Contemplating the Library

By Teresa Koltzenburg | Change Your World @ your library, National Library Week, April 2–8, 2006 “Libraries are…" I can't finish that sentence; I can't seem to come up with an encompassing term or pithy phrase to finish it in a way that would do justice to the notion of the library, the value libraries provide to humanity, and all the library facets we encounter in the Information Age.

In less than two weeks we will be commemorating the library during National Library Week (NLW), and its April 2 onset has many preparing for NLW's observance and celebration (hence the contemplation about how to nail a sentence about the aboutness of libraries).

Although contemplation is certainly a worthwhile exercise, those of you who are gearing up for NLW are probably busy with planning your programs and projects to spread the word about how users, @ the library (physically and virtually), can change their individual worlds.

The plans of one group of grad students attending the University of Pittsburgh include the utilization of cool tech tools, specifically a vodcast, to promote the “Change Your World @ your library" theme and to reach out to young users.

“If you can somehow get teens engaged in making the technology, it would serve the double purpose of promoting the library as a fun place and getting them in engaged in the library in a fun way," says Pitt MLIS candidate Stephanie Iser.

Stephanie, a student on educational leave from the Kansas City Public Library (where she specializes in youth/teen library services), is working with a few other students to produce a promotional vodcast project for their LIS 2830 "Marketing and Public Relations for Libraries" class. The project is a LIS 2830 class requirement, and Stephanie and those in her group decided to incorporate technology into their project.

Pitt library students (L to R) Rick Samuelson, Bryan Roppolo, Christie Hoerneman, and Stephanie Iser.“I think a lot of us were interested in exploring new technologies and ways to reach patrons with these new technologies," she notes. "We originally thought we could work with the Hillman Library and do some bibliographic instruction through a vodcast, maybe like a virtual library tour. We came up with some ideas for Hillman, but the project shifted to, ‘Let's do something that a lot of libraries could use or maybe link to, maybe from their Web sites.' So that's why we decided to do something that was more fun and promotional of libraries in general."

Dr. Susan W. Alman, director of distance education and outreach in Pitt's School of Information Sciences, teaches the LIS 2830 class, which Stephanie reports has a "pretty good mix" of student types (comprised of individuals with some library experience, individuals currently working in libraries, individuals coming straight from undergraduate work, and students taking the course on Pitt's campus and via Pitt's distance-education opportunities).

I met Dr. Alman, along with Pitt's Dept. of Library & Information Science associate dean/associate professor Dr. Biagini, at Midwinter in San Antonio. Dr. Alman mentioned that her marketing-class students had been contemplating integrating technology in their NLW projects, and she wondered how we might be able to come up with a way to collaborate to showcase the students' ideas about, and utilization of, technology. I wasn't quite sure at first, but then thought it would be a great project to cover for this blog.

So after a few weeks of contact—back-and-forth e-mailing and a conference call with the class—Stephanie e-mailed me a couple of weeks back to let me know that she and a few of the students were working on a technology project and were willing share their learning process.

The Vodcast Vote
"We explored what libraries are currently doing with podcasts," Stephanie explains, “and it seems like most libraries doing podcasts right now are public libraries. We haven't found too many that are doing vodcasts, but a lot of us were discussing how we could use that media with teens."

Another faculty member at Pitt, Dr. Christinger Tomer, is also helping the vodcast group get their project up and running. “I really thought that Dr. Tomer's idea—to use the vodcast in a fun and creative way, instead of just for instruction—was really interesting," says Stephanie. "And he helped us identify what's already being done with vodcasts; it's all pretty much funny and entertaining. So we're trying to show that the library can be a fun place. I think it's an innovative idea for libraries."

Stephanie reports that she and those in her group will be shooting their vodcast project this Friday (The plot of their production? Well, that'll come in part two). The goal is to complete it—garnished with music, clip art, and all—and get it up on the Web during National Library Week.

Next week… “The Shoot and Production"
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