Saturday, November 28, 2009

Diversity in Law Libraries

The “information age” is upon us. With the technological advances that come with the information age, there will likely be another breakdown in society of haves versus have-nots; those individuals that have the resources and means to seek out information and those that do not. While this idea is prevalent in all areas of librarianship, it is a special concern for law libraries. “Providing access to legal information for all members of today’s culturally diverse society is, and rightly should be, a major concern and responsibility of the law library profession” (Chandler, 1998). The demographics of the United States are in flux, with a much higher percentage of the total population identifying with a minority. “Given these changing demographic patterns, the participation of minorities in the delivery of information services is imperative if librarianship is to maintain its historical mission of providing access to information to all persons” (Chandler, 1998). Additionally, “it is important that information personnel are representative of our culturally diverse society” (Chandler, 1998).

Diversity is important on many levels with some of the main benefits being that “progress will flow from the inclusion at all levels of power and decision-making of people previously and systematically excluded” (Jackson, 1998). “Institutions will mature and grow as each expands the totality of human resource polarities available to it as a source from which to draw strength” (Jackson, 1998). Jackson also notes that the number of role models for those previously without them will increase, which is very important for the recruitment and retention of law librarians (Jackson, 1998). Many law librarians indicate that they found this profession by either working in a library or by being acquainted with a current professional. This is where the importance of a law librarian role model will come into play. If a minority librarian mentors a minority candidate, it is more likely that the minority candidate will view the profession in a good light and pursue the means necessary to become a member (Chandler, 1998).

Today’s law librarian generally must obtain both a Juris Doctor and Master’s of Library and Information Science, and the pool of potential minority candidates is dismally low. Graduation rates for both library schools and law schools demonstrate an underrepresentation of minority entrants (Chandler, 1998). Because of the problems with recruitment and retention of minority law librarians, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has responded by creating a Committee on Diversity where the goal is to “recruit and foster the preparation of ethnic and minority law librarians” (Chandler, 1998). AALL has created a strategic plan “to foster diversity in the profession by increasing minority membership and participation with the following objectives: A. [i]ncrease the Associations’ minority membership as a percentage of total membership; B. [s]upport the professional development of minority law librarians; C. [i]ncrease minority participation in AALL leadership” (AALL, 1990). Through the strategic plan, AALL has tried to “make law librarianship more attractive to a wider range of potential members” (Jackson, 1998).

Most of the current data shows that minority law librarians are still hovering around only 10% of the entire profession. This number needs to change to be more representative of the population as a whole. The recruitment and retention policies need to be fostered, and librarians need to recognize the value of diversity and offer mentorship to those that may be interested in the profession.

Questions to Ponder:
What actions could law librarians take to effectively mentor minority candidates?

Do minority representatives in law librarianship differ from other librarian positions? Please explain why.

Chandler, Y. (1998). Why is Diversity Important for Law Librarianship? Law Library Journal, 90 (545), 545-561.

Jackson, G.R. (1998). R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means to Me. Law Library Journal, 90 (579) 579-584.

Multiculturalism and Diversity

Main Entry: mul·ti·cul·tur·al
Pronunciation: \ˌməl-tē-ˈkəlch-rəl, -ˌtī-, -ˈkəl-chə-\
Function: adjective
Date: 1941
— mul·ti·cul·tur·al·ism \-rə-ˌli-zəm\ noun
— mul·ti·cul·tur·al·ist \-rə-list\ noun or adjective
— mul·ti·cul·tur·al·ly \-rə-lē\ adverb

Miriam Webster

multiculturalism [ˌmʌltɪˈkʌltʃərəˌlɪzəm]
1. (Sociology) the state or condition of being multicultural
2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the policy of maintaining a diversity of ethnic cultures within a community
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

mul·ti·cul·tur·al (m l t -k l ch r- l, -t -)
1. Of, relating to, or including several cultures.
2. Of or relating to a social or educational theory that encourages interest in many cultures within a society rather than in only a mainstream culture.
mul ti·cul tur·al·ism n.
mul ti·cul tur·al·ist n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

The variations in these definitions demonstrate the difficulty that people sometimes have in understanding the term multicultural. While all have a similar description they also demonstrate the variety of ways in which the term can be used. The context in which the word is viewed and/or used will vary the meaning and perhaps will change the way the term is heard.
Part of the difficulty for Americans has been that the term is not understood in a global fashion but in a personal or economic one. For libraries it is imperative that all effort is made to not only be aware of different cultures but to furnish materials that will enhance understanding and allow patrons of all nationalities to explore materials that will be of interest to them.
The Joyner Library of East Carolina University began a two year long program with various deadlines in order to complete three main goals; Goal 1 – Promote diversity of library personnel, Goal 2 – Promote diversity of library services, and Goal 3 – Promote diversity of library collection and resources (Diversity Plan, Joyner Library, 2009 – 2011) . Each of these goals has a strategy that will be developed by various committees. The target dates set seem to be realistic each plan taking the proper amount of time to meet the goals. It is of interest to note that the term “diversity” is used and not the term “multicultural”.
The article “From Inside Out: Promoting Diversity Awareness in Ourselves and Our Library Users” (2009), the writers show the challenge that libraries face in demonstrating true multiculturalism and diversity while keeping personal values and those of the patrons. The article further explains what to each library should do prior to setting up a committee. Points that stand out are:
Determine the needs of your library.
Take stock of the community you serve.
Search out learning tools.
Make your diversity statement one that fits with your environment.

All of these points are excellent and can be applied to any learning institution. The learning curve of students, staff, and faculty can be raised by using proper teaching methods and the best resources available whether it is with books, videos, CD’s, DVD’s. Another point made in the article is that user friendly signs are a huge part of welcoming everyone to the library itself and hiring policies that offer employment to all persons is critical. Using handouts in simple friendly English to guide patrons in their library use is another top notch suggestion.

The diversity committee began with an Ad-Hoc committee in 2004 and through the hard work of many individuals along with the university has accomplished several critical goals so that they can now move forward with their plan which should be completed in 2011. Just in time to begin looking at more goals. By moving forward slowly but steadily the committee hopes to include items they may have overlooked and it will give time for people to learn what true diversity is.

Listed below are some of the questions the committee must ask before setting any goals.

How will you begin community building?
What type of partners will the committee seek?

The next questions are to consider who could be partners with you. The article lists the following suggestions.

Other Campus Committees
Departments that focus on Diversity
Student Groups and Organizations
Student Affairs Divisions
Other libraries

All of these are for an academic library and will change if you are a public library.
The points discussed in this article all circle around setting up the committee, determining the needs, teaching everyone about Diversity, setting the programming goals, and finally implementing the practices and policies developed.

Multiculturalism and Diversity are experienced every day by every person we come in contact with. How they see us (librarians and staff) depends on practicing what we preach and never allowing patrons to feel unwanted because of faulty programming, personal prejudices, or lack of training.

Questions to ponder

When visiting a library or perhaps a museum for the first time. How were you treated? Did the experience leave you feeling as though you had found a new and exciting place or did you feel that once was enough?

If you were Director of Library services at a University, how would you go about forming a committee on multiculturalism/diversity? What do you think would be the most important function of the committee?


Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003. Downloaded 11/20/09

Diversity Plan. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. 2009-2011. Downloaded 11/18/09

Edward, J. et al. From Inside Out: Promoting Diversity Awareness in Ourselves and Our Library Users. PNLA Quarterly (2007). Downloaded 11/17/2009

Miriam Webster Downloaded 11/18/09

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Downloaded 11/23/09

Friday, November 27, 2009

Multiculturalism: Languages in Libraries

Creating and maintaining a connection with the community the library serves is an important role of today’s librarians. The demographics of the population of library patrons provide clues to how the library can achieve this goal. As such, it is important to learn about and understand the people and cultures that exist in the community the library services as it can be quite diverse and multicultural.

Often those most in need and perhaps most unaware of the services the library has to offer are people from other countries and other cultures. These patrons may not realize what is available to them due to cultural or language barriers. Padma Polepeddi emigrated from India and now is the Supervisor of the Glendale Library in Colorado. She recalls crying for joy when she learned that the public library was a free service, as it is not in her home country of India. She says she “loves telling other immigrants about the amazing world of public libraries” and saying “All this is free!” Her library is known for extensive collections in Spanish and Russian and also has expanded its diversity programs. She also travels around Colorado, visiting other libraries to help them develop their diversity programs.

Developing Multi-lingual Collection

This cultural divide can take the form of simply not knowing of the service or knowing that the public library is free to the more difficult obstacle of language barriers. Another concern for librarians is how to develop the collection for other cultures. It can be a tough question for librarians to weed and cull a collection of just one language but when the space and energy is needed for books and materials of another language(s) more problems can arise. On the other hand, providing service and materials is important as well and should be carefully considered. The language people learn at birth has a strong hold, it is the language that they begin to see and interpret the world in, the language they use to communicate with friends and family, and can be a strong cultural identity holder.

There are three ways to think of developing the collection for multiple languages. The first way is to think of building two separate collections, one in each language. The second is to create the primary language collection and build the second with text in both languages. The third is a combination of the two. People learning English as a second language benefit from having the ability to read in their own language both as affirmation and to bolster their confidence in learning to read in the new language.

A few other tips to help the process of introducing new languages to the library are to start multi-lingual book groups, using interactive books for children, and research reliable materials. Just as there are vendor resources for selecting English language books there are resources for selecting quality materials in other languages as well.

IFLA and Language

The Internal Federation of Library Associations works with libraries around the world trying to promote diversity and collaboration. Language is an important aspect of achieving these goals and has always been a key factor as an international organization. There are seven official languages used, which means any formal communication can be handled in these core languages, and all materials are printed in each. The conferences held all over the world are staffed with volunteers from the library world who work as interpreters. The IFLA has a strong commitment to diversity of language in the library community and promoting access to information for all, enriching the library world by bringing many different views and words from around the world.

Questions to Consider:

What issues do librarians face introducing multiple languages to their library?

What are some ways to let the community to know the library has gone multi-lingual?


Diversity, P. f. (2008). Passion for Diversity. Library Journal Movers and Shakers, 15.

Gail Dickinson, K. H. (2008). Celebrating Language Diversity to Improve Achievement.

Library Media Connect, 26(7), 5.

Kapnisi, S. (2009). IFLA and Language Diversity. IFLA Journal, 35(2), 183-185.

Patton, J. A. (2008). You're not bilingual, so what? Library Media Connect, 26(7), 22-25.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Diversity in Academic Libraries

Diversity and multiculturalism have become important issues within the academic community and have a great influence on academic libraries in many ways. Academic libraries not only implement diversity initiatives in hiring and retaining a diverse workforce, they must also promote awareness of multiculturalism and diversity in their collections and programs for patrons. The ALA's Library Bill of Rights states that "books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves…a person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views" (ALA, 1996). Academic libraries must always strive to not simply talk about diversity but also exhibit a clear commitment to building an environment that is inclusive for all races, religions, sexual orientations, and abilities.

There are several avenues through which libraries can promote diversity and provide an example to the larger academic community. Libraries must strive to recruit and retain a diverse work force. Beyond hiring, libraries must collect materials that reflect the cultural background of the community they serve. Having a diverse collection and demonstrating a desire to preserve and collect the materials of minority cultures will aid in effort to reach out the community as a whole. Libraries must also strive to be equitable in outreach programming. Applying the principles of diversity to outreach efforts is an important way for libraries to reach the largest population possible (Orange and Osbourne, 2004).

Diversity in outreach is all about equity in services. In the introduction to From Outreach to Equality: Innovative Models of Library Policy and Practice, Satia Orange and Robin Osbourne(2004) discussed the pitfalls of only providing outreach programs to "underserved populations" with limited funding and little to no support (Orange and Osbourne, 2004). The funding for programs like this can dry up quickly (as I am sure we are all aware in the current economic conditions) so relying on special programs to reach minority audiences can be a slippery slope.

Orange and Osbourne emphasize the importance of tailoring all outreach programs to the broadest possible population in order to ensure that they are equally accessible for everyone. The practice of using special funding for outreach programs gives the impression that these programs are extra and not essential to the daily routines of librarians. Thus in times of economic uncertainty, the programs disappear, often when they are needed the most (Orange and Osbourne, 2004). Separating programs for regular library users from "underserved populations" creates an environment of inequity. The remedy to this problem is to view outreach as one of the primary responsibilities of the library and to then direct outreach efforts to the whole community, thus ensuring that all will be treated equitably no matter the circumstances.

The common message throughout all of my reading about diversity has been focused on equity; equity in hiring, equity in service, and equity in collecting. The objective to being aware of diversity is not to create an environment where minorities are given better or special treatment, but where everyone is treated the same (Peterson, 1999). Diversity in librarianship is not about quotas or statistics; it is about living up to the standards set forth by the American Library Association. When the Library Bill of Rights says equal access for all, the library should be made equally accessible for everyone.

Discussion questions:

Are there similarities/differences between how diversity programs should be implemented in the different types of libraries?

What are some examples of outreach programs that cater to a broader population?


American Library Association Council (1996). "Library Bill of Rights." Retrieved November 21, 2009 from

Orange, Satia and Osbourne, Robin. (2004) Introduction. In Robin Osbourne (Ed.), From Outreach to Equity: Innovative Models of Library Policy and Practice (xi-xvii) Chicago: American Library Association.

Peterson, Lorna. (1999) The Definition of Diversity: Two Views. A More Specific Definition. The Journal of Library Administration, 27(1), 17-26.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Technology: A Necessary Tool for Information Literacy


Information literacy, the ability to access, evaluate, organize and use information from a variety of sources, is a necessary component of education that must be implemented in curriculum for maximum student success. Though there are many different mediums through which to gain access to information, a major tool used in today’s school systems other than the printed word is technology through the use of computers. Why this shift?  According to Holly Barton, in her article “Information “Literacy: Learning How to Learn”, the use of technology “provides acquisition to greater volume and depth of information than was ever possible before”(Barton, 2009, p.2). This has made it vital to educators, teachers and librarians alike, to shift the way they allow students to engage in learning.

If schools and libraries were incapable of providing technology, then it would be near impossible to create the type of lifelong learners that we envision our world to be full of in the future. Technology has allowed us to shift from direct instruction to discovery by “doing”, from teacher centered to learner centered activities, from learning as torture to learning as fun, and from teacher as transmitter to teacher as facilitator. When this type of learning is established, we are creating students who learn faster and more in depth, which is more motivating and encouraging for students, teachers and parents. (Barton, 2009)) Technology for information literacy is necessary for both schools and libraries to help our youth master the critical thinking process.


What does this mean for schools?


Schools will have to be capable of providing technology to make it possible to produce information literate students and it will have to begin at the earliest grades. In her article “Understanding Information Literacy”, Barbara Humes insists that students need to learn early on “how to learn” so that they can be independent seekers of information throughout their lives. In order to do this, teachers of all subjects must “blend their traditional fact-based approach with an emphasis on learner-based inquiry and the scientific inquiry process” (as cited in Lennox, 1993). This is more of a self-discovery type learning that would be beneficial for the student to master.

The fight for information literacy is being tackled on all fronts in the school as well. This isn’t just a job for the teacher. The principal is at the forefront of the process and is to advance resource-based learning by providing ample planning time and a respectable budget. Humes also cites, “As instructional partners, the classroom teacher and library media specialist are actively involved in identifying the learning needs of the students, developing teaching units that facilitate activities which offer meaningful practice in using a variety of information resources, and guiding student progress” (as cited in Wisconsin Educational Media Association, 1993). With all of these positions hard at work, information literacy is something that a school should be able to accomplish. Schools can become a place where learning is fun and teachers act as facilitators more than anything. The idea is to get the ball rolling for the students and allow them to take it from there.


What does this mean for libraries?


            As more schools make this shift to include information literacy in the curriculum, we will see a more active role for librarians. This type of learning will create a demand for varied media sources, and in turn will create the need for staff to re-evaluate how money is disseminated between text books and library media resources. Not only will school libraries be affected, but public libraries will have more responsibilities as well. They will have to work harder to keep up with what the surrounding schools are studying to ensure that students and parents will be able to locate necessary materials outside of the school atmosphere. Librarians will also be called upon more frequently than ever to provide guidance to teachers and learners to facilitate information literacy and lifelong learning. (Humes, 2003)

            Librarians will have the opportunity to use their skills to the fullest to help these kids succeed. Imagine walking into your public library and seeing students hard at work with their local librarians. You might see the hustle and bustle of excited students searching through information and sharing it with each other while looking to the librarian for verification. You might also see siblings helping each other become problem solvers through the use of media equipment, maybe even with the help of mom or dad. This is what a community library should look like, especially when we are promoting life long learning.



Something to consider:

Schools are currently cutting media specialists and replacing them with non-certified people to save money. How will this affect the progress of information literacy in schools?


Barton, H. Information Literacy: Learning How to Learn.  Rhode Island Network for Education Technology.  Retrieved on October 20, 2009, from

Humes, Barbara. Understanding information literacy. Retrieved on November 15, 2009,  from

Plotnick, Eric. Information Literacy. Retrieved on November 15, 2009, from




Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Information Literacy in the Classroom

Information literacy is defined by the American Library Association as “the ability to seek and effectively utilize information resources, including knowledge of how to use technologies and the forms in which information is stored” (Ercegovac and Yamasaki, 2003). Information literacy is a tool of empowerment for all learners, reached through a research based approach to learning. It requires skills to adapt to new technology in order to use a variety of information sources and effective search strategies to learn independently, solve problems and make decisions. Information literacy forms the basis for life-long learning. Basically, it is the result of learning how to learn. A person uses their information literacy skills to derive meaning from the learning process, and there is today a greater focus on teaching all students to think critically, to become independent lifelong learners, and to proficiently use a variety of technologies.

Students today must learn to access needed information effectively and use appropriate investigative methods. Information processing and problem solving skills are essential to a student’s future employment success. More than half of the United States job force is composed of employees known as “knowledge workers” whose primary marketable skills are associated with information literacy. In the past, when students primarily looked to their school or public library for information, the concept of information literacy was not yet born. Here in these libraries sat selected collections of reference materials and authoritative texts deemed worthy to be included in the collections by librarians trained to evaluate the value and credibility of the sources. In today’s web-driven world, how is a person to know what information is valid and what is not? Individuals posting information on the web are (often) not required to pass through traditional editorial constraints or undergo fact-checking such as required in conventional published print media.

Today’s teachers are faced with the challenge of teaching their students the skills of information literacy. Although textbooks, memorization and testing still exists, more and more the process of learning is going toward self-directed learning, information processing and organizing on the part of the student. The role of the teacher is becoming less of a fact-based provider of knowledge to more of a facilitator for learner-based inquiry and search methods. Educators help students to develop cognitive strategies for selecting, retrieving and evaluating information. A basic objective of today’s education is a process-oriented one which enables students to learn how to identify needed information, locate and organize it, and present it in meaningful way.

Educators have many options to present information to students in addition to the traditional textbook method. Technology plays a huge role in information literacy, and students who use technology effectively tend to become better at managing information, communicating and presenting ideas. Applications such as blogs, podcasts, streaming videos and webcams are frequently used in schools these days. Consider the French teacher who can treat her students to a “trip” to Paris via a webcam that is positioned at the Eiffel Tower. Students can view French newspapers online to both learn the language and gain knowledge about current events in the country. Students can utilize podcasts of language lessons to learn the language. Instead of being limited to class time in a language lab, a student can bring the podcast home and listen to it as often as they need to. This same French teacher can coordinate conversations using the Skype application so that students in America can speak with students in France. Such interactive technologies can be so much more effective than strict textbook reading.

Consider the history class here in Michigan that is studying the Civil War. Michigan is not particularly rich in Civil War history, but what if the teacher wanted to give his students the opportunity to experience the locations of some of the major events in the war. Videos could certainly be shown in the classroom, but selection may be limited. Much more is available online. Students could view historical sites, battleground locations, stops on the Underground Railroad or re-enactments of warfare via the internet. Streaming videos and even YouTube presentations can be used to view historical presentations, interview accounts and recreations of period events.

Many teachers create web pages where they can post lesson plans and course documents. Students are able to check homework assignments and information from their home computer. Interactive online quizzes are often used to give students immediate feedback and correction explanation on errors. Computer labs are available at most schools for students who do not have internet access at home. Students learn about computer networking and telecommunications for data access and participation in learning communities. Presentations of softare packages, multimedia technologies and applications are taught so that students are prepared for employment after graduation.

Educators need to teach students how to evaluate information and question authority. How current is the information? How reliable is it? Is it biased? Will different people perceive the information differently? What are the qualifications of the author and what are the author’s sources? Is the information linked to a site that is being used to sell a product? Teaching students how to identify the information that they need, how to locate it, how to choose reliable sources, and how to blend the information into a final product is the basis for helping to ensure that they will become masters of information literacy and successful life-long learners.

Thoughts to consider: Teachers are becoming very creative in using a variety of resources to teach their students information literacy skills. What are some other resources they could use? What might the future of technology bring that will be helpful in this endeavor?


Barton, H. Information Literacy: Learning How to Learn. Rhode Island Network for Education Technology. Retrieved on October 19, 2009, from

Dolnicek, B. (2009). Information Literacy. Nebraska Library Association Quarterly, 40(1), 3-4. Retrieved October 19, 2009, from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.

Ercegovac, J. and Yamasaki, E. (2003). Information Literacy: Search Strategies, Tools & Resources. Library Instruction. Retrieved on October 19, 2009, from on October 19, 2009

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, American Library Association, Retrieved on October 19, 2009 from

Monday, November 16, 2009

Teachers and Information Literacy

Oftentimes it seems that education, as an institution, is populated by persons who work to preserve practices of the past and who do not depend upon or explore the advantages of digital literacy. Digital literacy, however, is here to stay--we are at the core of new literacy--and educators should consider how to best weave together old, new, and future literacy so that young people leave school literate in the ways of school "and" the ways of the world (O’Brien, D. & Scharber, C., 2008, p66-68).

When teaching today’s students, teachers need to be educated and confident with technology. Various studies have shown that a very high proportion of trainee teachers entering the universities are already competent in technology. For this reason, some teachers’ training programs take the technical capabilities for granted or expect that less confident teachers will enhance their lacking capabilities outside of their formal training. However, other studies have demonstrated that the level of the technical capabilities could be highly overestimated. Some researchers argue that teachers enter the profession with variable computer skills and some stop at a level of basic technical skills (Markauskaite, L. 2007, p. 548).

Many school districts are moving forward to provide necessary training for new teacher trainees and experienced teachers to improve confidence with technology so they can keep up with their students. Today’s students are ready to move beyond the textbook and open their laptop for the daily lesson. When I met last week with a librarian who is in charge of all of Marion County Public School Libraries I learned that the public libraries and librarians from the main teacher’s reference library were coming together in order to provide technical support for their teachers who were struggling to keep up with the students. The librarians are going to the schools and setting up computer workshops for the teachers. The librarians are coming into the classrooms and demonstrating for the teachers all the possibilities information literacy can be successful for both teachers and the students. The librarian expressed to me the fact that a lower rate of students were causing problems in the classroom (less boredom), the kid in the back row was paying attention and interested in the assignment, and the days are going smoother for the teacher. Other programs such as online gradebook are used for posting students’ grades online where they are not only calculated automatically with fewer errors, but parents are also able to go online and view their child’s grades.

We are teaching a new generation of techno kids that have the need to move beyond the textbook and learn to be creative with all the computer software that is available to them.


What disadvantages are there for students who have teachers that are not considering updating their computer literacy skills?

Why do you think these teachers would keep the old hum drum textbooks around when students can learn and become more creative than ever with the use of computers?

O’Brien, David & Scharber, Cassandra (2008). Digital Literacies Go to School: potholes and possibilities, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, v52 n1 p66-68, International Reading Association retrieved from ERIC database on November 15, 2009.

Markauskaite, Lina (2007). Exploring the Structure of Trainee Teachers ICT Literacy: the main components of and relationships between, general cognitive and technical capabilities. Educational Technology Research and Development 55, no.6 retrieved from ECO database on November 15, 2009.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don’t look now, but I think the library is following us

Libraries are held in high esteem by the public, higher than any other public institution. Users are satisfied, and even non-users have praise, recognizing the cultural and educational contributions libraries make. But that can’t be taken for granted. The recent budget slashing at state and local levels in Michigan and other states show that no publicly funded institution – police, education or libraries – is safe. For libraries to maintain their support, they must reinforce and refresh ties with current users, and grab the attention of non-users by showing them something they may not have expected. The effort to do that with online tools is called Library 2.0.

The definitions of Library 2.0 range from the philosophical to the technical, but they have, in some form, these things in common:

Libraries must be where the users need them. For most users, the first time they encountered their library outside the bricks-and-mortar boundaries was then the library put its catalog online. What a convenience! Come home from the book club meeting at 9:15 Sunday night and put next month’s book on hold by 9:20. Reading a magazine or surfing the Web and you see a title you want to explore? Go find it. And if it’s in a branch at the other end of the county or farther, you’ll still find it, all while you are sitting at home or work. Suddenly, a vital part of the library is always available. Other Web services enhance the user’s relationship with the library, but access to the catalog is essential.

After that, library data bases became accessible. Then programming, tutorials, multimedia presentations, library information, all were on hand whenever the users needed them. As Web sites improved, users responded. At the Kent District Library, which I use most often, Web site visits more than doubled from 2005 to 2008, when the site received about 5,600 hits a day. In the same period, the number of items circulated increased 70 percent, while the number of library card holders actually dropped slightly. Clearly users are taking advantage of this constant access to the library’s collection.

Another “always there” element is online reference. With e-mail or instant messaging, reference services can be available no matter where the user is. They also can be available 24 hours a day if the library chooses, either through library staff or more likely, a consortium or outsourcing.

The increased use of mobile technology gives libraries another opportunity to be where the users are. Apple sold 7.4 million iPhones in the last quarter alone, and that’s just a portion of the mobile phone market. Libraries that plug into the mobile Web are going to preserve their connection to their most technologically sophisticated users.

Some proponents of Library 2.0 argue that a Web site is too static. Yes, it always is available, but the user still has to seek it out. Could the library follow you around and become, as Ken Chad and Paul Miller wrote in an early exploration of Library 2.0, “a pervasive library”? Browser add-ons such as LibX, which automatically indicates whether a publication that shows up on a Web page is in your favorite library, keep patrons linked to the library whenever their browser is running. RSS can keep users up to date on topics of interest. Social networks likewise can keep the library always close at hand if the patron chooses, with catalog searches such as WorldCat available as Facebook apps.

Libraries must give users a way to participate. In an online world where comments and user feedback is expected, libraries need to give users a voice. The tools can be as basic as a blog (don’t turn off the comments) or a wiki, which allows patron contributions. Allow users to post reviews. Let them show a Virtual Bookshelf. Ask readers their opinions on what materials they would like, what they think of the programs, what online additions they would like to see. The model should not a suggestion box, where comments are slipped in the slot to be opened in private at a later time. What users expect is a conversation in which the library and other users can react and respond.

Social networking offers other opportunities for participation. Facebook and MySpace groups are an effective way to build communities of users. Twitter can reach out to patrons instantly. Bookmarking sites such as Delicious let users share favorite sites. Flickr and YouTube are popular forums for sharing photos and videos that libraries can use to get out information and that patrons can use to respond. In all of these technologies, the object is to give the patron a voice in the library – to make it their library.

Libraries must evaluate their programs and be open to change. The Web has always been dynamic, but thanks to the rise of the open-source movement, new ideas have never sprung up faster and customization has never been easier. Librarians must always be looking for new trends, new software, or unconventional uses of old software.

Yet while technology is the tool that makes Library 2.0 work, it is not an end in itself. The goal is not to have the longest list of Web applications or the hottest new social networking tool; the goal is to serve the users. A library with a more affluent and educated audience may need to stay on the cutting edge to hold patrons’ attention. Another library may find that its basic Web page/blog/wiki is thriving, while its effort to build a Second Life community is sputtering. Cool isn’t always the best way to go.

Finally, don’t make assumptions about what your audience wants. A researcher looking at the use of Library 2.0 tools in an academic library expected students to appreciate the library’s entry into social networking sites associated with their generation. But the students said they wanted Web 2.0 tools built into the library’s Web page or Blackboard, rather than have the library integrate itself into public social networking tools. In other words, the students said, “Stay out of our space.”

Maybe the library can be too pervasive.

Can Library 2.0 software really create a connection between the user and the library?
What is the most important service a library can provide for the remote user?
Does Library 2.0 weaken the bond between users and the physical library? If so, is that an acceptable trade-off?

Best practices for social software in libraries.(Chapter 8) (2007). Library Technology Reports, 43(5), 67(68).
Breeding, M. (2008). Content, Community and Visibility: a winning combination. Computers in Libraries, 28 Number 4, 26-28.
Burhanna, K. J., Seeholzer, J., & Salem Jr, J. (2009). No Natives Here: A Focus Group Study of Student Perceptions of Web 2.0 and the Academic Library. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(6), 523-532.
Chad, K., and Miller, Paul (2005). Do libraries matter? The rise of Library 2.0.
. Kent District Library 2008 Fact Book (2009).
What is the mobile web?(Chapter 1) (2008). Library Technology Reports, 44(5), 5(5).

Technology and its Impact on Libraries: Resource Sharing

It goes without saying that one library cannot have everything its users might need or want. That is why resource sharing between libraries is absolutely necessary. Resource sharing has existed since the early days of libraries, but it wasn’t until the mid-2oth century when a standardized form made interlibrary loan an easier process. (Hilyer, 2006)

As computer technology became more commonplace in libraries, resource sharing began to expand. Many state consortiums, such as the Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLink) and TexShare found their beginnings in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Consortiums give libraries access to more information for less money. Using a shared catalog and pooling money together to buy journal subscriptions for multiple libraries enables those libraries to have access to more than they would be able to afford on their own. For example, the patrons at more than 90 OhioLink member libraries have access to more than 48 million different library materials.

These consortiums generally have different methods of shipping than traditional interlibrary loan systems. Courier services, such as TExpress for TexShare, are frequently used, allowing faster delivery times than with traditional interlibrary loan services. Many interlibrary loan departments tend to ship via the United States Postal Service using Library Rate, which can be significantly slower depending on location. The University of Alaska-Fairbanks specifically requests that any items be sent via first class at a minimum, to ensure that materials will arrive in time for patrons to actually use them before they are due back.

In addition to allowing these consortiums to form in the first place, technology has made significant improvements in interlibrary loan systems. Articles used to be mailed from lending to borrowing library. Now they are transmitted through electronic delivery systems such as Ariel, Odyssey or DOCLINE, which allows a much faster turnaround time.

The Online Computer Library Center’s (OCLC) catalog WorldCat, allows member libraries to determine which libraries have specifically needed materials in their holdings. Borrowing libraries can place requests for articles and frequently have them in their patrons’ hands later the same day. Books and other materials are still subjected to the library rate shipping, but it is a vast improvement over older systems, where forms were filled out in triplicate and mailed off to the potential lender.

Software applications specifically for interlibrary loan simplify the process even further. In the past, patrons placed a request and then waited patiently for it to show up. Now, applications such as ILLiad allow users the ability to track requests from the time they are placed until they are received. Systems such as ILLiad assist in reducing costs in shipping and photocopying, and help reduce staff workoad.(Atlas, 2008)

Even with all of these improvements, there are concerns where technology is concerned. For example, earlier this year, OhioLink experienced a hardware failure that knocked most of its major resources offline. While they moved as quickly as possible to fix things, it was still more than a month before everything was completely back to normal.

Not all libraries have the technology needed to simplify these functions, nor the money to invest in getting it. Some institutions, such as prisons and small public libraries, still rely on the old form in triplicate (although several have ditched the carbon sheets in favor of photocopying the original).

Copyright, always a confusing issue, becomes even more of a question mark now that other sources of electronic information are becoming prevalent. Details of the Google Books Settlement, for example, are still being worked out. Libraries should be aware of potential issues, such as the man from Nova Scotia who found work that he’d created in digitized form on Google Books.

Lastly, as libraries move toward more digital collections, concern about continued access grows. OhioLink lost access to a few databases this year that were funded by a grant. Access is still available through other networks in Ohio, such as OPLIN, but as money becomes a bigger issue for all libraries, there are no guarantees that it will continue.

Things to consider:

According to Association of Research Libraries statistics, interlibrary loan lending has been decreasing for the last several years, yet borrowing continues to increase. Why do you think this is happening? Should libraries be concerned?

Think about the library you frequent most often. In my own experience in interlibrary loan, I have encountered several reference librarians who do not know how to set up their own ILLiad account, let alone assist patrons in doing so. As technology plays a larger part in the services libraries offer, do you think the librarians you deal with are adequately prepared to assist patrons? If not, what do they need to improve? How comfortable will you be in assisting patrons with technology issues?


Atlas Systems, I. (2008). What is OCLC ILLiad? Retrieved November 2, 2009, from

Hilyer, L. A. (2006). Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery: Best Practices for Operating and Managing Interlibrary Loan Services in All Libraries.

Ohio Library and Information Network (2009, June 15, 2009). What is OhioLink? Retrieved November 2, 2009, from

Texas State Library and Archives Commission (2009, June 9, 2009). About TexShare Retrieved November 3, 2009, from

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Technology and its Impact on Libraries: Youth Services

When you get right down to it, technology in the library is nothing new. Technology has always been influencing the way people use the library, from advances in book-binding, to the first public-use phonograph, to the more current computer terminals. With each update to technology, however, the experience of the patron changes. In today’s world, where teenagers have grown up with a cell phone in one hand and a laptop in the other, and where the number of teens utilizing libraries is on the decline, increasing attention needs to be paid to their access to technology within the library.

Libraries need to develop their programs around the tools that young adults already use. Both luckily and unluckily, this includes… everything. Teens are increasingly tech-savvy. “Today’s teens are digital natives,” says author RoseMary Honnold. “They listen to music while updating their MySpace profiles, instant messaging, watching videos on YouTube, and searching for more” (2007). If the library doesn’t meet their needs, they’re going to lose teenagers as patrons. It’s up to today’s youth librarians to develop technology-based programs and collections that will entice young adults to frequent their local libraries.

Technology has also given libraries a whole new way to build a generation of patrons. Librarians are constantly challenged to find ways to increase teens’ familiarity with the library and with other library users. They attempt to give the library relevancy to individuals who otherwise might never set foot in the building.

The first technological step a library must be sure to embrace is their webpage. Library websites for teens can employ methods where the teens can submit art and writing for their peers to view, obtain suggestions to find books that meet their interests, and keep up to date on upcoming library events (Baum, 2002). Teen involvement in development of the web resources both encourages participation within, and helps them develop a feeling of ownership towards, the library. To keep track of their patrons’ opinions about the site, libraries can occasionally put up surveys on their main page.

Many libraries have also instituted an online “Ask the Librarian” chat feature within their website. It enables patrons to connect with the library in real time, even when they are not actually within the building. For teens, who may have reference questions related to homework, this is a great way to get them involved from home. The trick, of course, becomes convincing them to return to the library, rather than just using the website from afar. A suggestion from Thinking Outside the Book, a collection of technology-related essays, included creating banners and “ads” on the website to entice teens to physical library events (Nichols, 2004).

An addition to the library website can be a connected blog, with posts made either by the librarians themselves, or by young patrons. The posts could include peer reviews of recent books, descriptions of recent events, and links to other sites. Blogs give the reader the ability to make comments and communicate with other readers, helping to build a sense of community. By setting up an RSS feed, teens will be able to follow updates to the blog without needing to go to the trouble of checking the page themselves. Teen-produced podcasts are another good way to allow teens to express themselves, as are photo-driven pages such as Flickr (which can double as advertising for teen library activities). Young adult events within the library can also be structured around new technology. LAN parties, DDR dance nights, and MarioKart competitions are all ways to draw teenagers into the building.

Communication is obviously one of the great advantages of modern online technology. Teens who have grown up with their computers expect to be able to instantaneously connect with many different people, utilizing many different forms of technology. From instant messaging to email to online discussion boards, a library should be sure to implement tools that teens will be familiar with. Librarians should take advantage of young adult’s natural ability to multi-task, and create library-related sites on a variety of Web 2.0 tools. By creating a MySpace page, posting to Facebook, and utilizing Twitter, they stand a much better chance of becoming a part of the average teenager’s social network – and, by proxy, becoming a place that teens will hopefully utilize and enjoy.

Of course, after doing all of the above web-enhancements and technological updates, there’s still the problem of getting teenagers into the library in the first place. Libraries may have to do some initial outreach to draw in students from local high- and middle schools, letting them know about the resources available for them. The earlier students are encouraged to use the library, the more likely it is they will become lifelong patrons.

“People who don’t know much about libraries,” says Eli Neiburger, “often predict that public libraries will be dead and gone within twenty years, the rotting husks of their musty buildings still filled with copies of The Cat Who Shat Sequels and mint-condition phone books while the vibrant physiques of iTunes, Netflix,, and Google stand nearby, whistling and innocently scrutinizing their gleaming cuticles, only occasionally shooting each other dirty looks” (2007). It is true that ever-changing technology has forced libraries to compete with other online resource vendors. Technology has, in many ways, changed what patrons are able to check out.

Increasingly computer and video games are included along with other media items such as videos, DVDs, and CDs. The addition of video games has met with some hostility by librarians and parents alike. As Neiburger jokingly put it, “Why? For the love of dear old Melvil Dewey, why would we take our hallowed houses of learning and sully them with these vile, prurient, mind-rotting entertainments?” (2007) The important thing to remember, however, is the concept of “a resource for every user.” Books are not necessarily the pinnacle of circulating items. After all, even fifteen-year-olds who hate reading might love to be able to rent Twilight.

Although most libraries include books on tape and CD in their collection, Playaway audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular among young adults, as noted in Thinking Outside the Book. “While audiobooks can be ‘read’ by those with limited vision or who lack proficiency in decoding print, they are also of great benefit to busy teens who are multitaskers…” (Nichols, 2004). These Playaways are simple and easy to use. There’s nothing that can get scratched or broken, and they’re small enough that a teenager can look like he or she is listening to their iPod, if they don’t want their friends to know they checked out Pride and Prejudice.

The library’s music and video collection can be updated as well, to appeal to teenagers. If a wide selection of music is available to them, teens are likely to check out CDs rather than downloading the songs for a fee from a site such as iTunes. Some libraries today are offering MP3 downloads, which allows teens to “check out” music from their homes, without needing to visit the library. Renting movies can become expensive, especially for students on a limited budget, and the free movies and television shows available at their library will be particularly enticing.

One problem involved in filling a teen’s constant desire for more technology is that it means the library must constantly keep on top of technology advancements if they want to keep their teen patrons. This means computers must be reasonably fast, and feature new software. Media materials like CDs and DVDs must be updated to include recent items. Social networking sites must be maintained, or teens may forget they exist. Teens are going to be more than happy to develop their own audio, visual, and literary collections online if not encouraged to use the library (Nichols, 2004). In addition, teens are just as likely to do research at home on the internet as they are in the library. They need to want the technology the library provides, in order to entice them into the building.

Things to consider:
Should videogames be a part of the teen collection?
What complications might arise from teen-run library blogs and podcasts?
What other tech-based ways can you think of to encourage young adults to utilize the library?


Baum, Linda W. (2002). Teens.library. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Brehm-Heeger, Paula. (2008). Serving Urban Teens. Westport CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Champelli, Lisa. (2002). The Youth Cybrarian’s Guide. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Honnold, RoseMary. (2007). Get Connected: Tech Programs for Teens. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Neiburger, Eli. (2007). Gamers… in the library?! Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Nichols, C. Allen (Ed). (2004). Thinking Outside the Book: Alternatives for Today’s Teen Library Collections. Westport CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Technology and its Impact on Libraries: Academic Libraries

Students and scholars have gone from reading hand written scrolls in the centuries dating before Christ to present day habits of searching on-line catalogues and reading e-journals from their computer screens. The methods of searching, retrieving and sharing information have certainly changed. The speed at which recent changes in information seeking has changed and continues to evolve is impressive to say the least; add to that the array of information sharing tools that scholars and students now use to collaborate and combine information, and the result is dizzying. Patrons expect librarians to keep up with these changes; libraries and librarians ignore this imperative at their own peril. Fortunately, most academic librarians are making changes, responding to the major shifts in information gathering and sharing that is fueled, primarily, by students entering academia for which technology and all of its encompassing features are part of their daily lives.

Thus, students and scholars in the academic community still need—will always need—access to information, but now they have choices. The librarian is no longer necessarily the “keeper of the keys,” the necessary intermediary between the information gap and the knowledge acquired through scholarly research. This phenomenon began as a trend around the 1980; s when electronic journals became available in academic libraries. Thereafter, use of the Internet became more pronounced in the 1990’s’, and since the year 2000, there has been a veritable explosion of Internet use among information seekers. Furthermore, patrons are increasingly simply bypassing the library and finding what they need through Google.

What do you think?

Can the information on Google always be considered reliable? Do students understand the importance of understanding what types of sources they are retrieving through Google? Will a librarian’s typical duties shift from teaching patrons how to access information to helping them understand the type of source retrieved?

Since the new millennium, the latest trends involving the use of collaborative information continue to challenge librarians to respond to what patrons want , need and expect. Campus libraries are responding in various ways and to varying degrees. Students now desire to be part of a collective consciousness, not only rapidly acquiring new information, but taking that a step further by sharing it and creating something new with peers via an array of available technological tools. These tools, commonly referred to as Web 2.0 technology, include but are not limited to:

Face book, Wikis, Blogs, Google Apps, Twitter, Social Bookmarking, Virtual Worlds, Podcasting, Mind Mapping Software, and Skype

In his on-line PowerPoint presentation, Ray Uzwyshyn of the University of West Florida Libraries, lists a couple of statistics gathered which support the general observation that today’s youth have incorporated social networking tools in their daily lives.

--81% of 15-35 year olds regularly comment on web blogs

--35% also post daily on blogs and social networking sites

Please follow the link below to view additional relevant and interesting facts in Uzwyshyn's PowerPoint presentation:

Steven J. Bell, of Temple University highlights examples of ways in which some academic libraries are incorporating various Web 2.0 technology tools. The citation for his article is as follows:

--At Temple University, librarians typically use Blogs for commentaries, thoughts and ideas involving higher education and information industries.

--Georgia State and McMaster University try to encourage participation by offering news feeds to which faculty and students might subscribe.

--Ohio State encourages users to add their own content through Wikis; users may add and/or alter existing content.

--Brooklyn College is trying to connect with library patrons in a virtual atmosphere; the library has a site within the MySpace social network.

Lastly, I have not yet mentioned the actual physical space of academic libraries. In light of all these changes taking place, what is to become of the actual physical space of the academic library? Changes are occurring there as well, and one need only to walk into some academic libraries to notice lots of empty space where novels, reference books, magazines and journals once filled every nook and cranny of the building. Many universities are still mulling over the transformations that can, should, or will eventually take place where space is concerned. Others have boldly confronted these modern times and made complete transformations of the physical space that they call the campus library. One such example that comes to mind is the library at the University of Texas. In his article, Richard Albanese writes of the writes of the radical transformation that has taken place at this academic library:

Such a thorough transformation is neither feasible nor desirable on every college or university campus. Even so, academic libraries cannot just ignore all the changes around them, much less fail to react to these changes, be that reaction the transformation of the physical library itself, or incorporation of technology tools into the mission of the library.

What do you think?

Are academic libraries acting quickly enough, and in such a way as to preserve the vital role that academic libraries serve on university campuses, or are they in danger of extinction?

I recently saw the film, Julie and Julia. Since the idea of meal preparation is still fresh on my mind, I can’t help making a connection between the evolution of Americans’ eating habits and the evolution of our information seeking habits. Once upon a time, meal preparation took time, as well as the meal and digestion itself. There was a sort of “canon” of food preparation to which we could refer, reliable and stable. If we were familiar with, for example, and carefully applied cooking techniques studied in classics like Julia child’s The Fine Aft of French Cooking, we could be sure of the source, and that the knowledge acquired from that source would lead us to some sort of “truth” where food preparation and the experience of eating were concerned. But then came the advent of fast food, complete with an ever-increasing array of packaged foods and gadgets that promised to facilitate our lives. We gained something--time--that is, but lost something along the way. It was up to nutritionists and health experts to guide us back to certain truths, an awareness of what it takes to produce quality results.

Correspondingly, it has been that since the advent of new electronic technologies, the way in which we seek out information has also changed rapidly over the past two decades. We now have in the information world what seems to be an endless supply of information, gadgets, and collaboration tools. What’s more, just as in the world of food, we have become quite fond of many of these time saving devices: Who wouldn’t, for example, prefer to chop vegetables in a fraction of the time that it would take to do so with a knife? Or, who would not prefer retrieving electronic articles at the click of a mouse as opposed to trudging through the motions of setting up a microfilm in a clumsy machine?

Be that as it may, I will conclude with my reason for making this comparison in the first place: Just as nutritionists and health experts have had to re-educate the public about our diets, librarians will have to do the same for information-seekers. Nutrionists have not advocated throwing out all of the gizmos, ready-made meals or even fast food restaurants; neither should librarians deny technology its rightful place in libraries. What librarians should do is educate, (in some cases re-educate), patrons about different types of information. Patrons, and for the purpose of this discussion, students using academic libraries, need to learn about the quality of the sources they are retrieving, when and how it is appropriate to use these different types of sources, and that --sometimes-- getting to the heart of a matter by acquiring knowledge through research takes time, patience, perseverance, and can’t be accomplished in a flash. In my blog, I have listed ways in which academic libraries continue to endeavor to help students understand and accept this notion, all while embracing the modern technology that makes many research-related tasks more expedient.


Uzwyshyn, Ray. (2009). Technology and the Next Generation Academic Library: Present and Emergent Digital Possibilities. Retrieved from http://

Bell, Steven J. (2007). Building Better Academic Libraries with Web 2.0 Technology Tools. Library Issues. 28(2).

Albanese, Andrew Richard. (2006). The Heart of Texas: With the University of Texas Libraries, Wherever You Go, There They Are. Library Journal. 131(19),p.36.

Pongracz Sennyey, Lyman Ross and Caroline Mills. (2009). Exploring the future of academic libraries:A definitional approach. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2009.03.003

Wilder, Stanley. (2007). The New Library Professional. Chronical of Higher Education. 53(25).