Monday, April 4, 2011

A Final Note

The organization of learning resources is only part of a librarian's job but it seems that so much flows in and out of this activity that we are never far from it.  I have found the whole concept of cataloguing and organising my collection less daunting and less intimidating after having taken this course.  There are so many great resources available to teacher librarians.

Even though I did not totally master the art of creating MARC records during this course, I certainly have a firm grasp of how they are constructed and organized.  The experience of learning to create a MARC record was much like learning how to program my first webpage using HTML.  I was never going to seriously program pages myself when there were so many great webpage editors available.  Nevertheless my knowledge of HTML has helped me troubleshoot problems and occasionally debug a page when the tools didn't work.  My knowledge of MARC records allows me to enrich and evaluated the records I have.  I will copy catalog 99 percent of the time but now I feel confident to tweak and dig when necessary.

Another highlight of the course was the whole concept of folksonomy and how we tag items or resources.  The articles and the implications of folksonomy especially in the light of new technologies and the growth of the Internet was a real eye opener. With the growth of the web and information in general a thoughtful and informed approach to metadata is key.

I had thought we would spend a lot more time working with the Dewey Decimal System.  I was surprised when it was a comparatively minor topic.  I am not sure what I was expecting.  I did however experience some sense of rejuvenation in my teaching of the Dewey.  I have let such teaching slide quite a bit in the last few years in favour of literature promotion and inquiry based learning units.  I have been awakened to the fact that I have a lot of shelf browsers among my patrons.  I had been lulled into thinking that all my patrons were efficient OPAC users and were simply using Dewey numbers as addresses to what they wanted.  My younger users need to know more about the basic sections and I need to translate those sections into clearer signposts by adding graphics and simple keywords.  If anything I need to teach the Dewey to younger and younger patrons and help them work their way around the numbers and get at the organizational schema in other ways.  I hope to get further along in this effort by updating my Dewey signage and shelf markers.

I very much appreciated the fact that this course, as with all the other teacher-librarianship courses I have taken, grapples with the evolving mandate and roles of the librarian.  It is both exciting and alarming how fast this field is being transformed.  Library 2.0 like Web 2.0 not only allows but requires us to question how we do everything in our libraries. I really hope I can cope with the pace of change and deal with the stress of things always being in flux. 

I suppose the most difficult part of this course for me has been the discussion groups. I find the amount of information and discussion created to unmanageable.  I admire all the participants for their dedication in participating in such discussions.  There is a lot of good information there but for me it is just overload. There is not enough time in the day to thoughtfully consider all that has been posted. Every learning opportunity I attend these days there is a new wiki or blog to read or follow.  As a society we are drowning in text and as educators and students we may be swimming in more text than any other group.  Just look how much text I have generated in this blog. 

In addition to my own posts I did not make a lot of comments (one or two per week) on what my peers wrote because there was such a volume of text already.  I did my best to refrain from commenting just for the sake of participation.  When I did comment  I tried to make what I did write insightful as I believe everyone else did for the most part. It just seems that my colleagues may have a lot more insights than me because I still can't believe how much people found time to read and think about. I could only read half of what was posted.

Perhaps a better approach to written online discussion is to assign less students to any one discussion and have the rest of us read and weigh what they write.  Or create smaller discussion groups so those participating can more easily participate and follow the discussion.  Or perhaps we need less discussion topics overall.

All in all I am very happy to have taken this course and feel that I am better equipped as a teacher-librarian.

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