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2013 January



In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten


On 28, Jan 2013 | In Redux, Research | By Elizabeth Wroten

I recently came across a post on The Digital Shift about the book sharing website GoodReads. I was very surprised by this quote:

“You may not have heard much about Goodreads, and the public at large hardly knows it exists, but this site has a devoted following among book lovers.”

Really? I guess I know what they say about assuming. I just really thought librarians at least were aware of the site. I highly suggest reading the post, it does a great job of making the case for signing up for the service.

Personally I’ve been on it for just shy of two years and find it invaluable. Originally I began by using for readers advisory; as a way to catalog all the books I had read. I am able to give my review or thoughts on the book and place it in any number of “shelves”. I tend to group my books by genre, but because the “shelves” are flexible I can place one book on several.

I quickly discovered that it was also a great way to do some digging about whether it was worth reading a book or not. As much as I want to read every book I read a review for, it’s not possible. By reading through a mix of reviews (e.g. good, bad, and middle of the road), I find it much easier to make the call on whether or not to add it to my to-read list.

I also recently transfered over my Amazon wishlist (which was really just a bunch of titles I wanted to read) and revamped my lists of books to read. Again the flexible “shelves” were very helpful in creating these lists. I had kind of started out only tracking my YA read and to-read lists, but now I have everything from parenting titles, to personal non fiction selections, to YA on there.

If you haven’t already checked it out I suggest hopping over there and signing up. You may find it to be really helpful. You can also check out my profile and lists if you want to see how I’ve been using it.


My profile:


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In Reading Round Up

By Elizabeth Wroten

Reading Round Up: Mixed Bag

On 25, Jan 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten

I’ve been collecting up links over the last two weeks, since last week I decided to go with a job hunting theme. Hope there’s something here for everyone.

Here’s a neat tool for augmenting videos. Popcorn from Mozilla allows you to add links, pop-up comments, Twitter feeds, definitions, etc. I could definitely see applicability with the flipped classroom and with library instruction that isn’t boring. On the other hand, if you have too much going on it gets to be distracting and detracts from actually watching the video. Less is more. Less is more.

From Walking Paper, a piece about getting out of the library to evaluate user experience. I think this is a great idea, not only because we can end up so engrossed in our own libraries and library land, but also because it makes us look at good experiences and see how they can apply to our situations. I should add that I love this blog. He always has great ideas about user experience, something I am particularly interested in and find important.

Corin the Librarian has a podcast called Library Chat. It is available through iTunes. It sounds very interesting and he kicks it off with Jenica Rogers. He is also going to interview Rivkah Sass of my hometown library, Sacramento Public Library.

I recently joined CUE (Computer Using Educators). They’re a great source for professional development including online webinars. The nice thing for me is that they hold a conference just over in American Canyon (near Napa). I like it when there is professional development that doesn’t involve major travel.

Here is a very interesting response to the second portion of Forbes’s articles on libraries and ebooks. This has less to do with ebooks and more to do with taking issue with what the author, David Vinjamuri, told librarians they should be doing. The really interesting thing here is that Vinjamuir actually commented and Kristi Chadwik then responded.

I really enjoyed this piece about school libraries becoming learning commons. I do think libraries need to think about making collaborative spaces more prominent. I also think it’s important to know your community’s culture before making  a leap like this. I also don’t think books need to go, but we offer a lot of other services besides books. And when it comes to book I prefer the “just in time” model to the “just in case” one. I may use this as a jumping off point for another post.

Here is a really interesting piece from the New York Times about “conditional stupidity”, or feeling smarter or dumber based on social situations and factors. I got the link from a tweet by The Unquiet Librarian (Buffy Hamilton) who made a good point asking if there are implications of this in education. I certainly think there are.

I wish I read faster. I think a lot of librarians wish they do. 🙂 Here is a technique from Bill Cosby of all people to help with that. From Brain Pickings this week.

From The New York Review of Books, what will the Library of Congress do with all those tweets they are archiving? A good question.

And finally, for anyone who was a fan of Arrested Development (if you aren’t you need to be). It’s apparently The Brothers Karamazov updated and set in LA. I always knew there was something to that show. 🙂

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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Flipped Classroom

On 21, Jan 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

So I know there is a lot of talk about the shift in how librarians connect their patrons with information. The cliche is that we used to be gatekeepers, but are now more like tour guides.

I also know that the flipped classroom (yes, this takes you to a Wikipedia article) model is gaining momentum in schools. In this shift the teacher moves from sage on the stage to guide on the side.

If you read my post last week about how my personal parental research has lead me to some changes in my professional approach to teaching, you may not be surprised to hear that I think these two movements are two sides of the same coin. Both teachers and librarians are moving toward working along side their students, interacting with them more instead of handing information and knowledge down from on high.

I for one am excited by this possibility. I think students are very capable of directing and being involved with their own learning and that interacting with their teachers in a more productive environment will only improve their learning and motivation. I also think these models work well for teaching adults since adult learning tends to be much more self-motivated and paced. I will be looking for ways to incorporate this model into my own teaching philosophy and practice.

For a good infographic and break down of arguments for and against the flipped classroom see this Forbes article.

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In Reading Round Up

By Elizabeth Wroten

Reading Round Up: Job Hunting Edition

On 18, Jan 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten

It is no secret that I am currently home with my daughter because it was cheaper for me to quit my job than pay for good child care. That being said, though, I don’t think I’ll be home forever. There are days I am very glad to be home and then there are times I miss being in the library and miss teaching.

In the meantime I am blogging, updating my resume, doing some personal branding, attending conferences and professional development courses, and trying to find the time to become more involved in professional associations. All this in an attempt to keep in touch with Libraryland (for my own personal gratification as well as for professional reasons).

It was nice this week to watch the lastes installment of AL Live which was all about landing your ideal library job. Ultimately it was a lot of practical advice for landing any job (ideal or otherwise). I highly recommend watching it if you missed it. I’ll post a link below. I also have come across two articles about interview questions, both of which are helpful. And an article about cover letters.

I have to thank one of my LIS professors (although I am sorry I don’t remember which one!) here. She had us write practice cover letters and resumes in our final semester of library school and then everyone in class critiqued everyone else’s. It was imensly helpful even if my letters and resumes have improved, the exercise got me thinking about it.

AL Live: How to Land Your Ideal Library Job

How to Answer the Top 10 Interview Questions

Questions to Ask Your Interviewers

The Torment of Terrible Cover Letters

And finally, a piece from Bohyun Kim, one of the AL Live presenters. It’s just a bit of optimism about misconceptions of the library job  hunt.

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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Redux: Parenting Crossover

On 14, Jan 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

I wouldn’t normally discuss parenting on this blog, but bear with me for a minute. With preschool programs for my daughter on my mind, I’ve been researching various educational and developmental philosophies, theories, approaches, ideas, etc. I’ve been really drawn to the Reggio-Emilia approach and the Montessori method. I like how autonomous the classrooms and teacher-student relationships are and how the students dictate what they want and are ready to learn. The Reggio-Emilia approach even goes so far as to not have a set curriculum, but instead allows the students to determine the topics of study and how they will be studied and experienced. I can even see shades of the unschooling method I’ve read about. The thing is, I always thought of this research and information as something seperate from my professional life. But I had a sudden insight the other day while reading an article in YALSA’s fall publication of Young Adult Library Services about teen spaces.

I suddenly saw a connection between these educational opportunities that I want so much for my daughter and the educational practices I should be relying on in the library. The Reggio Emilia approach accepts students as competent individuals who work with teachers to co-construct knowledge.

Teens, children, and adults these days are as much creators of information as they are consumers of it. True, not everything produced is great; we all have our moments. But, I think this idea is more of a mindset, especially for teens. They really see themselves as capable creators and we should too.

If librarians want to discuss how we are no longer the gate keepers to stores of information, we need to accept our role as tour guides. If we want to be the guide on the side, we can no longer be the sage on the stage. (Just to throw those familiar cliches out there.) We should be co-constructing knowledge and information with our students, not giving it to them as if we know and they don’t and as if there is some specific set of skills they need and we have. This is social media and the Internet. Things are changing all the time and a more flexible attitude and generalized skill set will serve our youth better than a checklist of skills and pieces of information they must have. That isn’t to say we aren’t experts and they are or that they need to learn nothing and everything. It just means we need to collaborate with them and see them as much more savvy and capable than we do and allow them to help us help them learn.

This may not be such a profound leap for everyone and I suppose in a lot of ways I was coming to these conclusions regardless of my reading, but the crossover from my research as a parent caught me off guard and inspired me. I would encourage anyone interested in that style of teaching to look into the Reggio Emilia approach. It isn’t meant for libraries and is usually used with early childhood education, but I still think many of the guiding principles are very applicable to the world today and to how libraries can teach.

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In Reading Round Up

By Elizabeth Wroten

Reading Round Up: Happy New Year

On 11, Jan 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten

Here are a few links to interesting articles and the like that I have come across over the past week and a half.

Social Media Plan: Found this one through Twitter. I really agree that there is a time and place for a plan and that time and place is usually when you need something big picture, not minutiae like using social media. That doesn’t, as Troy Swanson says, preclude having policies that set tone, etc. but overthinking really does kill spontaneity.

Learning Theories for the time-strapped librarian: You’ve probably figured out that I really like Stephen’s Lighthouse. He’s always got something that resonates with me each week. I totally agree with him that it is important for librarians, especially those working with students on an academic level, to understand how people learn and learning theories. This helpful little infographic does a decent job of distilling some of it down. I can’t say how complete it is, but it can’t hurt to review it.

Shallow Research: From the SLJ monthly (?) newsletter. I seem to like the topics and opinions of the Guybrarian and his Gal. I agree students can do a lot of shallow research. We need to work on improving that, but also remember not to be rabid about promoting over-researching (and overthinking!) topics. Sometimes you just need a quick tip on how to remove a stain. (I’ve got a 16 month old, stains are my life right now.)

I’m not sure, at this point, where I’ll end up when I go back to work but I’m hoping its to a school library or at least to children’s/youth services. To that end I’m trying to keep up with school related news, including the new Common Core Standards that everyone is talking about. I came across this archive of a webcast from SLJ that discusses how they relate to libraries. I’m hoping to make some time to watch this.

Finally, this is so true and also extremely funny. Calling librarians the original search engine is like calling astronomers the original telescope. Too funny!

Enjoy the links. Hope you find something interesting.

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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Redux: Patrons vs. Customers

On 07, Jan 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

I know there’s an age old debate in Libraryland about what to call the people who visit our libraries. There was recently an excellent post about it on Designing Better Libraries and I totally agreed with the ideas in it. But the debate came up again, for me, in this recent piece in the New York Times about libraries and bookstores, so I thought I would add my two cents.

I don’t think it matters what we call those people who come through our doors (virtual or real). What matters is that we give them a great user experience.

I’m a strong believer in customer service be it at a store, a restaurant, an airport, where ever. I have expectations for how I will be treated when I go somewhere, especially where I am either paying for the service through my taxes (e.g. the sheriff’s office, the library, etc.) or where I will be spending my hard-earned money. I want to be greeted and acknowledged, not ignored. I want to feel welcome. I want to be treated fairly, politely, and respectfully. I want to be asked if I need help, especially if I am standing near an employee clearly waiting to be helped. I also want to be apologetically told if you can’t immediately help me or serve me. I want to be thanked if I am kind or spend money. I know this can sound demanding, but for the most part, I’m low maintenance. I don’t expect groveling or great shows of gratitude.

The thing is, I think librarians need to realize that we are in customer service. We are there to serve the people who come in and wouldn’t be there if not for them. We need to be friendly and helpful. Librarians love to talk about how we have knowledge and skills in all different areas that we want to share with people, so we need to make sure those people want to come to the library and learn from us and use our collections.

I do understand there are always people who are rude and undeserving of politeness. I like to call them jerks (or worse), not customers or patrons. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your composure, but if you do they look all the worse for being out of line. Keeping customer service in mind doesn’t mean we need to let people walk all over us or carry on deep conversations with people while we check out books. Just that we need to remember why we got into the profession.

So, as I said, it doesn’t matter what we call the people who come through our doors. If it helps you to think of them as customers so that you remember to give them a positive user experience, then you should. If you already know and think it sounds too insulting to call them customers, then don’t. Just be sure everyone is getting what they need with a smile or at least a polite and respectful attitude.


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