Tag Archives: infolit

4 #blogjune

Four fantastic links I want everyone to read:

Proceedings of Codcon 2012
A virtual, hypothetical, parodic library conference held by the Library Society of the World on Twitter and Friendfeed on Wednesday, May 16, 2012.

No, we can’t do it all by Meredith Farkas
“So many of us struggle with determining priorities in teaching. Few of us have a workload that would allow us to do everything we would like to do. We hear stories about embedded librarian programs, librarians who were able to co-grade student papers with a disciplinary faculty member, libraries that have co-taught entire classes, etc. and we think: wow, I’d love to do that. But can we?”

A failure of imagination – the problem with format neutrality
“I often hear librarians promoting their ‘modern librarian’ credentials by saying ‘it’s about the information, not the container’. By this they tend to mean that […] we should not be concerned about in which formats information is available, as long as it is available somehow. But what if it is about the container?” Read more to inspire your imagination.

Collective action for ebook collections
“I still agree with the notion that unless ebook publishing and distribution changes, libraries are still screwed. So let’s change things. Here are three things *you* can do.” Read more to improve ebook access.

Online tutorials #lianza11 #rs2

Fiona Salisbury La Trobe University
More than a quiz: a new approach for empowering first year university students to navigate scholarly information

Curriculum renewal 2009-2012 organised around undergrad curriculum design (integrating into every subject), defining assessment standards (early feedback for students), curriculum mapping, coordinating first-year services.

Created two learning objects for information literacy.
#1 inquiry/research quiz (designed to be delivered in LMS) with videos, questions – if they get it wrong the avatar explains the answer and links to more information. Each question addresses a learning outcome based on NZ standards.

8 subjects trialed the quiz – all different approaches, but all completed in first weeks and then revisited later. Sometimes voluntary; sometimes integrated as a hurdle; sometimes the mark was recorded and low marks would go on to an Academic Skills workshop. 3000 students completed it with final results of 80-90%. (Multiple tries were allowed.) Where voluntary, completion rate was 30-60%.

For many, trial and error without guidance is a frustrating and negative experience.

Very good feedback from students (eg going back to re-view videos when stuck searching) and academics (re student learning outcomes, quality of referencing). Has let library break complex skills down into manageable chunks for first-year students. No dictating to academics exactly how they do it, and no academics asking them for endless customised courses. Time student spends depends on their prior knowledge (15min – 5 hours, mostly 1 hour).

Want to continue developing learning objects to support infolit outcomes. Role would be less about customised classes for first year and more supporting staff.

Meg Cordes
Elements in common? Antipodean online tutorials and overseas’ literature

Online tutorials – usually interactive teaching tools delivered over the internet. Can be flash, video, text-based (older)… Universities moving towards screencapture and interactive and away from text-based.

Gap Hypothesis – that published literature not used by tutorial developers – specifically researching the hypothesis that there was no significant difference in features being used in tutorials developed based on literature.

Most common content: assistance (‘help’, where else you can go), audio, interactivity, modularity, navigation aids. Considered the principle of least effort – does modularity have an effect on how easy a tutorial is to use?

Frequency of elements in the literature – eg interactivity comes up over 70% of the time, modularity and navigability over 60%. Frequency in tutorial sample is 40%, 30% and 90% respectively. However didn’t reach statistical significance of literature, and had limited search to library journals. Mostly studied uni libraries (not polytech libraries).

Links of Interest 19/10/2011 – infolit & student success; serials; conferences

The Swiss Army Librarian posts a regular “Reference Question of the Week”. One of the latest covers using file conversion websites to help a desperate patron who needs to print out a file in a format that the library doesn’t support.

Sense and Reference discusses three recent blogposts on libraries getting rid of books to create spaces.

The effect of library instruction on student success
Three C&RL papers:

  • The Academic Library Impact on Student Persistence: “a change in the ratio of library professional staff to students predicts a statistically significant positive relationship with both retention and graduation rates.” (Note that they show correlation, not causation; in their discussion they’re inclined to suspect that the effect of more library professional staff is an indirect one.)
  • Measuring Association between Library Instruction and Graduation GPA: “if more than one or two library workshops were offered to students within the course of their program, there was a higher tendency of workshop attendance having a positive impact on final GPA. The results indicate that library instruction has a direct correlation with student performance, but only if a certain minimum amount of instruction is provided.”
  • Why One-shot Information Literacy Sessions Are Not the Future of Instruction: A Case for Online Credit Courses: “Researchers analyzed the pre- and post-test scores of students who received different types of instruction including a traditional one-shot library session and an online course. Results show that students who participated in the online course demonstrated significant improvement in their test scores compared to the other students. This study shows freshman students’ needs for more comprehensive information literacy instruction.”


  • Jenica Rogers names names of vendors with annoying practices. Some vendors responded well; some badly. Jenica posted another followup on Vendors that delight me.
  • SCOAP3 is an initiative to set up a consortium that redirects library funds from paying for closed access High Energy Physics journal subscriptions to funding these journals to be made open access. The FAQ goes into more detail about how the model will work.


  • LIANZA 2011 starts on Sunday – #lianza11 tweets from all attendees will be captured in a set of CoverItLive sessions and I’ll be liveblogging as much as my wrists allow
  • the worldwide online Library 2.011 conference will follow, running from November 2 – 4, with sessions held in multiple timezones.

Thoughts on "Cheat’s Guide to Project Management"

Sally Pewhairangi’s workshop “Cheat’s Guide to Project Management” covered the planning stages of managing a project in a way that made it clear why the planning is so vital.

We started by discussing reasons projects fail — one of those brainstorming sessions everyone always has plenty of material for and which can get downheartening. But Sally concluded this section by saying that while we can’t always make these problems disappear, we can manage them; and looking back at my notes now I can see that the vast majority of the problems we talked about would be much alleviated by the process the rest of the session modelled.

This, much abbreviated and paraphrased, was:

  1. Find out/figure out how the project fits into the institution’s goals. A project to merge serials into the main collection will go differently if the aim is to free up space or to aid findability. If push comes to shove, which consideration will win?
  2. Define the heck out the project. Make sure everyone’s on the same page about exactly what is to be achieved, by when, and with what resources. What’s included/excluded? Get it in writing and signed off by everyone to prevent confusion, co-option, mission creep, the sudden discovery that you have no budget, etc.
  3. Break the project down into tasks and subtasks so you know everything that has to be done and don’t get surprised.
  4. Work out who’s doing which subtasks by which dates.

For someone like me who just wants to achieve something, this often seems like a nuisance, and during the session my group was constantly having to rein ourselves back from rushing ahead to the what when we hadn’t sorted out the why. But when we did plan it all, it became much easier to come up with a much more innovative and relevant approach to solving the problem.

One of the other fascinating things came during the “silent brainstorm” section that is, everyone scribbling out all the tasks they could think of in silence. No talking meant no-one dominating or being shy, and no derailing into knocking ideas prematurely. And this really brought out the different strengths of different team members – when we categorised the tasks as a team we could see one person focusing more on communicating with stakeholders, one person on technical aspects of the project. Come to think about it, this could be a good way of deciding who should be responsible for managing what.

In short, a fantastic workshop which has given me a whole new perspective on planning and, more practically, the tools to do it systematically.

Plus, the template we worked through was so useful in breaking things down, guiding us through, and giving a real sense of accomplishment at the end, that I’m now pondering how something similar might work in an infolit class: guiding students through thinking about what information they need and where to find it. I’m thinking something like:

Plan your search

1. What’s your topic?

2. What kind of information do you need?

Well-tested research <-----------------------------------------------------------> Cutting-edge knowledge
Summarised information <------------------------------------------------------------> Detailed information
Layman’s level <---------------------------------------------------------------------------> Research level

3. Who would have written about it? When? Where would they have published?

Kinds of people
Date-range published
Kind of publication

4. What words would they have used to talk about it?

Synonyms – any other words that mean the same

5. What sources would hold the publications from #3? What search features are available?

Database or other source
Available search features

and then some stuff on analysing results, facets, pearl-growing, etc. (I may abbreviate the above to try and fit the whole thing to a single A4 sheet for a one-hour class; or may leave it at two sides for the class I get two hours with.) I won’t have a chance to test this out probably until next year so would be happy to hear any ideas in the meantime!

Links of Interest 23/8/2011 – What Students Don’t Know (and bonus marketing)

This has exploded onto the various networks I follow, so it seems a good time to gather some other links with it:

What students don’t know gives an overview of findings from an ethnographic study of how students at various Illinois universities research, and is a vital read for anyone in the academic environment working with students.

Related links:

Unrelated links, on marketing:

  • Gavia Libraria writes about all those times people say “So you’re a librarian? So… you… shelve books?…” and suggests Representing Ourselves by telling people what we do (in elevator pitch format – she gives examples) rather than waste time attempting to argue about stereotypes.
  • Mr Library Dude collects a bunch of Social Media Ideas & Prizes for Libraries from various libraries.

Links of interest 2/6/11 – collaborating with students

Reading my RSS feeds sometimes a theme emerges from the chaos – this time it was ways in which academic libraries have collaborated with students to enhance both library services and student learning.

Students Studying Students: An Assessment of using Undergraduate Student Researchers in an Ethnographic Study of Library Use “reports on the use of undergraduate students enrolled in an Applied Anthropology course as researchers for a library use study at Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library”.

Similarly, Brian Mathews writes about Exploring graduate student use patterns of the UCSB Library.

Experimentation in an Academic Library: A Study in Security and Individual Student Engagement
“The Special Collections and Rare Book Department at Western Michigan University collaborated with a student worker to develop a system to improve security and employee performance. The student was taking a course in psychology that required him to develop a workplace behavioral intervention with a client and modify an important behavior for employee performance.”

Library instruction
Building a Participatory Culture: Collaborating with Student Organizations for 21st Century Library Instruction – literature review and summary of some events where the library hooked into student association events, or initiated their own in collaboration with the student association, to teach library skills.

Brian Mathews again: Reframing the Concept of Plagiarism, Or What I Learned From Banksy – on art projects in the library.

A Friendfeed discussion on Our library posts a newsletter called “Stall Times” in our bathrooms. A student using the pseudonyms “Mike Koch” and “Hugh Jass” recently made a parody called “Small Times.” Our creative manager contacted him and invited him to collaborate. The conversation doesn’t go further in depth but does include links to archived bathroom newsletters from this and other libraries.

Back to Brigham Young University – they’re also famous for their parody of the Old Spice commercial, made by the Harold B. Lee Library Multimedia Production Crew, consisting of two full time employees and ten student employees – see their behind the scenes.

There’s lots of scope for collaboration with journalism, media, music and film students. Language students could translate subtitles. History/literature/etc students could work with digitisation projects. Computer science students could work on components for open source library software. The sky’s the limit…

Links of interest 21/1/2011

Library instruction
I’ve recently been pondering the idea of database searches as an experiment – hypothesis, experiment, evaluate, modify the hypothesis and try again. This might make a useful way to introduce sci/tech students in particular to the idea that you’re not going to necessarily get your best results from your first search; I’ll have to see how they receive it when I’ve actually got a class to test it on.

Incorporating Failure Into Library Instruction (from ACRLog) discusses the pedagogy of learning by failure and talks about times when it’s more or less suitable for library instruction.

Anne Pemberton’s super-awesome paper From friending to research: Using Facebook as a teaching tool (January 2011, College & Research Libraries News, vol. 72 no. 1 28-30) discusses Facebook as a useful teaching metaphor for databases.

Don’t Make It Easy For Them (from ACRLog) – with caveats in the comments that I think are at least as important as the main post.

Heads they win, tales we lose: Discovery tools will never deliver on their promise – and don’t miss the comment thread at the bottom of the page, which segues into the dilemma of increasingly expensive journal bundles and possible (vs viable) solutions.

Research data
There’s a whole D-Lib Magazine issue devoted to this topic this month.

Web services
The Web Is a Customer Service Medium discusses the idea that “the fundamental question of the web” is “Why wasn’t I consulted?” – that is, each medium has its niche of what it’s good at and why people use it, and webpages need to consider how to answer this question.

Library Day in the Life
Round 6 begins next week, in which librarians from all walks of librarianship share a day (or week) in the life.

Links of interest 20/10/2010

QR Codes
(What’s a QR Code? See QR Codes: An Overview.)

Google has launched goo.gl, a URL shortening service (like tinyurl.com, bit.ly, etc) which as a bonus gives you a QR code: eg http://goo.gl/Xxyl links to this blog and http://goo.gl/Xxyl.qr gives you a pretty QR code you can paste onto a poster. Shortly thereafter, bit.ly joined in the fun.

On the downside I recall reading (somewhere on the internet; it sounded plausible at the time) that, cool as QR codes sound, since they’re mostly being used by advertisers, actual real people aren’t really all that keen on using them.[citation needed] On the upside, I’ve also heard anecdotes from people who do use them. And in any case they don’t cost any money and almost zero time.

Library tutorials

Open Access

Links of interest 26/8/10

Scandal du jour (aka the power of social media)
JSTOR’s new interface made searches default to covering their entire database – so results might include articles students didn’t have access to on JSTOR and which wouldn’t even be linked via OpenURL to the library’s subscription in another database. (Meredith Farkas describes the problems neatly.) Librarians complained loudly on blogs, JSTOR’s Facebook page, and elsewhere, and a day later JSTOR has announced that they’ll change the default while they continue work on OpenURL.

WolframAlpha has added widgets that focus on a specific kind of data and can be embedded into a webpage by copying and pasting the code. Categories cover all kinds of subject areas – some widgets might be relevant in a subject guide. (You’d need to add a new rich text box, then select the plain text editor and copy/paste in the embed code from WolframAlpha.)

Librarian as resource
University of Michigan Library’s search results now bring back subject librarians as well as relevant databases, catalogue items, subject guides, institutional repository hits, and external websites. Their blog about this links to some examples.

eBooks and compatibility
Jason Griffey writes a clear explanation about why ebook filetypes and digital rights management means that purchasing an ebook doesn’t mean you can read it on any old e-reader.

Library instruction
Cooke, R., Rosenthal, D. Students Use More Books After Library Instruction: An Analysis of Undergraduate Paper Citations College and Research Libraries (preprint)

“In Fall 2008, students from first-year Composition I and upper level classes at Florida Gulf Coast University participated in a citation analysis study. The citation pages of their research papers revealed that the students used more books, more types of sources, and more overall sources when a librarian provided instruction. When these results were compared to those produced by students in upper level classes (all of whom received instruction), it was discovered that as the class level increased, the number of citations and the percentage of scholarly citations generally increased and there was a high preference for books from all disciplines, especially history.”

(They compared classes which received library instruction with identical classes which didn’t.)

Links of interest 11/8/10 – open access, accessibility, statistics and more

Open Access


  • Char Booth writes about e-texts and library accessibility including a great quote that “ebooks were created by the blind, then made inaccessible by the sighted.”
  • NZETC has just posted about the 1064 works in DAISY format available in their collection for people with print-related disabilities. (DAISY = “Digital Accessible Information SYstem”)

Library statistics


  • The first year of research on the Researchers of Tomorrow (pdf) study finds that “in broad approaches to information‐seeking and use of research resources, there are no marked differences between Generation Y doctoral students and those in older age groups. Nor are there marked differences in these behaviours between doctoral students of any age in different years of their study. The most significant differences revealed in the data are between subject disciplines of study irrespective of age or year of study.”
  • Assessments of Information Literacy collects links to infolit tests, assessments, rubrics and tutorials available online.
  • Christina Pikas lists a Rundown of the new [database etc] interfaces this summer. There were some surprises, including a ScienceDirect/Scopus merger apparently due August 28…

[Edited 12/8 to fix broken links]