Adapting to Reality

I was excited to read about Getty Image’s change to their copyright and use policy. It appears that they have read the tea leaves and rather than fight use of their images online, they are embracing it in a way that they believe will still bring them profit and a measure of control over use of their images.

Getty Images will now allow individuals to legally and freely use selected images on websites, blogs and social media as long as the user embeds the image with the code provided by the Getty website. In exchange for using the embedded viewer, the terms of service state that “Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.”

While some non-profit purists may rail against commercialization in this fashion, I think that there needs to some reasonable middle ground. I hope that Getty Images has found it. They provide access to a plethora of high-quality images that individuals can easily search for and use. On the other hand, the potential monetization of the embedded viewer allows them to continue to function as a profitable business, and therefore to continue to provide images now and in the future. Below is an example of an embedded Getty image.

I think libraries and publishers can learn from this type of give-and-take. Publishers, at  least trade book publishers, continue to resist working with public libraries, claiming erroneously that libraries will give everyone access to every ebook at all times without any restrictions. I have written about this problem in a past post.

On the other hand, I think that libraries have to take stock of the new online landscape and be willing to work with publishing systems that may include commercialization aspects if that is the key for publishers to continue to make a profit.

For example, Overdrive, a popular ebook platform used by many public libraries, funnels users through Amazon when borrowing books. The lending of the ebook is free to the patron, just as the lending of print books is. After the lending period is over and the book is no longer available to the patron, the patron is provided with a link where they can purchase the book directly from Amazon. Of course, the patron could simply check the book out again for free if they want it, realizing that they may be put on a waiting list if it is a popular book. However, they are also given the option to purchase it if they want instant and permanent access. This arrangement creates incentives for trade publishers to work with libraries as it opens the doors to other potential buyers; individuals who already know they like the book and want their own copy. Some voices in the library world claim that this type of commercialization should never occur in libraries but I disagree. It might not be needed in the print world, but I think it may be a reasonable accommodation in a world of ebooks and low profit margins. One concern that I do have about this model, and which I feel must be addressed by publishers and book vendors is one of confidentiality. Print books checked out from libraries carry certain privacy guarantees; this provides a measure of safety for members of the public to explore and read whatever they wish. Similar protections must exist for patrons using library ebook collections if they are to flourish in library settings.

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Responding to Middle States Commission on Higher Education PROPOSED accreditation standards

I am writing to express my concern over the removal of information literacy as a standard for assessment in the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s proposed accreditation standards. In my professional opinion, an institution that meets these proposed standards and yet does not have a robust information literacy instruction and assessment program does not demonstrate academic rigor or quality; failure to consider information literacy will negatively impact student learning opportunities.

The current MSCHE accreditation standards include a detailed section about information literacy including definition, objectives, collaboration recommendations, and assessment requirements. I am at a loss as to why the new standards remove information literacy completely, rather than simplify and shorten the language in the more concise document.

The current standards state that technological competency, which is retained in the proposed standards, is considered to be “closely tied” to information literacy, and yet technological competency is retained while information literacy is removed. To be quite frank, the ability to turn on or use a piece of hardware or software is simply not as important as information literacy, which is defined in the current MSCHE standards as the ability to “determine the nature and extent of needed information; access information effectively and efficiently; evaluate critically the sources and content of information; incorporate selected information in the learner’s knowledge base and value system; use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose; understand the economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information and information technology; and observe laws, regulations, and institutional policies related to the access and use of information.” (MSCHE, 2006, page 56).

It is critical to retain the objective of information literacy in the proposed accreditation standards because information literacy is a critical life-long skill needed for learning. Indeed, innovative learning simply cannot take place without information literacy. Students entering schools of higher education often lack information literacy skills precisely because educators mistakenly believe that digital natives have these skills when in fact they do not. A recent report from Project Information Literacy (Head, 2013) found that almost 75% of incoming first year students experienced difficulty with creating effective research strategies. These students stated that their information literacy skills were simply inadequate to perform college-level research. It is therefore essential that professional librarians and teaching faculty collaborate to provide this instruction. It is equally critical that this important work be recognized, assessed, and required in any future MSCHE accreditation standards.

The importance of information literacy, paired with innovation, is becoming increasingly recognized in the workplace. An article in Forbes, authored by a CEO (Moran, 2010), highlighted the importance of librarians in a digital age. Mr. Moran discovered that while employees who grew up as digital natives may be technologically competent, as the MSCHE proposed standards require, they are woefully unable to create effective and efficient search strategies, effectively sort through the huge amount of information retrieved to select quality sources, or evaluate the sources that they utilize. He determined that this lack of information literacy in digitally native college graduates impaired their ability to perform required tasks and detrimentally affected his business.

It is absolutely imperative that MSCHE return information literacy to the proposed accreditation standards and include language that requires and assesses professional librarian and teaching faculty collaboration to improve student learning outcomes. Thank you for considering this feedback.

References

Head, AJ. (2013). How freshman conduct research once they enter college. Project Information Literacy Research Report. Retrieved from http://projectinfolit.org/pdfs/PIL_2013_FreshmenStudy_FullReport.pdf

Middle States Commission on Higher Education. (2006). Characteristics of excellence in higher education: requirement of affiliation and standards for accreditation. Retrieved from http://www.msche.org/publications/CHX-2011-WEB.pdf

Moran, M. (2010, March). Young learners need librarians, not just Google. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2010/03/22/moran-librarian-skills-intelligent-investing-google.html

 

 

 

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Do you use QR Codes?

One app that I do not use that much on my smartphone is the QR Code Reader, QRReader.I remember the first time I saw a QR Code several years ago. Friends and I were walking downtown and we passed a realtor office. The home advertisements in the window had a strange box barcode. My more techie friend immediately knew what they were, scanned the code with his smartphone, and explained them to the rest of us.

I’m not sure why I don’t use the reader that often. Perhaps the effort to line up the barcode without really knowing what it will lead to. This article has some interesting perspective about why more people don’t use QR Codes. That said, I do find that I use them in conferences when I’m racing to capture information from a lecture slide or poster session. I found them to be very helpful at that time and place.

I am interested in how QR Codes can be useful in the library for various purposes. Currently our library has a QR Code if a student wants to reserve the group study room while they are entering the room. I don’t really know if it has been used much however. I’m also interested in exploring how QR Codes can connect disparate locations within the library collection. The article linked above discusses ways to link online and physical content with QR Codes. One use I want to investigate is connecting our Appropriate Technology Library, which is used for service-learning projects within our schools Collaboratory. The AT Library exists as books and Software and is therefore in two different places in the library. QR Codes could immediately lead students from one location to the other.

What about you? Do you use QR Codes? Does your library use them?

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Published Article: Connectivism and Information Literacy

I am pleased to announce that an article I wrote, “Connectivism and Information Literacy: Moving from Learning Theory to Pedagogical Practice” was published in the journal, Public Services Quarterly. This journal article is based on reflection and a research paper I wrote in Summer 2012 for EdTech504 in the Boise State University Masters of Educational Technology program.

The article discusses utilizing the learning theory of Connectivism for library research instruction. I believe this is the first article to overtly connect the principles of Connectivism with the ACRL information literacy standards. When I first wrote the research paper I was struck by the similarity between these two concepts and I argue that librarians should seriously consider the learning theory of Connectivism when designing information literacy instruction.

I hope that this journal article helps to improve the theoretical foundation of information literacy instruction as librarians consider various learning theories to ground their practice.

I am very grateful and excited that I was able to learn about this theory last year, write a substantial research paper about it at the time, and then take the time to expand and revise the paper for formal publication this past Spring. It has been a great experience of actually going through the peer review process for publication that I teach students about every year in First Year Seminars.

Now that I have my first publication under my belt, I’m on the lookout for other topics. And for extra time! I might focus on collection development and budgeting topics for my next foray!

The link to the article leads to the journal abstract only, unless you have an institutional or personal subscription to the journal. I do have a limited number of reprint copies I may distribute however. Please contact me if you would like a copy.

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Following Blogs for an Institution

As a librarian, I am interested in reading many kinds of blogs. I currently monitor about 100 blogs through my Feedly reader. One category of blog that I continually add to and monitor are professional blogs from faculty, staff and students at the college where I work. Reading through faculty blogs provides a quick look at what they are thinking about and finding important to their work. I can then make sure that library services are relevant for their specific interests. I consistently comment on their blogs when there is a relevant area of connection to library services. This demonstrates my interest in their professional field, as well as discusses ways that the library can better serve their needs.

Another service I could potentially offer is to collect and curate a list of faculty, staff and students’ professional blogs so that they are more discoverable by others on campus.

Current blogs I monitor written by faculty and staff at my institution:

 

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Providing Reference Using Twitter

Twitter can be a powerful resource for quick reference services. It should be in every reference librarian’s arsenal of resources. Hashtags are a powerful way to search for the best tweets about a common topic (think subject headings!). One way that I use Twitter for reference is determining whether a resource that a student or faculty wants to access is actually down when they are having access problems.

A quick example:

I tried accessing Feedly, an RSS reader, on an ipad. I was unable to access the app. However, I was able to access the site on a browser through my laptop.  I quickly went to twitter and searched for #feedly. I immediately saw tweets that indicated that the feedly ipad app was down, and that some individuals were accessing feedly through a browser while others were not. I was therefore able to narrow the access problem down to the vendor and the ipad app and simply used the browser until the ipad app was again available.

When tweeting about access issues, be sure to use appropriate hashtags and succinct but clear descriptions of the problem.

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Blogging Plan

The months of August through November are the busiest time for me during my work year. In addition to my full-time duties of collection development, reference and liaison librarian activities, I often teach more than a full-time professor’s teaching load when considering the number of class sessions per week during September to November for courses in First Year Seminar, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Nursing and Nutrition. I also create, distribute, explain, and guide approval of the end-of-fiscal-year budget reports and the library’s materials budget and department allocations of that budget for the upcoming fiscal year. I often feel that I have 2 ½ full time jobs during this four month period!

Therefore blogging often takes a back seat during this time of the year. Any blogging plan must be flexible and realistic given my heavy workload in the Fall.

I will post a mix of list, link or commentary posts. Due to the time and coordination involved, I will not pursue guest blog posts during this timeframe. The format will be based on the topic of the post, and the available time that I have that particular week. Most of my posts will contain links to relevant stories of interest, with commentary or discussion points. I will welcome comments and discussion to all of my posts. I will post links to each blog post on Twitter and Facebook.

I plan to post at least one blog post per week during the Fall. I may be able to increase this frequency in the Spring and Summer when I tend to have more time available. I will set aside some time each Friday afternoon to review content and write posts.

I will gather content through readings and other blog entries that I read throughout the week. I collect blog posting ideas and save them in a “blog” folder in a personal Evernote account.

Possible topics include:

August 9 Use of QR Codes in Libraries. Could include a poll
August 16 Evaluating images in biased reports: based on an environmental report that misused images
August 23 Student preferences for paper or etext. Could include a poll
August 30 Growth of tablets and impact on research strategies
September 6 Outrageous journal prices and relationships with vendors. Include links to Harvard story
September 13 Flipping the library classroom
September 20 Use of cell phone in libraries. Commentary post supporting use of phones and against some library policies banning them as reported in American Libraries magazine
September 27 Finding unbiased health information. Commentary about webmd and their commercial interests that may bias the information they provide or highlight

 

 

 

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