selected shorts

It’s lunchtime, and I want to write some stuff, but all my brainspace is occupied with writing other stuff, so all I’ve got room for is bullet points.

  • Right now, a group of New Yorkers are eagerly waiting to see if Governor Cuomo will sign ARIA into law.  Jason Kramer of NYSHEI, who has been a tireless advocate to get this information funding bill made real, has asked library directors around the state to please have our college presidents send letters of support to the Governor. Because I believe ARIA will help us, I sent a quick email to the President’s Office asking for an endorsement. His staff made that happen with the blink of an eye. And I wondered: How many libraries could make a letter of support from their top administrator inside the library happen so smoothly as my president’s office did? And, presuming that number is small, why are we not better advocates for what we believe in?
  • I’m going to ALA on Thursday, and need a flash drive, and can’t find any of mine (except the one hooked to the XBox, which, well, it stays there). I thought, “well, I’ll buy a new one, then” and realized that in my own mind, 8 GB of storage has become disposable.
  • On the “moving at the speed of the Internet” front, ICANN has finally decided to open up gTLDs. To quote the inimitable Chris Zammarelli, “.anything is possible but .nothing is real.” I wrote a paper on this when I was in grad school, for Kristen Eschenfelder’s Information Policy seminar, one of the best classes I took at UW-Madison’s SLIS. It only took ’em a decade to do what we were talking about back in 2001…
  • Did I mention ALA? I’ll post a schedule tonight or tomorrow, but I’m speaking three times, and I’m not ready. Not. Ready.  As I explained in a tardy reply to an email, I’m a woman who pushes deadlines until they threaten to break. What I know is that I *will* be ready, I just am not yet. I’m a wee tad bit stressed about it.  (Worth noting: that ICANN paper was written because Dr. Eschenfelder gave me an incomplete for missing too many seminar sessions due to illness and weather problems impacting my commute. I turned it in days before my incomplete would have become a fail. Some learned behaviors are harder than others to break.)
  • As I sat on my couch this weekend and worked on my ALA presentations (sensing my theme?), my boyfriend, a high school technology teacher, sat next to me, playing video games and watching what I was doing out of the corner of his eye. “I’m watching you build a lesson. It’s interesting.” We talked a bit about how librarians sit in this weird intersection between supporting teaching and learning and doing teaching and learning, and I wondered aloud if it’s harder or easier to ‘build a lesson” when we have to do it as a one-shot lecture with an unknown audience rather than part of a curriculum for a known one.
  • At SUNYLA I talked a bit, on stage and off, about how little I care about input measures (the size of our book collection does not excite me) and why I instead focus on output measures (how we impact student learning does excite me). Several librarians asked “Can you explain that to my director?” or generally applauded that they hoped we’d all move in that assessment direction soon.  And then I read this article in Inside Higher Ed, forwarded on by our Director of Academic Assessment. And my brain started to hurt.  This is, indeed, why it’s so hard to get from input to output in libraries, I think. A bit that made me want to headdesk myself:

“Assessment means asking if students are learning what I think I’m teaching,” said Hutchings. “My sense is that what we need to think about now is how faculty can take back assessment. It’s been possessed by others, if you will.”

In his session, Plopper acknowledged that faculty members aren’t always interested in the subject, especially if it means learning a new way to teach. Most have been teaching a particular way all of their professional lives, using a model observed since they were children, and most think it works well — though Plopper argued that familiarity is not necessarily the same thing as effectiveness.

“They’re not required to do this, so they don’t,” he said, referring to professors and the process of doing a wholesale re-examination of their teaching. “You’ve got to get tenure — and you don’t get tenure for using Bloom’s Taxonomy, so why bother?”

  • I’m reminded by the presentation that Keith Compeau and I did at SUNYLA to take comfort in small pleasures in life: Our informal assessment informed our big assessment in smart ways, because the small successes are what build the big successes. So in the face of a big ball of stress and a pile of chronic pain, I’m trying to pay attention to the little things.  The cheerful, busy students at our computer pods. The beautiful sun shining down on orientation activities. My new bright blue Merrells, which I’m conscientiously breaking in before NOLA.  Honey-flavored Greek yogurt and grilled cheese sandwiches.  How well our remodeled office space is coming together. Watching the final episode of Game of Thrones with good friends tonight.  There’s a lot of good stuff in the world. Don’t forget to pay attention.

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