Poster Session Proposal Accepted by California Library Association – Social Media Use Among LIS Groups #CLA12 #defygravity


Good news!

My poster session proposal was accepted for the California Library Association‘s 2012 annual conference. I’ll be doing research on use of social media by San Francisco Bay Area student and professional groups in the library and information science community.

More details to come soon!

Conference Logo - Defying Gravity - CLA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2012

A Technical Services Librarian’s Comments on Eli Pariser’s “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You”

Overview of The Filter Bubble

Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You (2011, Penguin) is an overview of the effects of the current trend of algorithmic personalization on not only search results and information feeds online (particularly Google and Facebook), but on the psyche of internet users everywhere–and of course, on democracy.

In a personalized world, we will increasingly be typed and fed only news that is pleasant, familiar, and confirms our beliefs–and because these filters are invisible, we won’t know what is being hidden from us. Our past interests will determine what we are exposed to in the future, leaving less room for the unexpected encounters that spark creativity, innovation, and the democratic exchange of ideas. –Publisher description (full)

I found the book after watching Pariser’s TED Talk (Feb. 2011) on the topic, which is effective and to the point. The book though, is worth the read as it takes the argument beyond the surface, and into the depths: Pariser willingly explores the dangers of this trend to our democracy.


Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You got me to thinking about how librarians should respond to the Internet trend towards personalization, and particularly the role of technical services librarians in partnership with instruction librarians. I believe that information literacy education, and perhaps a degree of information activism, are key to responding to personalization in such a way that users are able to meet their information needs online, and that also encourages online innovators to develop the Internet responsibly. Users must understand how they are affected by personalization online, so that they can seek information widely, in an unbiased way and push for services that serve them rather than passively use those that seek first, to advertise to them.

Library users like Google, and expect to use tools like Google (if not Google itself) in order to find the information they need, whether for work or school, home or play. Thus, they need to understand how Google and the other online platforms they use on a day-to-day basis work in ways that affect them. Librarians and other information professionals have a clear teaching responsibility in this regard. We can also advocate for a learning environment in which teaching information literacy is understood to be important. Further, we can partner with information technology specialists and innovators to make sure that the online search environment empowers individuals and thus fosters democracy.

Teaching information literacy, according to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), “enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.” And having that control is key. Once control is taken out of the hands of the users, it becomes harder for information needs to be met. It is noteworthy that control can be hidden behind complex technology, coding languages and algorithms at work in online information retrieval systems. In this environment it becomes harder to see that control has been lost at all. Control and information literacy are linked.

An information literate individual is able to: Determine the extent of information needed; Access the needed information effectively and efficiently; Evaluate information and its sources critically; Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base; Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose; Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally. (ACRL, 2000)

How can an individual become information literate if they are not able to meet the above criteria defined by ACRL because the technology involved and search process itself is not transparent enough? Or because we as information professionals aren’t doing a good enough job of teaching information literacy? Or because we aren’t pushing back, and working to change the online information landscape so that it doesn’t become a danger to democracy?

In recognizing the overlap between information literacy and information technology (concepts such as fluency with information technology have been proposed to express this), the effectiveness of information literacy can be improved (ACRL, 2000). Still, I can’t help but wonder if there is a disconnect in the library landscape, between technical services and public services and the teaching of information literacy / information technology fluency. It would be interesting to study whether or not this is so. Because IT and e-resources often land squarely in the domain of technical services, is there a lost opportunity to collaborate with those in public services who are in charge of instruction?


ACRL: Information Literacy Competency Standards in Higher Education (Jan. 2000)
National Research Council. Being Fluent with Information Technology (1999)
Ted Talk: Beware the Filter Bubble (Feb. 2011)
New York Times Review (June 2011)
The Filter Bubble website
Google Books Preview

Grapes of Wrath, Technology, Research, and Dramaturgy

My dramaturgical project at Chabot College’s Department of Theater Arts is keeping me quite busy. Since the beginning of the project, I’ve observed auditions, met the company, attended a few rehearsals, begun research, and am putting together a “look book” for the use of the director, cast and crew. What a wonderful opportunity to bring together my love of theater and literature with my professional ambitions as a researcher/librarian. Further, I get to put it all together in a blog format, for which I’m creating a taxonomy that keeps it organized and easily searchable in ways that relate specifically to the production of the play, and hopefully make it more useful and accessible as a company resource.

One of my goals with this project is to bring the information I find to the students involved in the production of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath where they play out their virtual lives and in formats they will use online. Most communication outside of the rehearsal process is via Facebook. In addition to posting information on the Grapes of Wrath blog, information goes up on Twitter (#ChabotTheater) and of course, on the company Facebook group page. YouTube and other video sources have also proved valuable.

Fortunately, many wonderful images are available from the Library of Congress, as part of the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) images found in the American Memory Collection: America from the Great Depression to WWII: Black and White Photographs from the FSA-OWI 1935-1945. This is an excellent resource that is primarily in the public domain because most of the images are government documents photographed by government employees. And of course, so many of the images from this collection have become iconic, such as the image below by Dorothea Lange.

Dorothea Lange. 1936. Migrant Mother Series. Reproduction number: LC-USF34-9058-C (film negative).

"Destitute peapickers in California; a 32 year old mother of seven children. February 1936." (retouched version)

League of Librarians Trading Cards and QR Codes

League of Librarians: Nora Dimmock, Film Studies Librarian

League of Librarians Trading Card.

Kudos to River Campus Libraries of the University of Rochester for their creative use of Quick Response Codes paired with interesting graphics to dress up their business cards.

Contact information and a Quick Response or “QR” Code was provided on the reverse, making the trading card an essential and creative business card as well. Raised Connection’s “Connection Card” is one example of this trend, and the following YouTube video shows how it works.

Remember, QR Codes can connect someone to more than contact information. Images, web pages, blogs and other content online that can be viewed on a smart phone or on a computer can be embedded in the QR Code.

Other ways that academic libraries are using QR Codes can be found in Library Journal’s online article ALA Midwinter 2011: Straight from the Stacks to the Smartphone. Other specific examples include University of San Francisco’s Gleeson Library and UC Berkeley Libraries.

What do you need to create and read a QR Code?

QR Code generators can be found online, examples include Kaywa (which also has a reader) and Jaxo. Further recommendations for QR Code generators and readers can be found in the 2D Code articles, QR Code Generators and QR Code Readers. I use ScanLife on my Blackberry Storm, and it works great. I’m sure many other readers are great as well, and undoubtedly, whatever your smart phone happens to be, there’s an app for that. Here are instructions on downloading mobile QR reader software to your phone if it doesn’t come pre-installed.

Happy scanning!

Twitter At A Glance

Apologies for the delay in posting! This last semester of grad school is keeping me extra busy, and this last week has been a doozy. I’m back on track now, though, hoping to post once a week again.

Today on Twitter I found this lovely “Twitter At a Glance” as retweeted by @ShannonMMiller via @GwynethJones aka the Daring Librarian. Anyhow, it is a great “how to” twitter guide in comic form, so I’m sharing it here.

Twitter at a glance how to guide

Image courtesy of  The Daring Librarian on Flickr, posted under a Creative Commons License.

The Social Network: Trailer Parodies & The Digital Divide

Web 2.0 is so pervasive it has really hit the mainstream (I know, it is a huge understatement), with movies such as David Fincher’s The Social Network coming soon, and already getting the full Web 2.0 treatment with abundant trailer parodies on YouTube, my favorite being the Twitter Movie Trailer: Rated Awesome from Indy Mogul.*

An interesting question for me regarding the audience of the movie itself and of course that of the parodies by default, is if there is a digital divide built in, and what this might mean. Yesterday, I actually met a charming twenty-something gal, who is not on Facebook, and I was a bit shocked. Tattooed and fashionable, I felt sure she would be totally plugged in. Perhaps she is a neo-luddite. Or perhaps she just doesn’t own a computer. Who knows, but I seriously doubt this movie or the delightful parodies of the trailer will resonate with her. Either way, the divide between the haves and have nots is certainly apparent when thinking about the potential audience of The Social Network.

*Thanks to GeekSugar for showcasing the Twitter and YouTube parodies of The Social Network trailer on the GeekSugar blog.