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October 30, 2013 / Charlie McNabb

Hack Library School Day in the Life: Wednesday

It’s that time again- Hack Library School Day in the Life!  This week, I’m joining dozens of other library school students around the world documenting our lives as students of library science.  For more information about HLSDITL, see the wiki or blog.  I am currently in my final semester of library school, in the San Jose State University online MLIS program.  I am taking a Reference course and working on my capstone project, known as the electronic portfolio or e-portfolio.  In addition, I have a student job at my local university processing archival collections in the Special Collections and University Archives, and have also begun a national job search.

Today, I did more Reference homework, worked on my job interview presentation, and received a piece of good news.  In Reference class this week, the topic is reference services in relation to other administrative units.  I read several articles about cross-training and the push for catalogers and other kinds of librarians to take shifts at the reference desk.  I love the idea.  I think that direct contact with patrons allows librarians great insight into patron search strategies, popular materials and programs, and common complaints.  Catalogers and Web designers in particular are often shut away from patrons, creating information structures that are incredibly well-designed for fellow librarians, but perhaps not super intuitive for the average user.  A shift at the reference desk could uncover minor fixes that could reap great benefits.

And speaking of design with the user in mind, I worked more on my one-shot instructional session today.  I decided to create a PowerPoint presentation to provide some visual stimulus and a textual skeleton for my talk.  I was very careful to follow best practices in learning theory to avoid cognitive overload.  I chose three objectives for the lesson and stated them clearly at the beginning and end and also used “signposts” to indicate where we were at in the session (“first, next, last”).  I also made sure to incorporate images and very minimal text to get multiple processing channels in the brain working, which will give students a better chance of adding the lesson to long-term memory.  And then I had a cartoon-lightbulb idea: I’m going to create a LibGuide to accompany my session!  Although I’m sure the committee won’t look at it, creating multiple means of instruction is very important, in order to reach different kinds of learners.  Having an asynchronous guide on a webpage means that students can go back again and again to read tips and learn at their own pace.  As an emerging instructional librarian, I certainly plan on making my lessons accessible in more than one way, and creating tutorials for topics that are commonly required (such as citation) is good practice.  I’ll provide a link to this LibGuide in the “more resources” section of my presentation, and even if nobody looks at it, it will be great practice for me in becoming proficient with this neat interface.

Finally, I received word this evening that my e-portfolio passed without revisions!  What a relief to be finished with my culminating project so early in the semester.  I’m very pleased because that means I’ll have more time to dedicate to the Reference class and to job searching.  And… maybe even some pleasure reading?  I also got another piece of good news today: my hold on a certain Song of Ice and Fire tome just came in!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Halloween edition of spooky library school homework!


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