Library School Resolutions

09/01/2013 § 6 Comments

Happy New Year, hackers!  I hope that everyone had a nice, relaxing holiday break, and that you’re all refreshed and ready for a new semester.  With classes starting next week for me, I thought I would take some time to come up with a few resolutions to guide me through this next year of library school.  So without further ado, here they are:

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Teaching Methods Used in Library School

27/01/2012 § 19 Comments

Since I was a high school teacher before I started library school, I’m finding it really hard to switch off my “teacher brain” even well into my second semester. This makes sense, considering that I want to become a teacher-librarian. However, it has also had an unintended side effect: I spend all of my time in class imagining how I would teach the course.

Hopefully this is the universe’s way of telling me that yes, school librarianship is my ultimate purpose here on earth. But it’s also led me to give a lot of thought to the teaching methods used in library school, not to mention experience a lot of frustration when those methods are antiquated. Librarianship is a field that lends itself naturally to self-directed inquiry, collaboration, innovation, and interactive, Web 2.0 styles of thinking. So I was dismayed to discover that while these terms are used a lot in library school, the format of my courses is based on a much older model of education where students acquire knowledge through rote learning and memorization.

To me, learning does not mean remembering stuff that you can regurgitate later. As award-winning educator Sir Ken Robinson points out, this model may have been useful in the Industrial Age where workers on assembly lines specialized in specific, repetitious tasks, but it does not serve 21st century purposes. The day-to-day realities of librarianship require “transferable skills”, such as the ability to collaborate with others, solve complex problems, deal effectively with patrons, and manage resources – the very skills that make an MLIS so flexible and useful.

Now, to a point, it’s our own responsibility to make sure that we acquire these skills. An MLIS is a packaged educational commodity that by virtue of its flexibility cannot be “one size fits all.” If our programs don’t suit our needs exactly then it should be our responsibility to hack them until they do. That’s why Hack Library School exists, after all! But at the same time, the library schools that provide this commodity also have a responsibility to ensure that their curricula strive to reflect the current demands of the profession.

I’d like to open up a dialogue with all of Hack’s loyal readers about teaching methods used in library school. My experience is limited only to my own program, and I am certainly not a professor. But nonetheless, I have strong feelings about this topic, as well as some ideas that might be effective. I’d also like to hear from you about aspects of your programs’ pedagogies that have worked especially well for you – or haven’t. So, without further ado… « Read the rest of this entry »

SOPA/PIPA Black Wednesday

18/01/2012 § 4 Comments

Even if you are not actively involved, if you have been listening to the news or surfing the web in the last few weeks you have likely heard about the debates and activism swirling around SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act or Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act). If nothing else perhaps you noticed that Wikipedia is black today (January 18).

We here at Hack Library School made the decision to add the black banner in the upper right corner to show support for Internet freedom and those working to stop passage of this legislation in its current form.

(As an aside, if you or your patrons are hurting for the loss particularly of Wikipedia as a research tool, according to NPR you can tweet with hashtag #altwiki and have your question answered by someone from The Washington Post, NPR or The Guardian.)

The writers of Hack Library School had our own debate about weighing in on US Legislation versus trying to stay away from the “political.” I am honored to have joined this group of students and leaders in time for this discussion. We talked over if we ought to: proceed as usual and continue to do as we do; post something for discussion as befits a learning environment; or join with the likes of Wikipedia, RedditBoingBoing, WordPress and even the “Cheezburger” sites, to completely “Black out” HackLibSchool for the day. I’m sure that many of you have had similar conversations within your organizations (those links by the way go to the blog or opinion pieces about the decision to blackout – interesting reading).

In the end, we decided to leave our site up and open for discussion and sharing. As current and future Information Professionals, (everyone reading this,) it behooves us to be as informed and aware of all points of view as possible. We at HLS want to show librarians and archivists as remaining active and available as a trusted resource, and creators of a safe space for discourse.

So here we are.

In a wonderful moment of kismet, we received a well-researched and thoughtful guest post from Alex Berman (posting at 9am EST), which sheds good light on some of the potentially problematic portions of the legislation. If you are new to this topic I highly suggest starting with Alex’s post as it offers a good basic introduction while citing specific language and verbiage in the actual bills.

If you are interested in more articles, I would offer: “Why we need to stop SOPA” by Director of MIT’s Media Labe Joi Ito; “The Problem with SOPA” by Sonia Simone of Copyblogger; “An Alternative to SOPA: the OPEN Act” by the Electronic Frontier Foundation; and from the “pro” side: a list of stated supporters by Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (TX), and the Motion Picture Association of America’s RogueWebsites site.

Despite the black banner at top showing our allegiance to stopping SOPA, we welcome all opinions here (as was done with the “Occupy” posts 1 and 2). Copyright protection is as important an issue as intellectual freedom, and there is ample room for debate on the merits of or problems with all or portions of these bills from both sides.

Please share your own best resources, suggestions and opinions in the comment section below. It should be an intellectually stimulating and engaging day and the important thing is that the conversation continues uncensored.

“New Hacker” Joanna

How I Hacked Library School – WEB APPS!

18/02/2011 § 33 Comments

The internet is awesome. And daily it is getting more and more awesomer. The best part is that a lot of what makes it great are the web-based tools that are being developed to help us users make sense of the vastness of the internet. I think we have gone beyond Web 2.0 (finally) and are now encountering a web where stuff gets done, efficiently, effectively and linked-edly. Some might call it Web 3.0, or the semantic web; I’d like to refer to it as Web as WorkSpace (WawS). The key to WawS? Web apps galore.

My Chrome WebApps

Since I am coming from an online MLIS program (Florida State University) I quickly acclimated to doing coursework online – in Blackboard and attending class in Elluminate. Those are fine for the basics (discussion boards, lectures), but what about when I have a Digital Library project due and my group members live in Florida and South Carolina, while I am in NYC? Our need to have real time collaboration in spaces that are easy to use and familiar led us to Dropbox, Google Docs, and Skype.  [Check out the process of my digital library project here.] In fact, I have been the biggest evangelist of web apps in any of my classes, and I have yet to figure out why more LIS students aren’t using WawS to hack library school. Want details? You got it:

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