Thursday, September 29, 2011

RSS Feeds

For IST 611:
This surprised me; I ended up loving the RSS feel on Google Reader.  I heard about RSS feeds for the first time in my 511 class, was skeptical, and after a failed attempt at setting one up, decided RSS feeds were not for me.  Apparently I was wrong.  I love having all that information there at my fingertips.  I feel like I am up to date on what is happening, and I can already anticipate the time this will save.  While I feel that the concerns that were posted in the readings that RSS feeds are becoming irrelevant are valid, I personally see great potential in these feeds.  I think that the RSS feed ought to be here to stay…especially if blogging is going to become more prevalent in the classroom setting!   The easiest and most efficient way to keep track of classmate’s new posts is through an RSS feed. 

I’m currently busy trying to come up with more websites to add to my RSS feed… 

I really like the idea of using blogs in the school community as an expression of ideas and creativity.  Young students have really great, inventive ideas- and a blog would be a non-threatening environment for them to explore and voice those ideas.  They might also feel more comfortable writing in a blog because this is their own space- they can design it and personalize it to fit who they are.  Some of the blog entrees can be course-related (responses to readings, assignments, questions, interactions during class, etc) but I also feel that it is very important to give students an opportunity post about whatever is pressing on their mind at that moment.  This way, the blog will actually be a creative outlet personalized for each student, and in the process they will be developing and hopefully taking pride in their own voice.  This could also be an ideal way for students to start brainstorming about papers/stories/projects for school.  Anything to get those creative minds working!    

If only there was someone available to facilitate knowledge...

I had a wonderful, satisfying light bulb moment this week.  Apparently all my school/paper writing experiences up to this point did not adequately prepare me for searching databases for scholarly sources.  I was spending my evening attempting to find scholarly articles online (specifically, scholarly articles on piracy in the music industry); and coming up to dead ends at every turn.  Using SU's databases was not proving to be effective either.  (This is because I didn't know what I was doing.  Even in my frustrated state, I still could realize this on me; and was no fault of the school's website).  For some reason, nothing was working and I all I was accomplishing was becoming ever more upset.  I mean...I'm going to be a librarian, for crying out loud- I'm the one who will be helping other people find information, and I can't even find any scholarly articles?  This was a little disconcerting.  And then I had my light bulb moment.  Librarians help people find information...I'm a person...and I need information.  What a drastic idea, asking a librarian for help?!?  Here I have been attending classes for a month now specifically teaching the role of librarians, yet it didn't even occur to me that I could be one of those people on the receiving end of that interaction!  The realization was quite invigorating.  The next day, I shuffled off to the SU library to have my very first (and successful; the librarian I spoke with was lovely and as helpful as could be) reference interview.  I knew my first reference interview was going to be coming up soon, I just didn't realize I wasn't going to be the all-knowing librarian in the situation.   

Also something I discovered this week:,,20190897_20437960,00.html  Entertainment Weekly's list of 18 Wild Trips to the Library.  18 of the best movie scenes featuring a library...I love when libraries are made to look appealing. 

Friday, September 23, 2011


In reference to my last post, I did some thinking about ways to help as a teacher in an inner-city school.  While I don’t think any of these ideas are going to change the world, at least it is a starting point.   

-Take the time to actually talk to the students as a friend; not as a teacher.  Actually take the time (after school) to make an investment in their lives; ask them about what is going on in their life- so I can discover what their needs are.

-Find ways to relate and form a relationship based on mutual excitement on something.  For example, discover what books/media/games are exciting to them and actually learn about those things.  Be able to carry a conversation about those items.  Even if they aren’t items that I love- learn about them anyway and be able to get excited because they are excited!

-Build off of those things that they love.  For example, if ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ is what will get them to read, that is what projects/lessons will have to be based around.  It is important to get creative with lesson plans.  I’m starting to think that it is not worth it to stick to standard, typical lesson plans if they are utterly unrelatable for the students.  I’ll lose their attention immediately.  But if I can peak their interest with something they care about, or with an unconventional lesson plan…then there is a start!    

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Making that difference

While reading the text book this past week as well as during the in-class discussion, I was struck by the reference to the graduate class that set out to improve the world and do good by entering the inner-city in order to ‘make a difference’ in the lives of the underprivileged.  They were surprised, I’m sure, when the people they thought they were helping turned out to not want their help at all- and even asked them to not return.  This must have been discouraging, I can imagine- wanting to make a difference but having your best efforts rejected.  Might have even been enough to make them even question the point of all their efforts.  If the people don’t want help, then why waste time and energy on something that is not going to make a difference anyway?  This would be an easy conclusion to draw.  But then I have to think about it from the perspective of those in the city who were trying to be ‘saved’ by these privileged students (This is an assumption on my part; I don’t know the background for any of these students so I don’t want to assume incorrectly…however, I do know that they at least had the privilege of attending a not-so-inexpensive university such as SU).  When looking at it from that perspective, the implication is that the lifestyles of those in the city are so inadequate and that they need someone to come in and improve them.  I can see how that might be a little off putting.  It involves the assumption that their lives are inferior.  And so I can begin to understand their attitude of not wanting the student’s help a little more clearly.  Its not that I think the SU professors and students were wrong in wanting to help- they saw a need and wanted to make a difference!  But I think it is how the issue is approached that makes the difference.  Instead of entering the situation with the mindset that something must be fixed because it is broken; how much better it is to enter and ask ‘what can be done to help?’  Ask the question, ‘what am I capable of, that you WANT me to do?’  This is something one might do for a friend, which is a genuine sentiment that may be easily translated.  I think this might create a much more positive relationship, which might actually have the potential of making a difference.
            I’m in the school media program, and so, naturally was attempting to do some applying of this concept to my own life.  My mother works in a city school, and so I hear plenty of stories about unruly students who just don’t want to behave or learn.  The majority of classroom time is not spent on teaching, but rather on attempted behavior management.  Similarly, it would be so easy for teachers to ask, ‘why put forth wasted effort, when it is not going to make a difference for these kids anyway?’  But I’m trying to put myself in these kids shoes; and their impression of the teachers that are drilling them all day…instead of ‘how can I, as a teacher improve their lives,’ I want to ask, ‘How can I, as a friend, help them?’  I’m going to think on this- if I come up with any sensational ideas I will be sure to post them accordingly!                   

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I wrote down this quote during class last week: 

‘We are new to this (the field of librarianship).  We have the ability to look at it with a new set of eyes.  We can tell where things need to be changed.’ 

I’m taking that as a challenge.  A challenge to be radical; to actively seek what things can be improved.  A challenge as well to be someone with enough gusto to actually make a change.  I’ve never considered myself much of a leader…I’m much more comfortable being given an assignment by someone else.  You can be certain I will work hard and complete that assignment the absolute best I can, but I’m still being the follower, not the innovator.  I think this is a role where I have gotten comfortable, and where I feel most confident.  Problem is, its not really stepping out of my comfort zone at all because it doesn’t require me to take any risks- to propose an idea that not everyone will agree with (I’ve never been very good at any form of conflict), or to attempt something that might fall apart.  These are my insecurities about being a leader; but I’m realizing those are things I’m going to have to get over if I’m going to be working in this field.  I shouldn’t be naive about job security- this world is changing, and librarians to have to potential to be left behind if we don’t change with it.  This calls for innovation!  For taking risks!  For looking for things that need to be improved and doing something about it!  Not one of my strengths yet, but certainly something to consider and work on.                         

Friday, September 9, 2011

Starting out on a Journey

When I first started telling people I was going into Library Science, one of the first responses I received was ‘Why?  Isn’t that just checking out books all day?’  It was a little disheartening, especially because I had no quick-witted answer to retort back.  I knew librarians did more than that; I had spent enough time in libraries since I was a child to figure that out- but I wasn’t really sure what it was that they did.  So my frantic search was to discover what it is that actually makes someone a librarian, so I would have a legitimate answer next time someone questioned my career path.
One of the lines that stuck with me from the first class was, ‘What makes you a librarian is your mission.  It is what you want to accomplish.’  What a relief that is!  I don’t have to run around frantically in search of what makes someone else a librarian in order to justify my career decision; I can figure out what it means to me- and feel proud of that decision because it belongs to me.  I also don’t necessarily feel the pressure of a time constraint to determine that mission anymore…I think of it more as a journey.  I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m excited to start taking that journey!  And I’m taking pride in it too!