Online classes, group projects, and teamwork. Oh my!

When I first considered attending online classes, I was pretty unsure. I’m computer literate, but I’m not a big fan of sitting at a desk or dealing with the extra hassles that technology inevitably adds. Although I’m not 100% confident, I know I can make it work. I’m motivated, fairly organized, and very independent; so I will be able to handle the coursework. And there is so much great technology at my fingertips; if I’m serious about this whole librarian business, I suppose it’s time for me to enter the twenty-first century and learn to use it. But what about the social aspect of going back to school? How am I going to meet people in my field and learn from my classmates? This is where online groups come in.

I know that working in a group is going to be even more challenging online, so I will have to be prepared. Haycock and Irwin give some good tips about working in groups. In his “Criteria for Success” Haycock states that successful teams have “clarity in team goals, clearly defined roles/responsibilities, established ground rules, clear communication, beneficial team behaviors, [and] balanced participation.” Irwin mentions that attitude and planning are crucial to team success and gives examples of how to use technology to bridge the gap between group members who will have (most likely) never met face-to-face.

What I take from both of these presentations is that communication is key. Everyone in a team must understand what is expected of them for the team to meet its goal. Team members must clearly understand and come to a consensus of what they want, and then they must plan together how they will accomplish this. To succeed in a group in an online setting, group members will have to use technology to replace face-to-face communication. Using tools like email, Google Docs, Elluminate, and BlackBoard IM, group members will have to work together to complete their goal.

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Hello Internet

So I started this blog a couple months ago after hearing Will Manley talk at our library staff in-service. He told us some funny/interesting/poignant stories about working in a library, and he mentioned (often) that he had a blog. After seeing his presentation, I thought to myself, “I could do that. I work in a library; I could totally write about the things that happen there.” However, I never did. I signed up for this blog, made a name, made a banner, and then ignored it entirely.

But now, here I am, back at my trusty keyboard, ready to blog into the future! Or something like that.

For my first post, I’m going to write about something I often hear when I tell people that I want to be a librarian:

“Aren’t you worried that libraries will become a thing of the past?”

To put it simply: no, I’m not.

Our library gets masses of parents, grandparents, and kids who come to our story-times and puppet shows. We have people who come to the library every single day to sit and read the newspaper. We have people who use the library like it’s free Netflix: they put DVDs on hold, they come to the library to pick them up, and then they leave. We have funding information for non-profit organizations. We offer computer and literacy courses. We¬† have teen programs and book clubs and public access computers. People may use the library without ever entering the building; maybe they download eBooks, or they peruse the library databases from home. And some people may come to the library simply to be in the building; the library is a place where anyone is welcome to sit, relax, read a book, use the computer, use the bathroom, and it’s free. And that isn’t even touching on the value of librarians. Where else can you have a trained professional help you with whatever you need–from learning sign language, to researching child development, from finding your next great read, to finding the nearest Wendy’s–for nothing?

When I meet someone who doesn’t use the library, my first thought is “why?” Many people don’t realize all that the library has to offer; instead, they have this image of the library as a stuffy, out-dated place where nothing new is happening. So, although many people already realize the value of a library, I think the biggest challenge to prevent the library from becoming a thing of the past is changing peoples’ ideas of what a library is.


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