Thursday, December 08, 2011

E-Books and Access: Upholding Library Values: Part 1

I enjoyed the first part of Sarah Houghton's ALA TechSource workshop. See my notes below for an overview of the discussion. The slides and related readings are available at 


People know we have books, but don't know that we have ebooks.
What image are we projecting to the outside?
Are we projecteing our digital content?
Ebooks are more than digitiized text. Integrated media.
People expect it to work on any device.
Users are frustrated with downloading of ebooks.

The Big Players: Content 
These are the major ebook content providers at the moment.  The list changes frequently.  There are other content providers not listed here.
OverDrive: leader in popular ebook content.
3M Cloud Library: physical presence in library via checkout terminals
MyiLibrary: popular content
eBooks on EBSCOhost: This is one of the content providers we are currently using in my library
Safari: technology ebooks
Gale Virtual Reference Library: reference ebooks.  We use this one quite a bit at my library.
books24x7: a company to keep an eye on
axis 360: From Baker and Taylor, making a big play in market
FolletShelf: popular in school libraries
OneClickdigital: audio ebooks from Recorded Books

SH suggests posting ebook FAQ and device compatability on library website.

Free eBooks
Open Library
Project gutenberg
LibriVox: audiobooks of public domain books recorded by volunteers.  (I love this site, but the quality of audiobooks varies)
Many more...

Big players: Devices
Amazon Kindle
Barnes and Noble Nook
Sony Reader
+all tablets, smart phones, laptops and desktops (I use my iPad and iPhone but am considering a reader.)

The big players: Operating Systems

 The big players: Formats
ebook: EPUB, PDF, MOBI, TXT, RTF, HTML, Kindle, Daisy
eAudioBook: WMA, MP3
Advocacy with ebook providers is essential.

Corporate terms of service: company defined, overrides copyright law. Usually is what limits ability to transfer to device, etc.
Digital Rights Management (DRM): software that enforces the terms of service and copyright law.
Digital Millenium Copyright Act: makes it a criminal offense to circumevent technological measures that protect copyrihgted content, eg digital rights management. Penatly for violiting DMCA is greater than penalty for copyright violation.
Some libraries are negotating with content publishers directly, not providers.

What happens when your leasing, not buying?
Most library vendors only lease digital content. Some make it sound like you are buying but you are not. "bibliopocalypse:" We don't own it forever.
Overdrive marketing uses words like buy, purchase and sale, but contracts use words like license and subscribe.

Liscening terms to consider
Cost: platform, conent, add terms (min purchase), difference between cost to library and to consumer (provider charges much more to library than consumer for same content), difference between costs for pCopy (print book) and eCopy.
Accessility: some vendorrs have not made ebooks or platforms accessible. This is a potential legal problem for the library.
Collection access: access to entire or partial catalog. do certain publishers limit terms of access; can content be removed; what publishers and authors are not included?
Termination: Under whhat conditions? Pro-rated refund?
Some publishers are difficult to deal with: Simon and Schuster (doesn't sell ebooks to libraries), MacMillan (doesn't sell ebooks to libraries), Penguin (pulled content from overdirve), HarperCollins (limits number of checkouts)
Some people expect all books to be available as ebooks, but not all books are digital.
You can negotiate terms!
Contracts and prices are not confidential.
Terms of Service Terms of service can legally override copyright law. Companies can put anything they want into the terms of service.

eBook Readers
Considerations: Device rules (what collections will you be able to access on this device), Software rules (format compatibility, DRM compabitle), Content rules (will all pieces of content work?)

 Reader lending
From 4 scenarios outlined by Mary Minow
-You can lend an empty reader or a reader loaded with public domain content and/or content with permissions to share (creative commons)
-A decvice loaded with ebooks licensed from a vendor can be lended. Be sure you are following terms of service.
-Do not lend a device with unauthorized content
Considerations: initial cost +ongoing cost, cost of device + titles

Summary: Digital Collections
Digital collections provide access when you are closed.
Make users aware.
How DRM affects user access.
Device support

 SH's final thoughts: "Advocate for your users."

Friday, July 08, 2011

Tall Texans 2011

I recently participated in TLA’s TALL (Texas Accelerated Library Leaders) Texans Leadership Institute. The Institute took place at the Montserrat Retreat Center in Lake Dallas, Texas.
Maureen Sullivan, recently elected ALA President-elect, and Jack Siggins, University Librarian and George Washington University, facilitated the institute. Six of Texas’ established library leaders served as mentors: TLA President Jerilynn Williams, director of the Montgomery County Memorial Library System; TLA President Elect Sherilynn Bird, director of libraries at Texas Woman's University; Cindy Buchanan, systems administrator of library media services at Aldine Independent School District; Dr. Ling Hwey Jeng, director of the school of library and information studies at Texas Woman's University; Dr. Rhea Lawson, director of Houston Public Library; and Darryl Tocker, executive director of the Tocker Foundation.
What happens at TALL Texans?
We covered roughly 4 topics a day. Sessions were led by either Maureen or Jack. I will be posting my notes from many of these sessions. Most days also included Mentor Discussions, in which the mentors shared an experience related to a selected topic and answered participant questions. Each day ended with personal reflection, time we could use to reflect on and process the day’s learning. The next day began with a community review, a review of the previous day’s topics. Optional events were planned for each evening: Evening 1 – game night; Evening 2 – discussion of the shared reading*; Evening 3 – book discussion.
Learning Partners
On the first full-day, we formed learning partners, providing us each with somebody to discuss what we were learning and how we might use the new knowledge. Learning partners were expected to daily check-in with each other.
Personal Action Agendas
Each participant left the institute with 2 action agendas, an action for within TLA and a workplace action. There are really no restrictions or requirements for defining an action agenda. It can be as ambitious or as modest as you like. Example TLA Action Agendas are service on a TLA committee or presenting at a district meeting.
Scrapbook and T-shirt
Extra-curricular activities included the creation of a class scrapbook and the design of a class T-shirt.
Guidelines for learning

During the first session, Maureen introduced us to these guidelines to enhance learning:
  • Participate and contribute
  • Practice active listening
  • Expect, respect and work with differences
  • Venture out of your comfort zone
  • Question and test assumptions
  • Assume self-responsibility
  • Offer timely feedback
  • Maintain confidentiality
2011 Themes
A different participant will give you a different list of themes, but here are a few ideas that I saw pop up in multiple sessions.
Trust: It is the key to communication, relationships, collaboration, leadership, and influence.
Active Listening: Give the speaker your undivided attention. Don’t start forming your own response until the speaker is done talking. Confirm your understanding by paraphrasing what the speaker said.
Involve the naysayers: Really listen to their concerns and try to understand where they are coming from.
Overall, it was a rewarding experience. I encourage all Texas library employees and advocates to apply for the class of 2012!

*The shared reading was "Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis" by Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky from the July/Aug 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review. The article full-text is available in Business Source Complete.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Information Visualization and Keyword Searching in Library Instruction

Matt Conner and Melissa Browne, University of California, Davis
May 7, 2011
2011 LOEX Conference

Download the Powerpoint Presentation
Visual Literacy is the ability “to produce and consume images.” Matt Conner and Melissa Browne promote the concept of Information Visualization, which “represents data with visual designs that assist comprehension and insight.” To illustrate the connection between vision and cognition, Conner used the example of the blind who have had their vision surgically restored, but are unable to process what they see (reminded me of the movie At First Sight).

Undergraduate Search Behavior
  • Search strategies: Undergrads use either single word or long natural-language search statements. This works in Google, but not in most library databases. Undergrads also use the same tools and strategies regardless of the information need.
  • Reading habits: Most students don’t read articles thoroughly, but prefer to skim.
  • Cues: Students also prefer to look at sources with more “graphical/visual representations.”

Their conclusion: “It’s more difficult than ever for students to translate subject knowledge into appropriate search strategies for scholarly research!” Their hypothesis: “Information visualization techniques improve students’ abilities to conceptualize topics and generate terms for academic online research.” Conner and Browne are currently conducting a study with Undergraduates to test this hypothesis

3 Pedagogies
  1. Keyword matrix: This keyword matrix is a little different than what I have used in the past. In this matrix the topic goes in the middle row and the student brainstorms general terms in the top row and more specific terms in the bottom row.
  2. Google’s Wonder Wheel: I’ve used the Wonder Wheel for concept mapping and development of research topics, but I haven’t tried it for keyword generation.
  3. EBSCO’s Visual Search: An alternative to the traditional search results display, Visual Search helps to narrow results with an emphasis on subject headings. Ebsco is one of the the few database providers that offer a visual search option. For my own research, I prefer the traditional view, but this presentation inspired me to try out the visual search option with students.

The Study
The presenters are currently conducting a study of the three pedagogies. As of the presentation, only about a third of the results have been analyzed. The following results are based on the data analyzed as of the presentation.
  • How students generate search terms: 1. Google 2. The topic itself 3. Course materials
  • The most difficult part of research: 1. Credibility 2. Narrowing (Information overload) 3. Relevance

Preliminary results of the study reveal:
  • No significant difference in the number of search attempts.
  • No significant difference in time spent searching.
  • Students “expressed great enthusiasm” for the term-generating tools.

Conner and Browne also made the following observations.
  • “Students did not rely on keywords.”
  • Students reacted to information. They used links instead of keywords to further their search.
  • “Adapted results to fit preconceived pattern for paper.”
  • “Wide variation is search strategies.” Examples of search strategies include “termers,” who frequently modify their search strategies, and “limiters,” who rely on database limiters to modify searches. Students were not using advanced search strategies such as phrase searching or truncation.
  • “Student’s assessment of search success did not match always match the investigator’s assessment.”

Based on the preliminary findings, the Conner and Browne state that “Information visualization techniques appear to help students with conceptualizing topics but don’t really impact keyword search strategies.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ensuring Valid and Reliable Assessments of Student Learning Workshop

Megan Oakleaf, Syracuse University
Thursday, May 5, 2011, 1:00pm - 4:30pm
2011 LOEX Preconference

The first part of the workshop focused on outcomes and performance assessment. The second part covered rubrics.

Megan Oakleaf briefly discussed the necessity for "clear, meaningful, transferable, learning outcomes." How will students be able to use what they learn in other contexts. Ensure that the outcomes are relatable, but not overwhelming.

There are a lot of different formulas for writing outcomes, but all good outcomes begin with active verbs. See Assessment-as-Learning.

Performance Assessment
Oakleaf stressed active learning. She briefly discussed the "Understanding by Design" approach before discussing performance assessment. Performance assessments “focus on student’s tasks or products/artifacts of those tasks.” These assessments “simulate real life application of skills.” I was surprised to learn that your instruction/learning tool can also be your assessment tool. It seems so obvious, but I had never thought of it that way. For example, observing students completing a class activity such as a database search can be an assessment. Develop a checklist and check off as a student meets the criteria. She used the example of tallying how many students locate an appropriate article. In our introductory workshop, we could keep track of how many students are able to locate on book on their own in our find-a-book activity.

Rubrics “describe student learning in 2 dimensions:” indicators/criteria and “levels of performance.” Oakleaf introduced us to the RAILS (Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) project:

Rubric Creation Process
  1. Reflecting: "why did we create this assignment/assessment?" "What happened the last time we gave it?" "What is the relationship between this assignment/assessment and the rest of what students will learn?"
  2. Listing: "What specific learning outcomes do we want to see in the completed assignment/assessment?" "What evidence can students provide in this assignment/assessment that would demonstrate their learning.". "What are our expectations of student work? What does it look like?"
  3. Grouping and labeling: "Can we group our brainstorms in categories?" "How can we label them?" The labeled groups are now the "criteria."
  4. Creating: Draft the performance descriptions. Define the highest level of or best possible student performance. Define the worst and other developmental levels as needed.
In order to avoid the most common rubric design flaws, describe what a student at that level ‘looks’ like.

Rubric Norming Process
Oakleaf recommends norming rubrics when multiple graders will be using the same rubric. This will limit discrepancies among evaluators.
  1. Think aloud about an example. Criterion by criterion, share how you came to your performance rating.
  2. Raters independently evaluate examples.
  3. Raters come together to identify similarities and differences in scoring patterns.
  4. “Discuss and reconcile inconsistent scores.”
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 new samples until consensus.
Closing the Loop
Based on your assessment, “Enact decisions to increase learning.” Assessment is useless if you don’t do this.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Pirate maps, tattoos, and flus: Using a problem-based format to teach information literacy skills

Kerri Shaffer Carter and Emily Buzicky, Westminster College
Friday, May 6, 2011
2011 LOEX Conference

Download the handout.

Problem-based learning (PBL) in library instruction is an attempt to provide instruction that more closely resembles the research process. In problem-based learning,“students are presented with an ‘ill-defined’ problem or issue ‘prompt.’ “Students work in groups to identify problem, research issue, and present a solution or hypothesis.”

Kerri Shaffer Carter and Emily Buzicky modeled the session after the problem-based format.
Session Timeline:
  1. Introduction to problem-based learning
  2. “Use scenarios and prompts to create a PBL lesson plan
  3. Sharing
  4. Debriefing (student reflection and instructor feedback)
During the session we had the opportunity to develop a PBL lesson plan. We were given a few sample scenarios and possible prompts. We were also given questions to consider, such as learning objectives, what foundational knowledge is required, and what resources will students be provided with. We developed the following rough lesson plan in about 20 minutes.
  • Class: Economics (non-business majors)
  • Time: 2 hours (I wish!!!)
  • Objective: Students will develop a research topic. Students will select the most appropriate research tools.
  • Prompt: Examine the Home Values Graph. What caused the various declines and inclines in home values? As a group, select one of the issues, events or trends represented in this chart for further research. Select at least three search tools that are appropriate for your chosen topic.
  • Materials: Home Values Graph and a list of possible search tools.
Collaboration among students is a significant component of PBL. The presenters admitted that it is “messy.” In my group work, we realized that it could be unpredictable. There is no right or wrong answer and each group will come up with something different. It will be necessary for the librarian and/or instructor to check-in with each group in order to answer questions and provide guidance.

Bridging the Gaps: Transliteracy as effective pedagogy for information literacy

Lane Wilkinson, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Friday, May 6th, 2011
2011 LOEX Conference


Lane Wilkinson defines transliteracy as “the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media.” It is how we navigate information sources and understand how the sources fit together. It originates with the Transliteracy Project, a study of online reading. Transliteracy encompasses new media, new linguistic competencies, new literacies and what Wilkinson calls the Descriptive Literacies (see slide 27). He used the Twitter hashtag as an example of a new linguistic competency.

Wilkinson offered these “three keys for library instruction."
  1. “Effective information use requires several information sources.” Students will continue to use Google and Wikipedia and we need to teach them to use these sources effectively. “Address non-library resources at the start.”
  2. “Information sources do not stand alone, they interact.” Library instruction needs to emphasize the similarities between library and non-library information sources.
  3. “Navigating across information resources requires transferable skills.” Students search by discovery. Take advantage of this “mental model” and teach how popular and scholarly information sources are similar. “Understand transferable skills”
  • “Make overt connections.”
  • “Provide links to specific applications.”
  • “Focus on the purpose of strategies.”
  • “Include time for student reflection.”
  • “Consider how strategies might be adapted.”
  • “Provide feedback to students.”
  • “Provide opportunities to apply, re-apply and re-teach.”
Interfaces change. Teach skills that are interface-independent.

At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students use Wikipedia to complete a research question worksheet before coming to library instruction.

To sum it all up: Transliteracy is the application of information literacy skills.

Learn more at the Libraries and Transliteracy blog: and

Instruct, Engage, Influence: How Educators Can Become Agents of Organizational Change

Melanie Hawks, University of Utah
Friday Morning, May 6th, 2011
2011 LOEX Conference

The conference opened with plenary speaker, Melanie Hawks, author of Influencing Without Authority. I picked up the following tidbits from her presentation.
  • The effects of long-term influence are not immediately evident.
  • Understand the environment you are trying to influence. You will have to adapt to the environment before you can influence.
  • Think of your co-workers as customers. Customers want what they want and have options.
  • You can’t predict the results. Develop relationships with the people who have influence.
  • A great way to influence, is to first approach people with an offer of how you can help them.
  • Stress the common goal.
  • She has attended Influencer training which discusses “vital behaviors.” A vital behavior is a single behavior that often leads to other wanted behaviors. It is simple, clear, direct and benefits the person performing the behavior.
  • A “Call to Action” is an advertising strategy informing people of what you want them to do. It is also important that you make it easy for them to do it. She used the example of the Buckle Up America campaign. The logos are simple and to the point. It is easy to understand what is wanted. Car manufacturers also make it easy by providing seat belts for every passenger and warnings when you’re not buckled up.