Posts tagged ‘Libraries’

Reference Renaissance Twofer — New Book & CFP for 2010 Conference

A post by Marie L. Radford

Nothing thrills a writer/editor more than the joy of finally being able to see a finished book that you have had in the works for many months.  I am delighted to announce that Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends is now available from Neal-Schuman!  I had the privilege of working with co-editor Dave Lankes of Syracuse University on the book which captures the latest in the work of researchers and practitioners, updated from their presentations at the first (hugely successful!) Reference Renaissance Conference. Dave is the creative, intellectual, and dynamic force behind the ground-breaking Virtual Reference Desk conferences and books which have provided inspiration and models for the Reference Renaissance events and publications.

Anyone interested in the latest buzz should take a look at this book which features current research in reference, including virtual services like IM and live chat, innovative service models, and philosophical approaches. In addition, numerous “reports from the field” chronicle innovative service models, virtual reference successes, marketing, initiatives in staff development and training, and using search engines and other virtual tools.

I have authored a chapter with Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC called:  “Getting Better All the Time: Improving Communication and Accuracy in Virtual Reference” that features results and recommendations from our Seeking Synchronicity IMLS, Rutgers, and OCLC, Inc. grant project. Here’s a sneaky – peek from our chapter… The top tip for boosting accuracy when you are providing live chat VR is the following: when asked for specific information, before you push a Web site or URL, check to make sure it contains the precise information requested by the user, not just a general overview of the topic. We found this simple verification step would have increased accuracy from 78% to90% for ready reference questions.

The book also contains the provocative keynote “Reference in the Age of Wikipedia, or Not…” by David W. Lewis, Dean of the IUPUI University Library, as well as the remarks from the plenary panel on “Theory Meets Practice: Educators and Directors Talk” featuring Dave Lankes and myself (the educators) as well as Jamie LaRue, Director of the Douglas County Libraries, CO and Carla J. Stoffle Dean of the University of Arizona Libraries (the directors).

To heighten our excitement, this book’s publication comes as we are dead smack in the middle of planning for the second Ref Ren conference: Reference Renaissance 2010: Inventing the Future which will be held from August 8-10, 2010 in Denver, CO. I am again honored to be co-chair of the conference program, this time working with co-chair Rivkah Sass of Sacramento Public Library, and  Justine Schaffer of BCR, who is the overall conference chair. The Call for Participation is out and we are upping our game, inviting a greater diversity of submissions in innovative as well as traditional formats. We seek papers, panels, reports from the field, workshops, and Pecha Kucha proposals to do with forward-looking initiatives and strategies in all types of reference service and from a variety of library environments.

April 1st is the deadline, and I encourage all LG readers to think about submitting a proposal and planning to join us in Denver!

March 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm 1 comment

A quote by Alfred Mercier

Mercier on Learning

Mercier on Learning

Author:  John LeMasney. As a supporter and fan of libraries and librarians, I find it a privilege and honor to be able to post on Library Garden. I also sometimes find it just the slightest bit intimidating. I’m always just a little bit reluctant to post something that I think might be too far outside of the librarian’s perspective. At the same time, I’ve been  working closely with libraries in New Jersey and elsewhere for the last 3 or 4 years as a presenter, trainer  and consultant, and I love the topics that I’ve been able to put into my personal Venn diagram with Libland.

Topics such as technology, design, blogging, open source, outreach, and learning all have been focus points for my work with libraries, but my favorite by far has been design. As a result, for the posts I’ve created here at LG, I’ve made them about design. In order to increase and maintain my posting numbers here, I’ve decided that I’m going to not only write about design, but to actually do relevant designs for this blog. As inspiration, I’ve discovered many pages of quotes about libraries, learning, media, and librarians that I thought would be the perfect muse for illustration.

This is the first of what I hope will be well received posts in this vein. Mercier’s quote here about indelibly learning that which is pleasurable rings very true in my experience, and I thought you, dear reader, might agree, so I’m sharing the thought with you.

This was made in the open source illustration package called Inkscape. I typed out the quote in several single word blocks in order to have the most flexibility with their placement and manipulation. I kerned each word very tightly, as to add some speed to the reading. The font, one of my all time favorites, is Gill Sans. I added several rectangles overlapping in the background, in various woodland hues and tints, and then converted them to paths, so that I could add curves to them. Finally, I added translucent gradients to each of the blocks to create a misty effect.

You might wonder (or at least that’s my nagging suspicion) how this relates, exactly, to libraries. I’d say that if you do design in your work of attracting patrons to programs, and maintaining posters or fliers, that it very directly relates to you. I’d go further to say that if you’re using Word or Publisher to do that work, you’d have a rather difficult time of doing this particular design there, despite the fairly simple design. Even if you don’t recognize doing (or feel that you) design directly in your work, I’d argue that everyone who faces a blank page on a screen makes design decisions. That’s probably you.

Part of the message I’m trying to send is that some of the best tools in life are free (as in cost, and in freedom) and that with just a few key skills, you can greatly improve your designs. Another part is that what we learn with pleasure, we never forget.  Another part is that I firmly believe that design can change your life, bring you pleasure, and alter how you see the world forever.

February 27, 2010 at 9:00 am 2 comments

Book Fairs and Bookmobiles inspire the reading spirit

by April Bunn

The tables are cleared, the mini-cash registers are closed and balanced, and the wheelable bookcases are packed and closed. The library looks  a bit empty after our PTO’s Scholastic Book Fair closed last week.

Book Fair picture

Don’t get me wrong, I am always relieved to get my circulation desk (also my personal desk) back and unpack when they leave. It is a challenge to move out of the place and teach my lessons on a cart, but overall Scholastic makes it pretty easy to “wow” the kids. They market with a theme, which this year was Destination Book Fair- reading around the world.

You should see it- the students arrive with books circled in the  flyer, chomping at the bit to get in the library and spend every cent of the money they’ve brought in envelopes and Ziploc baggies. It’s priceless to see the excitement in their eyes when they walk into the wonderland that the PTO members create with these book fairs twice a year.

Library transformed

Despite the economic conditions, the sales were good.  Of course, we quickly sold out of Jeff Kinney’s latest hit, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Also, it was great to have a parent purchase and donate the picture book, Dewey: There’s a cat in the Library! which I had on my wish list.

I didn’t have the experience of my library transforming into a Book Fair growing up- the bookmobile came to our school and impressed us. Can you remember visiting the bookmobile? Do you remember the buzz in the school when it arrived?

At my school, in suburban central New Jersey, we’d line up, a few students at a time, old-style bookmobileand head into the bookmobile to spend our money on a brand new book (I don’t remember buying the erasers,  silly pens and pointers, posters, and all the tchotchkes they widely sell now).

Bookmobiles are back in, apparantly, because in 2010, ALA is celebrating bookmobiles and their 100 years of service on National Bookmobile Day, Wednesday, April 14th,  during National Library Week.

Bookmobiles are more commonly used by libraries now, to reach out into the community, but the idea is the same. Drive up, open the doors, and let the excited patrons, young and old, enter the magical kingdom of books.

As librarians, we are lucky to have daily experiences with the joy of connecting people to new books.  I feel extra lucky working with children, because they give us such uninhibited delight when they find the “perfect” book.  Walking into a special place focused on books, whether it be a library, book store, book fair or bookmobile can be all we need to inspire our reading spirit.

Happy Holidays to all of you for keeping that spirit alive.

by April Bunn

December 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm 7 comments

Access denied

by April Bunn

Most of us have no control over it.
It gets people really upset when they run up against it.

The Internet Filter

access deniedHopefully you aren’t trying to read this at a school computer because you’d probably have  your “access denied” with most of my links below.

As a School Library Media Specialist, I am all too familiar with a great teaching moment being ruined by a blocked website. Linda Underwood’s School Library Monthly article “21st-Century Learning Blocked: What is a School Librarian to Do?” (September’s issue-not available online yet) inspired me to think more about this topic. This past week one of my colleagues was blocked from using National Geographic and another was blocked from downloading her Promethean Board software, so I knew it was time to get this done.  The technology teacher and I just convinced many of these teachers to branch out and use new technology and this filter is discouraging them rapidly.  Just to give you an idea of what it’s like with these filters:

  • We can’t use any image or video sites at all (so long to those Google Images on our web pages and for student projects and no-can-do on that great video you found on Abraham Lincoln on YouTube).
  • Also, no access to sites that have a shopping cart feature, like Barnes and Noble, making it a serious challenge to place orders when we are registering for conferences, ordering books and supplies.
  • No technical or business forums (see below)

Ironically, as I try to finalize this post, sitting at my desk after school dismisses, I am blocked from previewing the post on WordPress with the response screen below:

_______________________________________________________

filter blockedblocked

You cannot access the following Web address:
http://librarygarden.net/?p=2399&preview=true
The site you requested is blocked under the following categories: Technical/Business Forums
You can:
Temporarily override filtering on this computer if you have an override name and password. (Note that your administrator may be notified that you’ve bypassed filtering.)
Use your browser’s Back button or enter a different Web address to continue.

__________________________________________________________

Surveying other Libraries

After suffering from blocks preventing her from using pieces of Web 2.0 in her teaching, National Board Certified Teacher and Instructional Technology Integrator  Sharon Elin used her blog at edutwist.com, to conduct a survey about which popular sites were blocked and find out what other schools were allowing. Her results, displayed in colorful graphs, represent the more controversial of sites, but even simple sites that include questionable images are blocked from most students.

As Media Specialists, we are responsible, along with our Technology colleagues, for teaching about safe internet searching and strategies for effective information retrieval. As one of Elin’s responders wrote, “Teaching students about internet safety in a highly filtered environment is like teaching kids to swim in a pool without water.”

edutwist quote

So why do we have to have them?

In 2000, Congress enacted the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). As a result of that Act, many schools and libraries got grants for technology or joined the E-Rate program, a discounted pricing system set up by the FCC for telecommunication services, Internet access, and internal connections. One requirement of these programs was to certify that you are using computer filtering software programs to prevent the “on-screen depiction of obscenity, child pornography or material that is harmful to minors”.  Nobody is really arguing that schools against schools being a safe place, away from highly offensive material. As librarians, our collection development is monitored by administration and the purchasing has to be supported with some curricular connection.  What we as educators are saying is that the filters that are in place in schools are blocking educational information that could be inspiring to a child. Parents must understand that their children are losing out on dynamic learning communities created by Web 2.0 developments.

We’re being forced to bypass the filter

In most cases, educators are waiting for technical administrators to release the block after explaining how they are going to be using it in they teaching. By the way, these tech administrators are NOT teachers or librarians; they are IT people and network security experts that are now responsible for evaluating things like 5th grade students’ research on endangered species. Are we even speaking the same language? I don’t think so. In my school, those requests are only read once a week.

As a result, we’ve (older students and teachers) resorted to bypassing and unblocking the filter on our own. My Google search returned over 1 million hits when using the search terms “how to bypass school internet filters” and the responses included videos and instructions galore. A large portion of these requests could be from students as well.

A few examples are:

eHoweHow (www.ehow.com)

is just one of the many sites giving step by step directions how to bypass the filter. They call it a “circumvention” of the block and don’t make any attempt to discuss the issue: “Whether or not these blocks are justified or a waste of time, whether they are a form of censorship or a method of managing resources, are topics that can be debated another time.”  They give 3 sets of directions depending on what you’d like to use: a translation service, URL redirection service, or web proxy.

Quick tips graphic Quick Online Tips (www.quickonlinetips.com) has a page called “Top 10 Ways to Unblock Websites”

We know about it but won’t widely risk it

Most of the school librarians that I spoke to knew that these methods existed, but many had only used it once or twice, or were scared to be caught. The law specifically states, “An administrator, supervisor, or person authorized by the responsible authority [i.e. school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of such school] may disable the technology protection measure concerned to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.”

Can’t we just block the students’ computers?

No. The FCC’s E-Rate program is specific that every computer have the filter engaged, “The FCC is imposing the requirements on ALL Internet-accessible computers used by the schools and libraries, including public, student, staff and administrative workstations on the Internet because the law made no distinction between school and library computers that are used only by adult staff, and those used by children or the public.” If we’re hoping schools will allow us to have more access than our students, it looks like we’ll be waiting awhile. If you refer to Elin’s survey, the communication service Skype is almost the only site that was allowed on more teacher computers than student ones. That wasn’t true in my school this month when a teacher was blocked from Skype or Google Video Chat to demonstrate communication across the world with her son who is teaching English in Korea.

SKype Chart

Skype Chart

What can we hope for in the future?

I’m trying to be optimistic in how I think filters will be used in schools of the future. Otherwise I’d feel like my degree in Library and Information Science may not be best suited for a school library career. My dreams are for:

  • Trust from our Administration that we are professionals and will use the internet wisely in our teaching
  • Filtering programs that are created by educators and parents
  • Websites designing “school-safe” versions for filter approval
  • Open access to dynamic information online without lurking viruses and predators
  • Faith from the parents whose children we inspire on a daily basis that we are working to create better global citizens

by April Bunn, School Library Media Specialist in a PreK-6th Grade School

September 28, 2009 at 2:23 pm 15 comments

Pres4Lib2009: Registration now Open!

Looking to hone your presentation skills, become a better speaker, or develop your training/presenting toolkit? If so, you will not want to miss the inaugural Pres4Lib Camp on June 12, 2009 in Princeton, NJ. The camp, hosted by the bloggers of Library Garden and friends, is being sponsored by SJRLC, CJRLC and the Princeton Public Library. The camp is open to anyone who works in libraries or with libraries and librarians.

Pres4Lib2009 is a presentation camp and will be conducted as an unconference. This will be a great opportunity for presenters and trainers (and those interested in presenting and training) in the library community to network and share their tips, technologies, best practices, and experiences.Highlights of the day will include two rounds of lightning talks, three breakout sessions, and a chance to witness Battle Decks in action.

A Pres4Lib2009 wiki (http://pres4lib.pbwiki.com ) has been established to answer questions about the camp, allow for collaboration and suggestions prior to the day and to record the happenings on the actual day.

Registration is limited and the cost is free, except for a nominal $25 charge to cover the cost of food (breakfast, lunch and snacks). The day will culminate with an optional dinner outing to The Triumph Brewing Company, a local favorite in Princeton.

Don’t delay and register today at http://tinyurl.com/pres4lib2009
… and remember, you heard it here first at the Library Garden!

April 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm 2 comments

Addios Críticas, You will be missed…

I was saddened to learn that after eight years, Críticas has ceased publication. The full Title–Críticas: An English Speaker’s Guide to the Latest Spanish-Language Titles– is the best description of the magazine I could produce. It was a published monthly on-line and covered everything—adult titles, children’s titles, books, movies, and audio, fiction and nonfiction. In addition there are articles and editorials covering everything from collection development to outreach and fundraising. Twice a year, print copies were distributed to subscribers of Library Journal. This was my go to resource for keeping up with the Spanish language publishing industry.

The Latino population in my area—actually in all of the U.S. is growing at a significant rate. According to the 2005-2007 American Community Survey three-year estimates, the number of ‘Hispanic or Latino (of any race)’ people increased 24% over the 2000 Census figures, to approximately 14% of the population of the United States. In New Jersey, the increase was approximately 20% over the same time period. More than ever, librarians need tools to assist them in serving Spanish speakers. Reed Business Information, the publisher of Críticas, said there are plans to have this type of coverage in their other publications Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. So far, I have not seen any thing in these publications to reflect that statement. The loss of Críticas will negatively impact my ability to serve my patrons.
This loss is significant, but not surprising. The publishing industry in general has been hurt by the global economic downturn. Rarely a day passes without some news of shut-downs or layoffs at newspapers, publishers, and magazines. At the same time, people are reading more (see the New York Times article for the complete story). Librarians increasingly must rely on vendors for information and reviews. Is this the best model for gathering information? I don’t think so. I prefer my information to come from a more impartial source. That’s not to say that the information publishers provide is bad, it simply means that it must be looked at with a more critical eye.

With niche markets, the loss of even one source is a serious blow to our ability to make informed decisions for our patrons. With English speaking titles, independent reviews are available all over the web. However, similar information is not available to me for foreign language titles because they are generally written in the foreign language! Yes, I want to learn to speak Spanish, but it is a very slow process for me. This is why Críticas was so important.
I don’t have Spanish language collection development responsibilities. I used Críticas to keep up with what is available and what might be popular. To tell a patron who struggles with English that the hot new Stephanie Meyer book is indeed available to them is a big help. By knowing about trends in the industry, I can learn more about the population to whom these books are being marketed. I have learned about authors I didn’t previously know, found interesting non-fiction books on culture and history that were not covered in LJ, and found countless movies I never would have seen had it not been for a review in the magazine. Each of these things helps to bridge the divide that the language barrier creates.
Spanish speakers are not the only non-English speakers in my library. Over 20% of the population of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township—the areas served by my public library—speak a language other than English at home. Of those, approximately 5.2% speak Spanish (10.7 Nationwide), and nearly 6% speak ‘Asian and Pacific Island languages’ (2.7% Nationwide)[1]. Yet there are very few resources for English speaking librarians to learn about titles available in these languages.

When I did collection development of DVDs at Mary Jacobs Library, my foreign population came primarily from India and China. Oh how I wished for a similar publication for these languages! Alas, I could find nothing available in English that would help me to build not only a collection of today’s titles, but one that would help me to build a collection with depth and history. Luckily I had several patrons and coworkers from other branches who helped me with both. Still, I remain woefully ignorant of Indian movies—a topic so large and complex that I could never get completely comfortable with it.
For now I will begin to mine the Críticas web site for all the lists and information that are still available. I have begun to source alternatives (thank you Anna Paola Ferate-Soto for the wonderful wiki and Web Junction for your tips and tools). Likewise, I will continue to look for similar information on movies and literature in Chinese and Hindi. If anyone knows of such resources, please let me know. I would prefer resources that are free or have a very low cost (this is my personal professional development budget). Still, do let me know of strong subscription-based tools as well.
Adios Críticas, you will be missed. To all the people who worked there, I wish you the best and look forward to seeing your bylines elsewhere. I truly hope that Reed Business Information does not abandon this important market. When they have to hire you back, may you all receive huge pay increases and corner offices! You deserve it—for eight years you have provided insight into a world that would have otherwise been unavailable to me. Thank you very much.
[1] All figures are based on the 2000 Census data published via American Fact Finder.

February 25, 2009 at 9:26 am

Stimulating Libraries…

As you know, the Federal Government is spending. Yesterday President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a $787 billion stimulus package. According to the President, “It’s an investment that will create jobs building 21st century classrooms, libraries, and labs for millions of children across America.”

Of interest to me is $53.5 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (down from the $79 billion originally proposed). This money is being given to state governments to make-up shortfalls in spending on education and government services. I for one will be sending e-mails to my state representatives asking that they continue to fully fund the NJ Knowledge Initiative and provide some of this money for public libraries in New Jersey. (To find your NJ representatives, this is a really handy site: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp).

For complete breakdown of the package and how it impacts libraries, the ALA has set up a very helpful webpage. I look forward to learning more about the specifics of the package and how it can help my library and my community, as well as all libraries.

February 18, 2009 at 6:10 pm

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