Archive for the ‘ALA2012’ Category

Rodman, S. (2011). Infiltration. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers.

Rodman, S. (2011). Infiltration. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers.

Infiltaration by Sean Rodman is one of the books I picked up at ALA in Anaheim.   As I was walking through the exhibit hall I was attracted to the Orca soundings booth by a large sign advertising “Teen fiction for reluctant readers.”  My sister works for a a high school that has a large number of students who cannot read at grade level.  I know she works closely with her school’s librarian and I got very excited about the book offerings and wanted to look for some books she could keep in her classroom for her kids and for some literature to pass on to the librarian so she could add books to the library.  One of the Orca representatives was kind enough to give me a copy of Infiltration to read and pass onto my sister for her students.

Orca sounding provides young adult books that are aimed at teenagers but are at a grade school reading level.  They have a great selection teachers’ guides on their website and each title includes the reading level (though this is a Canadian publisher and I think the grades are a year ahead? behind? what the US grade level is).  I did not see the Spanish books at the exhibitor booth but they have some Spanish titles listed in the website.  How exciting is that?  I know I’m going to have to look at a few of those when I finally start taking Spanish.  When I took French in high school our choices were Le petit prince and Petit Nicholas.  It would be much more appealing to have a contemporary character to entice me into second-language reading or improving my skills.

Bex likes to break into abandoned buildings and other urban architecture and post pictures of his daring endeavors on the internet.  He connects with other “urban exploration” enthusiasts but for the most part his preferred companions are his girlfriend, Asha and his best friend Jake.  Their adventures, while not exactly legal do not destroy any property and so there is little conflict.  However, when new boy Kieran finds out Bex’s online identity, he enlists Bex to help him break into his father’s workplace.  Bex needs agrees in exchange for money, which he thinks help him in his relationship with Asha.

The break in scenes are well paced and vivid.  The plot moves quickly, I can see where this would be an appealing read for a teenager.  There were some hints at a good b-story with Bex trying to interrupt his jealousies and insecurities of Asha’s summer job and preparations for college.  Kieran has a complex relationship with his father that could have been explored in greater detail.  I understand some of these details had to be sacrificed to keep the book short and at a low grade level but at 130 page I think an additional 10-20 could be added to flesh out some of the sub-plots instead of ending abruptly with no resolution.  Bex’s approach to relationships and his worldview seem convincing for such a short novel; this would be a good addition to any classroom with struggling readers.  The contemporary characters, fast paced adventure story and age-appropriate protagonist will help them develop an enjoyment of reading at their current reading level.


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Monday marked the end of my ALA 2012 experience and I leave with a multitude of feelings.  As a library support staff member I leave feeling that I have found a number of interesting ideas and things I am dying to share and perhaps try at my library.  However, as a support staff at a large library I wonder if some of my suggestions from this conference will get lost in the shuffle of higher ranked staff’s suggestions.  Implemented or not, some of the ideas will be stored away until I find a use for them, perhaps when I’m ready to leave my current position and work as a librarian.  As a student, I walked away with some invaluable new contacts, was able to talk with some classmates I would not otherwise have run into and some wonderful ideas of what path(s) I want to take as I make my way in the profession.  I also walk away feeling as though, no matter how much work I’ve done there’s still more to complete.  It’s not enough to be at a conference I need to present at the conference.  I need to not just present a poster I need to aspire to be on a panel.  It’s not enough to blog I need to publish an article.  It’s not enough to try new technologies and try to implement them but I need to prove that I am up to date with “emerging” (though undefined) technologies or I will never be viable.  I realize that much of the advice I’m being given is meant as a long-term, “don’t rest on your laurels” advice but when it’s coming from many well meaning sources in the course of a few days it can be a lot to handle.

On to the recap!  I went to Nuts and Bolts of staff training : discussion and resources for new trainers.  This session was more of a discussion than a talk and while I appreciated chatting with people at my table I felt a little out of my element since I work with student workers and not staff.  I asked for tips about how to help students with retention of their skills since that problem has been on my mind of late.  I remember seeing a poster session at CARL about putting training documents on the department wiki and at the Law Library we had procedures for staff and students in a notebook at the desk as well as on the Google Site I created for the circulation department.  I presented this option to the group at a previous staff meeting and the response ranged from hostile to just lukewarm so I let it go but I still think that having a place where students can reference the appropriate procedure seems like the best way to help them reinforce what they’ve been trained on.  I was happy to hear that many schools are using a similar procedure and I’ll bring up that I heard it again at this conference, though for some reason (perhaps I’m the wrong person to be suggesting changes of this sort?) it was not very well received last time.  Also in this session learned some more about how to approach offering training and it inspired me to volunteer what expertise I have to someone who may be interested in learning the skill.  I hope that this confidence helps me eventually develop some teaching experience, since that will be needed in the next stage of my career.

After lunch I went to Riding the publication roller coaster, which was absolutely packed.  The speakers included some editors as well as authors and the personas of everyone presenting were engaging and kept my interest.  I feel less intimidated by the prospect of trying to put together something for publication (I think I’m going to try starting with a literature review first) than I was before going to ALA.  I found the discussion about publishing a book interesting but it won’t be something I pursue for a while.  In particular I liked Wendi Kaspar’s advice about the solid points of sending in articles, such as not to submit to more than one journal at once and be aware of the tone of the journal.  Some of the advice was very specific, such as RefWorks will cause problems with the works cited when the editor moves it into design software and that it’s okay to ask for timelines on when you should hear back.  I appreciated the frank discussion of the editing process and the reminder to cite everything including yourself if you’re drawing on an existing body of research.  There was a brief discussion of blogging and it’s place in academic publishing at the end that I hope is explored in a webinar later.

Last but not least, after the publication panel, I went to Disneyland.  Going to Disneyland should count a part of my professional development because I interacted with cast members and will be able to hone my customer service skills.  I found a series of special collection documents (the manuscript pages in Sleeping Beauty Castle).  I found a librarian Minnie Mouse doll and performed ethnographic observation of how Disney visitors incorporate books into their theme park experience.  Okay, fine it’s an excuse to share some pictures I took at the park, but I was able to find a surprising number of books and literary elements in an amusement park.  Most of the pictures are from Fantasyland, and I only went for a few hours, perhaps I will expand this gallery later.  Enjoy!

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Sunday morning, as a friend and I started into the convention center for another day of discovery and professional enrichment, I mentioned that my first choice for the morning was Diving in and learning to swim as a new distance education librarian. Her immediate and, to my ears, strong, response was “but you’re not a distance librarian, are you? Is that what you want to do?”
Her response surprised me in part because I love coming to conferences and attending webinars to be exposed to new things and to get an idea of what others in my field are trying to do. In addition to learning about others’ roles for it’s own sake, I’ve come to be a strong believer in cross training. In school we learn a little about many different aspects of librarianship. While I do not think I would be happy as a full time cataloger, I can appreciate the MARC and RDA rules and guidelines that go into formatting a record. Knowing how a record is compiled makes it easier for me to help patrons at the desk and to find information to fill ILL requests. I can also appreciate some of the limitations it may place on some half baked ideas I may be tempted to suggest in updating the catalog. It’s very easy to section ourselves off into different departments and forget that to our patrons the library is often one entity and they don’t care about a tech services – access services feud.
That said, I would be very interested in being a distance librarian. If anecdotal evidence is to be believed most students will have at least a few online classes by the end of their programs. Also, as a distance student, it is interesting to hear what the librarians think they are providing against my experience of the class. I also did not fail to note that many people seem to fall into their roles based on being the only volunteer or breaking a new path because if a previously side interest.
I have some great ideas from the distance librarianship panel. Unloved the feeling that distance students’ needs should be at the beginning
with the on campus students’, not an afterthought. Some of the ways they adapted existing programs was informative and inspiring (again, I’ll post full notes after the conference is over).
After the morning session, I went to see the posters downstairs and I was amazed at the variety of subjects covered. I felt that all of the subjects I stopped to look at we’re engaging. I was particularly impressed by a partnership in Washington between the public and academic libraries in one county. My coworker and I are constantly trying to encourage our patrons to go to the public library for the high demand ILLs we could not get for them. I liked the idea that the items were sent to the library as a basic hold. I think Orange County may be too big for this to work, but one can dream.
I spent so long looking at posters that I was late to the next session, so instead of going to copyright initiatives on campus (which looked full when I glanced in, so if someone wants to share their notes…) I went to revitalizing the research process. The talk was given by a school librarian and a high school English teacher. While I won’t have to teach research writing anytime soon, they had some great recommendations for free web display and graphic tools that I can’t wait to play with.
My last session was one that I enjoyed, but I wish it was a multi-meeting course than a brief panel. Discovery systems promise and reality was interesting as a survey of different linked databases and catalogs but I felt like there were too many panelists in the room to get a good feel for how each school implemented them. I loved the ideas about making better links for ILL or DDS or find it at x library items, allowing patrons to truly navigate from one interface.
I ended the day meeting up with some people from Rutgers at an alumni function. I loved getting to see fellow students and having faces to put to professors I’d only seen via email or a webcast. I am now the proud owner of some new pens (my orientation pens have been exhausted), an alumni pin for my badge and a magnet for my fridge. All on all a good haul on school swag and it weighs less than my books from the exhibitor floor.
Come back tomorrow for the last day of ALA recap, and please excuse any strange autocorrects in the text. I am posting this from my iPhone and the phone has some strange ideas about what I should be saying. Maybe I can make it a list of library abbreviations do it will stop making ILL into I’LL.

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Day 2 of ALA had some great presentations.  I was only able to attend two morning sessions before I had to leave for a wedding but I was happy with both sessions I sat through.

I attended the Grown ups just want to have fun! panel on play programming for college students.  I was surprised at some of the suggestions.  I feel particularly drawn to the idea of a scavenger hunt to highlight important parts of the library or to do the History Mystery game (I will link to the slides after the conference).  I downloaded the SCVNGR ap to do the ALA play scavenger hunt and I do not have strong feelings for it yet since there was only one clue up yesterday that I could find.  Perhaps there’s going to be one clue or task a day?  I think I’d have to have a couple on a given day to keep interested.  Does this ap do anything if a hunt is not planned?  It seems to have a check in and a few other options but nothing that is getting me too excited yet, maybe after I play with it for a little while.

My first choice for the second session was crowded and I was not getting inspired by the discussion so I left and I’m so glad I found my way into Addressing Global Diversity: meeting the needs of international students in Academic Libraries.  I thought all of the speakers had great things to say about tailoring their existing programming to meet the needs of international students.  I particularly liked the recommendation to get some idea of how these students would view the library in their home country so you can highlight the differences in ways that will help them understand how to navigate libraries in the US.  I also liked the reminder to not use jargon in encounters with international students (though I think that adding in some jargon with explanations gradually will help them in the long run, but that’s a stance I have on any encounters with patrons).  I appreciated the tip on asking the students where they would think to look for library program offerings, since it may not match up with where the staff think students would look for help.

All of the information in these sessions will help me when I find my first librarian position.  I hope to contact some of the education and outreach librarians when I return to work on Tuesday to see if they’d like a copy of my notes for the gaming session and to offer myself up as free labor for implementing some of them.  I need to find a way to be in more than one place at once since I’m sorry I missed I can do it by myself, The e-book elephant in the room, and Linked data & next generation catalogs.  If anyone went to one of these sessions would you share your notes?  I would be happy to reciprocate if you want notes from either of the two sessions above.

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This post was originally going to be about my continuing indecision about the wonderful offerings at the ALA convention this weekend.  I spent some time with the scheduler and I have been able to narrow the entire program down to a few offerings in each time slot and I will decide the day of which I will ultimately attend.  I’m playing around with different options for this blog and thought I might try embedding a pdf instead of sending a link to the schedule or transfering it as text.

Et voila, I’ve managed to embed the pdf!

The reason I make mention of embedding this pdf is I had some difficulty in finding a way to do this in WordPress.com.  When you use Google to search for “embed pdf in WordPress” you are taken to a wonderful page full of plugins for WordPress.org.  If you open the link you will notice that both of the WordPress sites look remarkably alike, with the same branding and the same basic layout.  So I assumed that the plugins page was compatible with WordPress.com.

I downloaded an embedding plugin with high ratings and looked at the instructions on how to install my plugin.  The instructions seemed straight-forward until I came back to my blog dashboard and could not find a “plugins” directory.  So I went to search in some different tabs, with now luck.  I tried Google again, this time trying “how to install a plugin in WordPress and saw a few snarky answers about how everyone should know how to use a FTP transfer program.

About this time I decided to go look through WordPress.com tutorials to see if I could find anything.  The tutorials were very basic and not what I was looking for.  I tried searching the WordPress.com site and still did not pull up anything particularly useful.  Finally I went back to Google again and searched for (using good searching techniques instead of winging it) “embed a pdf in WordPress.com blog” and was taken to this site which directed me to Scribd.    Scribd is easy to use thus far and seems easy to navigate.  I’m sure there are more elegant ways to embed pdfs but I don’t want to switch to WordPress.org just yet, though it’s tempting to be able to tinker with the coding.

My trials in embedding my schedule into my blog helped to remind me part of why I’m so excited about ALA this weekend, I want to learn new things and, after finding difficulties in the existing search field help others navigate them by drawing on my own experiences.   I’m sure to veteran bloggers this seems like a laughably easy problem, but it still took nearly 20 minutes of searching to accomplish something simple.  I need to constantly remind myself of how much I know and how difficult things can be the first time.  I will be sure to remember this feeling when I’m helping users navigate the e-linker or the course reserves page next quarter.  See you in Anaheim!

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I’m looking forward to this Friday, it’s my first ALA conference and I can’t wait to attend some of the great discussions, socials and poster sessions that I’ve seen advertised on the ALA website and several of the blogs I follow.  I’m having some difficulty deciding between some of the wonderful offerings in the program but I hope to have a everything narrowed down to a few options by the end of tomorrow.

I know that I am going to the NMRT Mentoring Social (I have a mentor, how exciting is that!  My faculty adviser is wonderful but having someone at the conference to ask questions of and get advice from is very exciting).  I also want to go to the ACRL 101 session Saturday morning and the Rutgers reception on Sunday night.  Does anyone have a suggestion for something that’s too good to miss that I should set in stone as my schedule shapes up?

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