Category Archives: Office Hours

Office Hours: Finding Balance?

A cliche but one that rings true as I write: summer is flying by. We arrived in northern Michigan in late May and it felt as though I had unlimited weeks leading up to the beginning of my new position at SLIS at San Jose State University. Now I’m in California for a week to start the semester with orientation and my first faculty retreat. This summer I’ve made time for work on research, updating my participatory service and emerging technologies course, and have taken a bit of a breather – ending each night by a campfire. I’ve spent some time finding balance between all of these things.

I mention the concept of balance in many of my presentations and class lectures. It helps reinforce the idea that understanding emerging trends and experimenting with technology is important but it’s just one of many considerations when it comes to balancing life as a librarian, LIS student, professor, information professional or library staffer. But it’s also much broader than that one aspect and impacts how we do our jobs.

Balance can mean a few things. I urge librarians to find the balance between online pursuits and physical world pursuits. Both are important and necessary. I’m revisiting a charged statement from the first “Office Hours” column – “If the online world is not for you, then neither may be a career in librarianship” (http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/community/libraryeducation/886961-272/office_hours_october_15_2010.html.csp) – and it still rings true. For one thing, no librarian is beyond benefitting from the online LIS professional commons – that meeting place that stretches across blogs, Twitter, Facebook and now Google+. I’ve been exploring this idea with Kyle Jones, my former graduate assistant and now a doctoral student at UW Madison. In the commons, you’ll find support, advice and sharing of ideas. I’m recognizing now how beneficial my own participation has been in the last few years and how it’s illuminated my teaching.

What I am not suggesting, however, is to focus all of your attention just on the Web, social networks and the next big thing. Being out in the world is equally important. The online and the physical should complement each other in a cyclical fashion. It troubles me to think some still see advocacy for online participation as an either or proposition: you can *only* be online “in the cloud” or on Facebook or you can *only* be performing your librarian duties in the building. Again, a balance between the two makes for a well-informed, capable library professional. These concepts should be part of every LIS student’s learning.

What of library school students deep in their coursework or just starting their LIS program? Many probably have full time jobs in the field or outside our world. How can they find balance while juggling one, two or more classes, work and family/friends. I advise them to schedule their papers, blogging, projects just as they schedule everything else. Leaving time for personal pursuits is a must – it informs one’s professional practice. Who we are as people directly influences who we are as librarians. The student who brings a passion for fan fiction, zines, indie music, Civil War history, vegetarian cooking, yoga, and any other interest may indeed find those pursuits figuring into their practice.

I am reminded of a student years ago who had registered for 5 classes at once moving like a ghost through the hallways of our school from morning class to afternoon study and then on to evening class. Was she actually having time for reflection on her chosen field or was it a matter of “just getting through?” Sometimes time is a factor, but I often advise students to balance coursework with life as best they can. I would be remiss if I didn’t also remind myself that some of the best advice I ever got about finishing my dissertation was this: “Just get it done!”

 Balance with our services is also a consideration. We can’t just focus on one group of constituents – especially if that group is easy to please and not very challenging. Other groups – teens, seniors, faculty, university staff, etc. – need us as well. We also can’t focus on one type of delivery – online, in person, out in the world should all be considered. The best balance in this case is one that expertly keeps emerging shiny technology in equilibrium with a well-executed plan for reaching everyone.

Another type of balance is the one between the library world and the outside world. In our tandem presentations, Jenny Levine urged our audiences to “look up from their desks” and see what’s happening outside libraries. Trends in business, studies of technology use amongst various populations, the ins and outs of pop culture all offer insights to what we do in our work.

Finally, a most important type of balance is the one between our professional lives and everything else. I lived and breathed library blogging, library conferences and library everything for a few years. I logged a lot of miles and spent a lot of nights in hotels. I loved every trip I took and every talk I gave. O’Hare International Airport became a second home. I was very glad to swing the scales back into alignment – finding balance between my teaching, research and service to the profession and time for personal pursuits and recreation. For many it might be family, friends, exercise, a hobby, or spiritual endeavors. I believe all of these things help us be better professionals. Taking time too unplug, or clear your head, or do something silly is just as important as monitoring Twitter chats or Facebook groups day in and day out. The social media library world will continue to turn with or without you.

Summer is indeed flying by! Next week, school will be back in session for our students. Have you relaxed? Have you recharged?  I hope so.

 

Some other posts you may enjoy:

Thoughts on the Fall Semester: http://tametheweb.com/2011/01/07/thoughts-on-the-fall-semester-by-an-lis-phd-student/

How to Find the Right Fit: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6566471.html?industryid=47356

 Special Thanks to Francine Fialkoff at Library Journal for editing this piece as a special online only edition of “Office Hours” for August 2011.

 

 

 

 

Hack Library School: Looking at SJSU SLIS!

THANKS to everyone at Hack Library School blog for permission to republish this piece by Brian McManus:

General Overview

San Jose State University’s SLIS program is the largest ALA accredited library school in the world, which I was not aware of before I began writing this post.  The SLIS curriculum is implemented and provided completely through the online format, using both synchronous (communicating in real time) and asynchronous (not communicating in real time) methods, tools, and technologies.

SLIS serves approximately 3,000 graduate students from within the state of California, the U.S., U.S. territories, and other countries.  I have had the opportunity through the program to be classmates with students from Guam and Australia. It was a unique experience I am not sure I would have gotten anywhere else.

The program delivers the curriculum through the D2L (Desire to Learn) Learning Management System (LMS).  As recently as the Spring 2011 semester the SLIS program was using ANGEL, however it has now completed its transition to D2L for its summer courses and into the future.

Programs

SJSU SLIS offers several different types of programs.  There is the MLIS, the MARA, and the San Jose Gateway Ph.D. programs.  As you have no doubt already correctly guessed, MLIS is the SLIS program’s Master’s of Library and Information Sciences degree.  The MARA program is the Master’s of Archives and Records Administration, which is for students interested in working with archives and emerging electronic records and digital asset management … yes, that is directly from the MARA Web site.  The San Jose Gateway Ph.D. Program is an external Ph.D. program due to the nature of SJSU being limited by the state legislature to only offer master’s degree level education to students.  By partnering with Queensland University of Technology in Australia, SJSU is able to offer a doctoral degree in library sciences to a small group.

In 2009, the SJSU SLIS program was ranked 22 by U.S. News and World Report.

 Courses and Pathways

The program requires each student to complete four core courses which act as prerequisites to many of the succeeding courses in the program.  The first is an introductory technology course that needs to be completed within the first two semesters called Online Social Networking: Technology Tools, It’s a one credit course and acts as an excellent introduction to using the different technologies and software each student will need to know to successfully complete their program.  This course has a shortened time frame to complete and is not taken for an entire semester. Some students complete this course during the summer or winter intersessions.  The other four core courses are Information and Society, Information Retrieval, and Information Organizations and Management.  A complete description of each of these courses can be found on the course description web page.

The School of Information Sciences offers a multitude of career pathways to choose from: Academic Librarianship; Digital Services and Emerging Technologies; Information Intermediation and Instruction; Information Organization, Description, Analysis, and Retrieval; Leadership and Management; Management, Digitization, and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records; Public Librarianship; Special Librarianship; Teacher Librarianship; Web Programming and information Architecture; and Youth Librarianship.

The course work is not easy and can be challenging at times, even if a student is attending part-time.  As mentioned above, courses are delivered via the D2L LMS.  Knowing and understanding how to effectively communicate with your classmates and professors using the LMS is extremely important.  Most of the courses I have taken have followed a similar format, with the exception of a couple seminar courses that were either more or less structured. For instance, the advanced reference course where I was an embedded librarian for a distance graduate course at the University Central Missouri.  This course was loosely structured so that my teammates and I could develop library literacy and other helpful content requested by the instructor.

Discussion boards for readings, assignments, and projects are extremely helpful.  With only a couple of exceptions, all  of my professors have been active in the conversations and discussions, which adds a considerable amount of learning and perspective to the learning environment.

Lastly, courses are added and dropped using the SLIS’s MySJSU.  Once admitted to the program, each student has an account they can login to that helps them manage their student account, including classes and finances.  Many administrative emails from SJSU are communicated via this system. It is helpful to set up your email notifications to your personal email so that you do not miss these messages.

Financial Aid/Scholarships/Assistantships

The financial aid services provided by SJSU are mainly the same as those provided by other large state universities.  There is not necessarily a great deal of red tape involved with receiving financial aid once you are admitted and once you register for classes.  The key to this and many other graduate programs is to maintain a good academic standing within your coursework and to meet the minimum requirements for course load.  SJSU’s SLIS program requires its students to maintain a 3.0 overall GPA while in the program and to be at least half-time, which translates to taking 4 credit hours per semester.  Since all but one of the classes are 3 credits, students who wish to receive financial aid must take 6 credit hours per semester.

There are multiple scholarships available for students in the SLIS program that can help with the costs of attending SJSU.  The SLIS program maintains their own list and SJSU has a more general list.

Per credit cost of the SLIS program for distance students (special session) can be found here.

Per credit cost of the SLIS program for CA students (regular session) can be found here.

Student assistantships ($/hour) are also available through the program. The type of work ranges greatly from writing and researching in specific areas of study to working as a student peer trainer.  These are wonderful opportunities for some hands on experience while getting paid and supplementing a student’s income or lessening their cost of attendance.  Since this is the largest SLIS program in the country, there are many opportunities for assistantships.

Internships

Being affiliated with and a part of the SLIS program provides for some benefits. One of these are the internship resources.  As part of the graduate experience, students are encouraged to locate and complete an internship if they do not have library experience already.  SJSU’s SLIS program has an internship database that lists internships in the United States and abroad.  Students may gain credit towards their degree by enrolling in an internship designated class, LIBR 294, as well.

Involvement

There are opportunities for student involvement within the SJSU SLIS program.  There is the ALASC, American Library Association Student Chapter, which organizes social events near the SJSU campus and promotes professional development among other events.  There is also a student administeredprofessional development society called ASIS&T (American Society of Information Science & Technology).  In addition to these, every student admitted to the SLIS program is automatically a member to the LISSTEN (Library & Information Science Students to Encourage Networking) group, which is another group to promote and encourage professional development and networking within the program.  Also, the LISSTEN group has a blog called the Call Number, which invites students to make contributions.  Another blog and opportunity for students to publish their work or perspective and edited by fellow students called the SLIS Descriptor.  There are many opportunities for students to be involved, network, and post their perspectives.

Why Prospective Students Should Consider SJSU’s SLIS Program

The SLIS program at SJSU is robust, flexible, and geared towards the student’s overall success.  The program’s course offerings are immense and from what I’ve seen students never have trouble registering for the core classes. The administration will add courses as needed and work with students to get them into the classes they need (I’m sure there are those that will disagree and have a negative story, but I have never had a problem.  Just make sure you register on the first day of registration and follow all the steps. This seems to hang-up a significant number of people.)

The program is geared towards both students who want and can go full-time and those that need to work full-time and attend courses part-time.  Also, student advisors are embedded into the LMS (Learning Management Software) so that you have access to them just like you would for your other courses.  This makes it extremely easy to email your advisor and post questions that other students may also know the answers to via discussion posts/rooms.

There are many great opportunities for SLIS students become involved in their profession and at varying levels.  Students have their choice of assistantships, networking within the student organizations, and publishing their class projects or sharing their unique perspective on multiple blogs.  These and others are opportunities for professional development and exposure to aspects of librarianship and the information sciences profession that can only enrich and further each student’s career.

Finally, SJSU’s SLIS program hosts lecture series, colloquia, and other professional development series throughout each semester via web casts and other streaming technologies.

Weakness/Room to Grow On

From my perspective, there are not many areas of the program that I can identify as having a weakness.  I think all programs could use more faculty and increase their course offerings, however I have never thought to myself, “Why doesn’t SLIS offer class XYZ.”  Perhaps some of my fellow SJSU SLISers can chime in and share their thoughts on our program.

Hacking SJSU’s SLIS Program

Stay organized: Make sure all your accounts with the program are sending notifications or forwarding content to one central location so you do not have to check multiple emails and accounts to stay in the loop.  Also, sign-in to the D2L LMS every day and keep up with all your class discussion posts.

Take an active role in one or more of the student associations and groups within the program.  You can never start networking or getting involved too soon.

If you are not already gaining actual library experience, take advantage of the SLIS internship database and resources.

Check the SLIS homepage for updates on upcoming colloquia series, conference SLIS will have a booth at, and program sponsored webinars and professional development opportunities.

Office Hours Extra: Great Advice from Mr. Library Dude & Graham Lavender

Graham Lavender points to a post by Mr. Library Dude concerning the realities of libraries school and the job market. Mr. Library Dude offers a few points to be considered:

  1. I don’t really care what library school course grades/GPA you have. Just get your degree and focus on getting some experience.
  2. Get a mentor! Someone who is a working librarian. Not a library school professor who hasn’t worked in libraries for 20 years.
  3. Geographic flexibility: I understand that not everyone can (or wants) to move across country for a job. Just be aware that you may be severely limiting your options. Again, you need to decide if the expense of library school is worth it, if you are not geographically mobile.
  4. You need to market yourself. Librarians/librarians-to-be need to stop thinking of marketing as an “icky” term. You need a web presence 
Graham offers his own advice as well in a well-thought post:

I hope no one believes that earning an MLIS is the most challenging part of starting a library career; on graduation day, there will be no line-up of employers begging you to work for them. This is not your school’s fault. It is simply the way the job market works (as is the case with most careers). But I also hope no one is discouraged from starting an MLIS because of what they’ve heard about the library job market. As long as you’re willing to put in the extra effort (and often patience), you will find an appropriate job eventually.

In fact, many of Mr. Dude’s points are the same ones I’ve made before (don’t neglect to read the comments on his post for even more tips). Gain experience while studying, find a mentor, and don’t be shy about marketing yourself.

These words ring true. I do believe having an LIS educator as a mentor can be useful though for both the student and the faculty member. I’ve been lucky to mentor a few students over the years who have taught me a lot about the current state of things in libraries and I hope I’ve helped them too find their way. It does concern me that I haven’t worked in libraries for a while – Remember – my SJCPL days are over five years ago! I try my hardest to stay in touch with practicing librarians as I speak here and there and participate in various conferences. A good LIS educator will actively seek ways to remain current. My advice would be for students to seek not only a practicing mentor but that “up to date” prof as well.

What are your thoughts about these important topics?

Office Hours Extra: Guide to Online LIS Programs?

An “Office Hours” reader writes:

Just finished reading your article Transparent Library School, where you spoke about my fears of signing up and having old information is my concern. The  only local (less than 2 hrs)  school closed up its local branch so I’m looking into the various online schools, and have not found a good comparison. 

Do you know of such a site?  The information on ALA on various programs I have found to be out of date. 
I have an obvious bias – but has anyone encountered a good comparison site of the online LIS programs?

Office Hours Extra: Digital Media & Learning Job at MacArthur

How cool is this recent ad for  the position of Program Officer, Digital Media & Learning at the MacArthur Foundation?: (bolding is mine)

Knowledge, Skills, and Experience:

The Program Officer role requires graduate training and experience as a researcher or designer, with a strong grasp of research and theoretical literature relating to learning, adolescent development and new media, and practical, “on-the-ground” experience with youth, in libraries and museums or schools. He or she must be familiar with significant thought leaders and national organizations in relevant fields, and to be a respectful, collaborative colleague who can build bridges and actively engage diverse staff members, designers, entrepreneurs, youth practitioners, policymakers, and researchers in productive, vigorous debate. The Program Officer must have strong interpersonal skills and be able to function as part of an interdisciplinary team, and to work across disciplines and sectors in a rigorous environment of thoughtful intellectual exchange. 

Excellent analytical and communications skills, including writing, presentations and public speaking, are required. Other essential skills include: effective interpersonal relations and an ability to organize and convey problems and issues clearly and succinctly; an ease with and openness to people who hold diverse views; and a good sense of organization and talent for managing multiple tasks with significant initiative. The Program Officer should be self-confident, collegial, and diplomatic, and have an appreciation of the role of a grantmaking institution. Computer literacy is a prerequisite for consideration, including a high level of comfort with “do-it-yourself media.”

https://www.cytiva.com/cejobs/DetailMac.asp?mac90

It seems to me an LIS grad who specialized in the areas of learning, emerging technologies and research might be well-suited for the position. The emphasis on learning would have to go way beyond “User Instruction” style classes to a broader view though. Is this possible to do within the curriculum of our current LIS programs? How much customization can be expected.

This ad would make for an interesting discussion in curriculum planning sessions.

Office Hours Meets UX in Library Journal

I’m honored to have written a combined Office Hours column with User Experience author Aaron Schmidt in the new issue of Library Journal:

http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/ljinprint/currentissue/891081-403/putting_the_ux_in_education.html.csp

UX thinking doesn’t have to be limited to specific courses, however. Core parts of the LIS curriculum can and should change as we review and update classes to reflect the focus on our patrons’ experiences. Reference and resource-based study can easily morph when taught through a UX lens. Take collection development, for instance—wouldn’t classes about collection development be richer and more productive when combined with thinking about building design and library programming? When LIS classes encourage cross-departmental collaboration, we’ll have new librarians ready to tear down the departmental silos prevalent in many libraries. Weaving a thread of holistic UX thinking throughout all of an LIS program’s learning outcomes and coursework—from planning library programs to ILS design—will enhance graduates’ skill sets.

It amazes me that Aaron and I wrote “IM Me” in 2005!

Office Hours: Listening to Student Voices

My “Office Hours” column is out in the new LJ and online. This time I report from The Future of the Academic Library Symposium:

The age-old confusion about what a librarian does still exists. In fact, when Ridley asked the panel “What defines a professional librarian,” their comments weren’t surprising. One “had no idea” what a librarian was until it was explained to her in the car on the way to the symposium. Another stated what many students, and public library patrons, think as well: “it means everyone in the library to me….”

Ridley followed with, “Do you care if it’s a librarian, or not, helping you with your research?” The consensus was a simple, “No, we just want help,” and frankly librarians are mostly a “last resort.”

Read the whole column here: http://tametheweb.com/2011/06/15/listening-to-student-voices/

 

Office Hours Extra: Transparency at Redlands by Mary Grace Maloney

Hi Michael,

I just read your recent LJ article, “The Transparent Library School”. It really resonated with me. I don’t know if I told you about my undergraduate experience at the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, University of Redlands or not. Your article reminded me of the student-faculty collaborative practice at Johnston. For example, I co-created several classes there, designed my own major, and was a Community Assistant (Johnston’s version of a “RA”) on the living-learning complex. One of the things we did on a weekly basis was have community meetings. We (students and faculty) talked about everything in those meetings from brainstorming new courses, to voting on funds for student projects, and to re-painting the community kitchen, in a structured meeting format built on consensus. On some level, I think LIS programs could benefit from this practice. At least once a semester the LIS program could host a community meeting and pot luck dinner to build community and encourage conversation. There is more to be learned from established non-traditional higher education practices. If you’re interested in learning more about Johnston, here’s the link:
Mary Grace (M. G.) Maloney, Butler Children’s Literature Center, Graduate Assistant, GSLIS Dominican University

Office Hours Extra: The Transparent Dean

Daniel Stuhlman, Reference Librarian at Wright College, Chicago presents part one of an interview with the newly appointed dean of the University’s School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS).  Daniel notes, however, that “note this is just for your information and amusement. Any connection to a real university or dean is strictly coincidental.” The ideas ring true.

Q> You talked about teaching management skills as important for librarians.  Would you elaborate?  What is your philosophy of management?

A> One of the most common reasons for people to be dissatisfied with their jobs is they feel they are not supported by the administration. They feel that comments, suggestions, and complaints are ignored.  Before I was a manager I said, “Sometimes when you bang your head against the wall, you break down the wall and sometimes you just hurt your head.”  People with their experience and knowledge are the organization’s most valuable asset. Some schools with administrations who rule by decree are full of unhappy faculty and students. So far this School has a great history of collaborative planning and problem solving.  The corporate culture ingrained on the faculty is co-operate and work as a team or leave.  I would not have accepted a position in an organization that did not believe in trust, collaboration, and shared planning.  The president and board of trustees have made it clear that faultfinding, blame, and finger pointing have no place in this institution.  There is always room for improvement.  Cooperation requires lots of meetings.  I hate wasting time at meeting.  I hope to create paths and systems to share information and solve problems with a minimum amount of time in meetings. Everyone will be required to prepare for large group or formal meetings.
I hope that our way of dealing with planning and problem solving can be an example for the students.  I hope to be transparent when there are challenges and opportunities by telling students and faculty what is happening.  Social media and e-mail make this much easier today that when I was a student.  We must recognize that part of the education process is social. I’m talking about the opportunity to be near great minds. We need times for people exchange thoughts and learn from each other outside of the classroom.  We need to see each other experts and to meet each other.  This applies to distance learners, too.  I will encourage faculty to conduct on-line smooze sessions.  I plan to schedule a smooze session once a week using conferencing software.  The details have yet to be determined.
Basically my management philosophy is:  1) No one has a monopoly on the truth; 2) When I don’t know the answers I will seek to find them or someone who can help me find them; 3) To succeed together, we must learn to share, co-operate, set  good examples by our words and actions, and work as a team; 4) Dream for the best; 5) Make goals and plan for the future; 6) Have a backup plan;   7) Seek the truth; 8) Always find opportunities to learn; 9) Never stop learning; and 10) Never stop learning.

No fault, no blame methods of problem solving create an atmosphere of trust and help people avoid excuses and defensiveness. The emphasis is on solving problems, accepting responsibility and shared accountability.  At this time our problems and challenges are routine.  We always have to balance the demands of time, money, logistics and real estate.  I will have to keep reminding everyone of the”no fault” guidelines.  In a collaborative, teamwork environment, accountability rests with the individual(s) responsible rather than with the supervising authority. We try to do the right things for the good of the students, the School, and the University. We want everyone to look good.

Office Hours Extra: LIS edu in Germany – a Guest Post by Dale Askey

Back in late 2008, I received a phone call from a friend/colleague in Germany with a tantalizing offer: would I be interested in a three-semester teaching gig? The location was the University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig (Hochschule für Technik, Wirtschaft und Kultur – HTWK) [http://www.fbm.htwk-leipzig.de/de/fakultaet-medien/], and the job was a paternity leave replacement for their professor of electronic publishing and multimedia in the College of Media.

How could one say no? I was feeling a bit stale in my library work, and know from past experience that I enjoy teaching semester-length courses and possess some teaching skill. That I would be teaching in my second language was a bit daunting. In fact, that fear had led me to turn down an interview offer for a similar full-time position a number of years ago. There were also personal considerations, as it would mean doing a crazy bi-continental split family commuting thing. So of course I said yes.

It was a bit unclear before I started what and whom I would be teaching, but I thought it would be mostly in the LIS program. The HTWK’s College of Media has seven programs, and as it turned out, I taught only about 30% of my courses for LIS, with the rest divided between three other programs: two publishing programs (production and management) and museum studies. Teaching outside of my professional wheelhouse just upped the challenge ante, and in the end made the time richer and more personally rewarding.

The HTWK’s library program has a fairly traditionalist reputation. Students still learn cataloging principles, bibliography, etc., but the curriculum is modernizing. It also bears noting that in Germany, which has a two-tiered profession with two kinds of librarians—well, actually three now, just to spice things up—that the kind of librarians we were educating will be hired into line librarian positions and generally find the pathway to administration barred. As such, teaching basic library skills makes some sense, since the market is going to demand them for a while yet.

Another significant difference between North American and German library education is that Germany still has a bachelor’s level LIS degree, which is a professionally qualifying degree. As such, the majority of German librarians lack a graduate degree or a bachelor’s degree in another field. Needless to say, this affects LIS education and the profession in many ways, and is essential to understanding the core differences between German and North American libraries.

But what of the students? They’re a great lot for the most part: motivated, dedicated to libraries, keenly aware that the profession and institution are changing. Given that they choose to study library science without necessarily having any other post-secondary education, there are a few who seem confused about what is going in in libraries and just sort of drifted along, but that isn’t unheard of in any program anywhere. Even though their program’s curriculum does not support much in terms of new technology, many were quite curious and explored on their own.

Beyond what I was actually supposed to teach them, which for the library program centered around video production (see the often poignant and funny results here [http://www.youtube.com/playlist?p=PL0DBC1144AAEB1C3F&feature=mh_lolz]) and electronic publishing (translation: designing Websites that don’t stink), students got an earful of other topics from me. I sensed hunger and interest, so I just rolled with it.

First and foremost, I dragged them into the social media realm. They knew of its existence, of course, but they had never blogged, none twittered, and they never touched things like Wikipedia editing or other such UGC sites. I built a lot of this exploration into my classes, and left behind a passel of social media mavens. This is something I did in all of the classes I taught, regardless of field, and it’s been gratifying to see it take off.

Beyond social media, they heard about the current state of technology in libraries: link resolvers, ERMs, catalog overlays a la VuFind, and so on. Libraries in Germany (well, some) are hip to these things, of course, but this hasn’t trickled up (down?) into the LIS programs, at least not in Leipzig. Most students heard of a link resolver for the first time from me—including those in higher semesters—even though one could suggest that the OpenURL was a disruptive technology. Students in the publishing programs could not escape learning about scholarly publishing and open access, areas their programs otherwise ignore, despite the presence of major publishers (and potential employers) such as Springer and Wiley.

For my part, teaching there was as challenging and rewarding as I could have dared to dream. When I look back on my career, this will remain a highlight. On the other hand, it was utterly exhausting, and after 18 months I was so happy to be done. At universities of this type, instructors carry what in North American terms would be a 5-5 load, meaning five courses per semester; in my first and third semesters, I had five preps to boot. It’s a harrowing load, and even though I’m about as fluent in German as a non-native speaker could be, doing this much teaching in a second language (where every conversation, lecture, question, joke, etc. is about 10% harder mentally), there were days when I arrived home (to my brave daughter who did third grade in Germany with me while mom and sis were in the U.S.) utterly incapable of forming further speech nor doing anything other than watching mindless TV.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the awesome colleagues I found in Leipzig. Truly dedicated professionals all, they welcomed me and my ideas openly and warmly, and I can only hope that our professional lives collide again down the road. Most importantly, the HTWK friend who made the original call supported me in word, deed, and with caffeine, and to him I owe a debt of gratitude that may take a lifetime to repay.

What saddens me as a librarian is how eager German librarians and library students are to experience and learn from North American libraries, but how little of that interest flows in the other direction. Language plays a role, of course, but it would be so beneficial for the profession on this side of the ocean to broaden its horizons beyond English-speaking nations. It can be done.

 

After serving libraries at Washington University, the University of Utah, Yale University, and Kansas State University, Dale Askey currently fills the role of Associate University Librarian for Library and Learning Technologies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Although firmly ensconced in the library information technology realm, his educational background is in the humanities, specifically German language and literature. This piece reflects on his experiences from March 2009-August 2010 as teaching faculty in Leipzig, Germany. He blogs semi-regularly/professionally at Eintauchen/Dive In
[http://htwkbk.wordpress.com].