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Interview with Michael J. White

Michael White is the librarian for research services in the Engineering & Science Library at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He has worked with patent information since 1991. He was the engineering, patents and trademarks librarian at the University of Maine from 1995-1998 and a librarian in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 1998-2005. Michael has taken over from another instructor teaching our patent searching class. Since the baton was passed, he has taught the course a number of times and is in a position to reflect on the experience. He agreed to do an interview here, to give people more of a sense of him as an instructor and an idea of what they can expect in his class.

Michael, want to tell readers a bit about yourself to start off?

I was introduced to patent information in the early 1990s when I was a graduate student in the University of Michigan’s School of Library and Information Studies. As part of my program, I had a half-time intern position in the Engineering Library, which was (and still is) a member of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program (PTDLP). (Several years ago PTDLP was renamed the Patent and Trademark Resource Center Program.)

Working and studying at Michigan was a great experience, and by the time I began my job search I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in science and engineering librarianship and to continue developing my knowledge of patents.

My first professional position was science librarian at Loyola University Chicago. Loyola fostered a very collegial, professional, and supportive environment. It was a great place to start my career and allowed me to deepen my knowledge of science information resources. However, I did not have many opportunities to use or improve my patent knowledge. Fortunately, in early 1995 I became the engineering librarian at the University of Maine at Orono, which had recently (1994) been designated a PTDL. I was glad to be returning to my home state.

Building and promoting the PTDL services at the University of Maine was a terrific experience. I regularly attended the annual PTDLP training conference in Washington, D.C. I also became active in the Engineering Libraries Division of the American Society for Engineering Education. I’ve presented several papers on patent information at ASEE conferences. ASEE is the organization I’ve been most active in. I’ve served as chair, program chair, secretary/treasurer, and director and on numerous committees and working groups. In 2017, I received ELD’s Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award.

After working at the University of Maine for a couple of years, I was selected for a fellowship librarian position at the USPTO. The fellowship program allows librarians from PTDLs to work for up to two years in the PTDLP Office. At the end of my fellowship, I was fortunate to secure a full-time position in the PTDLP. I worked at the USPTO from 1998 through 2005. During that time I visited numerous PTDLs across the U.S. and conducted dozens of workshops for inventors, entrepreneurs, librarians, and patent professionals. I also joined the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and Patent Information Users Group (PIUG). I’ve conducted a number of patent workshops at SLA conferences and moderated panels at PIUG conferences.

In 2004, I decided it was time for a change. I very much wanted to return to an academic library. My wife, who is also a librarian, wanted to return to her home province of Ontario. We were very fortunate to find positions at Queen’s University in Kingston that suited our interests and backgrounds perfectly. At Queen’s, I have continued to focus on patents and IP information as core parts of my professional practice and research.

Thanks for sharing your background. Can I ask you to describe the patent searching class for those who might be considering taking it?

“Patent Searching for Librarians” was originally created by Martin Wallace, the former engineering, patent and trademark librarian at the University of Maine at Orono. In 2016, Martin moved to a new position and I volunteered to teach the course. I’ve retained the basic structure of the course and added more international content for the benefit of librarians outside of the U.S.

The course is designed as an introduction to patent information for librarians working in all types of environments and with all types of users. Librarians and librarians-in-training who have taken the course hail from academic, public, government, law and corporate settings. The course is specifically aimed at librarians with little or no experience working with patent information. However, parts of the course may be of interest to librarians with more advanced knowledge who are interested in a refresher or looking to improve their knowledge in a specific area such as classification searching.

The course is not an introduction to patent law or intellectual property issues in general. Both topics are far too complex for a short four-week online course.

The course consists of four weekly modules, each (except Module 1) building on the previous module. All modules include learning activities and assessment activities. However, none of the activities are graded. The first half of each week is devoted to the learning activity and the second half focuses on the assessment activity.

Module 1 focuses on the legal and ethical issues librarians encounter when helping users conduct patent research. Students are assigned readings and activities focusing on determining a patron’s information needs when it comes to patents, and what kinds of help we–as librarians, not attorneys–are able to provide. Most importantly, students learn how to avoid committing “unauthorized practice of law” when helping users research patent information. Students can expect to spend 4-5 hours on this module.

In Module 2, students learn about the format and organization of patent documents, and how to identify different parts of a patent. This module will take 2-3 hours to complete.

In Module 3, students explore and compare two open access patent databases. Students with access to a commercial patent database (Derwent, SciFinder) through their places of work may select it as one of their options. This module takes 3-4 hours.

Finally, the fourth module covers patent classification systems. Using patent classification is often the most difficult aspect of patent searching for our users to grasp, so I feel it deserves an entire module dedicated to it. Students learn about the two major patent classification systems in use today, the International Patent Classification (IPC) and the relatively new Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) systems, and how to conduct a patent search using a step-by-step method inspired by the USPTO’s “Seven-Step Search Strategy”. This module will take 3-4 hours to complete.

Finally, throughout the course I provide references and links to other sources of patent information and training.

Sounds like a very solid course. You’ve taught it for us a few times now. What has your experience been like teaching it? You can tell us about some things that have happened in class, or some things that surprised you.

Over the past twenty years I’ve taught countless face-to-face classes and seminars; and I’ve conducted a fair number of live webinars. But teaching an online, asynchronous course was a new experience for me.

I was concerned that without the real-time interaction of a live class or webinar, students would find the material dry or boring. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. Only a few students have commented on the amount of reading required. Most seem very pleased with the content and learning activities. It is a fun challenge coming up with fresh, timely examples to use in the course. Fortunately, patent information and tools are always evolving, so it’s not too hard.

Given the reported high drop-out rates in online courses, I was curious whether students would complete the class. So far, however, only a couple of students have failed to complete the class.

The range of personalities is interesting. Some students are content to work their way through the material without many, if any, questions or comments. Other students do like to engage in feedback, which I try to provide as much as I can.

It sounds like it’s been a good experience. I want to thank you for the interview. It’s been good hearing about the class and your experience with it.

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure working with Library Juice on this course and the many students who have taken it. I’ve learned much about teaching and learning in online courses. I look forward to teaching it again in the near future and perhaps developing new courses on IP research.

Interview with Sarah Hare

Sarah Hare is currently the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Indiana University, where she works on several open and library publishing initiatives. In her previous position at Davidson College, Sarah led two Open Educational Resource (OER) initiatives. In addition to co-authoring a chapter on interinstitutional collaborations to advance OER outreach for OER: A Field Guide for Academic Librarians, Sarah has been invited to guest lecture and present on OER to LIS courses, professional development organizations, and an international librarian group. Sarah teaches a class on Open Educational Resources for us. She has agreed to be interviewed here, to give people a better sense of who she is and what they can expect from her class.

Hi Sarah. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about OER, Rory!

I would like to start just by asking you to talk about yourself a little bit and how you became interested in open educational resources.

Sure, I’d be happy to. My name is Sarah and I’m currently the instructor for the Library Juice Academy “Introduction to OER” course. I’ve been doing open education outreach since I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois. I’m a first generation college student, so I originally became interested in OER because of the cost savings and increased access that OER can offer when used as an alternative to expensive course materials. I started working at a small liberal arts college as an information literacy librarian and I quickly realized that conversations about open pedagogy and student-created OER could also help spark fruitful conversations with faculty about instruction. To me, OER outreach is a unique intersection of the best parts of my scholarly communication/ open work and my instruction/ pedagogy work. It’s an opportunity to talk to faculty about open access, Creative Commons, instructional design, publishing, and even discovery, preservation, and metadata while also working to increase student retention and access to higher education.

That’s great. I’m noticing however that you’re talking about things that possibly not all of our readers know enough about to completely follow you. Could you explain a little bit about what OER is? And then maybe go on to say a little bit about what role the library can play in it?

Of course! This is something we’ll cover more in the first week of the course as well. An OER is a learning object (i.e. anything used in learning and teaching, including a syllabus, worksheet, textbook, tutorial, wiki, etc.) that is licensed under an intellectual property license that enables others to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the object. David Wiley calls this framework or litmus test for OER the 5 Rs. It’s important not to conflate free and open when determining if a learning object is an OER. The presence of a Creative Commons license is key since that’s what enables others to legally revise and remix the OER and continue to improve the learning object.

I touched on this in my last response, but I think that librarians from all areas and specialties have a lot to contribute to the conversation on OER. Many librarians are experts at locating and evaluating information, which is incredibly useful for helping faculty find quality OER. Instruction librarians understand instructional design and know how to work with faculty to write learning objectives, find OER that align with those objectives, and assess the effectiveness of the OER throughout the course. Librarians with expertise in open access, copyright, and publishing can even help faculty create and share OER.

Pretty exciting stuff. Now, would you describe the course itself?

Sure. The course is six weeks and it is a survey of both OER and open pedagogy fundamentals. I use the first three weeks to help participants gain a deeper understanding of OER issues. We focus on definitions and misconceptions of OER, where to find OER, and tips for conveying the many benefits of open education to administrators and faculty. I use the last three weeks to challenge participants to apply what they learned by writing an OER initiative proposal. I ask participants to tailor their proposal to their specific campus context (i.e. size, culture, mission, library buy in). As part of the course, each participant gets extensive feedback from another student and myself so that they can refine their proposal before it goes live. In addition to the proposal, students get hands-on experience finding OER, learn how to apply Creative Commons licenses, and practice “pitching” OER to an administrator on their campus.

Sounds excellent and very practical. At the time of this interview you’ve taught the class once already. How was your experience teaching it? Did you learn anything new? Were there any surprises?

Yes! Last class, we had almost 30 participants from a variety of institutions and contexts. I learned a lot from my students, particularly those that had a different context than my own (including community college librarians and a staff member at a scholarly society). At the end of the course, I received feedback that the course was excellent but a lot of work. For this second iteration, I plan to break the outreach plan up a bit so that we complete a small portion of the plan each week. This is better scaffolding and I think it will help students balance the course work and all of their other existing commitments. Last class I also asked students to review each other’s outreach plans. Some students told me that this was the most useful part of the class because they got to compare their outreach plan with someone else’s. So I’ve taken this feedback to heart too! This January, I’ll divide students into small groups so that they have a chance to see at least two other outreach plans in order to refine their own.

I really enjoyed teaching the LJA OER course last spring. It helped remind me of why I’m so passionate about OER, librarianship, and teaching/ empowering others.

That is great to hear! I have one final question… If you could teach any other classes for LJA, what would they be?

Wow, great question. It would be exciting to create and teach a library publishing course. I started a new position in May 2017 and a lot of what I do focuses on publishing. I interface with the press at our institution, use Open Journal Systems to facilitate open access journal publishing, and even teach an academic publishing and editing class to undergraduate students. Library publishing is a growing library specialization and I hope it will continue to develop as libraries invest more heavily in open access and open source infrastructure. Currently, there is an IMLS grant to develop a curriculum for library-based publishing, so I hope that librarians start to have at least one source for education in this area.

Great idea! We can talk about that further later on. It’s been great talking to you about your OER class. Thanks again for doing this interview.

Thanks for interviewing me. Anyone with questions about the OER class is welcome to e-mail me at secrissinger@gmail.com.

Interview with Deborah Schmidle

Deborah Schmidle is currently the principal consultant at Schmidle Consulting Services. She has developed and taught numerous organizational development-related workshops and has facilitated strategic-planning processes for libraries and library organizations. She holds an M.L.I.S. from Syracuse University and a Certificate in Contemporary Leadership from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. Prior to retiring in March 2013, she was Director of Research & Learning Services at Cornell University Library (CUL). Deborah teaches the six courses in our Certificate in Library Management program. She has taught the full sequence a number of times now, and can say a lot about the experience. She agreed to do an interview here, to give people more of a sense of who she is and what her series of courses is like.

Deb, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

Thanks for this opportunity Rory, I look forward to talking with you.

I’d like to start by asking you to tell us just a bit more about your background that has led you to do the teaching and consulting that you do.

My library background has been pretty varied! I have worked in and with libraries, for over 40 years now. I started out as a page in my local public library. After a few years there, I moved to an academic library. With the exception of a stint at Nylink (an OCLC network) and a local historical society, I have pretty much stayed with academia. Over the decades, I have done everything from cataloging, reference, collection development, circulation, special collections, instruction, and library management. I am sure I have forgotten a couple of things, as well!

I have always loved teaching and my original intent was to get my doctorate in History and go into academic teaching, However, partway through the process, I ran out of steam (and funding!) and I also decided I wanted a more assured job future. By this time, I had been at Cornell for several years and I really enjoyed reference and instruction. I am a natural extrovert and I get my energy from interacting with others. The instruction piece of my job also fed my desire to teach. At that point, I decided librarianship was a natural fit.

My first job post-MLIS was at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell where I developed and taught an Internet training program for labor unions. This was in the early days of the Internet and we traveled throughout New York State, training people on the basics of using the Internet for research and developing their local union websites. It was a great job and a lot of fun. It was also the first time I designed and taught day-long or multi-day workshops and I loved it. It was also at the ILR School that I became introduced to, and interested in, organizational development, including topics related to management, leadership, and conflict resolution.

When I moved to Albany and joined Nylink as their Director of Library and Educational Services, I decided to develop a management training program for librarians. As I said earlier, Nylink was an OCLC network so most of our training was centered around OCLC products. Our members included all library types of all sizes. Over the years I had seen many librarians and support staff promoted into supervisory roles with no mentorship or training. This was especially true in smaller libraries where in-house management training simply wasn’t feasible due to a lack of resources. Therefore, these individuals would suddenly find themselves in charge of supervising a department with no real support. Moving into a supervisory position for the first time is always daunting; it is even more so if you have had no training on how to handle the issues that arise in this arena. It was that gap in professional development that I wanted to address.

After leaving Nylink and retuning to Cornell, at the invitation of libraries and library organizations I continued to speak at library conferences and offer workshops on topics like communication strategies and change management. After retiring as Director of Research and Learning Services at the Cornell University Library, it seemed a natural fit to move into consulting. I also wanted to continue teaching and Library Juice Academy has been a great opportunity to do so.

Great, thanks for telling us about your background. Shifting gears, could you describe your certificate program in library management?

Sure. The program consists of six courses that are all somewhat inter-related. They can be taken in a six-month series, out of sequence, or as standalone courses. The series starts with Effective Communication Strategies. In my opinion, this is the foundation on which all of the other courses are built. It is also the running thread throughout the series. Effective communication is key every component of our lives, professionally and personally. I honestly believe that 90% of workplace problems can be addressed through communicating clearly, respectfully, and honestly. It is something about which I feel very passionate (as any of my students will attest 🙂 )

The series continues with Planning and Leading Effective Team Meetings. As librarians, we are often called upon to chair or lead meetings. Sometimes these meting are regularly-scheduled meeting within a department. Other times, these are more broadly-based meetings with shorter lifespans (such as committee or project meetings) that often involve participants from numerous departments or functional areas in the library. Therefore, this course looks not only at practical issues such as the steps necessary to set up and run a meeting, but also at how to build and lead a team of participants throughout this process. Again, effective communications play a large role in this process.

The third course, Strategic Planning, applies the lessons of the first two courses as we look at how the library is currently functioning and in what direction the library wishes to grow. We cover various strategic planning tools, as well as discussing how to consider the needs of library stakeholders (both internally and externally) in this process. We also touch on the concept of scenario planning, an important component of strategic planning.

Critical Strategies for Implementing and Managing Organizational Change is the fourth course in the series. I positioned this after Strategic Planning since (as most of us have experienced), change is the result of strategic planning. Change is also really challenging for most of us. It is also something all of us experience on a regular basis. We grow older, we may get married, we may have children, we may move or start new jobs. In this course, we examine several change models for helping organizations effectively move through change by helping staff understand, accept, and hopefully even embrace change. It is also a good course for self-reflection. How do we feel and respond to change? Being in tune with our own experiences often provides us with empathy for the emotional responses that others encounter during the change process.

Growing, Developing and Retaining Dynamic Staff is the fifth offering and again, overlaps with some of the other courses. Often strategic planning and/or change initiative result in new staff, reorganized staff, promoted staff, etc. Staff are our greatest assets. That is not just a platitude–it is true. Poor hires and high staff turnover is expensive, time-consuming, and detrimental to both library staff and library services. Therefore, it is essential that we hire smart. It is even more essential that once we have hired the best staff possible, we then nature and mentor them throughout their time in the library, for both the good of the library and for the professional fulfillment of our staff. As with the courses that came before it, this course is mixture of very practical advice (including sample interview questions) with a bit of theory thrown in for good measure.

The final course offering is Telling Your Story: Successful Marketing Strategies for Libraries. In an era of competing priorities and tight budgets, libraries are frequently fighting for resources. This course looks at various marketing strategies, including how to build and deliver effective messaging. It also emphasizes how to create collaborative
stakeholder partnerships in order to successfully highlight and demonstrate the library’s worth to its constituents. The ability to creatively “tell our story” as libraries is a skill that is not often taught.

I started out by saying that the common thread through all of these courses is communication. Another common component is the practical nature of these courses. While a discussion of theory is built into most of these courses, I wanted to develop resources and tools that participants could put into action immediately. Therefore, there is also a strong practice-based component to these courses. Because these courses are somewhat interrelated, I also go back and revisit concepts we discussed in earlier courses as a way of tying all of the pieces together.

Thanks for that thorough description. Now I’d like to switch gears and ask you to reflect a bit on your experience teaching this series through Library Juice Academy. What was the experience like, for you and the students?

When I started teaching for Library Juice Academy, I didn’t have much experience with online teaching. My goal was to make the experience as enriching as possible for the students and to keep them engaged throughout the courses. From the start, I knew I didn’t want to give them just transcripts to read. Different people have different learning styles and I thought a singular approach would not be the best one. Therefore, I write my lectures and then create PowerPoint slides to accompany them. I’ve attended a lot of deadly PowerPoint presentations so I use these slides as a jumping off point for the lecture, rather than read word for word from them. From there, I record my voice over the slides, upload the material to password-protected YouTube account (so the material is not accessible to the public) and then download the recording to Moodle.

In addition to the recording, I give students the full transcript so they have both options. The process is a lot of work but the students appreciate it. After each course, I survey students as to their learning preferences and it is an even split between those you prefer the recorded lectures, those who prefer the transcripts, and those who want both! I also include video clips and images for some visual stimulation. In addition, I try to include some funny video clips or anecdotes just to keep things lively. I also offer the occasional live chat meet up and I encourage them to participate in the weekly discussion forum assignments.

Initially, I missed the face-to-face interaction with students, but I feel that we have somewhat replicated that in our discussion forums. Although I have never met any of my students, I feel like I know some of them (particularly the ones who do take all six courses), quite well.

I can’t speak for the students, but based on the evaluations and direct feedback to me, I think most of them have found the experience a very good one. I have received many emails thanking me for the courses and often they will cite specific examples of how the courses are helping them in their work. To me, getting that feedback is as rewarding as teaching itself. I always encourage my students to stay in touch. I tell them that their relationship with me doesn’t have to end after the courses end and I am always happy to available to offer professional advice or talk them through a particularly tricky management problem, should the need arise. Despite having a consulting business, I also offer this for free since they were my students. I like keeping that connection and I take a great deal of fulfillment and satisfaction in helping them succeed and feel confident in their work.

I should also add that Library Juice Academy provides great support for me and my students. Whenever I have a technical question regarding the Moodle software, there is always someone there to help me out! Moodle also offers great flexility that allows me to share material in various formats with my students.

One final point on that last question. When I discuss encouraging the students to stay in touch, I would add that that I also encourage them to build a community of support amongst one another by actively engaging with each other in the discussion forum. I emphasize that they can often learn a lot from each other’s experiences. I think these relationships are particularly strong within the certificate program cohort.

Well, that sounds great. Final question. Is there anything else you’d like to say to readers?

This has been a very enriching experience for me and I look forward to meeting new students in the future. Also, if anyone has further questions about any of the courses, they should always fee free to contact me.

Thanks very much!

Interview with Rick Stoddart

Rick Stoddart is an associate professor and education librarian at the University of Idaho. Rick holds an MLIS and MA in Communication from the University of Alabama. He also has an Ed.D. from Boise State University where his dissertation reported on a research project leading a group of librarians through a critical reflection curriculum. He has co-edited a forthcoming book from ACRL Press on autoethnography, a critical reflective research methodology. Rick’s research interests include evidence-based librarianship, strategic thinking, and exploring the intersection of librarianship and learning. Rick strongly believes in the potential of writing as discovery, collaborative inquiry, creative thinking, school libraries, and empowering others. He is teaching a class for us next month for the first time (this interview was conducted in October 2017), titled Exploring Librarianship through Critical Reflection. He has agreed to do an interview here so that readers can learn more about him and get a sense of what will happen in his class.

Rick, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

I am happy to speak with you.

I’d like to start by asking you to say a bit about yourself and how you became interested in this topic.

My long and winding story with the topic of critical reflection goes back to graduate school. I was working as an academic librarian and taking graduate classes in the evening working toward my Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. In one of the courses, we were asked to do this intense and challenging reflective technique drawn from Curriculum Studies called currere. The professor wanted us to focus on education and teaching but I wanted to focus on librarianship and I did. I must say, initially I wasn’t a fan of reflection or currere. I thought the whole idea of self-examination was distracting from learning about all the other things I needed to know to be successfuly librarian. During the whole currere writing assignment I was frustrated and angry — and that emotion came across in my final reflection paper. However, when I got to the end of the reflection, I realized that something had changed. I acknowledged that my anger wasn’t at the reflective process that currere was asking me to do, but at myself — at my current role in librarianship. It was through this critical reflective process I was better able to connect to why I am a librarian. This initial critical reflection experience was very powerful and moving for me, so when it came time to undertake my dissertation, I decided it would be interesting to see if this process was meaningful for others. Spoiler alert — it was. That is also why I wanted to teach this Library Juice Academy class to see if sharing some of these critical reflection methodologies, experiences, and exercises might translate into an online course.

Can you describe the course some?

Sure. The course will include an exploration of a few critical reflection techniques such as autoethnography and currere. We will do some reading of various examples of reflection that are library-based and outside libraries. We will also do some writing. I think the best way to understand how reflection “works” is to do some reflective writing yourself. My intention is to give a basic survey of critical reflection but also to engage the students in the class with how critical reflection might inform their own practice of librarianship.

Could you explain what autoethnography and currere are?

Well, those are some reflection methodologies we are going to explore more deeply in the class. The short version of each goes something like this…

Autoethnography is a “self-ethnography” — just as an anthropologist might report on aspects of a culture or society through observation, note-taking, and evidence-gathering — so too you do so with autoethnography. Except with autoethnography the foci, or lens that you view society or culture from, is the self. Autoethnography incorporates various forms of evidence such as diaries, experiences, outside literature, etc. into a form of critical self reflection writing. Autoethnography moves beyond mere nostalgic writing into a more rigorous, structured, and evidence-based reflective stance by treating the whole reflective writing process as an research-based form of writing. Autoethnography offers an opportunity to explore social issues and identity. For example, I am at the very beginning stages of a collaborative autoethnography project with a colleague around our similarly shared experiences with the academic tenure process. In this project we are going to be exploring our identities as untenured associate professors.

Currere is another critical reflection methodology drawn from Curriculum Studies. This methodology takes a temporal approach and asked the participant to write four reflective pieces. One rooted in the past, one rooted in the future, and one rooted in the future. The final reflection is a synthesis of those three other reflections. This form of guided reflective writing shakes up the participant by making them adjust their points of view to different aspects of time. Additionally, I am a fan of this technique because it requires the writer to generate three types of evidence with their first three reflections that are then “cited” in the final synthesis. It is almost like an evidence-based form of critical reflection — though the context still remains the self.

Can you give some examples of how these kinds of self-reflective practices can help librarians?

Well at the highest level — the better we are able to understand ourselves and begin to create meaning from our experiences — the better we understand our motivations and values around being a librarian — this all informs our practice of librarianship and how we interact with patrons and what we desire libraries and librarianship to be. On another level, through my dissertation project and also various workshops I have done using the currere reflection method with different groups of librarians — I have seen critical reflection have a profound effect on how librarians approach their jobs. I witnessed reflection turn people from being negative about their work to being positive. I seen it help with librarian burnout. I have also seen it help librarians and library staff connect why they do what they do. For example, after a recent workshop, one library staff shared how she was now more aware that the simple act of checking out a book to someone can change that patron’s life — that is an amazing realization — libraries change lives. Now that person comes to work thinking I am in the business of changing lives not simply shelving/checking out books. How cool is that! I think making those connections are a potential huge benefit of reflection.

The recent autoethnography book that I co-edited with Anne-Marie Deitering and Robert Schroeder showcases how reflection can inform library practices from instruction, research, tenure, leadership development, gender/race issues, and fitting in at work among other areas. I believe reflection can offer a fuller picture of librarianship and as that picture becomes clearer the better librarians we can be in all aspects of our practice.

Well, I hope your class is a big success, and we can chat again about the experience of teaching it. To finish up, is there anything else you’d like to say to readers here?

I am very excited for this class. I feel like I am a student as much a guide for the class as I always learn something new as we explore critical reflection together as a group. I am often very deeply moved by some of the results that happen during and after the reflection process. There often are meaningful experiences that people uncover that help shape not only their own perceptions of librarianship but also inform my own library practice. I am very interested to see how all this will play out on the Library Juice Academy platform — that will definitely add a new wrinkle. This should be a very interesting and inspiring experience. Looking forward to it!

I’m looking forward to it as well! Thanks for the interview…

Interview with Tracey Leger Hornby

Tracey Leger-Hornby is an independent consultant with over 30 years of leadership and expertise in libraries and technology, primarily in higher education. Her previous positions include Dean of Library Services at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Associate CIO at Brandeis University, Library Director at Rivier University, and several positions in the library and academic technology at Simmons College. Recently, as a consultant, Tracey served as interim Head Librarian at the Worcester Public Library and Interim Director of Research and Instruction at Wheaton College. She is currently working with the Massachusetts Library Association on their long-term strategic plan. Her interests include library management issues, application of new technology in libraries, and business process improvement. Tracey teaches a class for us, titled Academic Library Budgets 101. She agreed to do an interview here, to give people a bit more of an idea of what she brings to teaching and what you can expect from her class.

Tracey, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

Thanks for this opportunity Rory, I look forward to talking with you.

I’d like to start by asking you to summarize your philosophy as a teacher on topics related to library management, and how that philosophy has evolved.

My educational background is in teaching. My undergraduate degree is in secondary education and I’ve always seen myself as someone who can help others learn about new things. In my early career in librarianship I taught many classes on using new (at the time) technology and I’m excited to be able now to use technology to teach. My philosophy is based on providing a supportive structure for students to gather information and then put it to good use to achieve a goal or complete a task. The course I’ve developed on academic library budgets is designed to make students successful in creating simple spreadsheets but also understand what’s behind the numbers.

Can you give us a little detail on what you cover in the class?

Sure. The goal is to get a running start on how to set up a budget if you’ve never done that before. I start the class by asking all students to find a summary budget of their library and to look at the big picture of spending. Where does the money go? Then I ask students to learn about the process of securing funding and the budget cycle through readings (for theory) and interviewing a colleague in the financial offices on campus (for practical application). Where does the money come from? We then work on creating a draft budget proposal that covers not only the numbers (with some background data) but a written justification for those funds. What’s best practice for obtaining funding? Students share insights from each activity including suggestions for strengthening the final budget proposal.

Sounds very practical. You’ve taught this class previously for us. Can you tell us a bit about the experience? What was it like in general and what did you find surprising or interesting?

I had a really great experience for a first time through. I took a course from LJA myself on teaching online which was great and very helpful. I had taught many times face to face but this was my first fully online class. I found the students were engaged from the first week and very eager to ask questions and share experiences. It’s been my experience as a manager that gaining budget skills is important for advancement but it’s difficult to get a chance to learn the nitty gritty on the job. I’ve also heard that many people are intimidated by spreadsheets. I want to demystify the process as much as possible and think this class can help do just that. I was pleased to hear back from several students who were surprised they enjoyed the process of creating a budget so much fun.

That sounds great. I think that actually covers most of what I wanted to talk about, but I do have a final question that’s a little different. If you could teach some other courses for us, what would they be?

Thanks for asking Rory. I’ve been thinking about designing a class for new managers on basics of fundraising. Or perhaps one about writing job descriptions. These are things I’ve had to learn on the job or from generous colleagues in other departments on campus. I’m looking for things that could be helpful and make things easier for fellow librarians. It’s been fun teaching class online and meeting students from around the country and across the globe. I’m glad I’ve had this opportunity.

I’m glad you’ve been teaching for us. It is working really well having you aboard. Thanks for doing it and thanks for the interview.

Thanks again Rory. I’m glad that I am able to teach my budget class and I hope to develop more courses in the future. In the meantime, I look forward to meeting more students online.

New additions

Here are the newest classes that we have added to the Library Juice Academy lineup:

Introduction to Collection Development
Instructor: Robert Holley
Dates: January 8th to February 2nd, 2018

Dewey Decimal Classification
Instructor: Catelynne Sahadath
Dates: February 5th through March 2nd, 2018

Library of Congress Classification
Instructor: Catelynne Sahadath
Dates: April 2nd to 27th, 2018

Introduction to the Academic Publishing Industry
Instructor: Rolf Janke
Dates: March 5th through 30th, 2018

Foundations of Early Literacy: Using Your Knowledge to Enrich Library Experiences for Young Children and Their Families
Instructor: Saroj Ghoting
Dates: February 5th through March 2nd, 2018

Early Literacy-Enhanced Storytimes: Intentionality Is the Key
Instructor: Saroj Ghoting
Dates: March 5th through 30th, 2018

JSON-LD Fundamentals
Instructor: Robert Chavez
Dates: December 4th to 29th, 2017

Permanent access to course materials

Good news for those who have recently taken classes with us or plan to in the future: You will now have permanent access to the materials, and to your gradebook. This is only good as long as we’re in business, of course.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions: inquiries@libraryjuiceacademy.com.

Best,

Rory Litwin

New additions to the lineup of courses

Here are some classes that we have added recently to the Library Juice Academy lineup:

Controlled Vocabulary and Taxonomy Design
Instructor: Jillian Wallis
Dates: September 5th to 30th, 2017

Introducing BIBFRAME: Moving Bibliographic Data into the Future
Instructor: Rebecca Guenther
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Humanities Librarianship in a Digital Age
Instructor: John Russell
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Supercharging Your Storytimes: Using Interactivity, Intentionality, and Community of Practice to Help Children Learn with Joy
Instructor: Saroj Ghoting
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Working with Library Service Design Tools
Instructor: Joe J. Marquez
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Introduction to Design Thinking
Instructor: Carli Spina
Dates: November 6th through December 1st, 2017

Introduction to JSON and Structured Data
Instructor: Robert Chavez
Dates: October 2nd to 27th, 2017

Exploring Librarianship through Critical Reflection
Instructor: Rick Stoddart
Dates: November 6th through December 1st, 2017

Introduction to Web Traffic Assessment Using Google Analytics
Instructor: Lisa Gayhart
Dates: January 8th to February 2nd, 2018

Web Accessibility: Techniques for Design and Testing
Instructor: Carli Spina
Dates: February 5th through March 2nd, 2018

Interview with Shaundra Walker

Shaundra Walker is the Associate Director for Instruction and Research Services at Georgia College. She holds a B.A. in History from Spelman College, a Masters in Library and Information Studies from Clark Atlanta University and Ph.D. in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education administration from Mercer University. Her work and research in libraries and education is deeply influenced by her experience attending and working in minority serving institutions. Her research interests include the recruitment and retention of diverse librarians and organizational development within the library. Dr. Walker is teaching a class for Library Juice Academy next month, titled, Cultural Competence for the Academic Librarian. She has agreed to be interviewed about this course and her background for teaching it.

Hi Shaundra. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

Thanks for the interview. I’m very excited to be teaching this course.

I want to start by asking you about your research and professional experience in relation to this course. What are some of the experiences that you will bring to it as the instructor?

One of the most valuable experiences that I hope to bring to this course is my experience and familiarity with organizational development and diversity. For my dissertation, I used Peter Senge’s systems thinking as a theoretical framework to explore the role of a leadership development program in developing future librarians of color. Systems thinking suggests that organizations learn when their employees learn. I’m a firm believer that if libraries want to prepare for the impending diversification of higher education, developing cultural competence among our employees will help us to remain relevant. Since earning my PhD, I’ve continued to conduct research in this area. Most recently, I completed a book chapter that dealt with the recruitment, retention and promotion of librarians of color and I’m currently working on another chapter that delves into a bit of the history of our profession and some previous attempts at diversity.

In terms of my experience, as a librarian of color, I’ve worked in higher education for over 15 years, in all types of libraries. I’ve worked in a predominately White institution and I’ve also worked as a person of color in an HBCU. I think those two very different experiences have given me a unique perspective to engage in a conversation about what it means to be a culturally competent librarian.

Thank you, I agree that your unique perspective and your experiences make you the ideal person to teach this class. Turning to the class – would you outline it for readers?

We’re going to start with an overview of cultural competence, what it means within the academic library context and why it’s important. Next, we will engage in some self-reflection activities designed to help us understand our personal identities, followed by some activities designed to aid us in comparing and contrasting our identities with those of others. Finally, we’ll practice developing culturally relevant library programs, services, and resources.

I am wondering, how is your approach different from related diversity training programs that people may have been exposed to?

This approach is different from other training in that it is focused on the development of the individual, recognizing that we are all different people, with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Whether we realize it or not, we bring those identities into our work. One or more policies has driven a lot of diversity training that I have attended. Very often this training is designed to make sure that employees maintain compliance with policies and to prevent them from creating any legal risk to the organization. An individual policy is not guiding this course; it is not designed to help any person comply with a policy in the workplace. What it will do is put individuals on the path to being more conscious about who they are, help them to recognize that others may share different identities and experiences and hopefully bring that kind of sensitivity to the services and resources that they provide to the libraries where they are employed.

Thinking about what you’re saying, I can imagine that it might be scary at times for some people to explore their identities and those of others in the context of diversity. Do you agree with that? Is it sometimes scary?

Yes. I definitely agree. Discussing one’s identity can be very challenging work. And for that reason, I want to emphasize that the course will be a very non-judgemental space. This course is not about defending who you are. Also, there are no right or wrong answers. Your identity is…your identity. It’s a very personal reflection on how you see yourself. Engaging in this type of exercise can be very helpful in the sense that it helps people to see that others are much more than what they appear to be. Also, when we talk about diversity, it’s important to recognize that diversity is very complex. When we hear the word “diversity,” we often think in very binary terms (ex. black or white). There are many dimensions to diversity. The very word diversity has become a loaded term. A lot of people automatically think race when they here diversity. Certainly, race is important, but there are other aspects of one’s identity and what that looks like varies greatly from person to person. For some, it might be their gender, for others it might be their family status, for someone else it might be their faith. Again, there are no right or wrong answers here!

That is really nice to hear. I think with that sense of safety people will be relaxed and eager to learn from the class. And I imagine people will learn a lot from each other. Related to the non-judgmental aspect, I am wondering how you will handle the important diversity-related wrongs that are being discussed a lot in the culture right now – microaggressions, structural racism, and other forms of identity-based oppression. A lot of people want to talk about these issues, and a lot of other people seem threatened by them. How will you handle that?

Luckily, there are some great LIS-related resources out there that delve into these topics, such as In the Library With the Lead Pipe, the LIS Microaggressions Tumblr and many others. As much as possible, these resources will be worked into the course or provided as supplemental resources. There are a lot of voices out there right now that can help us to see and hopefully appreciate the lived experiences of individuals who have identities that are different from our own. I agree with you, when you bring up topics like microaggressions, structural racism, and others, things can get tense. In my work, I have tried to help people to understand that engaging in these sometimes difficult conversations is helpful if we keep in mind that it’s not always possible to comprehend another person’s lived experience, but it is possible to understand that others have lived experiences that are different from our own. When we respect those differences, it makes this work much easier. I hope to bring that spirit into the course.

That sounds great. I’m kind of out of questions, so I’ll just close by asking, is there anything you’d like to add?

I’m looking forward to guiding this course and learning from the students, as well.

I’m very glad you’re going to be teaching it. Thanks for teaching and for agreeing to the interview.

Interview with Angela Pashia

Angela Pashia is an Assistant Professor and the Instructional Services Outreach Librarian at the University of West Georgia, where she regularly teaches a credit bearing information literacy course. She has a Masters in Information Science & Learning Technologies, with an emphasis in library science, from the University of Missouri, and a Masters in Anthropology from the University of Virginia. She is currently focusing on practicing critical pedagogies, incorporating social justice issues into “the library course”, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Angela is teaching a class for Library Juice Academy in January, titled Developing a Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Course. She has agreed to do an interview here to tell interested people a bit about her course.

Hi, Angela. Thanks for agreeing to do the interview.

Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed!

I’d like to start by asking you to briefly describe the class you’ll be teaching for us.

The class I will be teaching is targeted to instruction librarians who have experience teaching one-shots, but have not been responsible for a semester-long course before. There are a lot of perks and challenges involved in teaching a credit-bearing information literacy course. On one hand, I love that I get to spend a full semester getting to know a set of students. I also have the opportunity to teach concepts that don’t often get covered in one-shots. For example, it’s one thing to teach students to evaluate sources using a tool like the CRAP test, or even coming up with a list of criteria students think should be considered. But how often do we get to then take that further to discuss the ways ideology affects information, or spend a whole lesson examining the use of various logical fallacies in arguments as another facet to consider when evaluating a source? On the other hand, if you’ve only taught one-shots, how do you then arrange everything you want to teach into a coherent syllabus? Deciding how to plan assessments that you will actually grade is another challenge. And classroom management is another issue – we do a certain amount of that in teaching one-shots, but in that model, we don’t have to deal with the student who is chronically 15 minutes late to a 50-minute class or reach out to the student who did great for 8 weeks then disappeared. So my class will address some strategies related to these aspects of teaching a semester-long course.

I got the idea for this class after talking to people at conferences and on twitter, who either want to or had signed up to teach credit-bearing courses, and had questions about planning syllabi and whatnot. The title refers to teaching an information literacy course, because that was what I was thinking of when I proposed the class, but the content will focus on class design and management, so that it will be useful whether students are planning to teach an information literacy course, a semester-long first year orientation course, or whatever.

That sounds really great. Can you give us an outline of what the course will cover, week-to-week?

My thought is to start with developing a syllabus, which will take a couple of the weeks, since that entails linking the course learning outcomes to more granular daily learning outcomes, and then deciding how to assess those learning outcomes. That naturally segues into actually grading that student work. And then we’ll wrap up with a discussion of classroom management strategies. Writing that out now, it feels like LOT to cover in four weeks! This course will really be an overview, with discussion and resources to save and refer back to later.

This is a new course, so I’m open to being flexible – if we get into it and everyone really wants to spend the fourth week talking more about grading rubrics instead of classroom management, I’m willing to shift gears as needed, and adjust the description or length for future offerings of the course!

So I surmise that a lot of what you teach in this class comes from your own studies in preparing to teach a credit-bearing course, and your experience teaching it. Can you talk about that? What did you study, and how did the opportunity to teach a “library class” come about?

My background is in Anthropology. I earned a Masters and started a PhD program before switching to library school. I had some experience as a TA in my first grad program, leading 20-person discussion sections connected to a large lecture course. Then, in the first year of my PhD program, I was a TA for General Anthropology, an introductory survey course with 180-225 students each semester. That meant that I attended lectures, helped the Graduate Instructor select test questions from a test bank, and lectured a couple of times when the Instructor was unable to be in class. The following year, I got to be the Graduate Instructor for that class – which meant I was the instructor of record and responsible for all of the planning of the course. In many ways, I had less training in pedagogy than I got in my first year at my current job, but the grad students had a folder (back then it was burned on a CD!) of past materials – syllabi, powerpoint presentations, tests, etc. We also used an introductory text, so it was easy to just structure the course to follow the organization of the textbook. Those materials helped a lot, though I’d admit my instruction was just a bunch of boring lectures and scantron tests!

Flashing forward a couple of years, I graduated in 2011 and landed a job at some small regional university that I had never heard of (it’s not really that small, except in comparison to the large state flagship universities I attended). I was willing to move cross-country because I specifically wanted to focus on library instruction. I lucked into a place that had an established course. It’s 2 credit hours and is one of the options that will meet a core curriculum requirement.

Another librarian who some readers may recognize, Jessica Critten, started the same month as I did, so we went through some of the challenges of starting to teach this class together. Colleagues shared their syllabi, assignments, and other resources to help us get started, which was a great help. As we’ve each developed in our positions, we’ve gone different directions with our course designs, but continue to share ideas and talk through challenges.

Since then, our department has had several new people start teaching the course. In summer 2012, at what felt like the last minute, we were granted funding for two one-year limited-term positions with no guarantee of continued funding. We hired two new grads, who had something like a week to prepare to start teaching! One was here for one year, and the other was here for two years, but both left for great permanent positions elsewhere. In the next budget cycle, we got funding for two new tenure-track faculty positions to start summer 2013. Of course, the whole department contributed to helping all of the new hires get their feet under them. And then this fall semester, I worked with one of our staff members who earned a MLIS while working here, but had no teaching experience. We taught the class together in a sort of student/mentor teacher relationship – we met weekly to talk about the reasoning behind each week’s lessons, grading, etc., and she taught some lessons and helped with the grading. She’ll be teaching the course on her own this coming spring semester!

I talk a lot about my experiences, because I feel more comfortable critiquing my own missteps than picking on others! But the topics I plan to focus on for the LJA course are things that have come up in discussions with several of the people who started teaching the class after I did. Those conversations helped me internalize that most people struggle with these things, it’s not just me! I feel like it’s easy to say that, and to know it on an intellectual level, but still feel like an impostor on an emotional level. But really, everyone I’ve talked to who really cares about their students has struggled with these things, and many still do after several years of teaching.

And I hope I didn’t write too much for this question!

No, not at all. That is all very helpful in thinking about this. I wonder if you can say a couple of things about what was most interesting or surprising about teaching the credit-bearing course?

It’s really rewarding to see students develop over the course of a semester. I don’t always get to see much change, because we’re talking about just a few months, at a time when, developmentally, their brains may not yet be wired to be able to handle a lot of grey areas, like picking apart the ways authority is constructed and contextual. So I sometimes envy friends who teach in disciplines with majors, where they get to see students grow over the course of several semesters. On really challenging days, I remind myself that I am planting seeds, and even if I don’t see growth now, it could be germinating and sprout next semester or next year. Sometimes a student will email a year or two after having taken my class to tell me that they didn’t really get the importance of the lessons when they were in my class, but now that they have to do more serious research in other classes, they’re so glad to have taken my class.

But it is amazing when I do get to see that growth. A couple of years ago, I had this one student. For the first month or so of the semester, they seemed like a total slacker. They would do the homework assignments, but would write really short answers that kind of skimmed the surface near what I was looking for. After getting low grades on a few assignments, this person asked me why, what they needed to do to get better grades. I explained my grading, and what I’m looking for – make sure you answer all of the questions, and say enough to show that you are actually applying what we’ve talked about, not just reciting the terms you think I want to hear. For the next few assignments, I didn’t see much change, so I wondered, did they even really listen or did they just want an easier answer? But then, when it came time to grade the final projects, this student knocked it out of the park. At that time, the final project included a paper, an annotated bibliography, and a presentation. On the annotated bibliography, the annotation had to include an evaluation of the source’s credibility. This student did the best job of applying our evaluation criteria out of everyone in the class! I don’t remember much about their paper, except that overall, they had more minor grammatical errors on both the paper and annotated bibliography than most, but the content was really good.

A week after finals week was over that semester, I went out for drinks with a friend. Assuming the students had all left town, we just grabbed seats at the bar (instead of looking for a less visible seat somewhere). We were wrong. That student walked by and saw me, and came over to give me a hug. They said that was the first time they had ever gotten an A, and told me about how proud their mom was when they showed her the paper for my class. This student earned it – like I said, despite lackluster work on lower value homework assignments, they did a great job on the final project. That also kind of validated my approach to homework assignments – lots of feedback on lower value assignments early, so that they know how I grade before they turn in a high value assignment!

Oh, and it’s also interesting to see how former students react to you during reference shifts – will they avoid eye contact or come over to say hi or ??? Being the one who is responsible for assessing their learning means that I have to be the one to hold them accountable – which means recording an F for some students for the semester. And nobody likes that (myself included)! Some students in that boat will avoid eye contact at all costs, while others will acknowledge that they dropped the ball that semester but have gotten things together since then.

That is great. I hope people taking your class with up will end up having similar experiences. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about your class and your experiences. And best of luck with the class next month.

Thanks for interviewing me! I also hope they have similar experiences!

I know you recently developed a Library Juice Certificate in Library Instruction – I would definitely encourage people to check that out. My course will cover the logistics of managing a semester-long course, but I would not have had as many great experiences without training in how to teach well. I got that from a range of sources, including Maria Accardi’s Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction course. My course will just fill the gap for those of us trying to translate pedagogical training for librarians, which mostly focuses on one-shots, into a coherent semester-long plan. We’ll examine issues that don’t come up much for those teaching only one-shots, but not address skills that are also relevant to one-shots, like how to develop an engaging lesson plan. I really enjoyed Maria’s course, and have heard great things about Andrea Baer’s classes, too!

Thanks for the plug! And thanks again for the interview.

Interview with Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays is the Instructional and Research Librarian and the Co-Director of the Center for Games and Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University. She holds an undergraduate degree in education, a masters in library science, a masters in educational technology, and a graduate certificate in online teaching and learning. She is co-teaching two classes for Library Juice Academy that she has agreed to talk to us about: Games in Academic Libraries and Informal Learning in Academic Libraries.

Hi Lauren! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

Hi Rory! Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the courses I will be co-teaching with Teresa Slobuski.

I’d like to start by asking you what the Center for Games and Learning is. Want to tell us about that?

Sure! The Center for Games & Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Mabee Library sponsors game design and game research for use in educational settings. It is an initiative that was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. I was the principal investigator on a 2014 Sparks! IMLS Grant that created this library-based Center for Games and Learning.

Your two classes are on games and informal learning in academic libraries. Would you care describe those classes?

Games in Academic Libraries is going to be an introduction to thinking about ways to use games in an academic library setting. They can be for recreation, student development, curriculum support, or games can be used to teach information literacy. Games for learning is a huge push in the K-12 setting and this is a way to start thinking about them in higher education.

Informal learning is a big topic. It can encompass a lot of different things. Libraries hold a lot of physical real estate on campuses and this space should be used strategically to promote learning in a myriad of ways. Learning informally is one of those ways.

I’d like to ask you a little more about the games class first, and then move on to discussing informal learning. The games class, what will it cover exactly? Is it based on existing projects that can be adapted into other settings?

Games in Academic Libraries is divided into four main topics–one a week. The topics are Introduction to Game Studies and Games in Libraries, Educational Integration of Games, Games and Libraries, and Advanced Topics. Teresa and I will share our own projects and highlight other projects we know that are happening. The class also happens to be happening over International Games Day @ Your Library, sponsored by the ALA, so we will highlight that and encourage course participants to find a library that is part of IGD.

We hope the class will be an opportunity to learn and network with others who are interested in this topics. I have found making connections to be very important in my career, and I love the opportunity to connect with others around common interests.

It sounds like it will be a very stimulating class for people. One thing I hope it will do will be to give good practical preparation for people who are planning to implement a game project in their library. Do you expect to present solutions to common problems and issues that people may encounter?

Yes, one of the first questions we plan to ask is if the course participants have any concerns about incorporating games into their libraries. We will respond to these concerns from our experiences. During the last week of the course, we want participants to conduct a brief community analysis where they will consider the best type of games for their library, their community needs, and to identify any supporters they can leverage to build a community of practice.

I imagine that between your prior experience and what the students will contribute to the class, there will be a lot of good ideas for people to use. So, about informal learning… What is informal learning, in the context of that class?

In the context of this class, informal learning is learning that takes place outside a formal learning setting. It includes the creation of new knowledge through group and solo activities.

So what are some examples?

Gameplay, makerspaces, space design, furniture selection, and technology are examples of ways librarians can foster informal learning in their libraries.

Okay, so would you describe the class on informal learning in academic libraries? What is the content of the course? What can people expect to learn by the end of it?

Informal Learning in Academic Libraries will be broken into four main topics: What is Informal Learning?, How have libraries promoted informal learning?, How CAN libraries promote informal learning?, and Local studies of informal learning at your library. Teresa and I want to look at informal learning broadly and then bring it to the local context. Context is very important when thinking about how to promote learning. Informal learning helps build life skills such as critical thinking, flexibility, collaboration, and creativity. We want to help academic librarians think about how to foster these skills in their spaces.

Okay, one thing I think I should have asked earlier… What is the Center for Games and Learning at your library? What kinds of things is it doing? Do you think it’s something that other institutions can use as a model?

The Center for Games and Learning is a library-based center. I co-direct it with the director of the university’s honors program. The Center supports professors wanting to use gameplay in their courses through a collection of games and consulting services. With professors we will walk through how games can best be facilitated, adapted, and debriefed. We also provide resources for the broader education community. Local teachers often use the Center for their k-12 instruction.

The Center is replicable, though it does take a lot of support from faculty and administration. I have talked with other librarians who have started incorporating games into their academic library for recreation and curricular support. They each start at different places and chose to focus on certain things based on their community.

That sounds great. Okay, I have a harder question for you. Can you tell me what it is about games and informal learning that has captured your interest and inspired you to pursue it in your library?

For me, the interest in games was sparked by my desire to collaborate with faculty. I learned about the the honors director’s interest in games and I invited him to discuss the possibility of applying for a grant where we would collaborate in this area.

In regards to informal learning, this interest grew a bit more organically. My library has served as the de facto student union on my campus for a few years. As we’ve adjusted to the increase in traffic, rearrangement of collections, and repurposing of space, we have worked hard to be intentional about the learning that can occur in those spaces.

What do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned working with games and informal learning?

That experiences are so important for learning. I know there is a lot of research on experiential learning, but it wasn’t until games and informal learning started to be part of my everyday work that I started to dig into this literature.

Well, thanks for this interview. It’s been very interesting hearing about your classes. I hope it goes very well.

Thank you, Rory. I appreciate the opportunity to share.

Interview with John Russell

John Russell is Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of Oregon Libraries, which involves open access advocacy and scholarly publishing as well as digital scholarship services. He has been actively involved in digital humanities projects, primarily related to text encoding, and teaches a digital scholarship methods course as part of UO’s New Media and Culture graduate certificate program. John is teaching a course for us next month called Introduction to Digital Humanities for Librarians, and he agreed to do an interview to give people a better sense of what DH is in a library context, and what they can learn from his course.

Hi, John. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you, Rory, for letting me be a part of Library Juice Academy.

I’d like to start by asking the question that is on a lot of people’s minds, which is, what is digital humanities, exactly? I have learned a bit about it from a certain perspective, but I’d like to hear your take as someone who has been very involved in it.

Digital humanities (DH) is such a nebulous thing, to the point that for many people simply doing the humanities with computers in any fashion constitutes DH. I typically define the digital humanities as using computers to analyze humanistic objects, making humanistic objects machine readable, or using computers to make humanistic objects. However, a lot of DH people, whether they admit it or not, do public humanities, so even though I see digital humanities and public humanities as entangled but separate things, I’ll often include the latter as an important aspect of DH.

Could you elaborate a bit? Maybe you could describe a couple of exemplary DH projects that have been done?

I’m being a little vague because the first week of the course revolves around this very question and I don’t want to prejudice student responses too much. But a good example of what I’m talking about is Lev Manovich’s Selfiecity project – well, he’s the project coordinator, it’s the work of a number of people. Selfiecity is a sizeable sampling of selfies taken by people in different cities (Bangkok, Berlin, New York, Sao Paolo, and Moscow). The images were analyzed by software that estimated the position of the eyes, emotional expressions, and a few other things. By analyzing a large number of selfies, the group was able to identify patterns in the data (for example, Bangkok selfies are far more likely to involve smiling than selfies from Moscow). All of this would be hard for a researcher to do without the aid of a computer; certainly not impossible, but very time consuming. You can go to the site and read their conclusions, but you can also play around with their data. The project is designed to engage people, not just report out to them.

Is it generally true that DH projects are done by teams, with humanities scholars and technologists working together?

Digital humanities does involve a lot of collaborative work, to the point that one could say that collaboration is a core value for DH. Because DH work can involve a lot of different skills – web design, programming, project management, data management – working with others who possess different areas of expertise is essential for large projects. Take a project like the Walt Whitman Archive, which I see as a pretty exemplary project. The list of people who have worked on this project is so long because it’s been in process for a long time (since the late 1990s) and the whole enterprise depends on things like digitization, text encoding, web programming, and maintaining the server. All of that in addition to the intellectual labor involved in scholarly editing and putting all of this material in some kind of context. As many people will tell you, the data work (getting, cleaning, organizing) that is part of doing digital humanities is very time consuming and anything ambitious is going to require more than one person. Of course, there are any number of small scale/individual DH projects, especially graduate students working on their dissertations, so collaboration is not essential. However, even in the case of small projects, you often have less-formal collaborations because something isn’t working the way you need it to or you need someone to give you a push in the right direction.

The class you’re teaching for us is going to be a lot about how librarians can have a role in DH projects at their institutions, is that right? What are the roles for librarians on these project teams?

Librarians play a lot of roles in DH projects; at UO, the unit I’m in does digitization, metadata, web programming, and project management. Librarians also create digital humanities projects, so it’s not just about being partners – librarians are leaders, too. However, that’s not the sole focus of this class. The library literature on digital humanities tends to over-emphasize projects, but academic libraries are partners in the research *and* teaching mission of their respective institutions. Personally, I’m much more interested in how librarians can partner with teaching faculty to integrate DH into the classroom or how we can be involved in training faculty and students in DH tools and methods. Also, libraries have the data! What does it mean to think about our special collections as humanities data? How can libraries improve access to humanities resources that can support this kind of computer-heavy research? Librarians who may never work directly on a digital project or do DH-related instruction have a role to play and I’ve tried to set up the course to facilitate thinking about DH throughout the library.

That’s very exciting. I hadn’t thought about the teaching aspect. So, would you outline the class? What will it cover, and what can people expect to come away with?

The first week covers the question this interview started with: what are the digital humanities? That’s such a huge question, so I select a few readings that illustrate a broad range of approaches and just try to give students a taste of what kind of work is being done. That’s followed by a section where students learn to do basic text analysis, mapping, and text encoding, so that there’s some exposure to DH tools and methods. The second half of the course switches to focusing on libraries: what kinds of engagement with digital humanities has been going on in libraries? What’s missing from that engagement? We finish with the students working on a brief project that allows them to create something applicable to their library: a digital project, a collections policy, a research guide, an instruction session, planning for needs assessment, really anything they can come up with. My hope is that students aren’t just learning about digital humanities for the sake of knowing more about it, but are leaving the course with a real sense of how they and their libraries can participate in DH.

That sounds great. Now, next month is going to be the second time you’ve taught this class for us. What was your experience like the first time around and what did you learn from it?

Much of what I’ve said above about the relationship between DH and libraries comes from comments students made. I’ve long been uneasy about the narrative of “doing DH” in libraries, but hadn’t really put all of the pieces together. The way students pushed back against the readings helped me see how the story of DH and libraries has been constructed in our profession and what’s been missing from that story. But also how this narrative – very research and tech focused – makes some librarians feel excluded, or at least gives folks the sense that all of this digital stuff isn’t relevant to their career or their situation. So I learned a lot and, given the really great projects I saw, I think I was successful in getting students excited about how they can be involved in the digital humanities, too.

It sounds like you’ve taken an open-minded approach, and that has paid off. It sounds to me like what digital humanities is is something that is in flux, and that perhaps librarians can actually take part in shaping it as it changes, by taking part in ways that are new. Would you agree with that?

Yes, digital humanities is very much an open field and there are so many ways to contribute.

Well, I’m very glad that you’re teaching this course, to get people started.

You’re teaching this class because you were recommended by more than one person when I put a call out out to find someone to teach a class in DH. But I am wondering, if you could teach any other class that you wanted to, what would it be (or what would they be)?

Well, I’ve done a bunch of work to put together a Twitter Research Methods course that, because of work commitments, I won’t be able to teach this year, but I would like to offer it at some point. My start in libraries was in special collections and I still have a great interest in old books, so I’d love to teach a book history course again. I’ve actually thought about writing a book history textbook because there really aren’t good survey options. Media history or data history would also be fun. My history graduate work focused on French intellectuals and (even though I’d need to get back up to speed) I’d enjoy teaching something focused on Michel Foucault. I like teaching, so I’m always happy to do more of it.

Those sounds like great ideas. I hope to hear more from you about some of them at some point.

Thanks for doing this interview, and good luck with the course next month.

Thanks, Rory. I’m excited to be doing the course again!

Interview with Joe J. Marquez

Joe J. Marquez is the Web Services Librarian at Reed College in Portland, OR. He has presented and written on topics related to service design, website usability, IT implementation, and marketing of the library. His current research involves implementing a service design methodology in the library environment. He is teaching a class for Library Juice Academy in September, titled, Service Design: Towards a Holistic Assessment of Library Services. Joe kindly agreed to do an interview here, to give people a better idea of what they might learn in his course.

Hi Joe. Thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Hi Rory. Thanks for the opportunity.

I’d like to start by asking you to tell readers about the service design methodology. What is it?

Service design is a user-centered, holistic, and co-creative method for assessing services. In our case, we are looking at services offered and provided by libraries, but this methodology is used in the private sector as well. It is user-centered because we look at services from the user’s perspective. It is holistic because we focus on the context in which services occur, but also all the various elements that make up a service experience. It is co-creative because the research team works closely with actual users to understand and refine or create services. By working closely with actual users, we get a clearer insight into what works and what doesn’t work for users.

And while the title says “service” we don’t strictly look at person-to-person interactions or exchanges. We look at everything a library has to offer as a service. This could mean traditional services like reference or circulation, but also the library as place. The key to service design is to get a better understanding of user expectation and see where we can meet, exceed, or close the gap between current delivery of service and user expectation. By taking the user perspective, we really see the library as it is viewed and used by them.

So you’ve been implementing a service design methodology in your library. Can you tell people a bit about that experience?

Working with service design has been an eye-opening experience. If approached with an open mind, it allows us to get at student motivations and better understand user expectations and how they might refine or recreate services.

Our study has evolved over a two-year period. In our first year, we assembled and worked closely with a student working group (SWG). The SWG was comprised of seven students from different years and different majors. The reason behind this was to get a diverse group of user feedback. As students progress through Reed College, their demands on library resources changes, and we wanted to capture how different students use the library and its services. That first year was also a lot about planning as we, the Library User Experience Team (LUX), were still really learning and adapting the methodology to our environment. A strong point of service design is that it can be adapted to any environment.

That first year we held four meetings with the SWG. During those meetings, we had the students go through a few exercises that revealed how they use the library and its resources. We would also give them some “homework,” but the majority of that year’s meetings were focused on discussion around various topics. The discussion lead to deep insights into how students use the library, but also allowed the LUX team to better understand student motivations and got at the underlying culture of what it means to be a student at Reed College. Context plays an important role in the service design methodology because services don’t happen in a vacuum, but rather in tandem with other established resources and within service ecologies. As we understand the user in a specific context, we can then better understand how to refine or create new services that are suited for the user and a given environment or ecology.

During our second year we turned the tables a bit. Rather than going back to the SWG for additional feedback, we integrated them into the LUX team. We now wanted them to help us learn more about the insights we gathered that first year by having SWG members lead focus groups with other Reed students. The SWG members created an outline for focus groups as well as a list of questions and then ran focus groups. Due to time constraints, we were only able to hold two focus group meetings in year two. As we enter year three, we will hold additional focus group meetings and really begin the synthesis of feedback to formulate a recommendation for our College Librarian.

I was recently asked why the process takes so long. It is not that service design takes three years, but we have drawn it out since we are not working on this one project full time. I estimate that with the ability to focus more on the project, we would have been able to hold the various discussion meetings and focus groups in an 8-9 month time period or a single academic year. Again, service design is a very flexible methodology can be adapted for any environment and allow the research team to go as deep into gaining insights as they choose. To me, service design is more of a toolbox or framework and less about a step-by-step process.

So what will students come away with if they take your class? What does it cover?

We’ll cover foundational concepts (What is a service? How do users perceive services? What is systems thinking? What is service design?, etc) review service design activities, define the various phases of service design, learn tips for creating internal and external teams, and create a draft plan that could be used in the student’s own library.

There are hands-on activities to get students to be both a researcher and a participant. By performing the activities, students will be able to feel comfortable introducing them in their own library service design plan. The final project will be to create a draft plan for use in the student’s own library or work environment. One of the key parts to service design is asking the right question. By understanding what we want to learn more about, we can formulate a research question and work at getting feedback from users. As a group, we will help each other refine our research question and draft plan. I will also work with students to help them choose the right tool for a particular job. Students will come away with an understanding of service design and be more comfortable with using some of the tools (exercises) often used in service design. It may sound like a lot to cover in four weeks, but the content will get the students engaged and thinking differently about their own library.

So who would benefit from this course? Just library managers or others?

Library managers and others that hold decision making roles, definitely. But, it will also benefit those who are involved with any form of usability or user experience in their library, be they UX team members or chairing the usability team. I would even think that a traditional reference librarian or someone working in public or access services looking to improve their service point(s) might find very useful tips on how to improve their services and come away from the class with a different perspective on what a service is, how users perceive services, and how to improve to meet or exceed user expectation(s). The course does not require a background in understanding user experience or usability training. What I do ask is for students to have an open mind when approaching the material.

That sounds good. I want to thank you for sharing this info about your course. I hope it will be very successful, this first time and in future sessions.

Thank you. I am looking forward to this experience and sharing service design with others. I also look forward to learning as much from the students as I hope they learn from me.

Interview with Catelynne Sahadath

Catelynne Sahadath is the Head of Metadata Development at the University of Calgary, where she manages the cataloging section, where she was responsible for leading their transition from AACR2 to RDA in 2013. Catelynne has previously worked on cataloging and digitization projects for the Government of Canada, and her research focuses on change management in technical services and the impacts of cataloguing changes on public services. Catelynn is teaching a class for us next month, on AACR2 Legacy Practices, and a class in September titled, Introduction to Library Classification in Dewey and LC. She agreed to do an interview about these here.

Hi Catelynne… Thanks for doing this interview.

Hi Rory, thanks for having me!

I’d like to start by jumping right in to talk about the AACR2 Legacy Practices class. Could you summarize it?

Certainly. I’ve noticed that since the switch from AACR2 to RDA in libraries there’s been a kind of disconnect between those who have taken AACR2 in school and are now working in RDA, and those who only ever learned RDA. That second group of people tends to be folks who have learned to catalogue since 2013. It can be frustrating for them because AACR2 records still exist in large numbers, as well as hybrid AACR2+RDA records.

What this course is designed to do is to bridge that gap for anyone who has learned RDA in school or on the job, but who is still working in an environment where AACR2 and hybrid records are all around. By the end of it, students will be able to work more comfortably in that hybrid environment, and will be able to identify and upgrade records from AACR2 to RDA. They will also learn in which scenarios they should not upgrade AACR2 records to RDA, and how to add information to AACR2 records while maintaining standards properly.

Sounds like it fills a definite need. What are the kinds of things people in the situation you describe need to know about AACR2?

In a MARC environment, they will need to know which fixed fields to use in AACR2 and in hybrid records, as well as which ones to change when upgrading a record from AACR2. There are a lot of abbreviations and Latin terms in AACR2, which are not very intuitive. People in these situations will need to be able to translate those old terms and abbreviations into the more explicit language of RDA. Some MARC fields have changed between AACR2 and RDA, and it is important to know which fields these translate into.

Finally, there are certain elements of the work, expression, manifestation and item level data that folks in these situations will have to parse out. It is more intellectual and judgement based than simply translating and following standards, and that is where students of this course will have an edge. For example, learning to parse out entry points from data that would have previously been hidden away in a free text field, or optimizing physical item level data for non-standard formats that could otherwise remain unseen by most users. Library users certainly have a lot to gain from the proper treatment of these records.

That sounds very interesting and useful. I think it is clear from your description what kind of background knowledge is needed to benefit from the course. I’d like to switch gears a little to ask a more personal kind of question. How do you personally feel about RDA?

My opinion on this is simple: RDA is better for users, therefore it is better for libraries.

It makes room for the rich description of alternate formats that was never available in AACR2. It creates relationships between works, their creators, and their content that allows for serendipitous digital discovery, which is important in environments where physical browsing only offers a small slice of what is contained in an entire collection. It’s flexible enough to allow for the addition of formats that we can’t anticipate in the present.

There’s an uncomfortable learning curve for cataloguers with regard to the transition to RDA, but whenever I think about how awesome RDA records are for users in comparison to AACR2 records, it’s completely worth it.

I’d like to turn to the class in classification at this point. Will you describe that class?

Students who complete this class will be the go-to experts on call numbers in their places of work.

The classification class is going to get into the nitty gritty of creating call numbers. A well crafted call number is actually very tough to create, and if it’s done incorrectly it has a huge impact on users. On a practical level, this course is going to teach students how to create Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal Classification numbers using some open and some proprietary online tools. Most cataloguing courses go over the basics of how to create classification numbers, but this course will make students experts in it. It will go over how to create call numbers for traditional print books, as well as online resources, alternate formats, and other library oddities. At the end of the course, students will be able to catalogue the food in their fridges or the shampoo in their showers, if they feel so inclined. Students who complete this course will have the skills and confidence to serve as experts in call number creation in their library circles or places of work.

That sounds great. I’ve been wanting to add a course in classification for some time and I’m very glad you’re going to be doing it.

To kind of cap off this interview, I wonder if you could tell me, if you could teach any class for us that you could dream up, what would it be?

I would teach Radical Metadata! I don’t think people realize how controversial or political metadata and cataloguing can be, but it really is. It’s not just non-cataloguers who are unaware of this; I think there are a lot of folks working in metadata who don’t realize how much impact their work has on the representation of information for diverse and marginalized groups. I’d love to teach a course that presents metadata as a vehicle of social justice.

That sounds really cool! We should talk about that idea.

Thanks for doing this interview and telling us about your courses.

Thanks to you as well!