Monthly Archives: January 2006

Tried “Dunk The Librarian” Yet

In a post last week I mentioned my disappointment in being shut out of the Instruction Session’s discussion about teaching and outreach methods (two back-to-back sessions). No one in this jam-packed room was debating if information literacy was still relevant to the role of academic librarian or if there was still a need for library user education in higher education. These folks were too busy brainstorming and sharing great ideas about reaching out to the user community and helping them to use libraries and librarians more effectively. If you missed the session too, here’s the next best thing – a report about the outreach session from attendees Jean Caspers, who also happens to be Chair of the Management of Instruction Services Committee for 2005-06, and Anna Van Scoyoc, who is Chair of the Teaching Methods Committee for 2005-06:

The Management of Instruction Services Committee of ACRL’s Instruction Section held a Bright Ideas session on Sunday afternoon at ALA Midwinter that drew over 100 librarians to discuss ways to improve outreach. Using the interactive “jigsaw method,” participants got together to become “experts” in outreach efforts to undergraduates, graduate students, non-academic departments, adjunct faculty & teaching assistants, and faculty, as well as in “cool marketing ideas.” Some ideas that came from the discussions ranged from the mild to the wild, including:

• creating a library profile on public community online tools such as MySpace or Facebook because many students may find the library approachable through that venue;
• offering train-the-trainer workshops (as well as research consultations) to graduate students and TAs;
• coordinating programs with student affairs departments (e.g., “Research Consultation” Workshops in the Residence Halls during heavy term paper times);
• initializing contact with adjunct faculty by informing them of the research tools available to them through the library;
• using RSS feeds and blogs to inform faculty of new books, instructional services, library news, etc.;
• designating space on library Web sites to rotate news re: upcoming workshops, programs, etc. happening in the library; and,
• setting up booths at student orientations which feature playful activities such as “Stump the Librarian” or even, “Dunk the Librarian”, and giving students temporary library logo tattoos.

The ideas kept on coming even after participants returned to their “home groups” to report on the “expert group” discussions. Many participants walking away from the Bright Ideas Session expressed great enthusiasm about new ideas they had gleaned to take to their institutions. As with the Teaching Methods’ Brainstorm Session, a summary of all ideas offered will soon be posted to the ACRL Instruction Session Web site.

Many thanks to Jean Caspers and Anna Van Scoyoc for providing this report. I anticipate that we will have an additional report on the Bright Ideas session for teaching methods coming soon.

It’s All Right To Get Complex

Fellow academic librarian blogger Jill Stover, of Thinking Outside The Book, shares some of her thoughts about the ongoing “simplicity vs. complexity” thread in a post titled “K.I.S.S“. After reviewing the business world’s current infatuation with simplicity as the new competitive advantage, she asks:

“But is simplicity what librarianship is all about? Is our job to present the complex world of information searching as something so simple a baby can do it? And, is doing so ultimately a good marketing strategy? I don’t think so. In fact, marketing in this way could harm the profession. After all, if we strive to make our services appear Google-esque, we could be obfuscating a big chunk of our competitive advantage.”

Stover invests time and energy exploring the world of marketing to share ideas and methods that make sense for librarians. She makes a good point that our organizations and resources are sometimes, by their very nature, complex, as are the information needs of our users at times, and that effectively marketing ourselves and our resources requires addressing the complex as well as the simple – and resisting the urge to always K.I.S.S. for fear of alienating users. Don’t be surprised to find they may even thrive on some complexity.

Why We Need A University Librarian

Seems that misperceptions about what academic libraries contribute to their institution, and the need for librarians to lead them, are found in locations far beyond our own backyards. In this passionate editorial published in the Sierra Leone Awareness Times, Saa Mathias Bendu, a student at the Institute of Library, Information and Communication Studies (INSLICS) Fourah Bay College, explains what the library means to the academic community and why it requires professional leadership. Bendu writes:

The character and efficacy of a university may be gauged by its treatment of its central organ, the library. The primary purpose of any educational library is to aid the learning process of the institution and other professional tasks associated with library service including collection, building achieves, staff management and readers support. The library is the place where the student is encouraged to pursue personal and independent search for knowledge and understanding. The libraries like laboratories, is an indispensable centre for knowledge.

Let’s hope the folks at Fourah Bay College act on Bendu’s recommendations.

You Can’t Put All Your Eggs…

…in one basket without the risk of making a really big omelet. Interesting piece on fair use and the Google Book Search project over at Inside Higher Ed. While primarily about preserving fair use, it raises a very interesting debate: which is better (or worse), a single totalizing digital collection or a variety of separate, publisher-controlled silos for digital books?

Some libraries and publishers are addressing this issue for electronic journals by creating a “dark archive” so that if they become unavailable through the publisher they are not lost forever. The libraries involved in the Google project asked for digital copies of scanned books for the same reason – to ensure a copy would be preserved – though it seems to have made some publishers imagine the worst.

Open Content Alliance Contrasted to Google

Jeffrey Young has a good article on the Open Content Alliance in the Chron this week. The selectivity of the digitization effort and the openness of the process is a contrast to the Google Book Search library project. So is the Alliance’s approach to the whole copyright question – they are not digitizing books that are copyrighted without permission, avoiding the whole fair use question while providing an alternative approach to creating a quality digital library. Check out some of the books that have been digitized thus far.