Using Flickr as an outreach tool

I created a Flickr photostream for the Library a week and a half ago. I've added a flash based Flickr photo badge to the library's blog. I also have listed it with our other RSS feeds . I got the idea to try this out after reading several of Michael Stephens's (Tame the Web) posts on the use of various social software tools in mostly public libraries.

The University of Winnipeg Library is using a flash Flickr badge on their web site as a virtual library tour. I haven't seen or found many academic libraries publishing a Flickr photostream. I think Flickr is a great and cheap (unless you want to upload a lot of photos in a month) way to get students and faculty more aware of what is going on in the Library even if they don't come to the building. We need to use more visual images on our web sites to show what we are doing and to reach those who have a preference for visual learning (like the Millennials).

Update 8:30 p.m.: There are lots of library accounts on Flickr.  How many of them actually link their Flickr photostreams back to their home page?

Is Google God? How Do Students Look for Information Today?

Gerri Foudy and Travis Johnson from University of Maryland at College Park presented their research findings on how students look for and evaluate information. They interviewed 256 students individually and 110 in focus-groups. The interviews were conducted by graduate students in the library and information sciences program at UMD. Those participating were not told that the research was being conducted by the library.

Based on the first question asked, where do you go/find information, a majority of people started with either a search engine or the library's web site. Students indicated that it depends on their information need as to where they start.  If they don't know a lot about a topic, they will start with Google before jumping into library research. 

I was surprised by some of the comments reported from graduate students. One grad student indicated that he/she would contact the author of a paper to get a copy before trying to get it from the library. Another graduate student commented on going to his/her advisor if they couldn't find an article on-line.

One of the presenters shared that many students also feel that newer information is the best. They don't quite understand how information is produced. They are coming from an on-demand multimedia environment. "Convenience trumps almost all else."
Findings about what they think about the library…they don't, they want to be independent, they only ask for help to physically find an item in the building. Many of the comments gleaned from the focus group show that many students have library anxiety, especially about the library as place.

Implications for instruction:

  • Students use the Internet daily for many different purposes. We need to change how we talk about the Internet in our instruction sessions.
  • Teach how to evaluate all information sources, don't focus on the web alone.
  • Teach advanced search options in search engines and relate it back to AND/OR/NOT.
  • Use active and peer-learning during library instruction.
  • Create easy on-line tutorials.
  • Implement simple search interfaces to library resources, e.g. MetaLib.

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Creativity and Personalization: Freshman Orientation for the Millennial Generation

Ann Wheeler and Pam Harris from Swarthmore College talked about the evolution of their library orientation program. They covered the core attributes of the Millennials. These attributes were common themes in many of the later breakout presentations I attended. They outlined the four goals for their orientation program: show a personal face to the library, make sure the students understand we're here to help, library locations, interactive and fun.

They run all of their first year students through library orientation in a couple of days. They tried to get as many library staff involved to either lead tours or to be at various places throughout the library.  They felt that the orientation was successful based on positive feedback. 

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