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There is so much to say in this post and I’m certain that most people who open this link will only read this first paragraph, so I’ll just start with the punch line: LOEX was awesome!! I am so grateful for the opportunity to spend three invigorating days surrounded by instruction librarians and immersed in ideas and thoughts related to library instruction. It was my original intention to send daily blogs from my Kindle Fire, but I quickly discovered that my talents do not include thumb typing on a Kindle! You are now reading “Plan B” which is to simply hit the highlights of the conference in one fell swoop.

Day One: Thursday, May 2

Pre-Conference Workshop: “Building Rapport and Creating Community: What Standup Comedy and Acting Can Teach Us about Student Engagement.” John Watts and Joshua Vossler

I kicked off LOEX by attending this workshop led by the authors of the book Humor and Information Literacy. There were only about 16 attendees at this workshop and the intimate setting was fun and it helped in getting to know other librarians in a non-threatening atmosphere. I was quickly reminded that the vast majority of instruction sessions done by librarians are with one or two shot sessions. This workshop emphasized the importance of making a positive first impression and connecting with students. It turns out that humor for humor’s sake usually falls flat in the classroom, but what does not fall flat are personal stories and analogies. We spent most of our time reflecting on and practicing our own stories to create self-introductions and analogies related to information literacy concepts. We also played improvisational games meant to help build rapport with students. The time flew by in this workshop-if you want to know how to play “Drop a Line” or “Whiz, Bang, Fire!” just ask.

That evening, there was a conference reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Sheraton. The last time that I attended LOEX, which was eight years ago, it was held in Ypsilanti, Michigan and there were about 200 in attendance. This conference had 350 in attendance from 44 states and 4 areas outside the US, including several from Canada. It was a very well planned conference and perfectly executed as far as I could tell.

Day Two: Friday, May 3

Plenary One: “Decode Academy: The Library as a Meaning-Maker Space.” Barbara Fister, Gustavus Adolphus College

I will go ahead and apologize to Barbara Fister if she reads this and is not satisfied with my summary of her presentation. Barbara has had two works of fiction published and she strongly believes in fostering critical thinking skills and creativity in students. Much of what she said reminded me of what Derrik posted as a blog a few weeks ago that in essence said that the purpose of libraries is to provide the landing point for new information to be created. She presented 6 outrageous claims targeted to freshmen to help make this possible: 1) Research papers should not be part of the first year experience. She suggests that short writing projects be assigned and creativity encouraged. 2) Stop teaching students how to find sources. She says that we are not just consumers of other people’s stuff. 3) Rarely are citations needed, they take time away from writing personal stories. 4) Stop policing plagiarism. How did the library get that job? We give the message that rules matter more than creativity. 5) We should stop implying that “scholarly” is “good.” Scholarly articles don’t explain the larger question and many scholars make mistakes. 6) Librarians should spend as much time working with faculty as they do with students. She states that collaboration is essential to success. Barbara proposed that the ACRL IL Standards stifle creativity and that finding information is not the hard part.

I thought her speech was interesting and I see many of the problems she presented in my own classes. While I don’t agree with most of her solutions, I believe that she is on target with her analysis that many students equate research papers with simply stringing together text from other sources without any reflection about the meaning of the text. That being said, I’m not willing to have students submit creative writing papers for my LIB100 course, and I suspect that most professors and instructors in other disciplines would agree.

Breakout sessions from Day Two:

In addition to the plenary session, I attended 5 breakout sessions on Friday:

  1. “Don’t Start Believin’: Flimflam, Fraud, Razzle-Dazzle and Other Useful Tools for Teaching Information Literacy.” This session was on teaching critical thinking and evaluation skills as part of information literacy training. They used controversial videos to spark discussions about how you find out if something is true or not. While I would not use their examples, I thought the premise was good.
  2. Next, I attended a session on “Teaching Discovery Tools.” This was an interactive session which meant that most of the discussion happened around small groups at tables. There were only 4 choices for discussion and so I sat at a “Freshmen One Shot” table. This was not a helpful session for me (our group created a learning outcome/teaching strategy for evaluating scholarly journal articles retrieved after checking the “scholarly journal article” facet). There was not a lot of time in the session, so only two groups reported back to the larger group. The presenters said they would put the information in a Wiki, so I’ll check back later to look for helpful suggestions.
  3. After lunch, I attended a session on the Charette Protocol, a structured reflection and problem-solving technique commonly used in design fields. This session was led by Nicole Brown from NYU and Kaila Bussert from Cornell. It was a very simple structure, but helpful and I believe it could be used with our instructors for a continuing education experience.
  4. Amanda Foster of Coastal Carolina presented her experience as the Facebook coordinator for her library. This session made me better appreciate our use of Twitter and Facebook here in ZSR; front page real estate is hard to beat!
  5. The last session of the day was led by Jean Cook from the University of West Georgia. She presented a series of video clips that can be used as case studies for information literacy. Molly Keener has mentioned the Beyonce video/plagiarism case many times in her intellectual property sessions for my classes, but in this presentation, the two dances were shown side by side simultaneously. Jean also showed clips from Twilight and gave information about the Wikipedia page on the day of Hurricane Sandy (controlled by an editor who deleted any mention of global warming).

That evening, I participated in the “Dine-around in Area Restaurants” option and I went to eat at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant with 19 people that I did not know. The evening confirmed my suspicion that librarians are among the most interesting people on the planet. It was a lovely evening complete with live music.

Day 3: Saturday, May 4

Plenary Two: “Creative People Must be Stopped! Managing Innovation When No One Want to Change.”David Owens, Vanderbilt University.

If I had this to do over, I would have sat on the front row! This session was immediately after breakfast and I was sitting at a table of interesting librarians and I did not notice that I was so far from the front until he started speaking and I could not understand much of what he was saying. He talked about the need to think outside the box and he gave examples of many failures such as Kodak’s unwillingness to move beyond film and the record industry’s unwillingness to change from their model of buying an album to get one song. In order to be successful innovators: 1) individuals must enlarge their toolsets, 2) the groups’ cultures must support risk, 3) organizations must have a strategy, 4) industry must see utility and value in the innovation (used Segway example), 5) society must accept the concept as legitimate, 6) technology must be developed.

Breakout sessions and lightning rounds from Day Three:

I attended three breakout sessions on Saturday:

  1. Lisa Louis from Texas A & M did a session on using your voice in instruction. She is a musician and we did several warm up exercises and we practiced expanding our diaphragms so that we don’t run out of breath when we present. It was a fun way to spend a session.
  2. The next session was on Visual Literacy and it addressed the new ACRL Visual Literacy Competencies. This was very well done and it encouraged the use of more visuals in presentations, using the entire image and not just a token picture on the side of text. They gave out an excellent handout with references. One of the suggestions was the use of to find images.
  3. After lunch there were four 7 minute lightning talks. There were a couple of game presentations, a presentation on ThingLink, and a lecture on Information Literacy lessons learned from Senator Joseph McCarthy.
  4. After lunch, I attended a Karaoke session which compared doing Karaoke with library instruction. I had to leave this session early to get to the airport, but it was very upbeat with real Karaoke and a reflection on what it can teach us about doing library instruction sessions (breathing, taking risks, etc.).

After the session, I took the Airport Express bus to the airport. I made the decision to use public transportation on this trip and I will say that my trip was richer for that experience! I found several information specialists along the way who served as angels to this novice Nashville traveler. Overall, it was a wonderful conference and trip. Thank you for making it possible for me to attend LOEX 2013!