Monday, October 21, 2019

I think the following affects all of us as we use social media, read/listen, and communicate in the various parts of our lives!

My Lilly conference presentation last Friday was partly on using the fact-checking process when coming across information:

  1. Lateral reading” – use a right-click to open new tabs to investigate claims, authors, etc., via searching
  2. Practice “click restraint” by spending time to skim the results & reading bits and pieces before choosing to click any link (slow down, don't rely on the 1st site that shows up)
  3. Always “verify” by double-checking outside of the original source of information.

Research described in 2 articles below, shorter one first:

Breakstone, Joel, Sarah McGrew, Mark Smith, Teresa Ortega, and Sam Wineburg. (2018). Why we need a new approach to teaching digital literacy. Phi Delta Kappan, 99(6), 27.

  • states that checklists (e.g., CRAAP test) do not help students evaluate resources, as they keep the students focused on the material itself rather than seeking to verify externally

Wineburg, Sam, and Sarah McGrew. (2017). Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information. Stanford History Education Group Working Paper No. 2017-A1.

  • longer article with all of the research and the process spelled out

Friday, September 27, 2019

Liaising and library instruction

What can we give up as we move forward in liaising?

As I've been teaching this semester, demonstrating how our unified search box and the various databases deal with whole sentences, I've noticed that most deal quite well with complete questions now. Vendors are mimicking "Hey Siri (or) Google" as best they can. I see that when we clean up a search to just the keywords, and apply truncation and synonyms, we still get better results, however. I think that we'll be able to give up teaching Boolean connectors in the near future.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Teaching, Mentoring, and Aging

Brooks, Arthur C. (2019, July). "Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think: Here’s how to make the most of it." The Atlantic.

"If older faculty members can shift the balance of their work from research to teaching without loss of professional prestige, younger faculty members can take on more research.
Patterns like this match what I’ve seen as the head of a think tank full of scholars of all ages. There are many exceptions, but the most profound insights tend to come from those in their 30s and early 40s. The best synthesizers and explainers of complicated ideas—that is, the best teachers—tend to be in their mid-60s or older, some of them well into their 80s.
as we age we can dedicate ourselves to sharing knowledge in some meaningful way."

As usual, I've been living my life backward according to lifestages researchers, partly simply because of my nature, partly because my workplace changed and scholarship for librarians became required rather than optional as it was when I started at the workplace. In my 30's I was dedicated to spirituality, service, and wisdom. I married in my 40's and created a family life. In my 50's I have been expected to publish and reach for prestige, when I feel more inclined to mentor. I am asked to do service to the profession when I did that heavily in my 30's and am ready to do service to the institution - where my experience is what is needed.

"The secret to bearing my decline—to enjoying it—is to become more conscious of the roots linking me to others. If I have properly developed the bonds of love among my family and friends, my own withering will be more than offset by blooming in others." Now this touches me - getting to know my cousin's son while he attended college, getting to know another cousin better, watching my younger colleagues grow and blossom, seeing my godson and nephews, and making new friends while deepening older friendships.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Mentoring, reference consultations, informed learning

I mentored a faculty member for 5 years. Last year I created a summative peer teaching observation form based on best practices recommended by the teaching and learning center and the relevant college. Then I completed the classroom observation for the professor applying for a promotion. Paradoxically, this is counter to formative mentoring best practices.

I've been thinking that mentoring is like spiritual direction or spiritual companioning. Mostly listening, taking notes for the mentee. When they're asking for direction, tell them what I heard. If there's a resource that might be helpful, suggest it when there seems to be an opening: the mentee is ready, willing, and asking.

A friend suggested that I be one of the portfolio mentors for the teaching and learning center (next summer 2020, since 2018 was dedicated to scholarship and 2019 is already booked).

Doing a reference consultation with a graduate student can be like listening them into being a scholar, doing scholarship. They connect and synthesize, move toward adapting and originating. Learning while using information = becoming an informed learner.

Today the libraries + inquiry blog post I am reading makes cannily similar points.  "Innovating Against a Brick Wall: Rebuilding the Structures That Shape Our Teaching" – the 2019 Keynote by Veronica Arellanos Douglas at The Innovative Library Classroom Conference, posted June 12, 2019 ( In it, the author asks, "What if we changed our review structures to highlight maintenance, affective work, relationship and connection? ... so much of what we do as teaching librarians is ... about fostering connection, thoughtful reflection, and iterative practice." Also, she says, "as educators in libraries... we value and hold dear:
  1. Learners, whoever they may be and in whatever context they exist.
  2. Learning, via open minds and integration of past experience and connection.  
  3. Our relationship with learners and their learning."
She references "relational cultural theory" that "emphasizes the primacy of relationship, connection, and intimacy in human lives (Jordan et. al., 1991)" and that also seems like what I've written about as relational liaising (forthcoming book chapter). Veronica writes, "when we facilitate learning we take into account the subjectivities of everyone, including ourselves. We all depend on one another to grow and learn." Mentoring informed learning, facilitating collaboration using Bakhtin's principles of dialogue (multi-voiced meaning making)!

As a side note, I have learned to practice some of the items Veronica recommends for librarians as valuing our time and modeling respect for ourselves: setting boundaries around my work, saying no when justified. 
  • "In creating flexible structures that make it easy for ourselves and the teaching librarians we supervise to set limits and create boundaries around our teaching practice and pedagogical consultation and we are creating the kind of healthy workplace we all need. We are demonstrating respect for ourselves as educators and acknowledging that we are a valid actor in the educational theater. In short, we are demonstrating that we matter."

Jordan, J. V., Kaplan, A. G., Miller, J. B., Stiver, I. P., & Surrey, J. L. (1991). Women’s growth in connection: Writings from the Stone Center. New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.

Ranger, Kim L. (forthcoming 2019). "Relational Liaising to Integrate Informed Learning into the Disciplinary Classroom" in Ranger, Kim L. (ed.) Informed Learning Applications: Insights from Research and Practice. Advances in Librarianship Vol. 46.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Gender pronouns

Awhile ago when we got new nametags, we were encouraged to include our preferred pronouns (she/her/hers; he/him/his; they/their/theirs). I didn't want to, so didn't. In the past few days, I've been able to articulate more about this. My initial post about my thoughts is at:

I definitely don't feel male, yet not totally female either, and not plural. Not cisgender or transgender. Identifying as androgynous, liking the pronouns per, per, pers (as in person), where does that leave me? It seems like when groups are trying to learn, being taught by transgender folks, there isn't always as much breathing space for people who, like me, don't really have a set of pronouns they use.

I've been told there are a lot of conversations in the online world about this but I haven't seen them.

Today I chose to annotate one of my email signature files with "we, our, ours" pronouns. Feels ok. Will see how it goes. (Note: lasted one day.)


I've still been struggling with the pronoun thing - I use "I/me/my" to refer to myself. When people address me, I expect "you, your, yours" unless you are a Plain Quaker, and then I listen for "thee, thy, thine." When we're discussing something, I hope for "we, our, ours." I don't feel plural "they, them, theirs," but I don't constantly think of gender either. I often think of myself as other, in-between but singular - androgynous - in my roles. If I want to direct how people refer to me when I can hear them (because I really don't care when I don't know), I'm ok with "she, her, hers" although the abbreviation for person works "per, per, pers" too. I wanted to make it clear that it isn't easy, cut-and-dried, for many of us, and the constant question about how I want others to refer to me is more bothersome.

Futher conversation welcome, here or elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Birding 2019

December 18, 2019, GVSU arboretum, Allendale campus:
male & female Cardinals, House Finches, Juncos, Bluejays, Titmice, a male Red-bellied Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Mourning Dove; Fox and Black Squirrels.

November 4, 2019, GVSU arboretum, Allendale campus:
1st junco of the season.

September 2019:
In late August at our front feeders, I saw a bald adolescent cardinal, then read the Bald-headed Birds post on Feederwatch: they've "dropped their head feathers simultaneously during molting, resulting in individuals being nearly bald for about a week."

In the backyard, I saw a black and white juvenile with a huge head and eyes but no crest (like juvenile titmice but much larger). Finally, its mom perched nearby - a female Cedar Waxwing, so I knew what the juvenile was.

While driving home from work, I saw a single Cattle Egret for a couple of days, then a whole flock of them on the pond just west of 4463 Leonard St NW (West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science). The start of fall migration! On 9/5 I saw a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret.

3/12, traveling in car, Georgetown township:
Sandhill crane flying!
Home, walking:
robin, cardinal, titmice, European starlings.

3/16, home:
Turkey vultures

4/6, home a.m., Blandford 5:40-6:40 p.m.
Mourning doves, bluejays, goldfinches, house finches, cardinals, red-bellied woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, white- and red-breasted nuthatches, titmice, robins, European starlings, red-winged blackbirds, crows, turkey vultures, Canada geese, herring gulls, house sparrows, red-tailed hawks, phoebes (!). Also - spring peepers & frogs chuckling.

Kalamazoo: Killdeer

On the way to work this past week: wild turkeys, Sandhill cranes

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Indigenizing the libraries

A group of librarians met with a classroom faculty member this morning to talk about relationality, indigenous knowledge, potential library projects, such as how would we highlight the materials created by Michigan Tribal Nations people, mostly Anishinaabeg? How do we help instructors prioritize Native perspectives in all fields? How do we frame outsider/settler perspectives, especially in the Termination-policy era, for example? We could create a new library guide informed by NAAC or the Little Traverse Bay Band curriculum specialist Amanda Weinert (

Language to use:
  • "Tribal Nations people," "Sovereign nations," "First Nations" in Canada, band names such as "Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians." 
  • Explain reasoning to learners, e.g., "American Indian," "Native American," "tribe" are all government-imposed terms, whereas a band name is the way that people refer to themselves. Another example is "Hispanic," also a government-imposed term instead of "Latino, Latina, Latinos, Latinas, Latin@ or LatinX." 
  • "Settlers" to refer to more recent peoples in the Americas - from the early 1600s C.E./A.D. onward to the present day. 
  • "Indigenizing" instead of "decolonializing."