Friday, July 31, 2009

IST 612 Reflections

I just completed IST 612 - Youth Services and Libraries and Information Centers at S.U. This was another 5 day residency in the M.S.L.I.S. Program. Although I am extremely tired, I did enjoy the class very much. Professor Wall, despite constant questions and requests for syllabus clarifications, was extremely patient and flexible. She wanted to ensure that everyone understood the assignments and had the information about libraries they wanted. Even though I have worked in elementary libraries for many years, I came away from this class with gained knowledge.

The 200 book annotations and core collection assignment was long, but I did enjoy creating my "own" library. Despite my typical nerves, the booktalking was fun to do. It was different doing them for my peers instead of the younger students that I am used to. I will be finishing my assignments in a few days and will be looking forward to a few weeks off before the fall semester begins.

Being a "newbie" (a first year student), I was glad that I was able to meet some second year students in this class. Their advice and support was invaluable - after all, many of them were experiencing this same overwhelming feeling that many of us newbies are feeling after an intense weekend and week of "boot camp." Knowing that they did indeed get through this, and seeing their wealth of knowledge, it gives me hope that I will also be able to persevere.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New class starts tomorrow!

Where does the weekend go? If there was ever two days in the week that just fly by, it has to be Saturday and Sunday. I tried to relax a little bit this weekend and unwind after seven straight days of classes. Today it was time to shift focus onto the upcoming class this week - IST 612 - Youth Services in Libraries and Information Centers.

Although there has been a lot of classwork that was necessary to complete (or at least get a good start on), there will still be assignments to refine and complete as the week progresses. I do feel a little bit more comfortable with these class assignments than I did for last week's classes. I'm sure that it helps that I have worked in elementary school libraries for the past 14 years! I'm certain there will be additional information learned in this class - things that I can put into place immediately when I return to my library in September.

One of the assignments was to create a library collection of 200 items. It would seem that this would be an easy thing to do. I thought so until I started working on it. I have added, deleted, and tweaked this collection more times than I care to count - and I'm fairly confident that I'll be making further changes before the end of the week.

Booktalking is another assignment required. This I am looking forward to - I've actually brought some great props to use, including a ladybug cape that I made.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fifth Day - IST 511/Course Reflections

The last morning of class, we learned about the S.U. Writing Center and the services they provide to assist students with their writing assignments. This service can be utilized via email or instant messenger which is a great help to distance students. Dr. Nicholson also lectured on the importance of professional communication. As much as this may seem like common sense, it's important to always communicate in a professional manner in all forms of communication, whether it might be an instant message, an email, or a formal presentation.

The afternoon was the group poster presentations in Bird Library. This was the first time that I had participated in a poster session. My group's topic was the issue of restricting or not restricting access to library materials in a public school library. We researched both sides of the conundrum, cited facts for each side of the issue, and created a visual display board. We also prepared a pamphlet for people to take away from the session that provided an overview of our topic and a reference list for more information. As Dr. Nicholson mentioned earlier in the week, "a poster session is kind of like a science fair for adults."

Despite the fatiguing week, there was a plethora of information presented in this introductory class that is still rattling around in my brain as I continue to process it, think more closely about it, and realize how I will be able to utilize this information, not only in future classes, but in the years to come as I will try to represent myself well in my role as a professional librarian. I was able to realize my weak points and understand that I will have to strive to improve on them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fourth Day - IST 511

Today's focus was on intellectual freedom, ethics, and privacy issues for librarianship. I believe that these are the foundation of what libraries represent and what is guaranteed to every citizen in our Declaration of Independence. The American Library Association outlines these beliefs in their Core of Librarianship, Code of Ethics, and Library Bill of Rights. These can be accessed at from the Office of Intellectual Freedom, a division of ALA.

Adina Mulliken, a reference librarian from S. U. spent a few minutes talking about web accessibility for people with disabilities. She provided us with a handout with websites to check out. I did not realize the availability of a website checker that can show a webpage's accessibility by revealing embedded icons on the page. This can help determine if a website would provide obstacles for people with disabilities that wished to view the site. This WAVE accessibility checker can be accessed at

Since I will be working in school libraries, I was happy to hear from a school media specialist today who talked about her library space and the challenges she is facing in a different school district that provides her with a lower budget than the district where she used to work. Tomorrow we will also be having a panel of school librarians to talk in more detail about their facet of librarianship.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Third Day - IST 511

Phew! Today was a very busy day! We had an overview of library systems (which was a review for me) before we had a panel of five librarians from different libraries speak about their experience in libraries. One of the librarians was from Polaris (a library vendor, especially for public libraries).

In the afternoon, we learned the history of books and their progression over time. Professor Lavender showed us some rare books starting with a cuneiform tablet that was 4,000 years old. Next, we saw a section of papyrus that was about 2,000 years old. These were very interesting to see. There were many more old books that we saw that each had unique qualities. I particularly liked the the first "moveable" book written in 1544 and the book that had four edge watercolor paintings on them. It was very evident that Professor Lavender has a passion for his work with these rare items. It was great to have this "insider" look into a small portion of the great collection of rare books that S.U. maintains in this special collection.

Time spent in the Preservation and Conservation Departments was fascinating. Both Peter Verheyen and David Stokoe did a great job informing us about the important roles these departments play in both the repairing and conservation aspects of the materials in the S.U. collection. Patience is key here as this work is very meticulous. I know that this would not be my forte, yet I have gained a new respect and appreciation for these processes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Second Day - IST 511

Today’s class provided a look into a very controversial area in librarianship – copyright and intellectual property. Although copyright was developed for the protection of one’s intellectual property, the law does provide for certain uses. One of these is the Fair Use principle and another is material that is in the Public Domain. A good place to learn more about copyright is through the website of the U.S. Copyright Office sponsored by the Library of Congress.

I had not heard of Creative Commons before this class. According to their website,, (accessed 7/21/09), “Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that increases sharing and improves collaborations.” This site allows you to find licensed works to use as well as the opportunity to give creative commons licensing to your own materials.

We had introductions to many of the online databases at S.U. Besides looking at different ways of searching effectively, we also had the opportunity to explore the library's beta site and the changes that it will bring. I think this new site will be easier to use and is more visually appealing.

Like yesterday, we had two S.U. alums from the MSLIS program who are practicing librarians in academic and special libraries. Their career paths were amazing to me in the fact that they both kept their career options open by researching what was available to them and being aware of the evolving library world around them. They both stressed the importance of being an integral team member in their respective libraries.

I made a connection with John Schuster, from the Morrisville State College Library. He spoke of a prior job in his career – working for Mandarin Library Systems. John had actually worked to automate the library catalog at the public school where I was working. I was amazed at his knowledge then of library systems and continue to be impressed with his career. His library website has just undergone a facelift a few months ago. Check it out at

Monday, July 20, 2009

First Day - IST 511

This class is an introduction to the library and information profession. During the lecture, we learned some differences between library science and information science.

After an overview of the history of libraries and the different types of libraries, we had two public librarians, S.U. alumni, discuss their roles and responsibilities as public librarians. The one commonality that really stuck with me was the diversity of customer base, demographics, and responsibilities that these ladies encounter on a daily basis. Public libraries are available to serve the entire population, from the youngest to the oldest citizens and must be equipped to serve all of them. Issues that are faced are also very diverse, from the latchkey child who is left in the library for hours on end, to the homeless who seek shelter within the library's walls, to the young child who comes for storytime, they are all part of the library's responsibility.

The day ended with an introduction to online and database searching. I learned that it is very important not only to use the right query when searching , but also the importance of using the right tool for the search. Knowing what is included in databases is important because each one indexes items differently. Surprisingly, the search engine Google indexes only about 10% of the information on the Internet. The Invisible Web can be a better way to aid in Internet searches.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

IST 601

I just completed my first course yesterday at Syracuse University in my journey towards my MSLIS degree. Although it was an intense 2 day course, there were many things that I will be able to take with me and use throughout my career as a school librarian.

We explored the dynamics of organizations, especially culture and the way things are viewed by an organization's internal stakeholders - their employees. Many times this view is not favorable, but change can happen. Using the innovation process, root problems can be identified, ideas and proposals for change can be implemented, and a gradual, successful change can happen.

In class, we were assigned to a group and given a task to develop an innovative solution to a problem to complete in a relatively short amount of time, ending with a PowerPoint presentation. Timewise, we had from about 4 PM on Saturday until 9:30 Sunday morning to meet with our groups, come up with a problem and develop an innovative solution. We had to substantiate our solution with research. I learned that working in a group is an important skill to develop and one that despite challenges can yield rewarding results upon successful completion.

I intend to absorb and utilize as much information as I can while completing my Master's Degree at S.U. - there is so much available in this program.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Residency, Here I Come!

After several weeks of readings, assignments, and preparations, the time has come for the residency portion of my initial classes in the MLIS - School Library specialization program at Syracuse University. I will be on campus for my first three classes - IST 601, IST 511, and IST 612. I have learned a lot so far, and am eager to continue learning as much as I can. Personally, I'm fairly amazed that I have created this blog!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Portable MLIS - Chapter 15

Chapter 15 – Research by Ron Powell

In this chapter Powell explains the different types of research that librarians and libraries undertake in their quest to find out information such as their customer base, library programs, effectiveness of library personnel, and statistical data. Information garnered from this research can be quantitative or qualitative. One of Powell's statements early in the chapter caught my attention. Evaluative research can “assess the quality and effectiveness of their organization's resources and services.” (p. 170)

I think it is important to constantly evaluate library programs and performance. Throughout the year in my primary school library, I keep detailed statistics of all library programs, and circulation and interlibrary loans. At the end of the year, I compile my evaluations and statistics into a multi-page report that I submit to my building administrator. My first grade reading program results outline the number of participants, the number of books read, and the average number of books read per student. Teachers use these results to place in the students' permanent school portfolio. I also keep statistics on a family reading program that I run each month. I keep participation percentages for each grade level to see where or when I might need to encourage this program if necessary. As an incentive, I can offer additional free paperback books to give away to participants.

Organization for the report is important as well. I make sure that it is visually appealing and includes pictures taken throughout the year. I evaluate the results to help determine if programs are working effectively. A collection analysis is always part of my report. This I run through Follett Library Resources ( This is a great tool to evaluate age of the collection, outdated items, and number of items in each Dewey class.

Another item that Powell stated was the necessity for library professionals to evaluate research results in the library profession even if it doesn't involve their own library (pp176-177). Ways to do this include regularly reading professional journals and participating in conferences. I religiously read School Library Journal because not only does it give me recommendations for collection development, but it keeps me abreast of happenings in the world of school libraries. One of the more powerful, thought-provoking conferences I attended was in June 2008 when Dr. Ruth Small (SU professor) presented “Designing Digital Literacy Programs with IM-PACT” at my BOCES end of year symposium.

Lastly, I was surprised by the percentage (less than 40%) of LIS programs Powell claims offer a research methods course (p. 177). As I look through the MSLIS courses required by SU, I do not see “Research Methods” in a title of a class but as far as I can tell, this topic is integrated into several different classes.

Powell, Ron, (2008). Research. In Haycock, Ken & Sheldon, Brooke E. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts (pp. 168-178). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

The Portable MLIS - Chapter 14

Chapter 14 – Readers Advisory Services: How to Help Users Find a “Good Book” by Mary K. Chelton

Chelton discusses some of the challenges librarians who provide readers advisory service face. Certainly knowing your customer goes a long way in being able to help find reading material they are looking for. It is important to ask enough questions to hone in on what type of reading material is being requested. Are they looking for a fiction or nonfiction read? Do they want a book by an author they have read before? What genre or format are they looking for? As librarians become more familiar with their customers, this task should become easier. What greater satisfaction than being able to suggest books to a customer – books you know they will love!

In a school library, librarians get a chance to know their students more intimately than in a public library. This helps in collection development and readers advisory because you get to know the authors, genre, and subject matter they enjoy reading. Since I work in a primary school library and know my students, I am able to order books I know students will enjoy reading. They are so excited when a new book arrives and I have saved it for them to read first.
Displays and merchandising are great ways to promote books in the library. It is difficult for young students to find books in the library. Just think about it – most of the books are shelved so that only the book's spine is visible. I try to put as many books as I can on display face out so that students can see the cover and the title better. Displays on top of bookshelves, in a library window, by the circulation desk, or on low tables work well. Theme displays are particularly useful. For example, if I know that a grade level is studying the solar system, mammals, or weather, I capitalize on that and create visually stimulating displays that include stuffed animals, objects and of course books on those subjects. I always know how well I am doing by noticing how many books have been signed out.

Chelton talks about the use of the online reference database NoveList. (p. 160) You can access this database at There are readers advisory suggestions here as well as online newsletters that you can subscribe to – I highly recommend these, by the way. This is a subscription database, so to gain the full benefits of this source I would check with your public library to see if they are a subscriber. The search feature is wonderful and limiters allow you to narrow your search effectively. Under the “Readers Advisory” tab are newsletters, fiction checklists, book display ideas, training, bookmark templates, and marketing tools to name a few. While perusing the site I came upon “What Mary K. Chelton Read in June 2009.”

Chelton, Mary K., (2008). Readers Advisory Services: How to help users find a “Good Book.” In Haycock, Ken & Sheldon, Brooke E. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts (pp. 159-167). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

NoveList, Accessed 7/1/09

“What Mary K. Chelton Read in June 2009.” Accessed 7/1/09.

The Portable MLIS - Chapter 11

Chapter 11 – Information Retrieval: Designing, Querying, and Evaluating Information Systems by Judith Weedman

This chapter talks about the importance of finding information. Library professionals need to know how to find information – not only for themselves but perhaps more importantly, for their patrons. The understanding of databases and search engines are key. Each database contains information gathered from different sources and has different ways to access that information. Internet searches uses search and metasearch engines driven by algorithm formulas.

I had never stopped to think about the algorithms that are developed (thankfully by people other than myself) that work to retrieve data based on how closely the search terms match and are relevant to the search. Our searching assignment for class provided us an opportunity to explore several different databases full of information. Unless we knew how to narrow searches by using Boolean search logic and adding limiters to searches, we ended up with so much information that it was difficult, if not impossible, to wade through to find the information we sought.

Searching for information I need from either the Internet or a subscription database has always been somewhat challenging for me. Weedman's discussion about the basics of how information is organized and designed made a lot of sense. I was particularly drawn to her mantra “how you store it determines how you can retrieve it.” (p. 115) It reminded me of the old saying “garbage in, garbage out.” I can only hope that as I go through my studies and use databases and the Internet more for research, I will learn more about how using the best search terms and having an understanding of the database itself will lend to more rewarding searches. This is a skill that will be learned with practice and I intend to practice as much as I can!

Weedman, Judith., (2008). Reflections on creating information service collections. In Haycock, Ken & Sheldon, Brooke E. (Eds.), The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts (pp. 112-126). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wikipedia Reflection

I decided to check out the Wikipedia entry for the town I live in – Greene, New York. The information seemed accurate to me as I read through the history, geography, and demographics sections. Census information was as of 2000, so that will need to be updated when a new census becomes available. Greene is home to several notable businesses although I noticed that there were only 2 listed – The Raymond Corporation and the Chenango River Theatre. I decided to add one more business to the list. Baron’s Inn is a restaurant that has been operating in Greene for at least 45 years. I know that this is true because I used to go to this restaurant with my parents when I was a child.

I was surprised at how easy it was to edit this posting and add Baron’s Inn to the list of notable businesses. Once I created an account and logged in with a user name and password, I could change or add whatever information I wanted to. When you use the Google search engine to look for Greene New York, this Wikipedia entry is ranked # 4. I hope people who use Wikipedia realize that the information contained on its site may or may not be accurate.,_New_York