Homeless Perspectives on Libraries
The most unusual presentation was on the use of libraries by the homeless. Angie Kelleher from Alma College is a former social worker, so had interest in how homeless view libraries, how they use them, and to get insights on how to better serve this population. She surveyed 120 homeless in the Lansing area and found that most of them frequently use libraries. The reasons they gave most often for using the library was to read for pleasure, use the Internet for information, or communication, some even study for classes. She rarely got responses such as getting in from the cold, sleeping, washing. Many are pleased with library services and the main request was for more time on computers.
Collaborating with High Schools
Kathleen DeMey explained how Calvin College (Grand Rapids) works with its “feeder” high schools, mostly Christian high schools in the area. They have organized three conferences, where high school teachers and media specialists get to meet introductory English class professors to hear what will be expected of their students, and librarians teach them about tools to use for research. Calvin librarians work with all their ENGL 101 classes, creating individualized LibGuides, giving 3 hours of instruction, and providing often mandatory one-on-one sessions with the students.
Ann Arbor schools have a district wide volunteer program, where organizations from the community are asked to partner. High schools teaching the health and wellness classes asked the University of Michigan Health Sciences Libraries to help provide supplemental material for these classes on alcohol, drugs, smoking, domestic violence, stress management and other topics. Merle Rosenzweig and Anbna Schnitzer talked about how the librarians worked with the teachers to create appropriate guides and attended a health and wellness teacher orientation to show them how to get this type of information. They also worked with a new public health class, involving university professors and a university library visit.
Videos in the Catalog
Elizabeth Bucciarelli and Michael Barnes from Eastern Michigan presented on getting videos into their catalog – both internally created videos like the library tour, but also commercial videos (mostly free ones) on various health topics.
Use of Health Sciences Databases
Andrew Hickner and Abby Bedford, two students from University of Michigan presented on a survey they did on the use of health sciences databases. They found MEDLINE/PubMed, Ovid SP and CINAHL most commonly used, but other databases less so, and most users, including faculty, did not know about ISI features of impact factor and H-index (I had to look up H-index myself). Implications were for teaching, collection development (maybe stop getting lesser used databases), and reference work.
Library Environmental Committee
Michigan State University’s Library Environmental Committee seems to have been at the forefront of recycling and other greening of the campus initiatives at Michigan State. Michael Unsworth is contributing to an upcoming book: Greening Libraries. The MSU libraries have moved to using recycled paper, two-sided copying, recycling toner cartridges, reducing library handouts by using more e-mail and more. They sponsor Earth Day activities and a speaker series. MSU has a surplus store and recycling center.
Developing a Scholarly Research Topic
An unexpected twist in these presentations came from Rhonda Fowler, an Eastern Michigan University librarian, who described her own struggle with developing a research topic. She is concerned with the amount of time and energy some librarians expend on supervising others, but had a hard time moving from this concern to a viable research question. She explained her process and showed a few good research process models. Seven Steps of the Research Process (Cornell Libraries) and Kuhlthau's Model of the Stages of the Information Process.
Workshops on APA and MLA Styles
Christine Malmsten and Jennifer Meacham from Marygrove College Library, a small academic library in Detroit, explained how they do 16 workshops a semester on APA and MLA styles. They have created 12 page guides on formatting a paper in both styles, but in the workshops they focus on the citations. From evaluations they learned that the session needs to be longer – 90 minutes - for enough hands on experience. They do work with their writing center.
Finding Rare and Unusual Content in Collections
Eastern Michigan University, which does not have as its mission to collect rare materials, has over the years acquired items that may be of historical, cultural, or monetary value. Robert Kelly explained how EMU generated a report of all items with pre-1940 imprints (got 40,000), sorted them by date and found the first 200 had major issues in the catalog records. They took about a 1000 of the oldest items and looked at them to decide if they belonged in the circulating collection, storage (ARC), or in their archives. They found ACRL standards that addressed what value to look for, but in the end the criteria they used were: market value, number of copies in Michigan, and the bibliographic value to EMU. They ended up moving only 39 titles (94% of these titles were already in storage), but also cleaned up many of the catalog records, e.g. 10% had been cataloged as original publications, but were reprints, and one 1711 was cataloged as a reprint, but was original.
Feminism in Librarianship
Sharon Ladenson from Michigan State and Gloriane Peck from the Library of Michigan collaborated on a survey of librarians on their attitudes towards feminism and how that manifests in library work. They got 560 responses, 88% female, 79% identified themselves as feminists. Feminism is defined in libraries as individual choice, equality, diversity of gender identities, and awareness of gender bias. This affects work at the libraries in treating patrons and colleagues equally, balancing viewpoints in collection development, and seeing the library as a place for all people. Though there is an increasing number of women in management, men are still promoted more quickly. There was some discussion on the gender differences in workplace communication. The younger respondents felt less valued and heard by older colleagues, but it was not clear if this was gender or age bias.
Ladies’ Library Associations in Michigan
Our own Sharon Carlson presented a great historical view of ladies’ library associations in Michigan, especially in Southwest Michigan, and their contributions to the development of public libraries. I learned about how libraries moved from subscription and social libraries to public institutions. Some of the ladies’ library associations are still in existence today.
Training Students for Reference Desk Work
My own presentation was on how we train our students to do the work on the reference desk, as librarians asked me about this at the last Michigan Academy meeting. I was again surprised at the questions and lively discussion that followed.
I always like to see other schools – large and small, and liked the buildings and setting of Calvin College. I asked where I could take a walk during the lunch break and was guided to their ecosystem preserve and interpretive center. I got to try out my first composting toilet in a public building. And the walk through the preserve was just what I needed to clear my head between sessions.
Ideas for Our Library
- I think we need to look at a more systematic way of working with area high schools. We do have lighter loads during Apr, May, Nov, & Dec. Maybe we can help provide links to resources as they did in Ann Arbor or start a conversation about college level research expectations. Does anyone know if Kalamazoo or Portage has a program similar to Partners in Excellence – Ann Arbor Public Schools? I believe this can be a great recruiting tool for Western.
- Have we thought of putting videos right into the catalog?
- I know we have successful RefWorks workshops, but have we considered ones on MLA and APA? Or is our experience with drop-in workshops too dismal?
- Have we systematically looked at our older publications and seen if they need to be moved off the circulating shelves? I know Sue and Tom before her have worked on this.