In the Spring 2016 semester, I took on the task of “renovating” D’Amour Library’s Information Literacy libguide aimed toward faculty. The library had recently moved to Libguides 2.0, and a total university website revamp gave us a reason to evaluate the library’s web presence. It seemed like an opportune time to revisit this guide, which had grown large and unmanageable over time (as Libguides tend to do).
My main objective with the revamp was to take the good things the guide had to offer and streamline them to make the page more usable, and even more importantly more appealing, to the faculty visiting it. Having 13 tabs with often repeating content wasn’t cutting it. Working off of principles from Jason Puckett’s Modern Pathfinders: Creating Better Research Guides, I added simple images, reworked jargon and language, clustered like information, added context to any links, and removed instances of over-informing. The statistics provided by Libguides proved useful as well; knowing that our page on creating innovative research assignments was by far the one faculty most frequently visited was instrumental for making decisions about content to prioritize. I believe the final product highlights the best of D’Amour’s IL instruction program and makes the concept more approachable and less overwhelming to non-librarians.
After the first year at WNE, whether or not students get additional info lit instruction issolely up to the discretion of their individual professors. I wanted to provide channels through which all students could get extra guidance from the library if they wanted to. I also wanted to put the library on the map as a place of learning for faculty and staff as well and felt the library had a lot to offer this population of patrons. Thus Do More at D’Amour was born. I created a series of workshops modeled of the SkillfUL technology workshops at UNC as well as the comprehensive suite of research and technology workshops offered at UIUC. The goal was to form “a series of workshops designed to help students, faculty, and staff explore new technologies in conjunction with resources and services at D’Amour Library. Through sessions on technology tools and research strategies, the program aims to empower members of the university community to make the most of the learning opportunities offered at Western New England University” (from D’Amour website).
The weekly series was my pet project for the Spring 2016 semester, and it kept me busy with planning, organizing, promoting, and teaching. From taking on this project I became more confident in my project management skills; coordinating a large number of moving parts required a good deal of time management and communication between myself and my colleagues both in and outside the library. I even got an opportunity to work with Student Disabilities Services and bring a representative in to talk about a study tool that can be an asset for all students, which was a great experience. Though I am leaving this position at WNE in mid-June, the series has support from my colleagues and should continue on. I’m lucky to have had the support of my supervisor and coworkers in making the series a reality. It wasn’t a perfect first semester, but I think it certainly has room to grow into something truly valuable for almost everyone at Western New England University.
D’Amour library sends out a newsletter to Western New England University faculty and staff once or twice a year to share what we’ve been working on. The job of coordinating and editing the newsletter went to me (though my director graciously let me postpone that task until the end of my first semester in the position to let me acclimate a little). As editor, I brainstormed story ideas and solicited more from others, called for writers and assigned stories, contributed to the newsletter myself, set the layout, and coordinated printing and distribution of the final product. This was the first full-color edition of the D’Amour Newsline, and I received a ton of positive feedback from many WNE employees. See a PDF of the Spring 2016 newsletter here.
This was really my first taste of project management, and I found myself actually enjoying the process. Delegating tasks is something I’ve been uncomfortable with in the past, but realizing that my colleagues had greater institutional knowledge as well as strengths complementary to mine really helped me feel good about letting go of the reins and serving primarily as a facilitator of other peoples’ ideas. Setting deadlines and keeping everyone to them (including myself) and making sure everything was where it needed to be down to the last detail was like a fun puzzle to solve. Though a relatively small project, through taking this on I developed some organization and leadership skills that I’m sure will come in handy in the future.
The Bob videos explain key concepts of research and information literacy and are designed to be used by library instructors to set the stage for further learning within a lesson. What sets these videos apart is their narrative, storytelling approach and their conceptual, rather than procedural, content. While many research tutorials discuss research as simply a series of steps to be completed, the Bob videos set out to set straight misconceptions and talk about the bigger picture of research. And they’re done in a typical “explainer video” fashion–informative, yet pretty entertaining.
While I can’t take credit for the premise of these videos–all of that goes to Julia Feerrar, another Undergrad Library alum–I did get to flex my creative + info lit muscles yet again when I was passed the torch once Julia graduated. Scripting was a joint effort between me and my supervisor Jonathan McMichael, visuals were done by me in Prezi with some handmade images from Adobe Illustrator, narration was by Jonathan, and I put it all together in iMovie. These videos were made completely from scratch, and I picked up a bunch of technical skills from this project–not to mention a new appreciation for all of the work that goes into creating even a 3-minute video and how economical one has to be with words in that short amount of time.
Watch all of the Bob videos here (under Research Basics). I worked on Starting Your Search in the Right Place and Recognizing the Potential in Your Search Results.
As my master’s thesis for UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Sciences, I undertook a project to examine ways to make lesson design more approachable for new library instructors. I adapted Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design (UbD) to create a lesson design template customized to the needs of library instructors for UNC’s Undergraduate Library, who teach information literacy sessions for the university’s first-year writing program. I designed documentation for the Information Literacy by Design (ILbD) template that provided opportunities for instructors to read more about core principles of UbD as well as see the template in action as real lesson plans. You can visit the project here and read more about the rationale and process behind creating ILbD here.
This is the project that keeps on giving! my thesis advisor and I presented on ILbD and its particular utility for untangling the ACRL Framework at the LOEX 2015 Fall Focus, and we’re hoping to publish in the near future. Over a year later, ILbD is still used to supplement the instruction training of developing info lit instructors at the UL, and it played a part in the development of another student’s master’s thesis. It has also been adapted by other institutions; ILbD comprises a part of the St. Mary’s College of Maryland IL Instruction Toolkit.
One of the projects I worked on for UNC’s Undergraduate Library in summer 2014 was this infographic to display alongside University Library materials during student orientation fairs.
My original idea for the infographic was to point out some of the top resources the libraries have to offer, but after speaking with my then-supervisor decided to go with a more evidence-based approach that discusses the outcomes of using library resources in general. I’m happy with the turn the project took. Students know what the library contains, and if they don’t initially know about everything they can get from the library, it’s likely that they’ll learn about our resources over time. What students don’t know, though, is why they should use the library’s resources in the first place.
Giving real data and statistics legitimizes library use, and delivering that information in an attractive way brought a good amount of attention to the University Libraries’ booth and the part the library plays in student achievement. While I’m by no means an expert in creating infographics (and even today, a couple of years later, I definitely see some things that could stand some improvement), this project boosted my confidence in my ability to combine the practical and the creative–something I strive to do in my work, and particularly in my instruction. It also (quite flatteringly!) branded me as one of the go-to staff members at the UL for any class or individual wanting a lesson on creating impactful infographics.
The Reference Challenge of the Week provides a physical and virtual space for UNC Chapel Hill students to submit their craziest, most bizarro questions (like Q: Why is it that sometimes if I think about a particular word too long or say it too many times in a row, it stops sounding correct (and I start questioning my sanity)?) and have them answered, seriously and with proper references, by Undergraduate Library graduate assistants and librarians. It’s a way for the UL to show the transferable nature of info lit skills in the real world, and it provided an authentic way for LIS students to hone their reference skills.
This was a really fun project that just sort of came together because a few people were interested in making it happen. Working in that team gave me an opportunity to write my first formal project proposal for admin approval, think pragmatically about library as space (e.g. where the heck do we place the display??), and mix two of my greatest loves: creative writing and research. You can check out one of my pieces here.