Wizarding Librarian

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Community Colleges Useful? Not Surprisingly!

I recently read an article which affirms that “Community Colleges Are Surprisingly Useful.” Those of  us who attend or work for community colleges already know they can be a great place for people to start a career, transfer to a four-year institution, or develop workplace skills. The recession catapulted community colleges into the spotlight due to cheaper tuition rates; some attention from President Obama also helped. However, it still feels good to know that the general public is beginning to see community colleges as a viable option for life after high school.

When I was in high school, a two-year school wasn’t on my radar; I wanted to go to Sarah Lawrence College and become a writer or editor. Of course that didn’t happen because I didn’t have the grades (thanks to a constantly disrupted education), but I am happy with the choice I did make, which was to attend Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. Having worked for community colleges for over three years, I’ve seen firsthand how they can be useful. Of course, community colleges face challenges such as students being unprepared for college-level work, working within limited funding, ensuring that students are able to transition to the workforce or to a four-year college or university, and so on. However, knowing that my work supports student success makes it easier to deal with these issues.

If I could go back in time with the knowledge that I have now, I would consider a community college, but I would still need to find a way to relocate because my younger self did NOT want to stay in Wisconsin after high school!

Things They Don’t Tell You in Library School

I (somewhat jokingly) mentioned on Twitter that I would start a blog all about the things that they forgot to mention while I was in library school a few years ago. Of course, library school can’t prepare you for everything you’re likely to encounter as a librarian, but a heads up would have been appreciated. While I won’t actually create an entire blog dedicated to that particular subject (keeping up with one blog is enough), I hope to at least post what I can from time to time.

In professional development news, I’ve been in a management position for a little over three months and it’s been eye-opening to say the very least. I’m still attempting to find my footing both as a new employee at New Institution and as a manager all while trying to figure my way around a new city.

Future Skills Needed For Librarians Visualized in One Word Cloud

I went to the discussion hosted by the UMD iSchool Alumni Association about skills that current librarians (and those who want to be librarians) should be developing as they progress in their careers. Much of the talk was about skills and qualities that I had heard from other sources, but a statement made by one of the speakers did give me a sort of “a-ha!” moment. We all know that we should be thinking about the sort of skills that we need for our next position, but thinking two jobs ahead (or even more) definitely takes a lot of careful planning with a dose of having an idea of the type of librarian you want to be–not only in terms of skill, but character. Since you don’t know where you’ll end up,  it’s worth considering how you can improve yourself and use your strengths in order to face any challenges that may come in the future.

And now for the promised word cloud.

future skills librarians tagxedo

Click on the image to view full size. 

The Innovative Library Classroom: My Reactions

On Tuesday, I attended the inaugural Innovative Library Classroom conference held at Radford University. I came back with so many ideas and so much information that it made me eager to put some of what I learned to use in my own instruction sessions–as much as I can anyway.

The conference was great overall, but here are some parts that I especially enjoyed:

  • Small size–interacting with other attendees and sharing ideas and experiences was easier and I ran into quite a few librarians that I know, which is always wonderful!
  • Focused and interesting topics–I felt that nearly all of the topics were in some way applicable (or could be applied) to my role as a community college librarian. For example, design thinking may not seem to be related to librarianship, but from what I learned, its principles can certainly be utilized when coming up with new ideas and reconsidering old ones. I plan to read more about this–at some point! I have a long reading list, after all!
  • Lightning talks–The presenters were given between 5 and  7 minutes to discuss some of their projects and innovations in teaching. I especially loved the One Minute Video presentation given by Lucinda Rush and Rachel Lux.

I hope to be in attendance the next time the conference is held–maybe next year? We’ll see!

Allons-y!

One of my goals this year is to create more work-related entries here on WordPress. Prior to WordPress, I kept a personal LiveJournal for several years (I remember when you still needed an invite code to join), but since Facebook, Twitter, and the other newer social media sites ate away a huge chunk of LJ’s readership–that, and the constant DoS attacks, ownership, and website changes–I don’t find myself blogging there as constantly as I used to. I’m mostly on Reddit these days anyway. Since this blog is for professional purposes, expect to see anything related to libraries here–within reason.

Some upcoming things for the summer:

  • Teaching myself Drupal.
  • Practicing my coding using CodeAcademy. I’ve been off and on with that, but since summer time means more time to focus on personal development, I’ll be able to devote more time to this.
  • Working out the kinks with the new printers
  • Rolling out the new iPads and other exciting gadgets we’re getting.

Combined with a wedding and some other exciting activities, this should be an interesting summer–I hope!

ACRL: A Brief Overview

This is actually from an email that I sent around to my co-workers after I returned from ACRL. I thought it would also be good to share here. 

ACRL was from 4/10 – 4/13. The first day of the conference were actually pre-conference sessions, so you had to pay in advance to attend them. There was a day-long session about LibGuides that would have been really beneficial to attend, I am sure. Thankfully, most of the sessions will be available online in a couple of weeks. I spent the day exploring Indianapolis until the keynote speech. Later that evening, I helped out at a first-time attendees conference (I had previously attended ACRL in 2011 when it was in Philadelphia). Geoffrey Canada gave an excellent keynote speech. The part that gave me pause was when he discussed the difference between providing funding for schools in wealthier districts versus those in low-income districts; basically, when it comes to students with privilege, we use our intuition when it comes to their needs, but for disadvantaged students, we need numbers and such to prove that they’re worth the investment.

Thursday was the first full day of the conference. Overall, there were so many good sessions taking place at the same time that it was difficult for me to decide which ones to attend. I went to a workshop about presentation tools. Three of them, I was already familiar with (Voki, WikiSpaces, and Prezi), but I think that GoAnimate (www.goanimate.com) and Screencastomatic (www.screencast-o-matic.com) are some tools that I’m going to use for my presentations.

Another session I attended was about engaging first year library students. The presenter discussed opportune times to engage students, such as before they arrive (during the campus visit, connecting with parents, engaging with high schools, working with student tour guides) and engaging with students while they’re on campus (librarians serving as an academic adviser or as a personal librarian to a group of students, participating in a common reader program). I found a lot of the ideas presented during this session to be interesting.

Henry Rollins (of Black Flag fame) gave the keynote speech on Thursday! I think it’s pretty amazing that someone, somewhere was able to convince him to give a speech at ACRL. He is really into the idea of preserving information so that others can save it. He served as the de facto archivist for his band and was able to save some paraphernalia for other punk rock acts during the 80s and 90s. For you archivist folks, Henry Rollins was able to view some of the earliest Congressional memos from the late 18th century. J

On Friday, I went to a workshop where attendees had to develop activities for information literacy instruction. The workshop focused on creating student learning outcomes, coming up with activity ideas, and assessment. On Saturday, I went to a session that was similar, but it focused on creating modules to easily customize information literacy sessions.

Another information literacy session I attended discussed the concept of the flipped classroom. The general idea of the flipped classroom is to have the students come prepared to discuss the materials that you would have presented in class so that you can use the class period to provide help with concepts that the students may not have understood. I’m really interested in exploring this idea further.

Some things that I did outside of the conference included visiting the Benjamin Harrison house (worth a trip if you’re in the area). If you like Kurt Vonnegut, there’s a museum dedicated to his works there. The Indiana State Library is in the downtown area and there are several good restaurants, cafes, breweries, and a meadery that’s nearby. I especially recommend Mo’Joe Coffeehouse. Downtown Indianapolis is a walkable area and I was able to get to a lot of places by foot. 

I highly enjoyed my time in Indianapolis and look forward to returning in a couple of weeks for my friend’s wedding.

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