Oh hai blog, I’ve missed you.
I’ve been taking a little step back from all things library this summer. We’re on a 9-month contract where I work but in the past I’ve always signed up for an additional summer contract and kept working through June, July, and August. This year, I decided to take June and July off (except for a few days here and there). I feel like I deserve a break after going through the tenure and promotion process this past year. I’m also trying to gear-up for our library reopening at the end of the summer. I’ve been feeling a little guilty about not being available while construction and other things are wrapping up. It’s so hard to take a step back… But at the same time I know that this break is imperative for my mental well-being. By the end of the spring semester I was feeling the need to create some space in my life in order to replenish my ideas and enthusiasm.
It’s been wonderful. I’ve been concentrating on my creative work—writing, reading, performing, sending work out for publication. I have lots of camping trips planned for July and I’m seeing old friends and making new ones. Making things… trying to build my community. I’ve been trying to do some things that are outside my comfort zone (reading my poetry at this house show, for example) and it’s great. Each time I do something that scares me it makes the next thing a little bit easier.
Some random updates in digestible list form:
- I’ll be presenting “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Post-Renovation Revelations” at the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) 2013 Annual Conference in Seven Springs this October with my colleague Melissa Gold.
- Our library renovation is on schedule and we will be reopening by the beginning of the fall semester.
- I’m tenured effective fall 2013! Still waiting to hear if I was promoted from Instructor to Assistant Professor.
- My poems “Renaissance Body” and “Tasks To Privilege” were recently accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of The Pinch Literary Journal. Stoked.
- I’ve been working on the Membership Committee of PaLA as part of my Director-at-Large responsibilities. We’ve been busy brainstorming creative ideas for recruitment and retention. Lots of good stuff.
- My trip to Italy was fan-freaking-tastic and made me want to go to all the places. Travel: you should do it.
How is your summer going? Anything fun in the works?
Last week I got to facilitate a really fun session for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Library Association. For my breakout session I decided to copy a format I had seen Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches use back in November 2011 at the Library Journal Summit in Philadelphia.
We recruited students from four local colleges/universities and basically ran a live focus group, talking openly with them about why they use the library, how they do research, and how they use technology. I’m not going to name names to protect these innocent students who so kindly shared their honest opinions about libraries, but we had representatives from Northampton Community College, Widener University, Penn State, and Muhlenberg University. And guys, they were amazing. Everyone was professional and had great, well-articulated thoughts to share. It was really inspiring to work with them (thank you!!!).
In my introduction I shared a little bit about why I wanted to do a session like this instead of just talking to attendees about academic libraries. We talk a lot about initiating change from within (or outside of) our institutions and change-resistors. “User experience” is also a phrase that has gained traction in recent years. In my position, I’ve found that talking directly with users has provided me with the tools I need to initiate change in my library. I realized when we started our Library Student Advisory Board that when I talked with students about different projects or initiatives, they gave me actual evidence as in “yes this is a good idea” or “no, no one would use it like that” that I was able to leverage to bring about changes in the way things were done and the projects I pursued. I think it’s really important for us to talk to our users, to be open to what they have to say, and most importantly, to make changes accordingly. Sometimes it’s difficult to do this because there are so many things vying for our time but I think it’s critical in terms of designing the future for academic libraries.
I remember walking away inspired and excited from Aaron and Amanda’s session in 2011 and I hope attendees had a similar experience after participating last week. If nothing else, perhaps they learned one new thing about the life of a college student, or left feeling empowered to talk to the users at their own institution. Personally, this was one of the most fun presentations I’ve ever done.
A couple of people wanted to see my list of questions, so you can steal those here (no worries, I borrowed most of them from Aaron and Amanda and added some of my own—you have permission to steal this entire idea!). Mine are at the top—the numbers are the initial questions I started with and the indented letters are follow up questions that I asked on the spot based on student responses. If anyone has questions about how this worked, just leave a comment and I can share more details.
Sending huge thanks out to Aaron and Amanda for sharing their questions and advice for the student panel, to LVPALA for inviting me to present at the workshop, to Courtney Eger for being an excellent speaker contact and helping recruit students, to Tina Hertel and Muhlenberg College for helping recruit students, and of course to the students who volunteered their summer time to participate in what could have been a very uncomfortable experience (I hope it wasn’t too bad!). This was truly a session that couldn’t have happened with just me alone. Collaboration for the win!
I’m planning to do another post about things I thought were intriguing about the student responses but I have to transcribe the audio from the session first… stay tuned!
Building a Dream Team: Library Personas in the 21st Century Library by Lynda Kellam (Data Services & Government Information Librarian at UNCG Jackson Library), Jenny Dale (First-Year Instruction Coordinator and Reference Librarian at UNCG Jackson Library) and Lauren Pressley (Associate Director of Learning and Outreach at Virginia Tech)
- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (read this)
- What do I do best that other people cannot do as well? Those are my competencies/persona.
- What do I spend time on that other people could do or do better? Try to ignore, minimize, or outsource those things.
- What is your professional persona? How do you incorporate different personas into a future-forward organizational structure? Try to organize “functional specialties” in a diverse team approach.
Erin Dorney (@edorney) April 11, 2013
Library Publishing and Undergraduate Education: Strategies for Collaboration by Stephanie Davis-Kahl (Scholarly Communications Librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University), Michael Seeborg (Professor of Economics at Illinois Wesleyan University) and Isaac Gilman (Scholarly Communications and Research Services Librarian at Pacific University)
- Use students to peer-review submitted articles and write critical reviews of articles once they’re published to help them learn about scholarly publishing and become part of the process.
- “silos belong on farms”
- Teaching students how to package information will help them think critically about the information they encounter/consume
- Gilman created a journal publishing for-credit course that was then expanded into a publishing minor program that explores both traditional and emerging forms of publishing (sounds awesome!)
Erin Dorney (@edorney) April 11, 2013
Hacking the Learner Experience: Techniques and Strategies for Connecting with your Instructional Ecosystem by Andy Burkhardt (Emerging Technologies Librarian at Champlain College), Lauren Pressley (Associate Director of Learning and Outreach at Virginia Tech), and Brian Mathews (Associate Dean at Virginia Tech)
- What do we need to start, what do we need to stop, and who do we need to work with?
- William Perry, 1968, big in student affairs (look up)
- Kolb, experiential learning, think about the cycle – where are you and where is everyone else in the room?
- Think about who students are through information – make it personal and relatable.
- Legitimately learn together – not sage on the stage but also not guide on the side.
Erin Dorney (@edorney) April 11, 2013
The Mother of all LibGuides: Applying Principles of Communication and Network Theory in LibGuide Design by Carol Leibiger and Alan Aldrich (Associate Professors at University of South Dakota)
- The average subject guide takes an experienced librarian between 8-20 hours to create.
Hidden Patterns of LibGuides Usage: Another Facet of Usability by Wendy Wilcox, Gabriela Castro Gessner, and Adam Chandler (Access Services Librarian; Research and Assessment Analyst; and Electronic Resources User Experience Librarian at Cornell University Libraries)
- Studied 637 LibGuides using stats from Springshare and bibliomining to log user location.
- 70% of guide usage was by non-Cornell affiliated users (who is using them – other librarians I guess? Are we all just looking at each others’ guides?)
- Number of tabs in the guides they studied ranged from 1 to 19 (…WHAT!).
- Is it even important to know who is viewing our guides (my opinion, yes).
The Art of Problem Discovery by Brian Mathews (Associate Dean at Virginia Tech)
- If we just keep doing what we’ve always done but a little bit better, we miss out on growth opportunities.
- What is our total landscape?
- Don’t sell products or services – help people address the needs they have/their jobs.
- What if we scrapped all existing library services (no legacy services), identified the tasks of our communities, and rebuilt new services around those needs? What would the library look like? (This was probably my favorite idea of the whole conference… I really wish I could do this somewhere. Maybe I should just do it conceptually and then see if I can get anyone on board with the idea).
- Invest in other people’s problems.
- We can’t just be louder (YES. I feel like this is always an issue with library marketing. People seem to think if we just put up more and larger posters around campus, an initiative will be successful, when in reality it has to be more strategic… and the right message).
- Librarians as problem developers/problem designers.
- Disrupt intentionally.
- Just read the whole paper, people.
Erin Dorney (@edorney) April 12, 2013
Love your Library: Building Goodwill from the Inside Out and the Outside In by Adrienne Lai (Emerging Technologies Librarian at North Carolina State University Libraries), Lia Friedman (Director of Learning Services at UC San Diego Library), Alice Whiteside (Librarian & Instructional Technology Consultant at Mount Holyoke College), and Char Booth (Instruction Services Manager & E-Learning Librarian at Claremont Colleges)
- Cultivation, communication, collaboration, context, camogogy (camouflage + pedagogy) = outreach
- Pull children’s books from your education section for stress-relief events
- Sneak teach!
- Special Collections pop up library in Art & Design building- bring it to them
- When they opened a new building, had students take photos of library spaces and tag them on Instagram. A program fed the images to digital displays within the building (after moderation) and some will be preserved in the archives. Over 1700 photos already. Students like seeing the student-perspective (DO THIS AT MILLERSVILLE).
- Put a Q&A board away from public service points for privacy and then post pictures of answers on social media.
- Full-sized librarian cardboard cutouts for visibility when not at a desk/office.
- Google outreach map with different locations for events, hanging things, tips. Helpful for student employees (yup, do this).
- Slides / Handout (“steal with joyful permission” – Char)
Erin Dorney (@edorney) April 12, 2013
I’ll be at the Association of College & Research Libraries 2013 Conference Wednesday through Saturday (April 10-13). Thought I’d share my tentative schedule here in case anyone wants to catch up before/during/after a session. I have lunches and Friday night dinner open if people wanna meet up! Comment, text me, tweet or DM @edorney to get in touch.
I’m presenting with some of the other Lead Pipe Editorial Board members on Thursday at 3 PM about #diylib culture. We’d love to hear your thoughts before the panel session so we can incorporate a variety of perspectives. Check out our recent editorial for all the details. Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, April 10
8 PM – Battle Decks! – Imagine, Improvise, Inflict: Get Inspired or Die Trying
Thursday, April 11
8 AM – Building a Dream Team: Library Personas in the 21st Century Library
9 AM – Meeting with Lead Pipe Editorial Board members
10:30 AM – Library Publishing and Undergraduate Education: Strategies for Collaboration
1 PM – Hacking the Learner Experience: techniques and strategies for connecting with your instructional ecosystem
2 PM – Poster Session
3 PM – From the Periphery into the Mainstream: Library DIY culture(s) and the academy
4:20 PM – Henry Rollins Keynote
Dinner with Lead Pipe Editorial Board members
Friday, April 12
9:30 AM – Poster Session
11 AM – Contributed Papers: “The Mother of all LibGuides”: Applying Principles of Communication and Network Theory in LibGuide Design/Hidden Patterns of LibGuides Usage: Another Facet of Usability/The Unobtrusive “Usability Test”: Creating Measurable Goals to Evaluate a Website
1:30 PM – The Art of Problem Discovery
2:30 PM – Poster Session
4 PM – “Love your library”: building goodwill from the inside out and the outside in
8 PM – All Conference Reception
I’ll probably be blogging at some point since this is my first time attending ACRL. Anything you’re looking forward to?
watching // twin peaks + audrey hepburn.
reading // snowflake/different streets by eileen myles.
working // on signage for the new library, summer plans + a new writing gig (details soon!).
writing // blackout erasure poems from an old ornithology book.
thinking // about letting go of the life i’d planned to embrace the life in front of me.
What are you guys doing?
(inspired by Kara at I Just Might Explode)
2011 was the first year I tracked my reading and it was around this time last year that I set the goal of reading an average of 3 books per month in 2012 (for a minimum of 36 books). I’m happy to report that I exceeded that goal and read a total of 46 books! Check it:
You can learn more about the titles on my Goodreads page. According to 5-star ratings, my favorite books were:
- O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
- Pretty Tilt by Carrie Murphy
- The World According to Garp by John Irving (also the longest book I read last year)
- Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories by Charles Bukowski
- The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes by Janet Malcolm
- The New Fuck You: Adventures in Lesbian Reading by Eileen Myles
- Driftwood Valley: A Woman Naturalist in the Northern Wilderness by Theodora Stanwell-Fletcher
- Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
- Nature I Loved by Bill Geagan
- Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose and Poetry About Nature by Lorraine Anderson
- Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002 by Sharon Olds
- Kindred by Octavia Butler
I read over 11,000 pages! What did you read in 2012? Any reading goals or books you’re looking forward to reading during 2013?
One of the things I love about my job is making connections. Sometimes it’s a connection between individuals and the information they need. Sometimes it’s a connection between two people who can help each other. Sometimes it’s a connection between a person and a unique opportunity. Recently, I was able to connect a two colleagues: a librarian from Mansfield University and a professor at Millersville University. The result was a chapter on visual aids for Public Speaking: The Virtual Text, a free online public speaking textbook.
I love this project—Creative Commons-licensed, well-written by authoritative speech professionals, an alternative for FAR too expensive communications textbooks. Really, what’s not to like?!
Anyone with an upcoming presentation who is considering using visual aids (Midwinter, ALA, and ACRL librarians, I’m looking at you) should take a moment to check out Chapter 13: Visual Aids. Sheila has great advice on:
- Identifying when and how visual aids will enhance a presentation
- Identifying the different types of visual aids
- Identifying effective and ineffective use of visual aids
- Applying basic design principles to slide design
- Identifying best practices to incorporating visual aids in a presentation
I’ll be keeping these tips in mind when I work on my upcoming presentations—no more crappy slide decks! Seriously, give it a read. You can download each chapter as a PDF in color or grayscale. Share this resource with anyone interested in public speaking!