SJSU Portfolio

Competency #8

Demonstrate proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies, and other related technologies, as they affect the resources and uses of libraries and other types of information providing entities

Certainly I have learned a great deal about the basics of library science in the last two years, but the great gift of the SLIS program to me has been my education in technology, which has rejuvenated my teaching and enlarged my ideas of what a library can be and do. A competent librarian today must be familiar with and comfortable in the digital worlds of communication, storage, and creation. Still, the effects of digital technology on libraries are complex enough to deserve every epigram representative of ambiguity: technology giveth with one hand, but taketh away by the other, the two–edged sword of Jekyll and Hyde in the Trojan Horse.

Libraries have been expanded by the Internet-—in contemporary library science, competence includes knowledge of cyber–librarianship. Networked national cataloging and interlibrary loans, full–text databases, and digitized resources have erased the boundaries of individual collections. Library users now expect instant acess to distant information, requiring the librarian to have knowledge of the structures and resources available online. A skilled librarian must now be conversant with networked systems such as WorldCat, OCLC’s ‘union catalog’, as well as local subsidiaries such as CalCat (the California Libraries Catalog) and systems such as First Search, the search tool for these two catalogs. A 21st Century library requires a digital presence as well as digital participation. A competent librarian must be able to use, maintain, and often create a library web site which gathers together the technological resources and online opportunities of the institution.

Technological advances have also greatly increased the variety of formats and material which a librarian must understand and evaluate. This variety allows today’s competent librarian to ensure that the library reflects the reality of today’s world. E–books available on the library web site serve workers who aren’t able to visit the library during regular hours; audio files and loaded mp3 players work for the downloading teen; game discs are effective in luring new visitors in to the library. The skilled librarian will now need to be a content creator as well, presenting local historical footage in edited videos, or posting podcasts of local lectures on the library web site.

Libraries have also been changed by Web 2.0. As the Internet becomes interactive and social networks serve as the web portal and home base for younger users, a competent librarian must be capable of maintaining a library digital presence in this virtual conversation. The librarian should be comfortable using shared document programs such as Google docs, and able to use wikis for both library staff work and patron interaction. The world of Web 2.0 requires a complicated balancing act for the librarian. Facebook sums up the challenges: whether it is the future of the Internet--a stellar opportunity for the library to have a presence where the action is online, or a privacy–invading waste of time which dwindles in value when dorm life ends, Facebook shouldn’t be terra incognita to a 21st Century librarian. The new librarian must also be prepared to balance participatory ‘tagging’ with traditional cataloging, patron blog reviews with librarian reader̵’s advisories, and You Tube tutorials for teens with large-print handouts for older visitors. Discussion forums and nings have become a primary source of professional information and support.

Digital realities have transformed the librarian’s job. A competent librarian must be well–prepared to be in distant communication with clients through a variety of media and mechanisms. Email communication is now old school— ‘instant message’, text, and Skype reference interviews are now common. A ready—reference question such as: Who wrote The Happy Birthday Song?, once the public librarian’s stock in trade, is now easily Googled by anyone who can type on the library computer, which brings us to the bitter lurking next to the sweet in each digital mouthful. Though a glance at the uneven quality of entries for the Happy Birthday question reveals the continuing need for that guidance in the wilderness of information which is provided by a competent librarian, this need frequently goes unnoticed by the library patron who walks away from Wikipedia satisfied. Natural vocabulary searches in algorithmically driven search engines have created the mistaken impression that the librarian’s job has been rendered obsolete, demanding of the competent librarian a constant promotion, advocacy, and positioning for oneself and the profession. Technology is the reason librarians need Competency # 4.

There are other worms in the apple as well. A competent librarian must now wrestle with many complicated questions about the collection: who owns the data in a digital file purchased by the library? Does the library possess it permanently? May a patron copy the media? Should a library spend money on video games? Does a college library need a hard–copy encyclopedia? New formats and delivery systems bring their own problems, which should be familiar to a skilled librarian. Should all VHS items be replaced? Are CD’s and DVD’s worth investing in? Should the library check out e–readers? Laptops? User needs must be balanced with available resources in making decisions about often expensive devices and media which are in rapid evolution.

As evidence of my technological competence I attach a Google document containing a slide presentation created for an Elluminate lecture in Beth Wrenn–Estes’ Libr 265 class on Young Adult literature. I assembled this presentation from the emailed attached work of 4 other people which I added to the first 8 slides created by myself. I reformatted and arranged the document, then posted it for grading as a Powerpoint file. This presentation was then posted on Elluminate by a student assistant, and narrated by each creator in turn later that week. This assignment displays my grasp of several different technologies which enable collaboration over distance and asynchronously, important attributes for modern library applications. The slides were created in different programs including Powerpoint, Keynote, and Google Documents itself. I learned the hard way that not all presentation software is interchangeable. Many original formatting choices were not available when the document was converted to Powerpoint, and I had very little time to do repairs. As additional evidence of my ability to use technology for collaboration, I share the link to a PBWorks wiki where the original discussions for the Google Docs assignment above were held. All my contributions are labeled by name.

I am also displaying a transcript of two reference practice sessions done over Skype, an Internet voice call program, between my partner Rita Morin and myself for Dr. Liu’s Libr 210 Reference and Information Services Class. The transcript shows our comfort with using a newer form of online communication as a substitute for face–to–face interactions. We were able to see and hear one another, as would librarian and library patron using this software.

Although it's clearly a primitive beginner's effort, I am proud of the content I created and shared in a film for Libr 240— Information Technology taught by Derek Christiansen. To make it I had to write a script, learn the rudiments of imovie, research and edit a variety of periods and images online,scrupulously acquire permission to use all my images and music, post the video to an online site, and embed the link on my website for the class. It was an absolutely grueling week.

Next I attach a link to a tiny beginners’ podcast I made, also for Libr 240. This assignment required that I download and learn to use a free sound editing program, Audacity, then record and edit the sound track, finally embedding it in my class website as an RSS feed, which I have done again on this site. Obviously I would like to create a longer piece with more meaningful content, but as a first effort this assignment was very challenging and educational.

Since the two websites I made for Libr 240 were hosted on the SLIS server and are no longer accessible in that form, it is too great a task to revive them here, but in Libr 240 I learned the basic techniques I have used to create the portfolio site you are viewing now, so I would also offer this site as evidence of my ability to create and maintain a simple web site, with the disclaimer that anyone who knows about code will see that I have happily used my freedom here to avail myself of deprecated elements, whereas in Libr 240 I was required to validate all my code.

I also offer a link to a website created on Google for Dr. Loertscher’s Libr 233 School Library Media class. It predated any coding ability I acquired, and was in fact my impetus for taking the coding class, since trying to embed elements from non-Google programs with no knowledge of code was very frustrating, but the site does shows my ability to use a simple template program effectively as an educational and communication tool. My primary contribution was the “What Would Aristotle Say? ” section of the “Knowledge Building Center”. I also contributed the “College Resources” in the “General Resources”, and the “English Stuff” in the “Teachers Open Commons”.