Two weeks ago, I finished teaching my first set of computer classes at the public library. It was a great learning experience with some frustration, lots of exhilaration and changes along the way.
Computers are challenging devices for people who never grew up with technology and are now trying to catch up with the rest of the world. I admire every single student in my class for deciding to challenge themselves with learning a whole new set of skills. Many of my students are senior citizens who watch their children and grandchildren use computers, smart phones, and other mobile devices with ease. These students are the best students because they are motivated and engaged learners. They are eager to learn how to communicate with their family and friends in the same way as the rest of the world. I learned a number of things in my first series of classes that I hope will help me to improve as I continue to teach this course.
1. Flexibility is key.
You need to adjust your content based on the knowledge level of the group and continually assess if your message is clear to the students.
2. Start with the basics.
I often found myself teaching foundational computer knowledge that I, as a computer generation child, did not even realize needed to be taught. For example, many of my students had no idea what a flashing cursor was or what it meant. I learned quickly how to teach parts of the computer that my mind automatically knows because I grew up using computers.
3. Build confidence.
If a student feels stupid or afraid of the computer, they will not learn. These two feelings are very immobilizing and make it impossible for students to feel comfortable practicing on a computer on their own time. I spent a lot of time building my students up to help them realize that computers are not fragile, that pushing random buttons to see what it does is okay, and that computers are often built in a way that is impractical and difficult to understand. It is not their fault they find computers challenging. By the end of the course, most of my students were much more comfortable navigating on a computer and had a new confidence in exploring areas they never had before.
It is rewarding to work with students who are actively engaged in a topic they are choosing to learn about. I enjoy watching them learning, improve, and help one another to get over hurdles of understanding. They frequently help me to teach by explaining concepts in ways that are much better and clearer than I can with all of my technical terminology and computer knowledge (I try to explain simply, but when you know the word for it, it can be hard not to speak a different language!). I am excited for my Fall courses to start up in September and hope that with adjustments, I am able to help a whole new set of students with the challenges of computers.
Posted in Computers | Tagged computer workshops, reflection | Leave a Comment »
In the public library world, you often wear many many hats. Since I started my job at the MCL, I have learned to describe myself as the resident geek librarian, the computer class librarian, and the YA librarian. I love my hats. I love the diversity in my hats and the chance I have to expand my skills and work with a variety of patrons.
My latest project has been developing teen programs for the fall that will hopefully engage teens and help me to build a relationship with the teen community in the area. I’m super excited for all the programs I have planned and shamelessly talk about them to every teen who steps through the library doors.
I’m a little fearful that my big plans won’t work. I have so many dreams for our teen program that sometimes I realize I need to slow down and focus on first things first before I jump into building a blog and so much more. My goal is to attract teens to the library and from there build a Teen Advisory Board to help promote teen ownership in the library. I love the idea of having teen volunteers build blogs, decorate their space, plan programs, and volunteer as computer tutors for adults. I want to get them involved! But first…I need to get them to the library. Is that the easy or the hard part?
We have already changed around our teen space to make it more appealing with some added posters, creative duct tape decorations and more. I have several teens who are excited to volunteer with the programs in the fall. I think I’ve got a great start…but I’ve never done this sort of thing before…
It is quite a challenge to build a program from the ground up. I guess it means that the only place I can go is up! Right?
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I have the best job title ever. I mean, if you could take the title “librarian” and make it even nerdier, that would be my title. I am the new Information Technology Librarian at Muhlenberg Community Library in Laureldale, PA. My happiness know no bounds. I’ve been working at my new job for approximately a month and a half and love it. I get to play with technology, web sites, ya books, and flyer design all day! It is simply the best of all worlds. I sit in my geeked out office (covered in a Dr. Who poster, a super hero poster, a Tardis pencil holder, and a sonic screwdriver) and smile. Since I finally feel like I’m settling in, I think it is time for me to start posting once again to my nifty difty professional blog that has so sorely been abandoned.
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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about where I personally fit in the library world. When I made the decision to be a librarian, I knew it was perfect for me. I love books. I love people. And I love to organize. That sounds like a very simple definition of a librarian to me. What I didn’t realize was the breadth of job options and opportunities that are available to information specialists. I thought for a long time that the corporate or special library sector was for me. I dreamt of wearing suits to work, being consulted on important business decisions and doing research daily. I’ve found that this job is so NOT for me. Research does not motivate me. Neither does wearing a suit to work every day. No, my passion lies in working in a community of people where I am actively engaged in providing services and programs in a way that meets people’s information needs. I am interested in promoting learning, informational reading and reading for pleasure in grandparents, children, teens, and parents. I want to be able to build a relationship with the community I serve in a way that best benefits the patrons and the library staff. This motivates me and gets me excited. This refills my energy and enthusiasm at the end of day and gets me out of bed in the morning. Customer service is all about knowing your customer and making changes based on the needs of your community.
Posted in Reflection | Tagged community, Librarians, motivation | Leave a Comment »
I love being a librarian. I think one of my favorite things about librarianship is how closely tied it is to education no matter what setting you currently work in. Over the past year at Healthwise, I have worked to roll out a project to digitize our entire collection of citations. During the process of developing this e-Library, I have done numerous trainings with my co-workers in a group and individual setting. I love helping people understand how to best utilitize the tools available to them and believe it is an important step in promoting an empowered, creative workforce. The e-Library project was a huge shift from paper to electronic for an entire team of people at Healthwise. By training my co-workers on the changes to come, I was able to answer concerns early and instill confidence that the changes would improve processes not make them more difficult.
I believe that education is about giving people the tools to face their job, school, or the world with confidence. It is about mentoring people, so that they have the gumption to “go get’em.” Every librarian is an educator in some way whether it is teaching computer classes at the local public library or sitting at a desk with a co-worker demonstrating how to search a database. Education is a key aspect of what we do.
(I was an elementary teacher in my past life. You can blame a class of 4th graders at Kernsville Elementary School in Orefield, PA for my passion for educating.)
Posted in Reflection, Training | Tagged Education, Librarians, Trainings | Leave a Comment »
In December, I decided it was high time to write up a survey to assess patron satisfaction of the new digital e-library we had rolled out over the past 8 months. I wanted to know how people felt about the new processes and how they felt about how the processes were implemented. To tell you the truth, I was a bit intimidated by the idea of creating a survey. I felt the pressure of needing to create a direct, unbiased, short list of questions that answered all that I was looking to learn.
Here is what I learned:
1. 10 questions is not a short/brief survey.
We started with 15 and eventually pared them down to 8 essential questions. Brevity is important in getting people to actually take your survey.
2. Only have 4 possible responses, people will always try to choose the safest answer.
For example, we had several questions in the survey that asked about satisfaction. Our range of answers were: not satisfied, minimally satisfied, satisfied, very satisfied and extremely satisfied. Luckily, we paired these down to four possible answers by removing extremely satisfied, otherwise quite a few people would have chosen satisfied as the easy way out.
3. Open-ended questions are valuable ways to get feedback you don’t specifically ask for.
Overall, I was pleased with the responses we received from our patrons about the new processes. We seem to be doing many things right, but also received valuable feedback on ways the process can be improved. Getting feedback from patrons is so important in learning and growing as a library. As time, technology, and people change, new needs will appear that can only be met if the library is in open communication with its patrons.
Posted in Healthwise, Project Implementation | Tagged patron satisfaction, surveys | Leave a Comment »
I learn something new every week. Here is my latest discovery:
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about using Drupal to develop library websites. My question was, “what’s Drupal?” So, I set out on a mission to find out (via Library Technology Reports). Drupal is a content management system that allows users to develop websites that are:
1. Easier to edit and update.
2. A secure environment with the ability to manage user roles.
3. Provide additional extensions for enhanced use.
The great thing about Drupal is that it is free and provides librarians who have limited knowledge of website coding with an alternative that is much easier to use. However, this is not what I found most exciting.
The Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICFL) uses Drupal to help public libraries throughout Idaho create easy to develop websites via their e-Branch program: http://libraries.idaho.gov/e-branch. It is not a surprise to many librarians that maintaining a website is hard work, especially for small libraries that may only have one professional librarian. In today’s Internet age, it is more important than ever for libraries to have a web presence. Unfortunately, many public libraries do not have the time or resources to pour into their websites. This is where ICFL is helping out Idaho’s public libraries. ICFL has built a base of library sites using Drupal’s multi-site function that allows libraries to create websites easily. What a great service! Here are some participating libraries:
Posted in Technology | Tagged content management system, library technology reports, library websites, public libraries | Leave a Comment »