Goodbye Pt. 2

I had a truly wonderful send-off from Merced College this last week. I felt so loved, which is definitely not something most people can probably say about their workplace.

On Wednesday, I attended my last librarian meeting at the main campus. The Learning Resources Center always has a potluck on the last Wednesday before the spring term ends, so I attended that after our meeting. My colleagues surprised me with the most gorgeous, mixing bowl-sized succulent garden that was designed by our landscape horticulture professors. They know how much I love succulents, and it’s going to be perfect in my new office. I also got a really nice card signed by all of the library faculty and staff. Our part-time librarian Karrie got me some delicious root beer glazed almonds and an olive verbena candle that smells divine. I spent the afternoon doing my checkout procedure. Thankfully, I took a photo of my staff ID because the card gets cut in half when you turn it in!

Thursday was my last day at the Los Banos Campus Library. Janet, our library media bookstore technician, had a lovely spread of goodies. Faculty, staff, and our dean came by to say goodbye, have dessert, and filled out a notebook with goodbye notes. I really was touched by the messages, especially those by our student workers. I read the messages when I got home. I also got a nice going away gift from Janet and one of our part-time librarians, Leigh-Ann.

It’s not so much the stuff I got, but the thought everyone put into saying goodbye. One of the best things about working at the Los Banos Campus and having a small cohort of librarian colleagues is having such a tight-knit community.

On Friday, I spent time with some of my Los Banos Campus faculty colleagues at our annual pre-graduation gathering held at a former Los Banos professor’s home in Merced. From there, we headed out to the graduation ceremony. I made sure to get photos in this year!

My first day at my new job is on Wednesday, and I am super excited for this new chapter in my career.

 

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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).

Goodbye Pt. 1

Last Friday was my last campus faculty meeting for the school year and Los Banos Campus‘ Merit and Awards Ceremony. A couple of weeks before the official Merced College graduation ceremony, we honor Los Banos students who are graduating (this was my second and last year to read the names), scholarship recipients (I was on the committee in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016), and Student of the Month and Year winners (I was on the committee in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016). We also honor a staff member as the Los Banos Campus Classified Staff Member of the Year, and one of my good friends, our Student Services Assistant, won the well-deserved honor.

What I didn’t expect was a little going-away recognition. Our faculty lead presented me and a colleague who is moving to the main campus with lovely matted photos of the Los Banos with nice messages written by our colleagues on the mat. We have wonderful staff and faculty members in Los Banos. I am going to miss this tight-knit team. I will definitely be hanging this in my new office.

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But it’s not goodbye quite yet. We still have graduation at the end of the month where I will don my Masters hood one last time with my colleagues as we celebrate our students’ successes. I’ve had months to process my move, but I think I’m going to need waterproof mascara.

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

Citation Tools

A while back, one of my friends from college who now teaches writing where we went to school together sent me a message about a little debate in a writing instruction-related listserv about how university libraries always seem to market citation tools to students, making students become dependent on machines to do the work for them. This is an advertising tactic, but the workshop the library is putting on might actually show students how these tools aren’t 100 percent accurate. This was pretty much what he thought was likely but wanted to see what I thought. I do support these tools when used appropriately. The reality is that a lot of our students do find and use these tools on their own; I might as well give them some pointers.

In instruction sessions, I point out citation tool features in databases, but I always comment that the citations aren’t to be taken at face value. I usually do an example and ask students to point out what is incorrect in hopes that they remember that it isn’t always right. I do support using the tools in order to save time —students can copy-paste and correct by looking at their writer’s guides, which often have sections on citing in APA and MLA; the APA or MLA handbooks; Library handouts; Library LibGuides on APA and MLA; or even by googling Purdue OWL’s APA or MLA Formatting Guides. I even have Purdue OWL linked on my LibGuides for APA and MLA. I also have other citation tools listed in those online guides with a note indicating that these tools are not perfect.

I went on to tell my friend, “Ain’t no one just telling them to use the tools point blank.”

Well, I was wrong. Recently, someone in an academic library listserv was complaining that EBSCOhost needs to get its act together to fix the problems in their citation tool feature because the “nice librarian is telling students to use the feature, and students are getting points marked off.”

I’m just going to say it. You are not doing your job if you are simply telling students to use these tools. That was the gist of the feeling among the people who did a reply-all response. No tool is going to be perfect, but it’s not difficult to live in the happy place I’ve described above. There is so much help available to double-check citations, and if points off is what is going to motivate students to learn or at least take the time to check, so be it. The other challenge is that students, who do seem to understand why we cite, at least when I’ve asked students in class, don’t seem know why there are different styles or why they must be so precise when using a particular format. There needs to be a much deeper conversation, and I am sure this does happen in research instruction and writing instruction courses. It’s just part of getting students familiar with academic culture.

With that said, librarians, what are your favorite tools to help students cite or keep track of citations? While I only list links on my LibGuides to free tools (again, with a word of caution), here are some free and fee-based tools that I know about, though the only one I personally use is Zotero. Diigo does look really interesting, so it may be one I try out for myself. The last citation builder I played with is North Carolina State University Libraries’ Citation Builder.

BibMe

Citation Builder

Cite This for Me

Diigo

EasyBib

KnightCite

Mendeley

NoodleTools

Perrla

RefMe

RefWorks

Son of Citation Machine

Zotero

 

Local History

I had an epic struggle choosing a major when I was in college. I started off  as a sociology major, then social science (sociology, history, and criminal justice), but all the while I was also taking English classes. Eventually, I realized having essentially three minors as a social science major was probably not the best idea. At the end of the day, how I decided to mark the paperwork as history is that I had one more class done than in English. The reality is that I thought everything was interesting–no wonder LIS was so appealing!

However, before library school, I was in a history MA program for a week…until I found out I’d be able to go to library school. Ultimately, I think I would have stayed on if I had found my little history niche. I was surrounded by people who were really into specific areas–Latin American protest art, Civil War, etc. It’s only now that I have worked in public and college libraries that I realize my little history place is actually local history, and I think it’s more because I know it can be a big challenge to actually do effective history research at the local level. There is so much that is forgotten or boxed up. (Recently, I read a really neat article by history professor Peter Knupfer and his experience in developing and guiding students through a project-centered study on a nearby community’s grapple with desegregation; students in his class were able to appreciate that local history research is difficult because the sources are not readily available.  A service-learning style project like this would be such a cool way to apply the Framework, don’t you think? My librarian heart swoons at the possibilities.)

In the summer of 2009, I volunteered at the Merced County Courthouse Museum and at the UC Merced Library. At the museum, I researched the building of the Japanese Assembly Center during World War II in Merced. My research was used in a documentary called Merced Assembly Center: Injustice Immortalized and in the Densho Encyclopedia. Here is a Merced Sun-Star article that references my research. I also wrote an article eliciting more information from the community in the Merced County Courthouse Museum’s column in the Merced Sun-Star, but there isn’t a digital copy–this is another difficult thing about small local papers and doing local history research. (Speaking of UC Merced and hidden collections, I discovered that UC’s Calisphere collections contain WWII Japanase American Assembly Center newsletters and the beginnings of a Merced Local History collection. Pretty cool!)

While writing up the laundry list of stuff for the new librarian coming on board to know, I began drafting a section about things I didn’t get a chance to do but would have loved to see through at the Los Banos Campus Library at Merced College. One of the things I really wanted to do was create a local history area. Here’s a little write up from American Libraries magazine, “What To Collect?,” from last summer that outlines the kinds of resources a public library might think about collecting to create a Local History Reference Collection (LHRC).

At the Los Banos Campus Library, there is a mishmash of items in the 300s, 500s, 900s, and in reference that deal with Los Banos and Merced County, but I would love for these things to be housed together. I have asked off and on for approval to do this from the main library, but I haven’t ever gotten an answer to any requests. Honestly, it just requires us to make changes in the catalog for location and call number–all we need to do is put a letter in front, like we have R for reference–and redo a few stickers. We don’t have tons and tons since we’re such a small library. The question is what letter should go in front? SC for special collections? LR for local reference? LHRC is just way too long.

Another thing related to this would be to work with the public library and the little local museum to compile some kind of pathfinder for researching local history. The museum is barely functional from what I understand (I never got a chance to visit–working and living in different counties is rough), so I am pretty curious what kind of resources are housed there.

Aerial view of Merced Assembly Center, California, c. 1942. (2015, July 17). Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 5, 2016 from http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshopd-i224-00004-1/

Knupfer, P. Consultants in the classroom: Student/teacher collaborations in community history. The Journal of American History, 99(4), 1161-1175. doi:10.1093/jahist/jas602

 

Tablets Pt. 2

An update on that tablet project I mentioned back in the fall.

Back in September, I found out I had one week to submit paperwork for a grant offered through student equity funding. I had planned to do a survey about our students’ technology usage in order to make some mobile technology recommendations to my dean, but I had to scrap the whole plan with the unexpected deadline and opportunity.We initially received 33 percent of the funds for 36 Microsoft Surface Pro 3s (at the time, this was the college approved tablet) and a charge cart. However, a little later, the Library received funding for all 36 tablets. The tablets are mostly for library instruction since we don’t have an instructional space, but we decided to circulate 5-10 for in-house use when not being used in the classroom.

We finally got everything delivered at the very end of 2015/beginning of 2016, but, long story short, we just started checking out a few this last week. I am bummed I wasn’t able to use them for instruction. I am also sad that I won’t be seeing this project through since I am heading to a new job in June.

With all the delays and my exit timeline, I forgot all about apps. One of the part-time librarians recently reminded me about apps after I sent her a Storify summary of a Twitter chat about tablets by ACRL’s Instruction Section’s Instructional Technologies Committee. Here’s the accompanying Winter 2016 edition of the Instructional Technologies’ Tips and Trends newsletter. Back when I used to do butcher paper posters in the hallway outside the Library doors with questions for students to respond to on Post-It notes, one of the questions I asked was about apps students use to help them with their work. I didn’t get much of a response, though. After this email conversation, I remembered that I had saved a really cool idea that could be modified a bit to figure out what sorts of free apps might be added to the Surface Pros. It really needs to be guided by our students (we really need a student advisory committee!). In 2014, there was a message in the collib-l listserv from a librarian named Beth Johns about a drop-in workshop she and a colleague did about apps.

One of my colleagues and I experimented with a drop in workshop for students last February. It was called “Sips, Snacks and Apps” and was designed as a “sharing” workshop–the plan was to share information on mobile apps that have an academic purpose (such as library database apps) with students and find out what they use in their academic life.

We didn’t get a huge turnout, but some students were coaxed into attending and thanks to one of our student workers who also wrote for the student newspaper, we had a short article published on the event. Snacks included coffee, tea and lemonade to drink and cookies to eat. We held it in a group study room, but when we do it again (planning for the fall!) we want to hold it in a more public place. This room was not a good location–kind of hidden in the library. I think we will hold it near the library entrance next time. The few who attended, including one faculty member, seemed to enjoy it. It was more about building relationships than the topic of mobile apps. I’ve attached a pdf of one of the flyers.

With this particular topic, it seems that students at our school are not yet using library or academic apps (unless they are just not telling us what they use), but we did find out that those with iPhones sometimes use Siri to figure out alternative keywords when they are researching something, so that was helpful and interesting!

I mentioned to our part-time librarian that what we could do is come up with our own list of apps that work with Windows, and then see what students want from that master list, as well as look into others that are suggested. If were going to stay, I would set up a student advisory committee that includes our student workers and other students. With less than a month left until I leave my job, I do plan to add this tidbit to the notes I’m leaving for the new librarian.