ALA Demystified: How to Be Effective within ALA
Emerging Leaders Webinar
Leslie Burger, Princeton Public Library Director and Past President of ALA, 2006-2007
April 21, 2011 at 1pm
- 10% of ALA is actively engaged in management of association
- Not easy to quickly move and adapt an association made up of tens of thousands of members
- ALA has a motto! “The best reading, for the largest number, at the lowest cost”
- YOU have to decide how you want to be involved in ALA; there is no one right way and no one to tell you how
- Observe ALA governance in action! Council = 186 policy-making members. Go to at least 1 Council meeting in your lifetime
- ALA Executive Board
- Meets 4x/year
- 11 members (all but 3 elected by membership)
- Attend at least one of these meetings in lifetime, too!
- Appointments to association committees made by president-elect
- Go to committee meeting to see if you’re interested, then contact chair and ask if you can help
- Be forthcoming about expressing interest in joining committee; proves you’re a leader and contributor
- Membership Initiative Group (MIG)
- Decide what needs to change, find others who feel the same way, and make it happen
- Conferences take on a life of their own at each location
- Become friends with @LibrarianJP on Facebook! He knows how to connect with people and throw a party
One of my students just sent me the following message:
“Ok, so I am going out of town tomorrow and I COMPLETELY forgot that I have class on Friday nights. I have no clue how since this is one of my favorite classes!!!! (Well, not really the class just you, lol).”
Now that I’ve got almost a full semester of teaching this information literacy class under my belt, I’ve been thinking about ways I can improve my teaching in the future. Some of them are things I should’ve been doing already (my education professors would have me drawn and quartered if they knew I taught 3.5-hour classes without formal lesson plans!), but I just flew by the seat of my pants this semester. I didn’t get the required textbooks or know what I was supposed to be teaching until about a week before classes started, so I spent hours each week figuring out exactly what I was going to teach. As my supervisor there says, “Your first semester is just about surviving.” Now that it’s almost over, I can focus on refining it.
What I’ve come up with so far:
- Lesson plans
- Assessment for every class
- Learning styles
- 4 I’s
- Rubric for each assignment
- Better PowerPoints
In order to help with this last point, I attended a webinar on creating better PowerPoints yesterday. My notes are below.
Bozarthzone! Where’s the Power? What’s Your Point?
April 12, 2pm
- Determine the most critical 20% of your content and focus on that
- If you aren’t spending 50% of your time on these points, you’re trying to cover too much
- People can fill in the details on their own
- Need to surprise audience
- Mind is lulled into inattention by slide after slide
- Surprise them!
- Make content memorable
- 1 medium movie theatre popcorn has 37 grams of fat
- A lot, but not really memorable
- USDA showed a picture of 1 popcorn = 1 plate of bacon and eggs, 1 hamburger and fries, and 1 steak platter
- Be emotional, concrete, credible
- Stories or any kind of narrative are memorable
- Remember the journalism triangle
Last week’s topic was copyright, and I’m pretty pleased with how the lesson went.
I’ve been reading Jane Vella’s Taking Learning to Task (on the recommendation of “Adults and Library Instruction: The Four ‘I’s in Instruction,” a chapter in one of those Library Instruction books I’ve mentioned before), which is how to teach using active learning, or the 4 Is (Inductive work, Input, Implementation, and Integration).
Basically, the premise is something all teacher ed students learn in our education classes; that students have a certain amount of preexisting knowledge about any topic, and in order to teach them effectively you have to draw on this knowledge and then “scaffold” the learning process in order for students to reach the understanding you want them to. Vella and Fernando Menendez’s 4 Is model starts by connecting the new material with the students’ preexisting knowledge, then an activity that encourages students to interact with the new material, then an activity that gets students to implement their new knowledge somehow, and then an activity that integrates this newfound knowledge into their lives. (So it’s a circle, really, with the student and his/her life as both the starting and ending point.)
My lesson on copyright wasn’t as true to these active learning precepts as I would have liked (all four stages are supposed to be an activity–this is active versus passive learning, after all), but it still seemed to work out well.
Inductive work: I started by asking the class what they thought copyright is, and we discussed it a bit in terms of plagiarism as well (since we’d covered that in an earlier class.
Input: A 3.5-page reading from their textbook, during which I asked them to keep in mind two questions: “Can you copyright an idea?” and “What’s the difference between fair use and public domain?” We then discussed the answers to these questions as a class, as well as the deeper issues behind them (WHY can’t you copyright an idea? Fair use items are still copyrighted, but ones in the public domain are not. etc.)
A short video, recommended by Sarah Houghton-Jan, that explains the basics of copyright in a much more entertaining way than I ever could. (My students were totally baffled on why I asked them to take notes on this. It was a revelation when I said it might help them study for the final exam. Obviously I’ll need to take some of the suggestions from this ProfHacker post on encouraging effective note-taking next semester!)
An interactive PowerPoint based on a resource recommended by one of these Library Instruction books I’ve mentioned before: 10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained. (By interactive, I mean I introduced the myth, asked for ideas why it is false, and tried to encourage discussion by using real-world examples they’d be familiar with.) This allowed for more interaction with the students, and they really got into discussing derivative works (why Pride and Prejudice and Zombies doesn’t violate copyright, for example, but a Twilight and Mr. Darcy would, and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s albums are okay because they’re parody but Beyonce’s modified cover of Des’ree’s “I’m Kissing You” is not) and whether authors/artists should be okay with unauthorized reuse of their work because it’s free advertising (the creator gets to decide whether s/he wants free advertising, and sometimes they don’t, such as when J.K. Rowling shut down a Harry-Potter-themed Hindu festival in India–but is okay with Harry Potter partyware licensed through Warner Brothers).
Implementation: I asked my students to visit The Copyright Website (another resource recommended by the Library Instruction book Teaching Information Literacy Concepts: Activities and Frameworks from the Field (number 6 in the series). This Web site is a great resource of case studies of recent copyright infringement cases, and is organized by media type (movies, music, software, etc.), so there’s a wide variety of options to choose from. I asked my students to pick one case to look at with a partner, and after reviewing it to write a 200-word paper summarizing the facts of the case, why it was considered a copyright infringement, and whether (and why) the student thought it was indeed a copyright infringement.
This last activity was wildly successful–both classes spent about 40 minutes on it, which is much longer than I expected, and a good deal of that time was spent comparing notes with their classmates on their respective cases and looking closely at the details of the cases to see if they really were copyright infringements. I heard lots of “I can’t believe Beyonce did that!” and “I won’t be buying any more of her albums!” And judging by the papers they turned in, there was some good critical thinking that went on. Yay!
Integration: This was the weakest of my four; they have a new paper to work on, and part of it involves describing the information literacy process, including the “ethical use of information”–i.e., what we went over in class that night.
Overall I’m quite pleased. Only two weeks of class left, which will be spent working on this paper and reviewing for/taking this exam, so no new material to present. (Though I’m working on a fun way to prep for the exam this week!) I’m looking forward to doing this all over next semester–which starts a week and a half after this one ends–having learned from my mistakes this first go-around and implementing the great activities I’ve stumbled across in the Library Instruction books.
Every time I go into lecture mode–however briefly, even if it’s just to give instructions for the in-class activity–the retention (attention?) of my students drops precipitously. Last week, for example, I handed out a note-taking worksheet for my students to use as a template as they took notes on the Occupational Outlook Handbook for their research papers. (I’ve found, just from my just-over half-semester of teaching, that asking them to take notes based on questions they’ll be answering in their papers is insufficient and they will invariably take notes on information that has no bearing on their paper and therefore be up a creek when it comes time to actually write the thing. Hence the scaffolding on how to take notes. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m teaching them life skills, not just how to use databases!)
In any case, I described the worksheet as a template: they had to take notes on three sources, but I only gave them a worksheet for one, which meant that they were going to have to use the same format in Word or in their notebooks for the second two sources. Between this explanation and their creation of APA-style paper templates the second week of class, I thought they would understand the idea of a template, but no. Lots of students asking for more copies of the template.
In retrospect, pausing during the assignment instructions to ask, “Now, what exactly is a template again?” would have been helpful. Lecturing does NOT work with these students, even for brief periods of time. (Along those lines, I’ve found a GREAT resource for developing with lesson plans with active learning content: these Library Instruction books. They’re a little dated–they were all published during the early 2000s–but we’re still teaching the topics covered in t books, like copyright and how to do a Boolean search. They’re chock-full of activities designed for longer classes like mine and come with CDs of supplementary materials. Great stuff.)
A tip from Adventures in Library Instruction I’ve started using: writing the class agenda on the whiteboard before class so students know what to expect. I’ve had a couple instances in recent weeks where students have left early (or tried to leave early) because they thought we were done for the day. I listened to the episode where someone on the podcast–can’t remember who–mentioned this trick not long after. It’s also a good strategy for organizing the lesson and helping students understand what they’re going to learn about, sort of a verbal version of the golden rule of essays: “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.”
Also… does anyone else have the problem of students not communicating their homework troubles at all until the class it’s due? A handful of my students will e-mail me as soon as they hit a problem, but the majority just come to class and say they couldn’t do it because their log-ins didn’t work or they missed class and didn’t know how to do it, etc. etc.
Finally, an unrelated, but interesting note: I have further proof that these kids are not as tech-savvy as we (and they) have been led to believe. This morning a student at my day job asked me to print something that she had e-mailed to herself.
Something I’ve been asked in almost all of my job interviews is, “What collection development experience do you have?” Unlike reference and instruction, I’ve found collection development experience very hard to come by (other than the copious amount of book reviews I’ve done over the last 3 years, anyway).
So when my supervisor invited the staff to join her in watching a webinar on weeding (something I’ve had no experience with, other than in my own personal collection at home!), I jumped on the opportunity. My notes are below.
Culling Your Collection: The Fine Art of Weeding
March 23, 2011, 2pm
Keri Cascio, St. Charles (MO) City-County Library
- Why weed?
- Appeal: “weeding is merchandising”
- Reputation: reliability and currency of collection
- Collection needs: replace or repair damaged items
- Get to know collection
- Use weeding project as way to learn about collection when you are a new selector for an area
- Strengths and weaknesses: is no one checking out books on x topic anymore?
- CREW method from Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission
- General rule for public libraries: 80% of what has not circulated in 3 years can be discarded
- Academic libraries: look at changes in student base and offered programs
- 3-part formula
- # of years since latest copyright date
- Maximum time allowed since last use
- Superseded: new edition?
- Trivial: no-longer-popular fads
- Elsewhere: through ILL, electronic formats, collaborative collection development, etc.
- Sample formulas:
- 004 (Dewey) computers: 3 / x / MUSTIE
- Circulation and series
- x (doesn’t matter) / 2 / MUSTIE
- Look for outdated materials for persons of ongoing interest, living or dead
- Look for gender or race bias
- x / 3 / MUSTIE
- Multimedia = WORST
- Worn out
- Out of date
- Rarely used
- Supplied elsewhere
- Get away from keeping things “just in case”
- Project planning
- Procedures and guidelines
- Forms: withdraw, repair, re-order
- Who will settle disagreements?
- Check comparable collections
- Need policy for deselection
- Faculty relations issue
- Ties into gift policy
- Could be bad PR if donated books are withdrawn
- Document your formulas
- Procedures and guidelines
- Options for disposal
- Friends book sales
- Take one, leave tables
“Influence When You Don’t Have Power or Authority”
Pat Wagner for Emerging Leaders Webinar
March 22, 2011 1-2:30pm
- You don’t have to be in the castle to be influential
- Many people think that once they get promoted/elected/appointed to a position of power that they will be able to get things done, but this isn’t the case unless you have thugs working for you
- The influence model: how to get people to do what you want them to do and want to work with you when you don’t have power
- Rapport: be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and find
- NOT a placater
- Manners, all the time, with everyone
- Rituals of social respect
- Showing someone else that they are your equal
- Assignment: when you enter a room, look for someone you DON’T know, and talk to them and make them feel comfortable
- Build alliances with people different from you
- You are always auditioning for your next gig
- Showing off your cleverness now will hurt you years in the future
- Leaders are NOT sarcastic in public
- People who look at the future tend to be optimistic
- They may be driven by concerns in the present, but are always looking long-term
- How to network: http://patternresearch.posterous.com/the-networking-game
- Stop complaining and solve the problems!
- Networking game: 5 rules of networking
- Be useful and let other people be useful to you.
- Doing a reference interview, basically, the first time you meet someone to see if you can help someone.
- Networking = mutual aid.
- Don’t be boring.
- Not shutting up/drowning people with information
- People who are not useful to other people
- Vampire/kitty litter phone calls
- Never do anything in return, just take, take, take
- Not letting other people be useful to you
- Because we are in a service industry being the smartest person in the room, we forget to ask people for advice
- You will drive people with high self-esteem out of your network
- Listen as if you never heard the information before.
- Seek out people who you strongly disagree with and listen to why they believe what they believe.
- People are not black and white
- Ask questions.
- “That’s interesting; how do you know it’s true?”
- “Tell me more.”
- Don’t make assumptions.
- You don’t know who you’re talking to.
- You can’t tell, by talking to the average North American, where they grew up, what they majored in, where they work, etc.
- You may be one connection away from the solution to a problem (wildcard)
- Be useful and let other people be useful to you.
- NOT a bureaucrat (someone for whom rules are more important than the people we are serving)
- Don’t get frustrated when people don’t remember what you’ve said
- People may have poor auditory memory
- Avoid escalation
- Praise and gratitude of 90% of what you need to do in order to be influential
- Always be looking for your next job
- When people are trapped is when they become risk-averse
- Unless I speak up, nothing will happen
- People who skip rapport and information are bullies, even if it’s for a good cause
- Rapport: be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and find
- Best sign that you are a good leader or manager is when people grow with you, become braver
- Whenever something bad happens, step back to get perspective
- There are no library crises
- Management is synonymous with being a team player
- Check in with your team members
- How do you spend your time?
- Tasks: reference, cataloging, etc.
- Management: supervise, coordinate, etc.
- Serving on committees
- Leadership: inspire, energy, two years out
- Investing in future
- You’re the last person in the room to run out of ideas
- You are the battery: if you fail, everything else fails
- May not see payoff for years
- Looking for opportunities
- Difference between management and leadership is looking at now vs. looking at two years out
- Politics = influence
- Politics = earning the respect of other people
- What happens outside the walls of the library
- Finding people who are like-minded, also excited about the future, and finding common ground to make things happen
- Strategic plan
- Tasks: how
- Details: daily –> monthly
- Management: what
- Scope and time: monthly –> yearly
- Leadership: where are we going?
- Having people around you, supporting you
- Tasks: how
- What is power?
- The legal ability to do something to me that I don’t want
- What is authority?
- Anthropological concept
- Is there something in writing that lays this out?
- Most of us work in tax-supporting institution; there is a line between the taxpayers and those of us being paid (elected officials, etc.)
- Legitimate authority: legal and transparent
- Illegitimate authority: “I’ve worked here longer,” intimidation
- Earned authority: trust and respect earned every day
- Leadership is earned authority
- Confusing celebrity or popularity with influence
- Not realizing that the idea is not enough
- You need to build a team to follow through