Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Session notes from PaLA 2011

with 6 comments

Below are my notes and key takeaways from the 2011 Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference. Some of the sessions have posted slides and handouts online and more are being added daily. You can also check out photos from the conference on my Flickr or on the PaLA photostream.

Service-Learning @ the University Library

Featuring Kelly Heider, Education Librarian, Indiana University of PA & sponsored by the College and Research Division.

My takeaways:

  • National Service-Learning Clearinghouse = resources for K-Higher Ed.
  • Libraries could investigate support from/collaboration with advancement and admissions.
  • Key ingredients for service-learning are community service, instruction & reflection. There is an increase in student motivation to learn content because they are putting it directly into practice. Students have the ability to transfer knowledge to different situations.
  • Ideas from attendees (but, always have to remember, what is the library role?):
    • Campus daycare/Early Education students – students read a story, teach a mini lesson, hold a reflection session
    • Local shelters/Social Work students – students teach basic information literacy/computer skills
    • Community center/Art students – students work with children at community centers to create murals or do beautification projects
    • Disaster-stricken communities/Disaster and Emergency Management students – students create and implement plans
    • Community members and historical societies/History students – students work with Archives & Special Collections librarians to learn about preservation, community members bring in items they want to preserve for assistance
    • Retirement home/Computer Science students – students teach basic computer skills

A Safe Space on Campus: Winning Strategies Academic Libraries Can Use to Serve GLBTQ Students and Faculty

Featuring Matthew P. Ciszek, Head Librarian, Penn State Shenango; Kristen Yarmey, Digital Services Librarian, Weinberg Memorial Library, University of Scranton; Tara Fay, Faculty Specialist, University of Scranton & sponsored by the College and Research Division. Link to slideshow.

My takeaways:

  • Although there is a rise in self-identified GLBTQ students, there is still an invisible community with a variety of needs.
  • Libraries should offer an electronic format research guide so that LGBTQ students can access information online rather than have to come into the library and ask for help. The guide should have an actual contact person for follow up, ideally someone who has been through safe zone training. Identify someone as the point person for student organizations, faculty doing research in LGBTQ areas. (TO DO)
  • Encompassing the resources described above under “Diversity” or “Women/Gender Studies” may not be helpful – less intuitive, less findable.
  • Organize GLBTQ training session for all library staff, as everyone working in this space should have a basic knowledge of LGBTQ issues, particularly when dealing with the public (Circulation, Help Desk, etc).
  • Find out what the needs are of LGBTQ students on campus and then ask how we can meet those needs. For example, could ask students/faculty to complete: “as a lgbtq ally/ library user, I feel welcome when…”
  • Invite a representative from LGBTQ/Allies student organization to serve on library student advisory board. (TO DO)
  • October is GLBTQ history month. Library display ideas include connecting to student life, history of LGBTQ groups on campus, hook into archives and special collections for images & ephemera.
  • As a safe, neutral space on campus, the library could host LGBTQ/Allies student organization meetings.
  • Check out Matt’s article: Ciszek, Matthew P. “Out on the Web: The Relationship between Campus Climate and GLBT-related Web-based Resources in Academic Libraries.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 37.5 (2011): 430-436.

Get Off the Bench: Low Cost Outreach Initiatives @ Your Academic Library

Featuring Robin Wagner, Library Director, Musselman Library, Gettysburg College; Jennifer Luksa, Head of Collection Resource Management, Bevevino Library, Misericordia University; Colleen Newhart, Access Services Manager, Bevevino Library, Misericordia University & sponsored by the College and Research Division.

My takeaways:

  • Have the campus theater group do a preview show in the library – free programming for you, practice and pr for them.
  • When communicating with faculty and inviting them to library events, have them bring their best students with them.
  • Look for a balance between formal and informal events to improve visibility.
  • Students love cake in the library. Announce it over the PA system. Making/decorating the cake could also be a staff activity. When you’re serving the cake, hang out near the table and talk to students.
  • Students seem to love cardboard cutout people – presidential candidates, pop culture icons, etc. Can dress them up for special events.
  • Feature the photography of students who have traveled abroad as a rotating art exhibit. Have them write an accompanying artist statement.
  • For artwork, pull line art from old college yearbooks.
  • Paper airplane making/flying contest.
  • If you have a large staircase, have a slinky race.
  • Hand out bags of microwave popcorn with “tickets” to film/AV databases on them to departments. Track usage statistics.
  • Have a make-your-own-valentine table. Ask students to write a valentine to the library, what they love about the library. Collect those and you have great testimonials for annual reports, etc.
  • Create valentine cards, distribute them to staff members. Tell them to mail a card to anyone who has done something nice for them during the semester/year. This helps with visibility and fostering goodwill. (TO DO)

Nature, Nurture, and Pennsylvania Academic Library Managers

Featuring Russell A. Hall, Reference Librarian, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College & sponsored by the College and Research Division.

My takeaways:

  • Hall did a survey of academic library managers in Pennsylvania. He sent out 313 surveys and received a 38% response rate. 62% of respondents were female, 38% were male, and all had MLS degrees.
  • When asked about the most difficult aspect of library management, 64% responded “Personnel/Human Resources.”
  • When asked what management skills students should learn in LIS programs, respondents said: evaluation/ assessment, strategic planning, communication, human resources & budgeting
  • Respondents also called for a “safe environment” to talk about management issues.
  • Survey results showed that the top personal attribute to being a manager was interpersonal skills, then integrity and vision.
  • Survey respondents said personality traits were more important than learned skills in nature v nurture aspect (75/25)
  • Audience members questioned the differences between library leadership and library management. Also asked what instruments exist to evaluate leadership, management, and change within an organization.

Beyond the Library Walls: Community Hot Spots

Featuring Hedra Packman, Director of Library Services, Free Library of Philadelphia; Khaleef Aye, Community Outreach Specialist, Free Library of Philadelphia; Jenn Donsky, Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Hot Spot Coordinator; a gentleman from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation whose name I forgot to write down & sponsored by the Library Administration & Management Round Table and the Public Library Division.

My takeaways:

  • Free Library is taking the library out into the community through partnerships. They looked for established community gathering places instead of trying to create a spot of their own. Organizations had to be lockable, open to everyone in the community, closely knit & sustainable.
  • The hot spots also offered technology connected to library resources. 40% of homes in Philly don’t have Internet access. All content at the hot spots is filtered, even wireless.
  • However, there is a difference between access to technology and access to the knowledge of how to use that technology. Some of the people running/working int he hot spots are actually members of the community organization, not library staff. When the grant money runs out, they hope there will be a knowledge transfer. They will leave the equipment and someone within that organization will be trained.
  • Target audiences for this project were job seekers, new Americans, families with young children, the digital savvy, and entrepreneurs.
  • Hot spot partnerships bring vibrancy to neighborhoods and visibility for the library. There has been a lot of demand – they have donors coming to them who want to sponsor a hot spot.

Technology Tools for Assessment Toolkit

Featuring Linda Musser, Head, Fletcher L. Byrom Earth & Mineral Sciences Library, Penn State University; Michelle Belden, Access Archivist, Penn State University; Emily Rimland, Information Literacy Librarian, Penn State University & sponsored by the Library Instruction Round Table.

My takeaways:

  • Before you can assess, you have to know why you’re doing it. With Twitter metrics, pick a few that relate to your library’s goals. Which are most relevant to you?
  • Use analysis = followers, readers, retweets, replies, mentions, clicks. Content analysis = content relevance to mission, composition, tone of writing, number of tweets per day/week.
  • Twitter tools/ideas:
  • Google Analytics
    • Visitors: You can see what browser visitors are using, their screen dimensions (web designers can use this data to meet user needs), if they are accessing the site via mobile, and service providers (can use this to determine on and off campus locations)
    • Traffic: Shows you keywords used
    • Content: Overlays on top of your site and visually shows where visitors go once they’re there.
    • Funnels: The series of pages users would go through to get somewhere. You can find new paths and see where you lose people to design better sites.
    • Use Google’s Conversion University forums for help.
  • Poll Everywhere – Live polling via SMS, web, Twitter
    • Ask: How would you describe your feelings about research? (free text response)
    • At the end of the instruction session, ask: Where I am going to begin the next time I need to do research? (free text response)
    • At the end of the instruction session, ask: How many resources have you found for your assignment?
    • You can use Poll Anywhere to measure pre and post instruction. Emily got IRB permission for this, might depend on your university.
    • Poll Anywhere has a filter that you can turn on or off, she has never had any problems.
    • Reassure the students that it is all anonymous and not connected to phone numbers or names.

Rethinking Information Literacy: Classroom Evidence for Incorporating Students’ Social Media Practices into our Professional Understanding

Featuring Donna Mazziotti, Public Services Librarian, Weinberg Memorial Library, University of Scranton and Teresa Grettano, English Professor, Department of English & Theatre, University of Scranton & sponsored by the College and Research Division.

My takeaways:

  • Librarian and English professor co-taught a course on rhetoric and social media, incorporating ACRL information literacy standards. There were 13 students in the class and the instructors viewed the class as a series of case studies. They started with a research question: What are the effects of social media use in our students information seeking behaviors and processes? Another overarching theme was that “it’s about culture, not technological functions.”
  • Instructors obtained informed consent to use student’s assignments for data and created a private Facebook group to take screenshots. Students were asked to keep a log of Facebook activity for 3 hours per week.
  • They found: That information now comes to users, via customized feeds, RSS, etc. By customizing feeds (like curating their Facebook news ticker settings) students are articulating a future information need. However, this creates a filter bubble. Students don’t know what has been edited out, similar to the idea of the echo chamber.
  • They found: That information recall and attribution are now social. Recall is not based on the source, but the person who shared that link with them (ANDY this is where you were quoted but the slides aren’t up yet).
  • The layout of a post on Facebook contributes to rhetorical strategy and provides clues on what is being privileged: the sharer, not the content. Students were asked to analyze a Facebook profile and determine what assumptions could they make from the information presented on the profile.
  • They found: That “expertise and passion are conflated.”
  • They found: That evaluation is social. Students don’t care about what is being posted unless they know the person. Also, the more engagement an article has (comments, shares, RTs), the more relevant/reputable the information is to the students. If the information is behind a paywall, why? We could relate this to peer review, open comment systems. (FOLLOW UP ON THIS IDEA)
  • They found: That information is now open. Students are creating information on a daily basis on Facebook, contributing to radical transparency on the web.
  • Student log quote: “We won’t feel forced to share, we will simply be terrified of not sharing” (related FB to the idea of the panopticon).
  • Student log quote: “If people are conditioned to be transparent, they will be better people.”
  • Instructors concluded that “Information literacy now situated within a social and decentralized, non hierarchical information environment”

PA Poets Write About Pennsylvania, and Other States of Being!

Featuring Julia Kasdorf, Erin Murphy, Todd Davis and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley & sponsored by the Local Authors Committee.

I can’t write too much in terms of “takeaways” for a poetry reading session, but I strongly encourage you to check these poets out. Their work was reflective of Pennsylvania and hearing them read was very inspirational.I purchased a few of their books in the PaLA store but I unfortunately had to run and check out of the hotel so I didn’t have time to chat with them or have them sign my copies.

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Written by Erin Dorney

October 11, 2011 at 3:33 PM

6 Responses

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  1. Hey Erin–thanks for the session notes! Just an update that the slides as well as the course materials for the course we taught and presented about in Rethinking Information Literacy are now posted at the handouts page you linked to above. 🙂 Now Andy Burkhardt can see where I quoted him 🙂 Again, I’m glad you found the session beneficial!

    Donna Mazziotti

    October 11, 2011 at 6:10 PM

  2. Erin, thanks for putting these up! It seems like there were a lot of awesome sessions. I bet it was a great conference.

    Donna, that was a really interesting presentation. I think social media is definitely changing how are students are thinking. It really brings up complicated questions around concepts like authority, ownership, and ethical practices around information. Are you going to be writing this up as a paper?

  3. Thanks for posting! I didn’t get to go, so it was great to read some very thorough highlights.

    mslibrarygoddess

    October 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM

  4. Great notes as always, Erin. After seeing the fun nametags from the TweetUp, I’m even more bummed I missed it! Of course, I would’ve had to put “zombieChris” or “Plaguecarrier” on my nametag the way I was feeling by the end of the day. And that would not have been cool.

    chrislemery

    October 13, 2011 at 4:43 PM

  5. @Donna – Thanks for the comment! I am so glad the materials are up on PaLA’s site. Your presentation was my favorite of the entire conference, great job! I already have plans to share the syllabus with some faculty here to see if we can spark any collaborative ideas like this.

    @Andy – It was a lot of fun – and I tried going to some sessions I wouldn’t *typically* go to just to try them out. Thanks for the comment!

    @Christina – No problem. What happened? They read your name at the Business Meeting as a scholarship winner so then I was looking for you but I didn’t see you around. Sorry you had to miss it for whatever reason! Maybe next year in Gettysburg?

    @Chris – Thanks – sorry you were sick during the conference! I felt guilty avoiding you (slightly) but staying healthy at conferences is always a challenge for me, so I thought better safe than sorry. I think we’ll be doing the PaLA Tweetup again next year, so hopefully we’ll see you at that one! It was great to chat, though. Stay well!

    Erin Dorney

    October 14, 2011 at 9:50 AM

  6. @Andy: Yes, we hope to write up our findings in an article. A lot of the stuff we observed in our students (and ourselves!) with Facebook usage and how it’s affecting our relationship to information is really mind-blowing. And an after-the-fact “Thank You” for your blog post about Google’s affect on our memory–that post got me thinking about how that same principle applies in an explicitly “social” way as well, where our information recall is tied to people not topics or the content itself.

    @Erin: Aww I’m so glad our session made a lasting impression with you! And that’s exciting that you’re sharing our syllabus and course materials–the course was a real blast to teach and be involved in. And seeing the students have light bulb moments in every class meeting, about their own behaviors, was just awesome. 🙂

    Donna Mazziotti

    October 19, 2011 at 8:12 PM


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