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Information literacy K-12

Digital natives and digital nots

A great video from PBS’s Idea Channel taking a more critical view at “digital natives” a meme coined by Mark Prensky during the turn of the century:


This being said, Prensky later coined the phrase “digital wisdom”

Here is the comment I left on the PBS Idea Channel’s page for this video:

Having been a librarian at Concordia University for over a decade, I have spent my entire career with what some would call “digital natives” but, and I must stress this, my office is often the scene of a young learner “coming out” quite emotionally about their lack of knowledge of digital technologies. I have taught research skills to over 10000 undergrads so far and I hope to reach a few orders of magnitude more. I have found a shift in how students approach researching – perhaps they are better at manipulating a mouse – but the underlying issue of ignorance of how information is created, spread and used is still a dire impediment to many. Thank you for highlighting how a catchy meme may ring false upon further consideration.

Assessment Bibliographies Blended Learning Information literacy Read Me

Measuring web tutorials

This just in:

The MAGIC of Web Tutorials: How One Library (Re)Focused its Delivery of Online Learning Objects on Users
Amanda Nichols Hessa
Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning
Volume 7, Issue 4, 2013
pages 331-348
Oakland University (OU) Libraries undertook an assessment of how to leverage its resources to make online tutorials more focused on users’ needs. A multi-part assessment process reconsidered Web tutorials offerings through the lenses of faculty and staff feedback, literature review, and an analysis of other universities’ online tutorial offerings. From there, OU’s e-Learning and Instructional Technology Librarian developed the MAGIC guidelines (Manageable, Available, Geared at users, Informative, Customizable) to resituate OU Libraries’ online tutorials and place users at the center. Putting MAGIC into practice meant integrating Web tutorials at points-of-need, identifying and sharing essential information, and engaging students in the learning whenever possible.
Keywords: Web tutorials, online learning objects, university libraries, online learning, library services, information literacy

Librarianship Read Me Research

A quick dip in the Unified Theory of Information

I like big ideas. I really like big ideas that solve some of the theoretical issues that I worry about. That’s why I had to follow a thread that come through my RSS feeds… “Unified Theory of Information” – has a nice ring to it, no? Like leafs blown onto my yard by a chance gust of wind, I had to follow them to the tree.

First came the post, an item from a table of content from a scholarly journal:

Claudio Gnoli, Riccardo Ridi, (2014) “Unified Theory of Information, hypertextuality and levels of reality“, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 70 Iss: 3

Quick Google searches have given me these threads:
– The group behind this epistemological idea: Unified Theory of Information (UTI) Research Group – Association for the Advancement of Information Sciences
– This 20-question long essay explaining the concept by Wolfgang Hofkirchner, a central figure behind UTI.

Man, I’ll have to stop searching… I keep stumbling on these awesome pockets of ideas !!! More later on the UTI (I am not certain it is of immediate interest to my doctoral dissertation, but definitely worth keeping on my radar screen).

Lectures and conferences Research

75 academic librarian conferences

Mark Weiler had an awesome idea. As a member of the UWO Student Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL), he posted a message to our mailing list (I am a member of CAPAL) and asked us to send him the list of conferences we attend. A few weeks later, the list includes about 75 mouth-watering conferences, enough to send you around the world a few times.

Mark has very graciously and generously allowed me to post the list here. As he says:

“I think it’s a list for academic librarians to reflect on — a kind of starting point which librarians can use to advance the profession in important directions. “

Well said ! If you have additional conferences, please feel free to add them to the comments section of this post!

Conference List
International Center of Medieval Art
Leeds International Medieval Congress
ABC Copyright
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – Conference
American Chemical Society (Chemical Information Division) – Conference
American Educational Research Association
American Library Association (ALA) – Conference
American Psychological Association
American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ASECS)
American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) (Engineering Libraries Division) Conference
American Theological Libraries Association (ATLA)
Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA):
Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC): http://www.arsc-audio.org/conference/
Association of College and Research Libraries – Conference
Atlantic Provinces Libraries Association – Conference
BC Library Association
BookCampTO, hosted by the Canadian Book Professionals’ Association, which has a solid librarian presence, albeit usually more in the public library sphere: http://bookcampto.org/
Canadian Association of Legal Librarians (CALL) – Conference
Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres (CAML). Now held annually with Congress: http://www.yorku.ca/caml/drupal/?q=en/conferences
Canadian Association of University Teachers (committee meetings)
Canadian Association of University Teachers, Librarians’ Conference
Canadian Economics Association
Canadian Engineering Education Association
Canadian Health Libraries Association Conference
Canadian Library Association Conference
Canadian Society for the Study of Education
Centre for African American History – Conferences
Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto
Charleston Conference
Computers in Libraries
Distance Library Services Conference (formerly Off-Campus Library Services conference).
Distance Teaching and Learning Conference
Electronic Resources in Libraries
Evidence-based Library Information Practice (EBLIP) Conference
Federated Computing Research Conference
Guelph Accessibility Conference
Handheld Librarian Online Conference
Hawaii International Conference on Education
International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres (IAML)
International Association of Social Science Information Service and Technology (IASSIST) Conference
International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA)
International Congress on Medieval Studies
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
International Leadership Association Conference
International Medieval Congress, Leeds
Internet Librarian
Joint Conference of Librarians of Color
Librarians Conference – Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)
Library Assessment Conference
Library Association of Alberta (Conference)
Library Orientation Exchange (LOEX)
Music Library Association (MLA)
North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG)
Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services
Ontario Chemistry Librarians’ Workshop (no website)
Ontario College and University Libraries Association
Ontario Library Association – Superconference
Patent Information Users Group (PIUG) – Conference
Shanghai International Library Forum (SILF)
Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues
Society for Teaching and learning in Higher Education (STHLE)
Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP)
Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques
Special Libraries Association (SLA) – Conference
Timberline http://www.acquisitionsinstitute.org/
Tri-University Group (Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier, and Guelph) Conference
TRY – Toronto/Ryerson/York Conference
University of Toronto’s Internal technology conference: Techknowfile
Upstate New York Science Librarians
Visual Resource Association conference
Workshop on Instruction in Library Use (WILU)
World Library and Information Congress (WLIC)

Interestingly, this could be the start of an interesting research project. For example, I notice that some of the conferences are held by library-related groups (IFLA, CLA, ALA…) while others are from other fields. Why is that? Is it related to the field of interest of the librarian (social sciences librarian will prefer library-conferences or domain-conferences)? Or perhaps the location of a librarians home institution (Ontario librarians will just naturally gravitate to the OLA super-conference). Or does it have to do with the timing or location of the conference (Paris in the Spring anyone)?

In any case, enjoy the list and thanks again to Mark!

Concordia University Librarianship

Some thoughts for redesigning a library reference desk

We are undergoing a library redesign project and here are some brainstormed ideas of how I would create an information experience at a modern university library:

1. Would it be desirable to have a prominent desk greeting users as soon as they enter the library, or a more open space (with a smaller desk) that would allow users to get acquainted with their environment?
Desks create a barrier between the patron and us. Why not an open space, with a few bar-height round tables with stools, carpeting (or different flooring) to indicate that this space is special. This space could be directly in front of the entrance, the first thing students see when they come in.
Other spaces could be designed close at had, like a more private “cabinet’ type with table, chairs and connectivity tools (chargers, plugs, etc.) In all cases, the consultation space should be open – ne distance between users and staff.

2. What kind of furniture would you like to see in the new space?
Round tables. Same chairs for patrons and staff. High tables and stools for quick discussion. Closed cabinet for longer issues.

3. What type of equipment / tools / technology should be available?
Internet. Multiple surface technologies – Wired PC with many screens facing in various directions. Tablets. Paper and pencils also – they are mysteriously portable, stable and useful when available. Other paper technology: Stapler, stapler-remover, hole punch, high-capacity printer. Electricity plugs. CD Burner. USB connectors easily available. 3D printers…. maybe even a few reference books still. Expresso machine (the kind that makes coffee).

4. Should there be many levels of service spaces available (i.e. information, reference, technical assistance, etc.), and if so, how would you envision the furniture / technology available for each?
Remember, users do not care what “category” their question falls under. They will keep asking if they feel their interlocutor is competent. So, this question is biased towards our conception of their need (which, I will argue without further discussion, is wrong).
Time is the only factor useful to distinguish between the “types” of questions. So, there are long interactions and short interactions. Short ones require an open, standing-up level, space, with high round tables and longer interactions require more comfortable, intimate, space. Round tables and same chairs for patrons and staff speak to an open, collaborative, collegial service.

5. Any other comments on how you would envision the space (or anything else you’d like to comment on)?
Yes. The name we give to the service is everything. I hate long complex concept driven names. I like short, evocative names. So, I would call the RefTechInfo desk the “ASK” area and the circulation desk the “GET” area. This draws from the FTP (file transfer protocol) whereby you define system functions with simple 3-letter words. Would help with branding and directing students to the proper area.
Stop using the word “desk” – a desk is where you sit and work. We interact with patrons, so we need a new way to explain the space… I suggest “area” as a better term, there could be others.

Concordia University Open access

3D printing in Libraries & welcome Mike Groenendyk!

Mike Groenendyk at DAL I just learned that Mike Groenendyk is joining Concordia University Libraries as a fellow business librarian. Michael comes to us from Dalhousie University Libraries, where he’s had quite a bit of impact !

In my lazy-yet-mysteriously-efficient-googling, I’ve stumbled on this really interesting project to bring 3D printing to the DAL Libraries, funded by CARL. Watch a YouTube video of a joint presentation at the Access 2012 conference:

Also if interest is this video from PBSoffbook on 3D printing:

My favorite use of 3D printing so far? Making the characters of the stop-motion animation film ParaNorman. That and a harmonica. Harmonicas are cool.

Also of interest is this thread from the blog at MakerBot on 3D printing in Libraries.

Makers By Cory Doctorow If you want to read up on the potential of 3D printing, I highly recommend a novel by Cory Doctorow called Makers, available in print or free download. I devoured it during my summer vacation and it really speaks to the potential of this technology. The protagonists are two hacker/artists and they meander through a seemingly probably web of open communities, fans, fellow hackers and corporations spanning the evil/good axis. I personally thought that there was just a tad too much romantic melodrama, but in the end it was pale in comparison with Cory’s vision about 3D printing.

Blended Learning Gamification Read Me

Fuller on the future of education – 30 years ago!

On a whim, I purchased access to a bundle of technology articles from the New Yorker, enjoying these long-form essays from the past years and decades. One of them, “In the Outlaw Area” by Calvin Tomkins (The New Yorker, January 8, 1966, p. 35), presents iconoclast architect and all-around scientific great Buckminster Fuller, whose work is fully visible from the Montréal skyline since the 1967 World Expo. Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theolaphoto/1704545920/lightbox/ Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike

I was surprised to notice that Fuller had written about the future of education back in the 1960s & 1970s, and sounds like his vision fits with the broader lines of experiential & blended learning:


(Images taken from screen shots on my mobile device of the text as displayed, from The New Yorker, January 8, 1966, p. 35)

Definitely worth a read!

Gamification Inspiration

Musings on Open Data, MineCraft and Libraries

This is a vision I had a few weeks ago, that I shared with colleagues at the Technoculture Art and Games (TAG) research group at Concordia University. It also fits with a conversation I’ve had with Marius Buliga on his blog chorasimilarity about
data visualization, apps and open data (and much more).

It is a bit of a rant, but I wouldn’t want it stuck in some old email folder, not with this blog begging for this kind of weird, pie-in-the-sky, waking dream… essentially, this is a broad sketch of using MineCraft as a data visualization tool…

I love to be handed vague & seemingly impossible challenges. These usually involve plugging random tidbits together so that something can emerge. So, I’ve been trying to figure out something simple yet awesome to do with the […] Library project. Also, someone on this list (who shall remain nameless) said in passing: “it would be great to use minecraft for data visualisation” and that somehow stuck.

Granted, I did not quite know what minecraft was (my bad, Lynn’s lecture fixed that). But since the e.SCAPE conference, I’ve dabbled in gamification of libraries as well as experiential learning (which are related somehow). I’m also reading about the history of books, swarms and how games were used to figure them out, as well as my regular score of copyright stuff (must-write-phd-thesis). Also, something impossible happened in the past 12hrs, both my daughters slept a consecutive 7 hours, and my train was delayed long enough for me to make myself a 2nd cup of coffee. All these sources, sleep and stimulants gave birth to an epiphany (a good friend of mine would call that a brain fart, but let’s not get graphic here).

The […] library system is releasing its datasets in an open format (a friend told me that) – which means that you can download their entire catalogue via an open protocol. So, if librarians construct an intellectual edifice with the books they buy, this analogy can deliver an evolving structure in MineCraft. For example, you could use the Dewey decimal code (which is a proxy to the subject of the book) as well as the location (branch library, a proxy for neighbourhoods) to devise a form of city scape or structure. Collections evolve over time – books are bought or weeded – which makes it into a living thing as this incorporates the concept of time. Also, the library system uses standards to manage its collections (which translate into fields in the catalogue), these rules can be transposed in a virtual representation.

Now, if you think this is cool, imagine if we could get the (anonymous ) data-feed from individual loans made to patrons – we could incorporate a whole new level to the game (swarms of people borrowing swarms of books). In fact, this would allow people in the city to “play the game” by borrowing a book! I don’t know if Minecraft has en engine to run critters in its environment, but we could have a swarm of critters walking all over the place based on the book-loans… or more simply, the structures in the system could somehow change with loans as well.

I feel Borges would have been pissed off if I did not share this fascinating living evolving vivid virtual representation of a library, its use and its impact on a city with such fine folks as yourself. I will let people more adept than me explore the ramifications of such a representation on identity, institutions, swarms, gamification, representations…

The idea is that as a Librarian, we learn how to evaluate a collection – a living organism which evolves over time based on constraints (space, budget, degradation of the material with use). People read books from librarians and librarians read collections. The collection as “edifice” is a strong analogy of how I perceive librarians do their work. MineCraft can be a tool to share this vision of a librarian’s professional work with others.

I call this the Edifice ™ project (which also works nicely in French).