Library Anxiety? Is that a thing?

Did you know that when many people walk into a library they feel intimidated and anxious? Library anxiety is real, and has been well-documented by the library field. What is library anxiety? It is the sense that one should know all about libraries, know how to do research, know how to find both physical and electronic resources, and that not knowing how to do these thing is shameful and should be hidden. Grand reading rooms like the one below, and the idea that a student is surrounded by centuries of knowledge, can often be intimidating rather than inspirational.

Picture of study tables at the reading room in the Hunt Library, NCSU
Quiet Reading Room of the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library, North Carolina State University

Now there is research that suggests another phenomena prevalent among first-year students: overconfidence that they understand the library and how things work, and so library instruction or help is unnecessary. It is thought that this overconfidence comes stems from the use of Google and other search engines for any kind of information need. Students know how to search in a general search engine, and assume that those skills translate 1:1 into the research world. The truth is that they do, but those search abilities are only one piece of what is needed. There’s a lot more to research than just picking out good search terms or knowing how to use quotes around a search phrase.

You can learn more about library anxiety in this article from JSTOR Daily.

Libraries can be a little intimidating at first, but they are friendly, welcoming places, and R-MC Librarians are excited to help you learn your way around. In fact for many of us, working with students remains our favorite part of this job. Being asked to help a student with a project is never a bother!

If you have a final paper or project coming up and you aren’t sure about your topic, research question, or your sources, schedule an appointment with a research librarian at https://rmc.libcal.com/appointments.

Or, join us for our LNAP event (Long Night Against Procrastination) on May 7, 7-11pm! Bring your topic, project, idea, or paper with with you, no appointment needed, and Prof. Treneman and I will be there to help.

Library anxiety may be a thing, but it doesn’t have to hold you back!

2018-2023 Strategic Plan – Part 4, Strategic Areas 3-5

My last three posts have detailed the new mission and vision of the McGraw-Page Library, as well as the values and priorities that guide our decision-making, and our first two Strategic Areas. This month wraps up this series with a focus on Strategic Areas 3-5.

Library staff have met to discuss the timeline of when we want to accomplish these tasks over the next five years, and have also assigned an individual who is responsible for ensuring that progress is being made on these goals. The Library is working to develop an assessment plan, which, when done, will work with our strategic plan to ensure we are making appropriate progress.

As with any strategic plan, these goals are based on our understanding of our current environment. The specific objectives or goals may change if conditions (e.g., staffing, building, budget) change significantly.

Our Strategic Areas, Goals, and Objectives

III. Strengthen Special Collections & Archives.
  1. Improve discoverability of special collections and archive materials
    1. Create online finding aids that can be linked to Worldcat and our catalog
    2. Use online tools to highlight specific collections
  2. Prioritize digitization projects
    1. Finalize naming conventions, file organization, and workflow for digitizing SC&A materials
    2. Digitize R-MC Yearbooks
    3. Create an online exhibits commemorating the 150th anniversary of the College’s move to Ashland
    4. Identify other discrete digitization projects that will meet either a preservation and/or a promotion goal
  3. Improve housing and storage of existing collections to ensure their long-term preservation
IV. Increase engagement between the campus community and the library.
  1. Raise awareness of library resources, services, and events
    1. Establish consistent use of social media, posters, the library website, R-MC Life, and other tools as appropriate
  2. Engage campus users through a variety of means
    1. Establish relationships with new students
    2. Market staff expertise
  3. Launch and continue workshops, events, speakers, etc., that will forward the library’s goals, in partnership with others on campus where possible
    1. Student events that promote research support, specific resources, etc.
    2. Faculty events (e.g., scholar’s retreat)
V. Enhance our organizational effectiveness.
  1. Ensure that all staff positions are aligned with our strategic priorities
  2. Encourage and support professional development among library staff
  3. Highlight the Library’s role in student recruitment, retention, and success
  4. Improve communication internally (library-to-library) and externally (library-to-campus)
    1. Send regular library updates to library staff
    2. Communicate changes in hours to the campus
    3. Communicate new services, resources, events, etc., to campus
  5. Develop an assessment plan to inform decision making

2018-2023 Strategic Plan – Part 3, Strategic Areas 1 & 2

My last two posts have detailed the new mission and vision of the McGraw-Page Library, as well as the values and priorities that guide our decision-making. This month’s post will outline Strategic Areas 1 and 2. Next month will wrap up this series with a focus on Strategic Areas 3-5. 

Library staff have met to discuss the timeline of when we want to accomplish these tasks over the next five years, and have also assigned an individual who is responsible for ensuring that progress is being made on these goals. The Library is working to develop an assessment plan, which, when done, will work with our strategic plan to ensure we are making appropriate progress. 

As with any strategic plan, these goals are based on our understanding of our current environment. The specific objectives or goals may change if conditions (e.g., staffing, building, budget) change significantly. 

Our Strategic Areas, Goals, and Objectives

I. Improve the user’s experience of the library.
  1. Align library resources to the current needs of the curriculum and the student body
    1. Complete weeding of the library’s collections
  2. Improve the findability of library resources
    1. Review signage for accuracy and update as necessary
    2. Ensure resources can be found where expected (e.g., Subject Guides, Discovery)
    3. Review the library website and update or redesign as necessary 
  3. Improve the look and functionality of the library’s physical and virtual space
    1. Work toward and advocate for significant renovation of the library space 
    2. Review and replace worn furniture 
    3. Review physical space and identify immediate needs 
    4. Develop a style guide for print and electronic library-produced materials 
  4. Assess the user’s experience
    1. Develop and adopt a tool evaluating space usage
    2. Identify students’ space needs
II. Enhance information and technological literacy across campus.
  1. Map current instructional efforts 
  2. Develop and promote an information literacy plan for R-MC
    1. Identify courses where information literacy instruction would be advantageous (e.g., One essential, required course per major?)
    2. Develop strategic relationships with faculty with the goal of being invited to teach in those classes
    3. Assess research skills of students 
  3. Develop and implement a technological/digital literacy plan for R-MC 
  4. Participate in curriculum review conversations 

2018-2023 Strategic Plan – Part 2, Values & Priorities

My last post detailed the new mission and vision of the McGraw-Page Library. This month’s post will explore the values and priorities that the Library uses to guide its decisions. Much of what is mentioned below is fairly self-explanatory, but if anyone would like to engage in a conversation about why the Library considers these values to be worth explicitly stating, I would love to hear from you.

Our Values

The McGraw-Page Library is committed to:

  • Liberal arts teaching, research, and scholarship
  • Ease of access
  • Innovation
  • Life-long learning
  • Preservation of knowledge
  • Continual improvement of collections
  • Intellectual and academic freedom
  • Collaboration with the campus community
  • Mutual respect and civility
  • Responsible stewardship

Our Priorities

  1. Randolph-Macon College Students
  2. Current & Emeriti Faculty
  3. Staff & Administrators
  4. Alumni
  5. Community Members

We felt it was beneficial to state these priorities in our strategic plan because we do weight the needs of these groups differently when we make decisions. Ideally, we would love to support all of these groups equally, but because both space and budgets are tight, choices sometimes need to be made. This list helps to guide those choices, especially when they are difficult.

2018-2023 Strategic Plan – Part 1, Mission & Vision

In May 2018, staff of the McGraw-Page Library finalized the Library’s new strategic plan. Intended to set the strategic direction for the next five years, the strategic plan includes new mission and vision statements, and outlines the Library’s top priorities. My posts over the next few months will introduce the strategic plan. 

McGraw-Page Library Mission

The McGraw-Page Library supports the mission of the College by providing quality resources and innovative services that foster lifelong learning through exploration, discovery, and creativity.  

The Library is an integral part of Randolph-Macon College academic success. We provide resources that support student projects and, to a somewhat lesser extent, faculty research, and those resources are vetted according to our professional standards. That means that we don’t just add the latest bestseller on a topic, but we evaluate publishers, authors, and platforms and read reviews to ensure that high-quality resources are available. Similarly, we look at our services, and at ideas for new services, in light of campus need and the value that a service can provide the library and the College.

The goal to foster lifelong learning is found on many college campuses, and in many library mission statements, because the value of a college education cannot be truly experienced until after graduation. If learning only happens for the four years a student attends classes, its ability to impact the rest of their life is severely limited. But if a student can continue to learn, and thus adapt to the changes that life brings, their potential for success is higher. So the mission of the library is not to serve up ready-made, easily-digested packets of information, but to provide the tools needed for students to find what they need, explore what they’re interested in, and broaden their horizons. This puts students in control of the process and prepares them for the complex information environment that exists in the “real world.”

McGraw-Page Library Vision

The McGraw-Page Library strives to be the intellectual center of Randolph-Macon College. We encourage multi- and inter-disciplinarity through active participation in the academic and creative life of the College. We create vibrant, welcoming physical and virtual environments that support teaching, learning, research, and discovery. We collect, preserve, promote, and facilitate access to the best scholarly and educational resources in a variety of formats, and excel at innovative and responsive services. We educate members of the campus community in the use of academic and technological resources in order to prepare them for a complex information environment. We foster a culture of inclusiveness that reflects and respects the diversities of our community.

As the intellectual center of the R-MC campus, the Library would like to be a neutral space in which members of different disciplines, both students and faculty, can meet to share ideas and projects. It is easy to focus on one’s own major or area of interest and to simply be unaware of the research or conversations happening elsewhere. The library would like to be a place where interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity can thrive, where projects can be showcased, where students can learn from one another’s work.

We have a vision that our physical space will be intellectually and creatively inspiring to those who use it, as well as easy to navigate and use.  We plan to continue investing in our physical and digital collections so that they support the College’s evolving curriculum, as well as faculty research, and so that they reflect the diversity of the campus community. We view the library not as a passive repository for resources that are available on-demand, but as a proactive organization that is reaching out to users, engaging with them, and educating them about the tools, resources, and processes that can help them succeed both academically and beyond.

Next month’s post will explore the McGraw-Page Library’s values and priorities, and in March and April, our five strategic goals will be introduced.

What’s New @ the McGraw-Page Library–Fall 2018 Edition

There have been some changes to the library and its resources this summer! Read below to learn what’s new and how it may impact you.

What’s New?

  • The new library website is now live! The new website makes navigation easier so that library information and resources are easier to fine.
  • The library’s DVD collection has been relocated to the shelves next to and behind the current journals. This has allowed us to remove a tall shelf on the main level of the library, making it feel more open.

Canvas & Folio Workshops

  • Canvas and Folio workshops will be happening through August 28, and additional Instructional Design & Technology workshops for students and faculty will be offered throughout the fall. View the schedule of workshops.

Course Reserves

  • Physical materials: Books (library or personal copies), DVDs, and other physical items can be put on reserve at the Library Information Desk. Faculty should allow at least 48 hours for course materials to be put on reserve. View guidelines for placing materials on reserve, or contact Luke Haushalter with questions at (804) 752-7302 or LukeHaushalter@rmc.edu.
  • Digital materials: Articles and streaming videos that are available in Kanopy or other databases can be posted directly in Canvas. Save time using these guidelines for Creating Persistent Links so that students can access these resources off-campus. Questions about persistent links? Contact Nancy Falciani-White at (804) 752-7256 or NancyFalcianiWhite@rmc.edu. Questions about Canvas? Contact Lily Zhang at 752-3216 or zzhang@rmc.edu.

Research Instruction

  • Librarians are available to provide research instruction in R-MC classes. You can bring your class to the library, or we can come to the regular classroom. Librarians can help students learn how to search relevant research databases effectively, construct research questions, evaluate sources, and think about information from an academic perspective. Contact your subject librarian to learn more.
  • The subject guides that the library has created continue to be linked in Canvas courses under the “Library Resources” navigation. If you’d like to recommend changes to your guide, contact your subject librarian.

Review your Library Account

  • Now is a great time to review what you have checked out from the library and renew or return items. View and renew your checked out items via MaconCat, or contact Information Desk staff. 

New Resources

We have added several exciting new collections since the spring. All are available through the Databases tab on the new website, and are available to current R-MC students, staff, and faculty.

  • Access World News provides access to news from around the world. This database replaces the news content previously found in LexisNexis and America’s News.
  • Atlantic Monthly Archive
  • HeinOnline Government, Politics, & Law is the world’s largest fully searchable, image-based government document and legal research database.
  • Nation Magazine Archive
  • National Review Archive
  • New Republic Archive
  • Oxford Art Online: Contains Grove Dictionary of Art and Benezit Dictionary of Artists
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch Archive
  • U.S. News & World Report Archive
  • Vanderbilt Television News Archive

As always, your comments or questions are welcome. Please send them to library@rmc.edu or contact your R-MC Subject Librarian.

Digital and Information Literacies – a 2018 Key Issue in Teaching and Learning

Each year, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) surveys individuals in higher education about what is most “exciting, pressing, consequential, and relevant” in teaching and learning. These key issues are published as part of their “7 Things You Should Know…” series.

The 2018 Key Issues in Teaching and Learning identified Digital and Information Literacies as the #5 issue. Digital and Information Literacies shows up on the “Key Issues” list regularly. In 2017, in part due to the 2016 election and the rise of “fake news” as a household phrase, the issue was #3, while in 2016 it was #11. Regardless of its place on the list, the fact that it is consistently present makes it a topic that institutions of higher education should be discussing and addressing.

ELI defines literacy as “the ability to find, evaluate, select, use, and create something.” And the focus on digital and information literacies is based on the demands of 21st-century learning and working, as they are identified by the National Council of Teachers of English. ELI highlights the extent to which technologies are changing the workforce and how many jobs that current students will have in their lifetimes do not exist yet. This makes it “critical for workers to be agile, adaptable, and willing to continue to learn.”

What is Randolph-Macon College doing to ensure our students are information and digitally literate?

  • Every ENGL 185 class has an information literacy component, often in partnership with a librarian who ensures that students know how to use the latest library resources in their research. Unfortunately many students can place out of ENGL 185, but students who take it learn not just how to find information (peer-reviewed articles, books, news stories), but also how to evaluate those resources in light of the assignment (the information need). Picking the right source to meet that need and using it properly  and ethically are also important parts of being information literate, and using the work of others to create something of your own, be it a research paper, poster, presentation, or anything else.
  • Librarians are available to meet with students one-on-one to discuss these topics, and are working to bring these skills, at a more complex level, to upper-division classes in the majors.
  • Digital literacy skills are being taught by the Instructional Design & Technology staff in workshops and sessions that teach digital storytelling and our electronic portfolio system.

These interactions with students provide a good foundation for addressing information and digital literacy needs on campus. Embedding these skills more formally into the curriculum and providing scaffolded support throughout a student’s four years at R-MC would strengthen students’ abilities in these areas, allowing them to transfer those skills to a work environment.

While the tools and the context will change over time, skills such as knowing how to evaluate information or media, taking into consideration issues of ownership and authorship, will help ensure that R-MC students have what they need to continue to be flexible and creative learners long after they graduate.

Introducing the New Library Logo

New Library LogoI am pleased to introduce the new McGraw-Page Library logo. This logo represents several months of collaboration with the Marketing/Communications office at Randolph-Macon College, to whom we owe our thanks.

Libraries are constantly changing, and how they represent themselves in their print and digital materials needs to change periodically so that they accurately represent themselves.

This logo highlights three areas that the McGraw-Page Library currently emphasizes:

  • Resources (open book icon) continue to be an important service provided by the library, although print books do not represent the majority of what we provide. Ebooks, print and electronic journals, DVDs, streaming videos, databases, and our unique special collections and archives are equally if not more heavily relied upon by our students and faculty. We also provide access to many more resources through our interlibrary loan service and our cooperative borrowing agreements with other libraries. Other resources include our knowledgeable reference librarians and staff and our variety of study spaces, both of which meet critical needs on campus.
  • Technology (smartphone icon) is essential to any college degree obtained in the 21st century, and the library helps to provide both the hardware and software needed for academic and creative work. We provide hardware such as laptop and desktop computers and iPads, and software such as Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite. Our new MakerSpace includes a 3D printer, Legos®, virtual reality opportunities, and more. Workshops and one-on-one training are available.
  • Creativity (light bulb icon) is facilitated when the resources, environment, and technology are right. The library encourages creative approaches to assignments, thinking, and life by providing the spaces, tools, and support needed to maximize opportunities for creativity.

You can expect to see this logo appearing soon on our website as well as on posters, the annual report, and other materials associated with the library.

McGraw-Page Library Annual Report (2016-17)

The McGraw-Page Library uses its annual report to communicate with stakeholders about the previous year. It provides a window into how we spend our time and our resources, and should reflect our goals and priorities.

You can see the 2016-17 annual report online at http://pub.lucidpress.com/MPL2017/

Comments or questions? Contact me at NancyFalcianiWhite [at] rmc.edu.

Academic Library = Community, not Books

The video below (highlighted by the Scholarly Kitchen blog last week) discusses the success of independent bookstore in spite of online retailers such as Amazon.com.

If we see our product as books, and what we compete on as price, we lose. If we see our product as a service and a community, of which books are one piece, then we can compete. –David Sandberg

As is the case for independent bookstores, the “product” of an academic library has changed. It is no longer just a warehouse of books and the other resources. Rather the academic library provides a place for the community of scholars that exists on the college campus, and the resources are a piece of that community.

Like any community, a community of scholars includes experts (the faculty) and newbies (undergraduates). Courses, readings, research papers, and projects help to bring undergraduates into the community they are choosing to join, be it political science, business, English literature, or education, and moves them ever-closer to being experts themselves.

The academic library is the “intellectual hub” that supports that endeavor, providing the resources, people, services, and tools that make it possible. It has been almost twenty years since academic libraries functioned primarily as warehouses for resources, yet we’re still battling out-dated perceptions of what we do. I look forward to changing the conversation on R-MC’s campus.