Does your research (or lack there of) influence your instruction?

Man Wearing Black and White Stripe Shirt Looking at White Printer Papers on the Wall

This thought popped into my head today and I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this.  Bear with me while I give you a bit of my background.

I work at a small college where all the librarians, including me, have multiple roles: subject liaisons, collection development in multiple formats, reference desk shifts, committee work in the library and on campus, as well as instruction.  The degree to which we engage in these things can vary based on the roles we were hired into and/or how our positions have developed and changed over time.  Needless to say, we all have plenty to do.  My current position focuses primarily on electronic resources and systems, but I am also expected to take reference shifts and teach the occasional instruction session.  Some of my colleagues here, to their credit and their respective roles, teach much more.  I do take my teaching seriously, and even graduated from the ACRL Immersion Program a few years back.  Another piece to this is that for tenure, which I have had for several years now, we were not required to publish.  Instead, we are required to be involved in the library profession on local, state-wide, and/or national committees that sustain and support the efforts of all librarians.  This is a responsibility I take seriously and have not reduced upon being granted tenure.

Given this context,  here is my question: As a library research instructor, is my ability to teach the research process hampered in any way(s) by the fact that I do not do regular research (and subsequently writing & publishing), and have not since I graduated from library school in 2006?  Because I am not an active researcher, could that, in any way, limit my understanding of the challenges that undergraduate, graduate, and faculty researchers struggle with?  If the answer is yes, and I worry that it might be the case, do other librarians who teach research sessions worry that this is true?

On the flip side of this, if I worked to become come a regular researcher and writer would it have a positive influence on my instruction?  How would it influence the way that I teach?  Or change the way that I teach?

My head is full of questions now.  I would love to hear what other library instructors think on this.  Is this a crazy idea or is there some substance to this?  And is there any easy way to remedy this issue, if there is a need for one?  Could I fold research in with all the work that I already do?

Image from


Topic 3.1: Confession: OERs scare me

Ok.  I have been delaying this post because (1) I have been really busy with work and family and (2) I’m not quite sure what to say about OERs beyond the fact that they terrify me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept, I agree we should be sharing and using ideas and materials.  But using OERs in the classroom seems like it would be a lot of work.  Mark and Michele’s talk was great.  The talk really got me thinking about the many facets to OERs.  There is  a lot to think about.  And as a librarian who does instruction on how to do research and is always looking for new ideas, I’m still not brave enough to explore beyond the mainstream.  My concerns are partly due to not knowing if OERs have been properly vetted and being unsure about vetting them myself.  And I am also not confident enough to actually contribute something of my own.  So, at this point, all I can say about OERs is, yes, I think they are a cool idea, but I’m not ready to go there.  I need to get some more information and feedback on OERs before I would be willing to dive into that arena.  Given my time constraints and all the other things in my life demanding attention, I’m concerned I cannot give these materials the attention they need to then turn around and use them constructively and effectively in the classroom.  However I do like the idea of their use as part of a way to supplement and enhance a primary text or texts (not necessarily a textbook) in a class.

Book Sale at My Library Today and Tomorrow

We are 17 minutes into a two day book sale at our library today and the place is mobbed.  Books, LPs, scores and ephemera are all up for grabs.  I have worked in libraries for many years now, and in an independent bookstore (Bank Square Books), years ago, and I still love the excitement that accompanies such events.  There are students, staff and faculty all over the place.  It is really crowded.  Everyone is pouring over the pickings, piles are accumulating at the edges, friends are declaring jealousy over coveted finds.  It is invigorating to see the hunger and excitement on everyone’s face, the longing in the eyes of those who have to run off to class, the delight in those who ‘stumble’ upon the sale, the gratitude of the buyers being able to acquire their finds so cheaply, the anxious inquires over the location of the nearest ATM, the tense moments when another shopper mistakenly starts browsing someone else’s pile.  Book sales are great!

And yet . . . I sit here at the Reference Desk, as the book sale plays out in front of me, literally about three feet (the depth of the desk) away from me (because it is raining outside).  I’m in the middle of it and yet strangely removed from it.  I’m just doing my regular Reference Desk shift.  As a result, I can’t browse the sale myself.  So, while I love all the excitement over the book sale, I am intensely jealous.  I cheer for everyone finding such great things and secretly my heart is saying, like an immature toddler: ‘But I want those!’  So here I sit, loving the excitement and suffering from a serious case of the book sale blues.  Anyone have a reference question?

Topic 2 Metacognition readings and talk . . . Ok who was eating chips while Char was talking?

I am finally almost caught up.  I still need to finish up some of the readings that Char recommended.  The Schraw and Moshman article is very dense, so it is taking a while for me to get through and then I can move on to the Flavell.

In terms of how these readings have resonated for me I think the article on the big six information skills by Sara Wolf was the most significant.  As an academic librarian, it made me think a little more carefully about how I teach my library sessions and how I can approach some of the research concepts differently as I present them to my students.  I will definitely be thinking more carefully about how I present skills 2 (Information Seeking Strategies) and 3 (Location and Access) as I teach sessions this semester in an effort to get them to apply metacognition to their research process(es).  Wish me luck!

The Schraw and Moshman, while informative, seemed much more in the vein of theoretical background information on metacognition.  Yes, useful information, but I fail to see how to apply the concepts included to my own metacognitive practice, as well as in the classroom.  And of course I still have to read the Flavell.  Sorry . . .

Char’s talk, great, she is always awesome, also enjoyed the recording of the closing keynote, but I got more out of her responses to questions that from her actual presentation, which seemed to simply be an outline of the readings.  Although I’m glad I both listened to the talk and read the articles.  (Or will read the articles ;P)

In the midst of all the materials for this topic I really was impressed with how much metacognition informs the practices of metaliteracy.  Although I see a slight difference in the sense that metacognition seems to be more engagement with oneself and one’s thinking, where as metaliteracy’s focus is on engagement with others and the conversations surrounding a particular topic.  It is that engagement piece that keeps bubbling up to the surface as I think about these concepts.  Interesting . . .

Now, about the activity about sharing metaliteracy terms and concepts.  Still working on it, but I have a few things . . . soon.

Finally got through the topic 1 readings . . . still fascinated . . . still somewhat confused

Hi, I’m still behind but still very much motivated to continue.  I just finished the articles from topic 1 on transparency and reframing information literacy.

I want to start by following up from my last post and attempt to answer the question about what a Metaliterate Learner is.  Basically, and forgive me as I am still developing my ability to articulate these concepts as clearly as others, it is someone who is information literate and can navigate across multiple platforms online to find and disseminate information and then create and contribute content/information to the ongoing conversation of the topic of their choice.  Yes, I know, probably not exactly an accurate definition and clearly clunky, but putting a definition into words at least helps me enhance my understanding of metaliteracy overall. 

As for my reaction to the articles, I think I have a much better understanding of what metaliteracy is.  Although, the skeptic in me says: Isn’t metaliteracy, as it has been defined and fleshed out in the Mackey and Jacobson article, just the 21st century definition of information literacy?  I will admit, I’m still struggling with the relationship between metaliteracy and information literacy.  I know some of you will chime in and stress the creation part of metaliteracy as an aspect that is different from information literacy, but I’m not completely convinced.  Couldn’t one argue that the creation of content online part is simply part of what information literacy is today?  I don’t know . . . maybe it is just my novice showing through.

Finally, while reading these articles, especially the one on transparency, I became increasingly impressed about how this MOOC is practicing what Tom describes.  The entire class demonstrates all the characteristics of transparent design that he outlines, thus making it very easy to understand what he is writing about.  Pretty cool.

Ok, back to work and some topic 2 materials.  Maybe I can make a dent in them before Wednesday’s talk.  Maybe . . .

Dipping my toe into the Metaliteracy MOOC waters

I have wanted to start a blog for a while.  Last week I joined the Metaliteracy MOOC and one of the suggestions is to link your blog to the course and write about the class.  So, here I am.  I will admit I’m a little late to the class but I am here nonetheless.  Part of my hesitation for joining is due to the fact that I am an academic librarian and of course we are only in our fourth week of classes.  It is a bit hectic around here.  Also, the word metaliteracy confused me and intimidated the heck out of me.  But, the more I thought about the class I realized it was an important topic and that I should try to join the conversation.

So, I listened to the first talk yesterday in the midst of processing interlibrary loan requests, checking email, talking to colleagues and watching the clock for my approaching Reference Desk shift at 10 am.  I tried to take some notes as I listened on the questions Tom Mackey posed.  Here is some of what I came up with, as well as some additional thoughts as I write.  And, I will admit, I haven’t done the readings yet.  I’ll sneak a bit of that in today between teaching, a faculty meeting, more interlibrary loan and a Reference Desk shift late this afternoon.

What is metaliteracy? (this is coming prior to me reading any definitions)

  • knowledge,adept, active participant, skilled, expert?, lifetime learner
  • meta-core, key, about, beyond
  • literacy about literacy? (although now I don’t think this is really hitting the mark, but that is what I put in my brainstorming notes)

What is a Metaliterate Learner?

  • Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer this one.  I decided I would get to the end of Talk 1 and do the readings.  

How different is metaliteracy from information literacy?

  • knowledge beyond just engaging with the information and thinking critically . . . knowing how to take information and using it to engage with others and create new information and knowledge

I hope I’m not too far off the mark.  So far, the class is really fascinating.  I really want to stick with it, provided I am able to catch up.  I will try to follow up with another post once I finish the readings.

And as far is the whole blog is concerned, I will eventually morph it into something else.  But for now I think I will use it exclusively for the Metaliteracy MOOC.