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The Librarian & Classroom Involvement Efficacy November 21, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.
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Have you ever wondered how well those one-shot bibliographic sessions really work with students? Wouldn’t it be better to teach multiple sessions or even (gasp!) co-teach a course? Well, a recent article in Reference Services Review seeks to answer just those questions. Be sure to check out the entire article, written by Meagan Bowler and Kori Street, for a more detailed explanation, but I’m going to summarize below.

Essentially, the librarians at Mount Royal College embedded themselves in specific courses with graduated levels of involvement.

  • Level One:  librarian taught a one-shot 60 minute information literacy course to students
  • Level Two:  librarian taught two instruction sessions focused on the research necessary to answer problem-based learning (PBL) assignments
  • Level Three:  the class was divided up into five PBL teams and one librarian was assigned to each PBL team
  • Level Four:  librarian co-taught the course and was identified as an information literacy expert
  • Level Five:  librarian co-taught the course and was not necessarily identified as an information literacy expert

To determine the efficacy of each level, librarians evaluated the improvement of information literacy (IL) skills. This was done by measuring the ability of students to locate, retrieve, evaluate and incorporate sources into their written and PBL assignments over the length of the course.  Results for the research component of assignments were as followed:

  • Level One:  12.9% improvement on written assignments; 9% improvement on PBL assignments
  • Level Two:  8.4% improvement on written assignments; 10.6% improvement on PBL assignments
  • Level Three:  4.9% improvement on written assignments; 21% improvement on PBL assignments
  • Level Four:  18% improvement on written assignments; 12.5% improvement on PBL assignments
  • Level Five:  <1% improvement on written assignments; >1% improvement on PBL assignments

The Level Five results are most surprising. The authors believe this low improvement score is directly related to the seamless integration of the librarian into the course. They find that perhaps it might be necessary to teach information literacy skills separate from subject specific knowledge.

Bowler and Street found that the most successful level of involvement for the research component of both the written and PBL assignments was Level Three.  It was also at this level that the greatest number of students self-reported that their IL skills had improved. Unfortunately, this level of involvement also required the greatest level of librarian participation and the cost is believed to be unsustainable.

Bowler, M. & Street, K. (2008) “Investigating the efficacy of embedment: experiments in information literacy integration”. Reference Services Review. 36(4), 438-449.


MyTRACS: Teens, Research and the Public Library November 6, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.
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While at the MLA conference in early October many STL LIS individuals had the opportunity to learn of a great program called MyTRACS sponsored by the St. Louis Public Library.  Since there was only a quick overview of the program at the MLA conference, Carrie Dietz (cdietz<at>slpl.org), Young Adult Librarian at SLPL and an organizer of the program, was available to answer some questions and fill us in on the specifics.

1.  What is the MyTRACS program? (inception, goals, target audience, purpose, structure, etc)

Carrie Deitz, SLPL Youth Librarian, working with MyTracs Intern

Carrie Dietz, SLPL Young Adult Librarian, working with MyTRACS Intern

The idea for the MyTRACS (My Teens Research and Create Stories) project began in the summer of 2007 when the Technology Services and Teen Services departments at the St. Louis Public Library discussed the possibility of having teens develop a Wiki to highlight library resources. St. Louis Public Library submitted a LSTA Cooperation Project Partnership Grant Program application to the Missouri State Library. The Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the MyTRACS project, which officially started on November 1, 2007.

We wanted to strengthen our partnerships with schools in the city of St. Louis by recruiting teens and developing a tool to assist other students with their school assignments. We worked with the St. Louis Science Center, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Webster University, St. Louis Public Schools, Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School, St. John the Baptist High School and Ethel Hedgeman Lyle Middle/High School.We held regular meetings with our community partners to help us evaluate and improve the MyTRACS project.

Upon receipt of the grant, I worked closely with 9 middle/high schools to identify 22 students, age 14-18 with strong reading, writing, technology or leadership skills. These were schools that I visited on a regular basis as part of my outreach to teens.

We wanted to make a long lasting impact on the teens involved in the MyTRACS project by meeting many of the 40 Developmental Assets identified by the Search Institute. The opportunity for employment, the skills gained by working with subject specialist librarians, and the experience of creating a Wiki by teens for teens all worked together to address several of the core needs. Research, writing instruction, and public speaking were practical tools to help the teens improve their skills.

2.  What were the results of the MyTRACS program? (any feedback from participants?)

MyTRACS logo developed by MyTRACS Interns

MyTRACS logo developed by MyTRACS Interns

The most unexpected benefit was to the Central Library staff. Word about the success of the MyTRACS project spread between Librarians and they were eager to work with the interns in their department. Librarians told the interns how impressed they were with their enthusiasm, interest in their collection and research skills. It was evident to the Librarians that the interns enjoyed selecting and researching their topic information. The more time spent in the Library, the less intimidating the research process seemed to be.
We had two evaluations through the course of the project. Here are some of the comments made by the interns.

  • “I like the use of technology. It’s fun to evaluate sources and post them on the web.I learned how to find reliable info for reports and research. I also like bonding with my coworkers.”
  • “I have been learning even more than other kids at my school because of this program.”
  • “It’s given me the opportunity to experience job life and what it’s like to have your own money that you worked for.”
  • “I really love this program because it helped enable potential I thought I’ve never had.”

We are pleased with the results of the MyTRACS program and the positive effects on the interns after the programs completion. Several interns asked when MyTRACS would continue because they were interested in working as a Team Leader. I continue to receive email from interns and I often see them at their school during outreach visits. One intern wrote, “I just wanted to say hi because I miss you and the other fellow instructors.” Another wrote, “Since MyTRACS is over I’ve wanted to get a job and I figured since I interned at the library maybe I could try to get a job there. P.S. Have you heard anything about continuing MyTRACS yet?” A third said, “I will never be too busy to help out at MyTRACS or the library if you ever need me.” We are currently planning a MyTRACS reunion this fall.

3.  What all was involved in setting up this program? (activities, field trips, etc)

The MyTRACS interns were paid with LSTA funds. The middle/high schools selected the students. I sent the school faculty information about the program, work permits and a contact information form. Each teen received a letter in the mail with the start date, information about what identification to bring on the first day and directions to the Library. Starting December 1, 2007 we met almost everyday Saturday in our Gates Computer Lab for 4 hours from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. until July 26, 2008. The interns researched topics at Central Library and created Wiki pages. They also received job skills training and participated in writing workshops with both locally and nationally know authors. In addition, they worked with a photographer and learned how to take photos using a digital camera. The interns took the majority of photos posted on the Wiki.

A MyTRACS instructor, Janie Henderson, was hired to assist Barb Knotts and myself to develop research and writing activities to be used with the MyTRACS interns. I facilitated the job skills training, worked with the guest presenters and keep in close contact with our community partners. Barb instructed the interns on how to use the databases, find good Internet sources and enter information into the Wiki. We had an agenda for each week but did not necessarily create lesson plans. We developed a vision of how we wanted the Saturday sessions to run. Barb used her years of experience with electronic resources and I relied on my experience working with teens. Janie worked with the interns on things like citing your source, plagiarism, and editing. The three of us worked every Saturday with the interns. We did meet on a weekly basic to plan ahead and we evaluated the program each Saturday after the interns had left.

4.  Do you have any tips for others thinking about setting up a similar program?

Develop collaborative relationships with community partners; it will make the project stronger. Set aside enough funds to pay the teens for their work. Bring in experts to speak on different topics. Keep a balance between work and fun – they are teens after all. If you have to hire staff, find people who enjoy working with teens.

5.  Do you plan on hosting this program in the future?

St. Louis Public Library has received a donation of $3000 from a private donor for a second year of MyTRACS. We are currently seeking other funding sources. We hope to recruit a new group of Interns and re-hire four of the 2007/2008 Interns to serve as team leaders.

6.  Is there anything else you would like to share about this program?

Make sure to check out the Wiki http://mytracs.slpl.org. Please feel free to contact me with questions.

Mathematics and Information Literacy October 23, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.
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In the most recent issue of College and Research Libraries News Marsha Spiegelman and Richard Glass had an interesting article about how they integrated information literacy skills into mathematics courses at Nassau Community College.

Be sure to read the entire article for more information, but basically the information literacy assignments were structured so that students were asked questions that required research from different sources (websites, library databases, etc.), answers were placed on a course wiki and then student teams voted on the best answer.

The librarian, Marsha Spiegelman, conducted effective searching and website evaluation workshops for the assignments and was available to answer student questions.  Richard Glass, the instructor, provided mathematics instruction for the courses as well as some wiki instruction.

IL assignments were meant to be fun and engaging.  For example, “the calculus class played the Grateful Dead Scientists Game in which each had to research a scientist, create a course that one of them might teach, and then register for the course they would most want to take. The winner, as in academia, was the course with the greatest enrollment.” (Spiegelman and Glass, 2008).

In this one collaboration experience Glass and Spiegelman effectively integrated web 2.0 technologies, gaming, mathematics, and information literacy.

Astaroth, Yoshi & Commander Miranda Keyes: Game Night @ SLU Pius Library October 8, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Fun Stuff, Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.
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Game Night

Game Night (image courtesy of Haroon Iqbal & Pius Library)

On September 18, SLU Pius XII Memorial Library hosted their second game night for students.  Haroon Iqbal, Technology Coordinator at SLU and coordinator of the event, was kind enough to fill us in on the game night beginnings and what all is involved in hosting a game night at the library.

1. How did game night come about at Pius and what did the library hope to accomplish by hosting this event?

We first thought of the idea of a game night at the library during the Library Christmas party. We played Guitar Hero during the party, and realized that this was a great way to attract students to the library. Based on positive feedback from library student workers, we decided that it would be something the students would love to have and things moved ahead from there.

By hosting this event at the library, our intent was to get students interested in the library as well as to promote it. Furthermore, we wanted to give the students a chance to relax.

2.  What was involved in setting up this event?

The set up was the easy part. We chose game consoles that we had access to and then selected some popular games on those consoles. Students were also encouraged to bring their own games, consoles, etc. The refreshments were provided by the library. We created some simple posters for the event and publicized it through word of mouth and Facebook. On the day of the event, we arrived an hour early and set up the equipment.

3. What kinds of games were played?  Was there a schedule of events?  Any prizes?

For the game night, we had games from many different genres ranging from racing games to board games. There was no set schedule as to what will be played when, but we had set up a station for each console and a table for board games. There were no prizes, and the whole night was very informal so it gave the place a relaxing atmosphere. The games that were extremely popular were Rock Band and Soul Calibur IV for the PS3, Halo 3 for the Xbox 360, and Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Nintendo Wii.

4. What have been the results?  What has been the response from students?

We had an overwhelmingly positive response from students. The informal atmosphere was well received and since we publicized mainly through word of mouth and Facebook, we had groups of people show up who knew each other and got along well. There were no problems except that people were disappointed when the game night ended.

5. Do you have any tips for others who are considering instituting a game night?  Things that worked or didn’t work?

I would say get the word out early, do plenty of advertising (Facebook is great for publicity) and choose the date well.

And yes, they are planning to host another game night next semester!

MLA 2008: Free & Open Source Software – Benefits and Hidden Costs October 8, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.
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This session was presented by Steven Pryor, Technology Manager at SLU Pius Library.  As the title suggests, Steven’s session presented the pros & cons, major providers, and examples of the use of free, open source software in the library setting.

Steven began his session by indicating the differences between three common types of free/open software:

  • free software:  allows an individual to download, use, and alter source code without paying.  Allows the individual to do whatever they want with the software as long as it doesn’t limit others.
  • open source:  not necessarily free, but does provide source code for adaptation
  • freeware:  software that is free to use

He talked about how free, open source software essentially provides users freedom to redistribute, security & reliability (many users error checking code), flexibility (to modify), and affordability (no cost for software download and use).

Major disadvantages of free, open source software include the possible difficulty in the setup and installation, the steep learning curve, little tech support, and obsolesce.

Steven provided some examples of open source software:

  • LINUX – open source operating system w/different distributions (such as Ubuntu, Red Hat, Trustix Secure Linux)
  • MySQL – open source server database
  • Apache – open source webserver
  • PHP – dynamic webpages
  • Firefox – open source browser
  • OpenOffice.org – open source office suite software (word-processing, spreadsheets, databases, etc.)
  • Koha, Evergreen, Blacklight– open source ILS
  • Vufind, Libraryfind – open source catalog overlays
  • Textcite – citation manager
  • Moodle – course/class management system

SLU is currently using a number of open-source software products including WordPress, Mediawiki, Big Brother Systems Monitor, Webcalendar, and RAKIM (chat reference).  Other examples include the University of Virginia, which is currently using Blacklight, an open source OPAC.  Georgia Public Library is using the Evergreen ILS and  Oregon State University is instituting LibraryFind.

MLA 2008: Soaring Above the Competition – Building a Strong Foundation for a Successful Library Marketing Plan October 6, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.
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With a background in commercial marketing, Christina Pryor, a student at the University of Missouri, Columbia – SISLT, conducted a session highlighting the necessity and how-to of a library marketing plan.

Instead of just jumping into random marketing tactics, Chris recommends that all libraries develop a marketing plan to define a target audience, set reachable goals, and develop strategies.  A library’s marketing plan should seek to do something new, not copy an existing brand.  According to Chris, you would ideally want your library to be recognized by the branding, which might include a slogan or emblem.

Elements of a marketing plan include:

  • Executive summary
  • Mission statement
  • Environmental analysis
  • Target markets
  • Goals/Objectives
  • Strategies
  • Monitoring/Evaluation

Since developing a plan is a rather large task, she recommends that those individuals interested in producing a marketing plan break the work into chunks and form committees, conduct focus groups and survey the target audience.  Regularly reviewing and updating the marketing plan is also essential.

MLA 2008: A Night at the Library – Host a Murder Mystery at your Library October 6, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.
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Still catching up from MLA…..

Courtney Mlinar, Assistant Library Director at Cottey College had a great session on the second day of MLA!  She talked about the colleges’ implementation of a murder mystery night as way to teach students how to use library resources.  The goals of the program were to assess student knowledge of library resources, create a visible presence on campus, provide cheap entertainment, and create new users of the library.

Her program was based on the work completed by Carleton College in the Fall of 2002, but altered to fix some of the things they learned while implementing the event.

Cottey College program was comprised of:

  • 10 teams
  • 22 clues – 1.5 hours to complete

All of the clues were based on biographies and information found on the Clue boardgame website as well as general Cottey College knowledge. Faculty members were asked to play the part of characters, including Professor Plum, Ms. Scarlett, Col. Mustard, any many more.

After the library’s doors closed at 6pm the murder of the well respected Professor Plum took place in the library elevator and students were sent out to sleuth the killer.  Using team names (such as Agatha Christie, NCIS, CSI, Nancy Drew, etc) and color coding, each team was given their first clue.  All clues required the use of library resources to find the next clue and eventually the killer.  Courtney has provided many examples of the clues and additional information in her powerpoint.

Overall the murder mystery was a great success at Cottey College.  Feedback from the event indicated that students were more confident in finding resources and they liked the faculty involvement.  Faculty also greatly enjoyed participating in the event and are ready to do it again.

Excellent presentation Courtney!

Mini Golf in the Library? September 15, 2008

Posted by cynhudson in Fun Stuff, Innovation in Libraries, Library Stuff.
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So I don’t know how many of our readers also read the blog The Shifted Librarian (if you don’t you should definitely check it out), but Jenny has an interesting post about how some libraries have experimented with mini golfing in the library with pretty good success in terms of both patron turnout and funds raised from the event.

After reading the post, I was most struck by the fact that they charge library patrons to participate.  I understand that the point of the event was to raise money, but it seems out of place during a time when many libraries throughout the country are currently hosting game nights, “Dance, Dance Revolution” parties, and a host of other events for free simply as outreach intiatives.

What are you thoughts?  Does mini golf have a place in the library?

Are you for mini golf in the library?

1) Yes
2) No

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