Pennsylvania Library Association conference 2012

So, I want to share some thoughts and musings on the PaLA 2012 annual conference in Gettysburg, PA this year. I was so fortunate to be able to go since I currently work in Texas, and it was wonderful being able to see my friends and old colleagues. I also got to have a little bit of fun by going on a ghost tour at the historic Farnsworth House Inn and cemetery hill. I even touched a tree that Abe Lincoln touched 🙂 This year was probably my busiest PaLA conference yet since I co-presented on Course & Subject guides with Erin Dorney on Monday and helped out with the Unconference on Tuesday (which was arguably one of the best sessions I’ve ever attended at a conference). However, I did go to many sessions, so for those of you who couldn’t make it – I hope this post sparks some inspiration at your institution!

Embedded librarian: a crucial addition to online, graduate, and research courses by Bill Denny (Distance Learning Librarian, California University of Pennsylvania)

  • Synonyms of ’embedded’: integrated, implanted, entrenched, lurking. (yikes!)
  • Steps for success: Create a library question discussion board, make sure students understand what the librarian will be doing, and review course syllabi. Why? Accreditation
  • Some other helpful steps: offer multiple Wimba sessions, look for teachable moments, send emails when quiet, check discussion board every 24hrs (yes, including weekends), be proactive – reach out to faculty, make discussion topics.

While I was excited to attend this this session because I am currently embedded in a lower-level English class, I did not find some of the suggestions useful. I have found that getting student feedback on discussion boards is very difficult. I know from my own experience that I rarely asked a question on the discussion board- in fact, I would do everything I could not to ask a question. I think we also need to evaluate the means of getting in touch with students. Is e-mail the best approach?

Using the ‘Filter Bubble‘ to create a teachable moment by Allyson Valentine (Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian, Harrisburg Area Community College) and Laura Wukovitz (Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian, Harrisburg Area Community College)

  • PeekYou – see how public you are
  • Panopticlick – check to see how unique your browser is
  • Confirmation bias – the idea that we tend to find sources of stuff we already believe

This would be a great book to use for a credited Information Literacy class. However, I am not sure that it would fit in the one-shot. The idea of taking a controversial topic and doing a live demo of the ‘filter bubble’ itself was difficult for me to understand (and maybe the students, too). I like the idea of trying to explain bias and objectivity, not only in info literacy, but in ALL facets of research. This technique would work best with our English 1302 classes when they are learning Rhetoric/rhetorical triangle OR some of our Communications classes (persuasive speech, etc.). One of the questions posed was whether our databases are filter bubbling our students (and us). A fine question, indeed, in the culture of personalization and account-creation all around us.

Playing for keeps: Lifelong learning in the ludic library by Barbara Fister (Gustavus Adolphus College) – College & Research Division Luncheon

  • Play is an important part of childhood development that doesn’t stop with age. We are not talking about game-ification everything, but allowing students the time to explore and play with research.
  • We teach students the rules, but that stifles creativity.
  • Students are just finding articles, taking quotes, rearranging them, and calling it a paper
  • The Citation Project is a research project up-and-coming in the Rhetoric field that addresses concerns about plagiarism and teaching writing.

I found this talk to be inspiring and Fister has really put her life work into developing critical thinking in students and allowing creativity to flourish. Something that really stuck with me was when she said that we are in the business of helping students learn how to research, we show them which databases are good for certain topics, and then, when they graduate, we cut them off – what are we teaching people about lifelong learning when we just cut them off? They will never be able to utilize these databases again, so why teach them? How can we foster creativity and lifelong learning in our libraries?

Launching an institutional repository & library publishing platform with a digital commons by Zach Coble (Systems & Emerging technologies librarian), Janelle Wertzberger (Director of Reference & Instruction), & Carolyn Sautter (Director of Spec. Collec.) @ Gettysburg College

  • BePress – hosted, open access scholarly publishing. Common problems for starting a digital repository: IT, expense, supporting and migrating formats, copyright, expectation for easy front-end, coordinator. BePress helps alleviate some of that because it’s hosted, has a friendly front-end, and allowed conversation in house to talk about acquiring content.
  • Choose a target content-gathering population. I.e. undergrads, grads, or faculty – then expand.
  • Challenges: timing, communication with students (again, the checking their email thing), and copyright
  • How to deal w/Faculty submissions? Try SHERPA/RoMEO
  • Why the library? Research accessibility, linked to student research & scholarship, paired up with publications
  • What’s next? Journals, faculty outreach, cultivate relationships w/potential content-providers, set up reporting (GoogleAnalytics)

I thought this would be a really cool thing to start up at WTAMU. Since becoming an editor for Sundog Lit and using Submittable, I have thought about how we could use this in libraries. I think that perhaps targeting our Graduate Research Symposium students might be a good start. Then, students can get an idea of the submission/publishing/scholarship practice that might help them advance in their profession, lifelong learning- w00t!

3 Libraries; 3 Discovery services by Melissa Gold (Science Librarian, Millersville University of PA), Rachel McMullin (Info Literacy & Humanities Librarian, West Chester University), & Michael Cabus (Systems Librarian, Philadelphia University)

  • What is a discovery service? Central index w/discovery layer, pre-indexed content, single search box (google-like)
  • Pros: single search box, access to “everything,” interdisciplinary, ALWAYS results, simple searching, one interface to teach.
  • Cons: expensive, overwhelming, no database-specific functions, difficulty distinguishing content, varied content based on vendor
  • “Great for intro classes”
  • Summon, OCLC-Worldcat Local, EBSCO

Discovery services, in my experience, have been full of headaches, which is also the vibe I was getting from the presenters. Yes, it’s simple and easy to use, but I think we can agree that students might become overwhelmed (I know I did). At Millersville, I did a usability study and had students ‘limit’ to the NYT, however, in the Ebsco Discovery system, they (not one student) could figure out how to filter to 1 publication. Also, yes, it might be great for intro classes, but many students will use only the discovery system for their entire academic career which does not search the entire library. I also have a problem with EBSCO discovery not searching ProQuest databases (like MLA bibliography, etc) – So what’s the solution? BETTER INSTRUCTION

Developing interactive games to enhance student’s 21st century skills by Misti Smith (Emerging technologies librarian, Mount Aloysius College) & Theresa McDevitt (Government publications/Outreach librarian, Indiana University of PA)

  • Library video contest

Not much to say about this session, though I’m excited to try out some video things at my library. Soon I will be equipped with a video camera and will be shooting 45 second videos for a Library Tip of the Week series. I got some other ideas here to do a contest working with the journalism/PR/Mass COMM classes to get video submissions.

Moving towards the future: Three applications of cutting-edge mobile technologies in libraries by Carolyn Sautter (Director of Special Collections and College Archives, Gettysburg College), Jessica Howard (Reference & Web Services Librarian, Gettysburg College), Eric Phetteplace (Emerging Technologies Librarian, Chesapeake College) and Erin Burns (Reference Librarian, Penn State University Shenango)

  • Aurasma – cool app for augmented reality
  • Gettysburg artiFACTS project incorporates QR codes around campus in front of different artwork all around campus. This is a great way to encourage learning outside of the classroom and library – the librarians as experts of the campus.

I have mixed feelings about augmented reality, but I think that Aurasma is a really cool app. It could be used in place of the typical COMM scavenger hunt – just hold the ipad over the questions and then a video clue would appear – how cool is that? It would make the assignment more interesting and students would know that librarians are here not only to help with learning, but also with their technology needs.

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