I created a blog for my Information Freedom class in which I’ll be posting reflections on IF issues throughout this term. I will probably import my posts here when the term is over, but for now I’m keeping them separate.

Feel free to check it out here: http://ifponderings.wordpress.com/

So, 2009 is over. And something has happened in the last couple of weeks to make me feel motivated again. Motivated to finish my degree, motivated to read more for pleasure, and what the heck… motivated to start this up again! I changed the look, and I’m gonna change things up a little as well. I hope to write in here at least once a week.

For 2010 I’m creating a reading resolution. I’ve crippled my leisure reading by convincing myself I don’t have time. It has taken me forever to finish a book. I get distracted after 5 minutes…  so bottom line? I want to read more. I miss reading. I see books that I want to read but i tell myself i don’t have the time. So many books so little time!

I came across the book  – via my readers advisory class – called Book Smart : Your Essential Reading List for Becoming a Literary Genius in 365 days. I ended up finding my goal. I will not be reading the entire list! BUT the neat this about this book is each month has several books that fall into a theme. So I decided that each month I will choose one book from the list to read.

January’s Theme is classics… The classic I chose is Homer’s Odyssey, translation by Robert Fitzgerald. In high school, our focus was on the Iliad. We read a story version of it to get the main story, but we didn’t really study it like we did the Iliad. So here I go 🙂

I’m also currently listening to The Hunger Games on Audio CD.

Yesterday, I wandered down to the children’s area to speak with Heydi about Teen related stuff and after I was done, I had a very interesting experience. On my way back to the circ desk I approached by a mom who needed a book of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” for her third grader. So I took her over to a WebPAC and we searched for it. Then I showed her what we had in both chapter books and picture books. Then on my back to the circ desk again I got approached by another mom who was looking for Star Wars clone wars books for her son. So I showed her where those were.

This got me thinking about roving reference again. I was thinking how effective it is to have someone out in the stacks available for someone so they don’t have to come to the desk. (Because, come on, who wants to come to the desk, we’re so scary) But it hit me that now that I have to wear a visible staff id, it makes it even easier to be recognized, and consequently approached. I think I may do some more experimentation with this in the next week and see what else I can observe.

On that note, I think I’m going to buy an emergency librarian t-shirt.


My dislike of OPAC subject searches is primarily based on the fact that while they are intended for everyone to use, they aren’t very user friendly. Since my limited knowledge of creating extensive databases that are user friendly cannot do anything to change this, I have decided to try a different approach.

In my information literacy class we are creating a teaching module based on the ARCS model for learner motivation. I decided mine will be about using the OPAC. So far all I have put together for this is my idea for an attention getting activity:

Topic: Searching a library catalog

Target Audience: People unfamiliar with using Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs)

Objectives: Teach library users to use OPACs to search for the different materials they need

Length: About 90 minutes with two short breaks at 30-minute intervals.

Content: Basics, such as layout of the OPAC, functions of different buttons, how to read the results as well as a little more advanced information such as how to choose terminology and how to choose the appropriate search function (Keyword, Title, Subject, Author)

Attention Activity: This will be reminiscent of a card catalog. I will choose five different books that are fairly easy to classify (ex. A book about caring for flowering plants, a book about building a deck, etc.) and give each participant five index cards. They will then look at each book and on a card will write down the title, the author, and what they feel the subject of the book is. When everyone has done this we will go through each book, and see what everyone chose as their subject and compare it with the actual subject heading in the OPAC.

Today I read Jeremy Shapiro and Shelley Hughes’ article on Information Literacy as a Liberal Art which can be found here: http://net.educause.edu/apps/er/review/reviewArticles/31231.html

I really enjoyed this article. It asks us as information professionals to look at Information Literacy not just from a technical standpoint. While it argues that there is a need for the technical knowledge of information technology, it also refers to these as just tools. It argues that our society needs to gain a “broad, integrated and critical perspective on the contemporary world of knowledge and information”. They maintain that his knowledge will not only allow users to understand the current technologies, but will help them to grow and understand new technologies as they emerge. Furthermore, it adds that it needs to be an education across the entire society, not for those who are entitled.

I work in a public library and due to the current economic situation there are people who come in all the time needing to use the computers to apply for unemployment or fill out job applications. One of the largest problems that these individuals face is the lack of technical knowledge, or what Shapiro and Hughes call “Tool Literacy”. They do not use computers, they do not have e-mail address, and yet, in order for them to receive the benefits they need in order to survive they must use the internet and create an email address. I sometimes get impatient with these people as I do not understand how they could not know how to create an email address or navigate a web site. I hide behind the excuse that it is not my job to be their teacher. However, after reading this article, I realize while it may not be my job to teach every person how to do this, it may be my responsibility as an information professional to at least try to teach and aide them in the use of some of these tools not just so they can fill out applications, but to create a more information literate society.

There is a group of kids that come into the library fairly frequently. First they are there to use the internet, then when their time is over they disappear out of the view of the circ desk and make messes, be loud, and other disruptive things. They also talk back to any of us who address them. It’s been very frustrating for us all. While they are there all I can think about is catching them doing something so that I can kick them out.

However, when I look at this in retrospect, it makes me more convinced that we are providing a disservice to these kids and that our library needs some sort of teens’ services program. I’m not sure how it would look. I know it could possibly involve board game tournaments or movie nights, but I don’t know how it could look on the everyday scale. In our town there is nothing for teens to do, but walk around, bored looking for something to amuse them. The library is somewhere they can go to when there is nowhere else to go.

I imagine ideally there would be a teen space where they could gather and socialize (in a reasonable manner) or perform some sort of task where socializing would accompany it. (Such as the aforementioned board games). But how do you create that atmosphere in an existing space that wasn’t designed for it?

This post is primarily questions, but I believe it has a lot to do with the idea of third places and creating a community focused civic space. When there is nothing else to do, how can we create a space in the library that fits the needs of teens.

I stumbled across this article from the project for public spaces. It is an article discussing making libraries matter in the 21st century.  I think it is a great article that expresses what I feel the new library should embody. I aspire to create a place like this.

‘but they [libraries] still garner respect, praise and even adoration on account of their innovative management and programming–as well as design that supports a multitude of different uses. They are taking on a larger civic role–balancing their traditional needs and operations with outreach to the wider community–thereby contributing to the creation of a physical commons that benefits the public as a whole. If the old model of the library was the inward-focused community “reading room,” the new one is more like a community “front porch.”‘

I want to be a library director. When I am presented with this opportunity I want my main focus to be community. My library would be full of people. It wouldn’t be loud, but there would be motion. I would definitely have a large sitting area near newpapers and magazines. There would also be a coffee bar here because who wants to read the paper uncaffeinated? In addition to this area there would be a teens area near the YA materials where they could hang out. It disgusts me that so many children and teens don’t have anywhere to go. While there are a few that I have had to kick out of the current library I work at, I think this space is needed. It would be a place where homework and socializing could happen simultaneously. My third “space” as it were would be the children’s area where they could play and learn at the same time. In addition to these spaces there would be a reading room for those who still want the silent place to read, a meeting room that has presentation capabilities, but also the ability to show movies. This could also be classroom space for community education classes, book groups, knitting circles, and yoga classes. And finally there would a lot of computers and a lot of places for laptop use as well.

I realize that there are most likely libraries out there like this. I have seen some that come close, but they’re all huge libraries that don’t really create a sense of community. On example of what could be done is all of the stuff in the previous paragraph could be housed on the ground floor, while the books, dvds, and other materials are housed on a second floor…

And I think that’s the end of my rambling on this subject for now.

So I actually got to thinking about this issue before I watched that awesom video that Aaron posted about public spaces. More or less it started when I was listening to Thomas Friedman’s new book in my car on the way to orchestra rehearsal. He too discusses the lack of meaningful spaces in his book. I wish I had a copy of it, but alas, I had to return it to the library! His reasoning differs in that he was examining international travel and discussed that people from other countries don’t visit the US as much as they used to. He feels a part of this is the seeming lack of care we take in our appearances. This relates to Kunstler because no one wants to look at Wal-marts.

While I don’t buy Kunstler’s idea that meaningless spaces creates a feeling of anxiety, I do think it creates a feeling of disassociation. If there is no meaningful PUBLIC space, no one will care what happens. I feel a library can be that public space. A library is not just  a place to house information anymore, it is a community space that can host teen movie nights and wii sports tournaments as well as summer reading program events. I believe that the library should do as much outreach as possible because the more we present our institution to the public as a true service to the community, the more the community will engage with us in return.

What Am I Reading Now?

my currently-reading shelf:
Stephanie's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf)

Some genealogy links

Flickr Photos