Thinking about embedding a QR code into your fancy Prezi presentation? We will explore the tech trends of yesterday and today that didn’t quite pan out. Maybe you’ve done research help in Second Life. Or perhaps you’re just starting to pin your library in Pinterest. We understand the allure, which is why we’d like you to join us for a light-hearted poke at tech fads.
When: Friday, February 1, 2013. 9:05am. ICTC Ontario.
Wherein: we lightly jab at Virtual Worlds, QR Codes, Prezi, Social Media, and MOOCs. In the presentation we didn’t get around to Cloud Computing and E-Books/Readers
Science literacy is a central component of the Integrated Science Program (iSci) at McMaster University, providing a common thread through all four years of the undergraduate program. We define science literacy as the writing, reading, communication, and information skills required to practice science. The aim of the science literacy component is to prepare the next generation of professional scientists to communicate not only within academia, but also to the wider community.
We present preliminary results from the first three years of the program, investigating student attitudes to science literacy in terms of their own confidence and the value they place on skills and experience in the component. The study has been conducted both for program development purposes and to evaluate the outcomes of our teaching methods. The surveys were also designed to raise student awareness of their own science literacy skills as valuable outcomes of their university education. We will also demonstrate how science literacy fits within a larger program where students engage with research skills early in their degree program.
Our methods are relevant to any undergraduate science course with professional integrated skills components. We will share our teaching techniques and survey methods, and conclude with preliminary results from our study.
Today I can finally say that my participation in the ALA Emerging Leaders program for 2012 is complete. That means our group has ‘handed in’ our final report on creating a structure for reviewing videogames for libraries and the library professionals who would collect them. The other deliverable, an academic poster, was presented at the ALA Annual conference.
For your consideration, I have included them below.
Background: I was contacted by a student from an US university working on a project that looked at alternative science careers. The student included a list of headings that formed the basis for this post. It’s a bit of a rush job, so please excuse the poor grammar and odd wording. If you have anything you think would be valuable for the student, please leave a comment.
As a caveat, I think you’ll find that depending on the science librarian you speak to, you’ll find quite diverse job descriptions. Some are quite specialized, others more generalist. My situation is somewhat unique.
My primary ‘job’ is teaching/instruction. I co-teach a component of the Integrated Science program called Science Literacy, which involves guiding students to understand the elements of science outside of the ‘core’ knowledge. We talk about writing for different audiences (formal and informal), finding and using information, peer-review, presentation skills, poster design, and many other topics. I also do a number of other tasks for iSci. In addition, I do a number of guest lectures in classes, mostly in Biology, Biochemistry and a little Engineering. This instruction is strongly centered around finding scientific literature using databases and organizing that information.
Being a librarian usually involves other project work throughout the library, often involving committee work. At the moment, I’m only on a handful of committees (mostly involving technology), but that will vary depending on what the library is working on. In the past, I’ve worked on promotional videos, staff training, etc. Opportunities to do different things often come up, and so it is possible to have quite a variety in your work.
The other part of my job is Professional Development and Service. The former involves presenting at conferences and publishing in the library literature. The latter involves volunteer type work for the university and library organizations.
Specific ways in which the scientific training is used or helpful
My science background has been invaluable in my position in the library. For teaching Science Literacy, I rely heavily on understanding how science is ‘done’ and drawing on my experience in both undergrad and in my MSc. I also draw heavily on my MSc., where I had lots of practice searching for information.
Having a science background helps when communicating with other scientists. Understanding the ‘language’ of science is a big part of that, as well as them recognizing you as someone that is part of their sphere.
Type(s) of training/education required for that position
A science background is a huge asset for being a science academic librarian. In the past (and perhaps still), it was not necessary, but I think my job would be very difficult without it. Depending on the position, a Master’s degree (or higher) may be required, or may be considered as equivalent to ‘experience’. In my case, having the MSc. was a major contributor to my getting the job.
In addition to the science background, a science librarian also requires a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) (or Master of Library Science (MLS), depending on the institution). These are graduate programs that are accredited my the American Library Association. They can vary from 1 year long to 2 years long, depending on the program.
Manners in which jobs in that field can be found
There are a number of job boards that list library jobs.
In Canada, I would look at:
In general, they seem to run in the $40,000-$50,000 range.
Pros/cons of the field
Librarianship (and libraries) are at something of crisis point, and depending on your perspective, this is a pro or a con. The internet has changed the role of the library drastically, and so libraries need to figure out what they are best suited for going forward. This means that bright, passionate people can play a significant role in shaping that future.
For me, a significant benefit is being able to work in academia. I value higher education and believe it does important work in preparing future leaders. I also quite like the culture and being around intelligent engaged faculty, staff and students. Academic jobs often provide excellent benefits and competitive salaries, and usually offer flexible schedules.
Being a librarian involves working closely with people (for me, usually students, but also faculty and staff), and helping them get things done. This can be very rewarding. It also involves wading through information and becoming an expert navigator of the internet. For me, this is a lot of fun.
One downside of librarianship is perhaps the amount of job openings compared to the number of new graduates produced, as outlined below. This means that new graduates are not guaranteed to find work easily, and may need to spend some time filling contract and temporary positions before finding a full-time job.
Prospective job market in the field
This is a more complicated issue. The job market is dependent on two variables: the number of graduates from library programs and the number of retirements/new openings in libraries. The present landscape suggests there are far more graduates of library programs than new openings (even considering future retirements).
Having said that, librarians with science backgrounds, particularly at the graduate level, are rather rarer and will be desired at academic universities. Skills in technology are also an asset, as librarianship moves deeper into a tech field.
Outside of academia, there are jobs for librarians in other areas, including public and ‘special’ libraries. Special libraries encompass law, business, government and health, amongst others.
There’s only really one update to speak of, but I didn’t want to title this post ‘guess what guys, I was selected to be an ALA Emerging Leader for 2012′.
There’s only one update, you see, because this fall semester really kicked my butt. For the first time since I’ve started, I really felt like I couldn’t run fast enough to keep up with everything. This was due to a number of factors, I think. First, we were running a pilot project on using online modules to replace face-to-face instruction in a number of courses. My role in the project was to evaluate the success of the project, which involved doing a lot of tasks with which I had little experience: ethics applications, survey design, qualitative research, etc. I also had to pick up a few Engineering courses, due to the departure of our Engineering liaison librarian. Finally, the iSci program is now running at three years simultaneously, which from a workload perspective is about as high as it will get for me, so I have to find the right balance.
Before the Great Onslaught, however, I took a few days this past summer to apply for the ALA Emerging Leader program. It was admittedly on something of a whim (I hadn’t heard of it previously), and was recommended to me by my supervisor at the time. Some thoughtful words on paper + two recommendation letters later, the application was in. After about three months or so, I found out I was selected and quickly signed up for ALA Midwinter & Annual (two conferences I’ve never been to & are required for the program).
The last bit to add is that the EL program is founded on project work for ALA committees and roundtables, culminating in a poster presentation at ALA annual. There is some choice in which project to work on, and I was quite pleased to see a video game focused project, based on ALA’s Gaming Roundtable. My impression is that the work will be centred on drafting policy and language about video game collections for libraries, with some thought toward a library videogame award.
Videogames are a broad medium, and stretch from indie art projects (Passage) to causal (Angry Birds) to blockbusters (Skyrim), plus countless genres, sub-genres and non-genres in between. It will certainly be an interesting conversation to figure out what ought to be important to libraries.
In conclusion, I’m ready for my holiday vacation days.
I had a brief, but enjoyable, visit to the Western Conference on Science Education at UWO (July 6-8, 2011). I attended on the Thursday to share with educators in attendance some of the things we’re experimenting with in the Science Literacy component of iSci. The format was interesting – speakers were paired up by topic similarity, and after those there was a discussion period lasting about a half hour. I was paired up with Francis Jones out of UBC, who was doing some very cool things in a second-year Earth and Ocean Science course to develop ‘scientific skills’. Some of the things that Francis and we are trying overlap, and some diverge, but that’s where great idea sharing can happen. I’ll be getting in touch with Francis to get more detail on a few areas, particularly his approach to students developing a good scientific question.
My presentation is below. I was particularly chuffed when one of the attendees told me that I had the best designed slides at the conference.
I was recently invited to guest lecture in an LIS class, speaking to and leading discussion around embedded librarianship and thinking beyond information literacy. For this latter topic, I had this notion that it would be interesting to get students to brainstorm broadly about what other literacies there might be, and what being literate in that area might mean. (activity instructions after the jump)
In preparation for this activity, I looked at online mind-mapping software that would be free to use for something like this. I had used bubbl.us previously, and I liked it for its simplicity. I also thought Mind Meister would work well. It’s more feature-rich (and therefore complicated), but made open collaboration easier. I would recommend both (and they are just two of many). Just before class, though, I read a tweet about something called popplet, a relatively new tool. It’s still in beta, and has a few bugs yet, but was super simple to use. I’m a sucker for trying something new, so I went with that.
I’m really pleased with the result. It’s both complicated and nice to look at. The students came up with some novel ideas that I’d not considered, and found ways to link different literacies together. Very cool. I hope the class got something out of it!
As I said, Popplet still has some kinks to work out. Export to PDF and JPG is low-resolution, not adequate for a popplet of this size. You can’t yet duplicate a whole sheet (so to make a backup copy). I’d like to see ways to collaborate with a group without requiring everyone to have an account. Lots of potential here, though.
I listen to a lot of podcasts. Many of them are interview based: Spark, On the Media, The Sound of Young America, etc. Invariably, at the end of the interview, the host says, “Thanks for being on this show” in some form.
Now, pay attention to what the interviewee says in response. It’s almost never “you’re welcome”, which is what so many of us were taught (as kids) to say.
Most of the time, the response is, “thank you“, or the variant, “thank you for having me”. More rarely, you’ll get, “it’s been a pleasure to be here”, or “my pleasure”. But the rarest is surely “you’re welcome”.
I don’t know why, but this bit of interview etiquette fascinates me. Listen for it.
I’m running for the Board of Governors at McMaster University. It ought to be a pretty good race, because there’s eight of us on the ballot, all from different parts of the university. My motivation for running is twofold: 1) I think there should be representation from the library in university governance, since we cater to such a large and diverse user-base and 2) I want to have an inside look at how the university is governed, so I can better understand it. I want to be an active contributor instead of a passive observer. I am happy to share what I learn with you.