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Wednesday 21 April 2010

Reference / Info-literacy links of interest 21/4/10

Singer, Carol A. (2010) Ready Reference Collections: A History. RUSQ 49(3)
Ready reference collections were originally formed, and still exist, because they perform a valuable function in providing convenient access to information that is frequently used at the reference desk. As library collections have been transformed from print to electronic, some of the materials in these collections also have inevitably been replaced by electronic resources. This article explores the historical roots of ready reference collections and their recent evolution.

A post on the Oregon Libraries Network notes some differences between the old and new RUSA Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services.

Library instruction classes
A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette suggests: A librarian should begin each library instruction class by plucking headphones from students' ears, confiscating cell phones, and searching all bookbags for contraband food. If there is any time remaining, show them all how to become fans of the library's new Facebook page.

In Getting Students to Do the Reading: Pre-Class Quizzes on Wordpress (at the Chronicle of Higher Education) Derek Bruff cites the idea that learning involves both transfer of information and assimilation of that information, and that as the assimilation is the hard part it should be done in class time while the transfer is handled before class through readings (or videos). He then discusses how he's tackled the problem of motivating students to actually do their pre-class readings by creating pre-class quizzes -- the answers to which he can then skim before class, and alter his lesson plan if students are finding some topic easier or harder than anticipated.

In the Library with the Lead Pipe is a group blog that posts longer, heavily referenced articles. In Making it their idea: The Learning Cycle in library instruction Eric Frierson quotes the idea that people learn better by putting the pieces together for themselves, and discusses ways to use this in library instruction classes, using the topic of "peer reviewed journals" as a case study.

Steve Lawson blogs about Making time at the beginning for questions - starting a library class with the projector off and just chatting informally with the students about their assignments/projects - he says, "It's like a mass reference interview."

For myself, I've had a lot of success with adding more interactivity into classes (even some large ones with 250+ students) but one series of my classes in term 1 turned clunky because (as I discovered too late) when I was chatting with students about what they needed to know for their assignment, none of them bothered to mention that they hadn't actually read the assignment instructions yet.

So for my next class I started off by asking them to explain the assignment to me - fortunately these ones had read it and could talk about it, but my fall-back position would be to stop and give them five minutes to read it, because they're not going to learn anything in class if they don't know why they're being told about it.

I spent the rest of the class alternating between asking them how they go about research and adding other sources/techniques they can use. The students were awesome and the class went like a dream. I used a PowerPoint presentation in edit mode so when I asked a question I could write their answers onto the blank page - colour-coded with white pages for my set-speech stuff, yellow pages for their stuff (and my very occasional additions when they reminded me of something) - and embed it into their subject guide after the class:

What about you: what other techniques have you read about / tried for library tutorials?

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Mobile vs Smartphones & other links of interest 14/4/10

Mobile vs Smartphones
Roy Tennant suggests not making any more mobile websites as research suggests more people (in the US) are getting smartphones that can support anything a normal web-browser can support. (Though I don't know of any smartphone that supports a 1024x768 screensize...) Smartphone applications seem to be trending instead. The iLibrarian rounds up her Top 30 Library iPhone Apps (part 2 and part 3). Why an application when you've already got a website? Phil Windley points out that "If my bank can get me to download an app, then they have a permanent space on my app list." The trade-off is that whereas a website should work on any browser, smartphone apps often need to be in proprietary formats (the Librarian in Black particularly complains about Apple's iPhone in this respect).

Web 2.0
Common Craft has a 3-minute video explaining "Cloud Computing in Plain English".

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries and Brown University Library provide a "dashboard" of widgets on their websites displaying current statistics about library usage.

View from the top :-)
The University Librarian at McMaster University Library blogs results from their laptop survey. Apparently laptop circulation now accounts for about a third of their total circulation stats; their survey looks into how students are using the laptops.

The Director of Librarys at the State University of New York at Potsdam blogs about "What I've Learned" in the first 10 months of her job there.

Scandal of the week...
Barbara Fister summarises recent discussion about EBSCO as the "New Evil Empire" in her Library Journal article "Big vendor frustrations, disempowered librarians, and the ends of empire".

Alice for the iPad - one of the ways technology can enhance the book.