Venn Librarian

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Posts Tagged ‘SLJSummit06’

More Things I Hate A Conferences

Posted by lpearle on 12 November 2006

(part three of what I’m sure will be a series)

  • Do not talk down to your audience. Particularly if they’re a bunch of technogeeks – acting surprised that at least one of them is liveblogging, and there’s chat activity, and possibly some VOIP action just means that you lose credibility.
  • On the other hand, assume that someone in the audience is Mr./Ms. Clueless and prepare a handy cheat sheet for them (you’d be surprised how many Big Thinkers still don’t know what RSS is, despite attending several sessions on it). A glossary to be previewed before attending is really great.
  • If you’re doing the One Book/One Conference thing, make sure that everyone knows which edition you want them to read. If a book’s been updated, tell them you want the 2006 edition, not the 2004.
  • Allow more time for cracker-barrel discussions. If it’s a small conference, held in one hotel/conference center, where you start at a group breakfast and end at a group dinner/cocktail party, give them time to relax and talk without it being five minutes in the ladies/mens room!. Otherwise people end up staying up really late and are shot for the next day’s sessions. If it’s a large conference, people have to pick-and-choose what they’ll go to, and not have enough time to compare notes with others.
  • Double check wifi availability. Particularly at a tech-heavy conference, it’s really upsetting when half the people can’t get on/do the work because there’s not enough bandwidth.
  • Presenters, Do not pepper your talk with references to your clients. Do not pimp your latest book. Do not pimp your next conference.

You’ll note that my last rant provoked a response from one of C2’s leaders. I’m not ignoring that, just saving my comments for another post.


Posted in Conferences, Rants | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

School Libraries, 2.0 and moving onward…

Posted by lpearle on 9 November 2006

We knew going in that this was going to be difficult… there is so much confusion about exactly what School Library 2.0 really is. So, the task for our group is “define the vision.”

Michael Stevens spoke first – I’ve heard him before and he’s usually very inspirational. It’s interesting to hear from the academic/public world at times, but mostly I’m glad he’s here, learning from us!

  • L2.0 is “library service that encourages constant and purposeful change… physical and virtual services… constantly evaluating” – it’s about breaking down barriers
  • some considerations: 1. conversations (between users), 2. blogs can be the voice of the library (as at Anne Arundel and Waterboro), 3. search success, 4. collaboration

David Warlick said that students value Money, Brains and Time (and resent something that’s a WOMBAT (IM slang)).

Doug Achterman reminded us that collaboration is a real world skill, and that we need to figure out how to be part of the digital workspace.

Diane Chen said a lot… I’ll let her blog speak for her.

Then we broke into groups, to discuss the critical elements of SL2.0. What’s amazing to me is that the definition we finally came up with is scaffolded by my group’s critical elements. It’s nice to know that my thinking is right on target.

Posted in Pedagogy, School Libraries | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »


Posted by lpearle on 8 November 2006

(aka, “what I’m trying to get my head around right now”)

Wow. Just… wow.

Joan Frye Williams is one of the most inspirational speakers I’ve heard in a long time. Why? Because she was practical. She started out by stating that not all of us can do/be Library 2.0, that not all of the SL2.0 “cool tools” will work in every environment. However, she did give us some thoughts to help us revision what we do, within whatever limitations we have. As she so bluntly put it, “we’re always painting utopian pictures of 2.0 ideas… I’m going to focus on reality”.

So, what’s reality? Reality is context. What context do you see yourself in? What context do your students see you in?

Innovation is no longer starting at the top, it’s “trickle up”; with this comes many ways to “get it right”. That’s right, folks: there are multiple choices, we’re not a monoculture.

Then she told us the questions that students will ask when they think about the library. We need to think about them as we rethink our service to our community.

Question One: Is this my kind of place?

Often, the answer is based on past experience, on public perceptions. We need to address this. But how?

  • Trumpet our “green” practices. Students today are eco-conscious – they know that not all technologies are computer technologies. Tell them about the recycled paper in the copier… trumpet your energy saving techniques. Let them know that this is something you care about, too.
  • Make sure you’re well-equiped with both staff and wireless. Remember, to them, information = technology.
  • Williams encouraged us to “practice, dude!”. There are no digital natives, no digital immigrants. When you whine about not knowing/understanding/getting something, you’re losing ground with students: you ain’t got no street cred, no reliability. “We are in a culture of mastery: and we need to acknowledge that it’s difficult to be a novice again and again and again and again…
  • Can I try new things? Is the library simply a book place, or do we offer book arts? multi-media (both doing and watching)? new technologies? In other words, is the library an idea factory? Students want to get, apply and learn in one place (NB: teachers don’t think of us as a container, so we have to change that)
  • What does it look like? We’re talking furnishing here. Is it comfortable? Well-lit? Is there space for lounging and space for collaboration?
  • Does it emphasize the pleasure of learning? Start thinking in their terms – don’t use words like “Bibliographies” and “Pathfinders”, try “Easter Eggs” and “Cheat Codes”. Remember: you are the level keeper in SchoolQuest.

Question Two: Will I succeed?

  • They want an experience that does not require an assist; we need to create an environment that allows them to succeed on their own.
  • Let them fail on their own terms. Become a candy store of ideas and data, and let them in to play and learn.
  • Create simplified wayfinding tools: reduce initial choice and clutter, give situational directions, use natural language (what does “bound periodicals” mean to them?!), prepackage tips/shortcuts/FAQ (and call them that!)
  • Remember, our sense of “enoughness” is different from theirs. While we may want them to have every possible resource, they may not feel that same need.
  • Reduce the number of directional questions (“can I help you?” “have you tried this resource?”) and let them figure out what they want/need with the tools we provide – they’ll come to us when they need our help. Act as a service “bookend”: get them started, then circle back later.
  • Merchandize the collection. The best part of the book is not the spine.
  • Consider creating “information neighborhoods
  • Best sign at a reference desk: “Homework Insurance”

Question Three: Does this intergrate with the rest of my online life?

  • We need to deeply engage/mesh with the rest of the electronic world. Libraries are part of an open information system: information is no longer scarce, it is ubiquitous.
  • There is nothing that we do that search engines can’t do better (OCLC survey) so… we need to become the activity, not the container. “Put the hay out where the goats are.”
  • Talk about “Extreme Googling”, or create a library toolbar
  • Does your library have a wikipedia entry? a Flikr account? What about podcasting booktalks or poetry slams?
  • Students have “continuous partial attention”, so find ways to engage at least part of their brain – don’t worry about all of it.

Question Four: Am I allowed to participate?

Students want to FUSE (Find, Use, Share and Expand – a great way to teach the research process!). How do we allow them to do this?

  • Find recommender systems like Movielens. Users trust personal recommendations.
  • Mash-ups need to be shared.
  • What can we do easily? Allow students to review; ask them to help create folksonomies; get input from student discussion groups.

The big takeaway: Think like a student: look for new ways to add value

Posted in Pedagogy, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

A hill to die on

Posted by lpearle on 4 November 2006

The session/breakout group I’m attending at the conference is about School Library 2.0 (go here for a good explanation). There’s lots of talk about using wikis and blogs and MySpace to create a “public presence” for the library.

Not to sound like a sceptic but… if my kids don’t know where we are (that big building on the quad? can’t miss it), going to MySpace isn’t going to help. If we don’t allow them to use laptops in class, why use IM for Virtual Reference? Sounds like a cool idea (and I’ve done it at MFPOW) but here? After school they’re doing sports, or some other activity, and I’m not assigning a staff member an evening shift to handle reference when those questions are likely to be asked (somewhere between 10pm and 3am, from what I understand about their homework habits)!

Because we’re an independent school, we – like many such schools – have invested in course management/content management software. It’s a significant investment, and getting the teachers and administration to buy into using it – at all, not just effectively – is a major thrust for the next year or so. Practically speaking, that means we have to use their “discussions” section, rather than create a blog. It means that the news page can be updated (and it has an RSS feed!) but not in blog-like fashion. It means that class content is kept behind passwords, protected from the public view for safety (and work product) reasons.

Am I going to spend my days bewailing our lack of wikis? No. I’m not going to buck protocol and say “I’m establishing a MySpace page” – that’s not the hill for me, either. My hill? Continuing to work with faculty and technology to create more relevance for them and the students. And if that means I use limited tools, so be it. Because 2.0 tools are not the hill I’m doing to die on.

Posted in School Libraries, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »