Category Archives: LIBR 281

Reflections on the Semester

I’ll admit that I was unsure about this course at the start.  I took it because I thought it would be useful, but I wasn’t sure how much I would really like it.  However, I found that I learned more than I expected and I really enjoyed myself in the process.

Though I was familiar with some of the platforms discussed, it helped streamline my educational process.  The formation of  PLN was something I would never have thought to officially create, but doing so helped me reflect on where and how I can gain knowledge to help with my career and interests.

The weeks we spent covering instruction were something I definitely needed.  Instructing has never been my strong suit, but I feel like I gained valuable skills to improve.  I was also able to examine how and why I fail in certain instructional situations, how I can improve, and why I don’t enjoy instruction.

It’s so important for libraries of all kinds to stay current when it comes to new technologies and the digital world.  However, it seems as if this idea isn’t always given the attention it should.  The Library 2.0 project gave me an opportunity to examine what I and my group felt was important for a library to keep up with and give them an opportunity to do so.  That was by far one of my favorite parts of the class.  Being able to conduct a real world program was an invaluable experience.

The knowledge and skills I have gained in this class will serve me better than I ever expected.  I’m definitely glad I took it.

Personal Learning Network

My PLN can also be downloaded as a PDF

Goals Statement:

My online personal network will enable me to gain knowledge in the field outlined in my Defined Scope. In order to do this, each resource will educate me in at least one of the following areas:

  • Best practices in youth services
  • Best practices in public libraries
  • Successes and failures in youth centered programming in public libraries.
  • New and popular work in the world of young adult literature.
  • Advocacy for youth, youth services, and young adult literature.
  • Job availabilities in my chosen field.

Defined Scope:

My aim is to work in Youth Services in a public library in north-western Missouri. More specifically, I would like to create and maintain youth-centered programming and services and/or work in a youth reader’s advisory role. Therefore, most of my resources are specific to youth programming and services, though many also cover public libraries or librarianship in general. Since my aim is to gain employment in that area, several of the resources also include information about job hunting.

Resource Network:

Twitter

Library list on Twitter
This is a list of the Twitter accounts of several library journals and associations including YALSA, ALA, Library Journal, and Library Beat. This is a way to easily access the articles they post from their websites, as well as ones they link from other sources.

YA Authors list on Twitter
This is a list of the Twitter accounts of several YA authors. This is a way to keep up with their latest work, work they like, and resources they choose to share that are related to YA literature.

Library Jobs list on Twitter
This is a list of the Twiter accounts of several library job list sites, including ALA Joblist and LibGig. Since I will soon be leaving my current job and moving to a new areas, this will be helpful while job hunting.

YA Saves hashtag
This hashtag was created after Laurie Halse Anderson’s book Speak was challenged in Republic, MO. Those using it post stories of how YA literature changed their lives. It’s excellent fodder for YA advocacy.

Listservs

PUBYAC listserv
This is a listserv that discusses topics surrounding youth services in public libraries. This is helpful in learning about issues, solutions, practices, programming, etc. from others working in that field.
Blogs

Youth Service Corner
This blog is written for librarians who work with youth. The resource link lists and spotlights are especially useful in finding new things.

YALSA Blog
This is the blog for the Young Adult Library Services Association, with posts by it’s members. The posts cover the latest topics in youth services.

Networks and Organizations

Public Library group on Library 2.0
This is a discussion group for people interested in web 2.0 in the public library setting.

Youth Services group on Library 2.0
This is a discussion group for people interested in programming and services for youth.

Young Adult Library Services Association
This is the association for those who work in or are interested in youth services.

Online Publications

VOYA
This is the Voice of Youth Advocates online magazine. Its articles include resources for youth services librarians, support for advocating for young adults, and promotion for young adult literature.

Problem-Solving/PLN in Action:

One of the challenges that comes with working with youth is the bias against them that is often present in other patrons and staff members. Even if this bias isn’t overt animosity, teens are still often viewed with suspicion. Advocating for the teens and their programs and services is a common part of the job. Recently, I read a post on the YALSA blog about having the teens themselves engage in the advocacy for their services. The post discussed ways teens can help and listed some resources and examples. In the future, I expect the issue of advocacy will continue to be important. The information and ideas I can receive from my network will provide education and ideas on the best way to accomplish this.

Network Maintenance Plan:

This PLN will certainly be evolving. Until recently, I’d never created an official PLN. This is my first attempt so I imagine it will need some adjusting as my needs change or I come across new resources. For example, it’s unlikely I’ll need the job search resources once I am able to obtain employment in my new location, so those resources will be removed. I plan to add new resources as I come across them. Twice a year I will evaluate the existing resources to see if I think they are still useful. Currently the two most useful platforms for using my network are Twitter and Google Reader. Obviously, I am able to access my Twitter lists through Twitter. The rest of my resources, with the exception of the listserv, can be accessed through Google Reader.

Mindfulness

Aran Levasseur’s post Why We Need to Teach Mindfulness in a Digital Age gave me a lot to think about.  To quote:

In the absence of stimulation, and the corresponding dopamine high, we’re likely to feel bored. As a result, many of us become stimulation junkies and incessant multitaskers. In the New York Times article, “Attached to Technology and Paying the Price,” Matt Richtel wrote, “While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress … And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.”

I often have this problem, myself.  I have trouble sitting still to do one activity for very long.  For example, right now I am watching a DVD, typing this post, and chatting with a friend.  In fact, I’m barely able to watch television at all without doing at least one other activity.  The only time I’m really able to focus on one activity is when I read.

The idea of teaching digital mindfulness is very appealing.  If, as an adult, I have trouble with this concept, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for kids growing up with the type of technology I didn’t have at that age. Information overload is a very real problem.

This semester I’ve learned about so many new programs and platforms.  I’m very excited to incorporate them into my learning experience, but when doing so I’ll now be sure that I’m also taking time to focus and be fully aware of what I’m doing in each moment.

“Mindfulness practice,” according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer of mindfulness-based stress reduction, “means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”

Digital Storytelling

Have come of age during a time when digital content was fairly ubiquitous in schools, businesses, and personal life, this topic is yet another that I’d never really thought about before.  I simply took it for granted.  From videos on youtube, to webinars for work, to presentations for classes, I’m constantly encountering digital stories.  After reading the article on digital storytelling, I began to consider exactly how much of an impact it has on how we related to each other.  7 things you should know about…Digital Storytelling states, “For digital storytelling to be an important component of higher education, it must provide what other tools lack, including an effective integration of technology with learning, an emotional connection to content, and increased ease of sharing content.”

Online schooling is an excellent example.  Though our classes could easily be conducted solely using written material, the learning experience would be stunted.  Being able to watch videos, presentations and other digital stories created by my professors and fellow students has created a more rich learning environment.  In a current class, we were asked to put together a video tour of a library in our area.  We were able to experience our classmate’s libraries in a way that wouldn’t be possible from reading a written report.

Though digital storytelling provides some unique challenges, the way in which it changes how people relate to each other produces so many more benefits.

Personal Learning Networks: Impact of Other People

This is the first I’ve really heard of PLNs as a solid concept, which really surprises me.  The more I read about it, the more I would have expected it to come up in other classes. However, though I didn’t necessarily have a name for it, I do have a list of resources that would certainly be the start to a PLN.

The idea of learning as something that can be networked makes sense.  Learning is far more than simply picking up a book or reading an article.  It’s interactive and involves many different platforms and individuals. The Rajagopal article discussing the idea of PLNs and learning within the context of the impact connections with other people have on them made an especially good point about how much of an impact other people can have on our learning.  There is the obvious way, of course, that of someone we learn directly from in either an official or informal instructor/student relationship.  Another way, however, is less obvious, sometimes even to the learner:

The second observation is that the effects of networking are not limited to face–to–face interactions with the contacts: even when others are not present, their words, messages and perspectives can influence the reflections of the learner.

This effect would be even more pronounced in the online world where both direct and indirect interactions can occur between a large variety of people.  Reading a blog, participating in a message board, watching a video lecture, etc. where you are exposed to the knowledge and viewpoints of others can impact later reflection and learning. Individuals who are able to acknowledge that fact will be not only better able to use networking contacts as learning contacts, but find the ability to learn almost anywhere even if what is being discussed isn’t completely relevant to their current situation.