Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘research

On Library Websites

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Quick evals from two different upperclassmen (in the same class) following a library instruction session I did a few weeks ago. Please discuss:

2 student evaluations side by side

  1. “What confuses me is how the university thinks we don’t understand the website – we know how to find everything online, it’s what our generation does.”
  2. “I think the whole library page setup is confusing and difficult to navigate.”
If you really love library websites (gag), the Journal of Web Librarianship is offering free access to my summer 2011 article “A Use of Space: The Unintended Messages of Academic Library Web Sites” as part of their Back to School Reading List.

Written by Erin Dorney

September 20, 2012 at 7:39 AM

LRSV – Friday

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Library Research Seminar V – Friday, October 8th, 2010

From Virus to Bait: Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Their Readers in Library Science Professional Literature (2000-2004) Lucia Cedeira Serantes, Doctoral student, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario (PDF abstract)

Serantes is investigating the attitudes of librarians towards comic books and their readers. Historically, comic books have been attacked, but now librarians are using graphic novels to attract youth. We seem to talk about everything else (the format, reviews, how to purchase and build a collection) except the impact on readers. Comic book reading has been described as a disease/addition, with the antidote being “good” literature. Even the more positive discussion about comic book reading is based on stereotypes and confines the readers (reading comic books is better than reading nothing at all, it draws in the “lazy” reader, is a catalyst leading to other “better” types of literature, etc). Serantes asks some intriguing questions: if comic books are not literature, what are they? Even with graphic novels catching on in recent years, have our attitudes really change much since the 1940s/1950s? Are we reproducing old discourses? She calls for a change in the way we talk about graphic novels and their readers, concluding that comic books are rich, diverse, multilayered reading materials good for almost any kind of reader: reluctant, visual, avid or genre-focused.

Excursions into Post-Modern Young Adult Librarianship Anthony Bernier, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, San José State University (PDF abstract)

Bernier is using critical social theory to look at the 19th century origins of five cultural assumptions of youthmetrics: middle class hegemony; chronologically-defined behaviors; exclusively future-oriented; socially homogeneous; and pathology-driven. He states that “Youth is defined by prohibitions,” including restrictions on information and calls for LIS to develop its own vision of youth.

What Do Graphic Novels Tell Young Adults about Disabilities? Robin Moeller, Visiting Assistant Professor; and Marilyn Irwin, Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University, Indianapolis (PDF abstract)

Moeller and Irwin are studying graphic novels for a content analysis of characters with disabilities. They have looked at a sample from one of the YALSA best-of lists and are currently investigating graphic novels off the New York Times bestsellers list. Initial analysis has found that most female characters with disabilities are portrayed as “pitiable” and most male characters with disabilities are portrayed as “evil.” Almost all portrayals are negative and there are many missed opportunities to show accurate representations of characters with disabilities (i.e. school lunchroom/class scenes where there is no one with crutches, a wheelchair, etc). In their ongoing study of the graphic novels from the NYT list, the researchers are finding many more instances of characters with disabilities and that many of the disabilities have been caused by violent acts. Negative stereotypes abound – what implication does this kind of representation have for our collections/students reading these materials?

Political Ideologies in Public Libraries: An Effective Approach to Spread Propaganda? Raymond Pun, Periodicals Librarian, New York Public Library (PDF abstract)

Pun is studying the impact of public libraries on the spread of propaganda in Nazi Germany and Communist China. He found that there was an impact on collection development, including the removal of Jewish-related/Classical/Western works, “volkish” books written by Nazis, and lots of children’s literature due to concerns for future citizens and leadership in these regimes. Public libraries also played a role in changes in classification schemes, including the addition of sections for Marxism, Leninism and Maoism along with the reclassification of materials for inclusion in the open stacks (a method of controlling what people were reading). The last category was impact relating to the use of library space, with Pun finding that there were many propaganda-filled exhibitions, storytimes for adults and children, and politically-oriented reading rooms. Librarians were forced to “cleanse” their collections or face the consequences. However, some secretly circulated banned books and organized underground reading groups. This “collection cleansing” also resulted in a booming black market.

The Axiologies of the Anti-Collection: Preliminary Explorations Betsy Van der Veer Martens, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Oklahoma (PDF abstract)

Martens is a fellow Syracuse University alum! She discussed the convergence of the LAMs (libraries, archives, and museums) and how they are merging together in our new, flat world within the digital environment. What is out there in the anti-collection, and what should LAMs be bringing in to the core collections? If digital collections are boundary objects, can we distinguish between the value systems of the core and anti-collections? LAM associations have articulated value systems for the core collections – accessibility, accountability, ambiguity and autonomy. Martens identifies four arenas of the anti-collection: transformative (art, i.e. archiveofourown), transgressive (science, i.e. arXiv), transactive (social, i.e. wikileaks), and transumptive (sacred, i.e. NAGPRA). She had a great slide featuring the whole layout of the value system comparison but I couldn’t write it all down in time. I’ll try to get the presentation slides…

Alternative Libraries of Heterotopias: Challenging Conventional Constructs Marie L. Radford, Associate Professor; and Jessica Lingel, Doctoral student, Department of Library and Information Science, School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University (PDF abstract)

Radford discussed Foucault’s idea of heterotopias (Des Espace Autres) and how alternative libraries are some of these counter-sites. The researchers found two types — proactive (based on socio-political activism, community spaces/services) and reactive (based on incorporating technology, the digital divide & web 2.0). Lingel talked about five examples of these alternative libraries as heterotopias: the reanimation library (reclaimed library books for artists & writers), the Public Library of American Public Library Deaccession (a metacollection/art installation on deaccessioned books), the Prelinger Library (encouraging serendipitous discovery), LibraryThing (as a reactive example), and Cabinet National Library. All of these projects were all new to me, with the exception of LibraryThing! The researchers credit these types of alternative library heterotopias to the current crisis of confidence in libraries as institutions and librarianship as a profession.

Kindling Interest in New Technologies: Graduate Education Students Experience E-books Dolores Fidishun, Head Librarian; and Ronald R. Musoleno, Senior Lecturer, College of Education; Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies (PDF abstract)

This librarian-lecturer team used Kindles in an educational leadership class. The class was 50% online and Kindles were rotated amongst the students. The professor switched to a textbook that was downloadable and the library PDF-ed all the course readings. There were also specific task-oriented activities for the students to learn about Kindle functionality. Impressions and feedback were extremely positive – students appreciated the convenience, felt “special” to be in the study, and saw potential for using such technology in the future. None of the students had used or owned a Kindle before the course. They also like the shared experience in the classroom (being able to talk to their peers about the Kindles) which contributed to a collaborative learning environment.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 13, 2010 at 4:13 AM

LRSV – Thursday

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Library Research Seminar V – Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Is There Counsel in those Curtains? Research Agendas for the Times David B. Gracy II, Governor Bill Daniel Professor in Archival Enterprise, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin

Gracy made three recommendations for modern research agendas: incorporate historical investigation/analysis; look at the institution of the library and it’s contributions in and to society; and express the relationship through time of libraries and other information organizations. He also encouraged researchers to engage readers outside of our professional community, as this will position us as authorities. An interesting quote on public sentiment – “Libraries are essential! Just not now, at this cost.” This seems to be what our government/communities are saying in relation to the funding crisis.

Using Skype as a Research Tool: Lessons Learned from Qualitative Interviews with Distance Students in a Teacher-Librarianship Program Lisa M. Given, Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta (PDF abstract)

Given mentioned that Skype is being used in a number of ways, including for patient care as a medical diagnostic tool (cool!). She (from Canada) and a student (From New Zealand) used Skype to interview distance-learning students about their information seeking habits. Students had the options of video/chat/telephone for the interviews. With video, students could show their bookshelves, study space and other physical items and the researchers could probe for further information. With chat, students could copy and paste examples of digital study habits (other chat convos between students, websites they frequented, etc). Givens mentioned that this study worked well with people who were already communicating online because there was less of a learning curve. The researchers recommended using PrettyMay with Skype to record computer-computer/computer-telephone interviews. The study is currently being shopped for publication (it will be worth reading, believe me).

Librarians in the Digital Age: Impact of Internet Adoption on Search Habits Jenny Emanuel, Digital Services and Reference Librarian, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (PDF abstract)

Emanuel is doing a study of digital native librarians compared to librarians who first got online after receiving their MLS degree to identify differences in internet-aided information seeking behavior. She is using ethnographic observations; structured, task-based comparative activities; and a millennial librarian survey. She has found similar traits between digital native librarians and undergraduates. Preliminary analysis shows: digital native librarians scan (often overlooking important information and returning to it), talk through the process of finding information, open several tabs/search several sites at once, usually try Google first (particularly for quick tasks like finding a phone number), and have little tolerance for ambiguity (bad search interfaces, etc). The other group of librarians (who started using the Internet post-MLS) usually went to print sources first (they seemed to know the collection very well), were slower and more methodical in their search, were more accepting of poor interfaces, went to Google as a last resource (even when the question was more “popular” they went to scholarly sources first), and they did not talk aloud as much during the search process.

Pilot Study of Informationist Mediated Search Susan Pilch, Informationist/Biomedical Librarian, National Institutes of Health Library (PDF abstract)

Pilch discussed a study of how the 16 “informationists” at the NIH Library impacted literature searches. The informationist program sounds similar to the liaison librarian programs most academic libraries have. They are embedded in clinical and research environments to provide personalized, subject specific assistance. Pilch pointed out that the informationist title is somewhat problematic because people don’t initially understand what kind of help they can provide.

Student-Centered Information Literacy Instruction Heidi Julien and Lisa M. Given, Professors, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta (PDF abstract)

This ongoing study is investigating the transition from high school to university in terms of students’ information literacy skills. The researchers noticed that there isn’t a lot of longitudinal data on the topic, so they decided to pursue it. One method they are using is “photovoice” journals where students are given digital cameras to record information literacy in the wild (reminiscent of the University of Rochester Studying Students project). Then they are holding focus groups where the students bring in selected photos as prompts for further discussion. They are also using the James Madison University Information Literacy Test.

Where All Are Welcome: Social Capital and the Public Library as a Community Meeting Place Matthew R. Griffis, Doctoral student, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario (PDF abstract)

This ongoing study is looking at the relationships between public library use in urban and rural areas and social capital (community and individual). Trust an reciprocity are emerging as key concepts. Notable – they went into the community to survey non-users. Found that urban public library use has a direct impact on social capital, serving as an “incubator” and reducing social isolation (among other findings). Once this is completed and published, this will be a go-to source for anyone working with civic engagement.

New Learning Spaces for New Learning Styles Mohan Ramaswamy, Director of Organizational Strategy, North Carolina State University Libraries (PDF abstract)

Ramaswamy talked about how user input impacted an NCSU library renovation and upcoming new building. Through a partnership, the library developed a program with the bus system, using GPS coordinates to display the location of buses on digital signage in the library. Students could see when the next bus was arriving and schedule accordingly. They also installed interior porthole windows in the building,  study room self-scheduling, and gaming stations. Found that the highest computer use times were 9 AM – 5 PM. Building open 24/5, students want 24/7. Most of their physical books will move to high density storage with robotic retrieval to optimize people space. A new library building scheduled to open in 2012 will feature a faculty commons and a graduate commons.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 8, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Library Research Seminar V

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I was fortunate to be selected as a 2010 Junior Faculty Fellow for Library Research Seminar V: Integrating Research and Practice, being held in Maryland on October 6-9. The conference (sponsored by the Library Research Roundtable of the ALA and the Institute of Museum and Library Services) is in its fifth year, with its main goal being to facilitate the integration of library practice with research. Attendees will gain insight into a wide variety of research; interact with like-minded professionals; and forge crucial relationships that will be helpful in: professional development; setting agendas for research and scholarly activities; policy-making; decision-making and implementation of best practices.

I initially became interested in this conference after seeing the slate of previous programs from 2009, many of which covered topics relating to marketing, usability and assessment. However, I just took a glance at the schedule for 2010 and I see  that the conference committee has gathered yet another intriguing group of presenters. Some sessions I am particularly looking forward to…


– “Using Skype as a Research Tool: Lessons Learned from Qualitative Interviews with Distance Students in a Teacher-Librarianship Program” by Kristie Saumure & Lisa M. Given

– “Librarians in the Digital Age: Impact of Internet Adoption on Search Habits” by Jenny Emanuel

– “Using Institutional Ethnography to Explicate Information Work” by Jennifer Crispin

– “Barriers to free culture: An examination of public libraries’ use of the Internet Archive and Creative Commons licensed materials” by Heather Hill & Jenny Bossaller

– “Youth and Libraries: Four Studies of the Information Behaviors of Today’s Young People” panel

– “Diversity and Conflict: What is the Conversation?” by Lisa K Hussey

– “The Library as Institution: Understanding Bureaucracy and Organizational Change” by Janice Cheryl Beaver

I’ll also be moderating session on Thursday (3C) featuring “Student-Centered Information Literacy Instruction” by Heidi Julien & Lisa M. Given, “Where All Are Welcome; Social Capital and the Public Library as a Community Meeting Place” by Catherine Johnson & Matthew R. Griffis, and “New Learning Spaces for New Learning Styles” by Terry B. Hill & Mohan Ramaswamy.


“Forced Advocacy: How the Community Responds to Library Budget Cuts” by Diane L. Velasquez & Lisa K. Hussey

“The Evolving Instructional Proficiencies of the Academic Librarian: An Attitudinal Study of Academic Library Administrators’ Perceptions of Necessary Instructional Skills” by John D. Shank & Nancy H. Dewald

“Political Ideologies in Public libraries: An Effective Approach to Spread Propaganda?” by Raymond Pun

“What Do Graphic Novels Tell Young Adults About Disabilities?” by Robin Moeller & Marilyn Irwin


“Workforce Issues in Library and Information Science” panel

The conference is being hosted by the University of Maryland, College of Information Studies at the Marriott Inn and Conference Center near the University of Maryland’s campus. If you’re interested in attending, early bird registration has been extended through September 13th! There is also a student rate listed, which I am always pleased to see.

I am particularly excited to see two of my colleagues at LRSV — Alison Miller & Emily Symonds (one of my fellow Emerging Leaders alum). Are you going to be there? Have you been to any of the four previous Library Research Seminars? Any advice? Don’t forget, there’s still time to register if you want to join us in Maryland.

Written by Erin Dorney

September 7, 2010 at 9:08 AM