Honestly, this week’s class I was really feeling the end of the semester burn-out slump. Just as Kristin said in class, there is that one day where everyone is just showing it all and for me, it really was this day. Still I think there are a lot of important concepts to keep in mind that came up throughout today’s discussion.
First, I am excited to learn how to use at least one kind of webinar software. This class will actually be my first experience with webinars – from viewing them to participating in them. The webinar I viewed for class was somewhat interesting – though I honestly tuned in and out of it and kept going back to see if I missed anything important. This may or may not have had to do with the fact that I was watching an archived webinar, or if the topic just wasn’t enough to hold my attention – or my expectations.
I think this is also something that is in a way the most terrifying – because when you’re in a room with people you can read it and really get a sense of how things are going. Also, if you know your subject well enough, you can decide which parts you need to skip, cover, return to based on the room. A webinar has some of that functionality built in through the chat functions – but I wonder how much easier it is to lose control of the room in this situation. For example, the comment of “if you have a chance to talk to this famous person, you’re going to do so no matter what is happening” struck me as truth for many people, but I also had a moment of “but that’s rude!” in my thinking. If everyone was sitting face to face it would be extremely apparent that you are having a conversation while the speaker is presenting – and that would also be considered extremely rude.
Perhaps this is where my lack of expertise/knowledge in webinars is showing itself. I think the chat functionality will had a lot of rich contexts to the webinars and allows for more learning from more people, so I don’t suggest getting rid of it. I will just have to start attending more webinars to see it in “real life” and get a sense of it’s full range sof uses.
The discussion on embedded librarianship was also interesting. I don’t think I realized how many ways librarians can actually show this to their patrons. It seems like it works in certain situations and not in others – so I’m wondering if that is just the nature of libraries (what works in one doesn’t always take in another b/c of community involvement or whatever) or if there are other ways to have embedded librarians that nobody has thought of yet or tried yet. I am still trying to think of where I have seen or experienced embedded librarians and can’t seem to pinpoint anything at the moment. The thing I come up with most is the music library at my undergrad was in the music school building and both librarians desks were right on the first floor – completely open to the library itself – no cubicles or anything. Literally 2 desks next to the circulation desk, but everything was the same height so you could see everyone. Anyway, interesting to try to start noticing if/when I’m around it.
“The embedded librarian will always go to where the users are, even without leaving their cubicle.”
That quote, which is the last sentence of the article, pretty summed up what I was thinking as I read this article. The concept of an embedded librarian is something that seems to be what I have encountered in my undergraduate life and can see in my graduate life. In all cases, though, the librarians are making an effort to meet the users where they are, in the best way possible for that particular institution, place and time.
Completely on-line librarians may not be exactly what the user need but a librarian that is always stationed at that particular library might be. It could be the other way around. It could be something in the middle. All of it speaks to understanding the best way to reach users. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t looking to the future or trying to anticipate where the patrons are heading, but it does mean they are working with them where they are now, which is important.
edited to add: I do like the idea of reaching students/users/patrons outside of the library setting. Especially when we know that not everyone uses the library or understands it’s value, this is an important piece of out-reach that directly affects the embedded librarian. (Okay – all librarians).
…reflection on readings, How People Learn, Chapter 7…
This chapter was very reminiscent of other teaching pedagogy books I have read either through undergraduate classes or as professional development. The chapter goes through best teaching practices, with examples, of teaching the subjects history, mathematics and science in schools. It uses the best-teaching practices of the featured teachers to discuss certain aspects of good teaching, such as: being sensitive to prior knowledge or misconceptions students may have, understanding what areas students will have difficulty learning, understanding the structures of the discipline – and that it should be taught to the student, holding students’ responsible to deciding and explaining why a certain solution works for a problem, using modeling, on-task practice and demonstrations, among other strategies.
These strategies all work towards providing a framework of good teaching that we may be able to use to help us in our teacher-librarian roles someday. Admittedly, some of the strategies will work far easier than others simply because of the fact that we will see our students once for an hour instead of every day for a semester, or even a whole school year. Still, I appreciate the thoughts behind this chapter in that it is still as important that as the teacher-librarian, we work towards being that good teacher that understands all of those things and is able to impart and help that knowledge to our patrons.
Something that I think will be hard is having a real, deep understanding and connection to the structures and epistemologies of the disciplines we are teaching, especially in some areas. For example, it will be far easier for me as a research librarian to understand the complexities and try to teach how to research using databases than it will be for me as a research librarian to attempt to teach how to build a webpage. Sure, I figured out to create this using the framework wordpress built, and I’ve fuddled my way through posting words and media – but I do not UNDERSTAND it, so therefore, how could I teach it in a setting that was holding a ‘create a webpage seminar’!
Especially in a public library setting where many people are running programs and events that are far outside their comfort zone simply due to the constraints on the staff as a whole, it would be hard to expect librarians to deeply understand everything about every program they run. I don’t mean that libraries aren’t trying to get the people who know about the subject to run the programs, but sometimes you have to step in to help out – and that’s where it will be more tricky than simply being the history teacher and working towards being the best history teacher possible.