Week 14 Wrap-up Post

Part 1: My contribution to the learning community this semester

In my week 2 post I said that as a student, I was here to learn, but I also hoped to share some of my learning, too.  I wanted to model my participation on Garrison’s model of teaching presence, and be engaged in the learning process, and contribute based on my knowledge and ability.  I wanted to demonstrate emerging information professional skills, but still present myself in an honest, authentic way. I wanted to appear friendly and supportive. I said I was bound to be careful with what I posted.

Looking back on my role, my participation, and what I hoped to achieve, I think I was successful.  I actively engaged in the learning process, I learned a lot, and shared my learning in my blog posts. I also commented on others’ posts, based on my knowledge, and what I had learned from the content that week.

  • Issues with the Connected Learning Analytics (CLA) Toolkit:

I tried very hard to use the CLA Toolkit, to analyse my contribution and find stats on my participation. Ultimately, I found it wasted a lot of my time as I tried to work out how to use it. This was disappointing, because it looks like it could be helpful if it was more user-friendly, and measured what it was supposed to measure. These were the difficulties I had with the CLA Toolkit:

  • It was very hard to find my node in the Social networks; it took a lot of time, and there seemed to be no way to search for my node, or mark it so I could find it again the next time I went in. (see Figures 1 and 2 below).

CLA Social Networks

Figure 1: CLA Toolkit – My Social Networks

The red network represents Blog activity, and the black network represents Twitter activity.

My blog social network

Figure 2: CLA – My Social Network node (hard to find)

  • I did not understand any of the definitions in the Centrality box that popped up when you clicked on your node in the Social Networks box: what do Betweenness, Eigenvector, In and Out Closeness mean? And what do the values mean – is a big number better?
  • The CLA toolkit did not record all of my blog comments.  In the end I got my comments count from the Personal Activity tab in my Blog profile . I made 61 comments in total (up to 30/10/2016), with 34 comments on others’ posts, and 27 replies to comments on my posts.
  • The toolkit did not detect my Twitter use. CLA Toolkit counted 2 of my tweets, whilst my Twitter archive (which I downloaded to complete this reflection) recorded 139 tweets between July and October, which I think is a pretty good contribution.
  • My commenting behaviour:

My primary motivation to comment was to meet the participation requirement for the subject.  Without a participation requirement, I may not have commented as much.  I commented more during weeks I was more interested in the topic; e.g. digital exclusion and makerspaces; and when I received a lot of comments on my own post for the week. Receiving comments motivated me to reciprocate and comment on other people’s posts.  At times I did not comment as much as I might have done, due to other commitments.

Figure 3: CLA Toolkit – Blog posts and comment frequency by date

I had a general pattern, as I’m sure many people did, of posting my own blog for the week, and then commenting over the next few days.  This is particularly noticeable in Figure 3 (above), in which I posted my Digital exclusion post on the 7 September, and had a noticeable spike in comments on 9 and 11 September.

I found it took a lot of time and effort to make quality comments. I did my best to respond thoughtfully, and sometimes included links to other information.  Commenting was not an easy process for me, by any means; and this is likely a reflection of my cautious nature, and not wanting to be wrong, as outlined in my Week 2 post.

Part 2: Twitter

At the beginning of the semester, I felt I was coming around to Twitter, and I probably feel the same way now.  My main concern was about not knowing how to use it well. I’m still not a “pro-user”, but I am a more effective user than I was at the beginning of the semester. My other concern was around not being able to squeeze a thought into 140 characters, but I found that easier to adapt to than I thought it would be.  With Twitter, you’re not putting everything into a post; you’re typically using it for a particular purpose, many times to ask a question, let people know about something, and/or provide a link to more information.

I enjoyed the Twitter chats. They were fast, but it was easy enough to pick up and go with a thread that caught your interest, by replying to the person who made the comment. I think the Twitter chats were good for helping me tune in to important concepts around a topic, and may have triggered my interest in a particular topic to explore further on my own.

I used Twitter a little bit outside Twitter chats, mostly to let people know when I had written a new blog post.  It was a bit weird getting “likes” from people outside the course and who I am not associated with on Twitter.  It made we wonder whether some people have “bots” to pick up when certain words or phrases are posted; e.g. I got a retweet and a like for my “Speed date with design thinking” post.

Part 3: My learning in the unit

I have many key take-aways from this unit:

  • User-centredness is something we will all take away from this unit. This has really been bedded down.
  • The digital divide was a powerful issue, highlighting the inequity that exists, and the work that needs to be done to bring everyone into the digital age. I am happy that libraries are able to support digital literacy with the provision of access to the internet, digital technology and digital literacy programs, and help to reduce the effects of the digital divide.
  • I learned that there are a lot of amazing, motivated people working in libraries: Jo Beazley shared many amazing programs in her recording!
  • I learned that I could take a leadership role in online group work.

I learned best by starting with the readings, and branching off from there to pursue the issues I was interested in.  It often took a while to “find my angle” for the week’s blog post.  Sometimes a thread in the Twitter chat would stimulate my interest in a particular issue, and off I would go to find out more.  Motivation is key – we identified motivation in one of our Twitter chats as a key to engage adults in learning.

I liked that there weren’t that many lectures, and there was a lot of independent learning, with readings and other materials to start us off.  I enjoyed the program and service reviews requirement, because we were learning by doing.

  • Aspects that didn’t work so well for me

There were many deadlines, so I needed to be really organised to be on top of it all.  Also, I found the participation requirement difficult because it took me a long time to compose a thoughtful comment, so it was another thing I needed to sit down and devote time to, when I didn’t necessarily have the time available. I understand that the teaching team were trying to create a Community of Inquiry, to assist our learning, and I did try very hard to participate in it, and get something out of it.

  • Assessment items as learning tools

The EOI and grant application were useful, practical assessment items that introduced us to the theory and practice of designing programs and writing funding applications. These are skills we will need in our future jobs as librarians.  The blog posts obviously aimed to ensure we were engaging with the content on a weekly basis, and engaging with the community by commenting on posts, so in that respect, they were a useful learning tool.

Part 4: Reflection on the quality of my work

I think I achieved a high quality of work in this unit.  My blog posts were generally well-researched and thorough, often starting with the recommended readings for the week, and then branching out to pursue the areas I was interested in.  My biggest challenge was trying to stay within the word limit.  I could probably improve by being more defined with my focus. I could still improve in my blog mechanics, too – e.g. engaging the reader more with questions to encourage interaction, rather than telling the whole story myself, as I see it.

And that is the whole story, as I see it. 🙂

Are Summer Reading Programs Effective? Issues in program evaluation.

Bam, Pow, Read! Manchester City Library, CC BY-SA 2.0

The goal of Summer reading programs (SRPs) is to encourage reading over the summer holidays.  It is thought that SRPs offered by public libraries may help prevent “summer reading setback” which refers to a decline in reading skills over the holidays, or “summer slide”, a tendency to lose some of the gains in academic achievement over the school holidays.

It is assumed that reading loss occurs over the long holiday break when children do not read.  Emily Bent (2015) explains that this reading loss accumulates, and children fall further behind in reading and learning over time.  Summer reading loss occurs most frequently in children from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Julia Proctor, writing for the Age, reports that debate exists as to whether “summer slide” exists in Australia.  A spokesman for the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development said that it was not a concern in Victoria, but Rhonda Craven, from the ACU, stated that summer slide does exist in Australia.  Tom Nicholson, Professor of Literacy Education at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand, reported that some students’ reading levels dropped by as much as 6 months over the summer break.  When students were given books to read over the summer, Professor Nicholson found that lower SES students maintained or improved their reading skills, and advised parents to get students to read over the summer.

It seems that SRPs delivered by public libraries could help to address the issue of summer reading loss.  Matthews (2013) cited a study in which teachers reported that 31% of participants in a SRP maintained or improved reading skills, compared to 5% of non-participants.  Matthews’ own survey of parents’ perceptions following their child’s participation in a SRP indicated a number of positive outcomes including increased reading comprehension, vocabulary, time spent reading, and enjoyment of reading.

de Groot (2009) says that SRPs aim to help children develop into lifelong readers, but identified the following issues with public library SRPs in Canada:

  • children viewed reading as a solitary, individual pursuit
  • library staff lack time, experience and training to plan and implement SRPs in small- to medium-sized public libraries
  • diverse populations and expectations
  • other challenges such as fluctuating attendance and costs.

SLQ has a Summer Reading Club (SRC) that is delivered Australia-wide, online and in participating public libraries, in partnership with ALIA and APLA.  SLQ’s 2015 Summer reading club report states that:

“Research continues to demonstrate that access to books, involvement in fun recreational reading programs and extending connections to literature through arts and multi-media activities has proven to combat the Summer Slide. As such, libraries are best situated to help children and families support continued development of multi-literacy skills in children throughout the summer.”

It appears that summer reading programs in public libraries are ideally placed to encourage reading during the school holidays in a positive, enjoyable way.  SLQ’s SRC provides support and resources for public libraries to participate in their annual themed SRC program, and I think this centralised support helps to alleviate the issues identified by de Groot in effective planning and implementation of SRPs.

The SLQ SRC report further states that:

“The outcomes of the 2015 SRC continue to demonstrate that the program is an effective means by which to engage children and young people with literature, literacy and their local library during the Australian summer holidays.”

Some research indicates that SRPs are effective in preventing summer reading loss, however, it was noted that outcomes related to actual changes in reading skills after participation in a SRP are rarely measured to determine SRP effectiveness. The SLQ SRC reported outcomes (above) do not state that children’s reading levels improved following participation in the SRC; it focuses more on the program being a good way to engage children with literature over the holidays.  Program evaluations that linked improvements in reading to SRP attendance would provide more evidence for the statement that SRPs do, in fact, prevent summer reading loss.

Excuse me, can you pimp my profile and measure my research impact, please?

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Altmetrics by AJ Cann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Universities are at the centre of a changing research landscape due to a variety of national and international drivers.  New roles for librarians are being identified to support researchers. Richardson, Nolan-Browne, Loria & Bradbury (2012) mention the emergence of two new, important trends in research support since 2012:

  • social media optimisation
  • alternative impact metrics, or altmetrics

I had some questions: what is social media optimisation? What are altmetrics? Is impact related to quality? Are these measures misleading? What is the librarian’s role? Read on for answers…

What is social media optimisation?

Richardson, Nolan-Browne, Loria & Bradbury (2012)  define it as the provision of advice, links and demonstrations to social media web services such as Academia.edu and ResearchGate, in order to develop a researcher’s online profile.  This trend may have been just emerging in 2012, but it seems that many academic libraries (e.g. University of Southern Queenlsand Library, Curtin University Library, and QUT Library) now provide information and guides on how to maximise researcher impact using social media.

According to Thompson and French (2016) from QUT Library, “the modern researcher must embrace social media”, disseminate research via social media, and create an online persona.  The “Pimp my Profile” initiative was created by Creative Industries (CI) liaison librarians  to assist researchers in the CI faculty to develop their online personas.  The initiative consists of a three step guide, a workshop, and the Researcher  Profile Health Check service.  Although not yet formally evaluated, the initiative has had positive feedback and continued endorsement from the CI faculty, as well as uptake in the wider university community.

What is the research librarian’s role?

Thompson and French (2016) discussed how CI liaison librarians partnered with faculty to collaboratively develop their “Pimp my Profile” initiative to meet the specific need of developing researchers’ online personas.  Clearly, research librarians have a role in providing information resources to assist researchers to create their online profiles, however, it is also clear that these products can be very effective when they are developed collaboratively with users to meet users’ needs.

What are altmetrics?

According to the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL),  altmetrics is an emerging category of impact measurement based on data from the social web.  Altmetrics are proposed as an alternative to traditional impact metrics (bibliometrics),  such as citation impact  and journal impact factor.  Konkiel, Sugimoto and Williams (2016), cite flaws with traditional impact metrics  and consider altmetrics to be a potential solution, because they allow assessment of broader research impacts including societal impact, educational impact and public engagement and outreach.

This is not to say that there are no concerns regarding the use of altmetrics.  Some of these are:

Duke University’s Medical Centre Library and Archives website  states that more research is needed to make altmetrics’ measures more useful, and reminds us that altmetrics are measures of attention, not quality.  

What is the research librarian’s role?

Roemer & Borchardt (2015)  refer to the growing role of academic librarians in supporting and training researchers in the use of altmetrics and bibliometrics, as well as educating them about their limitations. Bibliometrics and altmetrics are quantitative measures and don’t tell the whole story.  A research article still needs to be read and evaluated to determine its quality.

Social media optimisation and altmetrics are the new kids on the block, emerging and developing in response to the disruption in the traditional dissemination of scholarly communication, and bringing researchers and librarians along for the ride.

You’ve got a makerspace…now where’s your maker?

We discussed makerspaces in libraries in our Twitter chat #ifn614makechat  on Monday night.  It was a lively conversation! We talked a lot about whether the library is the right place for a makerspace, with many agreeing that if there was a community need, and it could be related to the parent body’s strategic plan, then yes, a makerspace should be a priority for the library to enable access to technology that many in the community would otherwise not be able to access; e.g. see Katie Ferguson’s tweet.

Not everyone agreed that the library was the right place for a makerspace; e.g. Sharee Cordes suggesed that creativity might be better supported by the art gallery.  Sharee Cordes went further to comment that if libraries were going to provide makerspaces, why only offer technology, and not also offer resources to support people’s interest in more traditional maker pastimes such as pottery?

It appeared to be a controversial issue, and so I wanted to find out what is currently happening in makerspaces in Australian libraries.  A web search on “libraries makerspaces” brought up a list of relevant results on the first page – 50% of the search results on the first page were from Australia, showing that makerspaces are indeed emerging in public libraries in Australia.

cropped-search-results-makerspaces-libraries

Screen shot of Google search results, retrieved 22 September, 2016.

One of the results was a link to a slideshare presentation by Slatter and Howard (2013) about makerspaces in public libraries. This led me to read their article, A place to make, hack and learn: makerspaces in Australian public libraries (2013)In their article, Slatter and Howard stated that many Australian libraries have adapted their programming models to incorporate makerspaces.  They observed that the general consensus of the literature was largely supportive of the library makerspace movement, although some opponents existed: e.g. See Hugh Rundle’s post from 2013  for an alternative viewpoint.

Slatter and Howard also noted that most of the research into makerspaces is from the United States and that there was little research on makerspaces in Australia. In their qualitative study, Slatter and Howard looked at makerspaces in Australian public libraries, interviewing a small sample of 3 information professionals who had set up, or were in the process of setting up makerspaces in their libraries.  They identified benefits, challenges and identified some possible strategies.

The search results from the United States showed how much further along they are with the development of makerspaces in libraries.  See Sharona Ginsberg’s website, which is a resource guide on the subject of makerspaces, maker culture, and 3D printing in libraries in the USA, and visit Maker Bridge,  the online community Ginsberg has created for people interested in the maker movement in schools and libraries. I read 3 articles on Maker Bridge, and each one highlighted an issue I hadn’t yet thought of.

A quote from this blog post resonated with me: “Makers make makerspaces”, bringing home the fact that libraries need to consider how they will acquire and sustain the expertise to make the most of their makerspace.  After dealing with budgetary considerations, resistance to change and proving the relevance of the makerspace, a library may well be able to provide the space and the equipment, but the programming and technical expertise considerations are significant.  As librarians, we must know our limitations. If we don’t have the skills, or the time to acquire the skills to use the equipment, and develop effective programming to teach the community, the equipment will not be utilised to its best capacity.  Does an unused makerspace represent value for money?  What consequences will this have for the relationship between the library, the community, parent bodies and funding bodies?  The issue of funding ongoing technical expertise will need to be carefully considered, and factored into budgets in order to create sustainable library makerspaces that will serve their communities into the future.

Digital exclusion – what is it and what can we do about it?

Digital Divide #4

Digital Divide #4, by Barry Dahl (CC BY 2.0)

On Monday night, the IFN614 class engaged in a thought-provoking and wide-ranging Twitter chat  on Information and digital literacy, which spanned many issues from digital exclusion to e-safety, to how much technological knowledge librarians should have.  The issue that resonated most with me, and which will be the focus of this post, was digital exclusion, and the risks it carries to individuals’ ability to participate in everyday life, as increasingly, services are moving online.

In answer to the first question of the evening “Why are information and digital literacy programs important?” I commented that:

More everyday and essential services are being moved online (Medicare, Centrelink, banking, looking for a new house)”.

This prompted a number of replies, including:

“@micheleas Wow, that is so true! Hadn’t even thought of that!” (Stephanie Harland)

“@micheleas so true! Lack of tech/ability to use it can mean being cut off from the outside world” (Katie Ferguson)

“@micheleas good point. It’s just essential” (Neil David McNaught)

“@micheleas So true! I often wonder how older people navigate essential services that seem nearly exclusively online” (Michelle Dare)

These replies highlight how access to technology and the skills to use technology is seen as essential in today’s society; pointing out the risk of being excluded from society, and also pointing out specific issues that some populations, e.g. older people, might have in accessing essential services if they are only offered online.  Kate Davis continued the conversation, specifically around government services moving online:

“Government services are moving online. What does that mean for people who aren’t technology literate?” (Kate Davis)

“@katiedavis they can’t really access those services” (Neil David McNaught)

“@katiedavis moving services online mean they are harder to access for ppl without access, or knowhow” (Michele Smith)

“@nlmcnght @katiedavis or it takes them forever to deal with things as they have to call or physically go to a govt branch” (Jasmine Darlington-R)

“@nlmcnght @katiedavis or they hope they can still access via older methods – or learn new tech to use those services” (Nura Firdawsi)

“@micheleas i feel like it’s a good way to further marginalise the already marginalised…” (Kate Davis)

“with governments movement, illiterate people will lose a lot of opportunities, employment for example.” (Ibtisam Al siyabi)

“Education and employment opportunities are online too. how do you apply for a job these days? online.” (Rebecca Mutch)

These responses highlighted the disadvantage and marginalisation faced by people who do not have technological skills.  Neelie Kroes, former Vice President of the European Commission, speaks persuasively about the importance of information technology skills, and  describes internet access as a utility that must be accessible to everyone, to prevent digital exclusion.  Ms Kroes describes the implications of digital exclusion as “exclusion from information, economic opportunity, social contact, health, education and government services”, and highlights that those most at risk of digital exclusion are often at risk of exclusion due to other factors, such as being elderly, less educated or poor.

Scott Ewing, a Senior Research Fellow at Swinburne University of Technology, writing for The Conversation in Feb 2016, discusses the digital divide in Australia, and reports on an ABS study examining the household use of information technology in Australia (2014-15)  which revealed that there are still a full 1.3 million households (14%) without internet access in Australia; and that you are more likely to have no internet access, and not be an internet user if you are from a low-income household, are less educated, unemployed, or over 55.  Jaeger, Thompson, Bertot, Subramaniam and Taylor (2014) in their book Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusion, also include people with a disability, and people in rural areas, as those who are likely to be digitally excluded.

Digital exclusion is a social justice issue. Everyone should be able to participate in, and reap the benefits of today’s information and technology rich society in every way; financially, socially, and educationally.  I think that libraries have a primary role in addressing this issue, are well-positioned to do it, and are in fact, already getting on with the job.  Jaeger et al, state that American public libraries are important providers of digital inclusion and literacy, providing physical, intellectual, and social access for members, and Australian libraries also provide these services.

During the twitter chat, there was a rich outpouring of ideas about the types of products, programs and services libraries could offer to support information and digital literacy, ensuring that programs were user-centred, and people had a reason to engage with them.  Many people discussed the need for programs to teach people how to use different kinds of technology; how to use applications such as the internet, email and social media.  e-safety emerged as an important issue to address in the provision of internet programs.  Targeted research and information literacy programs were also suggested. Others advocated for services such as free access to the internet and computers, and technology/device loans.

I am optimistic that with knowledge of the issue of digital exclusion, we, as future information professionals, will be motivated to implement appropriate programs, products and services, informed by user needs, to address the issue at a local level in our own communities and libraries.  However, Jaeger et al also point out that budget cuts and the possibility of library privatisation puts the provision of public library services at risk, so a broader advocacy of the need for digital literacy and digital inclusion for the benefit of all people is also required; through national and international library associations, human rights associations, the World Health Organisation, government and industry.

Library program review: Silver Wattle Book club

Gapers Block Book Club: Water for Elephants, by Daniel X. O’Neil (CC BY 2.0)

Tea and a good book – what could be better?

I reviewed a book club for reading and literacy week in our subject, Information Programs, Products and Services.  Rockhampton Regional Library  runs a program of “Lively Events” for adult community members that includes monthly book clubs, mah-jong meetings, classic movies, trivia.net (in which people are taught to use the internet to find answers to trivia questions) and other activities.

I attended a book club at the library in historic Mt Morgan, a former gold mining town, located about 35 minutes from Rockhampton.  The Silver Wattle Book Club is held once a month at the library, between 2:00 and 3:00 pm, and is facilitated by the Librarian, Kath.  The library assistant also participates. Books are chosen collaboratively by the group.  The group has a “loose” agenda of democratically going around the table to get everyone’s impressions of the book, then moves on to further discussion about the book, facilitated by the librarian.  When the discussion of the selected book is finished, the group moves on to a sharing of other books that they have been enjoying recently. The group finishes up with a cup of tea, and a reminder of the next meeting.

This month’s book was “Grace’s Table”  by Brisbane author, Sally Piper.  (The book was very good, by the way).  When I arrived, the librarian made me feel very welcome, as did the other group members; introductions were made and I was given an explanation of how the group runs.  The discussion was wide ranging, from the shared cultural meaning of Arnott’s biscuits, to the unequal roles of men and women in suburban Australia in the early 1970s, to the relative merits of listening to an audio book over reading a book.

Having never been to a book club before, I turned to the literature and the internet to find out more about book clubs and how they typically run, to provide a more informed assessment.

Book clubs have been around for centuries; from promoting self-development or “self-culture”  in 19th Century literate, upper-class women, through to a more inclusive focus today in which anyone and everyone, from any background, can access a book club in person, or online, to discuss books.  Alvarez-Alvarez  (2015) describes book clubs as consisting of individuals who are “consumers of literature”, who meet regularly to discuss an agreed-upon book they have chosen to read during an agreed-upon time-frame (usually monthly).  Book clubs usually welcome diversity in age, gender, culture and education, but special interest groups also form; e.g. online feminist book clubs,  which provide a forum for young women to critically discuss the depiction of women in mainstream novels and advocate for social change.  I was interested to discover that Emma Watson   founded a feminist book club on GoodReads , in her capacity as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. It has over 140000 members, which I think says something about the way celebrity can raise the profile of a misunderstood, controversial term like “feminism”.  (I really want to read this month’s book by Carrie Brownstein, “Hunger makes me a modern girl”).

So, back to my review of the Silver Wattle Book Club.  The book club conforms to the above description of book clubs provided by Alvarez-Alvarez, and the way the group was run was similar to that recommended by the American Library Association (ALA)  ; so it would appear that it is a fairly conventional book club.  I would also rate highly the valuable social function the Silver Wattle book club performs, by enabling library members to participate in community life, and form social relationships.  This function also aligns with Council’s Community and Cultural Development goal of providing services across the region “to build a strong, inclusive and proud community” (p 12).   Finally, I was welcomed to the group, felt comfortable enough to participate and contribute my opinions, and was happy to share my love of books and reading with a group of like-minded people.

I would go again.

Service review: QUT Library Reference Service – “Ask a Librarian”

This week’s Information Programs, Products and Services topic, “Reference”,  and our Twitter chat, #ifn614refchat prompted me to think about the reference services available from the QUT library website.  After 3 semesters of studying at QUT as an external student, I had never before taken advantage of this service, preferring to do my own research for assignments and find my own information.

So, fighting against all my natural instincts, I decided to access the Ask a Librarian reference service on the QUT library website for help with finding references for a potential project I am thinking about for next semester.  It turned out to be surprisingly easy to Ask a Librarian, was quite helpful; and I may well do it again sometime.

Let me take you through the process, in case, like me, you have never used the service before:  

There are 2 access points to the Ask a Librarian service on the QUT library homepage; one in the header and the other in the footer.  Both links are identified by the text, Need help? Ask a Librarian (See screen capture below).

QUT library home page https://www.library.qut.edu.au/ screen capture, 10/08/16.

QUT library home page https://www.library.qut.edu.au/ screen capture, 10/08/16.

Click either link, and you will be taken to the dedicated Ask a Librarian page of the QUT library website.  As you can see by the screen capture below, the page provides information about the kinds of things you can ask about (e.g. resources and services, researching, search strategies, etc), FAQs and links for students and researchers to find more help.  Displayed prominently on the page, with symbol icons to make them easy to see and understand, are 4 methods you can use to get help from a librarian; including: visiting a helpdesk, chatting online, email / online form and phone.

Need help_Ask a Librarian_page_crop

Ask a Librarian web page https://www.library.qut.edu.au/help/ screen capture, 10/08/16.

This variety of contact methods caters to a variety of user needs, preferences, and user convenience. Popp (2012)  discusses the value of convenience to users, in terms of access to resources, and time: that is, users want what is needed as quickly and easily as possible.  The Ask a Librarian service certainly fulfils these convenience factors. My preference was to send an email.  (See below).

Email request_crop

Reference question email screen capture 10/08/16

I received an automated response within 15 minutes of sending my email (not bad, I thought, considering I sent it at 9:30pm), to say that someone would resolve my enquiry within 3 days.

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Automated response email screen capture 10/08/2016

The response came the next morning at 11:19am (see below), containing a link to only 1 article, but also including relevant, helpful information about:

  • where to search (Library Quickfind, educational databases such as ERIC, Google Scholar)
  • how to search, including search strategies and possible search terms
  • how to refine search results
  • how to find relevant journals and databases
  • how to find relevant search terms from article abstracts
  • contacting my liaison librarian, along with her contact details.
  • Contacting the library again if I required more help.
Ask a Librarian_response_crop

Ask a Librarian email response screen capture 10/08/16

My project query is not yet well-defined; still in the initial stages of development, without a full suite of key words, and no literature searches have been carried out at this stage; so this was an exploratory search.  I thought that the response I received was completely satisfactory, providing me with a relevant article, useful strategies for further searches, directing me to useful tools, and referring me on to my liaison librarian to discuss the project in more depth. I thought that the response time in particular was very good.

QUT library’s Ask a Librarian reference service met my expectations.  It was convenient, informative, relevant and quick.  I would recommend this service to other students or researchers requiring support with finding appropriate, relevant sources for projects and assignments.

Participation in our learning community – student, professional, me?

My natural instinct when first engaging in communities is to be quiet, careful and observe my environment: there could be danger anywhere.

Author: Shawn Carpenter; Source: https://goo.gl/XYCzyQ License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Danger by Shawn Carpenter; from: https://goo.gl/XYCzyQ
CC BY-SA 2.0: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I believe I have done this since I was a small child.  Shy and self-conscious, I didn’t like to ask questions (I would have to talk to someone! And, it might make me look stupid), so I tried to find out how things worked on my own.  It probably took me a bit longer, and may have been frustrating for my parents and teachers who were probably thinking, “Just join in already!”; but it worked for me.  I still do this to some extent as an adult.  I am not as shy as I once was, but you would probably still call me reserved with new people.  As I become more familiar with the community, and start to know what I am doing, I might start to gain confidence and form a few relationships.  It just takes time.

As for my role in this community, I am here as a student, so I am here to learn, but I hope that I can share some of the learning I do, too.

Community of Inquiry Model; by Matbury (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Community_of_inquiry_model.svg

Community of Inquiry Model; by Matbury (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons; Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Community_of_inquiry_model.svg

I would like to model my participation in our learning community on Garrison’s concept of “teaching presence”, in which everyone in the community of inquiry is actively engaged in the learning process, and contributes based on their knowledge and ability.  Within our community, I would also like to demonstrate emerging information professional skills, but still be able to present myself in an honest, authentic way.  I would like to appear friendly and supportive.  I am a low risk-taker, and don’t like to look stupid, so I am bound to be careful with what I post, to ensure accuracy.

I also strive to avoid conflict in my life, so while I love Garrison’s idea of a community of inquiry allowing for assumptions and beliefs to be challenged, and perhaps transformed, I may not be doing any of the challenging; however, I will certainly be observing and learning from any discussions that may take place.

As a professional, I know a lot of ways that professionals could / should behave in communities.  Professionals should:

  • be respectful
  • be competent
  • be knowledgeable
  • be responsible
  • be accountable (this means they should do what they say they are going to do)
  • be organised
  • be punctual (yes, punctual – when I started work as a speech pathologist, (fledgling professional that I was), I was not good with time, and I had a 30 minute window of time in which I found it acceptable for me to be late to an appointment. Over time, this time frame has decreased, so that now I strive to be less than 15 minutes late to an appointment.  People who have a better concept of time than me may still see this as a failure, but I can live with this).
  • be able to work in a team, representing their profession.
  • reflect on their practice, and always seek to learn from experience
  • know their boundaries
  • know and respect the roles of other professionals
  • maintain currency in their profession
  • uphold the code of ethics of their profession
  • implement evidence-based interventions.

All of these professional behaviours are important to me in my role as a speech pathologist, and I do think that a lot of these skills are transferable across professions; but I am still learning the ropes of what it means to be an information professional.  I am definitely a novice when it comes to having an online professional identity, and building an online professional learning network, but I am here to learn and participate.

I think this post is representative of the characteristics I think I should display in the community this semester. I have tried to be honest and reflect on how I naturally behave in communities, discussed how I would like to participate in our learning community, and thought about how professionals should behave, reflecting on some of my areas of weakness in the process.

Twitter and me

As for how I feel about using Twitter this semester, I feel like I am coming around to it.  When I started the MIS (LIP) at the beginning of last year, I remember feeling strongly resistant to the strong encouragement we received to develop an online professional identity; and I remember thinking “Oh no! Not Twitter!”, “Not Facebook!”, “Not LinkedIn!” (I still don’t do Facebook and LinkedIn).

Twitter is not brand new to me, but I have never used it well.  My first foray into Twitter was 4 or 5 years ago when I was working in private practice as a speech pathologist, and I thought it would be good to be connected to a network of speechies to stay up-to-date with developments in the profession. I felt like it moved too fast for me to keep up.  I didn’t understand that you didn’t have to read every single tweet, so I thought I was failing at Twitter, and gave up. Then I started this course, and the teaching staff gave me a better understanding of Twitter.  I realised that you could “lurk”, and that often, good tweets aren’t tweeted just once, and that you could probably dip in and out as you wanted, and not miss too much. So, here was another opportunity to give Twitter a try.

My concerns around using Twitter are that I still don’t really know how to use it to its best advantage – I’m not a “pro-user”; and that I am naturally so long-winded in my written expression that I doubt I will ever be able to squeeze a complete, coherent thought into 140 characters.

I am beginning to see that Twitter could be useful for some functions; e.g. getting a quick question to, and response from, teaching staff. 😉  I can see that a lot of people post links to other content that could also be useful.  I can see its value in staying across happenings in the library twittersphere.

I don’t think I can think fast enough to keep up with a Twitter chat.  I need time to think about what was said, and then work out what to say in response, which can take a long time, as I tend to deliberate over every word.  I will definitely be checking out Kate’s Twitter chat tips.

Hi, it’s nice to meet you all.

Who am I?

I’m Michele. I live in Yeppoon, a small coastal town in Central Queensland, with my husband and 3 children.  I grew up in Brisbane, and spent my young adulthood there, but I could never go back to Brisbane after living in Yeppoon. I work as a speech pathologist and I have a love/hate relationship with it. It’s something that I’ve done for a long time, so I am pretty good at it, but it can be hard to summon enthusiasm and energy for it on a day-to-day basis … and that’s why I am here, thinking about a new career.

Where I’m up to in the course

I am in my fourth semester, part-time. I started this unit last year, but dropped it in the first couple of weeks because my life got pretty busy. You see, our house got wrecked in a cyclone up here in early 2015.  Luckily for us, our insurance covered it, so we knocked down our old house and starting building a new house last year.  Who knew how long this would take?  Not me, that’s for sure.  Anyway, our new house is finally finished, and we have just moved in! We are all feeling pretty lucky and happy.

What kind of library or information organisation do you see yourself working in when you graduate?

I am not limiting myself to a particular library or organisation. Up here in Yeppoon, I don’t think there will be too many librarian jobs going … but who knows? It’s a couple of years away yet.  Someone might retire.  (See what I did there? That’s a reference to the aging population of librarians 🙂

What is my superhero superpower?

My superpower is being able to put all my energy into a project for about 6 months.  Unfortunately, that’s when I run out of steam.  So, if you’ve got a 6 month (or less) project, I am your girl.  If it goes longer than that, you’ll need someone with a longer term focus than me. So, how come I’m still here, in my 4th semester, you ask?? That’s longer than 6 months! Lucky for me, semesters seem to chunk nicely into my 6 month window, and then I get a holiday to recharge. Sadly, I have realised that I will never be able to do a summer semester – ever.

My other super power is getting really good at addictive tablet games; especially when I have really important other things to do.  I have put a few 6 month chunks of time into a few games, which I will never get back 😦

Something I am really good at is running really long distances really slowly. You can fit marathon training nicely into a 6 month chunk of time.

What would people who know me say my superpower is?

I have been called “Supermum” by people at work because I work and have 6 kids (I know I only mentioned 3 kids before, but I have another 3 who are all grown up and moved out of home now).  If you asked my kids, I’m not sure whether they would say I am so super.  My 10 year old daughter asked me to change out of my pjs last Sunday afternoon at around 2 or 3 pm so she could ask her friend over because she didn’t want her friend to see me in my pjs – I mean, they don’t even really look like pjs … not that I would wear them to the shops or anything… Anyway, I certainly don’t consider my mothering ability to be a super power; it is more like good organisational skills, which I have developed through trial and error over the years, with many late arrivals, forgotten library books, and missed parent-teacher interviews.

What would my super power be if I could choose one?

This is a hard one. No actually, it’s easy. I would definitely choose to be able to clone myself.  If you’ve seen X-Men: The Last Stand, there’s a mutant in it who can split himself into as many clones of himself as he wants.  How useful would this superpower be? I could send one clone to work, one out running, one to sleep (this would be me), one to be that supermum, one to be an awesome wife, and one to just sit around and catch up on Game of Thrones, and all the other TV I’ve missed over the last 10 years. Now, that would be the life.