How “Kind” is Your Library? Pictures Wanted!

Do you work in a “kind” library? Librarian Jessica Olin of Letters to a Young Librarian and I are presenting on “kindness audits” at the Association of College and Research Libraries virtual conference next week. Here’s our session description:

Killing It with Kindness: Incorporating Sustainable Assessment through Kindness Audits
Learn how to design and conduct a kindness audit, a low-cost and high-reward assessment method that helps librarians examine barriers to library services and spaces through a user experience lens. Varying methods for kindness audits, lessons learned, and suggestions for identifying and implementing low-cost improvements for library spaces and services, will all be discussed.

Jessica and I will share photos of our experiences with kindness audits, but we want to hear from you!

We Need Your Help
Here’s how to get involved: Are you proud of a library space, furniture, signage, services desks, etc… at your library? Or maybe you have an example that could use some improvement? That’s OK too!

Take a Photo
Take a photo and send it our way! Email us at: and provide a description of the photo.

We may use your photo in our presentation, however we will not use your name (unless you want us to!). Keep in mind that identifying info may be apparent from the photo.

Jessica and I will make our slides freely available after the conference. We’ll also be using the Twitter hashtag #acrlkindness during our presentation.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few examples:


“I Didn’t Know I Could Use the Library!” Meeting the Needs of Students Online

I’m at WILU 2013 – Workshop for Instruction in Library Use – a Canadian information literacy conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick: a great opportunity to network with librarians north of the border – or “south of the border” to them! I presented a session about implementing library services to online students:

“I Didn’t Know I Could Use the Library!” Meeting the Needs of Students Online

Session Description:
What do you do with students you rarely see in the library? University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has a growing online student population. Reaching these students can be challenging. Many still view the library as just a brick-and-mortar building, and not an online 24/7 resource. Librarians conducted an assessment of online students to investigate their needs. This session will focus on the assessment results and the information literacy outreach plan put into place. It will highlight several initiatives, including the embedded librarian program, faculty-librarian collaboration, marketing efforts, and learning tools geared towards online students. Based on 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. Come and learn about these best practices for online learners and share your ideas, as well.

Here are some of the assessment tools, resources, guides, and tips mentioned in my presentation:

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

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!

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.

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)




Assessment, Outreach Plan

Assessment, Outreach Plan

Embedded Librarian Program

Embedded Librarian Program

Promoting Services, Advocating for Support

Promoting Services, Advocating for Support

Quick Tips for Presenting & Teaching

I recently got some new office furniture. Well, newer. Goodbye 1970s desk and hello 1990s desk! In transferring my belongings from the old furniture to the new furniture, I started to go through some files. As I have progressed in my library career, I have become less concerned with saving every little piece of paper (plus the TV show Hoarders scares me!)–and of course, the online environment helps keep me less cluttered.

What I came across in my files was a list of tips and advice for presenting or teaching instruction sessions. I’m glad I saved it! Dated 2002, it was from my favorite library school class I had at Indiana University – “Education of Information Users” (How to Teach) — with instructor/librarian Emily Okada.

The tips and advice were gleaned from observing instruction sessions and also included classmates’ own peer feedback from our mock teaching presentations we did in class. At first, I though the advice might be dated, but presenting/teaching has not changed for the most part. The tips are applicable to information literacy sessions, or any presentation/conference session. Hope I’m not breaking any rules by posting it–no names are included.

If you are just starting to present/teach, or need a brief refresher, this is a great starting point. Here is the handout:

Quick Tips for Presenting & Teaching (PDF)

Conferencing: Renew | Energize | Sustain

Just got back from the Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians 2011 Conference, held in Stevens Point. What a great experience! I love small conferences like this. The theme this year, Renew, Energize, Sustain, couldn’t have been better. Towards the end of the semester, most academic librarians are in need of a change in pace. Learning from my colleagues and getting the chance to network was just the change I needed. Here, I’ll highlight some the sessions I attended.

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Improving Information Literacy for Nontraditional Students
Part of my job focuses on adult learners, so I was particularly interested in this session. Presented by Anna Zook at UW-Eau Claire, she discussed her research of adult learners at the Eau Claire campus. Adult students are often overlooked and have different needs and anxieties of traditional-age college students. It was interesting to see how the library had carved out “special” study spaces for non-traditional students, including a study lounge (also used by graduate students) and a family-friendly study room where adult students could take their children. It’s located near the juvenile collection of books and includes a TV/video system. I took away several great suggestions from the presenter and attendees:

  • Acknowledge and use students’ life experiences in reference interactions & information literacy sessions.
  • Make the library more accessible for adult learners (longer reference desk hours, orientation sessions, online tutorials, easy remote access).
  • Information literacy sessions: Have students share questions that they have about the library at the beginning of class. Incorporate peer-mentoring activities.
  • Offer “Start Strong” library/research appointments with a librarian to all non-traditional students at the beginning of each semester, or new co-hort of students.
  • Create short (1 to 3 minute) videos that can be uploaded to YouTube, library website, learning management system, that explain basic services or concepts (e.g., How to Search for an Article, How to Find a Book). Accompany short video with a PDF handout to reach multiple learning styles.
Uncommon Solutions to Creating an Information Commons
Louise Diodato and David Weinberg-Kinsey from Cardinal Stritch University detailed how their library underwent a renovation. Maybe in a previous life I was an architect, because I always find building plans fascinating! The big takeaway from here was to think about how your library could maintain services in the midst of a renovation. In addition, constantly communicating to the architects is an absolute necessity. Architects do not understand the finer points of libraries and their collections. You need to educate them! Also learned about a cool device that can move bookstacks without taking them apart and without having to move the books off of the shelf. If your library is thinking about renovation, also pay attention to:

  • New furniture–with an emphasis on movable furniture
  • “Wayfinding”–the placement of tile/carpeting that allows users to find their way through the library, to its various study spaces, service points, and collections.
Accessibility of Online Library Resources for People with Disabilities
I think too often we design library websites and other online tools, such as tutorials, without considering how people with disabilities will be impacted. Axel Schmetzke from UW-Stevens Point presented his research on studies that examined university and library websites. I learned about the main barriers that people with disabilities face when viewing websites [from Schmetzke’s PowerPoint]:
  • Images without meaningful alt text, Images maps without alt text
  • Scrolling text, Blinking elements
  • No meaningful link text (e.g., “click here”)
  • Poor contrast between text & background
  • Tables used for spatial layout
  • No “skip navigation” link

Circulating iPads in an Academic Library
Jessica Hutchings from the UW-Milwaukee SOIS and Jodi Bennett from Cardinal Stritch University detailed the decisions and processes for circulating iPads at the Cardinal Stritch library. Three iPads were purchased. Initially, they had a 2 hour in-library use only loan period. They began with downloading 20 educational and news apps, and branded the iPads with university imagery. Although the library promoted the use of iPads as e-readers, students did not tend to use this function. Simple curiosity was cited as the #1 reasons students choose to check out an iPad. After using the iPad, students were directed to a survey on use. The apps/software that students wanted, but were not installed included: MS Office (not available), Flash (not available), social networking, games, and GarageBand.

After examining iPad usage, the library changed the loan period to overnight. They have now loaded approximately 60 apps/programs, including Facebook, Skype, Pandora, Dropbox, Angry Birds, RefWorks, and GarageBand. Power adapters also made available. The overdue fine is $10/day. After each iPad is returned, library staff “restore” the iPad to wipe out any user data. Users cannot download any apps on their own. This a great program and definitely academic libraries should be allowed to have new technologies for users to experiment with and “play in the sandbox” so to speak.

IT Interested? Encouraging IT Experimentation in the Library
Librarians Thomas Durkin, Ian Benton, and Jim Jonas from UW-Madison shared how they put together an informal group of “show and tell” technology sessions open to all library staff. The presenters gave out a few tech tips and invited the audience to share some tech tools that they like to use. Here are a few of the tech tools presented:

  • ARIS – tool to create free educational games, interactive tours, etc. Runs on Google Maps.
  • Compfight – Image search tool. Can easily search Creative Commons Flickr images.
  • Evernote – nice notetaking tool. Can be downloaded to desktop, laptop, smartphones, and other mobile devices.
  • NetGalley – 1000s of galley proofs on non-yet published books. You can even write reviews, too.
  • – use to build a virtual bookshelf. Great as a promotional tool to highlight a particular collection (e.g., new books, children’s books, etc.)
  • Topicmarks – upload PDFs or other files of scholarly articles. This tool will generate a “plain English” summary, overview of the article, keyword cloud, etc.
  • Yammer – microblogging tool that libraries can use to keep track where staff are.
Librarian and Faculty Partnerships: Embedding Librarians in English Courses to Improve Information Literacy Skills and Writing Skills
A librarian–Rita Mitchell, and a writing instructor–Beth Bretl, from Cardinal Stritch University teamed up to embed Rita into the learning management system for Beth’s English 102 class at Cardinal Stritch University. The idea stemmed from an article on the Inside Higher Ed website on Using Library Experts Wisely. The idea expanded and all sections of English 102 were paired with a librarian. During the course’s research sequence, students got to know the librarian and completed a tutorial and worksheet. In the learning management system (LMS), students posted their research question and worked with the librarian to narrow it. Using the online chat in the LMS, the librarian guided students to appropriate keywords and resources. Each student also kept a blog that discussed his/her research process.
What was particularly interesting was finding out what the librarian and instructor would do differently. The LMS online chat “desktop sharing” function was not easy to use, so finding an alternative approach would have been better. The instructor also commented that she would have liked to have introduced the librarian earlier in the semester, to build a strong relationship from the beginning. Great advice for those librarians jumping on the “embedding” bandwagon! Link to their presentation.

Why Librarians (but not only Librarians) Should Staff Our Reference Desk
Steve Frye from UW-Madison discussed research involving different staffing models for reference desks. He encouraged participants to “know how patrons see your library.” It may be radically different than what you think. A review of scholarly literature leads to no solid conclusions on who should be staffing the reference desk. Here are a few other points:

  • A traditional reference desk staffed by one librarian remains the model for most libraries.
  • A combined reference/circulation desk model is ascending.
  • A tiered model is another alternative. Staffed by students or paraprofessionals, with librarians “on call”
  • Libraries should choose the reference desk model that reflects the institution’s culture.
  • Roaming/roving reference: Students DO NOT like aggressive roaming/roving reference.
  • For tiered models, patrons dislike being referred when someone is not available to help immediately.
  • The model used at the presenter’s large, busy library involves multiple staffing at the reference desk (librarian, paraprofessional, grad student).
  • Adjust your services to meet your students’ needs. Presenter’s library started night-time librarian positions that work until midnight.
  • Your reference desk MUST be visible and near the entrance. DO NOT hide it.
  • Library administrators should staff the reference desk during a busy shift so that they do not develop over-generalized observations about the library.
  • If you think that doing something at the Reference Desk (e.g., clearing a printer jam) is beneath you, then you will not be a successful librarian.

Friday Keynote – Instructional Literacy and the Library Educator: Design, Technology, and Academic Culture
This session fit the bill when it came to the “energize” portion of the conference’s theme. Presented by Char Booth of Claremont Colleges, here are a few of my takeaways:

  • What assumptions do students have about librarians? They don’t need to pay attention. “I’m not being graded.” “I already know how to do this!”
  • Librarians are not perceived as teachers. We need to change this.
  • Instruction librarians often have oversized expectations of what we think students want from us, when in reality, it’s ok to be “good enough.”
  • Teaching effectiveness will be different for every librarian.
  • What makes a good teacher?: enthusiasm, openness, makes you think, meets you at your level, caring
  • Idea: Librarians need to create a brilliant subject-specific pitch for their information literacy sessions. You can do a lot in one minute. You need to connect your students to information literacy. Example: YouTube video of Berkeley Biology professor pulls out a brain!
  • A library educator’s job is to challenge the assumptions of your students.
  • Instructional Literacy involves: reflective practice, educational theory, teaching technologies, instructional design
  • Reflective practice idea: after you teach, ask yourself: “What went well?” “What didn’t go well?” “What is one thing you observed that you need to change?”
  • Technology: create a toolkit of technologies that work for you–ones that you have tried and vetted. Ask: does the tool accomplish your objectives?
  • Cricket Effect: classes that do not respond to your questions. Make sure and ask instructors beforehand about class dynamics: is it a quiet class, active class. You may need to adapt your techniques.
  • The “Librarian as Indicator Species” concept: If people think librarians are just about books, then they will forget us. Instead, librarians help with an informed democracy, create a sense of community, provide excellent customer service, provide knowledge.

I can’t do justice to Char’s presentation, but it is online on Slideshare.

UW-Stevens Point Library
Lastly, although it wasn’t part of the official conference, I took a stroll over to the University Library [photo] at UW-Stevens Point, a campus of approximately 9,000 students. When I’m away at conferences, popping in at the local college or public library is one of my favorite things to do. Usually, I’ll see an idea or two that could be adapted at my own library. At UW-Stevens Point, one of the first things I noticed was a plasma display listing which computers were open. Great idea! I also liked their poster explaining quiet areas to study. In addition, the endcaps of each of the bookstack ranges list not only the call number range, but subject areas and how to get help [photo]. Very helpful!

Conference presentations should eventually be uploaded on the WAAL 2011 site. Next year’s conference is to be held at Lake Geneva.