At the New Exploratorium.
I’m a librarian married to an accountant. This could be our memoir.
Source: Professional Literature for Librarians (pulp covers, library topics).
Highlights from California Association of Research Libraries (CARL) conference, 2014, San Jose, CA
Top: Erika Montenegro, East Los Angeles College
2nd row left: Peter Hepburn, College of the Canyons
2nd row right: Christal Young, University of Southern California
3rd row: Gretchen Keer, CSU East Bay & Margot Hansen, California Maritime Academy
4th row left: Daniel Ransom, Holy Names University
4th row right: Christina Mune, San Jose State University
5th row left: Young Lee, University of La Verne College of Law
5th row right: Rebecca Halpern, University of Southern California
A few of the fine folks from the CARL 2014 Conference on Librarian Wardrobe. Sadly, no photo could do justice to Peter Hepburn’s immaculate blazer and tie.
Also, my head is enormous. I mean that non-metaphorically.
Anonymous asked: I notice that you have both a Tumblr account and a WordPress account, and that you post some posts on one platform, some on the other, and some on both. What's your approach to what goes where? Is it as simple as Tumblr for fun posts, short posts, pics, etc., and WP for more serious/professional posts?
That’s essentially it. I first created my Wordpress blog while I was in library school long before I joined Tumblr. Although I more actively use Tumblr, I’ve kept the Wordpress since it serves as an anchor — it has a blog function, but it also hosts my MLIS portfolio, an about page, etc. It doesn’t move around.
Tumblr moves at a faster pace. Content gets pushed off the first page fast. If it’s a longer, more substantial post, I do post it on tumblr, since there’s the built-in audience. But if I want to refer back to the post a week or months later it’s easier if it’s mirrored on WordPress where it won’t disappear ten pages back.
Anonymous asked: hello! I just began a reference position (paraprofessional) that's mostly over the phone and email. I have no problem with emails but could use a better "phone" voice. Do you have any tips or resources on how to brush up on providing ref over phones? Thank you!!
The biggest key to phone reference, in my experience, is patience. Specifically, yours. When I get a phone reference inquiry, the user is usually at a computer encountering a problem. I can’t see their screen, so I can’t see how quickly something is loading, how successfully they are clicking through my suggestions, etc. And they are often frustrated.
So being patient, having a calm tone of voice, asking them to describe what page they’re on (and understanding they may not use the right “terms” to describe what they are seeing), and troubleshooting their problem is the way to go. If you can bring up the same pages they are seeing, as they go, it’s easier to give very clear and specific directions about what links they should click or search box they should use. Don’t try to go from memory.
That’s my advice, but I actually have very few phone inquiries. Any advice from more experienced phone reference folks?
Anonymous asked: I recently received a request for a one-off instruction session with a freshman writing class on short notice. (I met with them the following day.) I knew they were working on essays and needed to find at least three articles from our databases, but little more. I felt like I ended up trying to fit in too much, because I wasn't sure what to hit and what to sacrifice. Do you keep a stock lesson plan on hand for these situations? What do you make sure to work into your instruction no matter what?
Hi! This is unfortunately a pretty typical request (even down to the lack of prep time). This is similar in theme to a post I wrote last year on what to do with one-shot requests.
What I’d want to do in your situation, before the class arrives, is ask the professor a few more questions. “Three articles”?
What are we talking here? A freshman writing class really shouldn’t be trying to use peer-reviewed articles from scholarly journals. They’d be better off with quality journalistic resources, from something like CQ Press. Actually, if you can improve their Google search skills (and website evaluation abilities), that’ll probably make the single biggest difference in the quality of the sources they use — since they will be using Google, guaranteed.
Scholarly journals will be impenetrable to first-year college students. That said, if that’s what the professor is requiring, you’re going to need to try and help them. Maybe break down the elements of the article, what each section is about, so they aren’t so intimidating. If they can walk away understanding how the article works, they stand a better chance of using them appropriately. Don’t spend the whole time (or any time?) obsessing over the details of the database interface. The content they need is what matters, not the mechanism.
Welllllllll, there are times when scholarly journals are appropriate for first year writing courses. I work with classes that use something like Methland as their frame for the course, and assignments have students dive into greater detail to the various issues. It’s actually a wonderful way to introduce the idea of scholarly communication, because many different subject areas are involved. When I teach something like this, I like to have students do a formal analysis of, say, a journal or article, and talk about strategies for reading scholarly material. This is one example activity I have used. I also have done activities getting students to locate the scientific articles that pop science clickbait is based on — in this case, it’s a chance for them to compare formats, talk about original research, and bias in how “facts” are presented…without having to do a tonne of the synthesis/summary that we know first-year students tend to struggle with. At my institution, there are so few required courses, that I think our (mostly) first-year writing course is a good place to at least introduce the idea, because it provides common ground. I also suspect that it is a tacit expectation of faculty in other departments that students will come in understanding what scholarly articles are…because they don’t necessarily plan to teach them.
Totally agree about not focusing on the database interface, tho.
That’s what I get for brushing with broad strokes. I don’t disagree with you. It all depends on context, subject, and discipline whether peer-reviewed articles are the best types of sources to be looking at.
I’ve unfortunately noticed that sometimes “peer-reviewed journal article” is used by faculty on assignments as a shorthand way of guaranteeing quality sources (though it is in fact, no guarantee at all) instead of dealing with the much fuzzier gray area of evaluating sources critically, and determining what is the right source in a given context. Again, sometimes it’s appropriate, but not always.
When it is important for students to use scholarly articles, the key is helping the students understand how to use and critique that type of format — as you’re doing. Thanks for sharing your activity! I’m going to check it out.
My colleague Nicole made a really wonderful, impassioned statement about her vision as an instructor to open our presentation.
John provided a great overview of the changing information literacy landscape.
I am very fortunate to be connected to such talented and savvy professionals. I learn so much from working with them.
We’re not selling real estate — we were about to detail a few different information literacy-related lesson plans that other instructional librarians can adapt for their own institutions.
Whew. That was fun.