Category Archives: Instruction

June 5, 2015, 2:53 am

Should librarians challenge the status quo? An interview with Laura Saunders

Should librarians challenge the status quo?

I decided to ask a professor. Laura Saunders is an Assistant Professor at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where she teaches and conducts research in the areas of reference and instruction, intellectual freedom, and academic libraries. She also has a strong interest in social justice issues related to libraries.

You’ve mentioned online that libraries should challenge the status quo. Tell me about that.
I think there are a lot of issues and challenges that libraries could weigh in on and hopefully influence for the better.  Perhaps most important is thinking about our communities and the ways in which we serve (and fail to serve) them. While the mission and ethics of libraries center on equitable services, in reality the research shows that certain demographics use our services much more heavily than …

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April 14, 2015, 3:20 pm

Your Assignment: Host A Campus Wide Event (libraries and active learning)

eventAs a follow-up to my post last week about our seven classrooms, I wanted to quickly share an example of how we are impacting teaching and learning.

We’re hosting a Financial Literacy Event today that is part of a class project. It is a digital showcase bringing together students from a Financial Counseling course to offer educational engagement with students in a Financial Management course. Both courses are taught by Oscar Solis.

Here are the topics:

topics

There are many things I like about this.

  • It brings two courses together—this is one of my constant aspirations.
  • It encourages peer-to-peer mentoring.
  • It promotes financial literacy.
  • It fosters active learning. This could have just been traditional talks at the front of a classroom where everyone speaks for a few minutes and where most students are distracted and nervous about their own presentation. Instead we…

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April 10, 2015, 2:15 pm

7 Classrooms: library as pedagogical incubator

Three years ago we had two classrooms in our library. They looked like this:

207_old

The former “training-based” classrooms at VT Library. Photo: R. Miller

These were suitable for training-based instruction but our program has evolved. Librarians wanted to be able to reach more students (larger class sizes) as well as utilize many different teaching methods. We’re upgrading both rooms this summer.

One is based on Steelcase Verb:

The other will be a Node classroom:

This all started with a partnership between the Library and VT’s College of Science when we built a SCALE-UP classroom together.

scaleup_vt

Scale-Up – VT Library

Shortly after that we introduced a Multipurpose Room….

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January 6, 2015, 3:50 pm

Diving into critical pedagogy: an alterative view of information literacy

A few months ago this PowerPoint slide appeared in my Twitter stream:

IL_slide

 It lingered with me for weeks.

I had never considered a library instruction program taking on matters such as dehumanization, colonizing media, or the economic contradictions in our environment. In all the libraries I’ve worked we struggled to have enough people to cover the core instructional load and I could not have imagined a program focused instead on a social agenda.

My view of information literacy has always been pragmatic and conservative: find, access, evaluate, and use a variety of materials. When I was an instruction librarian at George Washington and Georgia Tech my emphasis was on serving engineering disciplines where the focus was on journals, patents, industry standards, and handbooks.

alloysTypical reference questions were about identifying suitable alloys for high temperatures. The type of…

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December 10, 2014, 3:34 pm

The Rise of Digital Poster Sessions: creating new learning interactions in the library

postersYesterday I posted this tweet and it received a lot of attention so I’ll expand my thoughts.

About a year ago we opened our Multipurpose Room in the library. We framed it as a gathering place for creative, cultural, academic, and social experiences. The one major rule is that everything has to be public: no private events.

We officially opened the doors in January 2014 and hosted many lecturers, film screenings, receptions, workshops, panel discussions, poetry and prose readings, and town hall meetings. But also some unique events too: fashion shows, comedy shows, musical and art performances, digital exhibits, mini-conferences and symposiums, cooking demonstrations, a hackathon, and live TEDx broadcasts. I believe there were some World Cup matches in there too.

busy_class

We’ve also seen the rise of digital poster sessions. The room has eight large monitors on the walls and two…

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October 9, 2014, 5:33 pm

Residual Learning Environments: “Students never leave my course”

RH2I’ve worked with Ralph Hall (Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs & Planning, Virginia Tech) related to Google Glass in the past. He has explored different ways of incorporating the hardware into his teaching practices. See: Teaching Using Google Glass and Apps.

RH3_communityWhile Glass inspired him to think differently the game-changer seems to be the portfolio of Google Apps. Ralph recently remarked that students stayed connected to his course even after the semester is finished.

This is a powerful idea. I keep thinking of residual value or appreciation. Your primary value is taking the course, but afterwards—after the grading is done – students continue to gain value as evidenced though continued use or contribution. Just as you might watch a TV show or a game and then go back later to enjoy episodes or highlights. The value extends beyond the original occurrence—beyond the prescribed…

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August 7, 2014, 2:14 pm

Is your org changing? Two book recommendations (and some new directions at Virginia Tech)

This summer my library went through a strategic realignment. We had the convergence of numerous retirements and other departures that presented us with an opportunity to look across the entire organization and consider some adjustments.

The driving factor behind this effort was to better align the library with the University’s strategic directions. New priorities are emerging across campus and we needed to position ourselves to participate and partner more fully. And yes, I’m aware that’s admin-speak.

One theme we focused on was research. Previously we had two areas that shared this same word:

Research and Instruction Services
Research and Informatics

We decided to define our concept of research around activities such as data curation, scholarly communication, publishing services, repositories, and technology development. This is very different from the traditional…

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July 24, 2014, 10:42 am

LIBRARIAN AS FUTURIST: Changing the Way Libraries Think About the Future

I recently published an essay in portal. It explores the mindset (and toolkit) of futurists and attempts to connect that to libraries. I blogged about it earlier with the idea of “change literacy”—which I still think is a fascinating concept.

Librarian_as_Futurist_preview_imageThe portal version is fine, but I can’t legally post their PDF – so I made my own. Besides that, academic publisher prints always look a little stodgy and grayish to me, no offense. I prefer a more uplifting wrapper for my words. Design is a vital part of the communications process and I  like to have some control over how my ideas are presented.

Here is a snippet:

Librarians could discuss ad infinitum the predictions, proclamations, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams about what libraries are becoming. In fact, as a profession librarians are obsessed with talking about our future. Books, articles, blog posts, conference sessions, an…

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July 17, 2014, 2:36 pm

A Liaison for a Classroom Building? Curating a Learning ecosystem.

It is very common for librarians to serve as liaisons to academic departments. They teach classes, purchase materials, answer reference questions, assist with research endeavors, and generally get involved with the odds-and-ends of those units. Some librarians also liaise with defined user communities such as first-year students, international students, or students associated with particular residence halls.

This classic approach enables librarians to connect their expertise with different user segments that likely share similar needs, interests, or perspectives. In short, these librarians serve as the human interface of the library.

But things are changing. I think we are in the initial phase of the next evolutionary step of the librarian as liaison. I touched upon this in my last post about the shift from “knowledge service provider to collaborative partner.” ARL is also…

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April 9, 2014, 4:56 pm

NO CLASSROOMS, JUST EXPERIENCES: “free thinking” the future of higher ed

I’m serving on a “Student Experience Task Force”— which among other things is exploring the relationship between residence halls, classrooms, laboratories, dining facilities, student centers, libraries, gyms, and outdoor spaces across my campus—with an eye toward long-term strategies. This is a yearlong process.

Our first assignment was to “free think” one possibility twenty to thirty years from now. These ideas were not expected to be grounded in reality— but to intentionally be provocative, disruptive, or transformative.

a_desk_for_every_student

Virginia Tech: Burchard Hall. A desk for every student

Mine was to do away with classrooms. Instead of lecture halls I would give every student their own desk or workbench—similar to what you find in architecture departments. There is an amazing community that forms around…

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