Tag Archives: research

Library 2.0 – really?

Trust is the Key to Web 2.0 by kid.mercury via flickr CC

Over the past year I have heard about the Arizona State University library’s (ASU) creative use of YouTube for their library minute initiative, but hadn’t had a look until today.  For the uninitiated, the library has put together about 30 short videos (they are literally a minute) on a range of topics – for instance, today I watched:

  • Using the Academic Search Premier database
  • Fun & games in the library
  • Meet your subject librarian
  • Top 5 resources for online students
  • Information about open access & why it is important to the library
All of these topics are presented by the same librarian and are a mash-up of live footage of the presenter, video footage, cartoons, photographs, animation and music.  They are very impressive – short and snappy, designed to be easy to watch and get a message across within the limited time a university student may be prepared to give to hearing about library services.  The current thinking in marketing academic library services is to meet the students where they are – and they are looking at YouTube (and Facebook, Foursquare & Twitter).
Now that I’m thinking about these issues from a learning perspective, I found this experience somewhat frustrating and raising more questions than it really answered. On the one hand, the ASU library minute videos and the other ‘library 2.0’ ways they have of communicating with their users and community certainly tick boxes.   Their facebook page in particular creates community, links back to the library website and/or blog and out to the YouTube channel and is a conversation, as library staff respond to comments left by (presumably?) students. In Groundswell, the authors stress throughout the entire book the importance of social media being a conversation.  The book is aimed at a commercial market, but there is much to learn in there for libraries.
On the other hand, while each of the five videos I looked at today have healthy statistics in terms of number of views (all over 1000, some over 3000 views) I can’t help wondering how many of those views might be other librarians from around the world checking out what ASU is doing in this area.  I’m sure the university itself has access to analytics that enable it to know where the ‘hits’ on the YouTube channel are coming from, but as an outsider, it’s hard to tell.
A quick and dirty search on both Google and in some scholarly databases failed to turn up much actual evidence that any of this library 2.0 marketing works. I found many blog posts that question the value of library 2.0, or its implementation, or whether the term itself is accurate. Most tellingly, over on Agnostic, maybe, Andy asked back in February 2010:
How much is Library 2.0 really driven by the user experience? I imagine the library-patron relationship less like a ‘horse and cart’ and more like a planet-moon relationship. (If information was the sun, patrons are the Earth and libraries are the Moon. We are roughly in sync with our patrons, sometimes ahead or behind, and sometimes in the way.) … [sometimes there is] little or no user feedback indicating such a tool or service was desired in the first place
In the case of the ASU videos, the university’s own evaluation of the library minute concept, presented as a poster at Educause 2010 reveals a large number of ‘other library’ users and the fact that 32% of undergraduate students at the university were aware of the videos. This would appear to confirm that the videos are meeting the needs of libraries and librarians but still leaves me wondering about the users. Do they even want to know this stuff?
I have blogged here before about the tendency of librarians (and I suspect, any given group of professionals) to talk amongst ourselves about our services, programs and ideas. Admittedly my ‘literature search’ was rough but I would really like to see some research into whether providing (great quality) videos, links and feedback on facebook has an impact on our users and their perception or use of the library services.
References
Ganster, L., & Schumacher, B. (2009). Expanding Beyond our Library Walls: Building an Active Online Community through Facebook. Journal of Web Librarianship, 3(2), 111-128. doi:10.1080/19322900902820929
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell : winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Harvard Business Press. Boston.

Defining research?

Doing research by Viewoftheworld via flickr CC

Earlier this year, I attended a one day ‘Research for LIS practitioners‘ seminar put on by ALIA in Sydney.

Last year, I completed a FOLIOz course in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP), also offered by ALIA.

This is a little story about the blurring of the lines between the two.

One of the criticisms I hear (and agree with) about our profession is the dearth of original research that furthers the profession as a whole.  I loved being at ALIA Access last year and I enjoyed watching the twitter stream from ALIA Information Online this year – but much of what is presented at these conferences is yet more examples of ‘what we did in our library’, which, while interesting and useful and worthwhile, don’t do much to further the profession overall and seem to be examples of EBLIP. Very good EBLIP, don’t get me wrong.

I’m sure it’s not unique to LIS professionals – but we seem to be very good at telling each other about the things we are good at (and the things that didn’t go so well) – the problem is, we are often preaching to the converted anyway so it is all just more of the same.  Following Online, there was much discussion among my twitter PLN on the future of the conference format – but that’s probably another post.

The ‘furthering our profession’ research seems to be most likely to come from the many PhD proposals that were discussed as participants took turns outlining their reasons for being at the seminar.

Meanwhile, I struggled a bit with the EBLIP course as I didn’t quite understand at the beginning the difference between research and using evidence based practice to make workplace decisions.  Much of what was outlined in the EBLIP literature was to do with evaluating previous research (or actually, previous ‘what we did in our library’) to build a business case or plan for proceeding with something in the workplace.  The whole point was to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

It didn’t help my confusion that the ‘burning question’ I formulated during the course proved to be something that there actually wasn’t very much literature on – further blurring the line between EBLIP and research (for me). I forget the details of the question, but it was to do with international students and information literacy instruction as that was something I was dealing with at work at the time.

I had hoped to get over to the UK this year to attend EBLIP6, partly to further my understanding of these 2 different, but overlapping areas of research (and partly to see my brother who lives over there!) but it was not to be.  I look forward to following the progress of the conference via the twitter stream and the papers that come out of it.

In the meantime, I continue to be a bit confused.

A day in the life…

I know it’s not a designated Library Day in the Life date, but frankly, by the 23rd of June, I’m running out of puff for #blogjune posts (in spite of the crowdsourcing I did the other day – thank you, they are all firmly tucked away as ideas to be developed).

So, what did I do today in my still #newjob?

8am: arrived at my desk with coffee & toasted banana bread (believe me, to get here at 8am from my place I can’t have breakfast at home, I’d have to get up at 5.30am…). Did a bit of ‘how was your evening’ with some colleagues while waiting nearly 10 minutes for the work PC to boot up and labour to the point where I could actually use it.

8.15am: sorted through a few emails that had arrived after I left yesterday, mostly FYI, not much action required

8.30am: I’m reviewing the Libguides for one of my Outreach areas, so spent some time looking at what other Universities do in this subject area.

9.45am: Coffee with some team members – possibly my favourite part of the day 🙂

10:00am: More libguides, plus wrangling the University Handbook to try and work out what subjects are taught in this area and who teaches them, so I can make more informed choices about the Libguides review

11:00am: Quick scan of Google Reader led to some reading of interesting articles

12:00pm: Attended a University seminar The iPad in tertiary education with some colleagues.

1.30pm: Lunch – maybe my second favourite part of the day? Beautiful sunshine today, with semester break nearly upon us the Library Lawn is fairly quiet and there’s plenty of places to sit and enjoy the day.

2.00pm: Preparation for a meeting with an academic – well that was the plan. In reality? This is where my day departed from the planned. Instead of preparing during this time, I ended up meeting with the academic earlier than the original meeting time as she had some other issues to discuss and we needed more than the half hour previously allocated. My preparation therefore consisted of a 10 minute conversation with another of my team members enroute to the earlier iPad presentation…

2.30pm: Scheduled meeting (over coffee) with an academic to try and improve my understanding of what is taught in her area and find out what her personal research interests are. Of course, this meeting actually started at 2pm instead.

3:00pm: Evacuation procedures training (refresher?) from the new Help Zone on the main floor of the library – what we have to do if we are rostered onto the Help Zone when an evacuation takes place.  I ended up missing this – see earlier entry about prolonged meeting, which ran over time, didn’t get back to the library until 3.20, by which time the evacuation run-through was finished and I arrived just in time to walk back up the stairs with the rest of the team (thereby possibly managing to look like I had been at the run-through?)

4.00pm: Home! The very good thing about arriving at 8am is I can leave at 4pm and still accrue some flextime.

Actually, it was a pretty good day 🙂

Multiskilling

Here at MPOW it’s nothing to get involved in projects that are technically a little (or even a lot) outside one’s area of expertise and professional knowledge.  I’ve blogged before about this so it’s nothing new.

The particular ‘things’ that are taking up my time at the moment include teaching academic skills as our usual tutor is off on maternity leave, helping to put together an application to run a Masters of Professional Accounting at MPOW, worrying about the specific language and cultural issues that our students face and how to best put together assistance for them, training teaching staff in the use of the student management database system and trying to find a way to fit some sort of infolit training into our students’ very packed timetables.

Top of my worry list is the academic skills stuff.  One of my (many, I’ll admit) soapboxes is the absence of teaching pedagogy in our training as librarians.  Infolit I’m reasonably comfortable with, I teach that to my own kids all the time but academic skills is a different thing, particularly here when it is often combined with some English language difficulties as well.  In addition, our academic skills program seems to be largely contained in people’s heads so I’m trying to get it out onto paper and into some sort of formalised course structure (or at least some lesson plans!).  This caused my first headache – I had absolutely no idea how to start going about doing this.  I’ve since read and read and read and feel like I have done enough reading to award myself a GradDipEd but was still a bit lost.  Until……

I tweeted the other day about my joy at finding the UTAS Teaching & Learning site:

Just found this wonderful UTAS site – has answered most of my questions, could be pedagogy love http://bit.ly/9KjfAL

I feel like I’m on a roll now (well I was until the MPA application stuff came up and took up most of my week)- this site tells me what I need to know, as opposed to what I need to be teaching others – and this is what I was having trouble finding.  Tick that box.

The other major issue filling up my ‘thinking’ time is the lack of information and evidence based practice (or even questions and thoughts!) relating to organisations like MPOW.  We are small and highly specialised so while I have learnt SO MUCH from my colleagues/tweetmates in the academic world little of it actually fits well with what goes on here.  Similarly, although we share many characteristics with Specials, I don’t have a special library – I have students with academic needs.

I know there are other private higher education organisations out there but by the very nature of the private, for profit-ness of these organisations, we don’t collaborate or share ideas.  A project I would love to get my teeth into is whether in fact the libraries and information centres from these organisations could do some collaborating or idea sharing without jeopardising any commercial-in-confidence stuff and bringing the wrath of investors down on our collective heads. Sort of like CAUL for minnows…

This turned out to be a bit deeper than I thought it would be for a Friday afternoon post – particularly after the brain-frying, depression-inducing, mind-numbing and painful processes of proofing, correcting and assembling I’ve been doing this week!

image: Be Prepared by Mykl Roventine via flickr

InCite at breakfast

Coffee and home made banana bread this morning, accompanied by a quick flick through InCite – it did land in my letterbox a day or two ago but I’ve been very busy commenting on blog posts and hadn’t even opened it until this morning.

I was struck immediately by Kate Davis’ article about research in Energise-Enthuse-Inspire.  This introductory ‘how to’ seems to be the perfect article for me at the perfect time in my newly formed career.  I have vague ideas about some vague areas of professional interest to me forming vague structures in the back of my mind.  In spite of having attended (and enjoyed) RAILS2 back in 2005, the world of research is quite foreign to me.  I know that I want to contribute, to have my say, to present at conferences, to have things published and Kate’s article has given me plenty to think about in mapping out that path.

image: Quality Coffee by sho0dan via flickr