WILU Conference review, 2011

Workshop for Instruction in Library Use (WILU) began shortly after Library Orientation Exchange (LOEX), and the two conferences have similar goals, providing a conference focused on instruction topics within libraries. WILU (pronounce it any way you like, although why loo? seemed to be the predominate pronunciation) was held this year at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. Although the conference does not have a centralized permanent organizational structure like LOEX (based at Eastern Michigan University, and which also publishes not only conference proceedings but also monthly and quarterly newsletters), the WILU conference runs very well. WILU is planned by a group of volunteers each year, and this year expanded its audience to include public and school librarians as well as academic librarians; 170 librarians attended this year.

The keynote and closing speakers provided thoughtful bookends to WILU, beginning with brains and ending with heart, in the forms of “Brain Trainer” Brian Thwaits, and David Bouchard, a First Nations author of numerous children and adult books. The first set the tone of the conference by focusing on how people learn; this was echoed in several sessions I attended, including the hybrid poster/spotlight session.

Attendance gave me a chance to meet librarians at schools across Canada and the U.S., a great strength of this diverse conference. We face many of the same instruction challenges and had good conversations about how we are meeting them. I returned with great ideas and new approaches.

Dine-Arounds were advertised ahead of the conference for the second night, giving another opportunity to network.

As a presenter at this year’s conference, I was contacted by organizers at appropriate points in the timeline to keep me in the loop. I also appreciated the discounts on airfare offered by Canadian airline WestJet.

The conference was held on campus which helped keep the cost down, especially if you stay in the dorms. Breakfast and lunch was provided for the two full days of the conference, and a reception on the opening evening was more than enough for dinner; throughout the conference frequent snack breaks kept us fueled for further conversations.

Next year’s WILU will be held at Grant MacEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta from May 23-25, 2012.

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ACRL 2011 rehash

Based on my experiences as a newer librarian attending the past two ACRL conferences, this one is well worth the price of admission. I found the second time around to be richer, and part of that relates to knowing a few more people in our field, running into them, and stealing them away for a quick chat or break.

Vendors! I don’t think the vendor part of conferences has come up on the blog before. A colleague not attending forwarded invitations to visit booths and hear about products, and I also received many many emails as well. Talking to some others at the conference showed me how others strategically plan their conference schedules around vendor events as well as sessions. An opportunity I missed last time by opting out of receiving emails from vendors, professional development live sessions and demonstrations can be paired with meals by certain vendors. Shorter demos are available in the vendor hall during free times in the schedule. If you want to know more about a product or publisher, this is a great time to find out immediately (and take a free pen or other tschotske, if that’s your thing).

At my second ACRL, I went to the first time attendees the first night of the conference and learned what ACRL folks want new people to know about and do at the conference (and be active in ACRL interest groups). The organizers actively encouraged networking, and clearly said if you are having a good conversation with someone, skip the next session you planned to attend and finish that conversation–you do not know where it will lead. This surprised me, but in this job market perhaps should not have. If personal connections can give you an edge, let you hear about a new opportunity, go for it. Newbies were encouraged to network throughout the conference with the goal of having conversations and gaining signatures to win a prize. For the next few days I heard these conversations so it seems to work; at one point someone joked that I was useless to her because I didn’t fit any needed categories on her sheet.

The following sessions made the strongest impressions on me and are things I would like to fiddle with in the next year; some were short presentations of technology, and some were 3 hour workshops. Part reminder and part accountability, here we go.

Cyber Zed Shed: Connecting through course guides. Some great ideas about how to use commenting features in course guides (presenter used Library a la carte) to engage students and learn their topics in their own words, without instructor intervention. This is a move I think I am ready for, and now I have an idea of how to incorporate that courses; I have targeted research methods and thesis courses to try this out in. I think this is part of the virtual conference; I would totally watch it again.

Workshops on Instructional design/making an online tutorial, and another on writing winning proposals and how to plan for presenting were also hits. Taking the time to walk through the process from start to finish and see the actual steps involved for creating a tutorial was great; working in small groups and getting my ideas out there was awesome. The reality of having all the technical design stuff done elsewhere is where the breakdown happens. Ways to make guides and tutorials accessible to different learners was extremely helpful and a big future consideration.

This post was delayed as I used the advice from the workshop on writing and giving presentations to review past proposals and write a new one for an upcoming state conference. Although not all the advice given at the workshop will apply to conferences with different criteria and expectations, the presenters were all incredibly strong and worth modeling. Presentation artifacts available here: http://acrlartofpresenting.wordpress.com/

A session on mentoring instruction librarians gave a unique perspective on how one library offers different levels of training, from one day to train the trainer sessions to an academy that spanned a semester, meeting on some weekends and putting new ideas into practice between meetings. This final idea, putting ideas into practice and reporting back, seemed the most viable to me. A paper presentation on assessing the skills of incoming graduate students was focused on how to make instruction more student focused than librarian focused. Meeting students where they are at, at any level of education, makes sense and is something that does need revisiting every few years. Our students are changing and we need to reflect on that and retool.

There was much more that I missed, and some of it was strategic; with the price of admission I get a full year’s access to virtual presentations that although I won’t be able to interact live, I will still be able to view and possibly have more time to ponder the ideas expressed.

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Early Childhood Books

  I presented at a recent Early Childhood Conference and thought I would share this list of great early childhood books 2010 that I developed.  Thought some of you might like holiday gift ideas for the preschoolers in your life.  Kathy

Familiar Tunes    
If You’re a Monster and You Know It Rebecca Emberley & Ed Emberly 9780545218290
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush Jane Cabrera 9780823422883
Preschool Vocational    
I Can Be Anything! Jerry Spinelli & Jimmy Liao 9780316162265
LMNO Peas Keith Baker 9781416991410
Concept Books    
One Drowsy Dragon Ethan Long 9780545165570
One Blue Fish Charles Reasoner 9781416996729
Circus Opposites Suse MacDonald 9781416971542
Andy and Sam Hide-and Seek Liesbet Slegers 9781935279358
Who’s at Home? Nancy Davis 9781416997580
Dogs and Cats    
I’m the Best Lucy Cousins 9780763646844
Fleabag Helen Stephens 9780805089752
Smooch Your Pooch Teddy Slater & Arthur Howard 9780545167369
Mattoo, Let’s Play Irene Luxbacher 9781554534241
Kitten’s Spring Eugenie Fernandes 9781554533404
Three Little Kittens Jerry Pinkney 9780803735330
Preschool Angst    
Mad at Mommy Komako Sakai 9780545212090
Nobody Liz Rosenberg & Julie Downing 9781596431201
Spork Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault 9781553377368
Preschool Joy    
Time for Bed, Baby Ted Debra Sartell & Kay Chorao 9780823419685
Black Magic Dinah Johnson & R. Gregory Christie 9780805078336
Bun, Onion, Burger Peter Mandel & Chris Eliopoulos 9781416924661
Katy Duck Goes to Dance Class Alyssa Satin Capucilli & Henry Cole 9781416960621
The Sound of Reading    
Boom Bah! Phil Cummings & Nina Rycroft 9781935279228
Read to Tiger S.J. Fore & R.W. Alley 9780670011407
The Quiet Book Deborah Underwood & Renata Liwska 9780547215679
Award Buzz    
The Boys Jeff Newman 9781416950127
Beaver Is Lost Elisha Cooper 9780375957659
Chalk Bill Thomson 9780761455264
My Garden Kevin Henkes 9780061715181
Holiday Themes    
The Twelve Bots of Christmas Nathan Hale 9780802722379
12 Days of Christmas Rachel Isdora 9780399250736
Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel Amy Cartwright 9780843198997
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa Donna L. Washington & Shane Evans 9780060728168
Ivy Loves to Give Freya Blackwood 9780545234672
It’s Christmas, David! David Shannon 9780545143110
Santa Duck and His Merry Helpers David Milgrim 9780399254734
Llama Llama Holiday Drama Anna Dewdney 9780670011612
Christmas is Here Laura Castillo  9781442408227
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Federal Depository Council Meeting and Conference

My Trip to the Federal Depository Council Meeting and Conference in Washington, D.C.
By Kellie Tilton

The Federal Depository Council Meeting and Conference in Washington, D.C., took place from Oct. 18 through Oct. 20.
The conference began with two introductory meetings: one for new attendees at the meeting and one for new depository librarians.

The introductory meeting to the conference provided information on what role the council played in the depository program and what distinguished the different sessions of the conference. At the new depository librarians meeting, the Outreach Librarians that work for GPO created a presentation that addressed some key things to remember as a new FDLP librarian. They also had a Q&A to answer any remaining questions.

This session was followed by the Council Session/GPO Welcome and Kick-off Meeting. At this meeting, Suzanne Sears (head of the Council), Robert Tapella (the Public Printer) and Ric Davis (Director of Library Services and Content) met to update the council and attendees on current GPO programs. There was a large focus on the 150th Anniversary of the Government Printing Office and how GPO plans to celebrate the anniversary and the implementation of FDSys. The Library of the Year award was handed out and the Council was able to ask questions about anything presented.

Three of my favorite sessions occurred over the next two days. The first was a session on efficient weeding and how to ensure that all weeding was done properly and legally. The second was about free databases produced by the government and how the University of Memphis included nearly 130 of these in their ERM. (Interestingly, MetaLib apparently is working on this.) The third session was how one librarian solved a conspiracy theory using a wide variety of government sources, both old and new.

Finally, there was an interesting council session about partnerships among depository libraries that was interesting, but many of the ideas and goals of these partnerships were still in their infancy and didn’t seem to apply to Bowling Green.

Overall, it was an incredibly informative conference. The sessions were practical and it was great to match faces to the names I have seen on a number of emails. It was also fantastic to discuss various aspects of the FDLP, like MARCIVE and weeding, with other depository librarians.

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Conference Review: LITA National Forum 2010

I love LITA. It’s small, friendly, and full of geeks, but not overfull of  the kind of geeks that are incapable of speaking in anything but strings of acronyms.

This was my third LITA, but unfortunately (or fortunately) I was presenting on the last morning of the conference, so skipped the usual networking and socializing that goes on because I was practicing, practicing, practicing in my hotel room in every free moment. Atlanta was sunny and 75 degrees, but I only stepped outside getting out of the shuttle from the airport and getting back in (and yes, it went well — full room, lots of questions, positive tweets, and best of all, was introduced by a former BGSU cataloging student, Michael Witt at Purdue, who said his choice of librarianship as a career was influenced by the great experience he had at BGSU. And he has done very, very well, as you can see from his resume).

Theme: The Cloud and the Crowd

Adelle Frank, a LITA committee member and a Poster Session Presenter, did a great job of summarizing the twitter highlights for each session for some Insta-reviews.



John Davison and the OhioLINK DRC get mentioned TWICE as pioneers in cloud-based computing for libraries, once in the GALILEO presentation, and once in Roy Tennant’s keynote presentation, in which he quoted extensively from an email written by John about putting DSpace instances in the Amazon Cloud. (I just found this out in conversation with John  — he put the first Amazon cloud space on his personal credit card as proof of concept to show to OhioLINK that it could be done. This should make everyone respect and admire John even more.)

Tips for attending LITA:

There are 3 keynote sessions, and in the years I’ve been, they have been of uniformly high quality. So go.

Concurrent sessions are usually small (50-100 people or so) so there is plenty of useful conversation and question and answer at the end if the session warrants it. And you can usually see who is asking the question and engage with them later if interested, which is very nice.

They’ve introduced some 1/2 sessions of 30 minutes each, which is also nice — more variety and more opportunities for presenters.

Go to the daily continental breakfasts and the lunch provided on the second day and seek out those presenters that you liked. It’s a great opportunity to ask more questions and network. The middle day of the conference is when they usually schedule the Networking Dinners — there are sign up sheets at conference registration. People seem to sign up based on where they want to eat (the restaurants are specified) so you end up with a eclectic group of people with a variety of interests and experience, based on their preference for sushi or southern fried chicken.

Important vendors are usually there at the sessions (and not the sales reps who don’t know anything, either). Andrew Nagy of Summon was there, the CIO of Ebsco was there, and OCLC usually has a strong presence with multiple people — Roy Tennant of OCLC for example, and last year it was Andrew Pace.

Twitter is very, very critical at LITA, so if you don’t already have an account, get one just to keep track of what’s going on. It’s a technology conference, so showing up with some hot tech (“a magic social object” in Nina Simon’s terms) will win friends and influence people. Remember, it’s a library IT conference so iPads were already boring — it was Jason Griffey’s mifi that was the focus of envy (especially since there was no free wifi in the conference rooms. Yet another reason to grudgingly admit that the ATT-iPxxxx axis of influence actually works to your advantage much of the time.)

Tips for the Atlanta Downtown Hilton: There is a skyway on the 2nd floor that links the Hilton to the Marriot, where the Starbucks cafe is. Also a nicer and more fully stocked convenience store than in the Hilton. Take the skyway and then go up one floor (it’s easy to get lost in the Marriot). The skyway was the main reason I didn’t set foot out of “hotel space weather” for the duration of the conference. Also, the very good room service green salad with the addition of grilled chicken comes with fried cheese on it, which I found hilarious. Usually if one orders a grilled chicken green salad, one is interested in keeping the calories, fat and cholesterol on the low side.

Ross Singer’s closing keynote on the Linked Data Cloud was also very timely, for a slightly different definition of “cloud”.

ALA Connect  presentation materials

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LOEX 2010 (Fyn)

LOEX [Library Orientation Exchange], the big conference in library instruction, limits attendance (275 – 350, recently), and the slots often sell out in under two hours. Registration covers all meals, too, including an opening reception and a couple snack breaks. There are no vendors to shift the focus away from anything but instruction.

My advice for LOEX? Attend everything. One of the strengths of a small conference targeted to one aspect of a position is that every person there does the same thing: library instruction. Conversation at meals and during speakers is incredibly valuable, and these are not shy librarians. Sharing the events of the day with others is a great benefit when you couldn’t attend everything you wanted too; talking to presenters may change your plans of which sessions to attend. Another strength of this conference is the willingness to share. Presenters can post slides, handouts, and other materials with the greater community; attendance at the conference is not necessary to view the materials. LOEX has collected and shared this material since 2006; go here (http://www.emich.edu/public/loex/conferences.html) to look at programs and supporting documents.

By far, my personal preference leads me to recommend interactive sessions. Again, learning from people who have the same position is great, and interactive sessions allow for you to contribute to the session as well. Learning theory suggest interactivity increases retention of the material, too. Multiple perspectives offer greater possibility to learn something that can be brought home. Below I highlight sessions that I continue to think about. I like to borrow search examples from others for those not-so-creative times, so those are here too. The sessions I was drawn to focused on improving instruction by integrating active learning and engaging students.

LOLcats and Celebrities and (Red Panda) Bears — Oh, My!
Mary T. Moser does not make learning stuffy. She incorporates items from the everyday lives of students into her library sessions to grab student attention right from the start and get them interested in the session or information literacy. One example she uses with a class considers celebrity gossip. Which magazine is the most reliable source for this: InTouch, People, National Enquirer, or Us Weekly? Imagine the class discussion on this, with students giving their reasoning behind their choice. Student reasons for reliability are remarkably similar to those of librarians, including a focus on reliability (named author, credited sources…). Looking for examples of credibility in something students are familiar with creates the connection that evaluating sources is something they already do. Giving concrete examples before dealing with the abstract helps students see the connection (Consider the source: would you believe Britney Spears? Lindsey Lohan? Why or why not?). Another suggestion is to offer to follow up with students by passing out little forms at the end of a session asking: “Would you like a librarian to follow up with you to offer extra help? If so, include your email here.” I had never thought about follow up after a session, instead leaving that to students to contact me after I provide my contact information, but perhaps after leaving the session they continue with their old habits and favorite searches. I plan to try this in the fall with some classes, inviting students to ask for help at a time they may realize they need it.

Nformaton Lteracy: Taking the I out of Instruction.
Each panelist (and one who participated via video segments) gave a quick background of changes made to library sessions to put students more in control of their learning. The variety of approaches made at least some of the ideas applicable to me. For an ESL session, for example, a librarian attended a few sessions of the class first to acclimate the students to her before the actual library session. During the library session, students got involved in planning a courtroom-style debate on a topic all students had an opinion on: social networking. Half the class was assigned ‘for’ increasing privacy on facebook, and half the class was ‘against’. The focus of the session was on finding relevant information, starting with brainstorming keywords, selecting and using databases, and forming an argument; the two sides then debated the issue in a classroom court, complete with props. Although I don’t think I would follow this method exactly, attending an early session of the class would give me a chance to get to know the class culture. Another librarian worked with a problem-based design in a first year composition course [PBL, problem-based learning, was brought up throughout several sessions]. Students in a class were grouped according to major or interest (social sciences, business, education…) to find sources. The problem example, “Should fast food restaurants be held accountable for contributing to obesity in America?”, was used in conjunction with a libguide (http://libguides.usu.edu/pbl-fastfood) recommending different resources for each group, aligned with their major or interest. This approach, similar to the one used in the pilot GSW sessions here at BG, was the focus of another session I attended.

Step Away from the Podium! A Lesson Plan for Peer Learning.
Andrea Falcone began with an introductory poll, using poll4.com to engage the audience. Anyone with a mobile device can vote, either from the poll4 website or by texting a response. (At latest check, poll4 redirects to http://www.polleverywhere.com/.) Imagine beginning an instruction session by asking students to pull out their cellphones and use them! If students don’t have unlimited texting, they can still participate in a poll by using the website to vote through, as well. The answers are calculated on the screen right in front of the class, so they can see the instant updates. My attention was instantly caught, and I was sad to be phone-less. The main focus, however, was moving from the direct instruction I generally do (here’s a database, here’s a practice search, now try on your own) toward a model where students collaborate and present their findings. This is similar to the pilot GSW instruction sessions from Fall 2009. Students are grouped up and given a specific task on a worksheet, and are told from the outset the group will have to present their work later in the session. The worksheet gives students context for the practice topic—about 3 sentences instead of a one or two word topic that would be demo’d. Collaboration in small groups appeals to students because it is relatively low-risk (they are working with peers, not answering to librarians) and is hands-on immediately. Collaboration is also good for librarians because we can circulate among groups and guide them when appropriate, burnout is reduced, and we are exposed to student processes, languages and obstacles. Students do expect the use of innovative technologies but don’t understand the need for a library session. Faculty do not always prepare students for the session, either, and students do not see the connection to everyday life. Grab their attention by starting out with the group presentation announcement.

Small activities can be used to relate a particular skill to a class. Link an activity to what the class is working toward to warm them up. Guess the Google (http://grant.robinson.name/projects/guess-the-google/) can be played in pairs, with teams practicing keyword searching concepts in a game format. Find It challenges teams to search for an article title not available on Google (could be in Google Scholar, if you choose). Movement in the room can warm up a class. Play Where do I belong? by giving students labels (magazines, journals, books, and so on) and have students determine if they belong in the library catalog or a database. Students move around the room to show where you find them. Magazines could be an interesting case! Journals as well.

A Picture is Worth 150 Words: Using Wordle in Library Instruction.
Librarians at IUPUI demonstrated how they use Wordle (http://www.wordle.net) as an assessment tool for instruction sessions. IUPUI librarians use a checklist to note which IL competencies are addressed in a session (ex: citation elements). Students can make a wordle answering the question: What did you remember from this session? Wordle generates a word cloud based on the words entered. Wordles can be ‘published’ and given a URL or posted to facebook. Students’ words could be used in a blog entry, and the blog could be run through Wordle to get a true tag cloud, with larger words indicating greater use. Other sites with similar features include Tagul (http://tagul.com/) which makes shapes with the words used and also lets you hyperlink words. I’d like to see how this linking feature would work in a LibGuide, if I can find the right use for it. Tagxedo (http://www.tagxedo.com/) also makes shapes and uses URLs.

At the start of the session, a small graphic was shown on a slide and the presenters challenged the audience to keep track of how many times the little picture showed up in the presentation. What a novel way to keep attention! Small prizes were awarded at the end for the ones who got it right.

Break the Ice, Build the Momentum: Successful Strategies for Beginning a Library Instruction Session.
Starting a session strong means getting yourself ready, too. Take a few deep breaths to increase your energy before beginning a session. The presenters experimented with instruction session openers from the Library Instruction Cookbook, and suggest these openers: use silly or non-library questions at the beginning of a session to capture the audience’s attention and make them more receptive to the session; begin with a brain teaser or riddle at the beginning of the session, and answer it at the end of the session; begin a session by describing a research failure; stream clips from 30 Rock and The Office that talk about Wikipedia. The idea is to begin with something unexpected, because if you do not have the group’s attention within the first few minutes of the session, you won’t get it later. Attendees participated in some group work as well. A quick group activity involved creating an icebreaker for a library session; these were collected and posted on a wiki: http://librarywarmups.pbworks.com/

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Conference Reviews

Without a formal space and place to “report out” or share with others either within or outside our departments, much of what we learn and experience at conferences stays with the individual. That stops here. Tell us where you went, what you saw, what was intriguing, and what made you think.

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