Librarian Relief Fund From VLA

Photo by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region on Flickr

The Vermont Library Association is launching the Librarian Relief Fund to assist librarians who suffered personal property damages as a result of Hurricane Irene. You’ve likely seen the devastation on the news. What you don’t always see though is the extremely long, labor intensive process of cleaning up after something like this. It’ll take people in these communities a long time to get “back to normal.”

A lot of folks did not have flood insurance, and people are going to need support above what federal and state agencies can offer. If you feel inclined to help a librarian in need, please consider making a donation or sharing this post. You can donate online here, or you can mail a contribution to:

Vermont Library Association | Attn: Librarian Relief Fund | P.O. Box 803 | Burlington, VT 05402


A Place To Practice Lifelong Learning

student studying among the stacks

photo by Tulane Public Relations on Flickr

The classroom is a wonderful environment. I truly enjoy teaching students in the classroom and I loved taking classes. That is the principal place we think of where learning takes place. But the sort of learning that takes place there is facilitated. It is instructor directed and mediated. As educators though, both professors and librarians, we’re trying to help students become lifelong learners. This means gaining the ability to learn outside a classroom environment as well.

This is why the library is such a perfect place. It’s a place where students can struggle with assigned readings before class. It’s a place where they can go after class to reflect on things that were discussed, or debate the concepts with friends or classmates. It’s a place where students can work on a project or paper and focus on what they find interesting and follow research paths that speak to them. It’s a place where students can go to learn with and from one another.

If the classroom is a space dedicated to instructor facilitated learning, the library is a space dedicated to self-directed learning. The library is the place where the rubber meets the road learning-wise. It’s a place where failure happens, but also discovery. There’s a lot of trial and error, but also many insights. Students get to take concepts they learned about in class, examine them and then either reject them or build on them in the library. It’s a lab for testing out ideas or digging deeply into a subject of interest.

Sure, self-directed learning happens all sorts of places: the dorm, student unions, coffee shops. But the library purposely creates an environment where they can practice being a lifelong learner. There are quiet areas — carrels, cages, nooks — for solitary reflection and concentration. There are louder areas for students who prefer a buzz in the air in order to get work done. There are group meeting rooms and spaces for collaborative and team-based learning to take place. And there friendly experts available when students get hung up and need a little encouragement or a nudge in the right direction.

To create lifelong learners there of course need to be classrooms, but students won’t always have classes and professors to direct their learning. Ultimately they need to figure out how to learn on their own. The library is a space to facilitate that endeavor. The library is where students shape themselves into lifelong learners.


5 Best Videos for Library Instruction

The teaching librarians here are gearing up for another semester of classes which begin next week. In some of the classes we do, we like to use different sorts of media and technology for teaching. We’ve been looking at videos for several of our classes and I’m always surprised with the interesting videos that other the librarians find. Here are five of my favorite videos for information literacy instruction that I’ve seen over the years.

Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles”

We’re using this for the first time this year as an introduction to using Google, the information landscape and getting students to question the gaps in their information. I’m really excited for this session and discussion.

Bing Commercial 2011 – Supermarket Food Fight (Animal House)

This one is quick, funny and would be perfect for a discussion either about search engines or more specifically on keywords and how a word can be interpreted a lot of different ways.

Obama Clinton Texas Debate Plagiarism “Silly Season”& Xerox

We’ve used this video for several years in a class about plagiarism and the ethical use of information. It works really great because it is a debate and it is not completely clear if it is plagiarism or not. It effectively demonstrates that there is a lot of grey areas in plagiarism. It’s a little dated, but still gets the message across well.

Jordan Paris – Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Comedian Scandal – Today Tonight Interview: Plagiarism

This is another great example of plagiarism. Though not as grey as the other, this one better depicts the consequences of stealing others ideas and passing them off as your own original material. Depending on your lesson, this one could work well for your class.

Et Plagieringseventyr

This is one of the most well produced videos on plagiarism I have ever seen. It’s from the University of Bergen in Norway so you’ll need to turn the closed captions on, and it could be a slightly risque for some American audiences. It could be a good, fun opening to a session on plagiarism though…and there’s a musical number.

I’m always looking for new ideas and I’d love to hear what other folks like to use in their classes. What are some of your favorite videos to use in the classroom for information literacy instruction?