March 2010 Archives

Peer Research Consultants
The University Libraries' Peer Research Consultants (PRC) program is in its second semester. The program's goal is to support students as they do library research and find sources to use in their writing. Students can take advantage of day and evening drop-in hours to work one-on-one and get personalized research help on their topic. In the fall, the first semester of the program, PRCs met with over 60 students, over 60% of whom were from the University's First Year Writing program (WRIT 1301).

Digital Reference
The Libraries are now providing digital reference service through Minitex's QuestionPoint platform. This has simplified staffing and administration of the service and has provided a single, verified source of statistics. One interesting finding is that chat (as a 24-hour service) has edged out email as the most common means of requesting assistance. Chat patrons who responded to a survey presented to them at the conclusion of the transaction show high measures of satisfaction, with over 90% indicating that they will use the service again, and nearly 90% indicating that they would recommend the service to others.
libtech.jpgConference Site:

1. There's Another App For That! Going Beyond Google Apps With Free Online Media Production Tools
Scott Spicer

Do you ever find yourself needing to quickly, document a new online service to your patrons or want to communicate a really complex search over email without having to write down every step? Well, there's a free online app. for screencasts - Screentoaster. How about creating a simple online image slideshow with audio? There's a free online app. for that too - Animoto. Voice-over PowerPoint? Try VoiceThread. Grassroots video? Yup, there's an app. for that too - Jaycut. Free online media production tools have come a long ways in the past couple of years. At a time when getting funding to purchase production software may be a challenge, these options have never looked better. So bring your ideas and creativity, you will have an opportunity to experience how to quickly "write" digitally with these user-friendly tools.

2. Building Safety Nets into the Online Library: A Presentation
Jerilyn Veldof, Shane Nackerud, Ryan Bean

Traditionally librarians have addressed research challenges by working one-on-one with patrons or teaching them through in-person or online training. But our reach could be profoundly increased by doing two additional things: 1) identifying the places at which our users stumble and/or fail while using the library's website and 2) identifying techniques or systems we could build to catch them if they stumble or fail.

Learn about this concept of "performance support" and the results of an extensive project at the University of Minnesota to incorporate performance support into its online presence. Then, stay for the workshop following this presentation!

3. Building Safety Nets into the Online Library: A Workshop
Jan Fransen, Jerilyn Veldof

Following the session, "Building Safety Nets into the Online Library," stay to participate in a 90 minute follow-up workshop. Here you'll be introduced to a simple, yet powerful method for uncovering fail points called the cognitive walk-through. You'll take on specific user personas and analyze a library website through that lens, uncovering the points where users stumble and often give up on the library.

Next you'll begin to design "safety nets" or support structures at those fail points that gently catch the users and help them be more successful researchers. You'll leave with some ideas that you could start implementing immediately.

4. A Future of the Academic Library Web Presence
Cody Hanson, Shane Nackerud

When discovery happens elsewhere, how can academic libraries add value to the research process? How can we transition our interfaces from the one-size-fits-all information fire hose to a targeted, customized research dashboard? This presentation will discuss some current projects at the University of Minnesota Libraries designed to automate the delivery of relevant information to users. We will also speculate on future directions for reconfiguring the Libraries' web presence as a personalized productivity-enhancing interface.

5. Library Integration--5000 Courses at a Time
Kate Peterson, Jon Jeffryes, Shane Nackerud

In an academic environment, students and faculty think in courses. And they should since they are the measurable units that Universities and Colleges are built around. Overall, the Library is not organized in courses and too often, provides users with an overwhelming amount of information. These barriers result in frustration for students and faculty visiting the libraries--both in-person and virtually. The University of Minnesota Libraries recently spent time exploring how the Libraries can be integrated into the "courseflow" of students and faculty. In this session, attendees will learn about our discoveries and efforts to build a Library Course Page system (LCP). The LCP automatically generates a page for each of the 5000+ courses at the University. This page brings together disparate Library systems such as print reserves, electronic reserves, librarian-created resource guides, the library catalog, subject-specific databases and more. The LCP is built using a variety of APIs, widgets, a systematic, predictable URL structure and U of M affinity strings. We are currently working towards default integration into the University's course management systems, WebVista and Moodle. Attendees will take away ideas and strategies that can be used to build a similar resource at their own institutions.

Kate Peterson gave a wonderful presentation today to our Friends of the Library group about a few of the programs we offer to students that support and enhance their learning; namely the online Unravel workshops and the Peer Research Consultants program.

Check it out!

IL: A Neglected Core Competency


Information Literacy: A Neglected Core Competency
By Sharon A. Weiner

"Key Takeaways"
  • College students think of information seeking as a rote process and tend to use the same small set of information resources no matter their question.
  • Information literacy is essential for lifelong learning and empowers individuals and societies.
  • Our educational system should expose students to information literacy from elementary school through postsecondary education so that it is a habit of mind they can call upon throughout their lives.
  • Collaborative efforts between faculty, librarians, technology professionals, and others can develop students who graduate with information literacy competency.

Researchers at the Information School at the University of Washington released an important and thought-provoking report in late 2009: "Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age."1 The study confirms and expands on the results of other reports. Its particular value is the size of the population studied, the diversity of institutions represented, and the use of both a survey and follow-up interviews for data collection.

The findings are troubling. College students think of information seeking as a rote process and tend to use the same small set of information resources no matter what question they have:

  • The primary sources they use for course work are course readings and Google.
  • They rely on professors to be "research coaches" for identifying additional sources.
  • They use Google and Wikipedia for research about everyday life topics.
  • They tend not to use library services that require interacting with librarians.

And although they begin the research process engaged and curious, they become frustrated and overwhelmed as it progresses.

The results of the study suggest that many college students view their educational experience as one of "satisficing" -- finding just enough information that is "good enough" to complete course assignments. They miss opportunities that college education provides for exploration, discovery, and deep learning.


The University of Minnesota Libraries participated in the next phase of this research--an analysis of assignments.

Want to learn more on Camtasia Relay?

Web Conferencing with Camtasia Relay
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Room S30B, Wilson Library

Camtasia Relay (a.k.a. Class Capture) is designed to capture live workshops, presentations, training sessions, conferences, or meetings and make them available to watch later.  Camtasia Relay records your audio and whatever happens on the computer screen, such as demonstrations or Power Point.  The OIT (Office of Information Technology) supported software connects with Media Mill for storage and re-purposing of recordings (such as flash video, YouTube, iPod and more).

In this ninety-minute "TechShop" (part technology demonstration and part discussion) we will explore specific examples of how Camtasia Relay is used and consider ways it might fit into your work life, such as recording a training session for a student employee who can't make it for the live event, to create a short video on a procedure to teach another staff member, or to record a library workshop so users can go back over content.  The recording can also be embed into a blog, web page, or guide.  Coffee and cookies will be available to sweeten our interests and our discussion.

Two ways to participate:
- Register for the session at:
- Watch via UMConnect at:

Spring TechShops are the second phase of the highly successful Fall 2009 Emerging Tech Expo.  This spring, the IT (Information Technology) Council and Staff Education and Development (SED) are sponsoring a series of five technology workshops to further explore the application of technology within the Libraries environment.

Library Issues: Media & Information Literacy

21stcenturyliteracies.jpgInformation & Media Literacy: Current Trends and Projects
Scott Spicer, Media Outreach and Learning Spaces Librarian, and Kate Peterson, Information Literacy Librarian.
Library Issues Seminar held March 2nd, 2010

Information and Media Literacy are often being wrapped up into the larger 21st Century Literacies movement.  We will present operational definitions of information and media literacy, trends in these fields, and challenges in higher education.  Learn about Project Information Literacy and the approaches SMART & Libraries Media Services have taken to integrate our production support services into curriculum through student-produced video.

We had some technical difficulties while trying to record but there should be some available soon. Here are the PDFs of our presentations:
Information Literacy
Media Literacy

If you have any comments, questions or feedback, please let us know.



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