Eat The Frog! Prioritizing Your Work

Eat The Frog!

Eat The Frog!

Yesterday I attended a session about the work/life balance: practical tips, advice, and sharing of ideas. Up until this semester, I had a pretty good work/life balance: I have my friends and family, a hobby I’m passionate about (amateur photography), and I usually don’t take my work home.

But this semester has been a little crazy: I’m teaching a semester-long class on top of my full-time librarian gig, I’m chairing a university committee, I have two presentations to give in April & May, a week-long trip to London, a trip to Canada penciled in, and a commute that’s wearing on me. I know it sounds like I’m complaining. A trip to London? Boo-hoo. I’m not some Type A personality who thrives on this. That’s so “not me.” I’m just feeling overwhelmed at this point. I’ll be glad when this semester is over and things return to a more “normal” level for me. I know it’s temporary. So I’ll be OK…but rest assured, I’m counting the weeks until May!

One big thing I took away from the work/life balance session was the “Eat The Frog” idea to prioritizing your work (there’s even a self-help book about it). One of my library colleagues shared it with me. The idea here is to stop procrastinating with work projects and prioritize them. Picture yourself as literally having to eat a live frog every day at work. What could be worse than this? Would you put it off? Wait til the end of the day to do it? No! You wouldn’t want it to drag on. You’d be thinking about having to eat that frog all day long!

So, what’s the strategy? Eat the frog first! Tackle the hardest or most unpleasant tasks right off the bat when you get into work. Get them done and out of the way. Then you can move on to things that you enjoy.

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. – Mark Twain

Another thing that helps me prioritize is my trusty office whiteboard. Electronic “sticky notes” or reminders on my iPhone don’t cut it for me. I must see my to-do list on my whiteboard at all times. It’s right at my eye-level, so as I’m going through emails on my computer, editing documents, working in D2L, doing social media stuff for the library–my to-do list is always within view. It’s how I stay on task.

So for me, it’s frogs and old school whiteboards that keep me in line! What about you?

My Trusty Whiteboard

My Trusty Whiteboard

Poster Presentations 101: Creating Effective Presentations

Poster sessions are a great opportunity to get your feet into the water and show off research you’ve done, a project you have implemented, or a new service you are providing.

More low-key than a full blown conference presentation, poster sessions are akin to an elevator speech – “Hey, look at these cool things I’m doing!” – as a librarian, that’s what I love about them: I get practical ideas and advice in a short amount of time that I can adapt or re-tool for my library.

At the 2012 American Library Association Annual Conference, I presented my first poster session: Assessment into Action: Meeting the Needs of Adult Learners. It was a great experience. I enjoyed taking a topic that I was interested in and using my design/creative skills to come up with a poster to share the information.

This semester, I’m teaching an undergrad information science class at my university. One of the projects that students are currently working on is a poster presentation.

Whether the students go on to grad school or out into the work field right away, a poster session is something that they are likely to encounter. To get them thinking about poster presentations, I shared some helpful links with them covering content, design, and software to use. These links can be tremendously useful if you’re new to poster presentations, so I thought I’d share…

If you have any links to share, let me know!

My poster presentation for the 2012 American Library Association Annual Conference

My poster presentation for the 2012 American Library Association Annual Conference

Disappearing Information

Let me be up front: I’m not a gov docs expert, but I do get irked when tax money that was used to collect Census info isn’t being used to make (or maintain) that information in an easily accessible manner to the public. It reminds me of last year’s debacle with the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

I’m talking about last week’s web conference on the recently re-designed American FactFinder from the U.S. Census Bureau. Basically, the issue boils down to this: American FactFinder will only contain data from the two most recent decennial U.S. censuses (currently 2000 and 2010). So once 2020 data is available, we can say “bye bye” to 2000, because then it will hold 2010 and 2020. This doesn’t make sense. You can find out more on this topic by looking at the GOVDOC-L discussion list archives from this month.

Researching trends with our populace over time is common among both social scientists and humanities scholars. You can’t tell me that a system can only “hold” data from two censuses. What compounds the problem is that the Census data is no longer released in a tangible format. So once it’s gone from the Census Bureau website, then it’s pretty much gone for good–at least as far as the general public is concerned. Now, the U.S. Census Bureau did say you could FTP to the older Census information, but that doesn’t boil down to easy access.

Our tax dollars go to support the collection of this information. We deserve to have this information (current and historical) displayed publicly, online, and in an easy-to-use format. Librarians have stood aside as the “gatekeepers” to information. Now we emphasize “access.” But we’re losing that now, too.

Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Ground Up

My colleague Renee Ettinger & I presented at the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference in La Crosse last week. What a fun experience interacting with other librarians from around the state!

Our presentation – Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Ground Up – covered our library’s events for our university community, examined our marketing efforts and how they have evolved, spotlighted our social media activities, and how we collaborate with students and other campus groups for marketing and event planning.

Here’s the description of our session presentation:

Libraries can’t afford for marketing to be an afterthought. It’s a way to connect with your community, campus and school. Join UW-Green Bay librarians as they discuss how their library built a comprehensive marketing plan, utilized the talent of students, experts, partnered with stakeholders and designed popular events for its patrons. The end goal? Creating a vibrant and engaging environment. The session will wrap up with a lightning round, where you will be invited to share your ideas and experiences with marketing. We hope to see you there!

Below is a link to our presentation from Slideshare:

We also referenced several videos in our presentation:

If you have some great marketing ideas or cool library events you’d like to share, let me know!

LibGuides – What to Call Them?

Like a lot of libraries, we use the popular LibGuides program from Springshare. First purchased in 2009, our stats have increased greatly each year: from 3,506 hits in 2009-2010, to over 44,000 hits in 2011-2012. LibGuides are popular with both students and faculty–even getting to the point of students asking us, “Why isn’t there a guide for my other class?” — “Tell your professor to talk to us!”  we say…

One issue the library staff has dealt with is terminology. Among the librarians, we use the term “LibGuides”–but we avoid using the term when branding the resource to students and faculty. On our website, we simply label them as “Guides.” However, after completing a user survey of our library services, resources, and website, several respondents reported being unsure of terminology–and what exactly a “Guide” entailed–was it for a specific class, or a broad subject area?

Curious to see how other library websites have termed their LibGuides, I posted a survey to ILI-L (the instruction/information literacy discussion list) to find out. I had 130 respondents. Here are the results:

What Do You Call the LibGuides Link on Your Library's Website?

The term “Research Guides” was, by far, the number one choice. It also matched the preferred term of students in a survey done by Mark Aaron Polger, “Student Preferences in Library Website Vocabulary” published in Library Practice and Philosophy, 2011:

Excerpt: A survey of 300 college students asked, “What term on the library website do your prefer if you need help with research?”

  • 36% chose “Research Guides”
  • 20% chose “Resources by Subject”
  • 18% chose “Research Help”
  • 16% chose “Library Guides”
  • 10% chose “Subject Guides”

After getting feedback from our own students, we decided to change the link name to “Research Guides” – after all, the resource is there for the students. We want them to know what it is–and to use it.

10 Library Terms for High School Students

Library Terms for High School Students

I created a library guide for our College Credit in High School students–these are students in high school who take university classes at their local Wisconsin high school. The program provides a head start for college-bound students. Classes run the gamut from English composition, to psychology, communication, chemistry, and Spanish.

Several of the classes involve a research component, where students begin that very first “real” college-level research assignment. These classes often make a field trip to the library where we work with the students and teachers in introducing them to some of our library’s resources. We often get questions about terminology: “What’s that?” “What does this mean?” So, I began to brainstorm some different library terms I thought our students should know–especially as they prepare for their first academic library visit. These are terms they might encounter in our library, or see on the website, catalog, and databases. The terms are also ones that I frequently use in information literacy sessions.

Here are the 10 library terms for high school students:

  1. Abstract – a brief summary of a book or article. Quickly reading an abstract will help you decide if you would like to get the full article or book.
  2. Bibliography – a list of books, articles, and other materials that are cited by the source you are looking at. Also known as a works cited list, or a references list.
  3. Call Number – Each book in our library has a call number–a series of numbers and letters that help you locate the book. When searching for a book in the library’s catalog, remember to write down or print out the call number. Call numbers are organized by subject, so books on the same topic will be shelved next to one another.
  4. Catalog – the online system that lists all of the books, media, and other materials in our library’s collection. To search the catalog, click on the the Books & Media tab on the Cofrin Library homepage.
  5. Citation – brief information about a source, such as a book or article. It usually lists the author, title of the book (or name of the magazine, journal or newspaper), title of the article (if applicable), publication date or year, pages numbers (if applicable), and publisher (if applicable).
  6. Database – a collection of articles from newspapers, magazines, and journals. To search for articles in Cofrin Library’s databases, use the Articles tab on the Cofrin Library homepage or click on the Databases by Subject link.
  7. Find-It button – When searching in the library’s databases for articles, you will often see the “Find It” button. If the article is not available in full-text in the database, you can click on the “Find It” button to see if the article is available online in a different database, or order a copy of it for free through our interlibrary loan service.
  8. Full-Text – When searching in the library’s database for articles, you will often see a link that says “full text” (sometimes marked as PDF Full Text or HTML Full Text). This means that the article is available online in the database. Clicking on the “full text” link will take you to the article where you can read it on your computer, print it out, download it, or email it to yourself. If the article is not available in “full text,” you can click on the Find-It button.
  9. Peer Reviewed – A scholarly material based on original research. It is often a scholarly journal article. Not a magazine or newspaper article. It is a material that is written by an expert in a field (e.g., doctor, scientist, professor). Generally, peer reviewed materials are fairly lengthy and text-heavy. Peer Reviewed materials always cite their sources, so you will usually see a bibliography with it. Sometimes, peer reviewed materials are referred to as: scholarlyacademic, or refereed.
  10. Stacks – This is the area where the books are shelved. In Cofrin Library, the book stacks are on the 5th and 6th floors of the library. Books with call numbers A-P are shelved on the 6th floor. Books with call numbers Q-Z are shelved on the 5th floor.

The terms I picked were specifically designed to be ones that students would encounter using my library’s resources–so they may not necessarily be the 10 terms you would pick. I looked at the assignments and then looked at our library’s physical layout, along with our online resources to pick these terms.

I avoided some terms that others might argue for inclusion: subject headings, ISBN, Boolean operators, reference, reserves come to mind. These just don’t fit the scope of the students’ assignments.

So what do you think: Am I missing any big ones here? What would you have included? Feel free to share.

ALA Poster Session – Assessment into Action: Meeting the Needs of Adult Learners

Here is the online version of my poster session for the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. My topic is academic libraries and adult learners:

Assessment into Action: Meeting the Needs of Adult Learners
What do you do with students you rarely see in the library? University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has a growing adult learner population, most of which take classes solely online. Reaching these students can be challenging. Librarians conducted an assessment of adult students to investigate their needs. This poster session will focus on the assessment results and the outreach plan put into place. It will highlight several initiatives, including librarian-faculty collaboration with introductory courses, the embedded librarian program, and the targeting of library services to adult students. It will also address using data to argue for increased budgetary support and collaboration with offices outside the library. Based on preliminary feedback from students and faculty, an increase in reference questions, as well as high usage statistics from librarian-created tutorials and discussion boards, the outreach plan is working. The poster session will include charts of the assessment data, handouts of the assessment tool, teaching and marketing materials (LibGuide, tutorials, newsletters), and photographs of embedded librarian best practices.

Materials:
Embedded Librarian Tips (PDF)
Library Survey for Adult Degree Students (PDF)
Library Survey for Adult Degree Faculty (PDF)
Adult Degree Library Guide for Students (Libguide)
Adult Degree Library Guide for Faculty & Staff (Libguide)
Adult Degree Library Welcome Video (YouTube)

Poster:

Introduction

Introduction

Assessment, Outreach Plan

Assessment, Outreach Plan

Embedded Librarian Program

Embedded Librarian Program

Promoting Services, Advocating for Support

Promoting Services, Advocating for Support

How Not to Tweet for Your Library

Twitter is one of the best tools for promoting library services, resources, and programs. Lots of libraries use Twitter well. Check out the New York Public Library, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Kansas City Public Library, and UIUC Undergraduate Library for some good examples.

However, some libraries send out tweets that aren’t particularly welcoming. Some tweets simply do not help in the promotion of library services and resources. Frustrated, I sent out this tweet the other day:

So, how do you avoid being the Twitter equivalent of this library sign? Below are a few guidelines…

No cell phone use in the library!

Image from Flickr, courtesy of Travelin’ Librarian.

Rule #1: Avoid the schoolmarm tweets:

Rule #2: Avoid the “No Food” tweets and other policy tweets.
I understand that some libraries have “no food” policies, but Twitter isn’t the best tool for policy enforcement. It can also make your library sound rather passive aggressive. Here are some examples:

Policy tweets, such as “No Food,” may also confuse users (e.g., differing policies at different libraries):

If you must post a “no food” tweet, here’s a more positive spin:

Rule #3: Instead of negativity, offer suggestions. Here are a few examples that positively address noise issues at libraries:

Rule #4: Try avoiding “Please do not…” tweets. Even if you add “please” – your tweet can still be construed as negative.

Of course, sometimes you need to adjust the rules. Here’s an example of a “Please do not” tweet that would be perfectly acceptable:

Rule #5: Just as with other forms of written communication, you generally want to avoid CAPITAL LETTERS so you are not yelling:

So what other rules would you suggest? Post your comments here!

Librarian Twitter Bingo

You ever think: wow those librarians are always tweeting about the same thing!

Well, now you can play a game: It’s called Librarian Twitter Bingo. Every time you see a librarian’s tweet about one of the topics below, cross it off. When you get a whole row, yell “BINGO!”

Librarian Twitter Bingo

PS–I myself could probably cross off at least 13 of these boxes with my own tweets, so please don’t feel like I’m picking on any librarian in particular. 🙂 – I love your tweets!

Full image on Flickr.
This is modeled after Hipster Bingo.

What They Didn’t Tell You About Being a Librarian

First off, I enjoy my job as a librarian. That hasn’t changed in the 10 years that I’ve been a librarian. So, please excuse some of my snarkiness below. It’s the Friday before Spring Break (but we all know that most librarians don’t get a Spring Break) and I needed a little fun! Here’s a list of 10 things they didn’t tell you about being a librarian. These have all happened to me, or at a library I have worked at:

  1. Asking a patron to stop licking the computer monitor when viewing images of French figure skater Surya Bonaly.
  2. You should probably memorize all of the books by their color because that’s what patrons will ask for. “Do you have that green book? You know…the big one!”
  3. How to get the following animals OUT of the library: bats, snakes, robins, frogs, and yes–a roadrunner.
  4. How to ID a peeping tom in the book stacks. And making him leave when the security officer doesn’t do his/her job.
  5. That someone ALWAYS wants to photocopy something the minute before closing.
  6. When a patron is asking for books on “poultry,” he may actually mean “poetry.”
  7. That senior citizens sometimes just call the library because they’re lonely. This makes me sad.
  8. You need to de-lice the library headphones.
  9. The Robert Mapplethorpe books always ends up in the men’s restroom and you will sometimes need plastic gloves to retrieve them.
  10. Are you allowed to keep the alcohol you find in the library? Kidding! Seriously, I’ve found everything from beer cans to Jack Daniels, and even vermouth! But I suspected the vermouth to be from a library co-worker (what college kid drinks vermouth?).

Have something to add to the list? Please share!