Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vanity, vanity...

Yep, that's what this post is about. Mostly.

I follow the Blue Skunk Blog, which is an awesome technology/school library/education blog. I especially like keeping in touch with the K-12 world, since I hope to work there again someday. Additionally, the blog's author, Doug Johnson, often touches on issues that are just as relevant to higher ed as to K-12. I find that Mr. Johnson is adept at balancing an exploratory mindset toward how technology can help students with healthy skepticism about "the next big thing."

I have occasionally commented on his posts, and I sent an e-mail to him about a recent series of posts that imagined the school library of the future. He shared my e-mail (with permission!) on a recent post and I have a thrill of excitement over this.

So I am being vain and sharing that fact here.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Having a little more distance on my Skype conference call class, here are some points I noticed for making possible future distance classes (just now noticing that the first use of "distance" could have been a clever pun; unfortunately, it wasn't!) better.

Things that went well:
  • The technology worked!
    • At least, mostly. There were a few technological glitches. Various callers were inexplicably put on hold at times (including me)--but that's better than a total cut-off. Several people didn't have microphones, so mostly had to listen, but the messaging aspect of Skype minimized the difficulty that caused. Finally, toward the end, sound kept cutting out a lot--I eventually reverted to messaging. Still, for my first ever use of Skype, and the additional complications of doing a conference call, I think the technology side of things went quite well.
  • I did remember to keep pausing (and waiting) for questions and student input.
    • I could have waited even longer and figured out where I was going to do this more, but I was able to get some input, and definitely questions when we were walking through a database.
  • I successfully attended to both spoken and typed comments.
    • I was able to answer questions coming in both ways, although I think this made my talking a bit disjointed (more so than it was already with nervousness).
Things that didn't go well:
  • I tried to do too much. I do this often with face to face classes, too, but the mechanics of doing it via Skype amplified the effect.
  • I relied too much on students being able to access databases from their computers.
    • I knew some were having trouble getting in, but didn't really have other options. I don't think this is something where anyone was at fault (we didn't know exactly what platform we'd be using until last week), but I need to learn more about tools that allow for co-browsing. Or prepare slides and load those (blah!).
  • I didn't get someone to cover the desk!! Bad!
    • In my defense, Sunday nights in the summer have been very quiet. When I mentioned this excuse to my husband however, he reminded me of Murphy's Law with nothing more than an eyebrow raise.
    • I must remember to treat online classes like in-person classes in this case.
  • I'm sure I spoke too fast. I was quite nervous.
Other observations:
  • I was WAY more nervous than I usually am in face to face classes. This was partly because of the technology, but also because of the subject matter.
  • I should have geared more of my information toward public librarians.
    • For this, I take no blame, because based on the syllabus and information I had, it was a class centered on science research in academia. I did notice that many students were working in/interested in public libraries when I read their class introductions on Blackboard, but it didn't also occur to me that the class was being tailored toward those interests. Still, it's a good reminder about knowing my audience.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased that I got through the class semi-successfully. I would really appreciate any input from those who teach or otherwise work with distance ed.

My last reflection is that I am able to reflect. During my undergrad study, I minored in elementary education at McDaniel College, and the first part of the education department's mission was to develop "knowledgeable, caring, and reflective practitioners." I was definitely taught how to reflect there, but working in libraries gives me the time and space to use reflection in practice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Hi Laura! Hi Astra! Hi Ellen!

This has to be a super-short post, but WHOA, I just had a major tech learning experience. My science and technology resources class visit was this evening. We used Skype (oh, and I just signed up for a Skype account for the very first time this afternoon, thank you!) and, for the most part, it went ok. I had bought a brand-new, shiny (but cheap) microphone for the occasion, and it worked well. I relied on my computer speakers, which was fine for me, but not so good for all the students using the reference room (I closed my office door, but since our offices are mostly glorified cubicles, I'm sure they could all hear). I spoke a lot and then listened to long silences, then some peeps of talking with lots of static in between. I posted a "please interrupt me" sign on my door, and someone DID. I ended up reverting to Skype's chat function near the end because the talk was breaking up so much. It was exciting and terrifying and, mostly in retrospect, fun. My stomach is still churning a little.

Reflection for another day, since I have to get ready to close the library!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Obviously, I haven't been motivated to post recently. Partly because there hasn't been much to post recently...because I haven't been motivated very much at work.

Issues with motivation I've noticed lately (because a list always helps me feel slightly more motivated):
  • Boring work.
    • This is really the least of the issues--most of my work is not boring (occasionally not having work to do is boring, but that is also less of an issue as I get better acquainted with the job). Even tasks that are in themselves boring (barcoding items, shelving reference books, coming up with a list of books to weed) can be fulfilling in small doses ("I did a shelf today!"), and, since they are rarely tasks that can be completed in one go, often naturally lend themselves to being split up into bits.
  • Assignments that are over my head.
    • I don't think of librarianship as a particularly difficult field. Yes, there are things you have to know and skills you have to have to do it well, but most of these are easy to learn the basics of, and fall into place with practice. But recently, I've had two assignments that really are hard to me: preparing to present to a library class on science and technology resources (eek!) and getting a clear picture of southern American collections (in all different disciplines) at my library. The problem with these is not just their difficulty but my difficulty in figuring out where to start. The first is, thankfully, done (I "chat" with the class on Sunday evening, so I am crossing my fingers and will report back--unfortunately, I am not chatting with them in LibraryH3lp). For the second, I luckily have a team of people from other libraries gathering the same data (people who know what they are doing with collections) and have helpfully suggested sources of information.
  • Lack of external motivators.
    • I know, I know, internal motivation is supposed to be better. I'm not even talking pats on the back, though (but I do like them). I'm talking deadlines. In both of the cases above, deadlines have been nebulous up until this week. I like hard deadlines.
  • My own tendency to procrastination.
    • This is probably the big one that tips all the others from lack of motivation to lack of productivity. Lists help, to some extent, as do self-proclaimed deadlines. It's getting myself to believe those deadlines that is difficult.
Anyway, the last few days seem to have improved, but I'm not quite sure what I can do to keep it up. For those few of you who are reading, do you have any motivation-inspiring tips?