Thursday, 25 July 2013

New Librarianship MOOC, Week 3

Week 3 focused on libraries as institutions. It  involved one evening, a lot of videos and half a tub of ice cream (England was still in the grip of a heat wave then. Things have returned to normal now, grey and drizzly).

Section 1 considered the mission of libraries (as distinct from the mission of librarians): expect more than books. Books are tools in a larger mission. The issue has shifted from the old days of a scarcity of available information to a scarcity of attention. A quote from the ever passionate and enthusiastic R. D. Lankes "I don't want any more. I need to make sense of what's here." The same video included talk of the importance of advocacy as a skill in libraries which makes perfect sense but was phrased in a way that I'd never thought of before (libraries advocate for open access, for data portability, for the idea of lack of censorship etc).

It is a really interesting video, well worth a watch:

 The second video covered library mission statements. A good mission statement should be about promoting knowledge and learning, not about promoting the tools and 'stuff' we use to achieve those aims. The mission is an invitation to the community to make them want to be part of the library. I liked the New York Public Library mission statement:

The mission of The New York Public Library is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities.

The library I work at does not have a mission statement otherwise I would be critiquing it here!

Section 2 was titled Why Libraries? Why are libraries a good thing for communities? The introductory blurb set this out as "This module covers the primary arguments for supporting libraries. From economic stimulus, to learning center, to promoters of democracy, there are many arguments that can be made for the continued support of libraries of all types."

I hesitate to say it because I'm sure it is a reflection of me, not of the content, but I found the videos a bit waffly.  Maybe it was because it all made such sense that I didn't want it explained in great detail, maybe I don't learn well from watching videos or maybe I'd eaten too much ice cream by that point but I would have preferred it if the videos had been condensed into one and really cut to the chase.

Section 3 considered the library as platform: "Instead of thinking of the library as a service, or collection, it is important to think of it as a platform for community innovation. In some cases it can be a digital platform, in others a physical platform, but in all cases it serves as an enabling infrastructure for the community to learn and improve."

Section 4 was on the Grand Challenges of Librarianship: "What is the larger societal aim for library and information science? Do we simply serve our communities without regard for the larger context of citizenship and the expanding information marketplace?" To me this could be summed up in one line: we seek to build a knowledge infrastructure that helps us all.

Discussion boards here I come!

Monday, 22 July 2013

New Librarianship: Community and Innovation

I like a great many of the points made in the New Librarianship MOOC. The 2 key points for me so far are:
1) engage with your community
2) innovate

How about this as a great example of engaging with your community - loaning out cake tins (or pans if you will, as it is in America).

When it comes to leadership and innovation, I read a couple of interesting stories via Twitter in the past week. The Guardian offer 5 top tips on reinventing librarians and this TeachThought post describes how librarians of the future will be kept busy.

The article I liked best though also came from the Guardian - the true value of libraries to communities. The final paragraph says it all.

New Librarianship MOOC Week 2

I'm still not sure how valuable I think this MOOC is. I'm struggling for 2 reasons:

1) I am not a qualified librarian so I don't know how much the content of the course varies from the content of a traditional librarianship course, so I don't have a frame of reference to evaluate it against.

2) So much of the course material seems so...well...obvious! Does anyone else think that?

However, I am enjoying being part of the conversation, I find the practical examples interesting, and I did dream about libraries last night so maybe my brain is processing everything in its own time and will present me with coherent thoughts at some point.

For anyone who hasn't read the course blurb here is the Introduction to New Librarianship video. The course centres around the mission statement discussed 6 minutes 20 seconds into the video:

The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

In week 1 we looked at the mission of librarians, knowledge creation and means of facilitating knowledge creation.

Week 2 covers communities, improving society, core skills of librarians and the Salzburg curriculum.

Do I agree that the mission of librarians is to improve society? I'm not sure; ask me at the end of the course.

One of the reasons I am doing this course is that I am fortunate enough to work in a small team that I think may possibly have the best job in our academic library, which makes me want to know more and do more. I am a library assistant working to support academic liaison, so not only do I get to communicate directly with our community (mostly undergraduate students but also researchers, academics and members of the public) by helping out with training sessions, answering queries on the loans and enquiries desks, monitoring the Ask a Librarian live chat service,  and answering emails sent to our generic address but I also have the opportunity to be involved in a whole range of other activities too. I am part of the Research Publications activity group, I have an editorial role with ePrints Soton (our institutional repository), I create and edit webpages and I work on our (very much at the developmental stage) blog.

I am on board with the ideas of collaboration, conversation, leadership, innovation and community, all aspects of librarianship I see every day at work. I agree that librarians need to become an integral part of their community, which involves (gasp) leaving the library.

I think that a vital aspect of a successful library (and therefore a successful librarian) is that is has to be dynamic. For example, we are in the process of reinventing our webpages in order to better present and share information (or knowledge?). Our current website is fairly static and text-driven, and any changes that are made are not shown on the live site until the following day. We are moving to using LibGuides which offers a much more exciting and flexible way to display anything we want it to. It reminds me of a blog in that any changes we make go live immediately, and far more library staff will be able to write and edit the pages than previously. We can create videos or presentations and embed them, and reuse content on relevant pages at the touch of a button. It will be easier to use the webpages to reach out to our community as we can also integrate our 'Ask a Librarian' live chat offer onto any page, more easily publicise our Facebook, blog and Twitter pages, have photos of subject librarians (they are real people!) and to more easily ask for feedback or contributions (LibGuides uses a range of different boxes that include specific types for user input). I haven't provided any links because the pages are still being created. But even when they are created they will be constantly updated and improved; change is good. Scary sometimes, but good!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

New Librarianship MOOC

So after enthusing about the Ancient Greeks MOOC that I completed earlier in the year I've signed up for another one. This one is called the New Librarianship Master Class and is run by the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, New York.

We're at the end of week 1 and my feelings are mixed. The platform, CourseSites by Blackboard, is not as smooth as Coursera, especially for iPad access. The discussion boards, an integral part of the course, are incredibly slow to load or refresh. I have only contributed a couple of comments, partly because I am in awe of the articulate and well thought out comments from other people on the course, and partly because of technical issues: the iPad flips back to the top of the page when I start typing, meaning I can't see the box I'm typing into!

There is a great level of interaction from the course leader (R. David Lankes) on the discussion boards, both initiating conversations and joining in with threads started by other participants. I also like following the conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #newlib.

The sheer volume of videos to accompany each module is slightly daunting. I did nearly cry when I realised how many videos there were to watch in week 1, which happened to be a very busy week for me. The course leader is enthusiastic and passionate but the Importance of Worldview and Mission of Librarians videos did not inspire me.

I'm glad I persevered though because subsequent videos, focussing on aspects of the mission statement rather than the statement itself, are very interesting, blending theory with practical examples.

I will say more about the content of the course as it progresses. I'm not totally sure what my thoughts are on it at the moment; I am very easily swayed by the arguments of others on the discussion boards. So I read a well phrased comment by X and find myself nodding in agreement, but then I read a counter view by Y and that one also makes total sense. It only happens when I don't have a solid knowledge base (on familiar subjects I can comment at length in a reasoned, rational way using reliable and valid evidence to back up my views - right  Graham??), so my aim by the end of the course is to...Have Formed My Own Opinion! If we relate that back to the course, so far I am the community rather than the librarian...

In other news, my work on identifying true archaeologists has been published, and I have made a cake: