Seek and ye shall find..

I came across this blog post today while I was looking for something else and I wanted to share it.

Every profession has it’s codes and ways of speaking that are not always easy to understand by outsiders, and the library profession is no exception. I just recently was being reminded of this when a collegue expressed that he didn’ t know what I was talking about when I spoke of databases. To him, databases meant something technical that he was used to making. It didn’ t occur to him that the librarians could be involved with databases.

We’re going to rebuild parts of the library website soon and we’re trying to find good expressions for the buttons on our pages, but it proves difficult in some cases, because what we want to say isn’t easy to express without using these tribal words (like “databases”, “resources” and so on..)

I think Matthew Raidsrow is absolutely right when he says that “Find is the new search”. Students want to find information, they’re not to interested in the search process itself. So, trying to get students to act like librarians when they are writing their papers is not working. Maybe if we emphasised the goals mo and did our best to uncomplicate the process instead of trying to turn them all into reserachers would help?

By the way, one of the funniest quotes on “tribal language” is from the movie “Good morning, Vietnam” when Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer makes fun of Stg Major Dickinson:

“Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn’t we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? ‘Cause if it leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we’d all be put out in K.P.”

Testing my new Mac

I`ve always had PC`s, so entering into the Apple world feels a bit weird. Well.. I`m not a total beginner. I have an iPod, an iPhone and an iPad at home. So, when my HP laptop suddenly desided it was time to die a couple of months ago (without warning of course), I thought it was time I took the leap and got a Mac. It`s time I got bilingual, so to speak. I`ll still have my Dell computer at work, so I`m not completely lost if this turns out to be a mistake..

Anyway.. a few initial thoughts after 3 days in Apple land..

I love:

  • The keyboard
  • The navigation
  • The screen (I know, I know..)
  • The PhotoBooth program. I know it`s a bit shallow, but it`s just fun!
  • That it`s fast
  • That it`s “on” as soon as I open it up. No waiting.
  • No restart all the time

I`m not so crazy about:

  • That there seems to be no way to force shut down of a program that`s stuck
  • That it makes a lot of noise when I put in a DVD
  • The apple key on the keyboard. It`s just not as easy using apple-key + C as Ctrl+C

Well… early days. I`m sure I`ll encounter more pro`s and con`s along this way.

Information literacy – a holy cow?

I`ve been reading some older texts about information literacy today. I read Stanley Wilders “infamous” essay in Chonicals of Higher Education from 2005, and some of the texts and comments that appeared afterwords. Even though the essay and the comments were written six years ago, many of the ideas still apply.

Basically, Wilder was saying that information literacy was the wrong solution to the wrong problem. He was saying that librarians cling to information literacy like it would save them from the threat of the Internet, but that they make a lot of wrong assumtions about the students and their needs. Students don`t want our help searching for information, Wilder says, because they think they can find it themselves. Besides, many students manage their studies very well without libraries and librarians. What do they need the library for when there is such a thing as Google?

Many of the comments I`ve read either side completely with Wilder, praising him for the courage of “saying it like it is”, or completely bash all his remarks and try to discredit Wilder`s competence and knowledge. Clearly, this is an area where it is easy to step on some toes.

I think Wilder gave many librarians some real food for thought. I found it a very refreshing point of view in the many debates concerning this field. I can understand that teaching librarians found his essay offensive. It is never nice to hear that what you put your heart and soul into is pointless. I agree with Wilder when he speaks about librarians putting way to much emphasis on teaching “mechanical” skills of searching, trying to reach all the enrolled students. And I don`t think we spend enough time being tutors for smaller groups of students. However, since Wilder doesn`t cite any sources, it`s hard to know what he is basing his statements on. So, when he claims that informtion literacy is making the wrong assumptions, he is actually making assumptions himself.

I do think it is time we stopped using the phrase, but everywhere I turn, I see the term and I have to be on my guard not to get entangled. It is so easy to see why librarians talk about information literacy like it is an “it” and why they get very protective when I try to “trash” the term. I am afraid that “information literacy” has become the holy cow of the academic library world.

I recommend reading the text yourselves and be the judge whether Wilder is talking nonsense or absolute sense – or if you, like me, concludes that there is a little bit of both in there..

Reference:

Wilder, S. (2005). Information literacy makes all the wrong assumtions. The Chronical of Higher Education, 51(18, January 7), B13.

Having fun at work!

I consider myself a lucky woman for many reasons, but one of them is that I have a really good job. This may sound a little phony, but I sometimes have to remind myself how incredibly important it is to spend your days doing something meaningful.

Like last Friday, when one of our excellent professors came by my office to ask if the library would be interested in participating in a project on his faculty. (Thanks, by the way! Great to have academic staff that takes an interest in the library.) We had a really nice chat about the project and other related projects, which led to me contacting a librarian at a university in Norway and one of my collegues found an app on her phone that makes it possible to use the phone as the library card at the self-checkout station. Maybe not exactely innovation, but intrapreneurship; a new way to do something at your local workplace.

Annie Dillard wrote: How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. So, I guess I’m trying to say “thanks”!