Thanks Ontario Library Association

I am back from three great days in Toronto. Thanks to all at the Ontario Library Conference for such a wonderful conference experience. It was nice to see friends and colleagues and talk with the librarians from all over Ontario.

My slides are from the two presentations are here:

January 29: Hyperlinked Learning Experiences at Libraries: MOOCs & Beyondhttps://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/239835/StephensLearningOLA2015.pdf

January 30: MOOCs for Librarians: Key Takeaways from Two Large Scale Professional Development Courseshttps://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/239835/MOOCsStephensOLA2015.pdf

Internet Librarian International 2015 Call for Speakers

Dynamic disruption: transforming the library
Submissions deadline 15 April 2015

Val Skelton
Programme Director
Katherine Allen 
Conference Director

Information Today invites you to submit your presentation ideas for this year’s Internet Librarian International (ILI) – the fast-growing innovation and technology conference that attracts hundreds of global library and information professionals each year.

We are seeking innovative case studies and discussions on the ideas, strategies and practical implementations that are helping you make a difference to your organisations, clients and communities.

ILI is all about the exchange of ideas, knowledge and experience and this year we will also be exploring the ‘big questions’ which challenge libraries and information professionals – who are we, and what are we for?

Which new technologies, services and business models are the most appropriate now, and where should we focus our attentions next? What changes can we make to ensure our communities thrive? How do we deliver ‘constant innovation’? How can we meet the often unexpressed needs of our customers?

We are also looking for your ideas for the X-Track – an informal space for hands-on interactive activities.

The full Call for Speakers is available here

As always, we welcome contributions from all types of libraries and info pros – public, academic, government, national or commercial – as well as those working outside a ‘traditional’ library setting.

This year’s Call for Speakers has 6 main categories:

  • Innovative technologies, tools and apps 
  • Latest developments in search and discovery 
  • Cutting edge services – new structures, new roles, new ideas 
  • Transforming engagement – new ways to influence 
  • Innovations in content – creation, collaboration, copyright and co-operation 
  • X-Track experiences and ideas 
  • PLUS workshops 

But this is just a summary of our focus; read more detail and suggestions here.

We’re looking for a range of presentation formats, including:

  • 30-minute scene-setting themed papers
  • 15-minute case study presentations
  • X-Track experiences and volunteers
  • Workshop leaders
  • Panellists

The submissions deadline is 10 April 2015, but don’t delay your submission until then.
Now’s the time to share your expertise, and be a part of this influential and forward-thinking event -
 Submit today.

Upcoming Presentations Winter 2015

January 29: Hyperlinked Learning Experiences at Libraries: MOOCs & Beyond. Ontario Library Association, Toronto, Ontario.

January 30: MOOCs for Librarians: Key Takeaways from Two Large Scale Professional Development Courses, Ontario Library Association, Toronto, Ontario.

February 27, 2015: Keynote – Learning Everywhere: Transformative Power of Hyperlinked Libraries, Alaska Library Association Conference, Juneau, Alaska.

 

Cosplay, Comics and Geek Culture in Libraries Site

Don’t miss this new venture from Ellyssa Kroski and a great group of writers. It’s a great way to explore some of the ways libraries are reaching out to fan communities of all kinds.

http://ccgclibraries.com

Welcome to Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries! This is an exciting time for geeks of all kinds to be involved with libraries as today’s savvy libraries have begun to embrace new ways to engage library patrons such as fandom events, comic book and graphic novel collections, comic cons, cosplay events, and more. 

The intersection of these interests with libraries is a perfect match as libraries are striving to develop entertaining and educational new programs and services that will appeal to not only children but young adults as well as “kids at heart” of all ages. And these new programs and resources fit well with the interests of cosplayers who can utilize the equipment in library makerspaces such as 3D printers and sewing machines to create many of their props and costume pieces, as well as comics fans who can come to the library to read comics and graphic novel collections, video and board game enthusiasts who attend library gaming events, and geeks of all types who are drawn to “nerd nights”, Dr. Who marathons, and Harry Potter socials, etc.

Office Hours: It’s About Time

And my last column of 2014 – for got to post!

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/11/opinion/michael-stephens/its-about-time-office-hours/

Have you said this in a meeting or a discussion with a colleague? Has this rolled off the tongue when confronted with an unexpected change, a new technology, or another initiative?

Many of us are stretched to our limits. I applaud the folks I meet who have absorbed more and more duties as staffing patterns have changed. Just recently, at a meeting of the Council of State Library Agencies in the Northeast in Cape May, NJ, I dined with librarians who were wearing many hats in their evolving institutions and working hard to meet the needs of the agencies they serve.

However, I bristle when I hear the “no time” response, because sometimes I think it’s an excuse. It’s a catch-all phrase to sidestep learning something new, improving processes, or making a needed but oh-so-scary change. It leads me to ask a question in response: What do you actually make time for?

Click through to read the comments – some heated discussion ensued!

Office Hours: Actions and Answers

My new column is up at Library Journal:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/01/opinion/michael-stephens/actions-and-answers-office-hours/

The attitudes or reflective action, highlighted in an article by Grant and Zeichner (2001), includes open-­mindedness, responsibility, and wholeheartedness. All are important and resonate deeply with me and my philosophy of what librarianship should be about. Approaching something with a sense of wholeheartedness means we are all in all the time, not just when it’s convenient. It means bucking the status quo to do the right thing at the right moment. It means owning our actions as ­professionals.

I am most excited about this evolution of who we are and what we do on the ground and in the trenches. The most important problems and challenges will be solved by the folks meeting them head-on everyday via reflective action. Some of the projects and innovations we’ve seen recently add to a promising vision for the future.

Click the link to read the whole piece.

The IL Standards and IL Framework Cannot Co-Exist by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

The ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Task Force has completed a final draft of the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. This draft is working its way through the infrastructure of ACRL.

(I have previously posted about the Framework on this blog: The New Information Literacy Framework and James Madison, Information as a Human Right: A Missing Threshold Concept?, and Using the New IL Framework to Set a Research Agenda. I should note that I am a member of the Task Force but that I do not officially speak officially for the Task Force in this post.)

As this process has moved forward, I have been excited to see the conversations and debates unfold about how we think about Information Literacy, can better infuse information literacy within curriculum development, think about our role in teaching it, and can stake a claim to this arena of scholarship. Since the initial draft of the Framework was released, one of the oft debated questions has been, “What is the future of the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education ?” I wanted to address this, because, to me, the answer is clear. The Framework and the Standards cannot co-exist. The existence of Standards undermines the purpose of the Framework. (By the way, the Task Force has recommended the sunsetting of the Standards since the June draft of the Framework.)

The Mythology of the Standards
Anyone who has spent time in the classroom knows the problem with the Standards in terms of assessment and in terms of curriculum development. Either the assessment feels inauthentic producing data that is marginally useful in making changes, or the instruction must be adapted in inauthentic ways to meet the demands of the Standards.

In my career, especially as a new librarian, I have found the Standards quite useful as a place to go to generate ideas. They have been useful when a faculty member and I needed definitions and mental models for learning. When I have worked with faculty at a department level, it has always been a strain to shoehorn the Standards into the needs of the curriculum. They felt too broad for a course but overly defined for programmatic assessment. They never quite fit.

The times I found the Standards most useful were when I used them as a framework. I used them to outline skills, expectations, and outcomes. Most of the time when I used the Standards, the first step was to revise, simplify and focus the Standards. The top level definition of each standard was the most useful. The performance indicators could be useful with some revision. The outcomes never quite worked. In other words, the Standards always made a nice framework.

Authenticity and Curriculum Development
For me, the Framework has the potential to be a more authentic and useful statement on information literacy and learning. The Framework by design recognizes the diversity within American higher education by not trying to write monolithic outcomes for all institutions. Additionally, the Framework has the potential to better connect to real student learning outcomes in the classroom. The Framework presents definitions, knowledge practices and dispositions that can spur conversations at various levels of the curriculum. The Framework can be the overarching definition (a role played by the Standards) that guides the development of undergraduate general education outcomes, programmatic outcomes, course outcomes, unit outcomes, and lesson outcomes. The Framework engages institutions at a national level in discussions and evaluations of information literacy, but it does not pretend that these institutions will share outcomes in a broad standard. Additionally, it doesn’t pretend that a single outcome can be written to meet the diverse needs of our curriculum. The Framework can enable us to get to real student learning because it can be adapted to align with your goals as a teacher.

The Problems with Standards-Based Education
Critics of the Framework say that our country is moving towards standards-based education and that the Framework moves information literacy outside of that trend. This criticism misses the mark in several ways. First, we shouldn’t pretend that there’s consensus around standards-based education. The growing backlash against Common Core is evidence enough this debate is hardly settled. This is especially true when standards-based education equates to curricula built around standardized assessments. Second, if we believe that information literacy matters in the lives of our students and see information literacy as a form of empowerment for our students, the idea that we should write standards because that’s what everyone else is doing feels hollow. We should create the tool that helps us best accomplish our job. And finally, our profession has the opportunity to take the lead in moving away from the mechanistic bureaucracy of standards-based education. I do not know many faculty members who honestly think that more standards and more standardization will improve teaching and learning.

Let’s Get to Work
To me, the whole point of the Framework is that ACRL cannot write outcomes for my campus. They never could. We may have pretended, but it never happened. The Standards and the Framework cannot co-exist. The point of the Framework is that librarians should write outcomes for their own campuses (as they have always done), in partnership with faculty, administrators, and (maybe even) students. To create the Framework and then retain (or even edit) the Standards is like telling a child learning to ride a bike that we are going to remove one training wheel and keep one training wheel on. One training  wheel doesn’t cut it. At some point, the training wheels have to come off. Now is the time.

P.S. This post is not an effort to denigrate the value that the Standards have had to the development of our profession. I greatly admire the leadership of the people who wrote the Standards in the late 1990s. I admired their work as a library school student, and I admire them today. As our thinking evolves in teaching and learning, so should the direction of our professional organization.


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Troy SwansonTroy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the upcoming book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at@t_swanson.

Michael Casey on Harwood Institute’s Innovators Lab for Libraries

Don’t miss Michael Casey’s piece at LJ:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/01/shows-events/inside-the-harwood-institutes-innovators-lab-for-libraries/

The idea of asking people about their aspirations (“what kind of community do you want to live in?”) consumed much of the first day of training. Students participated in exercises designed to help them better understand the powerful responses that result from simply asking somebody about their dreams for the community. These conversations help the library focus outward and better understand the rhythms of the local community, gaining a wealth of public knowledge for the library.

In one of the first exercises, students broke off into small groups to examine the “stages of community life,” seeking to identify what stage of change each local community is in at the moment. This would influence the library’s course of action, as some stages are more amenable than others to major efforts for change. Librarians can then tailor their actions appropriately. Interestingly, determining this is not done through surveying but via conversations. A lot of discussion resulted from this community self-examination, and students frequently determined that different parts of their communities were in different stages of “community life.”

Success is Emergent: What Gamers Can Teach us About Collaboration by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

During my recent commutes to work, I have been enjoying the audio of Jane McGonigal’s 2011 book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World . This is one of those titles that I have always meant to read, and I am just now getting to it. McGonigal’s general thesis is that the compelling aspects of game-play (especially online gaming) can be applied to many areas of life (social problems, routine tasks, etc) in an effort to make life more engaging.

While McGonigal has much to offer the library community, her discussion of collaboration and coordination caught my eye. I have written about these topics in the past (see Library Management and Entropy: The Information as Management Text and Your “Library” Doesn’t Participate in Social Media, but Your People Do).

McGonigal notes that online games are particularly good at collaboration. She outlines three components of successful collaboration:
–Cooperation. Players must agree to work together and partner together.
–Coordination. Players much align efforts to work together.
–Co-creation. Players cooperate and coordinate as they produce something new (whether it is a creation in an online world or a shared experience).
She emphasizes the third in this list. True collaboration produces something new. It is a creative process.

McGonigal notes that elite gamers build high-level collaboration skills. She calls them “extraordinary collaborators.” These extreme collaborators built their skills through years of online gameplay. They have the following attributes: First, they are extremely outgoing in an online environment. Even if they are introverted in the F2F world, they must be extremely outgoing in the networked world. Second, they not only easily connect with others but they also have a good sense about whom to connect with. They are not connection spammers. They recognize when to connect and when NOT to connect. Third, they are very good at working in chaotic environments where the situation is emergent or outcomes are impossible to predict. In massive game environments, it is impossible for one individual to grasp the entire world around them. Extraordinary collaborators can engage their segment of a larger, game world while remaining calm and making decisions.

As I listened to this, I was struck by its applicability to the work of librarians. Her description of successful collaboration applies to much of what we do (not just game playing). Cooperation, coordination, and co-creation can be applied to how our staff members work together, programming we may offer our communities, and the “big-picture” impact our services have. The creative, collaborative process that focuses on making things, ideas, or experiences is increasingly (has always been?) at the heart of librarianship.

McGonigal’s description of gamers as “extraordinary collaborators” reads as if it was written for librarians. She is talking about online gamers, but this description has broader implications. All areas of librarianship require some degree of collaboration and coordination
but we are in a period of time where “extraordinary collaboration” brings great benefits. Whether this is an instruction librarian partnering with many faculty members, a programming librarian working with community organizations, a library fundraiser reaching out to donors, or a library administrator strategically building partnerships, librarians no longer have the luxury of single collaborations at a time. We must connect widely, outline shared goals, and create a plan to reach those goals. McGonigal describes the events in massive online games as “emergent” where small interactions result in larger, complex systems (see Steven Johnson’s Emergence). Like gamers, librarians must learn to manage the chaos of a collaborative enterprise. For us, success is emergent.

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Troy SwansonTroy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the upcoming book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at@t_swanson.

THANK YOU & HAPPY NEW YEAR from TTW

TTWCard

As 2014 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on my experiences this year speaking and traveling to work with librarians and information professionals all over the world. A heartfelt THANK YOU to the folks who invited me to speak or attended my talks, to the good people who chatted at receptions and after presentations, and to all who taught me so much about what’s happening in our world.

I’m thrilled to have visited these places this year: Philadelphia, Santa Barbara, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Denver. Chatham-Kent, Vancouver, Tampa, Los Angeles, Limerick, Ireland, Lyon, France, West Virginia, Virginia and New York. I am even more excited about the folks I met in these place. I learned so much – Thank you!

For Spring 2015 – I’m looking forward to seeing library folk in Ontario, Alaska and Connecticut.

People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens