Sunday, October 28, 2007

Librarian with a Latte Update

So I logged into my Meebo account this morning to see if any of my friends were online, and I had three messages waiting for me upon log in! See the example below...

How do students find my IM account? They come to my course subject guides through their CTools site! On the chat page there, I have my own personal Meebo widget, but also a widget that connects them with librarians through our library's Ask Us service.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sample Librarian with a Latte Communication

Just sent this to a COMM 101 class:

Your COMM 101 proposal is due on Tuesday, October 30th (the week after next). By then, you'll need to have written a 1-page synopsis of what you're planning to write about **and** submit a list of six *scholarly* articles about your topic.

So, to help you get your six (and maybe more!), I'll be at Espresso Royale on SOUTH UNIVERSITY (the one by the arch, not the one on State) during these times to help:

Tuesday next week, October 23rd, 1 - 3pm
Thursday next week, October 25th, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Sunday next week, October 28th, 5 - 7pm

I'll have a laptop, and we can sit down, talk about what your topic is, and find articles for it. If we don't find much, we can work on revising your topic.

Too freaking good to be true, right? Well, for one, I don't buy your coffee. So forget about it. :)

Second, it does get kinda crowded. Because of that, e-mail me at and let me know which date you're coming, and what time you think you might show. I might ask that you come a little later if it sounds like a lot of people are going to be there.

Appointments are *not* required, you can just show up - but if I'm busy with someone, I can't guarantee I'll be able to help everyone.

Eric (the COMM Studies Librarian)
I'll post and let you know how it turns out. Last semester, for this same group, I have over 30 show up all at the same time to the session. There are some differences this semester:
  • The communication comes directly from me, not the instructor.
  • There are 3 scheduled sessions, not 1.
  • I ask for them to let me know when they're coming, so I can prevent overcrowding and do more individualized reference.
I hope it rocks their socks off!


Monday, October 15, 2007

I Heart CMS's

You know what would make me a more pro-active, effective librarian? If I had access to the syllabi, assignments and reading lists of the classes in the Communication Studies department. You know what would be even cooler? If I had the ability to e-mail all the students in a class to let them know I was available to help. If I could put a link to a course-specific subject guide specially made for them into their Blackboard/WebCT/CTools site.

Wouldn't it be great if I had all that access? If I had that kind of access, I wouldn't need to rely on faculty to pass along messages from me or add links to library resources...

Oh wait. I do have the access!

This semester, CTools (an implementation of Sakai) unveiled the 'Librarian' role. If a faculty member adds me to their CTools site in this role, I have the permissions to edit the class site I need to connect students with the help and resources they need for their classes.

Every COMM class has a CTools site - each of those sites has at minimum the syllabus, and most have all of the assignments and readings students are required to do right there. Here's what I can do:
  • I can read the syllabus to get an idea of what each class covers.
  • I can see all the assignments my students are going to be graded on.
How does this help?
  • I can create course-specific subject guides (example, example, example) that identify the best resources for a class's focus, scope and subject matter.
  • I can plan librarian with a latte sessions that fall in the days before assignment deadlines.
I also have access to edit the CTools site. How does this help?
  • I can put a link to the aforementioned subject guides in the CTools site (see screenshot).
  • I can put in a link to our library's chat reference service.
  • I can e-mail students when a librarian with a latte session happens.
If your institution lets you do this kind of thing, do it! I'm wondering what my new institution's course management system is, and if I'll be able to do the same things...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lesson Study in Libraries

Did I post about Lesson Study yet? Even if I did, I have to post about it again, because it's *freakin awesome*. Marija Freeland, the Education librarian here at UM, brought it up at a meeting about a year ago, and since then, we've used Lesson Study to write, revise, and perfect a couple of modules teaching librarians can use when they go out to do library instruction (or b.i., or whatever).

Here's how it works:
  • We form a group of people (any title, any affiliation) with an interest in instruction in libraries.
  • We pick a topic (so far at UM, we've done "Incorporating RefWorks instruction into typical library instruction", "Making sense of Search Tools, a 30-minute module", and this semester we're doing "Critical evaluation of sources.")
  • We meet once to brainstorm ideas about the topic... How long it should be, what knowledge/skills we want students to walk away with, and a very, very rough outline for the lesson plan.
  • One person volunteers to write up the first lesson plan using the discussion at the lesson study meeting as a guideline. The same person then teaches the lesson to a class of students.
    • The class is told that the lesson is still being worked on, and after the session, they're asked to provide feedback: what worked, what didn't?
    • The other members of the Lesson Study group observe the class and the students. Their goal is not to critique the instructor, but the structure of the lesson plan.
  • The group meets again, reviews student feedback and observations, and work together to revise and improve the lesson plan.
  • Someone NEW teaches the lesson the next time to another group of students while other members observe and students provide feedback.
  • Repeat until satisfied with the lesson plan.
  • An AWESOME lesson plan that's been tried and tested and worked on by many minds with many perspectives.
  • Creating the lesson plan is a shared responsibility - when you volunteer to write and teach a version of the plan, you're not under the microscope: the lesson plan we all create together is. This takes the pressure of doing all the work yourself and being judged away.
  • We get to share perspectives and experiences - since we all come from different backgrounds, we may have a different view of the topics we're trying to teach... The strength in the diversity of our own group is that we'll create a lesson plan that addresses a wide array of experiences and backgrounds. This, in the end, benefits our diverse student population.
Marija, Shevon Desai, and I wrote a piece for C&RL News last May about it. We've also developed a website to post our results.

Upcoming is a Lesson Study on the critical evaluation of sources. I'm excited about this one - we're not teaching any specific tool like we have in the past; instead, we're teaching an idea. Should make for an interesting lesson plan.

Oh, and FYI, I'm leaving UM in December. Stacey, my spouse, is graduating from the School of Social Work here, and two days later, we're in a Penske truck heading back to Texas. I'll be the new Education & Political Science librarian at the University of Texas Arlington library.

(p.s. i didn't want to start off this post with 'sorry i haven't written in a while', but sorry i haven't written in a while. you know how septembers go.)