August 27, 2009

Broken Links in the Syllabus?

Posted in School Success at 10:33 pm by melissaautumn

As the semester starts, I thought I’d offer some practical advice on locating a website when the link you have doesn’t work. Many faculty ask students to read articles or other items from websites. Although we may provide a working link on the syllabus, URLs do change and the link you have may not work by the time you need to read the material. So, what to do? Before you contact the faculty member for an updated link, try the following:

  • Search the sponsoring organization’s website by the title of the document (e.g., if you need to read ALA’s “Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education,” you can go to the ALA website and search for the document).
  • Use the link to work back to the sponsoring organization or author (e.g., Christine Bruce’s “Seven Faces of Information Literacy in Higher Education” was at; if I cut the URL back to her personal page at I see a link to the document, which is now at
  • Search Google by the title of the document. Google may provide you an updated link. In addition, Google “caches” images of websites, so if a document has actually been removed from the web, you may be able to see an archived image.

Broken links in a syllabus can be frustrating, but are often beyond the instructor’s control. Use this as an opportunity to practice your web searching skills – after all, one day you want to get paid to do this at a reference desk, right?


August 10, 2009

Rethink Your Use of PowerPoint

Posted in Job Success, Professional Success, School Success at 8:30 pm by melissaautumn

The most recent issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly has an excellent article that is ostensibly about the use of PowerPoint, but is really about good presenting, and by extension, good teaching.

Brier, David J. and Vickery Kaye Lebbin. “Perception and Use of PowerPoint at Library Instruction Conferences.” Reference & User Services Quarterly 48.4 (Summer 2009): 352-61.

The first half of the article documents how librarians use PowerPoint at instruction-related conferences (the conclusion: probably not well). The second half of the article gives recommendations on how to use PowerPoint to create “colleague-centered presentations” – presentations that engage the audience and create a learning environment, rather than just a lecture. The authors’ ideas are applicable not only to professional conferences, but also to in-house and student presentations, as well as instructional settings. This article is really about much more than just PowerPoint and I hope it gets the attention it deserves, given the misleading title. Highly recommended!

August 7, 2009

Essential Technology Skills

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:08 pm by melissaautumn

A student post about the desire to learn more technology while in library school has gotten me thinking about how I foster technology skills in my own courses.

So, I’m throwing the following questions out for comment:

  • Current students – what skills would you like to learn while in library school?
  • Recent grads and experienced professionals – what skills do you think grads need to have? what skills could they develop to make themselves more competitive on the job market?

Thanks for your ideas!

Good Book – The Desk and Beyond

Posted in Resources at 11:50 am by melissaautumn

I’m usually not a fan of books that are a compilation of essays by different authors – often the essays are of uneven quality, are intended for different audiences (making me wonder who the intended audience of the book was) or are superficial “how I done it good” pieces.

Thus, The Desk and Beyond: Next Generation Reference Services(Sarah K. Steiner and M. Leslie Madden, eds., Chicago: ACRL, 2008) has been a very pleasant surprise. The book contains thirteen essays on different models of reference, such as embedded librarians, field librarians, and chat. Although most of these topics are well covered in the professional literature, the essays here provide succinct, well written overviews, practical advice for success, and sources for further reading.

Highly recommended for those interested in brief introductions to integrating current technologies into reference and models for service.