October 07, 2011

"Tech Tools with Tine"

I *LOVE* this series I'm doing. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has contracted me for another round of webinars. When I started I didn't know what I would think about giving webinars. Many of the ones I had attended although informative were dry and I just didn't want to be another talking head. I may be another talking head, but I do feel like I'm making a difference with this series. It is explicitly aimed at USING various web tools. I do occasionally give background and why a tool could be used. But the unique twist is to show the clicks and live interaction with the tools. I'm providing immediately transferable knowledge. That's what I love so much about my piece of the training world - being a Knowledge Transfer consultant. I don't just want to provide information. I want to make it tangible so that people are efficient and they RETAIN the information provided.

Thanks to everyone who has made this series a success... TSLAC LD folks and the librarians who attend! You make me proud to share my knowledge.

September 22, 2010

Qualifying Exams

There comes a point in the PhD program where the student must prove mastery of the field's body of knowledge. That time has come...

Originally, this summer, I was going to take my exams but my personal life decided to interfere and they were delayed. Right now, I have until Oct 23rd to be prepared to write four 5-10 page papers over the course of a weekend. I am unsure of which specific areas to focus in and am daunted by having to write a 5-10 page paper in 4 hours including citations, but I'm pushing on.

I believe my areas of inquiry are: Information Behavior -- needs, searching, seeking, retrieval; Research Methods for IS; Information Theory and Design; and Information Policy and Management. I've been re-reading everything I can get my hands on.

Challenges at this point:
  • Remembering which theory belongs to whom (I've a good handle on which theory falls into which "flavor" of IB
  • Differences between Method, Methodology, Model, Theory, Framework, "type of study"
  • When to use what statistic (T-test, chi2, U, Anova, etc)
  • Information Policy -- I didn't have any classes in this, closest I had was a Public Policy class.
Additionally, once these written exams are over, there is an oral defense. I'm told that this involves answering questions about the papers I wrote during the written exams and a presentation on my ideas of what I am interested in doing for my dissertation - not to be confused with the dissertation proposal defense which comes after I've written the literature and study design portions of the dissertation proper. Here again I'm a bit anxious.

My original idea was to study the knowledge retention of participants in online classes versus in-person classes. This is the question that is most burning on my heart. I want to know whether we are doing the next generation of students a disservice by putting all of their classes online. So far I believe that entails looking at learning styles as well as cognitive styles of the participants. But the one question I keep coming back to is... What the heck does that have to do with Information Science? Only place I can put it within the body of knowledge I'm knee deep in at the moment is to call it Information Use. My thought is that Information Use should include how acquired information is converted into knowledge. It means looking at memory, retention, and forgetting. Perhaps that's it...

R1: Do different learning styles account for information retention in online vs classroom courses?
R2: Do different cognitive styles account for information retention in online vs classroom courses?

Hmmm... but they are not supposed to be Yes/No questions. I'm not sure where this will end up. Check back as I go through the process. And... if you have any input, it is certainly welcome! :)

June 29, 2010

Rethinking electronic only subscriptions...

I never thought I'd say that. I love electronic. It's available 24/7, can be searched in a variety of ways, and doesn't require binding or storage. However, the past couple of weeks have been an eye opener for me.

Due to budget issues, we had to cancel many subscriptions. This led to a project to verify access information in in my a-z list and, of course, close out records in our OPAC. For a variety of reasons that shall not be mentioned in this post, there is no record in my OPAC for when the subscription went electronic only. I can gather this information for the most part from either the order record or the subscription vendor, but those records only go back three to five years. So, I've made use of the information available via the publishers admin interface, which in most cases is quite robust. What I discovered was that perpetual access to electronic only subscriptions, i.e. the ability to continue to access electronically my electronic subscriptions once I've canceled the subscription, varies widely from publisher to publisher. And, it's not good.

The problem here isn't with the large publishers (the Wiley's or the Elsevier's); it's with the academic presses and the societies. What many say - no access to electronic content once your subscription ceases. Several will send the content that my institution subscribed to on disc or another format of their choice or we can purchase the print backfiles at the current price. One publisher even requires that we purchase the disc or the print if we want what we subscribed to electronically. It's that simple. I understand this with an aggregated database, but was honestly surprised at the degree to which many publishers do not provide perpetual access to e-only subscriptions. With these publishers it's not an electronic subscription, it's a lease and I wish they would call it that. It is in the license agreement, unfortunately, these were switched to electronic several years ago and the process for license review then wasn't all that good. So, for some titles, we subscribed e-only for two to three years and now have nothing.

So, this leaves me with the question of whether I should have an e-only subscription to a title that will not give us perpetual access should we have to cancel it. It makes no sense to do print plus electronic, however, it doesn't make sense to "subscribe" to a journal and have nothing for it should it be canceled. If I subscribe to any title in electronic format, I expect some form of ownership to accompany it. In today's budget landscape, I can't in all good conscience recommend spending money on a e-only subscription for a title that I won't own, which means I'm left going with a print only subscription if I don't want duplicate formats. Which really doesn't provide the access my patrons want or the access we want to provide to the patrons. I'm not really sure what the answer is.

May 06, 2010

International Adventures continue...

Last fall, it was South Africa, an experience which changed me at many levels, from widening my world view, to meeting important library contacts, to changing the focus of my dissertation research!

This May, the changes continue! As of May 12, I will be on my way to Kyiv, Ukraine. The College of Information that I'm in conducts library automation projects at International School Libraries for summer credit. We will be working with Kyiv Interational School to evaluate their current library policies, cataloging practices, physical layout, and more.

In addition, I applied for a Student/Faculty grant to conduct some preliminary research which will hopefully be the basis for my disseration. As of yet, there has been no word on the Grant funds, but the research study is progressing. The focus of the study is assessing whether international exposure to librarianship positively affects attitudes of library school students. Some constructs to be examined are cultural competency and western bias in the field of librarianship. The research measurements to be employed are a pre-experience survey, participant-observer interviews, and a post-experience survey with follow-up interviews.

I'm new at all of this so I hope it ends up being an educational research experience that will make the "REAL" research of the impending dissertation easier. Check back, and I'll let you know how it went!

March 31, 2010

Out of the box solutions...

Over the past several months it has become apparent that we need a system for tracking issues with electronic resources, i.e. which database is going down for maintenance, which one has a search interface that isn't working, etc. Problems were reported in a variety of ways - via e-mail or a screen shot dropped off on my desk or simply someone stopping by my desk and telling me what wasn't working. And, sometimes, it's the same problem being reported, because there was no central system to track these types of problems.

My first instinct was to use the Track Issues module of my ERM (implementation of which has proven to be klunky beyond my wildest imagination, but that's a different story). The back end interface was cumbersome and provided no way (at least not that I could see) to add updates to individual issues/problems. Also, it would have required the activation of the staff mode, which is not currently used and would most likely not have been embraced by users.

Fortunately, we are using Drupal for our new intranet site and it comes with a support ticket module. It's beautiful. It may not use terminology I would have picked (for example, client area for department), but I was able to basically figure this module out in less than a day. I tested it for a couple of weeks and officially rolled it out for use yesterday. We customized nothing.

I've implemented software in a previous life and understand the ramifications of over customizing applications. This module does the job. Maybe we would have changed a few words here and there, but in the end I didn't think it was worth it. It isn't always necessary to customize something. If it works, just use it and move on.