IntroductionOn Friday, June 1, I attended the California Conference on Library Instruction, which was held at USF in Fromm Hall. The theme of this year's 1-day conference was Library Instruction by Design: Using Design Thinking to Meet Evolving Needs. This theme was inclusive and applicable to all the sorts of library instruction we do, conceptually flexible, and easily approachable. My main takeaway of the conference was to just try something new; in the process of design thinking, there are built-in pockets of time to reflect on how the new thing went and to adjust the application of the new thing to continually improve it. On the other hand, it is also important to remember the beauty of pilots: if it doesn't work, it is OK to cancel the new thing and try something else instead! The most important mindset to maintain is that improvement is incremental, and the stakes are rarely high enough to stop one completely from trying to improve the design of instruction sessions, assessment approaches, vehicles for outreach relationships, etc.: we can evolve towards something better with the luxury of making mistakes.
|Picture of Lauren Pressley|
during opening keynote
KeynoteI found the opening keynote address, delivered by Lauren Pressley, to be accessible and inspirational, sending me reaching for my notebook to take notes. She spoke of key moments in her career trajectory in where she used elements of design thinking, often emphasizing that a period that appears on the outside as inactive is many times the analyzing phase of design thinking, where one is taking everything in and gathering information sufficient to beginning the subsequent design phase.
|The ADDIE model by grafispaten [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
Or, we can put it this way:
- talking with peeps
- taking it in, marinating
- put self in position of users when approaching design (e.g. use library's public space for your own work) - walk through other areas of campus to see what peeps are doing
- divergent thinking
- generate ideas
- consider fringe cases
- prototyping (e.g. post-it note on cell phone screen for rough UX design)
- take to public before investing in doing it (they might not think it's as great as you do)
- what other problems are arising
- exploring what could come out of doing the thing
Pressley also called out a great resource: the Design Thinking for Libraries Toolkit and flashed a flagship quote for design thinking: Perfect is the enemy of good. If it's good, do it! And it's OK to say, "I need more time on this phase," whatever phase may be tripping you up, as you ask yourself, "What role can I play in my community, for what can I be a resource?"
Morning SessionThe next session I attended was called Every Citation Tells a Story: Framing a Collaborative Assessment Design of Information Literacy Skills, presented by Dale Vidmar. This was an interactive session where we got to apply the methods Vidmar used in assessing student information literacy skills by evaluating the introduction and references of a sample student paper. It turns out one rarely needs to read the whole paper to evaluate info lit skills, and that the citations -- from what types of works are cited to how well the citations are formatted -- indicates a student's mastery over info lit.
I can see this being applicable to archival research in addition to traditional reference and research services; this past spring quarter I taught a couple of classes in where the students used archival materials as a main component of their research for specific assignment topics; by evaluating and comparing the citations of archival sources with the citations of the secondary and tertiary sources, I would be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the incorporation of archival sources into the research process. This is another great example of checking in on students' final research outputs as a mode for assessment.
Note: Vidmar's slides and interactive exercise handouts are available on the CCLI 2018 website.
Afternoon SessionsDirectly after lunch I attended the lightning talks, which I like because they offer a wide overview of the projects and initiatives my colleagues at other institutions have been up to, but for whatever reason I did not find any particular talk extremely useful or applicable. I also often feel like 10 minutes is not enough time to get into everything necessary for total audience engagement. Although folks in the audience had some great follow-up questions for all participants!
The last session of the day that I attended was Chasing Outcomes: An Exploration of Barriers to Progress in Designing and Assessing Library Instruction Program Learning Outcomes, presented by Caitlin Plovnick. Above all I found this session to be therapeutic for audience and presenter: Plovnick exposed the demoralizing factors she herself faced in her organization when trying to implement an instruction assessment program and by extension allowed us to vicariously give catharsis to any organizational or position-specific issues we ourselves may face. Yes, it is true: dysfunction is normal. As she eventually came round to the positive outcomes, which were sometimes made possible by things out of her control (e.g. a new library director being hired, one who came to her instruction assessment meetings and thus drummed up participation from other librarians), Plovnick's talk kept sight of hope and change. Her session often made me laugh and engage with the other participants at my table, creating camaraderie and a group zeitgeist to close out the day.
The Over Professionalization of Library WorkIt was also during this session that I had a major epiphany regarding a problem I had long felt resided within all aspects of library work. The over professionalization of librarianship is a product of us (academic librarians and library administrators) attempting to legitimize what we do to the rest of academia, which so often rewards research-conducting PhDs with sabbaticals and higher pay. We want a seat at that table; we want the benefits of working hard in academia just as our faculty colleagues do. The over-professionalization of librarianship has not been developed to make it more difficult for us and our colleagues but actually to help us make a case of our services and position us as integral to the academic enterprise. This epiphany gave me space to readjust my attitude towards trends that are indicators in the wider field of academia, like assessment, the need to publish and present, and promote our own rigor in what we do.
|Photo by edulabsde - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60259101|
I definitely look forward to applying design thinking to the instruction I will begin planning for fall quarter, as well as reference desk and research inquiry workflow improvements that have been brewing in my mind. Lastly, of course I look forward to next year's CCLI, which will be held at USF on Friday, May 3, 2019!