Thursday, 21 August 2014

Interview – running a successful parent volunteer program in a school library

Libraries in general, and some school libraries in particular are not known for having a surplus in staff. Many therefore consider turning to parent volunteers to help out with a variety of tasks.  

Some libraries manage this better than others, and here in Singapore, the Singapore American School is known in our network for having a very well run, well functioning library parent volunteer program. They have 35-40 regular weekly parent volunteers and more than 50 parents who are involved in one-way or another in the library as well as a group of committed high school student volunteers. 

So this morning, I went over to interview Kate Brundage, the Elementary School Librarian who has been running a successful program for the last five years.

In answering all my questions and showing me the library she explained the process of recruiting and training volunteers, the type of tasks that volunteers do, potential problems and pitfalls and how to handle them and how to show your appreciation. We ended with a tour of the library.

The process of recruiting and training volunteers

Parent volunteer form
Recruitment generally takes place at the beginning of the school year when sign-up forms are distributed during open-house sessions, back to school night, the first parent coffee mornings and are also shared with classroom teachers.  The library hosts a parent coffee morning and talks to the parents about library service and the benefits of being a volunteer.  During the school year, the librarians have an active partnership with classroom teachers, whereby parents who tend to “hover” or want to be overly involved in the classroom have their energies directed to the library where they can make a meaningful contribution to the school as a whole.

The initial in-service training takes 90 minutes and parents are introduced to the library organization, explanations on shelving are given and parents are given guidelines on what to do with damaged books and other commonly encountered problems.  The desk and mobile circulation systems are explained and other projects and service opportunities are introduced.  New parents are then buddied with existing volunteers who provide further training “on the job”.
Parents are also encouraged to team up with close friends or with people who speak the same language as themselves, if they are not comfortable or fluent in English. Depending on their volunteer role and interest, some volunteers also receive training in FollettDestiny (the library system) and are given restricted rights based on what they need to accomplish.

The library makes it clear on the form, and in their talks that the main priority for volunteers is shelving, as this frees up the librarians to spend more time teaching and interacting with the children and transferring their librarian knowledge and expertise.
The creation of a "writing wall"
was a parent volunteer idea

Besides the parents, the High School pupils can also sign up to be library volunteers as part of their service program.  A similar training program is given to them, and they are also encouraged to be ‘book buddies’ with the younger students.

It is emphasized that although this is a volunteer position, the library is counting on the commitment of the volunteers, and should they not be able to come for whatever reason, it is their responsibility to find a replacement, from the list of trained volunteers, to take their place.  Volunteers are also required to commit to a minimum of 3 hours per week on a consistent basis.  The volunteer roster is changed every 3 or 4 months giving new volunteers a chance to join up and also to change around times should situations change or if people are found not to work well with each other (e.g. friends spending too much time chatting rather than volunteering!).  Volunteers are encouraged to be active readers so as to better understand children’s literature, the needs of young readers and the availability of books of different genres and difficulty in the collection.

The types of tasks volunteers do:

Parents assisted with the genrefication
of the picture book collection
Although the primary task is shelving, and with the huge collection the school has this is a very important task, it is acknowledged that it is not the most exciting task and needs to be interspersed with other tasks that may be more stimulating.  For example parents help with include circulation – checking in and out of books either at the check-out desk or using the mobile apps the school have. Parents are also involved in longer term projects such as the current genrefication of the library, pushing books out of the library to classroom libraries, documenting and photographing the puppet and soft-toy collection into a visual album.  Depending on their skills and interest, parents also create displays, help with signage and other graphic design, and help children in the shelves with choosing books, or with occasional story telling and reading.  Annual special events such as the Battle of the Books, the Red Dot Awards, author and illustrator visits and the Readers’ Cup Challenge also provide the opportunity for parents to take ownership of a project and help the library in this way. For example during an author or illustrator visit, the volunteers will manage the ordering process.  Parents also do “shelf-reading” to ensure that books are properly shelved and to check missing or damaged inventory. A new project coming up is the creation and maintenance of a makerspace area, and volunteers will definitely be involved in that.
Sorting and organising special materials

Parents are asked on signup if they have specific skills or preferences, including foreign language skills where they can help with cataloguing, shelving and ordering of LOTE (languages other than English) materials.  Even stay-at-home-parents are catered for!  Parents who want to volunteer but cannot come into the library due to younger children or other difficulties have tasks sent home to them like creating resource lists or checking inventory and creating order spreadsheets from mark-ups in the SLJ or other book reviews.

Potential problems and pitfalls

Occasionally parents may be motivated by less altruistic ideals, and exhibit behaviors such as just assisting their own children in the library, or may have a hidden agenda, such as censoring books in the collection. Kate emphasized that this was extremely rare, but had to be dealt with firmly.  At all times the fact that it is a partnership for the benefit of all children. Most problems can be pre-empted by being clear about expectations during the initial in-service training. Common etiquette things such as not using mobile phones, deferring to the librarians and teachers, not interfering with the class experience, not disciplining or shaming children, maintaining respect and supporting all children are clearly outlined.  The three month volunteer cycle also allows for a review of which volunteers are in which roles and at what times and this can be changed if necessary.

Showing appreciation

The library hosts two parties during the year, one before Christmas and one at year end.  Catering part of the library budget and parents are given small thank-you gifts such as flowers or vouchers for Starbucks or movies, candles and holiday bookmarks.  They are also given first choice in books that are being weeded from the collections.

During the year, the librarians take regular snapshots of the volunteers that are then made into an appreciation video that is shown at year-end, and some photos are put in the annual yearbook.

ALA Book on managing Volunteers
After a tour of the library and seeing some volunteers at work, Kate then very kindly lent me the new ALA book “Managing Library Volunteers” so that I could look through it while I was in the process of setting up our volunteer program at school.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Activity 1: Review an electronic resource for children or young adults or about delivering services to children or young adults

A detailed description of the activity undertaken


The bibliographic tool: EasyBib was reviewed.  This tool is used at UWCSEA-East for secondary students for citation, note taking, research paper organisation, the creation of annotated bibliographies and to teach academic honesty.  The topic of

* Digital materials/resources and emerging technologies

is covered in this post.

Firstly the ease of set up was evaluated followed by the creation of citations in EasyBib.

Ease of Setup:

In order to set up EasyBib, the school's library guide was followed.  Following the slide show step by step, the set up was fairly easy.  It took about 30 minutes, including looking for passwords and access codes.  For a student reasonably familiar with add-ons and chrome (which most of our students should be) this part should not be a problem.


Creation of Citations:

In order to review the citation tool, a few of the most common primary resources used by our students was tested using EasyBib.  For each resource, output was created in the 2 most common citation methods used by the school, namely MLA and APA.  The output was then compared to the citation using Zotero (which I am most familiar with and which was previously used by the school as a citation tool) and both were checked to the MLA and APA guidelines.  The other factor that was looked at included how much additional manual input was required and how "intuitive" manual completion was.


Print book - 

I only needed to input the ISBN and the tool did the rest automatically.

MLA Result EasyBib:
Lipson, Charles. Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles--MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2011. Print.

MLA Result Zotero:
Lipson, Charles. Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles--MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More. 2nd ed. Chicago?; London: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print. Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing.

APA Result EasyBib:
Lipson, C. (2011). Cite right: A quick guide to citation styles--MLA, APA, Chicago, the sciences, professions, and more. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

APA Result Zotero:
Lipson, C. (2011). Cite right: a quick guide to citation styles--MLA, APA, Chicago, the sciences, professions, and more (2nd ed.). Chicago?; London: University of Chicago Press.


All results were comparable, except EasyBib abbreviated University to "U" (which is acceptable) and added "Print" as the format which is correct, further, EasyBib did not state the edition, whereas Zotero did.

Journal Article -

Two different articles were selected and the DOI was input. EasyBib could find neither of the citations (Zotero could find the citation using the DOI only).  Trying "autocite" using the name of the journal also didn't work, so manual input was required. Unlike Zotero, you cannot chose between author full name and separating between Name, Initial and Surname, so copying and pasting the information requires 3 or 4 steps instead of one.


MLA Result EasyBib:
Croll, Theodore P., DDS, and Kevin J. Donly, DDS. "Tooth Bleaching in Children and Teens." Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry 26.3 (2014): 147-50. Web.

MLA Result Zotero: 
Croll, Theodore P., and Kevin J. Donly. “Tooth Bleaching in Children and Teens: Perspectives.” Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry 26.3 (2014): 147–150. CrossRef. Web. 6 Aug. 2014.

APA Result EasyBib:
Croll, T. P., DDS, & Donly, K. J., DDS. (2014). Tooth Bleaching in Children and Teens. Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry, 26(3), 147-150.

APA Result Zotero:
Croll, T. P., & Donly, K. J. (2014). Tooth Bleaching in Children and Teens: Perspectives. Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry, 26(3), 147–150. doi:10.1111/jerd.12108

Since EasyBib has a space for a suffix, and the journal article stated the authors were both DDS, this suffix was included, but this does not appear to be necessary. For MLA, once again, EasyBib correctly includes the format (Web) which Zotero doesn't.

Of the APA results, only the Zotero result is in fact correct and up to date with the latest APA guidelines as it includes the DOI. The lack of EasyBib's ability to extract data from the DOI can be seen as a drawback particularly for older students who use journal articles more frequently.  This may be a result of the fact that EasyBib is only linked with JStor and Proquest.  In order to test this hypothesis, another DOI was tested (from a Proquest related journal), and this resulted in a correct link - and correct citation in both MLA and APA.

APA result EasyBib:
Rey, P. J. (2012). Alienation, Exploitation, and Social Media. American Behavioral Scientist, 56(4), 399-420. doi: 10.1177/0002764211429367

APA result Zotero:
Rey, P. J. (2012). Alienation, Exploitation, and Social Media. American Behavioral Scientist, 56(4), 399–420. doi:10.1177/0002764211429367

MLA result EasyBib:
Rey, P. J. "Alienation, Exploitation, and Social Media." American Behavioral Scientist 56.4 (2012): 399-420. Web. 6 Aug. 2014.

MLA result Zotero
Rey, P. J. “Alienation, Exploitation, and Social Media.” American Behavioral Scientist 56.4 (2012): 399–420. CrossRef. Web. 6 Aug. 2014.

The "CrossRef" item in the Zotero MLA result is not correct, it should state "Web".

Internet resource - 

A considerable amount of information was missing.  In fact the only item that was correct was the URL, and every other piece needed to be found. However, every step of the way EasyBib gave helpful hints as to what information was needed and where the information could be found. A particularly useful feature was the way that the "finished" citation evolved alongside the fill in boxes - the "LearnCite" feature.

MLA Result EasyBib:
Hume-Pratuch, Jeff. "How to Use the New DOI Format in APA Style." APA Style Blog. American Psychological Association, 25 July 2014. Web. 06 Aug. 2014.

MLA Result Zotero:
Hume-Pratuch, Jeff. “APA Style Blog: How to Use the New DOI Format in APA Style.” APA Style Blog. Blog. N.p., 25 July 2014. Web. 6 Aug. 2014.

In this instance, the EasyBib citation is the correct one, mainly as a result of the fact that Zotero doesn't have an entry space for the publisher / owner of the website.

APA Result EasyBib:
Hume-Pratuch, J. (2014, July 25). APA Style Blog: How to Use the New DOI Format in APA Style. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2014/07/how-to-use-the-new-doi-format-in-apa-style.html

APA Result Zotero:
Hume-Pratuch, J. (2014, July 25). How to Use the New DOI Format in APA Style. APA Style Blog. Blog. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2014/07/how-to-use-the-new-doi-format-in-apa-style.html

In this instance neither EasyBib nor Zotero are correct.  According to the APA the correct citation would be:

Hume-Pratuch, J. (2014, July 25). How to Use the New DOI Format in APA Style [Blog post]. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2014/07/how-to-use-the-new-doi-format-in-apa-style.html

2. Answers to the following questions:

What did you learn?

I learnt that despite the appearance of ease and automatic generation, one needs to have a healthy dose of scepticism and the willingness to be familiar with the citation rules and to check results or input against these rules. I also became better informed about DOIs and the limitations of two commonly used citation generators. I also contacted the APA to confirm my understanding of the requirements for citation of websites and Zotero about the apparent failure to comply with either MLA or APA for website referencing. To my surprise both organisations got back to me within a few hours, the APA to confirm and Zotero to say that the error would be fixed and they subsequently sent me the system update request to prove it was being dealt with!  This has also taught me that as a consumer I can approach service organisations and make reasonable requests for change.

How was the activity relevant to your professional practice as a librarian for children or young adults?

In my academic life I use Zotero, so I was not fully comfortable with using EasyBib and not fully aware of its capabilities and limitations. This activity has given me the opportunity to explore these. I can now better serve my student clients and find the information needed for them to manage the citation and referencing needed for their research.

Were any gaps in your knowledge revealed? How might you fill those gaps?

Personally I am very familiar with APA, while most of the school uses MLA, with the exception of IB (International Baccalaureate) students in certain subjects.  This has enabled me to become more familiar with the requirements of MLA and to notice the differences in requirements between the two. I have also found some good resources on both APA and MLA that I can consult when in doubt as to the correct citation form. Creating this blog post, with its complications of formatting has also revealed a huge gap in my ability to create a blog with as good a "look and feel" as I can create in a word document.  Understanding HTML may be my next PD learning experience.

Websites consulted and references:


  • Barnes, D. (2013, February 5). EasyBib Bibliography tool – a student review [Blog post]. i see teach. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://daibarnes.info/blog/easybib-bibliography-tool-a-student-review/
  • Boettiger, C. (2013, June 3). DOI?!= citable [Blog post]. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://www.carlboettiger.info/2013/06/03/DOI-citable.html
  • Burkhardt, A. (2011, July 11). A Tale of Two Citation Tools [Blog]. Information Tyrannosaur. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://andyburkhardt.com/2011/07/11/a-tale-of-two-citation-tools/
  • Croll, T. P., & Donly, K. J. (2014). Tooth Bleaching in Children and Teens: Perspectives. Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry, 26(3), 147–150. doi:10.1111/jerd.12108
  • Griffith, E. (2012, September 27). Abandoned for Years, Web 2.0 Tool EasyBib Is Now a Thriving Business [News Article]. PandoDaily. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://pando.com/2012/09/27/abandoned-for-years-web-2-0-tool-easybib-is-now-a-thriving-business/
  • Hamilton, B. (2012, March 27). Easing Their Citation Pain: Putting the Focus on Critical Thinking in Research with EasyBib [Blog post]. The Unquiet Librarian. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/easing-their-citation-pain-putting-the-focus-on-critical-thinking-in-research-with-easybib/
  • Hamilton, B. (2013, January 14). Get Started with EasyBib - EasyBib 101 - [Library Guide]. LibGuides at Creekview High School. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://www.theunquietlibrary.libguides.com/easybib
  • Hume-Pratuch, J. (2014, July 25). How to Use the New DOI Format in APA Style [Blog post]. APA Style Blog. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2014/07/how-to-use-the-new-doi-format-in-apa-style.html
  • Kessman, J. (2013, October 23). EasyBib Listed as a Great Mobile App to Help Research. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://content.easybib.com/category/product-reviews/#.U-J4woCSyIA
  • Lipson, C. (2011). Cite right: a quick guide to citation styles--MLA, APA, Chicago, the sciences, professions, and more (2nd ed.). Chicago?; London: University of Chicago Press.
  • OWL Purdue University. (2014a, August 4). APA Formatting and Style Guide. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/
  • OWL Purdue University. (2014b, August 4). MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources (Web Publications). Retrieved August 6, 2014, from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/
  • Provenzano, N. (2011, April 18). It’s an Easy Choice! My Review of EasyBib. The Nerdy Teacher. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://www.thenerdyteacher.com/2011/04/its-easy-choice-my-review-of-easybib.html
  • Rey, P. J. (2012). Alienation, Exploitation, and Social Media. American Behavioral Scientist, 56(4), 399–420. doi:10.1177/0002764211429367
  • Teaching Blog Addict. (2011, September). EasyBib: a Free Bibliography Maker [Blog post]. Teaching Blog Addict. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://www.teachingblogaddict.com/2011/09/easybib-free-bibliography-maker.html
  • UWCSEA-East Campus. (n.d.). EasyBib - Citation - LibGuides at United World College of Southeast Asia. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from http://research.uwcsea.edu.sg/c.php?g=33290&p=211365


Friday, 25 July 2014

Helsinki University Library

A few pictures from this beautiful library ... amazingly enough it was very quiet and no echo. I wonder how they do it with the wooden floors and high ceilings?






















Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Paying lip service to information

One of the paragraphs in this week's modules struck me:
"It is often said that we live in an information age, and that the price of failing to act promptly to take advantage of positive new developments or to dampen the impact of negative ones is often likely to be rapid and painful. Yet there is plentiful evidence that sources of information, including both special and public libraries, are under-utilised by those in business and very often seriously underfunded. It is possible to conclude that business (like, one fears, some politicians, local government representatives, university administrators and school principals) is more likely to pay lip service to the importance of good information services than to support them in a practical way." (INF538, Charles Sturt University, 2014)

I think it is something that librarians have to battle with on a daily - if not some days, hourly basis. Yesterday was a case in point. Our library received not one, but two, lengthy requests for materials and resources (mainly really expensive books) to support curriculum.   Oh, but that's a good thing. It's a great thing you may think.  Teachers reaching out to libraries to support their information needs.   Yes.  And no.    You see, the need for information, the seeking of and the request for and the acquisition and dissemination of the same is not so much an "on / off" switch (or email request) as a dialogue.  And what was missing from these interactions was the dialogue.  

An information resource does not exist in a vacuum.  It has a context.  And in a school the context is made up of so many things.  And without the dialogue the quality is likely to suffer.

In our training, a big deal is made of the "information interview"  and there is reason for this.  We need to know details about what the client needs.  This includes the age group and reading and understanding level of the students.  Where the module fits into the curriculum for the year and where it fits into what has come before and what will happen in the next year.   The cultural composition of students.  The teacher needs to know what we have in the library.  What databases we have access to. What ebooks and digital materials are available.   Videos, youtube clips, and libguides we have created.  What other teachers have requested in the same and higher and lower grades.  

This is why the first step and not the last should be to pop into the library and have a quick chat.  That way there is less waste of time while teachers make lists from google or amazon that may be entirely inappropriate, or a duplication for what already exists.

"support them in a practical way" ... what does this mean for an organisation and a library service.  I think more than anything else, is to give it credit as an integral part of the information flow in the library.  Not an add on, but embedded.

And now the chicken and the egg question.  Is it the responsibility of the library / librarian or the administrator?  Where does one start?  How slowly must the process move?  At least one teacher said during a meeting yesterday (adhoc, impromptu and sudden for an 'urgent' reactive need)  "I wish I'd talked to you earlier".    To which we responded by just fitting in with their plans and agreeing to meet their needs.   I can't help thinking about the time management boxes that were so popular a while back with the "urgent, important etc. blocks"   Clearly something structural needs to occur.  But what and how?

Everyone is trying their best. Everyone has time and other pressures.  There never is a steady state.  So how do we become drivers, or at least co-pilots instead of passengers on this trip?

Friday, 31 January 2014

Assignment 3: Evaluative Report

Part 1: Online Learning Journal

A separate tab for the Online Learning Journal (OLJ) was created on my blog: Informative Flights where readings and learning activities were documented throughout the session from 30 October 2013 to 26 January 2014. 

Part 2: Evaluative Report

During the semester many of the learning activities were interesting and eye-opening.  Prior to commencing INF506 I had considered myself to be reasonably experienced in social media personally and considered the library I was working in as similarly "with the times".  I must admit to easily being "wowed" by the newest and latest online tools and gadgets and had previously too easily adopted and (over)-used (Facebook) or dismissed tools (Twitter, Google+).

a) Evaluative Statement:

The three experiences that are highlighted are; Building academic library 2.0Web 2.0 tools in the library and Information Policy: identity, privacy and trust.

In Building the academic library 2.0 the talk of Farkas (2007) made me consider a number of points regarding Web 2.0 in the library.  One of the things I followed up on subsequently was the notion that students use their parents as a first port of call when they need to do research.  Since Farkas is speaking from a tertiary education viewpoint, this is probably even more applicable to secondary schools, which is the environment I work in.  Hoover-Dempsey et al (2005) concluded that schools both enhance and influence parental involvement.   Although the "themes of empowerment" they referred to did not mention the library or research, this is an area where positive reinforcement of involvement in a constructive way could occur, something which is echoed by DePlanty, Coulter-Kern and Duchane (2007) and Hay (2010) who suggest schools align parental participation with what matters to academic success using workshops, brochures and pamphlets and talks with parents. The library is ideally situated to do this, and in fact needs to if parents are expected to "help educators address the information literacy initiative" as Valenza (2003) highlights in her "Letter to Parents about the Internet"

Web 2.0 tools in the library allowed me to critically evaluate the Web 2.0 tools of ASU through the lens of the 4 C's : collaboration, conversation, community and content creation (Mishra, 2009).  Initially I was under the impression of how much they were doing, their consistency and the scope of the tools they were using (Youtube, Facebook, Blog, Twitter, chat etc.).   My conclusion was that they were putting a lot of time and effort into social media, but I wasn't sure of the pay-off.  There was not much two-way communication on any of the tools they were using and no evidence of collaboration, conversation or community.   An argument can be made that various social media channels were being used in order to reach the greatest number of users and that information and marketing was the objective, however Harpointer (2012) and Freud (2010) warn against engaging in social media without understanding the nature of social media and allow dialogue and user-generated content to occur.

The final posting I'd like to evaluate was Information Policy, and that coincided with a media furore about a social media posting here in Singapore.  Unravelling the incident under the rubrics of identity, privacy, security and trust, it became apparent that the concepts of privacy and trust were illusions in the world of social media.  Everything you post "can and will be used against you". In addition postings "live forever" even though one tries to delete them.  The concept of personal identity online versus in person is a very interesting one.   In essence the ideal would be to have congruence between the two identities, the problem comes when one is "a dog" (Pearson, 2009).  In person the less positive attributes are limited to a smaller audience than on social media and personal contact with your "friends" (Young, 2013).  In the workplace, an abrasive personality may be compensated for by limited customer interface or good performance in profitability - on the Internet these compensating factors are eliminated at the less positive aspects highlighted.  Although companies are encouraged to have social media policies governing their employees  (Lasica, n.d.), what employees do in their private capacity on "private" social media can impact organisations adversely.  For this reason Lauby (2009) argues, "employers need to be upfront with employees that they have no right to privacy with respect to social networking".  

Within the school sphere, studies such as Keipi and Oksanen (2012) point to the problems around anonymity and social identity which leads to less social accountability, particularly in the sphere of cyber bullying, aggression and harassment.  These are issues that schools would need to address in their policies, particularly with the movement to one-laptop-per-student and the increased use of smart-phones and other mobile devices. 

b) Reflective Statement

Looking back on the beginning of this semester, my use and experimentation of social media could probably be categorised as random.  As an early adopter of computers and the Internet, I’d grown tired of the “flavour of the month” in social media and was trying out new media without spending the necessary time to understand how to use it properly.  Enrolling in the course coincided with starting work with a very media-savvy librarian, who encouraged me to try out new tools and assisted in shortening the learning curve, which, together with the guidance and instruction offered in INF506 kept me stimulated and experimental. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the course was examining social media under an “academic” lens and thinking about matters such as identity or participation in online groups from a sociological or psychological viewpoint, or personal learning networks from a knowledge management perspective always reflecting back what it means for the library and information sciences (Burkhardt, 2009; Casey and Stephens, 2009) and the individual librarian (Utecht, 2008).

https://flipboard.com/profile/nadinebailey754
Looking back in my module notes, on numerous occasions I’ve scribbled “out of date” or “links no longer working” even though the resources were no more than three years old.  The core learning in such a rapidly evolving field is the ability to differentiate between concepts and ideas, and the materials or tools that they are embodied in at a moment in time (Standage, 2013 reviewed by Shariatmadari, 2013).


http://paper.li/deschatjes/1387886085
        My research project “Comparative analysis of social networking tools and technologies for International School Librarians in Asia” prompted me to evolve further as a social networker in my professional sphere.  Many librarians had responded on the benefits of Twitter and Google+, necessitating professional exploration into the ways in which these tools could be incorporated in my learning network through aggregators such as Paper.li and Flipboard.  Becoming active in both these tools and curating material for librarians and students has been very satisfying as more people access and use these resources.  

However, despite these useful tools, there is still a frustration shared by the librarians canvassed in my research.  On the one hand there are graphically interesting, dynamic, current but ephemeral resources  (Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Paperli) which are constantly refreshed without reference to what is useful in an ongoing manner. On the other hand there are the static collaborative wikis (Wikispaces) which had their hey-day in professional networks around 2006,  but are suffering from neglect and time shortage on the part of their initiators.  There are attempts at social bookmaking using folksonomies (Vander Wal, 2007) with less graphically enticing but practical tools (Delicious, Diigo).  Forums and listservs as social media didn't receive a lot of attention in the course although these appear to be the dominant mode of interaction for many of the professionals surveyed. As a professional and as a researcher I have become more and more interested in knowledge management and how the world of the online social network can be carved out by organisations and individuals to meet their information and learning needs and this is something I would like to explore further.

The concepts of online identity are fascinating and manifold.  Reading around issues relating to identity, trust, privacy and security in social media made me re-examine both my use of social media and that of my family using various tools suggested in the modules.  Professionally the most important take-away for me has been the value of building up your online professional identity as a librarian using your own name as a "brand".

Practically I've learnt much which can be directly beneficial to my work, whether in terms of Website design (Lazaris, 2009; Mathews, 2009) or marketing (Brown, 2009) or how to approach teaching students about the use (and abuse) of Social Media (Valenza, 2009; Stephens, 2011; Lorenzo, 2007) and the creation of a social media policy (Dearnley and Feather, 2001; Lauby, 2009) and strategy (Kagan, 2010).

Finally, the best part of the course was to be afforded the time to systematically explore the world of online social media in all its aspects, to play around with the tools, using and keeping or discarding them according to their relevance or usefulness while still earning academic credit!

I'll end this reflection with the latest Facebook meme - the wonderful "Map of the Internet 1.0" created by Jay Jason Simons - a graphic glimpse of the state of the Internet world in 2014. 

Map of the Internet by Jay Jason Simons @ deviantart.com


References:
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