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Sunday, January 8, 2012

As I prepare the Foundations Course

Each week, as I prepare for the next and consider the discussion, I will write about my own experiences and reflections about library and information science. It is my sincere hope that this blog will create a rapport between us.

Here are my reflections as I prepare this class. I have not taught this particular class before but have always wanted to.  To me, Foundations is the opportunity to turn you ON to being a librarian. I've been one my entire professional career. I've worked behind a reference desk in busy and slow libraries, from busy New York Public Library reference desks to sleepy South Dakota. I've traveled in the field as a consultant working with libraries of all shapes and sizes, from small corners set aside in police stations (without a unique phone number), to bustling academic libraries, and everywhere in between. I am a free-lance researcher who travels to archives, record centers, historical societies, and libraries digging up interesting and esoteric information for clients, and for myself. I am a consultant to libraries helping them understand preservation and longevity issues, establish mission statements and collection development policies, and recover from a disaster or mold infection. I'm in my public library several days a week picking up books to read, to fondle, and to look at. I use reference databases and Google, read journals and newspapers (electronic and paper), and talk to my friends about good reading, good authors, and great books I am listening to. I talk to colleagues about trends I see in libraries, problems I've encountered, and trends that don't seem to work on the user side of things.  It's really important to be able to understand what your users experience. I am an active, engaged, a passionate librarian, who believes in what I do and teach and want you to feel just as passionate in the beginning, middle and end of your careers.

For the past 5-1/2 years, I've been working on my PhD in history, to complement my MLS and my MA in history.  I just graduated in December. That means you have my undivided attention, except for my other students, and my life, and..... The PhD provides even greater opportunities to teach which I love to do. Stop by my office and I'll tell you all about my experience as a graduate student. Now here's me as the professor.

Just as your reflective journals are an opportunity to share with me what you learn, this blog is a chance to share what I'm learning this semester.  So let's learn together and grow together. Let me turn you on to the amazing world of cultural institutions, which encompasses libraries, information centers, archives, historical societies, record centers, museums, and so much more. While you keep me grounded as to your needs during this course, I will poke and prod, and even cajole, you into thinking about what a library, or cultural institution, is and why it is the cornerstone of our society.

It's my first time teaching online. I am most concerned that I won't get to meet most of you. I may even pass you in the hallways in Kent and Columbus and not know you are taking my class. So stop me and say hi, introduce yourself, and let's get to know one another. To me the best part about teaching, the part that makes me come back year after year, is the students and the rapport we develop during the semester. This blog is my attempt to build that bond that makes a class great.

I am going to make short podcasts every week. I'll make at least two, one about the topic, assignments that are due, and problems encountered the previous week, and so forth. A second will be about issues to focus upon, my take on the subject for the week, and potential discussion topics and questions to provoke 'conversation'.  In my quest to make this an interactive virtual class, I decided to be a talking head rather than a disembodied voice. At least you'll know I'm alive and around. I'll try not to lecture, but to talk about why the 'readings' are important. Let me know how I'm doing and if you like this approach.

My office door is always open. I guess since this is a virtual class, it means that if my green light is on my account, I'm around and working on something.  You can open a chat with me.  If I'm busy, I'll ask you to schedule time to chat or try to answer your question. If you want to just talk, then please ask if I am busy.  If my red light is on, I'm trying to work undisturbed.  E-mail is always an option, just don't expect an answer in the middle of the night. I'm usually on the computer by 7am and definitely off by 7pm.
I do have physical, in person, office hours on Tuesdays. I am teaching my other course on that day, so I extended my office hours an hour before and after the course. Feel free to stop in if I'm in that city (512 Library Kent or in the State Library SLIS office in Columbus), or try the Google Chat option. You can always make an appointment to 'see' me.  If you want to SKYPE, that's fine with me, just let me know so I can turn it on.  My skype is always off unless requested.

When I say my door is always open, I mean it. I'm happy to talk about course issues and questions, about your career goals.  You do have an official adviser, so I'll hand out advice as requested.

Enough about me for now. check out my  'podcasts' and my continuing comments each week.

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