Presenters: Jeanne Holba Puacz (University of Illinois) and Lynn Westbrook (University of Texas)

So I’m not sure I understood what this session was going to be about. I thought it was about how to educate librarians, but apparently, I was way off.

Keeping Up To Date with Technology – Jeanne Holba Puacz

Technology changes so quickly that even people who receive technology education in school still need to continue learning.

Seminars, conferences and others are more popular than taking full-semester courses, even though travel is so expensive. Distance education and online conferences are still not super popular because many people are skeptical of learning online.

Jeanne has been surveying and talking to colleagues in libraries to find out how they keep up with technology. She says that most people feel like they have a hard time keeping up and are always looking for the most economical, quickest and most effective way to keep up.

She argues that it is our responsibility to keep up with technology so that we can be the go-to people for our patrons. If we don’t make ourselves available to our patrons on their terms in their world, we will become irrelevant.

A positive attitude will improve the likelihood of a successful technology implementation.

What is keeping librarians from keeping up with technology? Not enough time or money.

How can we keep up with technology when time and money are at a premium?

1. Go back to school. Take college and graduate-level classes in library science, computer science, management, etc. Lots of Many Universities and state library associations offer trainings that usually cost less money.

2. See what life’s like on the other side. If you teach a topic to someone else, you will be forced to learn it well.

3. Read up on it. Read books, magazines, professional journals, technology trade magazines. Find authors you like and then keep up with what those people are writing. It’s a good way to know what’s HOT in the profession.

4. Get by with a little help from your friends. Learn from colleagues, work-study students, IT folks, etc. You can learn about what patrons are using in terms of technology. Read blogs and see what your colleagues are doing.

5. Howdy partner. If a patron is asking you about a new technology you don’t know much about, partner up and look up things together. Don’t just say, “I don’t know.”

6. Conference call. Go to conferences. The formal presentations are useful, but the networking is also great. Talk to conference speakers you admire and to vendors whose technology you’re interested in. If you can’t go, read the blogs that are covering the conference.

7. Create a monster. Just play with technology and see what

8. Information room service Use RSS, digests, and news alerts to have information sent to you in order to avoid information overload.

9. Filter. Focus only on the things you’re interested in or are useful in your library. You don’t have to keep up with everything.

10. No thanks, just browsing. You can browse new technologies without committing. Lots of technologies have free trials and you can also visit libraries that have implemented technologies already to see how they’re using it.

11. You wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. Don’t wait for someone to teach you technology. You need to take responsibility for your own learning.

Second Generation Training for Digital Reference with Lynn Westbrook

My mind is still reeling wondering what any of this had to do with the education of librarians. It was more like a very fluffy (as opposed to concrete) training session on how to do a reference interview than anything else.

We need to keep up with HCI, distance learning, social network theory, cognitive psychology and other sister fields when doing virtual reference.

Scaffolding: start with where they are, move to where they need to be.

Reference Interview

1. Opening – why did the patron come to you? What is their expectation of the interaction?
2. Establishing need and user state – setting realistic expectations while developing a connection and mutual respect. Work from where the patron is.
3. Confirm and clarify the question – restate the question, make sure you know what the patron really needs. Build their sense of self-efficacy.
4. Conduct the search – avoid the data dump (creates information overload). Be ready to edit, condense, segment information. Give them what they want. Help them learn that they can do this too, increase their sense of self-efficacy.
5. Answer the question – at some point we have to stop searching. Stopping ruels – many people have to see the same answer three times before stopping.
6. Make sense of the answer – help them to process the information they are given.
7. Close the interview – patrons need closure.

She says it’s important to give your name when you do virtual reference in order to make a personal connection and to offer yourself for follow-up questions.

How is this about education of librarians? It’s educational, but it’s more about providing a good reference interview using knowledge of cognitive psychology. I definitely came out regretting not going to Lorcan Dempsey or Alane Wilson’s talks. 🙁