Library Juice Academy Makes $1,000 EveryLibrary Fundraising Challenge

Post on March 5, 2015 by John Chrastka

EveryLibrary today announces a new “Monthly Donor Challenge” from Library Juice Academy, a noted provider of professional development workshops and training for librarians. Library Juice Academy is pledging a $1,000 donation to EveryLibrary when 25 personal donors contribute at least $10 each month as reoccurring donors before March 16th. Donations can be made at http://rally.org/everylibrary to support our work with library Vote YES committees across the country in 2015.

Library Juice Academy is donating to help EveryLibrary expand its voter support for libraries. “Libraries exist today because of progressive tax policies that fund the common good”, says Rory Litwin, founder of Library Juice Academy. “We are donating to EveryLibrary because it is uniquely focused on supporting libraries when their basic tax revenue is on the line. We’re challenging personal donors to make a commitment and help fund this work.”

Since early 2013, EveryLibrary has worked with 25 libraries on the ballot, winning 19 campaigns and securing over $46 million in bond, levy, parcel tax, and other referendum campaigns. John Chrastka, EveryLibrary executive director, says, “This Challenge is a great way to work cooperatively to reach our funding goals. For every donor dollar we have invested in campaigns, we’ve returned $1600 to local communities in stable library funding. We appreciate Mr. Litwin’s this call-to-action about our pro-bono work across the country.”

The Library Juice Academy Challenge runs March 9 – 16, 2015. Personal donors are asked to make reoccurring contributions of at least $10/month through http://rally.org/everylibrary to help EveryLibrary meet this Challenge.

About Library Juice Academy:

Library Juice Academy offers a range of online professional development workshops for librarians and other library staff, focusing on practical topics to build the skills that librarians need as their jobs evolve. http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/

About EveryLibrary:

EveryLibrary is a politically active organization that is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations, and unions nationwide who believe that libraries matter in our society. You can learn more about EveryLibrary and its work building voter support for libraries at www.everylibrary.org.

Library Juice Academy Makes $1,000 EveryLibrary Fundraising Challenge

Contact:John Chrastka
Executive Director
312-574-0316
john.chrastka@everylibrary.org

4 March 2015

Interview with Andrea Baer

Andrea Baer is the Undergraduate Education Librarian at Indiana University-Bloomington. She holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Washington and a Masters in Information Sciences from the University of Tennessee. Andrea’s work in libraries and education is deeply informed by her teaching background in writing and literature and by her interests in critical pedagogy and critical inquiry.

Andrea has designed and taught three different courses for Library Juice Academy thus far. They are: Information Literacy, Composition Studies and Higher Order Thinking; New Directions in Information Literacy: Growing Our Teaching Practices; and Backward Design for Information Literacy Instruction. We interviewed her about her background and about a couple of these classes last summer.

Right now Andrea is getting ready to teach a new class, Threshold Concepts in the Information Literacy Classroom: Translating the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy into Our Teaching Practices. If you’re an instruction librarian in the U.S., you know that this class is very timely. Andrea agreed to be interviewed about this class to give you an idea of what it covers and what you could expect to get out of it.

Andrea, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I’d like to start by asking you say a few words about the new Framework in order to lay out the context for the class. Most readers have probably followed this development to some degree, but I feel we should cover it briefly here.

Thanks for the interview, Rory. The new ACRL Framework has been a significant topic of discussion in each of the Library Juice classes I teach, and it’s been very clear from those classes that many librarians are thinking a great deal about what the Framework means for their own teaching practices and that many would like more opportunities to reflect more on the practical applications of the Framework.

In short, the Framework has been in development since 2013 and was just approved by the ACRL Board at the 2015 ACRL Midwinter Meeting. Though the task force that developed the Framework initially recommended that it replace the ACRL Information Literacy Standards, the Board ultimately ruled that for the time being the two documents will co-exist and that the Framework will be a “living” document open for revision. This decision comes after a great deal of heated discussion about the Framework and the Standards.

The development of the Framework came as a response to arguments that the ACRL Standards (adopted in 2000), while having been instrumental in establishing information literacy as essential to higher education, had become outdated. In June 2012 the ACRL board approved the recommendation that the Standards be revised, and a Task Force was formed to create the new Framework. The Task Force developed and solicited feedback on three versions of the Framework. Unsurprising, there were strong reactions to the Task Force’s plan to sunset the Standards, which have been key to many academic libraries instruction programs and which have helped many to gain support for information literacy education as an institutional priority.

Common critiques of the older Standards have been that they focus heavily on skills while giving too little attention to conceptual understandings, the social and recursive nature of research, and students as producers of information. Many have also argued that changes in digital technologies, knowledge production, and scholarly communication have led to a need for re-envisioning how our profession conceives of information literacy. The Framework, in contrast, centers on “threshold concepts” (conceptual understandings that are considered to be initially difficult to grasp but essential to engaging critically in a discipline). Each of these threshold concepts is associated in the Framework with specific “knowledge practices” and “dispositions.”

While many librarians have welcomed the Framework’s emphasis on information literacy as a complex range of integrated skills, most have understandably struggled with how to translate this into our teaching practices (particularly when most library instruction still takes place through the traditional “one-shot” session). Another common concern has been the challenges the Framework presents to assessing student learning. This class is intended as an opportunity for participants to grapple with such concerns while also developing at least one concrete instruction plan that relates to the Framework. Participants are invited to think critically about the Framework in light of the specific contexts in which they work while they share ideas and feedback on their instructional approaches.

Thanks for that explanation. The course runs for six weeks. How is it structured?

Throughout the course participants will reflect on their understandings of and potential applications of the Framework. At the same time each person will develop and receive peer feedback on an instruction plan that relates to some aspect of the Framework. Like the other Library Juice classes I’ve taught, the course draws heavily on principles of backward instructional design (considering learning outcomes and potential evidence of student learning before planning instruction). Within this broader course structure, we’ll engage with themes and issues that emerge from our conversations.

Each week is focused on a particular course theme and on related course readings, discussions, and assignments. First we’ll discuss our understandings of and questions and concerns about the Framework. Participants will then identify a teaching scenario they’d like to work with over the coming weeks and will incrementally build and get feedback on their related instruction plan.

That sounds good. I think of you as one of the strongest teachers we have. I wonder if you could say a few words about your experiences in teaching your other courses for us?

Thank you. To me the most exciting part of these classes is the sense of community that develops as people draw connections between pedagogical theories and their actual teaching. In our everyday work we generally don’t get enough time to come together and to think deliberately about our instruction. These courses hopefully create more of those opportunities.

Most class participants come from different institutions. This seems to help everyone gain new perspectives on how we approach both our individual and our collective work. At the same time, sometimes several librarians from the same institution take a course together. In those cases, it’s been fun to see how these groups work together on larger departmental goals.

I think there’s a creativity and a playfulness that often comes with these kinds of interactions among colleagues. Those experiences open the possibilities for our teaching and our profession.

That’s good to hear. I am glad the courses have been working well. Thanks again for teaching them and thanks for the interview.

Thanks for the conversation, Rory. It’s been a pleasure.

Interview with Melissa Robinson

Melissa S. Robinson is the Senior Branch Librarian at the Peabody Institute Library’s West Branch in Peabody, Massachusetts. She is teaching a class for Library Juice Academy in April, titled Library Makerspaces: From Dream to Reality. Melissa agreed to do an interview here to tell us about her course on this hot topic.

Melissa, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I’d like to start by asking you to say a little bit about yourself and what your experience with makerspaces is.

Thanks, Rory! I’ve been fascinated by digital media spaces and makerspaces since I first came across the Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia program for teens. At the time, I was a teen librarian and loved the possibilities spaces like these have for teens. I spent over two years researching media labs and makerspaces and writing grants and planning a makerspace at the Peabody Institute Library in Peabody, Massachusetts. The more I learned, the more I became convinced that makerspaces have enormous potential for libraries and communities and they can offer benefits to people of all ages, not just teens. The makerspace that came out of my research and grant writing is the Creativity Lab at the Peabody Institute Library, which opened in February of 2014. It’s a 1,500 square foot space that provides tools and learning opportunities for children, teens and adults in making digital and physical projects such as 3D printing, computer programming, woodworking, sewing, sound recording, electronics and more.

That sounds cool. So now you are going to share what you’ve learned. Can you outline the course for us? It’s a four-week class. What will you cover and what activities will you do?

I love talking about makerspaces with other librarians, so this is a great opportunity for me to do that.

The course will lead students through the process of creating a “plan” for a makerspace or maker activities for their library. This plan will include a mission statement for the makerspace/program, a justification for why maker activities are needed in the community, a list of partners, funding sources, space requirements, tools, programs and workshops and a budget. This plan can be used to convince administrators, community partners and funders of the need for a makerspace in the library.

Students will participate in course discussions, research existing makerspaces in libraries and other organizations, brainstorm programs, learn about the most popular makerspace tools and use this information to tailor their makerspace plan to their community.

Sounds like a good way to do it. So what are some of the more interesting things that have come from your library’s makerspace? Any surprises? How has it worked out?

People have made some really great stuff! Beautiful baby quilts and really fun original music, but some of my favorites are the items people have created on the 3D printers. They’ve done everything from birdhouses to planters to cell phone covers. One of my favorites was done by a teenage boy who “printed” a pink rose with a green stem for his mom for Mother’s Day. I’m always impressed, but not surprised, by our community members’ creativity. We’re getting great feedback from people who are excited and impressed at this new type of library service that’s fun, different and really valuable. So I think it’s worked out great! It was totally worth all the work it took to get it started!

And your bosses and funders are pleased?

Absolutely. Our library director has been a big fan of the project all along and she has loved seeing it come to life. Our funders are impressed with our program statistics and the feedback we’re getting from our makers. We received an Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to fund part of the Creativity Lab, and they are excited about the potential it has to serve as a model for other libraries. I think one of the exciting potential benefits of library makerspaces is that it can show a different side of libraries that can attract new partners and open new funding opportunities up to use.

Well that’s really cool. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. I hope it turns out to be very useful for the people who participate in the class and that it helps a lot of makerspace projects get started. Anything else you’d like to say to people?

And thanks for taking the time to interview me, Rory! Makerspaces can be a daunting project to take on, but when you see the results and the excitement it can create in your community, you’ll be glad you did it! I hope that the lessons I’ve learned through the process of starting the Creativity Lab can help other librarians discover all the possibilities makerspaces have.

Server upgraded

Our users may be pleased to know that we’ve just done a server upgrade. We’ve been challenged recently to accommodate increased traffic, but now we should be good. In case you’re curious, here is what we are now running:

Intel Xeon processors, two of them
Both running at 3.1 GHz
4GB memory
8MB cache
300GB disk space
Running linux and apache

This should hold us over for a while…