2013 Projects – Teach Yourself Microsoft Office @ TPL

office imageFor my Advanced Online Searching course, in conjunction with work, I created a pathfinder on self-teaching Microsoft Office.  Our classes are currently at hold in my workplace, and this was in part to show our patrons we still care about their computer education.  It was successful, and I found that patrons were pleased to have this information about our library services on hand.   I hope to set up shorter pathfinders on setting up different social media and email accounts, for an upcoming technology program at work. 

You can see the full handout at this link.  

The hardest part about this project was simply time involved in formatting.  The materials themselves were easy enough to put together. 


LIS 7160: Criticism on Chapter 7 “Abilities with Disabilities” of The Reference Interview Today

Citation for the text: Knoer, Susan.  The Reference Interview Today.  Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited, 2011.

I felt the need to explain some of the criticism I am leveling at this chapter.  First, I’d like to address the issue of “empathy training.” No person without a disability can accurately talk about the issues and troubles a person of that community faces.  My experiences will be nothing like what a person who is blind experiences.  To appropriate their experiences is problematic, because it leads to a very shallow understanding of the issues at hand and can lead people to underestimate actual challenges and issues people face on a daily basis.

While this kind of training may be well suited for children, to help them understand the need for empathy for those who are different; an adult who will be making policy decisions based on this training, has the potential to harm those they are trying to help.

As I’ve stated in other blog posts, as information professionals,

We need to educate ourselves on our library population, including the aged and disabled. We cannot expect them to be our sole educators, it is not their responsibility. A culture, be it an ethnic or social culture, should not be held responsible for the ignorance of outsiders. They should not suffer due to the ignorance of outsiders. I cannot presume to know what a person with disabilities faces on a daily basis that prevents them from accessing a library or information agency. However, I can speak with those who are disabled, and have.

From, “Reaching Out to Disability Culture.”

Secondly, I take great issue with the suggestion that we lie to our patrons, if they do not speak in a way that we can understand them. This can go for people who speak differently due to a disability, or someone with a heavy accent To blame the background noise, in what is generally a quiet library, is offensive.

A situation like this is more complicated to explain why it is a flawed suggestion. However, I feel that you would be doing the patron a great disservice to lie. Instead, ask them to write it down, or yes, repeat themselves.

Older Adults, Local Community Agencies, and the Lansing, Michigan Area

Question: Local Community Agencies: Review your local libraries’ (public and academic) websites. What classes and/or opportunities do they make available specifically for older adults? What other local agencies (i.e., senior centers, lifelong learning institutes, volunteer agencies, etc.) are available to encourage senior participation in the community? Discuss ways in which these agencies might collaborate to provide older adults with leisure-time, recreational, and/or educational opportunities? Identify several benefits of this type of collaboration.

I have to admit, my first thought in response to this question was Meals on Wheels.  Which is an admirable organization, but I was very ashamed that it was my first thought for an agency for older adults.  In addition, it does not fulfill the criteria for “leisure-time, recreational, and/or educational opportunities.”  That is, unless you volunteer for the organization.  Taking a few moments to research the topic I found a variety of agencies beyond the library:

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program: http://www.volunteerlansing.com   A place where older persons can engage in volunteering in a variety of different situations, from education and community service.

There are also several senior citizen community centers.   However, none of them have an online presence.  East Lansing, however, has a web presence for its senior programs.  This includes Prime Time Seniors’ Program.  A nationally recognized program, Prime Time states they are, “committed to providing programs which engage the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual and vocational dimensions of wellness and encourage involvement in the greater East Lansing area community.”

This program encompasses many activities and seems to be the most comprehensive program in the Lansing area for older adults.  From the website for Prime Time they offer the following:

Health and fitness activities… Prime Time also provides seniors with Meals on Wheels, blood pressure services, chore services,    a grief and loss support group, annual flu shots and health fair and a foot care clinic. Prime Time also organizes special field trips and events for its patrons.

However, it is not free.  Membership costs $20 for residents and $30 for nonresidents.  Couples fees are $30 for residents and $45 for non-residents.  Prime Time does also offer scholarships for low income people, who meet guidelines.  Classes also cost money, but if you are a member, there is a discounted rate.

I admit I have a crush on this program.  I cannot believe how comprehensive the program is, from the services they offer, to the easy to navigate and use website.  It truly seeks to provide a Third Space for older adults.  It allows them to build a community, connect, and stay active, educated, and healthy.  The fact that they go beyond community services and offer affordable chore assistance, medical help, and even a discount on taxi services!

East Lansing also has a seniors’ Commission, which advises the city on matters that will relate to older adults, with the goal to enhance their quality of life within East Lansing.  This combined with the Prime Time Program; makes East Lansing appear to be quite dedicated to its older population.   It is a pity that the city of Lansing does not offer any kind of similar services, at least, none that are readily found.

The library does not offer classes specifically for older adults.  However, there are several activities that are open to all ages, such as craft events, where you bring your own craft and work on it independently in a group.  Several libraries within the Capital Area District Library system also offer groups such as the “Down Memory Lane Reminiscers”, which is a group that is designed to bring people together to talk about the past in their community.  According to the CADL website, reminiscer groups involve “live presentations use music, props, pictures and activities to encourage the exchange of stories and memories among seniors.”   Other libraries in the system offer card game days, movies, and other lectures that is open to all adults.
CADL also offers outreach services to homebound adults, from home delivery, a bookmobile, and small book nooks in senior citizen homes.

I feel a campaign directed toward older adults would be immensely helpful for these services.  They could reach out to a population who maybe is not using the library often.  It could serve to let Lansing’s population of older adults know that the library is a space they can come to connect and engage with their community.  As older populations are offered spaces to engage, not only do they have a sense of community, but it helps keep them mentally active.

Studies have shown that the more you stay mentally active, the better your mental faculties will be as you age.  According to the Cleveland Clinic playing board games, being active in social activities slows cognitive decline (When Memory is Normal and When it is Not-So-Normal).  Extrapolating from this would lead me to believe that knitting, crafting, and other activities fulfill these needs and help slow declines.  Which further impresses upon the importance of such groups such as Prime Time and programming offered by public libraries.

In addition, groups such as the Reminiscers could also provide valuable connections to the younger members of the community.  There could be a tremendous exchange of knowledge between the older adults and younger community members, to help keep oral histories alive.

LIS: 7850, Issues in Librarianship: Introduction to Universal Access

For the next semester, this blog will also contain posts for my class on Universal Access.  I will be posting on a variety of topics to do with aging and physiological disabilities.  All posts will be tagged with “lis 7850” , to make them easy to find for my fellow classmates and my instructor.  They will also be categorized under the same title.

For my classmates, as well as those new to the blog, below you will find more information on why I am taking LIS 7850, as well as my assumptions going into this class.

Continue reading

Social networking at Michigan State University Libraries

MSU Main Library

MSU main Library. CC Image via Flickr

Michigan State University is a large public research university with over 45,000 students. MSU offers more than two hundred different programs, both graduate and undergraduate[1]. MSU library maintains multiple branches, both on the campus in East Lansing and elsewhere. The main library has two wings and five floors containing circulating material, reference material, help desks, copy centers, a coffee shop, a printing press, and administration offices, among other features.

It is one of my favorite academic libraries I have had the privilege to use. Although, pardon my bias, I am an alumna of MSU. I will attempt to reign in my love for this library, but in full disclosure, this may be a little fangirl-y.

MSU operates across four types of social networking sites and you can find them at: Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and their Blogs.

I spoke to Ranti Janus, a system librarian and a liaison to the Museum Studies and bibliographer for the Library & Information Science collection at MSU’s main branch of the library. Ranti maintains the Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter pages of the university. However, maintaining social networking is not in her job description. Ranti told me, “I saw an opportunity to establish a MSU Libraries presence, created the account, and communicated it with the PR Committee group.” The PR Committee helps determine what goes on the sites, but Ranti maintains them.

Prior to speaking with Ranti I felt that social networking had benefits to a college or universities library, but it did not occur to me to think about it in terms of public relations. At the end of the day, that is what social networking is for a library, another opportunity to relate to their patrons and promote their services in a positive light.

It also allows the library to have a sense for what the students and their patrons think about services offered, “We can monitor what users’ perceptions are about us. “ Ranti told me, “If they complain about something about the library (“the library building is too hot!”), we could send out message explaining the situation (“Sorry, folks, the AC is broken. Please bear with us.”) We need to humanize our presence to make users comfortable interacting with us.”

If a student is more comfortable interacting with the library over these social networking sites, perhaps they will be more eager to speak to a reference librarian, or just make greater use of the libraries. These are all positive efforts to bring students to the library as more than just a place to study!

It is also a great tool for libraries to gauge the feeling of patrons on different announcements and updates (or reductions) to services. This is being done by, “How many “like” the wall post on FB, or how many clicks the link we sent through FB, twitter, blogs, etc., or if users re-tweet us.” Ranti said that they are “still learning the best time to send out info to get the biggest bang for the buck. This is not the only way to find out the impact, obviously, but at least we know whether people pay or do not pay attention to us.”

Personally, I feel that MSU is doing things correctly in their uses of social media! It informs and engages their patrons, giving them an easy forum that is widely understood. The Facebook page is engaging, their twitter is a mix of wryly written updates, posts from their blogs, and retweets regarding important campus updates. The Flickr page is beautiful, and you can find promotional images of LOL Cats, pictures of a variety of different library locations on campus, and rather humorous “What not to do to a Book” photo gallery (Books are for reading, not target practice!).

LOL Cat!

MSU Flickr account, promotional LOL cat

[1] Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.).Michigan State University Libraries. Retrieved October 28, 2011, from http://www.lib.msu.edu/general/library-faqs.jsp

A side note on Facebook

As I started to gather links for a post on how Wayne State uses social networking, I was shocked to find they did not have a Facebook page. This lead me to pause for a moment, to consider how big Facebook has become in my own life.

I read news on Facebook, several news sites deliver updates throughout the day on my feed. I keep in touch with most of my friends via Facebook, while I do use email, phone, and texting, for a decent size group of my friends, I go to Facebook first. I even speak with my mother on Facebook. While the revelation of just how much time I spend on social network sites terrifies me, it also fascinates me. How did this website come to consume my internet social life? However, that is not a question for this blog.

Briefly I would like to make a few notes on statistics of social networking use, to properly put a scope on just how many people that libraries can reach in their use of Facebook.

A quick look on Facebook’s Statistic page shows that there are almost 800 million active users and 350 million active users who use mobile devices to access Facebook. These users have an average of 130 friends, along with friends, this average user subscribes to about 80 different pages, groups, or events. Only 25 % of these users are located within the United States.

As a website platform for a library, it also has potential. The features offered to “Page” creators, that is someone not creating a personal profile, are tremendously powerful. With the features offered, a library could allow a user to link their library card to their Facebook page.

While I can’t speak to the practical cost and development aspect of it, the potential for access to library catalogs could be opened, as well as allowing users to share what they check out and what they are currently reading could also be set up through Facebook. I’d love to hear how your library uses Facebook, or if there are any libraries out there using Facebook as a link to their website proper, or perhaps even in lieu of a website?

Further Reading:

Capitol Area District Library and Social Networking

CC Image courtesy of YogaDad, via Flickr

I’d like to introduce you to my hometown library, the Capitol Area District Library (CADL). CADL is a cooperative library system out of Ingham County, Michigan. There are branches in 13 cities as well as a bookmobile that can be found at various locations throughout the county[1].

CADL has a very active web presence across multiple social networking sites. You can find them at Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, and their blog. They make full use of what many of these sites have to offer to put together a great user experience.

Content between Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter tends to be the same, varying slightly depending on the mission of each respective social networking site. All sites update actively.

CADL’s blog is the hub of most of their social networking. If you connect to one of CADL’s other social networking accounts, you will inevitably encounter a link back to their blog. The blog allows CADL to have the space to elaborate on their activities in the community. They have various tags that you can reference and sort the blog by such as reference posts, posts geared to teen readers, news, and reviews of books and media.

The blog does not garner much interaction between patrons and staff. However, on Facebook and Twitter, the people who run the pages are very active engaging with patrons. They often reply to comments and suggestions, which makes the user experience very rewarding.

For example, the Facebook page hosted a reader’s advisory event allowing patrons to list the last three books they read and a librarian would suggest the next book they should read. I feel that offering such services within social networking pages is essential to a successful and interactive online community. CADL goes beyond simply presenting information on workshops and databases.

The MySpace page updates using a client, via their Twitter updates. This, perhaps, illustrates the declining popularity of MySpace as a social networking site. The Twitter updates of CADL mirror much of what is posted on Facebook, as well as linking to new blog posts, images on Flikr, and video updates on YouTube. Library staff also replies to tweets sent to them on a regular basis.

The CADL YouTube page is updated on a regular basis with both how to guides in how to use library resources, as well as book recommendations made by staff librarians. These videos, as well as photo content from Flickr are cross-posted throughout their various social networking sites.

I feel CADL offers a successful picture of how social networking allows libraries to interact with patrons. While I have no information as to how it allows non-users to interact, I was a non-user of CADL Facebook page prior to this post. In the past week I’ve kept up with their Facebook and Twitter and I feel so much more connected to my hometown, even though I am currently living in Detroit for school.