Journey of the blogging twitterati

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Retrieved November 2, 2017 from https//commonswikimedia.org/wiki/File:Public_librarian.jpg

 

So here we are and we have come to the last post. By far this has been my favorite unit this semester. We started by being introduced to the concept of the community of inquiry and I think the unit well-succeeded in its purpose. I feel I have learnt much from our learning community and in a way that was much more interactive than just listening to a lecture – as I mention below this was active as opposed to passive learning. Hopefully we all managed to live up to the spirit of the above poster (which I love) and be ‘wide-awake, intelligent men and women’:D

Part one 

I wanted to be a conduit for conversation and debate in our community this semester. I tried to contribute toward a respectful, fun, non-judgmental and collegial atmosphere and  I think I achieved my part. I found it easy to do and I think most people would say the same. I was just myself. I learnt much from my peers and lecturers and I hope at times they learnt from me. How many comments did I make on my peers’ blogs? Probably not enough. Enough for the criteria, but I realize that was not the point. The blogs I read I enjoyed and was surprised by. Even when someone agrees with you they have a different way of looking at a topic so you end up getting a more 360 degree view.  It would have been an average of 3/4 comments per blog entry. I tried to reflect how much effort the person put into their comment or blog with my own comment. I thought the general quality of the work was great: thought-provoking, engaging and well-thought out. When I commented I tried to expand upon the concepts my peer had described. The general trends I noticed were the future of librarianship and how much will be expected from librarians in the near future and beyond. I tended to comment more on that – it is an area we will be directly impacted on, after all.

Part two

I had never used Twitter until this semester. I have a healthy level of distrust for social media and I’m a very private person, plus Trump had killed it for me. So it wasn’t a good start. Aside from that, the only concerns I had were regarding how quickly I would get accustomed to using it in time for the Twitter chats. But I must say that the self-same chats changed my mind. I was probably overwhelmed on the first one (I suspect most of us were) but once I got the flow I started enjoying it and saw the use of it. I could never believe how quickly the sessions passed and the amount I learnt just from comments here and there. There is a certain expediency of communication when you know you don’t have time (or words) to waste. Most comments were right on point and a distillation of exactly what the person intended. Other than the Twitter chats I haven’t used it much. That being said, I can definitely see the networking uses of Twitter and I prefer it to Facebook.

Part three

The key aspect I took away from this unit was that I am responsible for my own learning and for taking ownership of what I learn. Often that involves seeking the knowledge I need and taking a ‘jumping off’ proactive approach. This means having initiative and engaging in active as opposed to passive learning. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. It entails understanding that I don’t need to wait to learn something, there are no prescribed stages or ‘one way’ of doing something. Ironically, I understood that as I was back at University.

Part four

I could have made more comments on other student’s blogs. I could have read more blogs. I could have done more work, done more readings. I am aware I am very much a kinesthetic learner and I prefer to do things as opposed to reading about them. I also relied on my ability to pick things up quickly. Consequently some things were a little bit rushed, a little bit last minute. I know I am capable of better quality work. I think in general I participated and got involved, specially in the Twitter chats and in class. My strengths? I think I’m a good writer, which definitely helps. I’m eloquent and know how to express ideas. I could generate conversation in the Twitter chats and ask questions as opposed to finding one absolute answer. My weaknesses were that I didn’t ask enough questions, do enough research…critical thinking was one of the aims of this unit and I know I could have done more of that. As obvious as it sounds, in order to improve I need to push myself more. My technological know-how needs to continue to improve. This is something that as a librarian I will need to be diligent about.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and participation in this community journey.

Pop Culture and the zeitgeist of the zine

I went into our last Twitter chat not really being sure about what the night’s proceedings would bring. Most of our other chats have been fairly technical and on topic when it comes to librarianship. When I think of pop culture for some reason the first thing that comes to mind is ‘that’ Marilyn Monroe painting by Andy Warhol , Jimmy Hendrix  at Woodstock, Simon and Garfunkel, Reservoir Dogs  and Pulp Fiction, and The Matrix not necessarily in that order. And Miles Davis and…the list goes on and on. Just like everyone else’s I guess.

I was ready for  Game of Thrones memes, Kanye West Memes (I got those) and maybe even some obscure pop culture references that you would blink and miss. But instead, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed one topic propagating through the conversation and coming up again and again a number of times: Zines. Those great fan-made mixes of magazine/catalog/pamphlets/brochures made out of love and not for money. I only ever knew them as ‘fanzines’. I first read one as a child-it was 1980’s Madrid and my Dad would leave them lying around in his apartment. I started picking them up and reading them, somehow feeling the subversive nature of the politics and subject matter within. Even as a kid, I knew I was reading something that wasn’t the norm. And it was fun. From there I diverged into graphic novels and in Australia I lost track  of zines. It was fantastic to learn the other night the art form is experiencing a resurgence and a new generation is stepping out of the mainstream and finding refuge in something that is not governed by big brother.

From a librarian point of view the technical side appeared with a number of questions regarding the cataloging of zines in a library and the kind of shape they’d be in after they had been borrowed a number of times:

From my own perspective I think part of the allure of a zine is its evasive and enigmatic nature – it’s always exciting to make a find and to have to look for something that is not readily available. However, I think if the print run for a zine was to get to a size that warranted proper cataloging this would happen as a matter of course (surely with a motivated librarian stepping in and taking charge – I can think of a few).

From a Library program/makerspace point of view I think a “make your own zine” would be a winner. This could be a program used in a multicultural context as a way to reach out to different nationalities within the library’s community, a type of ‘artistic newsletter’, it would be interesting to see the particular culture’s effect on the production and subject matter of the zines. You could even encourage the participants to keep publishing their zines with the library stocking them on the shelves (although there could be issues with some patrons depending on the subject matter).

Long live zines.

 

Kids and Libraries: Room to grow

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Wikemedia commons. Retrieved October 20 2017 from here   

What is the first thing you think about when a library comes to mind? For me, it’s a relaxing place, quiet, where I can check out a few books and if I have the time sit down and read a graphic novel or two. I don’t work at a library yet, but I suspect the ‘relaxing’ side of that image might go through some changes when I do. I think the quiet part however, should be a given in a normal library. A patron should feel that when they come to the library they are somehow stepping away from the hustle and stepping into a more tranquil environment.

Kids, younger and older, are a fixture of libraries and a wonderful one. Parents have a great role to play here in introducing their children to that ‘magic quiet’ of a library. However, there will be times when their child will be there alone. Peck (2014) talks about homework centers as a practical solution for ‘latchkey’ kids, or kids that need access to services they don’t have at home. With the changing family structure, this is bound to be a service that becomes more relevant and libraries will have to evolve to match that demand.

There is a similar service already offered by a number of council libraries around Brisbane in the form of study rooms. I went past Brisbane Square Library and thought I would check out this service. I found they offered a variety of rooms and settings. They begin with their learning lounges that anyone can access. As the name suggests, you sit at a lounge and use the computers. The next level is the study rooms. To use those, the patron needs to ring up first thing in the morning at 8.30 am. I spoke to Garth, who explained to me those rooms go quickly as they are very popular.  They are designed for up to four people and they are free to hire as long as you are not using them for commercial purposes. Finally, the library offers meeting rooms. These come in three categories depending on the size of the meeting. Category 1 seats 20 to 50 people, category 2 seats 35 to 120 people and category 3 seats up to 150 people. Category three is only available at Brisbane square. The rooms include Laptop connectivity, data projectors TV/DVD/CD. There is a variety of category 1 and 2 rooms in libraries all over Brisbane.

Something that came through in the twitter chat the other night was the general theme that the rules of the library should be enforced if someone is misbehaving. Peck also talks about this and the need to ensure any issues are dealt with to ensure everyone has the same level of access in the library. I agree with that assessment. It’s also important to point out this goes both ways. The librarian needs to ensure they put their best foot forward by using good customer service and sensitivity. It’s amazing how far a little empathy can take you.

 

Making Space: libraries and makers

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Retrieved October 10, 2017 from https://365cincinnati.com/kid-friendly/makerspace-cincinnati-library

 

Over the last two decades a people-led movement has been gathering momentum in communities across Australia.  With a combination of technologies of various kinds, traditional DIY handmade crafts, artisans and inventors, the maker movement is well and truly established. But what are the implications for libraries, and as a clear extension, for librarians in Australia?

Libraries have played a strong role in the maker movement, both here and overseas. By offering ‘studio space’ that was available, many libraries have been proactive in promoting themselves as gatherings for this activity. An obvious example in Brisbane would the The Edge at South bank, a wing of the State Library of Qld dedicated to this movement. But what of the libraries that have to adapt, and indeed make space for the makers? What are some of the reactions and some of the ways to go about it? The makerspace debate tends to generate some polarized reactions. Some studies suggest that in a large majority of cases library users seem happy and in fact endorse the practice of makerspace. On the negative side of the spectrum, those that in the minority resist the changes appear to be librarians themselves or library staff members.  Is there a clear idea in the library profession as to what is the contribution that libraries can bring to this space and vice versa? Something I took away from the other night’s twitter chat was that most of us were not sure as to how far to take it, what to do with it. What is the library’s mission in all this? If the overseas experience is anything to go by, libraries are at the nexus of it.

I think part of the answer to the questions begins by clarifying the level of involvement that a library wants, needs or (I suspect in most cases) is able to have with the community it serves. I think there would be many libraries that would be happy to offer more to their patrons than what they do, but in spreading themselves too thin might risk becoming the classic ‘jack of all trades and master of none’.  As always, there are budgetary restraints and a library needs to think carefully before investing in technologies that might be just a passing fad or outdated within a short period of time. Yet it would seem it is in the very nature of the maker movement to make do with very little indeed – something libraries are well-versed in. From that point of view, makerspaces and libraries seem a natural match.

I think that makerspaces in libraries are here to stay and will continue to make inroads in the years to come. As far as the library profession goes, I suspect that this will somehow end up being integrated into the education for future librarians. The benefits for young members of the community is also becoming clear. Furthermore, libraries are more than just access points to information in the community. They are places of connection, collaboration and participation that promote community cohesion. More of that, I say.

 

 

Information and Digital literacy: Integration and evolvement

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Retrieved September 17, 2017, from https://newprofessionalsnetwork.wordpress.com/

Knowledge is power

Francis Bacon

The capacity for individuals to change their circumstances can only really take place through the empowerment that comes from being informed and knowing how to access that knowledge. Change begins with information.

Last semester, as part of Information retrieval, we had to write a literature review. Mine was on migrants’ and refugees’ information literacy.  The two sentences above were the final lines of my reflection for the assignment. This was one of the most important things I internalized through doing that task. I have always greatly valued education and knowledge. But up until that point I think that had been an almost intuitive assumption. After reading many articles in order to write about the topic, it became a cognitive understanding: Education, knowledge, know-how, skill and all the other different guises information goes by, all begin with a person being able to access the necessary information.

We live in a time where to be a fully participating member of society means to be information literate and to have a basic degree of digital literacy. We are quickly reaching a moment where literacy alone is not enough. Literacy is a basic beginning. It seems as if there are few areas in society, if any at all, that are left unaffected by someone’s capacity to access that service, contact that person, take part in that forum, and have their voices heard. For those unable to do so, they are at great risk of becoming isolated.

I think that libraries undoubtedly have a massive role to play in this arena. As this week’s readings indicate, this was something that was identified by UNESCO and IFLA in the early 2000’s. Public libraries are traditionally, socially and culturally recognized as agencies that promote information access and use. Offering courses and workshops on information and digital literacy is part of the basic services libraries maintain and should be available to anyone. Along with them I also think Schools should specifically teach information literacy, as the assumption that every young person is a ‘digital native’ is being proven to be a myth.

debate has been taking place for years about how much technological knowledge librarians should have and teach. Libraries are about people, first and foremost. And librarians are not computer scientists (I don’t think they should try to be, either) but it’s impossible to dismiss the fact that librarianship is in a paradigm shift when it comes to this issue. Out of necessity and ingenuity librarians have proven to be a resourceful lot and I think that by and large the industry is adapting, as ever, to the needs of patrons and societal expectations in regards to this topic. When looking at the level of trepidation many librarians had by the upcoming ‘digital revolution’ twenty years ago  and comparing it to where we are today, I think any observer would surmise the industry has acquitted itself well. Perhaps now we can start a conversation about the new direction libraries should go- new librarianship, anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergent literacy: Program review

35811680 - little boy studying the scriptures.

Retrieved September 1, 2017, from https://goo.gl/images/NvSRqv

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 

I can read with my eyes shut! – Dr Seuss

This rhyme by Dr Seuss encapsulates a truth that should be self-evident: children who learn about the world of books and reading early, have better opportunities than those who don’t. The importance of exposure to pre literacy practice for children is becoming increasingly clear.

For my blog this week I reviewed one of the pre literacy children’s programs offered by the Brisbane City Council libraries: First Five Forever.

The program is funded by the State Library of Queensland. The librarian tells me that this was an initiative from SLQ when it was revealed a few years ago that Queensland was running behind the rest of Australia in literacy rates. Library staff from BCC undergo a two-day training course at SLQ to learn how to facilitate the program. First Five Forever sessions go for half an hour and it is offered in the morning on different days of the week, depending on the library. It is specifically designed for toddlers aged 1 to 2 years but children up to 5 are welcome. I am attending the 9.30 am session on a Saturday morning at Annerley Library.

I’m pleasantly surprised when I learn that it is parents and not their children who are the main intended target of this program. On the face of it this is a storytelling activity for toddlers. However, when I spoke to the librarian she explained to me that what they try to accomplish is to show the parents a variety of simple activities and ideas at home to encourage emergent literacy. Some of the ideas and activities include:

  • Having books available for the child to explore
  • Making lists or timetables
  • Pointing out signs and words
  • Helping children understand a story
  • Explaining tricky words
  • Pointing to words as you read them
  • Clapping out syllables in words

I happen to choose a quiet day. Today it is just a Mum and her 2 year old with the librarian running the program. For the benefit of the exercise I will name the little girl Anna. The session commences with a sing along and Anna is gently encouraged by her Mum and the librarian to do actions that are mentioned in the song (in this case, open and close her hands) and to try and sing words she might recognize. Next there is another song, and this time the librarian specifically asks Anna questions: What sound does a lion make? (roar) What sound do wiper blades make? (swish). Anna has been to these sessions before and clearly is recognizing many of the cues, as well as making a clear connection between words and actions and identifying things (where is your nose, where are your eyes?-what’s this…? Where is the beak of a bird?)

The librarian doing the session is well-versed in the running of it. There is a natural flow as the activities get more complex for Anna. This is not a passive performance where toddlers (or parents) sit and watch. Anna, as well as her mother, are full participants. Anna is constantly asked questions, finishing sentences in a song, connecting words to actions and sounds to words.

The structure is not rigid. It is flexible, going along with the toddler. Anna is allowed to wander but her attention is always captured back, whether with a song, clapping, puppets or colorful scarfs.  Towards the end, Anna’s attention begins to wander and clearly the librarian knows and expects this, introducing a final ‘fun’ activity using bubbles. Even during this activity she is asked questions and encouraged to do actions.

As the session ends, the librarian has a chat with Anna’s Mum in regards to Anna’s capacity to ask questions and recognize words.

This is a well-run program. I am impressed by the amount of interaction required from the toddler, who never gets to sit passively and simply observe. At the same time, the atmosphere is fun and gentle, encouraging the parent to be constantly involved in every single activity. A lot of thought and research has been put into these sessions and this is corroborated by the readings we had this week on children’s preliteracy as well as the articles and report I have provided. A great initiative and in my opinion a fantastic program. Professionally delivered, and relevant to the research on the topic of emergent literacy.

Collaborating in a community of inquiry

[Update: I got a bit off topic in Ramiro’s collaboration, my original post for week two. This is more specific to our own community-I welcome any comments:)]

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Ever been in a lecture and somebody asks a question or make a comment that makes you think about the subject in a totally new way? Or it confirms an opinion or understanding that was already forming in your mind? It happens to me often. Some of the moments I most enjoy in a class take place when the lecturer sparks debate and conversation regarding a topic. I find it is easy in a traditional lecture (for me at least) to develop a type of learning tunnel vision. It is through listening to others’ opinions and experiences that one is able to see a different perspective and gain further understanding.

I found the concept of the CoI (community of inquiry) to be quite an absorbing one. I have always been more of a kinesthetic learner so for me the concept of a collaboration between the social, cognitive and teaching presences naturally makes sense. By presenting the material and creating a platform to discuss it, the lecturer leads the session, facilitating triggering events through respectful discourse and conversation within the safe community environment. This allows the students ( and hopefully at times the lecturer) to construct and derive more meaning than would other ways be possible through introspective reflection.

My natural instinct when moving within a community is firstly to engage with others through establishing points of reference. I look for the similarities, instead of focusing on the differences. It’s so easy to fall in the trap of ‘the other’, and to place oneself in a superior position. By doing this we unwittingly build walls around ourselves. Other people will always have a different perspective on topics, which is created through their own experience. I like to listen and learn. When it comes to our community of inquiry I would like to have the profile of someone that contributes and participates in the inquiry process. This should always take place while observing the social emotional environment and sensitivity within a group.

As professionals, I think we primarily should build bridges between the community and information, thereby helping in the process of creating what I might term an ‘evidence based practice’ society. My challenges in this? I must admit I’m an assertive individual with strong opinions-if you get into a political debate with me you will know it can quickly take on the shape of sparring. This is a natural tendency for most people but nevertheless an instinct that as a professional I will need to moderate. As long as there is respectful interchange we are there to enable the sharing of knowledge.

I believe this post incorporates the elements and characteristics I should display this semester. We should ask questions, inquire, be thoughtful of one another and respectful to each other.  It is an interesting exercise to be rewriting this post in week 5, as I feel I have a bit more of an understanding for what the community of inquiry is, particularly after the first Twitter chat. I look forward to more.

 

 

 

The relevance of reference

When thinking about the classic view that many people have of a librarian stacking shelves it is easy to believe the role of the librarian and libraries in referencing has become outdated. On having a closer look at the definition given by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) the following struck me:

Reference Transactions are information consultations in which library staff recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources to help others to meet particular information needs.”

Interpret. Evaluate. One particular topic that stayed with me from Wednesday night’s conversation was the issue of discernment, currency and accuracy of information. I believe this goes to the very heart of answering the question surrounding the relevance of referencing work and services. Can the industry promote a new term, something more punchy than the ambiguous “referencing”? Sure. Should the industry arrive at a new consensus of what that might be? Perhaps. But there is a larger issue at play here: There is a fundamental misunderstanding and lack of knowledge on the part of the general public about what librarians do. The industry needs to build on the good will  and trust created by libraries in communities and become even more relevant as a trusted source of reliable information.

Libraries already play a very large role in advocating information literacy and critical thinking. They have done so for a very long time. But it is my opinion that an even larger effort is required and should be promulgated through library bodies and associations. Given the proliferation of technology nowadays it is a simple assumption to make that in today’s ‘Google society’, with so much online access to information, reference work is irrelevant. But it is the opposite: In a society where the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016 was post-truth, a library’s mission of advocacy for information and media literacy through referencing is more applicable than ever. This goes much further than just the capacity to be able to spot ‘fake news’.  Within an academic environment students should be learning how to properly research. It is becoming clear that this is a skill set that is going to be extremely useful in the workforce . When viewed through the prism of life skills it becomes apparent that the ability to access accurate information has repercussions on every area of life-health, finances, work prospects-and the librarian is in a perfect position to have a positive impact on that regard.

My opinion is that we are not seeing the demise of referencing work. Referencing is constantly evolving, and it is interesting to observe that librarians have been dealing with changes in the field of information since the 19th century. Referencing and information literacy, as well as the teaching of it, are intrinsically linked. Libraries need to continue adapting to the ever changing information landscape and providing patrons with the services that will make them better informed individuals. Given the times we are living in, it is more relevant than ever that the industry endeavors to self promote and connect to the general public and stakeholders as much as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on Twitter

I am new to Twitter.

This feels like some sort of a confession but to my delight quite a few of the guys in class have committed the same crime. We are all about to do time together.

Seriously though, I had been curious about it for a while so I am happy to be put in a position where I have to satisfy that curiosity. True confession? I have an aversion for social media…there is a level of apprehension about the Twitter chats, I’ve heard it’s fast and furious and I hope to be able to contribute in a meaningful way. Practice makes perfect, I guess. I have to admit I find the term ‘chat champion’ hilarious every time I hear it. But I am looking forward to it and it clearly is the main social network tool in the industry so it’s great to be learning how to use it properly.

I think once I get my head around the mechanics of it I will enjoy using it. There is a certain sense of immediacy to it, a relevance that Facebook simply stopped having years ago. It might just be the final push that makes me delete my Facebook account. Sorry, Mark.

Ramiro’s collaboration

[Update: this was the original post I wrote for week 2. It was quite off topic so I’ve now written Collaborating in a community of inquiry which is much more relevant to our own community-thanks guys;)]

Collaboration, participation, combination, communion, congruity, connection. Versus antagonism, animosity, antipathy, hindrance, discord and hostility. What sounds better? These two groups are clearly at odds with each other. In fact, they are diametrically opposite. They are also part of a personal choice we all make every day. How do we want to operate through life? What do you think is better for humanity?

My natural instinct when moving within a community is firstly to engage with others through establishing points of reference. I look for the similarities, instead of focusing on the differences. It’s so easy to fall in the trap of ‘the other’, and to place oneself in a superior position. By doing this we unwittingly build walls around ourselves. A healthy curiosity for the world at large draws me towards differences in individuals and groups. What is it that makes them different? What makes them tick? What is their view of the world? Some of the most worthwhile conversations I’ve had were with people who, through talking about their lives, have sparked a different vision for me. When it comes to our ‘community of inquiry’ I would like to be someone that sparks that kind of conversation.

As professionals, I think we primarily should build bridges between the community and information, thereby helping in the process of creating what I might term an ‘evidence based practice’ society. My challenges in this? I must admit I’m an assertive individual with strong opinions-if you get into a political debate with me you will know it can quickly take on the shape of sparring. This is a natural tendency for most people but nevertheless an instinct that as a professional I will need to moderate. As long as there is respectful interchange we are there to enable the sharing of knowledge.

We currently live in an authoritarian world obsessed with fear, creating barriers and restricting inquiries into the actions of those in power. The message is clear: don’t ask too many questions. Don’t listen to the facts, go with the gut reaction. Although this may seem far removed from a community such as this, it nevertheless has repercussions on society at large. It has a divisive effect, separating communities and individuals and making it harder to create trust and therefore work together. As a race, human beings always achieve more when groups of people from different backgrounds decide to work toward the common good. This seems obvious, but it is easy to appeal to people’s base instincts. This is why we need collaborative communities that are well informed and tolerant of differences. It takes respect and tolerance.

To reiterate, I think this is part of a personal choice each of us makes every day. What can I learn from another? How can I participate? As with many other things, it is a matter of willingness.

I leave you with a sobering thought:

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. 

Charles Darwin