Friday, April 18, 2008

TLA - Friday April 18, 2008

Today I attended an excellent presentation on Social Networking Among Digital Natives: Library Issues. An accurate, descriptive title for a well organized and thought provoking presentation. Although the presentation was aimed at school and public librarians who have contact with children and teens, these are future academic library users, thus what they know and how they use social networking tools is of tremendous interest to me as an academic librarian.

The issue: "teens are cruising the information highway without brakes while adults are struggling to get out of first gear".

The presenter gave the best definition of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 I've ever heard. Web 1.0 is one directional information transfer from a website (source) to the user while Web 2.0 is bi-directional information transfer, participatory, and mobile.

The broad issue here is how does technology influence behavior?
- supports disinhibition: the perception of invisibility and lack of tangible feedback regarding consequences
- supports exploration of identity (remember, this presentation is focused on digital natives)
- a factor in the development of online social norms
- an avenue for social manipulation
- puts youth at risk; the higher the level of individual risk along a continuum from saavy to naive to vulnerable to high risk youth, the greater the probability that young person's vulnerability to danger

Tactics for increasing online safety that AREN'T working--
- fear based tactics (they're not based on fact and are dismissed by YA's who understand adults' lack of knowledge of technology and their (correct) understanding that most strangers are safe
- reliance on filters is not effective; "homework" question for the audience: which major filtering company has a close relationship with the American Family Association (an ultra conservative group)?
- sole reliance on adults: adults often don't know what to do and teens don't trust adults to know

What works is teaching children and teens to make good decisions on their own by creating simple rules for children that they can carry with them into teen-hood (and I would add young adult-hood).
- effective supervision and monitoring of social networking activities by adults
- CIPA compliance
- appropriate educational use of social networking
- use of technology resources to support safety
- allowing appropriate filter administration by front-line adults

The content was substantial and well supported by authoritative evidence. Nancy Willard, who gave the bulk of the presentation, is executive director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, is a recognized authority on issues related to the safe and responsible use of the Internet. The website she has created to disseminate her work is at On her site, in early summer she is planning to deliver an expanded version of her presentation in the form of a narrated power point presentation meant for use in educator training.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

TLA - Thursday April 17

This morning I visited the exhibits. They seem smaller and more geared towards school and public libraries each year and this year was no different. It took about an hour and half to walk the entire floor. That's not really surprising and probably is as it should be since so many school and public libraries cannot afford to fund their librarians' travel to national conferences.

Lunch was the Ebsco Academic Librarians luncheon and it was small too, but well worthwhile because we learned more about Ebsco's new search interface that is to be debuted in June. The session I attended this afternoon was an interesting contrast to the Ebsco lunch. It was advertised as a comparison of "big box" databases to "boutique" databases and two perspectives were presented: that of a boutique database vendor (HW Wilson) and a librarian (Gary Ives of Texas A&M University in College Station). Given the obvious bias of the presented from HW Wilson, the program might have been strengthened by the inclusion of the perspective of a "big box" database vendor. This part of the presentation included a number of poorly veiled jabs at the "big box" database vendors (like Ebsco) which were entirely unsupported. Gary Ives' presentation was a welcome relief in that it contained a great deal of quantitative support for clearly presented conclusions. Gary has submitted a paper on the same topic for publication in The Serials Librarian, a copy of which is available in Texas A&M University's institutional repository at

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TLA - Wednesday, April 16

My library school class is attending the Texas Library Association Conference "together" as part of our course work so we met last night to talk about what sessions we wanted to attend and about a framework for reflecting on them. The class is research and issues so obviously one of the things we're thinking about is what issues are "hot" and what research is or might be done to illuminate them. One of our (ok, at least my) guiding questions is what should we (librarians) be studying?

So with that in mind I attended a session this morning on Digital Natives and Intellectual Property given by two librarians at Illinois State University. They've done and are doing a huge research project on the issue of illegal downloading of media on college campuses and have created an initiative called the Digital Citizen Project based on some of their preliminary results. I was surprised at the depth of their work and how well it was presented. They provided the audience with their purpose, goals, data collection and analysis methods, and preliminary conclusions clearly and concisely. It was very well done.

What I got out of it personally was, potentially, a new lens for looking at copyright as it applies to e-resources and e-journals. Their discussion of the complexities of implementing legal peer-to-peer network on their campus sounded a lot like the complexities that I face in implementing access to e-journals. It's something that I'd like to investigate further and so I eagerly await the publication of their research results.

We had lunch with a group of Texas A&M System library directors and e-resources librarians and hosted by Ebsco. This (somewhat to my surprise) was viewed with interest by my classmates and professor as an opportunity to discover the "real" issues that are being dealt with in Texas academic libraries (which makes sense, I just had never thought of it that way). As usual the discussion was lively and an excellent opportunity to learn about some of the things that Ebsco can do for us to help us resolve some of our issues. For instance, we talked about how many libraries have implemented a turn-key (proprietary) electronic resources management system but how very few of them are actually using them efficiently or effectively. There's an issue for you: we need a way of keeping track of and providing information about our electronic resources (for instance whether a license allows us to the materials in a resource to fill interlibrary loan requests or in e-reserves for our students). The only ones I know that are really being used to their fullest potential are the ones that have been developed in house by the big research libraries. There are open source solutions of course but even those are not cost-free (another issue!).

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