Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MPL Staff Portal

Well, I noted within one of my Reference Renaissance write-ups that I was inspired to create - and I have!

Last week I officially launched the MPL Staff Portal. Here is a blurb from the main page of the site:

"This portal is for us - the staff, to keep up on changes happening around the library. Please add this site to your favorites and check back often! (You can also subscribe to portal changes - once subscribed, you will receive email updates.)

All of our library staff information will be posted on this portal - if you have something to add please lets us know. This is a work in progress; please explore the portal, post announcements, make comments, etc."


I developed the site with Google Sites; so many of us at the library have Gmail that I knew it would be easy to limit access to gmail invites. Now, I just have to train the reminder of staff! I created accounts for a couple of complete tech newbies, letting them know that they can change their password at any time if they'd like. We are also forwarding our library emails into our gmail; this makes it easy for all staff to keep up on different email accounts in one place.

A Place for Staff to Share News

The Staff Portal has different pages for many aspects of library information updates, and this is especially important for our library, as we are all part-time - many of us do not see some staff except at the weekly staff meeting.

I created different pages for the following categories:

  • Circulation,
  • Technology,
  • Official Library Announcements,
  • Policies,
  • Original Forms,
  • a Staff Directory,
  • Employee Info,
  • Databases,
  • and even a 'Happy Hour' discussion board where we can share non-work related items.

Setting up the site was easy; I made a few mistakes along the way (the 'delete page' button is a good thing), and finished up with a great template with which to begin.

Staff Interaction

Some of the pages were straightforward, and I needed little or no input to set up. Obviously, the tech page (my department) was the easiest for me; I created a place for tech announcements and places for staff to ask questions and report equipment problems. Some pages, like Circulation, are a different story. I have an idea of what circ staff may need; however, since this is a staff site, the Circ Manager will be working with her staff to create content for the page.

RSS Notification

A great benefit of using Google Sites is the ease with which staff can receive notice of changes and additions to the site. Google enables RSS page subscriptions and site subscriptions; at this point, staff is required to subscribe to the entire site. Once subscribed, staff receives email notifications - with the entire text included! Some staff that were leery of having to learn 'one more thing' are happy that they don't have to visit the site all the time. Once the Staff Portal is 'old hat' and the staff is used to getting instant announcements, more of the staff will want to visit the site and interact with comments and posts.

Wiki Format

In the initial stages, our site is more static, and I will be working with the different departments to physically post content. However, Google Sites also has the capability to act as a wiki. Depending on the permissions enabled, participants in any Google Site can 'Collaborate' or 'View'. Collaborators have the ability to create new pages and edit all content - just like any other wiki. Viewers can read all content and make comments on it.

I'll Keep You Posted

Our Staff Portal is obviously in the beginning stages. I'll be making periodic posts to let you know how everything is going!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Colorado Town Hall Meetings: Durango

Town Hall Meeting
21 August 2008
Town Hall Meeting Wiki


Martin Garnar, President, Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL)

Valerie Horton, Executive Director, Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC)

Gene Hainer, Director, Colorado State Library (CSL)

Introductions were also made by all attendess. Many different libraries represented: Mancos, Dolores, Durango, Bayfield, Cortez. Many different positions: directors, staff, friends of the library, board trustees, advisory boards, fundraising committee members...

What we came to the meeting to find out: We also went around the room and listed our thoughts on what we’d like to accomplish at this meeting.

• Future of libraries,
• Downloadable music consortia,
• Cooperative purchasing,
• Networking,
• What is the state is up to?,
• Coordinating a state-wide ILS,
• To be informed,
• Want a new focus,
• How the 3 entities work

Overview of the three entities

All their goals: explore overlap and the uniqueness of the 3 entities, explore challenges and opportunities, work for libraries


Martin read CALs mission & vision statement. The three main parts of their statements are:

1. Advocate for quality library services (lobbyists),
2. Support access to information (work w/lobbyists, intellectual freedom,)
3. Professional development (school, public, academic, special libraries).

He also spoke of the Colorado Leadership Institute.


Gene explained that there is a state library in every state; not all are the same, for instance, some are connected to different entities within the state. Colorado State Library is a unit within the Colorado Department of Education, and has been since the inception of the Colorado Constitution. Office of State Planning and Budgeting – this generates the discussion about how we can get money for libraries, the discussion then goes to the Joint Budget Committee. This was how we got money for the AIRS database package. They are involved w/legislation, but they don’t do most of the politicking – CAL does. Initiatives start locally, and then libraries change. They also consult for school and public libraries, including youth, technology consultants, and have historical newspapers, and their own ILL system.

State-wide ILS update: Jim Duncan of CSL and others formed a state committee: looked at Georgia Pines model (open source Integrated Library System [ILS]). They put out a white paper about a month ago; a second small committee has now been formed to deal with issues that this paper brought up. About the time of publishing of the white paper, BCR held a summit in Idaho about an open source ILS. CSL is now working with BCR to hold a Colorado summit to take this process to the next level – a small in-state summit in the works.


Valerie spoke of how they value the success of libraries through consulting, conferences, continuing education, and cooperative purchasing. They also help libraries save money – even help individuals save money! Recently they helped a librarian save a lot of tuition money by finding her a certificate course on Web Junction that had cheaper tuition than the online university that she had originally registered for. Their regional consultants helped answer 10,000 questions from libraries last year.

Valerie also talked about the Red Feather Lakes success story. The library is in such a remote area, that they could not get on a regular courier delivery for ILLs. CliC helped them find a solution, and now an outside blood draw courier also delivers their ILL books. The ‘blood and books’ courier!

What Works

Attendees all spoke of our successes, such as:

• An afterschool reading program,
• Several new library buildings,
• $20,000 LSTA grant through CSL,
• Successful home school program,
• $500 ALA/PBS grant received through Second Life,
• Renaissance Faire with over 3,000 attendees,
• Successful storytimes.

Gene pointed out that no one said, “We checked out 6,000 books last month”; our successes are all about the people.

Challenges, and What would help you?

We all spoke of our challenges, and the CAL, CliC, and CSL representatives responded:

• Getting votes to approve a bond issue in this time when libraries are considered “passé” because of technology
o Valerie spoke of an OCLC study done to see what gets bond issues passed. CliC is working to get this study ‘out there’ in an effort to increase the number of passed bond issues. This study will teach us how to speak to our communities and motivate them. You can find the study on the pb wiki.
• Workshops are costly in this time of economic downturns
o BCR has free Friday forums
o Also, nothing wrong w/getting local people together and having brown bag lunches – free event to teach ourselves,
• In our community, the middle and high school no longer have a library
o CAL is working on this crisis w/lobbyists – about half of the school districts in Colorado do not have school libraries
• Lack of board training
o CLiC can provide trainings

One attendee suggested using Camila Attins (sp?) and her star power to bring attention across Colorado.

Where do you want to be in 2020?

We broke into groups of 2 or 3 to discuss the future of libraries in southwest Colorado. Here are the ideas:

• Coordinate a strong Regional group – training, resource sharing, nurturing mutual respect between all library workers, enhancing the personal aspect of libraries,
• Regional high-speed internet access available across ALL rural areas; Benefits: distance working, distance education,
• Delivery of databases in one desktop (federated searching), as well as offering services that people want,
• Community center – more broad-based teen/YA and all age groups,
• Bridge to new technologies, other organizations, arts and culture,
• Cultural center, outreach, community gardens,
• Ways to use buildings in new directions,
• Meeting the needs of users that cannot come to the libraries.

Joannie of Cortez asked: What will happen when Referendum C & D comes out?
Savings Account For Education (SAFE) CAL is researching all angles of the referendums. They are hoping to be a supporter… Hoping that this will help all communities…

How do WE get there?

• Be stronger; we are getting to the point where all our building projects will be completed,
• Increase networking opportunities, build on current SW efforts,
• Getting a marketing person in, increase marketing (hire locally?),
• Encourage extended sessions with other boards,
• Find ways to get the community to see “us”,
• Create more opportunities for people to work,
• Directors meet and talk about what we need and talk about regional issues and successes,
• Build a community infrastructure so everyone knows what is going on and is better informed,
• Increase casual interaction opportunities,
• Hold “unconference” (free, informal conference) session in SW,
• Boards work with community leaders – communicate regularly,
• Say thank you for successes – tell how it’s going,
• Work together for cooperative purchasing, network and find out these technology opportunities.

Informational Listserves:

• CPLD listserve – valuable resource for the directors
• SW Listserve – great resource for all library workers

Please contact CLiC for information on how to get to these listserves.

We ended the meeting with a +/ Δ session for the meeting itself:

+/: thank you for coming, good time (not too short, not too long), good communication, good energy of presenters AND attendees,

Δ: (Somehow I think we skipped this part. :)


Martin Garnar: , 303.964.5459
Valerie Horton: , 303.422.1150
Gene Hainer: , 303.866.6733

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

“Victoria Needs…” A Funny Meme to Try

"It’s easy. Just Google “Yourname + Needs” and copy out the first ten instances of the phrase." Thanks to UberNoggin and her mom for this fun little game.

1. Victoria needs major traffic overhaul
2. Victoria Needs A New Boob Job Tour
3. Victoria needs miracle-maker
4. Victoria needs a loan of 2500 soles
5. Victoria Needs Wind Power
6. Victoria needs more medical school places
7. Victoria needs a permanent fighter
8. Victoria needs a new everything
9. Victoria Needs a Room Mate
10. Victoria needs to wake up already

lol, pretty comical.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Reference Renaissance - Session IC - "Counting on Reference..."

Counting on Reference: Click It, Tick It, Track It
Chair: M. Kathleen Kern, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The Transformation of a Reference Statistic Tracker into a Management Tool for Reference Services

Indiana University began designing a reference portal in 1998. They wanted an in-house system to track all reference questions, as well as keeping statistics. Over the last ten years, this ‘portal’ has morphed into a myriad of uses and benefits the entire library in many ways.

This particular section of this session was inspirational for me. During the presentation, I envisioned IU’s reference portal as a MPL staff ‘online meeting place’. Here is an excerpt from my notes:

I believe that I can develop something like this for the library, as an online meeting place… Create different sections based on the standard staff meeting agenda. Definitely need email RSS feeds, so that once someone makes an update – EVERYONE gets the updates!!! Also – I can track tech questions, and put the answers on the site, so everyone knows the resolution. A place for questions and answers for the circ desk/general library.

I’ll let y’all know where this idea takes me…. 

Indiana University Reference Portal

• Along the top, links to: ref stats, record of actual ref ?s, ref home (ref website), and desk log.

• Along the side there is a bar with person, phone, chat, IM, Email options, as well as a place to put equipment problems.

• A smaller bar under top bar with others, including library policies

Indiana University – Administration

• Administration backed the development and provided resources; mandated deployment and minimum usage for all units
• Management pushed for adoption; carried out customization w/in units; provided training.
• Important for supervisors to provide a culture of creativity and innovation

Despite the success of the Reference Portal, we still have to REMEMBER to click the buttons and enter the questions!


Beyond Tick Marks: Capturing meaningful info @ the Reference Desk

Luke Vilelle, Hollins University, Roanoake, VA
Candice Benjes-Small, Radford University, Radford, VA
Eric Ackermann,

Mr. Vilelle and Ms. Benjes-Small each described the process they went through to get a quality and inexpensive reference desk statistics tracker.

What’s wrong w/tick marks?

• Limited info
• Labor intensive to count
• Difficult to find trends
• Didn’t tell us what we wanted to know

Software Considerations

• Affordable (FREE!)
• Installation concerns
• Customization
• Information accessibility
• Ease of use

Mr. Vilelle: Zoho – like open office – more like google docs, b/c everything saved online!! Zoho Creator – is a database application.

Nothing is hosted on their servers!

What if Zoho goes down? They had paper forms available – but it never went down in ten months, so they have trashed the forms.

Ms. Benjes-Small: Lib Stats

Implementation Considerations

• Decide what you need to know/collect: track what you’re doing? Track the questions that you are answering?
• Scope: Are you ready to find out the truth?
• Keep the form usable: give options but don’t want form too long; web access a must (access from desk, office, etc)

Staff Considerations

• Who will monitor/review it?
• What will s/he do with the information?

Getting buy-in

• Decide which desks will be participating
• Talking to people: supervisors as well as staff, be prepared to handle accusations of spying
• Offer training
• Aim for critical mass, not 100%; circulation students not consistent


• Importance of IM service
• Staff training and accountability
• Technological questions: Hollins was less than predicted; RU was higher than predicted
• Collection Development purchases
• Track interactions with particular users

The Case of the Personal Contact

• In-Office questions
o 114 transactions recorded (in office; direct pnhone, email or IM): 8.8% of all questions
o 76 re transactions recorded: 11.4% of all ref questions

The case of the Disappearing Referral

• Since they are tracking, they are noticing missing referrals to the reference desk from the front desk. Patron never makes it!

Happy Conclusions

• Helps build community among reference desk staff
• We all learned from reviewing others’ entries
• Software use is growing at both institutions: use by other departments, adding comments option


Even though I knew that the second day of the conference started a bit earlier, it didn’t sink in until I was officially late for the morning! I missed this section of the session:

Click It, No More Tic It: Online Reference Statistics

UNM University Libraries created an online statistical form that collects reference statistics into an Excel database. This presentation will describe the planning, pilot project, implementation, and evaluation of the online statistical database and how it applies to staffing, collections, acquisitions and other uses.

Presenters: Paulita Aguilar (did not attend), Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, Sue Awe (did not attend), Parish Memorial Library, University of New Mexico and Kathleen Keating, Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, NM
Paulita Aguilar is an Assistant Professor and the Indigenous Nations Library Program Curator for the University Libraries at the University of New Mexico.

Kathleen Keating is a Professor and the Coordinator of Reference Services for the University Libraries at the University of New Mexico.”

Directly from the Reference Renaissance site,

Friday, August 8, 2008

Reference Renaissance - Session IIIC - "You Bought It, Now Sell It!"

You Bought It, Now Sell It! Creating a Reference Renaissance in the Public Library by Merchandising Collections and Services (Panel)

Karen Long, Adult Services Reference Librarian, Farmington Public Library, NM

Ms. Long spoke of how to promote library services; specifically, she spoke of a program her library has instituted, “Ask!”, a virtual reference service. It was great hearing Ms. Long's presentation (and to meet her afterwards!); the Farmington library, while in New Mexico, is only one hour away from Mancos, and I have a library card there. I was able to tell Ms. Long that I have seen and was familiar with the "Ask!" program. I'm looking forward to using some of her merchandising tactics in our library.

Identify your Reference Services

• Face-to-face
• Telephone
• Email correspondence
• Instant messaging
• Eliminate unnecessary words, have a fun image – one that will be remembered

Branding your Logo

• Reference desk
• Web page
• Reference web site
• Human signs – (logo pins for staff)

Promoting Internally

• Demonstrating a service live is more active and memorable
• Daily show announcements and weekly trivia prizes for staff
• Give incentives
• Let your staff give away something free to patrons: Cordmen (plastic man you can wrap your earbuds around) that had different Instant Messaging (IM) clients information, including the library’s IM usernames, were handed out by staff to patrons

Promoting externally

• An announcement in the monthly email newsletter to teachers
• Make it about them
• Patron newsletter
• Radio spots
• Prime Time (free dinner to attendees for sitting through library meeting) and Rotary Club demonstrations provide incentives to use library services


• Know your audience – Keep it simple!
• Meet your patrons at their point of need (they waited ‘til finals week to promote the reference service – just when they thought people might need it!)
• Show the functionality of the service and how it is relevant
• Demonstrate the service rather than just telling about it
• Provide incentives to use library services
• Reinforce/revisit your promotion

Karen Long, Adult Services Librarian,
Farmington Public Library


Creating a Reference Renaissance in the Library by Merchandising your Reference Collection

Bernadine Goldman, Assistant Library Manager,
Lizzie Eastwood, Reference Librarian,
Los Alamos County Public Library System, NM.

Ms. Goldman and Ms. Eastwood thought “out of the box”, and created a reference section unlike any other! No more Dewey Decimal system! Reference by keyword! Their new reference section has beautiful reference resources arranged by theme, and displayed attractively. Another neat feature of this new arrangement was the strategic placement of signs listing related websites.

When Ms. Goldman and Ms. Eastwood created their new reference section, they did not change the ‘location’ of the books in the system. This created some havoc, as some books were replaced in their original location in the stacks. A simple solution (and not too time consuming, as their reference section is small), would be to create a new system location, such as “Reference Special Collection”, and make sure that they change the location of all moved items.

Ms. Goldman’s excitement about her project was palpable, and brought a great energy to the presentation. She said a couple of times during the presentation, “If people don’t like it, we’ll just move it back to the old way!” I feel that for innovation to happen, sometimes you need to go out on a limb and just do it! Thanks, Ms. Goldman, for a great presentation!

I found it interesting that in the keynote presentation, David W. Lewis referenced the advent of mass printing and how it started the process of alphabetizing – going away from themes… Is it possible that the Internet is bringing us back to a more organic way of information organizing with keywords and tagging?

Their Goals

• To make all users of the reference collection aware of available resources, all in one place.
• To rearrange the physical collection to reflect the way people are thinking – in a “keyword” format (the internet search engine factor).
• To integrate the different types of reference material formats by placing signs and lists of online websites

Arrangement of Presentation

• Books – These are still being published, many are gorgeous, authoritative, and expensive – however, only a few get used.
• Reference E-Books – Available 24/7, remote access, keyword searchable, still expensive.
• Online Databases – EXPENSIVE! However, they are much more up to date, with more information, and easily accessible.

Why Don’t Our Online Databases Have Higher Usage?

• Require training of patrons & staff
• Sites keep changing
• Have to remember they are there
• Which one is best for what information?
• Have to ‘sell them’ to the staff
• The need to prioritize marketing

Merchandising the Complete Reference Collection

• Reference material is now all in one place
• Organized it the way people think (tagging – which keyword would get the greatest hits?)

Rearrangement of the Reference Collection

• Didn’t abandon Dewey entirely
• Put subject signs up on the end of shelves
• Brought subjects together (some of these had multiple Dewey numbers) – aging; health; weapons; environment; culture; jobs; literature; quotations; writers; history; travel; famous lives; genealogy
• Alternated high and low shelving, with displays on low shelves (had to half the original number of displays, because patrons are using the low tops as a table for work use).


• Accepted Internet as part of the collection
• Went through all the RUSA Best Free Reference Websites lists
• Checked that they are all still operational

More Merchandising

• Designed a new brochure with the RUSA best reference websites – will add to website shortly
• Large display shelving brought books out into the open – they found ppl stopping to read books for even 5 minutes, b/c they were displayed nicely and were attractive.

Reactions from Staff

• Mystifying to those who spent a lot of time learning Dewey (had to type up a list for the staff)
• Liberating to staff to know there is more than one way to view the information universe
• Empowering to staff to know they can contribute too
• Learned much more about the book collection, and hope to learn more about the online resources, too
• Acknowledged that it is nice to have a ‘vibrant’ collection
• Like the website/e-book lists close to books
• Loved the displays

Reactions from Patrons

• They’re noticing the reference collection
• “You’ve doubled the value of the library!”
• Lots of interest in the websites
• Much more browsing of beautiful reference books, some of which they have had for years - unnoticed (they effectively introduced reference books as a form of recreation as well as for information)

Lessons Learned

• Budget – manageable, very low budget, just a few purchases, and time spent
• Remember your marketing person!
• Staff time (rearranging the collection; learning new arrangement – be flexible; giving tours of collection to other service staff – circulation)

What Now

• Keep the arrangement for at least a year and see what happens!


Group Discussion Questions (after the presentation):

1. What are some of the effective ways of dealing w/internal roadblocks to new promotional initiatives?
2. How can we keep staff of different generations up to date and trained on all our resources to they can market them?
3. How can public library reference staff market service to four generations of patrons?
4. How can we budget and allocate limited staff time during marketing initiatives?
5. How can we demonstrate the usefulness of a 21st centure public library reference collection to modern day patrons?
6. How can we best teach computer and information literacy skills to patrons in a way that meets their needs?

Reference Renaissance - Session IIB - "Okay, This is Just Too Weird:"...

"Okay, This is Just Too Weird:" Identifying Outreach Opportunities in Facebook (Panel)

Christopher Bloechl, Gelman Library, The George Washington University, Washington DC
David Bietila, Gelman Library, The George Washington University, Washington DC
Elizabeth Edwards, Gelman Library, The George Washington University, Washington DC

On Facebook, the fastest growing demographic is those 25 yrs & older; with universities now having so many older students makes this a trend that the panelists cannot ignore! Mr. Blochl, Mr. Bietila, and Ms. Edwards studied their students’ use of Facebook, created individual librarian’s profiles on Facebook, and made recommendations for other libraries regarding Facebook.

In 2006, 55% of teens who use social networks have used Facebook or MySpace; 48% of those use these sites daily or more often. Is this a way to reach out to our library users?

The George Washington University Library is a major social hub for students on campus. They currently utilize Instant Messaging (IM), Email, and Web learning modules.

In 2007, they implemented “The Librarian is Your Friend” campaign on Facebook. Most library instruction is done in conjunction with a freshman writing program. Those students were encouraged to friend the library liaison working with their section.

Research Questions
• What role does technology play in our students study habits?
• What role does Facebook play in students’ lives in general?
• What can the library do with Facebook?

Research Team
• Two librarians
• A recent anthropology graduate student (thesis on Facebook). The graduate student was able to get less biased answers and helped them gather better questions.

Part of their interview questions asked students how their recreational use of Facebook affected their study habits and academic life.
• What sort of information would you expect/want to find on a librarian’s profile page (social or practical)?
• How would you feel if a librarian “friended” you?
• Under what circumstances would you feel comfortable “friending” a librarian or accepting a librarian’s friend request?

Literature vs. reality (150 survey respondents)

Literature told them that students use institutions sites/portals because they have to – but spend time on Facebook because they want to.

• Most of their students are members of Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn.

• 78% use Facebook more than once daily

Literature told them students use Facebook to maintain existing relationships or friends they cannot see in person.

Literature told them ‘when asked if Facebook serves any academic purpose 54% said that it did not’.

• Students said that they communicate about assignments (68%), arrange study groups (61%) communicate about academic interests (47%).

• Students see Facebook as a break time (reward or distraction) from studying.

Literature told them students recognize that it is easier to communicate with professors electronically but they are hesitant to do so for a variety of reasons.

• Students aren’t really interested in communicating with the library through social site.

• “If you needed help with your research or had a question about the library, would you feel comfortable communicating through Facebook with a staff member about it? Most didn’t really have a good view on this. The students felt better about communicating with librarians than with faculty.

• “How do you feel about university staff having Facebook profiles?” Most students were either comfortable, or didn’t care about library profiles. Most did NOT like the idea of having faculty on Facebook.

Literature told them that individual librarian profiles lets students identify their librarians as approachable individuals.

• “What features on librarians profiles would interest you?”
o Student responses: 60.6% - study suggestions & research advice;
o 55.8% - information about and access to library resources;
o 26.9% information about the librarian as an individual;
o 15.4% - librarian’s social interaction with other members through wall posts;
o 13% had no interest in librarian profiles.

• “How would you respond if a librarian friended you?”
o Student responses varied, but most participants expressed varying degrees of discomfort.

Literature said that librarians could be on Facebook to be where their users are.

o Most students can find librarians or faculty on Facebook to be creepy/intrusive.


• Recommend creating an institutional, formal-looking library fan page that students and librarians alike can join.
• Strike a personal/professional balance: include picture and subject expertise; however, don’t clutter page w/too many applications.
• Friending: students are much more likely to friend librarians if they interact with them in person. Use research appointments and reference desk interactions as resources for building Facebook relationships.
• Many students said they were inclined to use Facebook’s library applications. So putting these things out there can let your users see them – and they even might use them!
• The panelists are creating an application to let study groups schedule a reserved place in the library for their study session.
• A book recommendation application on librarian’s profiles appeals to many students; it occupies a middle ground between professional and personal spheres; and it fits into students’ common expectations about librarians.
• Many students are unaware that librarians are on Facebook: most students who were aware of the program at Gelman University had seen signs; successful advertising will play on things meaningful to students.

Avoiding Facebook Faux Pas

• The Wall (don’t post things on your own wall!);
• Notes (use for mini-blogging);
• Messages (personal);
• Poking (don’t poke students).


• Talk to your patrons
• Your own research will have the most applicability for you.

Epilogue – Up to the present

• Research was done at a particular moment, while Facebook continues to change
• Changes in Facebook: new interfaces for web and iPhone; changing demographics (older users increasing, 17-25 are still preponderance of users); greater commercial saturation of Facebook (marketing tactics for use of Facebook have been codified; more outside organizations making themselves known)
• Dynamic environment (may become more friendly to librarian involvement; libraries may be able to make their presence the norm).

David Bietila –

Elizabeth Edwards –

Gelman's Facebook Fan Page

Some questions asked by conference attendees:

Why duplicate your library’s website with a Facebook Fan Page?

• Panelist’s Answer: The RSS news feed feature, more exposure can be good exposure, ability to implement features through the use of applications – features that are harder to get onto your website (e.g. Meebo, other widgets), 99% of their undergrads are on Facebook – but not 99% of those students visit the library website.

Fan pages? What are they?

• Panelist’s Answer: More of an informational page as opposed to a profile page. They are available through the advertising feature at the bottom of the page.

How do you market your fan page?

• Panelist’s Answer: They have not marketed it yet; in the future, however, it will most likely be built into the context of other marketing.

Reference Renaissance - Session ID - Understanding Our Users

Understanding Our Users - Psychological Dimensions (Competitive Papers)
Chair: Mary Krautter, University of North Carolina at Greensboro


Women’s Ways of Information Seeking

Presenter: Beth Strickland, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO

This presentation explained the ways that women tend to gather and evaluate information. Ms. Strickland did not offer ways to improve the process, rather, she would like to offer her study as a basis for others.

Her research methodology was an interdisciplinary approach; she used technology studies, psychology studies, women and gender studies, and LIS research.

The main questions of her research were: How do diverse users approach information seeking?, How do they approach and use technology resources differently?, and, How do women’s experiences and construction of knowledge affect the way they approach technology?

Ms. Strickland compared men’s and women’s searching styles:

• Gendered styles of computer searching
o Boys dominate computer use, and want to master programs and features from the “top down”
o Girls prefer working together and are more reflective. They learn from the “bottom up”

• Men: Scan and collect many results and revise search. Men feel in control of their searching.
• Women: Read results, collect fewer results, and return to previous sites and results. Women have more of a personal connection with the information, but do not feel in control during the searching process.
• Men are 5 times more likely to study computer science and IT
• Only 16% of women are computer professionals

We need to move from a “what” to a “why” approach – challenge approaches which place a priority only on data.

Ms. Strickland explored a study by 4 feminist psychologists (mid 1980’s). They found that women come to understand the world via epistemological perspectives.

Study Recap:

5 Stages of Intellectual Development

1. Silence: In this stage, people see things in black/white; information is not personal (no introspection, don’t learn from personal experiences); authority is considered bad, but is relied upon. People in this stage do not trust their information seeking and evaluation abilities (IT people are all-knowing). These information-seekers need guidance.

2. Received knowledge: In this stage, authorities are still all-knowing, but are also helpful sources of truth. Knowledge is gained by receiving input and not constructed by the individual. Listening is key for people in this stage, and they can learn through instruction. On their own, they can find information, but all information is ‘fact’. No critical thinking takes place, and they depend on information professionals to evaluate the information for them.

3. Subjective Knowledge: In this stage, authority comes from the individual - they may not believe information authorities. These people evaluate information via a lens of intuition. People in this stage appear to be inconsistent in their means.

4. Procedural Knowledge: People in this stage think that opinions are sources of truth to authorities, and move from ‘how’ to ‘why’ in their thinking. To them, there are no information authorities, because all information has the potential to be true.

5. Constructed Knowledge: This stage uses critical thinking, and people can combine new information into their existing knowledge structures. They are able to create original knowledge. These individuals think that truth is subjective, so therefore, authority is subjective. Information authorities may or may not be biased. These individuals have the greatest potential for learning a comprehensive set of permanent information literacy skills.


Reference as Teaching: Breaking Barriers for International Students

Presenters: Yusuke Ishimura, Ph.D. Student, McGill University and Megan Fitzgibbons, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, McGill University, Canada

In this presentation, Mr. Ishimura and Ms. Fitzgibbons explored the challenges of international students and their barriers to searching for information. They also explored what librarians can do to help these students. International students are becoming more and more prevalent in the US: 1985 (300K) – 2005: (500K) International students. These students come mainly from Asian countries.

• Students’ Challenges: Insufficient assistance, lack of knowledge.

• What can librarians do to help? (Learner-Centered Teaching)

Learners’ Perspectives

Mr. Ishimura and Ms. Fitzgibbons reviewed McAlpine’s model, 'Designing
Learning as well as Teaching’, which emphasizes learner practice. In this model, the teacher gives guidance and provides background to the learner’s existing knowledge. The teacher is engaging and informing. With practice of the student, the amount of necessary teaching decreases. The teacher needs to practice summative assessment – the instructor assesses the learning and knowledge of the student.

Barriers Encountered
The presenters gathered information from different international students. They found that communication difficulties were student’s largest barriers. International students ideally would like to have a librarian who speaks their language; in transitioning from their native language, students are basically quiet and use choppy English, and they have a fear of making mistakes. Often times they use a different communication system in their culture. In libraries, they rarely approach librarians (who have a negative image), are skeptical of help, lack of awareness of services, and have gaps in library skills and knowledge.

Solutions to Communication Difficulties

Barrier: Language difficulties
Solutions: Good attitude, empathy, sensitivity, patience, avoid baby talk, jargon, make a positive first impression, write down key points, rephrase if needed, basic understanding of country customs and body language (e.g.: cupping your hand to your ear to make students speak up may not be understood, and leaning forward may be considered aggressive).

Barrier: Non-verbal Misunderstanding
Solutions: Combine verbal and nonverbal signals, observe students’ reactions and match behavior to their needs.

Barrier: Negative View of Librarians
Solutions: Be approachable and listen!, observe students emotions, reactions.

Barrier: Confusion about Reference Interview
Solutions: Follow up to check understanding, avoid “litanies of facts”, give students time to think.

Barrier: Lack of Knowledge of Services
Solutions: Use handouts, don’t make assumptions about student s knowledge.

Barrier: Different Library Skills and Knowledge
• Searching Abilities: Keyword selections may differ from what we use, spelling errors, difficulty in using the online catalogue, which is only available in English.
• Classification: Students may not understand Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress system
• Searching abilities: explain search techniques w/ practical examples, facilitate practice, provide searching technique handouts (time saver!). Also, suggest a search engine, such as Google, in which students can search in their own language.
• Classification Systems: demonstrate shelving order, explain how to browse. Don’t make assumptions that they know how to use the library.
• Unfamiliarity with organization of information in libraries: point out key resources, provide feedback on searching, explain expectations for using scholarly sources.


Mr. Ishimura and Ms. Fitzgibbons have developed a formula for more effective communication between librarians and international students. The formula is to: recognize the barrier, recognize the cause, identify teaching model phase (see McAlpine’s model), and utilize best practices. Librarians can recognize specific barriers and apply related solutions.


Balance of Power and Negotiation of Meaning in Virtual Reference

Presenter: Mary Kickham-Samy, Ph.D. Student, Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA and Librarian, Macomb Community College, MI

Ms. Kickham-Samy studied the levels of power sharing between librarian and student in virtual reference (VR). She used as her community of inquiry model ‘Garrison, Anderson and Archer’.

She explored the difference between community posting boards and virtual reference, and found that they were very similar. However, there is one big difference: Virtual Reference – 1 Librarian and 1 Student – is that a community?

In her research, the literature showed that a virtual reference librarian hesitates to instruct; however, the student is most likely willing to be instructed. Some students are willing to accept a librarian’s information and then terminate the VR session; other students want more of a partner – the librarian then works with and leads the student to higher levels of thinking.

Measurement of VR session effectiveness – Did the VR Librarian:
1. Ask the student about number of sources?
2. Show the student a useful source?
3. Recommend search terms?, and
4. Check that the student found the needed information?

4 main points in review of literature:
1. Students are open to instruction
2. The librarian wants to provide instruction
3. Students want to learn thinking on their own
4. Virtual Reference sessions are conducive to power sharing.

Questions and Findings

• Is there a parity of info sharing?
o No, librarians engaged more than students in her study.

• Does the number of questions asked by the lib, the student, or both parties combined, affect the quality of session?
o No, the number of questions by student does not affect the length of the session.

• Does the intensity of the student-lib engagement predict the lib assessment of the quality of session?
o No, no relation.

Qualitative study

• How do the librarian and student work together?
o By comparing the power of words and language of the different parties, Ms. Kickham-Samy found that these variables can affect the sharing of power.


Librarians have a stronger presence in a Virtual Reference session. A strong teaching presence is good because teaching techniques can help empower students to become independent learners.


****For more information, you can view the schedule and presentation power points here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Reference Renaissance

I will attempt to blog the sessions I attend this week at the Reference Renaissance conference. This will be my first attempt at conference blogging, so please, bear with me!

I'm looking forward to the conference, and especially thank CLiC, my sponsor at the conference (I was one of three scholarship winners!).