04/03/2014 § 8 Comments
If you work in teen services you are probably already elbow deep in programming, but for the rest here is a reminder: it is almost Teen Tech Week! Next week, March 9-15, libraries across the country will be celebrating YALSA’s “DIY @ your library” theme by providing programs on coding, knitting, music recording and everything in between. Unfortunately I do not (yet) work in a teen services department, but that does not mean I (or you) cannot join in on the celebration.
As a young LIS professional it is easy to get absorbed in the biggest and shiniest trends: 3D printing! Tablets! Computer programming! It is even easier as a teen librarian-in-training to get overwhelmed by feeling the need to be an expert in all-the-things to land a job. Another common factor may be a limited budget and time; making programs like TTW seem out of reach.
In a previous post I shared resources on how technology can be used effectively in the classroom, but here I want to discuss how you do not need high-tech gear and excess funds to explore emerging technology trends.
First we need to step back and ask, “What is technology?”
When defining technology I initially think of computers, smart phones and gaming consoles — devices popular in the here and now. But what about cars, televisions, typewriters, pens… are these not classified as technology as well? By definition technology is “the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems.” Breaking down TTW would mean YALSA is then taking a week to promote teens’ creativity and problem solving skills in a public service environment — and isn’t that what libraries should be about anyway?
From brainstorming with fellow colleagues in the real and virtual world, here are possible low and high-tech activities for TTW — or for your own personal creative downtime:
- DIY Crafts: Do not let the term “technology” scare you into thinking you need to dump out your wallet for a brand new 3D printer. Host a crochet-your-own phone cozy party or make jewelry from miscellaneous computer parts.
- Media literacy: Underneath all this talk about media and technology lies a very real issue needing to be discussed, most teens do not understand how mass media works or how to use technology wisely. TTW is a great time to facilitate a conversation by creating interactive media literacy lessons like analyzing photographs, creating media or watching a documentary.
- Gaming: If you already have a gaming system and videogames, plug it in and you are good to go. Otherwise, ask teens to bring in their favorite games to swap and play. For a more guided program see how you can use Minecraft as an educational tool.
- Learn to code: All you need is a computer, internet access and a program like Codecadmey, Code Year or Squeakland depending on the audience’s age and skill level.
- Visit a makerspace: Don’t have the tools to solder a portable USB charger kit? I bet your local makerspace does! These community centers invite people in to use their tools to the best of their imagination. Now plan a field trip to the nearest makerspace and create!
How is your library celebrating Teen Tech Week? What low-tech/low-cost programs have you facilitated for patrons of any age?
20/12/2013 § 5 Comments
You’re already reading Hack Library School, and you’ve undoubtedly heard about the magic being done at INALJ. Therefore, it can be deduced that you are indeed a savvy library student. But don’t you ever feel the need to branch out? Don’t you ever want to diversify your list of go-to blogs and websites for the latest in library news? Don’t you want to be able to watch your classmates turn green with envy when your presentations are so great they practically leap from the computer screen and shake people by the shoulders? Of course you do!
So here is an unofficial, unsolicited list of some of my favorite library-related sites. Proceed with caution, as some of these sites may cause you to spend hours upon hours neglecting your studies.
Creative Commons US: This site compiles photos, music, and videos that have been licensed for public sharing. As future librarians, information policy should always be on our minds when we’re publishing online, and this site provides legal access to a ton of free media. Just be sure to cite your sources!
Prezi: This one is the cool kids’ PowerPoint. It’s been around for a bit, but there are still enough people who don’t know about it that they’ll be impressed by it. There are various templates for creating timelines, resumes, and digital stories, but its most notable feature is that it allows you to zoom in and out of the slides and create an almost interactive, panoramic view within the presentation. « Read the rest of this entry »
25/11/2013 § 7 Comments
As programmer and tech journalist Ciara Byrne noted in her op-ed “No–You Don’t Need to Learn To Code”, learning to code is not always fun, easy, or even useful for every career path. Nonetheless, programming can develop several soft skills that translate across a broad range of professions. In addition to increasing your digital literacy, learning to code teaches you to solve problems, to seek out collaborative solutions when you are stuck, and (in my experience) to endure lots of frustration for the sake of future rewards.
The benefits of learning to code are especially tangible for information science students. Programming knowledge equips you to customize content management systems, create sophisticated reports in an integrated library system, develop mobile apps, manage databases, implement open source software, navigate user experience design, customize or create a web presence for your institution, and collaborate more effectively with IT professionals.
You may be thinking, “But Sam, I am not a programmer. It just doesn’t come naturally for me.” Well, join the club. My undergraduate degrees are in history and political science! Although I grew up in a very tech-friendly home, I never had any ambition to be a programmer. After I started working in libraries, however, I found that some kind of coding knowledge is necessary for many of the jobs I want to pursue. It hasn’t always been fun and it has rarely been easy, but I have made it a priority to learn these skills. Over time, I have actually learned to enjoy coding.
Here are some guidelines that have helped me endure the tough times:
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18/11/2013 § 4 Comments
Although I’ve been working on an MLS for a little over two years, I’m still trying to improve my study space. While I plan to work IN a library when I graduate, my default study space is at home. One thing I’ve learned in talking to my library school classmates is that there isn’t necessarily one best study space for every LIS student, or even for every assignment. How do you figure out your best study environment?
Where do you do your most productive studying?
During my first year of library school, I spent more time studying in the library, especially for the classes in cataloging and reference. Since then, I haven’t spent as much time in the library, studying instead in my home office, my cubicle at work, or at the home of one of my classmates. I’ve tried other places too, from coffee shops to parks to different libraries, in an effort to balance the need to focus with a change of scenery. The change of scenery is motivating sometimes, but distracting at other times. I never paid much attention to the music in coffee shops until I tried studying in one. In my neck of the woods, the coffee shop music is too loud for my studying style. I was surprised—and a little disappointed. So, I spend most of my study time at the desk in my home office.
The desk in my home office is a wide one (my sister says it’s perfect for writing The Great American Novel–maybe after I finish library school!), with a lamp near the right corner and lovely painting of colorful flower pots hanging above it. My laptop is flanked by office supplies in a cup, my iPhone, and either a diet soft drink (one of the vices I’m having trouble giving up) or a cup of hot tea. My desktop is rarely as neat as it should be, but I try to start each new semester with a clear desk.
Does music help you find your study zone? (If so, what’s on your playlist?) Do you study with the television or other background noise? Or do you insist on quiet when you’re studying? I usually prefer to have a quiet environment, unless it’s a breezy assignment. When I’m studying at home, sometime I find that a running washing machine and dishwasher help provide a comfortably domestic “white noise” while knocking out some chores at the same time.
Do you study better alone or with others?
Being an introvert (but just barely) on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m usually more productive studying alone. Sometimes, having a study buddy has been motivating and helpful, but other times, we’ve ended up chatting about school and other things. One of the best decisions I’ve made in library school, though, was becoming part of a study group during my first semester. The conversation started with one classmate, and the group grew and morphed as we took different classes over the past two years. Our group has small, ranging from 4-6 classmates, which helped keep study sessions manageable and often fun, meeting for dinner before our study sessions. Although only three from our original study group (including me) are still in library school, we still meet for a “study group reunion” lunch when we can, a great way to network by staying in touch in person, encouraging each other, and celebrating graduations and new jobs.
What are your favorite tools of the (study) trade?
I do most of my word processing and spreadsheet work on a laptop at my desk, with my iPhone often nearby. Sometimes the iPhone can be a distraction (in which case I put it in another room), but often it helps. Right now, I have the Pomodoro Technique timer iPhone app running to help me stay on task, and it usually helps a lot. I also use Remember the Milk (the app and the website, which sync with each other) for task management, often creating tabs/lists for specific classes or projects. I love checking things off a to-do list.
For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve had a thing for school supplies, especially pens! I must’ve enjoyed back-to-school school supply shopping from the get-go (who doesn’t love a fresh box of Crayolas?!), and I remember it being a big deal when we were finally allowed to use ink pens in school. So, I always have a cup of colored pens and highlighters, as well as pencils, near my laptop. I do get the irony of having writing utensils next to my laptop, but I also keep Post-its nearby too, for that fleeting idea that needs writing out, rather than typing on a list. My favorite pens? The Sharpie Ultra Fine Point and the Pentel R.S.V.P. are my tops on my list right now. Much like reading a print book instead of an e-book, I still enjoy holding a pen and writing things out by hand sometimes.
What tools do you use for studying? What supplies do you like to keep nearby?
While a fair number of “Study Space” resources online are geared toward children’s spaces, here are some of my favorites that other grad students may find useful too:
Where’s your favorite place to study?
11/11/2013 § 18 Comments
My first interaction with a computer was in my second grade public school classroom. Each day we had a set rotation where students either spent the afternoon reading a book, writing in a journal, or playing in the “computer lab.” The latter rotation section was a favorite because a handful of us were able to, nay required to, play games on this device most of us probably did not have access to outside the classroom. I cannot recall the specific programs available on the computers, but remember thinking we were so lucky to not have to do “school stuff” for a couple hours like everyone else.
That was 1996, fast-forward 17 years and think of how far technology has advanced! Schools are no longer lucky just to have a couple green screen computers, yet some have a whole room of flat screen computers, tablets in the classroom, or personal laptops for every student. Even libraries have jumped on board by offering access to public computers, free wi-fi and makerspaces. But how has this influx of technology changed how our youth learn? Has technology become a great addition or a mere distraction in an education setting?
Currently I volunteer at an elementary school library and with a teen makerspace where technology is a common connection. The majority of my time at both locations is spent helping students with something as simple as logging into a computer to more complex activities like using the UP! 3D printer. While I always leave each site even more energized about working with youth, I have to wonder if increasing technology in the classroom is actually increasing learning opportunities. In the end my answer is always the same, “Definitely yes… if done correctly.”