Friday, July 11, 2008

Well prepared to teach?

There's an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed this morning called "Confidence Gap for New Profs". It's interesting in a number of ways. First because I've been having similar feelings for the past year or so as I approach the completion of my PhD and contemplate a teaching career. I have lots of library experience but little teaching experience that would translate into the classroom for a semester long course. Because I see this as a something that's missing from my graduate school program, I've been working to correct it at least for myself by taking a couple of extra-curricular courses in teaching (particularly online pedagogy) and planning to apply for teaching assistantships during final year of my degree (while I'm working on my dissertation). I realize that this won't be possible in many gradate programs but I think that the responsibility lies not only with the IHE's who are (supposed to be) preparing the next generation of professors but also with the students.

The article goes on to talk about salaries which were another topic of the survey of new faculty upon which the article is based. What I question here is the connection between feeling "well prepared" for a teaching career in higher education and the level of one's salary. Makes me yearn to see the survey questions and the resulting data for myself.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

ALA Annual: LRRT Research Roundtable...part 2

Lynn Westbrook presented results of some ongoing research into the information needs of victims of domestic violence during this same session on Saturday morning. As usual, her passion for her topic was really overwhelming. I think that is part of what makes her a good qualitative researcher (and reporter of her research). She mentioned that she would put her power point slides from this presentation up on her website but I haven't found them there yet. However, her site does contain a description of her research agenda for this topic as well as some of the products (e.g. reports and articles) that she has published thus far. You can find this at

She brought up a concern that had never occurred to me during her presentation: that victims of domestic violence may put themselves at risk by seeking information about their problems, for instance if their abuser discovered that they were seeking information about how to extract themselves from the violent situation learned (for instance by viewing the history of web sites they visited). And yet Westbrook's research uncovered only a very small number of web sites that warned of this possibility (something on the order of 1 or 2%). That's a particularly important point for librarians who might be assisting a victim to find information.

It would also be interesting to think about how Westbrook's model for this type of information seeking might be applied to similar types of information seekers like victims of other types of crimes or an illness.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

ALA Annual: LRRT Research Roundtable

As usual, LRRT put on an excellent workshop in which three groups presented their research. Lynn Connaway (of OCLC), Marie Radford (of Rutgers), and Timothy Dickey (of OCLC)presented the preliminary results of a large study they are conducting on evaluations of virtual reference. They are focusing on both users and non-users of virtual reference in an academic undergraduate population. Typically (at least in my experience), the non-users exhibit library anxiety and, as a result, were reluctant to approach a librarian through VR services. What I thought was particularly interesting was their use of the term "screenagers" to describe the younger members of the Millennial generation (citing Rushkoff, D. (1996). Playing the future: What we can learn from digital kids. NY: Harper Collins). Also interesting was their finding that screenagers preferred seeking information from a familiar person which suggests to me a preference not only for face to face interaction in order to develop a personal relationship but a preference for interactions with persons with whom they already have an established trusting relationship (e.g. a parent or a friend).

You can find a copy of their proposal for this presentation at

[Note: I have yet to find where (if) ALA has posted presenter handouts, etc. from the conference. If anyone out there knows where they are, please drop me a comment!]

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I am... a wife a daughter a sister/sister-in-law an aunt a reader a librarian a doctor a quilter a niece a grandmother ;-) a cat owner 6 feet 1 inches tall a yoga enthusiast a cook