Friday, May 1, 2015

Sabbatical thoughts / Threshold Concepts

Ray Land stated that liminality is part of threshold concepts, and Barbara Fister wrote that the learner on the threshold becomes "practiced at navigating uncertainty" (6) and learns "how to join an unfamiliar community and become a member of it" (6). However, "A learner may also grasp the material to be learned but choose to take a critical stance rather than become a convert to a particular way of knowing. The ability to manage transitional states might be, then, a transferrable learning experience, one that involves increasing self-knowledge and confidence" (6).

As I learned at QUT in Brisbane, Australia, and as I wrote about in my experiences in the Seventh-day Adventist church, a sabbatical is also liminal. I will have to join the Spanish higher education librarian community even though I will not become a member; I will need a theoretical stance to help me keep my balance (as the Quakers grounded me). I want to examine UD's infolit theory as practiced, within the larger Spanish context, compared & contrasted to the U.S. theories & practices, and see if there is anything I can bring back to GVSU, and if there is anything I can give back to UD's librarians.

Fister summarizes the new ACRL Framework's definition ("Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.") as "understanding the systems of communication within which people participate in making meaning" (7). Isn't this also a definition of communication itself?

When Fister states that IL "has to be learned in multiple contexts, because information always comes in contexts that matter. It has to be learned over several years, because it’s complicated and needs lots of practice. It’s experiential learning that involves skills, dispositions, emotions, and varying degrees of intrinsic motivation. You learn how information works by encountering, using, and creating it. Having good guides helps, but this kind of learning only happens in the doing of it" (7), it reminds me of Christine Bruce's discoveries.

A university library is a learning commons: "We design our libraries to be inviting places where our students can feel a sense of belonging, right in the middle of innumerable ongoing conversations, conversations that they have the right to join. The library as a social institution is a safe liminal place, a site that appears orderly but where ideas come into conflict, where there are lots of answers, none of them definitive, a place a colleague of mine once called “the palace of ambiguity.” Our libraries embody that liminal state of questioning and probing" (7-8).

Fister states that librarians must minimize "our emphasis on how to search (something they [students] don’t find all that challenging, anyway, even if they don’t do it the way we would) and spending more time helping them think about what they are looking for and how to rethink a search based on what they’ve uncovered" (9). And, "It seems to me important to describe research as a process of learning about an issue, weighing people’s insights, and applying your own critical and moral choices as you make up your mind. I want students to be prepared to rethink their assumptions if what they learn leads them to change their minds. I also want them to realize that addressing challenges to their ideas can strengthen them" (9).

"Beyond that, where I think we need to refocus many of our efforts is in providing faculty a place to discuss their pedagogy, to share ideas, to learn from one another. It’s not enough to get a bit of class time carved out for us. We end up working with students at a point here and a point there during a messy, complex learning process during which their relationship to information changes profoundly. Instead, we can use our time and skills to help the faculty help one another to figure out how this kind of learning will take place across campus for all students, wherever it can be practiced in their courses, in their majors, or in general education. As we learned with our threshold concepts project, faculty love having opportunities for conversation, particularly with colleagues from other departments. Any chance we have to give faculty opportunities to share their teaching ideas will pay off – potentially far more than those chunks of time we coax out of them for us to meet with their students" (9).

As with Danielle & Victoria....

Fister, Barbara. The Liminal Library: Making Our Libraries Sites of Transformative Learning. LILAC 2015. Retrieved:1 May 2015, from

Saturday, March 28, 2015

SPA Spanish Sabbatical Prep: to read

Lesbian realities/lesbian fictions in contemporary Spain. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2011.

Robbins, Jill. Crossing through Chueca: lesbian literary culture in queer Madrid. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

SPA Sabbatical Prep: Deusto

Cobo Ortega, A., Rocha Blanco, R., & Alberto Vanti, A. (2013). Information Management in Global Environments: Swarm Intelligence in multilingual economic document repositories. Informacao & Sociedade: Estudos, 23(1), 27-38. Retrieved from

Garcia-Zubia, J., P. Orduña, U. Hernández, I. Angulo, and J. Irurzun. 2009. "Students' review of acceptance, usability and usefulness of WebLab-Deusto." Journal Of Digital Information Management 7, no. 3: 173-180. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed March 19, 2015).

Sáenz, Josune, Nekane Aramburu, and Carlos E. Blanco. (2011). Knowledge sharing and innovation: the case of Spanish and Colombian high-tech firms. Proceedings Of The [12th] European Conference On Knowledge Management [v.2], 863-871. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed March 19, 2015).
(not available anywhere)
Aramburu, Nekane, Josune Sáenz, Marta Buenechea, Mika Vanhala, and Paavo Ritala. 2014. "Comparison of the Intellectual Capital Between Finland and Spain." Proceedings Of The European Conference On Knowledge Management 1, 55-62. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed March 19, 2015).

Monday, March 9, 2015

My androgynous journey

From the time I was very young, I never felt comfortable with "girl" clothes or activities. Skirts and dressed were uncomfortable, showed my legs, were impractical, but pants were for boys/men. I always felt alone, different, scared. I clearly was not a boy but a tomboy - and that term was often used pejoratively. I was athletic but cried easily. As a 9- and 10-year-old, I ran a mile every day before school, and ran the 50-yard dash for the school track team. When I wore shorts in the summer, my dad asked why my legs were so big - my runner muscles deemed "ugly." I never liked wearing shorts again in public until recently. Both growing up and as a young adult I only ever felt safe outdoors and alone, where I could be just me, no one watching or judging.

Puberty was a nightmare. I didn't have any role models. My flannel shirts hid my femaleness but also led to others mistaking my gender--I didn't like either "miss" or "sir." Being female meant I was vulnerable to rape: a constant lack of safety. Being "lesbian" meant I was afraid that every girl/woman would think I was trying to hit on them. I feared being victimized if I outwardly expressed femininity or masculinity.

Being post-hysterectomy is so much better. Even though I have gained weight and look more clearly female, I am happier now with my body. But, having survived childhood sexual abuse, I still have to set clear boundaries with others over and over.

In high school I started reading LeGuin, which helped me understand gender differently, especially The Left Hand of Darkness. In university, I read Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time, which used the androgynous "per" (short for person?) instead of he or she. That made sense to me. Later, Minnie Bruce Pratt's S/he and Barrie Jean Borich's My Lesbian Husband also helped me place myself.

When I came to work in GR in 1990, I was told by one lesbian not to come out until I was tenured, as her resignation had been demanded when she was publicly out(ed). She refused and fought to retain her position. One of my librarian colleagues told our director before he hired me, "You know she's a lesbian" in her judgmental and denigrating way, but he respected my privacy until I chose to tell him myself. In 1991, the university was discussing multiculturalism, which only included African-American issues, not other races/ethnicities and certainly not religion or lgbt. I asked to speak at the Faculty Forum and was reluctantly put on the agenda. The first few speakers were all white men who read their speeches (mostly anti-multiculturalism). I only had a few notes on one index card and spoke about the lack of representation of an invisible minority, both in books and in classroom discussions, passionately pleading for lesbians and gay men to be included in this definition of multiculturalism. The white man who followed me stood up and began to sing "Homo on the Range." No one stood up; no one called him on it; no one protested.

In the early 1990's, I volunteered at the LGBT Network of West Michigan. One of my friends came out as a female-to-male transgender man. I valued this friend, his confidence in me, and I learned through our conversations what this meant, as he learned himself. I learned to address and refer to him differently. I witnessed the difficulty he had with the medical system, without insurance, trying to get the right hormones. When he had the double mastectomy, I brought food and changed his drains, squeamish though I am, because he didn't have money for nursing care. When I read about feminist separatism, it did make some emotional sense to me, but not at all practical sense, as I had so many men friends. Michigan Womyn's Music Festival's policy of admitting women-biologically-born-women only was hateful to MTF transgender women, and it did not fit my views on equality. I joined Allies & Advocates at work, the LGBT Fungroup and later iteration Faculty & Staff Association. I became a convinced Quaker partly because of their views on the equality of all people and social justice activism trying to make the world better for all. When my wife and I became a couple, I experienced coming out all over again. But I faced my discomfort and fears, worked through them. Finally, these groups gave me a sense of safe community, where I am accepted as I am. And I keep learning, though other transgender friends, through my reading.

Lately I experienced an act of emotional/verbal violence in what was supposed to be a safe place and discussion, by someone who knows nothing of my story but who exercised his priviledge and power to label me, incorrectly, as "cisgender," i.e., born biologically female and identifying as female. His labelling was an act of aggression, trying to silence me. By labeling me instead of asking me to identify myself or asking for more of my story, he engaged in de-legitimizing and implicitly denying my perspectives, experiences, understanding, beliefs. No one stood up; no one called him on it; no one protested. And that motivated me to write some of my story here.

So here I am, an androgynous lesbian, an activist for most of my life. Setting boundaries, taking care of myself (with the help of wife, friends, therapist, psychiatrist), and hoping to challenge this man to learn to communicate nonviolently and facilitate difficult discussions without reacting with emotional/intellectual violence.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Information Literacy and Social Justice Activism

Consciousness-raising articles:

Beilin, Ian. "Beyond the Threshold: Conformity, Resistance, and the ACRL Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education." In the Library with the Lead Pipe. Feb. 25, 2015.

Wow, this is for the social activist! Similarly, this:
Beatty, Joshua. "Locating Information Literacy within Institutional Oppression." In the Library with the Lead Pipe. Sep. 24, 2014.

Joshua Beatty writes that the threshold concept framework bolsters prevailing power structures, especially when using capitalist metaphors such as "information marketplace" or "information ecosystem" and "authority" or "credentials" as judgments for "good" or "scholarly" resources. I think back to these 2 articles, which offer a more holistic view:
The framework does mandate, “understand that authority is the degree of trust that is bestowed and as such, authority is both contextual and constructed” and “understand that the quality and usefulness of a given piece of information is determined by the processes that went into making it.” For me, these come close to seeking to understand and remedy underlying issues that contribute to inequity and violence. Expertise cannot be limited to people with "higher" education degrees.

Interestingly enough, patron-driven acquisitions helps balance the disparity between librarians-as-experts choosing the "best" materials and students choosing their own materials. And I look to scientists as the best proponents of open access against the capitalist-driven publishing industry. However, I recognize that as an academic myself, I am both part of an inequality-creating/maintaining institution, and as a Quaker, am resistant. Paradox, anyone?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Music findability

I just read this article:

Dougan, Kirstin. “Finding the Right Notes: An Observational Study of Score and Recording Seeking Behavior of Music Students.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 41, no. 1 (2015): 61-67.

They are using “a local federated search tool with a module specific to the Music and Performing Arts Library (MPAL Easy Search)”: ). I don’t know what the difference between that and a “commercial discovery layer (Primo)” is – and which is the equivalent of GVSU's Summon?

Kirstin says, "When we educate our patrons about our specialized recording databases and how to search for music, we should not hesitate to give them concrete examples showing how the catalog and library streaming tools compare to Google and YouTube. This will help patrons see the benefits of each type of tool rather than generate the feeling that we aren't keeping up with the tools they already use." [emphasis added]

Yes, I already show/discuss Google & Wikipedia compared to Oxford Music Online, and should also ask what other tools they use (e.g., YouTube) and show those compared to our tools!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Indigenous North America

On December 3, 2014, I attended a forum on Gi-gikinomaage-min, a GVSU-Grand Rapids project of recording urban Native American experience, co-sponsored by the Kutsche Office of Local History and the University Libraries/Archives. I'd like to be a volunteer interviewer. This spurred me to continue learning:
In late December I watched a 3-part sports documentary, Iroquois Lacrosse, about the Iroquois Nationals (Haudenosaunee) playing in the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships, and then the dramatized version, Crooked Arrows, about the original, ancient game and contemporary players coming together as a team, developing both skills and Haudenosaunee character. The Nationals were not allowed to go to the Olympics because their sovereign passports were not accepted by Great Britain.

I just finished reading Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time: Indigenous Thoughts Concerning the Universe by MariJo Moore and Trace A. Demeyer, a 2013 compilation. Interesting, thought-provoking pieces. I loved "Tangled" by Kim Shuck, would like to read more by Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Doris Seale (a librarian who compiled books like A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children), and Susan Deer Cloud, who has several books of poetry out. Update 3/1/15: I've read 2 of Deer Cloud's chapbooks: The Last Ceremony, and Braiding Starlight. She wrote a poem of local interest, called Stuck in Grand Rapids Airport, Our Words Make Peace Cranes.

I came across the book above when I met Siobhan Senier via some friends during Thanksgiving weekend. She is an English prof who specializes in New England Indigenous literature (e.g., Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England and its accompanying website Writings of Indigenous New England). She recommended the author Tomson Highway, a Canadian First Nations writer, and said that I might start with Kiss of the Fur Queen (GVSU 4th floor PR9199.3.H472 K57). She also recommended David Treuer's Hiawatha (MEL). David and Anton Treuer are brothers, Ojibwe from Minnesota. I had already read Anton's Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians but Were Afraid to Ask, a greatly informative book, because he had visited GVSU in the fall semester but I had missed his talk. I had also already sampled pieces from Voice on the water: Great Lakes native America now edited by Grace Chaillier and Rebecca Tavernini; it is an Anishanaabe (Ojibwe) anthology project from Northern Michigan University's Center for Native American Studies in Traverse city.

I would like to read at least portions of In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000-year History of American Indians by Jake Page (GVSU 2nd floor E77.P14 2003), perhaps "We are still here": American Indians since 1890 by Peter Iverson and Wade Davies (2015) and That dream shall have a name: native Americans rewriting America by David L. Moore, Centering Anishinaabeg studies: understanding the world through stories (search for urban), Living with animals: Ojibwe spirit powers by Michael Pomedli, Anishinaabe ways of knowing and being by Lawrence W. Gross, and most definitely The queerness of Native American literature by Lisa Tatonetti. And Fighting colonialism with hegemonic culture: native American appropriation of Indian stereotypes by Maureen Trudelle Schwarz. Look for Michigan in Encyclopedia of Native American music of North America. Look at the last chapter of Imagic moments: indigenous North American film.

I read: Unsettling America: the uses of Indianness in the 21st century by C. Richard King. Amazing book, eye-opening. He discussed Blue Corn Comics' Peace Party, and from there, I found Newspaper Rock, a forum subtitled, "Where Native America meets pop culture."

Here is a searchable in English or Ojibwe pronouncing Ojibwe People's Dictionary, from Minnesota, Ontario, Wisconsin.

March 7: Reading The queerness of Native American literature by Lisa Tatonetti. Based on the film chapter, I looked for and watched several documentaries from this organization: Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), Our Families “Native American LGBT Two Spirit”
Discovered filmmaker Carrie House. And website Native Out.
Next to read: Sovereign erotics : a collection of two-spirit literature