Tag Archives: outreach

Follow-up to my last post

26 Aug

I forgot to call it out specifically during my last post discussing the article, but this quote…

“Librarians are believed to do work unrelated to helping students,” wrote Miller and Murillo, “or work that, while possibly related to research, does not entitle students to relationships with them.”

…damn near broke my heart.

This is what we’ve gotta change, folks.

(Emphasis is technically mine, by the by, but it jumped out at me so much that it might as well have been in <b>-tags and 36-point font.)


Bridging the gap

26 Aug

Right off the bat, if you haven’t read the Inside Higher Ed article, “What Students Don’t Know,” go do so. It’s heavy stuff. It’s also a call to action.

I talked about this a bit today on the SLA Academic blog, and I’m going to expand on it here and tie it into last week’s post about the orientation materials we put together at Cornell, specifically our welcome video. Because I think we did a solid job with addressing some of these issues, but we also left a gap that we need to bridge.

First off, here’s the video we made, in case y’all haven’t watched it yet:

We hit some major points in there: college is going to be tough, tougher than you might expect; there are many, many resources in the library that you can use; you should ASK A LIBRARIAN for help, because we know the library; we’ll help you get better grades in less time.

Again, I think that video turned out great. But looking at it again in the context of ERIEL, it strikes me that we could have been more explicit about how asking a librarian, in conjunction with those millions of resources, will lead to better grades in less time. And we’re not explicit about it, I think, because we take it for granted.

It’s an issue of assumptions, those unstated pieces of information that bind arguments together. The problem is, our assumption about how librarians, resources, and good grades fit together doesn’t seem to match up with students’ assumptions. We know that we can point them towards better resources than they currently use, and help them use all the resources at their disposal better than they currently do. But we’re lucky if the former even occurs to them, let alone the latter. Most students seem clueless about what we can do, except maybe point them to a book or a database. Their professors don’t necessarily seem to know any more than that, either.

Like I said, this is a call to action.  Studies like this need to inform our reference, instruction and outreach efforts. We need to make sure that faculty know exactly what we can bring to their research, not to mention what their students may lack in terms of research skills and how we can remedy that. We need to inform our students exactly why they should come talk to us; not just to point them at better resources, but also to instruct them in the best use of all resources.

Yeah, even Google.

It can be frustrating to read studies like this. But it should also inspire us, by not just pointing us toward the gaps in our efforts to help our patrons, but also by getting us thinking and talking about how to bridge those gaps.

Friday in the Libe

5 Aug

Finishing up The Price of Spring, by Daniel Abraham. It’s the fourth part of his Long Price Quartet, and both book and series have been amazing. Smart fantasy for adults with strong characterization and no fear of raising the stakes and facing the consequences of choices made.  I love it when authors establish a strong and evocative status quo and then let their characters batter it, and I love when a plot development makes me close the book and curse in amazement. There’s a lot to love in these books.

The next few weeks are pretty heavy for the Reference & Outreach Committee, of which I’m the co-chair. We’ve got our first monthly forum on Tuesday (which we managed to program with only minimal insanity, though I am probably going to end up as one of the presenters), and our first real orientation event on Thursday. Two weeks from today is the massive orientation fair for new undergrads, with the grad fair following soon after. So that’s dominating most of the “planning” portions of my brain.

In addition to the short presentation alluded to above, I’m trying to contribute to the outline of the book chapter I’m co-authoring with UNLV’s Cory Lampert. Thank the gods for Google Docs, and the patience of colleagues.


Judd’s been doing this Friday thing for a good long while, and I’ve always thought it was keen. I used the structure a few times last year in my gaming blog, but since I never post there and most of the content this week is library related, it seemed better done here.

Day 2 at #cil11 (we can make this work, Twitter)

22 Mar

Tuesday isn’t the traditional day of rest, but it’ll do. Any conference day I feel comfortable wearing jeans start to finish is a good one.

The first item on my agenda was Lisa Carlucci Thomas‘ excellent Cybertour session on design tips and grabbing attention in the online environment. In fifteen minutes, she brought together lessons from as disparate sources as Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point and Andy Woodward’s interaction with the Old Spice Guy* and made them relevant to libraries. (Also, double rainbows, which I’d meant to tell her afterward have even shown up in World of Warcraft.) It was a great presentation, and one I’d have loved to see get a full session on one of the main tracks.

The same can, and must, be said for Jennifer Koerber‘s Cybertour session on personas. Jen has a gift for bringing concepts in front of an audience in a way which makes them clear and concrete even to those completely unfamiliar to them. In fifteen minutes she laid out the concept of personas, explained why libraries should look to them as ways to keep the face and reality of their users clear during design processes, and laid out ways to start implementing them. Great stuff.

I also caught Scott Nicholson’s amazing session on gaming and game design as tools for instruction. Far too much information to include here — hell, I even feel odd trying to summarize it — but two of the major things I took away were the existence of the Global Game Jam, which is awesome, and the fact that he has a 22-session course on gaming in libraries up, for free, on YouTube. Check it.

Finally, I caught the tail end of Julian Aiken’s presentation on their implementation of Google’s 80/20 policy at Yale Law Library. His was one of the most highly regarded presentations of the day, with good cause: they’re doing some amazing things there, and I really want to hear more about how this goes for them. (Also, it’s totally his dog.)

Then, it was a fun dinner with friends in Chinatown, and even more Firecon and Lobbycon before bed. As days of rest go, it was damnably busy.


* Will I ever tire of mentioning him in this blog? No.

Axioms of assessment

20 Apr

As part of my presentation at CiL2010, I posited that the following relationships often govern how the assessment of patron attitudes are interpreted by libraries. I thought it’d be fun to share it here as well, if only because I’m inordinately proud of locating a font which makes the “proportional to” symbol look good.

This translates as:

“The need to listen to our patrons is directly proportional to how much they agree with what we’re already doing. The need to educate our patrons is inversely proportional to how much they agree with what we’re already doing.”

Sad to say, I’ve been guilty of this myself more than a little. It’s an easy but pernicious attitude to adopt.