Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Final Thoughts

In this final blog post, we were instructed to write about what we believe we have accomplished for ourselves in this course, which I feel is a beautiful way to reflect upon a course (rather than: what could you have done better?  What did you like or not like about the class? Etc.)

I decided to take Information Literacy Instruction for a couple reasons: I'm interested in academic librarianship, several professors told me it would be a good class to take, it's only offered every few years.  I thought it would be a good class that would teach me how to teach--since many librarians are often thrown in to teaching roles with little to no training.  Other than that, I didn't really know what to expect from this course.  Below are a few bullet points of some of my main takeaways. 

1. Collaboration.  - Ugh, I cringe just writing the word.  Not because I don't enjoy working with other people, but because that word is such a buzz word in the library field--"Libraries need to collaborate or Die," I think the Director of Minitex once said.  In this course I learned not only how to collaborate on a small scale (through group presentations and working with different personality types) but how collaboration works at the instruction librarian level. 

When I interviewed and observed three librarians from Bethel University, I was surprised to learn how much involvement the professor has in how the lesson goes.  In some cases, it's almost like the librarians are a need filler for the professor--"they need this and this and this, done in this way, and don't go into this because they won't understand and it will take up too much time."  In some ways, this isn't very fair, in others, it's a way to serve the community you're a part of.  This class has opened my eyes to these relationships I will be forming in the future, and has made me think deeply about the balance between asserting oneself and serving.

2. One-shots are hard.  You would think I would have already known this, given that, like, everybody talks about this in the library world.  But for some reason, I didn't believe them.  Or, at least, I didn't believe that they would be heard for me.  Because I'm that proud.  And because I'm brief!  I write good, short papers.  I get to the point and don't ramble.  (Wow, I apparently am sort of full of myself, now that I think about it.). 

Two assignments for this class taught me just how hard it is to stuff lots of information into a short amount of time--the tutorial and the teaching demo.  The teaching demo in a lot of ways was a lot more flexible--you could just say, "this would normally be a 50 minute presentation..." but what if, in real life, you truly only got 20 minutes, for one session?  On top of that, in order to be a good librarian, you need to talk less and let them explore more, yet half of them have no idea what ILL is.  Is it worth it to take class time to teach them how to make an ILL account?

3. I can talk the talk. This last takeaway is a little bit different but still quite important to me.  Because of this class, I've learned a lot of techniques and lingo that I can bring up when talking to coworkers or colleagues at conferences.  Because of our extensive work on ACRL, I participated in Bethel's group work on the November ACRL revisions.  Since being a reference librarian is my current career goal, it is great to already be a part of these conversations and to have teaching practice and tutorial practice to show and talk about.

Those were my three main takeaways!  I really feel as though this class has prepared me to be a instruction librarian.  I really enjoyed the Booth book and may actually purchase it (Have been checking it out from the library). 

Thanks for a great semester!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


[three reflections and then a tie-in.  this post is more abstract.  you can tell by my lack of capitalization and bracket use.  let's call this my "aha" moment.]


Once as I was checking out at Target, the cashier attempted to engage me in small talk.  Since I hate small talk but am still a decent human being, I smiled and chatted.  When I told her I was a librarian, she said something like, "Oh.  I didn't know those were still needed."

And you know how sometimes it isn't what the person says but the way they said it?

Yeah, it was one of those times.

You're a cashier, I thought.  Let me just go over to the self-check-out lane.

[But I didn't say that.]


You all remember KONY 2012?  How everyone was like, "Yeah!  Let's go get the baddest of bad guys!"  And it was SUPER popular for like a month or two and now nobody talks about it?

It's like it was the first bad thing to ever happen in the world--the way people reacted.

Except it wasn't.

It was just what everyone was talking about.

Let's talk about the North Korean Concentration Camps.

Or child sex trafficking.



Facebook status:

Hey does anyone know a really good site to download books from besides Amazon? 

[10 comments later]

April: The library.


So, okay, this post is a little abstract.  But this is where I'm going with this.

We've read a bunch of documents this week about the changing role of the librarian.  The blended librarian.  The embedded librarian.  Moving beyond the one-shot.  These are all great things.

The fact is, our profession is a constant battle for relevancy and advocacy.



It's going to be really hard to change the stereotypical image of the librarian.

A recent Pue Survey said that people still think of books when they think of libraries.

And how many,  how many times have you heard "You need a Master's Degree for that?"

My first three examples demonstrate mindset and the weight of buy-in.

It's almost like: how can we make the status of the 21st century librarian go viral?

Librarian/faculty collaboration is a key factor.

Convince the academics and the students will follow?

The relationship between faculty and the way we interact and sell our image to them is going to be key to our jobs.

How can this happen?

-Building relationships outside of our time of need.
-Advocating for the importance of information literacy.

(See: p. 374 of the Blended Librarian doc.)


Wednesday, November 5, 2014


There were many, many assessment techniques presented this week.  Between Booth and the BCIT hand out, there were many suggestions for ways to get feedback from students in the lesson and afterward.

The Classroom Assessment Techniques handout listed many writing exercises you can use with students.  What I found especially fascinating was the "Planning" document on page three.  I honestly had never before considered coming up with an assessment based on what you want out of it. Does that sound dumb?  I guess maybe I did that, in part.  But it was much more casual.  "Oh, I need feedback.  I'll either ask for feedback or hand out note cards."  Or, "Oh, I need to insert an active learning component because my professor tells me I need active learning.  It's a best practice.  Let's pick one that will make students not fall asleep."

What a practical person I am.

I guess I never realized how many different types of assessments there were, even within one category!  For example, the packet lists muddiest point, one-minute paper, listing, application cards, matrix, one-sentence summaries, and summarizing.  While these are all writing assignments, each requires a different amount of time and gives you slightly different information.

Yes, essentially your goal with any of these is to see if the students "get it," but depending on the teacher and students, you can fine-tune the feedback for better response rates or specific issues (eg. muddiest point) to help you clarify mid-lesson.

I was intrigued by the "Confirmative Assessment" step that Booth talks about on p. 144.  She says that while "Formative and summative evaluation focus on the immediate and cumulative progress made towards objectives in an is also important to examine the long-term realization of the ...goals and outcomes."

I wonder what this would look like in an academic setting.  Booth talked about having long-term relationships with the professors that are in charge of the class you gave instruction to, for example.  But that sounds like bugging professors during a busy paper-grading time period.  Hm.  I wonder how to approach this successfully.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


This week we looked at the "Engage" section of the USER model.  In this section, you design materials and deliver instruction. 

Challenges: I think many librarians identify with the challenge of simplifying our lessons.  What comes most readily to mind is the one-shot info session commonly practiced at small academic libraries (since this is what I just wrote my paper on). No one can deny that a user is most engaged when the format is clear and simple--when the design is free of "chart junk" and everything is intuitive and clear.  

When one is pressed for time, one wants to make sure that as much content as possible is delivered--this could be your only time interacting with the students for their entire four years.  This is counter-intuitive, but is still often practiced during one-shot sessions. 

Another challenge for professionals could be engaging the listeners from the beginning.  I sat in on a really good session for my Observation Analysis paper in which the presenter led with the question, "Is Research Hard?"  There are any number of ways to get a user's attention--Booth describes a great pitch she used that both interests the learners and establishes credibility (who knew you needed a Master's degree to be a librarian??)

Despite these challenges, they are pretty easy to remedy if you constantly remind yourself of them before every lesson--simplify, engage.  Not every library info session is going to be a home run, but if we keep striving to simplify our content and engage our users, we're on the right track for success. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The Structure phase in USER is all about focusing the things you want to teach into measurable goals and objectives.  This week we have to discuss what we are most/least confident about this part of the information literacy process.

One of my primary struggles with this process is actually setting goals before I dive into the creative process.  I tend to be the sort of person who DOES NOT outline, like, as a rule.  When I was in grade school/high school and had to create an outline for my paper before I wrote the paper, I would either 1) come up with a fake outline just to make the teacher happy or 2) write the entire paper and then create an outline afterward.

I have never been an outline person.


I had a valuable life lesson during the creation of my Online Tutorial.  I had created a couple of quick learning objectives when I was working on the draft for last week and had written the script for my screencast.

After I had finished my recording and was putting the final touches on my tutorial, I glanced at my learning objectives just to make sure I had hit all of them.  And I had not!

I had forgotten that I wanted to make sure students created an ILL account as a result of the tutorial.  Luckily I could add that step in to the TedEd portion of my tutorial, but it was a great opportunity to learn from my learning objectives!

The way I went about it was probably not the most USER-friendly, but it was definitely a start.

Another struggle: goals, objectives, and outcomes are all the same in my head. Need to memorize the differences between them.

Excited that the e-librarian is coming to class today!  I will definitely make sure to form some questions, but, since I have never been an outline person, I don't have many questions currently. :)


April Flies-by-the-seat-of-her-pants Youngblood

Monday, October 20, 2014

MLA Three Ways

This was my second year attending MLA, but my first year attending both days of the conference.  Last year I only attended Day One, had way too many nerves, and didn’t partake in what is essentially the whole point of going to conferences—networking.  I hid behind the sessions and stuffed my face at lunch to avoid small talk.  This time, I convinced myself, I’ll be at MLA for two days, so I’ll be able to get past the anxiety of being surrounded by a million people I don’t know and actually talk to a couple of them. 
My social experience at MLA was completely different than anticipated, though.  My library network has massively grown since last MLA, so I attended sessions with classmates and met people organically—friends of friends.  It is so much easier to grow a relationship when you actually have something invested in the person.  It is also easier to network when you have a comfortable job that you’re happy at—every person you meet is not a potential employer (although they could be, some day) which makes the whole experience a lot less stressful. 
I spent a lot of time hanging out with my coworkers the evening of the first day.  It was so nice to hang out, get some drinks, and just talk about stuff.  It isn’t often that life lends a nice casual environment to get to know your new coworkers—even work lunches have a sense of formality that a hotel bar doesn’t evoke.

            I love conference schedules.  Or just schedules in general.  I love planning my day and writing down when I’m going to be where.  Whenever I go to a library conference, I try to balance sessions that are pertinent to my job (i.e., the people paying for me to go to the thing) and the sessions that just look cool.  I am currently the serialist for the Bethel University Library, so I sought out Tech Services sessions to try and gain some nugget of knowledge that I could bring back to show my supervisor. Here was my schedule for the day and what I learned from each session.
Planting Seeds, Growing Collaboration : Duluth Public Library’s presentation on their Seed Library
·         My dream job would be Seed Librarian.
·         Government sucks and should not make awful rules about sharing seeds.
The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy: A session exploring a new method of instructional design for reference librarians.
·         I had a hard time staying focused in this session.  They seemed to walk us through ACRL and offered up a few suggestions as to what each of the components could mean, which is very similar to what I’m currently doing in my Information Literacy session, anyway.
Tech Services Time Travel: Examining workflow of the materials services process
·         This session was such a waste of time, and I lamented every minute of it because all the cool kids were at the customer service session taught by my St. Kates advisor.
·         Basically this lady recently became the cataloger at a school where they hadn’t had a cataloger for a while, and developed a “new way” of handling items, which basically just meant changing the order of a few things.  I really should have gotten up and left, but I felt guilty because there aren’t many tech services sessions at MLA and I felt like I had to go to them.

[day 2]
MILE and ALA Emerging Leaders: Why Leadership programs matter
·         Maybe April Youngblood 1-2 years ago would have been super inspired to sign up for every leadership program under the sun, but listening to these people talk about the leadership programs and the applications and such made me feel burnt out and tired.  It might be because I am completing my MLIS at what feels like Warp Speed, lending little to no time for freedom, or the fact that my world has basically become saturated by libraries and the thought of filling what little time I have with more libraries sounds exhausting.  I might revisit these leadership programs after I graduate and have some sanity again.
Putting the “Tech” in Tech Services
·         In this meeting they literally showed us 5-6 different videos of tech services librarians walking around their libraries showing us how they process books when they come in.  It was the second failed tech service presentation and made me feel angry again.
How to Host a How-to Festival
·         Although this was public-libraries focused, it really inspired Erica and I to discover professor’s hidden talents and have a how-to festival in our own academic library!  It was a great end to my day, partially influenced by the fact that they were continuously passing around candy the whole time.

            My main tech takeaway was my first experience live-tweeting a conference.  I set up a Twitter account a couple months ago and have enjoyed using it for personal stuff and a few professional articles here and there, but was excited to be a part of the hashtag conference culture. 

            How was it?  Exhausting!  Maybe it’s because my very first session (Plant Library) was spent trying to keep up with Kaia and Tony that I felt really overwhelmed by the experience.  Maybe I would get used to tweeting during sessions in the future, but right now I don’t think it’s for me.  It’s crazy-hard to multitask in that way and still glean something from the speaker in front of you.  Tweeting is harder than just taking notes.  Not only are you adding to the conversation, but you’re retweeting and following the conversations that everyone else is having at the conference and in your sessions, too. It made life feel like Eggers’ The Circle and made my brain feel fuzzy.  I think next time I go to a conference I will just try and send the occasional tweet between sessions.  Keeping up with everything is just not worth it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The U

[What part of the Understand phase do you feel most and least confident about?]

I feel like reference librarians at an academic library are [/should] always be looking for ways to improve their resources.  Their job is to aid in the research process--whether that means teaching, guiding, or providing online materials. 

The first part of "U" or the "Understanding Phase" is "Identifying the Problem."  Before you solve a problem, you need to have a clear understanding of what it is you're going to solve.  As Booth states, "Identifying instructional problems is rarely difficult--they tend to present themselves regularly" (104).  There's always something to do or fix in an academic library.  Even as a serials librarian I could tell you at least five different things our library needs to create or update--and that isn't because of inefficient staff. 

The text talks about different ways that needs come to the surface--needs can be found due to comparative studies, something that is "felt," expressed, or anticipated, just to name a few.  I think I am fairly good at recognizing comparative needs.  When I started in my position a few months ago, one of the first goals I created was to visit or talk to each of the other CLIC serialists and compare our procedure with theirs.

Something that I feel that I am not-so-good at with regards to this step is discovering needs that don't exist yet, or, being innovative.  This could probably fall into the "felt" or "anticipated" category.  I'm really good at seeing practical stuff.  Our library needs x or is doing poorly in x, so I'm going to interview or research about y & z to figure out why this is.  I struggle coming up with "the future of" this or what such-and-such will look like in 50 years.

As for the second part of the "U," I think the biggest struggle for "Analyzing the Scenario" would be figuring out how to "select fewer topics and examine them in more depth" in order to accommodate different learning styles.  I'm thinking specifically of one-shot sessions in an academic library. 

Is it really best to do the same thing in different ways, to accommodate different learning styles?  Or would students get annoyed by this, and you would be wasting golden teaching time?