Month: March 2014

Embedded librarians and Webinars

This week in class we will be discussing embedded librarians and begin planning for our webinars! I’m still coming down from the high I got after my successful workshop and I’m hoping that my webinar goes over just as well.

This weeks reading we split between embedded librarians and webinars. Since the webinars are still a bit of a mystery, this blog will most be on embedded librarians. Embedded librarianship is unique position in which a librarian is not in library at all but rather placed within a program, research, or teaching staff. That librarian become the information specialist and it engages directly with the work being done.

“Through embedded librarianship, librarians move from a supporting role into partnerships with their clientele, enabling librarians to develop stronger connections and relationships with those they serve” (Jake Carlson and Ruth Kneale, Embedded librarianship in the research context).

Its becoming more common to have a librarian play more than a supporting role within research and projects. I think other fields are realizing the importance and impact that having a librarian can have on different aspects of the work being done. Librarianship is a very versatile field and there are several benefits to having a embedded librarian within academic programs and fields.  I cam across a interesting blog  by Joe Hardenbrook about how librarian can start to embed themselves into a course of program. Some of the interesting points in this blog are:

  • start small with an individual course that you are comfortable with and able to expand on.
  • explain what embedded librarianship is and how it can benefit the course or program specifically.
  • Work with the faculty member to identify the level of service needed.

If its not completely possible to be embedded into a program, think about other tools you can use that can be embedded. Its also really helpful to provide services such as workshop, screencast or open communication between you and anyone in the course or program that need assistance. “The Embedded Librarian Online or Face-to-face: American University’s Experience” is a great case study of how both a embedded librarian or embedded library tools can ‘close the communication gap between librarians in the library and the users the serve in the colleges’.

[Caution: My soap box is coming out] I think all programs should have a embedded librarian. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, information is complex and sometime useless with people who can organize and utilize it. Career and academic counselors  are embedded into programs and colleges because the student need their expertise and skills to help navigate the wealth of information and resource. There’s so much course and student content that are just floating around with no home and no one to cultivate them into useful and meaningful libguides, workshops and webinar. I get that its a cost to the college and the university to hire someone to do this job, but you can expect a traditional librarian to fill all the holes that students need filled.


Til next time…shhh


Weeding workshops

Last week we each conducted our workshops and it was so much fun. It was really clear that everyone had learnt from the mistakes they mad during the book clubs and I feel like we all put a little more effort into our workshops. Overall I really enjoyed myself and learnt a lot from the other groups. I even got a chance to tap into the inner high school version of myself. Of course there was snacks and used the Ramblehook application to keep a timer for all of the groups.  It didn’t even feel like course work or stressful. It felt like I was getting together with a small group to actually conduct a short, fun workshop.

Emily and I did our workshop called “The Darkside of Librarianship: Strategies for Avoiding Weeding Controversy” (keeping with our theme of darkness from the book clubs).  I’m really glad that it went over so well because I was a little concerned when we were planning that we wouldn’t have enough time to get things done. Emily came up with the topic because she’s in the collection management course now and I read a few links to blogs and papers she sent me to get a better understand of it myself. Our feedback from the group was really positive and I’m so happy Emily and I were able to do such a good job.


One Shot Ethics

Last week in class we discussed ethics and the need for a code of ethics. We were also given an example of a way your personal and professional ethics could come into conflict. The example was that a parent heard that there was a book being used to teach children about metaphorical language and one of the line in the book was “poke you eye out” however there was a student would had an eye injury so the parent asked if it would be possible to take the book off the shelf for the rest of the semester. That’s such a difficult ethical dilemma. I can understand why the parent would want to protect her child from uncomfortable situations regrading his injury but the book is meant to be available to all students. If I were the librarian in this situation I would let the parent know that while I completely understand why she wants to have to book taken away, I would put the needs of her child over the needs of the student community. The book is meant to teach children, and it can’t be assumed that a child will read that line and use it in a hurtful way towards her child. I also don’t think that’s a logical reason to remove a book, what would a library look like if all the book that could potentially make someone feel uncomfortable were removed? I’m not looking forward to having to face those type of situation in my career.

This week is the week we do our one shot workshops. I underestimated how difficult it  would be to work through the workshop ADDIE. Honestly the hardest part was just picking a topic that would be relevant and interesting. My partner Emily and I are still putting the pieces together but I think it’ll turn out fine. I have a lot of workshop facilitation experience and Emily is really knowledgeable about the topic. I ‘m looking forward to presenting as well as seeing how everyone else does.

Til next time…Shhhh

Ethics in Librarianship

Ethic– regardless of the context– is a tricky subject. Ethic  is the word used to describe a set of rules or moral that guide behaviors or attitudes. To be ethical means that you have an understanding of which behaviors will help or harm you and you try to avoid acting in a way that will harm you. Ethics is a difficult topic to discuss because not everyone shares the same morals and different culture have a different understand of what ethical values people should adhere to. Ethics in the context of librarianship is also difficult and the reading for this week tries of outline what ethical responsibility librarians should have toward their patrons. The first reading is “Dangerous Questions at the Reference Desk” by Mark Lenker which was published in the Journal of Information Ethics. While reading one quote really stood out to me:

“Should the librarian refuse service on the grounds that assisting the patron may result in harm to the patron and to others?” (Lenker,44)

This is a question I have asked myself and others and truthfully I don’t know what I would do. I’d like to think that I would fulfill my duty as a library and assist the patron with there query, after all Google wouldn’t block or stop a search just because the query seems like it may cause harm. But I am not an algorithm. I am a compassionate human that may not feel comfortable helping someone find information that may cause harm. But I think this issue has two sides that need to be address: how much ethical responsibility should a librarian have and how much ethical responsibility does the patron expect. How much distance and privacy do library patron expect from the librarian? In 647 we were taught to be as interested in the patron query as they are because it will allow you to help them better, but in a situation where someone could get hurt or needs help–how much should the librarian remove themselves and just do the task.

I remember a few weeks ago I was at work and overheard a group of student discussing dangerous behavior. I had no idea what to do. Technically they hadn’t asked me anything at the desk, they just happened to be speaking loud enough that I could hear. I immediately wanted to offer them some help, a list of resources they could utilize and ways in which they could get help. I wanted to help them, not just as the librarian, pulling up a list of people and places they could get help, but as a human, who didn’t want to sit back and do nothing while these girls discussed their issues. But instead I did nothing because they hadn’t come to me at the desk..but does that matter? If a librarian walks pass a patron using the computer to look up how build an explosive that it powerful enough to destroy a home, or overhears two patrons discussing how to do it, is there also a responsibility for the librarian to do something? Or does the ethical rule to interject limit itself to the reference desk?

The ALA has a Code of Ethics that are meant to be a set of principles that guide the profession and assist librarian when their personal ethical values conflict. The code is very important and it allow for consistency among the behavior of librarians.There a three that I try my best to embody every day:

I. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.

III. We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

VII. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.

These three are important and at times can be difficult. These three are why some situations are tricky and complex to handle. It is not easy yo set aside a bias or to remove your personal beliefs. And in a world of constant communication and over-sharing, at times it can be hard to respect someone’s privacy. Although it may be difficult, I can and will continue to do my best.

I’m really looking forward to this weeks discussion.

Til next time…shhh

Book Club Reflection

The Spade book club was a lot of fun. Somehow we all chose very interesting, twisted, thought-proving readings. It was weird that all of the stories were in some way related (mostly because they all had to do with pain, death, or teaching someone a lesson). Aside for the great conversation, we also have a very yummy array of snacks, which meant we too a lot of snack breaks. However we did break a very important book club rule—we have crunchy snacks like crackers, which made it a little awkward at times.

We had a really goo conversation about the Margaret Atwood reading Happy Endings. I had never heard of Margaret Atwood before so I was unaware of her writing style and other works. The conversation we had about this short story went back and forth about the actually content of the story and Atwood  writing style. It was very interesting because had it not been for the book club I still may not have been aware of Atwood but hearing my classmate describe her other work changed the way i though about the story. That conversation really made be think deeper about the story and want to read more of Atwood  work. I didn’t think about how the author of a story could change how you think and feel about it. Having that conversation made all of us think more about the other authors of each of our stories and how their style and background may effect how we reflect on the reading.

That reminded me of our course of transliteracy and knowing the sources of work published before you react on it. The process of looking in to the source or author can change how you original though about an article or reading. We had a much deeper conversation once the authors intention was brought up and I really enjoyed that. I plan on reading more of Atwood work and also being more aware of the voice of the author whenever I read.

Til next time……shhh!