YA Book Club Overview

Posted by beckiejean on May 24, 2012 in book club |

I needed a distraction from arguing with our online course management software yesterday so I took the afternoon to visually represent our YA Book Club. I’d looked up a number to confirm the accuracy of a speaker’s bio I wrote. The next thing I knew I was tumbling down the rabbit hole of stats about the year. This is what I came up with. The graph is Excel; the rest is Creately.com (Click on the image to view it larger scale.)



YA Reading Round Robin

Posted by beckiejean on April 25, 2012 in book club |

Want to do something creative and outside the box with your readers? Here’s what we’re doing for the summer.

This year marks the inaugural summer reading program at my library. We’re calling it the YA Reading Round Robin. Last year some of the YA Book Club members wanted to meet over the summer, but logistically that was going to be a nightmare. So we just went on break over the summer and picked it up in the fall.

(Thanks must go to a UD alum for these amazing signs! Thanks Kevin!)

This year, Diana and I decided to be ambitious. We wanted to run a program that people around campus for the summer could participate in that required very little day-to-day work on our part. Also, we were aiming for something that would flex around everyone’s schedules. This fall/winter I was a part of a long-distance book club. We modeled our program after that experience.

In that group, each of 5 women picked a book and annotated, doodled, commented, and responded to what they were reading along the way in the book. Then they mailed that book to the next person. That person would do the same, replying to the first person’s comments and making their own marks on the book. After they were done, they’d mail it to the next person, etc. (Want to see my finished product? Check out photos of my copy of Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour.)

We’re doing the same thing this summer. Only instead of mailing books, we’re doing it all from one central bookshelf in the library. We started with 19 books that we selected from a wide range of genres (realistic, fantasy, historical, sci-fi, and even graphic). We slapped a pocket and card in them, a sticker explaining the process on the front, and a bookmark with directions on it between the pages. The book club members check them out the old school way, by leaving the card with their name on it in a box on the shelf. They are also encouraged to borrow a brightly colored pen from our stash. The only real rules to are to try to stick to the same color in the book and to put their name (in that color) in the front of the book. Once they’ve finished writing in it to their hearts content, they’ll bring them back to the shelf, put the card back in it, and repeat the process. The only other work on our part involved providing summaries of all 26 books, and brainstorming a few additional titles in case we need to add some along the way. Since we started this a week ago, 13 of the orginal 19 titles have gone out, and we’ve still got a few more people interested. Just today we’ve ordered 7 more books to bring our program up to 26 unique titles!

At the end of the summer/beginning of fall semester, we’ll throw a party to talk about the books. And about how weird it was to write in books. And how we might improve it for next year. And  have a Skype date with one of the authors, thanks Siobhan!!! And most importantly to give away the books. Those who have read each book will be eligible to win it. I’m really excited to see how it goes this summer.


Prezi beyond its intended use: exploiting the potential

Posted by beckiejean on April 4, 2012 in book club, instruction, presentation, prezi |

I presented this with my sister Mandy at the 2012 Library Technology Conference at Macalester College. Our goal was to discuss the different ways you can use Prezi beyond the presenter standing in the front of the classroom technique.

Mandy works in a small public library. I work in a small academic library. We tried to show ideas and uses from multiple perspectives. You’ll find a bunch of different Prezis on our website: http://www.sites.google.com/site/libtechprezi

You can choose from a few different categories: Book Club, Storytime, Instruction, and Programs. You’ll see examples under each. The links below them will get you to the original Prezi, a vast majority of which are set for reuse.

The last 2 sections of the website cover tips and videos about Prezi, and brainstormed ideas from the audience at the conference.


“Wrapped” Book Display

Posted by beckiejean on April 4, 2012 in displays |

Last summer during our strategic planning meetings, I decided I wanted to take charge of putting up book displays on the first floor of the library. I’m pretty sure when I said I was going to do it, some of my coworkers thought I was crazy. It is a time commitment to put something up every month (or twice a month depending on how ambitious I am).

Most of the displays have been pretty traditional. Graphic novels, YA books for Adults, March Madness (and other sports for the non-basketball fans). But the second display I did was homecoming. I ended up pulling books that had blue and white covers. A fantastic visual, but a bit of a challenge to pull for sure. (In case you’re wondering, YA lit, sports books, aviation and gender studies have some great blue and white covers.)

This month, we stepped it up. For National Library Week, we decided to do a ‘mystery’ book display. I had seen the blog post from Maplewood Library. I LOVED the idea and knew I had to do it here. I ran it past Diana, who does all of our display cases; Anne Marie, who is usually the only person to tell me when I’m being too crazy; and Mary Anne, who usually sees the technical flaws. All of them thought it would be a great idea.

We tweaked it a little: colored wrapping paper, cutting the paper around the barcodes so we didn’t create more work for the tech services or circ people, and numbers and a corresponding spreadsheet in case someone tries to track down a specific title we had wrapped up. And because we’d missed Valentine’s Day by a few months, we decided to market it as a “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover” display instead.

I’m pretty proud of it. Diana, our PR intern, and I pulled a bunch of fiction: YA, kid’s, adult, and classic. The rest of the prep and set-up they covered. Our signs, as they have been for every display I done this year, were designed by a computer graphics alum/friend of the library.

I can’t wait to see if any of it checks out. (So far 1 has!!) I’m having the circ students tally mark if any do. Even if they don’t circulate, it’s still a colorful and bright spring display. And unwrapping the ones that don’t circ will be like Christmas in April :)


Speed dating book club event

Posted by beckiejean on December 7, 2011 in book club |

I’ve been playing around with a few crazy instruction ideas for a while. Sometimes I come up with the content I want to teach first and then and idea how to execute it comes quickly after. Other times I start with some crazy idea and then see if I can find a way to fit it to any instruction I’m currently working on. I talked about a few of those ideas on my “Becky is a real person, not a librarian” blog almost a year ago now. You might notice that the reality food competition one looks suspiciously like the history presentation instruction I recently posted about. Now it’s time to put the Speed Dating into action.

This time it was integrated into something other than instruction. I also co-run/host/organize a Young Adult Book Club on campus. (For readers of young adult fiction, not just for young adults.) In our second year our numbers more than doubled. Trying to keep up our momentum as we rushed into the end of the semester, my coworker and I realized reading another title before the end of the semester would be difficult at best and detrimental to studies at the worst. So instead we decided to plan what I called our “First Annual UD YA Book Speed Dating party.”

We did a quick, get-to-know my favorite book discussion. Everyone shared a book they thought the group would like and a quick description of it.  We suggested they find a short passage to share as well. Basically we wanted them to talk up a book. During this round-robin, the leaders took notes as to title/author/member to post on the group Facebook page and email to absent members. After that we had everyone fill out a “personals ad” form.

They could fill as much or as little of it out, just leaving the bottom 2 lines blank. Then we refilled our hot cocoa (or cider) and wandered around offering possible perfect matches to their book dating needs. It was a different way to tap into the collective reading experience of the group. Especially for people who were too shy to share a book verbally during the first round. Members got to take home their slips at the end of the event with new book suggestions for the holiday break.

During the event we splurged for cookies and hot cocoa/hot cider packets. We borrowed a coworkers coffee urn for the hot water and gathered a collection of old holiday mugs for everyone to use. (Way more festive and green than styrofoam.) We also set up a laptop and book display to let people vote for the first 2 titles we will read in the spring. We provided print copies of book descriptions and copies of the books themselves (if they wanted to judge it by the cover). The laptop was open to the polling site we use, so they could vote right away.

Overall, I think it was a success. Some members had more fun standing around and discussing book suggestions with people than writing them down on the slips, but they got at the same result so we were happy. Enthusiasm was high despite it being the week before finals. And an unintended result was learning a lot more of our members are sci-fi and fantasy fans than we first thought!


Teaching students to create presentations

Posted by beckiejean on November 17, 2011 in history, instruction, pedagogy, presentation |

Most of the professors I work with understand that I am willing to step outside the “intro to the library” library session. Sometimes they take advantage of that. The same professor who had me come into his course and demo a bad presentation and let the students live blog the results (explained here) has asked I do something similar for his U.S. History class. Not wanting to repeat the same instruction in two courses, I devised a different exercise to impress upon students how to construct a quality presentation.

Unlike the other class, these students were creating a presentation based on a paper they had already written. From past experiences, I knew I was going to get a lot of the “we already know how to do this” speech, so I based my exercise on that. Well, that and my love of cooking reality shows.

The result? A presentation exercise based on the Food Network show, Chopped. I give the students a website full of ingredients (use the menu on the sidebar) as well as a proposed outline and thesis, that they can use to create a fabulous presentation on why one should not cite Wikipedia in a college paper.

“I Like Wikipedia.” Headline Shirts. Headline Shirts. 2009. Web. 9 Sep. 2009. http://www.headlineshirts.net/i-like-wikipedia.html.

I have them split into groups and give them 8 minutes (with the intention of giving them 10 after they beg for more time despite being presentation experts) to construct a presentation. I stipulate that it must include a thesis, the argument provided in the outline, and citations (also provided). How they choose to combine them is up to them. I also introduce a panel of judges (usually myself, the prof, and another librarian or staff member) who will critique their work and select a winner. The prize is usually candy from my office candy bowl or occasionally a cookie from the coffee shop if I am particularly wowed by the presentation.

I constructed the website using Google Sites so I can post the link in the course page each semester without having to reconstruct it. While the students are working I open up SynchronEyes our screen capture/projection software so I can have the groups walk the judges (and the class) through their presentations. We talk about what we see, what’s missing, and what works well as they present them.

After the activity, we send them loose back to their own topics and a few suggestions for digital archives and visual sources they might not have utilized for their paper that could prove useful for a presentation.

The learning outcomes tend to involve illustrating that 10 minutes is not long enough to put together a good presentation, so make sure you do work ahead of time. Especially when we remind them that all their sources were conveniently stored in one location with citations already formatted.

We also let students comment on each others’. Some quotes are too long, or they argue the video wasn’t well explained. Constructivist learning has been pretty useful for presentation instruction.



Supreme court cases

Posted by beckiejean on July 12, 2011 in COM101, instruction, prezi, technology |

Once upon a time, I was an undergraduate politics major. Who knew that knowledge would be so useful in an information literacy session. I’ve talked about our introduction to speech class before. (If you aren’t familiar with the class, you might want to read that post first.) I thought I’d share with you what I developed for the class.

First the story to explain the process a case goes through to get to the Supreme Court. And a bit of an explanation of the trail of documents the process leads behind. This becomes a bit of a storytime. This prezi is the “picture book” to my story time. I always point out the quotes around the arrested part…which is always met with giggles.

The second piece of the puzzle is the database for students to choose a case to speak about. It’s mostly cleaned up now. A few controlled vocabulary issues to fix up yet, but overall it seemed to work well with the class we piloted it in this week. You can find it here. I’d love to hear what you think about the database. It’s simple, but it gets done what we need.


COM101: Help needed

Posted by beckiejean on June 6, 2011 in COM101, instruction, technology |

I need some help. I’m working on creating a few learning objects for our Introduction to Speech Communications class. Our course runs a little differently than most do. The library works with the class during the final two speeches of the semester: policy and values.

The policy speech involves students giving a speech on a currently active federal bill. They must find a bill, research it, and then present the problem and solution the bill offers, as well as evidence supporting both sides before finally taking one.

The values speech revolves around a recent (or current) Supreme Court case. Students must choose a case whose central question is value-based (i.e. questioning of wording in sentencing statutes need not apply).

Choosing bills and cases tends to be the students first hang-up. We’ve been blessed with great resources for searching for legislation. The same is no longer true for court cases. The problem lies in the fact that the type of searching our students are doing is not analogous how legal researchers are searching. Those in the field tend to search by precedent or by case name. Our students are looking by topic, often searching for the “fun stories” or interesting themes. After struggling along with resources that don’t fit our needs, I figure it’s time to create that resource myself. That’s where you come in.

I want to create a resource that list what I like to call “doable” cases from the past 5 years that students can use to pick a case. I’m envisioning this as a spreadsheet-type source that includes at minimum the following: the name of the case, the year argued, topic (1st amendment, civil rights, search and seizure, etc.), and a few keywords about the case (usually referring to the original arrest, for example, high school students, drug use, knock-and-announce). I’ve been working on pulling together this content with a professor who has taught this for a few years. She and I have been known to rattle off case names from the vaguest of hints, but we need a way to codify this knowledge.

I am not married to a format yet. I need it to be browseable because students don’t often know enough about what’s available to search. It might be nice to be searchable in case the students do have ideas. It must be easily updated, as I’ll need to add new cases every 6 months. It has to be a simple enough format that I can post them in the course Moodle pages. Sortability would be nice, but not essential. I may also link the cases to their pages on SCOTUSBlog, but I am hesitant to as URLs change frequently and that’s a lot of upkeep. So far my ideas include a simple Excel spreadsheet, PDF, Google Doc of some sort.

Any ideas on how I should do this? Ideas on format or organizing are welcome!


Topic suggestions–Choose your own style

Posted by beckiejean on April 26, 2011 in instruction, online, res104 |

Here are 2 examples of choose-your-own-adventure style topic exploration PDFs I’ve made. These were for Introduction to Research Writing (RES104). In this class, students write 3 5-7 page research papers, one in each of 3 major disciplines. Each semester the class focuses on a different region of the world (both to mix it up for instructors and to lessen plagiarism issues).

Because some regions of the world might be rather unfamiliar to students, librarians introduce ‘doable’ research topics at the beginning of each unit. I used to present topics in person with a traditionally linear powerpoint. We moved to this format for our online classes, and they loved it so much we instituted it in our face-to-face classes as well.

Keeping students engaged while I talked about topics in all of the disciplines was difficult. This way it’s up to the students to decide how much or how little topic exploration they’d like to do. We mount these PDFs on their course pages before we see them for each particular unit. These examples are from the last 2 semesters.

Mississippi River Watershed Social Science Topics

SW Asia Social Science topics


Have I got a deal for you!: ILA-ACRL Spring 2011 Presentation

Posted by beckiejean on March 17, 2011 in presentation, technology |

Originally presented at the Iowa Library Association-ACRL annual conference (Spring 2011)

Have I got a deal for you?? Want to create short and dirty tutorials in less time than it takes to type out the directions for the same process? Tackle your scheduling and surveying needs with ease? Make slicing and dicing reference stats a breeze? In this economy, libraries are often asked to do more with less. This presentation will address, demonstrate and provide virtual handouts about four free technologies libraries can use to solve problems, accomplish tasks, and sometimes just make life in the library easier. Jing, Doodle, PollEverywhere, and Google Docs will be discussed.

Trouble viewing the presentation? View it in PDF format here.
Digital handouts:

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