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Feedback for New Directions in Information Literacy: Growing Our Teaching Practices, July-August 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed July-August 2014 session of New Directions in Information Literacy: Growing Our Teaching Practices, taught by Andrea Baer. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

New from Library Juice Academy

August 2014

We’ve been offering classes for close to two years now, and we’ve been learning as we go what kinds of classes people are most interested in taking, and which instructors are the most successful as teachers. We are continuing to experiment with new classes whose success it is hard to predict.

This Fall we are running a new selection of technology classes, including a four-course series in Python that just started, a class in HTML and CSS, a couple of classes in client-side scripting using Javascript, and a pair of classes on PHP, one that focuses on MySQL and the other on APIs. This is in addition to our classes on digital library technology – the XML/RDF series and the metadata classes.

At ALA in Las Vegas, we got some feedback from people who would like to see more classes that are appropriate for public libraries, so we are beginning to experiment more with this type of class. This Fall we have three different classes on Readers’ Advisory. Many of our other classes, especially the management ones, work fine in a public library setting.

Earlier this year we had the misfortune of having to cancel a robust series of classes on cataloging that we had planned. I am pleased to say we have recovered and now have two cataloging classes again on offer, using an instructor who has been very good for us in the past, Melissa Adler. She will be teaching Introduction to Cataloging and Introduction to RDA this Fall and periodically going forward. We hope to add a broader selection of cataloging courses over time. We have a selection of other classes that are useful for technical services staff, which you can see here: http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/courses-techserv.php

We have a partnership with Library Journal to announce, where customers in their Lead the Change workshop series can get a generous discount on LJA courses that are tied to their workshop topics. We hope that this will be the start of a collaborative relationship with Library Journal.

As a last bit of news, we’re planning a major website redesign in the coming months. We look forward to an improved presentation of our offerings. Further down the road we foresee some improvements to our Moodle implementation as well.

Thanks for your business and thanks for your time,

Rory Litwin

Library Juice Academy
P.O. Box 188784
Sacramento, CA 95818
Tel. 218-260-6115
Fax 916-415-5446

inquiries@libraryjuiceacademy.com

http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/

Testimonials:

http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/testimonials.php

Check out our jingle:

http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/news/?p=139

Feedback for Evaluating Service Quality and Patron Satisfaction, July 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed July 2014 session of Evaluating Service Quality and Patron Satisfaction, taught by Jennifer Sweeney. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for Embedded Librarianship in Online Courses, July 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed July 2014 session of Embedded Librarianship in Online Courses, taught by Mimi O’Malley. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for Introduction to GIS and GeoWeb Technologies, July 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed July 2014 session of Introduction to GIS and GeoWeb Technologies, taught by Eva Dodsworth. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for SPARQL, July 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed July 2014 session of The SPARQL Semantic Query Language and Protocol, taught by Robert Chavez. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for Getting Started with Digital Image Collections, July 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed July 2014 session of Getting Started with Digital Image Collections, taught by Beth Knazook. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for Digital Scholarship: New Metrics, New Modes, July 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed July 2014 session of Digital Scholarship: New Metrics, New Modes, taught by Marcus Banks. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for Introduction to Project Management, July 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed July 2014 session of Introduction to Project Management, taught by Robin Hastings. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing, June 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed June 2014 session of Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing, taught by Rebecca Blakiston. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for The Mechanics of Metadata, June 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed June 2014 session of The Mechanics of Metadata, taught by Grace Agnew. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Feedback for Ontologies and Linked Data, June 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed June 2014 session of Ontologies and Linked Data, taught by Robert Chavez. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Interview with Tony Castelletto

Tony Castelletto has been programming computers on one platform or another since the late 1980s, and received his MLIS in 2008 from Drexel. He has worked on unusual information projects throughout his career, starting as a technician on small NASA missions, managing the information pipelines that carried data from satellite to ground. Tony received his introduction to Library Science working as a programmer on Digital Library projects for the University of Michigan’s Digital Library Initiative. Following his library science education, Tony curated data collections for the Linguistic Data Consortium where he also helped produced electronic dictionaries in Yoruba, Mawukakan, and Tamil. Now he is scheduled to teach a series of classes for Library Juice Academy on computer programming, using Python. Tony agreed to be interviewed here, so people can learn a bit about his classes and find out if they would be right for them.

Tony, thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’ve already gone through your bio a little bit, so I’d like to get right to the classes you’ll be teaching. What are they and who are they for?

I’ll be teaching a series of short courses in programming. The first one is called Preparing to Program and it presents some of the intellectual foundations of programming that never get taught in typical programming courses or books. These often assume the student has an understanding of Computer Science or assume the student does not need know that sort of thing in order to start writing software. In many cases this assumption is warranted as a great many students come to courses after spending time educating themselves. Preparing to Program is intended to close the gap between between the interested bystander and the novice student. Preparing to Program will prepare students to make the most of any programming curriculum. I start by describing what computing is and how programming languages work. From there, the course develops skills in modeling data and processes. It wraps up by teaching students to write simple program statements; one line programs. The next two courses, Beginning Programming in Python, Parts 1 and 2, pick up from there and teach the standard set of programming skills; data structures, statements, and program structure. These courses are for the student who wants to develop fundamental programming skills and a knowledge of fundamental computer science concepts. These concepts underlie most of the programming that’s done in practice, and knowing things like how to code a sort, order a list or navigate tree structures will provide a student a good footing for more serious work. Again, over the years, I’ve noticed that programming books tend to leave these subjects alone assuming that the student has already picked up this knowledge or, worse, that it doesn’t matter. The second introductory course will deal more in object oriented design and programming and will include a section on interface design. The final course in the series, Applied Programming in Python will cover practical subjects like processing XML, databases, and provide an overview of the Django web programming framework.

Sounds like these courses comprise a very good start for a librarian who wants to program some applications for their library. Clearly they would be the best fit for a librarian who is taking on a new role on the systems side, or wants to make themselves more employable as a systems librarian. I think many of us have a basketful of ideas at the ready for how they could apply computer programming skills in their work setting, but for those who don’t, maybe you could give some examples?

I think the first motivation for a librarian to learn at least some programming or computer science is the necessity of communicating with programmers and IT professionals. I entered the library field through the digital library discipline, though it wasn’t very disciplined back at the turn of the century. A lot of growth happened very, very fast and the digital collections I worked with were fairly disorganized. My experience back then as a programmer was that there was a significant vocabulary gap even within a digital library department between the systems staff and the librarians. This communication problem threatened to derail projects and certainly slowed work down. So learning these concepts helps librarians understand the systems they work with. Going further, I’ve found that academic departments often want to do complex bibliometric analyses on citation databases and they often want to conduct this work in bulk. This often requires working with the APIs of these databases and the retrieval and parsing of large XML documents. Knowing how to write a good Perl or Python script is often what makes this sort of work feasible. This is also part of my motivation or teaching things like sorts and search trees in the introduction course. These concepts lie at the heart of almost any sort of information retrieval problem. Now lastly, during and following my library degree, I have found that many of us in the field work with purely digital objects. In my case, I worked for an organization which published sets of data. Curating this collection required me to constantly write simple scripts and, sometimes, quite complex programs. There is, I think, something of an analogy that can be made between traditional preservation and digital preservation. digital objects just like physical books do wear out and need to be repaired. Degradation happens for different reasons in each case. In the case of digital objects, the big issue is the obsolescence of formats. The data in such objects can be transformed such that an object in a disused data format can be changed to a more current form. In some cases this is a simple transformation which can be accomplished using tools that someone else designed. At other times, it’s a custom job. Many times, it’s a big job. And it’s not always an obvious job. An example here is the Tamil dictionary I helped publish many years ago. Dictionaries are huge projects which take decades to compile. In this case, the rules for latinization (how the Tamil language is represented in our alphabet) had changed and changed drastically during the thirty years it took the author to compile the data used the book and its electronic version. There existed no tool for updating this representation, so I had to create one. I do not know Tamil, however, knowing how to code up some pattern matching algorithms allowed me to rescue this work. Knowing how to program lets you create just the right tool or it lets you coordinate many tools and employ them on a large scale. And, many of the repository systems out there are open source, which means installing and operating them is not as a simple as inserting an CD and running an installer. If you’re operating something like Islandora or Fedora or Dspace, you’re going to wind up programming whether you want to or not. These are incredibly complex systems which require constant administration.

Thanks for that. I think that provides a clear idea of why librarians might want to learn programming. I’m enthusiastic about these classes and looking forward to supporting them. A question I like to close with in these interviews is, what other courses would you like to teach for LJA, if you could make up any courses you wanted to?

Well, an obvious one would be Databases since I have done a lot of work in the area, and, most importantly, Databases are the underlying information management system in almost every larger system which manages and presents information. Beyond that, I’d love to teach a course in practical Digital Preservation. I’m probably not extremely well qualified for that since my work in that area has been for a very odd organization. I suspect my experience would be well outside the mainstream. I’d also like to reprise a workshop I ran back in 2002. This workshop was entitled “What does open source have to do with libraries?” Actually, that was the conference title. I presented my work with library portals at the conference. I was roped into teaching a workshop on the Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP stack by the conference organizers the night before the last day of the conference. So I’m not sure the workshop even had a name. The conference itself made a pretty good case for the use of open source platforms in libraries and my workshop was an overview of how this all worked. It was partly a course in practical system administration, partly an overview of some of the commonly used platforms and a lecture on how they worked together. The workshop was mad, mad, mad, I tell you. It was a four hour hands on lab. Since I had the cds with me, we installed Slackware Linux on the classroom computers (Weslayan U. is still mad at me for that I think), installed Apache web servers and almost got PHP up working. The participants, Librarians without a great deal of technology experience, were overwhelmed, but everyone got a lot out of the workshop and learned a lot of good systems skills. I’d love to come back, take this basic idea, and do it up right. With Virtual Machines, it’s now possible to teach a hands on system administration course completely online. So there are lot of possibilities for teaching technology skills that Librarians would not otherwise have an opportunity to learn.

Those sound like some good classes! I hope that we will run some of them at some point.

Thanks again for doing this interview.

Thanks for having me on the radio, Terry. Oh, wait, wrong show. Seriously, thanks for interviewing me here. I’m excited to be teaching these courses. I’ll be trying to teach coding in a fairly new way using an innovative platform called Ipython. This system allows students to get down to programming without the having to worry about installing a computer language or navigating a command line environment which can be very intimidating for novices. This is all a tad experimental so it will be an adventure.

Feedback for Information Literacy, Composition Studies and Higher Order Thinking, May-June 2014 session

We would like students to leave their public feedback, or reviews, for the now completed May 2014 session of Information Literacy, Composition Studies and Higher Order Thinking, taught by Andrea Baer. Participants’ feedback will help us know how we can improve, and also to give others a sense of what our classes are like. Thanks!

Interview with Jennifer Sweeney

Jennifer Sweeney teaches at the College of Computing and Informatics at Drexel University and in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, and is a program evaluation consultant for libraries and other public agencies and nonprofits. Prior to joining Drexel, Dr. Sweeney developed measurement instruments for K-16 educational interventions for the University of California, Davis School of Education, and provided evaluation services for the California Center for the Book, the California Library Association, and Smith & Lehmann Consulting. She is scheduled to teach a series of classes for Library Juice Academy, which we are calling the “Painless Research” series. We describe the series as follows:

The Painless Research Series provides an overview of basic research techniques needed by library managers and other staff in different workplace sectors, such as service quality, customer satisfaction, and operational metrics, or in specific tools such as surveys and focus groups. Participants develop skills in formulating typical research questions and strategies, making use of existing studies and data, collecting and analyzing data, and tailoring presentations for different audiences.

Jennifer Sweeney agreed to do an interview here, to help give people a better sense of what will be covered in these classes, what needs they address, and a little bit about herself as the instructor.

Jennifer, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I’d like to start out by asking a little bit about your background, how you came to be qualified to teach this series of classes.

I started out as a reference librarian in a small technical consulting firm and then later in a couple of college and university libraries, but I was always interested in the research side of just about every question that came across the desk. After a while I realized I wanted to focus more on research in my work, so I left reference and found a great job as an analyst in the library at University of California Davis, handling all sorts of data collection and research projects related to running a large ARL library. It was the best job ever–I was totally bitten by the research bug.

The next step for me was a PhD in information studies, where I started to notice something a little disturbing about the quality of the research in our field: it’s not that great. Plenty of great research ideas, far too many actual studies with problems in the research methods in one way or another. Faulty assumptions, inappropriate strategies, flawed analysis, you name it. Our field of library science/information studies/information science—whatever you want to call it—is a fascinating and multi-faceted discipline, with a weak research foundation.

So I figured I could help students and practitioners by presenting basic research methods in a clear and understandable way…so that when they go out to do research, they won’t make the same mistakes. That’s the basis for the series I’m doing for LJA.

Just so it’s clear to readers: While some people who take your classes might be interested in doing research for publication, the focus is on research that would be done within an institution to better manage services. But the basic principles are the same. It seems to me that one thing that is special about this series of courses is that your background gives you the ability to apply high methodological standards to concrete situations. But I wonder, are the methodological issues easier to deal with when you’re just looking to improve decision-making versus forming the kind of general claims that are made in academic research?

The methodological issues are not necessarily any easier to deal with in applied research settings. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that in the real world, there are always other things going on that influence the research environment—you cannot conduct a true controlled experiment the same way you would in a laboratory. The problem in LIS is that when we do conduct our “quasi-experiments”–which we do all the time-—we don’t take the time to explore and account for those other variables that could be affecting our results. When we fail to explain these factors, we run a greater risk of coming to false conclusions.

The other reason is that “action research” that is done in work settings for decision making often involves some kind of evaluation, which creates another set of complexities because we are now bringing value judgments into the mix. The stakeholders have to agree on what’s important, and how (or whether) the results will be used. These questions directly affect the way the research is conducted. And stakeholders don’t always agree on things!

That is a helpful bit of orientation to “action research” as you call it. I wonder if you could outline the four classes for readers. What are they about and what will participants take away?

The course series “Painless Research” is designed to provide a basic set of skills for library administration or public services staff who need to evaluate their services but have no research or evaluation experience. The idea is to get you started with some knowledge and hands-on activities, explained in plain English. Evaluation research is not hard to do, but you need to know the techniques so you don’t make expensive mistakes or waste your time on useless measures.

A lot of research texts are hard to digest, so I try to present concepts in everyday language.

We start out with the course on “Evaluating Service Quality,” which focuses on how to gather and analyze information about how library users feel about services, what they want, etc. We target just a couple of key areas: what is service quality, why measuring quality is different than measuring other things, the techniques you should use, and how to use results to customize staff training and help the library improve.

The second course in the series, “Easy Patron Surveys,” gets into the details of survey design and implementation. Surveys are kind of mysterious to a lot of us, but they are really a lot of fun. Question design, sampling, and basic advice on how to get a survey out there and collect good data are the highlights of this course.

Getting to Know Your Users Through Interviews and Focus Groups” covers the in-depth qualitative data gathering that you can’t do with surveys. Talking to people and capturing what is said entails a totally different skill set. I do a lot of interviewing and focus groups, and it can be pretty intense while also immensely satisfying and fun. But you need the tools and skills to be able to get the information you need, because it is a much more labor-intensive activity than a survey.

We wind up the series with “Everyday Statistics for Librarians.” I’ve been working with library students and working professionals for years now, and the feedback I get is that it’s not that the math is difficult-—it’s not—-it’s just never been explained very well. We focus on just a few of the most useful functions, and it’s really fascinating to get to use math to describe and explain what is happening with trends, do some forecasting. This is how you generate data to base decisions on, to make a case for a grant project, and so on. Mistakes can be expensive, and in our state of constant evolution, we need all the solid information we can get our hands on.

I think it’s a great group of courses, and I want to thank you for designing them, and I look forward to some good interaction. I think we can close the interview here, but I will just add for readers that if you have any questions about these courses, feel free to contact Jennifer Sweeney at jennifer.sweeney@comcast.net.

Thank you for the opportunity Rory. I am looking forward to working with everyone this summer and fall!