Daily Archives: March 12, 2008

Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts

You’ve Never Been To A Library Like This

I recently made a visit to Cabelas, which is a store dedicated to those who partake in outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, hunting and fishing. The retail stores are huge. You could fit about five Wal-marts into the one I visited. You need that much room if you want to have an indoor fresh water aquarium and a deer museum (I’m not going to elaborate on that). But I never expected to find a library there as well. I guess I should mention that this was a gun library. Yes, the sign over the entrance said Gun Library. It was an extremely ornate room, as nice as any rare book library I’ve ever visited, but here, behind the fine glass cabinet doors you’d find no books, just seriously expensive rifles, shotguns and handguns. I’m talking guns that cost as much as new cars. Yeah, it was just like a real library. Oh, the only other difference is that this library has no circulating collection.

Just In – Libraries Officially Obsolete in 2017

Now we know the answer! No further navel gazing is required. Libraries will be obsolete in 2017. How do I know? Well, I consulted the Extinction Timeline. It shows everything that has become obsolete or will become obsolete between 1950 and 2050. I’m somewhat disappointed. I was going to retire in 2025, but now I see that retirement will be obselete in 2015. On the other hand I’m relieved now that the uncertainty about the future existence of libraries has been resolved. At least I’ll be able to keep blogging. That doesn’t become obsolete until 2023.

Do You Know A Perpetual Super-Novice

So what do you do with a library user who just keeps going to the same old database for every possible search and never seems to want to add to their knowledge base. Well, if nothing else, you can give them a name. Call them Perpertual Super-Novices. That’s a term coined by Paul Sherman. Sherman describes the perpetual super-novice (PSN)as “people who stop learning about a digital product – whether it’s an operating system, desktop application, web site or hardware device.” While we know we have PSNs among our user community, they can be harder to detect. Among Sherman’s strategies to overcome this problem, teachable moments can certainly help. I suspect that the real problem with PSN in academic libraries isn’t as much the users as it is the librarians. Ever tried to get a librarian who primarily uses one preferred database or system to try a new one or get a colleague to learn a batch of new features added to a familiar system. It’s like pulling teeth. Why does it happen? Most likely it’s a self-defense mechanism against information overload. Try to learn too many systems and too many features and you might just become lousy at using any of them. Take a look at Sherman’s suggestions for how we might do a better job of breaking the PSN habit.

The Hidden Benefits Of One-Shot Sessions

A long-time lament of many academic librarians who do classroom instruction is that they typically only get one shot to teach a class, perhaps in a 50 or 90 minute class. If only we could go back for a second or third session, we say, that might allow us to really help students to learn how to use library resources effectively. Based on some faculty blog posts I’ve been reading, being limited to a single class session may be a real benefit. Why? Well, if we encounter some incredibly obnoxious student behavior, we can escape and never have to face it again. Not so for the faculty who have to go back day in and day out. In this post an instructor wonders just how much control faculty have over students in the classroom when it comes to objectionable behavior. And since our instruction is the “one and done” type, we rarely have to deal with grading and some of the ridiculous nonsense with which faculty have to contend. On the other hand, library instructors trudge from class to class throughout the semester, which affords a wonderful opportunity to be subjected to many different forms of student indifference and rudeness, with absolutely no ability to exert control. Well, if that’s your situation, cheer yourself next time by running the hell out of that class as fast as you can and just keep repeating to yourself “you never have to go back there again” all the way back to the safety of your little cubicle in the library.