Let the Reading Begin

New long term project!  I’ve decided to take on one of the most ambitious things I could think of, given my time constraints.  Over the course of the Fall semester, Winter break and (most likely) early Spring semester, I will be conducting a literature review.  Of what, well, that has yet to be fully defined.  I’ve started a cursory review of one general topic, brain changes associated with online learning/computer-assisted instruction and their implications.  Time and exposure will most likely craft the topic into unknown territory.

I admit I have a horrible track record of starting to blog about my long term, non-work-related projects.  At this point I can only say that I will try better than I have in the past!  As I begin to review articles (mostly), books (somewhat), and other sources (you never know in this day and age), I aim to blog my initial evaluations about outstanding sources.

Let the fun begin!

Changing Tides

Wow, it’s been forever since I’ve posted.  I certainly hope to start posting a bit more regularly, but my plans have changed so often.  Last year I had major plans to visit and tour different libraries throughout Chicago.  Sounds like a great idea, but my change in employment pushed that idea out the window.

Anyway, I hope to start writing again.  (I also hope to not use the word “change” so often in future posts.)

Update Before Summer

Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted! Spring semester has been hectic- but invigorating- as I wrap up my final semester here at the College of Dupage.  I must say that the adage that job hunting is a job in itself is certainly true.  Time was scarce this semester, but the summer is looking good.

So what am I planning for the summer?  Lots!

Summer Project 2010 (unofficial title):

Now that I have a bit more time, I want to start exploring library instruction and public service in new ways.  I’m still formulating my plans, but I hope to speak in more detail here in the near future.  Keep posted for news…

Early Videos Discussion

I could nitpick each one of these videos to death, but I wanted in my posts to largely cover the general lessons I learned while filming and editing them.  I was extremely lucky as the Resident Librarian to have the leeway to attempt filming these videos when I had no prior experience.  The purpose of the Residency Program at the College of DuPage is to learn by doing, so continuing education is built into the program.  I doubt I will get away with such a learning project in my future employment.

Here is a little background on the filming process:

After coming up with the general idea for the project, I started filming the videos sporadically over the course of about two months.   I had to film around not only my busy schedule but also the schedule of those who assisted in each video, so these videos really didn’t take that long to produce, which is pretty apparent in their quality.  I also posted each video to my professional YouTube account that I might share them easily with my colleagues.  Their feedback has been very helpful.  I only recorded video for collections and services located on the upper level of the library.  The lower level has the strong possibility of changing a great deal, and I had yet to come up with a plan on how to handle that lower level.

So what’s the current plan of action?

The current status of my library tour is “ongoing.”  It has actually entered a new phase with the entrance of one student assistant extraordinaire.  Each of the early videos are draft versions.   Now with the assistance of Dave Hoffman, a Graphic Design student at COD, we have collaborated on the creation of usable videos…

Early Videos #4 & 5- CCIC explored?

The Library’s College and Career Information Center was the target of my next set of videos.  Here is the first:

Valeria Fike, the CCIC supervisor, was lovely enough to assist me with these videos.  She also set up the books and outlined the content of her speech.  Unfortunately, no matter how prepared the speech is, it just doesn’t matter when the camera only picks up counter tops and study carrels.  The collection was hardly highlighted. 

Also, I again had sound issues and video quality issues.  I think I might have a theme going here.  Most of these early videos were completed using old equipment and software, which has now been replaced.  I am just not skilled enough to use bad sound and video to my advantage.  Students these days are somewhat used to rough video work, but there is a big difference between something a little less polished and what we have here.   Also, let’s be honest.  The video is boring. 

Here is my second attempt:

This video was never fully completed as is apparent when you hit the end of it.  I attempted with this version to stick to the basic premise of a student walking up to a collection and encountering a staff member, where an introduction would take place.  I believe this video was an improvement over the last one in that it visually highlighted the collection much more effectively.  But again the sound quality is horrible.  I really might have to invest in a proper mike.  Because this particular version of the video is very much a draft version, I didn’t bother to completely match up Valeria’s words to the corresponding pictures.  So the CCIC video is still a work in progress.

Early Video #3- Wandering the General Collection

This is the second version of the General Collection video:

There is so much I could say about this video.  First, I really liked the premise of this video more than the last version.  A student (again me with the camera) is walking around the General Collection, trying to find two books.  She has call numbers but only a vague notion of how the shelving system works.  Through the process of wandering the stacks, she figures out what to do.   This video is much more of a literal walkthrough for students.  They could see a student doing what they do, wandering confused, and then demonstrating what they should do, like picking up a map and connecting it to the call numbers, looking at signs and checking book spines.  We also get to hear the thoughts of the student and see the magical responses of the Library answering her questions, a reference feature that I can only wish were true.  

The two biggest problems with the video?  Video and sound quality. *sigh*  Again the video quality is pretty rough, but my voice over was horrible!  I recorded the voice over in my office after filming and it is pretty obvious.  I also recorded it on my old computer, which is now thankfully an old memory.  I might attempted to do a more polished version of this video in the upcoming months, but I haven’t decided on it just yet.  I’ll provide more on my current filming plans soon.

Early Videos #2- General Collection Meetings

Here is second video I worked on:

The general premise of each of these early videos set up a fictional student (i.e. me holding the camera) walking to different points in the library and by happenstance encountering library staff.  The library staff member would then introduce the location, collection, service, etc.  The idea of it sounded great in my head and could still possibly work, but it did not quite flow right.  The video seemed a little too contrived.  In this case, the area is definitely displayed, particularly the many rows of bookshelves, but the natural flow seemed to stop once I transitioned from walking the stacks to talking with the staff member.  I believe there is still a lot of good information in the video, but the video quality is still quite poor.  I had yet to begin using Adobe Premier as my video editor.  Also this video is the first time I started playing with the film speed.  More would come out of that play later on.  

I must say I am truly grateful to Eileen the Library Assistant who helped me with the video and largely ad-libbed her entire speech off a list of bullets points I had made.  I could have choosen to work on a more scripted openning that might have helped the transition I mentioned above, but I chose instead to highlight our general collection of material in a different way…

Early Videos #1 – Rental’s Rock

Here is one of the first videos I ever recorded:

I love our wonderful reference assistant, Judy, who graciously assisted me in my filming.  I had several points I wanted her to make in the video and she ad-libbed the majority of it on the spot.  I learned a great deal as I filmed this video, first that holding a camera steady for even a minute is impossible and that setting up the tripod location in regards to the visuals and the sound is always an adventure.  I also learned that when you film during open hours, you tend to record miscellaneous sounds and other small distractions.  The biggest surprise for me actually came in the video editing process.  Limited by my access to software at the time, I used the same software one uses to do screen capturing and learned the dirty way the strengths and limitations of that software.  I am definitely a hands on kind of person, and by using the wrong software, I now have a much better perspective on how video is editted properly.  So the biggest surprise came when I produced the video and the quality of the image was so bad.  I mean come on, it’s pretty bad.

The Self Critique Begins

After a lovely vacation enjoying California’s winter weather, I’ve come back to start the new semester with a bang.  And I’m not talking about snow plowing through this Chicago winter.  As I continue my search for intriguing library instruction methods and tools, I will also start the self critiquing process.  I realized after rereading my first post that I really was rather trite and overly general.  It is time to get my hands dirty with the details.

For the past year, I’ve had a growing interest in library instructional videos.  I’ve often considered them to have triple threat brain-stimulation potential: audio, visual, and text.   But the majority of library videos I have come across are screen-capture, database walkthroughs.  No matter how energetic the voice, the video always comes out boring.  Boring is bad.  Boring puts you to sleep.  Boring does not engage your mind.  I should know, I’ve created a few myself.  Before last year I had no experience handling and producing live-action film of any kind, apart from the usual digital camera recording of life outside of work.  I thought it would be fairly easy to whip out rough videos in no time and post them to YouTube.  Oh, how I was wrong.

It might take me a few posts to get through the videos I have made, but the learning process has kept me on my toes.  I will never make fun of a bad theatrical movie again.  (I swear! *fingers crossed*)   Perhaps to preface this discussion, I should explain my original idea:

Choose Your Own Adventure Library Tour

After much discussion regarding building online instructional modules, the Library Instruction Committee finally decided to start work on developing the first two modules of eight, 1.) Introducing the Library and 2.) … hmmm, we changed number two so many times that even now that we dropped ”modules” two through eight I can’t remember what we finally decided on.  Anyway, I took it upon myself to develop the introduction to the library.  In a spark of genius I decided to combine the idea of filming an actual research walkthrough and visually introducing patrons to different library spaces by developing a Choose Your Own Adventure Library Tour.  At least the idea was genius in my head.  The practical reality of producing the idea, however, was another story entirely.

The majority of the videos I have created are grounded in the basic objective of introducing the library.  Much of my early frustrations are the result of the wonderful but necessary learning curve for new equipment and software applications.  I have enjoyed myself, learning the old fashion way.  Read on to follow my early misadventures in film recording as I discuss my early videos in further posts.

Who am I…

It’s a little trite I know, but times change.  Times are changing in the publishing world, in information organization and retrieval, in education technology, in online technology.  How are libraries adapting?

The biggest question on my mind as administrative scrutiny focuses on all aspects of an institution is whether people’s general regard for libraries will be enough to hold off the creeping hands of fiscal fate.  For every adult I hear say “I love the library” is a dollar spent on materials little used by library patrons (of course I have no authoritative sources on this information beyond personal experience, haha).  Can libraries afford not to engage their communitites as best they can? How long will we continue to bore students as they sit for the fifth time through a demonstration or activity on using an EBSCO database or how to request library materials or many of the other pertinent but mundane items we teach in a library session? 

Who am I?  I am an academic librarian seeking better methods, better tools, new technologies and new perspectives on sharing our knowledge and skill with our communitites.  The aim of this blog is to explore higher education and library instruction in anticipation of the changing nature of the society in which we live.