Learning with Blogs and Wikis, CIL2007

Audience Right

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

CIL 2007

Meredith and I delivered ponies with monocles to a large room of people. It was different presenting to a room filled with people I respect and love. Different in a nerve racking fun way.

The talk went very well and we had a lot of great questions from the audience. They asked about getting participation from people who are not comfortable putting themselves “out there,” being able to lock certain parts of a wiki and leaving the rest open, what our planning process looked like (on a wiki of course!), and what blogging software we liked the best.

I can not stress this enough: We want people to take this idea and build their own online learning experiences. We are happy to answer questions at any time. We made a wiki in lieu of slides.
Presenting with Meredith was great. She is, as always, “fabulous.”

–Jane, now can we go karaoke?

Learning about L2

Learning about L2

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

This is the picture of the audience of the preconference I gave today at TLA. It went off without too many hitches and we had some great discussion in the morning about Web 2.0 tools, privacy, and trust. Librarians always have a lot to say. I was pleased to have a very interactive audience. In the afternoon, I handed the podium over and my co-presenter talked about Web 2.0 nuts and bolts, the things that make our software run.

We created a wiki with the presentation notes and some basic resources.

–Jane, off to have celebratory drinks

Children’s Librarians and the Future

John Bylberg made a good point when he said the other day:

I’ve often thought (and I’m sure I’m not alone) that the future of libraries rest in the hands of our children’s librarians. It’s actually quite poignant how that army of burden has been routed to a group of librarians who probably never considered that they would be given that kind of responsibility.

He wrote this in response to a Wall Street Journal article about young people’s library use.

He is right of course. It made me think of the emphasis I have seen lately on teen programming in the library and that we should start to mirror some of that programming for the younger kids as well. Do we have computers just for kids to use? How restricted is their time on the computer and what can they access?

It would be wonderful if we could offer internet workshops to children, even very young ones. If they are old enough to be online, they are old enough to start learning about information literacy, online safety, and online etiquette. I continue to see lamentations about our young people’s lack of information literacy skills, even at the the college level, and starting the conversation when they are young would be beneficial to all.

For tweens and teens, you could have web design and internet safety classes. Some of the classes could even be run by other teens. What a fun and rewarding program that would be to run!

–Jane, it’s not just storytime anymore

My Reflections on Five Weeks and Librarianship

Meredith wrote a long post yesterday about her feelings regarding Five Weeks and I thought it was time I posted mine as well. Her description of how this came about is honest and her comments are all things I can say “exactly” to. It was a success because our participants felt like they learned and had a good time. That means all was well in my mind. Not perfect. There were glitches, but we dealt with them and moved on. It was great and I can not imagine building it with anyone else.

This particular post has been long in the making.

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you read this post I wrote a little under a year ago about some thoughts I had while in ALA 2.0 Bootcamp. What started out as a good experience soured quickly and we were indeed told that it could not be done better. That is a challenge I am loathe to back down from, especially when I had started the conversation for the purpose of making things better. The challenge from Kathleen was reason one why we “sat down,” over IM, and hatched a plan. She was the impetus and for that, I am grateful to her.

Reason two involved the library profession more personally, for me. (Please brace yourself for broad generalizations.) We pay too much for things that do not work. We refuse to change, grow, and learn. We fail to see the future even when it is no longer nipping at our heels, but crushing us under its weight. These attitudes make me tired and I have only been struggling in this profession for less then 3 years. No wonder I know so many older librarians who have become malcontents. (and plenty who are not, they are what keep me smiling)

I helped build the dream that became Five Weeks because I believe that we, librarians of the world, hold the capacity to learn, change, and adapt. I believe that there are enough of us that dream big and then do, but I think we are too few. Too far apart.

It was inspiring to watch the participants learn new things and build amazing ideas and plans of their own, but it also broke my heart to hear about all the roadblocks they each face. I moderated two groups and we spent time every week in each group going over ways to deal with reluctant staff, stubborn administrations, and refusals to adapt. It was especially disheartening to hear over and over again stories of supportive management that nevertheless refused to change because of one or two vocal staff. To hear them voice the concerns that plague my own life made me want to weep for our profession. Weep for the ability of other people’s stubbornness and a culture of indecision to steal the fire that is in so many of us. Weep for all of us who struggle uphill to make things better, but mostly weep for those who hold our profession back.

I hope that all the participants bring their wonderful ideas back to their libraries and meet with resounding success. I hope this everyday for them. They worked so hard and are so full of excitement about what they could be doing for their communities.

I did not intend for this post to be so gloomy, but my feelings about Five Weeks ranged from elation and hope to despair and I think this post was reflective of that. My largest hope is that others will build their own Five Weeks projects. As Meredith stated in her post, an online learning project can be about anything. My desire is that libraries and organizations, even ALA, will see the value on building these kinds of learning portals and offering them for free. Free. of. Charge. For. Everyone.

There are some libraries doing absolutely awesome things, sometimes with little resources and a small staff. We all know who they are. These are the places that give me hope, restore my smile on days when I want to rend my clothes and pull my hair. We are watching you, oh beacons, and we hope that more people notice too.

I still love my profession, but like any love relationship, some days, I do not like you very much. Recently, I have felt all I want to give you is tough love. From the heart, but very tough.

–Jane, power to the people

Jobs 2.0 and Training 2.0

Laura Cohen has a couple of posts dealing with things that have been on my mind lately, namely staff training and job descriptions. Laura suggests an all day staff retreat for 2.0 learning. I wish more libraries would put staff training, real training, in a place of importance.

Updated: Going through my feeds, I find that Michael Stevens has added to the conversation at ALA TechSource.

Librarians are expected to know more and more about more and more. We should enable our employees to be the best they can be through well planned, extensive staff training.

The obstacles to staff training are finding someone to do the training, getting people to attend, and finding ways for your staff to use their new found knowledge in their work day. To solve the “who is going to train” problem, many libraries are hiring people to coordinate technology training. In my mind, this is the easiest and most straight forward problem to solve.

Attendance or accountability and utilizing new skills are the hardest obstacles to overcome. Accountability has to come from both the top and the bottom. People in the lower ranks must be motivated. This can be done by getting by-in from the beginning or getting a few leaders on board early. The leaders can then go and “spread the word” among the troops. Higher ups will need to hold the training in importance and make sure that any accountability structure has follow though.

Have people learn new skills is wonderful, but managers should be careful to allow their employees opportunities to use their new skills. Perhaps a new project could be started or staff could have built in play time in which they could explore the limits of their new knowledge.

Training should not be overlooked in the 2.0 world. It is essential to any library’s success.

–Jane, lives in a 2.0

Five Weeks Due Date Imminent!

The deadline to apply to be a participant in the Five Weeks to a Social Library program is tomorrow, December 1st. You will find the application here. It is going to be awesome.

I believe in this project because it is important that continuing education and training be offered FREE online to librarians. It can be free. It will be free. We are setting it free.

–Jane, accept no substitutes

*title changed to be correct, wow am I ever a bad spellr!, thanks John.

Seductive Gaming

Creating Passionate Users, always good for some thought provoking questions, talks about using seduction to get users involved. Involving the brain in a service or learning experience will results in better participation from our users and an encounter that is satisfying to our customers.

I think the concept of learning through gaming also works in conjunction with the idea of seduction. Engaging the brain through a scenario of locating a half hidden item is standard game plot fare. In an RPG, one is often asked to locate hidden items, people, or missions. You never know what is waiting around the corner, fame and fortune or a troll hoping to make you its second breakfast. This is just one of the reasons why RPGs are so very much fun.

How does this concept apply to library instruction or staff training? What can we do to create either an incentive to learn or a mission in which the students derive the path and define the experience themselves? Rewards for learning are a classic method. See the Learning 2.0 program at PLCMC. I think it is almost easier to develop staff training with incentives because there are a lot of things a workplace can offer employees who attain a higher level of expertise, money, time, items. Classes for the community (whether that be faculty, students, or community users) can be harder. Letting a class guide the learning process by giving up control as the instructor can be an invaluable tool in getting a class to participate.

It has become cliche to many to offer candy as a reward in classes, but what about gift cards to Starbucks? It worked great for Steven Cohen at Internet Librarian! Are there things we could give them that are “free” for us? I know that some libraries are creating tutorials that resemble games. I like to be entertained and this sort of idea is appealing to me. It is all about me, right?

Are you seducing your users or driving them away? We can seduce our users in many, many ways. We can offer unique services, great customer service, nice spaces, the resources they want, the technology they need, no restrictions, no fines, control over their own experience, and the list goes on…

–Jane, a little seduction

A Little Exaggeration

I hand out surveys in all of my classes. The last question asks if there was anything they wanted to know that I did not cover. One response I got today said the following:

I absolutely learned everything I wanted to know. I left feeling armed to take on the world with knowledge.

No, I did not teach them how to cure cancer or solve the world’s economic problems. We went over how to find census data. Just as hard and confusing.

–Jane, tuckered out

Building Communites and Participating in the Discussion

A Review of Social Software

This post is part of a presentation for UNT’s SLIS 5330: Academic Libraries course. In this space, I will dump some key themes and my URL examples so that the students can have an electronic copy of the sites mentioned. This will also provide a place to give feedback or discuss issues we were not able to explore in class. This is an outline only.

Introduction 2.0
What is Web 2.0? This article, from O’Reilly, originator of the phrase, explains why Web 2.0 is different from the internet as it was in the beginning.

Library 2.0
The white paper that started a movement: (this link opens a pdf)

The Talis Paper gave wings to the discussion which continues today in the Biblioblogosphere. Some key examples might be, but are not limited to:

John Blygerg’s Library 2.0 tagged posts
Michael Stephens’ Tame the Web Technology, ride the cluetrain
Michael Casey, all L2, all the time
Walt Crawford in Cites and Insights 6:2, offers a very good roundup of the debate as of Midwinter 2006

Why does L2 matter?
For me, Library 2.0 is about realizing that the library does not belong to us. It never has and we must let our patrons, the real owners, guide the services of the library. L2 asks libraries to place services where our users already are with tools they are already using. Michael Habib created this diagram which is the best and most detailed I have seen.

Not everyone believes in the existence of Library 2.0, though I think that the discourse surrounding this debate has been amiable.

Below are links to the social software, with their respective examples, that I (will) use in the class.

Platforms: Blogger, WordPress, MoveableType, LiveJournal
Lampson Library’s WPopac by Casey Bisson (Updated: Sorry for the original mistake. I must have been typing with my brain off.)

Platforms: PMWiki, MediaWiki, PBWiki
Ohio University Libraries Biz Wiki By Chad Boeninger

Tagging/Social Bookmarking
Platforms: Del.icio.us and Furl
Not an academic library, but a truly librarian use of Del.icio.us
San Mateo Public Library’s Del.icio.us page, used mostly for staff

South Carolina State Library
The Librarians and Libraries Pool, where you won’t need floaties

Social Networking
Platforms: MySpace and Facebook
Helene Blowers is compiling a list of libraries on MySpace. The links to the post at the bottom are very good reading as well.

Summary, Library 2.0 is all about building community, participating in a meaningful discussion, and being beta!

–Jane, not the fish

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Posted with permission

A fellow librarian, who is fabulous and teaches Engineering classes, shared this story today:

I had an exercise for Engineering students to look at engineering handbooks (like Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers as an example).

I mentioned half-jokingly that they should ask a relative who has terrible taste in gift-giving to get them one for graduation.

One student raised her hand and said “I already put one on my bridal registry.”

–Jane, once asked for Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for Christmas (and got it!)