The Unclassifiable Library Remix

Friday, September 23, 2011

Libraries Aren't Dying, They're Evolving

Libraries are no longer just that place you go to find books - but we are the navigators of the overwhelming overload that this massive information world needs. While google can find you a million answers, librarians can find you the right one. And you can check out a lot more than books at a library - electronics, video games, movies, bikes...hell Yale even has a circulating dog. Patrons need to let us know what they want from us yes, but we also have to do a better job of letting patrons know what we already do that they may not expect. We need to market ourselves as the information gurus that we are. We need to let them know how we can make their hectic lives easier and more convenient, as well as cost efficient. We have to bring our continued meaningfulness to them, and let them rediscover all that a contemporary library can be.

Amplify’d from
“People who talk about libraries dying out are the ones who remember the libraries of their childhood,” says American Library Association (ALA) President, Molly Raphael, from her home in Portland, Ore. “But the library of today is not the library of our childhood, and the library that children see today is not the library we’ll see in 20 years.”
These days, librarians need to not only be tech-savvy, but also play the role of teacher, research guide, electronic-information navigator and employment counselor. As communication and information become increasingly digital, libraries and librarians help people to keep up with what has become the norm.
in economically challenging times such as these, library use increases significantly
While the increase in usage can be attributed to people having less discretionary income for books and magazines, it is also due to libraries’ continued evolution. Offering musical scores, toys, art, CDs and DVDs, radiation detectors, portable smoke detectors, tools, kilowatt-measuring devices, zines, seeds and more, libraries have become lenders of a variety of useful items. Some even offer ways for patrons to contribute to collections through reviews, comments, the transcription of materials into digital format, uploading computer programs of their own design, and more.
Libraries in general are pioneers of the sharing movement. Long before organizations were “going green,” libraries were there, showing us how it’s done. In fact, libraries are a perfect introduction for people who are wary of the whole sharing economy. One can simply say, “It’s like a library, but for cars (or bikes or tools etc.).”
In general, libraries are working diligently to keep up with, and push ahead of, society’s curve. If we hold on to our nostalgic notions of what libraries once were, we deem them relics of a time gone by. However, if we support libraries through their evolutionary process, they remain vital community resources and hubs; unwavering providers of information to all, whatever form that information may take.

What Students Don't Know

This is a philosophical argument that is not new, but is definitely a topic of current discussion. Do you give them the fish or do you teach them how to fish? Are all people meant to be researchers? Do you try to force them to love learning or just give them what they need for the assignment? While I as an individual much prefer to delve into research and revel in my nerdy side, I also have enough common sense to realize that most undergraduates just want to get their degree, finish school, and get a job. They are not necessarily academics by nature. I try, when I do my librarian thing, to assess each patron individually. Some you can tell really do care about the research - and those I teach to fish. But for other students, you can tell they just want to complete the assignment and get on with the million other things they have going on in life. For those students, is it really so bad to just give them the fish?

 Amplify’d from article of 8/22/11
This is one of the sobering truths these librarians
have learned
students rarely ask librarians for help, even when they need it. The idea of a librarian as an academic expert who is available to talk about assignments and hold their hands through the research process is, in fact, foreign to most students. Those who even have the word “librarian” in their vocabularies often think library staff are only good for pointing to different sections of the stacks.
One thing the librarians now know is that their students' research habits are worse than they thought.
“The majority of students -- of all levels -- exhibited significant difficulties that ranged across nearly every aspect of the search process,”
They tended to overuse Google and misuse scholarly databases. They preferred simple database searches to other methods of discovery, but generally exhibited “a lack of understanding of search logic” that often foiled their attempts to find good sources.
If we quietly hope to convert all students to the liberal ideals of higher education, we may miss opportunities to connect with a pragmatic student body,
“Now more than ever, academic librarians should seek to ‘save time for the reader.’
“the extent to which students appeared to lack even some of the most basic information literacy skills that we assumed they would have mastered in high school.” Even students who were high achievers in high school suffered from these deficiencies
In other words: Today’s college students might have grown up with the language of the information age, but they do not necessarily know the grammar.
Even when students turned to more scholarly resources, that did not necessarily solve the problem. Many seemed confused about where in the constellation of library databases they should turn to locate sources for their particular research topic: Half wound up using databases a librarian “would most likely never recommend for their topic.”
Years of conditioning on Google
instilled them with a stunted understanding of how to finely tune a search in order to home in on usable sources
“Students generally treated all search boxes as the equivalent of a Google search box, and searched ‘Google-style,’ using the ‘any word anywhere’ keyword as a default,” they wrote.
Unsurprisingly, students using this method got either too many search results or too few. Frequently, students would be so discouraged they would change their research topic to something more amenable to a simple search.
not one asked a librarian for help.
students were just as unaware of the extent of their own information illiteracy as everyone else
Another possible reason was that students seek help from sources they know and trust, and they do not know librarians. Many do not even know what the librarians are there for. "I don't think I would see them and say, 'Well, this is my research, how can I do this and that?' " one senior psychology major told the researchers. "I don't see them that way. I see them more like, 'Where's the bathroom?' " Other students imagined librarians to have more research-oriented knowledge of the library but still thought of them as glorified ushers.
Unfortunately, professors are not necessarily any more knowledgeable about library resources than their students are.
And many professors, like many librarians, overestimate the research fluency of their students.
, “One of the professors said, ‘You mean they come to the library without the assignment?’
“Yes. Yes, they do.
In her contribution to the ERIAL tome, called “Pragmatism and Idealism in the Academic Library,” Thill wrote about the tension between library pragmatism -- the desire to satisfy the minimum requirements of a research assignment -- and library idealism, which glorifies the tedious unearthing and meticulous poring-over of texts. Unsurprisingly, most students tacked toward pragmatism, while “librarians and professors [repeatedly] wished that students could invest more time in contemplation and discovery, painting an idealized portrait of students leisurely wandering the stacks or pensively sitting down to await inspiration.”
Teaching efficiency is not a compromise of librarianship,
understanding the limitations of library idealism in practice, and acting pragmatically when necessary.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Don't Just Read All Day

There is nothing more frustrating for a librarian than to have someone tell us what an awesome job we have since we get to read all day. Real librarians are so busy wearing dozens of different hats, reading is often a luxury.

What People Don't Get About Working in a Library

Aug 9 2011, 5:00 PM ET

The Librarian #1
"We are not mere cart pushers. This job requires a Masters degree for a reason."

The Librarian #2

"I am an aggregator, a citation machine, a curator, a specialist."
The Cataloger

"Even within the library profession my job is very under-appreciated."

The Librarian #3

"I am not your doormat. Make your own copies."

The Librarian #4

"I am not a babysitter for teachers' planning periods."


Thursday, September 08, 2011

I Have No Mercy

"I returned two DVDs two weeks late. They had no educational value and no one missed them for as long as they were gone. I shouldn't be penalized because I already pay too much money to go to this school and don't have the money for bogus fees. I am usually very punctual with returning books because I know of their importance to other students. I can't pay this fee and I need to borrow a book for class. I need your help and mercy..." - Student

“Hmmmmm….maybe you’d get merciful if your attitude were better. Want to rethink that tone?” – Me as I stamp fine appeal denied all over the form.

Seriously, if you are asking someone for something and you are in the wrong, shouldn’t you at least make an effort to be positive and pleasant?

Well at least I got a laugh for the day.

Hooked on Books!

Now that Katy is in kindergarten, reading time is going to be even more important. While I have done reading activities using some of the suggestions below, this article gave me even more ideas to use when reading at home.
Amplify’d from
Originally published: August 23, 2011 11:25 AM

Updated: September 6, 2011 8:41 AM

As a parent, you strive
to help your children succeed in school, and that often means encouraging them to do their homework and study for tests. But one of the most important things you can do for your child's development is to read together.
1. Incorporate technology
2. Share your favorite children's book
3. Be silly
4. Make a game of it
5. Participate in story time
6. Set a good example
7. Get comfy
8. Store books where you store toys
9. Take turns reading
10. Schedule daily family reading time
11. Join a kids book club
12. Start a family book club
13. Let your child run the show
14. Use books as a reward
15. Go for non-fiction books
16. Read a book, watch the movie
17. Don't limit reading to fiction
18. Build a playlist
19. Find topics your kids love
20. Let your child be the author
21. Check it off
22. Choose your own adventure
23. Quiz your kids
24. Act it out
25. Make books easily accessible

Friday, September 02, 2011

Copyright, Fair Use, and Electronic Materials: Three Tips

A constant battle...

Copyright, Fair Use, and Electronic Materials: Three Tips

September 1, 2011

Daniel Fusch, Academic Impressions

The recent slew of intellectual property rights lawsuits against institutions of higher education -- such as the lawsuit filed against Georgia State University over e-reserves, or the lawsuit over video streaming at UCLA -- make two things clear: how little is understood on campus about what "fair use" entails, and how critical it is to plan for risk mitigation as your campus community increasingly makes use of digital content.

Smith and McDonald offer three tips for addressing fair use at your institution proactively rather than reactively.

1. Read and Negotiate the License

2. Establish a Campus-Wide Fair Use Policy

3. Educate Your Campus