Archive for the ‘ Class Assignments ’ Category

Social Reading and Libraries

Because we have evolved into a culture that shares everything from our current thoughts and feelings, to our specific location, reading and writing have become collaborative, communal activities, increasing people’s engagement with information and conveying it across several different mediums both on and offline. Social reading is a natural extension of the type of reading we have been doing since the early days of campfire stories, however, these previously “casual conversations” about books are now being moved to the online space where it has the infinite possibility to blossom into something richer (Esposito, 2010).

This essay seeks to define, describe, demonstrate, discuss and determine the future of social reading.  The essay will begin by offering explanations and examples of social reading, it will move on to discuss the various forms of social reading (traditional book clubs, online book clubs, social media platforms for books, and eBook reading) before concluding with personal observations made during my journey exploring social reading in its various forms.  The last section of the essay will discuss of the role libraries should play as facilitators of this phenomenon before offering predications, suggestions and final thoughts on the current and future trends of social reading.  What will hopefully manifest in this easy is the observation that social reading is not a new concept, but one that has been redesigned by the advantages and availability of Web 2.0 tools and concepts.


Reading Socially–Literature Review

Below is a link to a rough outline of what I would like my final research paper to look like.  It is mostly comprised of quotes and/or observations I have drawn from articles, blog posts, social media sites and my own interaction in a variety of book clubs.  Big thanks to Emma Caywood and JLauren for sending me some great articles that led me to take interesting directions in my paper.  Also thanks to everyone who responded to my Tweets about Social Media Book Platforms.  Enjoy.

Reading Socially–UPDATE!

A few days ago, I logged on to Twitter and tried to search the hashtag #borndig to see all of the passages I had tweeted via my Kindle.  Well, I discovered that none of my passages had been tweeted becuase my account was not linked up correctly.  I appologize for anyone who has been trying to read along with me only to discover that I’ve been quite silent on the Twittosphere!  I have finally connected my accounts correctly and plan to start tweeting my way through Born Digital using the hashtag #borndig.

Please feel free to follow me @allisonmennella and the #borndig and if you are reading the book on your own device, feel free to use the hashtag as well.  Also, if you want to shoot me some comments about the book, questions the book has raised for your, or any other “discussion points” feel free to do so via Twitter, this blog or any other Social medium that works best for you.

Basically in my final paper, I want to draw some conclusions about the ideas of Social Reading:

1.  Is Social Reading easy/doable.  Is this something people want to engage in

2.  Is Social Reading better online or offline

3.  What have I gained from Reading Socially that I don’t gain “reading alone.”

You participation–even if it is just one or two tweets–is a vital element to my paper, so I thank each and every person who participates in advance.

I appologize for the technical difficulties getting started, but hope that I can gather some interesting data for my paper in the next week or two.

Happy #reading

Course Reflection–Is it really over?

My thoughts on the incredible LIS768 Course:

Participatory Service & Emerging Technologies


Having never blogged before, I truly took this class assignment as an opportunity to create a blog that I could eventually use for professional purposes.  I had always wanted to submit my thoughts, ideas, summaries, videos, etc to the larger Librarian community but never had an incentive or reason to do so.  The classroom blogging assignments have given me the “push” that I needed, and I am confident that I will continue to update the blog after class after monitoring the number of “reads” I have received on Goggle Analytics and statistics.  It appears that people are reading this humble attempt at a blog and I am excited to keep it going in the hopes that what I produce on here is valuable and relevant to others in this field.


The most useful part of examining twitter in this class has been the 20+ followers I have gained and in turn followed.  I had been slowly adding MLS professional to my Twitter lists, but it had been hard to find relevant Tweeters that I actually enjoyed following.  If anything else, I have come to respect and enjoy the Tweets sent out by my classmates and cannot wait to continue to follow them post class.  Through Twitter and the #LIS768 hashtag, I have received links to articles that will help me with my research, commentary on my blog postings, friendly tips and “hellos” and the opportunity to host a TweetChat (something I have always wanted to do, but didn’t have a reason or audience large enough to engage).  Twitter has been a great way to feel like I have been to class every week (even though this is a monthly, weekend class), and I feel as though I have developed some great professional and social relationship through using this medium.


Overall, I felt that the assignments were relevant, concise, and valuable for a variety of professional purposes.  For example, I was just recently assigned to the Social Media Team at my Library as a representative for my Department.  I truly believe that my work in studying things like Social Media Policies, using a variety of Web 2.0 tools—especially blogging, and my ability to work in an online environment (pretty much how we conducted the research for and put together our group project) in this class swayed my supervisor’s decision in choosing me for this role.  I had been waiting for an opportunity to take on new challenges in my career and I am convinced that bringing Social Media to my Library is a great first step into the direction I ultimately see myself continuing in.  I know that this class has given me many valuable additions to my “portfolio” and for that, I am grateful.

Group Project

I have to admit that I am not typically a fan of group projects, especially at the Graduate Level, because I always find it difficult to schedule time to meet and work on the project.  However, because this class provided us with many online tools to conduct our meetings, share resources and put together the final product, this group project was a breeze to complete and actually quite fun.  My group utilized the “Groups” feature on the Classroom website, our G-mail accounts, GoogleDocs and Twitter to share information and work collaboratively in an online environment.  This proved to be a valuable exercise, as my Library just announced that the work for the Social Media Team will be conducted virtually with the exception of monthly meetings.  Having the leg-up on achieving long-term and detailed projects online will help me handle the pressures of these new job responsibilities and also might posit me as a leader, or point person to go to if others on the team are having a difficult time getting accustomed to working in online spaces.

Class Meetings

The class meetings were a great opportunity to see some amazing PowerPoints filled with images of ideal libraries that really grasp the concept of Library 2.0.  It was also the perfect place to explore this new technology and talk with others about their thoughts/feelings on Library 2.0.  I appreciate how the instructor chose to keep class sessions brief and informative, giving us plenty of time to meet as a group and receive feedback from group members as well as the instructor.  I never once felt bored, restless or tired.  The class moved the entire weekend and provided me with many interesting things to work on and ponder until our next meeting.  As a side note, while I was incredibly sad that our last class had to be cancelled as this was truly my favorite class I have ever had at Dominican, I feel that the outcome of the cancelation has proven to be a valuable learning experience as it proves how far we have come in our comfort level of working with new technologies that we can actually conduct our class online and not feel like we have “missed out” on anything.  Also, in the “real world,” things happen all the time that are out of our control and we must be prepared to rectify the situation as best as possible without losing time, money or effort.


My favorite thing about this course has been the opportunity to blog on the WordPress platform.  In the past, I had found WordPress to be a bit confusing to use and avoided it for other blogging sites like Blogger and Xanga.  However, I am impressed by the interface of WordPress and will continue to use it post class.  My favorite assignment was the Brand Monitoring assignment because it gave me the opportunity to study a library that is very inspiration to me—San Jose Public Library—from a Library 2.0 perspective

Tips for the future

Topics or Web 2.0 things to look at in future classes (just suggestions!)

  • Ebooks and “Reading Socially”
  • Tumblr
  • Storing information in “the cloud”
  • How libraries can utilize Social Media to create a community of users (not how to set one up and the importance of having these profiles, but how to use these tools to create engaged and active users of the Library)


Thanks for a great class!  Dominican University will miss you greatly.  Best of luck in your future adventures in a truly evolving field!

Information Commons–Partnerhips and (New) Roles

“The information commons brings a new degree of collaboration between librarians and other key professionals in the organization who bring different professional training and cultures together.  Genuine collaboration among historically distinct and physically separated student support services require immense attention, support, and nurturance.  There is excellent potential for success, improvement to services, and epiphanies that lead to better outcomes for patrons.” (Scott Bennett, Designing for Uncertainty: Three Approaches, p.166)

Our group studied the emerging trend of the Library as the “Information Commons” in both academic and public spaces.  My section of the presentation focuses more intently on two facets:  the partnerships that are needed across the organization in order to facilitate a smoothly-operating Information Commons, and the new role of the “Reference Librarian”.

Why are partnerships essential?

  • Partnerships are an essential component of the computer workstation environment.

Look at the many banks of computers in this Nazareth College Library sitting amongst the traditional “stacks” of library reference material.  In order to meet the needs of the students, Nazareth College must employ staff for answering both reference questions and technical questions

Partnerships offer different perspectives for improving serviceThis image was found on the Flickr stream for “THE HUB” Information Commons at the William T. Young Library at the University of Kentucky.  As you can see, they are not simply asking for ways to improve the library, but ways to improve the library and technology.  By recognizing this significant partnership, THE HUB is able to collect perspectives from a wide variety of places to improve their services.

  • Partnerships help resolve problems more quickly vs. departments that maintain silos
  • Partnerships allow for more accurate referrals.  When there are partnerships, employees understand one another’s skills and strengths better so they can more appropriately direct unfamiliar questions to staff members that are more knowledgeable
  • Partnerships remove barriers between departments with different cultures and values to meet the needs of a combined user audience

Who are the “key players” involved in partnerships?

  • Reference Librarians
  • Information Technology Staff
  • Users (students, patrons, etc)
  • Support Staff
  • Administration/Board Members
  • Key Community Members/University Sponsors

The information commons is really a one-stop-shop for patrons, so you want to think outside of the box when it comes to establishing partnerships in the IC:

  • Tutoring centers

Library@Sinclair Community College – Tutoring & Learning Center

This is a walk-in tutoring facility for students working on math, reading, and writing skills.

  • Writing Centers

Hodges Library Writing Center at the University of Tennessee Knoxville

The Library branch of the Writing Center is intended to help students who are working at the Library on written assignments for any UT course. Trained tutors from the English Department will talk with students about their assignments, and Research Service Librarians are close by to assist with the research process, as well.

  • Academic Advisement Centers

ARC in the Library@Sinclair Community College

The Academic Resource Center prepares students to take placement exams. Sinclair has ARCs in various high schools throughout its service area. This is the ARC for the Dayton campus. Data clearly demonstrates that students improved their placement test scores significantly when they used the ARC.

  • Career Centers
  • Service Learning Centers
  • Foreign Language Centers
  • Food Vendors–Establish a partnership with a local coffee shop (or the cafeteria) to provide food and drink the in IC.  Food and drink is a crucial element that assists in keeping students/patrons in the IC for longer periods of time

Grub @ THE HUB

Upscale vending machines provide food and drink to hungry students

University of New Haven–Library Café

Featuring Starbucks brand coffee and other products.  Coffee, tea, lattes, smoothies, and bottled water are available.  Cookies, muffins, scones, pastries and bagels with cream cheese or butter, fruit cups, sandwiches, and salads can be purchased.  There is seating at tables and in overstuffed chairs.  Staff at the Library Café encourage students to enjoy some refreshments as they study and look out over the University’s main quadrangle.

How can partnerships be established/maintained?

  • Integrating Service at a single desk

Library@Sinclair Community College – Service Desk

The Library Service Desk includes three functional units. Reference, Circulation, and IT Lab Support. In this picture, the reference librarian is seated nearest the camera, the circulation support staff person is at the center station, and the IT lab staff at the far station.

  • Staffing Separate but co-located desks

“THE HUB” at William T. Young Library

Example of creating a space where students can receive both library and IT help by partners working side by side

What are some challenges that partnerships face?

When you establish partnerships there will always be challenges to overcome.  This is because you are dealing with different and historically separated support services.  Up until this idea of the Information Commons, every “section” of the library had their own space.  The information commons really works to integrate the service experience so you have people from different backgrounds working together.  This can be difficult for several reasons:

  • Transition
  • Assimilation
  • Cultural Divide
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

There are many hurdles these partnerships will have to overcome to ensure their longevity and strength and make sure that each “type” of staff member’s voices are being heard.

How can you combat these Challenges?

It’s important to make sure that prior to integrating these separate types of staff members that there is significant types of:

  • Committee work between departments.  Create a team to work on a project like a new website that promotes the IC.  Get representatives from many different areas of the library to work on this project and monitor the ways in which group dynamic and partnership develop over time.
  • Retreats
  • Open and constant communication

It is also helpful to:

  • Establish clear guidelines and job descriptions.  Make sure that everyone understands what they are essentially responsible for and how their role fits into the bigger picture of the information commons
  • Cross Train—is it possible that some staff could transition between departments to fill certain needs? Examples:
    • Reference librarian that can handle academic advisement
    • Foreign language tutor that can act as a reference librarian for ESL patrons
    • IT staff member who’s fun and engaging and wants to run the café on weekend to attract customers

Changes in administrative structure also help combat challenges that occur when blending different departments into one collaborative Information Commons team.  However, the question of who will lead the new organization triggers anxiety for both librarians and IT professionals.  This is because both IT and Librarians have very specific sets of skills and want to be led by people who have the same degree and qualifications as they do

Many ICs have created a “CIO”—Chief Information Officer that presides over the partnershipsKaren Stanton–Chief Information Officer and College Librarian at King’s College in London

Kings College participates in a library system that has adopted the principle of convergence.  They describe convergence as:

‘Convergence is used to describe the situation in which the library and computing services, with or without other services, are brought together for management purposes under a full time executive director’

The person who fills the role of the CIO most often tends to be a degreed librarian that has significant technological and media skills and/or knowledge.  This is because degreed librarians have a strong understanding of the tradition and tenants of the library.  It is important to have someone that understands where libraries have been, where they are now, and where they are going

Now it’s time to take a more in-depth look at the role of the “reference librarian” in the Information Commons.

What is the role of the Reference Librarian in the IC?

From the beginning of librarianship, Reference Librarians have been expected to apply critical thinking skills, emotional intelligence, and teaching ability in order to connect the user with the appropriate resource.  Now, more than ever, librarians are expected to become “Jacks of all Trades”

Many experts agree that the Information Commons should employ “blended librarians”

A blended librarian is “an academic librarian who combines the traditional skill set of librarianship with the information technologist’s hardware/software skills, and the instructional or educational designer’s ability to apply technology appropriately in the teaching-learning process”

The Reference Librarian’s Future Role:

  • Manage everything from face-to-face contact to text messaging

Monterey Institute of International Studies–Text-A-Librarian Service

  • Overcome the “we don’t need a library–we have Google mentality among patrons, especially within the economic climate of today
  • Reference librarian as a liaison to the teaching faculty

Sinclair Community College–Library Instruction Classroom

  • Develop online resources
  • Develop a strong online presence
  • Be well versed in the technology students are using (IM, mobile devices, social networking, etc)

Michale Stevens (Dominican University) on Twitter @mstephens7

  • Do more with less as funding decreases

To conclude, please follow this link to examine an actual job description that I found for the E.H. Butler Library, Buffalo State College who was looking for a Reference Librarian to be part of the IC-team.  Below are highlights of the job description:

  • “E.H. Butler Library, Buffalo State College seeks a dynamic proactive, service-oriented reference librarian to be a key member of the information commons team”
  • “As part of the Information Commons team, this position will develop productive relationships with appropriate individuals and departments to advance the objectives and mission of the Information Commons. This position will also provide reference services, including teaching and training (some nights and weekends may be required), and will serve as a liaison to one or more academic departments.”
  • “Persons selected for interviews for the position will be expected to make a 30 minute presentation to the library faculty and staff.  The presentation should address a current topic in library studies

Essential Functions:

  • Development of online instruction and assessment modules
  • Establish collaborative working relationship with individuals and departments in the library
  • Provide reference service, training and teaching
  • Act as a liaison to one or more academic departments
  • Work effectively in a diverse environment

Required Qualifications:

  • MLS degree from an ALA-accredited institution
  • Reference experience in an academic library
  • Excellent communication skills

Preferred qualifications:

  • Teaching experience
  • Experience with ANGEL, HTML, WEB 2.0
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work independently and in a team environment
  • Virtual reference experience

Up Next–Read about Outreach and Feedback in the Information Commons on Lee’s Blog

Or, check out our SlideShare presentation for our complete report!

Reading Socially–A Vlog

Social Media Policy for Public Libraries–A List of Permissions, not Restrictions!

Below is a Social Media Policy I have created based off numerous examples of Social Media Policies found online.  Please feel free to take, adapt, use and update this policy as need be.

A Social Media Policy for Public Libraries

What is Social Media?

According to the Whitman Public Library’s Social Networking PolicySocial [Media] is defined as any website or application which allows users to share information. Social [Media] can include, but is not limited to, blogging, instant messaging, social networking sites, and wikis. Many social networking sites allow users of those sites to become a “friend”, “fan” or otherwise associate their own “profiles” or virtual presences with the Library’s profile on these sites.”

Examples of Social Media sites include but are not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare and blogging sites like WordPress and Blogger.

What is the Purpose of a Social Media Policy?

This social media policy has been created in order to establish clear guidelines for staff members who are posting on behalf of the organization as well as employees with personal social media accounts. Below are a list of standards that assist in conducting the manner in which our employees should post to our Library’s blog and social networking pages.

As always, when you use social media the personal and professional behavior you display and the content you contribute is not only a reflection of you but also of the Library.  If you are about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit ‘send.’ Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what’s bothering you, then fix it. If you’re still unsure, discuss it with your manager (via Librarian’s Matter blog).

1.  Take Ownership of your work:

  • Be Authentic and Transparent—Include your real name and use a real picture of yourself.  If you are using the site as a representative of the Library, make sure to state that in your post.  When appropriate, offer contact information so that people have the opportunity to follow up with you.
  • Use Good Judgment—Use Social Media as a way to express your opinions, but do so in a tasteful manner.
  • Be Responsible—If you make a mistake, it’s ok to admit it online.  Answer questions and comments as best you can, but if it is outside your area of expertise, take the time to find someone who can help you deliver a quality response.  Also, don’t forget about your day job.  Make sure you are accomplishing the things you need to accomplish as well as your Social Media responsibilities.
  • Be Proud—Did you write a really great blog article, or craft the perfect 140 character Tweet? Share your successes with the Library.  We want to know!

2.  Create Community:

  • Connect—Remember to engage with a wide variety of users, from patrons of the library to librarians in different countries.  Inclusion, not alienation is what we are going for.  Used open ended questions and comments to encourage two-way conversation.  Find ways to “friend” and “follow” other users, libraries, groups, etc. Post on and respond to other blogs, forums and profiles.  Be vocal and active and appropriate.  Have fun, but be safe.

3.  Deliver Value:

  • Show Off–Everyone who works in the Library has special skills and talents.  Let your creativity flow and use Social Media as a way to highlight your specialties.
  • Participate–Don’t just watch—participate!  Social media is about consuming and contributing.  Make your posts relevant and interesting.  Ask questions, answer questions and question questions.  Remember to use spell check and proofread your work before submitting in order to maintain a level of professionalism.

4.  Experiment:

  • Keep Lookout—Allow yourself to stay informed of the newest technologies out there by following blogs or listening to podcasts.  Always suggest new Social Media platforms to sign up for by contacting the appropriate department.
  • Have fun—Sign up for these sites for yourself (under your own name) and have fun experimenting with their capabilities on your own time.  Report what you have learned and offer suggestions for implementation in our Library.  Remember to exercise professionalism when posting on your personal sites—mentioning secrets of the Library, or speaking about your work(place) in a derogatory manner is not cool and could result in consequences that are less than desirable

This list is not complete by any means.  It is a living, breathing document that can be changed at anytime, by anyone.  If you have suggestions, questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to let Management know and we will find a way to work your ideas into this document.  One final word of advice:  when browsing, sharing, posting, commenting, and exploring Social Media sites, have fun and use common sense.