Monday, January 28, 2013

Teaching Philosophy

To prepare for some course development tasks I've been assigned this year, I'm reading through Char Booth's Reflective Teaching Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators.1 During the first chapter, Booth talks about teaching philosophy: a short (75 words or less) statement of what motivates you to teach. Booth gives her own philosophy as an example of what she means:
I want to redefine the way people think about librarians, inspire as much critical thought as I do laughter, make sure they come away with something they can actually use, and most important, to never, ever, ever bore anyone to tears. (7)
After reading her example (and 15 other examples she got from many awesome librarians), I tried putting together a teaching philosophy of my own. A few days reflection and a couple drafts later, here's what I have:
I want to create critical consumers and producers of information, do so through activities and discussion that engage and provide the chance for self-reflection and collaboration, and broaden students' minds to how the library can support them as researchers and information users.
Thinking back on this, one point sticks out to me: I kind of have the library/librarians in a somewhat secondary position. Partially this could be attributed to the context in which I am an instructor. I teach a for-credit class at the moment that, while incorporating library use instruction, is more structured around the whole research process, including not just finding information but first developing an information need and then evaluating the information once it has been found. Also, I think that not putting the library first and foremost in my philosophy possibly helps make my teaching of more interest to students. Learning about library resources for the sake of library resources is of interest to the following groups: librarians, library science researchers, library students, and prospective library students. That's it (okay, maybe vendors). For everybody else, the library is but a tool to some end.

Anyway, have you thought about your teaching philosophy? What is it?

1) Everything is literacy for librarians, yeah?

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Best Things [1/25/13]

Maybe next week I'll have an original post! I'm working on some ideas. Meanwhile, the Best Things:

When Good Programs Go Bad: Forgetting the Patron Perspective, by John Pappas

Ever had what seemed like a great program, and then (next to) nobody showed up? John writes about how many a good idea for a program goes bad because the librarian did not consider the patron's "ROI" for it. That is, to go to a program a patron has to spent time and effort, and if the program isn't worth that time and effort they just won't come. John is talking primarily about public libraries here, but asking yourself "are patrons going to get enough out of this program to justify the effort of going?" certainly applies to academic libraries as well. Also, had you listened to me last week and started following Letters to a Young Librarian, you'd have already seen this.

What Do You Know About First-Gen Students? by Steven Bell

Academic libraries, like colleges & universities as a whole, spend a lot of time trying to make sure first-year students fit in, feel comfortable, and adjust to academic life. However, we do not spend a lot of time on the first-generation students (aka students who are the first of their families to attend college), despite the fact that they have a number of needs that make them more at-risk of dropping out than other students. Bell notes this is especially a concern for institutions like community colleges that attract a lot more first-gen students on average. The post is more a call to attention than a list of solutions for how academic librarians should support first-gen students, but everything must start somewhere, yeah?

Top Four Things Library Supporters Can Do To Make a Difference, by Stephanie Vance 

Advocating for libraries politically is a major interest of mine. It's why, despite making very little money, I still made a donation to help get EveryLibrary up and running.  So I really liked this practical guide for how to more effectively contact and influence government officials and legislators about library issues. I'm especially a fan of the SPLIT technique for presenting your case, which means making sure your message is Specific, Personal, Informative, and Trustworthy.

16 Great Library Scenes in Film, by Jeff O'Neal

Libraries! A popular Hollywood set, capable of evoking love, lust, confinement, freedom, and imagination, among other things.

Friday, January 18, 2013

First! and The Best Things [1/18/13]

Another library blog! We need one of those! This would be a great time for HTML to have sarcasm tags! Well, I need a blog for a class this semester, so this is happening.

Anyway, in order to use my constant, obsessive consumption of stuff to my advantage when making content, I'm going to do a weekly post called "The Best Things" which will be, well, what I thought were the best things I read/watched/listened to over the previous week. These things will usually be library and academia related, but I am an easily-distracted being so who knows what may slip in on occasion.

So, let's begin, yeah?

Not just an Academic question: Why Open Access matters for public libraries, by Hugh Rundle (hat tip Library Loon)

This is probably one of 500 articles I've read recently that frames itself around the suicide of Aaron Swartz. Rundle tackles the common framing of Open Access as a "academic librarian" issue and not that important to public libraries. Of course, that's garbage. Public libraries pay for scholarly content, and paying for scholarly content means you can't pay for something else (opportunity cost! Hooray semester of economics!). Also, acceptance of the current system is acceptance that only certain people (those who are connected to institutions with sufficient money) can have access to the full breadth of scholarly publishing, which should be anathema to all librarians.

Why I've Joined the Bad Guys, by W.T. Gowers (another hat tip to the Library Loon)

One of the most controversial things surrounding Open Access (usually Gold OA) publications is that they usually charge article processing charges (APCs) for the publication of an article. Gowers, who is among other things the editor of the OA mathematics journal Forum of Mathematics, explains why his journal charges APCs, who pays them (institutions, not the authors), how they try to prevent inability to pay from preventing scholars from being able to publish in the journal, why he thinks the cost is appropriate, why Open Access journals with APCs could be a good short-term option as scholarly communications transforms into something more open, and more. It's an interesting read, and the comment section is as well.

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, by Aaron Swartz (hat tip New York Times)

While I'm still not down with what he did with JSTOR as the best tactic for promoting access to scholarly communications, this manifesto from 2008 really helps me undersand why Swartz did what he did. After celebrating the good work that the Open Access movement is doing, he points out a problem I really had avoided thinking about: at best, we are freeing only future content. But there is a lot of important scholarly material that is already locked up that Open Access won't free. Now, ideally public domain would eventually free all of this material, but of course, it seems every time something might become public domain Congress extends the length of copyright. It is this problem that Swartz wanted to solve with his civil disobedience. I'm still now sold on it, but I see what he was trying to do, and I can't say I'm sure what the best course of action is.

The Modern Book Club (meets in a bar), by Leah L. White  

How to run your next library book club at a bar. Awesome. Also, if you aren't already reading Letters to a Young Librarian, well, start. 

Anyway, I need to go figure out how to add my preferred commenting system to this site...
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.