Recognize and describe cultural and economic diversity in the clientele of libraries or information organizations

Component 1: Statement of Competency

Libraries are successful because they are dedicate to creating equal access to information to their patrons. This means they spent time focused on understanding and studying how people use information based on cultural and economic demographics. We, information professionals, evaluate how patrons of different ages use our resources. For example are 16 year olds checking out physical books more often than an 85 year old or do they use digital resources and technology more and why? Looking at this data shapes the way libraries market their material and more so how funds are allocated for resources.

Due to the nature and mission of libraries they are accessible by and attract a diverse population. The population ranges in education level, age, cultural background, learning ability and physical abilities. All of these factors play a part in how a patron uses information. It is our responsibility to determine how to attract this population and how to meet and serve their information needs.

I want to point out that social status and economic status are directly related. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has published data on the correlation between education level and income and typically those with a higher educational level have a higher income than those with a lower educational level. This suggests, that those with a higher education have a higher socio-economic status and in relation are able to use library resources at a more independent and intricate level than those with a lower socio-economic status. This however, does not mean that libraries that serve lower socio-economic communities should deprive these communities of access to these resources and information.

As the world continues to progress in the digital world, we see that what is commonly referred to as the digital divide, is largely affected by socio-economic status. Rubin explains, “as income rises so does Internet use… Only 25 percent of those with incomes of less than $15,000 use the Internet, compared to 67 percent of those with incomes exceeding $75,000” (Rubin, 2010, p178). One of the primary reasons for not using the internet is complexity of technology. The shows that use of the internet, or lack thereof, is not just restricted access due to income but also due to the skill set and knowledge. Libraries have focused on providing greater public access to the internet through installing public computers and even offering digital literacy programs to teach how to use the available technology.

It is important to acknowledge that cultural backgrounds also largely affect how patrons access information. On a study conducted by Liu and Redfern (1997) on students at San Jose State University, “Statistical analyses indicated that the student’s level of success in using the library was related to English-language proficiency, frequency of library use, and the frequency of reference desk inquiries” (Evans & Ward, 2007, p72). The inability to understand the dominant language of the collection of resources is a huge barrier on how the user with access and use the information that is available.

It is important that libraries understand the demographic makeup of the community they serve and adjust to serve their information needs. One significant adjustment that has been made is the incorporation of multilingual OPACS. This allows users the option of searching for resources in the language which they are most comfortable with. This will allow users to increase their skill set in searching because they now have the ability to use the resource.

Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:

My first piece of evidence I have included for this competency is a blog post I wrote for Libr240 on [Usability versus Accessibility]. This post discusses the importance of creating a website that is accessible to a diverse population and factors that impact how the user may be accessing the information. With digital content one of the most important factors in accessibility is making the webpage accessible to those who are visually impaired. This is done by adding alternative text for images and links within your code. This piece of evidence shows my understanding and ability to acknowledge and adjust to cultural and economic barriers my users may encounter.

My second piece of evidence I have included for this competency is a blog post I wrote for Lib240 [Designed for Mobility]. This post discusses designing your digital content for mobile use. Today, data shows that users are accessing more and more content on mobile devices like tablets and smart phones. This can drastically change how users use the available information, especially due to screen size differences and connection speed. The post discusses how to address some of the barriers that mobile users will deal with when accessing content through a mobile device.

My final piece of evidence is a [Final Proposal] I wrote for Libr285 for implementing a SMS reference service in an academic environment. This proposal discusses the purpose of implementing the reference service; “Studies have shown that 89% of college students have a cellphone and two-thirds of them use it for text messaging (Farkas, 2007)” (Watkins, 2013). The proposal shows my ability to recognize and adapt to how users are accessing and using information, specifically in an academic setting.

Conclusion:

As an information professional it is important that I am aware, able and understand the need to adapt and create resources that will serve a diverse population that deal with cultural barriers and socio-economic barriers. Our goal in the profession is to provide equal access to information, this can only be achieved if we acknowledge and understand the needs of our communities. We are doing great work to minimize the effect of the digital divide through multilingual OPACs, web design accessibility standards and access to technology that is often limited to communities with a lower socio-economic status.

References:

Evans, G. E. and Ward, P. L. (2007). Management Basics for Information Professionals. Second edition. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Rubin, R. E. (2010). The Values and Ethics of Library and Information Science. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Watkins, W. (2013). Research Proposal written for graduate studies course Libr285. San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science.

Evidence:

Usability versus Accessibility blog post for Libr240: https://nimblelibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/usability-vs-accessibility/

Designed for Mobility blog post for Libr240: https://nimblelibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/designed-for-mobility/

Final Proposal for Libr285: [Final Proposal]

Advertisements

Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital items and collections.

Component 1: Statement of Competency

At the heart of a library is its collection. The purpose of this collection is based surely on the library’s mission. “As budgets remain tight, the allocation of scarce resources requires that libraries answer important questions about their primary functions so that they might make these allocations wisely” (Rubin, 2007, p185).

Upon entering the profession many information professionals are presented with an existing collection with in which they must help maintain, build and perfect. The key to maintaining a collection is to remember that the growth of the collection does not mean acquiring only but also shaping it towards the needs/desires of the patrons, weeding the collection of unnecessary items, adding quality material over quantity of material and securing it in the event of a disaster. “They [librarians] maintain the collections by reviewing titles for preservation, replacement, off-site storage, or removal” (Haycock & Sheldon, 2008, p51).

The hardest of these is shaping the collection to fit the needs of the patrons. Over recent years many libraries have adopted what has been referred to as PDAs or Patron Driven Acquisitions. While I worked at an academic library, the library budget has a set amount set aside specifically for PDA requests. I helped process these requests and while occasionally some of the selectors would submit requests through our PDA system, predominantly it was patron centered.

How PDA requests work is the library develops a set of standards for the types of material they want to receive PDA records from vendors. These standards can include publication date, exclusion or inclusion of certain subject material, inclusion/exclusion of material types, classification ranges and format (electronic, physical, serial, hard bound, etcetera). These records then get loaded into the library’s catalog so they are searchable by users and then when a patron clicks on the record of interest, if it is a PDA record they are usually prompted to click on a link (this is presented in the 856 field) that will send the request to the acquisitions department where they will then order the item. This form of collection building helps secure that the purchases (physical or electronic) for the collection are direct requests of the patrons.

Libraries spend a great deal of time and money on building their collections however it is vital that they also spend money on insuring the safety of their collections. They can do this by investing time in ensuring safety of the collection is also related to managing the facility, preservation of material, security of items against theft or crime, and having a disaster plan in place.

Libraries can ensure the safety of the collection by implementing RFID tags in items, security systems in entrance gates, locking down computer towers and securing the system. This will help minimize the possibility of acts of theft to the collection.

The agreement on the preservation of material will prove itself to be difficult as departments may have different ideas of what should and shouldn’t be a priority. Another instance that took place while I was working in an academic library was developing and implementing a new policy on serial subscriptions and binding policies. With electronic resources becoming ever more prevalent and accessible through database subscriptions libraries looking to be e-preferred libraries will look to eliminate print subscriptions, primarily dealing with serials. During this implementation policy there was discussion on which serials in the collection we would for sure continue the subscription to in both print and electronic format; it took several meetings before the decision was made. “A further challenge for managers is the changing nature of collections and service patterns and the accelerating rate of change” (Rubin, 2007, p493).

One of the most important aspects and often last on the list in collection maintenance is what to do in the event of a disaster, natural or not; “Developing such a plan requires time and effort, but is essential” (ibid, p489). Very few libraries have in their budget to maintain a perfect facility; disaster planning and facility management go hand in hand. Keeping the facility in good working order will help avoid unnecessary disasters such as water leaks during hard rain storms because corners were cut in repairing the roof.

When it comes to collection maintenance, development of the collection is priority. It is important to keep in mind the focus of the collection, the purpose of the collection and the quality of the collection. Having a collection of 1.2 million items where 60,000 or more items have not circulated in over 10 years does not maintain the aspect of quality. Weeding, sometimes viewed as a bad word in the library world, is essential is collection maintenance. Having policies in place specifically for the collection development will help make this process less painful and more rewarding for the library.

Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:

My first piece of evidence I chose to include is a discussion post on the [Disaster_Plan_Cornell]. I briefly reviewed and linked to Cornell University Library’s disaster plan. This piece of evidence shows my understanding of the importance of a disaster plan and having a policy in place as well as my ability to evaluate this policy in strengths and weaknesses.

My second piece of evidence I chose to include is a [Millennium Record Updating Procedures for Serials sent to stacks] I worked on when implementing a new policy into the collection dealing with serials management. This policy work was a collaborative effort with colleagues. I chose this piece of evidence to show my understanding of implementing new policies for collection maintenance. This policy required significant changes in how staff and student workers handled incoming serials as well as processing serials that were being sent to the stacks or removed from the collection based on a retention policy. This also shows my understanding and ability to work with other staff members to coming to an agreement on a policy for maintain the collection.

My final piece of evidence I included is a set of work from my Libr298 special studies course. This evidence includes: metaverse-library-sci-fi-exhibit-may-2013, a list of completed books that I created in the InWorldz Community Library science fiction collection and a list of authors and notations on their published works [ Science Fiction Books]. The magazine highlights the science fiction collection that was created for this particular exhibit. In the magazine on page 50 includes an excerpt about my work with InWorldz and the library collection I helped build. The excel worksheet shows my knowledge of adhering to specific collection standards: science fiction, open access, and if the book was digitized or had audio with it. This project required me and one other student to develop the collection for the library. We researched popular science fiction authors and listed works that either satisfied the criteria for the collection or were main contributors to science fiction and thus should be included in the collection. The word document is a listing of the authors I submitted for approval and the works I recommended we included in the collection.

Conclusion:

Understanding the basics to maintaining a library’s collection is knowledge every library professional should have. The collection is the heart of the library; it is what brings in funding, what brings in patrons, and why the library exists at all. Collection maintenance, development, weeding, preservation, and protection, is an ongoing process that takes precious resources however as the library’s heart, just as our bodies, without it we will cease to exist.

References:

Haycock, K. and Sheldon, B. (2008). The portable MLIS: insights from the experts. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Rubin, R. E. (2010). The Values and Ethics of Library and Information Science. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Evidence:

Disaster_Plan_Cornell

Millennium Record Updating Procedures for Serials sent to stacks

metaverse-library-sci-fi-exhibit-may-2013

Science Fiction Books

completed books

Policy Breach

Censorship?

What do you do when your social media policy is breached? For example, what do you do when an audience member posts on your social media (tagging you or in response to something you said) that involves vulgar language, or reveals confidential information?

Do you delete it? What about censorship. Do you edit it? What about censorship. Do you leave it? What does that say about your brand.

This is a whole new territory for me and I’ve just recently encountered it. The policy was to remove the comment. I wondered, do you give reason why? Do you remove it or do you hide it from your population except for the person who posted it & their friends (This is an option on Facebook).

Ross Betzer wrote a post on a debate that accepted the claim that ALA’s should be adjusted to match the self-censorship practiced by most libraries.

As I began looking at what the “reasonable” response was to this concern, I found that many policies I looked at included statements about what the policy is but do not include information on how it should be handled if the policy were breached. ALA’s Code of Ethics, does the same thing, there isn’t a guide to response.

We are information professionals, we stand firmly behind equal dissemination of information and against censorship. When the line is crossed, how do we respond?

How would you respond. Would you find deleting a comment going against what you “live by” as an information professional?

In the end, I believe the comment was removed in its entirety however, is this the right decision? If not, how can we improve it?