Friday, July 16, 2010

Chapter 12 Reference Service: the Personal Side of Librarianship

David Tyckoson writes that "the reference librarian is the human face of the library"(p.128) and"the reference librarian remains one of the very few professionals that any member of the community may consult on a personal level"(p.134). Whenever I tell people that I am going back to school to be a librarian I am often met with the response "well that will be easy," or "they have degrees for that?" Have they ever given any thought to what a librarian does on a given day?

Growing up I spent a lot of time at our local library. It was a haven to me, a magical place that had floors that creaked, a certain comforting book smell and always seemed to be too hot, even in the winter. Up on the second floor was the children's area nestled in the back behind the fiction section. I loved going up there to find my next treasure. There was a wonderful woman who worked the second floor. I wonder if I ever knew her name. In my childhood innocence she knew everything and held all of the secrets the library had. She could find anything we asked her. It made a lasting impression on me. As I grew older she was still there to help me with research projects for school or finding new books that I might like. Even after all of these years I think of her and the impact she made on me. Her desire to serve, helped me become a lover of books and a life long learner.

As times have changed and technology has made it easier to find information, why am I still drawn to the librarian? I still love the personal connection I have when talking with a librarian. The exchange of ideas, thoughts, and similar pleasures always out win to the coldness of a computer. It takes a unique individual that can balance the traditional and the new. I believe that the role of a librarian is changing but there will always remain the desire for the "personal interaction" (p.145)that Tyckoson talks about.

The job is not as easy as it seems. Who else is called upon at a moments notice and find, locate, and suggest topics that they may know nothing about. What job requires someone to instantly understand a customer's request and fill it? Who else can inspire a child to try a book, even when they "hate to read?" Who is expected to answer technology questions, even if they have no clue as to what they are doing. That is a small chunk of what a librarian is responsible for. I wonder if it seems easy now?

Tyckoson, D. (2008). Reference Service: The Personnal Side of Librarianship. In Haycock, K., Sheldon, B. (Eds.) The Portable MLIS Insights From the Experts (pp.127-146). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Chapter 11 Information Retrieval

Finding the right piece of information is critical when writing and researching. Our ability to find vast amounts of useful information has expediently grown with the birth of the computers and the Internet. You can type in one word and receive a million hits all relating to the word or phrase you typed in. However, when looking for something specific it often feels like you can never find what you are looking for.

Understanding the abilities of different search systems will help decrease the levels of frustration when we are unable to locate a certain piece of information. With some it can be a certain word that the program doesn't understand, it could be the sentence structure, too wide of a search or too narrow. If one does not understand what the limitations are of the system we will not receive our desired results. We also need to understand as Weedman states that"very few researchers find the information in a single search"(p.122). We need to try multiple searches to find as much information as possible. I think we have grown accustomed to instant access that will immediately solve our search situation. But just a few years ago we would have gone to other sources trying to find as much information as possible. I remember filling an entire library table with books as I tried to write a history paper, one source was not going to be enough information.

Understanding how information is stored so it can be retrieve is very important. It is key in locating the information that we want.

Weedman, J.(2008) Information Retrieval: Designing, Querying, and Evaluating Information Systems. In Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS Insights From the Experts (pp.112-126). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Chapter 15 Research

Research should be a key component in every discipline. It helps to define how we are changing, what impact we are having on our patrons and what can we do better. Research is ultimatly learning about something that you want to know more of.

Ron Powell states that "virtually every definition of profession indicates that it should have a solid theoretical base of knowledge as its foundation: it follows that if a profession is going to advance, its practitioners must be engaged in creating new knowledge relevant to that profession."(p.176) As our profession is changing we need to establish a solid way to help support who we are and why we should exist. Powell also stated that a study showed "that over 90% of LIS practitioners regularly read research-based journals"(p.177). There is a desire for quality based information that will help us understand what we need to do to improve ourselves. I like finding out what we are doing right and change what is not working. I want our library to be an amazing space. I also want our students to learn what they need to succeed, to be able to move up to the next level. Without state standards to guide me, how will I know how I am doing. We need to promote developing methods of research that can determine what impact we have on student learning.

As our profession changes we need the ability to qualify and quantify our existence with facts and figures not "assumptions" and "past-practices"(p.176). I can not assume my students are learning how to use a database without asking them and evaluating the data. I can't assume that a student understands my directions on how to use an iPod until they create a podcast. From there the information needs to be shared. I think that collaborating our research findings will defiantly make us a stronger profession willing to understand who we are.

Powell, R. (2008). Research. In Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS, Insights From the Experts (pp.168-178). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chapter 14 Readers Advisory Services

I really like thinking that a library is just like a business. Good customer service and a warm inviting environment that will make people return. Many of the ideas presented in this chapter made sense me and I am excited to try something new and different at my own library.

I had worked for over 10 years at a large regional grocery chain. They prided themselves on amazing customer service and a shopping "experience". The store was laid out in such a way to draw you in with its beautiful displays and amazing selection. There was always something new to try. You could ask employees anything and they seemed like experts. If you wanted to try some strange new fruit, someone could tell you what it tasted like. If you needed to find something within the store they had someone roaming the aisles ready to assist you in finding its location. The same could be said of the Reader Advisory Service. They are the go to person for those needing assistance and can guide a patron to what they are looking for. Chelton writes"that a skilled librarian who can suggest or call attention to something they might like to read...becomes a very valuable asset."(p.166)

Another aspect that is intriguing is the idea of merchandising. Creating a visually appealing space that creatively promotes titles encourages us to try something new and different. When I walk into my local library I immediately run to the new releases. I know exactly where to go. Imagine my surprise when I went to the same spot a few weeks later and discovered them gone. In its place was a display of books all about fun summer activities. Well that caught my eye, and I proceeded to check out a few books that I didn't even know I wanted. Fascinating! Just like the grocery store, always buying items I didn't know I needed.

Chelton, M. (2008). Readers Advisory Services: How to Help Users Find a Good Book. In Haycock, K., Sheldon, B. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS Insights from the Experts (pp.159-167). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Chapter 9 Reflections on Creating Information Service Collections

Working in a school library has afforded me one of life's guilty pleasure...18,000 books at my disposal. As books come in and out I look at them, read the back cover and maybe make a mental note to read it. For years I was in a bit of a reading rut. I was stuck on certain authors and genres, never really straying. Now with all of these books I have spread my reading wings so to speak, and tried new and different books with gusto! I have often found that at first glance I might not like it but then end up loving it, and vice versa. With our varied collection and my new found vast book empire I am able to make better decisions when I help students look for books.

When new books arrive it is like Christmas for me. Really I am reduced to an eight year old waiting for her parents to wake up to open presents...its quite sad. When the box is opened I immediately start to compile my list of must reads! I attribute this new found joy to our librarian who is really in touch with building a very diverse collection for our school. I have on occasion helped with ordering new books. I am in awe of lists of potential books...award winners, Teen Read Nominations, new releases, research, biographies, science, history the list goes on forever and it could become overwhelming. How does she know what to order? She understands the needs and wants of our students. She does not limit our collection to what she likes, but expands it to include interests for all. If she senses that a certain group does not have books of interest to them she orders them. She is also not shy of getting rid of books that are no longer being used, outdated or can be found on an e-book or database. She used our automated library system to look at book history, if a book hasn't been checked out within a certain time period out it goes. Her reasoning was would you want to read a book that smells and looks like it is older than dirt?

Haycock and Sheldon stated"When unused, a collection is just so many objects and really of little or no value." (p.95) We want our library to be a living, breathing space that evolves with our students. You can see the ebb and flow of interest on our shelves. The shelves that Twilight and Ellen Hopkins books reside will be empty by the end of the first week of school and remain that way for the rest of the year. But now Harry Potter and Dan Brown stay for awhile.

The ability to find the right mix of wants and needs is a talent indeed. One that I will have to learn. It is a fascinating process that goes far beyond just ordering a book from a list!

Evans, G.E. (2008) Reflections on Creating Information Service Collections. In Haycock, K., & Sheldon, B.E. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS Insights from the Experts(pp.87-97). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Chapter 1 Stepping Back and Looking Forward

Understanding where we have come from gives us a better insight into who we are today. How we started, what influences affected us and key factors of our evolution are extremely important to help shape our future.

The history of libraries is very interesting...especially to someone who loves history. It was interesting to read as civilizations grew and evolved to see what type of library they had and held important. The very essence of civilized society has been preserved in libraries. Reading about ancient Rome, the Renaissance, the monks and even the early 19th century presented a picture however that libraries of those ages were for the elite only. That while preserving the history was paramount, sharing of its treasures was not.

I was really taken aback that it wasn't until the opening of the Boston Library in the 1850s that everyone could enjoy the riches of a library. I had assumed that with the invention of the printing press and the ability to mass produce books, that the need of a library would grow. And with that growth would come patrons. Often the true influence that libraries served in those early days was that of "indoctrinating" our democratic beliefs, especially to new immigrants. This is especially interesting to note that since then the American Library Association has made it their mission to librarians to create collections that would hold pieces that would interest a wide range of beliefs and interests. "Realizing the importance of having a library within a community Andrew Carnegie helped build over 2000 libraries throughout the country." I understood him to be a man of great influence but I was not aware of his lasting legacy on the growth of libraries in urban and rural communities.

Communities hold dear the impact libraries hold in society, I think that we understand that it is what makes us a civilized society. Holding on to what came before us is tantamount for us to advance. Books are like gold to understanding who we are. And it is just fascinating looking back from where we came from.

Rubin, R. E. (2008). Stepping Back and Looking Forward: Reflections on the Foundations of Libraries and Librarianship. In K. Haycock, & B. Sheldon (Eds.), The Portable MLIS Insights from the Experts(pp. 3-14). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Social Networking and the future of Libraries

I work in a high school library, students are banned from using social networking sites by the district. Students can face harsh punishment if they bypass the district's proxy and find their way onto these sites with school computers. Do I still believe that these sites can have a positive influence on student learning...absolutely!

I am a Facebook user, more of an observer, than a participant. It has been fun to reconnect with old friends, join groups of interest and look at pictures. Granted this process for me has evolved, I was not comfortable when I first joined and still don't feel comfortable posting my inner most thoughts, feelings, political views or pictures of myself. My students on the other hand love this medium and are so frustrated when they can't access it. Even my 7 year old son dreams of being on YouTube. In my opinion this has become an extension of who they are and how they relate to others. Its how they communicate, understand and learn about the world around them, this is their version of our phone calls with friends after school and notes passed in class.

In the ALA discussion of Social Networking, Danah Boyd commented that "A lot of social learning ...goes on in schools that we need to figure out how to support." She went on to state that "in the same way that you keep the door open in schools, you need to keep the digital doors open online."(ALA 2010) As educators do we look away from this potentially powerful medium that has the ability to grab the attention of students? Or do we learn to embrace it and use it as an innovative teaching tool? I believe that we have an opportunity to expand the programs and functions that a school library serves to develop curriculum's that utilize this very dynamic medium.

Social Networking and Libraries. (2010). Retrieved from

Wih...Wihke...Oh Wikipedia...there I said it!

Alright lets get this over with...I am not a fan of Wikipedia. I work in a high school library and I am daily reminding students that Widipedia is not a reputable source of information. I often get the response "what the big deal?" "its so easy to use," and the ever popular "why" said in that delightful teen whiny voice.

Wikipedia itself touts the premise that it is the "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." (Wikiepidia) There lies the problem, anyone can edit it and add information that might sound true but is completely false. When someone uses Wikipedia for their main source of information will they dig further to find out if the statements are true? Wikipedia does check the information posted and others will flag information that is questionable or wrong but it is a huge undertaking and inaccurate information can remain on a page for months before finding out. Take for instance back in December 2009 reports were made that Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh was hospitalized, shortly there after Wikipedia updated his page stating that he died(Spiering 2009). They quickly retracted the obituary but the rumors about his death circulated for days. While this is a glaring inaccurate fact that was quickly changed, smaller bits of information are often undetected.

I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert of Irish Dance. I have lived and breathed Irish Dance for almost six years. I search the Internet for information, we compete in competitions and I gather information from others who have been in this "sport" for much longer than I. After my initial review of Irish Dance on Wikipedia I found it to be accurate without glaring misinformation. It was a generalization of the history and a surface description of the shoes, styles and music. It would not be my choice for gathering information as there are much better written sites on history and styles of Irish Dance on the web.


Spiering, Charlie. (2009 Dec 31). Wikipedia pronounced Rush Limbaugh dead. The Washington Examiner. Retrieved from

Wikis...What the heck?

I will be honest I had no idea what a Wiki was. I have even avoided finding out what they were, lest I discover that it was some strange infection. Perhaps since I am not a fan of Wikipedia I thought that it was a shorten version of it. Wow was I wrong! What have I been missing?

A Wiki is not something to be afraid of but something to be embraced! A great way to coordinate information all in one place. I am now looking at all of the ways that I could use it to communicate information with many of the organizations that I am involved with.

The MSLIS wiki was very interesting, perhaps a bit of information overload though. A cursery search lead me to links for great information that I can use while at SU but even information that I can use for my current job. I love the idea that it is fluid and changing as more provide input.

I look forward to exploring this new medium of information.

Here we go!

I must say I love blogs! I have tried in the past to create some of my own but I never find myself with anything interesting to say. I have found some very creative, funny and insightful blogs that I have followed in the past. I have found many blogs by accident and often in their infancy. I follow along reveling in their humorous look at ordinary life, wishing I was that witty or insightful. Then it happens! They are found out by millions of others and the blog goes commercial, then instead of the funny post of the meanderings of their meager existence I am forced to endure their description of them being whisked away for an all expenses paid trip to Discovery Cove, where they swam with dolphins. Then comes the descriptions of conferences that they are speaking at, the fancy hotels with spa treatments, the gourmet foods, the free stuff that they are getting and finally the book deal. Pretty much that is where I lose my lunch and my interest. Most of the time a blog for me is an escape from reality. It is always a chance to read about someone else's crazy life and the opportunity for me to see that my life isn't as bad as I think it is.

I have also sought out blogs that had information for activities that I was interested in. To seek out and learn from someone else who had gone through what I was experiencing. I often take what is said at its face value. This is after all a blog. I know that the person speaking has a certain slant or agenda with what they are talking about and while they have experienced it, it still won't be the same experience I will have.

I really enjoyed reading the MSLIS blog. What I find with many well written blogs is that you can start at the current post and find the information relevant and applicable to a current issue in my own personal or professional life. The writer answered quite a few of my questions about Boot Camp and shed some light on what life is really like for a working grad student, wife, mother and employee. We have been reading articles about the changing face of information gathering and whether a blog can be an accurate source of information. While I don't think you can use it to cite information for a research article I think you can glean information that will help you understand the task at hand or take you away from the pressures of life.

Blogs are interesting and often fun and insightful. And hey if anyone wants to throw a vacation or book deal my way I guess I wouldn't mind.