Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Meet and Greet/Q and A Sessions with Seasoned Filipino Librarians

  




It's great to wrap up fruitful activities that help me empower LIS Education and inspire aspirants and hopefuls. From August to October 2020, the BLIS Program of Saint Michael College of Caraga, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte, spearheaded by me as the Program Chairperson, commenced successfully the Meet and Greet/Q and A Sessions with Seasoned Filipino Librarians. We are so privileged to hear their stories about Library and Information Science.

Their real life stories, expertise, and endeavors are really impactful in a positive way to the future librarians and information scientists and also to the BLIS Faculty members of our institution. We are so grateful to have them as motivators and movers, especially in this time of pandemic where enlightenment or illumination on the real beauty of librarianship is very significant.

To Sir Mike, Sir Kevin, and Sir Stephen, may the Lord God grant you more passion and enthusiasm to keep you on upholding our noble profession. We're hoping for more collaborations in the future! Daghang salamat!


Behind the Scenes:








Monday, September 28, 2020

Librarianship at its Finest: The Art of Reference Interview

 


       By Jolo Van Clyde S. Abatayo

        

        Librarians are not just mere keepers of books. We have functions that you can’t imagine. We have responsibilities that you can’t easily grasp if your fervor doesn’t fall into this kind of craft. As a former research services librarian and reader services librarian, I really love handling reference interviews. To be honest, I consider it as my forte.

        Did you know that we always conduct a reference interview? According to the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), “reference librarians recommend, interpret, evaluate, and/or use information resources to help patrons with specific information needs.” From time to time, we are bombarded with so many questions and queries from various information seekers and to be able to accurately identify and retrieve their information needs, we do reference interviews or query negotiations (in-house, via telephone/mobile, or digital). The question is: is it just an ordinary Q & A portion? Nah! In order to effectively and efficiently do this, you need to follow the critical phases: (1) Manifest approachability, (2) Show interest, (3) Be an effective listener, (4) Do the fruitful interview, (5) Search and Explore, (6) Provide accurate answers, and (7) Never forget to follow up.

 Manifest Approachability

        As I always mention to my BLIS students, introverted or reticent fellas will surely find it hard to work as a reference librarian because in this kind of position, you will always handle public relations. Building rapport and being approachable are always important when you conduct a reference interview. Most of the common and vital things you need to do are the following:

·         Initiate and set the tone

·         It’s always free to smile (genuine, not fake)

·         Eye contact is necessary (friendly, not lustful)

·         Consider appropriate body language (distance, hand gestures)

·         Be welcoming


 Show Interest

        Your clients will feel uneasy and incurious if you are not passionate about giving them assistance. The eye contact must be consistent from the very beginning until the end. My college instructor once said that if you find it hard to maintain eye contact, you can look at the person’s brows instead! Furthermore, as much as possible, you need to make sure that your users find you accommodating, not intimidating. Moreover, giving your full attention is a must too. Lastly, the tone of your voice must be polite and relaxed all the time even if your clients are very difficult to deal with. No shouting!


 Be an Effective Listener

        In query negotiation, listening skill is very important. Let your patron talk and explain, for you to analyze and comprehend what he/she really wants or for you to determine his/her real information needs. With that being said, a good listener doesn’t interfere. Here are the strategies you can do:

    Paraphrasing. It is a useful technique that will help you discover a patron's real information need. You repeat back what the patron said in their own words without adding any thoughts or questions of your own. You mirror the patron's thoughts by showing the patron what the question looks like to you.

    Sense-making. It is the process by which people give meaning to their collective experiences. It has been defined as "the ongoing retrospective development of plausible images that rationalize what people are doing". The concept was introduced to organizational studies by Karl E. Weick in the 1970s and has affected both theory and practice. It is an organized way to ensure that the librarian understands what the user really needs.


 Do the Fruitful Interview

        Neutral questioning is a big YES! Don’t forget to ask open-ended questions for you to ascertain the true core of the patron’s query. These questions will allow the patrons to elucidate everything they know about the topic and to describe their information need clearly. Here are some examples of open-ended questions:

  How may I help you?

  Can you tell me more about what you need?

  What type of information are you looking for?

  How will you utilize this information?

Also, don’t forget to squeeze the query to get the last drop of the juice. In other words, get the most specific demand by verifying a specific question through paraphrasing and employing closed-ended questions to seal the deal! Lastly, avoid making reckless judgments or jumping to conclusions real quick!

 Search and Explore

        Answer-seeking or information searching will work best if you will do it with your clients. Don’t you ever forget to show them the process and the progress to instill in them the essence of information literacy. You know not all the time your patrons can access the library or can ask assistance from you and when the time comes that they have to do it on their own, at least you are confident that they can do it. With that, you are also empowering independence and lifelong learning. Here are the important things you need to do as well:

  Familiarize all sources of information

  Employ search strategies and techniques

  Learn to evaluate or assess information

  Utilize bibliographic and ICT tools

  Be an information savvy

  Compile assistive-based research materials

  Build a strong linkage and collaboration for referrals


 Provide Accurate Answers

        Always remember that, as a reference librarian, you need to provide “the right information to the right users in the right place at the right time.” Don’t leave your patrons hanging because it’s a great sin for librarians when they fail to provide answers to the information seekers. Also, you must not forget the following:

  Provide the most accurate information

  Teach them how to properly cite the source

  Uphold knowledge management and creation


Never Forget to Follow up

        Don’t be too confident that you have answered your clients’ questions. Don’t ever forget to make a follow-up. In this way, you can evaluate if your client has everything he/she needs already. Employ appropriate follow-up questions or statements. Here are some of the examples of follow-up questions:

  Does this completely answer your question?

  Do you have everything you need?

  Is there anything else I can help you find?


 Pitfalls in Reference Interview

        In this part of the article, I'm going to provide the common problems in dealing with reference interviews. I am not sure if all of you guys experience these too, but I know that some of you have encountered the following:

·  The Imposed Query. A process in which the imposer or end-user passes the question to another who will act as the agent in the transaction of the query and then return to the imposer with the answer or resolution (Gross 1998).

Example:  A parent arrives in the library asking for information for his/her child’s homework assignment. In this case, the person who needs information is not present may or may not be clear as to the actual information need. The librarian will realize that the person asking the question may not be able to clarify the question for the librarian, making it more complicated to help.

· Communication Trap. In this pitfall, the librarian fails to ask the client any open-ended questions or sense-making questions in order to find out the real essence of the query. Also, another example of it is when the librarian misinterprets the questions because the pronunciation of the keywords is slightly different or the librarian hears the word and relates it to something familiar to him or her. Moreover, your library users often find it hard to explain their needs. They will often throw vague questions at you that’s why asking open questions are vital for you to clearly understand their real information needs.

Example: The patron is asking for materials on Socrates. But, the librarian has just been weeding in the sports section and hears, “soccer tees”.

· The Know-it-All. Some librarians think that they are like walking reference materials. Some are too confident and swaggering that’s why they tend to make assumptions and conclusions without following the exact methods. Some clients also assume that if you are a librarian, you always have answers to everything. It’s half-impossible and half-possible! To be honest, we can give you the answers to your questions because we’re trained to familiarize all the possible sources of information. We have effective search strategies and techniques. We’re kinda like wizards but we don’t use magic. We’re not perfect so stop it…. It’s just us (Kami lang to).



     That’s it for today, folks. If you want to know more about librarianship, please wait for the next articles. I hope you have learned something new today. If you are a librarian/information professional, continue doing fruitful reference interviews. If you are a future librarian/information scientist, start loving reference. If you are aspiring to become a librarian, choose LIS and unravel its mysteries. See you on my next blog. Have a great day or night or whatever!

 

 

References:

Eugene McDermott Library. (2020). Reference Guide for Library Staff and Students. Retrieved last September 29, 2020 from https://libguides.utdallas.edu/reference-guide-for-library-staff-and-students

Gross, M. (1998). The Imposed Query. Retrieved last September 29, 2020 from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-54467286/the-imposed-query

 Images:

https://www.pngkit.com/bigpic/u2q8a9t4u2q8w7t4/

https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=87005&section=2.3

http://lindsay-oneill.com/portfolio/bookshop-branched-scenario/

https://www.bklynlibrary.org/bal

https://www.relentlesspursuitofpurpose.com/questions-answers-questioning-past-provide-answers-future/

https://www.superoffice.com/blog/follow-up-email/

 https://twitter.com/activision/status/1120734427653361664

https://jeffshore.com/2017/09/want-better-closer-show-youre-interested/showing-interest/

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Relevance of School Library Services, Programs, Activities, and Initiatives

 


Children’s learning will never be the same without the guidance of school librarians through empowering students with lifelong literacy skills such as information literacy, knowledge creation, valid inquiry, reading ability, and responsible retrieval of information. Moreover, school librarians exist to cultivate children’s social and emotional development through collaborative projects, utilization of tools for learning and sharing, bibliographic instruction, provision of resources to meet personal needs and wellbeing of the children, and fostering cooperation with all students continuously, through the years of their stay in the school. 


Literacy and reading promotion

Reading does not only empower an individual to develop in many ways, it is also very significant especially in this modern era where information explosion is a big issue. Tella & Akande (2007) express that reading can transform a person’s life and his whole community. Reading is a universal phenomenon that promotes human development and it can teach discipline on every individual. It can help in the survival of a society, and it depends on the extent and effectiveness of the approach or strategy. Therefore, it is relevant for every person to enrich a culture for reading. Since there are great benefits of reading to human existence and success, everyone must have a good practice of reading.

Mojapelo (2018) emphasizes that without sufficient educational resources, it is difficult to accumulate reading, writing, and computing skills at appropriate levels. With broken-down structures, lack of school libraries and laboratories, inadequate and underqualified teachers in many schools, the quality of teaching and learning accomplishments are affected. The researcher also emphasize that the national government has a crucial role in creating, constituting, and finally, implementing a school library policy to roll-out decent, standardized, state-of-the-art and active libraries for all schools to develop learners’ performance and quality of instruction in general. In addition, other significant shareholders also have a responsibility to progress and champion successful library growth initiatives in all schools.

In today’s school librarianship, new concepts, and approaches are now emerging like Makerspaces, innovative learning environments, online communities, augmented realities, and digital citizenship. Learning in this digital era is quite a challenge for the school libraries because of the disruption when it comes to technological directions and the problem of information explosion. Empowering literacy is now complicated, and the school libraries need to cope up with the trends to render effective services (Ellis, 2016).

            Siu-Runyan (2011) states that because of the weakening of libraries, all of the language education is in a predicament. A lot of people need to know that libraries are for the utilization and the contributions these learning establishments provide are compelling to literacy development and it closes the gap between children from high and low-income classes in the society in terms of reading achievement.

            On the other hand, Farmer and Stricevic (2011) reported that stakeholders such as library staff, potential readers, teachers, publishers, and other community members are involved in the promotion of reading and literacy. As professionals, librarians are the shareholders who mostly use research in promoting reading and literacy. Their works will rely on local initiatives and circumstances. By associating their efforts in research, librarians can improve library and information services. Furthermore, every stakeholder provides exceptional outlooks and resources and the librarians’ ability in retrieving resources is counterbalanced by the proficiency of the media’s communication and the connections of the teachers with the parents, for example. 

According to the abovementioned researchers, the following are the factors to be considered in selecting prospective partners:

·         Partners’ goals and values towards reading and literacy promotion

·         Character of the stakeholders

·         Partners’ support in terms of resources and competencies

·         Power of the stakeholders’ participation and librarians support

·         Healthy relationship with partners

In the other hand, three secondary school libraries in the United Kingdom were examined to evaluate the impact of promotional strategies on reading abilities and performance of the students and to determine children's reading behaviors, inclinations and how they select what to read. A case study method was implemented, involving the collection of library documentation, semi‐structured interviews with librarians, Heads of English, Headteachers and survey questionnaires were distributed to Grade 7 and 9 pupils, to evaluate attitudes to reading and its promotion. Furthermore, the study has shown that there are dominant forces in the world, often beyond the control of librarians and teachers, which outline the attitudes of children to reading. A significant minority of pupils chose not to read for pleasure, and also there were significant gender dissimilarities in reading behavior. Lastly, the researcher has recommended that there should be a consideration in the promotion of reading as an issue of the entire school community, with the library's strategy for marketing activities establishing part of a school‐wide policy for this matter (Bates, 2009).



        Suffield (2019) has organized reading initiatives that have helped to enhance the borrowing numbers of their school library by 400 percent over the past five years. The following strategies are done to improve library circulation:

·         Accelerated Reader scheme

It is done through the combination of reading and taking interactive quizzes on tablet devices to acquire instant feedback and a real sense of accomplishment. Suffield (2019) works thoroughly with the literacy coordinator, vice-principal, and other individuals who can support the program. It is very useful because the reading ages of the learners have developed significantly. It just needs so much time and effort, but there’s a significant improvement on the library circulation statistics.

·         Golden tickets

Suffield (2019) places golden tickets in some books, and when a student reads one having a ticket, the school librarian will ask the student to write a summary about it for the student to be able to win a prize. The great advantage of this is that unpopular books will surely be taken out and read by the students.

·         ‘Get caught reading’ raffle

Those who will be caught silently reading will win a prize. Everyone can win many times, but each day, a student can receive a reward once.

·         Twitter review raffles

Students will be encouraged to do a short review of the book they take out of the library. The students should post these reviews on the official twitter page of the library. For every output, a student will receive a raffle ticket, and the students will have the chance to win a prize such as reading-related goodies bags. There are possibilities that the authors of the books will like, retweet, or reply to the posts. It will inevitably cause exhilaration to the students for them to read more and more.

·         Book suggestion box

It is one of the basic strategies that school libraries can do to improve the reading attitudes of the students. The students will be given a chance to suggest a book that is not present in the library. However, the school librarians should still assess if the book is worthy of being purchased or collected. Feedback will be sent to the students to update them about their wish list.

·         ‘What should I read next?’ book jar

Since some students find it hard to select a book to read, a book jar that has colored paper slips that will serve as the guide for the students. These paper slips contain genres and recommendations. Students will be encouraged to select a theme, then take out a piece of paper that matches the genre color. It will inevitably cause excitement to the students, and it will leave them rushing to find the books on the shelves.

·         Book clubs

It is excellent to organize book clubs to empower the love for reading among the students. It will also enhance camaraderie and literacy at the same time.

·         Harry Potter Book Night

It is very useful to organize a Harry Potter Book Night bi-annually, which is very fun. This event is for students who have made improvements with their reading, are dynamic readers, and who uphold reading throughout the school. The students will experience answering quizzes and other exciting activities about Harry Potter.

·         Author visits

In this kind of activity, there should be the support of the whole school community. Book authors will be invited to visit the school, share inspiring words, and facilitate workshops. It will surely inspire students to read even more.

·         Creative writing club

Having a writing club will surely inspire students to read and write more. Stimulating activities will be done to enhance the students’ passion for reading and writing.

·         Stan Lee Excelsior Award

Stan Lee was a very famous writer of graphic novels or manga, and this ceremony is done to encourage students, who are passionate when it comes to reading graphic novels and manga, to vote for their favorite writers based on cover design, images, and text. Suffield (2019) found out that this activity improves the boys’ commitment to reading and it increases the number of borrowing for these genres.

·         Displays

Creative displays attract the students to read more and more. It is essential to use bright, colorful, and unique designs that will catch the attention of students.

In the study of Danlandi (2018) about the role of school libraries in promoting reading culture among secondary school students, results show that students have unfortunate reading habit. It was embodied by 51.4% who read for only 1-2 hours daily, which is substandard. Moreover, students mostly depend on textbooks and lecture notes as sources of reading materials. Therefore, the students only read to pass examinations; this is a manifestation of undesirable reading habits. Furthermore, the findings also have shown that the library did not assimilate into the school curriculum, and the students do not have opportunities for borrowing books from the library. Correspondingly, it showed that there were significant factors that hinder students from reading, such as watching television, addiction to phone and social media, and lack of stimulating books.

            The researcher also highly recommended that the teacher-librarians should organize and facilitate reading-related activities or programs at school to promote reading, make attractive displays of books in the library to awaken the interest of learners; school librarians should take benefit from the advantages of social media. School librarians should manage social media platforms, such as a discussion forum in the social media in which the students can talk over about books they have read. Lastly, the researcher has recommended that school administrators and the government need to participate in these reading programs and activities.


Media and information literacy instruction

One of the objectives of a school library is to create information literate students who are accountable, and ethical members in the society. Students who are information literate are self-directed learners who are cognizant of their information needs and dynamically involved in the world of thinking (IFLA School Libraries Section Standing Committee, 2015). School libraries assist in instruction and learning. Hence, its collection must be aligned upon the curriculum and specific needs and concerns of the school community and reflect the multiplicity of society outside the school community. Professional librarians, known as teacher-librarians, have a critical responsibility of upholding school libraries, (Uzuegbu, & Ibiyemi, 2013).

In his study, Ingvaldsen (2017) mentions that Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is a multifaceted set of skills that are necessary through the entire learning process, abilities that are vital in all forms of education. Research reveals that children need to fortify these skills. Projects in the Norwegian School Library Program 2009–2013 intended at using the library as a tool in media and information literacy instruction. Information from the projects validated the need to anchor the library in school’s management and plans, emphasized that cooperation between teachers and librarians is essential to incorporate the library into instructional work. There were also similar involvements in research projects in another place and the results point out that scholars and academic librarians instructing teacher education students and library science students should take an account of the use of school libraries in the curriculum so that the students are not only media and information literate themselves but also capable of utilizing the library as a resource when starting their instruction and library work.

 

Collaboration between Teachers and School Librarians

According to Mandrell (2018) in her research study, the role of the school librarian has significantly advanced from its inauguration as a person who facilitates the library borrowing and reading of children. School librarians are essential catalysts of schools and, when developed aptly, can be a vital part of the students’ learning process.  When integration occurs habitually, collaborative interactions between school librarians and teachers have been found to develop the academic performance of the students. 

Furthermore, the researcher’s paper describes suggested action research, which roots in the poor connection between the school librarian and teachers at a middle school in South Carolina.  The study concentrates on teachers’ discernments of the role of the school librarian and how those insights affect the teachers’ probability to collaborate with the school librarian.  Using an action research methodology, the researcher formulated a questionnaire to identify the perceptions of teachers and administrators concerning the role of the school librarian and integration.  Results revealed that there is a need for professional development on the part of the school librarian to instruct teachers on multiple methods in which the school librarian’s competencies and knowledge are applicable for the furtherance of student learning. Moreover, teachers left the professional development sessions enthusiastic about what they learned and confirmed their interest in their answers on the post-questionnaire. The researcher will need to frequently promote the school library program until collaborative relationships become a priority for all shareholders.  When students and teachers become attuned to working with the school librarian, the disintegration existing between what classroom educators and school librarians do will vanish.

              In a study piloted by Montiel Overall (2008), results have shown that every effort should be made to migrate from traditional practices between teachers and librarians to a modern way of collaboration which integrates joint planning, teaching, and assessment of students.  Moreover, Dando, Folk, and Levitov (2017) mention that the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) established an initiative with the principal message being, “School Librarians Transform Learning” which concentrated on the relevance of school librarians being seen as catalysts for change along with having the skill to renovate the method in which teachers teach, and students learn in the classroom this modern era.

            As shown in the results of the study of Gavigan and Lance (2016), students were more active to perform at the maximum performance levels on standardized tests in South Carolina when librarians consumed at least 50% of their time teaching the students. It implies that through strong connection and collaboration established between librarians and teachers, students can gain more literacy.

            According to Hartzell (2002), many school principals consider librarians as support staff to the teachers instead of being instructors in their own right. This perception often makes it difficult for others, both inside and outside education, to see the depth, breadth, and relevance of what media specialists contribute or should be contributing, to schools and schooling.  Education programs do not tend to promote the role of school librarians, which leaves the teaching up to the librarian herself/himself.  The most effective suggested approach of changing the discernments of principals is self-promotion and demonstration of competencies as educators.  Moreover, Hartzell (2002) mentions that the only way to change principal perceptions is to assault them directly, repeatedly, and from a multiplicity of directions.

        In the Philippines, it is very much often that the significance of school libraries and school librarianship is clearly misunderstood and belittled by many. This dilemma is undeniably a reality in our country's librarianship, specifically in the public school libraries where there are serious problems such as the lack of funds, poor and inadequate book collections, deficiency of space and equipment, lack of competent personnel, and the leadership problem of those who are in power. Moreover, these setbacks post a severe threat to all school librarians for these will surely create a strong barrier that will prevent the school librarians from functioning efficiently.

Disappointingly, there are issues that hinder public school librarians from working at their best. The public school librarians are seriously facing concerns like recruitment, education, and retention of librarians, support from administrators and principals, funding or budget allocation, and the impact of information technology on library services.

Amidst these adversities, most of our school librarians are still thriving. They are still surviving and flourishing at work even if there is no constant support from the administrators and the government. Kudos to our "Dakilang Laybraryans"


References:

Bates, P. (2000). The role of secondary school libraries in the promotion of reading, New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship, 6:1, 155-176, DOI: 10.1080/13614540009510637

Dando, P., Folk, M., & Levitov, D. (2017). School librarians transform learning: Advocacy begins with you! Teacher Librarian, 45(1), 8-12.

Danladi, D. R. (2018). The Role of School Libraries in Promoting Reading Culture among Secondary School Students: a case study of Federal Government College, Jos. Retrieved last August 30, 2019 from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5424&context=libphilprac

Ellis, S. (2016). School libraries supporting literacy. Retrieved last August 30, 2019 from https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-99/school-libraries-supporting-literacy/

Farmer, L. & Stricevic, I. (2011). Using research to promote literacy and reading in libraries: Guidelines for librarians. Retrieved last August 30, 2019 from https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/hq/publications/professional-report/125.pdf

Gavigan, K., & Lance, K. C. (2016). SC study shows link between school librarians and higher test scores. School Library Journal.

Hartzell, G. (2002). The principal's perceptions of school libraries and teacher-librarians. School Libraries Worldwide, 8(1), 92-110.

Ingvaldsen, S. (2017). The School Library in Media and Information Literacy Education. Retrieved last August 30, 2019 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780081006306000047

Mandrell, J. C. (2018). The Effect of Professional Development on Teachers’ Perceptions of the Role of School Librarians: An Action Research Study. Retrieved last August 31, 2019 from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6019&context=etd

Mojapelo, S. M. (2018). Challenges in establishing and maintaining functional school libraries: Lessons from Limpopo Province, South Africa. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 50(4), 410–426. doi:10.1177/0961000616667801

Montiel-Overall, P. (2008). Teacher and librarian collaboration: A qualitative study. Library & Information Science Research, 30, 145-155.

Siu-Runyan, Y. (2011). Public and School Libraries in Decline: When We Need Them. Retrieved last August 30, 2019 from https://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/CC/0211-sep2011/CC0211Presidents.pdf

Suffield, E. (2019). Promoting reading for pleasure in school libraries. Retrieved last August 30, 2019 from https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-108/promoting-reading-for-pleasure-in-school-libraries/

Tella, A., & Akande, S. (2007). Children reading habits and availability of books in Botswana primary schools: implications for achieving quality education. The reading matrix, vol.7(2)

Uzuegbu, C. P., Ibiyemi, O. T. (2013). Item community high school library: a reflection of school libraries in Nigeria. Library philosophy and practice (e-journal). Paper1057. Retrieved last August 30, 2019 from: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/1057

Meet and Greet/Q and A Sessions with Seasoned Filipino Librarians

   It's great to wrap up fruitful activities that help me empower LIS Education and inspire aspirants and hopefuls. From August to Octob...