Leaping through the information cycle (InfoSavvy)

Center of Milky Way Galaxy

By NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/CXC/STScI (NASA JPL Photojournal: PIA12348) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The information cycle covers information creation and use over time.  A TV series can serve as a case in point.

When Quantum Leap first aired, people saw the commercials (for ex. mattind69v3, 1989/2013) and read the reviews (for ex. Haithman, 1989).  Magazines covered the show during its run: Maclean’s, for instance, reported on a controversial episode (Dwyer, 1992).  In time scholars, such as Wiggins (1993), studied the series.  Let’s not forget the books written for fans (Barrett, 1995).

An information source is created in a time and place.  The information cycle helps us see this context.


Barrett, J. (1995). Quantum Leap: A-Z.  New York, NY: Boulevard Books.

Dwyer, V. (1992). Prime-time sparks. Maclean’s, 105(9), 52-53.  Retrieved from http://www.macleans.ca/

Haithman, D. (1989, March 25). NBC’s time travel fantasy a `Quantum Leap’ of faith. Los Angeles Times.  Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/

mattind69v3. (1989/2013). Quantum Leap pre-season 1 promo commercial for the pilot episode (Originally aired 1989).  Retrieved from https://youtu.be/g8dftxDx_j4

Wiggins, K. M. (1993). Epic heroes, ethical issues, and time paradoxes in Quantum Leap. Journal Of Popular Film & Television, 21(3), 111-121. doi: 10.1080/01956051.1993.9943979


Posted by on August 27th, 2015 Comments Off

Icebreaker time (InfoSavvy)

Ice cube trays

By Gmhofmann (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Soon we’ll be welcoming students, and students will be welcoming each other.  Many schools have posted lists of icebreaker activities.  Lansing Community College (2015) has an especially well-referenced list .  Such lists favor face-to-face activities.  For online icebreakers I recommend–ironically–a book, Engaging the Online Learner (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004).

Conrad and Donaldson (2004) devote a whole chapter to icebreakers (pp. 46-59).  They include both synchronous and asynchronous options.   Each idea comes with the objectives and with a credit to the contributor.

Given the social nature of information, we who care about information literacy should think about icebreakers.  What icebreakers do you like to use?


Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2004). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lansing Community College, Center for Teaching Excellence. (2015). Icebreaker activities.  Retrieved from http://www.lcc.edu/cte/resources/teachingtips/icebreakers.aspx

Posted by on August 21st, 2015 Comments Off

InfoSavvy summer vacation 2015

Girl Reading on a Stone Porch

Winslow Homer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I am on vacation this week.  Stay tuned for a new post next week.

Posted by on August 13th, 2015 Comments Off

Professional development in community (InfoSavvy)


Image by Katarina Caspersen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As grateful as I am for the conferences I get to attend, they are not the only form of professional development.  This week I’ll salute another form, the learning community.

The ERIC Thesaurus (2008) scope note defines communities of practice as “Groups of people sharing an interest or profession who interact and collaborate in order to share knowledge and develop solutions for common problems.”  Related terms include Interprofessional Relationship and Problem Solving.

Nistor, Daxecker, Stanciu, and Diekamp (2015) examined the social side of such communities.  They looked at time spent in the community, socio-emotional knowledge, and the centrality of one’s role in the community (pp. 262-263).  Of these factors the interpersonal knowledge was particularly important in developing a sense of community (p. 271).

In short communities of practice are another professional development option with a social component.  The above article was but a sample: we librarians are happy to help you learn more about the topic.


Communities of practice. (2008). In ERIC thesaurus.  Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?qt=communities+of+practice&ti=Communities+of+Practice

Nistor, N., Daxecker, I., Stanciu, D., & Diekamp, O. (2015). Sense of community in academic communities of practice: Predictors and effects. Higher Education: The International Journal Of Higher Education And Educational Planning, 69(2), 257-273.  doi: 10.1007/s10734-014-9773-6

Posted by on August 6th, 2015 Comments Off

An afternoon with librarians (InfoSavvy)

Afternoon tea

Image by John George Sowerby (1850–1914) and Henry Hetherington Emmerson (1831–1895) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The other week I posted about my morning at Maine Academic Libraries Day.  After lunch how did I spend my afternoon there?

Karen Gillum (Colby College) gave us attendees a tour of her research guides.  The design was grounded in learning theories and techniques. Scaffolding was the concept that got my attention.  Instead of cramming one multiple-page guide with many things, Gillum had multiple single-page guides, each covering a skill in depth.  These guides–and the skills they convey–can build upon each other.

Beth Hoppe, Karen Jung, and Judy Montgomery (Bowdoin College) covered intentional assessment.  I was intrigued by how they had integrated a first-year information literacy survey into Bowdoin’s regular placement testing.  Students get feedback on their strengths and weaknesses.  Faculty get aggregate scores.  Everyone gets a better picture of what students do and don’t yet know.

Beth Dyer and Cadence Atchinson (University of New England) talked about using flipped classrooms with undergraduates and working on journal-level evaluation with graduate students.  This latter piece was a key take-away for me.  If we’re asking students to evaluate journal articles, shouldn’t we include the context in which these articles appear?

Of course the best part of the conference, both in the morning and in the afternoon, was getting together with other librarians.  Many of them are colorful characters.

Posted by on July 30th, 2015 Comments Off

Journeys of curiosity (InfoSavvy)

Yellow brick road on the Pennine Way bridleway, United Kingdom

Image by Bob Jenkins [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


I hope you’re enjoying your summer–and your summer reading.  I just read Kristin Chenoweth’s memoir, A Little Bit Wicked.

The title alludes to Chenoweth’s role as Galinda in the Broadway musical Wicked (Chenoweth & Rodgers, 2009). Kruse and Prettyman (2008) had looked at women’s leadership styles as embodied in the show’s three major female characters.

The article and the memoir have sparked my curiosity about the musical’s source material (Maguire, 1996).  After all, isn’t curiosity part of information literacy (Hensley, 2004)?

My summer reading has taken me to Broadway, to the leadership literature and to Oz.  Where is your summer reading taking you?


Chenoweth, K., & Rodgers, J. (2009). A little bit wicked: Life, love, and faith in stages. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Hensley, R. B. (2004). Curiosity and creativity as attributes of information literacy. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 44(1), 31–36. Retrieved from http://rusa.metapress.com/

Kruse, S. D., & Prettyman, S. S. (2008). Women, leadership, and power: Revisiting the Wicked Witch of the West. Gender & Education, 20(5), 451-464. doi:10.1080/09540250701805797

Maguire, G. (1996). Wicked: The life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West. New York, NY: ReganBooks.

Posted by on July 23rd, 2015 Comments Off

Customer service–by whatever name (InfoSavvy)

Grand Century Place Customer Service Centre

Image by WiNG (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Maine Academic Libraries Day (June 16) concerned the customer experience.  Though I can’t do justice to the morning program, I can give you the highlights.

Keynote speaker Kelly McDonald (McDonald Marketing) spoke of understanding our customers’ lives and tailoring our services accordingly.  To serve a community we need to listen to its members and learn its values.  As one example McDonald described a bank that adequately provided both ATM/mobile service and live tellers.   Since it had many members who valued convenience and many members who valued social interaction,  the bank’s community needed both services.

Afterward some librarian panelists shared their wisdom about patron service.  Carmen Greenlee (Bowdoin College) talked about outreach to faculty, from serving on search committees to marking faculty milestones.  Joyce Rumery (University of Maine) also emphasized the building of relationships: faculty comments showed how these relationships matter.  Laura Juraska (Bates College) offered examples of the service philosophy “Make it easier.  Make it special.  Make it their place.  Make ourselves available.”  Bob Heath (Colby College) focused on the training of student workers.  Bethany Kenyon (University of New England) described such services as 24-hour spaces.

I use the terms “customer” and “patron” interchangeably. Whatever term we use, we librarians attend such events to better our service to you.


Posted by on July 16th, 2015 Comments Off

Unpacking conference learning (InfoSavvy)


Image by Alf van Beem (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

When I return from a conference, I share what I learned there.  Often I learn as much from the travel as I do from the event itself.

The night before one conference I discovered stains on the top I’d packed.  Since it was a one-day workshop, I had brought only one dress top, and spot cleaning did not save it.  Fortunately a local friend knew of a nearby Goodwill® store, where I found a suitable top.  I learned to check my clothes in varied lighting before I pack.  More to the point, I valued  local information even more than I had before.

While packing for another conference I used a checklist.  I had made the list overwhelming, though.  Next time I’ll follow Atul Gawande’s advice in The Checklist Manifesto and better tailor the list to my needs.

My examples may seem trivial, yet they both involve using information.  By paying attention to such everyday information use, we can encourage our students to do likewise.  Then we can build on this existing information literacy–both theirs and ours.


Gawande, A. (2010). The checklist manifesto: How to get things right. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books.

Posted by on July 9th, 2015 Comments Off

Hot topics for the 4th (InfoSavvy)

Fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial

By J.W.Photography from Annapolis (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

July 4th reminds us of our responsibilities as citizens.  Among these is to remain at least somewhat informed about current issues.  The libraries have a series of Hot Topics guides to help us stay informed.  Topics include  homelessness and vaccination.

You can view the full set via the library homepage.  From the Quick Links choose Subject Guides.   Then choose the subject Hot Topics.

Keep checking the site: your librarians are continually updating the guides and adding new ones.  Meanwhile I wish you a safe and happy 4th.


Posted by on July 2nd, 2015 Comments Off

Conference Conversation (InfoSavvy)

Watrous painting called Discussion

Harry Wilson Watrous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The ACRL/NEC Conference and the Social Science Librarians Boot Camp were not my only recent workshops.  On May 29 I attended Maine Larger Libraries Staff Development Day.  Interestingly the event echoed themes from the ACRL/NEC event.

In both cases the speakers discussed libraries as space–particularly as space for discovery, exploration, and collaboration.  Both sets of speakers stressed the value of user input in library design.

Why am I highlighting themes rather than doing a more complete overview?  Firstly I admit to a bit of conference fatigue (I remain grateful that I can attend conferences, though.).  Secondly I could not get all of the speakers’ permissions by press time.  Most importantly I can show these conferences as part of an ongoing conversation.  After all, isn’t scholarship a conversation (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2015)?


Association of College & Research Libraries. (2015).  Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from ACRL website : http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

Posted by on June 25th, 2015 Comments Off