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Joining ACRLog

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve joined the ACRLog blogging team! My first post was just published this morning, so please check it out and let me know what you think! I will absolutely continue to write here on my personal blog and already have a few new posts in the works. More to come…

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It’s About to Get Critical

IMG_2819It’s almost 6am, I’m sitting in the Tucson Airport waiting for my flight, and I can’t get CritLib out of my head. After two days at the Critical Librarianship and Pedagogy Symposium I’m overwhelmed by new ways of knowing and experiencing my work (and life) as a librarian, teacher, and scholar. I’m feeling all kinds of feelings.  I’m thinking:

I should have said this.
I should have kept my mouth shut.
Why didn’t I think of things that way.
I don’t agree with that.
I am guilty of that.
I want to be better.
I want to do better.

The next few posts are going to be me making sense of the symposium, which will likely include a heavy dose of reflection, feeble attempts at critlib-ing, and innumerable questions. I’m not sure if this is a warning, an encouragement to read and share your thoughts, an apology to the symposium speakers for mangling their words, or some strange combination of all three. I suppose all that matters is that you’ve been informed of what’s to come!

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The EndNote Conundrum*

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NOW will be THEN 52/52 via Dennis Skley on Flickr

*or, Do People Want to Learn Things When They Say They Want to Learn Them?

Last week I meet with three students beginning their literature review research for an independent senior thesis (what we call the St. Mary’s Project or SMP). Although much of the focus is on making sure they’re familiar with helpful research resources and able to gather all the background research they require, I do also offer a brief EndNote workshop. Although it’s not my favorite citation management software, our college has an institutional license, so it’s what we teach. I just want them to organize their research in some way; the particular tool is unimportant.

Inevitably, when I teach EndNote to senior students, I get loud exclamations and shocked expressions (complete with hanging jaws). “Why didn’t we learn this sooner?!?! Oh. My. God. This is AMAZING! We should all learn this as FRESHMAN!!!!!”

It’s that last line that always gets me–We should all learn this as Freshman. It’s absolutely true, but it’s also absolutely not. Case in point: I have a colleague who is routinely asked to teach EndNote to students in a First Year Seminar course. She thinks it’s a waste of time. The students think it’s a waste of time. The professor thinks it is critical. In many ways, it’s a parallel situation to my SMP EndNote workshop.

From their position as senior thesis writers, these students are able to see the applicability of EndNote to their previous years of study and research. As a scholar and researcher, the First Year Seminar professor can’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t want to organize their references with something like EndNote. Their early-college-student-perspective is totally lost, and they can only look at educational scenarios through the lens created by past experience. It leaves librarians with the complicated task of determining the ideal timing for a learning experience. We might all claim to focus on point-of-need instruction, but is our understood point-of-need the same as that of our students?

I don’t know what the “right time” for an EndNote workshop would be for my students, so I continue to learn from trial and error. I sometimes wonder what the “right time” is for so much of what I teach.