Category Archives: Office Hours

Office Hours Extra: What’s On the Horizon? Emerging Technologies & Key Trends

Don’t miss the new Horizon Report!

Since 2002 the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiatives have released the yearly Horizon Report, which “introduces six emerging technologies or practices that are likely to enter mainstream use within three adoption horizons over the next five years” in the realm of learning and inquiry.

The last few editions of the report have highlighted these trending technologies: social computing and personal broadcasting (2006); social networking and user generated content (2007); “grassroots video” and collaboration webs (think free and easy online tools) (2008); mobile devices and cloud computing (2009). The 2010 edition featured mobile computing and open content. All of these concepts are probably familiar to you and we can safely say the authors and advisors who create the report each year are spot on with many if not all of their choices.

This year the report identifies these six technologies on the adoption horizon: electronic books and mobiles in one year or less, augmented reality and game-based learning in two to three years, and gesture-based computing and learning analytics in four to five years.

Beyond technologies to watch are some key trends the group monitors year to year, including:

People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want.

The world of work is increasingly collaborative, giving rise to reflection about the way student projects are structured.  (page 3)

And these are some key challenges:

Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag behind the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.

Economic pressures and new models of education are presenting unprecedented competition to traditional models of the university.

Keeping pace with the rapid proliferation of information, software tools, and devices is challenging for students and teachers alike. (page 4)

Finally, the concept of learning analytics offers a future where a student’s education is custom tailored for their lives, learning styles and pursuits via “data mining, modeling and interpretation (p. 28).” It only follows that the K-12 and academic libraries might also better serve their users with an understanding of an individual’s learning profile.

Office Hours Extra: Hack Library School

I’m enjoying the writing at this blog:

http://hacklibschool.wordpress.com/

From the About page:

The Web is our Campus.

This is an invitation to participate in the redefinitions of library school using the web as a collaborative space outside of any specific university or organization. Imagine standards and foundations of the profession that we will create, decided upon by us, outside of the institutional framework. Ideas like the democratization of the semantic web, crowdsourcing, and folksonomies allow projects like this to exist and we should be taking advantage of it. What will the information professions be next year if we define it for ourselves today? If we had a voice in the development of curriculum, what would that degree entail? This is our challenge to you; participate or come up with a better idea. How would you hack library school?

Office Hours: Seek a Challenge

My new “Office Hours” column is up at LJ. It’s about challenges:

http://bit.ly/f0PuQe

Slackers not wanted
At a recent focus group for a research project for the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiatives conference, a small group of librarians and library IT support staff shared their insights about the changing educational landscape. They all agreed that the requirements for supporting a university’s mission are changing, just as our students are changing (see “Can We Handle the Truth?” Office Hours, LJ 1/11, p. 44). One librarian noted a particular challenge: “some librarians are coasting to retirement—they’ve checked out.”

Coasting, in library school and in our jobs, is not an option. Sending students who have coasted through their LIS program to your library to coast perpetuates this problem. I can tell which students are merely sailing through their program, just as I can tell when a professor has “checked out” of his or her own job.

Students—are you doing the bare minimum in your LIS program? Are you turning in “good enough” papers that show no excitement, curiosity, or passion for librarianship? Or are you going above and beyond the expectations of your teachers? You get what you bring to your program.

We can’t force you to learn or open your mind to the future possibilities of libraries. And, yes, you may get an okay or better grade for just coasting, depending on your teacher; grade inflation is alive and well in many LIS programs. A friend and colleague said of such slackers, “The field can’t afford them, I don’t want to teach them.” Amen.


Office Hours Extra: It’s About People Talking to Each Other

I’ve received some wonderful and challenging emails offering feedback about my column in “Office Hours” in Library Journal.

A few folks keyed in to the statement I made in the first column:

If the online world is not for you, then neither may be a career in librarianship. The most prevalent LIS jobs in the next few years will probably be ones where you’re not tied to your desk and you communicate well beyond the physical walls of the building.

It’s not just students who should participate in this online world. Librarians must find their niche as well. Five years ago the conversation went on in blogs. Now it flows vibrantly across media platforms, enabling a stronger connection with library users through marketing, outreach, and the human touch.

I keep returning to this idea to reflect further – and a few months later it still holds true  for me. I can’t imagine a librarian holding a position in a library in 2011 that would not benefit from participating even to the smallest degree in the professional communications that flow via our niche in the social networks. Kyle Jones, currently pursuing his doctorate at UW Madison, and I just completed a chapter for a forthcoming book edited by Dr. Bill Crowley on defending professionalism in librarianship. We examine the benefits and rewards of what we call the LIS professional commons – but really when the tech falls away, it’s about people talking to each other. This is and will be an invaluable virtual space for continuing development for LIS professionals.

We teach the reference interview, and cover the basics of communication in leadership classes, but a stronger emphasis on how people interact with each other, how to effectively communicate with all sorts of folks in person and electronically, and how to create and encourage strong connections between staff and users should be a primary focus of LIS curriculum in the 21st Century.  In that first column, I stated that every library job is or will be touched by technology of some form. The tech discussions of the day still center around social software and mobile connections but – again – it’s really just about people talking to each other.

Librarianship is evolving. Face-to-face interaction, something that has been one of the core skills of our profession, are being joined by the online skills that will be a part of our future. Librarians are becoming more capable professionals, developing new and multi-faceted skill-sets that will allow us to reach all of our users.

It’s no longer reasonable to think that a librarian can leave graduate school and sit at a desk all day talking with patrons. It’s also not reasonable to think that they can sit in a back room chatting on Facebook or Twitter as all they do. In a strong, well-focused LIS program, students are being taught new skills alongside foundational expertise, and they’re learning how to best balance and utilize a combination of the two.

Office Hours Extra: Geospatial & Geosocial

https://twitter.com/#!/nypl/status/25616837626560512

Job description: http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/njslajobs/2009/12/geospatial-librarian-new-york.html

Duties include:

  • In collaboration with others, develops scaleable tools for delivering NYPL’s digital collections to the public using web mapping discovery technologies and advises on best practices for metadata schema
  • Collaborates with Library Sites and Services staff and engages with users and researchers to provide reference and research services including individualized consultations; engages with users online to foster an interactive and creative use of collection content
  • Promotes and interprets the collections through the use of online tools, classroom instruction, curriculum development, exhibitions and publications
  • Expands outreach to local, national, and international audiences, including K-12 groups

Again – a new reality. I can’t help think that for many folks it’s easy to take sites like Foursquare and Gowalla lightly, when in fact,  it gets so much more interesting by thinking forward and  adding geosocial/geospatial layers to library services like map collections. See this post for more: http://www.alatechsource.org/blog/2010/12/geosocial-locations-and-libraries.html

Office Hours Extra: The New Reality

https://twitter.com/#!/mickjacobsen/status/25217483560460288

I shared this with my Participatory Service & Emerging Technologies class. Skokie PL librarian Mick Jacobsen finds himself in the new reality: developing Web sites as part of his work but without the title or duties of web developer noted in his job description. It makes me wonder – are the proficiencies necessary to create online info environments (think Info architecture, if you will) and online communities becoming part of the greater skill set of the 21st Century Librarian?

Office Hours: Can We Handle the Truth?

http://bit.ly/fJDE6A

My new column explores some recent studies about students, faculty and librarians.

Ultimately, the authors of the report make a series of recommendations, including a few that librarians must heed.

“We believe library instruction could benefit from some serious rethinking and re-examination. We recommend modifying sessions (in-class and reference encounters) so they emphasize…framing a successful research process…over research-finding of sources.” (p. 39)

Librarians’ focus on sources over teaching the research process itself has probably contributed to these disheartening survey results. But they also make me wonder how most college students see librarians. Are they invisible within their libraries and academic departments? Ineffective in bibliographic instruction sessions? (Just typing “bibliographic instruction sessions” makes my eyes glaze over.)

These findings complement those reported by ITHAKA earlier in 2010 (bit.ly/dSwpv0), which state that university researchers are relying less and less on the services of libraries and librarians and more on specific online resources. What role will academic librarians play in the lives of students as well as these faculty who view the library as less and less of a partner?

University librarian Jeffrey G. Trzeciak at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., believes “librarians have lost their audience” already…. [T]hey will likely never come back….”

His gloomy words should be a rallying cry for all university and college librarians and to LIS education as well.

Office Hours: Heretical Thoughts

My newest “Office Hours” column is up at Library Journal:

Not all students are ready to take this on. Some can only operate within the constraints of their own limited assumptions of what library work is. To conclude last semester, my LIS701 class walked a local labyrinth, as Pink describes, to engage the left brain and free the right to explore new ideas. “Think about your professional practice,” I said before the walk. “What can you do to encourage the heart of your library users?”

I caught up with one of the students from that class, Tara Wood, and asked her what she thought about it. “I think that it is just as easy for students to fall into a certain ‘comfort zone’ as it is for librarians. We get used to coming to class, listening to lectures, writing papers, etc., but these are not always the best methods for learning. At first, we all felt a little silly walking the labyrinth, but by the end we felt differently…. [I felt] a sense of clearing out the ‘junk’ in my mind and being able to focus.”

Later:

What are your heretical thoughts about libraries and LIS education? Personally, I never give exams and focus instead on writing and personal reflection about the practice of librarianship. The strongest student papers are usually those with a personal slant that tell a story as a means to show comprehension of course material.

I’ve received some good feedback, including this from Nann Blaine Hilyard, director of the Zion-Benton Public Library in Zion, IL:

Michael’s closing paragraph recalls something that Lawrence Clark Powell wrote:   “A good librarian is not a social scientist, a documentalist, a retrievalist, or an automaton. A good librarian is a librarian: a person with good health and warm heart, trained by study and seasoned by experience to catalyze books and people.”

Nann let me know the quote is posted in the ZBPL staff area and is most probably from “Books in My Baggage.” I think it’s beautiful.

Office Hours: Goals of an LIS Educator

My new column is up at Library Journal online:

http://bit.ly/bD8ZOS

This exercise helped me clarify my philosophy of LIS education. Some of my goals include:

To prepare LIS students for a decidedly digital future in libraries. With titles like Digital Strategy Librarian, User Experience Librarian, or Strategy Guide, jobs being advertised speak to an evolving skill set that not only includes a solid understanding of the core values of LIS but a strong knowledge of information architecture, online user behavior, and the ability to build networked resources and services. We do our students (and programs) a disservice if they graduate with only a cursory understanding of library tech—emerging and otherwise.

To remember that 20th-century policies don’t always work in 21st-century learning/sharing spaces. I still post library signage on Tame the Web (www.tametheweb.com) that shows how backward some library policy is. There’s just too much competition from other third places for us to greet our user communities with placards proclaiming No this and No that. Beyond signage, do our user policies extend the library to our constituents in ways that benefit them? Is the library usable? (See Aaron Schmidt’s LJ column, The User Experience, for more on this.)

To promote truth and open communication. For over two years, Michael Casey and I wrote The Transparent Library column in LJ. Transparency—open planning and open communication—should be key in managing our organizations in this post–Web 2.0 world. Institutions bound in secrecy and controlled information flow cannot thrive. New graduates with different mindsets can be change agents—hire them.

To give students environments for exploration and experience. With Dominican GSLIS grad Kyle Jones, I’ve built online communities for each of my classes. I want my students to experience writing on the open web and not behind the firewall of Blackboard. New grads will find few jobs where all of their time will be inside a firewall or hiding in the back of the library. As a service-oriented profession, many of our services have, or will have, an online component. Other jobs/services will take the librarian physically beyond library walls into academic departments or the community.

Welcome to Office Hours – My New Column in Library Journal

I am very happy to announce I’m writing for LJ again! I thoroughly enjoyed writing The Transparent Library with Michael Casey for over two years – hopefully Michael and I can continue writing again soon! Those columns are some of my favorites. Now, I’m happy to be exploring avenues related to educating future librarians.

http://bit.ly/coCkbX

WELCOME TO “OFFICE HOURS,” a new space in Library Journal where we’ll explore what’s happening in library and information science education. In the coming months we’ll talk about the ongoing discourse about LIS schools; research that informs us, our users, and our facilities; and stories from the trenches on the realities of working toward a degree at a time when libraries are facing serious competition. Google, Netflix, Apple, Amazon, and the web itself are all in the running for bits and pieces of our core services and foundational practices.

Just as librarians work to align with our fast-changing world, so should LIS education. That’s the concept of Office Hours—and thanks to Aaron Schmidt, author of LJ’s The User Experience, for suggesting the title.

I am looking forward to exploring various topics and ideas surrounding the current state and future of library education. I welcome all comments and suggestions for future columns. The more I ponder it, the more I see LIS EDU as a collaborative effort between faculty, students, practitioners, and technologists. The world can now be our learning laboratory. What do you think?

A bit more to close – please read the whole column and let me know what you think –

If the online world is not for you, then neither may be a career in librarianship. The most prevalent LIS jobs in the next few years will probably be ones where you’re not tied to your desk and you communicate well beyond the physical walls of the building.

It’s not just students who should participate in this online world. Librarians must find their niche as well. Five years ago the conversation went on in blogs. Now it flows vibrantly across media platforms, enabling a stronger connection with library users through marketing, outreach, and the human touch.