Monday, October 24, 2011

Teaching the Library, man.

O'Fallon Public LibraryImage via Wikipedia"Teaching the Library" is, like, going to be my new mantra/catch phrase/battle cry or whatever they call these marketing lingo type promotion thingies. I am going to own it, man. Co-opt it, make it my own or any other FOTM phrase you would use. It's going to be near and dear to my heart because that's what I do, I teach the library, man.

So, what in the wide, wide world of sports does that mean? Well I'll tell ya pilgrim. It means teaching what a library does and what to do with the library. And it's not shine it up real nice, turn is sideways...I digress. That's what I get, and you now get, when I write while I'm at Starbucks getting all hopped up on latte train. Back to some semblance of normalcy, what I teach, essentially, is how to do research, more specifically , how to find the sources that you need for your research and how to pick and choose the right sources to use. That's how I view it, my job is to teach you to do your research without needing me.

That can't be too hard, right? Au contrair mon frere! It's not that the teaching part hard, for me anyway since I have a teaching background so other librarians might disagree. What the tricky part is, is getting through to the students, especially the younger ones, that what I am trying to teach them is important and that they really don't know how to do this stuff. I guess this is the lament of all educators, especially nowadays, impressing the importance of education in general to the students with educators under attack and the shift in educational thinking that the purpose of education is to get a good paying job. Now, I feel myself stepping up to the soapbox so I'll refrain and leave those musings for another post.

So back to issue at hand. Essentially I see what I do as important, and maybe a bit more if I do say so myself, as the content classes that the students take. They need to develop critical thinking skills and need to know how to find quality information. Not just information but information that is relevant to their needs, reputable and accurate, how to do this in an efficient manner and to use the information properly. Let's face it, with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, these skills aren't being focused on and valued so I see students come to university totally unprepared in this area. It's not being covered and I doubt the university professor is going to cover it in class so this is where I come in. Hopefully, the professor will schedule with me some time for their class but professors are reluctant to take away class time from their content to teach this skills.

So what do we do? To quote from a fave movie of mine, "We're in a tight spot". At all levels we need to impress the importance of being information literate, or transliterate if you want to use that FOTM term. And of course on my end, we as librarian/educators need to continue to teach the library in whichever role the job asks of us.

More than just my two cents this time, you got a nickels worth.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Deadline by Mira Grant

Deadline gets me back into the zombie swing of things though, like its predecessor, its a zombie book that is not really a zombie book but it has zombies....sort of.

The set up is, there was a zombie outbreak over a decade ago and life has normalized as much as it can in a world where zombies are real. The virus is still out there and outbreaks can happen if you "amplify" for whatever reason thus becoming a zombie. Blood tests are abound to make sure you won't amplify so we're talking about major paranoia. Add in the shift in news and media since the outbreak, as the established media poo-pooed stories of zombies so no one really trusts them anymore. Enter the blogger, your man on the street so to speak with a mic and a camera who is going to give the news to you as it really is, no filter.

That's the world of Deadline, and it's predecessor, Feed. This book shifts the narration to Shaun Mason from his sister Georgia Mason from the first but it still follows the Mason blogging crew as they investigate, more like get swept into, another conspiracy involving the Kellis-Amberlee virus, the virus that caused the zombie mayhem. I was eager to see this play out as Shaun is the risk taker of the two with Georgia being more practical. I thought we would get a more actiony story this time around but that really isn't the case. This was more of the conspiracy tale and there were points where the paranoia is ratcheted up and one point in particular stands out as the tension builds and you feel the paranoia the characters feel and then...well I'll leave that for you to find out. My one big disappointment with this book however is that Shaun turns into a bit of a whiner. All right, we get it already dude, no need to whine for the whole book. He was the tough, reckless action man in the first book, here he is just a whiney little bitch. I was hoping someone, anyone, me perhaps, would slap him and snap him out of it. Some character try but he goes back to whine central. That and the "cliffhanger" ending is pretty much telegraphed.

A solid entry but not as great as I hoped.

My Grade: B-

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Lunch with the Prez and VP

Working LunchImage via WikipediaAs typical with how fate weaves her ironic web in my life, I attended a couple of faculty functions in the past two weeks and ended up with some prime seating. First was a new faculty shindig to introduce us newbies to the various power players in the university and to see what some of the faculty support departments have to offer. Now this was an all day event with the new faculty being introduced and faculty speakers and all that jazz. We had assigned tables like a wedding and were fed pretty nicely, which is why I am sure some people made it a case of being there, free eats.

It figures that the table I am assigned to is the table the president of the university is assigned to as well and not only that, he decides to sit next to me. To my credit, I only managed to embarrass myself once which is quite a surprise for anyone that knows me. He asked where I was coming from and I went on about how the traffic was pretty light coming from Babylon. Of course that is not what he meant and he was asking from what institution I was coming to LIU from. I fairly quickly recovered and continued to schmooze with the prez and hear all about his time as a faculty member at Michigan before I was born. Now he's my new bff. Ok, not really but I like to tell people that.

The next function/opportunity to embarrass myself was at a brown bag lunch that the VP of Academic Affairs held for non-tenured faculty to bring up with him any concerns, issues or questions we may have about pretty much anything. A couple of us junior faculty from the library went together which makes sense since the library got the shaft in the contract negotiations. And just like the function with the President, and Academic VP sits next to me for lunch. Now I have to be extra careful not to eat like an animal and have bits of food and spittle hit the VP in the face, though I am sure that would have scored all sorts of brownie points with some of the senior faculty but screw that, they have tenure already and I don't. Luckily with this pow wow I didn't embarrass myself at all, and I think I acquitted myself rather well. I went on and on about the library and the road blocks we face all without the spittle and stammering then I shut my trap when some of the others chimed in after I broke the ice a bit.

All in all (I like that term in case you hadn't guessed by now), I actually came away liking those poor sods. And I call them that because almost no one likes them. I get the spin that was going on and see through it, though maybe not through it a lot if I liked them, but I come in with a clean slate and I am going to afford them that courtesy.

My two cents.

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