Revised

Revised Statement of Values (2012)

Introduction

I look at my foray into the world of librarianship in many ways:  as a product of my childhood compulsion to categorize and order things; as augmenting my teaching, my passion for a literate, informed citizenry (this is, after all, why I am currently a teacher); as a means of increasing my own knowledge in an effort to facilitate the same in others; to be of use to society, maybe.  Trying to communicate exactly why I have chosen to become a librarian has too many facets to be summed up in one statement of mission or vision without becoming a phrase encrusted with all of the mots du moment.  Such a statement necessitates a larger conversation, a more detailed analysis of my accomplishments as a student in the UNCG LIS program.

It is my intention to provide such analysis by providing exemplars from my career as a LIS student which correlate to each of the student learning outcomes described by the program’s Capstone Portfolio Guidelines.  Hopefully, consideration of each of these learning outcomes and examples from my coursework for each will reflect what is of value to me as a professional:  continual learning, advocacy, intellectual freedom, excellent service, collaboration and championing an idealistic vision of what “can be”.

 

SLO 1: The student assesses the philosophy, principles, and ethics of the library and information field.

I believe that in each of my courses throughout the LIS program I have encountered some measure of question, discussion or research regarding the philosophy, principles, or ethics of the library and information field.  In LIS 600—Foundations, I investigated the 8 core values set forth by Michael Gorman in his book Our Enduring Values:  Librarianship in the 21st Century (2000).  I think that at the time I needed, as I stated in that paper, a springboard upon which to bounce my ideas around, so I used Gorman’s ideas as a platform to gather my thoughts.  Now, two years on in the program, I feel poised to respond to questions regarding the philosophy, principles and ethics of our field myself . . .mostly.

For instance, I have had the very pleasurable experience of finding the copyright information for The Stories of Breece D’j Pancake, and can tell you that even though there are three different listings for copyright in the annals, all monetary compensation from the sale of his stories belongs rightfully to his mother.  I can tell you that Raganathan’s laws seem incredibly basic, but hold within them the weight of our profession—a weight which embodies many of the values I spoke of in the introduction.  For instance, “Save the time of the reader;” this law speaks to the value of excellent customer service, as well as increasingly better ways of managing our collections so that the user may access information efficiently.  I can also state that without continued advocacy for international, national and state legislation which upholds the standards of intellectual freedom for which librarians and libraries strive, information will be taken out of the hands of the many and placed back into the hands of the few.  Acting as advocates for freedom of information means that we strive to allow access to whatever information our users require without censure or judgment.

Many of the examples which follow touch upon these same values, these same principles.

 

SLO 2:  The student identifies, evaluates, conducts, and applies current research and thought in library and information studies and in other fields.

The Department of Library and Information Studies at UNCG affords ample opportunities for its graduate students to ethically apply the knowledge gained through reading and discussion.  All courses in which I participated included the reading, consideration, and discussion of historical and/or current scholarship on course topics.  Each course also ensured that we write papers, reports, bibliographies and/or entertained weekly written discussions online or in class regarding such scholarship.  Additionally, internships, practica, independent study and course assignments designed around applied research each supply a different venue by which students may conduct and report on original independent and group research.

I conducted my first applied research project at UNCG during my first semester of graduate study; a group project consisting of a needs assessment for a K-12 library at a local private school.  During this project, my group created four separate surveys by which we gathered information from four distinct library user groups (elementary students, secondary students, faculty, and parents), conducted formal interviews with the head of school, the head of each academic department and the library staff, and compiled a report for the school which was formally presented to the  school for use in its evaluation of services to each of the above-mentioned groups.  At the time, this project seemed somewhat daunting; it was my first semester and I was being asked to identify and evaluate the needs upon which actual decisions regarding a library would be made.  Looking back, I cannot think of a better way to be introduced to the LIS program as needs assessment as it pertains to differing user groups is a continuous process throughout all departments of a library.

The research I’ve conducted of which I am most proud is an expansion upon the topic of “re”-creating library spaces to include the comforts afforded users of modern-day, big-volume bookstores.  Articles appearing in the late 1990’s in Public Libraries and other journals began analyzing the profitability of library cafés in both public and academic libraries.   Working under the supervision of Dr. Anthony Chow, my colleague, Erin Price, and I began a study of a public library café within the state of North Carolina.  While some might not consider this research to be within the “normal” realm of library research, this opportunity afforded me insight into parts of the library some students see only upon their hiring, and maybe not even then.  I received training and am certified in the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) at UNCG for Responsible Conduct of Research as a precursor to working with human subjects (albeit, only to conduct interviews).  We conducted a literature review, interviewed café staff, the director of the library’s Friends group, the director and assistant director of the library, and reported to the Board of Directors of the library upon completion of our research.  Not only did this research help the library, with whom we collaborated, but I presented the research with Dr. Chow at the 58th Biennial North Carolina Library Association Conference, so the research reached a wider audience and allowed them to utilize our conclusions as well.

These two examples of original research conducted while a student in the LIS program comprise a small fraction of the materials read, reviewed, discussed and analyzed.  Exemplars of the evaluation of current research within library studies may be found here.

 

SLO 3:  The student applies and values user education principles in the teaching of information literacy.

During my tenure within the LIS program, I’ve had the opportunity to address the application of user education principles on several fronts.  It is my deeply held belief that as librarians we should in many strive to teach our way out of a job; that is, that we teach patrons to use our services in such a way that they may repeat the process again and again without our assistance.  To accomplish this task, one needs to know how users approach learning, that not all users approach learning in the same ways, and that no matter how well-crafted an instructional lesson, it needs to be reflected upon and tweaked.  One course in which the principles and practices of user education have been a major component is Design of User Instruction.

I am currently an education professional; I teach 8th grade language arts and have taught 7th grade language arts, 5th grade science, and all subjects within a 4th grade curriculum.  As such, prior training involved the study of many models of learner theory such as the theories put forth by Pavlov (Behaviorism), Piaget (Cognitivism), and Vygotsky (Constructivism).  I have endeavored to utilize my prior knowledge of topics related to my current profession, but have also made it a priority to stay open to how my prior knowledge may or may not apply to situations outside of a somewhat “traditional” classroom.

Design of User Instruction utilized a textbook written by Char Booth, entitled, Reflective Teaching/Effective Practice:  Instructional Literacy for Library Educators.  On Guilford County gaggle.net Resource Center, the website I created during this course which is intended as a resource for students, parents and teachers in Guilford County Schools, I wrote the following in regard to the elements Booth suggests are needed for effective instruction:

In her book Reflective Teaching/Effective Practice:  Instructional Literacy for Library Educators, Booth (2011) suggests four elements that need to be balanced in order to achieve effective instructional literacy.

  1. Reflective Practice:  an ongoing, process of constantly assessing your skills and abilities as an instructor during learning activities, not simply assessing performance at the end of an interaction.
  2. Educational Theory:  including insights from the study of learning theory, instructional theory, and curriculum theory to inform your instruction with principles of how people build knowledge, consistent methods of instruction, and a deep understanding of content-specific knowledge required of each lesson/class.
  3. Teaching Technologies:  the tools and media used to effectively instruct learners in a variety of environments.
  4. Instructional Design:  a systems-based, learner focused method of integrating numbers 1, 2, and 3 to plan, deliver and assess learning environments, learning activities and assessments.

I believe this summarization of Booth’s philosophy adequately covers all essential features of a systematic, continual refinement of one’s instruction.  Each of these features is addressed in detail on the above-mentioned website, Guilford County gaggle.net Resource Center.

 

SLO 4:  The student designs services to meet the information needs of all users and communities.

The design of services to meet information needs of all users is a goal of almost every project I have completed during the LIS program.   The following is a list of linked examples from three courses which depict my understanding and utilization of the concept of designing services for all users.

In LIS 620—Information Services and Sources, I created a bibliography for a math professor at UNCG which I had tailored to his needs through several interviews and follow-ups.  As unorthodox as the document may look, the recipient was well-pleased with the outcomes and appreciated the extra information included.

For LIS 636—Web Production and Usability for Librarians, our goal was to create a website utilizing usability best practices.  The creation of these websites mimicked the systematic, continually-refined processes seen in the ADDIE model of design (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation).  Each step, from the first analysis and mock up, through the refinements, and the eventual final website, underwent continual revision and analysis in an effort to perfect the usability of the sites.   While the site is usable from the perspective of a “typical” user, elements of the site such as the inclusion of text for all photos and links also serve the purpose of allowing the site to be used by people without sight or other “disabilities” as outlined by the ADA standards and W3C Web content accessibility standards.

One outcome of LIS 644—Digital Libraries was the creation of an original digital library or work on a current DL project.  I chose to digitize the sculptures created through the collaboration of a local artist collaborative, a high school art class, and a sculpture class at Guilford College.  This project culminated in the creation of the SoundLAB collection within CONTENTdm in which notes, drawings, maquettes and the final sculptures were digitized, metadata created, and materials catalogued to preserve the process of the collaboration.  Without this project, the information created by the SoundLAB collaboration may not have found an audience outside of the high school where they are currently housed.

 

SLO 5:  The student engages in professional development and service and identifies specializations and related professional organizations as relevant to individual interests.

Coming to the librarian profession from teaching, I know the value of professional development and involvement in professional organizations.  While professional development is required in my current position, a more relevant personal experience of the power of professional development may elucidate my perspective on the necessity of continually refining one’s expertise, learning new methods and information, as well as networking among professional peers.

While a teacher in Arlington Independent School District in Arlington, Texas, I was hired as a 5th grade science teacher.  My bachelor’s degree is in English literature, and while I had 1) taken the state test to teach all subjects at the elementary level and 2) believed in my ability to perform the job, I also had over 350 hours of professional development in science specific workshops and seminars.  These educational experiences provided me with tools to design and instruct, content and materials from which to teach, contact with professionals who held science degrees who were willing to collaborate and share.  As a new graduate of the LIS program, I have made professional development and conference participation opportunities one of the questions which I ask potential employers if it isn’t covered in the interview.

With regard to library specific professional development, I am a current member of the American Library Association and the North Carolina Library Association.  I have presented at NCLA and hope to present topics at future conferences as well.  When I joined ALA, I signed up for the free Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Roundtable (FAFLRT); Intellectual Freedom Roundtable (IFRT), and paid for the additional associations Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL); Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) as these are both in my sphere of interest.  My membership renewal will include the Public Library Association (PLA) as well.  In addition to these organizational affiliations, I am also currently receiving e-mails from the listservs DIGLIB (Digital Libraries), LIB-REF (reference) and AutoCAT (cataloging).  I find that following certain threads in listservs is a great way to supplement current information from magazines and journals when keeping abreast of trends and concerns in the realm of the library.

 

SLO 6:  The student applies appropriate technology for effective information services.

The effective use of technology requires the analysis and selection of the appropriate technology for each project.  The criteria for selection will vary widely depending upon the desired outcomes, while some projects will require a specific technology with few options, many projects are able to be completed by applying any number of software applications and this may create problems of interoperability for users of services.  The expected longevity of a product is also a major consideration when providing services to users.  For example, libraries expecting an upgrade to the usability of meebo for their reference chat services once meebo was acquired by Google scrambled for alternatives when Google announced its discontinuation of meebo services.

Technologically appropriate choices do not only apply to software and applications however.  The aforementioned concern regarding interoperability permeates several sectors of technology.  One such area which is sometimes overlooked when speaking of tech is the area of metadata; the choice of which metadata schema to use for particular collections within a library are a major criteria for any project manager.  If a collection is to be distributed on the web its metadata needs to be optimized for harvesting.  If a collection is not to be described in the same manner as other collections within the library, it may be necessary to create crosswalks from one schema to another to assist in any future migration of data.   These are but a few of the considerations when selecting how an item is described within a collection, but each has possible ramifications for a library’s IT and cataloging departments.

As for my own choices of technologies with which to fulfill delivery of services, I offer the example of which I am proud is a course-specific library/research guide I created for my wife’s ART100 course at Guilford College: arthistoryatguilford  This guide incorporates several technologies to provide services to a particular user group and was created using WordPress as the primary platform.  After researching LibGuides at Hege Library at Guilford College, I decided to utilize a theme which replicated the tab-on-top look of the library’s guides.  I also modeled the pages and some content on the library guides at Hege feeling that the students might be familiar with the design if they utilized guides for other subjects or classes.  I used an open-source video capture technology called Screen-cast-O-matic to create the tutorial for ArtStor image viewer found behind the “find images” link.  The tutorial is hosted on YouTube and is directly linked from the page.  The use of these free Web 2.0 technologies allowed me to put up the site for my wife’s class in a relatively short time, and I have contacted and received permission from Hege to recreate this guide for them utilizing the SpringShare.

 

SLO 7:  The student applies advocacy, marketing, and communication principles for entrepreneurial leadership.

Examples of how I have applied the principles of marketing, advocacy and/or communication for entrepreneurial leadership lie in two of the projects of which I am most proud; each has been reference above already, but they really do exemplify SLO 7.

The website I created for LIS 636—Web Production and Usability for Librarians, Wildlife Rehab, Inc., is the product of my communication the organization of that name.  Wildlife Rehab, Inc. is a non-profit organization which rescues injured and abandoned animals in the Triad area of North Carolina.  Having recently seen an educational display on raptors at a local library, I noticed that there was no website displayed on the banner or the business card.  A little research led me to a website which looked like it was designed in the late ‘90’s.  I contacted the organization and told them that I would like to create webpages for them as a course project and that they could use them or not use them.  My aim was two-fold:  use my course assignment to create something meaningful and worthy of my advocating on its behalf and marketing the LIS program by contributing to the organization.  Wildlife Rehab, Inc. ultimately decided not to use my pages, citing as a reason that they had already had a long-time volunteer working on a new site.  However, I still feel I successfully produced a user-friendly website worthy of public consumption.  I also believe that I have established trust between a local non-profit organization and the UNCG LIS department which may be, and hopefully is being, passed along by word of mouth.

Another project which has at its heart the same dual purpose of working on something meaningful which promoted the LIS program while advocating for a worthy cause and establishing a tie to the Greensboro community is the creation of the digital collection for the SoundLAB project.  I came in on the tail end of an already wonderful collaborative effort and am overjoyed that I was allowed to participate.  SoundLAB is an educational outreach of the Elsewhere Artists’ Collaborative’s  CoLAB program which partners school groups and local artists on projects.  SoundLAB was a collaboration between the artist group INVISIBLE, drawing students at Weaver Academy for the Performing Arts, and sculpture students at Guilford College which afforded all involved the experience of creating sculptures from obsolete technology.

Both of these projects have reinforced in my mind the value of collaboration, forming relationships with community organizations, advocacy for any cause in which one believes, and the feeling of having learned of something new while possibly contributing to something of value or meaning for someone else.

 

SLO 8:  The student effectively collaborates for the achievement of individual, organizational, professional, and societal goals.

I will keep this section brief.  In each class I have completed during my UNCG LIS program experience I have worked in some form or fashion with classmates to achieve a goal.  It might have been contributing to a small in class exercise intended to have us learn more about one another, or it might have been the creation of the digital collection outlined above.  Collaboration has been a key to each of my classes in the UNCG LIS program because the instructors realize that collaboration will be an important part of our success as librarians.  I am proud to have collaborated on my very first project in the program—the needs assessment described above, on my presentation at NCLA on library cafés, on the creation of a database to organize LIS student information, on my original research paper for Foundations, and on the fictive online library collection which holds my annotated bibliography on old-time music.  Librarianship is collaboration, whether with community organizations or a single user trying to find a particular piece of information.  Two things I’ve learned through collaboration:  1) IT IS HARD and 2) IT IS WORTH IT!

 

Conclusion

However it is that I came to the UNCG LIS program, my experiences during these last two years has changed me; I think for the better.  My belief in intellectual freedom and advocacy is strengthened, my sense of collaboration, community and continual learning heightened, my commitment to the vision of what “can be” more resolved.  I have worked with colleagues who will be friends for life.  I now understand, with a clarity formerly unknown, the concept and implementation of metadata.  My sense of superior customer service and my passion for teaching has been fortified; I cannot wait to teach patrons how to retrieve information and find for someone what type of steel “that sculpture outside the Fort Worth Modern Museum” is made of.  I am ready to be a leader in my institution, to lead by example. . .to lead myself into a position that facilitates others, and me, with the continual acquisition of knowledge.

Bibliography

Booth, C. (2011). Reflective Teaching/Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Instruction. Chicago: American Library Association.

Gorman, M. (2000). Our Enduring Values: Librarianship in the 21st Century. Chicago: American Library Association.

Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2011, August). ADDIE Model at Learning-Theories.com. Retrieved August 3rd, 2011 from http://www.learning-theories.com/addie-model.html