Thursday, May 15, 2008

The libations overfloweth - More corks popping

'Started the day with a pleasant trot on a trail leading north of the campus. The path is lined with lovely yellow flowers and the scent of pine needles was almost as good as the aroma of coffee that I've been missing since I went off caffeine.

The conference program was very full again, with the proverbial smorgasbord of interesting presentations to choose from. 8:30 AM saw me in the Theatre, checking out the plenary by Alane Wilson, formerly of OCLC. There was a little bit of provocation here, as she spelled out research indicating some problems - dare I say it? - with libraries. For example, a study that Wilson was involved in suggested that most college students (86%) would go to a professor or teacher as a trusted source of information and only a few (2%) would choose to consult a librarian. What do we look like - used car salesfolk? Sheesh?! Some other interesting numbers: When asked what they think of when they think "libraries," 69% of respondents said "books." Books R Us, it appears ... Only 13% of those asked felt libraries should be building social networking sites (hmmmm, that may seriously inhibit Bibliocommons [] in any inroads they are trying to create). Much of the information that Wilson talked about is available in an OCLC Membership Report entitled: College Students' Perceptions: Libraries & Information Resources (

Some other scribbles from the speech:

"'Information Literacy' is an insulting term. It means we think people are illiterate. These people are illiterate in OUR world, not in THEIRS." Rather than focusing on making people "literate," we need to find out where people's discomforts are and focus on helping them with those things.

If professional sources are where people go for information, how do we become those people (i.e., trusted sources)?

Customer workflows, not products or services should be our focal point (this was said with a nod to Patty Seybold [], the author of "Outside Innovation").

Librarians must be better at at investigating outside their own realm in terms of finding out about business, marketing and customer service. "A fish cannot be the best observer of her own environment." We need to focus on the end user - less "how" and "what" - more "why" and "who."

Whew! That was just the start to a very full day!

From the plenary I scooted over to an excellent session with Betty Jeffery and (UPEI) and Sarah Coysh (York University) who talked about Moodle ( and inserting the library into course pages. Moodle is an open source CMS being used in over 43,000 sites and 194 countries. It's been incorporated in 1/2 of the courses at UPEI. A compelling case was made for including library content in course pages. Why do this? You can promote and create awareness of relevant library resources; it results in maximized usage of quality resources; it extends information literacy beyond just one class session; by not inserting the library, we risk marginalization. The speakers talked about inclusion at both the macro level (e.g. library tab) and micro level (e.g. specific resources, chat, virtual office hours, etc.). Because they were from different institutions, they were able to compare and contrast how librarians were going about manifesting the library's presence in the respective schools' CMS.

After a fortifying lunch, it was back at it in the afternoon for sessions on "Video Contests for Libraries" and "Benevolent Blue: An Information Literacy FPS (First Person Shooter Game)."

From these presentations I jumped over to Jo-Anne Naslund and Dean Giustini of UBC who offered a great session on "Curriculum Mapping." This is "a way of articulating or representing components of a program of instruction and means of sharing ultimate goals and outcomes." Jo-Anne demonstrated how we can create visuals to be used for communication with faculty and other stakeholders. She suggested that curriculum mapping can help you focus your energies and identify gaps in terms of resources.

By the end of the afternoon, it surely was time for the session that most of us had REALLY been waiting for, namely the lecture on wine, by local expert Rhys Pender. The five samples sitting in front of us didn't last long ...!

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