ellie <3 libraries

sooooo much!

ALA Conference – Saturday, June 23rd, 2007 July 2, 2007

Filed under: ALA 2007,Conferences — ellie @ 5:46 pm
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First up:

Auditorium Speaker Series Featuring Ken Burns

Ken BurnsKen Burns has been making documentary films for more than thirty years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of Burn’s films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” Burns’s films are among the most watched on public television, including The Civil War, which had audience of 40 million during its premiere in September 1990, and the critically acclaimed JAZZ (2001) and Baseball (1994). Burns’s next film, The War, which is co-produced and co-directed by his long-time colleague Lynn Novick, will air on PBS in September, 2007. The War is a seven-episode series that tells the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of nearly 40 men and women from four quintessentially American towns. The series explores the most intimate human dimensions of the greatest cataclysm in history — worldwide catastrophe that touched the lives of every family on every street in every town in America—and demonstrates that in extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives. Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1953. He graduated from Hampshire College Amherst, Massachusetts in 1975 and went on to be one of the cofounders of Florentine Films. Sponsored by PBS

I have to admit I have a little crush on Ken Burns. Crush might not be the right term. It’s more that I wish I were him. kenburns(My first plan when heading off to library school was to become a researcher for documentaries and historical films.) I can’t believe he’s been making documentaries for 30 years, the man barely looks 30. He was an engaging speaker if a bit rehearsed/reading a script rather than informal/off the cuff. He introduced the clips saying that with each of his productions he tries to ask “who are we?” And the clips were brilliant of course. My one complaint is that it was way too early in the morning to close people into a room and turn off the lights, no matter how engaging the clips are. I swung by the publisher’s booth afterwards, but he was too popular for me to bother waiting in line. I snapped a quick picture with my phone. (I remembered to pack my camera, but didn’t remember to take it out of my suitcase the whole time.)

Then I was off to:

We Have the Data, Now What? Putting Your Collection Assessment Data to Work (RUSA CODES)
Track: Collection Management & Technical Services; Collection Development
Collection assessment initiatives can consume vast amounts of resources, time, and energy; hence, library administrators should seek to produce tangible results with the data they collect. Many libraries gather assessment data, but drop the ball when it comes to analysis and the use of data to inform significant collection management decisions. The goal of this panel discussion is to highlight successful projects that have made use of collection assessment data in significant and innovative ways. Speaker: Shirley Baker, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology & Dean of University Libraries, Washington University in St. Louis

The facilitator was glad to see so many of us turn out, joking that “Web 2.0 is down the hall you know?” He echoed a sentiment that I have, “I can blog with the best of them, but I need advice on managing my collection.” Unfortunately the advice did not turn out to be very relevant for me personally. It was geared more towards large research universities, including retention issues such as when to send items to off site storage and issues with scholarly journals that have already been dealt with at my library. I was hoping for more information on using data for selection rather than retention.

Shirley Baker talked about collection assessment in terms of what a director finds useful. She wants the broad strokes, directors are impatient and have short attention spans (her words, not mine). There was talk of OCLC software and the statistic that 37% of all works are held by only one library. Rarity is common. Using the OCLC software she found that about 700,000 works not at her university are freely available at Google. 170,000 works at her university will be free at Google, so she may move those print copies to the annex. Her university has 27,000 unique volumes. 16,000 are dissertations. 11,000 are public domain. This lead her to new goals in her preservation project – digitization of the 11,000 unique public domain items rather than the million books the library owns. She also stressed the importance of separating the interesting data from the meaningful data.

Karen Neurohr discussed comparing her print journals to JStor in terms of freeing up library shelving and measuring her current shelving use to present statistics when asking for funding. 86% fullness of your shelves is considered complete working capacity. Libraries should be planning for additional space when they reach 75%. This impacts 5 and 10 year plans. Through her study of the fullness of her shelves she was able to move higher on the list and able to get additional funding.

Betty Galbraith discussed journal use statistics. Around this point I was thinking about trying to skip out and catch some of ACRL 101, but I had picked a seat where there was no way out without walking in front of the projector. Lesson learned – sit where you can leave no matter how much you think you’re going to love the presentation. Betty talked about using the journal data: when considering cancellation – if it is high cost and low use, or just low use; to evaluate for subscription changes; to make binding decisions; to make format decisions; and to decide about storage or disposal. She reminded us that use statistics don’t tell you everything. Do you get special editions in your online version? What about letters to the editors, ads, etc? What are the archival rights? The science faculty wants numbers to back decisions so the data is worth it.

Sorry I missed:

ACRL 101: Learn the ins and outs of your association at Annual Conference
Join us at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., to discover how to fully use the member benefits of ACRL. ACRL staff, new members, and your colleagues will be holding two ACRL 101 meetings for new members and first-time attendees.

When the session ended I was off to my first (and possibly last) vendor luncheon. The food was fine, but certainly nothing special. It was interesting to learn that EBSCO is coming out with a new product geared specifically towards community colleges, but they really need to change their pitch language. “We’re going after small publishers” makes me think you’re out to destroy them, not make more resources available in your databases. Yikes.

After lunch I went to one of my favorite sessions of the whole conference.

Gaming, Information Literacy and the College Student (ACRL CJCLS)
Track: User Services, Reference & Outreach; Information Literacy
Can the skill acquired through mastery of video games be applied to students attempting to conquer a maze of library databases and research? How have video games shaped the way students learn and process information and how can we use that understanding of these students in libraries? Learn how the gaming elements of urgency, complexity, learning by trial-and-error, active learning, experiential learning, and problem-based learning inform our goal of producing information literate students. Speakers: George M. Needham, Vice President, Member Services, OCLC; Paul James Gee, Tashia Morgridge Professor of Reading, University of Wisconsin-Madison

There’s an article about this presentation on Inside Higher Ed. (Note to self – no more reading the comments on inside higher ed. Those people can get mean and it’s depressing.) I know the word gaming can bring up a lot of animosity. I was interested in going for the fun factor and because we’re revamping the Info Game and I thought this would be a good tie in. This session was NOT about setting up a Play Station in your public library. It was very much about how games have successfully applied learning theory and how we need to learn from them.

The session was super popular, I had to sit on the floor (and stand at points to see the slides and take notes).

Paul James Gee has three books out on games and learning. He explained that the literacy gap is still there, but that there is now also a digital writers gap. Who can produce digital media? We talk about the digital divide and make progress in providing equal access to resources, but it’s not enough to have the equipment, you also need to have the scaffolding to learn the skills to use and create with that equipment.

One of my favorite examples – he showed a Yu-Gi-Oh! card and explained that popular culture has incredibly complex specialist language. He said that the card he was showing us had 3 straight conditionals in a row, which is (again) incredibly complex linguistically. And these 7 year olds understand it and use it. But our high schoolers are having trouble understanding their history or science textbooks. What are we doing wrong? And how can we fix it?

He also said that the manuals don’t help before trying the game. The manual is also full of specialist language. You jump in and play, then check the manual. After you’ve played some, the manual suddenly becomes lucid. It now has situated meaning. What had looked complicated now makes sense.

I’ll interrupt myself at this point because I saw comments on the article about this session where people were saying gamers absolutely read manuals and get angry at newbies who ask them stupid questions. The acronym RTFM (read the f* manual) was thrown around. I think this is missing the point. It’s not that you shouldn’t read the manual or that the manual is completely useless. It’s that, when playing games, most people don’t read the manual BEFORE fooling around in the game. It is so full of specialist language that it is confusing, but the manual makes much more sense after there is some background to relate it to, which is obtained by jumping in to the game and fooling around. Back to the session.

In information literacy instruction we are constantly asking the students to read long complicated explanations before they have the situational knowledge to relate it to. People don’t understand through extractions. Comprehension comes from being able to relate ideas to actions. Video games involve a theory of learning. They are complex. They take hundreds of hours to play. People pay $50-$60 (or a monthly fee) for something that is long, hard, complex and demanding.

Video games incorporate good learning principles:

  • lower the consequences of failure. If you’re not free to explore you won’t take risks. This was one of my other favorite examples – He talked about playing Tomb Raider and missing a jump – but by missing the jump he got a coin and found another area to explore.
  • performance before competence
  • players high on agency tree (have control over actions)
  • order problems well
  • cycles of challenge, consolidations, and new challenge (expertise and leveling)
  • stay within but at the outer edge of the players’ regime of … “flow”
  • encourage players to think about systems and relationships, not just isolated events, facts, skills
  • give verbal information “just in time” – when players need it and can use it – or “on demand” – when players ask
  • situate (show) give images for words
  • learning is embodied and affective (emotion)
  • recruit smart tools, distributed knowledge, and cross-functional teams

He talked about how cross-functional teams are the bane of the business world, but made into entertainment in World of Warcraft (and other similar games). They have expertise – each member must be different and excellent (one person stands away from the fighting and heals the others, one person runs into the fray to attract most of the enemies, one person picks off enemies from a distance, etc.), but also understand the function of each member so that they can replace others if necessary.

Another proposition is that no one learns anything new unless they take on a new identity. Identity iswhere emotional attachment comes. There are two ways to do this – make a compelling person (e.g. Lara Croft – confident, strong, smart, sassy to authority figures) or a blank slate.

He said that the old view of intelligences is to be fast and efficient, but now we should be encouraging people to explore options and rethink goals. Encourage a modding attitude. (Modding is changing the game itself rather than just playing it.) An example is a Tony Hawk video game where you are encouraged not to just play the game, but to design your own skate parks. This creates empathy for a complex system and helps people learn to write in a digital world. We love to read to kids – let’s love to play games with them too.

Next up was George Needham. He pointed out that there was going to be a lot of overlap between the two presentations. He asked us to consider what librarians can learn from gamers – a new way of developing, sharing, and extending knowledge. He talked about the 2003 environmental scan showing users preferring self-service and collaboration. Gamers are highly wired and it is a change in the way people see, change, and seek info.

Needham did a mock environmental scan for his grandfather to show analogies. His grandfather loved gadgets. He grew up with many advances – model T, television, moon landing. He was shaped by the world he grew up in: assassinations, rapid change in technology, unstable finances… Sound familiar?

The first computer game taught how to use computers. Nintendo existed since the 1800s when it made cards. Many people are playing games and they’re not all teenagers in their mom’s basement.

He went into an overview of the theory of digital natives and digital immigrants. That today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently than before. They perceive the world differently. Digital natives have never known a world that wasn’t digital. They don’t understand the other world. To immigrants it will always be a second language, we’ll always have an accent. (I’ll make the same argument here that I have before – my dad would object to being called an immigrant, he helped write the language. I think there are some flaws in adopting this immigrant/native line whole hog, but that it still makes some valid and important points.) We want to go from A to B to C but that’s not how it goes anymore.

  • linear processing v. parallel processing
  • linear thinking v. random access
  • conventional speed v. twitch speed
  • text v. audio/pictorial
  • process v. payoff
  • reality v. fantasy

Gamers are the heroes of their games. The game world is a logical and human friendly place. It’s natural to move between tasks. From this they’ve come to conclusions such as:

  • life should be fun
  • there are multiple paths to “victory”
  • victory is possible
  • failure along the way is not only an option, it is to be expected
  • leaders can’t be trusted, they see troops as expendable

Surgeons who play video games were faster and made less mistakes.

Gamers compete, collaborate, and create.

We think about information as what we have and gather, but we shy away from letting them contribute. We should rethink how we deliver service.

  • multiple paths to the good stuff
  • many formats, platforms
    • people learn in different ways
    • preferences
  • consider the non-print learner

The librarian as the information priest is as dead as Elvis. He asked us to stop making the library like church – not in the sense of quiet, but of reverence and authority, exclusivity and ritualitzation. (James Cowgill has a good explanation in the comments.)

  • Ask “What can the user contribute?”
  • Rethink where we serve. This includes the physical layouts of libraries, classrooms, school buildings. Information is ubiquitous, we need to be ubiquitous.
  • Online services are journeys and markers, not destinations. Librarians like to search, users like to find.
  • 24/7/365 is barely enough
  • privacy in the gamer world (and lack thereof)

Some insights from the gamer world

  • short cuts, not training. on time, on demand. “Let me show you a shortcut” rather than framing as education (e.g. – not “let me show you how to do this”)
  • risk taking and trial and error are ok. ready fire aim
  • expertise is more important than titles or credentials. arthritis in your knee? you trust your neighbor and coworker who had it more than national foundation or doctor. 14 year old girl helping librarian learn to play mmorpg
  • constant feedback – both for users and staff. annual review is not enough

How do we apply this?

  • Play an online game once in a while.
  • Offer services on IM, use text messaging, be where they need you when they need you.
  • Throw a LAN party.
  • Bring digital natives into your planning process.
  • Respect non-print learning. Learning happens in many ways, respect them all.
  • Steal the best ideas that are already out there – Jenny Levine’s Gaming and Libraries: Intersection of Services

His grandson will be in the college class of 2017. His Beloit college mindset list:

  • doesn’t know world trade center
  • doesn’t understand concept of film
  • phones have always been cell
  • google was always a verb
  • advanced anime worlds

Don’t create institutions for last generation, but for the next.

It was then open for discussion and my notes don’t say who was talking, but the ideas were:

  • many countries want everyone to read, but less want everyone to write
  • access alone does not provide equity. have to produce learning system, scaffolding
  • pro-sumer (v. consumer) – worth through production
  • 3 straight conditionals – complex logical prose
  • movement called serious games – no point in doing skill and drill
  • talking about moving a learning technique, not games specifically
  • need to supply 24/7 learning
  • learning community
  • technology is not good or bad, it’s what you do with it
  • can be reflective about it
  • average age of gamer is 30, not just teenage boys
  • go to where users are to let them know about your service
  • offer skills to users, not just tools
  • we’re a very either/or community, should bring it all together

George posted on Inside Higher Ed that he would send a copy of his slides if you send him an email. If anyone at ACC wants a copy, I can forward it on.

Next up I went to the Virtual Reference Discussion Group.

RUSA -MARS Virtual Reference Discussion Group
Come join librarians from academic, public, school and other library types to discuss virtual reference services such as chat, IM and email in an informal setting.

The theme was Fixing it Up. Each table had a facilitator and some stock questions, but we also guided ourselves with topics we were interested in. It was very much a random morphing discussion, so I’ll stick to sharing the bullet points from my notes here:

  • Need a head for a service
  • Shared Google doc spreadsheet for keeping track of staffing
  • IM – identity that you maintain
  • listserv – Digref
  • Meebo patron links aren’t clickable
  • one group uses libstats
  • privacy policy link on homepage
  • use IM to send patrons to subject specialist
  • service of convenience, not necessarily about speed
  • it’s ok to offer to get back
  • RUSA mainpage has link to training materials
  • patrons are comfortable in IM
  • cobrowsing not important to patrons
  • goes with idea of not moving the mouse for them at the desk
  • answer question v. teach
  • could liveperson add trillian functionality?
  • skype
  • myspace/facebook pages

My overall feeling was that we came up with a lot of question and things we wish vendors did, but not so many solutions. I went because I was particularly interested in chat v. IM, but I’m feeling more and more like it should be both/and, rather than either/or.

Edit – Our table’s facilitator sent out a follow up email that included:

  1. The main digital reference listserv — Dig_Ref Archive at– http://digref.org/archive/
    To subscribe, email– Send an email to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU, and in the email body type: SUBSCRIBE DIG_REF your name
  2. RUSA training help for Virtual Reference
    Virtual Reference Adventure (training tutorial)–http://cs.ala.org/ra/vr_adventure/
    Guidelines for Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services– http://www.ala.org/ala/rusa/rusaprotools/referenceguide/virtrefguidelines.htm
  3. American University’s IM Reference Service Best Practices
    These are attached, and also available on our Google Group–http://groups.google.com/group/IMbestpractices

ACC Librarians, let me know if you’d like a copy of the pdf. IM group – there’s a lot worth looking over here.

Sorry I missed:

Electronic Resources: Training that Works (RUSA MARS)
Track: User Services, Reference & Outreach; Best Practices
As libraries offer more and more online databases to their patrons, how do we insure that librarians are trained to use and instruct patrons in their use? Our panel members will describe their staff training programs and answer questions from the audience. Attendees are encouraged to share samples of their own training materials at our Swap & Shop. Speakers: Marty Onieal, Adult Services Coordinator, Broward County Library; Margaret Mohundro, Director of INSPIRE, INCOLSA; Howard Trace, INSPIRE librarian, INCOLSA

Learning When There’s No Time (or Money to Learn) (ALA CLENERT)
Track: Human Resources & Staff Development; Staff Training
Are you running out of ideas for ways to keep your staff current, up-to-date, and informed when time and money are limited? If you’re experiencing shrinking budgets, information overload, complex technologies and fast-paced change, you’re not alone. Don’t be frustrated! Instead, meet your training challenge with excitement, a fresh perspective and a renewed purpose.

Information Seeking Behavior from Childhood through College (ALA LRRT)
Track: Research
Faculty members will present the results of their research into information seeking behavior across the age spectrum, from childhood to the “Tween” years and on through college students’ mental models of information organization and their affect on academic information seeking behavior. Presented in sequence from youngest to oldest, we can attempt to discern patterns in the evolution of this behavior and glimpse how childhood information seeking habits impact upon this same behavior in college students. Speakers: Lynn McKechnie, Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario; Beverly Cleary, Visiting Professor, University of Washington – Information School; Melissa Gross, Associate Professor, Florida State University – College of Information; Karen E. Fisher, Professor & Chair, University of Washington – Information School; Lynn Westbrook, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin – School of Information

Utilizing Learning Theory in Online Environments (AASL)
Track: Digital Information & Technologies
This program will show how use of learning theories and their accompanying strategies can help provide targeted, personalized service to library users in online environments. Librarians who provide virtual Q/A, perform IM reference, use blogs or forums, or who want to teach in 3-D virtual worlds like Second Life will learn how to differentiate instruction in these online environments to maximize user knowledge, understanding, and independence.

Transforming Your Library, and Your Library’s Future, with Technology (ALA GOVERNANCE)
Track: Transformation & Innovations
Technology can transform your library and its services, as it is transforming the lives of your patrons. From do-it-now technology improvements to next-generation implementations, from software to SOPACs, from in-your-face competition to over-the-horizon transformations, three accomplished experts will instruct, enlighten and challenge you to use technology to make your library more relevant to your patrons — today and tomorrow. Speakers: Alan Kirk Gray, co-Chair, Darien (CT) Library; John Blyberg, co-Chair, Ann Arbor District Library, MI; Lori Ayre, The Galecia Group; Casey Bisson, Plymouth State University, NY; Roy Tennant, California Digital Library – Attendee writeup at Librarian Like Me.

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2 Responses to “ALA Conference – Saturday, June 23rd, 2007”

  1. Steve Self Says:

    Excellent description of the gaming presentation. I got way more out of this than I did from the Inside Higher Ed piece.

    I’ve always found it strange that we hand out more words to explain how to do a library project than the students are required to generate in fulfilling the project. Thinking along the lines of how manuals are used…

  2. ellieheartslibraries Says:

    Thanks Steve!


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