by Brandon Wright Adler
This past Friday, I spent my day in Baton Rouge, LA at the Louisiana Library Association’s (LLA) annual conference. I chose to only spend one day at the three-day conference for a couple of reasons, the most important being that I have just started a new job with the University of New Orleans, so I didn’t want to spend three precious days of acclimation away from my new office. Also, being that my new role in libraries has shifted from law librarian to information literacy librarian, I went to the day of the conference that offered the most programming toward innovation, makerspaces, and information literacy. My time was very well spent, and I would love to review with you all just a little bit of what I learned during my day at LLA.
3D Printers and Makerspaces
The majority of my day revolved around attending sessions that taught librarians how to enhance programming in their innovation lab and maker spaces. These sessions were important to me because information literacy is an essential component of any and all projects we undertake, whether or not we realize that we using information literacy skills to execute our tasks. They were additionally important because my new library, Earl K. Long Library at UNO, has an Innovation Lab, with a gypsum based 3D printer, as well as virtual reality, motion capture, and game development labs and is at the beginning stages of building out a makerspace to accompany the innovation lab. In a session titled, “Beyond Trinkets: 3D Printers as Library Program Enhancers,” attendees learned about various software and websites that can be beneficial in supporting programs using a 3D printer in libraries. We explored software and applications such as, TinkerCAD and various types of 3D scanners (desktop, handheld, and smart phone attached). In addition, we reviewed different websites, such as “Thingiverse” and “MyMiniFactory” that offer “blueprints” and ideas of different types of objects and 3D project printing activities.
Part of my job as the Information Literacy Librarian is to facilitate outreach among other academic departments and to the community. The 3D printer sessions and makerspace workshops at LLA illustrated various ideas and examples of programs and projects to integrate into library makerspaces. Of the several example class projects suggested during this session my favorites were the “Human Living Library” project and the “Build a 3D Printer” project. For the “Human Living Library” project, students and/or faculty can conduct oral histories and then create an object from their interviewees past, essentially bringing the past back into the present through discussion and tangibility. The “Build a 3D Printer” project invites the community into the library makerspace by hosting a workshop that allows public patrons to come into the space to use kits that instruct them to build small 3D printers that can then be disseminated to public schools or public libraries.
On the day that I attended LLA, there was one session offered on information literacy specifically. This session was taught by David Brier and Vicky Lebbin, librarians from the University of Hawaii. This session, titled “Teaching Information Literacy through Drawing and Short Stories,” was one of my favorites of the day. It was one of my favorites because it took my excitement for teaching information literacy to another level. Don’t get me wrong, I am already very excited for this new opportunity, but this session made me think about active learning in a new light. The objective, of course, is to help students visualize information literacy concepts. But, it not only allows students to visualize these concepts, it allows librarians, as educators, to visualize and assess the students particular understanding of information literacy concepts and how that students thinks. This type of activity will also provide opportunities for collaboration and group presentation that will most certainly help students better participate in discussion.
Personal Branding for Librarians
Another awesome session that I attended was about Personal Branding for Librarians. Granted, Dr. Tommy Karam, a Louisiana State University Professor, typically works with college and professional athletes, but his “Power of Likeability” equation works for everyone, and it was very insightful to think about from the perspective of a librarian. Dr. Karam discussed that the absolute golden rule of personal branding is “likeability” and imparted upon his audience the following “likeability” breakdown:
38% of a persons likeability is directly tied to our tone, or vocal delivery, when speaking to others. With that, there are three specific categories of tone that immediately decrease your likeability when you are speaking to others.
- Boring tone;
- Whiny tone; and
- Arrogant tone
55% of a person likeability is our facial expression, or as Dr. Karam called it, our “default look.” What does our face look like when we are doing nothing at all? What does it look like when we are walking down the hallway or the street? Or sitting at the reference desk awaiting patrons to approach us? Is our “default look” inviting or are we scaring people away from approaching us at all? He acknowledged that many of us, including himself, have no idea what our “default looks” are and suggested that we shut ourselves in the bathroom and without looking at the mirror just let your face rest for 5 seconds, then look up at yourself in the mirror and see what your “default look” is, then add warmth into that look and keep practicing!
The final 7% is eye contact. He really did not want to emphasize eye contact because he thinks that so many people can get it wrong and that the preceding two categories are far more important for likeability.