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Day 4 – Worked 6.25 hours
Total hours thus far: 24.50

Today I had the honor of attending the Scholarly Resources Meeting with all of the subject liaisons. It was really interesting to be a “fly on the wall” and learn about the concerns, projects and future plans. There was a strict agenda for the two hour meeting and I was impressed with how efficiently and quickly they were able to go through the agenda.

Here are a few few major observations:

One of the items on the agenda which I found particularly interesting was the issue of circulating vs. non-circulating reference items. There were a large number of print reference materials that were brought to the annex for storage and then some reference materials were placed in the regular stacks. This was done sometime is the past (perhaps more recently) when the reference stacks were downsized. The discussion was about whether the reference items in the regular collection are circulating or non-circulating. The understanding was that the items would not circulate (even though they are located in the regular stacks with circulating items). What they were finding was that users were confused when bringing the book up to the circulation desk to check it out and not being able to do so. I know I would be confused if a book was in the regular stacks (circulating), but was a non-circulating item. A few people brought up valid points about whether or not the books should be placed back in reference, if they should be labeled non-circulating and then clearly labeled in the catalog as such or whether they should just circulate. A team of 3-4 people was formed to investigate the concern.

I’m really curious to hear about what happens with this concern. My perspective is very user-centered in that I think a collection should be as unified and policies as clear as possible. I think it would be confusing to have a general understanding that in the “regular stacks” everything circulates, but then find out that what you wanted to check out can’t leave the library. I just feel that the purpose of a reference collection is to have resources in a section that stay in the library for everyone to use. Reference collections do not circulate for a certain reason and items in the regular stacks circulate for specific reasons.

Ned Quist, the Head Librarian for Research and Outreach Services, did articulate the overall reference collection philosophy which was to obtain electronic materials as much as possible. I think this philosophy is helpful to students because more people can access the materials at one time and they can access them both in and outside of the library.

I also found one other item on the agenda to be worth writing about. Brown is currently in the middle of revamping their online tutorials. For their guides they currently are using home-grown tutorial templates which look a bit like LibGuides. There were a few librarians who voiced their concern that the current templates were either too narrow or too complex. Overall, the sentiment was that the existing tutorials are not meeting the needs of the librarians or the users. There was also a consensus that LibGuides were way too constricting, which is why they decided to create their own sturcture in the first place. I use LibGuides at URI and it was interesting to hear how unhappy Brown librarians would be with the tool. I think they work really well for URI’s population of users, so I am curious to hear more about why LibGuides aren’t as effective for Brown.

Today I reviewed approximately 30 PRIMO Database tutorials. I was looking for excellence in overall instructional design, ideas for effective assessment, interesting aesthetic choices, as well as any tutorials specifically design about the two topics I am focusing on (ethical of information and evaluation of information). Since the tutorial will be organized in modules, I looked at all the tutorials which were modular just to get some idea of how the modules and sub-modules were organized. Check out my observations here in my PRIMO Tutorials Review posting.

I was also really thrilled to be able to observe Carina’s library instruction session for graduate students in the PRIME program. PRIME stands for “Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship” and is a master’s degree program that helps science and engineering students develop skills in order to succeed in a competitive, technology driven economy. Check out the information page to learn more at: http://www.brown.edu/academics/engineering/prime

I was really impressed with Carina’s handout for the session because it was packed with information, organized and aesthetically pleasing. She had her contact information boxed in the upper corner which I thought was a nice touch and was reminiscent of a good resume. If I remember I can ask Carina for the file so I can add it to the blog for you to see.

A few notes and observations about the session:
1. The business databases and information Carina presented was extremely complex and advanced. I was really impressed with how she presented the information and focused everything for a 30 minute session.

2. Carina had an empathetic focus when presenting and let the students know that she is learning the resources just like they are as she is new to business research. This I think put students at ease because they are not experts yet and the resources could be intimidating for a graduate student who may or may not really have in-depth business research skills.

3. She reminded the students about her contact information and emphasized her willingness to help the students and answer any questions they might have.

4. After learning about PRIME and looking over her handout I was wondering how Carina gauged how much students already know, especially with a diverse group like the PRIME students who may be new to the university. I asked her about this after the session and her answer was that it can be helpful to ask the professor for tips, but sometimes they even aren’t sure where the students are at. She said for this session she tried to focus on their upcoming assignment and try to show them all the resources that would be specific to that assignment and how to use them. I thought this made a lot of sense because if students are at different comfort levels with research, the best approach would be to bring everyone to the same level by focusing on the assignment.

5. The professor was really excellent and chimed in during the session. This was really great because he was emphasizing and supporting Carina as he noted to students that what she was showing in the databases would be exactly what they would need. He also let students know how incredibly expensive the information from the databases is, especially in the corporate world if they were not part of Brown University.

6. Carina focused the most time on the database IBISWorld, which would be the resource used to find most of the information for their upcoming assignment (on ultrasound equipment and the market). I know this seems obvious, but her time management was really great.

7. She tried to be contemporary and reach out to students. She told them that IBISWorld would be a “database that will rock your world.” She also made sure to be gender-neutral and use the term “folks” as opposed to “guys” which is something I know bothers me and I try to avoid when I’m teaching.

8. The only recommendation I had was maybe leaving a longer pause for questions (especially in the beginning of the session). Students didn’t seem to have anything to ask in the beginning, but I know it takes me a little while to process information.

And the last item for this post is: I started to think about the breakdown of Module II: Ethical Use of Information. More on this later, but I’m working on brainstorm and am thinking about the most effective way to break-up the modules into sub-modules.