Monica3800’s Weblog

This blog is tracking my Library 2.0 journey.

Archive for LIS768

Reflections on LIS768

I really enjoyed this class. It’s easy to say that technology lessens the contact we have with one another, but I don’t necessarily think that’s the case now. I think that the more engaged people are with applications like Ning, IM’ing, Second Life, delicious, etc the more in touch we become. There are deep connections forged when people get together around a common interest. This class has taught me to consider what these L2 applications add to our lives rather than what they take away. Engaging kids in games that stretch their ability to think and process information is pretty powerful.

As an extension of that learning by doing, the lab time that we had in class was really important. I do like to learn theory as a way to place things in a broader perspective, but ultimately I’m a doer. This brings me to the most important thing I learned in class: mistakes are welcome. Everyone always parrots that “learn from your mistakes” blah, blah, blah. Very few places allow you to do that, however. I currently work in an environment that is so addicted to the culture of perfect that we spend most of our time trying to anticipate what will go wrong. I am very good at anticipating because of my work environment, but this class reminded me that while anticipation helps – mistakes are when we really learn. I really do feel a renewed sense of purpose as I take my last few classes and hope to move onto a library job. Good luck to all of you and I hope you make a lot of mistakes.

Tagging in the abstract

Before jumping into my paper abstract I have to share that monitoring my RSS feeds served me well in writing my paper. Michael had a post about the Dublin City Public Library new pageflakes portal on December 7 which I was able to use in making an assessment of how the library uses tagging with their del.icio.us feed. That was cool. Also, the new DCPL page is cool. Now, onto my abstract… 

My research paper for LIS768 explored the use of tagging in libraries. Tagging is a great library 2.0 technology that takes the user from passive to active in a few easy steps. I first researched what we know about tagging in general focusing on why tagging is appealing and who is currently doing it. Next, I reviewed the websites of six public and academic libraries currently making use of tagging. The trends seem to cluster in the following areas: using tagging as part of the catalog and/or website, making use of LibraryThing for Libraries, and using a social bookmarking tool to aggregate patron recommended resources. I also briefly touched on the tension between tagging, a flat classification system, and hierarchical controlled vocabularies like LCSH. Based on what I learned from my research I made recommendations for the future of tagging in libraries. Basically I think libraries should implement tagging in whatever ways they can. Librarians also need to use the information that they gather from tagging to assist them in collection development. Finally, it will be up to us to work with vendors to ensure that all of our technologies work together and that we are maintaining the privacy of our patrons.

I really liked writing this paper (ok, I’m still not quite done). The information just kept coming. I feel like I could start researching in two weeks and have tons of additional/different info. Stay warm, everyone!

Anti-gaming or something else?

Obviously quite a bit has been stirred up after reading the Annoyed Librarian’s post about our class’s gaming night. I was reviewing some of her other posts to get some idea of where she’s coming from and I have to admit that she’s got some valid points. I’m not crazy about the style. I love sarcasm and satire, but I get turned off by the overabundance of that which she criticizes in others: a seeming intolerance for other viewpoints. Contrary to what she might write, I’m not a Pollyanna and I don’t want more fuzzy bunnies in libraries (ninja bunnies are a different story). I just don’t like the guerrilla communication style.

To my point, I do not work in a library, but I do work for a professional association. AL has a lot of criticisms of ALA and those associated closely with it (which I think is part of the reasons why library schools draw her ire). Professional associations are struggling for relevance. The community building, professional development, and networking that were the hallmarks of professional associations are no longer exclusive to the association largely (and perhaps ironically in this case) because of the Internet and its many applications.

So what do library schools have to do with any of this? Many professional associations are still very involved in institutional accreditation, hence their relevance to the profession they serve. ALA created and administers the most widely used accreditation standards for MLIS programs in the US. According to the ALA website, graduation from one of those programs “provides greater flexibility in the types of libraries and jobs you can apply for and enhances your career mobility. Most employers require an ALA-accredited master’s for most professional level positions, and some states require an ALA-accredited degree to work as a professional librarian in public or school libraries.” If you think library school is a joke then this accreditation process can seem like a money making scheme and even seem like arbitrary and elitist barriers to participation in a profession. It’s important to remember how fraught with conflict the accreditation/professional association relationship can appear. If a masters is required from an ALA accredited program to call oneself a librarian, somebody better be making sure that all of those programs are rigorous.

Believe it or not, I am not calling into questions the ALA accreditation process. I generally agree with ALA and I certainly don’t have the expertise to dissect their actual accreditation process. I bring this up to share some of the insights my current profession has given me. Graduate programs bring in big money, accreditation programs bring in big money, professional associations bring in big money. All rely on the goodwill and trust of the public that the mission of each is being served. I think the point is well taken that with all this money flying around, are the interests of the students and the profession best being served? Hold your professional association accountable, hold your school accountable, it will help both  grow, it will engage you in your profession, and overall, it’ll help libraries.

The value of gaming

Disco Fever in L2 ClassLast week in class we played games as has well documented in the biblioblogosphere. I observed DDR, Guitar Hero, Second Life and Brain Age. I even participated in Brain Age and Second Life. The night demonstrated some of the concepts from Squire and Steinkuehler’s Meet the Gamers article that I found most compelling, exciting and heartening both as a future librarian and as a new parent.

Squire and Steinkuehler credit gaming culture with developing skills in players such as focusing on “expertise rather than status”, “negotiat[ing] multiple, competing information spaces that span different media”, and providing “access to social networks” leading to “access to both collective information and collective intelligence”. I could see these concepts mostly in Second Life. Second Life was the most complex of the games we explored in class and it opens up worlds of opportunity to players. DDR and Guitar Hero were fun and required some risk taking (the risk of looking silly can sometimes be the biggest one!) that Levine outlined (in Library Technology Reports in Sept/Oct 2006) as key to the gaming culture.

I love giving kids a chance to gain confidence through games that entail risk taking and trial and error. I never truly understood the importance of learning from and not fearing my mistakes until I was well out of college. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve totally learned that yet. I think it’s a huge accomplishment if we can teach our kids not to get bogged down by the culture of perfect that dominates our world.

Right now I’m watching my young son try to figure out how to crawl through trial and error and lots of risk taking (cringe…) Every day is a game for him and he exudes adventure and possibility. I saw some of that during our gaming night. Keeping us all connected with that part of ourselves is so important. So, now I go back to worrying about the dog tearing up the house, paying the mortgage and how much gray I have in my hair. My son has given me a much better sense of the importance of fun, games and living in the moment. Our class gave me a chance to test that out in a different environment!

Human tetris

An idea for our next class game night.

Cabinets of Curiosity

I missed class last week due to a business trip to San Francisco. I had a little fun time and visited the SF Museum of Modern Art (great place!) I saw a Joseph Cornell exhibit entitled Navigating the Imagination. Cornell’s art consists largely of boxes and collages in which he displays found objects (he also did experimental film making among other things). Some of his works are cabinets of curiosity which were popular in the Renaissance for organizing objects whose connections are not always obvious. The items are generally interesting to the cabinet maker and the cabinet maker is responsible for defining the meaning of the connections. It occurred to me that social networking via MySpace, Ning, Library Thing, etc is a modern day application of cabinets of curiosity. I guess it’s up to us how we use social networking to define the connections between ideas, people, etc that we find interesting.

Library My Space pages

I reviewed the following four library MySpace pages: Ball State University, New Orleans Public Library, Univ. of Alabama at Tuscaloosa MLIS progam, and Thomas Ford Library in Western Springs, IL. I found them through a combo of searching and linking between one another.

I thought the University of Alabama page was the most useful because it was to a targeted audience that is probably pretty receptive (MLIS students!) NOPL also had some really good information, but the page was a little hard to read. Ball State used their’s primarily to highlight resources available to students and did it in an engaging way with good titles and fun posts to show the usefulness of resources like the LitFinder database. The Thomas Ford library page was directed at teens and hadn’t been updated in awhile. Maybe I’m just old, but that one just had way too much going on.

Much like other web resources, MySpace pages seem to be as worthwhile as the time spent keeping them current and interesting. So much is dependent on the community/audience you’re serving as well. Using MySpace is another way to connect, so I think it’s a good use of time. My one caveat would be: if the page isn’t being updated anymore, take it down or it makes your library look less relevant, not more so.