’m leaving) to work on some of these and other literacies. (See Jacobson and Mackey’s presentation from ACRL 2013 on metaliteracy and the Metaliteracy blog).

I often think about the assignments I might give if I taught information literacy in a credit class environment. I love the idea of evaluating an infographic or looking at and interpreting a chart. So far, Project CORA doesn’t have an assignment on evaluating infographics but rather has an assignment on designing infographics, but I will do a little more digging elsewhere later. Brain Pickings recently had an article about the new book Jane Jacobs: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, where Jacobs is quoted as saying:

If I were running a school, I’d have one standing assignment that would begin in the first grade and go on all through school, every week: that each child should bring in something said by an authority — it could be by the teacher, or something they see in print, but something that they don’t agree with — and refute it.

I think with some modification a weekly statistics-checking exercise done in PolitiFact (the editor has a Masters in journalism and a Masters in Library and Information Science) fashion might be fun. I know the perfect infographic to start with. 😉

Choy, S. (2002). Nontraditional undergraduates. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/2002012.pdf

Jacobson, T.E., & Mackey, T. (2013). What’s in a name? Information literacy, metaliteracy, or transliteracy? [SlideShare slides]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/tmackey/acrl-2013

National Center of Education Statistics. (2015, May). The condition of education: Characteristics of postsecondary students. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_csb.asp

Online Learning Consortium. (2016). 2016 higher education online learning landscape. Retrieved from http://info2.onlinelearningconsortium.org/rs/897-CSM-305/images/OLC2016ONLINELEARNINGIMPERATIVEINFOGRAPHIC.pdf

Popova, M. (2016, May 4). Urbanism patron saint Jane Jacobs on our civic duty in cultivating cities that foster a creative life [Weblog]. Retrieved from https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/05/04/jane-jacobs-last-interview/

White, S. (2011). Seven sets of evidence-based skills for successful literacy performance. Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal, 5(1), 38-48. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ918178