making noise in the library – ALAO workshop

Yesterday I participated in Making Noise in the Library: Advocating for Our Students and Our Libraries, an ALAO workshop hosted by the Distance Learning Interest Group and the Instruction Interest Group.

While the day was packed with great information and conversation, it was simply enjoyable to be out of the office and “thinking big” with other librarians. The keynote was by Buffy Hamilton and she’s sharing the slides from Moving from Nice to Necessary: Academic Libraries and Communities Collaboratively Composing Participatory Practices of Learning. What was really terrific about this talk was Buffy continually referring to other scholars, helping me expand my own research and learning network. Some key references she made:

Buffy mentioned Brian Mathews‘ notion that we must give ourselves permission to pick a starting point and then let that point be flexible.

David R. Lankes is at the forefront of participatory librarianship and says that “learning is a collaborative conversation.”

She recommended the work of Dr. Henry Jenkins, particularly his paper Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.

Buffy stresses that it is important for teachers to become comfortable in being the novice and learning from the learners. There are a few ways librarians can ease the vulnerability teachers may feel and one of them is taking time to simply listen “even if it flies against everything that we hold sacred as librarians.” She extends this to listening not only to our patrons but to each other and moving beyond our silos to learn from others.

Thankfully, Buffy didn’t “think big” and leave us to wonder how we could implement collaborative communities and participatory librarianship. She finished with action steps that we can take today:

Be a trust agent. Buffy returned to Brian Mathews’ work, particularly his paper The Art of Problem Discovery. She also introduced us to Chris Brogan, social media marketing and branding master.

Use academic and information literacy standards to go deeper in inquiry. In other words, become authentic thinking partners with our students and faculty. Here she refers to the work of Lauren Pressley and char booth.  Buffy also focused on Barbara Stripling‘s Model of Inquiry and many practical examples of how to engage students in this model.

Let student passions and needs drive the story of the library. This is where knowledge sharing can be important. Buffy mentioned the work of Ellen Hampton Filgo, aka the Hashtag Librarian, and Alison Hicks. Makerspaces made an appearance in this category too.

While the late morning and afternoon sessions were great, it was the keynote that both expanded my librarian learning network and addressed my current dilemma of wondering how to go from “nice” to “necessary.” Thanks to a rather simple day of learning and talking with other librarians, I now have a lot of new ideas for my instruction – my primary goal for this summer!

last bit of notes from arlis pasadena

The final day of ARLIS Pasadena was full of great sessions. In the morning, I attended Doing Data Together: Engaging End-Users in Building Richer Resources, More Efficiently. Here are my notes:

BWR: Collaborating to Document the World’s Built Environment  by Carole Ann Fabian, Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Built Works Registry – architects and designers; building or structure that has been built (even if no longer present) and is habitable at the human scale
– for artworks and architectural structures, there is no equivalent to ISBN or ISSN…had to create a unique identifier system
– core data is a disaster and needs to be limited and corrected…even not consistent across singular database
– three major work efforts: policies (founders and contributor agreements); tools and infrastructure (ARTstor; data – contribution environment, repositories, sharing); content (name, location, unique ID required for Core)
– content development: curate, aggregate, disambiguate, normalize, enhance
– enhancing data: geo-coding strategy (issues with buildings outside traditional locations like named streets or issues with anonymity so they created a hierarchal data block to deal with levels of generality/specificity)
– How will Built Works Registry gain scale? institutional contributory model and expert crowdsourcing experiment

Your Paintings: The UK’s Entire Public Oil Paintings Collection Goes Online For The World To See  by Andrew Ellis, Director, The Public Catalogue Foundation
– opening up UK’s public art collections for enjoyment, learning and research
– engaging the collections: creating your paintings; 80% of paintings in UK are in storage…
– publicly owned – over 210,000 paintings in oil, tempera, acrylic, and mixed media
– 50% of collections have fewer than 10 paintings!
– London team doing data processing, image management, editing and copyright clearance (2,700 cataloging contracts, 30 freelance photographers, 50 regional researchers, over 6 mil pounds over 10 years)
– 300,000 unique users per month
Galaxy Zoo as inspiration for cataloging; free text workflows and fixed list workflows; over 9,000 registered taggers
– Tweet about this painting and it automatically links your tweet back to painting!
– technology + goodwill + verification = useful resource

The Creator as Cataloger: Shared Shelf and Faculty Collections by Vickie O’Riordan, University of California San Diego Library
– using social media can bridge the gap between expert and non-expert
– digitizing audiovisual materials from department of music…using shared shelf allows the faculty member to do the metadata
– Zambian Storytellers project has over 1,300 stories to be documented (over 20 years of field work) – committed to share his work as freely as possible and can sure it with the University of Zambia!!!
-inSite: public projects

Then I switched directions and listened to Sue Maberry (Director of Library and Instructional Technology), Debra Ballard (English faculty and Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences), and Parme Giuntini (Art Historian and Director of Art History) from Otis College of Art and Design talk about teaching and assessing information literacy across the curriculum. Some notes from the session:
– first efforts: one shot library visits; required 1 unit research class (didn’t work; not sustainable) – lack of transference of research skills in these efforts
– embedded in curriculum. how? move from faculty and librarian working together to faculty and librarian involved in curriculum and course design
– TILT Texas Information Literacy Tutorial for students (3 hour tutorial) – didn’t really work; seemed like an add-on and the faculty didn’t even have the skills!
– We began to think that librarians were more than people who help us find things to people who make us think about information.
– mentor to student researchers; instructional partner to faculty
– “must be nice to have a PhD; your students don’t”
– step by step pathfinders @ OTIS
– create an evaluation form for student annotated bibliographies asking them to do a citation, evaluate, and tell where the source was found – it’s on web
– embedded video tutorials in online syllabi
– embedded instruction: scavenger hunts, show and tell, chronology lesson using Oxford Art Online
– curriculum mapping: proficiencies identified by librarian and instruction, assignments, & assessments
– redesigned first year core to include readings on the role of information in society, intellectual property & copyright, and social media
– aligned information literacy and critical thinking (getting the faculty to know that they are very similar and require each other)
– mandatory guided research module into course assignment – turned into training faculty to assist with guided research and this gave librarians the opportunity to talk with faculty about how the students are researching
– iSearch: paper about how they did their research
– library assessment has moved from data stats (circ, gate counts) to instruction
– VALUE rubric…
– started learning portfolio on learning management system to have students track their research and discoveries over their 4 years
– baby steps mean you don’t fail too much and it’s easy to pick yourself up!
– sell your services to one faculty member in the department and let them do the internal outreach for you

more notes from arlis pasadena

On Saturday, after a very early ARLIS/Ohio Valley meeting, I was able to attend more sessions and lectures. First up was The Evolution of Art Reference and Instruction: Outreach, Overlay, Online. Here are my notes from that great group of speakers:

Assessing Online Reference Services through ARLIS’ Information Competencies for Students in Design Disciplines by Audrey Ferrie, Information Literacy Librarian, Academy of Art University
– ARLIS Information Literacy Competencies and Remote Reference Benchmark
– wants to use reference stats in a meaningful and productive way and determine if she was hitting her benchmarks (online)
– RUSA guidelines for reference interview; Internet Public Library standards (best practices for email reference)
– created codes for the standards and applied codes to the reference questions (emails) and assessed through codes (essentially summarized competency into a few words and then labeled: orientation to information/organization and access/ searching/topic/strategy and search techniques/citation)
– assessed reference responses by the codes and then went back and rewrote the responses to better meet the needs of IL standards
– now codes as the emails come in and writes according to the standard

Deeply Embedded: Library/Studio Partnerships in the Development of Graduate Design Curriculum by Michael Wirtz, Head of Research and Library Technology, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar
– student deficiencies: identification of thesis topics; collection and use of information; development of a research plan; organization and presentation of info; comprehension of what research is and how it relates to design
– developed hybrid studio/lecture course; team teaching model with graphic design faculty
– emphasis on collecting and using information (not just text scholarship!)
– simplified as a mini thesis exploration
– presented the non-linear design process which iterates the non-linear research process in the arts

Embedding Outside Your Comfort Zone: Reference & Instruction for the Non-Art Side of Arts Management  by Kimberly Detterbeck, Art Librarian, Purchase College SUNY
– useful sources: Guidestar, artnet, Nielsen Reports, Opera America, PollStar Pro, Billboard Charts for Professionals

(m) iReference: Roaming, Flashing and Embedding with Mobile Technology by Liv Valmestad, Art Librarian, University of Manitoba
– moving from collection centered to engagement centered; increases visibility of library; point of need reference
– uses Optoma Pico PK 100 projector (hand held) and accessories to attach projector to iPad or iPhone
Mobile Technology for Art and Architecture
–  from The User Experience: Revamping Reference
– document the service and tie to strategic plan

That afternoon I had the privilege to moderate a session, Alt-ARLIS: How Non-Traditional Paths Can Serve Your Career and Society. A quick survey of the audience, via clicker questions, showed that most attendees were students or young professionals. Meredith Kahn (Publishing Services and Outreach Librarian, University of Michigan), Ian McDermott (Collection Development Associate, ARTstor), Jamie Lausch Vander Broek (Exhibits and Programming Librarian and Learning Librarian, University of Michigan), and Alice Whiteside (Librarian and Information Technology Consultant, Mount Holyoke College) all discussed how they work in non-art jobs but still call ARLIS/NA their home. With the growing diversity of ARLIS’ members and the need for young professionals to be creative in finding their first job, Alt-ARLIS may have a future as a repeated session or SIG!

I finished off the day checking out the exhibits and posters sessions. I also sat in on Olivia Miller’s (MLIS candidate, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) Power Up! How Can Academic Libraries Collect for Video Game Design Students. She introduced me to some great resources like Gamasutra, Kotaku, and Polycount Forum.

notes from arlis pasadena

The first full day of ARLIS/NA Pasadena was rather busy! I spent the morning attend Rebecca Feind’s (Librarian for Art and Design, San Jose State University) and Kathy Clarke’s (Librarian, James Madison University) workshop Crafting Assessment Questions: Creating the Tools to Assess Information Literacy Objectives for Art and Design. The session allowed us to try developing our own multiple choice questions for assessing competency. The most valuable lesson of the workshop: assessment takes time and practice. Writing effective test questions is rather hard! Fortunately, Rebecca and Kathy created a LibGuide, ArtScore: Creating Assessment Questions for Information Literacy Competencies for Art and Design.

In the afternoon I attended the ARLiSNAP section meeting for Art Library Students and New ARLIS Professionals. It’s a great group for meeting young art librarians and the blog has helped many folks find jobs and internships. I’m hoping to become more involved in ARLiSNAP in the coming year.

Much of the afternoon was spent in the session in which I was presenting, New Voices in the Profession. Yvonne B. Lee (Research Assistant, Placa Project) was a terrific speaker. She presented on the Placa Project which is archiving Los Angeles gang graffiti, making the project easily accessible to street artists. Marsha Taichman (Visual Resources and Public Services Librarian, Cornell University) discussed her involvement in developing Visual Resources Talks (brown bag lunches) at Cornell. Amanda Milbourn (Assistant Librarian, Disney Consumer Products) presented her MLIS project on embedding visual literacy instructors into undergraduate classes. She won the Gerd Muehsam Award for this as the best graduate student paper!

I presented my research on and interviews with young Egyptian contemporary artists. In July 2012, I interviewed eight Egyptians living in Cairo about their information needs. My paper provided an overview of the higher education system in Egypt and the contemporary art community in Cairo. Then I discussed some of my findings from the interviews. I received a lot of positive feedback and interest in the work! This summer, I hope to find an outlet to publish this research as an article.

graffiti, Cairo, Egypt
graffiti, Cairo, Egypt

library 2020

This afternoon I sat in on Joseph JanesThe Library in 2020: Visions of the Future of Libraries. Though it was essentially a book promo (Library 2020 due out in July), a lot of interesting points were raised by the book’s chapter authors.

What will endure? What makes up “library” regardless of time or place? Janes considers stuff, place, people, community, and leadership & vision.

Stuff is the access question. Formats are constantly shifting and digitization is yet another priority. What stays, goes? Why? Most importantly, as ‘access to stuff’ will not be a “winning strategy” in the future, where is our service component to these new technologies and online heritage collections?

‘Library’ is becoming a concept more than a place. We need to start thinking “more about what it does than what it has” (connection to stuff).

Sarah Houghton says that libraries of the future “will be ruled by geeks” and that the skills that make people good techies make good leaders. She’s proof of this!

James Rosenzweig has a chapter that makes a nice analogy to the library as an “information base camp” where libraries are “serving as a temporary home to people journeying out into the information environment.”

In order to maintain our relevance to our community, Janes and his co-authors say we need to focus on “boutique, tailored services”  that are not offered elsewhere.”

The conversation continues online with the Twitter hashtag #mylibraryin2020

brain activity in dead salmon and wine in a blender: or, what i learned at AAAS 2013

In mid-February I attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. The theme of the five-day meeting was The Beauty and Benefits of Science. This theme supports the movement from STEM education to STEAM, adding Art to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Many of the panels focused on the use of visualizations and creative practices in the lab. Some of the panels I attended were very engaging to visual and performing artists. Here are some brief notes from those speakers.

Artful Science (3 of 5 lectures)
The Herbarium as Muse: Plant Specimens as Inspiration
Maura Flannery (Biology, St. John’s University, NY) provided a visual history of herbariums. While she differentiated on the more scientific views of botanists to those of artists and curiosity collectors, Flannery also emphasized that the field would not have been able to move forward without  artists’ illustrations of specimens. She also commented on contemporary artists inspired by plants including John Sarra, Amy Youngs, and Michele Oka Doner.

Dimension of Time in Strange Attractors
Robert Krawczyk (College of Architecture, IIT) created software to generate algorithms. His artwork is an outcome of these equations.  The images embody movement and dimensionality, suggesting new ways to consider space.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.20.19 PM
Bends Through I by Krawczyk

Sand Dollars, Echinodermata, and Radiolaria: Sculptural Forms from Hyperbolic Tessellations
George Hart uses mathematical applications to create sculpture and video. Many of his sculptures are made of small, simple shapes that can be connected into large, complex forms. Hart is now exploring 3D printing to make models of his pieces and to create more fragile tessellations.

Echinodermania (detail) by Hart
Echinodermania (detail) by Hart

Evidence from Music, Fiction, and the Visual Arts: Transfer of Learning from the Arts? (3 of 5 lectures)
This was an interesting set of presentations about the transferability of art skills to other (specifically science and math) domains. What surprised me was the intense focus of the research, selecting one tangible skill (ie drawing) and seeing if it directly applies to one specific field (ie geometry). While I am certain that technical training in the arts can enhance learning and understanding in other disciplines, I was hoping to see a panel of psychologists consider the cognitive aspect of art appreciation. These three lectures touched on this aspect.

What Does it Mean to be Musical? On the Genetics of Music Ability
Daniel J. Levitin (psychology, McGill University) uses music as a model for understanding “gene by environment” interactions. Music is multi-modal because the components of discipline can be seen as variations in expertise; and, components of expertise may not be directly related to music (physicality, memory, attention). Though his research is still inconclusive, Levitin’s work shows the depth of the arts as comprised of both field-specific skill sets and broad elements of nature/nurture.

Visual Art as Non-Artificial – and thus Transferable? – Domain of Expertise
Aaron Kozbelt (psychology, CUNY) studies drawing as a flexible skill set that may transfer to other domains that also require that skill set. He has done extensive research on artists and concludes that the arts is a domain that is robust and easily adaptable. Because artists see the world differently, studying the arts may transfer skills of perception, contrast sensitivity, and object recognition, among others.

Effects of Literature
Keith Oatley (psychology, University of Toronto) considered the cognitive benefits of reading fiction and other forms of creative writing. His research has demonstrated that people who read fiction “engage in social simulations and get better at understanding selves” while those who read non-fiction “get better at the subject matter” of what they are reading. Reading fiction not only increases an understanding of self but also increases empathy and teaches skill sets applicable to social interaction.

Benefits Beyond Beauty: Integration of Art and Design into STEM Education and Research
Instead of individual presentations, these panelist elected to briefly introduce themselves and then break the session attendees into groups for conversation. The panelists were Gunalan Nadarajan (Dean of School of Art & Design, University of Michigan), Brian K. Smith (RISD), J.D. Talasek (National Academy of Sciences), and Marina McDougall (Exploratorium, San Francisco). All of these panelists’ work focus on bridging art and science in education at their respective institutions. The outcome of the session demonstrated that, while the two disciplines are beginning an important conversation, there are questions, uncertainties, misconceptions, and above all, fear.

The other lectures I attended made me acutely aware of this disconnect between science and art. Many of the scientists seemed unfamiliar with contemporary art and appeared uncomfortable with works in mediums other than traditional painting or drawing. Most of the scientists did not explore art beyond the visuals necessary for their own work.

One scientist did, however. Tom Kirchhausen of Harvard Medical exclusively studies clathrin coats which are how cells eat (and spit). Working at the molecular level, Kirchhausen realized he needed strong visuals to demonstrate his work and teach cellular structure to his students. Clathrin coats take about a minute to form and then go away. Because there is the element of time in clathrin lifecycles, Kirchhausen has selected video over still images. More importantly, he sets music to these videos. I asked him about his choice in adding sound. He said that he felt the music provided a narrative to that lifecycle that was easy for his students (and others) to miss otherwise. Kirchhausen’s work was one of the few lectures I attended where a scientist used art and technology to not only complement but enhance his research.

from Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine cookbook. He gave a Plenary Lecture at AAAS 2013.
from Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine cookbook. He gave a Plenary Lecture at AAAS 2013. Photo credit Ryan Matthew Smith/Modernist Cuisine, LLC

At the AAAS science librarians session, Denison’s Natural Sciences Librarian Moriana Garcia and I presented The Library as Bridge Between Science and Art. We introduced the history of the disciplines in relationship to Snow’s The Two Cultures and the latest news about the STEAM initiative. We also discussed contemporary studies on creativity in the research process. From here we demonstrated examples of interdisciplinarity at Dension’s library, mentioning collection development and exhibitions. We finished by framing the trend for makerspaces in libraries as part of the STEAM campaign, teaching creativity and inviting serendipitous discovery in the library. Learn more on our Science and Art guide.

Attending the AAAS meeting as an artist and as a librarian was an excellent opportunity for me to gain an understanding of how other disciplines view the arts. The arts are often marginalized in education and while STEAM intends to change that, exploring new pedagogy without artists’ insight could be damaging. Likewise, as I move forward with my research in creativity, talking with those in the STEM disciplines will provide me with a richer understanding of how the library as service and space can support innovation in STEM.

sorry diigo, i’m leaving you

I never thought I’d do this, but I’m leaving Diigo. I haven’t deactivated my account just yet, but I’ve weaned myself from this 20th century social bookmarking site because I’ve discovered a 21st century one – Scoop.It!. Dr. Steve Matthews’ post Personalized Professional Development? Scoop.It! led me to explore the service.

I have been using Diigo as an art librarian in two ways: to bookmark resources of interest to my professional research (creativity in information science) and to bookmark resources of interest to the faculty and students in the visual and performing arts. It’s this second use that made me unhappy with Diigo.

Now that I am using LibGuides, I wanted a more visual and engaging list of web links for my subject guides. Diigo lets you create a linkroll to embed into your guide, but it’s just words and very static on the page.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.37.47 PM

With Scoop.It!, I have a window of images with resource summations plus activity – the Scoop.It! linkroll shifts to a new link every 5 seconds. I hope these new visuals and movement on the page will be more engaging to the users of my guides.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.38.58 PM

What makes Scoop.It! the 21st century bookmarking site is it’s seamless integration with social media. I have two Scoop.It! accounts – one for work to bookmark for the arts and one for personal/professional to bookmark for arts librarianship. Though I have yet to transfer all my resources from Diigo to my new Scoop.It! accounts, I’m already finding like-minded folks and can follow their bookmarks – and they are following mine. I can easily share my discoveries with other artists and librarians, creating a community and having a conversation.

new school year, new job

By the end of the summer I was missing in action. A trip to Cairo to interview visual artists and creative writers ended with a request for a phone interview for a great job opportunity. Four weeks (and a rushed flight for an on-campus interview) later I was turning in a resignation letter and packing a suitcase for Columbus, Ohio.

For two months now I have been the new Fine Arts Liaison Librarian at Denison University, a small, undergraduate liberal arts community. I work with the visual and performing arts departments. A key factor in my decision to work at Denison was the arts departments commitment to the studio process as a research process. The Studio Art department introduction reads like my personal mission statement and I’m delighted to be working with folks who are passionate about developing young artists to be public intellectuals.

I didn’t get this great job by staring at a blank wall. A few resources were essential to my job searching process.

Open Cover Letters helped me discover the right length and formality for my letter. I was able to borrow terms and see what about my previous experience I needed to emphasize. As a thank you to the librarians who shared their successful letters openly, I’ll be submitting mine for future emerging professionals.

need a new job?

In late spring I had signed on to ARLIS/NA’s Mentoring Program and asked to be paired with an experienced art librarian who has presented and published scholarship. ARLIS did a wonderful job of finding me a mentor who I can email and call with any and all questions (and gripes). Talking to an experience professional of whom I could ask the most difficult questions and also share my small successes was extremely important during the job search and interview process.

ArLiSNAP came in handy too – when the job posting popped up on their blog! But even before the Denison job was posted by them, ArLiSNAP’s Educational and Development Opportunities linked me to a webinar on job hunting for academic librarians. The hour-long lunchtime chat launched my search process.

And here I am! New town, new friends, and a lot more to discover.